Posts Tagged ‘2020 music’

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September 2020 Music Playlist

October 1, 2020

ALBUM OF THE MONTH

Conway the MachineFrom King To A GOD

Notes: So this is mostly how I listen to music these days. Every Thursday night at 9 PM (Pacific Time), I look at all the new releases and add anything I’m interested in to my library and throw it in my Brand New and Current Rotation playlists. I used to have one playlist for newer albums, but I started leaving stuff in there for too long and it got really bloated and I wasn’t giving the newest music the attention I wanted to. Now I use the Brand New playlist for the latest music and have a strict policy of removing it after exactly one month, unless I’m really not into an album and decide to remove it earlier. My Current Rotation playlist consists of music from the last 4-6 months, with my favorite albums lingering around even longer, plus I’ve decided to start throwing older stuff on there, like artists I feel I’ve overlooked or albums I want to revisit. I probably listen to my Brand New playlist the most, but I give my Current Rotation multiple spins throughout the week and I also have a Goats Doing Goat Shit playlist of all my favorite rappers and albums and a Rappers from the Old School playlist of rappers that mostly came out in the 80s that I listen to semi-regularly. You can follow me on Apple Music @DarkKnight1717 to add any or all of my playlists.

This has created a somewhat interesting dynamic in my lists below. Half the albums on my top 20 list for September… I have never listened to all the way through. Somehow one of those albums (Jaden Smith) cracked my top 3. I have never actually listened to that album other than when a song comes up on shuffle. Numbers in parentheses are how many songs I listened to on each album or from each artist over the past month and/or the year the album was released if it didn’t come out in 2020. I spent basically all month surprised that Big Sean wasn’t getting more spins and I didn’t realize until a couple days ago that I never put his album in my Brand New playlist. Whoops. He will be in there all through October now. Also, note how high Eminem is on my top artists list despite not having any album in my top 20. I’ve started the long process of doing a profile on Eminem, in the same vein as my DMX and Notorious B.I.G. profiles. Eminem’s discography is much deeper than either of those guys, so don’t expect me to publish something anytime soon, but do expect Eminem to be near the top of my artists list until I do. As of now, I’m still on The Marshall Mathers LP. I will publish my Em album reviews as I write them though.

* indicates September 2020 release

Top 20 Albums in September

1. *Conway the Machine – From King To A GOD (75)
2. *Big Sean – Detroit 2 (57)
3. Jaden Smith – CTV3: Cool Tape Vol. 3 (50)
4. Nas – King’s Disease (45)
5. The Lox – Living Off Xperience (44)
6. *Spillage Village – Spilligion (39)
7. Amine – Limbo (37)
8. Black Pumas – Black Pumas [Deluxe] (37)
8. Dua Lipa – Club Future Nostalgia [DJ Mix] (37)
10. Ransom – Directors Cut** (36)
11. Rich Brian – 1999 (33)
12. Dave East – Karma 3 (31)
13. The Streets – None Of Us Are Getting Out Of This Life Alive (31)
14. The God Fahim – After Every Dark Day Comes Sunshine (30)
15. Spillage Village – Bears Like This Too Much (2016, 28)
16. BUCKWILD – Music is My Religion (27)
17. Apollo Brown & Locksmith – No Question (2018, 25)
18. CunninLynguists – Southernunderground (2003, 25)
19. The Weeknd – After Hours (25)
20. Lil Wayne – No Ceilings (2009, 24)

**Ransom actually released three Directors Cut albums this year. They weren’t on my radar until last month and I decided to make them all one album, but if you wind up searching for it, you’ll see that it is actually three shorter albums.

Top 20 Artists in August

1. Spillage Village (86)
2. Conway the Machine (77)
3. Eminem (68)
4. Nas (66)
5. Big Sean (59)
6. Lil Wayne (53)
7. Jaden Smith (50)
8. CunninLynguists (48)
9. The Lox (44)
10. Dua Lipa (38)
11. Amine (37)
12. Black Pumas (37)
13. Ransom (36)
14. Rich Brian (33)
15. Dave East (31)
16. The Streets (31)
17. The God Fahim (30)
18. Buckwild (27)
19. The Weeknd (27)
20. Apollo Brown & Locksmith (25)

Bangerz Playlist Additions – Follow me on Apple Music @DarkKnight1717 to add my playlists

Amine, “My Reality”
Amine ft. slowthai & Vince Staples, “Pressure In My Palms”
Amine, “Burden”
Big Sean ft. Nipsey Hussle, “Deep Reverence”
Black Thought ft. Pusha T & Killer Mike, “Good Morning”
Conway the Machine ft. Method Man, “Lemon”
Conway the Machine ft. Freddie Gibbs, “Seen Everything But Jesus”
Conway the Machine ft. Benny the Butcher & Westside Gunn, “Spurs 3”
Conway the Machine, “Front Lines”
Conway the Machine ft. Armani Caesar, “Anza”
Deante Hitchcock, “I Remember”
Felt, “Alexander F’real”
IDK & JID ft. Kenny Mason, “Cereal”
Jacob Latimore, “Love Drug”
Kaash Paige ft. Isaiah Rashad, “Problems”
Nas ft. Anderson .Paak, “All Bad”
Nyck Caution, “Demons Don’t Take Off From Work”
R.A. the Rugged Man ft. M.O.P., Vinnie Paz, Chris Rivers, Onyx, Chino XL, Brand Nubian & Ice-T, “The Slayers Club”
R.A. the Rugged Man ft. Sarah Smith & Kelly Waters, “The After Life”
Ransom, “I Am Legend”
R-MEAN & Berner, “Lost”
R-MEAN & Berner, “Would You”
Saigon ft. Marsha Ambrosius, “Pain In My Life, Pt. 2 (On God)”
The Lox, “Gave It To ‘EM”
The Lox, “Loyalty And Love”
The Weeknd, “Too Late”
The Weeknd, “Snowchild”
The Weeknd, “Escape From LA”
The Weeknd, “Blinding Lights”
The Weeknd, “Missed You”

