Posts Tagged ‘eminem’

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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: Album of the Year Contender

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: 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: 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: 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: Album of the Year Contender

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: 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: 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: 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*

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March 2020 New Music

April 7, 2020

Notes: You’d think that being quarantined at home would mean listening to more music than ever, but it’s been quite the opposite. I do almost all my listening when I’m at the gym or at the casino and both of those places are closed down for the foreseeable future. I am playing some online poker, but I don’t find myself listening to music most of the time I’m doing that. The big releases for May were new albums from Jay Electronic & Jay-Z, The Weeknd, Lil Uzi Vert, and Childish Gambino.

* indicates second month on PRIORITY playlist

HEAVY ROTATION (heard whole album many times)

Brent Faiyaz – F**k the World
Eminem – Music To Be Murdered By
Griselda – WWCD
*Jay Electronica (and Jay-Z!) – A Written Testimony
Lana Del Ray – Norman F*****g Rockwell
Lil Wayne – Funeral
Mac Miller – Circles
Roddy Ricch – Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial
Royce da 5’9″ – The Allegory

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

Dreamville – Revenge of the Dreamers [Deluxe]
*Lil Uzi Vert – Eternal Atake
Mick Jenkins – The Circus
*The Weeknd – After Hours

SOLID ROTATION (heard whole album at least twice)

A Boogie wit da Hoodie – Artist 2.0
Andrew Kelly – Annex
D Smoke – Black Habits
Halsey – Manic
Kota the Friend – Lyrics to Go, Vol. 1
YGTUT – I.O.U.

COURTESY ROTATION (heard whole album)

070 Shake – Modus Vivendi
Boldy James – The Price of Tea in China
*Childish Gambino – 3.15.20
Denzel Curry & Kenny Beats – UNLOCKED
*Grafh – Oracle 3
*G Herbo – PTSD
Green Day – Father of All…
*Jadakiss – Ignatius
*Jhene Aiko – Chilombo
K. Michelle – All Monsters Are Human
Kamaiyah – Got It Made
Lil Baby – My Turn
*Lil Uzi Vert – Eternal Atake [Deluxe]
Planet Asia & 38 Spesh – Trust the Chain
Tame Impala – The Slow Rush

SKIM ROTATION (haven’t heard whole album)

*DJ Kay Slay – Living Legend
*Don Toliver – Heaven Or Hell
Guapdad 4000 – Dior Deposits
*Megan Thee Stallion – Suga
Onyx – Lost Treasures
Pop Smoke – Meet the Woo 2
Tink – Hopeless Romantic
Twista – Lifetime EP

TOO NEW/NO LOVE (zero listens)

*Jessie Reyez – BEFORE LOVE CAME TO KILL US
*Joyner Lucas – ADHD
*PARTYNEXTDOOR – PARTYMOBILE
Young Nudy – Anyways

ALBUM OF THE MONTH

Jay Electronica (& Jay-Z)A Written Testimony – review in next post

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

Grafh, “Guilty”
Jay Electronica ft. Jay-Z, “Shiny Suit Theory”
Jay Electronica ft. Jay-Z, “Ghost of Soulja Slim”
Lil Wayne, “Mahogany”
Lil Uzi Vert, “Prices”
Pop Smoke ft. Gunna, “Dior [Remix]”
The Weeknd, “Hardest To Love”

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Weekly Music Update – 11/29/2017

November 30, 2017

Since I celebrated Thanksgiving three different times last week, I never got around to posting my Weekly Music Update, so this post includes releases from the last two Fridays.

Also, aside from the one album I’ve been listening to heavily that I’ll mention below, most of my music listening lately has been in preparation for my next Rapper Profile (you can read past profiles for Biggie and DMX by clicking their names).

So who is my next profile going to be?

This guy:

That’s Eminem – in honor of his new album Revival which has been officially announced as coming out on December 15th.

New Releases

CyHi The PrynceNo Dope On Sundays (hip-hop/rap) – This album is fire. I made a preliminary Top 5 of 2017 list last night and this is a strong contender. Great lyrics, great beats… just great rap music.

