Month: March 2015

Y’all Ready? Ludacris – Ludaversal Review

Ludaversal has dropped y’all.

Fresh off the Roast of Justin Bieber, Ludacris is back with some new music. It’s his first album in 5 years, if you can believe that. I mean of course dude has been doing his acting shit, so it’s not like he’s been chilling or anything, but it’ll be interesting to see what he’s got after 5 years away from hip hop. Read on for the Ludaversal review.

Ludacris - Ludaversal

Ludaversal isn’t the album of the year or anything, but it’s all dope shit from Luda.

Ludaversal - Ludacris


After a few years of doing movies and shit that isn’t rapping, Luda is back with a full album with only a few features, so he’s not just mailing this one in. The beats are pretty solid but not incredible, and Luda goes hard most of the time and lays down some emotional shit the rest of the time. He can definitely still rap, and folks will be happy to hear that he’s still got it, and Ludaversal is definitely a good album to kick it to in the background. Even though he won’t win a Grammy or anything, dude’s showing he can still release some dope hip hop, and even throw in some more personal shit along the way.

For the general solidness of this album and Luda’s still-dope verses, I give Ludaversal a:

 

3.5/5

 


Ludaversal Intro

Ludacris

Photo: wikipedia.org

The album starts with a David Banner shoutout and Luda getting right to it. In case you were wondering if he could still spit, he gets that out of the way right away, spitting some quick shit over a beat that sounds pretty new. Luda intros himself and the album, and he says from the beginning he’s trynna get into your top 5. He’s still confident and still spits like he’s the shit, which is always good. He really does get right into it, spitting 2 verses about changing the game and telling you to turn ya stereo louder before the track fades away repeating “Luda not so hard.”

The second track is Grass Is Always Greener, which starts with a calm beat before Luda starts talking about the choices he has to make, from music to groupies. Whether it’s his level of fame, what he’s currently working on, the grass is always greener to Luda. This is a dope track, with Luda spitting some shit everyone can relate to about never being happy with what you got. It’s a pretty minimalistic beat, but it gives Luda the space to fuck around with the flow and show off.

Back from Hollywood

Then we got Call Ya Bluff, which starts with some classic rap skit shit. The beat’s pretty simple again but it goes hard and so does Luda. He’s spitting some more about taking years off from rap to collect Hollywood checks and how he has to come back to remind folks that he’s still the shit. Near the end he slows the flow down for some slow Atlanta shit, now that he’s proved anyone who was wondering that he can still rap as fast and dope as anyone in the game.

Ludacris afro

Photo: hdwpapers.com

Lyrical Healing smooths out the album a bit, with Luda spitting some late night DJ shit before he slips into some lyrical healing. It’s just over a minute of Luda shit talking other rappers, but it’s a dope contribution to the album, including Luda talking about rappers kidnapping his flows without even leaving a ransom note. Then we got Beast Mode as the 5th track, with Luda saying he’s on some Hannibal Lecter shit cause he’s eating MCs for breakfast. Now that Luda’s proved he can still spit, Beast Mode shows that he’s still funny as shit too. This is a mad hot track, and the beat’s alright but Luda carries the whole thing, telling fans to inject red bull into their veins if they ever slept on him and how he can be seen in 30 rocks like Alec Baldwin. He kills this shit.

Skit and Get Lit

Then we got an actual skit with Viagra, and Luda’s gotta call 911 cause he’s got a hard problem and he’s knocking shit over. Then the operator heads over to his house to get some and it’s just some funny shit. This leads into Get Lit, which sounds like some straight old Luda shit, but I’m down. Luda spits even quicker than earlier, and shit it almost feels like 2001 or 2003 or some shit again. This is a grimy banger for late into the night, and it fucking bumps. Get Lit is one of the hardest tracks on the album, and one of the best.

Ludacris and Big K.R.I.T.

Photo: soulculture.com

An interlude breaks up the album with Come And See Me, which seems to flow into the second half of the album which has got a few features. Anyways, it’s pretty much another short track just over a minute, but it’s got a nice dream sequence luxurious ass beat for Luda to spit a quick verse over. Then we get the 9th track, Come And See Me (feat. Big K.R.I.T.) Luda’s saying that anything you need, no matter what it is, you gotta go and see him. Then Big K.R.I.T. comes in spitting some smooth shit about what he’s got in his whip before Luda comes back in. They’re just switching every 4 bars, and it’s fucking dope and more rappers nowadays should bring this shit back. The beat jumps around as the verses do, and Luda and K.R.I.T. make a dope duo. This is one of the best tracks on the album, and it’s because of the general fusion of both beat and spit they got going.

Then we got Good Lovin (feat. Miguel), which definitely slows shit down but it’s so smooth that you really can’t complain. This is a sad breakup track, and Luda’s getting pretty introspective and personal on this album. He’s a hopeless romantic, talking about the hole in his chest that’s left now. I usually like Luda to go hard, but he can do this loverboy R&B shit alright too, with a big assist from Miguel.

Some real shit.

