Let me be brief; This album is undoubtedly the most anticipated hip-hop project of the year and it's finally here.
Did it disappoint or rise to occasion? I guess we'll know soon.
Listen along and decode the tracks with Rap Genius
, as I take you guys on a journey to the m.A.A.d. city...
Sherane a.k.a Master Splinter’s Daughter:
A prayer serves as the interlude to this song (and album), letting us know that he's going to be taking us through a deep narrative. This track, produced by Tha Bizness, is a lowkey, lyrical masterpiece that starts off the story he's telling through the rest of the album. It's not for everyone, but many will appreciate it. I give this an 8/10
.Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe:
One track leads right into the next. During the parental argument skit at the end of the previous song, you hear Kendrick's dad say, "Cut my motherfuckin' oldies back on, you're killing my motherfuckin' vibe!" And what do ya know, the next track is titled "Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe." This one you can just throw on some headphones and vibe out. This one is a 9/10
in my books.Backseat Freestyle:
Again, the skits at the end of each track lead right up to the start of the forthcoming track. This is a Hit-Boy beat, so you know Kendrick is going murder it. He switches the flow up several times in this one and even shows us some of his different voices. Slow delivery or quick delivery, this track is just the epitome of pure. I'm not in love with the hook so I'm going to give this a 8.5/10
.The Art of Peer Pressure:
Hissing vinyl, jazz piano, 90's Cali-style synths and jazz drum kits? This starts off like it's going to be a smooth, laid back track... BUT, then the beat turns dark and Kendrick starts to explain his peer-pressure filled childhood. It's crazy because it's so easy to relate to, for a lot of us (his fans). We all grew up in the same generation, just different areas, doing all the same stuff. This one gets an 9/10
This marks the beginning of the "Ya Bishhh" era. Props to DJ Dahi for the crazy Beach House sample
on this one. This definitely one of my favorite tracks on the entire album. A catchy hook and a guest verse from Jay Rock earned this one a 10/10
Everything about this album is very cerebral. Check this: the track is titled "Poetic Justice" and features a sample from Janet Jackson, who starred in a film titled "Poetic Justice." Then add Drake, who's publicly praised R&B females of the 90's, and you've got yourself an unreal hit! This is as close to a perfect song as you can get. Easy 10/10
PS: Don't miss out on this line
, it may be one of the best on the album.good kid:
It hurts me to say this, but I'm not too crazy about this song. It's an incredible Pharrell production and Kendrick comes correct as always, but I'm just sure if it measures up to the previous 6 songs. It's a great set-up for the next song, which is my absolute favorite on the album. I give this one a 7.5/10
As I mentioned before, this is my favorite song on the album. The beat received a blessing from both Sounwave and Terrace Martin, who are both on this album a few times each. In my eyes, Kendrick reset the standard of which we are allowed to use the term "went hard." (Pause) Kendrick-fucking-Lamar WENT HARD on this track and if you don't kill a song like he killed this, then you are not allowed to say that you went hard on it... If I was a mediocre rapper and I heard this song, I'd probably legitimately look in the mirror and ask myself if I'm capable of doing this. If not, I'd quit that day. This IS hip-hop. I can't stress it enough. 10/10
. Crawl your head in that noose
, weak rappers.Swimming Pools:
In "m.A.A.d. city" we found out the reason why Kendrick doesn't smoke weed
and only hits the bottle when he wants to get twisted. This is an ode to his best and worst friend, which is one in the same: liquor. This was one of the first leaks we heard from the album, so I'm a little burnt out on it, but it's still an amazing single. It quickly became a college campus anthem and has received great mainstream attention. I give this an 8.5/10
.Sing About Me, I'm Dying Of Thirst:
Listen to this 3-4 times on repeat before you make any judgement on it. I had to listen over and over to truly understand the genius behind this song. It has to be one of the deepest songs I've heard in a really long time, not to mention is over 12 minutes long. It requires supreme knowledge of Kendrick's previous music, so if you haven't heard "Section.80
", go get that immediately. This gets a 10/10
This song lost my attention really easily and now I skip it most of the times it comes on. That doesn't mean it's a bad song, I just dislike it. Kendrick is so much better than a hook that says, "I'm real, I'm real, I'm really really real." C'mon son. The voicemail skit at the end is some real shit, so I give this a 7.5/10
This is the final song on the album, unless you bought the deluxe edition. It features ill production from the legends, Dr. Dre and Just Blaze, plus some cold raps from Dre and Kendrick. This completes the story perfectly. You see Kendrick made it and you can too, no matter where you grew up or what you go through. That message gets this song a 9/10
So there we have it, a complete narrative from Kendrick Lamar. He takes us through the ups and downs of his Compton upbringing and made it into a relatable film with no pictures, just audio.
So far, I think this is the best rap album release of 2012. I like it better than the releases of 2 Chainz, GOOD Music, Macklemore, Big KRIT and Rick Ross - who all held the #1 spot on the charts for at least a week.
Kendrick Lamar is one of the best things to happen to rap music. Admit it.
Favorite Track: "m.A.A.d. city"
Least Favorite Track: "good kid"
Best Feature: Dr. Dre in "Compton"
Best Beat: "Poetic Justice"
It's been a while since I've had some free time to do a review so I'm going to take this opportunity to review the album I've been jamming to for the last week or so.
Today we're going to take a look at G-Eazy's "Must Be Nice."
