Posts Tagged ‘rap’

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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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Eminem – Music To Be Murdered By – Side B (2020)

February 19, 2021

Genre: Rap

Release Date: December 18th, 2020

Song Rating Scale

  1. Alfred (Intro) – N/A
  2. Black Magic (feat. Skylar Grey) – 3
  3. Alfred’s Theme – 3.75
  4. Tone Deaf – 3.5
  5. Book of Rhymes (feat. DJ Premier) – 3.25
  6. Favorite Bitch (feat. Ty Dolla $ign) – 3
  7. Guns Blazing (feat. Dr. Dre & Sly Pyper) – 3
  8. Gnat – 3.75
  9. Higher – 3.75
  10. These Demons (feat. MAJ) – 3.5
  11. Key (Skit) – N/A
  12. She Loves Me – 3.5
  13. Killer – 3.75
  14. Zeus (feat. White Gold) – 4
  15. Thus Far (Interlude) – N/A
  16. Discombobulated – 3.75

Spin Rate: 7+
Average Song Rating: 3.5/5
3.5+ Percentage: 69%
Skip Factor: 11.5%
Bangers: 1

Thoughts: Eminem has kind of become a master at making incomplete songs. At least for me. This album is a clinic in making music that is mostly pretty decent but almost every song has an aspect to it that I don’t like. In “Book of Rhymes” the beat is horrendous. How are you going to have a song that says it features DJ Premier and he’s not even producing it? I was really looking forward to this collaboration and it’s not even a thing. “Favorite Bitch” features Ty Dolla $ign, one of the top hook makers in the hip-hop world right now, and his hook is TERRIBLE. “Guns Blazing” has a Dr. Dre verse and a hook that I just can’t get into. Even the songs that I like a lot tend to feature a beat or flow switch that doesn’t really work for me. The rapping on this album is pretty good, but that’s not much of a surprise – Eminem can still rap his ass off. He can also drop some ultra corny bars, but I’d say that his cleverness and rhyming ability still far outweigh these eyeroll-inducing lines.

I like Side A substantially more than Side B, but if you look at both of my reviews you’ll notice Side B has a higher average song rating. That’s because the highs on Side A are much higher than they are here, but the lows are also much lower (it’s also because this is the first album I started using .25 and .75 when I can’t decide between two ratings). Side B doesn’t have any pure skips, but it also only has one true banger. “Zeus” is a really good song, but I think it’s the only track where Eminem really puts it all together on this album. I’ll take whatever I can get from Eminem (well, not Revival), but I also feel like he’s just going to keep stringing together technically proficient verses while not making all that great of music.

Verdict: 6/10 (Recommended)

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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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September 2020 Music Playlist

October 1, 2020

ALBUM OF THE MONTH

Conway the MachineFrom King To A GOD

Notes: So this is mostly how I listen to music these days. Every Thursday night at 9 PM (Pacific Time), I look at all the new releases and add anything I’m interested in to my library and throw it in my Brand New and Current Rotation playlists. I used to have one playlist for newer albums, but I started leaving stuff in there for too long and it got really bloated and I wasn’t giving the newest music the attention I wanted to. Now I use the Brand New playlist for the latest music and have a strict policy of removing it after exactly one month, unless I’m really not into an album and decide to remove it earlier. My Current Rotation playlist consists of music from the last 4-6 months, with my favorite albums lingering around even longer, plus I’ve decided to start throwing older stuff on there, like artists I feel I’ve overlooked or albums I want to revisit. I probably listen to my Brand New playlist the most, but I give my Current Rotation multiple spins throughout the week and I also have a Goats Doing Goat Shit playlist of all my favorite rappers and albums and a Rappers from the Old School playlist of rappers that mostly came out in the 80s that I listen to semi-regularly. You can follow me on Apple Music @DarkKnight1717 to add any or all of my playlists.