Fabolous & JadakissFriday On Elm Street (hip-hop/rap) – Both these guys are rappers I’ve always thought of as overrated. I really like Jada’s verse on the opening track when he raps from the perspective of Jason Vorhees (I guess Fab missed the memo – his verse has almost nothing to do with Freddy Krueger), plus the beat is horror movie awesome. The rest of the album is the slightly above average material I’ve grown accustomed to from these guys.

Kodak BlackProject Baby 2: All Grown Up (hip-hop/rap) – Kodak had a release last year or earlier this year that I was expecting to hate, but actually kind of liked. I have given this zero listens so far though.

NasIn My Ghetto – EP (hip-hop/rap) – I’m not sure what this is supposed to be or who released it but more than half of these songs were on Lost Tapes, which was released 15 years ago. Nas fans would be better off adding that album to their collection, especially since the mixing on this is really subpar at times. This has already been deleted from my playlist.

Bob SegerI Knew You When (rock) – Another attempt at branching out with an artist I’ve never listened to. So far I’ve listened to zero songs. LOL.

Jaden SmithSYRE (hip-hop/rap) – I was going to skip this, but someone recommended it to me. I listened to the first several tracks and while the rapping is solid and the music is fine, I can’t say it really grabbed me. I have not revisited it again.

Talib KweliRadio Silence (hip-hop/rap) – There was a time in the early 2000s when I considered Talib a top 20 emcee. His star has faded quite a bit since then. I haven’t listened to this album yet and I was shocked when Talib spent the first weekend of its release arguing nonstop with poker players on Twitter. POKER PLAYERS. Not really sure how or why that happened, but I don’t get how someone that just released a new album could waste so much time and energy arguing and telling people to take showers on a social media app.

Other Notable Releases

BjorkUtopiar (electronic)

Lil Uzi VertLuv Is Rage 2 (hip-hop/rap) – Nope.

T-PainOblivion (hip-hop/rap)

Ratings

KamaiyahBefore I Wake (hip-hop/rap) – RECOMMENDED

Wu-TangThe Saga Continues (hip-hop/rap) – TOP NOTCH

Sam SmithThe Thrill of it All (pop) – RECOMMNENDED

JidennaBoomerang – EP (hip-hop/rap) – RECOMMENDED

LE$The Catalina Wine Mixer (hip-hop/rap) – RECOMMENDED

Brent FaiyazSonder Son (r&b/soul) – VERY GOOD

Dame D.O.L.L.A.CONFIRMED (hip-hop/rap) – RECOMMENDED

Other Recent Releases

Cam’ronThe Program (hip-hop/rap) – Haven’t listened yet… but I did hear Ma$e destroy Cam’ron last week.

KalelaTake Me Apart (R&B/soul) – Haven’t really listened to yet.

ELHAEAURA II (R&B/soul) – Haven’t listened at all.

dvsnMorning After (r&b/soul) – Pretty close to having a rating for this.

Big K.R.I.T.4eva Is a Mighty Long Time (hip-hop/rap) – Can’t really get into this.

YelawolfTrial By Fire (hip-hop/rap) – Close to having a rating for this also.

Best of 2017 Playlist Additions

“No Dope On Sundays” featuring Pusha T – CyHi The Prynce, No Dope On Sundays

“Murda” featuring Estelle – CyHi The Prynce, No Dope On Sundays

“Closer” – CyHi The Prynce, No Dope On Sundays

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Weekly Music Update: Kamaiyah, Jidenna, Eminem & Beyonce

November 15, 2017

New Playlist Additions

KamaiyahBefore I Wake (hip-hop/rap) – Kamaiyah is a double dose of rarity for me: a female rapper that I enjoy and a Bay Area rapper that I enjoy. She gets a lot of great production and has a really smooth vocal style and doesn’t abuse her sexuality. I liked her debut album and after 2-3 listens already, I’m a fan of this one also.

JidennaBoomerang – EP (hip-hop/rap) – I’m a fan of Jidenna. I’m a fan of EPs. This is a solid compliment to his LP The Chief released earlier this year – complete with a “Bambi” sequel!

Eminem & Beyonce – “Walk On Water” (hip-hop/rap) – Oh man. It’s becoming less of a secret that Eminem has a new album on the very near horizon and “Walk On Water” is the first song leaked from it… and it’s a disappointment to me. I can appreciate the message – the pressure for an artist to continually come with great content and better their past releases – and I enjoy Beyonce’s singing, but goodness the production is lackluster. Eminem is basically rapping over someone playing a piano and it sounds jarring at times and I have to say is quite a letdown overall. Hopefully not a sign of things to come.