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The Weeknd – After Hours (2020)

September 18, 2020

The Weeknd – After Hours (2020, R&B/Soul)

Release Date: March 20th, 2020

Song Rating Scale

1. Alone Again – 4.5
2. Too Late – 4.5
3. Hardest To Love – 4

4. Scared To Live – 3.5
5. Snowchild – 4
6. Escape From LA – 4

7. Heartless – 3.5
8. Faith – 3.5
9. Blinding Lights – 4
10. In Your Eyes – 3.5
11. Save Your Tears – 3.5
12. Repeat After Me (Interlude) – N/A (dope though)
13. After Hours – 4.5
14. Until I Bleed Out – 3.5
Nothing Compares (Bonus) – 3.5
Missed You (Bonus) – 4
Final Lullaby (Bonus) – 3

Spin Rate: 10.8
Average Song Rating: 3.89/5
Good Song Percentage: 100%
Clear Cuts: 0
Bangers: 7

Thoughts: This is an album that really grew on me the more I listened to it and After Hours is now probably the album I’ve listened to the most in 2020. It’s an album I can put on almost anytime and want to listen to it all the way through. Since I’m not including the bonus tracks in my overall rating, I feel like there are no weak points here – every song is good and there are plenty of certified bangers. The mood and production on this album is a little dark, but I love the vibe. I’ll admit, The Weeknd comes across like a serious misogynist and that’s not something to be applauded, but I can’t deny the quality of the music and it is very high all the way through After Hours. This is easily my favorite non-rap album of 2020 and possibly the best album of the year… period. The Weeknd is probably already a legend and it doesn’t seem like enough people are saying that out loud yet.

Verdict: 9/10 (Amazing)

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Amine – Limbo (2020)

September 13, 2020

Amine – Limbo (2020, Rap)

Release Date: August 7th, 2020

Song Rating Scale

1. Burden – 4
2. Woodlawn – 4

3. Kobe – N/A
4. Roots ft. JID & Charlie Wilson – 4
5. Can’t Decide – 4

6. Compensating ft. Young Thug – 3.5
7. Shimmy – 3.5
8. Pressure In My Palms ft. slowthai & Vince Staples – 4
9. Riri – 4

10. Easy ft. Summer Walker – 3.5
11. Mama – 3.5
12. Becky – 3.5
13. Fetus ft. Injury Reserve – 4
14. My Reality – 4

Spin Rate: 7.4
Average Song Rating: 3.81/5
Good Song Percentage: 100%
Clear Cuts: 0
Bangers: 8

Thoughts: Definitely one of the more surprising releases of the year. I’d heard of Amine but it’s not like I was really anticipating new music from him. I heard “Riri” before anything else and it grew on me enough that I think it’s a banger now and made me give this album a dedicated listen when I probably would have just heard songs when they came on shuffle otherwise. As you can see by my Spin Rate, I’ve given this album plenty of play and have found it to be one of 2020’s strongest releases. Amine is definitely not a hip-hop purist’s emcee, but I think it’s difficult to argue that Limbo isn’t quality music from top to bottom. The production on this album is really good and the songwriting is pretty elite, though I wouldn’t say Amine is elite lyrically or vocally. It doesn’t matter though. This album is full of bangers and Amine is plenty capable with the pen and on the mic. “Shimmy” is the closest thing to a skip and I still think it’s a good song overall. As I’m about to publish this, Limbo has the third highest average song rating of any 2020 album I’ve rated, so it’s definitely one of the year’s best and a clear must listen.

Verdict: 8/10 (Must Listen)

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Nas – King’s Disease (2020)

September 5, 2020

Nas – King’s Disease (2020, Rap)

Release Date: August 21st, 2020

Song Rating Scale

1. King’s Disease – 3.5
2. Blue Benz – 3.5
3. Car #85 ft. Charlie Wilson – 3.5
4. Ultra Black ft. Hit-Boy – 3
5. 27 Summers – 3
6. Replace Me ft. Big Sean & Don Toliver – 3
7. Til The War Is Won ft. Lil Durk – 3.5
8. All Bad ft. Anderson .Paak – 4
9. The Definition ft. Brucie B – 3
10. Full Circle ft. AZ, Cormega & Foxy Brown (The Firm) – 3.5
11. 10 Points – 3
12. The Cure – 4
13. Spicy ft. Fivio Foreign & A$AP Ferg – 3

Spin Rate: 6.3
Average Song Rating: 3.37/5
Good Song Percentage: 54%
Clear Cuts: 0
Bangers: 2

Thoughts: I’m not really expecting Nas to blow me away in 2020 so I can’t really say this album is a disappointment but I also can’t say that it’s all that good. Sure, it’s enjoyable, but as you can see from my ratings, even though I don’t think he has any clearly weak tracks on here, I am pretty lukewarm on about half the album and only “All Bad” and “The Cure” were clear standouts to me. Nas is doing his thing on the latter and then the beat switch midway through certifies it’s banger status. On the former, Anderson .Paak’s hook just won’t leave my head and Hit-Boy’s production is also really good. The Firm reunion sounds like a banger until Foxy Brown gets on the mic and sounds absolutely terrible. Any hopes The Firm might come together to make another project are diminished by the fact that Foxy seems completely washed. AZ is great on the track though and him and Cormega are still two of the most underrated rappers of all-time. I’m a Don Toliver fan, but his hook on “Replace Me” makes the song less enjoyable than it should be. When I heard Hit-Boy was doing all the production, I wasn’t stoked about that, but he actually does a better job than I was expecting. Nas is still a good rapper and he has some good ideas here. I think this album is reasonably solid, but it’s definitely nothing special and certainly ranks in the bottom half of the legend’s discography.

