Posts Tagged ‘rap’

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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)

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January 2020 Album Reviews

April 23, 2020

First off, let me say… if nobody reads this, I’m going to be pissed. Yeah, this is a bit late. I’ve been working on this post for at least two months now. But I’ve been struggling with how I want to post my music opinions without feeling like I need to waste a ton of time thinking about what I want to write. I think I finally found a system that works for me. I’m going to rate every song on each album on what is essentially a 10-point scale and then I will average those ratings out to give an overall score. This isn’t necessarily my official rating for an album… but it’s a decent starting point. You will see some examples below where I think an album with a lower average rating is better than higher ones. Eminem’s album is the most obvious one. I gave seven of his songs a rating of 4 or higher – the most of any January 2020 release – but he also has, by far, the most songs I’d cut from an album, dragging his overall score down. So while his overall score is lower than some albums, I like it substantially more than, say, the Mick Jenkins project.

A good rule of thumb in order for me to rate an album is that I probably need to listen to it at least twice (hence no Pop Smoke listed below). Possibly the only exception to this rule is when I deem an album unlistenable and can barely (or can’t) even make it through the whole album the first time. Listening to and evaluating music is a pretty fluid process though, so all ratings are subject to change in the future as albums grow on me or I realize I initially overrated them. I’ve been sitting on most of these albums for about three months now, so I feel pretty good about these reviews. I will bold any song I added to my Bangers Playlist – usually at least a 4 on my rating scale.

5 – Perfection
4.5 – Great
4 – Very Good
3.5 – Good
3 – Cool
2.5 – Meh
2 – Bad
1 – Trash

BENNY THE BUTCHERThe Plugs I Met (June 2019, Rap)
1. (Intro) – N/A
2. “Crowns for Kings” ft. Black Thought – 5
3. “Sunday School” ft. 38 Spesh & Jadakiss – 4

4. “Dirty Harry” ft. Rj Payne & Conway the Machine – 3.5
5. “Took the Money to the Plug’s House” – 4
6. “18 Wheeler” ft. Pusha T – 4.5
7. “5 to 50” ft. India – 4

Average Song Rating: 4.17/5
Save Percentage: 100% (6/6)
Bangers: 5

Thoughts: A bonus addition to this month’s list because it’s just that good. This is a great example of less is more. Basically every song on here is really good. Black Thought and Benny absolutely murder the beat on “Crown for Kings” and I think that might be my favorite song of 2019. Benny is easily my favorite rapper that I wasn’t listening to a year ago. This is an elite project and one of the best albums of last year.

Verdict: 9/10 (Amazing)

Mick JenkinsThe Circus (January 2020, Rap)
1. “Same Ol” – 3
2. “Carefree” – 3
3. “The Light” ft. EARTHGANG – 4
4. “Flaunt” – 3
5. “The Fit” – 3.5
6. “I’m Convinced” – 3.5
7. “Different Scales” – 3.5

Average Rating: 3.36/5
Save Percentage: 100% (7/7)
Bangers: 1

Thoughts: A solid, but unspectacular little project that’s a bit more accessible than Mick’s past work which I have admittedly mostly overlooked. I do like every song on here though with “The Light” being my favorite by a large margin and that’s mostly because EARTHGANG just knows how to make great music.

Verdict: 6/10 (Recommended)

DreamvilleRevenge of the Dreamers 3 [Deluxe] (January 2020, Rap)
1. “Big Black Truck” ft. JID – 4
2. “Still Up” ft. EARTHGANG & REASON – 3.5
3. “Outta Pocket” ft. Bas, Cozz, and Girl Talk – 3
4. “Late Night” ft. Cozz, Omen, Buddy & Landstrip Chip – 3
5. “Spin Move” ft. Bas, Saba, Smino & The Hics – 3
6. “BUSSIT” ft. Ari Lennox – 3
7. “Passcode” ft. Ari Lennox, Buddy, Smino, Mez & Guapdad 4000 – 3
8. “Up Up Away” ft. JID, EARTHGANG & Vince Staples – 3.5
9. “No Chorus” ft. Bas, Dreezy, Buddy & Guapdad 4000 – 3
10. “Disgusted” ft. Cozz & Childish Major – 3
11. “Revenge” ft. Lute, Omen, Ari Lennox, EARTHGANG, Childish Major & REASON – 3
12. “Still Dreamin” ft. JID, Lute & 6LACK – 4

Average Rating: 3.25/5
Save Percentage: 100%
Bangers: 2

Thoughts: It’s important to understand what this is: a collection of songs that weren’t good enough to be on the official Revenge of the Dreamers III album. So these are all leftovers. Personally, I’d rather hear this stuff than not hear it, but when I listen to a project like this, I’m judging it on its own merit and not as a collective with the original release. It looks like every J.Cole feature made the official release because we don’t get any new Cole music here. Most of the songs on here are 3s, so while I like every track it’s a lot of stuff I’m pretty lukewarm about. I do think this Deluxe version is bookended by a couple of true bangers though.

