Posts Tagged ‘d smoke’

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February 2020 Album Reviews (Part One)

May 20, 2020

I’ve been sitting on this post for too long and want to get something new out, so I’m going to make my February reviews a two-parter. Hopefully I will have the second part done before the end of the month.

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 – Elite on every level. Pure bliss in musical form. Literally perfect.
4.5 – Amazing – Mostly elite, but not quite on that all-time level of the best songs ever created.
4 – Very Good – This is basically the cut off for my Bangers Playlists, which are essentially a list of my favorite songs of the year. I feel like you should never want to skip any song that’s this good. Any album that can average a 4 is probably amazing.
3.5 – Good – I feel like this is where you want to sit as an artist. Making good songs. Sometimes you will make really good songs and sometimes you will make some not so good songs. An artist that consistently reaches this level is by no means average though… they are nice.
3 – Cool – When people say something is “not bad,” that’s what this is. It’s not exactly good, but it’s not really a weak track either. When I give something a 3, I like it, but I’m a bit lukewarm on it, whereas I’m 100% on board with something I give a 3.5. You don’t want to sit here as an artist. The difference between an album that averages a 3.5 and one that averages a 3 is actually huge. A 3.5 is undeniably good while a 3 is much closer to mediocre.
2.5 – Filler – Any song I give a 2.5 to is something I’d cut from an album. It’s not good enough to be on there and megafans and completionists are the only people that ever needed to hear it. A 2.5 is the ceiling for weak songs though, so I guess I’d call them decent, but decent isn’t good enough to be album material. An album that averages a 2.5 rating is almost certainly trash.
2 – Bad – These are flat out bad tracks. There are songs I don’t really like but I’d call decent and then there are songs I don’t like that just plain suck. That’s what a 2 is.
1 – Trash – No need for a 1.5. A trash track is worse than a bad track. We are talking pure garbage here.

Spin Rate – This is an important feature because not only does it show how much listening love I gave an album, but it also reflects how reliable my opinion on it is. I’m going to trust someone that listened to something 5+ times through a hell of a lot more than someone that just gave an album one listen. It’s not perfect. I just add up the total number of listens for every song on the album and divide it by the number of actual songs on the album (intros, skits, outros are generally excluded). But if my spin rate is a 5, then you can assume I’ve listened to most of the album at least five times through.

Lana Del ReyNorman F*****g Rockwell! (August 2019, Pop/Rock)
1. “Norman fucking Rockwell” – 3.5
2. “Mariners Apartment Complex” – 3.5
3. “Venice Bitch” – 4
4. “Fuck it I love you” – 4
5. “Doin’ Time” – 3.5
6. “Love Song” – 3.5
7. “Cinnamon Girl” – 3.5
8. “How to disappear” – 3.5
9. “California” – 4
10. “The Next Best American Record” – 3.5
11. “The greatest” – 3.5
12. “Bartender” – 4
13. “Happiness is a butterfly” – 4
14. “hope is a danger thing for a woman like me to have – but i have it” – 4

Spin Rate: 9
Average Song Rating: 3.71/5
Save Percentage: 100% (14/14)
Bangers: 6

Thoughts: It’s pretty safe to say that I love Lana Del Rey’s style. Well, at least on this album. I can’t say I’m familiar with the rest of her discography. This album has a very mellow and somewhat melancholy vibe, but it’s full of substance and it’s such a love letter to the state of California while sounding nothing like the sunshine and warmth you associate with The Golden State. I love this album. I can put it on and listen to it all the way through without wanting to skip a single song. I can promise this though: if you listen to any song I bolded above and don’t like it, there’s no chance you will like this album.

Verdict: 8/10 (Must Listen)

D SmokeBlack Habits (February 2020, Rap)
1. “Morning Prayer” – N/A
2. “Bullies” – 3.5
3. “No Commas” – 3.5
4. “Gaspar Yanga” ft. Snoop Dogg – 3
5. “Top of the Morning” – 3
6. “Sunkissed Child” ft. Jill Scott & Iguocho – 3.5
7. “Black Habits I” ft. Jackie Gouche – 3.5
8. “Fly” ft. Davion Farris – 3.5
9. “Seasons Pass” – 3
10. “Fallin'” – 3
11. “Lights On” ft. SiR – 3.5
12. “Real Body” ft. Ari Lennox – 2.5
13. “Free” – 4
14. “Like My Daddy” – 4

