Drake, 0 To 100 / The Catch Up © Cash Money

Thoughts On Drake’s “0 to 100 / The Catch Up”


Drake, 0 To 100 / The Catch Up © Cash Money

Drake’s latest track has its moments, not without flaws 
drake • “0 To 100 / the catch up” • cash money

Anytime a new single drops from Drake, it’s big news. The World Wide Web has been abuzz with the news of Drizzy dropping “0 to 100/ The Catch Up”. Remember when a little joint by the name of “Started At The Bottom” dropped via Soundcloud? Eventually, that single peaked at number six on the Billboard Hot 100, ending up one of the bigger hits of 2013.

That said, this guy (me) wasn’t impressed when “Started At The Bottom” dropped. Even though I’m onboard for the most part today, it still falls short of the glory of better Drake tracks. “0 to 100/ The Catch Up” is ambitious to an extent, yet in some respects, feels like glorified braggadocio over six minutes. Don’t call it an epic fail, nor call it a masterpiece, as “0 to 100/The Catch Up” is…well it is something.

Summer Jam 2014 Met Life Stadium New Jersey 06/01/2014 © Alex Mateo, www.mateophoto.com / PRPhotos.com
Summer Jam 2014 Met Life Stadium New Jersey 06/01/2014 © Alex Mateo, http://www.mateophoto.com / PRPhotos.com

On “0 to 100”, Drake essentially states he can ‘bring the heat’ quickly – so quick in fact that you won’t know what hit you. Essentially on the first part of the two-part song, Drake is flexing, bragging confidently about his success. “They be on that rap to pay the bill sh*t / and I don’t feel that sh*t, not even a little bit… my actions been louder than my words n***a,” spits the MC with conviction within the opening lines of the verse. He doesn’t end his assertive, biting flow there though.

He asserts “Oh Lord, I’m the rookie and the vet / shoutout to the b-tches out here holdin’ down the set,” a clever play on word, namely with bitch (a female dog) and the veterinarian. Still, even for the untouchable Drake, you have to question some of the rhymes, like the predictable punch when Drake claims “I should probably sign to Hit-Boy cause I got all the hits, boy” or the cliché, super pop cultural reference to Forrest Gump (“Ugh, I run this sh*t, they like ‘Go Forrest / Run Forrest, go Forrest”).

After a lengthy verse – which is combination of what seems to be minimally two verses, the hook finally materializes: “I go 0 to 100, n***a, real quick / real quick, whole squad on that real sh*t…” Even with Drake’s elaborations throughout his verse, there is a sense listening to the hook that Drake really isn’t saying much or offering much new. Mostly, there are plenty of iterations of sh*t, n***a – you get the idea.

Part two, “The Catch Up” is ‘softer’ you might say – more of the moody Drake listeners have grown accustomed to. Don’t get it twisted – Drizzy is still cocky and confident, but he also seems a bit self-conscious: “Imagine how I feel to watch another n***a at the top / you know that if it wasn’t you, you would be dissin’ you, dawg…” The mix between self-confidence and self-consciousness continues, whether it’s the self-conscious “Maybe I keep movin’ forward and they’re just stagnant…” or the extremely confident “Cause if I run in the game in these, man the seams are splittin’ / no pun intended but they’re smellin’ defeat in the air / headed where nobody took it, who meetin’ me there?” Even by the end of Drake’s verse (prior to the James Blake outro), Drake keeps things open-ended: “Cause I’m only 27 and I’m only gettin’ better / If I haven’t passed you yet, watch me catch up now, for real”.

Ultimately, “0 to 100” is all about Drizzy being thinking, knowing, and questioning his elite rap status. He knows the criticism is jealousy because he considers himself to be among the best MCs, and he continues to evolve and grow stronger with time and experience. Is it a winning track – umm…not quite. The concept makes sense, but whether a six-minute track was required to illustrate that point is up for grabs. Sort of Drake’s attempt at ‘god status’, it certainly falls short of the epic “Rap God” (Eminem) and is much lengthier than Kanye West’s “I Am A God”. That said, “0 to 100/The Catch Up” has its moments. Still, don’t label it as Drake’s best – he’s done better.

 ★★★

Photo Credits: © Cash Money, © Alex Mateo, http://www.mateophoto.com / PRPhotos.com

Playlist: 10 Secular-Minded Religious-Referencing Rap Songs


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“I know we in church, and the way that I’m thinking wrong”, Compton MC Game spits on “Hallelujah”. Earlier, on the same album (Jesus Piece) on a track entitled “Church”, Game spits as follows: “I’m tryin’ to go to church / get some chicken wings, after that hit the strip club / see some hoes, twerk…” Jesus, Jesus, Jesus! How many times have you been to church and had impure, blasphemous thoughts pop into your mind? OR, how many times have you transformed something holy into something devilish? Well apparently, rappers practice this too frequently. Talk about some sinners, ladies and gents! Here are 10 secular-minded religious-referencing rap songs. Two of the songs do have ‘redeeming’ qualities; not saying they’ll ‘save’ you or anything like that!

