Music Reviews

Kendrick’s King Kunta Has Come.

King Kunta is here.

This is the 3rd song that we’ve heard from Kendrick that we know is gonna be on To Pimp A Butterfly. This is the one Pharrell was talking about a few months ago, so expectations are high. With the release of the album approaching in less than 10 days now, let’s see if King Kunta holds it down. My opinion is that it definitely does hold it down. Listen to it here.


The sound

Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp A ButterflyThe track starts with a simple beat that only has a few funky elements. Kendrick’s flow at the very beginning is pretty much the exact same flow as he uses in i near the end where the track switches it up, and it’s definitely high energy. King Kunta is supposed to be Kendrick as Kunta Kinte in a Blaxploitation movie, and Kendrick is mad, starting the track with “I got a bone to pick!” Kendrick’s mad but not stressed — talking about how folks are trynna cut his legs off cause he’s running the game and got the whole world talking. Kendrick doesn’t miss a beat while he sounds like he’s strutting down the street (which will probably be the track’s video, if it has one.)

The yams

When the rest of the beat leaks in, it stays slow and funky but hits another level, and it sounds like Kendrick’s been rapping for that beat the whole time. This shit really sounds like Kendrick was trynna make a hip hop track like Parliament Funkadelic would have made, and it sounds like it came out sometime in the ’80s, definitely not 2015. Anyways, Kendrick talks a lot about the yams. You might ask, “what’s the yams?” But it’s ok because so does the hook. Kendrick answers the yams are the powers that be… what brought it out of Richard Pryor and manipulated Bill Clinton with desires.

Kendrick Lamar

Photo: highsnobiety.com

The beat then drops out and barely backs up Kendrick with anything before it comes in and he shouts out Smooth Criminal. Then with a gunshot, you’re promised that the funk will soon be within you, and by the end it definitely is with Kendrick ducking out for a guitar solo and pure funk. Then, in one last reference to the yams, Kendrick ends the track with “I remember you was conflicted. Misusing your influence.” Shit’s deep, whether he’s talking to himself or celebrities in general. Once the track’s over you’re gonna start it again right away, trust me. That beat gets in your head.


What you think?

I think this is the best track so far that we know is gonna be on To Pimp A Butterfly, and I love The Blacker The Berry but I gotta go with King Kunta. It’s not only the dopest track that’ll be on Kendrick’s album, this is one of the dopest/funkiest rap tracks I’ve heard in a while. This track also tells us that Kendrick’s album is for sure gonna be unapologetically black, but that it’ll also be about fame and some other things, not just blackness. This track really makes me wish the rest of the album would just drop already, but I got it preordered so I’ma have it the second it comes. If you wanna preorder for yourself or check out the tracklist/other thoughts I have on To Pimp A Butterfly, scope.


Spit Talking

Surprise Freddie Gibbs EP – Pronto

Gangsta Gibbs dropped an EP

The EP is called Pronto, and it’s only got 3 tracks.  The album cover has a Gibbs of a different color for each track on the EP. Freddie Gibbs dropped it for the fans who are waiting for his next album after the mad dope work he and Madlib did on Piñata. Shit’s only 3 bucks so you know I had to buy it to let y’all know how it is. I never expect anything less than dope from Freddie Gibbs, and this EP delivers. The beats are pretty varied but mostly keep it chill, while Freddie Gibbs shows off how versatile he is with his flexible flow. For less than $5 this is a nice EP for when you’re just trynna kick it.

Freddie Gibbs - Pronto

Get ready for the best 12 minutes of your day.


Pronto

The EP starts with the titular track, a slow spacey vibe and Gibbs asking “what you trippin on?” The beat comes in hard, and Gibbs start spitting some shit about how dope but also real he and his life are. His flow is a little different than that typical flow where he’s real neat and doesn’t leave any vowel unrhymed. I love that flow, but it’s dope to hear him switch it up and kill it in the process. From the first track, he confirms that his delivery is maybe the dopest in the game. This is the hypest track on the EP, but because of the spacey vibe it stays pretty chill.

White Range

Freddie Gibbs smoking

Photo: mtvhive.com

White Range starts with that dark back alley vibe, but then it smooths out a bit into some jazzier shit. It sets the chill tone for Gibbs to lay that smoking track down while his incense burns. If all stoner rap was this dope, the world would be a better place, cause Gangsta Gibbs is just on a higher level than most of these weed rappers. He switches between boastful to introspective on this track, but the beat keeps it on some sleepy shit the whole time. This is the dopest track on Pronto, and if you’re like me you’ll probably be listening to it a lot for a bit.

Diamonds (feat. Dana Williams)

The last track on the EP (remember, it’s only 3 tracks) keeps it slow, which means this shit is for when you’re cooling and not trynna get hype or anything, even while Gibbs talks about how he’s grinding for them diamonds or packing for them soldiers. Then he speeds up a bit while the beat stays slow before he drops back down to the clouds. This is pretty representative of the whole EP: the beats stay mad chill (besides the first track, which still lays pretty low) while Gibbs alternates between cooling and going hard. Pronto just tells us what we already knew– that he’s one of the best rappers in the game at any speed. Dana Williams closes the EP with some nice backing vocals, bringing some soul into the track.


Pronto is dope.