Verdict: 6/10 (Recommended)

EminemMusic To Be Murdered By (January 2020, Rap)
1. “Premonition” – 4
2. “Unaccomodating” ft. Young MA – 3
3. “You Gon’ Learn” ft. Royce da 5’9″ & White Gold – 4.5
4. (Interlude) – N/A
5. “Those Kinda Nights” ft. Ed Sheeran – 1.5
6. “In Too Deep” – 2
7. “Godzilla” ft. Juice WRLD – 3.5
8. “Darkness” – 4
9. “Leaving Heaven” ft. Skylar Grey – 2.5
10. “Yah Yah” ft. Royce da 5’9″, Black Thought, Q-Tip & Denaun – 4
11. (Interlude) – N/A
12. “Stepdad” – 2.5
13. “Marsh” – 3
14. “Never Love Again” – 3.5
15. “Little Engine” – 2.5
16. “Lock It Up” ft. Anderson .Paak – 4
17. “Farewell” – 3
18. “No Regrets” ft. Don Toliver – 4
19. “I Will” ft. KXNG Crooked, Royce da 5’9″ & Joell Ortiz – 4

20. (Outro) – N/A

Average rating: 3.29/5
Save Percentage: 70.5% (12/17)
Bangers: 7

Thoughts: And here’s an example of more is less. Do I want to hear every song Eminem has ever recorded? Sure. But when you fill out an album’s tracklist with a bunch of weak songs, I’m going to hold those songs against the album as a whole. As you can see by my save percentage, I’d cut about 30% of this album. You take away those five songs and my average rating would jump up to a 3.7 out of 5 and I think that’s pretty close to elite status. His stuff with Ed Sheeran is embarrassing and I can’t stand Skylar Grey; she ruins what is an otherwise enjoyable song with an unbearable hook. I think the production on this album is actually pretty good and beat selection is usually a weakness on any Eminem album. Still, it could be better and you’d think this man would have access to the best producers on the planet. Alchemist was his touring DJ forever and they’ve made almost no actual music together. It’s a damn shame. Eminem is still elite when it comes to spitting and lyricism. Sure, he can spit some corny lines here and there, but he still astonishes me on a regular basis. I love every track Royce is on and it’s bad ass seeing them collab so much (Bad Meets Evil 2 anyone?). Seven bangers is a lot, so there’s plenty of gold on this album. This is probably Em’s best album since Recovery.

Verdict: 7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Mac MillerCircles (January 2020, Rap)
1. “Circles” – 4
2. “Complicated” – 4

3. “Blue World” – 3.5
4. “Good News” – 4.5
5. “I Can See” – 3.5
6. “Everybody” – 4
7. “Woods” – 4.5
8. “Hand Me Downs” – 5

9. “That’s On Me” – 3.5
10. “Hands” – 3
11. “Surf” – 3.5
12. “Once a Day” – 3.5

Average rating: 3.88/5
Save Percentage: 100% (12/12)
Bangers: 6

Thoughts: Mac Miller was really transcending as an artist. This is not a rappity rap album by any means… it’s just beautiful music… with some rapping. I like every song on this album and there are some real gems here. “Hand Me Downs” is just a perfect song. We lost one of the best hip-hop artists in the business when Mac died in 2018 and it’s kind of absurd that the average hip-hop consumer (that I know at least) doesn’t even listen to him. I’ve been thinking about doing a Top 25 Hip-Hop Artists Since 2015 blog post and in my preliminary rankings, I have Mac Miller ranked #6 on that list. That’s how highly I think of him. This posthumous release only strengthens his resume and Circles is an early Album of the Year contender.

