RiFF RAFF & Yelawolf – “TURQUOiSE TORNADO” review

This is a brand new collaborative EP between Houston rapper RiFF RAFF along with Alabama rapper, singer, songwriter, fashion designer & entrepreneur Yelawolf. Both of whom came up in 2011, except one of them was a former reality star & the other being an Eminem protege. Even though Catfish Billy saw much success with Shady Records (most notably the albums Radioactive: Amazing & Mystifying Chemical Tricks as well as Love Story & Trial by Fire), it wasn’t until 2014 when JODY HiGHROLLER dropped his full-length debut NEON iCON under Mad Decent. Their paths first crossed last summer when Yelawolf was featured on RiFF RAFF’s previous album VANiLLA GORiLLA but they’re trying to take it to the next level by joining forces for TURQUOiSE TORNADO.

“MOSSY OAK” is an ass-kicking opener as both parties express their fondness for the outdoor lifestyle company of the same name & the DJ Paul instrumental is the epitome of evil. The next track “HUMAN LAMBORGHiNi” has a plinky trap instrumental with the duo comparing themselves to the titular luxury car, but the Danny Swift verse is wack & Peso Peso’s verse at the beginning of “MONCLER JACKET” is no better. Except on here, he joins RiFF RAFF & Yelawolf to talk about making $1M over some hi-hats & a slick bass-line.

The song “ALCOHOL & WEED” is of course a party anthem with a Struggle Jennings verse that makes up for the features we heard on the last 2 cuts & an atmospheric trap instrumental whereas the title track taps in Paul Wall to freestyle about materialism with a somewhat quirky beat. The penultimate track is a mediocre 4th installment to “TiP TOE WiNG iN MY JAWWDiNZ” with an awkward 80’s synth-wave instrumental but then the EP finishes off strong with “MiLLiON DOLLAR MULLET”, which contains some of the flashiest lyricism on the entire thing & the Ronny J production is so gargantuan.

Even though I like TURQUOiSE TORNADO more than I did Yelawolf Blacksheep, it isn’t by a whole lot. I think Yelawolf has a much better chemistry with RiFF RAFF than he did with Caskey, but they kinda overdid it on the features & they can be hit or miss.

Score: 3/5


BROCKHAMPTON is a hip hop boy band that originated in San Marcos, Texas in 2010 via the “KanyeToTheForum under the original name AliveSinceForever. But when things started to look good for them after they released the SATURATION trilogy to universal acclaim in 2017, one of their founding members Ameer Vann was kicked out midway through the following year due to sexual misconduct. The boys’ next 2 albums following iridescence & GINGER were both released to moderate reception & after taking 2020 off, Kevin Abstract & the gang are returning from the shadows by dropping their 6th & allegedly penultimate album.

“BUZZCUT” is a off-the-wall opener as Kevin & Danny Brown come through with some conscious undertones through their lyrics backed by a psychedelic instrumental from Jabari Manwa. The next song “Chain On” goes into a more cloud rap direction as Kevin connects with JPEGMAFIA to speak out against police brutality whereas “Count on Me” is a summery anthem about how everything will be ok regardless of what they say & even though I think Matt Champion & A$AP Rocky both kill their verses, I can’t say the same for SoGoneSoFlexy.

The track “Bankroll” is a hazy trap banger with Merlyn Wood, Jabari & A$AP Ferg to show off their wealth while “The Light” is pretty much JOBA & Kevin venting about something being missing deep inside them over an ominous boom bap instrumental. The song “Windows” everyone reuniting with SoGoneSoFlexy to talk about how crazy they are with an icier instrumental than the previous cut & then “I’ll Take You On” finds Charlie Wilson joining Matt & bearface to cook up an gorgeous alternative R&B joint.

The instrumental on “Old News” kinda reminds me of Baby Bash’s “Suga Suga” for some odd reason as the boys tap in Baird to address the games their lovers put them through, but then Matt & JOBA get together on “What’s the Occasion?” to vent about how “a million little pieces all add up to nothing lately” on top of an acoustic/boom bap instrumental with some occasional synths. Chad Hugo laces the piano ballad “When I Ball” that sees Matt & Dom McLennon looking back on their younger days whereas the chaotically-produced “Don’t Shoot Up the Party” finds Kevin & Matt speaking against the bigotry in America. The track “Dear Lord” is a short, a capella bearface solo cut about his brother needing help & then “The Light, Pt. II” is an optimistic, almost gospel-flavored closer from Kevin & JOBA.