Verdict: 6/10 (Recommended)

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August 2020 Music Playlist

September 2, 2020

ALBUM OF THE MONTH

AmineLimbo

Notes: As I mentioned last month, I’m using the Eavescrob and Last.FM apps to track the music I’m listening to. I love it! It paints a way more accurate picture of my current listening experience than what I was doing before. Unfortunately, during the last week of August, I accidentally clicked a button on one of the apps and it imported a bunch of duplicate listens and totally messed up my stats. I had to go into the app on my PC and manually delete as many duplicates as I could recognize. We are talking hundreds of listens! It was tedious and brutal, but I’m such a stat freak perfectionist it would bother me too much to have my numbers that out of whack. As is, they aren’t 100% accurate, but close enough that I feel it’s a solid representation of what I listened to and how much last month. I know I listened to The Weeknd probably more than anyone, but I must’ve deleted too many listens and I don’t get how Dua Lipa and Baby B are nowhere to be found on any of these lists as any album I review during the month gets a huge boost. Ah well. Things should be super accurate in September and when I look back on my lifetime stats a year from now, this will be a distant memory. I have to say… my efforts to stay up-to-date on current music absolutely dominates my playlists. My old school Album of the Month (The Chronic) is the only non-2020 album that cracks my top 20 listens for last month and this is probably what a typical month looks like for me. Granted, I enjoy staying current, but not at the expense of almost never listening to anything older than a few months.

* indicates August 2020 new album

Top 20 Albums in August

1. *Amine – Limbo
2. Apollo Brown & Che Noir – As God Intended
3. *Felt – Felt 4 U
4. The Weeknd – After Hours
5. *Nas – King’s Disease
6. Blu & Exile – Miles
7. Logic – No Pressure
8. *Kaash Paige – Teenage Fever
9. Terrace Martin, Robert Glasper, 9th Wonder & Kamasi Washington – Dinner Party
10. *03 Greedo & RONRONTHEPRODUCER – Load It Up, Vol. 01
11. *Boldy James – The Versace Tape
12. Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher
13. *R-Mean & Berner – The Warning
14. R.A. the Rugged Man – All My Heroes Are Dead
15. *Rich Brian – 1999
16. 38 Spesh – 6 Shots
17. *Dave East – Karma 3
18. Dr. Dre – The Chronic
19. *DaBaby – BLAME IT ON BABY (Deluxe only)
20. Royce da 5’9″ – The Allegory

Top 20 Artists in August

1. Amine
2. The Weeknd
3. Apollo Brown & Che Noir
4. Felt
5. Blu & Exile
6. Nas
7. Logic
8. Kaash Paige
9. Boldy James
10. R.A. the Rugged Man
11. Terrace Martin, Robert Glasper, 9th Wonder & Kamasi Washington
12. Pop Smoke
13. 03 Greedo & RONRONTHEPRODUCER
14. Phoebe Bridgers
15. R-MEAN & Berner
16. Eminem
17. DaBaby
18. Rich Brian
19. 38 Spesh
20. Brother Ali

Top 5 Songs in August

1. Amine – Roots ft. JID & Charlie Wilson
2. Amine – Riri
3. Anderson .Paak – Lockdown (Remix) ft. JID, Noname & Jay Rock
4. Apollo Brown & Che Noir – Freedom
5. Guapdad 4000 – Orgasm Full Of Pain ft. Deante Hitchcock

Bangerz Playlist Additions – Follow me on Apple Music @DarkKnight1717 to add my playlists

Amine, “Woodlawn”
Amine ft. JID & Charlie Wilson, “Roots”
Amine, “Can’t Decide”
Amine, “Riri”
Amine ft. Injury Reserve, “Fetus”
Anderson .Paak ft. JID, Noname, & Jay Rock, “Lockdown (Remix)”
Apollo Brown & Che Noir ft. Skyzoo, “Follow the Wisdom”
Apollo Brown & Che Noir, “Freedom”
Apollo Brown & Che Noir, “Winter”
Apollo Brown & Che Noir, “’94”
Baby B, “Do You Better”
Baby B, “Like Girls”
Big Boi & Sleepy Brown, “Can’t Sleep”
Black Soprano Family ft. Benny the Butcher, “Grams in the Water”
Drake ft. Lil Durk, “Laugh Now Cry Later”
Dua Lipa, “Physical”
Felt, “Borbaleta”
Felt, “Sticks & Stones”
Jessie Ware, “Soul Control”
Markis Precise ft. Talib Kweli, “From a Distance”
Nas, “The Cure”
Sufjan Stevens, “Video Games”
The Lox ft. Benny the Butcher and Westside Gunn, “Think of The Lox”
The Weeknd, “Alone Again”

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Che Noir & Apollo Brown – As God Intended (2020)

August 30, 2020

Che Noir & Apollo Brown – As God Intended (2020, Rap)