This is a 10-track, free album that features some songs we've heard before and a few new ones as well. With outstanding production from G-Eazy and guest appearances from Hoodie Allen
, Mod Sun
, Johanna Fay
and more, this is sure to be a great album you can put on repeat for as long as you'd like.
A lot of you may be first-time listeners to G-Eazy, so I'll warn you that his style is sort of an acquired taste. He's different, which is hard to come by in rap music, but it's not a "bad" different. He's found a lane, mastered that style and stuck with it - which is a very commendable thing to do.
With that being said, let's get into "Must Be Nice" - feel free to follow along with Rap Genius
breakdowns linked up for every song!
: The first track of a project is always a pretty good indication of what to expect from the remainder of the album. I think this lead track is definitely a strong first impression. For those G-Eazy fans listening, you get a chance to hear a more lyrical, serious sound from G. For first time listeners, this is just the beginning and you'll soon see another shade of his style. I say 8/10
: This one features Johanna Fay
on the hook, which is a beautiful add to a great song with powerful substance. They recently released a video
for this to help paint a vivid picture of the thoughts behind this song. I'm going to give this an 8/10
: After two pretty serious-noted tracks to start off the album, G adds Hoodie Allen
to this one for a fun, upbeat [should've been
] summer anthem. His production skills shine on this track. I'm not too much feeling Hoodie's verse, but G-Eazy handles his business as usual. I give this an 8/10
: We first heard this doo-wop inspired single back in June
and originally I didn't like it but it's grown on me since then. I still don't like it as much as a lot of the other songs on the album, but it's certainly not a bad song. I give it a 6/10
: We got this video back in May
and I've since forgot about the song. It's really a good song; meaningful lyrics, great hook and awesome production. It's not one of my favorites, but I respect the art and dedication behind the song/video so I say its a 7/10
: Gotta love any song with Mod Sun
on it. He's one of my favorite up and coming
artists right now, as is G-Eazy. This is a smooth ass beat
that's almost guaranteed to make a great song no matter who raps on it. Good vibes all day with this one, I give it a 9/10
: Before this song, I didn't think of G-Eazy as a rap-his-ass-off
lyricist, but he just rapped his ass off on this one. Pretty solid. I give this a 8/10
.Must Be Nice
: The title track of the album enlists Johanna Fay
for the second time, making this her second successful hook on the album. I really like the fact that G-Eazy utilizes actual talent for his choruses, rather than the typical repeat the name of track 16x
hook we hear in rap. I'm going to give this one a 7/10
: A bonus track, eh? God damn, him and DJ Carnage
went stupid on this one. Honestly, this is probably considered out of G-Eazy's comfort zone
but it's probably my favorite song on the album. This is a definite 9.5/10
.Overall: 7.8/10Favorite Song:
LoadedLeast Favorite Song:
Mod SunFavorite Beat:
Lord$ Never Worry: The mixtape from the A$AP Mob that a lot of fans have been waiting for all summer. Even I was kind of like a kid on Christmas Eve the night before this tape released, up waiting full of excitement. I'm a fan of the crew, but more importantly, I'm a fan of hip-hop and I think that the A$AP Mob has helped represent hip-hop in a good way. The new wave of rappers that have taken the scene are keeping the genre alive, and although some of the new rappers are recycling old rap styles, it's still nice to see artists making noise in the game.
This mixtape showcases all the members of the crew and for a few of them, this is their true chance to make an impression on people who are already A$AP Rocky fans. I'm not going to just jump on the bandwagon of the rest of the mob just because Rocky is on fire because honestly, a few of them are far less than impressive.
Supported by Rap Genius breakdowns for each song, I'm going to look into every track and give my honest opinion on the mixtape.
Thuggin' Noise: This is more or less an intro track from Rocky. The beat is actually really dope, shoutout Silky Johnson. Since this is really more an intro, I can't be too critical but my advice for this would be to lay off the chopped & screwed effects and just focus on getting more bars. Let's move on to the next track...
Full Metal Jacket: The entire mob jumps on this one, which is what people have been waiting on. But... it's so short; Not even 3 minutes long. Rocky says he's from the land of milk & honey, which is weird. Someone, I don't even know who, has their entire verse distorted to the point of unrecognizable bars. This beat is ferocious and Ferg saved the track. Other than that, it's a 7/10.
Bangin' On Waxx: This was produced by Ty, their in-house producer who supplied one of the best tracks on the tape with this one. The song features Ferg and Nast in their comfort zone and it pays off. They both kill it. It's a typical good rap song, nothing more or less. It's a solid 8/10.
Coke & White Bitches: Can someone tell me why they let Ant ruin this song? His verse is atrocious, if you ask me. Danny Brown comes in a picks up his slack, thank God. Then he passes it to Fat Trel who always holds his own. I think the dark-horse MVP of this song is Gunplay. His verse really shocked me, it was fire. I give this an 8/10, but this song could've been a 10 if Rocky or Ferg took Ant's place.
Bath Salt: When this song first hit the net, I was not a fan. Since then, it's grown on me tremendously. When it came out 'bath salts' were all over the news and I thought this song title was a little cliche, but now that the face-eating in America has come to a stop, it's not as corny of a title to me. I'm a huge Flatbush Zombies fan and I'm glad they linked up with the A$AP Mob for this. Again, I'm not feeling Ant's verse at all. He spits some remedial bars on this one. Juice, from FZ, really shines heavy on this. I give this 8/10.
