Jack Johnson, From Here To Now To You © Brushfire

Chart Moves, September 25, 2013: Jack Johnson, Miley Cyrus and Drake

Jack Johnson, From Here To Now To You © Brushfire

Jack Johnson Tops Without A Hitch 

Every time there is supposed to be a slugfest for the no. 1 spot, that just fails to happen.  Again, after it was prognosticated that no. 1 was a toss up – this time between Jack Johnson and Justin Moore (seemed odd being honest), Jack Johnson did what he does – scores no. 1 albums.  From Here To Now To You opened at the penthouse with 117,000 copies.  Blah numbers right? His previous album sold more than twice as much as that, moving 243,000 copies its first week.  As for the bridesmaid Justin Moore, he debuted at no. 2 with Off The Beaten Path to respectable numbers (97,000 copies).  Hey, when you have never come near six figures, you’re doint something when you just miss by a smidgen, right?

Justin Moore, Off The Beaten Path © Valory

Besides Moore, country shined this week on the Billboard albums chart.  Chris Young can probably thank single “Aw Naw” for the no. 3 bow of A.M. With 54,000 copies.  Sure that makes for a low ceiling, but when you’re not exactly a household country name, those are some solid numbers.  Maybach Music Group (MMG) finds themselves in a familiar spot at no. 4 as Self Made 3 sells 50,000 copies.  That’s healthy for a compilation, but just not a MMG one necessarily.  The fine Self Made 2 sold 98,000 copies, nearly twice as many as this less heralded one. Avicii did well to land at no. 5 with 50,000 copies of debut TRUE sold.  However, another country brother didn’t get it done; Billy Currington found himself at no. 10 with only 26,000 copies of We Are Tonight sold.  Wonder if being charged with terroristic threatening played a role in the cool reception?

Miley, Miley, Miley

Wasn’t it just weeks ago that Robin Thicke was on top the world for like twelve weeks with “Blurred Lines”? Katy Perry knocked him down, but her plan to stay atop the roost didn’t materialize as one Miley Cyrus shut that down with a nude video for actually likable song “Wrecking Ball”.  “Wrecking Ball” has already done something that popular first single “We Can’t Stop” or even earlier career single “Party in the U.S.A.” was unable to do – landed at no. 1.  I’m not really into Miley’s shock value, but I’ll give credit where it is do.  I’m onboard with “Wrecking Ball”… the song. Congrats on another week at no. 1.

Who’s Got Next?

Some of the releases from Tuesday, September 24 should definitely put some numbers on the chart… but you just never know with the way album sales have waned.  Drake should definitely make the top truly top heavy with his highly anticipated third album Nothing Was The Same.  Then there’s that southern rock band Kings of Leon who are releasing their first album in a couple of years (Mechanical Bull).  What about the oldies? Elton John, Sting, and Cher also dropped.  What about a newbie like Icona Pop? Hopefully, these albums move units and don’t disappoint. Drake, we’re counting on you!

Review: MMG, ‘Self Made 3’


As the money continues to pour in, originality drops a smidgen

MMG⎪ Maybach Music Group Presents: Self Made 3 ⎪Atlantic⎪⎪ US Release Date: September 17, 2013

Rick Ross-20130912-18Let’s just cut to the chase… this is the third Maybach Music Group compilation.  That’s a statement in itself.  While the saying is that “third time’s charm”, this particular installment actually seems to be less enthralling than the previous installment. Sure, there is plenty of gangsta to respire here, but this time there is a lack of that surefire juggernaut like “Power Circle” or the coolest funeral arrangement tune “Bury Me A G”.  Maybe Rick Ross spent a little too much time counting his bread, but this feels much more like a compilation.  Oh well.

Self Made 3 opens with “Lil Snupe Intro”, which serves as a ‘remembrance’ of the slain teenage rapper, with Rick Ross providing the eulogizing close: “R.I.P. Lil Snupe / Dream Chasers, Double M for life.” The brash, unapologetic “Gallardo” provides the first full length cut and smash for the compilation, credited to Gunplay, but also features Trina, Rick Ross and Yo Gotti.  “I only f*ck with n***as in them Lambos (Gallardo) / I only f*ck with n***as in them Lambos (Murcielago)…,” Trina asserts on the explicit though ‘guilty-pleasure’ catchy hook. “The Plug” proceeds with Meek Mill delivering in his distinct tone and style, laden with nuance.  Omelly and Young Breed also make appearances, taking respective turns on verses two and three.  “Gallardo” is the better cut of the two, but “The Plug” isn’t far behind.