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1

“Hallelujah”

Game ft. Jamie Foxx

Jesus Piece

2012

Game is certainly not witnessing on “Hallelujah” – well at least he’s not witnessing for spiritual reasons. He becomes even more blasphemous by dropping the M.F. bomb in the middle of the word illustrated as follows: “Halle-motherf**king-lujah”. Then throw in Jamie Foxx’s lascivious-sounding falsetto and all hell breaks loose. It’ll take lots of hail Marys to even think about atoning for that! And that’s only one joint off an album entitled Jesus Piece!

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“Amen”

Meek Mill ft. Drake

Dreams and Nightmares

2012 

“I just wanna thank God / for all the pretty women he let into my life…” Meek Mill isn’t talking about church services – at least those affiliated with God or The Bible. Mill is referencing the club and all the ‘sins’ that can be associated with it (women, alcohol, guns, etc). The collection plates aren’t for tithes and offerings, but rather Mill seems to be popping bands, among other things… I mean, usually, hymns don’t refer to “a lot of bad b*tches in the building…” That said, Delilah was something else, Biblically speaking.

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3

“In God We Trust”

Meek Mill

Dreams and Nightmares

2012

No need to overthink a second consecutive sinful Meek Mill joint – just pull out any dollar value out of your billfold and you’ll see what Mill seems to be focus on. Akon said it well on Wyclef Jean’s “Sweetest Girl (Dolla Bill)”: “Cause I’mma tell you, like Wu told me / Cash rules everything around me…” To make “In God We Trust” even more devilish, listen to the hellish production work – there’s nothing celestial about this one!

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4

“New God Flow”

Kanye West ft. Pusha T & Scarface

Good Music Cruel Summer

2012 

Talk about utter blasphemy – OMG! (*Gets on knees to ask for forgiveness for even listening*) “New God Flow” goes so far as to even sample a sermon and then proceeds to reference false idolatry. I mean, just listen to Pusha T’s opening lines from his verse: “I believe there’s a God above me / I’m just the god of everything else / I put holes in everything else / new God flow f*ck everything else…” SMH! 

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5

“Golden Salvation (Jesus Piece)”

Wale

The Gifted

2013

To Wale’s credit, he has good intentions in mind (at least partially) with “Golden Salvation (Jesus Piece)”. He’s not like Meek Mill on “Amen”, who is thinking with his pants, wallet and “finna kill n***as in the building”. “Jesus piece…But don’t nobody want know Jesus’ peace,” Wale spits on the hook, playing cleverly on words. While Wale won’t be the next great Christian rapper, there’s a worthwhile message here compared to some of the other joints on this playlist. Too many peeps are too focused on material things as opposed to embracing Jesus and his teachings.

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6

“I Am A God”

Kanye West

Yeezus

2013

It’s easy to label Kanye West as an arrogant person given his opinionated persona. He’s even more confident and dislikable on “I Am A God”, where he asserts just what the title suggests. Folks, specifically Christians, would’ve been angrier, however, had West proclaimed himself to be “God”. Just look no further then the Ten Commandments Biblical scholars: Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Even if West is a ‘god’, he’s put himself on a pedestal, and that’s not pleasing to the most high.

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7

“Thank God”

Ice Cube

Raw Footage

2008

While Ice Cube doesn’t make huge reference to Christianity within “Thank God”, his pitfall is including God’s name and then thanking God for what many a pastor would say is “the wrong thing”. SMH! Cube ‘gives honor to God’ through carelessly, often emptily used statement “Thank God”, but follows it with “…that the gangster’s back”.   On an album entitled Raw Footage by one of the most electrifying, bold rappers of all time, well, there’s not many prayer petitions or genuine praises being sent up here. Fox News would pounce on this one like a lion after it’s prey.

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8

“Rap God”

Eminem

The Marshall Mathers LP 2

2013

“Rap God” brings another religious-referencing rap track and yet another instance of false idolatry – #SMFH. Yes, we (the hip-hop generation) all know that Eminem is one of the best and out raps most. But again, did he have to put himself on a pedestal? A ‘rap god’ he is, but can’t he find some better way to put it so he doesn’t violate the scripture?

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9

“Ten Jesus Pieces”

Rick Ross ft. Stalley

God Forgives, I Don’t

2012

Materialism describes Rick Ross to a tee. The man loves his money. If you’ve never heard his joint with Gucci Mane called “All About The Money”, then you should – he’s counting those Benjamins like its nothing. In fact, you don’t even have to go outside of Ross’ discography – check out the nasty “Money Make Me Come” from Trilla. Anyways, “Ten Jesus Pieces” does have several messages beyond the money, but the money is in play too. Stalley exhibits his guilt, but doesn’t wish to change just yet: “It’s better things I could talk about or put my money towards / but for now, I’mma wear these ten chains and floss.” Backtracking, Rick Ross to his credit states he’s not God: “God forgives, He’s so honorable / But living amongst thieves and n***as like myself / you will not have that luxury”. God Forgives, I Don’t. 

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10

“Jesus Walks”

Kanye West

The College Dropout

2004

“Jesus Walks” is in a similar category to Wale’s “Golden Salvation”. There are many pros to take away from West’s messaging. Still, not many churches would smile about lines like “we eat pieces of sh*t like you for breakfast” or “N***as! Might jack your Lexus”. Then there’s his amendment of scripture: “I walk through the valley of the Chi where death is…” Still the hook shows promise: “(Jesus Walks) / God show me the way because the Devil trying to break me down…I want to talk to God but I’m afraid because we ain’t spoke in so long”. Like the old hymn states, “to the upmost, Jesus saves!” 