Persian Wine: Look what he have here, a solo Ferg track. You'll hear me praise Ferg a lot and I'll tell you why later. He handles his business on this VERY RVRE produced banger. Ferg is willing to drunk drive for his ni**as, which is admirable, but don't drink & drive kids! 9/10.
Black Mane: Here's a solo Nast track. It's nothing special, but it's not necessarily bad at all. This really sounds like a Rick Ross song to me. I give this a 7/10, its middle-of-the-pack in my opinion.
Dope, Money, Hoes: AraabMuzik on the beat is never a bad way to make a first impression, which is exactly what this is for Da$h because I have no idea who he is. I'll keep it real, I didn't listen to this all the way through because I saw there was a solo Ferg track next. I'll just give this a 7/10 to be fair.
Work: Another solo Ferg track is just what this tape needed after a few consecutive throw-out songs. Ferg throws out some nice lines in the first verse: "Make 'em say ugh, Silkk the Shocker / very rare Versace, I bet my silk will shock her" - He wows me again and earns this track a 9/10.
Y.N.R.E.: Here's another AraabMuzik beat for one of less known mob members. That's smart, I'm not knocking the tactics. I think this is a pretty decent track. It's nothing spectacular but it's better than the other AraabMuzik produced track. I give this an 8/10.
Purple Kisses: This VERY RVRE guy is dope as hell on the boards. His beats on this tape are some of the best, by far. This one features a Buddy Holly sample, which is mind-blowing. Rocky is solo on this one and it's pretty legit. He switches the flow a few times and spits that legendary Bone Thugs flow at the end. This is a 9/10.
The Way It Go: Ant goes solo on this and semi-redeems himself. This is a much better track than his first two appearances. I dig this, it has a dope sample and Ant does well with it. I give this an 8/10.
Freeze: Harlem is really in the building on this one. This track, on paper, looks like it could be one of the best on the tape. It's not, sorry, it's just not at all. Clams Casino on the beat is usually something I enjoy hearing but this beat just doesn't really impress me. Other than this line, I think Jim Jones' verse was a little better than Rocky's. I'm just not a fan of slow-paced tracks with no content, so I have to say this is a 6/10.
Told Ya: Bodega Bamz MURDERS this track. One of his best lines "give me black and blue diamonds in my watch, how I bruise 'em" really grabbed my attention. I'm becoming a huge BAMZ fan, each song he puts out is better then the previous. Ant comes in and fully redeems himself in my eyes. He picks up where Bamz left off and kills the rest of the track. Big shoutout to Carnage for supplied a grade-A beat. I give this a 10/10.
Underground Killa$: This is another great song. Raekwon comes through with a solid verse then passes is to a great verse from Rocky, who passes it to Ferg who finishes the track with a really impressive verse. Ferg hits us with some punchlines like "got cannons like Mariah", "twin clips, pusha t, that's for talking all that malice" and "in your bitch, I'm a sneeker, she gon' need some new balance" which are all pretty slick rhymes. I give this a 10/10 all day.
Jay Reed: This is a gritty street jam that borrows an old Mobb Deep hook to get its point across. It features the two members that I'm the least familiar with, Twelvyy & Da$h, so it was good to isolate the two and really listen to what they can do. Both of them delivered nicely and impressed me, I give this an 8/10. By the way, love the Paid In Full reference.
Gotham City: Twelvyy, Ferg and Nast attack this one is classic fashion. This is one of the biggest sleeper songs on the mixtape, in my opinion. I think all three of them go hard over the Ty-produced track and make this a solid 9/10.
Choppas On Deck: This is my favorite track on the entire mixtape. Ferg goes solo again and kills yet another track. This features a lot of subtly dope bars, like this one. Another dope line, "Ever taste the chrome? Way far from a silver spoon" is probably one my favorites on the mixtape. He showcased a few of his flows in this one, including his pretty respectable singing voice. I give this a 10/10.
So I've listened to the entire mixtape several times and I feel really comfortable saying that this is a solid project. The features are monitored nicely and the beat selection was outstanding, as usual. When given the opportunity, each A$AP member proudly represented themselves and proved that they each have talent (some more than others).
I've developed a very high regard for A$AP Ferg by listening to this mixtape. In my opinion, he's the best in the mob. Rocky is more marketable, but I think Ferg is the best ARTIST in the group. Every track he's on is quality material.
With that being said, I think the A$AP Mob is the real deal. They will be around making music for a while. I think there is room for improvement, but I thoroughly enjoyed this mixtape.
Favorite Song: Choppas On Deck
Least Favorite Song: Freeze
Best Feature: Bodega BAMZ
Favorite Beat: Told Ya
Since day 1, I've always been a critic of Odd Future
. When Odd Future, more specifically Tyler
, got a big break onto the hip-hop scene I was introduced to a crew of buddies like none other. Are they annoying as fuck sometimes? Yes. Are they all highly talented artists? Absolutely
When one artist gets on, the rest of the crew follows suit. When I got introduced to Frank Ocean
, I immediately asked myself, "What the hell is he doing in Odd Future?
" To this day, I'll never understand. His talent alone outweighs the combined abilities of the rest of the Odd Future crew. This is not a knock on Tyler
or anyone else who reps OF, but more of a praise to say how highly I think of Frank Ocean.