Ludacris

Photo: ihiphopmusic.com

The 11th track comes with Ocean Skies, starting with Luda winning a Grammy for best rap album and a bit of his speech, saying I love you to his pops. Then the beat comes in with Luda saying rest in peace Wayne Bridges and that he still lives through Luda. Then Ludacris starts talking about how he lost his father to the bottle and how his pops wasn’t usually in his right mind. This is some personal shit and Luda finishes his first verse with “the beat goes on but the drinking’s gotta stop.” Monica comes in with a sad but strong hook before Luda goes back to how through the drinks and the sadness he still taught Luda how to be a man and everyone still loved him. This is some sad shit, but he’s trynna make the best of it, and this is a great fucking emotional track, with Ludacris telling folks to tell their parents they love them cause they might not see them tomorrow.

Usher finishes off the feature parade with Not Long, and he kicks it off with some smooth singing about realizing you’re not so far from the stars. It’s another track about Luda coming up, but through the lens of his music rather than this relationship with his pops. Luda says he’s on fire and all these other rappers is burnt up before Usher comes in again. He’s trying to switch from bummed about his pops to happy with how far he’s come and trynna pass that hope on to other folks. The beat on this one is dope, with just a little more flavor than you might expect from a track that dips a bit more into R&B like this one does. Luda finishes with “if it hasn’t been done then I’ma do it first, cause I’m the master of the Ludaverse.” This is a hot track, and you gotta agree with him, cause no one does it quite like Luda does.

Fame ain’t exactly what you think it is

Charge It To The Rap Game comes in with a clapping beat with a nice little whistle to it and Luda saying sometimes you gotta charge it to the rap game. He’s spitting about how shady the music industry is and the bogus contracts he’s had to deal with and how rappers gotta talk a little shit. Even when Ludacris is saying that the life ain’t as dope as it looks from the outside (remember, The Grass Is Always Greener), he’s still funny and he’s still killing it, whether he’s shit talking label executives, the media or protestors outside his concerts. This is some real shit about the complexities rappers gotta deal with.

Ludacris

Photo: thisis50.com

Luda finishes off the album with This Has Been My World, and a quick, ’80s electro-sounding beat. It’s 6 and a half minutes of Luda talking about how dope his life is now that he’s made it. He’s not just talking shit though, cause he makes it pretty clear that he had to go through a lot to get there and to stay there. Through it all though he still runs this shit so he’s happy, saying it’s more good than bad but you gotta appreciate what you got too if you want anything more. Luda’s going inspirational here, but keeping the beat just a little grimy. He spits a good amount of reasons why his life is so dope, even with all the problems that come with being an entertainer.

Halfway through the album slips into some spoken word about surviving. It’s some deep shit, and a hell of a way to finish off the album. Luda would prefer to be a maverick than someone who strives to be average, and the outro reminds folks that, “in any existence, it’s the destination, not the journey. Live your life.” The album fades out with a minute and a half of synth for you to think on that and for Just Blaze to let you know he did this shit.


Dope, right?

It’s definitely not the dopest album I’ve ever heard or anything, but I don’t think that’s what Luda was trying to do. He was trying to reassert himself as a force in the game after these years away, and he did that pretty well. He might not be on top of the game anymore, but he can still bring it and he can definitely still make dope albums that you can listen to all the way through.

Ludaversal - Ludacris


Spit Talking

Vic Mensa – Down On My Luck

Down On My Luck is Vic Mensa’s not-so-new track.

The video came out almost a year ago and the track dropped on iTunes a month ago, but folks don’t really seem to be talking about it. I also really like his music, so I’m telling y’all about this Vic Mensa dance track regardless of when it came out. It’s got a hypnotic beat and Vic’s manic flow matches it perfectly. I’ll link you to buy it on iTunes at the end of this article, but to start you should probably watch the video, which is fucking awesome.

Vic Mensa – Down On My Luck Video


The sound

Vic Mensa - Down On My LuckSo this shit isn’t really hip hop, and it’s pretty obvious that that’s what Vic was going for. If you’ve ever heard INNANETAPE (Download it free at Datpiff if you haven’t) you know that Vic has a wide range of musical tastes, and that he can match a bunch of different beats with his versatile flow. Not to mention that he was like the frontman of Kids These Days, so Vic Mensa is most definitely not your average rapper, and he’s for sure got the talent to lead a few different musical styles.

He is quick, smart and has an ear for what sounds good though, and that definitely shines through on Down On My Luck. You could probably listen to this shit on repeat for hours on end, and that’s as much because of Vic’s ability to ride a beat as it is because of how repetitive the beat is. Anyways, this shit pretty much makes you feel like you’re just chilling at a club if you’re listening to it, no matter where you are.

The video

Vic Mensa - Down On My Luck VideoThe video does a hell of a job matching the track, especially cause they’re both mad hypnotic and you could keep watching/listening forever. The video shows the same story of Vic at a club but a little different each time, with Vic getting just a little luckier each time. After hearing the track once, it’s obvious that the video would have to be at a club, but they do really interesting things with this and it’s definitely not just some generic club shots or anything. It’s not a crazy-deep narrative video like J. Cole did with G.O.M.D. or anything, but for what it is it’s a hell of a video. More hip hop and non-hip hop videos should take after Down On My Luck, cause I could watch that shit all day.