The Frozen Soundtrack Dethrones Queen Bey for No. 1


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Beyonce2-20130903-62Beyoncé couldn’t get it done for a fourth consecutive week…sigh. She gives up her throne this week to the Frozen soundtrack.  Between Frozen and Beyoncé – albums nos. 1 and 2 – they’re the only albums to sell over 100,000 copies this week.  Christmas has come and gone folks! Frozen grows in sales moving 165,000 copies, while Beyoncé shrinks to 130,000 copies.   For Beyoncé, this is the fourth consecutive week it moves six figures.  According to billboard.com, the album has already surpassed 4 in total album sales and has sold just short of 1.5 million.  After Beyoncé and Frozen, there’s not much noise on the charts.  Familiar names rule the top ten with a reduced percentage in sales.  Those familiar names/artists – Eminem (The Marshall Mathers LP 2), Katy Perry (PRISM), One Direction… you get the idea.

51GAgaeFo3L._SL500_AA280_On the singles chart, well, according to Pitbull and Ke$ha, “it’s going down…” aka “Timber” crows the Hot 100, dethroning the “Rap God” himself, Eminem (“The Monster” featuring Rihanna). One has to admit, “Timber” is catchy.  That said, inevitably, “what goes up, must come down”.  It may be “going down” now Pit and Ke$ha, but the ride won’t last always… LOL.

Whose Got Next? Kid Ink (My Own Lane) is the only notable album released on Tuesday, January 7.  Steve Malkmus & The Jicks also arrives, but isn’t likely to generate much buzz.  How well the Kid Ink set will sell, only time will tell.

Jhené Aiko, Sail Out

10 Memorable Tracks from November


Justin Bieber performs live in concert as part of his 'Believe Tour' at the Jos Miguel Agrelot Coliseum Carolina 10/20/2013 © WENN

Need ten jams to spin? Here’s my list of ten of November 2013’s hottest joints!

1)  Lady Gaga featuring R. Kelly, Do What U Want” (ARTPOP)

Lady Gaga seen leaving her hotel carrying a large seashell umbrella in London London 10/31/2013 © Palace Lee, PacificCoastNewsApplause” may have been a bust of sorts, but Gaga got herself together with the help of one of R&B’s most salacious presences, R. Kelly.  Playing on words, “Do What U Want” accomplishes Gaga’s love for double meanings.  If examined sexually, Gaga presents herself as, well easy.  But when examined less pervertedly, Gaga is suggesting she is more than her body and could care less how you scrutinize it, etc.

2) Bun B featuring Pimp C, Lil Boosie & Big KRIT, “Cake”  (Trill O.G.: The Epilogue)

 

Bun B probably isn’t most of the present generation’s ‘go to’ MC, but the veteran UGK MC is nothing short of a beast.  Here, his late, great partner Pimp C delivers a masterful hook, while Bun is joined by Lil Boosie and Mississippi underrated MC Big KRIT.  KRIT also handles the production work, which seems like the perfect match for the 42-year old Bun B. My favorite catch line, “Them thighs come with that shake / b**ch in yo mind, ho I got cake.”

3) Justin Bieber featuring R. Kelly, PYD

Justin Bieber, PYD

R. Kelly may just be R&B’s most popular commodity again as Justin Bieber taps him for arguably his best Music Mondays release to date, “PYD” (“Put You Down”).  Previously, the Biebz has been whining about heartbreak and Selena Gomez namely, but on “PYD” he wants to get… well, down. No more of the G- and PG-rated Bieber where “damn” is as far as he’ll step from his teen-pop roots… he’s ready to step it up a notch.  And if we didn’t understand his intentions, him and Kelly repeatedly iterate the acronym throughout (“P-Y-D, P-Y-D”)

4) Jhene Aiko featuring Vince Staples, Vapors”  (Sail Out – EP)

Jhené Aiko, Sail Out

From the first track “Vapors”, one knows that  Jhene Aiko’s EP Sail Out is something special.  Playing doubly as a weed-smoking joint as well as a yearning for an ex- who was good in bed, “Vapors” is both brilliant and highly representative of the newfound alternative R&B movement.  “Can you hit it again?” never sound more telling from Aiko’s cool, calm, and collected vocal perspective.

5) Celine Dion, Water And A Flame” (Loved Me Back To Life)

Celine Dion, Loved Me Back To Life

Celine Dion’s latest album has plenty of strong songs that tickled my fancy, with the Daniel Merriweather cover “Water And A Flame” amongst ‘em.  The original is little known as Merriweather isn’t a big name in the United States.  Regardless, if Merriweather never receives his deserved recognition, at least one of the greatest pop singers provides a stirring rendition here.

6) Eminem, “Rap God”, (The Marshall Mathers LP 2)

Eminem, The Marshall Mathers LP2

What more is there to say, Eminem delivered the hottest rap track of the year this side of Kanye West’s “Blood On the Leaves” and Kendrick Lamar’s epic rap verse on Big Sean’s “Control”.  If I’d been Big Sean, I would’ve fought to have gotten “Control” on Hall of Fame, even if it meant delaying it (it’s sold abysmally anyways).  But this is Eminem’s moment and quite an electrifying moment it is indeed.

