Kendrick Lamar, untitled unmastered. © Aftermath/Interscope

Kendrick Lamar’s Untitled Unmastered Tops on Billboard 200 (Chart Takeaways)

Kendrick Lamar, untitled unmastered. © Aftermath/Interscope

Kendrick Lamar may have surprised with the release of Untitled Unmastered but it’s no surprise he earned the top spot on the Billboard 200. Who else graces the Brent Music Reviews chart takeaways this week besides the West Coast MC?

1) Kendrick Lamar is a beast – simply unstoppable. Not everybody can release a surprise album with success. Kendrick doesn’t have that problem. Untitled Unmastered…no promo…no problem…it’s no. 1…enough said.

2) 2 Chainz’s own surprise album Collegrove can’t match the sales prowess of Kendrick (few can) but the album does start respectably at no. 4.

3) Joey + Rory’s Hymns That Are Important To Us ascends from no. 10 to no. 6. The set has spent all four of its weeks on the chart in the top 10. Joey + Rory Inspired: Songs Of Faith & Family enters the charts at no. 126.

4) Some urban releases receive slight bumps (positional only) this week. The Weeknd’s Grammy-winning Beauty Behind The Madness improves from no. 12 to no. 9 28 weeks in. Kevin GatesIslah rebounds from no. 13 to no. 10 in its sixth week. Bryson Tiller’s TRAPSOUL jumps from no. 14 to no. 11 in week number 24.

5) Granger Smith’s Remington enters the Billboard 200 as the third ranked new release this week. Even so, it starts modestly at no. 12.

6) A fine album, Ray LaMontagne’s Ouroboros didn’t exactly electrify the chart with its no. 13 start, a disappointing start for the reliable singer/songwriter.

7) NewsboysLove Riot starts at no. 14, definitely not too shabby for a CCM act.

8) Charlie Puth’s Nine Track Mind reenters the top 20 this week, improving eight spots from no. 24 to no. 16.

9) Ninja Sex Party’s latest album Under The Covers starts at no. 17.

10) Country veteran Loretta Lynn’s comeback album, Full Circle, debuts at no. 19. Keep in mind Lynn is nearly 84 years old.

11) The 1975 had a horrid second week. I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It plummets from no. 1 to no. 26 in only its sophomore week. Phew!

12) Yo Gotti’s The Art Of Hustle slides 13 spots from no. 16 to no. 29 after three weeks on the Billboard 200.

13) Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are DEFINITELY experiencing that nasty bug called “the sophomore effect.” This Unruly Mess I’ve Made plummets 27 spots from no. 4 to no. 31 after just two weeks in.

14) Bonnie Raitt’s Dig In Deep falls 27 spots from no. 11 to no. 38 in its second week on the charts.

15) Miike Snow’s iii only musters up a no. 47 debut. J. Cole signee Bas does even worse as Too High To Riot enters at no. 49.

16) Steve Curtis Chapman’s Worship And Believe quietly debuts at no. 87. Yep, the numbers aren’t much here folks.

17) Grammy winner Esperanza Spalding’s win for Best New Artist did nothing for the sales or chart position of her new album Emily’s D+Evolution. The set lands at no. 88.

18) The StrutsEverybody Wants barely makes the top 100, opening at no. 99. CLOSE CALL!

19) Wiz Khalifa’s “epic fail” of a run continues with Khalifa. It slips 26 spots from no. 97 to no. 123.

20) It’s More Rain for M. Ward, which debuts at no. 128.

21) Tweet’s Charlene takes a mighty tumble, slipping from no. 42 to no. 130 in week two!

22) Like thanks to its Google Play sale price, Tank’s Sex Love & Pain II reenters the Billboard 200 at no. 132 marking its sixth week on the charts.

23) Week two wasn’t so hot for Willie Nelson. Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin drops 117 spots from no. 40 to no. 157.

24) Not a good run for Vince Gill. Down To My Last Bad Habit started at no. 35 (not great). In week four, it slips 33 spots from no. 136 to no. 169.

25) Who had the lowest debut on the Billboard 200 this week? That would be Lapsley who barely nabs a spot with Long Way Home. The album starts at no. 196…


25 Best Rap Songs of 2015

After flexing my muscles (writing, not biceps) and compiling the best songs and best albums of 2015, how about diving into genres? Here’s a quickie – 25 Best Rap Songs of 2015. Are there some ‘best’ songs that didn’t get loving from yours truly? Probably, but that’s life, and life’s a five-letter word that rhymes with witch at times. Enough rambling – you don’t need any writing diarrhea – here are the 25 Best Rap Songs of 2015!

1) Kendrick Lamar, “Alright” (To Pimp A Butterfly)

What might be most impressive about “Alright” is the fact it grabbed a nomination for Song of the Year at the 58th annual Grammys.

2) Drake, “Hotline Bling”

The song itself is fire, but add in the video and Drake’s dancing and it’s that much more awesome! 

3) Kendrick Lamar, “How Much A Dollar Cost?” (To Pimp A Butterfly)

“How Much A Dollar Cost?” is clearly the deepest rap song of 2015 and honestly, one of the deepest songs regardless of genre.

