Tyler, The Creator – “IGOR” review

This is the 6th full-length album from California rapper, singer, songwriter, producer, music video director & designer: Tyler, The Creator. Who rose to international stardom at the beginning of the decade as the de facto leader of the now defunct collective Odd Future with the help of the music video of his breakout single “Yonkers”. Last time we heard Tyler in a long capacity was in 2017 with the release of Flower Boy. Easily his magnum opus & one of the greatest hip hop albums of this decade, where we saw his full artistic & personal evolution with personal lyrics & colorful production. Tyler even saw fit to drop an EP this past winter to coincide with The Grinch & while that was ok, it seems like he’s ready to deliver his long-awaited follow-up to Flower Boy.

The album kicks off with “IGOR’S THEME”, which is a repetitive yet entrancing piece with an instrumental that keeps making well-constructed turns left & right. The next song “EARFQUAKE” with Playboi Carti sees the 2 telling their significant others that they need them in their lives over a atmospheric beat while the track “I THINK” is a catchy love tune with a synth-funk instrumental. After the “EXACTLY WHAT YOU RUN FROM YOU END UP CHASING” skit, we go into the song “RUNNING OUT OF TIME”. Where Tyler calls out his ex’s true colors over a spacey beat. The track “NEW MAGIC WAND” sees Tyler begging his lover not to dump him over a noisy beat while the song “A BOY IS A GUN” is a soulful tune where Tyler is telling this person he’s here for them.

The track “PUPPET” with Kanye West talks about being controlled by a lover over a blissful instrumental while the song “WHAT’S GOOD” vents about depression over a beat that starts off eerie, but later switches into something more chaotic. The track “GONE, GONE / THANK YOU” starts off as a sunny R&B tune about how his love’s no longer here, but then it transitions into an interlude where Tyler is thanking this ex of his. The penultimate track “I DON’T LOVE YOU ANYMORE” is of course a breakup anthem with a punchy yet meditative beat & then the album ends with “ARE WE STILL FRIENDS?”, where Tyler & Pharrell team up to deliver a slow yet beautiful R&B cut with a fitting Al Green sample.

As I expected from the snippets, this a nice change of pace. Tyler’s going into a more neo-soul direction while fusing it with the sounds of his 2015 album Cherry Bomb. You could compare it to M.I.A.’s ΛΛ Λ Y Λ because Kala & Flower Boy were M.I.A. & Tyler’s most accessible albums & both of them turned around to deliver their most experimental efforts yet. Just another example of why T is the most creative recording artists of this decade. Here’s to whatever he has coming in 2021.

Score: 4.5/5

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Injury Reserve – Self-titled review

Injury Reserve is a hip hop trio from Tempe, Arizona consisting of Stepa J. Groggs, Ritchie With a T & Parker Corey. I first caught wind of them in 2016 with release of their 3rd mixtape Floss. They then followed it up with their 2nd EP Drive It Like It’s Stolen & while both were equally dope, I was really curious to see what they would do on their full-length debut over here.

It all kicks off with “Koruna & Lime”, where the trio reflect on all it took to get where they are today over an deconstructed club instrumental. The next song “Jawbreaker” with Rico Nasty gets conscious over a vibraphone & some handclaps while the track “G.T.F.U. (Get The Fuck Up)” with JPEGMAFIA & Cakes da Killa sees the 3 getting confrontational over a beat that starts off gritty, but then transitions into something smoother. After the “QWERTY” interlude, we go into the song “Jailbreak the Tesla”. Where the trio team up with Aminé to make a dedication to the titular car brand over a bassy instrumental. The track “Gravy n Biscuits” talks about how everything’s alright with a mellow piano throughout while the “Rap Song Tutorial” is a repetitive yet very clever cut teaching those at home how to make a hip hop tune.

The track “Wax On” with Freddie Gibbs talks about getting their money up over a meditative beat while the song “What a Year It’s Been” reflects on their newfound success over a chaotic beat. The track “Hello?!” is more of a unfinished yet melodic interlude while the song “Best Spot in the House” gets introspective over a somber beat. The penultimate track “New Hawaii” with DRAM is a peaceful love ballad & then the album finishes with “3 Man Weave”, where the trio get triumphant over a jazzy beat.