This has created a somewhat interesting dynamic in my lists below. Half the albums on my top 20 list for September… I have never listened to all the way through. Somehow one of those albums (Jaden Smith) cracked my top 3. I have never actually listened to that album other than when a song comes up on shuffle. Numbers in parentheses are how many songs I listened to on each album or from each artist over the past month and/or the year the album was released if it didn’t come out in 2020. I spent basically all month surprised that Big Sean wasn’t getting more spins and I didn’t realize until a couple days ago that I never put his album in my Brand New playlist. Whoops. He will be in there all through October now. Also, note how high Eminem is on my top artists list despite not having any album in my top 20. I’ve started the long process of doing a profile on Eminem, in the same vein as my DMX and Notorious B.I.G. profiles. Eminem’s discography is much deeper than either of those guys, so don’t expect me to publish something anytime soon, but do expect Eminem to be near the top of my artists list until I do. As of now, I’m still on The Marshall Mathers LP. I will publish my Em album reviews as I write them though.

* indicates September 2020 release

Top 20 Albums in September

1. *Conway the Machine – From King To A GOD (75)
2. *Big Sean – Detroit 2 (57)
3. Jaden Smith – CTV3: Cool Tape Vol. 3 (50)
4. Nas – King’s Disease (45)
5. The Lox – Living Off Xperience (44)
6. *Spillage Village – Spilligion (39)
7. Amine – Limbo (37)
8. Black Pumas – Black Pumas [Deluxe] (37)
8. Dua Lipa – Club Future Nostalgia [DJ Mix] (37)
10. Ransom – Directors Cut** (36)
11. Rich Brian – 1999 (33)
12. Dave East – Karma 3 (31)
13. The Streets – None Of Us Are Getting Out Of This Life Alive (31)
14. The God Fahim – After Every Dark Day Comes Sunshine (30)
15. Spillage Village – Bears Like This Too Much (2016, 28)
16. BUCKWILD – Music is My Religion (27)
17. Apollo Brown & Locksmith – No Question (2018, 25)
18. CunninLynguists – Southernunderground (2003, 25)
19. The Weeknd – After Hours (25)
20. Lil Wayne – No Ceilings (2009, 24)

**Ransom actually released three Directors Cut albums this year. They weren’t on my radar until last month and I decided to make them all one album, but if you wind up searching for it, you’ll see that it is actually three shorter albums.

Top 20 Artists in August

1. Spillage Village (86)
2. Conway the Machine (77)
3. Eminem (68)
4. Nas (66)
5. Big Sean (59)
6. Lil Wayne (53)
7. Jaden Smith (50)
8. CunninLynguists (48)
9. The Lox (44)
10. Dua Lipa (38)
11. Amine (37)
12. Black Pumas (37)
13. Ransom (36)
14. Rich Brian (33)
15. Dave East (31)
16. The Streets (31)
17. The God Fahim (30)
18. Buckwild (27)
19. The Weeknd (27)
20. Apollo Brown & Locksmith (25)

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

Amine, “My Reality”
Amine ft. slowthai & Vince Staples, “Pressure In My Palms”
Amine, “Burden”
Big Sean ft. Nipsey Hussle, “Deep Reverence”
Black Thought ft. Pusha T & Killer Mike, “Good Morning”
Conway the Machine ft. Method Man, “Lemon”
Conway the Machine ft. Freddie Gibbs, “Seen Everything But Jesus”
Conway the Machine ft. Benny the Butcher & Westside Gunn, “Spurs 3”
Conway the Machine, “Front Lines”
Conway the Machine ft. Armani Caesar, “Anza”
Deante Hitchcock, “I Remember”
Felt, “Alexander F’real”
IDK & JID ft. Kenny Mason, “Cereal”
Jacob Latimore, “Love Drug”
Kaash Paige ft. Isaiah Rashad, “Problems”
Nas ft. Anderson .Paak, “All Bad”
Nyck Caution, “Demons Don’t Take Off From Work”
R.A. the Rugged Man ft. M.O.P., Vinnie Paz, Chris Rivers, Onyx, Chino XL, Brand Nubian & Ice-T, “The Slayers Club”
R.A. the Rugged Man ft. Sarah Smith & Kelly Waters, “The After Life”
Ransom, “I Am Legend”
R-MEAN & Berner, “Lost”
R-MEAN & Berner, “Would You”
Saigon ft. Marsha Ambrosius, “Pain In My Life, Pt. 2 (On God)”
The Lox, “Gave It To ‘EM”
The Lox, “Loyalty And Love”
The Weeknd, “Too Late”
The Weeknd, “Snowchild”
The Weeknd, “Escape From LA”
The Weeknd, “Blinding Lights”
The Weeknd, “Missed You”

