Posts Tagged ‘new music’

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May 2021 Music Ratings

June 16, 2021

ALBUM OF THE MONTH

J. Cole – The Off-Season

Ratings:

10 – Masterpiece
9 – Amazing
8 – Great
7 – Highly Enjoyable
6 – Recommended
5 – Decent
4 – Lackluster

3 – Bad
2 – Horrible
1 – Trash

Top 20 Albums in May

Note: These albums are NOT ranked in order of preference; they are ranked in order of number of songs listened to (scrobbles) over the past month. Previous ranking in brackets. Year of release in parentheses if it’s not 2020 or 2021.

*indicates May 2021 release

  1. *J. Cole – The Off-Season – 8+
  2. *Mach-Hommy – Pray For Haiti – 7+
  3. Vince Staples – Summertime ’06 (2015) – 7+
  4. Westside Boogie – Everythings For Sale (2019) – 8+
  5. *DMX – Exodus – 7+
  6. *Sa-Roc – The Sharecropper’s Daughter (Deluxe) – 8+
  7. *BROCKHAMPTON – ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW MACHINE – 7+
  8. *Benny the Butcher & 38 Spesh – Trust the Sopranos – 6+
  9. Eminem – Kamikaze (2018) – 6+
  10. Pink Sweat$ – Pink Planet [17] – 6+
  11. Mac Miller – Faces (2014)
  12. *DJ Khaled – Khaled Khaled
  13. JID – The Never Story (2017)
  14. Tash Sultana – Terra Firma – 7+
  15. Yelawolf – Mud Mouth
  16. JID – Dicaprio 2 (2018)
  17. Toby Ganger – Free Machine – 8+
  18. Inverse – So Far (2008) – 7+
  19. Devin the Dude – Soulful Distance – 6+
  20. Guapdad 4000 – 1176
  21. Lana Del Rey – Chemtrails Over the Country Club [20] – 6+
  22. Mello Music Group – Bushido

Comments: Almost no holdovers from the previous month, as I continued to work older albums into my regular rotation. May belonged to J. Cole though. I listened to his new album so much already that he went from unranked in my top 25 most listened to artists of 2021 to #1 on the list below. I’m a big fan of the album. I think every song is good. I can’t say I had high expectations for a new DMX album since he hasn’t made good music for like 15 years now, but this new album is pretty damn good. Certainly anyone that’s been a loyal fan all this time will enjoy it and even those of us that abandoned ship long ago should give it a listen. The production is substantially better than on any of his most recent releases and while X is far from sounding in prime form, his vocals are improved. Plus he also has some stellar features on the album. Imagine Benny the Butcher going half a year without releasing a new project. I’m officially starting my JID and Vince Staples anticipation phase.

The 25 Artists I’ve Listened To the Most in 2021

  1. J. Cole [unranked]
  2. DMX [unranked]
  3. The Notorious B.I.G. [1]
  4. Benny the Butcher [5]
  5. Eminem [2]
  6. MF DOOM [4]
  7. MC Eiht [3]
  8. Sa-Roc [14]
  9. Conway the Machine [unranked]
  10. Mac Miller [25]
  11. Tash Sultana [8]
  12. Lana Del Rey [18]
  13. Tyrone’s Jacket [12]
  14. KOTA the Friend [15]
  15. Dua Lipa [13]
  16. Pink Sweat$ [unranked]
  17. Toby Ganger [unranked]
  18. Kali Uchis [23]
  19. Kendrick Lamar [unranked]
  20. Kid Cudi [6]
  21. Courtney Bell [7]
  22. Snoop Dogg [unranked]
  23. Scarface [unranked]
  24. Boldy James [9]
  25. Nyck Caution [10]

Comments: Since I last updated this two months ago, J. Cole released a new album and DMX passed away and then released a posthumous album so they went from outside my top 25 through March to my two most listened to artists of the year. Conway also got a similar bump thanks to yet another new project. I’ve been listening to a lot of TDE lately since all their artists are due to drop this summer. Almost all of them fell shy of my top 25 here, but Kendrick cracked the list and I expect him to keep climbing it, especially if his long overdue follow-up to 2017’s DAMN. finally drops.   

Bangerz Playlist Additions – Follow me on Apple Music @DarkKnight1717 to add my playlists
2020 Bangers Playlist
2021 Bangers Playlist

You can click the link above to see my most recent additions to either playlist, but I’m not going to list them here because it’s the middle of June and I don’t which songs I added in May and which ones I’ve added in June, so I’ll just post them all in my next writeup.





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April 2021 Music Ratings

May 2, 2021

ALBUM OF THE MONTH

Conway the Machine – La Maquina


Rating Scale

10 – Masterpiece
9 – Amazing
8 – Great
7 – Highly Enjoyable
6 – Recommended/Good
5 – Decent/Cool
4 – Lackluster
3 – Bad
2 – Horrible
1 – Torture Material

Top 20 Albums in April (all ratings are out of 10)

Note: These albums are NOT ranked in order of preference; they are ranked in order of number of songs listened to (scrobbles) over the past month. Previous ranking in brackets. Year of release in parentheses if it’s not 2020 or 2021. I’ll include a rough rating for each album to make my feelings on each project clearer.  The more I’ve listened to an album, the more accurate my rating is. Any rating that has a + symbol means that I’ve found my floor, but I could rate it higher. I won’t leave a rating for anything I don’t have a good feel for yet.