Verdict: 8/10 (Must Listen)

Halsey – Manic (January 2020, Pop)
1. “Ashley” – 3.5
2. “Clementine” – 3
3. “Graveyard” – 4
4. “You should be sad” – 3.5
5. “Forever (is a long time)” – 2.5
6. “Dominic’s Interlude” ft. Dominic Fike – 3
7. “I HATE EVERYBODY” – 3
8. “3am” – 3.5
9. “Without Me” – 3.5
10. “Finally // beautiful stranger” – 3
11. “Alanis’ Interlude” ft. Alanis Morissette – 3.5
12. “killing boys” – 3
13. “SUGA’s Interlude” ft. SUGA & BTS – 3
14. “More” – 3.5
15. “Still Learning” – 3
16. “929” – 4

Average rating: 3.28/5
Save Percentage: 94% (15/16)
Bangers: 2

Thoughts: I really like Halsey’s voice, but I’m not much of a pop critic, so it’s not like I really know what I’m talking about here. I like almost every song on this album, but it doesn’t reach a lot of really high points. “Graveyard” and “929” are my only true standout songs, but I do think the multiple shots she takes at G-Eazy are pretty fun. I give this a recommendation but there are definitely better recent pop albums (Lana Del Rey, Dua Lipa).

Verdict: 6/10 (Recommended)

070 Shake – Modus Vivendi (January 2020, ??)
1. “Don’t Break The Silence” – 3
2. “Come Around” – 3
3. “Morrow” – 3.5
4. “The Pines” – 3.5
5. “Guilty Conscience” – 3.5
6. “Divorce” – 3
7. “It’s Forever” ft. The Ebonys – N/A
8. “Rocketship” – 3.5
9. “Microdosing” – 3
10. “Nice to Have” – 3.5
11. “Under the Moon” – 3.5
12. “Daydreamin” – 3
13. “Terminal B” – 3
14. “Flight319” – 3

Average rating: 3.23/5
Save Percentage: 100% (13/13)
Bangers: 0

Thoughts: I have no clue what kind of music this is. Apple has it listed as alternative and other places has it listed as hip-hop. It was released on Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music record label, so there’s that. Hip-Hop Twitter seems to like this album a lot, but honestly, I don’t really get it. There are definitely some good tracks on here, but I count zero true bangers, and at least half an album of lukewarm music.

Verdict: 5/10 (Decent)

Lil Wayne – Funeral (January 2020, Rap)
1. “Funeral” – 3.5
2. “Mahogany” – 4
3. “Mama Mia” – 4

4. “I Do It” ft. Big Sean & Lil Baby – 3.5
5. “Dreams” – 3.5
6. “Stop Playin With Me” 3
7. “Clap For Em” – 3.5
8. “Bing James” ft. Jay Rock – 3.5
9. “Not Me” – 3.5
10. “Trust Nobody” ft. Adam Levine – 3.5
11. “Know You Know” ft. 2 Chainz – 2.5
12. “Wild Dogs” – 3
13. “Harden” – 3.5
14. “I Don’t Sleep” ft. Takeoff – 3.5
15. “Sights and Silencers” ft. The Dream – 4
16. “Ball Hard” ft. Lil Twist – 4
17. “Bastard (Satan’s Kid)” – 4

18. “Get Outta My Head” ft. XXXTENTACION – 1.5
19. “Piano Trap” – 4
20. “Line Em Up” – 3.5
21. “Darkside” – 3
22. “Never Mind” – 3
23. “T.O.” ft. O.T. Genasis – 3
24. “Wayne’s World” – 2.5

Average rating: 3.35/5
Save Percentage: 87.55 (21/24)
Bangers: 6

Thoughts: Lil Wayne is an all-time great and, like it or not, one of the most influential rappers ever. Who do you think inspired all these mumble rappers? I don’t group Wayne in with this new generation though and when I think about my ten favorite hip-hop artists ever, I often think about Lil Wayne for that #10 spot. That’s not set in stone for me yet, but he’s in contention. So the man is a legend… and some 22 years after I first heard him rap he’s still making music I want to listen to. Considering there are 24 songs on Funeral and I would only cut 2 or 3 of them, this is a really solid release. I prefer shorter albums and I can imagine a much stronger showing if he cut about 6-7 songs from this. I don’t think Funeral is better than any album in Tha Carter series, so this is middle of his catalog stuff. Wayne is still an elite rapper though and anything he touches is something you should be checking out.