The surprise EP from Freddie Gibbs definitely delivers, and fans should be happy. In fact, the only thing that’s really disappointing about this is how short it is, but I don’t hold that against Gibbs or anything, I just wish there were more tracks. I seriously listened to this shit like 3 times in a row cause it’s so short but so dope. It definitely makes me wish his album would come out now, and it’s a smart way for Freddie Gibbs to make sure folks don’t forget about him cause he’s undeniably dope. If you got $3, might as well throw it to one of the hottest rappers doing it.

Pronto - EP - Freddie Gibbs


Spit Talking

Kanye’s Newest Track: All Day

CDQ of All Day is here.

After a video of it premiered last week, folks have been looking forward to the high quality track popping up. Well ya boy hit that buy button on iTunes quick so I could let the good readers of Spit Talking know what it’s like. The track is off Kanye’s next album (presumably along with Wolves, Only One and maybe FourFiveSeconds), which we now know will be called So Help Me God. Let’s see what All Day’s all about now that we got it with some dope quality. Scope it here.

Real quick, I say maybe fourfiveseconds because some publications are saying that’ll be on So Help Me God, but I’m not so sure. First of all, on iTunes Rihanna is listed first, instead of as a feature which you would expect if it was a Kanye single. Then, Only One and now All Day were both released by Def Jam, while fourfiveseconds was released by Roc Nation. I think that we’ve only heard 3 tracks off of So Help Me God: Wolves, Only One and now All Day. But fourfiveseconds does have Paul McCartney on it, so who knows.


Kanye West - So Help Me God


Feat. Theophilus London, Allan Kingdom and Paul McCartney

The 3 features on this track confirm that Kanye’s going back to the features for So Help Me God after abandoning them on Yeezus. Paul McCartney’s contribution is some dope and very Otis Redding-like whistling near the end. It sounds most like you’d expect from a Kanye track of all of them, mainly cause it’s actuallly rap. The beat has got that Yeezus snarl and crunch, but it has more of a hip hop sound than all of Yeezus did, so Kanye’s not totally forgetting his last project on the way to his next. Anyone who wants Ye’s next album to not be all ballads but have some return to rap will be happy with All Day.

Kanye comes out hungry (even though he’s got it all now), and you probably already heard the best line on the track, “you a fake Denzel like the Allstate nigga, if you’re running to me, better have Allstate with ya!” A less tweeted but no less dope line is “niggas looking at me like I’m worth both MJs.” That gives you an idea of this track, which is a hard celebration of Kanye’s success where he doesn’t so much claim he’s the king of hip hop as he does dare anyone to challenge him. Shit bumps, and is easily the most banging track on So Help Me God (so far.) It also has two major switch-ups at the end, showing that Kanye isn’t content with one dope sound per song. By the end, the track dies in a digital seizure.


Stay hyped for So Help Me God

So how is this gonna fit in the album with Only One? Well, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was probably Kanye’s most bipolar album, which the title kind of hints at. It’s also considered by many to be his best, so maybe that says something about So Help Me God. Namely, get hyped. It’s gonna drop as a surprise, but Kanye did say he’s about 80% done with it.


Spit Talking

Big Sean – Dark Sky Paradise Review

Albums are starting to drop in 2015.

Today we’re looking at Big Sean’s new project, which dropped yesterday. It’s a G.O.O.D. Music release, and Kanye along with many other rappers have unsuprisingly shown their support, congratulating Big Sean. So does it live up to the hype? It’s definitely got a lot of dope features, but Big Sean holds this shit down. Read on for my Dark Sky Paradise review.

Big Sean - Dark Sky Paradise

Only parts of this album are dark. The rest is paradise.

Dark Sky Paradise - Big Sean


Overall, the album is a great showcase of Big Sean’s versatility to flow on different beats and at different speeds, and it’s also a showcase of dope beats and feats. It’s consistently solid, but only has a few real dope tracks, the rest are only really good. I also think the album sounds its best when it’s just Big Sean, because he can really shine as a rapper with a dope range, but only about half the tracks don’t have any features.

For its solid sound and Big Sean’s great performance, I give Dark Sky Paradise a:

 

4/5

 


Dark Sky

The album starts with one of the titular tracks, Dark Sky (Skyscrapers), which is a real grimy but minimal beat for Big Sean to introduce himself over. He does that dope quick repetition shit a few times, and it’s a solid intro talking about how he started from the basement and made it to skyscrapers. He goes off on the first track, setting the tone and raising expectations for the rest of the album.

The next track, Blessings, has Drake on it, and from the beginning it just sounds like a Drake track. Big Sean raps about folks talking shit behind his back but he’s made it so it doesn’t really matter, he ain’t bothered. Then Drake comes in (I mean the track is called Blessings) for the hook and spits a pretty dope verse, matching the darkish vibe on the beat. Big Sean comes back to rap about how he’s the man of the house now that his grandma died, but that just means he’s gotta work now. Even more than the intro, this is a mission statement for his album and his life.

Kanye showing some love

Kanye West and Big Sean

Photo: hiphop-n-more.com

All Your Fault comes in as the 3rd track, sporting another kinda big feature with Kanye spitting the first verse and helping out on the beat too. This is a slower track that starts leaning into R&B on Kanye’s hooks, before Big Sean comes in talking shit with the staccato flow. Kanye and Big Sean end the track trading off real dope lines, and it’s one of the best tracks on the album. The next track has another big feature, but y’all already know I Don’t Fuck With You with E-40. It’s mad hype and you gotta scope it if you somehow haven’t yet.