*indicates April 2021 release

  1. *Conway the Machine – La Maquina – 7+
  2. DMX – It’s Dark and Hell is Hot (1998) – 8
  3. DMX – …And Then There Was X (1999) – 7
  4. 50 Cent – Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (2003) – 8+
  5. Snoop Doggy Dogg – Tha Doggfather (1996)
  6. DMX – The Great Depression (2001) – 4+
  7. Benny the Butcher – The Plugs I Met 2 [3] – 7+
  8. DMX – Flesh Of My Flesh, Blood Of My Blood (1998) – 6
  9. *Kenny Mason – Angelic Hoodrat
  10. Ghostface Killah – Supreme Clientele (2000)
  11. *Saigon – Pain, Peace & Prosperity
  12. Black Coffee – Subconsciously
  13. Ghostface Killah – Ironman (1996)
  14. *KOTA The Friend – To Kill A Sunrise [14] – 7+
  15. The Notorious B.I.G. – Life After Death (1997) [1] – 9+
  16. Big L – Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous (1995) – 7+
  17. Pink Sweat$ – Pink Planet [9]
  18. The Notorious B.I.G. – Ready To Die (1994) [4] – 9+
  19. Tyrone’s Jacket – Tyrone’s Jacket [18] – 8
  20. Lana Del Rey – Chemtrails Over the Country Club [6] – 7
  21. The Avalanches – We Will Always Love You [7]
  22. The Lox – Money, Power & Respect (1998)

Comments: This is the most I’ve distanced myself from new music since I started doing these monthly posts.  Obviously, I did a lot of reminiscing on DMX’s early discography as his life seemed to be in danger and then he ultimately passed away.  I gave DMX a pretty unfavorable write-up when I went through his whole recording career, but his peak was really strong and looking back at my ratings for his earliest albums, I think I was a bit unfair.  For all his flaws as a lyricist, he was a great songwriter and made very enjoyable music.

The 20 Artists I Listened To The Most In April

  1. DMX
  2. Conway the Machine
  3. Ghostface Killah
  4. Kendrick Lamar
  5. Snoop Dogg
  6. The Notorious B.I.G.
  7. Benny the Butcher
  8. 50 Cent
  9. Kenny Mason
  10. J. Cole
  11. Jay Rock
  12. Big L
  13. Kali Uchis
  14. Saigon
  15. Black Coffee
  16. Cordae
  17. Isaiah Rashad
  18. KOTA The Friend
  19. Pink Sweat$
  20. Ab-Soul

Comments: Snoop crept into my top 5 because I was re-listening to Tha Doggfather plus he dropped a new album last month (that didn’t crack my top 20 spins).  I also re-visited some early Ghostface Killah and 50 Cent while Biggie stayed in rotation from the past couple months.  It was recently announced that Top Dawg Entertainment will be breaking a very long dry spell by releasing new music on May 7th.  This is a label whose entire roster is basically years overdue for a new album.  I’m excited for all of them to drop, so I was listening to TDE releases heavy this past week and four of them ended up cracking my top 20 for the month, with Kendrick leading the way.  TDE season is upon us!   

Top 50 Artists All-Time (since August 2020)

Note: last all-time rank in parentheses

  1. Eminem (1)
  2. Benny the Butcher (2)
  3. MC Eiht (6)
  4. Conway the Machine (4)
  5. Lil Wayne (3)
  6. Che Noir (7)
  7. The Roots/Black Thought (5)
  8. Toby Ganger (16)
  9. Nas (10)
  10. Amine (9)
  11. Biggie (unranked)
  12. Sa-Roc (24)
  13. Spillage Village (8)
  14. MF DOOM (unranked)
  15. Recognize Ali/Dueling Experts (15)
  16. Dua Lipa (30)
  17. Jadakiss/The Lox (unranked)
  18. Ty Dolla $ign (12)
  19. Tyrone’s Jacket (44)
  20. Boldy James (29)
  21. Berner (11)
  22. Kid Cudi (46)
  23. Busta Rhymes (13)
  24. DMX (unranked)
  25. Flip Huston (19)
  26. The Weeknd (17)
  27. Lana Del Rey (unranked)
  28. R.A. the Rugged Man (18)
  29. 38 Spesh (14)
  30. Mac Miller (48)
  31. KOTA The Friend (unranked)
  32. Blu & Exile (22)
  33. Logic (21)
  34. Westside Gunn (26)
  35. Big Sean (20)
  36. 21 Savage & Metro Boomin (23)
  37. Jessie Ware (unranked)
  38. Scarface (unranked)
  39. Felt (25)
  40. Brother Ali (42)
  41. Pop Smoke (28)
  42. Freddie Gibbs (unranked)
  43. Nyck Caution (unranked)
  44. T.I. (27)
  45. Ransom (31)
  46. Reason (33)
  47. Kendrick Lamar (unranked)
  48. J. Cole (unranked)
  49. Phoebe Bridgers (32)
  50. Playboi Carti (unranked)

Bangerz Playlist Additions – Follow me on Apple Music @DarkKnight1717 to add my playlists
2020 Bangers Playlist
2021 Bangers Playlist

Ghetts (feat. Jaykae & Moonchild Sanelly), “Mozambique”
Pink Sweat$, “Not Alright”

Yep… I was sleeping on adding new bangers last month.





