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!
Wale featuring Juicy J & Nicki Minaj
Much of Wale’s recent LP The Gifted is more intellectual than not – really. “Clappers” is the ‘not’ as Wale proclaims with the upmost enthusiasm “Shawty got a big ol‘ butt, oh yeah!” Maybe he was influenced by his brash company including the ever trippy Juicy J (“Make that a** clap, I don’t care about cellulite”) and Nicki Minaj (“Shout out to that cellulite…”). I dunno what happened to ole boy, but “Clappers” is a banger for sure. #BootyRockinEverywhere
French Montana featuring Drake, Lil Wayne & Rick Ross
(Excuse My French)
“Pop That” is nasty, but at least it’s electrifyingly nasty. Montana and his boys (Rick Ross, Drake, and Lil Wayne) rock out on this salacious anthem. French Montana plays up both ‘molly’ and money (“…We pop a molly, she buss it open / she seen the ‘gatti [Bugatti that is], that p***y soaking…”) while Rick Ross loves “…big booty b**ches, my life a Godfather picture / Local club in my city, I fell in love with a stripper…” Drake goes poetic on verse three while Tunechi (aka Lil Wayne) definitely highlights S-E-X. #PPoppinAnthem
Juicy J featuring Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz
“Bandz A Make Her Dance”
“Bandz A Make Her Dance” is Juicy J at his juiciest. “Bandz a make her dance, bandz a make her dance / all these chicks poppin’ pussies, I’m just poppin’ bandz”, he raps on one of year’s most memorable hooks. He keeps on trucking into the first verse (“She put that a** up in my hands, I remote control it (yeah ho)”). Lil Wayne promotes ‘copulation’ on his guest verse (“…bands a maker her dance, Tunechi make her c** / hit it form the side like a motherf**king bass drum…”) as does the ‘ever bright’ 2 Chainz (“…Let me see that a** clap, standing ovation / if yo girl don’t swallow kids, man that ho basic…”) Nasty, tasteless, and misogynistic, it’s irresistibly so. #StayinTrippy
DJ Khaled featuring 2 Chainz, Ace Hood, Big Sean, French Montana, Meek Mill, Rick Ross & Timberland
“You Don’t Want These Problems”
(Suffering From Success)
“You Don’t Want No Problems” is one of the shining moments from DJ Khaled’s recent album, Suffering From Success. On this juggernaut, Khaled is assisted by Big Sean, Rick Ross, French Montana, 2 Chainz, Meek Mill, Ace Hood, and Timbaland. Highlights include memorable lyrical moments from Rick Ross (“On the phone at the light, Kelly Rowland’s a friend / Catfish in the Benz, Manti Teo’s a sucker…”), 2 Chainz (“They slept on me, I stopped sellin’ work and started sellin’ coffee…”), and Ace Hood (“My sanctuary’s that cemetery / my choppa, named it obituary…”). I mean, I kinda enjoy the “problems” personally…
Lil Wayne featuring Future & Drake
(I Am Not A Human Being II)
“Love Me” was one of the few bright spots about Lil Wayne’s underwhelming I Am Not A Human Being II. Mike Will Made It seems to be the new ‘beast’ of production work, delivering some sick inspiration for Wayne and guests Future and Drake to ride. Future’s auto tune hook is perfect (“I’m on that good kush and alcohol / I got some down b**ches I can call…”) while Drake adds more muscle (“Long as my b**ches love me / I can give a f*ck ‘bout no hater / long as my b**ches love me…”). Lil Wayne doesn’t step up his game her per se, but he does enough to remind us of his ‘Weezyness’.
Ace Hood featuring Future & Rick Ross
(Trials and Tribulations)
Future is definitely an ‘acquired taste’ as an MC, but he’s put to good use on the hook of the superb “Bugatti”. Rick Ross also works exceptionally here since he loves money and this track is all about money. As for the featured MC? Ace Hood’s rhymes are aggressive and potent as well, as he brags “smoke me a pound of the loudest / whippin some sh*t with no mileage / diamonds cost me a fortune / them horses all in them Porsches…” Cocky and confident, right?
