Posts Tagged ‘lana del rey’

h1

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)