Verdict: 7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Note: Now that I have this dialed in, it shouldn’t take me three months to write about the February 2020 releases. Expect that before the middle of May. *fingers crossed*

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January/February 2020 New Music

March 1, 2020

Notes: I was in LA the first week of February, so I decided to skip my monthly music post last month. After this post, I will be cleansing my Priority playlist of all pre-2020 albums (except maybe a few I really want to keep in rotation). In the next few days, I’ll have a post with some albums I’ve rated and reviewed, plus I post ratings for as many albums I’m taking off my playlist as I can.

* indicates second month on PRIORITY playlist

HEAVY ROTATION (heard whole album many times)

*Apollo Brown – Sincerely, Detroit (October)
*BENNY THE BUTCHER – The Plugs I Met (June)
Brent Faiyaz – F**k the World
Eminem – Music To Be Murdered By
*Griselda – WWCD
*Lana Del Ray – Norman F*****g Rockwell (August)
Lil Wayne – Funeral
Mac Miller – Circles
*Roddy Ricch – Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial
Royce da 5’9″ – The Allegory

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

*Black Pumas – Black Pumas (June)
*DaBaby – Baby on Baby (March)
Dreamville – Revenge of the Dreamers [Deluxe]
*Free Nationals – Free Nationals
*JACKBOYS – JACKBOYS
Mick Jenkins – The Circus
Mustard – Perfect Ten (June)
*Rich Brian – The Sailor (July)
*Tobe Nwigwe – FOURIGINALS (October)
*Young Thug – So Much Fun [Deluxe]

SOLID ROTATION (heard whole album at least twice)

Andrew Kelly – Annex
*Denzel Curry – ZUU (May)
D Smoke – Black Habits
*Fat Joe & Dre – Family Ties
Halsey – Manic
*Harry Styles – Fine Line
*KAYTRANADA – BUBBA
Kota the Friend – Lyrics to Go, Vol. 1
*Polo G – Die a Legend (June)
*Stormzy – Heavy Is The Head
*The Game – Born 2 Rap
YGTUT – I.O.U.

COURTESY ROTATION (heard whole album)

A Boogie wit da Hoodie – Artist 2.0
*BENNY THE BUTCHER – Tana Talk 3 (2018)
Billy Woods & Kenny Segal – Hiding Places (March)
Boldy James – The Price of Tea in China
*Cam’ron – Purple Haze 2
*DaBaby – KIRK (September)
*Flawless Real Talk – Every Second Matters
Kamaiyah – Got It Made
*Kevin Abstract – ARIZONA BABY (April)
Lil Baby – My Turn
Roc Marciano – Marcielago (2019)
Tame Impala – The Slow Rush

SKIM ROTATION (haven’t heard whole album)

070 Shake – Modus Vivendi
Denzel Curry & Kenny Beats – UNLOCKED
Green Day – Father of All…
Guapdad 4000 – Dior Deposits
*KXNG Crooked & Bronze Nazareth – Gravitas
K. Michelle – All Monsters Are Human
Pop Smoke – Meet the Woo 2
Tink – Hopeless Romantic
Twista – Lifetime EP
*XXXTENTACION – Bad Vibes Forever
YFN Lucci – HIStory

TOO NEW/NO LOVE (zero listens)

G Herbo – PTSD
Planet Asia & 38 Spesh – Trust the Chain
Young Nudy – Anyways

ALBUM OF THE MONTH

Royce da 5’9″The Allegory – review in next post

Highly Enjoyable

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

Apollo Brown ft. Slum Village, “All Day”
Apollo Brown ft. Supa Emcee, Kuniva, & Alexis Allon, “Break the Code”
Boldy James ft. Vince Staples, “Surf & Turf”
Brent Faiyaz, “Rehab (Winter in Paris)”
Dreamville ft. JID, Lute, & 6LACK, “Still Dreamin”
Eminem, “Darkness”
Eminem ft. Royce da 5’9″, “You Gon’ Learn”
Eminem ft. Royce da 5’9″, Black Thought & Q-Tip, “Yah Yah”
Eminem, “Premonition (Intro)”
Eminem ft. KXNG Crooked, Royce da 5’9″, & Joell Ortiz, “I Will”
Eminem ft. Don Toliver, “No Regrets”
Fabolous ft. Lil Durk, “Cap”
Fat Joe & Dre ft. Eminem & Mary J. Blige, “Lord Above”
Free Nationals ft. JID, Kadhja Bonet & MIKNNA, “On Sight”
The Game ft. Anderson .Paak, “Stainless”
Harry Styles, “Lights Up”
Kevin Abstract, “Georgia”
Lana Del Rey, “F**k it I love you”
Mac Miller, “Good News”
Mac Miller, “Hand Me Downs”
Mac Miller, “Everybody”
Mac Miller, “Woods”
Mick Jenkins ft. EARTHGANG, “The Light”
Polo G ft. Lil Baby & Gunna, “Pop Out Again”
Royce da 5’9″ ft. Ashley Sorrell & Benny the Butcher, “Upside Down”
Royce da 5’9″ ft. Conway the Machine, “Fubu”
Royce da 5’9″ ft. Sy Ari Da Kid, White Gold, Cyhi the Prynce & T.I., “Black Savage”
Royce da 5’9″, “Rhinestone Doo Rag”
Royce da 5’9″ ft. Westside Gunn, “Overcomer”
Smoke DZA & BENNY THE BUTCHER, “By Any Means”
Stormzy, “Rachael’s Little Brother”
Stormzy, “Superheroes”
Young Thug ft. Gunna, “Hot”