A$AP Ferg featuring A$AP Rocky, French Montana, Schoolboy Q & Trinidad James
“Work (Remix)” is superbly produced and nothing short of a superstar rap collaboration; a juggernaut remix . “I gotta close the window before I record / cause New York don’t know how to be quiet”, A$AP Ferg proclaims on the intro, before diving into the first verse. “Coogi down to the socks like I’m biggie poppa / Keep your girl head in my Tommy boxers…”, he proclaims, alluding to The Notorious B.I.G. French Montana takes the second verse (“when they mask up, coming for your ice / when they barefaced, they coming for your life”) while the molly-poppin’ Trinidad James reps for Trinidad, citing “Jamaica, I’m your brother…” Schoolboy Q cites different ages to assert his swagger (“Pimpin’ like I’m 33, move keys like I’m 36 / ship O’s like I’m 28, Tacoma know I’m pushing weight…”). A$AP Rocky revisits violence on the final verse (“A lot of homies cried, due to crimes, homicide / drivin’ by poppin’ nines, Pakistan, Columbine / out of line, pistols barkin’ “ar ar” ride or die…”). There is more than enough goodness to compel for sure.
A$AP Rocky featuring 2 Chainz, Drake & Kendrick Lamar
(Long. Live. A$AP)
“F**kin’ Problems” has superstar written all over it. 2 Chainz takes the majority of the catchy, shameful, explicit hook (“I love bad b**ches, that’s my f**kin’ problem / and yeah I like to f*ck, I’ve got a f**kin’ problem…”) A$AP Rocky takes the first verse (“…All these MF’s wanna dress like me / put the chrome to your dome, make you sweat like Keith…”), Drake takes the 2nd (“…ain’t heard my new album? Who you sleepin’ on? You should print the lyrics out and have a f**kin’ read along…”) and Kendrick Lamar on the final verse (“…She eying me like a n***a don’t exist / girl, I know you want this di–”). Certified banger!
(Hall of Fame)
Then there’s “Mona Lisa”, which leads the ‘freak show’ portion of Hall of Fame. Among the most absurd yet notable lyrics? “I believe in God and rubbers / even if we sex / you are not my lover / hit you on the couch and not the covers / if you bring your friend then we got to f*ck her…” Well, at least Sean makes it clear he’s into hooking up, not a real relationship.
Need I say more? I mean, the hook says “Mona Lisa / Lisa moaning…”
2 Chainz featuring Fergie
“Netflix” really shouldn’t work. Ultimately, it’s an incredibly stupid song made dumber by the fact it is a collaboration between 2 Chainz and Fergie… whew. Yeah it goes dumb, but at least it does so in addictive fashion! 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…”), drops a weed reference, raps of wasting money, and being copied. And of course 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…” Oh shhhh!
- Review: DJ Khaled, ‘Suffering from Success’ (brentmusicreviews.com)
Khaled’s Not ‘Suffering from Success’, perhaps suffers from a lack of innovation…
DJ Khaled⎪ Suffering From Success⎪ Cash Money ⎪⎪ US Release Date: October 22, 2013
If there is one reservation I (and likely others) have with DJ Khaled’s albums, it is that generally they all seem ‘one-dimensional’. Maybe that is a harsh critique, or maybe it’s just actual reality. Of the Khaled albums that I have partaken of in recent times, they’re always good for some top-notch club bangers (“I’m On One”), but cohesively, the albums feel like somewhat detached compilations. Suffering From Success proves no different, ultimately yielding some pleasant, head-nodding moments, but eschewing the ‘second coming’.
After intro “Obama (Winning More Interlude)”, “Suffering From Success”, featuring Ace Hood and Future, kicks off the album of the same title. Ultimately, the production work (Young Chop) is dark, malicious, and characteristic of the hardcore rap idiom. Future delivers his first of many hooks, sounding his typical, auto-tuned self: “Got too many racks on me, I can’t even go to sleep / just to get ‘em out V.I.P., I’mma need to see I.D. (I don’t trust you) / I’m sufferin’ / I’m sufferin’ from success / I’m sufferin’…” Really, “suffering from success”? Please! The best part of the so-so title track may be Ace Hood’s aggressive rhymes.