4) Big Sean featuring Drake, “Blessings” (Dark Sky Paradise)

Hey, we felt as “WAY up” as Big Sean and Drake did on this gracious jam.

5) Future featuring Drake, “Where Ya At?” (DS2)

It’s pretty simple with this one: “Where ya ass was at?”That’s pretty much all that’s uttered in this catchy jam.

6) Kendrick Lamar, “The Blacker The Berry” (To Pimp A Butterfly)

Kendrick can do no wrong. Literally, he can’t. Third. Song. On. This. List.

7) Logic featuring Big Lenbo, “Young Jesus” (The Incredible True Story)

Hey, going “back to the 90s” never felt/sounded better than in Logic and Big Lenbo’s hands.

8) Wale featuring Usher, “The Matrimony” (The Album About Nothing)

According to Wale, “The Matrimony” is the “realest shit I ever wrote.” He just might be right. If nothing else, it’s definitely deeper than “Clappers” was.

9) Future, “I Serve The Base” (DS2)

Future “served the base” after he “Thought it was a drought.” All of it involves drugs of course. See “The Plug” later for the continuation.

10) Kendrick Lamar, “King Kunta” (To Pimp A Butterfly)

Nobody’s cutting your legs off Kendrick – has it been mentioned you’re a rap savior (no false idolatry of course!)

11) Drake & Future, “Diamonds Dancing” (What A Time To Be Alive)

“Diamond, Diamond, Diamond, Diamonds on me dancing” – Nuff said.

12) Meek Mill featuring Tory Lanez, “Lord Knows” (Dreams Worth More Than Money)

Say what you will about Meek Mill, but he knows how to “go H.A.M.” on an opener. He does just that on “Lord Knows,” which samples Mozart. 

13) Dr. Dre featuring Candice Pillay, Kendrick Lamar & Marsha Ambrosius, “Genocide” (Compton)

Would it shock anybody if it were asserted that Kendrick Lamar makes this song? The superb production doesn’t hurt either!

14) Mac Miller, “100 Grandkids” (GO:OD AM)

“When I first made 100 grand, thought I was the shit…” Regardless of whether he is or isn’t , the song is the SugarHoneyIceTea.

15) Ludacris, “Beast Mode” (Ludaversal)

People slept on Ludacris’ Ludaversal, but they missed out on a treat with “Beast Mode,” which finds the MC as unapologetic and brash as ever!

16) Drake & Future, “I’m The Plug” (What A Time To Be Alive)

Need to be educated on who ‘the plug’ is? It’s Future. Yeah, it may technically be Drake and Future, but it’s mostly Future. See DS2 if you need confirmation.

17) Tech N9ne featuring B.o.B & 2 Chainz, “Hood Go Crazy” (Special Effects)

While Tech N9ne had his share of lamentations on Special Effects, the swagger-laden “Hood Go Crazy” wasn’t the least bit sad.

18) Pusha T featuring The-Dream, “M.F.T.R.”

As Pusha T tells it, these days, folk just want to be “more famous than rich” for some reason. Go figure!

19) Jadakiss featuring Lil Wayne, “Kill” (Top 5 Dead or Alive)

It was a nice surprise to get Jadakiss back following a lengthy six-year hiatus. It might’ve been even better getting a reinvigorated Lil Wayne on his fiery verse on “Kill.”

20) A$AP Rocky featuring Joe Fox, “Holy Ghost” (At. Long. Last. A$AP)

It is crystal clear that A$AP Rocky and the church don’t go together on “Holy Ghost.” Who cares though – it’s one of the best songs off the rapper’s sophomore album, not to mention one of the best rap songs of 2015.

21) Meek Mill featuring Drake, “R.I.C.O.” (Dreams Worth More Than Money)

Ah, it was “RICO” that served as the catalyst for the fallout between Meek Mill and Drake. While that’s part of the reason the song was included on the list, most of the reason why it appears here is because it’s a great song, period.

22) The Game featuring Drake, “On Me” (The Documentary 2)

Sampling Erykah Badu’s classic “On & On” was enough to earn “On Me” a spot on this list. Of course, “On Me” goes above and beyond its lush backdrop. Oh and BTW, Kendrick Lamar is featured on it…just saying!

23) Rick Ross, “Ghostwriter” (Black Market)

As Rick Ross tells it, “it be so lonely at the top.” What more can you say?

24) A$AP Rocky featuring Rod Stewart, Miguel & Mark Ronson, “Everyday” (At. Long. Last. A$AP)

Definitely the most soulful A$AP Rocky joint ever right – the legendary Rod Stewart and Miguel? Yaaaaasssss!

25) Lil Dicky featuring Snoop Dogg, “Professional Rapper” (Professional Rapper)

Yeah, this is the type of song choice for a best of list that gets stones cast at you. Are there arguably better songs than the pseudo-comic rap that is “Professional Rapper”? Yes, but can you deny the infectiousness of this Dicky/Snoop Dogg collab?