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August 2020 Music Playlist

September 2, 2020

ALBUM OF THE MONTH

AmineLimbo

Notes: As I mentioned last month, I’m using the Eavescrob and Last.FM apps to track the music I’m listening to. I love it! It paints a way more accurate picture of my current listening experience than what I was doing before. Unfortunately, during the last week of August, I accidentally clicked a button on one of the apps and it imported a bunch of duplicate listens and totally messed up my stats. I had to go into the app on my PC and manually delete as many duplicates as I could recognize. We are talking hundreds of listens! It was tedious and brutal, but I’m such a stat freak perfectionist it would bother me too much to have my numbers that out of whack. As is, they aren’t 100% accurate, but close enough that I feel it’s a solid representation of what I listened to and how much last month. I know I listened to The Weeknd probably more than anyone, but I must’ve deleted too many listens and I don’t get how Dua Lipa and Baby B are nowhere to be found on any of these lists as any album I review during the month gets a huge boost. Ah well. Things should be super accurate in September and when I look back on my lifetime stats a year from now, this will be a distant memory. I have to say… my efforts to stay up-to-date on current music absolutely dominates my playlists. My old school Album of the Month (The Chronic) is the only non-2020 album that cracks my top 20 listens for last month and this is probably what a typical month looks like for me. Granted, I enjoy staying current, but not at the expense of almost never listening to anything older than a few months.

* indicates August 2020 new album

Top 20 Albums in August

1. *Amine – Limbo
2. Apollo Brown & Che Noir – As God Intended
3. *Felt – Felt 4 U
4. The Weeknd – After Hours
5. *Nas – King’s Disease
6. Blu & Exile – Miles
7. Logic – No Pressure
8. *Kaash Paige – Teenage Fever
9. Terrace Martin, Robert Glasper, 9th Wonder & Kamasi Washington – Dinner Party
10. *03 Greedo & RONRONTHEPRODUCER – Load It Up, Vol. 01
11. *Boldy James – The Versace Tape
12. Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher
13. *R-Mean & Berner – The Warning
14. R.A. the Rugged Man – All My Heroes Are Dead
15. *Rich Brian – 1999
16. 38 Spesh – 6 Shots
17. *Dave East – Karma 3
18. Dr. Dre – The Chronic
19. *DaBaby – BLAME IT ON BABY (Deluxe only)
20. Royce da 5’9″ – The Allegory

Top 20 Artists in August

1. Amine
2. The Weeknd
3. Apollo Brown & Che Noir
4. Felt
5. Blu & Exile
6. Nas
7. Logic
8. Kaash Paige
9. Boldy James
10. R.A. the Rugged Man
11. Terrace Martin, Robert Glasper, 9th Wonder & Kamasi Washington
12. Pop Smoke
13. 03 Greedo & RONRONTHEPRODUCER
14. Phoebe Bridgers
15. R-MEAN & Berner
16. Eminem
17. DaBaby
18. Rich Brian
19. 38 Spesh
20. Brother Ali

Top 5 Songs in August

1. Amine – Roots ft. JID & Charlie Wilson
2. Amine – Riri
3. Anderson .Paak – Lockdown (Remix) ft. JID, Noname & Jay Rock
4. Apollo Brown & Che Noir – Freedom
5. Guapdad 4000 – Orgasm Full Of Pain ft. Deante Hitchcock