Mad (but dope) features

Pretty much the opposite of 2014 Forest Hills Drive, this album is all about the features. Play No Games has Chris Brown and Ty Dolla Sign on it, and all of a sudden the album’s got kind of a soulful feel to it. The soul makes sense, cause it’s a personal track for Sean, talking about love and how he “ain’t like those other niggas” and wants to be taken seriously. The lyrics are pretty solid, but I gotta say the delivery could be a little better, but I think he was trynna rock that slightly monotone flow to complement Chris Brown’s vocal work so I’mma give him the benefit of the doubt.

Paradise

The second titular track comes in the form of Paradise (Extended), which is the first since Dark Sky to not have a feature. It’s a nice change because it lets Big Sean jump around flows and show how versatile he is. It’s got a beat that sounds like it was chopped and screwed out of Laffy Taffy or something, but it’s fucking dope and it’s a hot backdrop for Sean rapping about how he always wanted Paradise. This might be the best track on the album, and I think part of that is because it’s just Big Sean going off, and he even admits he hit the booth and he went Super Saiyan.

Big Sean

Photo: billboard.com

The second half of the album starts with Win Some, Lose Some, which is also just Sean. He starts by talking about how his whole life he’s heard you win some you lose some, but “that doesn’t make it right.” It’s an introspective track where he’s rapping to himself, and we all know some of the best hip hop tracks of all time are like this. He does it pretty well, getting pretty personal but still spitting dope shit. This is the type of track that can make you a fan of Big Sean, and I definitely like the dude more after hearing it, even before he hijacks his own track and starts straight grooving on it.

The crackers ain’t gon let you get that ritz

Stay Down continues the mini-trend of no features, just Big Sean. It really slows down the album, sounding like the background of some sort of creepy fairytale. Big Sean comes in with that half rap/half R&B shit (we’ve all heard Drake’s shit) that’s either dope or trash, but this is one of those cases where it’s dope. It’s kind of a celebratory but chill track for Sean, at least until he starts going off. He does this a few times on the album, switching up the flow from smokey slow shit to that rapid-fire, almost just showing off sometimes. He also very slightly touches on social issues a few times, like he does here when he says the crackers ain’t gon let you get that ritz. Tell em, Sean.

I Know comes back with the features, and this time it’s Jhené Aiko, who actually also had uncredited vocals on Win Some, Lose Some. It starts as by far the slowest, most R&B track on the album, but Sean seems pretty damn comfortable there. This is the type of track that would play at the very end of a house party when everyone’s either gone or passed out except like 3 folks. It’s got a good, interesting sound though, and even though it’s slow it’s chill without putting you to sleep, especially when Jhené Aiko comes in and just adds a dope layer and a new direction to the track. This is also a pretty personal track, but it’s not as specific as some of the other ones.

Weezy with a mad dope feat

Deep comes in as the 10th track, and Weezy’s got this feat. It’s got an underground classy sound, like a hip hop speakeasy might sound like, and Big Sean alternates between slow/personal and fast/confident. He has a few different speeds on this track alone, and I think Sean’s at his best when he switches his flows up a lot, cause he’s mad versatile. Lil Wayne’s feat is pretty solid, as he starts layered behind Sean before his own verse which is preceeded by a single puff. Weezy kind of goes off, and it’s one of his best featured verses in years, plus it fits the track perfectly. It’s emotional, and it’s one of the highlights of the album.

Big Sean, Kanye, John Legend, best track on the album.

John Legend

Photo: bucknell.edu

So who can follow Weezy on the feat? Well, One Man Can Change The World thinks that Kanye and John Legend might be able to do it. It starts with some nice piano (shout outs to John Legened) and it’s an optimistic track in the form of a letter. This shit is soulful, emotional, and it works, even when Sean’s talking about all he wanted was money and a “bad chick.” Big Sean’s at his best when his music sounds a little like R&B, whether it’s the beat or his flow. Then Kanye comes in with a mad good hook, and shit starts to sound like gospel music. Big Sean’s second verse on the track is probably his best on the album, even though he’s not going fast, it’s just mad personal and mad well-written. I think this is actually the best track on the album. John Legend handles the hook the second time, and as always he kills it. Yeah, this is the best track on the album, including the snippet of a phone call with his grandma. Good shit, Sean.

Consider me a Big Sean fan

The album (fittingly) ends with Outro, which changes up the sounds to a summertime-like, carefree beat with some soul samples (no, Kanye didn’t produce it, I checked.) Then it gets funky for Big Sean’s verse, and it’s obvious he’s going out strong, not just fading out into the night. Overall, the album is stronger in the second half, and this outro does not disappoint, giving Sean a few different beats to spit a few different dope flows over and even drop his number quick. By the end of the track (and the album), I consider myself a Big Sean fan, which I gotta say I wasn’t before this album.


Whether or not you like Big Sean, scope this album.

There’s something here for everyone, but especially if you like slower hip hop that gets a little close to R&B at times and then speeds it the fuck up at other times. If you like Big Sean, you’ll love this shit, and if you don’t like him, I think you will after giving this album a listen. To hear Big Sean switch up between mad different flows on dope varied beats, even within a track, buy yourself Dark Sky Paradise.

Dark Sky Paradise - Big Sean


Spit Talking

BADBADNOTGOOD & Ghostface – Sour Soul Review

Sour Soul has dropped!