Travis Scott, Rodeo © Epic

Travi$ Scott, ‘Rodeo’ – Review

Travis Scott, Rodeo © Rodeo

Travi$ Scott showcases potential, not a homerun on debut Rodeo 

Travi$ Scott • Rodeo • Epic • Release Date: September 4, 2015

As either a professional music critic or a lover of music, you’re not always going to LOVE every album – that’s just the nature of the beast. Some albums make themselves incredibly difficult to love or are difficult to listen to. Sometimes those difficult albums are exceptional works, but have themes that are depressing, uncomfortable, or dark. Stacy Barthe’s BEcoming was one of those exceptional albums, yet hard to listen to albums.

So, what’s the point of the rambling aforementioned paragraph? Well the point is that this music critic has encountered a confounding album that he doesn’t love. He – being yours truly – doesn’t hate the said album, but hears the flaws in addition to the potential. 23-year old Travi$ Scott just might be Houston, Texas’ next big thing in rap, yet even so, his debut Rodeo for all its promise has its lulls. With Kanye West’s influence all over it, Scott’s over self-indulgence in shallowness gets the best of him at times.

“Pornography” opens with a spoken word intro by T.I. Enigmatic to say the least, the opener seems to emulate ‘opening the can of worms’ that is pornography itself. If that’s not enough, Travi$ Scott’s hook continues the odd, yet captivating trip, characterized by singing and distorted and autotune drenched vocals. The second half of the song Scott raps, keeping things unpredictable and entertaining.

“Oh My Dis Side” featuring Quavo follows, clocking in at just under six minutes. Like the ambitious opener, Scott keeps his brand of rap interesting with its unpredictability. Divided into two distinct parts – “Oh My” and “Dis Side” – both are unique. On “Oh My,” Scott discusses his demons and shortcomings from the past (“I’ve been in and out the courthouse, jury tripping / I’ve been flipping, flipping syrup, sipping…”), while “Dis Side” seemingly depicts his ‘come up.’ 

“3500” featuring Future and 2 Chainz gives Rodeo arguably it’s most notable ‘hit’ at this point in the album. “3500” isn’t straightforward by any means, but there’s more potential for commercial flare, particularly given its two featured guests. So what’s the song about exactly? Well from the hook, it’s apparent that H-Town (aka Houston, Texas) is boring on Sundays, and “$3500” was spent on a coat. On Scott’s verse, he spits about drugs, women, and living it up. Similarly, Future and 2 Chainz are all about the shallower things. Shallow it may be, the production bangs and so does “3500” overall. H-TOWN!

“Wasted” featuring Juicy J finally gives Rodeo a song of standard duration. The legendary Pimp C appears posthumously, adding some extra personality: “It’s really going down in the god damn south / I’m trill, I’m country ‘til the end.” Like everything preceding it, “Wasted” is quirky, requiring additional listens to absorb all it has to offer. What is clear is that it sounds as inebriated as its title suggests.

“90210” featuring Kacy Hill maintains the modus operandi of Rodeo – confuse the H-E double hockey sticks out of the listener. “90210” begins so spacey and druggy, it makes the listener hallucinate. Okay, maybe it’s an embellishment, but it isn’t until the third verse that there’s more stability, with Scott overtly spitting. Indeed a work of art, this won’t be for everybody.

Bringing in alt-R&B standout The Weeknd on “Pray 4 Love” makes perfect sense for Scott – Two drug-loving “peas in a pod.” The vocal production surrounding The Weeknd’s vocals truly make them pop out of the production, one of the big pros of this track. Taking it a step further, The Weeknd steals the show on this slow jam, particularly on his verse. “Pray 4 Love” also benefits from having a smidgen more substance – the difficulty of stars to find real love.

“Nightcrawler” featuring Swae Lee and Chief Keef blends in with everything else – overindulgence in the moodiness and a lack of depth lyrically. While some of this is perfectly fine, Scott takes it to the excess. The again, the song is about excess and youthful irresponsibility. Still, did this need to last over five minutes? No. Again, it makes you drunk just listening. 

“Piss On Your Grave” featuring Kanye West continues to drive Rodeo in an I don’t give a f- direction. Aggressive and unapologetic, “Piss On Your Grave” lasts shy of three minutes but packs one of the mightier punches of the album. If some of the rest of the album takes a while to sink in, “Piss On Your Grave” gets its point through ‘loud and clear’ the first listen.

“Antidote” is one of the better songs from Rodeo. That said, it is the ninth track on an effort who’s scattered unpredictable script has grown predictable. By the time you reach the ‘antidote,’ the effort has grown a bit exhausting. When separated from Rodeo however, the “Antidote” gives Scott a well-rounded hit. It’s not the second coming but definitely less bizarre than “90210” and more enthralling than “Nightcrawler.” 

“Impossible” is forgettable – another instance of self-absorbedness. This track is so weighty it becomes a lethargic bore-fest. Maybe Scott is pouring his soul out on lines like “Nights like this, I wish I could do the impossible,” but literally it feels more like a lullaby and not a memorable one. In timely fashion, the one-two punch of “Maria I’m Drunk” (featuring Justin Bieber and Young Thug) and “Flying High” (featuring Toro y Moi) reinvigorate fading energy. Neither “I Can Tell” or “Apple Pie” break new ground.