“I Feel Like Pac / I Feel Like Biggie” is much stronger, sporting production from The Beat Bully. Ah the weight that synthesized brass and a hard underlying beat carry! The inspiration seems to be full-fledged here, whether that’s just the mere mention of rap royalty or a star-studded cast including Rick Ross, Meek Mill, T.I., Swizz Beatz, and Puff Daddy. Swizz Beatz’s hook is definitely ‘on point’ as they say, while Meek Mill kills it on his verse. The momentum is propelled even further on “You Don’t Want No Problems”, yet another juggernaut assisted by Big Sean (the hook), Rick Ross, French Montana, 2 Chainz, Meek Mill, Ace Hood, and Timbaland (who produces with Khaled). There are numerous highlights, including memorable lyrical moments from Rick Ross (“On the phone at the light, Kelly Rowland’s a friend / Catfish in the Benz, Manti Teo’s a sucker…”), 2 Chainz (“They slept on me, I stopped sellin’ work and started sellin’ coffee…”), and Ace Hood (“My sanctuary’s that cemetery / my choppa, named it obituary…”)
“Blackball” follows, again relying on the ubiquitous Future for a hook (“They tryna blackball me, they say I get too much money / they want my name from me because they know what it do…” etc.). Plies and Ace Hood handle the verses, though compared to the previous duo, “Blackball” is less triumphant. “No Motive” featuring Lil Wayne sort of falls into the same boat, sounding ‘solid’, but not exceptional. The hook definitely didn’t take much thought: “F**k all you b*****s… f**k all you hoes… one million, two million, three, four…” “I’m Still” is enjoyable enough, but I feel like I’ve heard this cut over and over again. Chris Brown excels at infusing some R&B into hip-hop, but at this point it’s not truly new or rousing. Wiz Khalifa joins the lengthy credit list, rapping unsurprisingly “So high don’t see no problems / b**ch I’m on them trees like Tarzan…” It works, but doesn’t excite. Personally, I’m sick of hearing about Wiz getting high.
“I Wanna Be With You” again brings in Future, but also sees another return from Rick Ross and a debut appearance from Nicki Minaj. Minaj remains at her best when she’s raunchy, if you can handle her un-lady rhymes. Even though Minaj is a “girl on fire”, Rick Ross has arguably the best line: “That ho chick gets you no play, all I talk is cocaine.” Hit “No New Friends” is a showstopper, again rekindling some magic between Khaled and Drake (“No new friends, no new friends…f**k all y’all n***as except my n***as…”). Rick Ross hops on board (“…All I hug is blood n***a, Khaled that’s my flesh though / all I want is love n***a, money bring that stress though…”) as does Lil Wayne (“…B**ch we good-fellas, boy all them n***as with you they just pall bearers…”). The production work is aligned with the ‘Drake’ sound as the track is produced by Boi-1da and Noah “40” Shebib. A standout? Of course!
The remainder of the album is so-so. “Give It All To Me” (Mavado featuring Nicki Minaj) sounds like it’s going to be a deal breaker initially, but it’s respectable enough. “Hell’s Kitchen” has its moments, thanks to the sound and solid rhymes from J Cole and Bas. Still, “Hell’s Kitchen” sits too long. Lengthy duration also hurts the super ambitious “Never Surrender”, which manages to utilize three R&B singers in John Legend, Anthony Hamilton, and Akon. Add raps from Scarface, Jadakiss, and Meek Mill to that mix and it’s quite ‘big’. “Murcielago (Doors Go Up)” is not only ‘tired’ in name, but the song itself is a ‘C’ at best – merely average and unmemorable. “Black Ghost”, credited to Vado is ok, but like “Murcielago”, it’s nothing to write home about.
Thoughts overall? Suffering From Success isn’t really suffering from success, but it may be suffering from a lack of innovative spirit. It’s good enough, not great If you’re looking for depth, avoid it. If you want to get it poppin’ at the club, this is for you.
Favorites: “I Feel Like Pac / I Feel Like Biggie” ; “You Don’t Want These Problems” ; “No New Friends”
Welcome all who dare to part deux of my Favorites, Least Favorites, and Honorable Mentions of 2013 for all who dare to enter the brentmusicreviews zone! Ha… If you missed the first part (Favorites, Least Favorites, and Honorable Mentions of 2013, Part 1), you should like totally check out my favorites from 2013, ‘cause there was some awesome albums. If you’re not one for positivity and optimism, maybe you’re just checking this out because some you enjoy skepticism, criticism, and the occasional, um, cynicism. Regardless, let me remind you how I started off my previous post:
As I look over my 2013 playlist from my iPod, I realize I have listened to numerous albums this year. In fact, the amount of music that my ears have consumed and my pen has analyzed is pretty scary…and I still missed lots of albums! SMH! Some were special, some made me cringe, and some fell somewhere in between the two extremes. As difficult as it was, as of October 7, 2013, I have compiled a list housing my favorites, least favorites, and honorable mentions. I’m almost certain I’ve slighted someone and I’m sure there will be continual revisions, but for now, here’s what you should’ve spun, what you should’ve avoided like the plague, and those that were strongly consideration for favorites. Enjoy!
Here it is!
Selena Gomez, Stars Dance
Neither of these were my cup of tea, period. will.i.am went way too stupid for my tastes while I never enjoyed the Rihanna-copycat “Come & Get It”, which drew buzz for Stars Dance. Avoid these…like the plague. Brent has spoken.