On “Levels”, once more the listener is spoiled by Meek Mill’s quick paced, loud, and brutally honest flow.  “Lil n***a we don’t rock the same clothes, f*ck the same h**s / cuz it’s levels to this sh*t / lil n***a we don’t drive the same whips, we don’t f*ck the same chicks / cuz it’s levels to this sh*t…” Alrighty then Mill.  “Levels” grows a bit monotonous, but isn’t bad if somewhat small-minded itself.  “Lay It Down” packs a punch with its assertiveness in lyrical attitude as well as production.  Still, the Rick Ross, Lil Boosie & Young Breed feature doesn’t compare to some of the best showings from 2012 compilation Self Made 2.  Sure the cues are in play and Rick Ross is still ‘The Boss’, but “Lay It Down” seems too cliché.

Wale-PRN-103557Stack on My Belt” is once more attributed to Rick Ross, featuring Wale, Whole Slab, and Birdman.  The results? It gets my approval.  Sure it’s about the money, but sometimes being cocky and confident against a fresh beat (or one jacked from past Rick Ross hits) gets the job done.  Now the line about boxers Rick… um… “Black Grammys” opens quite similarly to juggernaut “Power Circle” from the previous installment, with Rick Ross making a Michael Jackson/weed allusion… Maybe it’s unoriginal and all, but Wale seems to be on autopilot on the cut, spitting the expected agile rhymes (“As far as lyrics I’m quite content with celibate living / wittingly unfuckwittable with these syllables…”) Meek Mill takes the second verse, followed by Rockie Fresh, and closing sharply with J. Cole (“N***as don’t wanna hang, I’m the tree, I’m the noose / you lil pups couldn’t pee on my roots…”)  It runs long at nearly six minute, but there are plenty of positive attributes.

Stalley brings some luxurious rap to Self Made 3 on the fine “Coupes/Roses”.  My question is, when does his album drop?  “Coupes and roses, flowers for the dead / fresh made, we bow our heads, give thanks for this bread / Lord keep us safe and our families out the feds / my OG asked it square, and this is what he said: we should,” raps Stalley on the standout hook.  Omarion adds some hardcore R&B swag on “Know You Better”, bringing along Fabolous and Pusha T.  Pusha T takes first blood before the “O” singer compels with his smooth, though sensual pipes (“Tell me do you like to f*ck, or do you just like making love?”).  Well produced and strongly performed, “Know You Better” is good, though also long and not quite the ‘second coming’.  If one Omarion cut wasn’t enough, “Say Don’t Go” proceeds the former, grinding and living up to its slow jam status.  Good it is for the most part, “Say Don’t Go” does lacks the ‘wow’ factor.  Also sex doesn’t make up for it either, now matter if O just “wanna put [his] key in your ignition…”

After some not-so-soft contemporary R&B, luxurious rap returns with Rockie Fresh’s “What Ya Used To”, featuring Hit-Boy.  Hit-Boy produces the hot joint, incorporating his usual banging drum programming and some mad string synths.  The sound of the record is a welcome contrast, which allows it to standout.  “Great Americans” shines, thanks to the soulful production and strong lyrical moments from Rick Ross, Rockie Fresh and Fabolous.  “Kilo” isn’t horrid, but it reminds me a lot of “Bugatti” and neither Ace Hood or Future is on it! Maybe it’s the lack of substance of the theme: “I used to pray to get a kilo, a kilo / 36 hoes up that route for my amigo / throw it in that water, watch it swim like Nemo / Man I swear to God I pray to get a kilo…” At least the lush Rick Ross, Lupe Fiasco and Wale feature “Poor Decisions” alludes to irresponsibility, right? Maybe Lupe says it best: “Why you lettin’ the devil beat you out your soul…”

Meek Mill-ZNV-001334Meek Mill is the attributed artist on the slickly produced banger “Bout That Life”, receiving assists from French Montana, Iceberg, K Kutta, and Torch.  The hook is minimal for sure: “These p***y a** n***as / ain’t bout that life, ain’t bout that life (you ain’t bout that life)…” Sure it’s not exactly poetry, but we all know Milly rocks out on hard beats like this one. STILL, it is over six minutes long and the loop grates a bit after a while! Rockie Fresh closes out the compilation with “God Is Great”, which cleverly features a vocal loops consistently singing “God”.  That said, Fresh seems to be ‘thanking God for the wrong things’, if you catch my drift.  “Yeah, oh man, look at me / I’m becoming everything I wish I be / I got b**ches, I got cake / wake up everyday and I say: ‘God is Great’…” Hmm.

Ultimately, Self Made 3 is good, but not stellar. There are plenty of strong cuts, but there are also some that feel like re-writes of the past or just so-so.  Still, Rick Ross can continue to count his bread.