Overall, Rodeo is an album that has its moments. It’s imperfect, but there are enough good moments to make it an interesting listen. The biggest problem with Rodeo is that it’s too long and ultimately, too self-indulgent. Sure Scott is young and wild, but a smidgen more depth would’ve truly went a long way with Rodeo. 

Favorites: “3500,” “Pray 4 Love,” “Antidote,” “Mariah I’m Drunk,” and “Flying High”


Tech N9ne, Special Effects © Strange Music

Review: Tech N9ne Delivers Epically Eclectic Effort with ‘Special Effects’

Tech N9ne, Special Effects © Strange Music

Tech N9ne • Special Effects • Strange Music • US Release Date: May 4, 2015

Tech N9ne is one of a kind. Yep, this is a cliché characterization that could be used to describe almost any musician, but in the case of Tech N9ne, it’s true. He ranks among the most eclectic rappers in the game, with most of his eclecticism coming from being an underground presence as opposed to a commercial figure. As of late, Tech N9ne has naturally built a more faithful commercial fan base, hence why many of his albums have consistent debuted in the top echelon of the Billboard 200. N9ne’s latest effort Special Effects is no different – it landed at a familiar spot – number four on the albums chart.

Special Effects is a big album – ambitious in scope and overextended in regards to duration. Even if its 80-minute run is overlabored, Tech N9ne offers an album that is strong from start to finish. Given his stylistic restlessness, Tech N9ne incorporates a little bit of everything on Special Effects and by everything that includes classical music as well!

On “Aw Yeah? (Intervention)” Tech N9ne ‘goes off,’ literally. He says it best himself: “I’mma yell while I’m walking through this hell cause I’m furious.” The sentiment of “Aw Yeah? (Intervention)” is anger, finding the rapper struggling with the loss of his mother. This is confirmed on the exceptional “Lacrimosa,” which like the Mozart requiem movement that fuels it, is a memorial of sorts (“Zoned out cause my mother is gone…my duty go if I’m moody yo, get up and get the song out…”).

The classical influence of “Lacrimosa” is completely worn off by the ‘Sunday Evening’ portion of Special Effects led by “On The Bible,” which is unquestionable hardcore, street-based rap. “Bible” is used as a source of morality within the title and contextually, but ultimately, there is little sanctified about “On The Bible.” “Shroud,” another winner (featuring Krizz Kaliko), is eerily dark, as N9ne raps, “This is darkness accumulated / over the years and heartless buffoons that made it.” Things grow their most disturbed on “Psycho B**ch III” featuring Hopsin. Honestly, no explanation is needed: “You’re just a shady b**ch, on the daily on some crazy s**t / you don’t f**k around with a lady, it’ll be a blaze where your Mercedes sit.”

“Wither” is nothing short of epic. Featuring Corey Taylor of Slipknot, has rap dude ever rocked out harder? This is one of the better metal/rap combinations you will ever here as both artists feed off of each other’s energy. “Wither” is the final full-length closing out ‘Sunday Evening’ before “Hood Go Crazy” dominates the ‘Monday’ portion of Special Effects. The production work of “Hood Go Crazy” allures and hypnotizes the listener before N9ne further ‘blesses’ the standout with his blunt rhymes. He gets some help from B.o.B. and 2 Chainz. How does N9ne follow it up? – With a joint featuring Lil Wayne, Yo Gotti, and Big Scoop (“Bass Ackward”).

‘Tuesday’ features just one song, “No K” featuring E-40 and mainstay Krizz Kaliko. Arguably Wednesday’s joints stand out more, including the Eminem guest spot on “Speedom (WWC2)” and the malicious, haunting groove of “Yates” featuring Marcus Yates. Of course N9ne eats up the production and the competition, proclaiming, “Lately I’ve been like f**k rap… cause all these tough cats really don’t have no nutsacks / trust that ‘nough scratch does back much wackness / flush that s**t…” On ‘Thursday,’ one of the more ‘pop-oriented’ records appears via “A Certain Comfort” featuring Kate Rose.

The remainder of Special Effects is consistent without outperforming the very best. For example, “Life Sentences” is another solid showing, but could never supplant “Psycho B**ch III.” Similarly, the classical touches of “Dyin’ Flyin” are stunning, but not quite enough to usurp the valedictory “Lacrimosa.” Still, that choir at the end though coupled with those strings – gorgeous and chilling!

Ultimately, Strange Effects is another superb album from Tech N9ne. Is it perfect? – No, but its pros (including ambition) easily outweigh its cons (mostly length). Yes it’s too long, but at least Tech N9ne knows how to do an album up right and keeps his audience engaged. Truly, there is something for everybody to spin over and over. For yours truly, its “Lacrimosa” and “Hood Go Crazy.”

Favorites: “Aw Yeah? (Intervention),” “Lacrimosa,” “Shroud,” “Psycho B**ch III,” “Wither,” “Hood Go Crazy,” “Yates,” “A Certain Comfort.”