7)  Jake Miller, “Homeless” (Us Against Them)

Jake Miller, Us Against Them

Homeless” is among the cream of the crop from Jake Miller’s debut album Us Against Them.  Vocally, Miller sounds solid as he sings plaintively on the chorus: “Here I stand in the cold / I try to knock as you change the locks / now I’m all alone / where am I supposed to go / if you are where my home is, I guess that makes me homeless.”  The serious vibe of the sung vocals is matched by Miller’s more agile, rhythmic rapped vocals. While  it’s a ‘bummer’ as far as its overall tone, it is at least a standout ‘bummer’.

8) Mariah Carey, “The Art of Letting Go” 

Mariah Carey, Me. I Am Mariah...The Elusive Chanteuse

Mimi’s latest single, “The Art of Letting Go”, finds one of R&B’s preeminent divas doing what she does best, BALLADS.  Whether she’s singing in her lower register or ascending to her upper register with every bit of her emotion, Carey compels the listener and makes us think of our own moments when we’ve struggled to let go.  “The Art of Letting Go” is filled with exceptional, memorable, and prudent lyrical moments including “Evidently your words were merely lies / reverberating in my ears / and the echo won’t subside / there’s a deep deep loss of hope…” from verse two.  The bridge confirms that “Baby letting go, baby letting go / ain’t easy…”

9) Jake Bugg, “A Song About Love” (Shangri La)

Jake Bugg, Shangri La

Recently I reviewed Jake Bugg’s sophomore effort, Shangri La.  While I had mixed feelings, I certainly had rave reviews for one particular standout in “A Song About Love”:

“Is that all you wanted? Songs about love? / Is that want you hoped you would find / when it’s burning inside / but a song about love’s not enough.” Poetic by all means, “A Song About Love” seems to be the most complete performance of the album.  The metric shifting “A Song About Love” certainly offers the incredible nuance and an overall unique selection  Where many of Bugg’s songs seem quite simple, “A Song About Love” definitely steps up the game.

10) Lady Gaga, Dope” (ARTPOP)

Lady Gaga, ARTPOP

Another Lady Gaga track really? Yep.  “Dope” is completely different from “Do What U Want”.  Sure, it sounds as if it shouldn’t be a substantive track, but Gaga’s intents are quite notable, more so than some of ARTPOP’s ‘looser’ cuts. On the sole ballad from the album, Gaga opens herself up to vulnerability, suggesting that despite her past screw-ups with substances, she needs her man “more than dope”.  Sure she’s literal and dope doesn’t lend itself to the greatest heart-warming moment ever, but her personalized touch truly shines here.

Review: Eminem, ‘Marshall Mathers LP 2’


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Eminem keeps hip-hop ‘alive and well’ on MMLP2 

Eminem⎪The Marshall Mathers LP 2 ⎪ Aftermath⎪⎪ US Release Date: November 5, 2013

Eminem2-20130809-33It seems like a decade since hip-hop was considered to be “dead” – well it’s nearly been a decade actually.  Nas went so far to memorialize the genre on his 2006 album Hip Hop is Dead.  Again, in 2013, we have a rap vet who takes a similar perspective that the genre has fallen on hard times due to playing up dumb, meaningless clichés.  While it is arguable (depending on who you ask) whether Eminem is truly the “Rap God” as he asserts, what is true is that rap definitely has its less ‘artistic’ MC’s. In other words, rap has went so ‘stupid’ it’s gone plumb ‘dumb’! Sure, Eminem is known for his twisted sense of humor and irresponsible inappropriateness, but he does possess a gift for words, raw or not.  Perhaps not as shocking as the original, The Marshall Mathers LP 2 definitely infuses an injection of creativity and artistry into the game. “God” may push it, but Em is definitely still an MC to beat.

Bad Guy” unsurprisingly stars MMLP2 with a bang.  Eminem holds nothing back, and we… well most of us wouldn’t have it any other way.  “Can I hold grudges, mind is saying ‘let it go, f*ck this’ / heart is saying ‘I will, once I bury this b***h alive / hide the shovel and then drive off in the sunset’” (Notice I said ‘most of us’).  As always, Eminem has some issues with women, much like he did back-when, and he basically admits it – or Sarah Jaffe does on the hook: “I flee the scene like it was my last ride / you see right through, oh you had me pegged the first time / you can’t see the truth but it’s easier to justify what’s bad is good / and I hate to be the bad guy, I just had to be the bad guy.”  Even so, he’s still killing it: “I am your lack of a conscience / I’m the ringing in your ears / I’m the polyps on the back of your tonsils / eating your vocal cords after your concerts…” Yep, he’s a bad guy alright.