Release Date: July 10th, 2020

Song Rating Scale

1. Anti-Social ft. Blakk Soul – 4.5
2. Blood is Thicker – 4
3. Hustle Don’t Give ft. Black Thought – 5

4. Money Orientated – 3.5
5. 12 Hours – 4
6. Hold It Down ft. Ty Farris – 3.5
7. Daddy’s Girl – 3.5
8. Worth Gold – 4
9. The Apple ft. Planet Asia – 3.5
10. Freedom – 4
11. Follow the Wisdom ft. Skyzoo – 4
12. Winter – 4

13. Live by the Code – 3
14. ’94 – 4

Spin Rate: 8
Average Song Rating: 3.89/5
3.5+ Percentage: 93%
Cuts: 0
Bangers: 9

Thoughts: Apollo Brown is a genius. As far as I’m concerned, he’s the best producer in hip-hop right now. I just absolutely love his sound. Almost every beat he makes sounds like an automatic banger to me. It almost doesn’t even matter who is rapping over his stuff, they basically always sound amazing. He dropped an album last year called Sincerely, Detroit that had a bunch of rappers I’ve never heard of on it and I was shocked how good it was. The man can do no wrong right now and his string of collabo albums with certain rappers (Joell Ortiz, Skyzoo, Ghostface Killah, Ras Kass, Planet Asia) have all been fire. This joint with Che Noir continues that stretch of major wins and it might be the best of the bunch.

I’d never even heard of Che Noir until the song with Black Thought leaked, but that’s one of my favorite songs of 2020 now and immediately put this project high on my interest list. It didn’t disappoint in the slightest. Che Noir has a solid mic presence and her content is really strong also. She’s not on here constantly exploiting her sexuality and is instead speaking on socially conscious topics or making crazy storytelling tracks (“12 Hours”). I don’t know if she has a lot of range in her delivery, but when the production is this good, I don’t care too much about a lack of variety vocally. Che’s rhyming skills are on point and Apollo makes her shine. Top to bottom, this might be the best rap album of 2020. I think it has my highest average song rating and the most bangers of any album I’ve reviewed so far. This is an absolute must listen for any serious rap fan, a potential personal classic, and easily one of the best hip-hop albums of 2020. Don’t sleep.

Verdict: 9/10 (Amazing)

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Baby B – Text at 2 AM (2020)

August 25, 2020

Baby B – Text at 2 AM (2020, R&B/Soul)

Release Date: March 12th, 2020

Song Rating Scale

1. Slide Thru, Pt. 2 – 3.5
2. Do You Better – 4
3. Slow ft. B. Smyth – 3.5
4. Like Girls – 4
5. Wishlist (Interlude) – N/A
6. Baddest Girl – 4
7. Magical ft. Yung Bleu – 3.5
8. Truth – 3
9. She Know – 4.5

Spin Rate: 7
Average Song Rating: 3.75/5
3.5+ Percentage: 88%
Cuts: 0
Bangers: 4

Thoughts: One of my nieces is in her early 20s and very in tune to the popular rap and R&B music of her generation, so we have a regular dialog about new music and even though I like to think I don’t let much slip past my radar, she is constantly sending me songs and albums from artists I have never heard of. For the most part, we have different taste (especially with rap), but there have definitely been artists she’s put me on to that I really like.

Baby B is one of those artists. I’d never heard of her, so if I did happen to see her album out there, it’s pretty unlikely I would even listen to it just because her stage name is… well… an absolute non-starter. I’m just never going to scroll through new music, see someone called Baby B, and think, “I probably need to listen to that person.” But I’ll at least check out anything that my niece co-signs.

I have to admit I was pretty confused when I listened to this album the first few times. I assumed that Baby B was a girl but I started questioning that perception when it was obvious she was crooning about women in all her songs. Then I wondered if it was actually a dude with a feminine-sounding, but amazing voice. Upon further investigation, it turns out Baby B is indeed a girl and her sexual preference is other women. Well, that makes sense. It’s kind of strange that in 2020 listening to the music of a gay female still feels new and/or surprising to me, but off the top of my head, I couldn’t think of many gay women I have listened to extensively. This feels kind of tacky, but I looked up “best gay female musicians” on Google and that led me to this list on Ranker.com and I’m really only familiar with the music of two artists in the top 50: Syd tha Kid and Queen Latifah. Not that an artist’s sexual orientation matters to me, I just didn’t expect a woman to be singing about other women.

This is actually a great little album. Baby B has a wonderful voice and I love the vibe of her sound. I could happily have this album playing on repeat in the background or while giving it my full attention. “She Know” is one of the better songs I’ve heard this year and I count half this album as legit bangers. “Truth” is the only song I was iffy on, as it sounds more like an interlude than the track that was actually labeled an interlude (and is actually really dope). Text at 2 AM is definitely one of the better R&B projects I’ve heard this year. I’m tempted to give this album a Must Listen stamp, but I’m going to curb my enthusiasm just a bit and say it’s a very strong recommendation. Check it out.

Verdict: 7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

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July 2020 Playlist

August 7, 2020

* indicates July addition

Notes: I started using the Last.fm app in tandem with the Eavescrob app to track the music I’m listening to even more accurately. This might actually change the way I make these posts. For now, I’m keeping the adjustments I made last month, but I’m going to include a list of the artists I’ve been listening to the most since I started using these apps midway through July. I basically keep every album in my Priority Playlist for ~4 months – and for the purposes of these blog posts, I will include all new albums for the past month – but as far as older recent albums, I don’t see much point in making anyone sift through the vast majority of stuff that never make it past a Courtesy Rotation and will exclude them from all future posts unless they rise up later on. Also, it’s probably worth noting that any album I post a review for got a big boost in spins because I spent extra time thinking about it.