Game, The Documentary © Aftermath

10 Best Songs by Game

Game, Blood Moon- The Year of the Wolf © Entertainment One

On Tuesday, October 14, West Coast rapper Game dropped latest studio album, Blood Moon: Year of the Wolf. While Game’s numbers have downgraded as of late commercially (who hasn’t), the rapper has had quite a run that has included three #1 albums. Across all his albums, Game has delivered some sensational songs – more than the 10 gracing this list. That said, personally, these would be my picks as Game’s 10 best songs.

1) “Dreams” (The Documentary)

Game has had plenty of exceptional songs in his career, but none have surpassed this Kanye West produced classic.   This is Game at his best as well as Mr. West doing some of his most superb production work of his own career. The hook remains as memorable as ever: “Blushin’ in this 40 ounce, lettin’ the ink from my pen bleed / ‘cause Martin Luther King had a (dream) / Aaliyah had a (dream), Left Eye had a (dream)…”

2) “Hate It or Love It,” featuring 50 Cent (The Documentary)

There’s quite a viable argument that “Hate It or Love It” is Game’s best, even over “Dreams.” Give “Dreams” the edge for its ambition, but maybe just by a nose. This was definitely Game’s breakthrough song, even edging out “How We Do” (sits at #7 on this list). “Hate It Or Love It” peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.

3) “Ali Bomaye,” featuring 2 Chainz & Rick Ross (Jesus Piece)

Too high – maybe for some, but personally, “Ali Bomaye” sounded like a bonafide hit from the first listening. How cool is it that Game used a Muhammad Ali cheer? Sure, 2 Chainz isn’t the most profound MC out there, but this record is nothing short of ‘fire’ anyway you examine it.

4) “Da Sh*t” (Doctor’s Advocate)

“I’ll let the whole world know that I can’t be stopped / even without Doc I’m stil from the (Streets of Compton).” Talk about a banger – “Da Sh*t” doesn’t disappoint in the least. Bad to the bone, on the hook, Game’s badness is highlighted: “I’m a G, you can’t see me / that must be, why you’re talkin’ / (shut your mouth b*tch) / I’m the sh*t, and you know it / never stops, there’s no stoppin’.”

5) “It’s Okay (One Blood),” featuring Junior Reid (Doctor’s Advocate)

Keeping it G, “It’s Okay (One Blood)” is every bit as aggressive, confident, and biting as “Da Sh*t.” Need proof – look no further than Game’s first line: “I’m the Doctor’s Advocate, n***a Dre shot ya / brought me back from the dead, that’s why they call him the doctor.”


6) “Never Can Say Goodbye,” featuring Latoiya Williams (LAX)

“Never Can Say Goodbye” is arguably one of Game’s most underrated songs. The dark horse of L.A.X., an album generally considered a shade below The Documentary and Doctor’s Advocate in quality, “Never Can Say Goodbye” was a definite bright spot as Game remembers the best in the game. What game – the rap game – the dead legends.

7) “How We Do,” featuring 50 Cent (The Documentary)

“How We Do” was a Billboard 100 Top five hit. Only “Hate It Or Love It” gave Game a higher charting single. It’s definitely not amongst Game’s most profound singles ‘lyrically,’ but it drips in swag and confidence. 50 Cent’s hook seals the deal where that is concerned: “This is how we do / we make a move and act a fool while we in the club…”

8) “Red Nation,” featuring Lil Wayne (The R.E.D. Album)

While not quite on the same level as his best, “Red Nation” makes magnificent use of a sick Zombie Nation sample (“Kernkraft 400”). The hook is signature Lil Wayne:   “Now Blood the f*ck up / every day’s a gamble motherf*cker tough luck / and we gon’ f*ck the world ‘til that b*tch bust…” yeah, that’s enough!

9) “See No Evil,” featuring Kendrick Lamar & Tank (Jesus Piece)

“See No Evil” serves as arguably the second-best track from Game’s controversial Jesus Piece.   Of course Game shines, but what about the brilliant verse from the always-captivating Kendrick Lamar. Tank’s vocals get an odd treatment here, but you can still hear his soulfulness.

10) “Let’s Ride” (Doctor’s Advocate)

Profundity is not Game’s selling point on lets ride, particularly with lyrics like “Somebody tell me where the drinks at / where the b*tches at / you f*cking on the first night, meet me in the back,” but he does his West Coast thing capably if nothing more here. Regardless if “Let’s Ride” is devoid of substance at times, Game executes shallow well. And, he always keeps it G (“…I’m in the club on some gangsta sh*t”).

Photo Credits: © Aftermath, © Entertainment One
Rihanna, Talk That Talk © Def Jam

The ‘Birthday’ Album: Celebration Playlist

Katy Perry, "Birthday" © Capitol

So… two years ago, I composed a post that was titled Three Songs With The Word “Birthday” In Them To Celebrate My Birthday. Now two years later, also on my birthday, I’m celebrating with an expansion of that brief playlist. Call this the ‘Birthday’ Album – a playlist comprised of 14 songs celebrating my birthday. Some are truly great birthday songs, while others are left field and left of center. The only stipulation – all song titles had to contain the word “birthday.” A couple of songs are reprisals from the original.