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

Amine, “Woodlawn”
Amine ft. JID & Charlie Wilson, “Roots”
Amine, “Can’t Decide”
Amine, “Riri”
Amine ft. Injury Reserve, “Fetus”
Anderson .Paak ft. JID, Noname, & Jay Rock, “Lockdown (Remix)”
Apollo Brown & Che Noir ft. Skyzoo, “Follow the Wisdom”
Apollo Brown & Che Noir, “Freedom”
Apollo Brown & Che Noir, “Winter”
Apollo Brown & Che Noir, “’94”
Baby B, “Do You Better”
Baby B, “Like Girls”
Big Boi & Sleepy Brown, “Can’t Sleep”
Black Soprano Family ft. Benny the Butcher, “Grams in the Water”
Drake ft. Lil Durk, “Laugh Now Cry Later”
Dua Lipa, “Physical”
Felt, “Borbaleta”
Felt, “Sticks & Stones”
Jessie Ware, “Soul Control”
Markis Precise ft. Talib Kweli, “From a Distance”
Nas, “The Cure”
Sufjan Stevens, “Video Games”
The Lox ft. Benny the Butcher and Westside Gunn, “Think of The Lox”
The Weeknd, “Alone Again”

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July 2020 Playlist

August 7, 2020

* indicates July addition

Notes: I started using the Last.fm app in tandem with the Eavescrob app to track the music I’m listening to even more accurately. This might actually change the way I make these posts. For now, I’m keeping the adjustments I made last month, but I’m going to include a list of the artists I’ve been listening to the most since I started using these apps midway through July. I basically keep every album in my Priority Playlist for ~4 months – and for the purposes of these blog posts, I will include all new albums for the past month – but as far as older recent albums, I don’t see much point in making anyone sift through the vast majority of stuff that never make it past a Courtesy Rotation and will exclude them from all future posts unless they rise up later on. Also, it’s probably worth noting that any album I post a review for got a big boost in spins because I spent extra time thinking about it.

Top 20 Artists I Listened To The Most In July (in order, according to Last.fm)

1. Logic
2. Apollo Brown & Che Noir
3. Blu & Exile
4. Brother Ali
5. Pop Smoke
6. Dua Lipa
7. R.A. the Rugged Man
8. Baby B
9. Juice WRLD
10. Kyle
11. J.Cole
12. Lil Wayne
13. Black Soprano Family
14. Dr. Dre
15. Ellie Goulding
16. Phoebe Bridgers
17. 38 Spesh
18. Blackalicous
19. Flatbush Zombies
20. Lupe Fiasco

HEAVY ROTATION (heard whole album many times)

*Apollo Brown & Che Noir – As God Intended
Baby B – Text at 2 AM
Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia
Flatbush Zombies – now, more than ever – EP
Jay Electronica (and Jay-Z!) – A Written Testimony
Lil Uzi Vert – Eternal Atake
Run the Jewels – RTJ4
The Weeknd – After Hours

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

6lack – 6pc Hot EP
*CeeLo Green – CeeLo Green is Thomas Callaway
Childish Gambino – 3.15.20
Chris Brown & Young Thug – Slime & B
Conway the Machine and The Alchemist – LULU
Deante’ Hitchcock – BETTER
Freddy Gibbs & The Alchemist – Alfredo
Future – High Off Life
Grafh – Oracle 3
Jessie Reyez – BEFORE LOVE CAME TO KILL US
Jhene Aiko – Chilombo
*Juice WRLD – Legends Never Die
Lil Brick – Road to Ouroboros – EP
Lil Durk – Just Cause Y’all Waited 2
Lil Uzi Vert – Eternal Atake [Deluxe]
*Logic – No Pressure
Kota the Friend – Everything
*Pop Smoke – Shoot For The Stars Aim For The Moon
R.A. the Rugged Man – All My Heroes Are Dead
Sam Hunt – SOUTHSIDE
Westside Gunn – Pray for Paris

SOLID ROTATION (heard most of the album twice)

