ScHoolboy Q, Blank Face LP © Interscope

ScHoolboy Q Keeps It 100 on ‘Blank Face LP’


ScHoolboy Q • Blank Face LP • Interscope • Release: 7.8.16

Some albums require more time…to listen to/comprehend that is.  That is the case with West Coast rapper ScHoolboy Q‘s fourth studio album, Blank Face LP.  After absorbing Blank Face LP, it’s magic unfolds to the listener.  The first time though…it can be trying, confounding, and off-putting.  All in all, this is one of the year’s better rap offerings.  Clearly, it didn’t receive the sales, debuting at no. 2 with 74,000 units, BUT, even those numbers are respectable for time where almost NOTHING sells proficiently.

What’s the general premise of Blank Face LP? Hustling, the street life, and real talk. This is very much a West Coast LP through and through.

Favorites from Blank Face LP are as follows: “Lord Have Mercy,” “THat Part,” “Groovy Tony/Eddie Kane,” “Ride Out,” “Dope Dealer,” and “JoHn Muir.” You can check out the full rundown on Blank Face LP at The Musical Hype. The link to the review resides below.

West Coast rapper Schoolboy Q delivers a dark and intriguing effort on his highly anticipated fourth album, ‘Blank Face LP.’ The post ScHoolboy Q, Blank Face LP (Review) 6 more words

via ScHoolboy Q, Blank Face LP (Review) — The Musical Hype

Photo Credit: Interscope
Blackbear, Help © beartrap

Blackbear Shares His Demons and Showcases Potential on ‘Help’

Blackbear, Help © beartrap

Blackbear • Help • beartrap • Release Date: 11.27.15

“Don’t stop what you’re doin’, white boy.” Hey, that’s Blackbear’s lyrics, not my assessment of the Hollywood, CA R&B singer. On album Help Blackbear certainly proves he can sing and has both illuminating potential and talent. Is Help enough to propel the indie artist to superstar status? Probably not, but he’s certainly doing something right on Help.

Help opens with “Don’t Stop,” where the opening quote is lifted. Slickly produced moody contemporary R&B, Blackbear is very much part of the Drake universe of R&B – highly influenced with pop-rap. Does it work? – Yep totally. “Oh Lord” is deeper though, thanks to multiple references to “the plug” as well as lyrics like “White on white on white on white” and “All these uppers and downers / I put that sh*t in a blender / I mix that pixy stick powder.”

“Slide Thru” is sex – what else can you say? Blackbear proclaims, “It’s ‘bout that time you slide thru / bring nothing but your p***y and that perfume.” He goes on to characterize her by an old hip-hop cliché – she’s “bad as f**k.” Ultimately it’s predictable but solid, though Jerry Good could’ve avoided the “Mashed potatoes got you creamin’ white” lyric – just saying!

“Paragraphs” continues to embody the draggy contemporary R&B predominant in the 2010s (so weird to write 10s isn’t it).   “Paragraphs” is taken from the male perspective with relationship issues. Give Blackbear credit for showcasing vulnerability, even if the profanity almost seems to intensify the masculinity a bit beyond Bear’s troubles.

“Nervous” leans more towards pop-rap, appropriately so given the amplified ‘swagger’ that’s apparent here. With “Nervous” is drenched in swag, it sacrifices any sense of depth – it’s about money, plain and simple. Again, Blackbear does his thing, but that ‘thing’ is predictable.

“Where Was U?” has more oomph and ‘substance,’ with Blackbear expounds upon his demons and ambitions – “These commas up on my mind / always thinkin’ ‘bout M’s…” Ultimately, “Where Was U?” ends up being the classic “No New Friends” scenario because once you ‘come up,’ everybody wants to be your ‘friend’ or wants a piece of you. That’s why Blackbear asks, “Where was you when I was hungry? / Where was you when I was all alone.”

Title track “Help” depicts Blackbear’s struggles with addiction as well as an apparent unwillingness to check into rehab. In the first verse he sings, “And maybe it’s time for divine intervention / but f**k it, I’ll die how I want to.” The reference to Bear’s condition is highlighted once more when Maejor performs his verse conversationally, at one point saying, “I’m worried about you, Bear.”

