Flume, Skin © Mom+Pop

Thoughts: Flume, ‘Skin’


★★★½

Flume • Skin • Mom+Pop • Release: 5.27.16

The hype got me. After falling in love with single “Never Be Like You, I had to indulge in some SkinFlume‘s Skin…Yeah, that totally didn’t sound right.  Regardless, with some rare free time on my hands given a quiet July slate of releases, Skin has now been listened to by THE Brent Faulkner.  The results? Flume receives my approval.

Like any electronic album, sustaining the excitement can be tough. Still, Flume does it better than most others in 2016.  Additionally, there are more pieces to the pie than just hit single “Never Be Like You.” I mean c’mon, how many albums have a song titled “Wall F*ck”? Just saying!

Favorites from Skin included instrumental opener “Helix,” “Never Be Like You” (duh),  “Lose It” featuring Vic Mensa,  “Say It” featuring Tove Lo & “You Know” featuring Allan Kingdom & Raekwon.  If you want in depth thoughts on highlights and of course “Wall F*ck” (just rolls off the tongue), check out the link to the full review, published on The Musical Hype.

Flume, Skin © Mom+Pop

Flume flexes his tremendous musicianship and production skills on well-rounded, eclectic sophomore LP, SKIN. The post Flume Allures On Sophomore LP ‘Skin’ appeared first on The Musical Hype.

via Flume Allures On Sophomore LP ‘Skin’ — The Musical Hype

Photo Credit: Mom+Pop
Yo Gotti, The Art of Hustle © Epic

What’s The Deal With The ‘DM’ and the ‘Gram’?


Rap trends tend to come and go – this has happened year after year after year. Remember that God awful, irresponsible AF Molly rap trend? Rick Ross got into some hot water when he took it too far in Rocko’s “U.O.E.N.O.” (“Put molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even in know it”). Even Miley Cyrus got in on that with “We Can’t Stop” (“So la-da-di-da-di we like to party / dancing with molly / doing whatever we want”) sigh. So what’s the latest trend occurring in rap circles? Odes to social networking, specifically direct messaging and Instagram, often referenced merely as “the ‘Gram.”

The best example of adoration for social networking comes care of Yo Gotti, who had something of a surprise hit with “Down in the DM.” Take one listen to the song and it is nothing short of mesmerizing. Maybe it’s the synths and the generally slinky sounding southern production, or maybe it’s the rapper’s repeated, “it goes down in the DM / it goes down in the DM.” Whatever it is, Gotti had to know when he recorded it that he had a big hit on his hand.

On the track, Gotti is definitely horny – his mind is “down south,” evidenced by the first verse. “I tell her / Snapchat me that p*ssy…/or FaceTime me that p*ssy if it’s cool / whoo boy, my DM poppin’ (DM poppin’) / my DM just caught a body.” Basically, his use of social networking throughout the song is all for sexual pleasure, which probably isn’t what any of the manufacturers of these networking tools had in mind.

Gotti goes on to reference screenshots (“Don’t you hate when you get a screenshot?”), and of course his famous line about Instagram (“I love the ‘Gram, I love the ‘Gram / I’m addicted to it, I know I am”). He further expounds upon his “love” of “The ‘Gram” by revealing a crush on Angela Simmons, Rev. Run’s daughter (“And I just followed Angela (Simmons) / Boy, I got a crush on Angela Simmons / they like, ‘Damn Gotti, you bold’ / F*ck it, Imma let the world know (#goals)”). Doesn’t seem like the relationship will materialize for Gotti…just an observation.

The remix of “Down In The DM” gets even nastier, thanks to featuring a sexed-up Nicki Minaj. While Nicki is more liberal with the social networking confines, she does reference memes. Her best line is definitely, “If it go down in your DM, then baby boy, you lucky / cause 99.9% of these fuckboys can’t f*ck me.”

While “Down in the DM” is the best example of the social network trend of rap, there are other examples where social networking is referenced. On Bryson Tiller’s “Exchange,” he spits near the end, “I was scrollin’ through the ‘gram, girl, I had to follow you / say what’s up with you? You got my soul.” On the remix of Big Sean’s “Blessings,” Kanye West drops a double entendre Snapchat reference: “Since the truth keep n***as traumatized / they tryna compromise my condom size / so I Snapchat that whole shit /…and I swear to God I hope they post it / I’m blessed.”

There’s more, though. Fetty Wap’s mixtape Up Next features a song entitled “Instagram,” where he spits, “Remy Boy, Zoo Wap, scrolling through my insta / Baby looking too hot, I hit her in her DM.” G-Eazy opts for Tumblr on his “Tumblr Girls” from These Things Happen (“Cause I’m in love with these Tumblr girls, with skinny waists and drug habits / Pretty faces love status, she acts as if she’s the baddest”).

There’s even more. On Tyler, The Creator’s “F*cking Young/Perfect,” FaceTime is his network of choice (“She kissed my hand a couple times, (FaceTime when we’re bored)”). Earlier on his Cherry Bomb album, the FaceTime takes a nastier turn. So, we’ll stop at that.

To conclude, references to social networking, many times in sexual ways has become a new go-to for rappers. Is it good? Eh, probably not, but in one regard at least it’s not molly rap. Still, isn’t it irresponsible as well?

Drake, Views © Cash Money

Drake, ‘Views’: By The Lyrics


Drake helped to make April 2016 sweeter by releasing his fourth proper studio album Views. While Views wasn’t ‘monumental’ in regards to its themes or overall content, as always, it’s very much a Drake album. What better way to examine Views than a commentary on Drake’s deep lyrics? Leggo!!! 

1) “All of my ‘let’s just be friends’ are friends I don’t have anymore / How do you not check on me when things go wrong / Guess I should’ve tried to keep my family closer / much closer / all of my ‘let’s just be friends’ are friends I don’t have anymore / guess that’s what they say you need family for / cause I can’t depend on you anymore” – “Keep The Family Close”

Commentary: Basically, a girl doesn’t supplant family or close friends, at least a girl that’s not dedicated.

