Album Reviews: Evidence – ‘Weather or Not’ and Migos – ‘Culture II’

The one where Jean and Marcus review two very different rap albums released on January 26, 2018: Evidence’s (of Dilated Peoples and Step Brothers fame) Weather or Not, and Migos’ Culture II. Both LPs are (technically) each artist’s third effort, have guest appearances on six tracks, and feature songs titled “Moving Too Fast.” That’s where the similarities end, and people start getting real. Wait, that’s “The Real World.” Never mind. Just listen to the episode. Please? We love you.

We Give A [CROCKER] About Some Got Damn Grammys

The one where Jean and Marcus talk about the upcoming (January 28!) 2018 Grammy Awards rap nominees. We predict who will win, and discuss who we want to win, and why.

You can also see our #radiofaces recording this live on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-HwvFMpGVs

Rap Heroes in the Hall of Fame

The one where Jean and Marcus discuss rappers in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the competing Hip Hop Hall of Fame Museum (and hotel, gift shop, sports bar, restaurant, concert lounge, arcade, and television studios) and Universal Hip Hop Museum projects, VH1’s once-famed Hip Hop Honors, and our own personal hall of fame picks.

Rap Rap Double Double Albums Albums

The one where Jean and Marcus reach back and evaluate six of rap’s most recognized double discs. Did these albums truly need twice the space to contain their greatness, or are they merely products of pride and excess?

Albums Explored

  • 2PacAll Eyez On Me (1996)
  • Wu-Tang ClanWu-Tang Forever (1997)
  • OutKastSpeakerboxxx/The Love Below (2003)
  • NasStreet’s Disciple (2004)
  • Notorious B.I.G.Life After Death (1997)
  • UGKUnderground Kingz (2007)

REVIEW: Laila’s Wisdom by Rapsody

Laila’s Wisdom by Rapsody,

on Jamla Records/Roc Nation, released on September 22, 2017

 

Female mc. Femcee. Lady Rappers. “Did someone write this for her.”
There are a myriad of additional tags and terms that tell the old narrative of women who rap are registered into the game of hip-hop. It has been, for many years, a stain on their history and limits what can be taken seriously from theses rappers and may possible limit the output that is accepted from them by labels and producers who back their work.

In the case of Rapsody, the North Carolina born m.c. has paid her dues as a human being who rhyes and has been featured alongside some of the best human beings that rhyme, and is one of the latest signees of Roc Nation, a label started by Jay Z.

WHAT I EXPECTED:
Expert lyricism, some experimentation with subject matter, but I didn’t believe that the limits would be stretched too far, just a relaxing vacation from typical concepts. I also was looking to a lot of 9th wonder production, but could not tag exactly where he would go, especially after his Kendrick works.

WHAT I HEARD:
Between the many collaborations with Talib and 9th, I only expected her to continue to improve as a beat rider and lyricist. I listened to her first full length album, , but failed to find songs that stuck. There was great serving lines and introspective thoughts that eased me towards drifting away, massaging my imagination, and nodding along. But I wasn’t attached to the album.
This album, released September 30th, opens with the Nottz-produced title track. Here she is flipping a mix of deeper thoughts from freedom to debt to perceptions of blacks by others. She says,“They say we three-fifths human, the rest of me’s an autobot”, maneuvering efficiently and smoothly through her thought process. The same can be said about “Power’, the 9th Wonder produced track that features a Jamaican-patios tinged verse from Kendrick Lamar. 9th comes through heavy on this album with the scoring or co-scoring of 9 of the 14 tracks. The marching procession of “Chrome(Ooh)” screams radio single without being gimmicky, even with the beat switch into a cruising groove for the last verse. the funky guitar sounds grace “Pay Up’ a cool-moving track that may have you dancing as Rapsody warns of a lady scheming on an unsuspecting man’s pockets.
By the time “Ridin” comes on, you are aware of two things: Rapsody is good at taking over a track and making it her own, and while she has been blessed with some great guest verses, she does not lose ownership. The Busta Rhymes advertised feature is a bit of a tease, as he doesn’t appear in full verse or hook here, but does later. The vocal tone adjusting of “Sassy” and the beat riding just draws you into this track. She says on the hook, “If my sassiness upsets you, oh you mad that I survived.” She is doing more than just surviving at this point of the album. A big statement that I wish more people would follow was uttered on “Nobody”: “It’s all hiphop, cant divide what aint different, Don’t like all underground, don’t hate all music that isn’t, I was just making it clap to Waka Flocka last Christmas.” The Black Thought track is strong as usual, bur that beat used for him sounded like a mis-matched jam session. At this point, you realize that this album is definitely filled with a good mix of cleverness and introspective journeys. “Black and Ugly” is a look-at-me-in –the-eye-if-you’re-sure face-off that comes off well and confident, casting aside criticisms. “You Should Know” is another head-nodder that features what sounds like an adele sample, a cool “cell therapy” interpolation, and lines like “I’m a child of destiny, though fulfillment is up to me.” After a beat swtich-up, Busta Rhymes delivers what seems to be a dedication of some sort. It was weird but cool.
The fade-off of the short but sweet “U Used to Love Me” is pretty sharp, almost as if Rapsody was literally walking out of the booth. Song is definitely too short. Knock on my Door” is a cool, female version of “how you doing, do you have some time for me”, but inserts religion and nerves in a comfortable way. I like the ad libs used here. Definitely makes you feel it fit into Rapsody’s personal approach of this album. Paak returns for a second song on “Ooo Wee”, nice track that definitely is a strong upbeat selection that keeps the album moving. Album closes with “Jesus Coming”, which has soft and easy accompaniment by the Amber Navarn. Rapsody raps to a vocal sample, which I am always a sucker for, but the vocal choice was a bit of an acquired taste when it came to pacing with the music.