This is not a drill. The much-anticipated album, a collaboration between Ghostface Killah and BADBADNOTGOOD should be unlike anything either of them have really done before, but hopefully in a mad dope way (confirmed.) Read on for my Sour Soul Review.

BADBADNOTGOOD & Ghostface Killah - Sour Soul

Ghostface brings the dope rhymes, BADBADNOTGOOD brings the chill beats.

Sour Soul - BADBADNOTGOOD & Ghostface Killah


Sour Soul is an excellent collab between a rap legend and a young production trio that has some hip hop cred themselves. It’s a jazzy, chill, but short (just over a half hour) album which emphasizes the beat as much as the rap, but never quite takes it to the next level. The music never falters though, and neither does Ghostface, and it’s a very consistent album which does some clever things between BADBADNOTGOOD’s production and Ghostface Killah’s flow.

For being a strong, confident, jazzy album I give Sour Soul a:

 

4/5

 


Slow (but dope) start

The album starts with Mono, which clocks in at just under a minute. It sets the tone with some slow percussion before getting a nice little groove in there then fading out to some dialogue before the first track with Ghostface on it, also the titular track, Sour Soul. From the beginning it’s obvious this is Ghostface, both from the voice and the bravado. BADBADNOTGOOD provides some dope backing for a rapper like Ghostface, who is such a commanding presence that he doesn’t need much more than some boom-bap. But BADBADNOTGOOD can still bring it, dropping in some dope strings before the second track’s even out.

Danny Brown elevates expectations

BADBADNOTGOOD

Photo: soundcloud.com

The next track, Six Degrees, has the album’s first feature, Danny Brown. It starts out with a choppy, vaguely-RZA sounding minimalist beat while Ghostface spits some shit about the old days. Danny Brown comes in with an even choppier beat, and really the switch-up makes you excited for the rest of the album because BADBADNOTGOOD clearly knows how to match a rapper’s flow, and you gotta love it when the beat follows the rapper rather than the other way around. When Ghostface comes back in, it’s a different beat again before dropping back into a more familiar one. Six Degrees is a fire track, including the 50-second long instrumental showcase at the end.

Gunshowers comes in at track 4 with some sad-sounding guitar and all of a sudden you can’t tell what’s blues, what’s jazz and what’s hip hop. Ghostface rides it perfectly, too, which either speaks to his flow ability or BADBADNOTGOOD’s ability to match him. Either way, it works. Elzhi jumps on this one too, bringing the energy down for a creepier, moe atmospheric vibe. It sounds very much like a Wu-Tang album at this point, and that’s even before they started trading lines.

Real or imagined?

Then we got another short track, Stark’s Reality, which ironically sounds like a dream sequence. It’s an instrumental track, but to say it doesn’t have Ghostface would be wrong because it’s clearly referring to him, Tony Starks. It’s a dope little trick they pulled, because you can almost hear Ghostface rapping even while you’re waiting for hm to come in (he never does.) This is my favorite instrumental track on a hip hop album since Supervillain Theme off Madvillainy. It makes a little more sense too when you consider it comes right before Tone’s Rap.

Ghostface Killah

Photo: hiphopwired.com

Tone’s Rap has a beat that sounds like it’s recorded from a record player that’s played Stark’s Reality a million times and is just melting down but still going. Ghostface ends up rapping a very unglamorous verse over a very unglamorous beat, and the jazziness of it all would make Tyler, the Creator proud. Ghostface Killah knows how to spit that dark shit, even when he’s joking around (“pimpin’ ain’t easy but it sure is fun.”)  The production on this track is unlike anything I’ve ever heard on a rap album, but it still somehow sounds like hip hop. If for no other reason than to check out BADBADNOTGOOD’s version of hip hop, you should scope this album.

A confident, Wu-like sound

Mind Playing Tricks brings it back to Ghostface’s strong suit, which is a RZA-type beat that’s a little more consistent but still sounds a bit back alley and a bit luxurious at the same time. This is the most ’90s verse of the album, even though it’s got Ghostface rapping about his strength and his success, including Supreme Clientele. It’s just got that edge and he sounds like he’s ready to go to war. Then the album slips back into a sleepier, jazzier sound that still sounds ominous but overall chill for Street Knowledge. The 3rd feature of the album comes in the form of Tree, who’s got a real low, raspy voice that makes the beat sound a little less like a videogame. Ghostface spits a little harder, but they got these like bells backing his words, so it all balances out, and even when Ghostface is talking about crack and bling, it still feels like a mattress commercial, and puts a smile on your face.

Impending DOOM

Then the melody gets a little deeper, a little lower, and a little meaner. It flows into Ray Gun, which is a brighter beat that’s more fun with more going on, but it’s still got a street edge. Ghostface comes in with a very MF DOOM-like flow, and that makes sense because the 4th feature of the album, DOOM, comes in right after him. Overall, it sounds like an MF DOOM track, from the almost cartoonish beat to the low gangsta flows of Ghostface and DOOM. The middle of the song has a transition that sounds like it just dropped into the sewer, and shit’s sounding dark. Thanks to the transition, Ray Gun is one of the dopest tracks on the album.

