Album Review :: Kanye West :: Yeezus

06-18-2013 § Leave a comment

Kanye’s sixth studio album, Yeezus

On Sight :: The first minute of the track is marred by a terribly electronica type beat, which Kanye changes up for an appropriately suitable soulful sample [Holy Name of Mary Choral Family] (why isn’t this the beat?) to show both that he doesn’t give a fuck, and we apparently don’t know what we want but Kanye will give it to us. Short sample, then Ye chops it back to the electronica set for his short second verse. The track ends on a weird choppy, loopy, on-again-off-again reincarnation of the beat, whilst Kanye stutters “I need right now!” (a nod to “Stronger?”) as a kind of makeshift-y choral hook. Lyrically, the track has a few good lines and an overall misogynistic feel. It’s very Kanye, but I didn’t enjoy it much.

Soon as I pull up and park the Benz
We get this bitch shakin like Parkinson’s
Take my number and lock it in
Indian head, no Moccasins

Black Skinhead :: Another track with just two verses, and this one is much better with a melodic and controlled intensity. Subject matter in this track includes some racial themes, some ‘fuck you’ themes and some religious clash-pushback. I believe it’s actually Greece he’s talking about, rather than Rome “I keep it 300, like the Romans / 300 bitches, where the trojans?” but hey I only loved the movie so what do I know? It’s a clever hook nonetheless, and fits perfectly over the outrageous beat. Here we find Kanye again rhyming jeans with means, and in the same context except perhaps more appropriately malicious when compared to Malcolm X’s vision; “For my theme song, My leather black jeans on, My “by any means” on, Pardon, I’m gettin my screams on.” I still prefer his previous lighter version, “I’m like the fly Malcolm X, buy any jeans necessary, Detroit red cleaned up” from “Good Morning” [Graduation]. Kanye’s vocals are fiery, and at center stage – it’s a perfectly executed track really but … I’m still not really feeling it.

Stop all that coon shit
Early morning cartoon shit
This is that goon shit
Fuck up ya whole afternoon shit
I’m aware I’m a wolf
soon as the moon hit
I’m aware I’m a KING
Back out the tomb, bitch!

I Am a God ::Soon as they like you, make ’em unlike you / cause kissin people ass is so unlike you” That line in the first (only) verse here pretty much sums up the way I feel so far about this album. This beat is pretty nice in some ways, I do like the reggae sampling and the build-up intro but in other ways it feels like theme music for an underground roller coaster – like something is about to pop out and scare the shit out of you, but you’re not sure exactly. There is a highlight lyric or two in there, and with one single verse you don’t have to search long to find it.

Since the tight jeans, they ain’t NEVER like you
Pink-ass Polos with a FUCKIN backpack
But err’body know you brought real rap back

New Slaves :: I love the sample used in this track, and Kanye doesn’t disappoint for the first time this album. It’s minimalist, yes but I love it. Kanye is on-point lyrically too, rapping about racism (really; classism), corporate rap, the prison industrial complex (yes!), rappers being the ‘new slaves’ the title suggests, and of course bitches. This is a great track.

They try and lock niggaz up, they try and make new state
See that’s that privately-owned prisons, get yo’ piece today
They prob’ly all in the Hamptons, braggin ’bout they made
Fuck you AND yo’ Hampton house, I’ll fuck yo’ Hampton spouse

Hold My Liquor :: What little I’ve heard of Chief Keef was not enough to impress, so I’m not really surprised I wasn’t wowed here but I don’t think that was the point actually. This track reminds me a lot of something that may belong on his fourth album, 808’s & Heartbreak. It’s dark, and kind of sing-songy despite being depressing. The instrumental isn’t incredible or anything, but Justin Vernon does contribute a pretty introspective introduction to the track that I enjoyed. Kanye has one long verse, and a cool line about hanging out with 2Pac that stood out to me. “Pussy had me dead, might call Tupac over” I like what he did there because we all know that feeling that comes about after you get some real good pussy, and are halfway asleep afterwards. He weaves that in after a line about ‘one more hit and it’s over,’ which most can relate to being with someone just one last time before walking away. There isn’t a lot to this track to be amazed at, it’s not overly lyrical, or deep – it’s about drinking the night away and the things that happen as a result. It’s about addiction, to sex or women in general despite seeing negatives emerge in life as a result. I can see myself liking it quite a bit with more plays, but only in a certain mood.