 

CREATIVITY – 85%

PRODUCTION 90%

DECENT PERCENTAGE – 100%

OVERALL – 91%

 

SUMMARY:

I really enjoyed this album. I felt more connected to this than with her last full length effort. I definitely feel one with her thoughts during this ride, and noticed better song structuring and more fun with what she is doing. This definitely should be a contender for hip hop album of the year, as it brings strong thought process, music and separation together to make a great piece of work. Well done, Rapsody.

 

Classic Rap Albums We Missed

The one where Jean and Marcus get vulnerable by admitting that there are a few so-called classic rap albums they’ve never heard, and share their thoughts on their first listens.

Albums Discussed

  • Boogie Down ProductionsCriminal Minded
  • Kool G Rap & DJ PoloWanted: Dead or Alive
  • Puff Daddy & The FamilyNo Way Out
  • T.I.Trap Muzik

Paranoia:The Untold Story by Dave East(an Album Review)

In the History of hip-hop, there have been many albums and many album titles.  Like other categories of music, you do have intriguing names, some that lend a trail to the listener that leads them to what they are about to partake.  For the most part, and especially in hip-hop, there are titles that don’t do the content justice.

Dave East has delivered his debut studio EP, “Paranoia:The Untold Story” on August 18th, 2017 after multiple mixtapes.  The Harlem, NY bred MC is on the Mass Appeal record label(ran by Nas) and Def Jam Recordings.

WHAT I EXPECTED:

A brag-heavy display of machismo that would need to be turned down to hear his real thoughts. I figured that it would not have the depth that I know that someone as talented as Dave is capable of.

 

WHAT I HEARD:

The album starts of with the Jeezy-assisted “Paranoia.’  It’s a thorough, hard nosed, but mis-titled and lackluster effort.  Dave spits a chorus that lightly details his anxiety, but does nothing to expand on it as he brags through his verse. Jeezy follows suit on his over a slow-pounding trap beat.  “The Hated” touts a Nas feature, but only has the Queensbridge legend on set for some hyping at the beginning and end of the track. Dave does very well to fill the sandwich with a dark, hood tale of descent that utters

“Killers kill you for talking, all you have to do is speak.”

The energy of the album takes a shift as the Whiz Khalifa – assisted “Phone Jumpin” comes on, features the two rappers driving sped-up rhymes over a trap beat and a violin-sample that reminds me of “Gimme Some Mo'” by Busta.  Dave notes, “a lot of hammers and a lot of lead, a lot of Phantoms and a lot of red” as they detail a wild life of crime. A boring Chris Brown hook litters ” Perfect”.  While Dave is just as thorough as usual with chunky bars on this, his deadpan delivery seems to drag to the album along at this point. He returns to the braggadocio on “Found a Way” where he cleverly states “I aint touch her body, but the bitch came,” but seems to fall flat on a laid back piano selection.

French Montana is onboard for “Maneuver”, where the the tempo of the album shifts to a cruise-able pace, ironically enough.  Another Patek Philippe advertisement is dropped ( there are a few n this album.) Dave and French flip back and forth on one verse as Dave states “I’m in Miami with Sade on repeat, 50 grand, put it under the seat, keep a gun in my reach, walk in my shoes? couldn’t fit one of my sneaks.”

“My Dirty Little Secret” is a strong track that crawls along and then stands tall on a guitar-strummed tale. There is definitely an attachment to his standing on detachment: “Online shopper, she don’t gout, she just orders, I’m just trying to find out if she suck a mean dick, and put cheese on her grits.”

I wished that he went  a little further with “Wanna Be Me”.  He drilled into his pscyhe, while revealing flying fears and desire to be closer to certain family members.   It just seemed too short. “Have You Ever” is a scattering of regrets, desires and pride to close out the EP.  There are 7 and a half minutes of skits that seem to do little to lend to the album.  The Khiari skit seems unnecessary as he has mentioned his daughter a lot on the album, though it is cute to hear her.

WISHLIST

  • a full album
  • a couple more introspective tracks. he proved that he has the gift to do so with “The Hated” and “Wanna be Me’.
  • more risks. While Dave proves that he can kill some 808 bangers,  I would like to see what he can do over other types of music
  • a real Nas collabo

CREATIVITY – 70%

PRODUCTION – 75%

DECENT PERCENTAGE – 54%

OVERALL – 66%

 

SUMMARY

Again, the skits did nothing for the album, and he definitely could have gone feature -free for the album.  Dave East definitely stands well on his own two, and would be able to carry a full project.  This EP shows great effort, and rhyming skill that is not easy to achieve.  With fuller songs, and more concepts , I am confident that he can manufacture a great album, or even a classic.  Now that we are aware of his background, and some of his thoughts, its up to him where he wants to take his story. There is room for re-tread, but even more for growth.

The feel of the album does shift back and forth from him proving himself well over trap beats, to storytelling over a couple head nodders, to getting vulnerable over a slow groove.  Combing the three efforts and pushing forward is definitely possible, when sounding more inspired. I wanted to know more about his “Paranoia.”