2) “And I turn the six upside down, it’s a nine now” – “9”

Commentary: First of all, unless you’re living under a rock, you realize that the “6” is Toronto. Throughout his career, Drake has made a huge deal about the “6.” Since he’s “king” in Toronto, he’s figuratively “turned it upside down.:

3) “All these hand outs, man it’s getting outta hand / I’mma start telling n***as ‘get it how they can’ / I got it right now so I’m everybody’s friends / if I ever lose I bet we never speak again” – “9”

Commentary: Drake is making bank – he’s one of music’s hottest stars. Now he has “friends” who are shallow that won’t to share his wealth. He knows that if he does fall from his perch, those friends will turn their backs on him.

4) “On some DMX shit / I group DM my exes / I told ‘em they belong to me, that goes on forever” – “U With Me?”

 Commentary: Drake is literally “on some DMX shit” on “U With Me?” which samples two DMX songs, most notably “Where My B*tches At?” As far as the last part of the lyric, Drake doesn’t forget his exes.

5) “I try with you / there’s more to life than sleeping in / and getting high with you / I had to let go of us to show myself what I could do / and that didn’t sit right with you “ – “Feel No Ways”

 Commentary: There’s more to life than taking drugs and hooking up.

6) “Done / look what I’ve done in my life / I had to count it and count it again / to make sure the money was right / they love to talk / me, I’m just done in the hype…” – “Hype”

Commentary: Drake is tired of people expecting “the world” from him essentially. When he “blew up” he really “blew up.” In some regards, while Genius intelligently points out that the “I had to count it and count it again” line may reference Cash Money’s troubles as of late, it also seems to references just how big Drake is as well. 

7) “Feel like the difference between us really startin’ to show / I’m lookin’ at they first week numbers like what are those / I mean you boys not even coming close” – “Weston Road Flows”

Commentary: Drake BIG, other rappers NOT big.

8) “Why do I settle for women that force me to pick up the pieces? / Why do I want an independent woman to feel like she needs me? / I lost my way” – “Redemption”

Commentary: Girl troubles. Typical Drake.

9) “You hit me like ‘I know you’re there with someone else’ / that pussy knows me better than I know myself / On my way from the studio so get undressed / let’s do the things that we say on text / I want to get straight to the climax…” – “Faithful”

Commentary: “Sex in the kitchen, over by the stove…” 

10) “Did it, did it, did it by myself, by myself, dog / Blew up and I’m in the city still, I’m still here, dog” – “Still Here”

Commentary: Drake is Toronto’s big thing. He’s “kind of a big deal.” 

11) “Right, my yiy just changed / you just buzzed the front gate / I thank God you came” – “Controlla” 

Commentary: While the part about the front gate is probably literal, the way that it is written also makes for perfect innuendo…  Continue reading “Drake, ‘Views’: By The Lyrics”

Christon Gray, The Glory Album © RCA

Christon Gray Sounds Glorious On ‘The Glory Album’


Christon Gray, The Glory Album © RCA

Christon Gray is quite an interesting musician. Who is Christon Gray? He’s an urban artist who sings, raps, and incorporates gospel and inspirational messaging into his music. He’s not a household name, but on his latest album The Glory Album, Gray shows he has plenty to offer both secular and religious music fans. Need a musical blessing? The Glory Album has got you covered!

Following the lush intro where Gray shows multiple facets of his himself (“The Glory, Pt. 1”), Gray nails it on the energetic “Stop Me,” where he definitely sounds unstoppable. Malicious sounding production, assured, confident rhymes from Gray, and “Stop Me” is indisputable hit. Hey, has “and Lord if I’m doing it wrong then please stop me” ever resonated with such swagger?

“Fort Knox” features one of the sickest beats from The Glory Album. Furthermore, it features beautiful vocals from Gray, which are further amplified on the chorus and the heartfelt strings. “Fort Knox” is clean, wholesome fun that sounds almost too good to be true. “Afraid With You” has a touch act to follow, but it’s no slouch in the least. But still, it’s totally tough to top a song with a brilliant reference to Duke Ellington (“I’m not Duke Ellington / trying to find what key we in”).

“50 Shades” nails the two-part song, beginning with an edgier, hip-hop driven sound before a Kirk Franklin interlude leads to a more reverent, soulful quality. “Connor McDees” follows up the softer side of “50 Shades” with more aggressive, in-your-face rhymes – in the most Christian way possible of course!

“No 51 (The Glory, Pt. II)” initiates ‘Side B’ of The Glory. All in all, it’s a smooth and enjoyable record. Give Gray credit for that falsetto. “Open Door (See You Later)” contrasts “No 51,” opting for an edgier, hip-hop driven sound, much like “Connor McDees.” Like everything else, this is slickly produced, giving mainstream, secular hip-hop a run for its money.

Need a bright, chivalrous, sensational R&B song? “My Love Is Real” is certainly it! Call it what it is – “the cat’s meow.” Horns, falsetto, and feel-good vibes – what more can the listener ask for? “Nowhere” opts for a different sort of love – the love of God. “I ran away, still you pursued / though you came out of nowhere / and carried me through,” Gray sings in reverent, gracious fashion. Believer or not, hard to knock the sincerity that Gray showcases on the CCM cut.

Following a soulful preceding interlude, “Black Male (Blackmail)” keeps the hits coming. The richness of Gray’s voice is what really shines here – one of his strongest performances. Besides the voice, the honesty and the depth of the message is appropriate given the times. “Follow You” concludes The Glory Album on a high note – no strike that – a heavenly note!