15. “Closer to God” ft. SiR – 3.5
16. “Black Habits II” – 3.5

Spin Rate: 5.5
Average Song Rating: 3.36/5
Save Percentage: 93% (14/15)
Bangers: 2

Thoughts: So Cardi B created this show on Netflix called Rhythm + Flow, an American Idol-type show for wannabe hip-hop artists, and D Smoke was the winner of the first season. I was pretty shocked when he won because it seemed pretty obvious to me that Flawless Real Talk was the best contestant on the show… by a pretty sizable margin… but both Flawless and D Smoke have released projects since the show aired and it’s pretty clear that D Smoke is the better artist, by far. He released an EP late last year called Inglewood High that had a couple gems on it and follows it up here with this full length album that is also quite good. As you can see by my ratings above, I tend to think D Smoke makes pretty good, but not great music, but sitting in that 3.5 range is a fine place to be… he just doesn’t elevate to that special level too often. It seems like D Smoke is still trying to find his own style at this early point in his career because the Kendrick Lamar influence can be overwhelming at times. Also, it’s pretty wild that D Smoke is a sibling of SiR, Kendrick’s TDE labelmate. Smoke has a mellow vibe but he’s actually quite complex lyrically. He also raps in Spanish a lot, which can be cool, but he goes to that well more often than you’d expect. Black Habits is a solid debut studio LP from a promising hip-hop artist

Verdict: 7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Brent FaiyazF**k the World (February 2020, R&B/Soul)
1. “Skyline” – 3
2. “Clouded” – 3
3. “Been Away” – 4
4. “F**k the World (Summer in London)” – 3.5
5. “Let Me Know” – 3.5
6. “Soon Az I Get Home (Interlude)” – N/A
7. “Rehab (Winter in Paris)” – 4
8. “Bluffin” – 3.5
9. “Lost Kids Get Money” – 3.5
10. “Make It Out (Outro)” – N/A

Spin Rate: 10.25
Average Song Rating: 3.5/5
Save Percentage: 100% (8/8)
Bangers: 2

Thoughts: This is a nice, but short R&B project with a couple of standout tracks. A 3.5 average rating is really high though (Mac Miller’s album was the only January release I gave a higher average rating to) so basically every song on here is good. Brent Faiyaz can do a throwback 90s-sounding R&B song better than any modern crooner I can think of and “Been Away” is that track on this album. If you like this project, then check out his last album Sonder Son… it’s even better.

Verdict: 7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Denzel Curry & Kenny BeatsUNLOCKED (February 2020, Rap)
1. “Track 01” – N/A
2. “Take_it_Back_v2” – 3.5
3. “Lay_Up.m4a” – 3.5
4. “Pyro (leak 2019)” – 3.5
5. “DIET_” – 3.5
6. “So.Incredible.pkg” – 4
7. “Track07” – N/A
8. “‘Cosmic’ .m4a” – 4

Spin Rate: 4.67
Average Song Rating: 3.67/5
Save Percentage: 100% (6/6)
Bangers: 2

Thoughts: This is a really short, but solid project. Removing the intro and interlude type track, it’s only about 15 minutes long, but Denzel has a very commanding mic presence and Kenny Beats gives him some solid instrumentals to spit over. Denzel Curry is probably one of the more overlooked prominent rap artists releasing quality music over the last few years. Even I’m guilty of it. He’s lyrically nice and has a really good flow, plus enough off the dome talent that he allegedly freestyled the entirety of his last album. He’s someone you need to put on your radar if he’s not there already.

Verdict: 7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Boldy JamesThe Price of Tea in China (February 2020, Rap)
1. “Carruth” – 3.5
2. “Giant Slide” – 3.5
3. “Surf & Turf” ft. Vince Staples – 4
4. “Run-Ins” – 3
5. “Scrape the Bowl” ft. BENNY THE BUTCHER – 3.5
6. “Pinto” – 3
7. “Slow Roll” – 4
8. “S.N.O.R.T” ft. Freddie Gibbs – 3.5
9. “Grey October” ft. Evidence – 3.5
10. “Mustard” – 3
11. “Speed Demon Freestyle” – 2.5
12. “Phone Bill” – 3.5

Spin Rate: 4.75
Average Song Rating: 3.38/5
Save Percentage: 91.6% (11/12)
Bangers: 2

Thoughts: I’d never heard of Boldy before this album dropped, but when Alchemist is producing your whole album, that alone makes it worth checking out. Also, the features are like a who’s who of some of my favorite rappers from the last few years. I wouldn’t call the production on this album elite, but Alchemist really complements Boldy’s extremely laid back, almost monotone style. I typically don’t love this kind of vocal rapping style, but Boldy has BARS and his flow is pretty nice. It works for me, but it might not work for everyone.

