In a ‘down’ week for albums sales this week, unsurprisingly given a lack of star power bowing… no offense to those artists releasing albums mind you. Eminem finds himself in a familiar spot once more as The Marshall Mathers LP 2 ascends to no. 1 after spending a week at no. 2 behind Lady Gaga’s ARTPOP. Eminem managed to sell another 120,000 copies of TMMLP2, putting its three week totals at approximately 1,122,000 copies sold (792K + 210K + 120K). Yep, Em has yet another platinum album to his name and selling another 120,000 copies – six figures, is impressive in this day and age. As for his fine feathered friend Lady Gaga, she takes a massive tumble from the penthouse to no. 8 after selling a somewhat disappointing 258,000 copies last week. This week, she only moves 46,000 copies, making her overall totals stand at just 304,000 copies over two weeks. Could Gaga end up merely achieving a gold record with ARTPOP? Only time and most importantly sales will tell.
There were some debuts, though as alluded to, nothing extremely anticipated. Five Finger Death Punch release their second album of the year, The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Volume 2. The second volume arrives at no. 2 matching the peak of the first. What doesn’t match are the sales. Volume 1 moved 112,000 copies while this installment settles for a respectable, but lest robust 77,000 copies. As we know, if an artist releases two albums in one year with similar concept/theme, usually the second one receives less enthusiasm commercially. Justin Timberlake experienced this as his triumphant The 20/20 Experience sold 968,000 copies its first week while The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2 was met with much less enthusiasm selling on 350,000 copies. Both debuted at no. 1, but the numbers and the sustainability have been markedly different.
Other debuts? The Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack debuts at no. 5 selling 55,000 copies. Daughtry underwhelms with his entry at no. 6 selling 55,000 as well. Those numbers are far off from Daughtry’s first two albums 2006’s Daughtry (304,000) and 2009’s Leave This Town (269,000). Yo Gotti debuts at no. 7 with I Am, selling a respectable 48,000 copies. Of the charts new debuts, Gotti has the most to be proud of. KTCZ’s Cities 97 Sampler, Live From Studio C: Vol. 25 bows at no. 10 with 40,000 copies. Holdovers for the week besides Lady Gaga and Eminem included Now 48 (no. 3), …A Robertson Family Christmas (no. 4), and Kelly Clarkson’s Wrapped in Red (no. 9).
On the Hot 100, Lorde’s “Royals” continues to be one of the year’s most unstoppable forces as the ‘little song that could’ spends its ninth consecutive week at no. 1. Even so, according to Billboard, Eminem’s hot joint “The Monster”, featuring Rihanna is looking for that no. 1 spot. As we know, Em and Ri-Ri have had some star power in the past with ‘monster’ single “Love The Way You Lie”. Watch out Lorde, you may not be ‘royal’ too much longer!
Who’s Got Next? No brainer, it’s One Direction. Mark my words, Midnight Memories, the quintet’s third album in two years will sell big. Besides 1D, the other new releases pack less of a punch. Billie Joe Armstrong (of Green Day) and Norah Jones release a remake of an album by The Everly Brothers entitled Foreverly (the remake is of Songs Our Daddy Taught Us from 1958), but it doesn’t seem to be a powerful commercial title. Pop/Vocal veteran Barbra Streisand can never be ignored as she releases Back to Brooklyn. Voice victor Danielle Bradbery releases her self-titled debut, but who knows if it will have match the numbers of previous victor in the country genre Cassidee Pope, who sold 43,000 copies of Frame by Frame. Regardless, the week will belong to One Direction.
- Lady Gaga’s ARTPOP Hits No. 1 (brentmusicreviews.com)
- Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP 2 Debuts Big (brentmusicreviews.com)
- The 2013 Fourth Quarter Music Releases Underwhelm… (brentmusicreviews.com)
Bun B closes his Trill series superbly
Bun B ⎪Trill O.G.: The Epilogue ⎪Rap-A-Lot ⎪⎪ US Release Date: November 11, 2013
“It’s over, it’s over!” Why you ask? “‘Cause the best is back… b**ch!” That’s right, veteran MC Bun B has released the fourth effort of his Trill series, Trill O.G.: The Epilogue, which follows Trill (2005), II Trill (2008) and Trill O.G. (2010). The highest profiled effort of the series was Trill, which arrived at a time when there was a resurgence in Texas’s rap scene. Bun B’s impact commercially as a solo artist was never huge, but B remains an important fixture in hip-hop history and as a collaborator in my eyes. Trill O.G.: The Epilogue is by no means ‘the second coming’, but it is a a well conceived rap album by all means.
Opener “The Best is Back” lives up to its titular bravado as well as Bun B’s consistency as an MC. Initiating with incredible confidence on the intro (“Guess who’s back in the mother f*ckin’ house? / the King of the trill b**ch, you guessed it…”), vet Bun B easily back up his ‘trash talk’. He certainly ‘goes off’, including memorable moments such as “Ladies and gentlemen, you already know that it’s him again / lettin’ ‘em hang, non-feminine, crunk like I’m gone off Ritalin / chopped off top, there’s no middle and throwed on that load again…” He confirms his rap royalty status on the hook: “Guess who’s back? Me / There’s no competition…shut ‘em down / hurt-hurtin’ boys / it’s over, it’s over / cause the best is back b**ch.” Unapologetic, further inspired by banging, malicious production work, Bun’s on autopilot.
“Cake” doesn’t let up off the gas, featuring his late, great UGK partner Pimp C on the catchy, electrifying hook: “Boss get cash money, smokin’ the vapors / don’t chase the cake, chase the paper / them thighs come with that shake / b**ch in yo mind, ho I got cake…”. In that old-school, lush and luxurious rap style (produced by Big K.R.I.T.), “Cake” is certainly a gem. Bun B continues to flex his rap muscles – what else does he have to lose? “When I see you lickin’ your lips, you wanna blow my whistle / but I got that harmonica, you can play it like Stevie / they say that pimpin’ ain’t easy, man it is if you be me.” Now that’s O.G. Throw in sound guest verses from Lil Boosie (“I get cash in duffle bags, I don’t chase the cake / let ‘em ride, get ‘em high as I pay for cake…”) and Big K.R.I.T. (“The type of dick that run a chick some sh*t that she could bill for … I break her off ‘cause she bring it back to daddy”), and “Cake” is among the album’s best.