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March 2021 Music Ratings

April 1, 2021

ALBUM OF THE MONTH

Benny the Butcher & Harry Fraud – The Plugs I Met 2


Rating Scale

10 – Masterpiece
9 – Amazing
8 – Great
7 – Highly Enjoyable
6 – Recommended/Good
5 – Decent/Cool
4 – Lackluster
3 – Bad
2 – Horrible
1 – Torture Material

Top 20 Albums in March (all ratings are out of 10)

Note: These albums are NOT ranked in order of preference; they are ranked in order of number of songs listened to (scrobbles) over the past month. Previous ranking in brackets. Year of release in parentheses if it’s not 2020 or 2021. I’ll include a rough rating for each album to make my feelings on each project clearer.  The more I’ve listened to an album, the more accurate my rating is. Any rating that has a + symbol means that I’ve found my floor, but I could rate it higher. I won’t leave a rating for anything I don’t have a good feel for yet.

*indicates February 2021 release

  1. The Notorious B.I.G. – Life After Death (1997) – 9+ [unranked]
  2. Jadakiss – Kiss Tha Game Goodbye (2001) – 6+ [unranked]
  3. *Benny the Butcher – The Plugs I Met 2 – 7+
  4. The Notorious B.I.G. – Ready to Die (1994) – 9+ [unranked]
  5. *Ghetts – Conflict of Interest – 6+
  6. *Lana Del Rey – Chemtrails Over the Country Club – 6+
  7. The Avalanches – We Will Always Love You – 6+ [unranked]
  8. Mos Def – Black On Both Sides (1999) – 8+ [unranked]
  9. *Pink Sweat$ – Pink Planet – 6+
  10. Marlon Craft – How We Intended – 6+ [6]
  11. *Rod Wave – SoulFly
  12. Toby Ganger – Free Machine (Unreleased) – 8+ [20]
  13. JAY-Z – 4:44 (2017) – 8+ [unranked]
  14. *KOTA The Friend – To Kill A Sunrise
  15. Madison Beer – Life Support [11]
  16. *Robin Thicke – On Earth, and in Heaven
  17. Tash Sultana – Terra Firma – 7+ [1]
  18. Tyrone’s Jacket – Tyrone’s Jacket – 8+ [unranked]
  19. Courtney Bell – Poverty Stricken – 7+ [4]
  20. Sheek Louch – Beast Mode, Vol. 4 [unranked]
  21. *slowthai – TYRON

The 25 Artists I’ve Listened To The Most In 2021

Notes: Last month I listened to a ton of Biggie. I haven’t been posting many album reviews, but I got them coming for both of Biggie’s albums. I have also been a long time Jadakiss nonbeliever and I’ll probably be giving him some extra attention in the near future because I either wanna prove myself right or start loving someone I’ve never given enough credit to. I pretty much have his first album reviewed – I just need to post it. I started playing live poker again this past week and that is going to drastically increase the amount of time I spend listening to music. Yesterday I listened to Scarface my whole session and that was good enough to almost get him into my top 10 for the year.

  1. The Notorious B.I.G. [unranked]
  2. Eminem [2]
  3. MC Eiht [1]
  4. MF DOOM [3]
  5. Benny the Butcher [unranked]
  6. Kid Cudi [4]
  7. Courtney Bell [6]
  8. Tash Sultana [13]
  9. Boldy James [5]
  10. Nyck Caution [11]
  11. Scarface [unranked]
  12. Tyrone’s Jacket [17]
  13. Dua Lipa [7]
  14. Sa-Roc [16]
  15. KOTA The Friend [unranked]
  16. Jadakiss [unranked]
  17. Toby Ganger [unranked]
  18. Lana Del Rey [unranked]
  19. Pharoahe Monch [19]
  20. Chris Stapleton [unranked]
  21. Marlon Craft [unranked]
  22. SZA [9]
  23. Kali Uchis [unranked]
  24. Freddie Gibbs [unranked]
  25. Mac Miller [14]

Bangerz Playlist Additions – Follow me on Apple Music @DarkKnight1717 to add my playlists
2020 Bangers Playlist
2021 Bangers Playlist

