Big K.R.I.T. – “K.R.I.T. Iz Here” review

Big K.R.I.T. is a 32 year old MC & producer from Meridian, Mississippi who started out by releasing a few mixtapes from the mid to late 2000s. He eventually signed to Cinematic Music Group in 2010 & his 6th mixtape K.R.I.T. Wuz Here that same year landed him a joint venture with Def Jam Recordings & a spot in the XXL Freshman Class in 2011. His first 2 studio albums Live from the Underground & Cadillactica in 2012 & 2014 respectively continued to show his potential, but then he went on to form his own label Multi Alumni some time after. His first outing under the new independent label was his previous album 4eva’s a Mighty Long Time in October 2017, which is hands down the best double disc hip hop album of the decade. However after dropping his T.D.T. compilation of EPs at the jumpstart of this year, he’s back with the sequel to the tape that got Krizzle where he is today.

The album kicks off with the title track, where K.R.I.T. reflects about his time with Def Jam over a beautiful sample of “Trust in God” by The Winans. After the “High End County” interlude, we then dive into the song “I Been Waitin’”. Where Krizzle is happy to talk smack over an eerily bland trap beat. The track “I Make Easy” brags about his skills over a boom bap beat with some beautiful background vocals while the song “Addiction” with Lil Wayne is of course a buttery lust tune.

The track “Energy” still sounds as smooth as it did on T.D.T. while the song “Obvious” serves a a pretty decent sequel to the previous cut. The track “I Made” talks about his success over a vibrant trap beat while the song “Everytime” is an empowering motivational anthem. The track “Believe” get conscious over a trap beat with a God-like atmosphere to it & while I do like how the song “Prove It” with J. Cole sees the 2 talking about loyalty, the spacious trap instrumental is just ok & K.R.I.T. awkwardly sounds like he’s doing his best Future impression on the hook.

The track “Family Matters” pretty much speaks for itself over a bland beat & after the “Blue Flame” interlude, the song “Blue Flame Ballet” is a sensual strip club banger. The track “Learned from Texas” is a chopped & screwed tribute that still sounds as great as it did on T.D.T. while the song “Outer Space” is a nocturnal weed anthem.

The track “High Beams” gets spiritual & the beat is pretty intoxicating, but the delivery sucks. The song “Life in the Sun” gets celebratory over a beautiful piano instrumental & then the album finishes with “Mississippi”, where K.R.I.T. pays tribute to his home state over a bass-heavy trap beat.

Yeah, this was just as decent as I expected. It’s more commercial than K.R.I.T.’s past material, but there are slightly more hits than there are misses.

Score: 3/5

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Inspectah Deck – “Chamber #9” review

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Inspectah Deck is a renown MC & producer from Staten Island, New York that came up as a member of the almighty Wu-Tang Clan. He’s delivered some of the group’s best verses ever from “Cold World” to “Triumph”, but it wasn’t until 1999 that he would make his solo debut with the underrated Uncontrolled Substance. His 2003 sophomore effort The Movement as well as his 2006 debut mixtape The Resident Patient were both solid in their own rights also but I can’t say the same for Manifesto back on 2010, Deck’s last full-length solo outing. The Rebel has since been focusing on CZARFACE with 7L & Esoteric throughout this decade but almost 5 months after the release of the CZAR’s collab album with Ghostface Killah entitled CZARFACE vs. Ghostface, we’re finally getting Rollie’s 4th full-length solo album.

It all kicks off with “Shaolin Rebel”, where Deck brags over an alluring beat. The next song “No Good” reflects on his criminal past over a luxurious beat while the track “Russell Jones” gets gutter over a perfectly grimy beat. The track “Can’t Stay Away” talks about his love for the culture over a soulful beat while the song “Na Na Na” is a mesmerizing party anthem with a hypnotic beat.

The title track boasts about his prowess with an epic beat while the song “Certified” is of course about his legacy over some strings & saxophones. The track “24K” with Cappadonna & Hellfire is filled with battle bars over a sinister beat while the song “What It Be Like” talks about the rough life in the streets over a somber beat.

The track “Game Don’t Change” is of course about drug dealing over a boom bap beat akin to the Wu’s signature sound & while I can appreciate the grinding dedication with the song “Dollar Signs”, the female vocals do get annoying after a while. The penultimate track “Who Run It?” with Hellfire & Streetlife see the 3 talking about their skills over a jazzy beat & then the album ends with “Fire”, where Deck & Trife Diesel spit just that over a boom bap beat with some plinky keys.