Eminem-20130823-19After the obligatory skit (“Parking Lot”), “Rhyme or Reason” samples “The Time of the Season”, incorporating that signature Eminem pop-rap. Here, Eminem is still dealing with his various issues, which started at the beginning apparently: “My mother reproduced like a Komodo dragon / and had me on the back of a motorcycle / the crashed in the side of locomotive with rap, I’m loco…” It’s perhaps nothing fans haven’t experienced in some way or the other, but still remains fascinating.  “So Much Better” is just that, even more electrifying than the opening duo of full-length tracks.  Women get no respect, whether its “…my d**k’s on strike so all that love sh*t is null and void / b***h I’m a droid, I void cupid stupid wasn’t for [use your imagination here] you’d be unemployed…” or “Getting sick of these girls, girls, girls / oink oink oink you f**king pigs…” But he atones for his irresponsibility, sorta at the end: “I’m just playing b***h, you know I love you…” Um…

Survival” benefits from its old-school hip-hop sound, intact with guitar.  The hook is simple but effective, courtesy of Liz Rodrigues: “This is survival of the fittest / this is do or die / this is winner takes it all / so take it all”.  As for Em, he raps as if he has a chip on his shoulder for sure: “They say I was washed up, and got a blood bath / I’m not a rapper, I’m an adapter, I can adjust / Plus I can just walk up to a mic and just bust…”  You need no chip on your shoulder Em, you (and us) already know you’re the shhh.  “Legacy” goes autobiographical, stitched together by opening verse lyric “I used to be the type of kid that, would always think the sky is falling…” Basically, Eminem raps and brags about his ‘come up’: “…thought I was full of horse sh*t and now / you f**king worship the ground in which I am walking…”  He also throws in a pretty cool football allusion too.

Still that “0 and 16 Lions offense” aside, Eminem and a guesting Skylar Grey know that Eminem is an “A–hole”. According to Grey’s hook, “everybody knows that you’re just an a–hole / everywhere that you go, people wanna go ‘oh everyone knows’”.  If you had your doubts about Eminem’s a-hole status, well he confirms it: “So what if the insults are revolting / even Helen Keller knows life stinks…” (she was blind and deaf, not devoid of smell).  After that, there’s no stopping Eminem with juggernauts “Berzerk” and of course the crown jewel, “Rap God”.

Eminem-ps10“Berzerk” is true to its title – it’s BESERK! “We’re gonna rock this house until we knock it down / so turn the volume loud, cause it’s mayhem ‘til the A.M. / so baby make just like K-Fed and let yourself go…life’s too short to not go for broke / so everybody, everybody (go berserk)” Eminem is definitely in ‘rare form’ and rides the Billy Squier sample of “The Stroke” like a champ.  He gets his ever potent one-liners in including “But I done did enough codeine to knock Future into tomorrow…” and “sh*t-head with a potty mouth, get a bar of soap lathered”, both courtesy of verse three.

If “Bezerk” is awesome, “Rap God” is freaking epic.  The hook varies slightly, but the beginning’s the same: “I’m beginning to feel like a rap god, rap god / all my people from the front to the back nod, back nod…” Across three verses Eminem ‘schools’ us.  On verse one he touts his flow (“Made a living and a killing off it / ever since Bill Clinton was still in office / With Monica Lewinsky feeling on his [again use your imagination] / I’m an MC still as honest / but as rude and as indecent as all hell”) while on verse two he talks influences and disses sucky MC’s (“Everybody want the key and the secret to rap immortality like I have got / well, to be truthful the blueprint’s simply rage and youthful exuberance … hit the earth like an asteroid, did nothing but shoot for the moon since”). On verse three, he goes “H*A*M*”, ripping critics, skeptics, and some fans (“Innovative and I’m made of rubber / so that anything you say is ricocheting off of me and it’ll glue to you / I’m devastating, more than ever demonstrating / how to give a motherf*****’ audience a feeling like it’s levitating)”. Lady Gaga said it best… “Eh, there’s nothing else I can say.”  (See How Eminem Devastates the Competition on “Rap God” for full, in depth analysis).

After being a savant of sorts, Eminem has now become “Brainless”: “…I’m a use my head as a weapon / find a way to escape this insaneness / mama always said ‘Son if you had a  brain, you’d be dangerous’ / guess it pays to be brainless”.  As expected, Eminem let’s it roll whether tis references to being a “space cadet”, “Tourette’s”, or “look[ing] like a freaking wuss, a p***y…” My favorite lyric has to be from verse three: “I’m ‘bout to clean house, yo / I’m Lysol, now I’m just household / outsold the sell outs, freak the hell out / Middle America, hear them yell out…”

Eminem-mvm01Stronger Than I Was” sports more of a ballad-like rap sound with a harmonic progression that is more pop/R&B rivaling. The vocal production itself sounds more like Recovery’s hit single “Not Afraid” if one is searching for a comparison.  “But you won’t break me / you’ll just make me stronger than I was / before I let you, I bet you I’ll be just fine without you,” he sings on the hook. “And if I stumble, I won’t crumble / I’ll get back up ad uh / and I’m a still be humble when I scream f*ck you / cause I’m stronger than I was…” The biggest rub? Length.  “The Monster” atones for that, clocking in at just over four minutes and receiving the assist from Em’s buddy Rihanna.  Perhaps it’s not quite on the same plane as say “Rap God” or maybe even previous collaboration “Love the Way You Lie”, but it gives Eminem another commercial hit sure to hit home more with a pop audience than a hardcore rap one.

So Far…” continues to show Eminem on autopilot, criticizing technology of all things: “My apologies, no disrespect to technology / but what the heck is all these buttons / you expect me to sit here and learn that / f*ck I gotta do to hear this new song from Luda? / be an expert at computers…” Old soul / old-school perhaps?  He gets a brilliant assist from Kendrick Lamar, which must be a testament to how Eminem feels about the young west coast MC’s rapping.  As remarkable as Eminem’s own twisted rhymes are, what is equally remarkable is Lamar’s versatility to match Eminem’s intensity on his guest verse: “Chlamydia couldn’t even get rid of her / Pity the fool that pity the fool in me, I’m a live with the game of…” Still, hard to top Eminem: “…Snatch that b***h out her car through the window, she screamin’ / I body slam her onto the cement, until the concrete gave and created a sinkhole / bury this stink-ho in it, and payed to have the street repaved…” OUCH!