“Fire” caps off an exceptional trio of cuts for Bun. Serani covers the hook: “When the heat is on we burn hotter than fire / people will burn up on, we burn hotter than fire / turn my enemies to dust, burn them up with fire / whether life or death, guess we’re far from fire”. Following a similar format to “Cake”, Bun B sets the tone on the first verse (“Mother f*cker beware ‘til I retire or expire / cyanide in them, know that we are coming with more fire…”), while Rick Ross and 2 Chainz lend their ‘expertise’ on the second and third verses. The results? Top-notch, did you really expect anything less?
“No Competition” continues consistency, featuring Raekwon and Kobe. The sound cut doesn’t achieve the same grandeur as the opening trio, but it certainly gives up little quality. Bun B excels as he compares himself to everybody and their brother: “…I am Mike Jordan, Mike Tyson, Mike Phelps / Michelangelo with the flow bro and the mic helps / Ha! The mic stealth, that’s for the mikes health…” As always, Raekwon is nothing short of a ‘beast’. Pimp C once more plays a vital role, even if it is posthumously on “Don’t Play With Me”. Solid, I prefer its follow-up “Gladiator” (featuring Truck Buck), which is dedicated to the late MC. The truly gladiator-fueled lyric? “They thought it was over, they thought that I was done / they said I wouldn’t last, I’m the last one / I’m “Still Standing” like the Goodie to the Mo-B / In a black hoodie, it’s the O.G., you know me.” Riled up, Bun B definitely lives up to his ‘gladiator’ status.
Bun B ‘don’t play’ with another all-star cast on “Stop Playin’”, which brings in Redman and Royce Da 5’9”. Brash with no bullshit, the tail-end of the hook best sums up this number: “… it’s not the sh*t you say, it’s the sh*t you not saying / you know better, show better, step it up and stop playing / stop playing”. Hard as ever, both Redman and Royce Da 5’9” accentuate the edgy MC. Kirko Bangz adds some ‘R&B swag’ on “Triller”, though with plenty of bite as he proclaims to be a “mother f*cking killer / H-Tow in this b**ch / and you know it’s for real.” As for Bun B he spits nothing but truth: “P***y n***as need to stay off in they lane / sitting sidlines, want to quarterback the game / backseat drivers get to taking too much / but now when I’m around, cause they know they get touched…” Well, at least we know who’s “triller”.
What’s better than two bangers in a roll? Three! “Dippin’ & Swervin’” is arguably the strongest of the three, giving Bun B something even the younger generation can bump. I mean, what wrong with B “…dippin’ through the city, fresh fitted on my dome / comin’ down candy and I”m sittin’ on chrome…”? Additionally, his “pockets stay swollen, money [he] be holdin’…” He follows up the freshness with the smooth “On One” (featuring Devin the Dude and Gator Main), which favors “Cake”. It’s not as polished mind you, but it’s solid. Penultimate cut “The Legendary DJ Screw” is more notable, featuring numerous guest MC’s and paying ode to DJ Screw. The closer “Bye!” could’ve been scrapped, but I suppose Bun B wanted to make sure you know what it is and who makes it do… or something OG and illy like that. LOL.
Ultimately, Trill O.G.: The Epilogue is a solid close to the Trill series as well as a close to a chapter of Bun B’s career. Save for the questionably included final cut, …The Epilogue is incredibly enjoyable and consistent. It may not woo or compel the new generation of hip-hop fans, but this effort should certainly please Bun B, UGK fans, and the old-school.
“The Best is Back”; “Cake”; “Fire”; “Gladiator”; “Dippin’ & Swervin’”
- Bun B featuring Pimp C, Lil Boosie and Big K.R.I.T. – Cake (backtohiphop.com)
- Bun B Performs With Houston Symphony For “Concert Against Hate” [PHOTOS] (hiphopwired.com)
- Bun B – Triller (f. Kirko Bangz) [@bunbtrillog @kirkobangz] (dayandadream.com)
- Trill OG Bun B Speaks on his Views of Rap + Kicks a Freestyle on Sway in the Morning (getwritegossip.com)
Who says that a twenty seven year old trained musician with a masters degree in music theory/composition can’t throw down to a banger? Nobody, so don’t judge me! I have compiled a list of twenty club bangers (not BANGERZ) and have divided it into two parts. See you at the club snitches!
August Alsina featuring Trinidad James
“I Luv This Sh*t”
(Downtown: Life Under the Gun)
“I Luv This Sh*t” is definitely among the most unapologetic song titles of 2013. Featuring everyone’s favorite molly-poppin’ MC Trinidad James and despite it’s unforgiving title, “I Luv This Sh*t” is, well, lovable. Alsina has one foul mouth, but his mix of real talk with slower, horn-accentuated production is brilliant, if blasphemous (“God dammit I love it, I love it… So I’mma keep on smoking cause I love this sh*t / I’mma keep on grinding cause I love this sh*t / she tell me keep f**king cause I love this sh*t and I love it…”). Verdict? I love this sh*t!
Pusha T featuring 2 Chainz & Big Sean
“Who I Am”
(My Name Is My Name)
On “Who I Am”, Pusha T didn’t exactly select the most intelligible collaborators to guest with him (2 Chainz and Big Sean). Regardless, “Who I Am” epitomizes the ‘banger’. All Pusha T wants desires and aspires to is to “…buy another Rollie” and “…pop another band / I just wanna sell dope forever / Just wanna be who I am.” 2 Chainz does simple ambitions well, rapping “Entrepreneur, strip club connoisseur / hot fudge sundae, pour it on you hallelujah…” Big Sean ‘college’ in a kindergarten sort of way, rapping “Pretty girls is my reputation / one on my arm, that’s decoration…” There it is.