Andrea Bocelli, Passione
Let me first say that I love Andrea Bocelli and consider him to have a brilliant voice. Also, I don’t think Passione was nearly as bad as most of the albums categorized as my least favorites. BUT, it wasn’t as good as I expected nor my favorite. Sorry A.B.
Goo Goo Dolls, Magnetic
I’m going to keep this short and sweet – I think we/they are long past the/their “Iris” days… just saying.
Let me be positive for starters. I appreciated the dark nature of this particular effort… that was a bright spot, ironically. As for the material, um not so much. A perfect example is the shamefully childish “Staying Up” in which frontman Jesse Rutherford clumsily sings “Some part of me feels a little bit naked and empty / I’m stuck underneath a few dirty old blankets to comfort me”. Please!
The-Dream, IV Play
The Weeknd, Kiss Land
Let me be the first to say that I dearly love R&B. If she were are lady, I just might marry her… not in a creepy way though. I don’t even mind ti too much when the genre trends more risqué as both the emotional (romance) and physical (sex) are important facets of the content. However, both The-Dream and The Weeknd weren’t up to their usual artistry on their latest efforts and often went too left of center. The-Dream sounded uninspired and oversexed throughout IV Play while The Weeknd’s alt-R&B on the highly anticipated Kiss Land just didn’t live up to the buzz of 2012 compilation Trilogy. I found myself having to return to “Sweat It Out” (Love vs. Money) and “Wicked Games” (Trilogy).
Ron Isley, This Song Is For You
SMH. This one hurts me too. Let me first give accolades to Ron Isley and his enduring career in the music game. Him and the Isley Bros’ contributions to music are nothing short of exceptional. To this day, maybe with the exception of my boy Jaheim’s vocal runs on his recent song “Florida” (from Appreciation Day), perfectly emulating Isley’s voice is nearly impossible. While that signature voice is still afloat on This Song Is For You, the material doesn’t always do the legendary soul singer justice. Sure I’m on board for “This Song Is For You” and “Dinner and a Movie”, but otherwise the album doesn’t make me want to stop spinning classics like “Shout” or “Between The Sheets”.
Tyga, Hotel California
French Montana, Excuse My French
Rap music truly did have a good year. That said, that didn’t stop some underachievers from trying to ‘kill the vibe’. Lil Wayne was definitely not up to snuff on I Am Not A Human Being II, a poor excuse for a follow-up compared to the first installment. For Tyga, trying to recapture the success of his previous jam-packed album (featuring “Rack City” and “Faded among its hits) ended up only so-so as Hotel California was mediocre at best, even if Siri couldn’t seem to find “Molly”. As for French Montana, after the brilliantly salacious “Pop That”, you would’ve thought the MC’s debut would’ve been more notable. Wrong!
Snoop Lion, Reincarnated
Using my positivity once more, Reincarnated was a much better album than expected from Snoop Lion. That said, I would’ve much rather heard ‘Snoop Dogg’ on his West Coast swag rapping, not singing. Can I get another “Drop It Like It’s Hot” ‘Dogg’?
Lady Antebellum, Golden
Luke Bryan, Crash My Party
I’ll be the first to admit I haven’t been feeling country this year. That said, I have listened to a couple of albums that just disappointed me. Sure, I had issues with Luke Bryan’s booze fest on his earlier compilation effort Spring Break…Here To Party, but Crash My Party was just disappointing, particularly considering the exceptional numbers it posted. As for those critical darlings Lady Antebellum, personally I found Golden as exciting as watching ‘paint dry’. It wasn’t a bad album, but nor was it exciting or innovative. Hilary and Charles can still sing mind you, but still…
- Album Playlist: Favorites, Least Favorites, and Honorable Mentions of 2013, Part 1… (brentmusicreviews.com)
- Review: The Weeknd, ‘Kiss Land’ (brentmusicreviews.com)
- Review: Luke Bryan, ‘Crash My Party’ (brentmusicreviews.com)
- Review: Lil Wayne, I Am Not A Human Being II [Deluxe Edition] (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)
Alternative band MGMT recently released their third effort, MGMT rather dismal commercial fortunes. Three years prior, the buzz surrounding their sophomore effort Congratulations propelled that affair to an impressive number two bow with 76,000 copies on the Billboard albums charts. Despite a quick start particularly for an indie-group, there were many who cried ‘foul’ about the group’s sophomore effort because it was much more experimental than their first (Oracular Spectacular), which sported a more commercial sound. This not only caused the impressive Congratulations to become underrated, but also ultimately sort of doomed ‘the next album’. Sure MGMT was no promotional juggernaut, but even brief but punchy single’s experimental touch didn’t exactly suggest gargantuan numbers would be posted on the charts.