People have been looking forward to Channel ORANGE
for quite some time now. Hell, I've been waiting for a new project from Frank since he dropped Nostalgia, ULTRA
. His brand of R&B is much different than others. He's a better songwriter than anyone I can think of and has a voice that can compete with the elites. But, what makes him stick out the most? I don't know. In an ironic way, the mysteriousness of Frank is exactly why I'm such a huge fan. It's also why I was very surprised when he opened up about his sexuality
. That announcement was very well-timed, I'd say. On the eve of your album release, Frank? Really? I can't knock the hustle...
Now for my thoughts on the actual album itself.
Instead of a complete track-by-track review, I'm going to take a new approach on this review and analyze the album as a whole. The album starts off strong with "Thinking About You
." This is an upbeat, smooth track with some personal lyrics and a really catchy chorus. This song will leave you trying sing along and continuously fail to hit the high notes that Frank does. It's okay, it happens to the best of us.
The next standout track is "Sweet Life
." Prior to this track there are 2 very short ballads that aren't bad, but aren't really full length singles. Sweet Life is a pretty decent song, but it gets outshined by others on the album. The best part of the song is the catchy piano/keyboard riff, by far.
Skip another track and you'll land at our next standout. "Super Rich Kids
" features Earl Sweatshirt
for one of the few features on the album. This is one of the best, in my opinion. It starts off a little slow and mellow and evolves into a very catchy tune with a great guest verse. It's an ode to the rich, spoiled kids coming from a non-rich, non-spoiled kid. I love it.
Another one of my favorites is "Pyramids
." After "Super Rich Kids" skip a few more short tracks to get to this masterpiece. The song starts off kind of slow but it picks up and adds a little techno flavor right when the beat drops. That continues until after the second verse when the beat and Frank's flow switch again. This song tells a great story and at the end features a nice John Mayer
guitar solo. Let it be clear that there are very few things on this planet that are better than a solo from Mr. Mayer.
The two next songs, "Lost
" & "Monks
" are good enough to be singles, but they lead up to what is probably the most listened to song on the album, "Bad Religion
." This is the song he performed on Kimmel
after announcing that he's homosexual, which is pretty much what the song is about. I don't really like the song because of how slow and boring it is, but the message it carries makes it a pretty good song. On a brighter note, the next song, "Pink Matter
," has a feature from Andre 3000
which is always great. 3 Stacks saves what I think is a pretty boring song.
The final two songs round up the album on a pretty strong note. "Forrest Gump
" is another one of those songs that might take a little bit of time to get used to but it's a pretty catchy tune. Last, but not least, is a bonus track
featuring Tyler and his crafty rhymes.
Overall, I think this was an outstanding project. Frank Ocean puts his heart and soul into every song and a lot of artists have been known to lack in that department. This isn't just music. To me, this is art. I recognize the message Frank is trying to put out and respect the way he's mastering his craft. There were some very high points on the album, but also some low points. Although it's not flawless, it comes pretty close. This will be recognized as one of the top albums of the year and rightfully so.
I give Channel ORANGE
, making this the highest rated album I've reviewed.Overall: 9/10Favorite Song:
PyramidsLeast Favorite Song:
Crack RockBest Feature:
Andre 3000Favorite Beat:
and the MMG
crew are back with the sequel to their first compilation album, Self Made
, which dropped last May. The first time around, they dropped a very successful album that sold over 200,000 copies and reached the 5 spot on the Billboard charts. Off the top of my head I can remember hearing 8 of the 14 tracks from Self Made on the radio. Those are some big shoes to fill, but the BAWSE
doesn't back down from a challenge.
During the year in between Self Made and Self Made 2 each MMG artist has drastically improved their worth. Rick Ross has expanded the empire with the addition of Omarion
, and has an album on the way
next month. Meek Mill has put out two
and toured the country with Drake, 2 Chainz, J. Cole and Waka Flocka on the Club Paradise Tour
. Wale redeemed himself for Attention Deficit by putting out a very strong mixtape
and following that up with a stellar album, Ambition
put out his best work yet
, but unfortunately, hasn't cut his beard yet. As for the newbies, Omarion and Gunplay, the fact that it's 2012 and I am mentioning their names is an improvement from last year. All the progress they have made since last May can be felt on this mixtape.
Check out my track-by-track thoughts below, along with the official Rap Genius
breakdowns for every song.
Power Circle: Rick Ross starts off this song with a complete lie, I'm fully confident in saying that. That's pretty much my only knock on this track. It features the entire MMG roster, plus Kendrick Lamar who is arguably better than all of them. Combined. One of my favorite lines on the entire album comes on this track when Kendrick says, "I know that section eight wanna discontinue my moms, when they heard that Ohio State gave me 30 racks in July." Another one, more on the comical side, is when Gunplay goes off about his seafood. Classic. I give this an 9/10, it truly does set a nice tone for the album.
Black Magic: Rick Ross creates some of the craziest hooks sometimes. In this one, the rest of the team falls back while Rozay and Meek Mill take over. This is really Meek Mill's song, Ross just adds a few of his famous ad-libs and the hook. One thing that sticks out is the flow switch Meek Mill throws at us. I must admit, I was almost bored with his usual delivery but then he threw this out and my ear drums were replenished. No, it's not really a meaningful, intellectual song, but it bangs and sometimes that's really all you need. Poof! 8/10.
This Thing Of Ours: Wale joins Omarion, Rozay and Nas on this slow-paced, mafioso inspired track. At first, I hated it but it's grown on me. I'm not a huge fan of the hook from Omarion, but Nas and Wale murder their verses so I give this one a 7.5/10.