If anyone’s been turned off by these guys given the moderate reception of their last 2 albums, then I highly recommend giving this a shot because this is their most consistent effort since SATURATION III. I really dig how they started to incorporate more outside collaborators even though not all of them stick the landing & the boys do a great job at showing listeners what’s been going on in their world ever since GINGER came out.

Score: 4/5

Milano Constantine – “Eating But Still Hungry” review

Milano Constantine is an MC from New York City originally coming up in the early 2000s as a D.I.T.C. affiliate. However, it wouldn’t be until 2015 when he dropped his official debut album The Believers. Since then, Milano had built up an impressive solo catalogue by putting out a total of 4 albums & an EP. But coming fresh off his collab album with Body Bag Ben entitled Write It In Blood, the East Coast vet is tapping in Showbiz for his 2nd EP.

“Cavili Champ” is a great way to kick the whole thing off with it’s blaxploitation-like instrumental as well as Milano’s bars about “only giving soul music like Donny Hath”, but then the next song “Bank Stopper” incorporates some horns into the beat as he proclaims his magnificence. The track “Come On” goes into detail about the streets not playing fair on top of a heavenly vocal loop whereas “Gin Rummy” contains a triumphant beat & delving into why it ain’t it safe to play in the streets.

The song “Broadway Joe” reminisces about the material he’s killed over some horns & a guitar while “Night & Day” incorporates a classy instrumental as Milano gloats. The penultimate track “On My Father” is an impassioned anthem about fighting for democracy & then the closer “Save the Children” is a violin-induced banger about doing what he has to for his babies.

In my personal opinion, Eating But Still Hungry is up there with The Way We Were & Boulevard Author for Milano’s magnum opus. He & Showbiz bring the best out of each other by providing some old school, East Coast gang shit in terms of the pen game & overall sound.

Score: 4/5

Lil Tjay – “Destined 2 Win” review

Lil Tjay is a 19 year old rapper, singer & songwriter from The Bronx, New York that got his start by releasing singles on SoundCloud in 2017. This resulted in him signing to Columbia Records the following year & since then, Tjay has dropped a full-length debut as well as 3 EPs. But coming fresh off the 2020 XXL Freshman Class last summer, the kid is following it up by putting out a sophomore album.

The titular opener heavily samples “Who Gets Your Love?” by Margie Joseph as Tjay pretty much says he won’t stop until he comes out on top, but then the next song “Born 2 Be Great” is a dysphoric-sounding ballad about him not letting anyone say he ain’t shit. “Call My Phone” with 6LACK serves as a boring R&B crooner about them being unable to get these women off their mind whereas “What You Wanna Do?” opens up about being sick of playing games with his lover over an instrumental sampling “ONE MAN ARMY” by Melvoni.

The song “Hood Rich” is a piano trap banger with lyrics about his hopes of wanting to accomplish something while “Oh Well” continues to delve into the sounds of the previous cut except Tjay is spitting some gang shit. “Headshot” with Polo G & Fivio Foreign goes into a more violin/drill direction as the trio brag & get malevolent whereas “Gang Gang” piggybacks off keyboard loops as he reps his squad.

The track “Go Crazy” proclaims himself as a progressor over a signature 808 Melo instrumental while “Irregular Love” is a minimally-produced pop rap joint about how his relationship is abnormal. The song “Move” doesn’t sound too bad given the raunchy lyrics that Saweetie & Tyga deliver alongside the stripped-back trap beat from OG Parker & G-Ry, but it didn’t need to be on this album since Tjay hardly has any presence in it.

“Slow Down” expresses a desire to get to know your lover with a cloud rap instrumental from Cassius Jay, but then “Love Hurts” is a tedious anthem about making a relationship work & the Toosii verse doesn’t help either. The song “Run It Up” with Moneybagg Yo & Offset is of course a bland, materialism tune whereas the jangly “Part of the Plan” speaks about focusing on music.

“No Cap” speaks from the heart albeit the instrumental is comatose as Hell while “Life Changed” is an airily-produced joint about moving on to better things. “Nuf Said” sounds like a short, loose freestyle backed by a spacious beat from Jahaan Sweet while “Losses” is one of Tjay’s best songs ever as the pain he expresses throughout is so powerful.

The penultimate track “Move On” sounds like it was ripped off from the BEAUTIFUL THUGGER GIRLS playbook from it’s country/trap production to the lyrics about a relationship coming to an end & finally, the closer “None of Your Love” takes shots at his exes over a synth-laced instrumental from CashMoneyAP.

I haven’t been a big fan of Tjay’s work up to this point & Destined 2 Win doesn’t really help change that because to me, it’s just another mediocre album from him. His personality definitely shines a lot more than it did on previous efforts, but the production choices are very hit or miss & a good portion of the love songs fall flat on their face.