38 Spesh (feat. Benny the Butcher), “Stash Box”
Benny the Butcher (feat. 2 Chainz), “Plug Talk”
Courtney Bell, “Celebrate”
Elcamino (feat. Benny the Butcher), “Immunity”
Gukie, “Make It a Double”
KOTA the Friend, “Wolves”
Lil Tjay & 6LACK, “Calling My Phone”
Lucky Daye (feat. Mahalia), “My Window”
Masego (feat. JID & Rapsody), “Somethin’ Ain’t Right”
Nyck Caution (feat. KOTA the Friend & Erick the Architect), “Product Of My Environment”
Nyck Caution (feat. Joey Bada$$), “How You Live It”



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Che Noir – After 12 (2020)

March 17, 2021

Genre: Rap

Release Date: December 4th, 2020

Song Rating Scale

  1. Foxy’s Intro – N/A
  2. Cruise Control (feat. The Musalini) – 4
  3. Hunger Games (feat. Ransom & 38 Spesh) – 4.5
  4. Reasons (feat. Jynx) – 3.5
  5. Divine Knowledge – 3.75
  6. Moment in the Sun (feat. Rj Payne & Sa-Roc) – 4.5
  7. Grace (feat. Amber Simone) – 3.75

Spin Rate:
Average Song Rating: 4/5
3.5+ Percentage: 100%
Skip Factor: 0%
Bangers: 3

Thoughts: This was Che’s third extremely high quality project of 2020 and her album with Apollo Brown was a legit Album of the Year contender. I’d say all that makes her a legit candidate for hip-hop’s MVP award last year. As you can see above, this is a short project, but she still has multiple mega-bangers and gets one of the highest average song ratings of any project I’ve ever reviewed. Che has a knack for getting elite production and features (I love seeing her collab with Sa-Roc here), plus she has a tremendous amount of talent herself. I don’t mind someone releasing this much music if it’s this good. If you been sleeping on Che Noir, it’s well past time to wake up.

Verdict: 8/10 (Great)

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February 2021 Music Ratings

March 7, 2021

ALBUM OF THE MONTH

Tash Sultana – Terra Firma


Rating Scale

10 – Masterpiece
9 – Amazing
8 – Great
7 – Highly Enjoyable
6 – Recommended/Good
5 – Decent/Cool
4 – Lackluster
3 – Bad
2 – Horrible
1 – Torture Material

Top 20 Albums in February (all ratings are out of 10)

Note: These albums are NOT ranked in order of preference; they are ranked in order of number of songs listened to (scrobbles) over the past month. Previous ranking in brackets. Year of release in parentheses if it’s not 2020 or 2021. I’ll include a rough rating for each album to make my feelings on each project clearer.  The more I’ve listened to an album, the more accurate my rating is. Any rating that has a + symbol means that I’ve found my floor, but I could rate it higher. I won’t leave a rating for anything I don’t have a good feel for yet.

*indicates February 2021 release

  1. *Tash Sultana – Terra Firma – 7+
  2. Eminem – Music To Be Murdered By – Side B [15]
  3. SZA – Ctrl (2017) – 9
  4. Courtney Bell – Poverty Stricken – 7+
  5. MC Eiht – LESSONS [1]
  6. *Marlon Craft – How We Intended
  7. Pharoahe Monch & th1rt3en – A Magnificent Day For an Exorcism – 6+
  8. *Devin the Dude – Soulful Distance – 6+
  9. *Lucky Daye – Table For Two
  10. Sa-Roc – The Sharecropper’s Daughter – review coming soon
  11. *Madison Beer – Life Support
  12. Brother Ali – The Undisputed Truth (2007) – 9
  13. *Dorian Whyte – Truth Be Told
  14. Kid Cudi – Man on the Moon III: The Chosen [5] – 6
  15. Breeze Brewin – Hindsight
  16. Che Noir – After 12 – review coming soon
  17. Rapsody – Laila’s Wisdom (2017) – 8+
  18. Mac Ayres – Magic 8ball
  19. Nyck Caution – Anywhere But Here [14]
  20. Toby Ganger – Free Machine – 8+
  21. *VanJess – Homegrown
  22. Your Old Droog – It Wasn’t Even Close

The 20 Artists I’ve Listened To The Most In 2021

Notes: I spread my listening out a lot more this past month and spent very little time focusing on brand new releases since there were very few I was interested in. I created a playlist of artists and albums I feel I’ve overlooked and want to get more familiar with and listened to that. I was actually inspired to do this when I heard MF DOOM had passed away and realized how little of his catalog I had listened to. I also split time between my Brand New, All-Time Favorites, and Best of 2020 playlists.