All Birds: Rick Ross and French Montana: Need I say more? I like Ross a lot more for his mogul-like tendencies than his rapping ability. I am, in no way, a fan of French Montana. This track doesn't do it for me. There are way too many questionable lyrics. I can't really knock the hustle, but this gets a 6.5/10 from me.
Actin' Up: Even with a foolish hook, this track is still a killer. Meek Mill absolutely murders his verse, giving us one of the best verses on the album. Wale follows him up with a solid verse, stepping out of his comfort zone a little bit. Then French Montana comes in for the second track in a row and just does whatever he does. The beat and Meek Mill's verse earned this a 7.5/10.
Fountain Of Youth: If I had to assign this song to one of the MMG artists, I'd say this is Stalley's track. He links up with Rozay and Nipsey Hu$$le for this smooth banger. I'm usually pretty critical on Stalley, but I think he delivers a great verse. Ross is Ross and Nipsey steals the show with his verse and hook. I give this a 7.5/10.
I Be Puttin' On: Sigh. This song... kind of sucks. The fact that Instagram is mentioned not once, but twice, is very unsettling. Wale starts off the track with an impressive verse, then all hell breaks lose. I think Wiz's verse is a little better than some of the content we've been hearing from him as of late, but as a whole this song just isn't worth the time. I give this a 7/10 because Wale put the team on his back.
The Zenith: In my opinion, Stalley overstays his welcome on this track. Please spit a 16 and evacuate so Wale can do what he does. Omarion is 0/2 on hooks so far, but Ross lays down a really solid verse so those two cancel each other out in my evaluation. Back to Wale, who's continued to impress me throughout the album. He gives us some of the best punchlines on the album during this verse and earned this song a 7.5/10.
M.I.A.: This is what I was waiting for from Omarion. He takes a solo approach for this song and then passes the torch to Wale for the final verse. I think both of them do a very nice job at giving a rare, mellow vibe to a MMG song. Wale's clever Sigma reference at the end is definitely commendable. This is a sleeper song, I think it'll grow on a lot of people. It's already grown on me so I give it an 8/10.
Bag Of Money: I understand the wordplay used here, obviously, but it's still funny to joke about Rick Ross spitting game to a chick and telling her she looks like a bag of money. Wale spits a solid opening verse then passes it to Meek Mill who, I think, tops him by just a small margin. Even T-Pain manages not to annoy the shit out of me so I give this an 8/10.
Let's Talk: Here's another solo joint from Maybach O. This one features a really smooth Biggie sample and a couple of great verses from Omarion. This is his best appearance on the album, by far. Ross steps in at the end and drops a reference to my favorite NBA player, Carmelo Anthony, so I'm going to give this track an 8/10.
Black On Black: I wish there were more Gunplay verses on the album. This song makes me feel like I could do anything I want and no one can tell me shit. Ace Hood drops off a decent verse and hook. Bun B probably told a 16 bar lie, considering college professors don't tote guns much, but it's still coming from a legend so take it for what it's worth. The real winner here is Gunplay. It feels weird to be typing that, but he kills this song and I have become a fan of his this year. I'm giving this song an 8/10.
Fluorescent Ink: I want to like this, but it's just not sitting well with me. I like the beat, it's soothing and melodious. I think Wale's verse is up to par, but Stalley's didn't really impress me. In my opinion, the song is missing a verse. They should've gotten a third party to seal the deal, but they didn't so I'll give this a 7.5/10.
Bury Me A G: This song immediately lost me when Rick Ross insisted on being buried in clean drawers. Luckily, T.I. came through and did his part to save the song from disaster. I'm a sucker for a verse from The Kang, so this one gets a 7.5/10 despite Rozay's fuckery.
Overall, this album did not disappoint. I don't know if I'd go as far as saying it topped Self Made Vol. 1, but they're probably about equal. One of the things I appreciate about this album is the consistency. There are only a few songs that I'd call 'below average' - Ironically, the ones that weren't up to par featured French Montana, who is not MMG. It's safe to say that each song has a legitimate chance of getting national radio play and in the end, I think that's what these guys are looking for. I recommend buying the album, straight up.
Favorite Song: Black On Black
Least Favorite Song: All Birds
Best Feature: Kendrick Lamar
Favorite Beat: This Thing Of Ours
Before the Yellow Album, it had actually been quite a while since Dom's last mixtape. With a few features here and there in between projects, he managed to stay relevant while working on this mixtape. The wait was well worth it, in my opinion, and honestly the buzz around this mixtape was a lot heavier than I expected.
With heavy production from THC, this mixtape has a smooth, California vibe to it. That mixed with Dom's arrogant, less-is-more rapping style is a deadly combination, not to mention the features from Kendrick Lamar, Freddie Gibbs and Rick Ross. When it comes to Dom, you have to listen to the deliveries, samples and vibes more than the actual lyrical content because that's what his style is built for; It's simple but effective. With that in mind, check out my review of the Yellow Album below, along with Rap Genius breakdowns for each song.
So Elastic: This song gets the mixtape off to a slow start, both literally and figuratively. It's not Dom's best work, lyrically, but the production is mad nice so he just kind of rides the beat. Although this is one of the most mellow tracks on the project, it gets the job done. I give it a 7.5/10.