Top 20 Artists I Listened To The Most In July (in order, according to Last.fm)

1. Logic
2. Apollo Brown & Che Noir
3. Blu & Exile
4. Brother Ali
5. Pop Smoke
6. Dua Lipa
7. R.A. the Rugged Man
8. Baby B
9. Juice WRLD
10. Kyle
11. J.Cole
12. Lil Wayne
13. Black Soprano Family
14. Dr. Dre
15. Ellie Goulding
16. Phoebe Bridgers
17. 38 Spesh
18. Blackalicous
19. Flatbush Zombies
20. Lupe Fiasco

HEAVY ROTATION (heard whole album many times)

*Apollo Brown & Che Noir – As God Intended
Baby B – Text at 2 AM
Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia
Flatbush Zombies – now, more than ever – EP
Jay Electronica (and Jay-Z!) – A Written Testimony
Lil Uzi Vert – Eternal Atake
Run the Jewels – RTJ4
The Weeknd – After Hours

STRONG ROTATION (listened to most of album 3-4 times)

6lack – 6pc Hot EP
*CeeLo Green – CeeLo Green is Thomas Callaway
Childish Gambino – 3.15.20
Chris Brown & Young Thug – Slime & B
Conway the Machine and The Alchemist – LULU
Deante’ Hitchcock – BETTER
Freddy Gibbs & The Alchemist – Alfredo
Future – High Off Life
Grafh – Oracle 3
Jessie Reyez – BEFORE LOVE CAME TO KILL US
Jhene Aiko – Chilombo
*Juice WRLD – Legends Never Die
Lil Brick – Road to Ouroboros – EP
Lil Durk – Just Cause Y’all Waited 2
Lil Uzi Vert – Eternal Atake [Deluxe]
*Logic – No Pressure
Kota the Friend – Everything
*Pop Smoke – Shoot For The Stars Aim For The Moon
R.A. the Rugged Man – All My Heroes Are Dead
Sam Hunt – SOUTHSIDE
Westside Gunn – Pray for Paris

SOLID ROTATION (heard most of the album twice)

A Boogie wit da Hoodie – Artist 2.0 [Deluxe]
*Blu & Exile – Miles
Buddy & Kent Jamz – Janktape Vol. 1
dvsn – A Muse In Her Feelings
J Hus – Big Conspiracy
Jadakiss – Ignatius
Joell Ortiz & Crooked I – H.A.R.D.
Kemba – The World is Watching – EP
*Kyle – See You When I’m Famous!!!!!!!
Lil Simz – Drop 6 – EP
Lil Tjay – State of Emergency
Markis Precise – No Wings Without Scars
*Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher
Polo G – THE GOAT
Wale – The Imperfect Storm
*Westside Gunn – Flygod is an Awesome God 2

COURTESY ROTATION (heard whole album)

*38 Spesh – 6 Shots
*Black Soprano Family – Benny the Butcher and DJ Drama presents Black Soprano Family
*Ellie Goulding – Brightest Blue
*Lupe Fiasco & Kaelin Ellis – HOUSE
*Oddisee – Odd Cure
*RARE Sound & K CAMP – Rare Family

SKIM ROTATION (haven’t heard whole album)

*Charli XCX – how i’m feeling right now
*Pink Sweat$ – The Prelude – EP
*Summer Walker – Life on Earth – EP

TOO NEW/NO LOVE (zero listens)

*Flee Lord – The People’s Champ
*MIKE – WEIGHT OF THE WORLD
*Nyck Caution – Open Flame – EP

ALBUM OF THE MONTH

Apollo Brown & Che NoirAs God Intended

Bangerz Playlist Additions – Follow me on Apple Music @DarkKnight1717 to add my playlists

Apollo Brown & Che Noir ft. Black Thought, “Hustle Don’t Give”
Apollo Brown & Che Noir ft. Blakk Soul, “Anti-Social”
Apollo Brown & Che Noir, “Worth Gold”
Baby B, “Baddest Girl”
Blu & Exile ft. C.S. Armstrong, “Miles Away”
Blu & Exile ft. Jacinto Rhines, “The Feeling”
Jacob Latimore, “Come Over Here”
Joey Bada$$, “Shine”
Joey Bada$$, “The Light”
Lil Wayne, “Glory”
Pop Smoke, “Something Special”
Pop Smoke ft. Lil Tjay, “Mood Swings”
R.A. the Rugged Man ft. David Myles, “Wondering (How To Believe)”
Run the Jewels ft. Pharrell Williams & Zack de la Rocha, “JU$T”
Run the Jewels ft. 2 Chainz, “out of sight”
Run the Jewels ft. Greg Nice & DJ Premier, “ooh la la”

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April 2020 Music Playlist

May 5, 2020

Notes: Finally cleared out all the lingering 2019 albums and also the January 2020 releases from my Priority playlist… and also deleted some albums that I just know I’m never really going to listen to. I’m working on my February album reviews right now and hope to have that post up in a couple weeks. Ideally, I’d like to release my reviews for the previous month about two weeks into the next month. For example, by the middle of June, I should be able to digest all the May albums enough to publish my reviews for them. Alas, I am still playing catch up and it will probably take at least a few more months to get where I want to be. No one I’ve been eagerly anticipating dropped in April, but there were a few surprises. I’m not a big Westside Gunn fan, but I’m loving his new project. Also, R.A. the Rugged Man dropped his first album in seven years and on first listen it’s some serious heat. Finally, who the hell is Dua Lipa? Never heard of her before, but someone recommended it and there’s no denying it, she made a great pop album.