So just how glorious is The Glory Album? Quite glorious indeed without question! For some secular music fans, there’s often a perception that albums that explore spiritual themes and eschew the ‘sinfulness’ of secular music are ‘square’ and lack oomph. This is by no means the case with The Glory Album. Gray does a fantastic job of covering his bases and appealing to a multitude of fans.

Favorites: “Stop Me,” “Fort Knox,” “50 Shades,” “My Love Is Real,” “Nowhere” and “Black Male (Blackmail)”

★★★★

Christon Gray • The Glory Album • RCA • Release Date: 3.11.16  

Kanye West, The Life Of Pablo © G.O.O.D./Def Jam

Albums That Are ‘On’ and Albums That Are ‘Off’ Two Months Into 2016


Kanye West, The Life Of Pablo © G.O.O.D./Def Jam

After two-months (and a week in March), we’ve had some ferocious new albums in 2016 as well as some that aren’t nearly as beastly. To help you sort out the brilliance from the BS, here’s a brief list of albums that are ON…FIRE that is and albums that are OFF…this needs no explanation.

Albums That Are On…FIRE that is!

1) David Bowie, Blackstar (Columbia) David Bowie, Blackstar © Columbia

Commentary:

So, how does Blackstar stack up? It’s a confusingly brilliant work of art. Despite being confusing and difficult to follow due to Bowie’s ambitiousness (or extraterrestrial nature), the artistry experience by the listener here is a rarity in contemporary music where innovativeness doesn’t run rampant. Bowie easily bests 2013 comeback album The Next Day as Blackstar reminds us why Bowie was so beloved in his heyday – his experimental spirit. Is it too early to proclaim it among the best of 2016?

Favorites: “Blackstar,” “‘Tis a Pity She Was a Whore,” “Lazarus” and “ “Sue (Or In A Season of Crime)”

★★★★

(Excerpted from David Bowie Leaves The Music World A Classic Gem With Final Album ‘Blackstar’)

2) Panic! At The Disco, Death of a Bachelor (Fueled By Ramen)

 Panic! At The Disco, Death Of A Bachelor © Fueled By Ramen

Commentary:

All in all, Death of a Bachelor is a fantastic album. Brendon Urie continues to show himself as one of the industry’s most eclectic musicians with a penchant for experimentation. Sure, there are times that Panic could lower the dynamic level, Urie could better control his beastly instrument, or one fewer instrument could be used, but more often than not, Death of A Bachelor rocks without a hitch.

Favorites: “Victorious,” “Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time,” “Hallelujah,” “Death of A Bachelor” and “Impossible Year”

★★★★

(Excerpted from Panic! At The Disco’s ‘Death of a Bachelor’ Is Eccentrically Brilliant)

3) Anderson .Paak, Malibu (Steel Wool / OBE)

Anderson .Paak, Malibu © Steel Wool/Obe

Commentary:

All in all, Malibu makes for a rich listening experience – the potential is “through the roof.” Anderson Paak clearly shows himself to be force to reckoned with and hopefully Malibu isn’t just a critical breakthrough, but also a commercial breakthrough. Even if it fails to sell, Anderson Paak is clearly an artist on the rise – don’t sleep on him!

Favorites: “The Bird,” “Heart Don’t Stand a Chance,” “The Season / Carry Me,” “Put Me Thru,” “Your Prime” and “Come Down”

★★★★

(Excerpted from Anderson Paak’s Latest Album ‘Malibu’ Shows He’s Clearly An Artist On The Rise)

4) Rihanna, Anti (Roc Nation)

Rihanna, Anti © Roc Nation (1)

Commentary:

Ultimately, ANTI is different from Rihanna’s previous seven studio releases, but that’s not totally a bad thing. There’s a lack of radio-ready hits which may ultimately stifle commercial endurance, but particularly for dedicated fans, they should enjoy the experiments and change of pace with ANTI. Some will and some want, but ANTI is worth the time, particularly if you give it a chance – a couple of listens to settle in.

Favorites: “Kiss It Better,” “Desperado,” “Same Ol’ Mistakes,” “Love on the Brain”

★★★½  

(Excerpted from Review: Rihanna Switches Things Up On ‘Anti’)

5) Elton John, Wonderful Crazy Night (Mercury) Elton John, Wonderful Crazy Night © Mercury

Commentary:

Overall, Wonderful Crazy Night is a fine new album by Elton John. Veterans don’t have anything to prove when they release new albums. That’s the case with Elton John on Wonderful Crazy Night, who doesn’t reinvent the wheel or himself, but flexes his prodigious musical muscles once more. A winner? You bet! 

Favorites: “Wonderful Crazy Night,” “In The Name of You,” “Claw Hammer,” “A Good Heart”

 ★★★★

(Excerpted from Elton John Expands His Legacy On ‘Wonderful Crazy Night’)

6) BJ The Chicago Kid, In My Mind (Motown)

BJ The Chicago Kid, In My Mind © Motown

Commentary:

Ultimately, BJ the Chicago Kid shines on In My Mind. Ever restless, he doesn’t just stick to one subgenre of R&B but rather embraces a little bit of everything. Soulful and eclectic musically, “the Chicago Kid” delivers without question, and more up and coming R&B artists could take a page out of his book.

Favorites: “Church,” “Love Inside,” “The Resume,” “Jeremiah/World Needs More Love,” “New Cupid,” and “Turnin’ Me On”

★★★★

(Excerpted from BJ The Chicago Kid Delivers Captivating Debut Album With ‘In My Mind’)

Honorable Mentions: Hands Like Houses, Dissonants (Rise); Kanye West, The Life Of Pablo (Def Jam); Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, This Unruly Mess I’ve Made (Macklemore); The 1975, I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It (Interscope)

Albums that are OFF…this needs no explanation

1) Ricky Dillon, Gold (EGR Music Group)
Ricky Dillon, GOLD © EGR Music Group

Commentary:

Ultimately, GOLD is an album one genuinely wants to like, particularly given its star, but is arguably bogged down by its flaws. It has moments, but even those ‘moments’ aren’t transcendent. Give Dillon credit for taking the leap into the cutthroat music industry and sharing his art if nothing more; he definitely shouldn’t stop pursuing his dream. Unfortunately, GOLD aims for the stars but falls short of the glory.