For a 9 year wait, it’s a pretty passable comeback. Inspectah Deck definitely proves that he’s still the best Clansmen in terms of lyricism & I can appreciate that he kept it at a respectable length in comparison to Manifesto, but the production (mostly handled by Danny Caiazzo) is just decent as is the feature choices.

Score: 3/5

Dreamville Records – “Revenge of the Dreamers III” review

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Dreamville Records is a record label founded in 2007 by J. Cole & his manager Ibrahim Hamad. They released their first showcase compilation in 2014 & followed it up at the tail end of 2015. But now with an ever-growing roster, they’re coming through with a 3rd showcase comp that was recorded in only 10 days.

The album opens up with “Under the Sun”, where J. Cole gets with Lute & DaBaby flex over a soulful trap beat. The next song “Down Bad” by Cole, Bas, JID, the EARTHGANG & Young Nudy talk about their origins over a Bomb Squad-inspired instrumental from Pluss while the track “LamboTruck” by Cozz & Reason talk about being underappreciated over a decently relaxing instrumental. The song “Swivel” is a chilled out preview of the EARTHGANG’s upcoming 3rd album Mirrorland while the track “Oh Wow…Swerve” sees Cole talking about his current spot over an atmospheric beat, but then Maxo Kream talks about trapping over a gritty trap beat. The song “Don’t Hit Me Now” by Bas, Buddy, Cozz & Yung Baby Tate spits that gun talk over a mellow beat while the track “Wells Fargo” by Buddy, the EARTHGANG & JID talks about robbing a bank over a vibrant beat.

The song “Sleep Deprived” by Lute, Mez & Omen talks about coming up from nothing over a somewhat funky boom bap beat while the track “Self Love” by Ari Lennox, Baby Rose & Bas is an ode to just that over a mellow beat. The song “Ladies, Ladies, Ladies” by JID & T.I. is basically the modern version of JAY-Z’s “Girls, Girls, Girls” while the track “Costa Rica” by Bas, Buddy, JID, Jace, Mez, Reese LAFLARE, Ski Mask the Slump God & Smokepurpp sees everyone getting boastful over a lavish trap beat. The song “1993” by Buddy, Cole, Cozz, the EARTHGANG, JID & Smino talks about alcohol over a fittingly intoxicating boom bap beat while the track “Remembrandt…Run It Back” sees JID & Cole paying homage to the iconic YoungBloodZ joint “Damn!”, but I also really love how the beat switches from a druggy vibe to something more energetic as soon as Vince Staples starts rapping.

The song “Sunset” by Cole & Young Nudy fire back at those who want smoke over an eerie trap beat while the track “Got Me” by Ari Lennox, Dreezy, Omen & Ty$ is a decently moody love anthem. The song “Middle Child” is pretty much J. Cole taking a jab at doing a Drake joint while the penultimate track “PTSD” by Mereba, Deante Hitchcock & Omen sees the 3 talking about simply just kicking it over a fitting instrumental. The compilation then finishes with “Sacrifices”, where Cole & the EARTHGANG team up with Smino & Saba to talk about their sacrifices over a funky beat.

I don’t know what else to say beyond that, this was disappointingly mediocre. The production was just decent & while I can appreciate they brought outside features in on this one, but it doesn’t help the fact that there are WAY too many cooks the kitchen.

Score: 2.5/5

Westside Gunn – “FLYGOD is an Awesome God” review

Westside Gunn is an MC from Buffalo, New York who’s been making noise with his label Griselda Records since 2016 with the release of his debut album FLYGOD. They eventually signed a distribution deal with Shady Records in 2017 but now that their major label debut is finally on the way as well as a little over a year after dropping his incredible sophomore album Supreme Blientele, Westside is preparing us for it with his 3rd full-length album & the sequel to the one that got him where he is today.

The album starts off with “Jul 27th”, which is mostly a spoken word piece from Raekwon over some synthesizers. The next song “Sensational Sherri” with Benny sees the 2 about living what he raps over a sinister beat from none other than The Alchemist while the track “Bautista” gets confrontational over a piano-inflicted boom bap beat. The song “Lunchin’” gets mafioso over a luscious beat & while the song “Ferragamo Funeral” gets murderous over a soulful beat, it’s way too short. The song “1,000 Shot Mac” with Conway, Hologram & Meyhem Lauren sees the 2 talking about hustling over a classy sample & while I do like the chilled out beat on “Birkin”, Westside’s delivery does nothing for me.