* indicates April release

HEAVY ROTATION (heard whole album many times)

Brent Faiyaz – F**k the World
*Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia
Jay Electronica (and Jay-Z!) – A Written Testimony
Planet Asia & 38 Spesh – Trust the Chain
Royce da 5’9″ – The Allegory
The Weeknd – After Hours

STRONG ROTATION (listened to most of album 3-4 times)

Lil Uzi Vert – Eternal Atake
*Westside Gunn – Pray for Paris

SOLID ROTATION (heard whole album at least twice)

A Boogie wit da Hoodie – Artist 2.0
D Smoke – Black Habits
Kamaiyah – Got It Made
Tame Impala – The Slow Rush

COURTESY ROTATION (heard whole album)

*Berner & B-Real – Los Meros
Boldy James – The Price of Tea in China
*Buddy & Kent Jamz – Janktape Vol. 1
Childish Gambino – 3.15.20
*Conway the Machine & The Alchemist – LULU
*DaBaby – BLAME IT ON BABY
Denzel Curry & Kenny Beats – UNLOCKED
*Drake – Dark Lane Demo Tapes
*dvsn – A Muse In Her Feelings
Grafh – Oracle 3
G Herbo – PTSD
Jadakiss – Ignatius
Jessie Reyez – BEFORE LOVE CAME TO KILL US
Jhene Aiko – Chilombo
Lil Baby – My Turn
Lil Uzi Vert – Eternal Atake [Deluxe]
*R.A. the Rugged Man – All My Heroes Are Dead
*YFN Lucci – Corona Pack – EP

SKIM ROTATION (haven’t heard whole album)

Don Toliver – Heaven Or Hell
*Fiona Apple – Fetch the Bolt Cutters
Joyner Lucas – ADHD
PARTYNEXTDOOR – PARTYMOBILE
*Rod Wave – Pray 4 Love
*Thundercat – It Is What It Is
*Tory Lanez – The New Toronto 3
Twista – Lifetime EP

TOO NEW/NO LOVE (zero listens)

Car Seat Headrest – Making a Door Less Open
Guapdad 4000 – Platinum Falcon Tape, Vol. 1 – EP
*Skyzoo & Dumbo Station – The Bluest Note – EP
*Tech N9ne – Enterfear

ALBUM OF THE MONTH

Dua LipaFuture Nostalgia

Bangerz Playlist Additions – Follow me on Apple Music @DarkKnight1717 to add my playlists

Brent Faiyaz, “Been Away”
D Smoke, “Like My Daddy”
D Smoke, “Free”
Halsey, “Graveyard”
JID, “Big Black Truck”
Lil Wayne, “Mama Mia”
Lil Wayne, “Piano Trap”
Lil Wayne ft. The Dream, “Sights and Silencers”
Mac Miller, “Circles”
Planet Asia & 38 Spesh ft. Fred the Godson & Elcamino, “Learned from Og’s (Remix)”
Westside Gunn ft. Joey Bada$$, Tyler, The Creator & Billie Essco, “327”
Westside Gunn ft. Freddie Gibbs & Roc Marciano, “$500 Ounces”

h1

January 2020 Album Reviews

April 23, 2020

First off, let me say… if nobody reads this, I’m going to be pissed. Yeah, this is a bit late. I’ve been working on this post for at least two months now. But I’ve been struggling with how I want to post my music opinions without feeling like I need to waste a ton of time thinking about what I want to write. I think I finally found a system that works for me. I’m going to rate every song on each album on what is essentially a 10-point scale and then I will average those ratings out to give an overall score. This isn’t necessarily my official rating for an album… but it’s a decent starting point. You will see some examples below where I think an album with a lower average rating is better than higher ones. Eminem’s album is the most obvious one. I gave seven of his songs a rating of 4 or higher – the most of any January 2020 release – but he also has, by far, the most songs I’d cut from an album, dragging his overall score down. So while his overall score is lower than some albums, I like it substantially more than, say, the Mick Jenkins project.

A good rule of thumb in order for me to rate an album is that I probably need to listen to it at least twice (hence no Pop Smoke listed below). Possibly the only exception to this rule is when I deem an album unlistenable and can barely (or can’t) even make it through the whole album the first time. Listening to and evaluating music is a pretty fluid process though, so all ratings are subject to change in the future as albums grow on me or I realize I initially overrated them. I’ve been sitting on most of these albums for about three months now, so I feel pretty good about these reviews. I will bold any song I added to my Bangers Playlist – usually at least a 4 on my rating scale.

5 – Perfection
4.5 – Great
4 – Very Good
3.5 – Good
3 – Cool
2.5 – Meh
2 – Bad
1 – Trash

BENNY THE BUTCHERThe Plugs I Met (June 2019, Rap)
1. (Intro) – N/A
2. “Crowns for Kings” ft. Black Thought – 5
3. “Sunday School” ft. 38 Spesh & Jadakiss – 4

4. “Dirty Harry” ft. Rj Payne & Conway the Machine – 3.5
5. “Took the Money to the Plug’s House” – 4
6. “18 Wheeler” ft. Pusha T – 4.5
7. “5 to 50” ft. India – 4

Average Song Rating: 4.17/5
Save Percentage: 100% (6/6)
Bangers: 5

Thoughts: A bonus addition to this month’s list because it’s just that good. This is a great example of less is more. Basically every song on here is really good. Black Thought and Benny absolutely murder the beat on “Crown for Kings” and I think that might be my favorite song of 2019. Benny is easily my favorite rapper that I wasn’t listening to a year ago. This is an elite project and one of the best albums of last year.