BADBADNOTGOOD turns up the pressure

Ghostface Killah & Adrian Younge - 12 Reasons to DieThe 10th track is Nuggets of Wisdom, which starts with a more traditional beat before just become a little jazzy melody, then all of a sudden Ghostface jumps on it. It’s a sentimental track with a nicer but no-less real Ghostface backed by a claustrophobic beat that drops when he stops rapping. This is illustrative of the whole album, as BADBADNOTGOOD plays around with their backings to Ghostface, sometimes matching him, sometimes doing the exact opposite to get a dope flow, and it’s just real clever overall. More albums need to be collaborations between a producer and a rapper rather than multiple producers for different tracks and a rapper. I think we’re luckily starting to see that, from Ghostface’s own 12 Reasons to Die with Adrian Younge, and Freddie Gibbs’s Piñata with Madlib.

The second-to-last track is Food (another reference to DOOM?), which has a beat that feels like it’s in some bouncing clouds or something. Ghostface spits some truth about money and the devil, and then the beat gets more orchestral and starts sounding more like the Wu again. This track reminds me a bit of Killah Priest’s B.I.B.L.E. at the end of Liquid Swords. It almost sounds like a funeral eulogy, but Ghostface is talking about how Wu has still persisted all these years, so really it’s a celebration of life.

Orchestral outro

The album wraps up with Experience, yet another short track, starting with some deep bass and cymbals this time that somehow build up into a real dynamic beat that makes you wish Ghostface would jump on it. Instead, it’s a mad funky and theatrical instrumental that sounds like the end score of an intense play. It’s a great beat by itself, and I get why they finished with an instrumental. It also underlines that this album is at least as much about the production as it is the rap, if not more.


Buy a copy and let me know what you think!

I still can’t decide whether I like the beats or the rap more, but I think BADBADNOTGOOD ultimately ends up ruling this album. Ghostface kills it too, but the production defines the sound here. DOOM and Danny Brown headline the dope but short list of features that keep this album chill but varied. The only recent hip hop albums that sound like this shit are Madvillainy and Piñata, and we can thank Madlib for both of those. In Sour Soul, BADBADNOTGOOD kind of takes the torch from Madlib for jazzy hip hop production. Buy this album, and support dope hip hop.

 Sour Soul - BADBADNOTGOOD & Ghostface Killah


Spit Talking

Scope That New Earl Sweatshirt – Quest/Power

Earl Sweatshirt just dropped a track.

It’s called quest/power. It doesn’t sound exactly lke anything Earl’s ever done, but it has a similar gloomy kind of back alley vibe. It sounds like some of his older shit, but without the shock lyrics. Dude also sounds a lot older.

Scope quest/power on soundcloud.


The beat starts familiar

Earl Sweatshirt

Photo: stereogum.com

So this track is with Earl, Budgie and Samiyam (both on the production). That means Tyler didn’t handle the production for this track, like he did for most of Earl’s older sht (although he didn’t do all of Doris.) Even though it’s not Tyler, the beat kicks in with an Odd Future-like dark vibe, with a little bit of a spacey feel. If you’ve ever heard Earl, you know this type of shit is perfect for his laid-back flow.

He delivers that laid-back flow as you’d expect him to, but without really going off on extended thought flows. It’s kind of a personal track, which seems to be the most comfortable spot for Earl. For the first half of the track it seems to be pretty standard for Earl: laid back with dope rhymes in neat patterns, a mad chill flow and a sleepy/spacey beat backing him up.

From quest to power

About halfway through, Earl takes a little break and the beat slows down even more. Then Earl does something I’ve never really heard from him as the beat gets choppy. He starts going in with a staccato type flow, and combined with the beat change the whole track all of a sudden sounds like it’s something out of Staten Island that RZA mixed. I guess this is why the track is called quest/power, this transition is dope.

Earl Sweatshirt

Photo: theboombox.com

Now, I love Earl, and especially his flow. I think he’s one of the most natural rappers of all time and he’s got a mad dope, unique sound. His albums sound only like his albums, but his tracks can sometime blend into each other because of his hypnotic flow. This staccato switch-up sounds almost like a different rapper though, and Earl all of a sudden sounds more raw and emotional and generally hardened somehow.

Earl’s next album will be dope

If this is a single off Earl’s next album, I can’t wait for it to drop. Is this track a transition from slow, sleepy Earl to a harder, more energetic Earl? Is it just a showcase of how he’s gonna switch it up in the next album? Is it just a one-time thing? Hopefully not, because if Earl can take his natural talent and add some different flows to his repertoire, along with keeping the dope lyrical content (like he does in quest/power) he’s gonna be gunning for a top spot in the game.


What do you think this means for Earl’s next album?

Thanks for reading, I’m mad excited.


Spit Talking

If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late Review

Drake dropped something pretty big.

But it’s not Views From The 6, his still-upcoming album. It’s actually a mixtape (Drake’s own words even though it’s full album-length and costs $12.99.) Despite it being a non-free mixtape, I had to buy it right away so props to Drake for that marketing through non-marketing. He also released a short film with it along with not announcing it, so Drake’s all on his Beyoncé shit. It kind of worked, cause #IfYoureReadingThisItsTooLate and a few track names were trending on twitter all day. Read on for my If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late review.

Drake - If You're Reading This It's Too Late

Drake just dropped this picture on twitter with a link to his album out of nowhere.

If You're Reading This It's Too Late - Drake

Some more quick words first though: Drake is supposedly releasing this to speed up the completion of his 5 record contract with Cash Money so his next album is his last with them. He also released it in the middle of Kanye’s fashion show and Diddy’s Hot 97 show, probably to steal some shine (mostly from Diddy.) Drake’s trynna remind people he’s on top of the game with a mixtape that is kind of just a bunch of tracks thrown together, but it actually works and it’s worth a few listens.