A Boogie wit da Hoodie – Artist 2.0 [Deluxe]
*Blu & Exile – Miles
Buddy & Kent Jamz – Janktape Vol. 1
dvsn – A Muse In Her Feelings
J Hus – Big Conspiracy
Jadakiss – Ignatius
Joell Ortiz & Crooked I – H.A.R.D.
Kemba – The World is Watching – EP
*Kyle – See You When I’m Famous!!!!!!!
Lil Simz – Drop 6 – EP
Lil Tjay – State of Emergency
Markis Precise – No Wings Without Scars
*Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher
Polo G – THE GOAT
Wale – The Imperfect Storm
*Westside Gunn – Flygod is an Awesome God 2

COURTESY ROTATION (heard whole album)

*38 Spesh – 6 Shots
*Black Soprano Family – Benny the Butcher and DJ Drama presents Black Soprano Family
*Ellie Goulding – Brightest Blue
*Lupe Fiasco & Kaelin Ellis – HOUSE
*Oddisee – Odd Cure
*RARE Sound & K CAMP – Rare Family

SKIM ROTATION (haven’t heard whole album)

*Charli XCX – how i’m feeling right now
*Pink Sweat$ – The Prelude – EP
*Summer Walker – Life on Earth – EP

TOO NEW/NO LOVE (zero listens)

*Flee Lord – The People’s Champ
*MIKE – WEIGHT OF THE WORLD
*Nyck Caution – Open Flame – EP

ALBUM OF THE MONTH

Apollo Brown & Che NoirAs God Intended

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

Apollo Brown & Che Noir ft. Black Thought, “Hustle Don’t Give”
Apollo Brown & Che Noir ft. Blakk Soul, “Anti-Social”
Apollo Brown & Che Noir, “Worth Gold”
Baby B, “Baddest Girl”
Blu & Exile ft. C.S. Armstrong, “Miles Away”
Blu & Exile ft. Jacinto Rhines, “The Feeling”
Jacob Latimore, “Come Over Here”
Joey Bada$$, “Shine”
Joey Bada$$, “The Light”
Lil Wayne, “Glory”
Pop Smoke, “Something Special”
Pop Smoke ft. Lil Tjay, “Mood Swings”
R.A. the Rugged Man ft. David Myles, “Wondering (How To Believe)”
Run the Jewels ft. Pharrell Williams & Zack de la Rocha, “JU$T”
Run the Jewels ft. 2 Chainz, “out of sight”
Run the Jewels ft. Greg Nice & DJ Premier, “ooh la la”

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Flatbush Zombies – now, more than ever – EP (2020)

July 21, 2020

Flatbush Zombies – now, more than ever – EP (2020, Rap)

1. “herb” – 3.5
2. “iamlegend” – 3
3. “quicksand” – 3.5
4. “dirty elevator music” – 4
5. “blessings” – 3.5
6. “when i’m gone” ft. Sophie Faith – 4

Spin Rate: 8.5
Most Played Track: “herb” (10x)
Average Song Rating: 3.58/5
3.5+ Percentage: 83%
Cuts: 0
Bangers: 2

Thoughts: I haven’t heard much music from Flatbush Zombies that wasn’t dope. They consistently release solid projects and this EP fits the bill. All three emcees are capable, though I’ve always been partial to the gruff-sounding Meechy Darko, but after seeing someone negatively describing him as sounding like a B-Movie Monster, maybe he’s not for everyone. I love him though. These guys just make good music. “dirty elevator music” has an absolutely sick beat and I love how the “it’s like…” vocal sample is looped during the verses on “when i’m gone.” The track is plenty nice on its own merit, but that aspect really elevates it for me and it’s such a simple thing. now, more than ever is another extremely strong, but short project from a very talented and overlooked hip-hop group.