“Different Hos” is what you expected – about all the “hos” that Blackbear can bag. Nothing new here, so NEXT! Penultimate cut “Verbatim” finds Blackbear concerned about ‘her’ health: “And you’ve been on too long, girl / that cocaine make you crazy.” His answer – “I’mma cut you off it that’s what I gotta do.” Closing cut “Hustler” isn’t about drugs (shocking), but rather monogamy and coming up. Give Blackbear for ending Help with more substance…respectable substance that is.

Ultimately Help is a solid effort. It doesn’t rewrite the R&B script and the topics, though personal, are often tried-and-true. Regardless, Blackbear has lots of potential. Perhaps going beyond the predictable and expected is the next step in his artistic development. But for now, Help works without a hitch.

Favorites: “Don’t Stop,” “Oh Lord,” “Where Was U?” and “Help”


The Case AGAINST Chris Brown

Chris Brown, Royalty © RCA

Chris Brown fans won’t like this, so if you’re one of those types, exit now – or find a different article (preferably here at that tickles your fancy. Again, to reiterate, if you have a thing for Breezy, this article is NOT for you. Okay, disclaimer disclaimed…proclaimed? Okay, enough rambling!

Personally, in my humblest of music critic’s opinion, Chris Brown’s artistry has waned. Yes, there is a case against the R&B singer who was once a hot commodity ARTISTICALLY. He’s still hot – or so his female fans of all ages would opine – but as an ARTIST, he’s in a rut.

Now, I’m going to play devil’s advocate against the bold aforementioned hypothesis that’s actually not so bold or far-fetched. How is a ubiquitous artist like Chris Brown possibly in a rut? He’s on everybody’s joint! Okay, I’ll now support my assertion and rebuttal the argument of the opposition – this is getting freaking nuts, right?

Chris Brown is quite popular, as his supporters will be quick to state such as they should. Having listened and reviewed a number of R&B and hip-hop albums, it was rare to find an album where he wasn’t a collaborator. He’s definitely not hurting for employment and he deserves jobs – he has a fantastic voice. His popularity and his instrument aren’t part of this case against Brown – it’s his approach that has him in an artistic rut. He’s pigeonholed himself, or been pigeonholed – whichever comes first. (BTW, are you sick of the prominent use of dashes yet?)

Basically, anytime I see Chris Brown featured on a track with someone else, I’m often turned off. Maybe it’s not quite an eye-roll-able turn off, but part of me just wants to groan like “UGH, AGAIN!” No, it’s not because I don’t like him or I have a problem with his personality (NOTE: I don’t care for his persona but that’s unimportant here), but because it’s predictable. Basically, Brown seems to do nothing different musically or thematically on these collaborations or his albums. It’s always about hip-hop excess – drugs, sex, and boatloads of profanity.

The old saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but in an industry where timeliness is key, won’t a static Brown eventually fade? Likely yes – everybody only has a certain period of time in the limelight as a truly lucrative force. Even now, you could question Brown’s lucrativeness compared to the earlier portion of his career (Chris Brown’s prolonged success, Exclusive and F.A.M.E.). Why doesn’t he switch things up?

Here’s my latest disappointment with Mr. Brown: Royalty. After a despicable collaborative album with Tyga (Fan of a Fan: The Album), on his latest solo album, Brown had the chance to show newfound maturity beyond the excess. He artwork with a picture of him holding his daughter, so it would seem perhaps his album will reflect him taking responsibility. That’s not the case. On Royalty Brown is up to his old tricks, dropping excessive f-bombs and clumsy sexual references. R. Kelly he ain’t!

So to sum up, the case against Chris Brown is being too comfortable. Artistically showing more range, especially considering his vocal gifts, would definitely make more people respect him. For an image as tarnished as his, he needs all the accolades he can get. Stone me if you wish, but you know it’s true – Breezy sings about the same thing time and time again!

Next victim…err on to the next article!