1) 2 Chainz featuring Kanye West, “Birthday Song” (Based on a T.R.U. Story, 2012)

“All I want for my birthday is a big booty hoe / all I want for my birthday is a big booty hoe.” While it’s a catchy line from a hella catchy song, I can’t exactly relate with 2 Chainz’s aspirations for his birthday. Love is one thing, but 2 Chainz is clearly thinking with his pants and temporarily.


2) Katy Perry, “Birthday” (Prism, 2013)

“Boy, when you’re with me, I’ll give you a taste / Make it like your birthday everyday.” Who would deny this from Katy Perry? Offer accepted!


3) Jeremih, “Birthday Sex” (Jeremih, 2009)

“Girl you know I-I-I…just need your body to make / birthday sex / birthday sex.” So basically, Jeremih is seeking the ultimate birthday gift of sorts – at least from a young man’s perspective.

Dethklok, The Dethalbum © Williams Street

4) Dethklok, “Birthday Dethday” (The Dethalbum, 2007)

Well… the title sounded cool, yet very dark and DISTURBING. Not sure that it’s an ideal to celebrate one’s birthday. Won’t be supplanting the classic “Happy Birthday” for me at least… Lines like “Now you’re old and full of hatred / take a pill to masturbatred” or “One more year of further suffering / there’s no point of f*cking bluffing” aren’t exactly endearing… just saying!


5) Twista, “Birthday” (Category F5, 2009)

This one would definitely pair up well with 2 Chainz’s “Birthday Song” and has to be related to Jeremih’s “Birthday Sex.” Birthdays have become freaky events, apparently… This is one for the strip clubs, not a family-friendly celebration of another year of WISDOM.


6) Rihanna, “Birthday Cake” (Talk That Talk, 2011)

Speaking of freaky… Da-yum! “Come and put your name on it,” “But he wanna lick the icing off,” and “I know you want to bite this” have nothing to do with the delicious dessert that is birthday cake. This song has more in common with say Trey Songz’s “Cake” from Trigga. Ri Ri, you so nassssttttyyyy girl!


7) Kings of Leon, “Birthday” (Come Around Sundown, 2010)

Finally, something a bit cleaner! “We’re going to come together / we’re going to celebrate / we’re going to gather round / like it’s your birthday.” That’s more the spirit, after the birthday celebration became a bit too lascivious.

Stevie Wonder, Hotter Than July © Motown

8) Stevie Wonder, “Happy Birthday” (Hotter Than July, 1980)

Even more appropriate to the occasion than King of Leon’s “Birthday” is Stevie Wonder’s feel-good cut from his album Hotter Than July. You can’t go wrong with Stevie, or this innocent celebratory jam that serves as a sensational alternative to the tried-and-true standard.


9) R. Kelly, “It’s Your Birthday” (Happy People / U Saved Me, 2004)

Normally, it would be assumed that R. Kelly would turn something like a birthday into something overtly sexual. Surprisingly, Kelly reins him self in, keeping things classy. Of course, Happy People / U Saved Me was among Kelly’s most conservative releases as a whole.


10) Conway Twitty, “Happy Birthday Darlin’” (The #1 Hits Collection, 2000)

Classic, classic, classic! “Happy birthday darlin’/ I’ve no presents, no fancy cake / but I hope I’ll make you happy / with everything I take…”


11) Pleasure P, “Birthday Suit” (The Introduction of Marcus Cooper, 2009)

So, the birthday just got freaky again… thanks Pleasure P. At least you can sing like champ, LOL.


12) Selena Gomez, “Birthday” (Stars Dance, 2013)

This list is beginning to go south… Anyone who read my lovely review of Stars Dance from last year knows how I feel about ole girl – let’s leave it at that! But even as annoying as this little joint is, it is catchy…

Beach Fossils, Clash The Truth © Captured Tracks

13) Beach Fossils, “Birthday” (Clash The Truth, 2013)

Beach Fossils’ “Birthday” is definitely an interesting song – little to do with cake or ice cream though. Oh well, you win some on a ‘birthday’ playlist and you lose some. I don’t recommend supplanting this one with more traditional fare – no shade Beach Fossils.


14) Swizz Beatz featuring Chris Brown & Ludacris, “Everyday Birthday” (2012)

“Everyday is your birthday now hit the floor!” Club birthday joint – let’s get it!

Photo Credits: © Def Jam, © Capitol,  © Williams Street, © Motown, © Captured Tracks

20 Of The Dirtiest Rap Songs –

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A photo posted by Rick Ross / Yung Renzel (@richforever) on

Once upon a time, there was this popular Christina Aguilera song called “Dirrty”.  That song has nothing to do with this list of  “20 Of the Dirtiest Rap Songs,” but I was in need of an attention getter.  Don’t judge me!  But really, check out this list of raunchy rap songs that make you shake your head or cringe at the link at the bottom of the post.

By the way, there are plenty of omissions – namely Khia‘s filthy “My Neck, My Back (Lick It)” or Mystikal‘s “Shake Ya A$$.”  Don’t fear music lovers – a follow-up list is already in the works!