Been Thuggin: This is one of the best tracks on the entire mixtape. The beat is crazy and Dom comes a lot harder than he did on the previous track. He ends the first verse with a subtle, but dope line: "Kids see my car and they think it's 50 Cent coming." This is an improvement from the first track, so I give it 8/10.
We Ball: There is really only one thing I dislike about this song. The beat has a very unnecessary gun shot sample throughout the track. Rather than serving as a useful soundbite, it's actually kind of annoying. Dom and Kendrick Lamar do what they do best, both delivered crazy verses. I give this a 9/10.
My Type Of Party: "My Type Of Party" was the first track we heard leak from this mixtape and it set up a nice buzz for the project. By now you should know that with Dom Kennedy, the song content is straight up. He doesn't do many tricky metaphors or punchlines, he comes straight up with it and puts it in your face. I'd have to give this an 7.5/10 because it's good and consistent, but not great.
Girls On Stage: Another smooth ass beat, another new flow from Dom. The delivery he uses in the beginning of the first verse has that 70's-80's rap vibe to it. He switches the flow a few other times as well. I'm going to give this an 8.5/10 because he opens up the track saying "this the thick girl anthem, I be lookin' handsome" and that's just the type of shit I love to hear from Dom.
Don't Call Me: This has a laid back party feel to it. It's not too slow, but it's just mellow enough to play at a chill house party. Dom gets a guest verse from Too $hort, which is a plus - strictly out of respect. It's not a great feature, but he's a legend and the track fits his style well. I give this an 8.5/10 because it's probably one of the most well-rounded songs on the mixtape.
5.0 Conversations: Unfortunately, this is one of my least favorite tracks on the mixtape. It's slow and kind of boring. Dom's delivery is on point, like always, but it's just not enough to make it a compelling song. I give this a 6/10.
Gold Alpinas: This is one of my favorite songs to come out this year, by far. The Aaliyah sample, the smooth delivery from Dom and the guest verse from Rozay are all flawless. Something about this song keeps you coming back for more, I've probably listened to it more than 100 times in a week. Addictive songs like this always earn a 10/10.
PG Click: After a couple of slow tracks in a row, Dom picks up the pace on this one and get's a guest verse from Niko G4. I love the Biggie sample at the end, so I'm giving this a 7.5/10.
Lately: Here's another one of my favorites from the mixtape. In this one, Dom isn't rapping about his accomplishments as much, he's rapping about his life struggles and goals. He spits a lot of real shit on this, plus the hook is very catchy, so I give this an 8/10.
Hangin: Honestly, this one kind of loses me until I hear Freddie Gibbs starting rapping. He comes in hard and saves the song, in my opinion. It's not a bad song, but it's coming after arguable the three best songs on the mixtape, so it's a little bit of an underachieving track. I give this a 7/10.
1:25: This is another decent, but not great song on the tape. It just doesn't really catch and hold my attention like most of the other tracks do. I do like the Babyboy reference he spits in the second verse so I'm going to give this a 7.5/10.
P&H: I respect the innovative thinking with the Siri sample, but I think it falls a little short. This song ends the mixtape on a sub-par note, but it does feature one of my favorite lines on the mixtape. I give this a 7.5/10.
Favorite Song: Gold Alpinas
Least Favorite Song: 5.0 Conversations
Best Feature: Kendrick Lamar
Favorite Beat: Been Thuggin'
Who is XV? Is he the bench warmer from the Warner Brothers team or the all-star putting Kansas on the map? Is he the sucker who got cut from the XXL Freshmen cover two years in a row or one of the most slept-on superstars in the music industry?
I guess the choice is yours.
All I know for sure is that XV puts out quality music and performs incredible shows. I mean, c'mon, this guy put the most iconic characters of the last 20 years on his mixtape cover, named it "Popular Culture," then tied every song to the theme of the mixtape. I know for a fact that a lot of the past XXL Freshmen and some of his Warner Brothers label-mates aren't intellectually gifted enough to pull off something like this.
Give this mixtape a listen, check the Rap Genius breakdowns linked to every song and see what you think of MY review of Popular Culture...
Andy Warhol – The overall concept of this song is really dope. Andy Warhol once said, “In the future everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” XV took Andy’s words and ran with them, using the monumental quote to get some things off his chest over a beat composed by his right-hand-man, The Awesome Sound. There may be a couple shots fired towards a certain Caucasian female artist who’s probably seen her 15 minutes come and go. I’ll let you decide while I give this an 8.5/10.
Breaking Bad – All I can say it this: PUNCHLINES. How does XV continue to walk the tightrope between real, relatable music and punchline overload? It’s not necessarily a bad thing; I’m more impressed than mad. I like this song and love the Gayngs sample, but other than the Sandlot sound bite I could do without the outro. This is a solid, but not excellent, track. I give it a 7/10.
Be There, Be Square – I’m torn on this. When it first leaked I liked it, but now I’m not so sure I do. Of course, I have heard better from Xaphoon Jones, but I don’t think that’s the main downfall. It’s the hook that I hate, it just isn’t creative at all. I feel like XV half-assed it because he thought the production would carry his dead weight, but that’s definitely not the case. On a positive note, his punchlines in this are just as good as ever and the way he pays homage to his idols is impressive. Still, I have to give this a 6/10.