Verdict: 9/10 (Amazing)

Mick JenkinsThe Circus (January 2020, Rap)
1. “Same Ol” – 3
2. “Carefree” – 3
3. “The Light” ft. EARTHGANG – 4
4. “Flaunt” – 3
5. “The Fit” – 3.5
6. “I’m Convinced” – 3.5
7. “Different Scales” – 3.5

Average Rating: 3.36/5
Save Percentage: 100% (7/7)
Bangers: 1

Thoughts: A solid, but unspectacular little project that’s a bit more accessible than Mick’s past work which I have admittedly mostly overlooked. I do like every song on here though with “The Light” being my favorite by a large margin and that’s mostly because EARTHGANG just knows how to make great music.

Verdict: 6/10 (Recommended)

DreamvilleRevenge of the Dreamers 3 [Deluxe] (January 2020, Rap)
1. “Big Black Truck” ft. JID – 4
2. “Still Up” ft. EARTHGANG & REASON – 3.5
3. “Outta Pocket” ft. Bas, Cozz, and Girl Talk – 3
4. “Late Night” ft. Cozz, Omen, Buddy & Landstrip Chip – 3
5. “Spin Move” ft. Bas, Saba, Smino & The Hics – 3
6. “BUSSIT” ft. Ari Lennox – 3
7. “Passcode” ft. Ari Lennox, Buddy, Smino, Mez & Guapdad 4000 – 3
8. “Up Up Away” ft. JID, EARTHGANG & Vince Staples – 3.5
9. “No Chorus” ft. Bas, Dreezy, Buddy & Guapdad 4000 – 3
10. “Disgusted” ft. Cozz & Childish Major – 3
11. “Revenge” ft. Lute, Omen, Ari Lennox, EARTHGANG, Childish Major & REASON – 3
12. “Still Dreamin” ft. JID, Lute & 6LACK – 4

Average Rating: 3.25/5
Save Percentage: 100%
Bangers: 2

Thoughts: It’s important to understand what this is: a collection of songs that weren’t good enough to be on the official Revenge of the Dreamers III album. So these are all leftovers. Personally, I’d rather hear this stuff than not hear it, but when I listen to a project like this, I’m judging it on its own merit and not as a collective with the original release. It looks like every J.Cole feature made the official release because we don’t get any new Cole music here. Most of the songs on here are 3s, so while I like every track it’s a lot of stuff I’m pretty lukewarm about. I do think this Deluxe version is bookended by a couple of true bangers though.

Verdict: 6/10 (Recommended)

EminemMusic To Be Murdered By (January 2020, Rap)
1. “Premonition” – 4
2. “Unaccomodating” ft. Young MA – 3
3. “You Gon’ Learn” ft. Royce da 5’9″ & White Gold – 4.5
4. (Interlude) – N/A
5. “Those Kinda Nights” ft. Ed Sheeran – 1.5
6. “In Too Deep” – 2
7. “Godzilla” ft. Juice WRLD – 3.5
8. “Darkness” – 4
9. “Leaving Heaven” ft. Skylar Grey – 2.5
10. “Yah Yah” ft. Royce da 5’9″, Black Thought, Q-Tip & Denaun – 4
11. (Interlude) – N/A
12. “Stepdad” – 2.5
13. “Marsh” – 3
14. “Never Love Again” – 3.5
15. “Little Engine” – 2.5
16. “Lock It Up” ft. Anderson .Paak – 4
17. “Farewell” – 3
18. “No Regrets” ft. Don Toliver – 4
19. “I Will” ft. KXNG Crooked, Royce da 5’9″ & Joell Ortiz – 4

20. (Outro) – N/A

Average rating: 3.29/5
Save Percentage: 70.5% (12/17)
Bangers: 7

Thoughts: And here’s an example of more is less. Do I want to hear every song Eminem has ever recorded? Sure. But when you fill out an album’s tracklist with a bunch of weak songs, I’m going to hold those songs against the album as a whole. As you can see by my save percentage, I’d cut about 30% of this album. You take away those five songs and my average rating would jump up to a 3.7 out of 5 and I think that’s pretty close to elite status. His stuff with Ed Sheeran is embarrassing and I can’t stand Skylar Grey; she ruins what is an otherwise enjoyable song with an unbearable hook. I think the production on this album is actually pretty good and beat selection is usually a weakness on any Eminem album. Still, it could be better and you’d think this man would have access to the best producers on the planet. Alchemist was his touring DJ forever and they’ve made almost no actual music together. It’s a damn shame. Eminem is still elite when it comes to spitting and lyricism. Sure, he can spit some corny lines here and there, but he still astonishes me on a regular basis. I love every track Royce is on and it’s bad ass seeing them collab so much (Bad Meets Evil 2 anyone?). Seven bangers is a lot, so there’s plenty of gold on this album. This is probably Em’s best album since Recovery.