I’m In It :: This joint is nice, and typical Kanye braggadocious lines about sex. The RZa beat is funky, and appropriately sensual (it even samples Kenny Lattimore) for the (mostly) single subject matter discussed. There are good one-liners, and fantastic descriptions of what has only been alluded to thus far in the album. You know it’s not a Kanye album without lots of talk about head! “Uh, you know I need that wet mouth, Uh, I know you need that reptile / Uh, she cut from a different textile, Uh, she love different kinds of sex now” Almost every line beings with a resounding “uh!” and there is even a dog barking in the background at some points, this track just gets it done. Agent Sasco and Kanye’s tortured soul make appearances on this track as well;

Uh, got the kids and the wife life
Uh, but can’t wake up from the night life
Uh, I’m so scared of my demons
Uh, I go to sleep with a nightlight

Blood On The Leaves :: Immediate use of the auto-tune vocals, ugh. Not that I’m opposed to it entirely, sometimes it works – but Kanye did a whole album and a bunch of guest spots with it, and everything sounded the same. Why is he still relying on it? This is the track that made me think seriously about ditching this review. How long could a 40 minute album really be? I feel like an idiot because I just google “Kanye West married” after hearing this song (and his entire catalog) being anti-women and relationships, and don’t worry – we won’t be hearing of an actual divorce at least anytime soon. This track is really dreadful, but the fourth verse saves it. I feel like the issues discussed in this track are superficial, but the last verse deals with living your life the right way and the unfortunate manner in which young people go about things today. It’s not preachy, there is truth there – along the lines of something like “Gold Digger” just obviously not as effective in 3/4 the verses.

She Instagram herself like #BadBitchAlert
He Instagram his watch like #MadRichAlert
He only wanna see that ass in reverse
Two-thousand-dollar bag with no cash in your purse
Now you sittin’ courtside, wifey on the other side
Gotta keep ’em separated, I call that apartheid

Guilt Trip :: More auto-tune right out the gate. I don’t understand this track at all, it samples Pusha T’s “Blocka” track, which is about selling coke and the issues that arise from that line of hustling. Kanye seems to compare being shot to losing his girl, but that’s a reach if I’m even in the same ballpark. It’s introspective depressing, sure – but we went through a whole album of this and I thought we had moved on. It seems out of place, maybe a leftover track he recoreded years ago and just decided to add to this album? The beat isn’t enough to save it, and Kid Cudi – who I will point out is GOLDEN at producing brilliant hooks for Kanye (“Gorgeous,” “G.O.O.D. Friday,” “Christian Dior Denim Flow”) in the past really kind of drops the ball here. Skip this fucking track.

Send It Up :: Dope ass song for the most part – King Louie, whom I’m not familliar with knocks it out the park in his verse, and Kanye delivers a good one too although he sounds bored while he’s rapping. I suppose he would have had to be at times, to put out an album like this – *zing* Lyrically, on-paper this track does deliver and I do like the beat even though it’s kind of techno and simple, Daft Punk’s influence helped here. Beenie Man has a dope outro, which always takes me back to Mos Def’s “Traveling Man” track – I learned it’s actually a Beenie Man song from the 90’s that Mos borrowed from.