Her Favorite Song – After a very lackluster performance on the previous track, XV returns to that elite level we all know he can rap at. This song has a wholesome hook from Raja to go along with some from-the-heart lyrics and incredible punchlines from Vizzy. Did I mention the Yuna sample? That earns him brownie points as well. I can’t really find too much to complain about, so this song gets an 8/10.
The Kick – I have something to get off my chest… on the record. I HATE the movie Inception. Seriously, fuck that movie. This song, on the other hand, is respectable. I can look past the Inception themed title, I can look past the Inception themed chorus, and I can even look away from the sample used for the beat – a song from the Inception soundtrack. Despite my distaste for the movie that inspired this song, I can truly say that this song is a well-rounded display of XV’s ability to spit real shit using heavy punchlines. I know that’s a reoccurring compliment I give him, but I just think he does it well compared to a lot of other artists. I give this an 8/10.
Go On Without Me – In this song, XV vents about the suicide of one of close friends. I can’t really sit here and severely critique a song with such power so I am giving this an 8/10.
Wonkavator – XV tried to step outside his comfort zone on this track, which I can definitely respect, but I just ain’t feeling it. Emilio Rojas comes in with a cape on and saves the track from dying, thank God. I can’t really vibe with this, but I know someone out there is claiming this as their favorite song on the mixtape. It’s one of those you love it or hate it type tracks, so I give it a 7/10.
Mary Kate & Ashley – Once again, XV is stepping outside his comfort zone in this one. Let’s put it this way, if he sold the rights of this song to Soulja Boy this would be a on every top 40 radio station across the nation. But it’s not Soulja, it’s XV and some other guys who probably rap better than they displayed on this song. This is the type of beat that needs to be killed by a rapper who lacks lyrical talent and makes up for that void with an abundance of swag. I like the risk he took, but I strongly dislike the results of that risk. This is my least favorite song on the mixtape. I give it a 5/10.
Jedi Night – The Awesome Sound is a tremendous producer. I don’t know if it was intentional, but he made this beat sound like Pharrell produced it, and then threw in a Jay-Z sound bite from his song “Change Clothes” featuring none other than the man himself, Pharrell. XV bounced back from a really low point in the mixtape and got back on track with this song. I have come to really appreciate XV with every track, even the ones I dislike, because he’s tied every single track back to the theme of the mixtape so closely without losing lyrical quality. I’m going to give this an 8.5/10.
AaaHH!!! Real Monsters – Ahh Real Monsters was my least favorite show when I was growing up, but when it comes to the mixtape it’s one of my favorite songs. I was giddy when I saw B.o.B. on the track; No, not because I enjoy his “rap” – but because I thought I was going to get a chance to rip him to shreds. When I got to his verse, the excitement to critique him was killed by him spitting a pretty solid verse. Actually, he held his own on a track with two guys that will rap circles around him 13 times outta 10. I’m still no fan of Airplanes or Nothing On You, but he came in and did his job on this track. XV and Schoolboy Q did their thing as well, which is why I gave this an 8.5/10.
Hi, Life – This sounds like it should be a Lupe Fiasco song, not XV. It’s definitely not as bad as that song that samples Full House, but I’m not a huge fan. He has some of his corniest bars on the entire tape in this song, but he also has some of his better ones. That mix of good and bad earned this song a solid 7/10.
Zombieland Rule 32 – The 32nd rule in Zombieland just reminds me of Woody Harrelson and the guy who fake-invented Facebook breaking shit in a gift shop. Somehow that translates to “enjoy the little things” in life. Again, I’m a little disappointed with the chorus, but the verses are very well written and deliver a good message. I think there’s a few better tracks on the tape, but it’s up there in the 7.5/10 range.
One of One – This is another one of those tracks that could be significantly improved by laying down a better hook. XV rarely spits a lame verse, however he often struggles with the chorus. This song has a pretty good message that it needs to get across, but the execution could be a little better. I’m going to give this one a 7/10.
Favorite Song: Andy Warhol
Least Favorite Song: Mary Kate & Ashley
In my opinion, Big K.R.I.T. is one of the few artists out there with the musical knowledge beyond his years. His soulful, Southern twang puts him in a league of his own because he sounds so different than most of the rappers we hear today. Different means memorable; Memorable sells records and attracts fans.
Live From the Underground is KRIT's long-awaited album that has been pushed back on a few different occasions. Hip-Hop fans know that this album is worth the wait so he was able to delay the album with minimal fuss from the media.
This is the dreaded first "mainstream" album from an underground superstar, which is what inspired the title. He's signed to a major label now and with that will come some changes but he manages to stay true to his roots and put out an extremely high-quality album with several hits on it.
Visit NPR for a free stream of the album and read the track-by-track review below. Also, each song title links to the the Rap Genius breakdown, so make sure you check those out and contribute to interpreting this legendary album.
Here we go...
LFU300MA: Just like any other intro, KRIT uses the first track to get us prepared for what he has in store. Adjust your volume, get comfortable and get ready to enjoy the album.
Live From The Underground: The first track of an album is usually pretty critical to the success of the project. When the first track is also the title track, it really needs to be strong and set the tone for the album. Unfortunately, this is not a spectacular song. It's not a bad song though, and even though this isn't KRIT's best work, it's still better than most other rappers. The harmonica solo at the end brought a new level of variety and artistry to the song, which really impressed me. However, the corny dialogue outro kind of off set that, so I gave it an 8/10.