Verdict: 7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

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Group Home – Livin’ Proof (1995)

July 11, 2020

Group Home – Livin’ Proof (1995, Rap)

Release Date: November 21st, 1995

Song Rating Scale

1. “Intro” – N/A (really nice melody though)
2. “Inna City Life” – 3.5
3. “Livin’ Proof” – 4
4. “Serious Rap S**t” ft. Guru & Big Shug – 3
5. “Suspended In Time” – 3.5
6. “Sacrifice” ft. Absaloot – 3
7. “Up Against the Wall (Low Budget Mix)” – 4
8. “4 Give My Sins” – 2.5
9. “Baby Pa” – 2
10. “2 Thousand” – 3
11. “Supa Star” – 3.5
12. “Up Against the Wall (Getaway Car Mix)” – 2.75
13. “Tha Realness” ft. Smiley the Ghetto Child & Jack the Ripper – 3.5

Spin Rate: 4.1
Most Played Track: “Sacrifice” (6x)
Average Song Rating: 3.19/5
3.5+ Percentage: 50%
Cuts: 3
Bangers: 2

Thoughts: I came across this album in a hip-hop group I’m in on Facebook and since plenty of commenters consider it a classic and DJ Premier was behind the boards for most of the production, I decided it would be the next old school project I examined. I’ve never heard any of this before – except maybe the “Livin’ Proof” instrumental – so this was all fresh to me.

Honestly, I was underwhelmed. Premier does his part, but he really carries this album on his back. The beats on “Livin’ Proof” and “Up Against the Wall (Low Budget Mix) are flames. The rappers in Group Home are Lil Dap and Melachi the Nutcracker. Lil Dap has a cool voice and nice delivery, but Melachi is NOT a good rapper. There are tracks where he is almost unlistenable. I gave the first “Up Against the Wall” banger status, but that’s because the beat is crazy and Lil Dap sounds great over it, but Melachi’s verses on it are straight up embarrassing. Listening to these guys rap, I can’t help but wonder if they freestyled this whole album. It really sounds like Premo just put a banger on and they record off the top of their head and kept the vocals when they didn’t make any mistakes. There is zero substance, complexity, or creativity to any of the lyricism on this album. If they wrote most of this stuff, they should be ashamed. If they freestyled all of it, it’s kind of impressive.

Premo did every beat on the album except “Serious Rap S**t” (Guru) and “4 Give My Sins” (Jaz-O) and, unsurprisingly, those are two of the weaker tracks on the album. I gave the second version of “Up Against the Wall” a 2.75 because while it’s not a bad song, the beat is substantially better on the first version, the vocals are all the same, and it just doesn’t need to be here. “Baby Pa” also probably unfairly brings the overall score down because it’s a 3+ minute track that has almost no rapping on it – a clear cut.

Overall, I’m impressed with Premier, but that’s to be expected. The rappers on this album are just too weak for it to be considered anything close to a classic album though. It’s no wonder they basically disappeared after this project. I say check it out for the beats and because there’s some good tracks on here, but this is far from an essential 90s album.

Verdict: 6/10 (Very Light Recommendation)

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Run the Jewels – RTJ4 (2020)

July 7, 2020

Run the Jewels – RTJ4 (2020, RAP)

1. “yankee and the brain (ep. 4)” – 3.5
2. “ooh la la” ft. Greg Nice & DJ Premier – 4
3. “out of sight” ft. 2 Chainz – 4
4. “holy calamafuck” – 3.5
5. “goonies vs E.T.” – 3.5
6. “walking in the snow” ft. Gangsta Boo – 3.5
7. “JU$T” ft. Pharrell Williams & Zack de la Rocha – 4
8. “never look back” – 3.5
9. “the ground below” – 3.5
10. “pulling the pin” ft. Joshua Homme & Mavis Staples – 3.5
11. “a few words for the firing squad (radiation)” – 4.5

Spin Rate: 7.64
Most Played Track: “yankee and the brain (ep. 4)” (10x)
Average Song Rating: 3.73/5
3.5+ Percentage: 100%
Cuts: 0
Bangers: 4