Try getting that beat out your head.

Good luck, because I’m still vibing to this shit myself. Vic Mensa is a mad exciting rapper, from his flow and general ability to his vision and ambitious goals in making a track/video like this. Considering dude’s only 21 and has just started working with Kanye a little bit, the future looks mad bright for him. Buy Down On My Luck for $1 and be ahead of the curve.

Down On My Luck - Single - Vic Mensa


Spit Talking

What’s Up On The Hip Hop Charts?

Let’s see how hip hop’s doing on iTunes.

Because of all the dope albums that have come out recently, I was wondering which ones were doing the best. Sales numbers don’t necessarily say how good an album is, but they could indicate who will keep getting good money from their labels to make more shit. Anyways, let’s see what the top 10 hip hop albums on iTunes currently are. The top spot is no surprise, but 2 of the 10 haven’t even come out yet, showing that the preorder route is a decent way to go for rappers today.


The Top 10 (Spit Talking reviews linked)

  • 10. Nicki Minaj – The Pinkprint
  • 9. Ludacris – Ludaversal (Pre-order)
  • 7. Wale – The Album About Nothing (Pre-order)
  • 3. Empire – Empire Soundtrack

Analysis

Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp A ButterflyFirst of all, some of the albums above are the deluxe versions, but I don’t think it really matters because people are paying for mostly the same thing, and the money goes to the same people. Anyways, a few things stand out to me about this chart. First of all, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late is still #2, which is impressive because it’s a mixtape according to Drake and a lot of the albums on this chart have come out more recently, but still aren’t selling as well as Drake’s. To Pimp A Butterfly is of course number 1, and it already was before it even came out because of pre-orders. It makes sense then that Wale and Luda are both hitting the charts before release. I guess a lot of folks pre-order rap albums nowadays.

Pretty much everything on here came out in 2015, except for J. Cole and Nicki Minaj, and they still both came out in December 2014 so they’ll be considered 2015 for a lot of awards anyways. I gotta say, I’m pretty surprised that Bronson is doing so much better than Earl, considering they came out the same time, and I like Earl’s more. Even more than that though I just thought Earl had a bigger fanbase than Bronson, but I guess I was wrong!


Which is your favorite?

If you look at my reviews it’s pretty obvious that Kendrick’s is my favorite of these, but after that it gets tricky. 2014 Forest Hills Drive is probably still 2nd place though. Anyways, you think the charts generally reflect the quality of these albums? Let me know.


Spit Talking

Everything Wrong With Music Reviews

What’s good, y’all?

Today I got a topic near and dear to my heart that I wanna write about. It’s everything that’s wrong with music reviews, and it’s a big problem. One of the reasons I started Spit Talking was because I didn’t like most of the music reviews that were floating around, and the hip hop reviews were especially bad sometimes. I decided to enter the field as someone who loves hip hop and isn’t trynna tear down rappers and their life’s work just to get some clicks and some laughs. Let’s see some of the reasons I felt like the world needed (and still needs) different music reviewers.


Reviewing vs Criticism

So music reviews and music criticism are pretty much considered the same thing, but I think the words show there are subtle differences between the two. To me, reviewing music sounds like what I try to do: giving folks an idea of what the music sounds like, making connections to other shit in the genre/in the world, and just generally breaking down what a track/album/video has got going. Criticism, on the other hand, just sounds like the point of the work is to criticize.

Tools of the TradeAnother problem with criticism is what you call someone doing it — a critic. This label definitely goes to people’s heads (see below) and makes people think they’re not doing a good job unless they’re looking for shit to pick apart and they’re trying to tear down every album someone makes. The problem with this is that critics/reviewers don’t make art, no matter what they think. They comment on art. No matter how much a critic tears apart an album, that doesn’t change the fact that the musician put a work of art out into the world, and all the reviewer/critic did was coment on it. People who don’t realize this think that it’s all about them, when it should always be about the music.

Worst offenders

Now, these issues are rampant so you can probably take a handful of random reviews (especially hip hop reviews by non-hip hop websites) and find a lot of the shit I’m talking about no problem. Some folks do it more than others though, and just for illustrative purposes I’m gonna point out some good examples that come from folks who almost certainly consider themselves “critics”. Two terribly-done reviews are Pitchfork’s review of Childish Gambino’s Camp, and The Needledrop’s review of Big Sean’s Dark Sky Paradise. The Camp review is basically an attack on Gambino’s blackness/identity in general that only tangentially touches on the actual music. The Dark Sky Paradise review is the worst thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life though.

Dude (Anthony Fantano, my new least favorite music critic) literally just says no over and over, with some graphics to aid him. Each time he says no you just get more and more pissed because he just looks more and more like a fucking annoying-ass hipster who is saying absolutely nothing about the album. It’s like he hated Big Sean and decided that it was a bad album before he even listened to it. The review does nothing to tell you about the album, besides the fact that some fucker on youtube really doesn’t like it. This is a prime example of the critic thinking that people care about them more than the music, and this is exactly the type of mindset I try to avoid when reviewing albums.

So how do you write a good music review?