  1. MC Eiht
  2. Eminem
  3. MF DOOM
  4. Kid Cudi
  5. Boldy James
  6. Courtney Bell
  7. Dua Lipa
  8. Chris Stapleton
  9. SZA
  10. Joji
  11. Nyck Caution
  12. Roc Marciano
  13. Tash Sultana
  14. Mac Miller
  15. Playboi Carti
  16. Sa-Roc
  17. Tyrone’s Jacket
  18. Jessie Ware
  19. Pharoahe Monch
  20. Rina Sawayama

Bangerz Playlist Additions – Follow me on Apple Music @DarkKnight1717 to add my playlists
2020 Bangers Playlist
2021 Bangers Playlist

Courtney Bell (feat. Dcmbr), “Hold You Down (Super Woman)”
Courtney Bell, “25 Hours”
Freddie Gibbs (feat. ScHoolboy Q), “Gang Signs”
Gukie, “Make It a Double”
Nipsey Hussle & JAY-Z, “What It Feels Like”
Tash Sultana, “Pretty Lady”
WESTSIDE BOOGIE & Joey Bada$$, “Outside”



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MC Eiht – Lessons (2020)

February 4, 2021

Genre: Rap

Release Date: September 18th, 2020

Song Rating Scale

  1. Get Money Man (feat. B-Real) – 3.5
  2. That’s Perfect (feat. Tha Chill) – 4
  3. Honcho (feat. Conway the Machine) – 4
  4. Bluue Wave – 3.5
  5. Can’t Nobody (feat. Kokane) – 4
  6. U Kno – 4
  7. Ambition – 3.5
  8. Lessons – 4.5
  9. U Not Me – 4
  10. That 83 (feat. That Chill & Diamond Rich) – 3.5
  11. Courted In (feat. Dave East & Tha Chill) – 3.5
  12. Things We Go Through (feat. Cherell Terri) – 4
  13. Past Mistakes (feat. Talib Kweli) – 4
  14. I Got U – 3.5
  15. Whut U Really On – 3.5
  16. On the Real Tho (feat. Yukmouth & Tha Chill) – 3.5
  17. Stand Up (feat. Mitchy Slick & Tha Chill) – 3.5
  18. Neighborhood Looks (feat. Havoc & Kurupt) – 4.5
  19. Magic (feat. Young Noble & Tha Chill) – 4.5
  20. We Got – 4

Spin Rate: 9
Average Song Rating: 3.85/5
3.5+ Percentage: 100%
Pure Skips: 0
Bangers: 11

Thoughts: No album in 2020 took me by surprise more than this gem from Compon’s MC Eiht. When I saw it in the new releases section the weekend it came out, I didn’t even give it a skim. I just don’t expect much from an old school gangsta rap artist in 2020 and it’s not like I’ve ever been much of a fan anyway. But then I saw a thread about it on a hip-hop message board I’ve been posting on since 1999 (LOL) and people I have similar taste as were saying it was nice.

Well, Lessons is insanely good. I actually had to re-think what a 3.5 and a 4 song is to me because so many tracks on this album blur the line between what I think is a good song and what I think is an absolute banger. MC Eiht isn’t an amazing rapper, lyrically or vocally, but the production and song-writing on Lessons are so good that the whole project is elevated to a pretty elite level. I enjoy the beat, hook, and vibe of every track on here. It’s not like MC Eiht is weak on the mic either. He has a very smooth delivery and while his lyrics and rhymes schemes are relatively simple, he is adept at painting a picture of the stories he is telling. It’s a pretty remarkable feat to put out an album with 20 songs and zero skips – and honestly, nothing is even close to a skip – plus I think over half the album is pure fire.

Lessons is one of two albums from 2020 (the other being Che Noir & Apollo Brown’s As God Intended) that feel like immediate hip-hop classics. This album is straight heat from top to bottom. An absolute must listen and one of the best rap albums from last year. Don’t sleep.

Verdict: 9/10 (Amazing)

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January 2021 Music Ratings

February 2, 2021

ALBUM OF THE MONTH

MC Eiht – LESSONS

Notes: January was a super slow month for new music. I only added a handful of new albums and only two 2021 releases cracked the top 20 albums I listened to the most over the past month. Because of this, I cheated and gave Album of the Month to something that came out over four months ago… and why not? I listened to MC Eiht’s <i>LESSONS</i> more than any other album last month. It’s incredible. I have a review coming for it soon, so I won’t say much else now, but if you’ve been sleeping, it’s time to wake up. I’ll go ahead and include a rough rating for each album to make my feelings on each project clearer.  The more I’ve listened to an album, the more accurate my rating is. Any rating that has a + symbol means that I’ve found my floor, but I could rate it higher. I won’t leave a rating for anything I don’t have a good feel for yet.

Rating Scale

10 – Masterpiece
9 – Amazing
8 – Great
7 – Highly Enjoyable
6 – Recommended/Good
5 – Decent/Cool
4 – Lackluster
3 – Bad
2 – Horrible
1 – Torture Material

Top 20 Albums in January (all ratings are out of 10)

Note: These albums are NOT ranked in order of preference; they are ranked in order of number of songs listened to (scrobbles) over the past month. Previous ranking in brackets. Year of release in parentheses if it’s not 2020 or 2021.