Thoughts: At this point, it’s fair to say Run the Jewels are on a legendary run. Killer Mike and El-P have now put together four high quality albums in row and continue to stay politically and socially conscious and timely. Their music is consistently good and relevant, yet somehow they seem wildly underrated, especially by the general audiences. The rapping and production are really good on pretty much every track and there isn’t a song on here that I’d leave off the album. “A few words for the firing squad” is my favorite song on the album with Killer Mike putting together this set of bars that just rings so true:

It’s crippling, make you wanna lean, on a cup of promethazine
but my queen say she need a king, not another junkie, flunkie rapper fiend
friends tell her, ‘he could be another Malcolm, he could be another Martin’
she told her partner, ‘I need a husband more than the world need another martyr.’

Goddamn. Those bars just go so hard and the way he raps it makes it even better. These guys stay extremely consistent and this is just another feather in the cap of a legacy that is starting to be worth mentioning among the all-time greats.

Verdict: 8/10 (Must Listen)

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J. Cole – Friday Night Lights (2010) – A Classic?

June 30, 2020

I’ve decided to scrap the idea of making a single post the review albums for an entire month. I finally finished my February reviews last week and I just sit on these things for too long. Going forward, I’m going to post one album review at a time. Each month, I’ll post a review for two older albums, representing two different time periods: modern and old school. I consider the old school time period to roughly stretch from the early 1980s to the mid 1990s. There is so much old school rap that I’m unfamiliar with that I really want to focus on listening to some of the more iconic albums and artists I have overlooked. Those are the projects I’ll be highlighting for the foreseeable future. So I’ll be going into those reviews with basically zero exposure to those albums. I consider the modern hip-hop period to stretch from the mid-1990s all the way up until now. I will mostly be highlighting albums that I really enjoyed during this time period and could post reviews from albums that dropped as recently as last year or as early as the late 90s. The rest of my reviews will be focused on 2020 albums, alternating between very recent drops and the ones I’m still trying to catch up on. I think my review system is locked in enough that I feel comfortable posting reviews after listening to an album 2-3 times.

MODERN ALBUM OF THE MONTH: J. COLE – FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS (2010, RAP)

1. “Friday Night Lights (Intro)” – N/A
2. “Too Deep For the Intro” – 3.5
3. “Before I’m Gone” – 4
4. “Back to the Topic (Freestyle)” – 3.5
5. “You Got It” ft. Wale – 3.5
6. “Villematic” – 4
7. “Enchanted” ft. Omen – 3.5
8. “Blow Up” – 4.5
9. “Higher” – 4
10. “In the Morning” ft. Drake – 4
11. “2Face” – 3.5
12. “The Autograph” – 4
13. “Best Friend” – 3
14. “Cost Me A Lot” – 3.5
15. “Premeditated Murder” – 4
16. “Home For the Holidays” – 3.5
17. “Love Me Not” – 3
18. “See World” – 4
19. “Farewell” – 4
20. “Looking For Trouble” ft. Kanye West, Big Sean, Pusha T, & CyHi the Prince – 3.5

Spin Rate: 4.89
Most Played Track: “Blow Up” (9x)
Average Song Rating: 3.89/5
3.5+ Percentage: 89.5%
Cuts: 0
Bangers: 9

Thoughts: This mixtape is largely considered a classic among modern hip-hop heads and I can’t really disagree. I thought almost every song on this album was good and it has the most bangers of any project I’ve reviewed so far. I believe this is Cole’s third mixtape and dropped before his debut major label album to hold the fans over. Mixtapes are hard to get your hands on, so good luck finding it somewhere other than YouTube. This is the only Cole tape I’ve listened to and I’m unfamiliar with his debut album, so I’m still trying to get up to speed on Cole’s earliest stuff as I assess his overall placement in the all-time lists. He’s certainly earned a spot in my top 5 rap artists of the past decade at this point and this tape only cements his legendary status among current hip-hop artists. Cole’s delivery sounds incredibly hungry and the production on this project is extremely strong. A massive win and an album that people still giddily mention today.

Verdict: 8/10 (Must Listen)