Chris BrownHeartbreak on a Full Moon (R&B/soul) – I’m not going to lie: 45 Chris Brown songs is quite the chore and not exactly one I’m looking forward to, but my niece recommended this to me and I feel like it’s good form to listen to other people’s recommendations if I want them to listen to mine. I guess I don’t know much about Chris Brown, but I assumed I wasn’t a fan and I’ve mostly enjoyed the songs that I’ve heard from this collection so far.

Cam’ronThe Program (hip-hop/rap) – Literally just added this to my playlist as I was typing this post. Can’t say I’m checking for Cam’ron, but he’s always had talent and is probably worth giving a shot.

Other Notable Releases

Wiz KhalifaLaugh Now, Fly Later (hip-hop/rap) – This dude sucks now.

Too $hortHella Disrespectful: Bay Area Mixtape (hip-hop/rap) – Remember what I said about Bay Area rappers. I liked Too $hort when I was 12. Vocally and lyrically, I really think he’s one of the worst rappers ever.

Angel OlsenPhases (alternative)

Recent Albums Update

Sam SmithThe Thrill of it All (pop) – Definitely a good album that I can listen to all the way through.

KalelaTake Me Apart (R&B/soul) – Haven’t really listened to yet.

ELHAEAURA II (R&B/soul) – Haven’t listened at all.

LE$The Catalina Wine Mixer (hip-hop/rap) – A surprise release that I wasn’t initially aware of, but LE$ has been one of my favorite hip-hop artists over the past year and his work ethic is extraordinary: this is his fifth release in the last 18 months and last year’s Tecnnoviolet was a top 5 rap album of 2016 for me. Considering the volume of music LE$ is putting out, the consistency of the quality is extremely impressive. If this dude isn’t on your radar, he should be. I wouldn’t say he’s elite lyrically or vocally, but the guy knows how to make good rap music.

Brent FaiyazSonder Son (r&b/soul) – My goodness this is fire. I played a 16 hour poker session yesterday and I kept finding myself coming back to this album and “Stay Down” in particular. I must have listened to that song over ten times yesterday. “Talk 2 U” is another highlight and both of those songs sound like immediate classics. This whole album is good though. I’m pretty close to giving this a final rating and it will definitely be a strong one.

dvsnMorning After (r&b/soul) – I gave this a less than favorable first impression and I have to say this album has grown on me tremendously. I’m still figuring out how I feel about the album as a whole, but it’s a strong R&B release and I can say this much with certainty: “Claim” is a classic!

Big K.R.I.T.4eva Is a Mighty Long Time (hip-hop/rap) – Haven’t really given this a dedicated listen yet. As of now, I can’t say any songs have stood out to me.

YelawolfTrial By Fire (hip-hop/rap) – Yelawolf is a good rapper. He knows his niche, executes well, and has plenty of substance and authenticity. I heard two songs this past week that really stood out to me: “True To Yourself” and “Keeps Me Alive” – both added to my Best Songs of 2017 playlist.

H.E.R.H.E.R. (r&B/soul) – Still haven’t given this a full listen, but I’ve liked basically every song that has come up on random so far.

Hustle GangWe Want Smoke (hip-hop/rap) – Finally got the delete. Just no interest.

Wu-TangThe Saga Continues (hip-hop/rap) – From last week: “I’ve listened to the first half of the album four times and the second half twice, so I’m still getting a feel for some of it. I know this much: Method Man absolutely destroys over multiple appearances. He not only sounds completely rejuvenated, but as good as he ever has – so many quotables from Meth: “Mayday! Mayday! But no charge, I’m nutty with the bars/ that’s a Payday, so bruh (sober), this ain’t even a bar, this is AA.” The production is also a massive highlight. I stopped giving albums numbered ratings, but I can say this much: this Wu-Tang album is inching up my Very Good category and getting consideration for Top Notch, which puts it in Albums of the Year territory.” Not much to add. I still can’t get over how much Method Man crushes this album.

BeckTrue Colors (alternative) – Deleted. Not for me.