Score: 2.5/5

YBN Nahmir – “Visionland” review

YBN Nahmir is a 21 year old rapper from Birmingham, Alabama most notable for being the de facto leader of the now defunct YBN collective. We all know Cordae has proven to be the most successful member of the crew given how well The Lost Boy & it wasn’t until earlier this month that Almighty Jay dropped his painfully boring debut EP Battling My Spirit. However, Nahmir is the last one stepping to plate & is dropping his long-delayed debut album.

“Still (Family)” is actually a good way to kick off the album as Nahmir speaks on doing this rap shit for his family with a guitar & harmonious vocal harmonies backing him. However, the next song “Regardless” sounds like he’s vocally riffing for 2 minutes despite the tranquilizing trap beat whereas the rowdy “Politics” links up with DaBoii & G Herbo to take shots at people talking shit on the internet. The “Opp Stoppa” remix with 21 Savage is better than the original, even though it’s weird how Nahmir puts the OG version of it as the closer later on.

“Get It Crackin’” samples “Chaos” by TekraBeats as Nahmir goes on about nothing & then “Fast Car Music (Stain)” serves as a half-baked ode to Lamborghinis. The track “Prison” is pretty much a 2-minute, abrasive self-defense anthem & then “Lamb Truck” is an underwritten cut about wetting up those who cross him with an aquatic beat. The twangy, bass-heavy “Fast Car Ending” is another short & off-the-cuff freestyle that could’ve easily been left on the cutting room floor, but then “Wake Up” goes into a more orchestral direction as he talks about getting his dick sucked in the morning.

“Belgium” is a 2-minute diatribe about how Nahmir been “thuggin’ since a youngin’” over a skeletal piano instrumental while the cumbersomely-produced “Make a Wish” literally says in the hook that he’ll kill the children of his enemies. The electronic-tinged “Homework” opens up about the snakes in his life & even though the classy instrumental on “Streets” is ok, it once again sounds like a barely written song. The soul/trap fusion “WooWAM” goes on about wanting bitches at his mansion, but then “Soul Train” is even worse with it’s funk-influenced production & the gross lyrics about giving his girl everything.

The rubbery, Hitmaka-produced “2-Seater” with G-Eazy & Offset continues to go on about their love for luxury cars over a rubbery instrumental from Hitmaka while “Ca$hland” is a money anthem with a hyphy beat along as well as stellar features from E-40 & Too $hort. The final song on the album (excluding the original “Opp Stoppa” like I mentioned earlier) “Over Now” is a touching sequel to the opening cut.

I said it in my review for Battling My Spirit a few weeks ago & I’ll say it again right now: this is just another reminder that Cordae carried the whole YBN crew. I’ll even say this is even worse than the latest Almighty Jay EP. It didn’t need to be 20 tracks long, the songwriting is vapid, his performances don’t have any “oomph” to them & the production is uneventful.

Score: 1/5

Rod Wave – “SoulFly” review

Rod Wave is a 22 year old rapper, singer & songwriter from St. Petersburg, Florida who broke out in 2019 off his debut album Ghetto Gospel. A sophomore effort Pray 4 Love came out last spring & it would land him a spot in the 2020 XXL Freshman Class few months later. But after working out some issues with Alamo Records

It all starts off with the title track, where Rod talks about balancing his ups & downs over some a cavernous trap beat. The next song “Gone ‘Till November” talks about not wanting to be alone over a twangy instrumental while the track “Wanna Blame Me” talks about a girl doing him wrong over a generic beat. The song “Don’t Forget” talks about coming straight from out the trenches over some acoustics & snares while the track “Tombstone” talks about thuggin’ until the end over a stripped back beat.

The song “All I Got” talks about finally living his dream over a cloudy piano instrumental while the track “Richer” with Polo G finds the 2 talking about their wealth over a summery beat. The song “Street Runner” talks about going higher over a cumbersome instrumental while the track “Pills & Billz” talks about how money can buy you drugs over a piano & some hi-hats. The song “How the Game Go” talks about playing the game the way it was taught to him over some more acoustic trap shit while the track “Shock da World” talks about how they ain’t seen nothing yet & the vocal sample on here is just gorgeous.

The song “What’s Love??” explains the meaning of love to a broken heart over the same BEAUTIFUL THUGGER GIRLS-inspired production we’ve heard a million times at this point while the track “O.M.D.B. (Over My Dead Body)” talks about how he knows this woman don’t love him over an intoxicating beat. The song “Invisible Scar” talks about how he can’t save this youngin’ at the party over a formulaic instrumental while the track “Calling Me” talks about numbing the pain over some more country trap production.