Tyga featuring Wiz Khalifa, Mally Mall & Cedric Gervais
Don’t get it twisted: I am NOT on board with ‘molly rap’ in the least. I’m onboard with what my homeboy Kendrick Lamar told y’all… BUT if I had to choose a highlight from Tyga’s ho-hum Hotel California as well as a bearable, catchy ‘molly rap’ song, it would be “Molly”. The production work is exceptional, and all MC’s provide solid performances (Tyga, Wiz Khalifa, and Mally Mall). No it’s not the second coming, but it is banger…
“Dip” has so many one-liners that an entire essay could be written examining each and everyone. The premise of the song? Well Danny Brown is pretty to’ up, period. The Forrest Gump reference definitely captures attention early on (“Like Lieutenant Dan, I’m rolling back to back / I keep on smoking…”). My favorite moment involves you guessed it, ‘molly’: “Now all these rappers talking ‘bout that molly / bet a million dollars these n***as ain’t dipping / pure MDMA, put it in a shot we talking ‘bout crystals / been thizzin’ hard up all day, rest in peace to Mac Dre…” Banger? Yes…also seems like Brown is way past the need for rehab… just sayin’!
Gunplay featuring Rick Ross, Trina & Yo Gotti
(Self Made Vol. 3)
Self Made Vol. 3 as a compilation was a disappointment for me, particularly following an excellent second Maybach Music compilation (Self Made 2). However, the brash, unapologetic “Gallardo” is a notable moment, giving Rick Ross and company yet another ‘goes hard’ banger. Credited to Gunplay, the cut also features Trina, Rick Ross and Yo Gotti. “I only f*ck with n***as in them Lambos (Gallardo) / I only f*ck with n***as in them Lambos (Murcielago)…,” Trina asserts on the explicit, ‘guilty-pleasure’ hook.
(Magna Carta…Holy Grail)
“Tom Ford” is cool if nothing more since it’s named after the fashion designer. Ford is honored with a solid hook that manages to once more reference one ubiquitous ‘molly’: “I don’t pop molly, I rock Tom Ford / International bring back the Concorde / Numbers don’t lie, check the scoreboard / Tom Ford, Tom Ford, Tom Ford.” It’s not prodigious perhaps, but it definitely stands out on Magna Carta…Holy Grail, one of Hov’s weakest and least distinctive offerings in years.
Rocko featuring Rick Ross & Future
(Gift of Gab 2)
Much of “U.O.E.N.O” was overshadowed by Rick Ross’ controversial allusion to date rape (“Put molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it / I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it…”), and rightfully so. BUT as a song itself ignoring Ross’ irresponsibility, it’s a good one. I mean, I’m not always crazy about Future, but he’s perfect on the hook here: “This a thousand dollar pair of shoes and U.O.E.N.O. It / this a thousand dollar cup of lean and U.O.E.N.O…” Yeah, you see where this banger is going.
“Don’t Drop That Thun Thun”
(Don’t Drop That Thun Thun – Single)
The first time I heard it and being the naïve human being I can be, I assumed that this was a raunchy, clubbing track. I mean, doesn’t ‘thun thun thun’ sound like a great reference for the booty? The good news is that “Don’t Drop That Thun Thun” is a cut for the clubs, particularly with lines like “Alright oh my goodness I’m turnt up / I got a bottle you got a cup / you hit the dougie / I 2 step…” (Verse two) but the actual thun thun thun is not referring to the butt. LOL.
According to goto slang source Urban Dictionary, “thun thun thun” is MDMA otherwise known as ecstasy. Yep, it’s another song about molly.
So, the cut ends up being really bad, but still is the perfect banger. I wouldn’t encourage it’s message of popping mollies (much like the earlier “Molly”), but it is catchy.
Ali Maejor featuring Juicy J & Justin Bieber
(Lolly – Single)
The “lollipop” is always a popular item for a club banger. Lil Wayne may have done it best on his Grammy-winning “Lollipop” from 2008 album Tha Carta III. That said, Ali Maejor, Juicy J, and Justin Bieber (of all people) seem to be onboard with this oral sex alluding number. This cut is tasteless (no pun intended), however the beat and overall production are undeniably delicious. Bieber even tries to tone it down on his rap verse, but it’s hard to tone down a slang word for a ‘pickle’, he he he!
“Started From the Bottom”
(Nothing Was The Same)
…“Started From The Bottom” was not heavy on my rotation when it bowed. It seemed a bit of a disappointment from the MC who rarely misses. Contextually and after having reservations, “Started From The Bottom” is solid and of course honest. Just as Drake says, he “…done kept it real from the jump…” Apparently the DJ Khaled song was real talk: “No new n***as, n***a we don’t feel that / f*ck a fake friend, where your friends at?” #NoNewFriends for Drake.
- Playlist: Bangers That Get It Poppin’ At The Club… (Part 1) (brentmusicreviews.com)
- Review: DJ Khaled, ‘Suffering from Success’ (brentmusicreviews.com)
- Review: Pusha T, ‘My Name Is My Name’ (brentmusicreviews.com)
- Review: MMG, ‘Self Made 3′ (brentmusicreviews.com)
It’s hard enough to make a blockbuster album the first time. What’s even more arduous is following up a blockbuster and trying to achieve a similar level of commercial and critical success. Something that artists have done that surprises me personally is to opt for their follow-up album to be a ‘sequel’. I mean why take that considerable amount of pressure to live up to the original? As we all know in films, sequels tend to suck compared to the original. While the effects aren’t always as drastic for the sequel album, sometimes they are.
Many musical sequels have graced us including numerous in recent times. Some of them are strong enough, such as Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor II or even Jay-Z’s Blueprint 3 which may not have superseded the original, but did yield one Jay-Z’s most memorable hits, “Empire State of Mind”. Still, other sequels are purely wack as f… I’ve chosen three that I personally don’t quite match the glory of the original. One of these three in particularly isn’t too shabby of an album, but its still an ugly stepsister to a much better juggernaut.