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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

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Weekly Music Update: Kamaiyah, Jidenna, Eminem & Beyonce

November 15, 2017

New Playlist Additions

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

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

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

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

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

Other Notable Releases

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

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

Angel OlsenPhases (alternative)

Recent Albums Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best of 2017 Playlist Additions

“True To Yourself” – Yelawolf, Trial By Fire

“Keeps Me Alive” – Yelawolf, Trial By Fire

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Weekly Music Update: Sam Smith, Kalela, ELHAE, LE$

November 7, 2017

New Playlist Additions

Sam SmithThe Thrill of it All (pop) – I’m not familiar with this guy’s catalog at all, but he seemed to be the most prominent release of this past week, so I added his album to my playlist and I must say I’m impressed. I’ve already listened to this a couple of times all the way through and that says a lot. Very easy on the ears.

KalelaTake Me Apart (R&B/soul) – I think this came out a week or two ago and I just added it last night after reading some promising comments online.

ELHAEAURA II (R&B/soul) – Same as Kalela.

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

Other Notable Releases

21 Savage, Offset & Metro BoominWithout Warning (hip-hop/rap)

Maroon 5Red Pill Blues (pop)

Blake SheltonTexoma Shore (country)

Kid RockSweet Southern Sugar (rock/country)

Recent Albums Update

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

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

Snoop DoggMake America Crip Again (hip-hop/rap) – The opening track (“M.A.C.A.”) and the closing track (“Fly Away”) are pretty good. Everything in between is trash bin material to me. Rating: Decent

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

YelawolfTrial By Fire (hip-hop/rap) – I’ve listened to this album all the way through once and it was definitely enjoyable. I think Yelawolf is an artist I’d rather have come on randomly in a big playlist as opposed to song after song. “Sabrina” is a highlight and a chilling song where Yelawolf imagines his daugther dying.

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

Hustle GangWe Want Smoke (hip-hop/rap) – My interest level in this project is pretty low. I’ve heard songs on random but this will probably get deleted before I ever really listen to it.

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

BeckTrue Colors (alternative) – I’ve liked the few songs I’ve heard on random, but nothing spectacular.

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

Best of 2017 Playlist Additions

“Claim” – dvsn, Morning After

“Stay Down” – Brent Faiyaz, Sonder Son

“Talk 2 U” – Brent Faiyaz, Sonder Son

“Pearl Harbor” – Wu-Tang, The Saga Continues

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Bone Thugs N Harmony – New Waves

July 1, 2017

Listened to the new Bone Thugs N Harmony album (which is really just a Krayzie and Bizzy collaboration) in entirety and, goodness, it is an embarrassment. It’s not much of a surprise that a new Bone album would disappoint in 2017 – when is the last time any of these guys has dropped a notable project? But still, it’s hard to believe how bad it really is. I heard a number songs that sounded like they were aimed at the EDM crowd and I even heard a song that sounded like it would be at home on a country album. What I didn’t hear was a single track that sounded anything like vintage Bone. This album is SOFT. There’s nothing wrong with artists growing up and some of the messages have heart, but the production is almost universally terrible and most of the hooks are appalling. These guys can still rap just fine, but there isn’t any noteworthy songwriting happening on this album. I can honestly say that I liked one song: “Good Person.” Something about it (I think it’s the hook) just grabs me. The rest of the album is straight up trash bin material.

4/10 (Trash Bin Material – because nothing needs to lower than that)