While the experimental release can broaden any artists boundaries, it often can isolate their core fan base as well. There have been numerous ‘experimental’ albums in recent years that have done more ‘harm’ to an artist’s bank account than say even confirmed or cemented their artistry. Kanye West is one of the most experimental musicians within his style, hip-hop. Most of his albums have yielded incredible success both commercially as well as critically. Yeezus definitely received its fair share of accolades from critics and even hardcore fans, but the sales haven’t reflected that West’s most shocking album was truly a success. An underwhelming start for West (327,000 copies) continued to wane, something the West camp is certainly not used to. While lax promotion played a role, the album itself is dark and lacks the commercial appeal of West’s past efforts.
Numerous other examples of the flaws of experimentation can be cited. Remember how shocking Panic! At The Disco’s sophomore effort Pretty. Odd was compared to the band’s debut? I liked it, but I understand the surprise that that was the direction the band went with. What about Lil Wayne’s horrid idea to release a rock album (Rebirth)? Kelly Clarkson wasn’t exactly going ‘experimental’ on My December in the traditional sense, but the rebellious rock-driven album certainly didn’t deliver a home run. Worth noting is the aforementioned albums all suffered commercially. While it could be a generalization to say that all of the sales erosion of the titles was due to contrast and experimentation, it is also quite feasible that experimentation played a role.
The question then must be addressed then, is how much experimentation is too much? From my perspective, it’s a balancing act. If you are an artist who is already established and your style is particularly popular with folks, why would you want to change it considerably? Sure, there is nothing wrong with tweaking or even taking some risks showing artistic license, but in a music industry that is quite unforgiving, why alienate the base that is supporting you? Sometimes experimentation is the risk that can undo the arduous work to build a career.
Albums don’t sell like they once did. This is no generalization, but also a well supported fact. But even in a recession of album sales, a ‘bomb’ is still very much a bomb. My homie Big Sean has been hit with the dreaded ‘sophomore effect’ in a gargantuan way. His ironically titled album Hall of Fame is actually an overall well conceived album, but its quality has done nothing for its lackadaisical sales. Ultimately, Sean is free-falling down the chart. At the rate that Sean has went from a respectable peak of no. 3 all the way to no. 75 in only his fourth charting week, Sean appears to be entering the ‘hall of shame’.
It started out okay for Big Sean, but the 72,000 copies that welcomed Hall of Fame seemed incredibly undercooked for an artists who seems to have been a popular collaborator and blew up more after his debut Finally Famous materialized. But after a disappointing yet respectable enough first week, nothing has clicked for Sean. There seems to always be an explanation as to why Sean’s ‘breakthrough’ moment has become one where he should begin to be concerned about being a ‘major’.
The main reason for Sean’s tepid performance has been matching the caliber of singles from his debut. “My Last” featuring Chris Brown, “Dance (A$$)”, and “Marvin and Chardonnay” were forces to be reckoned with, period. Hall of Fame’s singles lack the same punch, even if they are no slouches. “Guap” wasn’t enough to supersede or continue Sean’s run from the previous album, only appearing on the deluxe editions of the album. “Switch Up”, another deluxe cut featured Common, who with no disrespect, is not exactly a commercial juggernaut himself. The saving grace was “Beware” that features Jhene Aiko and big-name Lil Wayne. Even so, the cut just doesn’t scream ‘hit’ and Lil Wayne has had an off-year by Lil Wayne means. I mean, did y’all hear I Am Not A Human Being II? Sheesh!
Basically, to me, this sounds like another promotional mishap, something that truly hurt Big Sean’s mentor Kanye West on what should’ve been a surefire hit in Yeezus. Instead, West decided to rely on his name to sell albums without releasing a commercial single. How well did that work out? A 327,000 copy start waned extremely quickly. For the less established Big Sean, his numbers had a much lower ceiling than the more innovative, boundary pushing vet. 72,000 copies a left little ceiling for Sean to work with, and it has shown week to week.
Where does the MC who put his mark on Justin Timberlake’s huge hit “As Long As You Love Me” go from here? Hall of Fame seems like a done deal, no matter how much skill No ID put into the beats or how many times Big Sean can rap about the nasty. I’d regroup with haste and incredible skill on my next release before Big Sean finds himself lacking big-time monetary backing.