Success got ’em jealous
Shorty’s killing, while I’m drilling
Tattoos, how they break the news
It was real if you made the news
Last night my bitches came in twos
And they both suck like they came to lose
Dropped out the first day of school
Cause niggas got cocaine to move
I be going hard, I got a name to prove” – King Louie

When I go raw, I like to leave it in
When I wake up, I like to go again
When I go to work, she gotta call it in
She can’t go to work, same clothes again
And her heart colder than the souls of men
Louboutin on the toes again
Tight dress dancing close to him
Yeezus just rose again” – Kanye West

Bound :: Finally, the track I’ve been hearing so much about. I did dabble a bit into the instrumental and original sample of this track pre-release, I just couldn’t wait after I saw people posting about how dope the beat was. Jay Electronica actually already used one sample in this track [Wee – Aeroplane] for his @FatBellyBella track – and though it was a more simple side of his raps, it was a kind of dope tale of a relationship on the brink of seriousness. Kanye takes it in a similar direction assumed to be about his lady Kim, and this is a good track actually whether the album is or not. I like the double entendres, “They ordered champagne but still look thirsty, Rock Forever 21 but just turned thirty” and there is even a little Wiz Khalifa diss in there before the song really gets going; “All them other niggas lame, and you know it now / When a real nigga hold you down, you supposed to drown.” I do love the samples he used, and this is really perfection as far as the way they were implemented.

Close your eyes and let the word paint a thousand pictures
One good girl is worth a thousand bitches

is this a new Kanye West? Let’s hope not.

Final Thoughts :: Daft Punk had a hand in five tracks off the album (including the first four), and I think that threw the album off from the get-go for me. I’m not a fan of many rock / rap albums for the same reason, the cohesive style of an album just isn’t there – it’s a gimmicky sound and no one on either genre is happy with the result. I suppose if you were a huge Kanye fan, and a huge Daft Punk fan – you may have liked it. For the most of us though …

“I love what he did here with this beat / sample / wordplay …” & I don’t recognize that here on this album. This is the anti-album I suppose he was destined to make, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. This isn’t an album I am going to bump in the car, or anything I really care to listen to much again. It was almost exhausting at some points, and it’s only about 40 minutes long. When an album is short but DOPE, I don’t complain one bit – but a short NOPE is not good for anyone and alienates the fans artists have worked so hard getting behind them.

I really love most of his other bodies of work, matter of fact last night listened to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Twice. I rewound tracks, and verses because although misunderstood it’s a really deep and cohesive DOPE album. I loved the guest spots, the beat selection and Kanye was on-point lyrically throughout – although he does sound bored on some tracks. Mos Def put out an album a few years ago, Tru3Magic – with no promotion, no booklets or singles – just like Kanye tried to, the anti-industry album concept from an artist who had tired with the industry part of the music. His album had replayability, and some truly dope songs that a lot of people missed out on. If you didn’t get that album, I would recommend it over this particular one. Metacritic has that album listed at 45/100, whilst Kanye sits with an 87 score as of this posting.

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New Music :: Album Streams June 2013 :: Kanye, J. Cole, Statik Selektah, MURS, Talib, Action Bronson, Prodigy …

06-16-2013 § Leave a comment

Having all this good Hip Hop music come out at the same time makes it inherently complicated to decide the best way of spending $10, so I figured I would link up all the new and just-released album streams here in one place and then you can make an informed decision.

Prodigy & Alchemist :: Albert Einstein (April 12th)

Talib Kweli :: Prisoner of Conscious (May 7th)

Havoc :: 13 (May 7th)

Apollo Brown, Red Pill & Verbal Kent :: Ugly Heroes (May 21st)

Action Bronson & Harry Fraud :: Saaab Stories EP (June 10th)

Murs & The White Mandingos :: The Ghetto is Tryna Kill Me (June 11th)

Kanye West :: Yeezus (June 18th)

Statik Selektah :: Extended Play (June 18th)

J. Cole :: Born Sinner (June 18th)

Wale :: The Gifted (June 25th)

Album Review :: Mally & the Sundance Kid :: The Last Great …

04-30-2013 § Leave a comment

I tend to download a lot of albums, and mixtapes – and they sit forever in iTunes until I either delete them after a quick listen for lack of staying power or really, really love them from the jump. This album is one of the latter. I listened today, about a year after release to the latest from Minneapolis representative Mally (produced entirely by The Sundance Kid), and it was really a great album. I don’t mean great because it was free, but really just a great Hip Hop album.