I think the most important thing someone can do is to start with a mindset of trying to explain the album to a reader, rather than trying to make themselves sound smart/cool/whatever. Personally, I write my reviews as I listen to the album for the first time. This way, I’m just trying to give the reader a feel for the album rather than giving myself time to think of some pretentious shit that sounds smart but doesn’t actually say anything about the music.

Public Enemy

Photo: amoeba.com

There also need to be more reviewers focused on hip hop (like Spit Talking!) rather than all music. There’s nothing more annoying than reading a review of a hip hop album by someone who clearly barely listens to hip hop. Music reviewers need to understand the context that music comes from, so they need to know rap history if they’re gonna try to review rap albums. I don’t want to see many more hip hop reviews written from the white hipster (emphasis on hipster, not white) perspectives you might find on Pitchfork (specifically Ian Cohen, cause Pitchfork has some solid hip hop reviews nowadays) or The Needledrop.

Music Reviewer Dos and Don’ts

  • DO try to give the reader a feel for the music
  • DON’T try to show the reader how smart you are
  • DO make connections to the rapper’s and the genre’s history
  • DON’T ignore context just because you don’t know it
  • DO focus on the music
  • DON’T focus on the rapper instead of the music, unless it’s helpful to the review in some way

Wrap-up

I’ve gotten some thoughts out and I feel a little better now. Obviously, no one is perfect and I’m sure that some of my reviews are guilty of some of the things I’ve called out. That’s fine though, because again, my goal is to review music and let readers know whether or not they might like the album. My goal is not for people to think I’m the best reviewer out there or anything, because the point of music reviews are never the reviewer. The point of music reviews will always be the music.


Spit Talking

Kendrick’s Untitled Track Staying Unreleased

Remember Kendrick Lamar’s untitled track?

You know, the one he did on the Colbert Report. It was an untitled track that came out after i, but before The Blacker The Berry so it gave us the first idea of the other type of track on Kendrick’s album. The only problem is the untitled track wasn’t actually on To Pimp A Butterfly, and folks were wondering where it was and if it was actually gonna come out.


Well, it ain’t coming out.

Kendrick Lamar Colbert Report InterviewLooks like that track ain’t coming out, not as a bonus track, not as a single, nothing. It was specifically written for that Colbert Report performance to send off the show with a dope track. It was supposed to be a “moment”, and it definitely was considering all the anger about what had been (and continues to) happen to black men all over the country. First of all, that’s dope cause it shows how much music Kendrick must have in various places that we’ll never heard, and it also shows Kendrick playing a role in the world that’s pretty much separate from his body of work.

Hidden treasures

If Kendrick is just willing to do this for the Colbert Report without releasing it to make money or anything (or even just to add to his discography), think of how much music he has that will never be released? Flying Lotus already said that he heard a bunch of Kendrick tracks that were cut from To Pimp A Butterfly, so we know that Kendrick has at least some music that we haven’t heard and probably never will. I guess when you work as hard as he does, and when you wanna run the game, you’re not just gonna release some bullshit. Anyways, even though Kendrick doesn’t think they were worth releasing, I’m sure we would all love to hear even some of those unreleased gems.

Staying relevant

Kendrick Lamar Colbert Report PerformanceRemember what I just recently said about staying relevant in hip hop? Well, Kendrick added an option to my list: dropping new tracks for single events that you don’t even end up using on albums or anything. Without having to remaster anything or transition into other tracks, this method allows rappers to be really timely (without having to wait weeks for labels to release your shit.) It’s frustrating because we can’t buy the dope tracks, but it makes a lot of sense for the game.


Sad or nah?

You think the untitled track from the Colbert Report could have been on To Pimp A Butterfly anyways? I don’t think the album lost anything without the track, but it is a damn shame that we can’t buy and download the track. Anyways, I can’t wait for Kendrick to start releasing new shit again, even if it takes years because that’s how long I’ll need to digest the album.


Spit Talking

Staying Relevant In Hip Hop

Don’t let em forget.

Ever since Forgot About Dre, rappers (and producers) have been trynna stay relevant in the game. Now in 2015, though, it’s especially hard considering folks stop paying attention to even dope shit after like a week. Since you can’t just release an album every week, rappers gotta be smart to keep their names on peoples’ minds. Let’s see what some of the ways to stay relevant in hip hop are in 2015.


Mixtapes/EPs

Freddie Gibbs - ProntoAgain, you obviously can’t just drop an album weekly (except maybe if you’re Lil B or guwop), but you can do shorter projects between albums. Freddie Gibbs showed this with Pronto, which was only 3 tracks but got everyone talking about him again right before Kendrick’s album dropped, and he was one of the few rappers folks were talking about after the world heard To Pimp A Butterfly. This is a great example, because dropping 3 tracks is a lot more doable than doing a whole like 12-track album.

Music Videos

This can also be accomplished with single track releases, but music videos do the job way better. As evidence by J. Cole with his incendiary G.O.M.D. video, there’s no better way to make waves (aside from dropping a few tracks/an album) than with a music video. Everyone was talking about the video, even though Kendrick, Earl Sweatshirt and Action Bronson had just released full (and well-liked) albums. Videos also give rappers an opportunity to reach new fans or send out more subtle messages (or sometimes less subtle messages) than their music does. It’s a good way for a rapper to see what they got outside of spitting verses, they legitimize hip hop, and most importantly they keep a rapper relevant without them having to record any more music.