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)
No Sophomore Slump for Big Sean
Big Sean⎪ Hall of Fame ⎪ Def Jam⎪⎪ US Release Date: August 27, 2013
Big Sean has one of the better rap voices in the game. That isn’t saying his lyrics necessarily rank among the top (he go stupid y’all), but if there were an ideal voice, Sean Anderson definitely possesses it. As a fan of his first album, Finally Famous (2011), I was interested to see if the sophomore effect would undo Sean, who has been one of the hotter collaborative artists in recent times. The answer is a resounding no, as it is arguable that at least portions of Hall of Fame are even more intriguing that the rapper’s debut, which was stacked with hits like “I Do It”, “My Last”, “Dance (A$$)”, and personal favorite “Marvin and Chardonnay”. Sure some of the more sexually-driven material lacks depth, but more often than not, Hall of Fame is quite alluring.
On opener “Nothing Is Stopping”, Sean reflects on the growth of his career, whether it was rapping for Kanye West or just the scope of his come-up financially (“Just to think, last night I was in Venice hugging b*****s / thanking God almighty, condoms was invented…”) Yeah better stop there, but basically, Sean has became ‘something’ from ‘nothing’. After the hookless, though brilliant opener, Sean keeps on truckin’ with “Fire” which sho’ nuff is fiery. Big Sean isn’t always the most prolific MC, but he delivers the goods here, particularly clever lyrics “Coming from Detroit where everybody say ‘whaddup though’? Horror movie sh*t, cause everybody there cut throat / watch who you hustle with you might not get a cut though / even though you deserved a commission plus mo’” Can you say fire? Furthermore the production work – amazingness!
“10 2 10” doesn’t let up, even if Sean infuses some dumbness, even if he is being serious. “I woke up working like I’m Mexican / that mean I work from 10 to 10 / then 10 to 10, then 10 again / Nightmares of losing everything boost my adrenaline…” There it is. Filled with better than expected punch lines, Sean ‘rocks out’ over NO I.D.’s superb production. Then comes “Toyota Music”, where Sean is clever, simple, and sort of oddball-ish. “I got money coming through / drugs and women coming too / got my family living comfortable / got me thinking I’m doing what I’m supposed to do…”, he offers on the second verse. At times spacey, “Toyota Music” matches the numerous drugs/references to drugs which Sean speaks of. On “You Don’t Know”, an uncredited Ellie Goulding provides vocals, serving as an interesting collaborative pairing. Sean continues to do his thing, though “You Don’t Know” isn’t necessary the ‘elite’ of Hall of Fame.
“Beware” continues to shine, being a promo single for the set. The main rub with “Beware” is it lacks the commercial punch that Sean’s previous hits have had. That doesn’t make it a dud as it is the opposite; it’s a good song overall. “When you said it was over, you shot right through my heart / why you let these hoes tear what we had right apart / ooh I was so mad, I should’ve seen this coming right from the start / you should beware, beware, beware of a woman with a broken heart.” Real talk on the hook right? Jhené Aiko assists on the hook while Lil Wayne brings some ‘Weeziness’ onto the third verse.
“First Chain” may be a bit indulgent as the trend of rapping about Jesus pieces and excessive jewelry has been overdone, but with some of the effort’s strongest production and generally solid rhymes from Sean, Nas, and Kid Cudi (who also provides his signature humming), “First Chain” is a personal favorite. Yeah maybe the hook is nothing innovative, but you can’t deny the memorability of Sean’s third verse: “I don’t remember my first love or my first time prayin’ / but remember my first a$$ and the first time she…it almost felt as good as when I got my first chain…”
Then there’s “Mona Lisa”, which leads the ‘freak show’ portion of Hall of Fame. Among the most absurd yet notable lyrics? “I believe in God and rubbers / even if we sex / you are not my lover / hit you on the couch and not the covers / if you bring your friend then we got to f**k her…” Well, at least Sean makes it clear he’s into hooking up, not a real relationship. “Freaky” is an interlude, and definitely not for the more conservative crowd. Then again, neither is the electrifying “MILF”, which is what it is. As raw as Big Sean goes, factor in Nicki Minaj who leaves little to the imagination and of course the trippy Juicy J (“Yo mama a great head doctor, with no PhD…”). Again, it is what it is and with a title like “MILF”, you know what you are getting yourself into.
“Sierra Leone” sports lush production work and some more erotic lines from Sean, which I’ll leave to your imagination. It’s enjoyable, not the best. “It’s Time” (featuring Jeezy and Payroll) and “World Ablaze” (featuring James Fauntleroy) are similarly consistent and enjoyable, without being ‘first round draft picks’ per se. Penultimate gem “Ashley” is awesome, featuring a soulful vocal hook courtesy of lover man extraordinaire Miguel, and honest rhymes from the MC about his mistakes towards his ex (“Sorry when you put your faith in me I was unfaithful, disgraceful, distasteful / yeah I know you’re not supposed to have cake and eat too…”). Ultimately, Sean conveys that he truly screwed up a great thing. He closes with “All Figured Out”, but compared to “Ashley”, Sean’s just going through the motions.