20 Of The Dirtiest Rap Songs –

Review: Various Artists, ‘Now 50: That’s What I Call Music’


Now 50 makes better musical choices compared to previous ‘Now’ compilations

Various Artists • Now 50 • UMe • US Release Date: May 6, 2014

Another ‘glorious’ Now That’s What I Call Music compilation has graced the music industry – Yippee (*says in a sarcastic voice*)! The series to its credit does a great job of filling the more casual, big-thinking music lover’s collection with some of the biggest singles of pop music.  The problem for me is that the series draws less praise for its timing of some of those big singles.  In other words, it’s a crapshoot of sorts.  Sometimes singles are in their prime and are hot, and other times, things have sort of cooled. Now 50: That’s What I Call Music is more of the same, but there seems to be some great song choices this round.

Jason Derulo3-20140225-46If nothing more, the first three songs are a homerun.  “Happy” (Pharrell Williams), “Dark Horse” (Katy Perry featuring Juicy J), and “The Man” (Aloe Blacc) – that’s a great way to kick off anything. “Happy” is the most relevant of those as of late, but “Dark Horse” and “The Man” are still fresh on the mind.   Those aren’t the only strong choices –“Turn Down For What” (DJ Snake & Lil Jon), “Talk Dirty” (Jason Derulo featuring 2 Chainz) and “All of Me” (John Legend) are all relevant, popular joints.  In regards to the amount of hits, it seems that Now 50 has got things better together than some of the previous compilations.

518Kz0k78ZL._SL500_AA280_That said there are a couple of question marks.  “Young Girls” courtesy of Bruno Mars is a bit old, no matter how great a track it is (Unorthodox Jukebox the album bowed in December 2012).  “Adore You” was a recent Miley Cyrus single, but the flame has been out for a while it seems and was never as great as either “We Can’t Stop” or “Wrecking Ball”.  The inclusion of a song like “#Selfie” (Chainsmokers) is somewhat clever, though compared to the most top-heavy hits of this compilation, “#Selfie” doesn’t quite have the same lifespan or memorability.  And then of course the ‘Now What’s Next!’ tracks always raise some eyebrows. Sure, Mary Lambert’s “She Keeps Me Warm” is deserved of being a ‘Now What’s Next!’ song, but the buzz surrounding the song has waned.

Ultimately, Now 50 is what it is – a compilation.  It’s not perfect, but it fills gaps within the playlist.  Does little for me, but then again, when you have a bloated music collection like mine, who needs a compilation – Just saying!


“Happy”; “Dark Horse”; “The Man”; “Talk Dirty”; “All of Me”

Verdict: ★★★½

Review: Jason Derülo, ‘Talk Dirty’

51Q2c-T9xKL._SL500_AA280_ Derülo’s over-reliance on sex and swagger holds the album back at times

Jason Derülo • Talk Dirty • Warner Bros • US Release Date: April 15, 2014

Jason Derulo2-20140225-49It has been a minute since “Whatcha Say” had this music enthusiast excited about new pop/R&B artist Jason Derülo. Nah, I wasn’t a ‘fan girl’ as any number of YouTube personalities might put it, but I did think ole boy had something fresh about him. Judging by the uniqueness of that number one hit, it seemed he was well on his way to conquering the music industry. Things didn’t quite work out that way for a number of reasons. Sure, Jason Derülo hasn’t exactly set the Billboard 200 on fire (understatement), but nor has his music since his debut truly stacked up either (no shade – or at least not that much shade, I promise). Future History, Derülo’s second album (first full-length technically), was the first sign of an artist with a connections problem. The album just didn’t have the personality or substance to make much noise. Here on his latest effort, Talk Dirty, Derülo is in much better shape; he has a big hit on his side. Even so, Derülo’s over-reliance on sex and swagger holds the album back at times.

Jason Derulo3-20140225-46Talk Dirty” kicks off the album alluringly with its sinful brilliance. Calling the joint heavenly is blasphemous considering its suggestive lyrics and equally ‘dirty’ production. By the way, “Talk Dirty” owes a ton to Balkan Beat Box’s “Hermetico” – like the majority of the production! Face it, that seductive sax comes off as nasty as Derülo’s opening lyrics from verse one: “I’m that flight that you get on, international / first class seat on my lap, girl, riding comfortable”. Nope, Jason D. is not really talking about a plane! If Derülo is a bit subtler regarding sexual endeavors, 2 Chainz is more explicit, holding little back about the ‘pleasure’. Even if you’re the type waving the finger at the shallowness Derülo and 2 Chainz exhibit, the addictiveness of the chorus section is undeniable: “Been around the world, don’t speak the language / but your booty don’t need explaining / all I really need to understand is when you / talk dirty to me”.