Eminem2-20130823-20Penultimate gem “Headlights” brings in fun. frontman Nate Ruess who proves to be yet another excellent collaborator with Eminem.  He initiates with a bang, in the spirit of the Detroit MC: “Mom, I know I let you down / and though you say the days are happy / why is the power off, and I’m f**ked up?…” Eminem essentially seems to backpedal from his hatred of his mother some: “… Now I now it’s not your fault, and I’m not making jokes / that song I no longer play at shows and I cringe every time it’s on the radio…” Closer “Evil Twin” contrasts the brighter sounding “Headlights” with maliciousness – and who would expect an Eminem album to end any other way? Even if Eminem shows more maturity, who doesn’t want to hear the side of his “evil twin” since “This darkness comes in me / and comes again / that ain’t me / he’s just a friend who pops up now and again…”

The verdict? There will never be another The Marshall Mathers LP; that’s a certified rap classic that both changed and devastated the game.  That said, The Marshall Mathers LP 2 definitely kicks plenty of the young rap MC’s butts, no questions asked.  It definitely runs long at 80 minutes, but at least it’s a superb 80 minutes with no filler whatsoever.  Em, you get my blessings…not in a blasphemous way though!

Favorites: 

“So Much Better”; “Survival”; “Berzerk”; “Rap God”;  “The Monster”; “Love Game”; “Headlights”

Verdict: ✰✰✰✰½

November’s Playlist: The Best of October 2013


I’ll admit that during the month of October I missed out on a couple of albums (Pearl Jam, Scotty McCreery, Korn, Paul McCartney, etc.).  Alas, that is the life of a music journalist and music critic – you can’t listen to ‘em all.  Despite this, from the albums I did partake of, I’ve assembled a list of ‘gems’ to start out November 2013 just right!

1

Panic! At the Disco, “Nicotine”

Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die 

(Fueled by Ramen) 

http://rd.io/x/QUKSLjddao3K/

Panic at the disco2-20111101-36Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die is filled with standouts.  Rather than revolve towards “This Is Gospel”, “Miss Jackson”, or “Girls/ Girls/ Boys”, I selected “Nicotine”.  Excerpted from my review of the album, I wrote this of “Nicotine”:

Nicotine” is nowhere near “f*cking drag” Urie speaks of throughout the song referencing addictive alkaloid […] “Cross my heart and hope to die / burn my lungs and curse my eyes”, Urie poetically sings on the first verse. “I’ve lost control and I don’t want it back / I’m going numb, I’ve been hijacked.”  The allusion of love and smoke is flawlessly executed, best evidenced during the refrain: “I taste your lips and I can’t rid of you / so I say damn your kiss and the awful things you do / you’re worse than nicotine.”  Ultimately, “Nicotine” proves to be as addictive a listen as it is the “f*cking drag…I need it so bad” which the frontman conveys.

Addictive indeed!

2

Katy Perry featuring  Juicy J, “Dark Horse” 

Prism

(Capitol) 

http://rd.io/x/QUKSLjddHHXg/
Katy PErry4-20131017-108

“Dark Horse” provides a spark to Perry’s PRISM once it appears.  Juicy J is a perfect fit on this hip-hop oriented pop cut which sports one sick beat.  The chorus definitely latches: “So you wanna play with magic? / boy, you should know what you’re falling for / baby, do you dare to do this? / cause I’m coming at you like a dark horse…” Second verse vocal harmonizations make the deal sweeter while Juicy J’s lines such as “Uh, she’s a beast / I call her Karma / she eat your heart out / like Jeffrey Dahmer…” seal the deal.  “Dark Horse” ‘roars’ equally if not more so than the ubiquitous “Roar” itself.

3

Danny Brown, “Dip”

Old

(Fool’s Gold)

http://rd.io/x/QUKSLjddaAU4/

51Sz35Wx2KL._SY300_From my Playlist: Bangers That Get It Poppin’ At The Club… (Part 2) I commentated on “Dip”:

Dip” has so many one-liners that an entire essay could be written examining each and everyone.    The premise of the song? Well Danny Brown is pretty to’ up, period. The Forrest Gump reference definitely captures attention early on (“Like Lieutenant Dan, I’m rolling back to back / I keep on smoking…”).   My favorite moment involves you guessed it, ‘molly’: “Now all these rappers talking ‘bout that molly / bet a million dollars these n***as ain’t dipping / pure MDMA, put it in a shot we talking ‘bout crystals / been thizzin’ hard up all day, rest in peace to Mac Dre…” Banger? Yes…also seems like Brown is way past the need for rehab… just sayin’

4

Arcade Fire, “Reflektor” 

Reflektor 

Merge

51wzw69ySAL._SL500_AA280_Excerpted from my  Review: Arcade Fire, ‘Reflektor’:

Reflektor” initiates things shockingly given its percussive, danceable groove.  Thankfully, this cut does danceability conservatively and tastefully, eschewing today’s EDM bass drops and pointed synths in favor of something that sounds both neo-disco and Arcade Fire-like simultaneously.  The songwriting is accessible, well perhaps save for Régine’ Chassagne’s pre-chorus French, LOL (“Entre la nuit, la nuit et l’aurore / entre le royaume des vivants es des morts”). The chorus is incredibly catchy and simple though: “I thought I found a way to enter / it’s just a reflector…”

5

Pusha T featuring Kendrick Lamar, “Nosetalgia”

My Name is My Name

(Def Jam)

http://rd.io/x/QUKSLjddaViv/

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On “Nosetalgia”,  rap IQ goes off the charts, between Pusha T and guest collaborator Kendrick Lamar.  Among Pusha’s best lines is his proclamation that he was the “Black Ferris Bueller, cutting school with his jewels on…what I sell for pain in the hood, I’m a doctor…” while Kendrick Lamar’s slaughtering verse is capped off with “Go figure motherf*cker, every verse is a brick.” Rap musicianship at his best, two of the best in the game rock it out here, no questions asked.

6

Miley Cyrus featuring Nelly, “4X4”

BANGERZ

RCA

http://rd.io/x/QUKSLjddEnlN/

Miley Cyrus25-20130917-26I still ask myself why do I like the song “4X4” from Bangerz.  I was in the same sort of situation back in early October when I penned a review for the album:

“4X4” would normally be the sort of cut I would tar and feather because of its stupidity.  And it is really dumb, mind you. But, the country-pop-rap cut is sort of hypnotizing.  Maybe it’s because of Pharrell Williams’s odd-ball production or even Nelly’s midwest touting rap, but for whatever reason, it sticks with you.  Still, I’m not to keen on Cyrus’s line about “driving so fast ‘bout to piss on myself…” Please girl!  Have some dignity!

I guess things ain’t changed.  I’m still listening to it and Miley still seems about ready to piss on herself.  SMH.

7

Mary J. Blige featuring Barbra Streisand & Chris Botti, “When You Wish Upon A Star”

A Mary Christmas

Verve

http://rd.io/x/QUKSLjddacvS/

Mary J Blige-KSR-020874

When You Wish Upon A Star” finds Mary J. Blige and Barbra Streisand duetting beautifully with Chris Botti accentuating things with his warm, lush trumpet sound.  “When You Wish Upon A Star” really isn’t a Christmas song, originally serving as the main theme from Disney’s 1940 animated feature Pinocchio, but it definitely fits the vibe of A Mary Christmas.  Additionally, “When You Wish Upon A Star” has been transformed several times; it’s quite a flexible song you might say.

8

Eminem, “Rap God”

The Marshall Mathers LP 2

Aftermath

http://rd.io/x/QUKSLjddHodz/

Eminem-20130823-19

An excerpt from my upcoming The Marshall Mathers LP 2:

“Rap God” is freaking epic.  The hook varies slightly, but the beginning’s the same: “I’m beginning to feel like a rap god, rap god / all my people from the front to the back nod, back nod…” Across three verses Eminem ‘schools’ us.  On verse one he touts his flow (“Made a living and a killing off it / ever since Bill Clinton was still in office / With Monica Lewinsky feeling on his nut-sack / I’m an MC still as honest / but as rude and as indecent as all hell”) while on verse two he talks influences and disses sucky MC’s (“Everybody want the key and the secret to rap immortality like I have got / well, to be truthful the blueprint’s simply rage and youthful exuberance … hit the earth like an asteroid, did nothing but shoot for the moon since”). On verse three, he goes “H*A*M*”, ripping critics, skeptics, and some fans (“Innovative and I’m made of rubber / so that anything you say is ricocheting off of me and it’ll glue to you / I’m devastating, more than ever demonstrating / how to give a motherf**kin’ audience a feeling like it’s levitating)”. Lady Gaga said it best… “Eh, there’s nothing else I can say.”

See my previous post How Eminem Devastates the Competition on “Rap God” for full, in depth analysis.  You can literally write a book about this one song!

9

Arcade Fire, “Porno”

Reflektor

Merge

http://rd.io/x/QUKSLjddB1aW/

So yeah, I included a second song from the same album… but this one deserves to be here, it’s definitely interesting!

Excerpted from my  Review: Arcade Fire, ‘Reflektor’:

Porno” definitely had my attention given the title.  The song itself is no disappointment with it’s dark, sort creepy vibe.  The ultimate take away seems to be that young guys are selfish when it comes to sexual desires and how they expect their girlfriends to fulfill their selfishness. “Yeah, something’s wrong / little boys with their porno / and boys they learn / some selfish sh*t / until the girl / won’t put up with it…”

There it is!

10

Kelly Clarkson, “Every Christmas”

Wrapped in Red

RCA

http://rd.io/x/QUKSLjddA1Jk/

Kelly Clarkson-20121102-116

The horn-filled six-eight balladry of “Every Christmas” serves as yet another instance of confirmation of Clarkson’s artistry and prowess on Wrapped in Red.   Having organ and a backing gospel choir doesn’t hurt her cause either.