The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2
Sequel to The 20/20 Experience (2013)
One could argue that Timberlake’s second album of 2013 is much more experimental and surprising than the first. When I first sat down to listen to the opener “Gimme What I Don’t Know (I Want)”, I was quite surprised and not necessarily positively. From my perspective, ultimately, I find The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2 to lack cohesion, be overproduced, and trend a tad bit too left of center compared to its older sibling. It has it’s moments, perhaps most notably moderate hit “Take Back The Night”, but it also leaves you wanting more.
Mary J. Blige
My Life II: The Journey Continues, Act I
Sequel to My Life (1994)
Honestly y’all, this one sort of hurts me, but I believe my rationale is sound… Following up a 90s R&B classic is a tall task; it ain’t no joke! If any diva was up to successfully accomplishing this, it would be the queen of hip-hop soul, Mary J. Blige. Her sequel to My Life (My Life II: The Journey Continues, Act I) oddly arrived 17 years after the original to less triumphant results. It was by no means a bad album, but following the heels of not only one of Blige’s most important albums as well as her recent resurgence (The Breakthrough (2005)), My Life II:The Journey Continues, Act I just doesn’t stack up against Mary’s best, whether she wants love “25/8” or not. I mean she sounds awesome, but the material is not among her best.
I Am Not A Human Being II
Sequel to I Am Not A Human Being (2010)
When Lil Wayne finally admitted and apologized to what we fans already knew in regards to a “lackluster” 2013, it seemed pretty ‘tired’, much like the sequel to I Am Not A Human Being was. For starters, Weezy’s first album was by no means the ‘cream of the crop’ of his discography, but it did have some bright spots including “Right Above It“. Personally, I like “Right Above It” because he made an awesome reference to my favorite college basketball team, the Kentucky Wildcats (had to throw that out there). As for his second installment, Tunechi’s reliance on all things oversexed is a major turn off. I can’t speak for his female fans’ opinion, but I’d certainly object to the MC’s misogynistic approach here. “Love Me” gets a pass barely, but otherwise, Weezy sounds like he’s just going through the motions. Whether “Sex Never Felt Better” or not (shout out TGT), perhaps toning it down and providing some thoughtful rhymes would’ve worked out much better for you Weezy.
- Must-Listen: Hear Mary J. Blige’s ‘This Christmas’ (essence.com)
It’s that time… for me to list songs that made me over the past month. 14 of ‘em baby, get ready!
You knew it would take some mega force to unseat Robin Thicke from the top spot of the Billboard Hot 100 with the ubiquitous smash “Blurred Lines”. That force came via everyone’s favorite pop star Katy Perry, who shocked with her maturity on “Roar”. Sure, Ms. Perry had a lot of fun in her jungle music video to accompany her number one single, but she goes all inspirational on us as opposed to, um, risqué. I wasn’t one hundred percent onboard at first, but it certainly tickled my fancy after a while.
2 Chainz featuring Fergie, “Netflix”
I wouldn’t call 2 Chainz the most intellectually-stimulating rapper – he goes dumb (and sometimes dumb-er) with the best. Throw in the queen of silliness in Fergie and the resulting cut “Netflix” should be a total bust. Instead, it is one of 2 Chainz’s most triumphant moments from B.O.A.T.S.II:#METIME, which also turns out to be a much better album than it should be. The best line from my perspective? “Let’s make a sex tape and put it on Netflix”. SMH.
John Legend, “All Of Me”
Love In The Future
There may never be another John Legend number as touching as his acclaimed, stripped ballad “Ordinary People” was, but “All of Me” seems to be the closest Legend has came to that Grammy-winning classic. Simplistic sporting a certain innocence about it, part of the appeal of ballad is its sheltered, chivalrous genuineness.
Tamar Braxton, “Love and War”
Love and War
Yeah, I know, I know. “Love and War” has been out for a minute… but it is still arguably the best track on Braxton’s sophomore effort. Sure, the album was kinda so-so at best, but “Love and War” would easily rise to the top of most track lists. Soulful, old-school yet contemporary enough, it’s no surprise that the ‘battling through love’ track helped propel Braxton to number two on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart.
Miley Cyrus, “Wrecking Ball”
A Miley Cyrus song on a Brent Faulkner playlist? Something must be wrong! It’s not, if you can believe it. For as much controversy as Miley Cyrus has successfully stirred up around her hyper-sexual makeover for upcoming studio album BANGERZ, “Wrecking Ball” the song is actually pretty impressive. Honestly, I was onboard from the first time I saw the video, even if I found the video itself to be…um… yeah I can’t think of the word. As for the song and the concept of the song, I’ll give it to ole girl. I’m still no fan though…
Janelle Monáe featuring Prince, “Givin’ ‘Em What They Love”
The Electric Lady
“Q.U.E.E.N.” one killer jam by all means, but Monáe’s promo single has been receiving buzz for a minute. More surprising and equally alluring is her collaboration with Prince, who definitely doesn’t lend his pipes or skills to many… The results, specifically the vocal chemistry between two left-of-center artists is nothing short of brilliant – pretty fly from my perspective.
Drake featuring Detail, “305 To My City”
Nothing Was The Same
Is it just me, or is every Drake album stacked? Nothing Was The Same has a hard act to follow compared to either Thank Me Later or Take Care, but there is still plenty of notable numbers from rap’s softest heavyweight. “305 To My City” benefits from it moodiness, grinding tempo, and honestly its ‘Drake-isms’. Hard choice between this one, “Tuscan Leather”, “Wu-Tang Forever”, or contemporary R&B number “Hold On We’re Going Home”.
Ariana Grande featuring Nathan Sykes, “Almost Is Never Enough”
I’m not one who is into boyfriend/girlfriend duets nor big youthful pop/urban duets. However, every now and again, one comes around that works splendidly. Remember a little hit called “No Air”? Exactly. Sure there is no comparison of Ariana Grande’s fine duet with The Wanted boyfriend Nathan Sykes to the gargantuan Jordin Sparks/Chris Brown duet, but it is so much better than it sounds on paper. Vocally, the chemistry is undeniable, the maturity transcendent of both stars’ age, and the songwriting ‘tried-and-true’ yet relatable. Yeah, “The Way” and “Baby I” might garner more attention, but “Almost Is Never Enough” is a definite sleeper.