Favorites: “Don’t Wanna Fall in Love,” “Problematic” and “Steal The Show”

★★ 

(Excerpted from Ricky Dillon Aims High, Falls Short on ‘Gold’) 

2) Charlie Puth, Nine Track Mind (Atlantic)

 Charlie Puth, Nine Track Mind © Atlantic

Commentary:

So ultimately, its hard not to like Charlie Puth – he seems like a nice guy who’s definitely living his dream. But based upon Nine Track Mind, he’s gonna need more substance and less fluff next-go-round. Yes, there’s some scrumptiousness to be enjoyed, but there’s also some “eh” moments. Shouldn’t “Marvin Gaye” have warned us in the first place? (Brent Music Reviews)

(Excerpted from Charlie Puth’s Artistry Is A Work In Progress (Quick Thoughts))

How does Nine Track Mind fare? Eh. It’s not terrible, but neither is it profound or particularly great. At best it’s average, but even if being “average” is a considered a “bad thing,” one thing Puth always shows is potential. It’s clear he’s a polished, well-rounded musician, but he needs to work on his artistry. Furthermore, as reiterated throughout, Puth needs to kicks things into the next gear. Better, more memorable material and more risky, dynamic performances would definitely help. (Starpulse)

Favorites: “One Call Away,” “We Don’t Talk Anymore,” “Suffer” and “Some Type of Love”

 ★★½

(Excerpted from Charlie Puth Shows Potential, Lacks Oomph On ‘Nine Track Mind’)

3) Tank, Sex Love & Pain II (Atlantic)

Tank, Sex Love & Pain II © Atlantic

Commentary:

How does Sex, Love & Pain II stack up? Average at best. Reiterating for the umpteenth, Tank sounds fantastic vocally. The problem is the material – it just isn’t always a perfect fit. Yes, Tank can sing about sex and be that clubby R&B artist who thrives off of swag if he wishes, but does it really suit him or elevate his artistry or showcase his abilities? No. Tank’s best when he lays off being risqué and let’s his amazing pipes make the ladies swoon (and dudes jealous).

Favorites: “You Don’t Know,” “Better For You” and “Already in Love”

★★★

(Excerpted from Tank Is Too Reliant On Trendiness On ‘Sex Love & Pain II’) 

4) Wiz Khalifa, Khalifa (Atlantic)

Wiz Khalifa, Khalifa © Atlantic

Commentary:

All in all, Khalifa is average at best. At this point, the feeling is that Wiz Khalifa has ran through his best materials, best lines, and ultimately has shown all his cards. Khalifa isn’t bad, but nor is it profound. Courting new fans with Khalifa should be difficult, as it seems that the MC doesn’t have much freshness to offer aside from the same old weed references. 

Favorites: “Celebrate,” “Elevated,” “Bake Sale” and “Call Waiting”    

★★★

(Excerpted from Wiz Khalifa Doesn’t Switch Things Up On Sixth Album ‘Khalifa’)

Nick Weaver, Prowler © Nick Weaver

Nick Weaver Brings The Heat On ‘Prowler’


Nick Weaver, Prowler © Nick Weaver
© Nick Weaver

Often, us as music lovers – and sometimes critics too – tend to flock to major-label or big-named indie artists are the first source for reviewing music. Why? It’s easy and these artists are well established or moderately established. Sometimes, however, the biggest “gems” come with burgeoning artists, many known or establishing themselves at the local level and gradually or consistently building their careers. That was a mouthful!

Okay enough of that – let’s just cut to the chase. Nick Weaver, a Seattle independent rapper rocks – well he raps, but he “rocks” because he has plenty to offer lyrically and artistically to the game. On his full-length album Prowler, Weaver shows both his continually growing potential and exceptionalness as an MC. Nick Weaver is one cool cat. Let’s dive into Prowler, shall we?

“Proceed” launches Prowler enthusiastically, possessing a ferocious edge. An exceptional salvo even clocking in just over two minutes, “Proceed” sets the tone for the album, with Weaver engaging his audience with assertive, assured rhymes. “Good Lord” follows up in satisfactory fashion, thriving off the momentum established by the opener. Weaver rides an infectious loop like a boss, spitting with poised-urgency. Huh – “What you talkin’ ‘bout Willis?” Basically, Weaver is chill, yet his mellow approach doesn’t lack fire. It takes skill to spit ether the way Weaver does.

“R.I.P.” is drenched in swag, with Weaver getting a strong assist from da Deputy. Da Deputy takes the reins initially, blessing a raucous anchoring loop with his gritty pipes. Weaver takes over the second half of the track, contrasting da Deputy magnificently with his cool approach, while still packing a KO punch with a dash of profanity…or two…or three.

“Forgot” like opener “Proceed” is brief, but continues to showcase an MC on autopilot. The best, most memorable line: “I’m Gus Van Sant with a dash of Rembrandt…” Get it Nick! On “Them” he comes out swinging, amplifying the aggression to the next level, passionately spitting, “Motherf*ckers like you / spent your whole damn life not knowing what you really had to do…and motherf*ckers like me / spent our whole damn lives figurin’ out who we really need to be…” Later, Weaver emphatically spits on the hook, “Let’s break ‘em off something, uh! Uh! / Let’s break ‘em off something cold…” If he were ever too subtle before, there’s no subtleness here as he gets down and dirty no questions asked.

“Aw f*ck!” What a way to jump right into “Slide,” which ranks among the crème de la crème of Prowler (“it’s irresistibly delicious”). Weaver definitely comes to play – jump shots going in – delivering thrilling rhyme after thrilling rhyme, whether he’s “too weird for drugs for real,” “spent my unemployment on Nikes…” or he just wants to “slide into your DMs.”