Overall, this was just as solid as their last 2 releases & it gives the new listeners a good glimpse at who they are. The instrumentals are well-put together, it sounds passionate & they continue to solidify themselves as fresh faces in the experimental hip hop scene

Score: 4/5

Wu-Tang Clan – “Of Mics & Men” soundtrack review

The Wu-Tang Clan. What can be said now about the iconic New York hip hop outfit that hasn’t been said already? From their iconic first 2 albums Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) & Wu-Tang Forever to the countless classic solo debuts like Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… & Supreme Clientele, they’ve always been rightfully regarded as the greatest hip hop outfit of all-time. Last time we heard from them collectively in an album capacity was in 2014 with A Better Tomorrow & with a SHOWTIME documentary being recently released, they’re coming together with the help of Nas’ Mass Appeal Records to deliver the soundtrack for it.

The soundtrack kicks off with “On That Shit Again”, where Ghostface Killah & RZA sound vengeful over a piano & some drums. The next song “Seen a Lot of Things” with Ghost & Raekwon pretty much speaks for itself over a prominent electric guitar & after the “Project Kids” skit, we go into the RZA solo cut “Do the Same as My Brother Do”. Where the Abbott kicks some knowledge over a punchy yet orchestral beat. After the “Yo is you Cheo?” skit & before the “1 Rhyme” outro, the final song of the EP is the title track. Where RZA gets with Cappadonna & Masta Killa boast over some prominent drums.

As much as I loved the documentary, this was a decent soundtrack. Most of the performances are fantastic don’t get me wrong, but it sounds like the Clan could’ve fully fleshed it out.

Score: 3/5

DJ Paul – “Power, Pleasure & Painful Things” review

DJ Paul is a 42 year old MC, producer, DJ, songwriter & entrepreneur from Memphis, Tennessee known for co-founding the seminal Three 6 Mafia with Juicy J. He made his solo debut in 2002 with Underground 16: For da Summa but for the past decade, Paul’s has delivered a total of 7 more albums through his Scale-A-Ton Entertainment record label including his 2015 magnum opus Master of Evil with the help of Psychopathic Records or the Year of the 6 duology in conjunction with Slumerican the following year. However after spending the last year & a half producing & doing features, he’s returning with his debut EP.

After the “Journey Begins” intro, we go into the song “Creepin’”. Where Paul teams up with Wifisfuneral viciously brag over a chaotic trap beat. Then after the “Life Figured Out” interlude, the song “Easy Way” with Yelawolf & the Seed of 6 sees the 4 vividly describing life in the gutter over a dark beat. After the “Cleaner Way” interlude, the song “Came Up” with Rob Vicious is a mediocre anthem about making money. Especially with the tedious “me so horny” hook.

After the “No More Small Time” interlude, the song “Real Money” with Beanie Sigel is pretty much a sequel to the last joint except it’s way more tolerable & off the wall. After the “Life Got Real” interlude, the final song “They Beefin’” is a menacing diss towards people who choosin’ sides. Then the EP finishes off with the “Gettin’ Caught Up” skit & a spoken word outro.

While it’s not bad, it could’ve been a lot better in my opinion. Paul pretty much sticks to his guns both lyrically & sonically, but the interludes before every song are highly annoying. Nonetheless, still a neck-breaking prelude of something bigger to come.

Score: 3/5

Logic – “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” review

This is the 6th full-length album from Maryland rapper, singer, songwriter, producer & now bestselling author: Logic. Who is fresh off his debut novel Supermarket a couple months ago with a completely unlistenable indie pop album with the same name accompanying it. Now that being said, my opinion on Logic & his music haven’t always been negative. He showed a lot of potential in the early half of this decade with his Young Sinatra mixtapes as well as his first 2 studio albums Under Pressure & The Incredible True Story but since 2016, he has shown himself to be HIGHLY inconsistent. Mostly because his topics have gotten corny & that he’s drowning deeper in his influences to the point where it’s distracting, whether that be his 2017 album ΞVERYBODY sounding like a Dollar Store version of Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly or his Bobby Tarantino 2 mixtape sounding like a poor man’s Travis Scott album. Nonetheless, my morbid curiously got the best of me for this new record over here & I decided to give it a shot.

Despite claiming to be in his own lane on the title track that kicks the album off, it literally sounds like a J. Cole song down the flow & the symphonic beat that 6 brings to the table. Then we have “Homicide”. Easily the best single of the 3 that were released prior to the album, but still average. The intro about Logic coming out of his dad’s balls is annoying, his lyrics dissing trap music is hypocritical because we all know Logic’s been rapping over this style of production for the past few years now. Also, his speedy flow is a blatant rip-off of Tech N9ne’s & the beat is kinda bland. But luckily, Eminem‘s closing verse is enough to make the cut decent & I love how they sampled Chris D’Elia’s viral impersonation of Marshall for the outro. The track “Wannabe” is a barely finished look at people who seek attention online with a decent beat for the clubs while the song “clickbait” talks about the comments he receives over generic trap beat, a horrific delivery & a cringey line about he’d suck dick. The track “Mama (Show Love)” with YBN Cordae sees the 2 telling their mothers to look at them now over a dark, druggy beat while the song “Out of Sight” does have a decently spacious beat, the lyrics are vapid to me. The track “Pardon My Ego” gets insipidly narcissistic over a Middle Eastern-influenced beat while “Commando” with G-Eazy is less of a song & more of a contest to see who can be more basic.

