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.
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?
- 2Pac – All Eyez On Me (1996)
- Wu-Tang Clan – Wu-Tang Forever (1997)
- OutKast – Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (2003)
- Nas – Street’s Disciple (2004)
- Notorious B.I.G. – Life After Death (1997)
- UGK – Underground Kingz (2007)
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%
DECENT PERCENTAGE – 100%
OVERALL – 91%
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.
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.
- Boogie Down Productions – Criminal Minded
- Kool G Rap & DJ Polo – Wanted: Dead or Alive
- Puff Daddy & The Family – No Way Out
- T.I. – Trap Muzik
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.
- 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%
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.”
The one where Jean and Marcus are joined by very special guest Zakiya to discuss the somewhat recently departed Netflix hip hop drama, sort-of-musical, The Get Down.
The one where Jean and Marcus discuss and review Allen Hughes’ HBO documentary series about the lives and careers of Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine, The Defiant Ones. With apologies to Sidney Poitier & Tony Curtis.
In the midst of the changing atmosphere of hip hop,( including the generation gap, variance of opinions of how to respect the older rappers and what is a proper retirement age) there is a series of measuring marks. I have noticed that social media and presence there is one. Some of the veterans don’t touch it, while others, like Big Boi, seem to be right at home.
In the hip hop world, there will always be a place for Big Boi, whether its for his fans from the Outkast days, or the newer fans who want a taste of the Atlanta sound. On Boomiverse, Big Boi brings us further away from Outkast references and reunion wishes, and closer to the his current standing in the rap game and reality.
WHAT I EXPECTED:
an album full of very listenable beats, couple with Big Boi’s sharp lyrics and testimony of his track record over his long career.
WHAT I HEARD:
His third solo opens with him rapping right away on “Da Next Day”, spitting word play without a long buildup and takes a mid-song assist from old comrade Big Rube, who sounds fresh as ever. while this song(and others) seem to leave you expecting a 3rd verse, long term fans will know that this will not occur on a Big album. It is expected to enjoy the production as much as the lyrics, appreciating the beat as it slowly rides out on his own.
“Kill Jill” which features a tough but playful verse from Killer Mike and a hook from Jeezy, is an addictive mid tempo joint that samples what seems to be a sweet, foreign serenade throughout the background.
“MIc Jack” is an upbeat, dance selection that features singing from Adam Levine. Big Boi professes to “Break it u like the smile of Michael Strahan” as he glides over synth-y music and hook that seems fairly simple.
Gucci Mane makes an appearance an appearance on “In the South” dane between thoughts of police brutality and his car, while Big double-times his flow that I wished was longer. Pimp C is featured on the hook, only the hook unfortunately. “Order of Operations” is a reflective look at Big’s career, while making a statement on handing his money in smart manner. This is one of the stronger tracks. “All NIght” is a great song where Big displays an addictive chorus choice , while working a ragtime piano-infused melody into a party anthem.
Snoop sounds a bit redundant on “Lets Get with It”, but the two of them work the danceable beat into another party mover. “Overthunk” is a cool record but the hook doesn’t seem to meet the verses eye to eye.
By the time “Chocolate” featuring Troze comes on, you definitely get the idea that Big approached this album with the idea of a feel good product being the result. “Made Man” is a slow moving threat that is agressive and smooth simultaneously. “Freakonomics” sounds like a track that was left off of the Big Grams album, as it is filled with the same sexually suggestive energy of that album. Killer Mike’s third feature(yes three) closes out the album with “Follow Deez” which also features a hypnotic hook from Curren$y that states:
“Follow me into a land where Impalas squat
Young niggas with hammers and daily body drop
OGs survive, you still alive, a lot of niggas not
Smoking for my dead homies while I ride around.”
Surprisingly, the energy seems to pick with this hook and Curren$y’s verse for the win.
- more verses, especially when the hooks ran long, almost calling for them
- less features. Big stands strong on his own. There were too many.
- i miss the mix of darkness and energy of the last solo album “Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors”, and wished that it was here.
Creativity – 80%
Production – 90%
Track Separation – 80%
Decent Percentage – 100%
I find this to be a very listenable album, combining the elements that we always expect from Big Boi: Strong lyrics and great music that doesn’t disappoint. The areas of opportunity are usually there as well:him holding more of the album on his own, short verses at some points, but fuller ones at other points. Because the music works so much for me, I do look past the point where some lines or just thoughts sound recycled. What is good about the overall album is his playfulness with lines, and has been a staple of his sound for many years. He is still well ahead of many of his contemporaries, but there is a part of me that hope for the exploring of new ground.
The one where Jean and Marcus discuss Jay-Z’s much-talked about 13th album, 4:44.