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”


Rihanna, Bitch Better Have My Money © RocNation

Rihanna’s “BBHMM” Gets The Dramatic Music Video It Deserves [Reaction]

Rihanna, Bitch Better Have My Money © RocNation

Ah, the highly anticipated music video for Rihanna’s brash, unapologetic single “B*tch Better Have My Money” has finally arrived! The single can be best characterized by its blunt and biting sound and sentiment as opposed to substance. That said everybody knew or should’ve figured out that if/when a music video materialized, it would have to match the aforementioned qualities of the single itself. So box one is definitely checked off with “BBHMM” for short.

So, what are the overall impressions of “BBHMM?” It’s definitely “over the top.” Rihanna, did you really need to take things this far? The answer is NO – “N” to the “O” NO. Nudity, drugs, blood, and of course plenty of money are prevalent throughout the course of the music video. Does the outrageousness of the video ultimately takeaway from its effectiveness? NO. Just like Rihanna may not have needed excessiveness, that same excessiveness doesn’t kill the vibe. Let’s dissect this thing a wee bit – just like a crayfish from middle school science class!

Let’s go for the questionable facets first – the nudity! Why is it necessary for this video to have such explicit nudity or at least the amount of nudity that is has? This is where the “over the top” comes in because this is more shock value as opposed to an important facet of the storyline or the song. Yes, we get that Rihanna wants to show she’s a bad chick – that goes along with being a twisted criminal. But, it’s slightly uncomfortable overkill. Personally, my question was, why did they strip the victim of her clothes? She was funding their activities, couldn’t they utilize a “sense of poise and rationality?” Guess not! Additionally, the violence is also, um, overdramatic. Nude Rihanna covered in blood at the end? Yes, everyone agrees Rihanna is hot, but hotness goes beyond nudity and has little to do with bloodiness – something like that.

The aforementioned questionable facets of “BBHMM” raise a particular inquiry – Where can this video be played besides online? Honestly, isn’t it a bit surprising that YouTube is letting this one go? You have to wonder, if it were a less notable artist than Rihanna, would this video be accepted? I think you already know the answer to that question. Moving on!

The other aspects of the video seem to work, particularly the “money.”   Money had to be part of the video for the song – money is in the title. Had there been no money, Rihanna would’ve had the most epic of #EPICFAILS on her hand. Can you just imagine if the “chick” she references within the title DIDN’T have that money? It was bad enough the victim was loaded and Rihanna took complete advantage of her.

All in all, “BBHMM” gets the dramatic, explicit music video it deserves. Honestly, the video makes you enjoy the single more. While “BBHMM” became part of my gargantuan music collection when it first came out, it wasn’t among my favorites to spin on my iPod. Seeing the video though, it has inspired me spin it again.

Miguel in Coffee music video (RCA, YouTube)

Examining Miguel’s ‘Wildheart’ – Through The Lyrics

Miguel, Wildheart © RCA

One of contemporary R&B’s most intriguing musicians is Miguel Pimental, best known by just his first name, Miguel. After captivating critics and fans alike on his sophomore album Kaleidoscope Dream, Miguel returns with his highly anticipated third album, Wildheart. You can find a ‘traditional’ review of Wildheart by yours truly here. So that said, this is no traditional review but rather an examination of some of the album’s most intriguing lyrics and the interpretation of what those lyrics mean.

1)“Speeding through all of these red lights, fast life / dreaming a beautiful exit / we’re gonna die young” – “Abeautifulexit” (Chorus)

Interpretation: It’s a risk anytime that you drive through a red light – you could end up in a fatal accident. What Miguel is suggesting is literally “speeding through all of these red lights,” but metaphorically living on the edge and ultimately dying young because of the thrill.

2) “No fear, no shame, wildhearts can’t be broken / you’re here for a reason” – “Abeautifulexit” (Verse 2)

Interpretation: The key parts of these lyrics are “no fear, no shame.” Like the aforementioned lyric from “Abeautifulexit,” it’s all about living on the edge and enjoying life to the fullest, even if it means an early demise – “a beautiful exit.”