 

 

11

DJ Khaled featuring 2 Chainz, Ace Hood, Big Sean, French Montana, Meek Mill, Rick Ross & Timbaland, “You Don’t Want These Problems”

Suffering from Success

Def Jam

http://rd.io/x/QUKSLjddFV-U/
DJ Khaled-20120821-53

Excerpted from Playlist: Bangers That Get It Poppin’ At The Club… (Part 1)

“You Don’t Want No Problems” is one of the shining moments from DJ Khaled’s recent album, Suffering From Success.  On this juggernaut, Khaled is assisted by Big Sean, Rick Ross, French Montana, 2 Chainz, Meek Mill, Ace Hood, and Timbaland.  Highlights include memorable lyrical moments from Rick Ross (“On the phone at the light, Kelly Rowland’s a friend / Catfish in the Benz, Manti Teo’s a sucker…”), 2 Chainz (“They slept on me, I stopped sellin’ work and started sellin’ coffee…”), and Ace Hood (“My sanctuary’s that cemetery / my choppa, named it obituary…”). I mean, I kinda enjoy the “problems” personally…

12

Robert Glasper Experiment featuring Jill Scott, “Calls”

Black Radio 2

Blue Note

http://rd.io/x/QUKSLjddHvEN/

81SiZAQqUaL._SL1500_

“Calls” is nothing short of a stunner.  Jill Scott is at her best as is Robert Glasper and company.  Lush, sensual, and jazz, “Calls” epitomizes the urban sound at its best.  The chorus, though simplistic it is, is a perfect representation of jazz and soul styles: “You always answer my calls / when I call, you come…” The best moment is the bridge, where Jill Scott gets in done in a big way.  “Calls” is ‘big time’ for sure.

How Eminem Devastates the Competition on “Rap God”


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Eminem⎪ “Rap God” (single) ⎪Aftermath ⎪⎪ U.S. Release Date: October 15, 2013

In rap music in 2013, everyone seems to want to be the ‘Savior’.  Kanye West proclaimed himself to be a ‘god’ on the blatantly titled “I Am A God”, even foreshadowing beforehand on Yeezus at the end of “Black Skinhead”. A$AP Ferg even titled his debut Trap Lord.  Argue the difference between lord and god all you want, but they seem nearly, if not ‘one in the same’.  Jay-Z joined the boat as well on Magna Carta…Holy Grail.  Why is everyone trying to be God? I’m unsure, but there sure have been plenty of ‘gods’ this year.

Eminem2-20130809-33A couple of years ago, it was fine to be merely a ‘king’ (P$C’s “I’m a King” comes to mind as a perfect example), but now everyone has those ‘heavenly ambitions’, no matter how blasphemous they end up being.  After Kendrick Lamar seemed to be the pre-season no. 1 of  ‘god-status’ in hip-hop (without saying so necessarily but insinuating such), veteran shock MC Eminem also seems to have an incredibly compelling, if sinful argument on his epic new single “Rap God”.  As the new order of rap seems firmly afloat in 2013, Eminem certainly isn’t out to have his vibe or contributions to the game killed.  For those lame-o’s that needed a reminder and for the generation that didn’t grow up with Marshall Mathers, well he’s back in a big way.  Let’s analyze  Eminem’s, um, gospel… And by the way, I’mma try to keep this as classy as possible, really.

Analyzing the Intro & Hook(s)

Intro 

Maybe Drake says it best on “Started On The Bottom”:  “I done kept it real from the jump…” Eminem does just that as the intro foreshadows both the mood and the duration of “Rap God”:

“Something’s wrong, I can feel it (Six minutes, Slim Shady, you’re on)…” So what exactly is wrong? If you read into it as I do, I believe Eminem is suggesting there is quite a talent gap in hip-hop today and that after his six-minute masterpiece,  the game-changing MC will once more restore the order or at least redirect the newbies onto the path of righteousness… err good rapping, LOL.  Another interpretation of the end-portion “Six minutes, Slim Shady, you’re on…” is that during the six-plus minute duration of “Rap God” Eminem is truly on fire.  Cocky and confident, but true.  His relevance to the game is also confirmed by lyric “…you were just what the doctor ordered…”

The Hook(s)

The hook(s) for “Rap God” are pretty much the same, but the end of each hook relates to the proceeding verse, which could certainly be considered ‘higher level thinking’ in rap music these days.  I’ll admit, as a musician and songwriter myself, I could stand to make the form more ‘unifying’ as Eminem does on each of the hooks here.  The familiar portion of all three is as follows:

 “I’m beginning to feel like a Rap God, Rap God / all my people from the front to the back nod, back nod…”

Eminem-20130823-19The end of the first hook is where the segue comes in with the first verse in mind: “…Now who thinks their arms are long enough to slapbox, slapbox / they said I rap like a robot, so call me Rapbot”.  Can you guess what Eminem raps about at the beginning of his first verse? Yes, his fast paced, ‘intelligent’ rhymes.  Proceding the first verse,  the second hook is identical to the first except the final line states “Let me show you maintaing this sh*t ain’t that hard, that hard”.

The final hook is the most drastically different and should be (the third verse deserves such).  It is as follows after the familiar portion: “…The way I’m racing around the track, call me Nascar, Nascar / Dale Earnhardt of the trailer park, the White Trash God / Kneel before General Zod this planet’s Krypton, no Asgard, Asgard.” Only Marshall Mathers could make comic books sound cool and gangsta in rap. Yep.

Continue reading “How Eminem Devastates the Competition on “Rap God””