From the intro tracks, it becomes apparent that it’s produced, mixed and mastered well – the beats are really well crafted and flow nicely throughout from one track to the next. The first real standout track is number three, “Shine.” The beat hits you, and once Mally starts rhyming I started wondering how I hadn’t heard this before. It’s just one of those quick chopping beats that tends to hit hard and I really got into it. The flow is perfection and rhymes lay perfectly where they should land here.

I live in Hip Hop, I’m try’na put my name on the house / Who flex better, than the 13th letter?

Once he had my attention, the rest of the album picks right up and carries on with thoughtful introspective lyrics, smooth instrumentals and lots of wonder about where Mally is headed in his career.

There is a nice feature from the always-focused Brother Ali on “Unplugged”, and the whole album really has an authentic feel of familiarity. Not that it’s just another same sounding record, but that it feels like you’re listening to something much older, and more played through than what was a new album for me today. I really suggest giving it a listen!

Life’s a bitch with a lovely face, so watch this kid procreate …” – from Bounce

You can check the whole album out on Bandcamp and his other catalog too. If you feel so inclined to purcahse the record, it’s available in CD format at Fifth Element, and of course iTunes.

New Mixtapes :: Ecko “Underground Airplay” & Harry Fraud “Adrift”

03-16-2013 § Leave a comment

Underground Airplay

Check out these two new should-be-good-but-haven’t-listened-yet mixtapes, free for your listening pleasure.

First, “Underground Airplay” is presented by Ecko Unltd, probably my favorite clothing line over the last decade and a half & features artists such as Smoke DZa and Big K.R.I.T. plus mostly a lot of unsigned talent too. It’s not a bad thing, Ecko has always been dedicated to the culture and wouldn’t put out something without making sure it’s nice. This mixtape is up on Live Mixtapes website (click the title for link).

Adrift, from produer Harry Fraud

The second, from producer Harry Fruad features notable music and unreleased cuts. Harry Fruad has been busy over the last few years as a relative newcomer but working with everyone from Action Bronson, Curren$y, Smoke DZa, Mac Miller and more. Check out “Adrift” from DatPiff.

New Music :: Blu & Exile :: Ease Your Mind (Video)

03-11-2013 § Leave a comment

One of my favorite albums from last year, by Blu & Exile

New visual from Blu & Exile’s proper follow-up album to 2007’s “Below the Heavens” album, called “Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them.” Check out the video, below.

Mixtape / Album :: Nickelus F aka “Sweet Petey” :: Vices

02-17-2013 § 1 Comment

“Vices,” the new mixtape project from Nickelus F

Done as a “Thank You” to his longtime fans, ‘Vices‘ dropped a few weeks ago and it’s been getting pretty heavy rotation from me ever since. The project is also available for retail on iTunes if you want to support the artist (I suggest doing so!)

Drake makes a feature appearance, but only on the mixtape version and after working together much previously in their careers it’s a welcome sight to see the two back on one track. Drake is definitely an artist who hasn’t pulled his underground collaborators up with him (other than his producer) as he has certainly risen to the near top of Hip Hop over the last few years. I’ve been waiting for a Little Brother collaboration, J. Cole and Nickelus F too on a Drake album – why not share the spotlight with some of the artist that got you there?

Nickelus F, who has seemed to change identities into “Sweet Petey” as well as changing to a blunt-thrashed voice over the years has always put out great music be it mixtapes, or individual tracks to the masses. I’ve done one or two posts over the last year regarding his recent studio album “Faces” available on Faces, and some other projects spin-worthy. Check that post out here.

Now Playing :: Foreign Exchange :: Raw Life

02-04-2013 § Leave a comment

Foreign Exchange “Connected,” one of my favorite all-time albums

Just enjoy this one, Phonte proving he’s one of the most underrated MCs around and this was 2004 – only a few years removed from Little Brother’s debut album “The Listening.” He’s got the first and third verse, while frequent collaborator Joe Scudda has the middle verse. Nicolay produced this entire project including a couple remixed tracks.