Favorites: “Gallardo”; “Stack on My Belt”; “Coupes/Roses”; “What Ya Used To”; “Great Americans” 


Verdict: ✰✰✰½

Keith Urban, Fuse © Capitol Nashville

Chart Moves, September 18, 2013: Keith Urban’s Narrow No. 1

Keith Urban, Fuse © Capitol NashvilleChart Rewind: Highlights from Last Week (September 11, 2013) 

Ariana Grande found her debut album Yours Truly debuting at no. 1 with 138,000 copies sold.  Tamar Braxton followed behind her in the no. 2 spot with Love and War selling an impressive 114,000 copies.  Nine Inch Nails returned with their first major label effort in a couple of years, selling 107,000 copies.  John Legend arrives to a cooler reception as Love in the Future sells a somewhat underwhelming 68,000 copies good for a no. 4 start.  Jaheim’s numbers are also modest, as Appreciation Day enters at no. 6 with 58,000 copies sold.  As for others charting, Bastille’s Bad Blood bowed at no. 11, Neko Case’s Worst Things Get, The Harder I Fight…  lands at no. 12,  while former typical top ten R&B artist Raheem DeVaughn found his fine A Place Called Love Land debuting outside the top 20 at no. 22. Ouch!

Keith Urban Debuts At No. 1, By A Smidgen 

Keith Urban debuts at no. 1 with latest album Fuse, but it was no landslide.  Urban’s latest sold under its 100,000 prognostication, selling 98,000 copies.  Respectable in an age where few albums are wowing with their sales figures, but certainly not ‘juggernaut’ status.  The Weeknd really just needed a little more firepower behind it with its 95,000 copies to top the charts with Kiss Land. But no. 2 ain’t bad, especially when his last album the compilation Trilogy debuted at no. 4 with 86,000 copies.  He came up… a little.  As for Urban, well, he’s had better charting days – much better.

2 Chainz
certainly didn’t make the impact on the charts that his debut Based On A T.R.U. Story did in 2012 (no. 1, 147,000 copies).  2 Chainz suffers from the sophomore slump as B.O.A.T.S. II #METIME lands at no. 3 with 63,000 copies.  Those are better numbers than anticipated, but still, maybe dumbness isn’t paying off for ol’ boy. Janelle Monáe has a solid debut as The Electric Lady lands at no. 5 with 47,000 copies.  The Arctic Monkeys do relatively well all things considered, landing at no. 6 with 42,000 copies sold of album AM.  As for Ms. Sheryl Crow, she’s had better days as Feels Like Home debuts at no. 7 with only 36,000 copies.

Top 10 holdovers rule the rest of the chart including Luke Bryan’s Crash My Party at no. 4, Tamar Braxton’s Love and War at no. 8, Ariana Grande’s Yours Truly at no. 9, and John Legend’s Love in the Future at no. 10.

Miley Hits No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100

There is plenty to scrutinize about Miley Cyrus (like a crap-ton), but “Wrecking Ball” gives the rebellious twenty-year old her first no. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.  Honestly, the song itself is quite likable… yes I said it.  It’s the video that raised eyebrows, specifically some tongue/sledgehammer action and the nudity.  But regardless, Miley came up.  I could make a Katy Perry joke in regards to “Roar”, but I won’t.

Who’s Got Next?

519q2dveFcL._SL500_AA280_The fall is always rich with new albums.  This week is no different. Jack Johnson seems to be leading the charge as From Here To Now To You wouldn’t be a shocking chart topper come next week. Maybach Music Group return with a third compilation set Self Made 3, while MGMT return with their third, self-titled effort.  Elvis Costello and The Roots have a thing going on with collaborative album Wise Up Ghost, while a country trifecta of Chris Young (A.M.), Justin Moore (Off The Beaten Path), and Billy Currington (We Are Tonight).  Johnny Lang also bows with his latest (Fight For My Soul) as does power-pop favorite Five For Fighting (Bookmarks). Need some electronica/dance? How about Avicii’s debut True?  Or some alternative goodness – Grouplove’s Spreading Rumours.  Jam-packed week, but Jack Johnson seems like he’ll be hard to beat.

Has Wale Got Next With ‘The Gifted’?


“… I go hard, I’m ballin’, I’m globetrottin’ / and my flow art my n***a, I’m Mozart with it…” Yep, that’s one confident Olubowale Victor Akintimehin, better know as Wale.  Wale has quickly risen higher among the rap ranks, which is amazing considering his first album of note,  Attention Deficit (2009) wasn’t a commercial smash despite solid critical reviews.  Despite a ‘loss in game one’, Wale came back to take ‘game two’ with 2011 effort Ambition, released on the ever growing, popular Maybach Music imprint.  Talk about a jump from nothin’ to somethin’, Wale definitely achieved the ‘come-up’ he deserved, given his skill.