The song “Pete Sake” has little to no Westside Gunn appearance at all, but Conway & Benny make it work as they deliver a raw prelude to their upcoming collab album. The track “Amherst Station 3” is a somber conclusion to the titular trilogy while the Evidence-produced “Dance Floor Love” is a soulful love tune that works better than I had expected. The penultimate track “Gunnlib” while brief makes me hope that Westside & Madlib do a whole album together in the future because their chemistry on here is flawless & then the album finishes off with “Lakers vs. Rockets”, where the FLYGOD brags over a gritty rap rock beat. However, the Sauce Walka feature is kinda vapid.

While I personally prefer the original FLYGOD, this sequel is definitely worth checking out. A few joints could’ve been stretched out a bit longer & a couple features I could’ve done without, but Westside’s vivid street bars remain & grimy production most definitely remain intact throughout it’s 32 minute runtime.

Score: 3.5/5

MadGibbs – “Bandana” review

MadGibbs is a super-duo consisting of the renown Oxnard, California producer Madlib & Gary, Indiana rapper Freddie Gibbs. The 2 started out releasing a handful of EPs throughout this decade, but it wouldn’t be until 2014 that saw the release of their iconic full-length debut Piñata. 5 years have passed & the duo have released their long-awaited sophomore album.

After the “Obrigado” intro, we go into the first song “Freestyle Shit”. Where Freddie pretty much raps about wanting it all over a jazzy beat. The track “Half Manne Half Cocaine” canes about the things he deserves over a surprisingly banging trap beat that later switches into something more nocturnal while the song “Crime Pays” of course talks about drug dealing over a soothing instrumental. The track “Massage Seats” flaunts about his new lifestyle over a prominent with a female vocal sample while the song “Palmolive” with Pusha T talks about making money & the sample that Madlib incorporates into the cut is alluring.

The track “Fake Names” tells the story of someone who was like a brother to him over a somewhat funky boom bap beat that later switches up into some relaxing woodwinds while the song “Flat Tummy Tea” gets mafioso over an intoxicating boom bap beat that later switches up into something more atmospheric. The track “Situations” talks about being a representer over a meditative beat while the song “Giannis” with Anderson .Paak sees the 2 spitting some game to the youth over a Middle Eastern sample. The track “Practice” is dedicated to the mother of his child over a luscious soul sample while the song “Cataracts” gets charismatic over an uplifting instrumental that later switches into more orchestral.

The track “Gat Damn” is a heart-wrenching ode to one of his fallen homies over a boom bap beat that suits the mood while the penultimate song “Education” with Yasiin Bey & Black Thought sees the 3 giving the listeners just that over a luxurious beat. The album finishes off with fireworks on “Soul Right”, where Gangsta Gibbs talks about getting his life together over a synth-heavy instrumental.

There seriously isn’t a single second of this album that I personally dislike, I really think MadGibbs just came through with the best album of 2019 & one that’s just as equally flawless as Piñata was 5 years ago. Madlib’s production is more dynamic than the last album, yet it maintains a unique sound that makes a perfect musical background for Freddie’s coke raps in the vein of an incredible blaxploitation film for the second time in a row.

Score: 5/5

Benny – “The Plugs I Met” review

Benny is a 34 year old MC from Buffalo, New York who came up as the leader of the Black Soprano Family as well as a signee to Westside Gunn & Conway’s label Griselda Records. His first official release on the label was his Butcher on Steroids mixtape that dropped on his birthday in 2017, but it wouldn’t be until last November that he made his full-length debut on the label with Tana Talk 3. However, he’s coming back with his 4th EP inspired by a line on his last album.

After the intro skit, we dive into the first song “Crowns for Kings”. Where the Butcher teams up with Black Thought get motivational over an orchestral DJ Shay beat. The song “Sunday School” with Jadakiss & .38 Spesh get confrontational over a piano-inflicted boom bap beat from Daringer while the track “Dirty Harry” with Conway & RJ Payne is filled with battle bars over an eerie instrumental. The song “Took the Money to the Plug House” of course talks about hustling over a gloomy Alchemist beat while the penultimate track “18 Wheeler” with Pusha T gets mafioso over a godly boom bap beat & then the EP finishes off with “5 to 50”, where the Butcher reflects on his past over an atmospheric Alchemist beat.

The production’s just as raw & the Butcher’s street tales are a lot grimier. Yet another example of Griselda being one of the hardest camps in hip hop at the current moment.