Dame D.O.L.L.A.CONFIRMED (hip-hop/rap) – Another album I gave a less than favorable first impression that has grown on me a little. Dame seems to be more entertaining to me in smaller doses.

Best of 2017 Playlist Additions

“True To Yourself” – Yelawolf, Trial By Fire

“Keeps Me Alive” – Yelawolf, Trial By Fire

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The Defiant Ones (2017) & Friends From College: Season 1 (2017)

August 11, 2017

The Defiant Ones (2017), HBO – This is four part documentary series on HBO that tells the stories of famed record executive Jimmy Iovine and gangster rap pioneer Dr. Dre. It’s a must watch for hip-hop fans and really anyone that truly appreciates music would probably enjoy it. It covers a lot of the stuff we already saw in the 2015 film Straight Outta Compton, but fills in some of the holes and tells a much more authentic story. And really, this is an era of music that I grew up on and love to death, so I don’t mind revisiting its roots multiple times. Jimmy Iovine’s story adds variety to the hip-hop stuff as he has also worked with artists like Bruce Springsteen, Marilyn Manson, and No Doubt to name a few. But what both of these moguls did was push the boundaries of what was thought to be acceptable – or even possible – in the music industry and have reached levels of success that are astronomical and extend far beyond merely making music. The Defiant Ones is very engaging for the viewer and quite a breeze for a four part series. Highly recommended.

Replay Value: I would watch this again like… tomorrow.
Sequel Potential: N/A
Oscar Potential: Not sure where this would fall in the Oscar categories, but it should have some Emmy potential, which I’m far less familiar with.

Grade: 4.5/5 (Close to a Must Watch)

Friends From College: Season One (2017), Netflix – A Netflix original series starring Keegan-Michael Key (Key & Peele), Colbie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother), and Fred Savage (The Wonder Years) about a group of old friends that reconnect as adults and… act like total assholes 100% of the time. There are multiple affairs, abundant drug and alcohol abuse, and basically every major character makes horrible decisions – and honestly, I’m not even sure this is a comedy. There are definitely moments that are meant to be funny and most of the actors have a comedic background, but the tone of the show comes across as serious and dramatic a lot of the time and I have to say it doesn’t really work. It doesn’t help that none of the characters are likable, with maybe the exception of Billy Eichner’s Felix. I’m not one to start a show and not finish it, so I made it all the way through the whole season, but if you look at this cast and think the show should be funny and enjoyable, you will probably wind up as disappointed as I was. I guess I’d watch a second season, especially if it’s only another eight episodes, but it would be more akin to looking at a car accident as you drive past it than something I’m actually looking forward to. The first season wasn’t good and there’s a lot of wasted talent in this series.

Replay Value: None.
Sequel Potential: The show hasn’t been renewed yet and if the rest of the world felt like I did, it might not get a second season.

Grade: 2/5 (Not Recommended)

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Mariah Carey vs Eminem

July 31, 2009

As most of you know, Eminem took a couple jabs at Mariah Carey on his latest album “Relapse.” Why anyone would take the bait Eminem is throwing out there is beyond me, but this is Mariah’s response to him. This isn’t the best quality video out there, but I couldn’t find an embed code for the better versions. Honestly, the video is kind of funny, but Eminem is not really someone you want to piss off. Why? Because he will respond back to you and murder you. Here’s his response called “The Warning:”

http://www.zshare.net/audio/63396800391ef136/ (copy & paste the link, yo)

”Or maybe you do…/ If I’m embarrassing me, I’m embarrassing you/ and don’t you dare say it isn’t true/ as long as that song’s getting airplay I’m dissing you/ I’m a hair away from getting carried away and getting sued/… like I been going off on you for all this time/ for no reason, girl, you out your alcoholic mind.” Why can I relate to that so much?

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Eminem – Relapse

May 15, 2009

Eminem’s career path has been an interesting one to follow: after bursting onto the hip-hop scene in 1999 and surprising the world with his shock value tactics and ability to rhyme, he had cemented himself as one of the best and most talented emcees ever by the time 8 Mile came out in late 2002. For whatever reason, starting in 2003, Slim Shady just suddenly stopped caring about his craft and we watched his skills rapidly decline, ultimately resulting in an incredibly disappointing album called Encore in 2004. Then… he just disappeared off the face of the earth and the very few appearances he did make (The Re-Up) showed that he was still just a shell of his former self. Thankfully, that disappearance has given the hip-hop community enough time away from Marshall to have some of us optimistic enough to be thinking that Relapse could be a return to form.