The song “Sneaky Links” talks about keeping relationships secret over a weighty instrumental while the track “Believe Me” talks about having a hard time trusting his baby over a glossy beat. The song “Moving On” talks about starting anew & then the closer “Changing” talks about his newfound maturity over a piano-laced trap instrumental.

Coming away from this album, it’s a just a mixed bag for me personally. It’s really cool to hear how personal he can get through his lyrics, but it’s just the production sounds the same for a good portion of it.

Score: 2.5/5

Saigon – “Pain, Peace & Prosperity” review

Saigon is a 43 year old MC from Brooklyn, New York who broke out in the early 2000s off his debut mixtape Da Yardfather. However, it wouldn’t be until 2011 when he would make his full-length debut by dropping The Greatest Story Never Told under Suburban Noize Records. The album would spawn a sequel to fulfill his contract with the Spade the following year & then a final installment on his own imprint Squid Ink Squad Records in 2014. He returned from a 6 year hiatus last summer by signing to Strange Music’s new subsidiary It Goes Up Entertainment & dropping the STREETRUNNER-produced EP 777: The Resurrection almost right after but here we are 7 months later with Saigon’s 4th full-length album.

After the DJ Kayslay intro, the first song “Head Blown (Vitabudz Theme)” talks about vibing until his head is gone over an instrumental that hawks back to 80s electro while the track “2 for $5” makes multiple comparisons to the titular deal over a bountiful beat. The song “My Gun” talks about being strapped at all times over a boom bap instrumental with some sirens while the track “Blessings” pays tribute to those murdered by the system from Mike Brown to Sandra Bland over a bereft beat.

The song “People Next Door” talks about the person living next to him getting laid down the night before over a cinematic instrumental while the following track is a pointless remix to “Mechanical Animals” off of The Greatest Story Never Told 3: The Troubled Times of Brian Carenard. “The D” with Jay Varcity is a gross, lovey dovey disco tune while the song “Warm Honey” is almost as painful to listen to except the production on this one is more silkier.

The track “U Do Understand That, Right?” With Axel Leon finds the 2 talking about partying all night over a jazz/trap infused beat while the song “We Don’t Need You” talks about cutting off punks in his life over a Satanic instrumental. The track “Same Ol’ Me” talks about how he hasn’t changed after all these years over an inspiriting beat while the song “U Don’t Know Me” is a catchy bop calling out those who think they know everything about him.

The track “Buss It Down” with Bam Vito is a terribly written strip club anthem backed by generic instrumental while “The Streets” talks about how it ain’t no joke in the hood over an organ-laced beat. The track “It Goes Up” with Rough finds the 2 talking about firing at their squad if they take food out their mouths over a boom bap instrumental with some choir vocals while the song “Deeper” with O.T. the Real sees the duo talking about how deep they are over an exultant beat. After the “Saigon Speaks” skit, “The Co-Op Cipher” teams up with Cassidy to get on the battle tip over a sullen instrumental. He also takes the time to announce 2 more albums coming later this year, one produced entirely by Buckwild & the other with Jahlil Beats.

Even though I prefer 777: The Resurrection, I still think this is a solid album. There are joints on here that felt out of place like the “Mechanical Animals” remix & that cringey disco joint, but Saigon can still rip up mics like it was nothing & the production is pretty tight for a good deal of it.

Score: 3.5/5

Armand Hammer – “Haram” review

Armand Hammer is duo from New York City consisting of Billy Woods & Elucid. Forming together in 2013 off their only mixtape Half Measures & the debut album Race Music, the pair would go on to release an EP & 3 more full-lengths worth of abstract political hip hop. Their previous effort Shrines just came out this past summer & not even a year later, Billy & Elucid have tapped on The Alchemist for their 5th full-length album.

The album kicks off with “Sir Benni Miles”, where Armand Hammer gets cryptic over a grimy instrumental with a couple of vocal samples laced in. The next song “Roaches Don’t Fly” talks about how “you don’t have to be here if you don’t wanna” over a synth-heavy beat with some occasional guitar passages while the track “Black Sunlight” gives the listener profound motivation over a cheerful instrumental. The track “Indian Summer” talks about swearing vengeance in the 7th grade & how they “can’t walk them dogs with you” over a mystical beat while the track Aubergine with Fielded finds the 3 talking about hysteria over an instrumental that starts off with a demented atmosphere, but then switches into something more forlorn.

The song “God’s Feet” talks about “blowing that horn fast” over a glistening boom bap beat while the track “Peppertree” talks about how “there’s something else out there” over a saxophone & a reversed loop. The song “Scaffolds” talks about always being late with the epiphanies & having excuses over a paranormal instrumental while the track “Falling Out the Sky” with Earl Sweatshirt sees the trio opening up about their demons over a lachrymose beat.