June 18, 2013 was the day that 'Yeezus' was born...
June 18, 2013 was the day that ‘Yeezus’ was born…

Wale has the advantage or the disadvantage of proceeding what I dubbed as ‘Hip-Hop Tuesday’ – that June 18th day in which albums dropped by standouts Kanye West (Yeezus), J. Cole (Born Sinner), and Mac Miller (Watching Movies With the Sound Off ). The advantages  for Wale following such a crowded week is he should have a great shot at debuting at or near the top of the charts, much like his sophomore album Ambition did in 2011 (no. 2, 164,000 copies). With what seems to be minimal competition on June 25th (India.Arie‘s unfortunately under-promoted Songversation is among releases), Wale’s biggest competition could be the second week totals for West and perhaps even J. Cole, who’s been over-performing based on prognostications for Born Sinner.

wale080311_shot5_4478But with advantages also come those pesky disadvantages. The biggest question is will folk go the record store (and digital outlets) to support Wale? I remember Chamillionaire was hoping that after a blockbuster hip-hop week – Kanye West (Graduation) and 50 Cent (Curtis) vying for the top spot of the charts – that hip hoppers would support home the following week with his sophomore album, Ultimate Victory. Guess what? They didn’t and the Grammy-award winning “Ridin Dirty” MC found himself in the ‘sophomore slump’.  I don’t see this happening with Wale as the album seems highly anticipated, but the question of just how much support will arguably Maybach Music Group‘s best MC receive? I hope, based upon his distinctive and often intellectual rhymes that Wale is able to seal the deal.

Quick Thoughts on The Gifted

Wale ⎪ The Gifted ⎪ MMG / Atlantic ⎪⎪ US Release Date: June 25, 2013

Wale is definitely a standout, which should go without saying.  Similarly his third album, The Gifted is both consistent and exceptionat through and through.  On this particular effort which I had the pleasure of listening (I’ve reviewed it elsewhere), Wale benefits from meaningful rhymes and soulful production work. I mean, it just feels right when Wale can ride over a Marvin Gaye sample, right?

wale-yardfestOn opener “The Curse of the Gifted”, Wale opens with a bang referencing jealous haters stating  “…and y’all don’t even gotta love us / but you will respect this motherf**kin’ hustle…”. This continues on a second consecutive standout “LoveHate Thing” where Wale stopped “giving a f**k about opinions…” and is “…temporarily out of fizzucks / so tell the post to leave propaganda to the politicians…” Wale generally eschews club bangers, but manages one that’s not completely shameful or desperate in “Clappers“, even if  lyric “shawty got a big ole butt” isn’t the most profound, poetic line ever.  But hey, didn’t he already thrill us with that Diplo produced hit “Slight Work” previously?  And of course there’s the thoughtful “Bad”, which should be relable no soley to women but also to men with ‘relationship’ issues.  Song after song, Wale brings something worthwhile to the table.  And even with a star studded guest cast, it is Wale that outshines them all, the ‘gifted’ artist that he is.

Verdict: ✰✰✰✰

Hopefully, Wale gets the respect (via a sound commercial showing) he deserves.  The Gifted rocks and so does its MC.  I mean, can you really deny the impressive agility of Wale’s flow? That’s rhetorical by the way.

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Random Thoughts: Rick Ross Doesn’t Ask For Much According to “Bury Me A G”


Self Made 2 © Warner Bros.

Rick Ross, one of today’s most ubiquitous MCs, is featured on the cover of the most recent issue of Rolling Stone, shirtless (collective gasp). But anyways, Ross appears to be a relatively simple person (well maybe aside from that big stream of pot he was smoking)  after reading the article.  This just confirms what I already knew based upon Ross’s song off the recent Maybach Music Group compilation.  On the closing cut “Bury Me A G,” all Ross wants to do if he dies today is to be buried in ‘clean drawers’ – pronounced DRAWS and he doesn’t get specific whether he’s a boxers or briefs man and I’m sure no one cares – AND he wants to be buried ‘with his dawgs.’ That’s not asking much, right? I mean, he keeps repeating about his ‘dawgs’ over and over again, so I assume he’s ‘SO SERIOUS’ about it.  I mean, wouldn’t you be serious if you wanted to be buried like a G? I’d expound, but it’s pretty simple considering William Roberts lays it out pretty simply.


Here is the link to Ross’s Rolling stone ‘spread’: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/on-the-cover-rick-ross-gangster-of-love-20120815

Photo Credits: © Warner Bros.