Verdict: 7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Mac MillerCircles (January 2020, Rap)
1. “Circles” – 4
2. “Complicated” – 4

3. “Blue World” – 3.5
4. “Good News” – 4.5
5. “I Can See” – 3.5
6. “Everybody” – 4
7. “Woods” – 4.5
8. “Hand Me Downs” – 5

9. “That’s On Me” – 3.5
10. “Hands” – 3
11. “Surf” – 3.5
12. “Once a Day” – 3.5

Average rating: 3.88/5
Save Percentage: 100% (12/12)
Bangers: 6

Thoughts: Mac Miller was really transcending as an artist. This is not a rappity rap album by any means… it’s just beautiful music… with some rapping. I like every song on this album and there are some real gems here. “Hand Me Downs” is just a perfect song. We lost one of the best hip-hop artists in the business when Mac died in 2018 and it’s kind of absurd that the average hip-hop consumer (that I know at least) doesn’t even listen to him. I’ve been thinking about doing a Top 25 Hip-Hop Artists Since 2015 blog post and in my preliminary rankings, I have Mac Miller ranked #6 on that list. That’s how highly I think of him. This posthumous release only strengthens his resume and Circles is an early Album of the Year contender.

Verdict: 8/10 (Must Listen)

Halsey – Manic (January 2020, Pop)
1. “Ashley” – 3.5
2. “Clementine” – 3
3. “Graveyard” – 4
4. “You should be sad” – 3.5
5. “Forever (is a long time)” – 2.5
6. “Dominic’s Interlude” ft. Dominic Fike – 3
7. “I HATE EVERYBODY” – 3
8. “3am” – 3.5
9. “Without Me” – 3.5
10. “Finally // beautiful stranger” – 3
11. “Alanis’ Interlude” ft. Alanis Morissette – 3.5
12. “killing boys” – 3
13. “SUGA’s Interlude” ft. SUGA & BTS – 3
14. “More” – 3.5
15. “Still Learning” – 3
16. “929” – 4

Average rating: 3.28/5
Save Percentage: 94% (15/16)
Bangers: 2

Thoughts: I really like Halsey’s voice, but I’m not much of a pop critic, so it’s not like I really know what I’m talking about here. I like almost every song on this album, but it doesn’t reach a lot of really high points. “Graveyard” and “929” are my only true standout songs, but I do think the multiple shots she takes at G-Eazy are pretty fun. I give this a recommendation but there are definitely better recent pop albums (Lana Del Rey, Dua Lipa).

Verdict: 6/10 (Recommended)

070 Shake – Modus Vivendi (January 2020, ??)
1. “Don’t Break The Silence” – 3
2. “Come Around” – 3
3. “Morrow” – 3.5
4. “The Pines” – 3.5
5. “Guilty Conscience” – 3.5
6. “Divorce” – 3
7. “It’s Forever” ft. The Ebonys – N/A
8. “Rocketship” – 3.5
9. “Microdosing” – 3
10. “Nice to Have” – 3.5
11. “Under the Moon” – 3.5
12. “Daydreamin” – 3
13. “Terminal B” – 3
14. “Flight319” – 3

Average rating: 3.23/5
Save Percentage: 100% (13/13)
Bangers: 0

Thoughts: I have no clue what kind of music this is. Apple has it listed as alternative and other places has it listed as hip-hop. It was released on Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music record label, so there’s that. Hip-Hop Twitter seems to like this album a lot, but honestly, I don’t really get it. There are definitely some good tracks on here, but I count zero true bangers, and at least half an album of lukewarm music.

Verdict: 5/10 (Decent)

Lil Wayne – Funeral (January 2020, Rap)
1. “Funeral” – 3.5
2. “Mahogany” – 4
3. “Mama Mia” – 4

4. “I Do It” ft. Big Sean & Lil Baby – 3.5
5. “Dreams” – 3.5
6. “Stop Playin With Me” 3
7. “Clap For Em” – 3.5
8. “Bing James” ft. Jay Rock – 3.5
9. “Not Me” – 3.5
10. “Trust Nobody” ft. Adam Levine – 3.5
11. “Know You Know” ft. 2 Chainz – 2.5
12. “Wild Dogs” – 3
13. “Harden” – 3.5
14. “I Don’t Sleep” ft. Takeoff – 3.5
15. “Sights and Silencers” ft. The Dream – 4
16. “Ball Hard” ft. Lil Twist – 4
17. “Bastard (Satan’s Kid)” – 4

18. “Get Outta My Head” ft. XXXTENTACION – 1.5
19. “Piano Trap” – 4
20. “Line Em Up” – 3.5
21. “Darkside” – 3
22. “Never Mind” – 3
23. “T.O.” ft. O.T. Genasis – 3
24. “Wayne’s World” – 2.5

Average rating: 3.35/5
Save Percentage: 87.55 (21/24)
Bangers: 6

Thoughts: Lil Wayne is an all-time great and, like it or not, one of the most influential rappers ever. Who do you think inspired all these mumble rappers? I don’t group Wayne in with this new generation though and when I think about my ten favorite hip-hop artists ever, I often think about Lil Wayne for that #10 spot. That’s not set in stone for me yet, but he’s in contention. So the man is a legend… and some 22 years after I first heard him rap he’s still making music I want to listen to. Considering there are 24 songs on Funeral and I would only cut 2 or 3 of them, this is a really solid release. I prefer shorter albums and I can imagine a much stronger showing if he cut about 6-7 songs from this. I don’t think Funeral is better than any album in Tha Carter series, so this is middle of his catalog stuff. Wayne is still an elite rapper though and anything he touches is something you should be checking out.

Verdict: 7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Note: Now that I have this dialed in, it shouldn’t take me three months to write about the February 2020 releases. Expect that before the middle of May. *fingers crossed*