If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late delivers a laid back sound that paves the way for Drake to rap some emotional shit and also some boasting shit. It isn’t particularly innovative or groundbreaking, but it’s definitely worth multiple listens and worth paying for the mixtape. Drake didn’t quite reach Beyoncé levels with his surprise album, but hip hop should be happy.

For its smooth but not really daring sound, I give Drake’s new mixtape a:

 

3.5/5

 


Dope and varied from the beginning

Drake focused

Photo: thatgrapejuice.net

From the first track (Legend) and its laid back but slightly funky beat, you know this is a Drake joint. He only confirms that when he comes in singing. This isn’t a break-up album where he’s down on himself though, saying, “if I die I’mma legend”, showing that this is a confident Drake even if he’s still soft. He continues that into Energy, too. All in all this album kind of sounds like if he made So Far Gone (which is about 5 years old) now. It’s laid back and has that raw feel, but he’s (rightfully) a hell of a lot more confident now.

Also, the beats are more varied than you might expect from a mixtape he dropped out of nowhere. 10 Bands is a good example of this, and the track sounds like it would fit right in on Nothing Was The Same. Know Yourself also fits in that category considering it has a minimal but mad tight beat that allows Drake to go off, and it’s the first great and really memorable track on the album. One of the things that makes it feel like a mixtape is how intimate it sounds and how conversational Drake is, despite being so celebratory at times.

Drake sounds like a cool and calm veteran

The 5th track is No Tellin’, which is probably my favorite track on the album. It’s a simple but hypnotic beat that really lets Drake go with the flow he wants and just stay comfortable. It gets the fuck in your head, though, and it’s also almost a perfect marriage of a few of the sounds from Drake’s different albums. No Tellin’ also has one of the best lines in the album, “the new shit is on steroids, I would never pass a physical.”

Drake Bond

Photo: urbanmogullife.com

This is followed by Madonna, a chill track with a tight beat. Then comes 6 God, which is one of the moments where the mixtape almost approaches banger status but is still somehow laid-back. Star67 is the 8th track, which is also one of the highlights of the album. Pulling you in with a mini-skit and an intriguing spacey beat, Star67 would probably be dug even by those folks who don’t like Drake. It undergoes a mid-song transition that sounds like it’s straight out of James Bond, it’s personal, and it’s mad dope.

The second half picks up with some dope feats

Drake comes back in with Preach, a track that sounds more like Drake but still not predictable with PARTYNEXTDOOR on the feat. This is about halfway through the album, and fades out into Wednesday Night Interlude also featuring PARTYNEXTDOOR. It slows the album down (not that it was mad quick or anything) but more importantly makes it feel like an album rather than just a collection of tracks.

Then the most famous feature (Lil Wayne) jumps on Used To (which you may have heard a few weeks ago.) It’s a solid track, but it’s just enjoyable, not great or anything, kind of like the whole mixtape. Weezy’s verse is pretty funny though, including a Friday reference (which is necessary for good hip hop.) Then Drake goes on to 6 Man, shouting out Lou Williams and his two girlfriends on one of the best and most creative beats on the album.

From the almost bangers to the almost ballads, shit’s mad solid

Swaying lighter

Photo: tvtropes.org

Now & Forever is the 13th track on the album and it’s another highlight for Drake. Like the other great tracks on this album, they sound like classic Drake joints but not like they’re just rehashes, they sound a little updated too. Anyways, this is one of those Drake ballads with a lot of repetition but you still can’t help but wanna sway your lighter back and forth. This is followed by Company (featuring Travi$ Scott, another great feat), which is another one of the best tracks on the album between Drake and Travi$ Scott’s performances. The album’s solid all around, but picks up near the end (really, in the later half.)

You & The 6 slows it back down and brings it back to Drake’s personal journal. His performance is actually mad dope and it really sounds like he’s spitting to her right there in the studio talking about how he was raised. Drake always goes for the personal, and he especially does in You & The 6 (which also has a mad catchy, low-key beat.)  The second-to-last track is Jungle, which shares a title with Drake’s short film he dropped a few hours before the album. It’s the longest track on the album, and the beat’s kind of dope but honestly it’s just a bit boring. It is the 16th track on the mixtape though, so it can’t all be fire, and it’d be good backing for a late night.

Last track’s one of the best

Tyga and Kylie Jenner

Photo: eonline.com

The mixtape finishes off with 6PM In New York, and Drake saved one of the best for last. It’s definitely where he goes the hardest, from saying Lil Wayne “couldn’t have found a better successor” to telling Tyga (who he’s feuding with) to act his age, not his girl’s age (Kylie Jenner… she’s 17.) Drake is savage in this last track, and wakes you up in case Jungle had you napping. By the end of the album it’s been versatile enough that you want to listen to it again immediately, because even though it isn’t straight fire or anything, it’s consistently good and varied enough.


What’s your favorite track?

Like I said, I gotta go with No Tellin’ with 6PM In New York as a close second. Drizzy doesn’t take any huge chances on this album, and it’s not incredible or anything, but it’s super chill and a good soundtrack for late night cooling or driving in the middle of the night. I’m not Drake’s biggest fan (but I’m not a hater or anything), and I think this mixtape is worth the money, plus it makes me wanna hear Views From The 6 ASAP. I also hear it’s on track to sell half a million just this opening weekend, so salute for that Drake. Download that shit today and make your phone library just a little more solid. Come on, you know bae will love that shit too.