As hard as it is to follow up “Slide,” “Heat” handles the arduous task soundly. Of course it does – Nick Weaver’s been bringing the “Heat” since “Proceed” initiated Prowler. Next! “Modus Operandi” (featuring Grynch) revisits that ‘smooth operator’ electrifying means that found Weaver killing it from the jump. The M.O. unsurprisingly ends up being successful, as it does on solo track “Gospel” which has a bit more contemporary production finesse compared to much of Prowler. It’s slick and intense – indeed “the moment where I rock you” – or so Weaver asserts! Hey, the “Gospel” hits you right in the soul!

“Bleed” features Anthony Briscoe, who delivers nuanced, soulfully sung vocals during the second half of the song. His legato vocals directly contrasts Weaver’s rapping. Penultimate joint “Small Man” once more sports that “cool bite” making Weaver quite compelling, including a brilliant string of rhymes that eventually ends with titillating innuendo (“a tormented tongue / tornado right through your fishnets”). “Taste” concludes Prowler as soundly as it began, no questions asked. In other words, the “taste” is good.

All in all, Prowler is a terrific independent rap album without a doubt. Weaver first impressed with EP Yardwork, but Prowler finds the Seattle MC stepping up his game to the next level. Clever and witty, Weaver has a winner on his hands.

Favorites: “Good Lord,” “Them,” “Slide” and “Small Man”

★★★★

Nick Weaver • Prowler • Nick Weaver • Release Date: 2.17.16

Kanye West, The Life Of Pablo © G.O.O.D./Def Jam

Kanye West’s’The Life Of Pablo’ By The Lyrics


Kanye West, The Life Of Pablo © G.O.O.D./Def Jam

Kanye West’s new album The Life Of Pablo is a trip. After listening, some of the lyrics are as outlandish as albeit. Would we expect any less from Mr. West? Of course not – it is THE Kanye Omari West – Yeezy! Here are some of the more memorable lyrics from The Life Of Pablo, with a dash of commentary from yours truly! 

1) “We on an ultralight beam / we on an ultralight beam / this is a God dream / this is a God dream” – “Ultralight Beam”  

Commentary: Kanye West embraces spirituality throughout the course of the opener. West has tackled Christianity before with “Jesus Walks,” though it is surprising that he opens the album in these regards. Also, as hard as it may be for people to believe, West consistency refers to himself as being a Christian.

2) “You can feel the lyrics, the spirit coming in braille / Tubman of the underground, come and follow the trail / I made Sunday Candy, I’m never going to hell / I met Kanye West, I’m never going to fail” – Chance The Rapper, “Ultralight Beam”

Commentary: One of the best parts of the opener is Chance The Rapper’s epic verse, including the aforementioned lyrical highlights. The lyrics are clever; Chance The Rapper references his own song (“Sunday Candy”) and puts Kanye West on a pedestal.

3) “Now if I f**k this model / and she just bleached her a**hole / and I get bleach on my T-shirt / I’mma feel like an a**hole” – “Father Stretch My Hands, Pt. 1”

Commentary: Well, arguably Mr. West, people would call you an a**hole anyway, right? But that’s beside the point. There’s no need to decode this lyric – it speaks for itself and perhaps TOO BLUNTLY.

4) “Up in the morning, miss you bad / sorry I ain’t called you back / same problem my father had / all his time, all he had, all he had” – “Father Stretch My Hands, Pt. 2” 

Commentary: “Father Stretch My Hands, Pt. 2” is deeper than the first installment, and this autobiographical line exemplifies it. This is authentic because West is being real, talking about his father’s relationship with his mother.

5) “Momma pass in Hollywood / if you ask, lost my soul / driving fast, lost control / off the road, jaw was broke” – “Father Stretch My Hands, Pt. 2”

Commentary: This line references the death of Donda West (West’s mom) as well as West’s horrid car wreck. This wreck was mentioned before in “Through The Wire” on The College Dropout. 

6) “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / Why? I made that b***h famous…for all the girls that got d**k from Kanye West / if you see ‘em in the streets give ‘em Kanye’s best / Why? They mad they ain’t famous…” – “Famous”

Commentary: Wonder why Taylor Swift shaded Kanye West at the 58th Annual Grammys? This distasteful, disrespectful lyric is part of the reason why. Furthermore, throw in West disrupting Swift’s speech years back…

7) “I’ve been outta my mind a long time / I know, I know, I shouldn’t even bother / with all these gossiping, no-p***y-getting bloggers…” – “Feedback” 

Commentary: Apparently, West doesn’t like bloggers or the feedback they give. He wouldn’t be the first. That said, the “no-p***y-getting bloggers” is a low blow.

8) “I bet me and Ray J would be friends / if we ain’t love the same b***h / Yeah, he might have hit it first / only problem is I’m rich” – “Highlights”

Commentary: What else needs to be explained? Ray J and Kim K were a couple before Kanye and Kim. Kanye and Ray J dislike each other and Ray J put out a horrible single called “I Hit It First.” It didn’t go anywhere, much like his relationship with Kim… just saying!

9) “I’mma shift the paradigm / I’mma turn up every time / I’mma bust a coach’s head open on some Diddy s**t / if he ever talk to my son like an idiot” – “Highlights” 

Commentary: Mr. West, don’t do what Diddy did. Probably wouldn’t turn out as well for you as it did for Diddy…

10) “Whip out, b***h out / tits out, oh s**t / My d**k out, can she suck it right now? / F**k, can she f**k right now?” – “Freestyle 4”

Commentary: Three words: IT’S GOING DOWN. Let’s leave this right here!