3) “Love me, love me for profit, I can make you go down / I can show you the money if you wanna go out” – “DEAL” (Verse 1)

Interpretation: The “profit” of which Miguel speaks of here seems to be sex.

4) “Want money? Got clout / Need b**ches, need b**ches / Give it to me” – “DEAL” (Chorus)

Interpretation: The “DEAL” is again, what’s going to go down in the bedroom. We all know what that is…

5) “I’m your pimp, I’m your pope, I’m your poster baby / Confess your sins to me while you masturbate… this is hard babe, play your part baby / Then we all get paid” – “The Valley” (Verse 1)

Interpretation: Does this really need an interpretation? Miguel is begin naughty. He’s horny, and “it’s about to go down.” Case closed.

6) “I wanna f**k like we’re filming in the valley / I wanna push and shove and paint your hills and valley / I got a red idea to expedite the ride / put it over, pull em to the side…” – “The Valley” (Chorus)

Interpretation: The second excerpted lyrics expand upon the fantasy/reference that Miguel began earlier. Call it “Hollywood” love…or lovin’…

7) “We talk street art and sarcasm / Crass humor and high fashion / peach color, moon glistens, the plot thickens…” – “Coffee” (Verse 1)

Interpretation: Miguel and his boo talk about random things, and then rather than talk, they begin to play…

8) “Wordplay, turns into gun play / And gun plays turns into pillow talk / and pillow talk turns into sweet dreams / sweet dream turn into coffee in the morning” – “Coffee” (Chorus)

Interpretation: You do realize that Miguel doesn’t mean literal “coffee,” right? “Coffee” represents the ultimate guilty pleasure – the refresher in the morning. Miguel’s coffee is not only his boo in general, but also, um, the “pleasures” they experience in the morning.

9) “It’s the smell of your hair / and it’s the way that we feel / I’ve never felt comfortable like this” – “Coffee” (Post-Chorus)

Interpretation: Miguel does a fine job of laying it out here himself…

10) “She just wanna have fun / she just want a wild n***a right now / She just wanna f**k crazy / She just wanna f**k ‘till she can’t move no more” – “NWA” (Verse 1)

Interpretation: She’s bad, he’s wild, and the mix of both will make for wild sex essentially. Any questions? – Didn’t think so.

11) “Don’t stop, I wanna ride that wave / all night, I wanna ride that wave / Look here, I’m gonna surf in it baby / I’m getting turnt in it baby / Putting work in it baby / Keep working it while I ride that wave” – “Waves” (Chorus)

Interpretation: Innuendo to the nth degree. There is no literal wave. He’s going to “ride” something, but she’s the “wave” of choice.

12) “Too proper for the black kids, too black for the Mexicans / Too square to be a hood n***a, what’s normal anyway?” – “What’s Normal Anyway” (Verse 1)

Interpretation: Miguel doesn’t fit the mold. Sure, not everyone can relate to the specific scenario Miguel offers here, but what is relatable is “not fitting” into certain characterizations. The big picture is broader than the specific one Miguel offers here.

13) “Too immoral for the Christians, but too moral for the cut-throat / too far out for the in crowd, what’s normal anyway?” – “What’s Normal Anyway” (Verse 2)

Interpretation: Basically, the same explanation goes as in #12. This time, Miguel just switches it up between “moral authority” and outright heathens. He’s a sinner, but not the chief amongst sinners…something like that.

14) “Said wow, up fame, became your religion woman / Unique as you are your faith is coming / now the walk of shame woman, it’s reputation / Cheap thrills, fake friends, coke binge, what a numb sensation…” – “Hollywood Dreams” (Verse 2)

Interpretation: You can go a lot of ways with this particular quote. If you examine this literally, this girl has become a star, hence attaining her “Hollywood Dreams.” Also literally, there are drugs involved. Metaphorically speaking, “Hollywood Fame” seems less important, as this quote/song seem to be about a relationship of excesses – sex, drugs, and general irresponsibility.