Twitter

Complex twitter KendrickNow, y’all know I love twitter but just hear me out. Twitter is a 100% free way for rapper to interact with fans, critics, and other musicians. With just a few minutes on twitter a day, rappers can come off as more relatable (by just tweeting dumb shit/talking to fans), supportive (by shouting out other rappers) and progressive (by tweeting about current events.) Most importantly, even when a rapper hasn’t dropped any new music in a while, they can still stay on folks’ minds. It’s also the best way for fans to stay up to date on hip hop.


Anything else?

How else do y’all think rappers can stay relevant nowadays? Appearing in TV shows or movies would definitely work, but what else? I still gotta say twitter’s the best way to do it (and the best way for fans to stay updated on all things hip hop), but that’s just me.


Spit Talking

New J. Cole Video – G.O.M.D.

We got a G.O.M.D. video, y’all.

J. Cole has dropped another video from his new album so we don’t forget about him with all the other hip hop getting dropped. I’m glad this is the second video Cole’s given us (with the first being Apparently) off of the mad dope 2014 Forest Hills Drive, because G.O.M.D. is a mad dope track, from the crazy beat to the fire Cole spits. I didn’t expect the music video to be anything like this though, but it’s a bold move from Cole and one that really pays off.

J. Cole - 2014 Forest Hills Drive

G.O.M.D. is the 8th track off 2014 Forest Hills Drive.

Watch J. Cole – G.O.M.D. Video


Back in the day

J. Cole - G.O.M.D. VideoThe video starts with Cole in a plantation house and some white men watching over slaves working in the field. Then Cole walks around trynna say what’s up to some of the slaves in the house. One of the slave drivers fucks with him a little bit outside the house, and he tries to throw up a fist of solidarity to some of the field slaves but they don’t respect him either. This is a hell of a fucking metaphor for Cole’s career and the perception of his blackness.

Rebellion

He ends up stealing some keys, and a white girl notices but doesn’t say anything. He starts gathering up some other slaves and some weapons, before the girl who notices him comes up and sees but then saves them from being caught. He goes up to the field slaves who didn’t respect them, but when he arms them that’s all forgotten. Then he goes back to the house and waits until the field slaves come and they trap the white folks between them before just fucking everything up.

Celebration but no conclusion

J. Cole - G.O.M.D. VideoThe last minute of the video is the slaves celebrating, and sets the tone for Cole’s last verse so you can really think about what he’s saying about the state of black men in this country today. The video ends with the slaves being approached by white men on horses with torches. Cole is saying that even though those slaves were freed (and all slaves in the country were freed), the fight still continues. Fuck.


Best rap video I’ve seen in a while.

This shit is deep, from what it says about the state of black people in this country today to how he himself is viewed by both whites and blacks. This shit is unapologetically revolutionary, and somehow the whole time the track over the video works perfectly. Folks are gonna be talking about this video for a while. For now though, I’ma just watch it a few more times.

Watch J. Cole – G.O.M.D. Video


Spit Talking

Action Bronson – Mr. Wonderful Review

Action Bronson has debuted.

He’s given the world Mr. Wonderful right around when Earl dropped his shit and a week after Kendrick blew up hip hop with To Pimp A Butterfly. Action Bronson is one of the best white rappers doing it though, and this is his pretty highly anticipated major label debut, so this shit should be good. Read on for Spit Talking’s Mr. Wonderful review to see if Bronsoliño delivered.

Action Bronson - Mr. Wonderful

On Mr. Wonderful, it’s obvious that Bronson doesn’t only listen to hip hop.

Mr. Wonderful - Action Bronson


I feel conflicted about this album. On the one hand, the beats are mad dope and jump around a lot, showing that Bronson is clearly trying to do something different for hip hop with Mr. Wonderful, and he commits. On the other hand, I just don’t always super feel the rhymes. I mean, they’re dope, but I feel like Action Bronson could bring us more but he’s just keeping it chill and pretty funny sometimes. That’s fine, and shows that this album is good for kicking it with some smoke, but I’m still looking forward to the future to see what he’ll bring us once he’s been working on his rap some more.

For the musically diverse sounds this album hits and its overall chill raps (even though they never quite hit the next level), I give Mr. Wonderful a:

 

3.5/5

 


Brand New Car

The album starts with something that sounds like it’s an old sitcom theme song with Bronson singing before he starts rapping. Then the beat drops and comes in a little harder for Action to start really spitting. From the first track, Action Bronson’s identity is confirmed as a dope rapper but also just a funny guy. He spits some nostalgic shit so you know how he got where he is.

The second track The Rising comes in with the first feature, Big Body Bes. Again, we get a beat that sounds like it should introduce an ’80s cop show with Bronson rapping about how dope his life is and how he’s gonna run the game soon. Even when he’s boasting he’s honest, and this is one of the reason folks like Action Bronson, he just seems like a cool guy. Big Body Bes finishes off the track talking a little shit over the still-dope beat that’s repetitive but doesn’t necessarily sound like every hip hop beat, it’s pretty interesting.