The first couple of tracks leaked from Relapse were cause for concern, however. “Crack A Bottle” is a pop-rap track that has Eminem rhyming nonsense over a candy ass beat, forgettable guest appearances from Dr. Dre and 50 Cent, and an incredibly corny, albeit catchy, hook. If that song wasn’t enough reason to sound off the alarm bells, Em decided to follow it up with “We Made You,” which is arguably one of the worst songs ever made. The rapping is actually much better here, but the hook is some painful shit to listen to and Eminem is using what online hip-hop forums have affectionately dubbed his “Osama Bin Shady” voice. Eminem once again attacks random pop singers and B-list celebrities and shows that artistic growth was not on his list of concerns during his hiatus. “Old Time’s Sake” leaked early also and is right on par with the first two tracks. Dre sounds terrible once again and while Eminem sounds kinda dope over the beat, the lyrics on the song are boring and forgettable.

Fortunately, the rest of Relapse is much better. The first thing that Eminem makes clear on this album is that, vocally, he is still one of the best rappers in the game from a technical standpoint. “Bagpipes From Baghdad” is a terrible song with juvenile lyrics and cheap shots at Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon, but the rapping is so good on it that I can’t stop myself from playing it: “Nothing will stop me from molesting you, titty-fucking you ’til your breast nipple flesh tickles my testicles.” Words can’t describe how dope it sounds when he says that. I doubt anyone wanted to hear another song about Debbie Mathers, yet “My Mom” finds Eminem placing blame on his mother’s drug habits for causing his own Vicodin addiction. Despite the content being incredibly tired at this point in Em’s career, the lyrics and delivery make it a very enjoyable song anyways. Just look at the way this guy is putting syllables together in these lines: “‘Mrs. Mathers, I think your son has been huffing Ether/ either that, or the motherfucker’s been puffing reefer’/ but all this huffing and puffing wasn’t what it was either/ it was neither, I was buzzin’, but it wasn’t what she thought.” Again, dude just tears the track to shreds.

I think listeners will come away slightly disappointed after the first couple times they listen to Relapse all the way through. While it’s evident that Eminem hasn’t matured much as a musician since 2002 and that he may never release a sure-fire hip-hop classic, Relapse is at least a scathingly dark album. Between “3 A.M.,” “Same Song & Dance,” and “Stay Wide Awake,” Eminem shows that he may actually be a little nuttier than we all thought he was–if that’s even possible. He’s gone from saying “raping his own mother” in comical fashion to describing his fantasies of murdering Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears in extreme detail while abandoning the tongue-in-cheek tone of voice that used to make his outlandish behavior acceptable; he’s legitimately scary on this album. “I said, yeah baby, do that dance… it’s the last dance you’ll ever get the chance to do/ girl, shake that ass, you ain’t ever gonna break that glass, the windshield’s too strong for you.”. Yikes. I’ve heard this album described as “American Psycho on wax” and I think that’s a fitting description. With “Kim,” Em had the excuse of saying it was his way of handling his emotions and with “Kill You,” we all knew he was just joking around… but when Eminem gets asked about the inspiration behind this trio of songs on Relapse, I don’t think he’s going to have any excuses this time. It’s like he says on “Medicine Ball”: “Man, they don’t understand, I’m just a sick man.”

So where does Relapse leave Eminem in the scope of the hip-hop world? It’s not his best album, by any means, but it’s infinitely better than Encore and certainly a step in the right direction. On Encore and all of his appearances during his hiatus, Eminem just sounded like a soulless shell of his former self. I can say with confidence that the man has found his passion for music again. How he still managed to make a song as bad as “We Made You” I don’t understand, but Relapse as a whole, is a return to form for Slim Shady. Don’t expect artistic growth here or a huge change in focus as far as content is concerned. Simply put, Relapse is a reminder that Eminem is not to be fucked with on the microphone and that the man still has it. Let’s all hope Relapse 2 is even better.

Grade: 7 out of 10 (Must Own)