@ChanceTheRapper has been rapping since elementary. As a youngin’ from the infamous Southside of Chicago he’s seen his best friend stabbed to death before his eyes, in the midst of recording his debut mixtape 10 day. He’s a musically savvy jazz head as well as a Kanye West & Michael Jackson fanatic. More important than all of this, he’s the kid people are saying is “next” to takeover hip hop. Acid Rap is the 2nd mixtape from the rapper named Chance, and its serving for many as an introduction to the kid who has been quietly building up hype locally and throughout the blogosphere since his debut dropped a year ago.
Acid Rap is a very musically focused project that stays true to the genre of rap, albeit different styles, from start to finish. This is especially noteable in this current of era of every artist pushing genre boundaries in order to give their music a particular edge. The beat selection for this project is centered around church organ loops, boom bap drum patterns and 808s. Good Ass Intro , Cocoa Butter Kisses and Juice are shining of examples of how Chance’s producers worked in common musical themes to add a sense of cohesion to the project. Infusing jazz flutes, blues guitar, and piano riffs, the beats on Acid Rap are jazz tinged as a whole, with Smoke Again being the only real outlier. The most dazzling display of production virtuousity is the 3-movement song Pusha Man, where fusion jazz turns to “trip-neo-soul” as Chance calls it, and the drum patterns go more non-linear as the song advances through the stages.
Very instrumental to the loose conceptual marrying of these songs into a single project are the first and last tracks. Chance is able to let his Chi-Town show with driving Chicago Juke drums over those church organs that seem to catch you by surprise each time. Also we get a taste of his “literary knack” even down to the song titles, which are just as literal as they are metaphoric. Subject matter is sneakily deep behind Chance’s bright vocals, ranging from therapeutic drug use (Acid Rain), to his fear and pride for his Chicago stompings ground (Pusha Man, Juice), and the age old yet always brand new concept of true love (Interlude, Lost, Everybody’s Something).
Without question, the sweetest part of Chance the Rapper’s Acid Rap is none other than Chance, rapping. Chance is the poster boy for the new era of rappers, who almost all now do some amount of singing on their own tracks. Chance’s rap style feels like a careful mixture of Wyclef Jean, Kendrick Lamar, and Danny Brown.
That ain’t too shabby.
Eccentric adlibs, melodic flows and forays into Wyclef/Future-without-autotune-style crooning give Chance the Rapper a multitude of ways to work any track, and you’ll rarely hear him use the same flow twice. Like Kendrick Lamar, he’s able to find off-center pockets to rhyme in (see Nana) and switch back and forth between different melodies and flows simulataneously (Everything’s Good). At times Chance’s singing voice (and rapping voice for that matter) can get annoying to some, but albeit brash, his delivery and voice are one of the reasons he’s so distinguishable as an artist and is a nod to his creativity. Chance’s raps steal the show, but incredible verses from Twista, Childish Gambino (we need a follow up to Royalty homie), Ab-Soul, and many more are some of the best and most consistently dope features on one mixtape.
Not every great project has to be a cohesive storybook or a crazy concept. Just a collection of quality individual songs tied together by common themes will do at times, and thats what Acid Rap does very well. In this case, the production motifs, Chance’s unique presence as an MC and the opening and closing track themes are the glue that makes this more than a collection of good songs (and they are all great songs on their own). Amidst all the incredible features who all shine from track to track (8 out of 13 songs include a guest), somehow Chance the Rapper still remains the star. Only time will tell if this is the project that shoots Chance into certified rap stardom, but when you make a mixtape that is as thorough front-to-back as Acid Rap is, one can believe that Chance stands to gain more than a few fans in and outside of the Chi with this one.
Download: Acid Rap
The Dirty South movement in Hip Hop has evolved so much within this decade alone. We’ve left the days of Juvenile, early Ludacris and the Crunk movement led by Lil Jon and the Eastside Boyz behind for the new sounds of T.I., Rick Ross & Trinidad James. But throughout the change in beats and lyrics, there has been one artist that has truly held the South down since day one: Big K.R.I.T.
King Remembered In Time reflects everything that real Southern music is about. From the lyrics, the instruments and the clever samples, each track has an aspect of Southern music that’s rare to hear in Hip Hop today.
The mixtape opens with Bigger Picture, a track that encourages us to see the bigger picture other than what catches the eye. It has a simple beat with powerful lyrics, which is a great introduction to what the rest of the mixtape has in store.