Penthouses and oysters

Action Bronson cooking

Photo: firstwefeast.com

Terry starts with Bronson saying “don’t hurt me again” over some easy listening before he goes in on the optimistic beat with a shade of darkness. He goes from giving life advice to talking about how the first time he jacked off was in a penthouse. It ain’t all that serious to Action Bronson, who just likes spitting some funny shit or rhymes about food, only occasionally getting that deep. It works for a chill sound though. The beat fades out with about a minute left for it to go into some spacy shit and fades into the next track.

Actin Crazy sounds way different than the first 3 tracks with a slow electronic beat and Bronson turning up the heat a little bit and going a little harder, like all of a sudden he isn’t fucking around. He keeps it real, saying “all I do is eat oysters, and speak 6 languages in 3 voices.” In just 4 tracks on the album, Bronson’s showing that he’s pretty versatile, in case you just think he’s a food rapper or something. This track rides well, and I could see it hitting the club.

Interludes?

Then we got Falconry which goes back to a lighter, more carnival-like sound for the 5th track, which features Meyhem Lauren & Big Body Bes. Again, Bronson’s rapping about how dope his life is, in case you didn’t know. At first it seems like this is almost like an interlude or a skit disguised a song, considering it’s the 5th track, only 2 and a half minutes long and starts with a bong. This is a smoke session track, and indicates who this album is really for (besides Action Bronson.) But then we do actually get an interlude as the 6th track, THUG LOVE STORY 2017 THE MUSICAL. Shit’s a pretty real 2 minutes actually that could either “be about drugs, or it could be about a woman”, then the musical flows into 3 more tracks.

It goes nicely into City Boy Blues, which really is pretty much the blues. It’s actually just Bronson singing a song without rapping, and all of a sudden this doesn’t sound like a rap album but like alternative rock or something. It’s bold to do this for 4 minutes in the middle of a rap album, but it works. It’s a pretty solid song that even ends with a guitar solo and an arena-like fadeout.

Some smooth gangsta shit

Action Bronson

Photo: nydailynews.com

The 8th track is A Light in The Addict (featuring Party Supplies & Black Atlas) and it starts out like it’s between songs at a rock concert again. After a minute and a half of this, it all of a sudden drops into a real smooth, jazzy beat and Bronson’s back to spitting some introspective, dark shit. This is the best Action’s given to us so far on Mr. Wonderful, cause it’s some NY gangsta shit but he kills it and it doesn’t sound played. The vocal contributions take it to an R&B level, and we got some soul on the track now. Even though Bronson raps on this one, it ain’t exactly just hip hop either, but damn does it sound good. He’s being pretty bold on Mr. Wonderful, but hasn’t flopped yet.

Then we got Baby Blue, which as I’m sure you know by now features Chance the Rapper. Chance comes in singing some harsh shit about his girl before the beat drops into some staccato-type shit for Bronson to spit over before Chance comes back in with the hook. Bronson raps about how he doesn’t care if people don’t like him or that he’s getting big, cause he’s living it up. Then Chance comes in rapping some real harsh shit about how he hopes all this terrible, unlucky shit happens to his girl. This is a raw heartbreak track, and Chance is perfect for it. This track ends the musical which started with the 6th track interlude.

Prince makes an appearance (but not really)

Only in America comes in as the 10th track with more ’80s electric guitar and featuring more Party Supplies. This track continues the musical diversity Bronson’s trying to hit in Mr. Wonderful, cause this really sounds like a Prince track once the singing comes in, even though he shouts out Depeche Mode first. The whole album is definitely musically interesting with Action Bronson dipping his toes into a bunch of shit that most rappers wouldn’t touch, but overall I just gotta say the verses are just pretty good, they’re nothing amazing. I love dope lyrics, so no matter how dope or bold the beats are, I’m still always looking for rappers to spit some incredible shit.

Anyways, the musical experimentation continues in Galactic Love, and Bronson continues to rap about how dope his life is, from his drink to his piano over a nice deep bassline. He’s got some dope rhymes on this track, showing that he can hit a neat flow without needing to go fast, and he spits some realer, more depressed shit near the end about how hard he’s been working to support his family. In 2 and a half minutes, he’s made me rethink what I just wrote a paragraph ago. The verses still weren’t incredible but don’t get me wrong either, the dude can really rap.

Not what you’d expect

Action Bronson with the fans

Photo: brooklynvegan.com

On the second-to-last track we get The Passage which is live from Prague, which in interesting for a track on a rap album. It starts with some old ’80s synth that slips into a nice little groove before the drums come in and you’re just waiting for the beat to drop. Then more guitar comes in and shit sounds like an updated, more metal Lord of the Rings soundtrack or something. The beat drops out with a minute and a half left for the crowd to start chanting “Bronson! Bronson!” before they die down for some guitar, bells and synth. With about 15 seconds left another beat comes in that flows into the last track.