Raheem DeVaughn, “Complicated”
A Place Called Love Land
Love is a complicated thing. Just imagine how complicated and complex it is in the context of A Place Called Love Land, Raheem’s DeVaughn’s slept on, exceptional fourth studio album? Basically the premise of this soulful standout is that DeVaughn is in a relationship (or something like it), but doesn’t want to label it. Therefore even if ole boy is “…kinda single” but also in love, it truly is complicated. Nothing complicated or questionable about the strength of this number though.
Kings of Leon, “Wait For Me”
Mechanical Bull was a fine new effort from Kings of Leon overall. Sure, I was looking for another “Sex on Fire”, but maybe the lovin’ has leveled off. Regardless, “Wait For Me” is a brilliant showing offering multiple interpretations (though likely referencing Caleb Followill’s demons) while ultimately delivering a plea of ‘waiting’ for the ‘lost’ to clean up his act. It’s that sort of situation where one went on the wrong pathway and is now back on the straight and narrow.
On his underrated sixth album Appreciation Day, Jaheim spends a good chunk of time discussing the opposite sex, particularly on the incredibly sensual title track. However, he breaks away from the female anatomy on the brilliant, socially conscious “Florida”, which details the infamous Trayvon Martin case. One of the most ‘trill’ songs I have heard in sometime, “Florida” strikes a soulful, chilling chord from an initial listen.
Stalley, “Coupes & Roses”
Self Made 3
Maybach Music Group’s third compilation wasn’t exactly charm. Self Made 3 seemed to lack the same spark as the 2012 compilation which was loaded with the likes of “Power Circle” and “Bury Me A G”. Still, Stalley’s “Coupes & Roses” is a standout that blends luxurious sounds, old-school, and swagger a la 2013 into a winning formula. All bow to rap’s ‘next’.
The Weeknd, “Belong To The World”
I’ll be the first to criticize The Weeknd’s follow-up to mixtape compilation Trilogy. Kiss Land feels pretty blasé for the most part, but this overproduced number has its moments. Particularly, its lyrics are quite alluring: “Ooh girl, I know I should leave you / and learn to mistreat you / cause you belong to the world / and ooh girl, I want to embrace you / domesticate you / but you belong to the world.” Who would’ve thought a song alluding to a stripper Abel Tesfaye wants to ‘domesticate’ could be fascinating?
MGMT, “Alien Days”
You wouldn’t be making an generalization if you said that MGMT’s music is getting weirder and spacier. “Alien Days” is certainly and opener that requires more than one listen to truly digest and understand what’s going through the band’s head. Opening with a child’s voice that eventually is taken of very VanWynegarden’s trippy, nonchalant voice, MGMT is characteristic of the band while continue to stretch (perhaps overstretch) the boundaries. I think it is quite possible to get high of the cut without even smoking.
- Playlist: 5 Favorite September 2013 Albums (brentmusicreviews.com)
As the money continues to pour in, originality drops a smidgen
MMG⎪ Maybach Music Group Presents: Self Made 3 ⎪Atlantic⎪⎪ US Release Date: September 17, 2013
Let’s just cut to the chase… this is the third Maybach Music Group compilation. That’s a statement in itself. While the saying is that “third time’s charm”, this particular installment actually seems to be less enthralling than the previous installment. Sure, there is plenty of gangsta to respire here, but this time there is a lack of that surefire juggernaut like “Power Circle” or the coolest funeral arrangement tune “Bury Me A G”. Maybe Rick Ross spent a little too much time counting his bread, but this feels much more like a compilation. Oh well.
Self Made 3 opens with “Lil Snupe Intro”, which serves as a ‘remembrance’ of the slain teenage rapper, with Rick Ross providing the eulogizing close: “R.I.P. Lil Snupe / Dream Chasers, Double M for life.” The brash, unapologetic “Gallardo” provides the first full length cut and smash for the compilation, credited to Gunplay, but also features Trina, Rick Ross and Yo Gotti. “I only f*ck with n***as in them Lambos (Gallardo) / I only f*ck with n***as in them Lambos (Murcielago)…,” Trina asserts on the explicit though ‘guilty-pleasure’ catchy hook. “The Plug” proceeds with Meek Mill delivering in his distinct tone and style, laden with nuance. Omelly and Young Breed also make appearances, taking respective turns on verses two and three. “Gallardo” is the better cut of the two, but “The Plug” isn’t far behind.
On “Levels”, once more the listener is spoiled by Meek Mill’s quick paced, loud, and brutally honest flow. “Lil n***a we don’t rock the same clothes, f*ck the same h**s / cuz it’s levels to this sh*t / lil n***a we don’t drive the same whips, we don’t f*ck the same chicks / cuz it’s levels to this sh*t…” Alrighty then Mill. “Levels” grows a bit monotonous, but isn’t bad if somewhat small-minded itself. “Lay It Down” packs a punch with its assertiveness in lyrical attitude as well as production. Still, the Rick Ross, Lil Boosie & Young Breed feature doesn’t compare to some of the best showings from 2012 compilation Self Made 2. Sure the cues are in play and Rick Ross is still ‘The Boss’, but “Lay It Down” seems too cliché.
“Stack on My Belt” is once more attributed to Rick Ross, featuring Wale, Whole Slab, and Birdman. The results? It gets my approval. Sure it’s about the money, but sometimes being cocky and confident against a fresh beat (or one jacked from past Rick Ross hits) gets the job done. Now the line about boxers Rick… um… “Black Grammys” opens quite similarly to juggernaut “Power Circle” from the previous installment, with Rick Ross making a Michael Jackson/weed allusion… Maybe it’s unoriginal and all, but Wale seems to be on autopilot on the cut, spitting the expected agile rhymes (“As far as lyrics I’m quite content with celibate living / wittingly unfuckwittable with these syllables…”) Meek Mill takes the second verse, followed by Rockie Fresh, and closing sharply with J. Cole (“N***as don’t wanna hang, I’m the tree, I’m the noose / you lil pups couldn’t pee on my roots…”) It runs long at nearly six minute, but there are plenty of positive attributes.