From the strong guitar riffs in Purpose to his slick flow in Talkin Bout Nothing, Big K.R.I.T. stepped up his game and produced one the of most exclusive mixtapes of 2013. Mississippi’s finest recruited rappers like Wiz Khalifa, Smoke DZA, and Bun B for tracks like Shine On and Only One. But his original tracks overpower the mixtape.
One of the best aspects about this mixtape is his choice of samples. Normally, I don’t get hype for songs with typical samples. However, K.R.I.T used older, R&B tunes in tracks like REM and 9th Wonder shined with the smooth sample on Life Is A Gamble. Production has always been a strong characteristic in Big K.R.I.T.’s music; it’s evident in past mixtapes like Live From The Underground & 4Eva And A Day.
My personal favorite off the mixtape is Serve This Royalty. The production is on point. The intro takes me back to an old school New York sound then shifts into a Southern, Motown flow. K.R.I.T. ripped his verses in this track. Whatever your heart desires/To those who oppose our dreams and goals, I’ll set the world on fire. He lays down some powerful words that set a mood so real, who would want to complain?
King Remembered In Time gets the official cosign from me. If you haven’t already, go get this mixtape. It’s worth it.
@Ducidni is at a point in his career where he feels he has all the resources and experience to match his ultimate vision. He was Kanye West’s right hand man on 808s and Heartbreaks, he’s laid vocals on Jay-Z‘s Blueprint 3, Kanye West‘s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy as well as Jay and Kanye’s collaborative juggernaut, Watch The Throne. Not to mention a myriad of genre-crossing campaigns on tracks with The Knux, David Guetta and Shakira just to name a few (the list is quite interesting). He has also released two critically acclaimed albums with the Man on the Moon series and, depending on who you ask, an experimental gem/dud in WZRD with Dot Da Genius. The former XXL freshman is all grown and on his own now, literally. Since his last album Man On the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager Cudi had a public split with former partners in crime Plain Pat & Emile in 2011, and more infamously announced his departure from the Kanye helmed creative outfit G.O.O.D. Music just a week ago. This is all a culmination of events that has given Mr. Rager the extra boost of confidence (as if he ever lacked confidence) to leave the sanctity of the dojo and embark on his own musical path.
Independent, without his mentor, without the people that helped him create the sound that is synonymous with his name, and with fans and detractators alike collectively scratching their heads at the guy from Cleveland who swore his upcoming album “will be the greatest album ever made,” Kid Cudi built Indicud to let us know exactly just why he needed all of this to happen.
To quote Hov for a second, Indicud is “just different”, in fact if a listener unfamiliar with Kid Cudi heard the first track they’d think they were listening to the entrance music of The Undertaker with harder drums, not a rap star’s third album. Throughout the album it’s Cudi’s production that steals the show. From the dark, wooded maze of synth stabs and pounding 808s of the fully instrumental “The Resurrection of Scott Mescudi” we can gather that Cudi has been paying close attention to the work his past producers did on his prior album. He is able to harness the dark ethereal synths that we recognize from past Cudi songs like “We Aite” as well as spaced out low-fi drum patterns that only Cudder himself could navigate lyrically like we hear on the chest beating single “King Wizard”.
A 100% self produced album is especially risky for a rookie who may not have the versatility that comes with years of perfecting your craft. However in the scope of the entire album Kid Cudi the producer is able to establish a sound that provides the unorthodox freshness of a raw, innovative newcomer, as well as the musical depth and dynamics of a veteran behind the boards. Tracks like “New York Citry Rage Fest” and “Beez” (featuring two strong verses from RZA) show Cudi infusing his producerial essence (word to Phonte) and taking a backseat lyrically, and in the case of “Red Eye” having Haim take lead vocal duties.
This isn’t to say there aren’t times where his low-fi, largely digital production techniques don’t sound a tad elementary (see Mad Solar and Cold Blooded), and maybe the “Afterwards” track featuring King Chip and a reinvograted Michael Bolton may be an ambitious reach clocking in at over 9 minutes, but who’s to say the Cleveland boy didn’t execute those songs exactly how he imagined? On tracks like the King Chip assisted single “Just What I Am” the glassy synths go into overdrive during the hook over deep drums, showing that the kid named Cudi has some true chops when it comes to working the boards. American Folk singer Father John Misty helps provide one of the albums creative and sonic highlights assisting with a stellar hook, on the alt. rock infused “Young Lady”, which also another high point for Cudi’s new production style (those drums are mind boggling).