If You're Reading This It's Too Late - Drake


Spit Talking

The Blacker the Berry: Packed with Meaning

Kendrick has released another track.

First of all, he supposedly doesn’t want his singles to be called “singles”, but instead “statements.” So this is definitely the best of the 3 (including i and the untitled one on the Colbert Report) so far, and it’s kind of a return to form for Kendrick. It’s called The Blacker the Berry, and that’s just where the meaning starts. Also, it hasn’t even been out 2 days and almost has 2 million youtube views.


Dope beat, dope rhymes

Kendrick Lamar - The Blacker The BerryThe beat comes in nice and grimy followed shortly by simple but tight drums. The beat sounds more like something Kendrick would jump on than his last 2 tracks, and I think it fits him more. He also sounds more comfortable being able to go off in short bursts matching the drums. He’s sticking with that starting each verse with the same thing, in this case “I’m the biggest hypocrite of 2015.”

Deeper meaning

Now, this is an interesting way to start your verses, but not without context regarding some recent comments Kendrick has made. When talking about recent events including those in Ferguson and Staten Island, Kendrick called them tragedies but also went on to talk about how respect starts from within and the black community can’t expect respect from the outside (say, police) without first respecting themselves. So Kendrick was pretty much playing respectability politics and asking “well what about black on black crime?”

Kendrick Lamar XXL Cover

Photo: xxlmag.com

Well, he caught some heat for this and rightfully so. I mean, his own lyrics in good kid talk about how the police will never respect him no matter what he does, so I can’t really understand how he jumps from that to “we gotta respect ourselves first.” But I guess he is calling himself a hypocrite, so I guess you can’t fault him for that. Anyway, this track is definitely a response to the backlash from his comments (or maybe he was setting this track up with those comments), but it’s not exactly an apology.

Back to the track

From early on he talks about how he’s African American, what that means for him, and what that means for how he’s seen by other (non-black) people. While he’s talking about himself in this track, he’s mostly rapping about himself as a black man in this country. If good kid, m.A.A.d. city was a concept album about Kendrick’s experience coming up in Compton, his next album looks like it may be more broadly about how black people come up in this country in 2015.

Kendrick Lamar Performing

Photo: factmag.com

Anyways, by the end he explains why he starts every verse by calling himself a hypocrite. He caps it off with a pretty powerful few bars talking about all the things he could try to do for the movement before finishing his rap off with “so why did I weep when Trayvon Martin was in the street, when gangbanging made me kill a nigga blacker than me? Hypocrite!” The way I see it, this is a direct response to his recent comments about Ferguson and Staten Island. I still don’t think it totally justifies what he said, but it’s for sure an explanation. At the very least, it makes me feel a little better about Kendrick. Say whatever you want, but Kendrick is real.

Overall, it’s a good sound

Musically, the track also makes me feel better about Kendrick’s next album. It’s got a beat that sounds half classic West Coast cruising beat, with the other half being a bit spacier and more experimental, coming together for a mad tight beat you can nod to for a while as you take in Kendrick’s thoughts. If I had to guess, his next album is gonna have a mostly tight and classic sound that’s just a bit ambitious, while he’s dropping knowledge in dope rhymes, even if I don’t always agree with what he’s saying. The Blacker the Berry is definitely worth a few spins.


How do you think it compares to his other recent tracks?

I think it’s easily the best of his last 3 tracks, and I think people everywhere feel better about Kendrick’s next album now. The social commentary he’s laying down is pretty interesting, especially when thinking about what he has said about Ferguson and Staten Island. But most importantly, did you think this track was dope? Listen to it and let me know.


Spit Talking

New Kendrick Lamar Song on the Colbert Report

Kendrick Lamar was the final music guest on the Colbert Report last night and debuted a brand new song.

It’s the world premiere of an untitled song off his next album.  I like it more than Kendrick’s last new song i. It’s untitled, but it’s fire. Kendrick also sat down with Colbert for a short interview.

Kendrick Lamar Colbert Report Interview

Scope the performance at the top and the interview video at the bottom of this page.


The track starts with a minimalistic but ominous beat with Kendrick’s spoken word-like flow over it. At the very beginning Kendrick’s spitting game to a girl, then he starts rapping about the advice different races give him, going through Asians, Indians, Blacks and Whites. Throughout this, he’s backed up by some horns and some vocalists asking questions/providing weird but mad dope backing vocals.

Kendrick Lamar Colbert Report Performance

Then Kendrick starts going hard, saying “put myself in a rocketship and I shot for the stars” before the beat drops and a saxophone solo. The pacing in the song is incredible, and shows that Kendrick knows what he’s doing with a mic. Also, if you’ve seen him perform live, you don’t need proof, but you’ll see in the video how dope he is live. Then Kendrick asserts “I shall enjoy the fruits of my labor if I get free today” before finishing with the powerful shout, “what did the black man say? tell em we don’t die, tell em we don’t die, tell em we don’t die, we multiply”, shouting out Robin Harris.

Overall, Kendrick’s always had a message, and not that anyone expected him to drop that, but this premiere shows how much he’s gonna run with it. Also, he’s experimenting with jazzy horns and backing vocalists, and I can’t wait to go see him again in concert.