Stalley brings some luxurious rap to Self Made 3 on the fine “Coupes/Roses”. My question is, when does his album drop? “Coupes and roses, flowers for the dead / fresh made, we bow our heads, give thanks for this bread / Lord keep us safe and our families out the feds / my OG asked it square, and this is what he said: we should,” raps Stalley on the standout hook. Omarion adds some hardcore R&B swag on “Know You Better”, bringing along Fabolous and Pusha T. Pusha T takes first blood before the “O” singer compels with his smooth, though sensual pipes (“Tell me do you like to f*ck, or do you just like making love?”). Well produced and strongly performed, “Know You Better” is good, though also long and not quite the ‘second coming’. If one Omarion cut wasn’t enough, “Say Don’t Go” proceeds the former, grinding and living up to its slow jam status. Good it is for the most part, “Say Don’t Go” does lacks the ‘wow’ factor. Also sex doesn’t make up for it either, now matter if O just “wanna put [his] key in your ignition…”
After some not-so-soft contemporary R&B, luxurious rap returns with Rockie Fresh’s “What Ya Used To”, featuring Hit-Boy. Hit-Boy produces the hot joint, incorporating his usual banging drum programming and some mad string synths. The sound of the record is a welcome contrast, which allows it to standout. “Great Americans” shines, thanks to the soulful production and strong lyrical moments from Rick Ross, Rockie Fresh and Fabolous. “Kilo” isn’t horrid, but it reminds me a lot of “Bugatti” and neither Ace Hood or Future is on it! Maybe it’s the lack of substance of the theme: “I used to pray to get a kilo, a kilo / 36 hoes up that route for my amigo / throw it in that water, watch it swim like Nemo / Man I swear to God I pray to get a kilo…” At least the lush Rick Ross, Lupe Fiasco and Wale feature “Poor Decisions” alludes to irresponsibility, right? Maybe Lupe says it best: “Why you lettin’ the devil beat you out your soul…”
Meek Mill is the attributed artist on the slickly produced banger “Bout That Life”, receiving assists from French Montana, Iceberg, K Kutta, and Torch. The hook is minimal for sure: “These p***y a** n***as / ain’t bout that life, ain’t bout that life (you ain’t bout that life)…” Sure it’s not exactly poetry, but we all know Milly rocks out on hard beats like this one. STILL, it is over six minutes long and the loop grates a bit after a while! Rockie Fresh closes out the compilation with “God Is Great”, which cleverly features a vocal loops consistently singing “God”. That said, Fresh seems to be ‘thanking God for the wrong things’, if you catch my drift. “Yeah, oh man, look at me / I’m becoming everything I wish I be / I got b**ches, I got cake / wake up everyday and I say: ‘God is Great’…” Hmm.
Ultimately, Self Made 3 is good, but not stellar. There are plenty of strong cuts, but there are also some that feel like re-writes of the past or just so-so. Still, Rick Ross can continue to count his bread.
Favorites: “Gallardo”; “Stack on My Belt”; “Coupes/Roses”; “What Ya Used To”; “Great Americans”
Chart Rewind: Highlights from Last Week
(September 11, 2013)
Ariana Grande found her debut album Yours Truly debuting at no. 1 with 138,000 copies sold. Tamar Braxton followed behind her in the no. 2 spot with Love and War selling an impressive 114,000 copies. Nine Inch Nails returned with their first major label effort in a couple of years, selling 107,000 copies. John Legend arrives to a cooler reception as Love in the Future sells a somewhat underwhelming 68,000 copies good for a no. 4 start. Jaheim’s numbers are also modest, as Appreciation Day enters at no. 6 with 58,000 copies sold. As for others charting, Bastille’s Bad Blood bowed at no. 11, Neko Case’s Worst Things Get, The Harder I Fight… lands at no. 12, while former typical top ten R&B artist Raheem DeVaughn found his fine A Place Called Love Land debuting outside the top 20 at no. 22. Ouch!
Keith Urban Debuts At No. 1, By A Smidgen
Keith Urban debuts at no. 1 with latest album Fuse, but it was no landslide. Urban’s latest sold under its 100,000 prognostication, selling 98,000 copies. Respectable in an age where few albums are wowing with their sales figures, but certainly not ‘juggernaut’ status. The Weeknd really just needed a little more firepower behind it with its 95,000 copies to top the charts with Kiss Land. But no. 2 ain’t bad, especially when his last album the compilation Trilogy debuted at no. 4 with 86,000 copies. He came up… a little. As for Urban, well, he’s had better charting days – much better.
2 Chainz certainly didn’t make the impact on the charts that his debut Based On A T.R.U. Story did in 2012 (no. 1, 147,000 copies). 2 Chainz suffers from the sophomore slump as B.O.A.T.S. II #METIME lands at no. 3 with 63,000 copies. Those are better numbers than anticipated, but still, maybe dumbness isn’t paying off for ol’ boy. Janelle Monáe has a solid debut as The Electric Lady lands at no. 5 with 47,000 copies. The Arctic Monkeys do relatively well all things considered, landing at no. 6 with 42,000 copies sold of album AM. As for Ms. Sheryl Crow, she’s had better days as Feels Like Home debuts at no. 7 with only 36,000 copies.
Top 10 holdovers rule the rest of the chart including Luke Bryan’s Crash My Party at no. 4, Tamar Braxton’s Love and War at no. 8, Ariana Grande’s Yours Truly at no. 9, and John Legend’s Love in the Future at no. 10.
Miley Hits No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100
There is plenty to scrutinize about Miley Cyrus (like a crap-ton), but “Wrecking Ball” gives the rebellious twenty-year old her first no. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. Honestly, the song itself is quite likable… yes I said it. It’s the video that raised eyebrows, specifically some tongue/sledgehammer action and the nudity. But regardless, Miley came up. I could make a Katy Perry joke in regards to “Roar”, but I won’t.
Who’s Got Next?