All-in-all, Hall of Fame is easily one of 2013’s better rap efforts. It’s not perfect, and some of the end cuts lack the same punch as the elite earlier cuts, but for the most part, Sean does his thang. Sure he could tone down his inner freak (like a lot), but Big Sean suffers no drop off from album one.
Favorites: “Nothing Is Stopping You”; “Fire”; “10 2 10”; “Beware”; “First Chain”; “Ashley”
Lil Wayne has had an uninspired 2013. Period, no questions ask whatsoever. It hasn’t been the epic fail of one annoyingly stupid Justin Bieber, but he’d have to go a long ways to reach that hot mess… But basically Weezy decided to address his fans via everyone’s beloved free speech vehicle of twitter about going harder in the future. To his credit, at least he realizes that he lost his Weezyness in 2013. I mean, after hearing and reviewing I Am Not A Human Being II, I left my copy right on iTunes, Best Buy, etc. (catchy my drift). And have I missed it? No, I prefer my ears not be corrupted by such distasteful smut.
Before ripping one on that effort, Wayne’s biggest faux pas was his insensitive allusion to Emmett Till. This was horrid, right up there with Rick Ross’s date rape allusion. Historically, it’s worse. Lil Wayne, one of the better, more distinguished voices in rap music managed to be a detriment to his own status by bringing to light the more irresponsible side of the genre. It’s one thing for his ‘nastiness’ to overuse the “b” word, but it’s another to draw into a historically awful time such as that when Emmett Till was murdered. His allusion to white girls was just tactless on “Karate Chop (Remix)” (“beat that p***y up like Emmett Till”). Like totally inappropriate and shallow. What was he thinking?
Then there’s that album I Am Not A Human Being II which was far from his best work. The first installment didn’t quite stack up with his albums from Tha Carter series, but did possess bigger, much less sexually forced material. Yeah, I know, remind me he had a song called “Gonorrhea”, but even as nasty as it was, I Am Not A Human Being II seems to be all about how far erotically the MC could push the envelope. “Wowzers” is a perfect example, right from the get-go (“My tongue is an uzi, my d*** is an AK…”). As suggestive as the hook is, the verse seems like nothing short of a porno. Then floating around (maybe on some versions) is “Romance” which is just sick – like barf sick, not “ill” like on “A Milli” (“The best part of waking up is breakfast after a nut…”). Really? Save for some notable cuts like “Love Me” which is still oversexed or “No Worries” among others, I Am Not A Human Being II received the scaled back numbers it deserved. It just didn’t have enough weird, creative energy to stack up.
So basically, Lil Wayne should’ve expected the cooler reception. At least he realized he just wasn’t on top of his game…all the critics said it from the beginning. With hotter rap efforts out there easily outshining the more modest, less distinct IANAHB2, well, for once it was easy to overlook the “Best Rapper Alive”. Step your game up Tunechi. Look beyond the shallow confines of a hook up for inspiration. Like really.
- Lil Wayne (Finally) Admits He’s A Below Average Rapper Now (dayandadream.com)
- Bout Damn Time: Lil Wayne Finally Apologizes To The Family Of Emmett Till For Disrespectful Lyric (bossip.com)
- Lil Wayne Announces Date For Dedication 5 (wild941.cbslocal.com)
- Entertainment News: Lil Wayne Apologizes To Fans For Lackluster Year! (everythinggirlslove.com)
- Lil’ Wayne Apologies (swickass.wordpress.com)
- Lil Wayne Promises To Get Right For His Fans!!! (onblastxx.wordpress.com)
Is ‘Rich Gang’ wealth without substance?
Rich Gang⎪ Rich Gang ⎪Cash Money⎪⎪ US Release Date: July 23, 2013
Featured artists include: Ace Hood; Birdman; Busta Rhymes; Chris Brown; Cory Gunz; Detail; Flo Rida; French Montana; Future; Gudda Gudda; Jae Millz; Lil Wayne; Limp Bizkit; Mack Maine; Mystikal; Nicki Minaj; R. Kelly; Rick Ross; Tyga
“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark”, or better yet, something is rotten on this compilation effort from YMCMB (Young Money Cash Money Billionaires for those of you out of the know). Rich Gang should be a brilliant showcase of talent with few rubs. I mean, when “The Best Rapper Alive” is on your signed to your label (Lil Wayne), it should be ‘smooth sailing’. While this superstar affair has its moments, it also has plenty of flaws. As we all now, the compilation can be a friend or a foe. This one isn’t a complete throwaway, but nor is it the best rap I’ve heard in 2013.