Easy Rider ends the album by distorting and filtering that beat a little bit, then we finally get Action Bronson rapping again, about Les Paul and cholesterol, and a 10-day acid binge. After his first verse, he repeats “ride the Harley into the sunset”, showing this really is like a finale track, and you can almost hear the sun going down in the background. He raps about food, his career, the people around him, his musical influences and his life without missing a beat.

Dope, but could have been doper.

Like the beats around him on Mr. Wonderful, Bronson likes switching it up, but the album never quite reaches its full potential. It could have been a real dope concept album, but Bronson should have focused a little more on the rhymes (even though the beats are straight flames.) Instead, it’s just a pretty solid album, which is still impressive for a major label debut.


What’d you think?

I think this shows that Action Bronson is anything but a regular rapper, and he’s gonna switch it up to whatever he feels like within his range of musical tastes. I think the future is bright for him, but he should tighten up his lyrics just a bit. I ain’t talking shit though, cause Mr. Wonderful is a real good listen and makes you question what can and can’t be on a rap album.

Mr. Wonderful - Action Bronson


Spit Talking

I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside Review

Earl’s album is here.

I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside popped up on iTunes a few days ago, but now it’s actually here. It’s Earl’s second LP after Doris and folks have been waiting on it for a bit. I copped it first thing this morning when I woke up so I could let y’all know how it is. This is Spit Talking’s I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside review.

Earl Sweatshirt - I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside

This is classic Earl, but just a little different than we’re used to, in a good way.

I Don't Like S**t, I Don't Go Outside: An Album by Earl Sweatshirt - Earl Sweatshirt


I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside: An Album By Earl Sweatshirt lives up to the wait. In it, Earl shows off his dope flow and lyrics that he’s always had, and the beats are mostly similarly dark as we’re used to, with some switch-ups. For one, most tracks end with like a minute where Earl drops off and the beat just goes. This keeps shit interesting, and Earl does too with this updated combination of his 15-year old mindset and his 21-year old self. Earl is introspective, depressed and boastful, sometimes on the same track. This is pretty much a smoking album that you listen to by yourself late at night, but it’s one of the best of those there is.

For its mad chill vibe, Earl’s dope flow, deep lyrics and the musical variety, I give I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside A:

 

4/5

 


Huey

The album starts with Huey and some unexpected organ that sounds like it came from Tyler. From the beginning Earl shows off his mad dope flow while already shit talking critics and bitches a minute into the album. It’s not quite 2 minutes long but it shows that Earl is still on that relaxed flow shit and has still got the lyrics down. The last 30 seconds of Huey are the beat dropping down before a voice says “and now, a formal introduction.”

Earl Sweatshirt

Photo: thefader.com

Earl starts Mantra right away by rapping bout how he’s gonna show you how it’s done over some distorted guitar that sounds like it’s from a Wild West showdown. Earl’s big enough now to really rap about success, whether it’s how people around him treat him differently or how the fans react to him at shows. It almost sounds like he’s going for an anthem before the beat drops out for a second and then Earl comes back in hungry. By the end, Earl says fuck it and dips, leaving the beat to experiment a little bit. You can already tell this album is more musical than just rap, and Earl isn’t always the focus.

Faucet flows real nice

Mantra flows nicely into Faucet with an old Wu-Tang sounding beat, which is perfect for Earl to really spit some grimy shit about how his days are numbered. It’s chill as fuck, and it’s only the 3rd track on the album but I feel confident saying it’s one of the highlights. The beat switches up just enough to stay interesting but keep the vibe for Earl to talk about his family problems. This is Earl at his best, relaxed and introspective over a chill ass but back alley-sounding beat.

Earl Sweatshirt

Photo: okayplayer.com

Then comes Grief, which came out a few days before the album to mixed reception. The beat is jagged and Earl’s voice is just a little different, like he’s trying to go even deeper than he usually sounds now. He’s got some good lines, like “I was makin’ waves, you was surfin’ in ’em” and “fishy niggas stick to eatin’ off of hooks.” In general, Earl’s flow is as dope as it’s always been, but his lines are a little more vicious now rather than just sounding dope. I can see why some folks didn’t like this, but it makes a lot of sense as a mid-album track with it’s slow, dragging beat (before it switches up again into some nightmare carnival sounding shit for the last 45 seconds.)

Off Top throws you off

Off Top is the 5th track on the album and starts with a smoke session and an even more jagged beat that makes it hard to think straight. It’s only 2 minutes, so it’s a chance for Earl to go back to that old Earl shit and just spit some mad dope-sounding shit without stopping over a grimy Odd Future beat. Even on this track though, Earl’s still getting even more personal.

Grown Ups starts the second half of the album and has the first feature from Dash. This is some late night cruising shit when you’re rolling around causing trouble. Earl talks about not trusting hoes and not even trusting his friends, and Dash fits right over the beat too. This is another highlight of the album, from the repetitive but captivating beat to the dope flow over it.