The fall is always rich with new albums. This week is no different. Jack Johnson seems to be leading the charge as From Here To Now To You wouldn’t be a shocking chart topper come next week. Maybach Music Group return with a third compilation set Self Made 3, while MGMT return with their third, self-titled effort. Elvis Costello and The Roots have a thing going on with collaborative album Wise Up Ghost, while a country trifecta of Chris Young (A.M.), Justin Moore (Off The Beaten Path), and Billy Currington (We Are Tonight). Johnny Lang also bows with his latest (Fight For My Soul) as does power-pop favorite Five For Fighting (Bookmarks). Need some electronica/dance? How about Avicii’s debut True? Or some alternative goodness – Grouplove’s Spreading Rumours. Jam-packed week, but Jack Johnson seems like he’ll be hard to beat.
- 2013 Chart Trends: 5 Underachievers and 5 Overachievers (brentmusicreviews.com)
- Chart Moves, September 11, 2013: Ariana Grande Tops (brentmusicreviews.com)
- Tamar Braxton take us through ‘Love and War’ (newdaymusicworld.wordpress.com)
- The Weeknd’s ‘Kiss Land’ Debuts at No. 2 (getmybuzzup.com)
- Will R&B Ever Recover From Sales Inconsistencies? (brentmusicreviews.com)
- “Love and War” is the #1 R&B Album! (theindustrycosign.wordpress.com)
- Chart Moves, September 4, 2013: Avenged Sevenfold Rock Their Way Back To No. 1 (brentmusicreviews.com)
Goodie Mob stretch the definition of the standard rap album
Goodie Mob⎪Right Records⎪Age Against The Machine⎪⎪ US Release Date: August 27, 2013
Goodie Mob’s first new album since 1999 is nothing short of a fascinating listen. Face it, the minute it begins, it’s obvious who took the reins… one idiosyncratic, unique genre-bending artist named Cee Lo Green. Because it is such a unique affair, it is both forward-thinking yet at times unaccessible. Unlike any other rap album from 2013, Age Against The Machine ‘paves its on way’ as they say, with top-notch results overall…and some confusion.
Where do you start on such an ambitious, unorthodox affair? “State of the Art (Radio Killa)” sorta sets the tone with a maniacal nature accentuated by its expressive rhymes and ripping strings. Think of it as fitting for a soundtrack. Then there’s the captivating “I’m Set” with its jungle drums, jazzed-up horn riffs, and enthusiastic raps. Cee-Lo that steals the show, most notably on the dramatic hook. I think you’d find Cee-Lo’s picture under the word dramatic in the dictionary. Who’d have it any other way?
Then later there’s “Pinstripes”, which sounds like more standard southern rap fare compared to the aforementioned. Sure Goodie Mob may not be in their prime, but a more contemporarily produced number such as “Pinstripes” certain amps up their swag…if that was necessary. If you want something incredible odd yet strangely compelling, look no further than “Kolors”. Then there’s also the Janelle Monáe collab “Special Education” which is a clever play on what is normally associated with special education. ”Amy” stands out too, perhaps most pronounced by chorus lyric “My very first white girl…” It’s certainly interesting!
All in all, Age Against The Machine is an album that most seemed to sleep on for various reasons. Should they have passed it up? Nah bro! This is not your standard rap album and because it ain’t, it actually a welcome ‘departure’ of sorts. If you’re looking for deep rhymes, Age Against The Machine won’t be your first choice, but if need something from left-field out of the box, this album has all that and more.
Favorites: “State of the Art (Radio Killa)”; “I’m Set”; “Pinstripes”; “Kolors”; “Special Education”; “Amy”
- Goodie Mob reunites, and its still about the (CeeLo) Green (sfltimes.com)
- Goodie Mob: Building New Leaders From The Elders (wnyc.org)
- Goodie Mob, ‘Age Against the Machine’: Album review (nydailynews.com)
- Goodie Mob: Age Against the Machine (Review) (popmatters.com)
- The Rundown: Goodie Mob, Age Against the Machine (bet.com)
- Goodie Mob: Age Against The Machine (jwstraighttalk.wordpress.com)
2 Chainz Does Dumb Surprisingly Well on B.O.A.T.S. II
2 Chainz⎪ B.O.A.T.S. II: #Me Time⎪Def Jam⎪⎪US Release Date: September 10
Let’s get one thing straight from the get-go… 2 Chainz is crazy! Like totally cray cray. Honestly, B.O.A.T.S. II: #Me Time should be a disaster (add a profanity of choice in front of ‘disaster’). Somehow though, through all of Tauheed Epps’ stupidity, he puts together a dumb, but fun rap album. Yeah, maybe there isn’t one single cut that supplants the brilliantly, naughty “Birthday Song” which I still jam out to on my iPod, but there is plenty of songs that lack substance that give the listener, um, a guilty pleasure. 2 CHAINZ!
The fun starts with “Fork”, in which 2 Chainz “…had a dream that rap wouldn’t work / woke up on the block, had to hit it with the fork / skrrr, skrrr, skrrr, skrrr, skrrr: hit it with the fork… rap don’t work, records ain’t bein’ sold…so much money on me, it won’t even fold….” Yeah something like that. What is he talking about? Good question! Well, sounds like drugs, rap albums not selling, and having more money than he’ll ever need. If that’s not enough, he elaborates on his excesses, maybe best epitomized by a lyric like “I drink red b**ches, I don’t drink Red Bulls…” Alrighty then, heck of a way to start 2 Chainz by hitting it with the fork.
On “36”, the king of dumb educates us listeners on the hook: “36 / that’s how many ounces in a brick / 36, 36, 36, 36…” So if you had no idea about the wait of drug paraphernalia, 2 Chainz has schooled you over the course of one minute and a half. Feel lifted? Then after all the drugs, the “Feds Watching”, featuring and produced by Pharrell Williams. 2 Chainz begins his first verse with bragging about material things (“Dreads hang on designer everything…”), then goes on to the strip club (“This that category 5 when I walk up in the strip club…”), and throws in some drugs for good measure (“Backing soda marketing , I’m getting it ain’t I? Obviously…”). He caps all of his higher level thinking with a simple, summative hook: “I’mma be fresh as hell if the Feds watching….” So basically, even if 2 Chainz gets caught, he’s going to be ‘fresh to death’ I’m assuming? I don’t know about all that, but the track is killer.