The track “Icy” with Gucci Mane sees the 2 charismatically talking about how clean they are over a smooth beat while the song “Still Ballin’” with Wiz Khalifa serves a pretty decent sequel to a highlight off of Young Sinatra: Welcome to Forever. The track “Cocaine” hilariously talks about selling drugs over a piano & some heavy bass while the song “Limitless” is another redundant materialistic brag. The track “Keanu Reeves” whines about the criticisms that Logic’s justifiably gotten over the past few years while the song “Don’t Be Afraid to Be Different” is a sappy motivational anthem despite the infectious instrumental & Will Smith’s verse at the start is easily the most awkward feature I’ve heard all year. The penultimate track “Bobby” is an egotistical ode to Logic himself with an old school instrumental & then the album finishes with “Lost in Translation”, which is actually a heartwrenching high-note to end on both lyrically & sonically.

Yeah I don’t know what else to say beyond that, this is yet another mediocre release in Logic’s ever-growing catalogue. The production is mostly just passable & the concept about social media does sound interesting but unfortunately, it seems like he loses focus of that narrative along the way in place of songs with laughable topics. I really don’t know where he goes from here & that’s sad for me to say as someone who’s appreciative of his early work.

 Score: 1/5

Valid – “Mihajlo” review

Valid is an MC from Detroit, Michigan who made his debut in 2012 with the release of 2 EPs: Maria & The US 12 Experience. He then followed it up with Beyond Physics’ self-titled debut the following year & his solo debut Reach High in 2015 but now with the help of his mentor DJ Head alongside Pig Pen & Tone Rizzo, he’s back on the scene with his sophomore album.

The album kicks off with “Travel”, where Valid gets nostalgic over an instrumental that kinda has a psychedelic rock vibe to it. The next song “Street Boy” is a heartfelt dedication to his family over some acoustic passages while the song “Bottled” with eLZhi sees the 2 letting out a lot that they’ve been holding back over an atmospheric beat. The track “Stagnant” talks about being in the titular state over a laidback boom bap beat from Foul Mouth while the song “Time for Me” with Mahogany Jones sees the 2 talking about focusing on oneself over a mellow beat from Pig Pen.

The track “Scarf Off” gets romantic over a Big Tone instrumental that cleverly samples Erykah Badu’s “Window Seat” while the song “Bumpin’” gets charismatic over a soulful beat. The track “IShudBeDaWon” talks about how he should’ve been big already over a vibraphone-inflicted boom bap beat from Ilajide while the song “Old Tale” vividly tells the story of a friend of his named Josh over a jazzy beat. The penultimate track “Tomorrow” gets motivational over an smooth beat as well as a fantastic Illa J hook & then the album finishes off with “I’m Blessed”, which is beautifully self-explanatory with a funky instrumental from DJ Dez.

To me, I think this is Valid’s magnum opus. Primarily because I feel like the listener is really getting to know him more as a person with the instrumentals enhancing the vibe & emotion of almost every song.

Score: 4/5

ScHoolboy Q – “CrasH Talk” review

ScHoolboy Q is a 32 year old rapper from SoutH Los Angeles, California wHo came up at tHe beginning of tHe decade as 1/4 of Black Hippy. He released His first 2 albums Setbacks and Habits & Contradictions independently, but it wouldn’t be until 2014 tHat He would make His major label debut witH Oxymoron. THis would be followed up witH Blank Face LP a couple years later, wHicH I personally consider to be Q’s best work yet. However, 3 years Have passed & He’s now returning witH His 5tH full-lengtH album.

THe opener “Gang Gang” details His drug dealing past over an eerie trap beat from DJ Fu wHile tHe next song “Tales” takes a look back at Q’s criminal past over a somber DJ DaHi & Jake One instrumental. THe track “CHopstix” is a painfully boring “club banger” if you wanna call it tHat & even tHougH I do enjoy tHe gritty lyricism on “Numb Numb Juice”, it sounds unfinisHed & tHe beat is dime a dozen. THe track “Drunk” is a moody alcohol antHem wHile tHe song “Lies” witH YG takes a jab at tHe people wHo’ve said false tHings about tHem over an atmospheric beat from Sounwave. THe track “5200” gets murderous over a vibrant beat tHat doesn’t quite matcH tHe lyricism wHile tHe song “Black Folk” is a jab at an unnamed fraud over a cloudy beat.