Wiggle” doesn’t add any greater sophistication to Talk Dirty, as Derülo uses the song to talk about booty (“You know what to do with that big fat butt…wiggle, wiggle, wiggle”). Matching the slinky nature of “Talk Dirty”, “Wiggle” is another track concentrated on getting down without ever citing genuine, authentic emotion. With Snoop Dogg assisting, confirmation is provided that it’s gotten “Hot” and X-rated. With fantasies being Derülo’s bread and butter, on “Trumpets” he sings “Every time that you get undressed / I hear symphonies in my head…yet the drums swing low / and the trumpets they go…” Right on cue, the trumpets enter, in all their brilliance. While “Trumpets” is catchy, ludicrous lines like “Is it weird that I hear / angels every time that you moan” are questionable, near – if not – deal breakers.

Jordin Sparks-20140130-45Bubblegum” brings in the king of sexed-up, minimalist rap these days, Tyga. “Bubblegum” of course couldn’t possibly retain any sense of innocence – even it becomes a naughty, raunchy reference. “She just wanna pop, pop, pop, pop, pop that bubblegum.” Yeah, what kind of bubblegum Jason? SMH. “Vertigo” arrives in the nick of time to deliver Talk Dirty from being completely overexerted. Duet-ing with boo Jordin Sparks, “Vertigo” has something the opening quartet of the LP lacked – substance. Sure, no one expects total ‘abstinence’ from Derülo or R&B in general, but “Vertigo” balances physical and emotional without just piling on, well the three-letter word. But of course, “Kama Sutra”, featuring Kid Ink, returns Talk Dirty from whence it came… no pun intended. Even though it is Kid Ink rapping here, the listener could totally picture Tyga on this track. Like the other risqué songs, it is what you make of it.

Personally, “Zipper” is a turn-off, specifically thanks to Derülo’s opening lyrics: “I’mma mark my territory / shawty I’m an animal, slowly digging into your / spread you like a bad story…” If that’s not enough to raise an eyebrow, the stupid hook accomplishes the task: “up and down like a zipper”. Even if Derülo were solely referencing his fly, “Zipper” would be nasty. “The Other Side” provides atonement, finally toning things down a might. “The Other Sides” straddles (Ha “straddles”) modern pop and contemporary R&B. Derülo shines on the big-time chorus: “Tonight, take me to the other side / sparks fly like the Fourth of July / just take me to the other side / I see that sexy look in your eyes…” Don’t call it the ‘second coming’, but it is easily among the cream of the crop of Talk Dirty.

Jason Derulo4-20140225-52Unfortunately for “With the Lights On”, the momentum fades as the song has only occurred “x” amount of times in the past. Honestly, look no further than this album itself – everything is about “the do”. “Stupid Love” at least sports more of an air of being refined, but that doesn’t make it truly notable by any means. “Marry Me” closes the standard edition of Dirty Talk trading the hook up for matrimony – quite a 360 huh? The thing is, contextually don’t “Stupid Love” and “Marry Me” both feel like departures among the clubbier cuts that ignore the emotional aspects of a relationship? Still, if you need a kinder, gentler cut, “Marry Me” is it.

Ultimately, Talk Dirty is average at best. It has its moments, but it also seems to put its eggs too much into one basket – specifically booty. Much like Derülo’s Future History, Talk Dirty seems to lack cohesion; it’s missing something. There is nothing wrong with Jason’s voice – he can sing – but his music just doesn’t lend itself to making a genuine connection as a listener. That said, nothing eclipses “Talk Dirty”.


“Talk Dirty”; “Vertigo”; “The Other Side”; “Marry Me”

Verdict: ★★★

Viral Video: Sam Tsui Covers Jason Derülo’s “Talk Dirty” Like A Champ 


First things first! I have a love/hate relationship with R&B – or urban-pop singer – Jason Derülo.  Some of his music I dig, while some of his work I kick to the curb, or off my listening rotation.  Derülo’s self-titled debut EP had some good tracks on it, specifically “Whatcha Say” with its Imogen Heap sample and the sick “Riding Solo”.  When Derülo released his proper full-length debut, Future History, I found myself a bit overwhelmed.  Perhaps it’s the biases I have towards pop- and electro-oriented R&B, or perhaps its was just some of the material was average.  Still, I was able to get “That’s My Shh” out of the album, a true contemporary R&B cut courtesy of The-Dream.  Having released a new EP, Tattoos in 2013 (Tattoos was released as a full-length album elsewhere), Derülo delivers one truly compelling hit single in “Talk Dirty” (featuring 2 Chainz).  Regardless of my criticisms of Jordin Sparks’ boo, “Talk Dirty” bangs.  It is definitely a great promo single for the artist’s upcoming album of the same name.

I didn’t think I could enjoy “Talk Dirty” anymore than I already have, until Sam Tsui (YouTube channel is The SamTsui) delivered an electrifying cover that gives the original a contrasting ‘sound’.  It wasn’t as if “Talk Dirty” needed new life, but Tsui’s take on the tastefully-risqué number offers a worthwhile alternative to the original, something many covers fail to do.  Utilizing strings as opposed to the nasty sax of the original, Tsui tailors “Talk Dirty” to his superb voice, which is definitely meant for pop stardom in my eyes.  Tsui was featured in a previous post earlier this year, covering Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” alongside Peter Hollens.  The dude definitely has talent.   He has an original album, Make It Up available digitally.