15) “I’ve got a gun, called love, let’s have some fun, baby you’re in love…” – “Destinado a morir”

Interpretation: This is not about a glock – at least not the kind those without a dirty mind are thinking about…

16) “If we should die, I hope we die together / if not, at least I’ll know just where we’ll be” – “…goingtohell” (Verse 2)

Interpretation: Ah, more of the whole “death” thing. Basically, Miguel is willing to accept that he’s going to hell, but it’ll be better since him and his boo are both sinners so they’ll go together. There’s some problems with this thinking obviously, but you can see Miguel’s thought process.

17) “I’m a slave to your flesh / Woman put me right where I belong” – “FLESH” (Chorus)

Interpretation: One word – sex.

18) “Lost summers here as we both bathe in sweet sin / Leave it to me, I’ll give you something to believe in” – “FLESH” (Verse 3)

Interpretation: What he’s giving her “to believe in” is SEX. IT’S OBVIOUS PEOPLE!!!

19) “Heart caught in a rift, cold pacific waters / keep on pulling me under, drowning in my sorrows…You say that it’s over / how could it be over? I never saw it coming…” –“Leaves” (Verse 2)

Interpretation: The relationship is down the tube, and Miguel “never saw it coming.” The sentiment here is universal to say the least.

20) “Cause when it’s time to face the sun / I know that you’re the only one” – “Face The Sun” (Verse 1)

Interpretation: He’s in love with her – not like, but genuine love. This is not sexual, but based upon a genuine, emotional connection. 

Rick Ross, Hood Billionaire © Def Jam

Rick Ross’ ‘Hood Billionaire’ Pales in Comparison To His Best 

Rick Ross, Hood Billionaire © Def Jam

Rick Ross • Hood Billionaire • Def Jam • US Release Date: November 24, 2014

“Quarter key got me livin’ like I’m Don King / heavyweight, I’m in the ring n*gga ding ding…” Rick Ross may not be throwing any right hooks, but the elephantine rapper does release his second album of 2014, Hood Billionaire. Shallowly titled, Hood Billionaire additionally proves to be shallow thematically.

Aimed as a conceptual effort of sorts with Ross playing the coke dealer reaping the benefits from his hustling ways, Ross’ approach is an attempted contrast to his past work without being starkly different. While Ross attempts to change-up things, he’s only lukewarm in execution. Don’t get it twisted, Ross and Hood Billionaire have their moments, but it also has many a pitfall as well.

Following a blasé intro, Hood Billionaire kicks off with its dramatically produced title track. Lacking a pure hook, “Hood Billionaire” serves as a showcase of Ross’ rhyming skills. Ultimately, it works, with Ross flexing a mean braggadocio: “Double M empire, I know these n*ggas fear me / I’m already rich, I’m tired of bein’ famous / I done f*cked all these b*tches, I can’t even name ‘em…”

Ross ensures hustling gets its just due (“still got them quarters”), something that’s the forefront of “Coke Like The 80s,” where Ross provides his ever-reliable references to “shooters.” Being the ‘billionaire’ that he is Ross ensures his material excesses are mentioned (Jesus piece, Rolexes, etc.). Lyrically, Ross throws a slick, twisted punch spitting, “Catch you jackin’ your dick, now you f*cked in the game” – charming to say the least.

More of the same comes by way of “Heavyweight” featuring Whole Slab, where Ross memorably (if clumsily) spits “Diamonds on my pinky, women on my dizzle / bulletproof the Lincoln, there go Ricky Rizzle.” Ross does redeem himself with his references to the heavyweights, but more redemption comes by way of the sound “Neighborhood Drug Dealer,” where Ross claims to “still pay my child support, in all trap money.” He follows up with “Phone Tap,” where he states, they “wanna give me time for my old raps /indict me for my own raps.”

Following the luxurious, soulful “Trap Luv” (featuring Yo Gotti), Ross delivers one of Hood Billionaire’s best, “Elvis Presley Blvd,” the buzz single for the set. That said why does it seem wrong the way that Ross references Priscilla (“I got Priscilla, I got Priscilla / I got vanilla, boy, I got vanilla”)? ‘Priscilla’ of course isn’t really referencing Presley, but rather cocaine – his M.O.