*indicates January 2021 release

  1. MC Eiht – LESSONS – 8+
  2. MF DOOM & Madlib – Madvillainy (2004) – 7+
  3. Chris Stapleton – Starting Over – 7+
  4. Joji – Nectar – 7
  5. Kid Cudi – Man on the Moon III: The Chosen [4] – 6
  6. Playboi Carti – Whole Lotta Red [12] – 3
  7. Jessie Ware – What’s Your Pleasure? [8] – 9
  8. Rina Sawayama – SAWAYAMA – 6+
  9. Dua Lipa – Dua Lipa (2017) – 7+
  10. Boldy James & Sterling Toles – Manger on McNichols – 6+
  11. Roc Marciano – Reasonable Drought – 7+
  12. Taylor Swift – evermore [16] – 7+
  13. KRS-One – Between Da Protests – 6+
  14. *Nyck Caution – Anywhere But Here – 6+
  15. Eminem – Murder To Be Murdered By – Side B [2] – 6
  16. Tyrone’s Jacket – Tyrone’s Jacket [3] – 8+
  17. Flee Lord – In The Name Of Prodigy
  18. Lianne La Havas – Lianne La Havas
  19. Isaiah Rashad – Cilvia Demo (2014) – 8+
  20. *KOTA The Friend – Lyrics to GO, Vol. 2 – 6+

The 20 Artists I Listened To The Most In January

Notes: I spread my listening out a lot more this past month and spent very little time focusing on brand new releases since there were very few I was interested in. I created a playlist of artists and albums I feel I’ve overlooked and want to get more familiar with and listened to that. I was actually inspired to do this when I heard MF DOOM had passed away and realized how little of his catalog I had listened to. I also split time between my Brand New, All-Time Favorites, and Best of 2020 playlists.

  1. MF DOOM
  2. MC Eiht
  3. Boldy James
  4. Kid Cudi
  5. Chris Stapleton
  6. Eminem
  7. Joji
  8. Playboi Carti
  9. Jessie Ware
  10. Mac Miller
  11. Dua Lipa
  12. Rina Sawayama
  13. Roc Marciano
  14. Taylor Swift
  15. KRS-One
  16. Nyck Caution
  17. Nipsey Hussle
  18. Sam Cooke
  19. Tyrone’s Jacket
  20. A Tribe Called Quest

Bangerz Playlist Additions – Follow me on Apple Music @DarkKnight1717 to add my playlists
2020 Bangers Playlist
2021 Bangers Playlist

38 Spesh (feat. Ransom & Klass Murda), “Toll Booth”
38 Spesh, “Road Back”
Che Noir (feat. The Musalini), “Cruise Control”
Chris Stapleton, “Joy of My Life”
Flip Huston (feat. Jim Jones), “Outta My Mind”
Flip Huston (feat. Dame D.O.L.L.A.), “Momma I Made It”
Flip Huston, “You Know The Vibes”
Jessie Ware, “Spotlight”
Jessie Ware, “What’s Your Pleasure?”
Jessie Ware, “Ooh La La”
Jessie Ware, “In Your Eyes”
Jessie Ware, “The Kill”
Joji, “Your Man”
Kid Cudi (feat. Phoebe Bridgers), “Lovin’ Me”
Kid Cudi, “The Void”
MC Eiht (feat. Young Noble & Tha Chill), “Magic”
Nyck Caution, “Dirt On Your Name”


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Jessie Ware – What’s Your Pleasure? (2020)

January 22, 2021

Jessie Ware – What’s Your Pleasure? (2020, Pop)

Release Date: June 26th, 2020

Song Rating Scale

  1. Spotlight – 4.5
  2. What’s Your Pleasure? – 4
  3. Ooh La La – 4
  4. Soul Control – 5
  5. Save a Kiss – 3.5
  6. Adore You – 3.5
  7. In Your Eyes – 4
  8. Step Into My Life – 3.5
  9. Read My Lips – 4
  10. Mirage (Don’t Stop) – 3.5
  11. The Kill – 4
  12. Remember Where You Are – 3.5

Spin Rate: 6.5
Average Song Rating: 3.92/5
3.5+ Percentage: 100%
Skips: 0
Bangers: 7

Thoughts: Woah. That just happened. This is the first album released in 2020 that gets an average song rating greater than 3.9 and is now the highest rated album I’ve reviewed for last year. Does that mean I think it’s the best album of the year? Geez, maybe. It’s definitely amazing, but it’s also outside my comfort zone of hip-hop music so maaaaaaaaaaaybe I have no idea what I’m talking about here. And I’m not going to lie, someone put this on my radar when it came out and I put “Soul Control” on my Bangers Playlist many months ago, but I never gave the album a dedicated listen until I saw Anthony Fantano, “the internet’s busiest music nerd,” list it as his #1 album of 2020. I can’t say I always agree with Fantano’s taste, but I’m definitely on board with this pick. As great as Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia was for a pop album, I actually like What’s Your Pleasure? a bit more. The songs here have more replayability and a bit more soul. Jessie Ware is a good singer, but it’s the writing and production that really stand out to me. So many tracks on this are absolute pop smashes and I can listen to this album on repeat. If you try this out, I guarantee half the songs will get stuck in your head. I’m hesitant to call this my new album of the year, but it’s definitely my favorite non-rap album of 2020. An absolute must listen.