What did you think? Do you like the direction Kendrick’s going with this track? Let me know, and scope the video again!

Scope the perfomance video at the top of this page.


Spit Talking

J. Cole: 2014 Forest Hills Drive Review

2014 is almost over…

but J. Cole is laying his claim for album of the year. He might have a point. Read on for my 2014 Forest Hills Drive review.

J. Cole - 2014 Forest Hills Drive

“So ahead of my time, even when I rhyme about the future I be reminiscin'”

2014 Forest Hills Drive - J. Cole


For the fire beats and incredibly poetic rap, this album deserves many many listens. It never falters, and stays fire the whole time, even his 10 minute “credits” rant at the end. 2014 Forest Hills Drive is definitely one of the best albums of 2014, and I give it a:

4.5/5

 


 From the beginning, you’re sucked into the album

This review was kind of hard to write, because when you put on this album your first and only instinct isn’t to write — but to listen. The beats themselves aren’t super similar to the ones on Cilvia Demo, but the chill atmosphere set up by both albums is very similar. J. Cole starts with Intro, an ambient beat and a question, “do you wanna, do you wanna be, happy? do you wanna, do you wanna be, free?” Intro is dope, because J. Cole wastes no time killing it on this album.

January 28th extends the beat a bit, but always keeping it chill. Just in case you thought he was only a producer who could rap a little, he rocks the beat with no effort, and even asks “what’s the price for a black man life?” J. Cole clearly thinks of himself as more than a rapper (and by the end of the song, “the god”), more like a poet, and it’s hard to disagree with him. Wet Dreamz is a bit more playful, describing his adolescence, but J. Cole always keeps the groove even when he’s hoping a girl don’t notice it’s his first time.

The first few songs are kind of a mini-concept album of his growth and development

He slows it does in 03′ Adolescence, rapping more about his development and who he is. Shit’s real, and includes a chorus that sounds rhythmically like a Mos Def chorus (always a good thing). A Tale of 2 Citiez brings a dark but laid-back beat for Cole to run with a staccato flow over. It almost sounds like Kendrick Lamar’s rapping over one of Tyler the Creator’s beats, and it definitely works.

Then Fire Squad changes the game

Fire Squad is insane, even the beat. All I can say is listen to this album if only for this one song. I’ll leave you with this if you don’t believe me:

History repeats itself and that’s just how it goes, same way that these rappers always bite each other’s flows. Same thing that my nigga Elvis did with rock n’ roll, Justin Timberlake, Eminem and then Macklemore. While silly niggas argue over who gon snatch the crown, look around my nigga, white people have snatched the sound. This year I’ll prolly go to the awards dappered down, watch Iggy win a grammy as I try to crack a smile. I’m just playin’, but all good jokes contain true shit, same rope you climb up on, they hang you with.

Cole’s versatility shines throughout the album as he seamlessly jumps between song types

St. Tropez then slows the beat all the way down, along with your heart rate. All of a sudden, J. Cole sounds like he belongs in a hookah lounge with a mad chill beat and accompanying harmony, even when he’s saying “lately, it’s been hard for me to smile”. Cole then immediately switches it up with G.O.M.D., an incredibly produced and sampled track that rivals the best of Yeezus (not to mention his Busta Rhymes flow). Ultimately, the track is a plea for those who are on his dick to get off, but he touches on some other issues too.

No Role Modelz is maybe the best beat on an album of mad dope beats, and J. Cole’s (seemingly Drake-inspired) delivery matches it well because Cole always puts his own flavor on his stuff. It’s raw poetry disguised as bravado, like much of J. Cole’s work. He goes on to flex his R&B skills in Hello, sounding just a little bit like Ray Charles over some soft piano and claps to start. The introspective track will probably make even the listener start reminiscing.

No matter the beat, Cole only spits the truth

Apparently starts with a much different piano and flow from J. Cole, who seems to have absolutely no trouble switching up his style at the drop of a hat. In Apparently, Cole thanks those who believe in him. This is another example of him being both confident and humble, rarely arrogant but always bold. The beat wanes very unexpectedly before going into Love Yourz, a simple classic beat layered under more poetry from Cole where he reminds people someone’s always gonna have it better than you, so just be happy with what you have.

To celebrate his dope album, Cole rants for 10 minutes, thanking people along the way. You need balls to end with a 14 and a half minute song, but you’d be crazy to listen up to this point and then stop

Finally, the album ends with Note to Self. This track is 14 and a half minutes long, because J. Cole doesn’t really give a shit. It starts with some nice piano and vocal backing, but it hooks you before long with some dope unexpected guitar. Then the horns and J. Cole come in, and all of a sudden it’s a musical closer before slowing it up again. You have to be mad confident to make a track like this, but J. Cole’s for sure earned it.

He then does 10 minutes of vocal credits, including thank yous, shout outs to Ferguson and rants about sampling laws. I’m not lying. But I listened to it all the first time without even realizing it was 10 minutes cause dude’s just fun as hell to listen to. “I don’t give a fuck if we sell 3 copies nigga we kilt this shit!” Cole isn’t making music for the cash, he’s doing it for himself. Luckily the listeners benefit from this.


 2014 Forest Hills Drive - J. Cole

I still think Cilvia Demo is the best album of 2014, but it could not be any closer. Treat yourself or surprise someone for Christmas with this straight fire album.

                                           


Spit Talking