Similarly, “Movin’ Bass” sadly isn’t about a bass line, but also cocaine. Among the oddest tracks on the album, its hyper rhythm is inescapable. Jay-Z delivers the hook: “See them plaques on a n*gga wall / we still movin’ bass / got them records jumpin’ off the store / we still movin’ bass.” Keeping things 100, “If They Knew” brings along K. Michelle, who delivers one of the most confounding lyrics of the album on the hook: “Sweet but sad / I don’t know how love ruins a relationship.” Throughout, Ross discusses the effects of a hustling lifestyle on a relationship, or a so-called relationship.

Sadly on “Quintessential,” guest Snoop Dogg’s ideas of quintessential things are shallow: “Titty one, titty two / see these are essentials speaking quintessentials.” Arguably, “Keep Doin’ That (Rich B*tch)” isn’t any more refined, but the production, not to mention R. Kelly’s vocals are definitely on point. Still, the play on the word ‘b*tch’ is in poor taste. But it’s no different than the majority of rap music these days.

“Nickel Rock” (featuring Boosie Badazz) is all about Ross hustling to pay the bills, something he referenced previously on “Neighborhood Drug Dealer.” On “Burn,” he rivals a Teflon Don number, “I Am Not A Star.” He couldn’t leave “Burn” without a jab at George Zimmerman (“George Zimmerman, when I see you, you gotta burn”). The standard edition of Hood Billionaire closes with two soulful cuts – “Family Ties” and the even better, more soulful Big K.R.I.T. assisted “Brimstone.” 

Ultimately, Hood Billionaire pales in comparison to Ross’ best work. There are some great moments, but there’s also always the sentiment that Ross is running low on things to rap about. An entire album built upon hustling cocaine and reaping the benefits of sales is a bit over the top. While Ross’ ambitious is greatly appreciated, he ultimately falls short of the glory.

Favorites: “Hood Billionaire,” “Neighborhood Drug Dealer,” “Elvis Presley Blvd.,” “Keep Doin’ That (Rich B*tch)”


 Photo Credits: © Def Jam
Riff Raff, Neon Icon © Mad Decent

Ridiculous Lyrics from Riff Raff’s ‘Neon Icon’

Riff Raff, Neon Icon © Mad Decent

Idiosyncratic rapper RiFF Raff dropped album Neon Icon on Tuesday, June 24, 2014. The album can be described as being ‘one of a kind.’ That said, Neon Icon is also much better than expected, giving listeners a ‘treat’ you might say. The biggest treats from Neon Icon besides RiFF Raff’s personality itself are the lyrics, many of which are outlandish as albeit. Featured below are some of the most enjoyable and ridiculous lyrics from Neon Icon.


“You wanna know something about my right arm? / I done flex so hard, I set off fire alarms…” – “Introducing the Icon” 

Basically, RiFF Raff considers himself to be “the man,” much like the Aloe Blacc song.


“Aw sh*t look who it is, it’s the Gucci Man with the spray tan…” – “Introducing the Icon”

These lyrics represent one of several instances where RiFF Raff seems to compare himself to someone black – in this case, rapper Gucci Mane.


A photo posted by RiFF RaFF JODY HiGHROLLER (@jodyhighroller) on


“…A lot of sh*t up on my chest, Dolly Parton” – “Kokayne”

RiFF Raff has a lot to say. He likens this to Dolly Parton’s… you see where I’m going with this.


“Ice on my hands, should have won a damn Grammy” – “Wetter Than Tsunami”

“Ice” is normally associated as being bling, but even from RiFF Raff the assertion that his bling would qualify him to win a Grammy seems incredibly ludicrous. The MC seems to be referring his own gifts as a rapper (he’s the “ice”), stating those gifts should have already been recognized at the Grammys, the premier recognition of artistry.


“Met this b*tch at the mall, ass like two volleyballs / supersize the chain, like it was McDonald’s” – “Wetter Than Tsunami” (Verse 1)

This one is easy. RiFF Raff lusts after a hot girl he met the mall, particular admiring her booty. Additionally, RiFF Raff loves his bling-bling, specifically getting the biggest chain he can. He likens his gaudy chain to the largest, most popular food chain, McDonalds.