Verdict: 9/10 (Amazing)

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Flip Huston – Who Is Flip Huston? (2020)

January 11, 2021

Flip Huston – Who Is Flip Huston? (2020, Rap)

Release Date: December 11th, 2020

Song Rating Scale

  1. Who Is Flip Huston? – 3.5
  2. All Gas No Breaks – 3.5
  3. Rollin’ (feat. Jay Copes) – 3.5
  4. Out Of My Mind (feat. Jim Jones) – 4
  5. Momma I Made It (feat. Dame Dolla) – 4
  6. You Know The Vibes – 4
  7. Sky’s The Limit (feat. J. Shep) – 3.5
  8. On Mine (feat. Yukmouth) – 4
  9. Designer (Bonus Track) – 3.5

Spin Rate: 10+
Average Song Rating: 3.75/5
3.5+ Percentage: 100%
Skips: 0
Bangers: 4

Thoughts: This may come across bias because Flip is a long-time friend of mine – we have lived together in three different places – but I think he crushed this project. I have to admit I was pretty skeptical when he hit me up last year and told me he was making new music and wanted me to help him with the writing process. I turned him down because I haven’t written rap lyrics for at least a decade now and I didn’t really want to work hard to redevelop that skill set. As far as I know, Flip hasn’t made music in nearly as long. Honestly, I didn’t have high expectations for this because, frankly, I didn’t even think it would actually happen. But then he started sending me snippets and telling me about the huge guests verses he was getting and, well, here we are. I was expecting this dude to be dusty, but he sounds just as sharp and talented as he did when he blew my mind back in 2010 at this show. He just has a knack for penning catchy hooks and writing songs that get stuck in your head and stay there. Plus, Flip shows some versatility here with “You Know The Vibes” and the bonus track “Designer,” showcasing some singing and harmonizing abilities I didn’t even know he had. This is just a really solid all around project. The production is good, the big name guests all deliver solid verses, Flip shows off a variety of talent, and every song is good and half of them are straight up bangers.

Verdict: 8/10 (Must Listen)

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December 2020 Music Ratings (2020 Wrap-Up Edition)

January 1, 2021

ALBUM OF THE MONTH

Flip Huston – Who Is Flip Huston?

Notes: Yep. I’m giving my boy the Album of the Month. I was working on a review for this, but I never got around to publishing it – I will be doing that early January, but I can assure this is a good project. If a good friend of mine released something I didn’t like, I’d just tell them it was wack. If someone I know (but wasn’t close with) released something I didn’t like, I’d probably tell them “it’s cool” and it certainly wouldn’t be featured on my monthly blog post. I’m featuring this project because I truly believe in it. Make sure you go check this out. It’s streaming on all platforms. Another friend of mine, Toby Ganger, sent me a copy of his album that is due out sometime in 2021 and it is truly excellent… like album of the year type level good. I’m not sure when the rest of the world will get to hear it, but I’m very curious to see if everyone loves it as much as I do. I’ll go ahead and include a rough rating for each album to make my feelings on each project clearer.  Note: the more I’ve listened to an album, the more accurate my rating is. Any rating that has a + symbol means that I’ve found my floor, but I could rate it higher. I won’t leave a rating for anything I don’t have a good feel for yet.

Rating Scale

10 – Masterpiece
9 – Amazing
8 – Great
7 – Highly Enjoyable
6 – Recommended/Good
5 – Decent/Cool
4 – Lackluster
3 – Bad
2 – Horrible
1 – Torture Material

* indicates December 2020 release

Top 20 Albums in December (all ratings are out of 10)

Note: These albums are NOT ranked in order of preference; they are ranked in order of number of songs listened to (scrobbles) over the past month.

1. Toby Ganger – Free Machine – 8+ (unreleased)
2. *Eminem – Music To Be Murdered By – B Side – 6
3. Tyrone’s Jacket – Tyrone’s Jacket – 7+
4. *Kid Cudi – Man On The Moon III: The Chosen – 6
5. *Flip Huston – Who Is Flip Huston? – 7+
6. Rapsody – Laila’s Wisdom (2017)
7. *Jack Harlow – Thats What They All Say – 6+
8. Jessie Ware – What’s Your Pleasure? – 7+
9. Lil Wayne – No Ceilings 3 – 7
10. Goodie Mob – Survival Kit – 7
11.*Che Noir – After 12 – 7
12. *Playboi Carti – Whole Lotta Red – 3+
13. Statik Selektah – The Balancing Act
14. Recognize Ali – Guerilla Dynasty
15. *Boldy James – Real Bad Boldy
16. *Taylor Swift – evermore
17. Juicy J – The Hustle Continues
18. Benny the Butcher – Burden of Proof – 9
19. Miley Cyrus – Plastic Hearts – 6+
20. *Tobe Nwigwe – CINCORIGINALS – 6+

The 50 Artists I Listened To The Most In 2020

Notes: I started using the Last.FM app about halfway through the year, so this is really just six months worth of scrobbles.