11) “I miss the old Kanye, straight from the Go Kanye / Chop up the soul Kanye, set onhis goals Kanye…” – “I Love Kanye” 

Commentary: Every criticism of Kanye West right now. Kanye nails it.

12) “Step up in this b***h like / I’m the one your b***h like…I ain’t scared to lose a fistfight / and she be grabbin’ on my d**k like / she wanna see if it’ll fit right / that’s just the wave” – “Waves”

Commentary: West doesn’t lack confidence. He’s a movement. The sexual reference is him likening himself to being a superstar more than the actual act.

13) “But you ain’t finna be raising your voice at me / especially when we in that Guiseppe store / But I’mma have the last laugh in the end / cause I’m from a tribe called check a ho” – “FML”

Commentary:  Kanye West is the dude. No woman is going to stay with him that can’t respect him or he’ll kick her to the curb. Yep, that’s basically it in the nutshell.

14) “Real friends, how many of us? / How many of us, how many jealous? Real Friends / it’s not many of us, we smile at each other / but how many honest? Trust issues…” – “Real Friends” 

Commentary: Legit, true friends that are genuine are hard to come by.

15) “You gotta let me know if I could be your Joseph / only tell you real shit, that’s the tea, no sip / don’t trip, don’t trip, that p***y slippery, no whip / we ain’t trippin on s**t, we just sippin’ on this…I impregnate your mind, let’s have a baby without f**kin’…” – “Wolves” 

Commentary: Joseph and Mary are Biblical characters, with Mary being the mother of Jesus. Mary was a virgin at the time she was pregnant. No, we won’t spend the time to talk about “the birds and bees” here, but that typically not how it works – it was truly a divine event. Of course Kanye West comes over as a heretic lyrically…

16) “What if Mary was in the club / ‘fore she met Joseph with no love? / Cover Saint in lambs’ wool / We surrounded by the f**kin’ wolves” – “Wolves”

Commentary: BLASPHEMY – The devil is a lie!

17) “But I still drove 30 hours / but still drove 30 hours to you” – “30 Hours”  

Commentary: West was in L-O-V-E to pursue a long distance relationship that required a 30-hour trip. Phew! 

18) “I remember rapping for Jay and Cam/ Young producer just trying to get his flows off / I remember being nervous to do Victoria Secret / ‘Til I pictured everybody with they clothes off” – “30 Hours”

Commentary: West reminisces on his past, once more showing a great moment of authenticity. This is a human moment for West, which is something may would love to see more of from the MC.

19) “A backpack n***a with luxury taste buds / and the Louis Vuitton store, got all of my pay stubs / Got p***y from beats I did for n***as more famous / when did I become A list? I wasn’t even on a list” – Kanye West, “No More Parties In L.A.”

Commentary: The great come-up.

20) “Yeezy, Yeezy, Yeezy, I feel so accomplished / I done talked a lot of s**t but I just did the numbers…” – “Facts”

Commentary: Kanye West is confident – what is new?

Future, EVOL © Atlantic

Future’s ‘EVOL’: Examining The Album By the Lyrics


Future, EVOL © Atlantic

Future shocked the world by dropping a new album with little notice on Saturday, February 6. Future has been riding high throughout the course of 2015 with a number one album (DS2) and a number one mixtape with Drake (What A Time To Be Alive). He looks to keep the momentum going strong in 2016 with latest album EVOL, which shot to number one on iTunes charts when it became available.

After all, Future sure has a way with words…and autotune…

1) “Look like I stepped on the runway / they try to tell me to calm down / peep how I came in the game and I started rocking that Tom Ford” – “Ain’t No Time”

Commentary: Essentially, Future knows he’s blown up – period. He’s big – no not weight, but in regards to his status as a rapper/celebrity. Sporting the Tom Ford speaks to his newfound affluence.

2) “Kicking flavors Saint Laurent watch how I walk / Man this paper be the reason why we talk / ain’t no favors, they gon’ outline you in chalk / you the biggest, biggest hater of them all” – “Ain’t No Time” 

Commentary: A continuation of the first excepted quote. Future is hot and unstoppable right now, has plenty of money (hence the Saint Laurent reference) and people hate him because they want to be him.

3) “I’m tryna f**k the DA lady in her mouth though / Hit some R&B sh*t on the jet though / I got stacks on me…” – “In Her Mouth”

Commentary: The first part of the quote (“I’m tryna f*ck the DA lady in her mouth though”) isn’t sexual, or at least that’s not the primary meaning. Basically, Future, who raps prevalently about drugs and hustling, is saying FU to the District Attorney, who happens to be female. What more offensive way to do so than make a sex joke. Sure, maybe he literally would like to literally do what he suggests, but that’s questionable.

As for the second part (“Hit some R&B sh*t on the jet though / I got stacks on me…”), he literally is referencing sex with R&B chicks, and he has money. Genius confirms the R&B thing.

4) “They got my dawg, violate a hundred bodies / I’m ‘bout to cash out on a new Bugatti / I’m ‘bout to pay the police off, John Gotti” – “In Her Mouth” 

Commentary: The Feds have got a case on his homie, he’s about to get a new Bugatti (typical) and he’s going to pay off the cops to get off his current case. Yep, we’ve heard this all before.

5) “F**k a b***h in a big way / and I hit her right on the staircase / hit that mouth I go bare face / when I’m in that mouth I go bare face” – “Maybach”

Commentary: Rappers aren’t typically discrete when it comes to spitting so Future is brutally honest about his sexcapades here. “Bare” is just what you think it is – unprotected, aka sans these for example. We’ll leave that at that!

6) “Three exotic broads and I got ‘em soakin’ panties / told ‘em they were certified, welcome to the xanny family” – “Xanny Family”

Commentary: One word: orgy. Three women who all want to have sex with Future as well as pop pills (Xanax). 