“Hyper color chain with the Similac flow / rocking all this snow, might freeze a rainbow” – “Wetter Than Tsunami” (Verse 2)

RiFF Raff is iced out. “Iced” takes on a second meaning in this particular song, referencing how sick he is as an MC.


“Paperboy, talk noise / now I’m in Chinatown, Bok Choy” – “Versace Python” (Verse 1)

Bok Choy is Chinese cabbage – at least that’s the traditional definition. “Paperboy” likely refers not to the newspaper delivery boy, but rather someone loaded with money. Even though RiFF Raff is “getting paper,” perhaps he shops in Chinatown, getting what he wants for less… or maybe not.


“When I wake up, it’s a mystery / every time I open my mouth, history” – “Versace Python” (Verse 2)

RiFF Raff is a party animal. Whatever he ends up spitting, however is classic.


“Yeah mysterious, my mermaids are bi-curious / she done got intoxicated, girlfriend is furious…” – “Lava Glacier” (Verse 1)

Seems like RiFF Raff’s fantasies are realized. Enough said.


“Like an addict threw up, I done poured a four in a codeine / Sonic the Hedgehog cup versus Knuckles in my mailbox cup…” – “Lava Glacier” (Verse 1)

Drugs, drugs, and more drugs. “Four” and “codeine” are a dead giveaway RiFF Raff is referencing the infamous sizzurp.


A photo posted by RiFF RaFF JODY HiGHROLLER (@jodyhighroller) on


“Tip-toeing in my Jordans / I done came down / Tip-toeing in my Jordans / Just copped a Porsche / Tip-toeing in my foreign / You motherf*ckers borin’ / you sleeping on me, snorin’ / don’t worry, cause I’m…” – “Tip Toe Wing in My Jawwdinz” (Hook)

RiFF Raff is awesome, and yet any number of people aren’t paying him the attention he deserves. He also takes the time to brag about material things, like any other rapper of course.


“At the titty bar, I ain’t afraid to tip ‘em / me and Sergio throwing pesos at some strippers…” – “Tip Toe Wing in My Jawwdinz” (Verse 1)

“Make it Rain” seems appropriate here… just saying.


A photo posted by RiFF RaFF JODY HiGHROLLER (@jodyhighroller) on


“My skills bending hands, no more shaking hands / you got to bring some bad b*tches if you want a second chance” – “Maybe You Love Me” (Verse 1)

Apparently the way to appeal to RiFF Raff is to provide him with women to have sex with. Otherwise, you’re off his radar.


“I pull a car apart / You should practice martial arts, the way you karate chop my heart / I could leave your ass or you could play your part / You could reset or we could restart” – “Maybe You Love Me” (Verse 2)

Perhaps there is an emotional component, but the lyrics scream sex.


“Hassle me I’m Tim McGraw, I don’t pass the ball / ball hard, fourth quarter, shoot the lights off / fast break, three-on-one, I’ll tear the basket off / Aw sh*t, look who it is the white Wesley Snipes” – “Aquaberry Dolphin” (Verse 1)

Basically, RiFF Raff ‘goes off’ when the game is on the line. No defense can stop his scoring abilities – he’s the MVP. Whether or not RiFF Raff actually can ball is besides the point – he’s rap’s MVP and can out-rap anybody.


“Mark my words, I don’t need acceptance / I’m catching interceptions on you innocent pedestrians…” – “How to Be the Man” (Verse 1)

RiFF Raff likens his game as an MC to being a football player making big time plays capturing interceptions. That’s “how to be the man” after all.


“Might hit the club and it’s the white Danny Glover / Rap game Uncle Ben pulling rice out the oven…” – “How to Be the Man” (Verse 2)

RiFF Raff’s likening of himself to Danny Glover is silly, but it seems like the rapper has great respect and admiration for the veteran actor. While the MC referencing Uncle Ben’s rice would have been awesome without any strings attached, anytime cooking is mentioned in hip-hop, it’s usually shady.