The self production on Indicud helps sonically tie every track together and adds a level of cohesion only aided by the themes that resonate throughout the album. Lyrically this album is a glorified departure from convention even while discussing some reoccuring topics for the self proclaimed “lost black sheep of G.O.O.D. Music.” One other thing that Cudi solidifies on Indicud is that his flow incomparable, one either side of the hip hop fence. Guys like Drake are credited for the re introduction of melodic raps, but people forget that Cudder’s biggest commercial hit “Day N Nite” was as melodic as they come and preceded So Far Gone by a year and some change. Throughout the album Cudi’s delivery is a seamless blend of punk and alt. rock influenced vocals delivered with razor shop precision that can stand side by side with the best rappers out. When he gets to straight rapping Cudi proves he’s true to his Rap Hard roots on tracks like King Wizard, Cold Blooded, and the lyrical circus that is Solo Dolo pt.2 (feat. Kendrick Lamar). Yes, he does in fact hang with King Kendrick on the track.
Indicud is an album that takes place in Kid Cudi’s newly freed mindspace. Liberated from the fear of judgement from critics, gone from the shadow Kanye West, and unbound from sonic barriers he was confined to at the hands of his stellar former producers, Indicud is a true ressurection of sorts of a man who wants to shift music in a new direction and not compromise a fraction of himself for anyone. Be it liking girls with accents, copious drug use, or braggadocia on a godlike scale, Cudi is finally doing exactly what he wants with his sound and his life and he makes that clear on every single track on Indicud. “Will Smith smack(s)” all around to all the nonbelievers of King Wizard, if you let him tell it.
Previously: Kid Cudi- Indicud (Full Stream)
@TheKidBBrown releases The Brenton Brown Affair as a project that is a cross between a mixtape and an album. Features guest appearances include Joe Budden, Emilio Rojas, GhostWridah and more, as well as production from The R.E.G.I.M.E, Black Metaphor, OVR 9000 and Black The Beast.
I thoroughly enjoyed this project especially Sky Boxing, Perceptions, a cool party record called Double Dare, and A Chick Named Music featuring Joe Budden & Jaiden The Cure.
Overall, Brenton Brown is an honest artist that performs about what he sees around him and the come up. He uses wonderful production to bring out his versatile flow. Definitely worth the download.
It’s that time for @ChrisBrown. After all that he’s been through in the past two years, Chris Brown is finally back on top. At one point in time, radio stations wouldn’t even play songs from past albums. But Breezy has definitely gotten over all that. Since the success of his Fan Of A Fan mixtape with Tyga & the release of his comeback album, Graffiti, I believe it’s safe to say that Chris Brown is doing better than before.
F.A.M.E has been in the works for a long time and now is the time for the world to experience it. All of the recent hits are featured including Look At Me Now and Deuces. Though there are a couple tracks that I found a little creative and out of the box. The main one that I’m feelin’ at the moment would have to be Beautiful People. Like several artists in the game right now, Chris linked up with techno producer Benny Benassi to create this track. It’s definitely a different sound from his normal hip hop and R&B beats but overall it’s a good song. Its originality stands out more than anything in my book.
Another aspect of the album that I’d like to highlight is: the flow. That’s right, I’m sure everyone has noticed that this isn’t the same young, R&B singer that busted out in ’05. Chris has switched up his old R&B sound into a faster and fresher flow that is unlike the others out there. His style and delivery has become a lot more concrete with this album.
However, Chris was not alone on this album. This time around several big names hopped on the album including Tyga, Kevin McCall, Busta Rhymes, Lil Wayne, Ludacris, The Game, Big Sean, Timbaland, Wiz Khalifa… and yes, even Justin Bieber. Damn what a line up.
It’s clear to see that Chris Brown is back in the biz and killin’ it with everything he’s doing. And with his movie career blowin’ up slowly but surely, this guy ain’t going anywhere anytime soon. There’s no doubt that we’ll be seeing more of his work in the near future. But in the meantime, pick up his new F.A.M.E album. Trust me, it’s worth it.
Previously: Chris Brown interview with Angie Martinez
It’s been a while since I’ve heard a new artist who’s real with their music; one who doesn’t start off arrogant or try and call out everyone in the industry. An artist who’s real with his/her lyrics creates true music in my opinion. JScriptz is an artist who lives up to this expectation.