Score: 4.5/5

Gucci Mane – “D.O.G. (Delusions Of Grandeur)” review

Gucci Mane is a legendary rapper from Atlanta, Georgia known for being one of the 3 trap pioneers shaping the subgenre to what it is today. However, it wasn’t until 2016 when he finished serving his last prison sentence for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon that he would improve both musically & personally. The dude is known for dropping a couple projects a year & now just 6 months after Evil Genius (which was his only effort last year shockingly), he’s delivering his 14th full-length album.

The album kicks off with “Bussdown”, where Wop talks about not wanting to squash beef over a generically moody beat. The next song “Backwards” with Meek Mill see the 2 getting braggadocious over a lavish Zaytoven beat while the track “Special” with Anuel AA talks about their glow up over a bassy Murda Beatz instrumental with some twinkling piano keys. The song “ICE” sounds like a leftover from Gunna & Lil Baby’s collab tape Drip Harder while the track “Love Thru the Computer” is a painfully corny romance tune.

The song “Proud of You” is a celebration of his new self over a Kenny Beats instrumental with a prominent violin while the track “Bottom” talks about how fine this chick is over a haunting Tay Keith beat. The song “Hands Off” is another sappy love tune while the track “Blind” with A Boogie wit da Hoodie sees the 2 flexing & I really love how Zaytoven samples the classic Nelly cut “Dilemma”. The song “Superstar” is a horrifically delivered celeb anthem with a mellow beat while the track “Upgrade” is a bouncy tribute to his wife.

The song “Lame” with Rick Ross & Wiz Khalifa dissing the titular types of people over a monstrous Southside] beat while the track “Potential” with Lil Uzi Vert & Young Dolph see the 3 sounds like a bland leftover from 1017 vs. the World. The track “Human Chandelier” gets cocky over a nocturnal beat while the song “Us” continues to flaunt over a bass-heavy instrumental.

The song “Look at Me Now” talks yet again about his new life since 2016 over a flute-inflicted Tay Keith beat while the penultimate track “Making a Murderer” gets bloodthirsty over a druggy Murda Beatz instrumental. The outro is a bit of a surprise as well, especially since Wop reunites with PeeWee Longway over a hard hitting Honorable C.N.O.T.E. instrumental.

Yeah, this is yet another decent album from Gucci. There are some catchy bangers, but the buttery cuts like the ones with Justin Bieber & Jeremih weigh it down. Nothing wrong with romance songs but in Gucci’s case, it sounds forced.

Score: 3/5

Lil Keed – “Long Live Mexico” review

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Lil Keed is a 21 year old rapper from Atlanta, Georgia that first gained attention when he landed a contract with Young Thug’s 300 Entertainment imprint YSL Records last year, eventually landing a spot on the label’s Slime Language compilation that summer. He eventually made his YSL debut with his 3rd mixtape Keed Talk to ‘Em which was alright, but I was REALLY curious to hear what he was gonna do on his full-length debut over here.

The opener “Ride the Wave” is a hilariously delusional way to start off the album, especially since he’s talking about how he’s paved the way for today’s hip hop landscape when he literally just started. The next song “Oh My God” talks about his come up over a bland beat while the song “Anybody” with Gunna & Lil Duke talks about how they came a long way over an instrumental kin to BEAUTIFUL THUGGER GIRLS. The track “Rockstar” with NAV is a vapid look into the titular lifestyle with a generic beat while the song “Million Dollar Mansion” with Young Thug sees the 2 charismatically boasting over an bass-heavy Pi’erre Bourne instrumental.

The track “H.B.S. (Hood Baby Shit)” is a decently druggy brag while the song “Tip Top” by Guap Tarantino & MSA PG feels totally out of place since Lil Keed has little to no presence at all despite the soothing Turbo instrumental. The track “Child” with Moneybagg Yo sees the 2 talking about their hustling days over a horror-esque trap beat while the song “Snake” is a diss towards an unnamed person over another instrumental that has a bit of a country twang to it. The track “Pass It Out” with Lil Gotit is a party anthem with a Godly instrumental from Metro Boomin’ while the song “Pull Up” with Lil Uzi Vert & YNW Melly talks about their new lifestyles over a vibrant instrumental with a prominent woodwind.

The track “Real Hood Baby” with Stickbaby talks about growing up in the gutters over a nondescript instrumental while the song “Fear of God” talks about loyalty over a spacious beat. The track “Make U Proud” is a playful love tune while the song “On Everything” talks about this freaky chick over a luscious beat, although it’s less effective as the previous cut. The track “Dragon” with Roddy Ricch sees the 2 is a generic braggadocious cut while the song “Higher N Higher” with Karlae triumphantly talks about their success over a buttery instrumental.