A photo posted by RiFF RaFF JODY HiGHROLLER (@jodyhighroller) on


“They wanna tell you what you can’t do based on formal facts / If I wanted to hear that bullsh*t I’d be in history class” – “Cool it Down” (Verse 2)

Education isn’t important to RiFF Raff, particularly given the emphasis placed on it. He writes off education in these lyrics as facts that are meaningless to him and his life.

Chief Keef Offers Little Substance on “Rehab”


Chief Keef • “F*ck Rehab” • Glory Gang / Interscope Single Release Date: March 13, 2014

51sWsU0kKtL._SL500_AA280_Chief Keef – that’s that MC that I don’t like… just keeping it one hunna… Maybe that’s too harsh or an unfair statement to make, but Chief Keef failed to impress on his 2012 debut LP Finally Rich. Few would deny the potency of “I Don’t Like” from Finally Rich (I was onboard), while some may be even more generous and give the MC a nod for “Love Sosa” or the incredibly irresponsible “Hate Being Sober”. Still, the album as a whole was lacking in quality material.  Additionally, it was an epic fail as far as commercial aspirations – ole boy didn’t make money of ironically title album itself! Yes, Chief is a young dude (a teenager) and surely development and progression will hopefully develop him into a well-rounded MC.  However at this point, in the present, Chief is so-so at best.  Some might even say he sucks, but we won’t take the criticism to that level.  Latest single “F*ck Rehab” certainly doesn’t find Chief upping the ante where depth of lyrics or themes is concerned, that’s for sure.

Chief Keef2-20121023-78F*ck Rehab” sort of piggybacks on Keef’s better songs, namely “I Don’t Like” and “Hate Being Sober” with its unapologetic sentiment.  This unapologetic approach is a strong suit and isn’t where the skepticism lies. The problem is, this five-minute plus track isn’t nearly as good or catchy as the MC’s “aces in the hole”.  Sure, Keef at least has basis for “F*ck Rehab” given the alcoholic indulgence of “Hate Being Sober”, but the rhymes again lack, well, substance, despite their approval of substance abuse.  The hook, much like the title just lays it all out there: “F*ck rehab! Oh no no no…” As they say in AA, “the first step is admitting that you have a problem” and apparently, the rebellious, rambunctious MC doesn’t think he does.

Throughout the track, the references to Keef’s dope usage are prevalent.  “B*tch I be smoking dope what you mean?” Chief Keef-20121023-77Keef raps on the opening line of his verse.  He truly throws up double birds to the notion of entering rehab later within the verse: “Let me get them hitters, I’m counting out the cut, getting loud now / and that ain’t even registered, they come and clean the sh*t up like pronto / I could be on the block running round shooting sh*t up like Rambo / but the judge gonna lock me up for smoking a little dope.”  An assisting Big Glo only encourages bad habits, rapping about “uppers” and being “numb” from using them.  Adding to the irresponsibility is reference to violence, specifically resorting to guns: “Sosa’ll buck, we might just go shoot up a club / that sh*t ain’t gon’ cost but a dub / my lawyer gon’ give me some plug.”  SMH!

Ultimately, “F*ck Rehab” is as much an open book as Chief Keef has proven to be so far into his career.  He doesn’t care ultimately.  And if he doesn’t care enough to deliver songs with some true lyrical substance behind the tough-nosed attitude, why should we, the hip-hop fans give a [bleep]? I’ll admit, I don’t care for “F*ck Rehab” as a song nor as a message.  Additionally, I’ll admit I had no desire to like it even prior to listening.  Call it biased, but the title itself gives you all you need to know and the song offers little beyond that.  Ultimately, “F*ck Rehab” isn’t too hot.

Verdict: ★½

Review: 2 Chainz, ‘B.O.A.T.S. II: #Me Time’


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

2 Chainz-ZNV-000958Let’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.

2 Chainz-ZNV-001216On “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.

2 Chainz-RWP-011385Used 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…

2 Chainz-RWP-011380Then 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 PattersonChrisette 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”

Verdict: ✰✰✰✰