“Where U Been” keeps things consistently ‘materialistic’, featuring the assist from Cap.1. Simply, 2 Chainz has been balling “getting money, where the f**k you been?”. Oh and to add a little more oomph to his brashness, he throws in the ‘tasteful’ punch “bought a new crib just to f**k you in.” Seems extreme to me, but he is 2 Chainz. Oh an as for Cap.1’s contributions, perhaps the lyric “My b**ch she’s so pretty that’s my Pocahontas…” takes the cake. Next, my boy brings in Drake and Lil Wayne for the superstar collaboration “I Do It”. Simplicity remains key, particularly given 2 Chainz’s opening ‘salvo’: “Hang up on a b**ch, call it crucified”. Still, he has his moments. Drake may have the best line, when he alludes to Lil Wayne near the end of the second verse: “Man I just hear this sh*t and think about what Tunechi will tell you / he might call up Patricia, she ‘bout to call up Melissa…” Oh and in case you’re wondering, yes Lil Wayne talks about sex on his verse… shocker. The Outro is a nice contrast though.
“Used 2” keeps the absurdity alive and well, evidenced by the ridiculous hook which seems to reference recording the naughty and uploading it to youtube as looking for a baby mama… SMH. Repetition is 2 Chainz’s best friend here, or his worst enemy with the clumsy lines he chooses to repeat. He ‘redeems’ himself on the it’s-so-ridiculously-stupid-it’s-good “Netflix” which pairs him with Fergie… what a combo, phew! Where do you even start? 2 Chainz references weed, sex tapes, the paparazzi, high end fashion, and uninspired rappers all in the matter of his first verse. On her verse, Fergie lifts from “Birthday Song” (“When I die, bury me inside the liquor store…”), as well as dropping the obligatory weed reference, blowing wads of money, and “b**ches copying” her. And then there’s that hook… “I know you had the time of your life…you know I’m gettin’ money, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, Ill be countin’ this sh*t all night…” Geez Louise!
“Extra” is one that annoys me. Yeah, yeah, I know 2 Chainz is no Nas, but 2 Chainz’s pop-rap here is a bit questionable, even for him. The most shameful line from Chainz? “I just had a threesome for three weeks in a row / Last name Chainz, first name Two…” WTF? Rich Homie Quan guests on the third verse. On “U Da Realest”, Chainz states “I’m like a quarterback, hand it off / drop the work in the pot, watch it cannonball / I done seen ‘em ball, I done seen ‘em fall / rest in peace to my n***a, you da realest, dawg…” Somewhere in there there seems to be some substance… well besides what’s in that pot he references. But of course, he ruins a good moment too, like “Rest in my piece to all my n***as, they died while they was servin’ / rest in peace to all the soldiers that died in the service / I died in her…” I. Have. No. Words…that I’m going to publish here…
Then comes “Beautiful Pain”, which features Lloyd and Mase. 2 Chainz doesn’t take himself seriously, but Lloyd refines things on a fine hook (“Oh I feel so fly / came so far, but I still wanna fly…see what this beautiful pain, provide / baby look into my eyes…”) And of course, Mase keeps things classy. Overall, “Beautiful Pain” stands out. T-Pain joins the boatload of collaborators on “So We Can Live”, drenched in autotune as always. 2 Chainz has plenty of ‘interesting’ moments, whether it’s his illegal activities (“Mama don’t work, heater don’t work / Police pulled me over and said he seen weed on my shirt / I pray to the lord and ask for forgiveness / If he popped my trunk I can get a life sentence…”), playing copycat (“Simon says, monkey see money do / I wore the shirt, you wore the same shirt too…”) or being the sh*t (“appetite for destruction, and I don’t need a menu / so far ahead of y’all n***as, I can see you in my rearview…”) . There it is, I suppose.
He’s hella clumsy on “Mainstream Ratchet”, but isn’t that understandable? Proceed with caution folks! I mean, anything with the word ratchet in it… “And that’s ratchet huh? Her a$$ so big it look like she trying to walk backwards bruh…” “Black Unicorn” contrasts, opening with an lovely spoken word performance by Sunni Patterson. Chrisette Michele handles the hook as classy and nuanced as always. And as for Chainz, he’s not too shabby himself. Ol’ boy gets himself together on “Outroduction”, presenting himself much more thoughtfully and candidly. There are “two sides to a book” after all.
Classic or total bust? Neither, but B.O.A.T.S. II: #Me Time is actually a much better album than I envisioned it to be. It’s hard to call an effort with so many references to sex, drugs, and irresponsibility a masterpiece, but I’ll give it to 2 Chainz, he certainly has some highlights here. If you’re a fan of more intellectual rap though, this is not your cup of tea. But if you don’t mind going ‘stupid’ like a lot, well then, this album is your new jam.
Favorites: “36”; “Feds Watching”; “I Do It”; “Netflix”; “Beautiful Pain”
- 2 Chainz, Career Revisionist (brentmusicreviews.com)
- An Artist of Narrow Contrast: A Review of 2 Chainz, Me Time (popjones.wordpress.com)
- Writing On The Wall: 2 Chainz Upset With Def Jam Over “B.O.A.T.S II” (djsdoingwork.com)
- For the Haters: 2 Chainz ‘Where U Been’ Video (atlantablackstar.com)
- 2 Chainz Pleads ‘I Don’t Do Anything Illegal’ After Arrest The rapper says he showed police his guns during the Oklahoma snafu, saying ‘I probably let my guard down.’ (teebreezzy.wordpress.com)
- Review of 2 Chainz’s B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time (examiner.com)
- 2 Chainz: I’m Pissed At Def Jam For Undershipping My Album, Appears In New Fabolous Video (allhiphop.com)
- 2 Chainz Publishes Cookbook With Deluxe Edition Of ‘B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time’ (contactmusic.com)
- (MUSIC) 2 Chainz ~ Netflix ft Fergie (muzicupdate.wordpress.com)
- 2 Chainz – “B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time” – ALBUM REVIEW (jakobsalbumreviews.wordpress.com)