  1. Eminem
  2. Benny the Butcher
  3. Lil Wayne
  4. Conway the Machine
  5. Black Thought/The Roots
  6. MC Eiht
  7. Che Noir
  8. Spillage Village/Earthgang
  9. Amine
  10. Nas
  11. Berner
  12. Ty Dolla $ign
  13. Busta Rhymes
  14. 38 Spesh
  15. Recognize Ali/Dueling Experts
  16. Toby Ganger
  17. The Weeknd
  18. R.A. the Rugged Man
  19. Flip Huston
  20. Big Sean
  21. Logic
  22. Blu & Exile
  23. 21 Savage & Metro Boomin
  24. Sa-Roc
  25. Felt
  26. Westside Gunn
  27. T.I.
  28. Pop Smoke
  29. Boldy James
  30. Dua Lipa
  31. Ransom
  32. Phoebe Bridgers
  33. Reason
  34. Goodie Mob
  35. Ariana Grande
  36. CunninLynguists
  37. The Lox
  38. Jaden Smith
  39. Dinner Party
  40. Future
  41. Kaash Paige
  42. Brother Ali
  43. Deante Hitchcock
  44. Tyrone’s Jacket
  45. Rich Brian
  46. Kid Cudi
  47. Dave East
  48. Mac Miller
  49. Elzhi
  50. Ice Cube

As you can see, new music dominates my listening experience. Out of my top 50 artists, only CunninLynguists, Brother Ali, and Ice Cube didn’t release projects in 2020. A lot of my all-time favorite rappers (Biggie, Jay, Pac, Kanye, Outkast, etc.) and current favorite rappers (Kendrick, J. Cole, Joey Badass) are nowhere to be found. I definitely enjoy staying up-to-date, finding hidden gems, and keeping an open mind to everything new, but I can’t help but feel like it dominates my listening experience and I don’t listen to the music I truly love enough. That makes music feel more like homework than pleasure sometimes. I plan to stay very current, but I want to find more balance with this in 2021.

Top 10 Albums of the Year (in alphabetical order)

Apollo Brown & Che Noir – As God Intended (Rap)
Benny the Butcher – Burden of Proof (Rap)
Conway the Machine – From King To A God (Rap)
Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia (Pop)
Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist – Alfredo (Rap)
Mac Miller – Circles (Rap? Pop?)
MC Eiht – Lessons (Rap)
Run the Jewels – RTJ4 (Rap)
Sa-Roc – The Sharecropper’s Daughter (Rap)
The Weeknd – After Hours (R&B/Soul/Pop)

I feel pretty confident in that list, but there could be an album or two I’d slip in or out and maybe some of the more recent releases will grow enough on me to make the jump. If I had to pick an absolute favorite for the year, I think I’d have to go with the Apollo Brown & Che Noir album.

Honorable Mentions (in alphabetical order)

Amine – Limbo (Rap)
Brent Faiyaz – F**k the World (R&B/Soul)
Che Noir – After 12 (Rap)
Deante Hitchcock – BETTER (Rap)
eLZhi – Seven Times Down Eight Times Up (Rap)
Felt – Felt 4 U (Rap)
Flip Huston – Who Is Flip Huston? (Rap)
Jessie Ware – What’s Your Pleasure? (Pop)
Logic – No Pressure (Rap)
Planet Asia & 38 Spesh – Trust the Chain (Rap)
R.A. the Rugged Man – All My Heroes Are Dead (Rap)
Reason – New Beginnings (Rap)
Royce da 5’9″ – The Allegory (Rap)
Tyrone’s Jacket – Tyrone’s Jacket (Rap)

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

Ariana Grande, “positions”
Benny the Butcher, “3:30 In Houston”
Boldy James, “Street Shit”
Che Noir ft. RJ Payne & Sa-Roc, “Moment in the Sun”
Chris Stapleton, “Devil Always Made Me Think Twice”
Conway the Machine, “Ameenah’s Van”
Conway the Machine, “Serena vs Venus”
Don Toliver ft. Travis Scott & Kaash Paige, “Euphoria”
eLZhi, “Hot Winter Cold Summer”
Eminem ft. White Gold, “Zeus”
Goodie Mob, “4 My Ppl”
Gorillaz ft. Moonchild Sanelly, “With Love To An Ex”
Jamo Gang, “Runyon Canyon”
Jessie Ware, “Read My Lips”
Lil Wayne ft. Drake, “BB King Freestyle”
Lil Wayne, “Lamar”
Miley Cyrus ft. Stevie Nicks, “Edge of Midnight (Midnight Sky Remix)”
Reason ft. Mereba, “Westside”
Recognize Ali, “Wreck-Ignition”
Russ ft. Benny the Butcher & Black Thought, “Momentum”
T.I. ft. Eric Bellinger & Killer Mike, “How I Feel”
Tyrone’s Jacket, “Backpack Song”
Tyrone’s Jacket, “Streets”
Westside Gunn, “Shawn vs. Flair”