7) “Promethazine, codeine, this sh*t campaign for us / the sauce look so clean like some angel dust” – “Xanny Family”

Commentary: Drugs, drugs, drugs…

8) “You comin’ to the crib, bring a gang of tuss / I dip it in the blunt, I’m tryna smoke the mud / I loaded up my gun, I’m tryna smoke the plug” – “Xanny Family” 

Commentary: The tuss references the chief ingredient in Lean/Purple Drank. Future goes on to references marijuana (“I dip it in the blunt, I’m tryna smoke the mode”). He then plans to apparently shoot the drug dealer (“I load up my gun, I’m tryna smoke the plug”).

9) “Hey thirty thousand on a watch, I swear thank God I’m ballin’ / Feds watching on my spot, they say somebody called ‘em / Hottest n***a in the streets, they see my Audemars / hardest n***a in the streets, three thousand grams…” – “Lil Haiti Baby” 

Commentary: Every rapper who’s made it must have a really expensive watch, period. The Feds are after him because of drugs – that’s where the “three thousand grams” comes into play…

10) “Dumping down the pills, I feel my head explodin’ / roll a pound of dope, I gotta keep on smokin’ / money comin’ in, we ain’t gon’ never spend it / then thousand bags of kush, we ain’t gon’ never listen” – “Lil Haiti Baby” 

Commentary: Future sounds like he’s going to overdose if he’s not careful… But regardless, he has more money than he can ever spend and plenty of weed to smoke and deal…remember he’s the one that said “I’m The Plug.” 

11) “You want an R&B chick, shawty it ain’t nothin’ to get her” – “Lil Haiti Baby”

Commentary: Arguably, this is a cheap shot at Ciara. That said it’s also a fact in general that most rappers can get any girl that they want, including the coveted “R&B Chick” which Future referenced earlier.

12) “I pull up in that new Maybach and they wave / these n***as won’t show no deuces they got hoe-waves / I walk inside the club and they wave / I put headshots and more hits out on my enemies” – “Photo Copied”

Commentary: Future is “kind of a big deal.”

13) “I know you ain’t saving that p***y / you know somebody play in that p***y” – “Photo Copied”

Commentary: Another shot at Ciara…and Seahawks QB Russell Wilson. To clean up the lyric, Future asserts he doesn’t believe Ciara is abstaining from sex, despite what she and Wilson have said.

14) “I tried to tell you when I came, it was God” – “Seven Rings” 

Commentary: Read into this one a lot and things can get twisted. But basically, this is good ole god status exemplified.

15) “Sippin’ out my cup, hell no, don’t you taste that / Hundred percent chance I done doped up and laced that…” – “Seven Rings” 

Commentary: Basically, whatever Future has concocted in his cup, it’s deadly. Likely it’s dirty sprite. 

16) “Big racks, and you know that b*tch that you’re with, she mine…she wanna hit on me under the covers like lovers / like we divine / she recognize that I’m so thorough / I’m under them briefs, I’m all on her mind…” – “Lie To Me” 

Commentary: G-Eazy might’ve said it best: “Cuz I’m f*cking your girlfriend and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

17)“Obama on my line / what’s the program? / You know I don’t give a damn / what’s the program?” – “Program”  

Commentary: Future is SOOOOO big, Obama’s called him. That’s the “Program” people! 

18) “I just popped six xans and a Quaalude / shawty gave me […] on that Adderall…” – “Program” 

Commentary: Drugs (Xanax, Quaalude, Adderall) and a sex act… 

19) “Wake up, take a sip of Ace of Spade like it’s water / I been on the molly and them Xans with your daughter / If she catch me cheating, I will never tell her sorry…” – “Low Life”

Commentary:  What more can you really say here? Future is a self-proclaimed “low life” after all.

20) “Turn a five star hotel to a trap house / roaches everywhere, like we forgot to take the trash out/ flood my cross with ice, getting money my religion / got my baby momma and my side b***h kissing” – “Low Life”

Commentary: “Low Life” is the perfect title for this song. The aforementioned quote really needs no further explanation as Future makes his actions clear. Next!

21) “I been waking up to b*****s in my hotel suite / We been gone on the molly…” – “Fly S**t Only”

Commentary: Sex and drugs.

22) “Maybe one day I’mma get out the drank / and maybe one day we can f**k in the bank / I made me a Porsche out of two and a quarter / I got to Morocco and lay in some foreigns” – “Fly S**t Only”

Commentary: One day he’ll stop drinking lean (“Maybe one day I’mma get out the drank…”). One day, him and his girl will make love at a bank though he doesn’t specify which one (“…and maybe one day we can f**k in the bank”). He bought a custom made Porsche for $250,000 (“I made me a Porsche out of two and a quarter…”). The last part is more open to interpretation – maybe Future stayed in luxurious foreign hotels, slept with foreign women, or test-drove foreign cars before deciding upon a custom made Porsche (“I got to Morocco and lay in some foreigns”).

Kid Cudi, Speedin' Bullet 2 Heaven © Republic

The Downfall of Kid Cudi: A Sad Tale


Kid Cudi, Speedin' Bullet 2 Heaven © Republic
As a music critic, one has to master the art of judgment, specifically which albums to review and which ones to pass on. In December 2015, something spoke to yours truly in regards to passing on a particular album. What was the album worthy of skipping – prejudging before judging it via review – Kid Cudi’s mysteriously dropped Speedin’ Bullet To Heaven.

Having previously reviewed Cudi’s other albums, it would seem natural to review his latest right? Well…um…NO. Lately, Kid Cudi has changed dramatically artistically and NOT for the better. Not being a hater, but this change just doesn’t bode well in Kid’s favor as he seems to be single-handedly derailing his own career. Folks, we are experiencing the downfall of Kid Cudi, and it is indeed a sad tale.

