Posts Tagged ‘Emotional Oranges’

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Album Reviews (December 2019)

January 5, 2020

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. 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.

When I list the best tracks for each album, I will bold any song I added to my Bangers Playlist, meaning I think it’s one of the standout tracks of the entire year.

I only used this for the last couple of albums I rated, but here’s a scale I came up with for rating each song:
5 – All-Timer
4.5 – Super Banger
4 – Banger
3.5 – Keeper
3 – Cool
2.5 – Decent
2 – Weak
1 – Trash

Kanye WestJESUS IS KING (Gospel/Rap) – A full album devoted to Kanye’s… devotion to his faith? Ugh, no thanks. But we are talking about an all-time great musician here, so I’m obliged to listen and, well, it’s about as (un)enjoyable as I thought it would be. I think I’ve listened to it in entirety 4-5 times as I write this and most of it still doesn’t stick with me. This is the worst project Kanye has ever released. The direction of the album already turns me off, but I was hoping the music would still be good. I’m not a fan. I think I genuinely like two songs on this album.

Best Tracks: “On God” “Selah”

Verdict: No Thanks

Emotional OrangesThe Juice, Vol. II (R&B/Soul) – This is pure feel good music that you could have on in the background of a party and everyone would probably be content about it. The production on this album is pretty high quality and songs like “West Coast Love” and “Not Worth It” are pure fire. This a short little album that bumps the whole way through.

Best Tracks: “West Coast Love” “Not Worth It” “Don’t Be Lazy”

Verdict: Highly Enjoyable

03 Greedo & Kenny BeatsNetflix & Deal (Rap) – I was really impressed by this album. I think there’s maybe one song on here I didn’t really like. Greedo isn’t a super strong rapper, but he’s creative and clearly has a talent for crafting catchy and memorable songs. The production on here is also really well done and I’d be all over it if this duo put out another album together. I basically only listened to this album because of the strong list of guest features – Freddie Gibbs, Vince Staples, Maxo Kream, Buddy – but I’m glad I did. It was a very pleasant surprise. I currently don’t have any songs on my Best of 2019 playlist, but that’s certainly subject to change. I think there are plenty of standouts, but I’m still unsure if any of them are certifiably amazing. This is a strong album with very few weak spots.

Best Tracks: “Disco S**t” feat. Freddie Gibbs “Maria” “Blue People” feat. Vince Staples “Brad Pitt” “Soul Food” feat. Buddy

Verdict: Highly Enjoyable

Brother AliSecrets & Escapes (Rap) – Once upon a time, I thought Brother Ali was one of the best rappers in the game. His first few albums all are amazing. If you haven’t listened to Shadows on the Sun, the Champion EP, and The Undisputed Truth, put them on your to do list. That’s a rapper operating at the highest level. Since then, I’ve become progressively less excited about Ali and this latest project is one of his least memorable. Ali usually works with Ant (of Atmosphere) on the boards, but on this album I believe Evidence (of Dilated Peoples) does most of the production and it is an unfortunate departure. I really like Evidence as a rapper, but Ant is a way better producer – at least for Ali’s sound. Ali can still rap at an elite level though and that makes things at least somewhat enjoyable. Still, if I were to introduce someone to Ali’s music I wouldn’t even mention this album.

Best Tracks: “Father Figures” “Red” feat. Evidence

Verdict: Decent

Little BrotherMay the Lord Watch (Rap) – Little Brother is a hip-hop collective out of North Carolina that had a run of great albums throughout the 2000s before disbanding in 2010. Phonte and Rapper Big Pooh reunite here on their fifth studio album, but longtime producer 9th Wonder is completely absent from the project. Still, May the Lord Watch manages to sound very cohesive and feels like a proper sequel to Little Brother’s 2005 album The Minstrel Show. Phonte is on my all-time underrated list and he’s still rapping at a nearly elite level here, although I prefer his solo album No News is Good News from last year. There’s nothing flashy here; this is mature grown folk music. There are a lot of good tracks on this album – and no real weak songs – but nothing that really blew my mind either.

Best Tracks: “The Feel,” “Everything,” “Sittin Alone,” All in a Day”

Avg. rating: 3.3/5

Verdict: Recommended

SiRChasing Summer (R&B/Soul) – This was the first album that I gave a song-by-song rating for and it was a little disappointing to me. I had listened to this quite a bit already and thought it was pretty good, but there are really only a couple of standout tracks on this. The lead single “Hair Down” has the best hook and beat on the album plus Kendrick Lamar absolutely destroying his verse while completely switching up his flow at least five times while doing so. It also happens to be the first track. “John Redcorn” is the second song and also the second best song on the album. That means that the album peaks very early and never comes close to reaching the heights of the first two songs. I think the album is mostly good though with only a couple songs I thought were merely decent. Worth a listen for sure.

Best Tracks: “Hair Down” feat. Kendrick Lamar, “John Redcorn,” “Still Blue” feat. Jill Scott, “Mood”

Avg. rating: 3.14/5

Verdict: Recommended

KembaGilda (Rap) – This has to be one of the most overlooked albums of the year, as I have hardly seen anyone talk about it, yet I don’t think this has a single weak song on it, while almost half the songs are certified bangers. It’s a bit of a dark album, with Kemba lamenting, ‘I learned metaphors before I knew what’s a credit score/ I’m sure that’s a bar that’s never been said before/ mail at my door offered me a new credit card/ cause if you poor they’ll make sure you forever poor‘ on “Captain Planet” and it doesn’t get much more bleek than his hook on the somewhat disturbing but absolutely beautiful “Dysfunction”: ‘I’m nothing more than insignificant/ all my hopes and my dreams, all my goals, my achievements, were pure coincidence/ I am but a speck… of dust.‘ Yikes. It’s truly haunting, but I can’t stop listening to it. The album ends on a higher note, with both “Last Year Being Broke” and “Alive” showing signs of optimism. This is a true piece of art and more people should be listening to it.

Best Tracks: “Dysfunction,” “Nobody I Can Trust,” “Exhale” feat. Smino, “Alive” feat. Eric Bellinger

Avg. rating: 3.68/5

Verdict: Must Listen

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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