A highlight for the album and for Earl

Earl Sweatshirt

Photo: fresh-grind.com

AM//Radio has another feature, this one from Wiki. He spits some Chance the Rapper-sounding shit over a light, optimistic beat that sounds like a videogame paradise or something. Then Earl comes in talking bout how he skated before he rapped and his pops. The beat makes sense cause this is a mad nostaligc track, down to the nuggets on his fingers and his shirt like they was chicken crumbs. This is maybe the best track on the album, and maybe the best Earl’s ever done with his incredible natural flow. It cuts off a little earlier this time so the beat gets like a minute and a half to fuck around, but even this is real dope.

The album flows nicely then into Inside, the 8th track on the album. It’s another short one, less than 2 minutes long, but it’s a chance for Earl to spit some shit about what he’s been up to since he’s been finding a little success. Like the rest of the album, it’s a combination of dope lines and negative thoughts. He plays it real well though, switching up his flow on the track more than he would have a few years ago, keeping it interesting until the end.

A little Migos influence?

Then we get DNA (feat. Na’kel), which sounds like some more back alley shit for Earl to go off over. He flirts with the Migos flow a little though and generally keeps it a little quicker than he usually does. With how good his flow has always sounded, the idea of an Earl who’s also a master at rapping fast is just scary, but DNA shows us a glimpse of that. Na’kel brings in a totally different sound to the track, a little rougher and a little less smooth and it’s good cause it fits the dark vibe. the beat puts on. His verse is introspective and pretty down on himself too, so you know him and Earl identify with the same shit.

Earl Sweatshirt

Photo: genius.com

Again, the track gets like a minute at the end to just do what it feels. This is I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside: the tracks are front-loaded with rap and then there isn’t really a hook, instead Earl just drops off and lets the beat roll for like a minute. Most of the tracks on the album do this and let the production just flow. It’s not what you usually hear from rap albums (not even Sour Soul regularly does this), but it’s unique and it’s mad dope. This album is clearly made for kicking it, probably by yourself, probably with some smoke and just letting the music go through you.

Back to the good old days

The album ends with Wool, and a feature from the always dope Vince Staples. Vince Staples actually kicks off the rap with some gangsta shit, and it works. It’s a throwback to the old Odd Future days (even though Vince was never OF) where they’d throw on a dark beat and just go off. This album does that (like on Off Top) more than Doris did, while also showing more maturity and development. Then Earl comes in talking GOLF, showing that this is a shoutout to OF. Earl has reconciled his 15-year old self with his current self, and the results are a smart, quick, mature but not-too-serious and most of all dope rapper.


Good shit, Earl.

Earl Sweatshirt doesn’t do anything mindblowing on I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside, but he does classic Earl better than we’ve ever heard it before. It’s also a more musically interesting album than we’ve ever heard from Earl, even if at its base it’s still mad chill (but not just quite weed) rap. I’m mad looking forward to see what he does next, but until then I’m gonna fill a good number of lazy half-hours with this album and his old shit.

I Don't Like S**t, I Don't Go Outside: An Album by Earl Sweatshirt - Earl Sweatshirt


Spit Talking

2015’s Already Been Dope For Hip Hop

We’re almost 1/4 through 2015 now.

So why not review what we’ve seen from hip hop so far in 2015? 2014 left us on a real strong note with 2014 Forest Hills Drive, so the tone was set for 2015, and so far hip hop has responded. Let’s catch up with some of the dope rap albums that have been dropped and some of the shit rappers have been up to.


Kanye

Kanye West - All DayKanye’s been up to a whole lot (as usual) in 2015. He’s dropped more tracks that’ll be on his upcoming album (like All Day), and now that To Pimp A Butterfly has dropped (more on that in a second) Kanye’s next album is currently the most anticipated hip hop album right now. It’ll drop as a surprise, but the tracks Kanye has dropped so far show it’ll be dope and varied.

He also pulled a Kanye at The Grammys before later apologizing to Beck and calling himself a hypocrite cause Kanye’s real like that. He also dropped his fashion line with Adidas, and it was apparently the most-watched fashion show of the season, which is dope and shows that Kanye can do whatever he wants. Kanye just keeps getting bigger and more controversial, but I mean he’s Yeezus.

Albums

Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp A ButterflyMost importantly though, the hip hop albums we’ve heard have been better than what we heard in 2014 so that’s good. Big Sean gave us his best shit yet and turned me into a fan with Dark Sky Paradise. Ghostface collabed with BADBADNOTGOOD for Sour Soul to bring a little jazz into hip hop. Then Kendrick brought a whole lot of jazz (and other genres) into hip hop with To Pimp A Butterfly, which somehow lived up to some of the highest expectations for a sophomore rap album of all time.

Kendrick brought hip hop back to its roots, both musically and message-wise. It’s stil been there the whole time, but Kendrick put hip hop’s focus back on social issue, and brought old genre sounds into modern times. And he interviewed Tupac. Tupac. To Pimp A Butterfly will probably win this year’s rap Grammy, and I’ma be real pissed if Macklemore’s ass takes this one again.


Favorite album so far?

What do you think is the dopest shit we’ve heard so far out of 2015’s rappers? I really gotta say To Pimp A Butterfly and it’s not that close, even though a lot of real good rap albums have come out this year. Sour Soul was mad good and mad diverse musically, but not nearly as boldly as Kendrick’s shit.


Spit Talking