Cool 2 Be Southern: I can't lie, KRIT and other artists from the South make it sound so cool to be Southern. It's obvious that the Southern lifestyle has left it's mark on the rap game and has influenced current rappers heavily. As soon as the song started, the horns hit my ears and I was immediately blown away. This funky, upbeat track is allows KRIT to switch flows a few times and really showcase his lyrical ability without sacrificing the message he wants to get across. This song plays host to some of my favorite lines on the album. I give this an 8.5/10.
I Got This: This is where the album really starts to turn up. It's kind of like he's giving himself a pep-talk with some aggressive rhymes over an upbeat track and a ferocious bass line. I don't want to over-review this song or try to make it sound like more than what it is. It's just a good, old-fashioned hip-hop hit. I say 8/10 is a suitable rating.
Money On The Floor: This is a straight up Southern anthem. I can't really find anything I dislike about this song. The beat is perfect and the feature verses are as Southern as it gets. 8 Ball & MJG, the legendary package deal, deliver their verses in classic condition while 2 Chainz continues to prove that he is one of the hottest names in the game right now. This Mississippi-Georgia-Tennessee collaboration gets an 9/10 in my books.
What U Mean: This is one of my favorite beats on the album, but as a song it is not among the elites. The main downfall of the song is Ludacris. I love Luda and respect his career, but I'm just not feeling his verse. It sounds more corny than his heavily metaphoric, storytelling rap style usually does. As for KRIT, he delivers as always, but I don't think the self-sampling was a good look for a song that doesn't feature the co-stars of the original song, Spitta and Wiz. What you mean this song is a 10? I gave it a 7.5/10.
My Sub (Part 2): Once again, I'm not going to over-review this song and make it more complicated than it has to be. It's a standard Big KRIT track that picks up where part 1 left off. Sometimes sequels, especially in movies, tend to be weak compared to the originals. In this case, I think I like part 2 better than part 1. That's why I gave it an 8/10.
Don't Let Me Down: This song obviously means a lot to KRIT, the lyrical content is definitely directed toward a particular issue in his life. This is one of the slowest songs on the album and features the most singing from KRIT which tells me this is a very special song to him. It's short and to the point. This isn't my style, but that doesn't mean it has to get a bad rating. I give this an 8/10.
Porchlight: I could probably write an entire review about this track alone. It sounds like it could be very closely related to "Red Eye" from 4EvaNaDay. In my opinion, this is the the best song on the album. I love the vocals from Anthony Hamilton, who has one of the most recognizable voices of our generation. I hope they do more tracks together in the future because their styles match up so well and create flawless music. KRIT lays down great, meaningful verses and produced an incredible beat so this earned a 10/10 from me.
Pull Up: I thought the bass line on "I Got This" was nasty, but this one is just as admirable. It's not the complexity of the bass line that impresses me in this song, it's actually the simplicity. Sometimes less is more, I guess. However, I think Big Sant puts a damper on this song. He's a very basic rapper that doesn't leave a memorable impression on me. Luckily, Bun B jumped on the last verse and saved the day. If KRIT spit two verses and then passed it to Bun B it'd be a 10, but since it got weak in the middle I have to give it a 9/10.
Yeah Dats Me: This one just doesn't do it for me, it's my least favorite song on the project. When it leaked, I tried and tried to like it, but I just don't think it's KRIT's best work. I know he is capable of so much better. This would be a great mixtape song because I think there are songs in his vault than can easily replace this. Don't worry though, one chink in the armor won't kill him, I give this a 7/10.
Hydroplaning: Devin the Dude? What a great surprise. His verse was pretty nice, as well as KRIT's, but the electric guitar really makes the song stand out. Another subtle, but great addition to the song is the thunder and rain effects in the hook. In addition to the lyrics, the storm effects help visualize the story KRIT's trying to tell. This track has great vocals, a nice mix of instruments and a respectable guest feature from a Houston legend so I had to give it a solid 8/10.
If I Fall: This song is beautiful. I don't even use the word beautiful, but that's the best way to describe the song. The piano sample is a work of art, Melanie Fiona pours her heart into the chorus, and KRIT lays down some very deep, real rhymes. I don't think there is a more well-rounded song on the album. Sure, you're not going to bang this rolling down your block, but this is one of those songs you can let your parents hear to prove to them that mainstream rap music isn't as horrific as they think. This one gets a 10/10.
Rich Dad, Poor Dad: In this one, KRIT lays the groundwork to the song with a nice couple lines of poetry. This is a very slow track that is close to KRIT's heart for obvious reasons. I like the violin layered with piano, which is something you don't hear in a rap song every day. Nothing surprises me when it comes to Big KRIT, because he's proved that he's on another level. Although the song never picks up, I still respect the message and give this an 8/10.
Praying Man: I can't help but notice how similar the guitar riff is to "Handwriting." That's not a bad thing, just an observation. Another more obvious observation is that B.B. King contributes to the hook. For Mr. King to get on a track with you in a huge honor, seeing as he's the King of Blues. There is no way to critique a song featuring these two guys so I have to give this an 8.5/10.
Live From The Underground (Reprise): In music, a reprise is a reworked version of a previously existing theme or song. As you can see, this is another version of the title track. This one focuses more on the sounds, rather than the lyrics. More harmonica and even better guitar riffs make this a very respectable way to end the album. This doesn't get a score because it's not necessarily a song, it's more like an outro.
Overall: 8.5/10Favorite Song: PorchlightLeast Favorite Song: Yeah Dats MeBest Feature: B.B. King