Verdict: 6/10 (Recommended)

A Boogie wit da HoodieArtist 2.0 (February 2020, Rap/Trap)
1. “Thug Love” – 3.5
2. “Cinderella Story” – 3
3. “Me and My Guitar” – 3.5
4. “Might Not Give Up” ft. Young Thug – 4
5. “Numbers” ft. Roddy Richh, Gunna and London On Da Track – 3.5
6. “Stain” ft. DaBaby – 3.5
7. “Hit ‘Em Up” ft. Trap Manny – 3
8. “DTB 4 Life” – 3
9. “Calm Down (Bittersweet)” ft. Summer Walker – 4
10. “Another Day Gone” ft. Khalid – 3.5
11. “Good Girls Gone Bad” – 3
12. “Blood On My Denim” – 3
13. “R.O.D.” – 2.5
14. “Big S**T” – 2.5
15. “Right Back” – 3.5
16. “Luv Is Art” ft. Lil Uzi Vert – 3
17. “King of My City” – 3
18. “Mood Swings” – 3.5
19. “Reply” ft. Lil Uzi Vert – 3.5
20. “Streets Didn’t Love You” – 3

Spin Rate: 5.3
Average Song Rating: 3.25/5
Save Percentage: 90% (18/20)
Bangers: 2

Thoughts: I’m not mad about that score. A Boogie has a vibe that works for me and I tend to like most of his songs. It’s pretty shocking to me that he can release a 20 track album and I’d only trim off two songs. Everything else is reasonably good. A Boogie reminds me a bit of Roddy Richh (or maybe Roddy reminds me of him?), but Roddy seems to be a substantially better songwriter. I only added two songs from this album to my 2020 Bangers Playlist and they were actually pretty light additions. I think the Young Thug and Summer Walker features push those tracks over the edge though. This isn’t really an album I’d want to listen to all the way through, but I’d only skip two songs if they came up in a playlist shuffle, so I’d say A Boogie has a winner here.

Verdict: 6/10 (Recommended)

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November 2019 New Music

November 30, 2019

I always hear people complaining about how bad music is nowadays and they couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, there is more quality music flooding the industry than ever before. It’s impossible to listen to it all, but… I try to. I give everything a chance and at the end of every month I’ll post everything I listened to and how much, what my favorite album was, what the other must have albums are, and what songs I added to my 2019 Bangers Playlist.

Stop complaining and take some guidance!

Because some albums come out later in the month and I don’t get much of a chance to listen to them before making my post, I’ve decided to make my new music posts containing all albums I’ve listened to over the last two months.

November Notes: Midway through the month, a great hip-hop Twitter account I follow – @HipHopNumbers – started a countdown of his top 15 albums of the decade and I spent a good portion of my month either relistening to those albums or giving a few I skipped past another chance (I’m looking at you IGOR). It’s a list I have a good amount of agreement with, so I’ll put it at the end of this post. Also, if you’re on Twitter, you should give this account a follow. He does all sorts of statistical analysis of pretty much any relevant hip-hop release and I’ve found his work to be very entertaining.

Also, check out my 2019 Albums page. I added rankings for D Smoke, Danny Brown, Emeli Sande, Raphael Saadiq, and Emotional Oranges… and one of them is an Album of the Year contender.

* indicates albums I added in October

HEAVY ROTATION (heard whole album many times)

*D Smoke – Inglewood High
*Danny Brown – uknowwhatimsayin?
*Emeli Sande – REAL LIFE (added in October, released in September)
Griselda – Wwcd
*Silas – 1998 (added in October, released in August)
Tyler, The Creator – IGOR (added in November, released in May)

SOLID ROTATION (heard whole album at least twice)

03 Greedo & Kenny Beats – Netflix & Deal
Brother Ali – Secrets & Escapes
Emotional Oranges – The Juice, Vol. II
Gang Starr – One of the Best Yet
*Kanye West – JESUS IS KING
Michael Kiwanuka – KIWANUKA

COURTESY ROTATION (heard whole album)