The song “Wishing Bad” with Curly Castro & Amani finds the 4 talking about how all their problems come from no compensation over a minimal, yet deranged instrumental while the track “Chicharonnes” with Quelle Chris sees the 3 talking about corrupt cops over a ghastly beat. “Squeegee” is another favorite of mine with it’s enraged verses, the ear-grabbing hook & repose production while the penultimate track “Robert Moses” talks about a new day over a jazz-laced instrumental. The album ends with “Stonefruit”, where the duo talk about having so much to undo over a celebratory beat.

This is hands down one of the best albums I’ve heard all year & I’ll even go as far to say that it’s Armand Hammer’s magnum opus. Couple of the features were a miss for me personally, but the gruesome imagery that Billy Woods & Elucid paint goes hand to hand with Uncle Al’s signature sound almost flawlessly.

Score: 4.5/5

Flee Lord – “RAMM£LLZ££” review

This is the 15th EP from Queensbridge emcee Flee Lord. Blowing up in 2017 off his debut EP Loyalty or Death: Lord Talk & it’s 2018 sequel, the Prodigy protege continued to grow from there by dropping subsequent projects like Gets Greater Later & Loyalty & Trust. But after dropping every month last year (the most notable ones being Hand Me My Flowers as well as The People’s Champ & In the Name of Prodigy), Flee is teaming up with DJ Muggs to drop RAMM£LLZ££.

The titular intro is a cool little skit that I had expected going in, but then the first song “Eating Never Stressing” talks about how your life will be great if you work as hard as him over a bare organ loop. The next track “SA Mobbin’” talks about holding his block down over a doleful piano instrumental while the song “Driver’s Seat” pays tribute to Capone-N-N.O.R.E. over a misty boom bap beat.

The track “Wallabies & Gucci Loafers” with Ghostface Kilah & Roc Marciano finds the trio on their fly shit over a soul-tinged instrumental while the song “Mansions in the Ghetto” with Crimeapple sees the 2 talking about giving back to their people over some guitar-picking & horns. The track “45 in My Pocket” talks about how going back to the hood is stressful for him over a rich boom bap instrumental while the song “Daleon & Delgado” with TF finds the duo talking about shooting rounds at the sky over a beat kin to Daringer.

“The Equation” talks about hoping people follow his path when he’s gone over a deranged instrumental & while the penultimate track “Queens Get the $$$” with Meyhem Lauren sees the 2 talking about all being psychos over a boom bap beat with some rapid piano-playing throughout. The titular outro talks about going from having bad to making good paper over a sample of “I’m Alive” by Johnny Thunder.

Even though 2020 was the Year of the Lord, it’s starting to look like 2021 will be the Year of Muggs because this is a damn near perfect EP. Death & the Magician is still my Album of the Year as of me writing this review, but RAMM£LLZ££ is just as enjoyable because both parties manage to bring their A-game on here lyrically & sonically.

Score: 4.5/5

Kota the Friend – “To Kill a Sunrise” review

Kota the Friend is a 28 year old MC from New York City that broke out in 2016 off his debut EP Palm Tree Liquor. This was followed up with 2 more EPs before dropping his debut album FOTO in 2019. Kota has gone on to release 4 albums since then but just 2 months after his previous one Lyrics to Go 2, he’s staying busy by enlisting Statik Selektah for his 5th full-length outing.

The album kicks off with “Wolves”, where Kota talks about how he can’t lose over a weepy boom bap beat. The next song “Hate” addresses those who throw shade on his name over some dusty drums & a piano loop while “The Cold” talks about how people wonder where he goes when he’s in his bag over a violin-tinged beat. “The Love” gets in his romance bag over a luxurious instrumental while the song “Go Now” talks about wanting to build with his partner over a dream-like beat.

The track “What Ya Sayin’?” calls out those who tried to bring him down with them over some rich boom bap production while the song “Live & Direct” talks about sharing your mind with your set over some more gorgeous keyboard harmonies. The track “Day Glow” talks about opening up the windows over a tranquil instrumental & letting it all in while the song “Sunrise” thanks the listener for having his back over a jazzy beat. The album then finishes with “Sunset”, where Kota talks about being true then over some heavy horns.

This is a super solid album in my book & it’s just been really awesome to see how much Kota has grown in the last 5 years. His lyricism is a lot more wittier in comparison to Lyrics to Go 2 & Statik whips up some of his most luxuriant beats ever.

Score: 4/5