Wait a minute – hold the ‘blinging’ phone! How can a determination be made that Cudi’s career is going down to tube without at least listening to portions of Speedin’ Bullet To Heaven? Well, yours truly caved in to partake of the [expletive of choice] mess that is Speedin’ Bullet To Heaven. The verdict? It’s horrific! It makes you wonder, what happened to the left-field MC that slayed on Man On the Moon: The End of Day (2009) or even follow-up Man On The Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager (2010)?

Basically, Kid Cudi has drifted far away from just being an oddball rapper, seeking for a second time to make a rock/alternative album. Many would argue it didn’t work with WZRD, but from my perspective, compared to Speedin’ Bullet, at least WZRD was more listenable despite being flawed. Regardless, it’s just not the lane for Cudi, at least if he wants to maintain his fan base. No, this is NOT about making him a conformist – he never was one and that was his appeal – but things started to slip around Indicud (2013).

To reiterate, we witnessing the downfall of Cudi. When you examine Man On The Moon: The End of Day, you can name preeminent hits like “Day N Nite,” “Make Her Say,” and “Pursuit of Happiness.” Additionally, throw in other treats like “Solo Dolo,” “Heart of a Lion,” or “My World” featuring Billy Craven. Basically, examine the entire 2009 album and its one of the more intriguing hip-hop albums of the 00s. It was distinct, setting itself apart from others for all of the right reasons.

Let’s move on to Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager. Arguably, it’s not as ‘classic’ as MOTM: TEOD, but there’s still plenty of superb moments, whether it’s the haunting “Mojo So Dope” (brilliantly sampling Choir of Young Believers’ “Claustrophobia”), the clever “Ashin’ Kusher” or the rebellious “Wild’n Cuz I’m Young.” Even beyond those referenced, there’s more – “REVOFEV,” Mary J. Blige feature “Don’t Play This Song,”“Marijuana,” and successful rock-oriented joint “Erase Me” featuring Kanye West.

Again, it was around Indicud things seemed to slip ever so slightly. There were some moments, such as the unapologetic “Unf**kwittable,” Father John Misty feature “Young Lady,” or “Girls” (featuring Too $hort), but are any of the referenced as strong as Cudi’s first two albums? No – and there’s no argument about that. Still, Indicud didn’t sink the ship – it just began to raise the questions about where Kid Cudi was taking his career. But ultimately, give him a pass on album number three.

So, where did Cudi completely lose it? – The surprise albums. We’ll exclude WZRD as that particular project was released between two respectable efforts – MOTM II and Indicud. But we can’t excuse Kid Cudi presents Satellite Flight: The Journey to Mother Moon, which is just blatantly odd. Perhaps it’s not a ‘bad’ album per se as much as it lacks memorability. With Cudi’s first three albums, naming some notable songs is easy, but with Satellite Flight nothing particularly stands out.

Even if Satellite Flight didn’t seem to be the ‘right’ album for the MC, he still could have salvaged some semblance of the left-field MC most had come to find intriguing without being horrific – yep there’s that adjective again! In the case of Speedin’ Bullet To Heaven, there are just no excuses and rebounding from such a faux pas in this musical climate seems like a tall, elephantine task. Does Cudi care about the reception of the album from consumers or critics? While being a musician requires being tough-minded and tough-skinned, perhaps this effort is one of those instances where he should be receptive to the criticism.

Ultimately, Kid Cudi is in a bad place. Speedin’ Bullet to Heaven makes you question where he is mentally given its raw, depressed, and at times morbid nature. Hopefully these emotions Cudi shares aren’t authentic because if they are, perhaps he’s in a worse state of mind beyond an album. As for yours truly, seeing 2009-2010 Kid Cudi return would be terrific but it seems more and more doubtful with each album. Unfortunately, this music lover and music critic just can’t get onboard with Speedin’ Bullet to Heaven.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, White Privilege II © Macklemore LLC

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Draw Mixed Reactions on “White Privilege II”


Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, White Privilege II © Macklemore LLC

Hmm, what does one make of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – specifically Macklemore? The Internet went crazy when the rapper dropped free nine-minute track, “White Privilege II.” The reaction was exactly what one would expect – mixed. Some appreciated Macklemore raising the social issue, particularly being a white male. Others obviously took offense questioning if Macklemore totally understands the depth of “white privilege,” etc.

So, after listening a couple of times to “White Privilege II,” what are the thoughts of yours truly? Ultimately, mixed. Give credit to Macklemore for being an unaffected voice (since he’s white) and speaking out about being conscious of certain privileges that other races, specifically blacks, don’t have that whites take for granted, etc.. Many white musicians wouldn’t tackle this issue AND some black ones wouldn’t either, so to reiterate, give Macklemore credit in his intentions if nothing else.

Here’s the skepticism about Macklemore’s latest endeavor. It is just me, or does it seem like Macklemore may be trying too hard? It’s an odd situation you might say. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis bested Kendrick Lamar for Grammys a couple of years back. While the rap community was outraged, Macklemore seemed to take responsibility when he didn’t have to, going so far as to apologize to Kendrick Lamar for winning. It was by no means his fault that he won a Grammy and he personally had no reason to be apologetic – that’s on the voters who chose to award him. But perhaps that shows how ‘big’ a man Macklemore is.

Here again, Macklemore takes it upon himself to join another racially-driven situation/conversation, but the question is why? Why is Macklemore so passionate about this? Is it still guilt because he knows the good (not necessarily classic) The Heist somehow defeated the classic Good Kid M.A.A.D. City and the black community was “up in arms” or is he just genuinely passionate and outraged about the privilege and racial issues within the country?

Ultimately, “White Privilege” is worth the look because it starts a conversation if nothing else. As an artistic statement, it definitely isn’t shallow as it tackles a relevant topic. As a song, it’s ‘all over the place,’ definitely not lending itself to being a ‘hit,’ but that’s not the intention anyways – it’s a statement; a work of art.  Again, my reaction is mixed – credit where credit is due, but skeptical.