Action Bronson & The Alchemist – Lamb Over Rice
Apollo Brown – Sincerely, Detroit (added in November, released in October)
Beck – Hyperspace
BENNY THE BUTCHER – The Plugs I Met (added in November, released in June)
Bishop Briggs – CHAMPION
Earl Sweatshirt – FEET OF CLAY
FKA twigs – MAGDALENE
*G-Eazy – Scary Nights
IDK – Is He Real? (added in November, released in September)
Kota the Friend – Foto (added in November, released in May)
Lana Del Ray – Norman F*****g Rockwell (added in November, released in August)
Larry June – Product of the Dope Game
Rod Wave – Ghetto Gospel
Salaam Remi & Joell Ortiz – BoxTalk – EP
Smoke DZA & BENNY THE BUTCHER – Statue of Limitations – EP (added in November, released in October)
*Summer Walker – Over It
*Tobe Nwigwe – THREE ORIGINALS (added in October, released in March)
Trippie Redd – A Love Letter to You 4
Various Artists – Queen & Slim Soundtrack
*Wale – Wow… That’s Crazy

SKIM ROTATION (haven’t heard whole album)

*Angel Olsen – All Mirrors
CRIMEAPPLE – Viridi Panem
Dave East – Survival
*Flawless Real Talk – 24Flaw7 (added in October, not sure when released)
Jacquees – King of R&B
Kembe X – I Was Depressed Until I Made This (added in November, released in October)
Tory Lanez – Chixtape 5
*Tuxedo – Tuxedo III (added in October, released in July)
YNW Melly – Melly vs. Melvin

Out of Rotation (removed from my current playlist)

TOO NEW/NO LOVE (zero listens)

Fabolous – Summertime Shootout 3: Coldest Summer Ever
Jvck James – DETOUR – EP (added in November, released in October)
Smoke DZa & Curren$y – Prestige Worldwide
The Game – Born 2 Rap

ALBUM OF THE MONTH

GriseldaWwcd

I was having a tough time coming up with a truly standout album from the November releases, but then Griselda dropped a genuine banger at the buzzer. Normally, I don’t get around to listening to last minute album drops before making this post, but I must have listened to this album five times in a row the day after it dropped. Let me note something real quick: historically, I have not been a giant Griselda fan. They have tons of content and I’ve listened to a decent amount of it, but I’ve never thought of them as the second coming of Wu Tang like their biggest fans seem to think they are. However, I hadn’t ever listened to BENNY THE BUTCHER before this month and I’m definitely a fan of his and the more I listen to Conway the Machine, the more I like him. Westside Gunn is my least favorite in the group and he’s also the guy I’ve had the most exposure to, which could explain why I was lukewarm on the collective as a whole before this album dropped.

I was pretty shocked when I heard these dudes signed with Shady Records and you have to give Eminem some credit because Shady now has two huge wins this year (Boogie being the other). This album is 13 tracks deep but only ten of them are actual songs. However, all ten songs are pretty damn good and even the non-songs have a vibe to them. This album has only been out a few days and I’ve already added two tracks to my Bangerz Playlist and I expect more to be added in the future. I don’t think this is an Album of the Year contender like I’ve been reading from some people, but it’s undeniably good from top to bottom and has no real weak spots. The thing about Griselda, in my opinion, is that they make good songs and execute above average in all the key areas of making rap music, but I don’t really think anything about them is exceptional. Still, I give Wwcd a very strong recommendation and it’s probably the best new album I listened to in November.

2019 Bangerz Playlist Additions – Follow me on Apple Music @DarkKnight1717 to add my playlists

BENNY THE BUTCHER ft. Black Thought, “Crowns for Kings”
BENNY THE BUTCHER ft. Pusha T, “18 Wheeler”
Brother Ali, “Father Figures”
Danny Brown, “Combat”
D Smoke, “Lil’ Red”
D Smoke, “Honey Jack”
EARTHGANG & Tiana Major9, “Collide”
Emeli Sande, “Honest”
Emeli Sande, “Human”
Emotional Oranges, “Not Worth It”
Gang Starr ft. J.Cole, “Family and Loyalty”
Gang Starr ft. Group Home and Royce da 5’9″, “What’s Real”
Griselda, “Cruiser Weight Coke”
Griselda, “Freddie HotSpot”
Kota the Friend, “Foto”
Larry June, “Something Gotta Change”
Michael Kiwanuka, “Rolling”
Raphael Saadiq, “This World is Drunk”
Raphael Saadiq ft. Rob Bacon, “Something Keeps Calling Me”
Raphael Saadiq, “Rikers Island”
Tyler, The Creator, “IGOR’S THEME”
Wale ft. 6LACK, “Expectations”