“R.G.” is… well… the jury is still out. In a rather lackadaisical narration, the listener is expected to endure some of the silliest lines, like ever. “Look at life from a Goodyear blimp boy!” or “And money was the motivation / we took the trips and did the flips…” Please! To make things even more off-putting, Mystikal’s rap is one big WTF adrenaline rush. SMH. Making the start of Rich Gang even stranger is a second brief cut that’s sort of an interlude… sorta. Detail and Future make some kind of vocal processing team… that’s an understatement. To Future’s credit, he begins less reliant on the autotune, and then here it comes full throttle. It’d be better if he was still rapping about waking up in new Bugatti though.
After a so-so start, the first ‘full length’ track “Tapout” strikes gold, even if it lacks ‘taste’. Lil Wayne asserts his presence early on the first verse, managing to offend with his explicit sexual rhymes objectifying women (the usual). He does impress when he lifts a UGK line from “International Player’s Anthem”, but still it is bold. Birdman takes the second verse, counting his money (typical), while Nicki Minaj is Wayne’s female equal on her raunchy third verse. So it’s worthwhile, if you can get past the raunch. And it’s a lot of stank to get past…
Follow-up “We Been On” is simple. Money, money, money, bragging, bragging and more bragging. R. Kelly mentions cigars, luxury watches (Audemars), and foreign cars during hook. Birdman finishes it up by further bragging “…take a lifetime to spend money this long…”. Similarly, the verses adhere to the flaunting of great wealth, with Lil Wayne managing to acknowledge the ongoing ‘on-ness’ in his own way: “B***h, it’s Tunechi up in this b***h aka two rubbers / ain’t turning down for nothin’, it’s nothin”. It really should be a deal breaker, but it works and the production is superb.
“Dreams Come True” does bragging a bit more ‘humbly’ and is a slightly better track itself. Ace Hood brags about “…lying on a mil, that’s the truth / spent five thousand dollars on some shoes…” while Mack Maine is anticipating the “…Bentley truck ‘bout to drop, give me two…”. After the chains and the ‘Rollies’ have come an past, Birdman has “…a hundred G’s in a duffle bag stacked.” All he thinks about is money! But the rich continues to thrive on “50 Plates” where Rick Ross is archetypical Rick Ross. “Strip club is where we meet / big booty is how she eats…” Yeah, yeah, yeah, been there, done that. Rick’s had better tracks. “Bigger Than Life” continues on the lofty train, but manages to be more ‘down to earth’, at least as far as quality. Chris Brown is the star, lending his distinct pipes to the hook, a verse, as well as a bridge. Lil Wayne stands out for being a wordsmith: “White girl, black girl, I call that referee…” Geez Lou-weezy!
“100 Favors” definitely doesn’t keep it one hunna, if you catch my drift. I mean Birdman, do you do nothing more than count your money? Kendrick Lamar provides atonement on the third verse (“You was a college student abusing the credit union / the music was way too loud, the tuition was f**kin’ stupid / and me I was runnin’ wild hittin’ licks in my mother’s Buick…”). “Everyday” is just so-so, but definitely better than the biggest puzzle of the album, Detail’s feature, “Burn The House”. I’m still asking myself, why? Why? After burning the house and pretty much derailing the album’s momentum, “Panties on the Side” is good… for a stripper cut. And isn’t it appropriate that French Montana (Mr. “Pop That”) handles the hook. “Angel” isn’t bad, while “Sunshine” is a dud, no questions asked. Limp Bizkit and Flo Rida? That’s a combo that “I don’t like!” Shout out to Chief Keef.
So here’s the deal. Often when I review things I ask myself, will I remember this album a month or better yet a year from now? The answer for this particularly album is NO, NO, NO! Add an intensifier to that if you wish. I’m just keeping it one hunna, fo rizzle. I mean I like money too, but cash doesn’t rule my every rap, every song, or every album. Just sayin’.
Favorites: “Tapout”; “We Been On”; “Dreams Come True”; “Bigger Than Life”
- Album Review – Rich Gang – Too Much Of A Bad Thing (thepoetryquestion.com)
- Video: Rich Gang Album Release Party Ft. Birdman, Lil Wayne, Juvenile (getmybuzzup.com)