JScriptz has been busy working on his new album The Vanishing Point. His music features local artists from his hometown of Detroit, Michigan such as Here I Go and Flossin & Bossin. I was really impressed by this album. Not only were his lyrics real but the beats were on point. One track in particular that stuck out to me was The Cypher which features Kanglosta, RoSpit and Speezy. This took me back… way back. It reminded me of older hip hop in which artists would truly freestyle, rather than just spittin a couple bars or two off of a blackberry. His flow resembled that of Big L before his wonderful music was cut short. All in all, the track is bangin.
I would keep my eye out for JScriptz as his determination flourishes throughout his music and into the ears of the hip hop world. I also recommend his album The Vanishing Point to anyone that’s down to hear a good cypher. Hip hop comes in all shapes and sizes; it’s the artist’s job to give it shape and the listener’s job to give it size.
Download: JScriptz – Vanishing Point mixtape
Previously: Bun B – Trill O.G.
In 1987 the late Chad Butler aka Pimp C and Bernard Freeman aka Bun B joined forces to create the historical rap duo we now know as UGK. Hit after hit, I took in the street lingo and Texas swag. I never meant to be a pupil. I never meant to be more than an admirer of this slow but steady music that I felt brewed within me. Yet somehow, these two men became a part of me.
Years later as I sat and listened to Bun’s solo projects, I began to respect him as an individual. His words flowed easily and I witnessed a lyrical growth right before my eyes. As a fan and music lover, I was excited to hear where Bun would take Trill O.G. So today as I sat and listened, my heart and ears open, I embraced everything Bun intended this album to be.
I feel that even though Bun kept it Trill, he explored new avenues. In the record titled Let Em Know produced by DJ Premier, I personally feel like he stepped out of his element. East Coast meets Gulf Coast…who knew it could sound so sweet.
On the record titled Just Like That featuring Young Jeezy, the beat is just as hard as the artist! Which is the case for most of Bun’s tracks on this album. However, he slowed it down a bit for a strong collab with Latoya Luckett titled All A Dream.
This album is packed with great collabs, heavy beats, and the Bun B we all know and love. I honestly feel like this is his best work yet and I’m sure he will continue to shine and deliver more hits in the future. If you haven’t heard the album you’re in for a treat. Appearances from artists such as Drake, Yo Gotti & Gucci Mane, Pimp C 2Pac, Trey Songz, and Reakwon make Trill O.G. more than worth your buck.
Previously: Rick Ross – Teflon Don
This is one of the most anticipated events of the summer, especially for us down south. Rick Ross’ Teflon Don drops today in stores everywhere. After hearing the album from beginning to end, I’ve concluded that this has to be Ricky Rozay’s best work yet. I’m sure that fans who have been listening to Ross since Hustlin‘ can agree. Anticipation for the album has been building since the leak of The Albert Anastasia EP months ago. Tracks like Blowin Money Fast (B.M.F) were featured on the mixtape.
This album includes the work of the best producers in the game right now. J.U.S.T.I.C.E League contributed plenty of their freshest sounds to the album. Without them, Maybach Music III wouldn’t be the same and I’m Not A Star wouldn’t go as hard. Of course, there were others that added their expertise to the album. The Inkredibles made Free Mason a memorable track, besides Jay killin it. The Runners threw in some of their swag; Audio Meth is my drug right now. Even Kanye produced the infamous Live Fast, Die Young.
The album’s production was on point. But, the collaborations were even better. First of all, Jay-Z and John Legend on a Ross track is genius. Free Mason made Magnificent sound like a freestyle. The track was just so creative and original. Maybach Music III has an entire squad of greatness. T.I and Jadakiss both have fire verses and even Erykah Badu kills the chorus. No. 1 with Trey Songz and Mr Cease and Desist was a great track as well. I’m not a big Mr Cease and Desist fan, but I’ll let him slide on this track. Cee-lo, Ne-Yo and even Gucci got to work on the album.
My favorite track out of the entire album is Aston Martin Music, hands down. Let me break this down for you. First of all, the beat is great. It’s the kind of Hip Hop I love. Big props goes out to the J.U.S.T.I.C.E League for producing it. Chrisette Michele definitely killed it with the chorus. Her mellow voice fits well with the beat. Now, I’m sure some of y’all are thinking that I’m about to praise Drake for his work on the track. However, he didn’t really do much except sing the hook. So, I’ll just say that Drake’s involvement with the track is a good look.
Overall, the album is one of the best albums I’ve heard in a while. I haven’t been so into an album since Thank Me Later, and this is so much better.
Previously: Rick Ross ft Raekwon – Audio Meth