@HipHopNumbers Top 15 Albums of the Decade:

15. Rapsody – Eve
14. Joey Badass – ALL AMERIKKAN BADASS
13. Lupe Fiasco – Tetsou & Youth
12. Jay Rock – 90059
11. Mac Miller – Swimming
10. Pusha T – DAYTONA
9. Kid Cudi – Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin’
8. Tyler, The Creator – IGOR
7. Earl Sweatshirt – Doris
6. Mac Miller – Watching Movies With the Sound Off
5. Kid Cudi & Kanye West – Kids See Ghosts
4. Isaiah Rashad – The Sun’s Tirade
3. Kendrick Lamar – Good Kidd M.A.D.D. City
2. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
1. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly

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October 2019 New Music

November 1, 2019

I always hear people complaining about how bad music is nowadays and they couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, there is more quality music flooding the industry than ever before. It’s impossible to listen to it all, but… I try to. I give everything a chance and at the end of every month I’ll post everything I listened to and how much, what my favorite album was, what the other must have albums are, and what songs I added to my 2019 Bangers Playlist.

Stop complaining and take some guidance!

Because some albums come out later in the month and I don’t get much of a chance to listen to them before making my post, I’ve decided to make my new music posts containing all albums I’ve listened to over the last two months. New albums for the most recent month will be in bold.

Also, check out my 2019 Albums page to see where I have rated any albums I’ve formed a solid opinion on. Added this month: ratings for the new Skyzoo and Silas

October Notes: I only added six new albums from the past month (I’ll include the Halloween releases in my November post) and as you can see below, I gave very few of them strong rotation. I saw Logic, YBN Cordae and JiD in a concert last month and some dude named Silas opened the show and he was dope enough that I added his album to my rotation and enjoyed it quite a bit. Someone recommended Tuxedo and Emeli Sande to me, so I added those albums even though they dropped earlier in the year. I spent the last week of October watching the show Rhythm & Flow on Netflix, an American Idol style hip-hop contest, and D Smoke and Flawless Real Talk were my favorite contestants and they both have projects available on Apple Music that I added last month but haven’t had a chance to really listen to yet.

HEAVY ROTATION (heard whole album many times)

EARTHGANG – Mirrorland
Silas – 1998 (added in October, released in August)

SOLID ROTATION (heard whole album at least twice)

Danny Brown – uknowwhatimsayin?
Kanye West – JESUS IS KING
Skyzoo & Pete Rock – Retropolitan

COURTESY ROTATION (heard whole album)

G-Eazy – Scary Nights
Ras Kass – Soul on Ice 2
Summer Walker – Over It
Tobe Nwigwe – THREE ORIGINALS (added in October, released in March)
Wale – Wow… That’s Crazy

SKIM ROTATION (haven’t heard whole album)

Angel Olsen – All Mirrors
Emeli Sande – REAL LIFE (added in October, released in September)
Flawless Real Talk – 24Flaw7 (added in October, not sure when released)
Ghostface Killah – Ghostface Killahs
Kemba – Gilda
Kevin Gates – I’m Him
Post Malone – Hollywood’s Bleeding
Tuxedo – Tuxedo III (added in October, released in July)

Out of Rotation (removed from my current playlist)

TOO NEW (zero listens)

D Smoke – Inglewood High

ALBUM OF THE MONTH

Danny Brownuknowwhatimsayin? – This sort of wins by default. The only other new album that I listened to nearly as much was Kanye’s gospel album and I can’t even really say I liked that one. I’ve had difficulty listening to some of Danny Brown’s past work because his vocals and delivery can be… very odd and kind of grating… but on this album we get a mostly smooth and easy to understand performance. I haven’t listened to this album for at least two weeks so I find myself pretty unfamiliar with it still, but I did add “Savage Nomad” to my best tracks of 2019 playlist.

2019 Bangerz Playlist Additions

Danny Brown, “Savage Nomad”
Emeli Sande, “Free as a Bird”
Jamila Woods, “MUDDY”
Joell Ortiz ft. Big K.R.I.T., “Learn You”
Kemba, “Nobody I Can Trust”
Little Simz ft. Little Dragon, “Pressure”
Silas, “’98 Freestyle”
Silas, “Buddy (1998)”
Skyzoo & Pete Rock ft. Westside Gunn, Conway, BENNY THE BUTCHER, & Elzhi, “Eastern Conference All-Stars”