The track “Ride wit You” is an annoyingly repetitive romance cut with a beautifully synthesizer-heavy instrumental while the song “Just a Dream” is actually a pretty cool continuation of the last track with an atmospheric beat. The album then finishes off with “Proud of Me”, where Keed & Young Thug pay an endearing tribute to the legendary Gucci Mane over a piano-inflicted trap beat.

Overall, this was just ok. The beats are slightly better than last time & even though I feel like Lil Keed is showing his potential a little bit more, he’s also still living in the shadows of his mentor. Hopefully he’ll come more into his own on the next project, because he’s definitely one of the best YSL signees currently.

Score: 2.5/5

Future – “SAVE ME” review

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Future is a 35 year old rapper, singer & songwriter from Atlanta, Georgia who came up as a member of the Dungeon Family thanks to his cousin Rico Wade of Organized Noize. He officially made his debut in 2012 with Pluto & would later follow it up with a hot streak of modern day trap essentials like Honest, Monster, Beast Mode & my personal favorite of his: D.S. 2 (Dirty Sprite 2). However since 2017, Future has mostly been painting himself in a corner & prioritizing quantity over quality. I mean sure HNDRXX took a more sensual approach & SUPER SLIMEY showed a pretty great chemistry with fellow trap trailblazer Young Thug, but Beast Mode 2 was a step down from the predecessor & he got with Juice WRLD last fall to put out a collab tape that literally should’ve never happened: WRLD on Drugs. Finally at the very beginning of this year, Future’s previous album The WIZRD was just passable even though it showed NO artistic evolution WHATSOEVER. All that being said, I was curious in trying out his debut EP over here that he randomly decided to drop.

The opener “XANAX DAMAGE” is a mindnumbingly repetitive piece about venting to this chick over a trap beat with a depressing acoustic guitar passage while the next track “ST. LUCIA” sounds like it could’ve been on Future’s last album, really. The song “PLEASE TELL ME” is a simp anthem a spacey beat while the track “SHOTGUN” is a horrifically corny ballad with an annoying hook & a buttery instrumental. The song “GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL” talks about the party life over a haunting trap beat & while the penultimate track “EXTRA” has an endearingly depressing tone to it, the producer FXXXXY sounds EXACTLY like Drake on the post-chorus & it’s SCARY. The EP then closes out with “LOVE THY ENEMIES”, where Future vents about his insecurities over an gloomy guitar passage.

I wasn’t expecting much from this & the end result was pretty average. It’s interesting to hear him going into a more emo direction on a few cuts, but the songs don’t sound fully complete to me. If we’re truly getting a HNDRXX 2 at some point, then I hope it’s better than this.

Score: 2.5/5

Big Shoes – Self-titled review

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Big Shoes is a super-duo from Detroit, Michigan consisting of House Shoes on the boards & Big Tone on the mic. The 2 have made names for each other over the years whether that be House Shoes’ Let It Go or Tone’s The Drought & The Art of Ink. However after knowing each other for their whole lives, it was only right for them to team up & release their self-titled debut together.

The album opens with “Autobiography”, where Tone reflects on his career up until this point over a synth-heavy instrumental. The next song “High Velocity” talks about living life fast over a J Dilla-inspired beat while the track “From My Mouth to God’s Ears” gets conscious over a laidback boom bap beat. The song “King Shit” with Denmark Vessey & MosEL sees the 3 talking about how they do it over a prominent woodwind sees the 3 while the track “Exodus (Fly Away)” gets ambitious over a soulful beat. The song “No Guest List” with Quelle Chris is an ode to those down for the cause over a spacious beat while the track “Homage” pays tribute to the OGs over a luscious beat.

The song “8th Day” with Ta’Raach & 87 sees the 3 getting thankful over a menacing boom bap beat while the track “Most of Us” continues to get conscious over a punchy beat with some skittering synthesizers. The song “Haze” is a soothing weed anthem while the penultimate track “Beautiful Mind” with Blu sees the 2 talking about their blessings in the game over a victorious beat. The album ends with “True Story”, where Tone talks about how this album came together over a soulful beat.

This was just as fantastic as I expected. House Shoes’ production is some of his best yet & the stories that Big Tone tells are very touching. If you wanna hear 2 underrated legends from Detroit teaming up to tell an emotional story together, then PLEASE give this a listen.

Score: 4/5