THe track “Floating” witH 21 Savage talks about being on drugs over a murky beat wHile tHe song “Dangerous” describes the famous lifestyle over a psychedelic instumental. THe track “Die wit ‘Em” gets murderous over a monstrous Cardo beat wHile tHe song “CrasH” talks about going on over a Boi-1da instrumental tHat cHops & screws PRHyme’s “Boom”. THe penultimate track “Water” witH Lil Baby is an awkward brag despite tHe godly feeling in Cardo’s production & tHen tHe album finisHes witH “Attention”, wHere Q talks about praise & passion over a decent boom bap beat.

I don’t know what else to say, this is EXACTLY what I expected. It’s a lot more commercial which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it sounds just as forced as Jay Rock’s last album Redemption was.

Score: 2.5/5

Alla Xul Elu – “Church of Xul” review

Alla Xul Elu is an Ohio based horrorcore trio consisting of Billy Obey, Joey Black & Lee Carver. They started off as a duo, releasing their first 2 albums Head of Horns & Sci-Co in 2015. 2 years later, Lee joined & they dropped their debut EP Necronomichron that same year. However, it wasn’t until last year that the Xul made their biggest break to date with Twiztid signing them to their label Majik Ninja Entertainment. Their latest album/MNE debut The Almighty that dropped last fall is a modern horrorcore masterpiece in my eyes & now to accompany Twiztid’s brand new album Generation Nightmare, the 3 are back with their 2nd EP.

After the “Welcome” intro, we go straight into the first song “In the Church of Xul”. Where the trio tell you what goes in their world over a slow yet sinister beat. The track “We Are One” advises you to believe over a nocturnally atmospheric boom bap beat while the song “Preay” gets murderous over a nocturnal beat. The track “To the Tome of the Black Tongue” talks about possession over a haunting instrumental while “The Goddamned” continues the murderous themes & the atmosphere in the instrumental fits fantastically. The EP then finishes with “Xuligans”, which is essentially a tribute to their fans with an old school-style instrumental.

Despite being an EP, this is just as fantastic as The Almighty. It sounds a lot darker than that previous album & I love how they hold it on their own to prove that they’re really are bringing a breath of fresh air in such an underrated subgenre of hip hop.

Score: 4.5/5

Twiztid – “Generation Nightmare” review

Twiztid is a horrorcore duo from Detroit, Michigan consisting of Jamie Madrox & Monoxide. The duo started off as members of the House of Krazees with The R.O.C. before splitting off in 1997, eventually being taken under the wings of the Insane Clown Posse & signing to Psychopathic Records shortly after. They ended up staying with them for 15 years, leaving at the end of 2012 to form their own label Majik Ninja Entertainment in 2014. But now coming off the final Vans Warped Tour last summer as well as the 2nd year of their own annual pop culture convention a couple months ago, the demented duo is back on the scene with their 12th full-length album.

After the “Live Forever” intro, we dive into the first song “Phlegm in the Windpipe”. A rap metal fusion where Jamie & Paul pretty much take a jab at society. The track “Speak Of” talks about being unique over an instrumental with some rubbery bass & a quirky synth while the song “Something New” speaks of changing the game over an abrasive beat from 7. The track “Siamese Amazement” is a throwback to the punk sound that they dabbled with on Mutant, Vol. 2 while the song “Sick Mind” talks about being insane over a bass-heavy trap beat from Godsynth. The track “Here with the Dead” vents about their stresses over an empowering instrumental while the song “Disappear” talks about escaping drama & the chaotic beat is perfect. The track “Bring Me Back” serves as an energetic companion to the previous joint while the song “Magic Spellz” is pretty much a refined sequel to Twiztid’s last attempt at going nu metal on “Nothing to You”, which landed on their previous album The Continuous Evilutions of Life’s ?’s. However I don’t know if it’s just me, but Monoxide kinda sounds like he’s impersonating Eddie Vedder on here.

The track “Livin’ @ the Bottom” talks about celebrating themselves over a Three 6 Mafia influenced trap beat & after the short but motivating Jamie solo cut “Skit 17”, the song Let It Flow” boasts about their skills over a minimalist beat. The track “Don’t Be Hatin’” with Young Wicked pretty much speaks for itself over a bouncy instrumental while the song “Role Models” makes clever references to all of the celebrities who’ve committed heinous sexual acts lately over a gloomy beat. The track “Wreck” to me sounds like a cliched rock song that you can find in a sports video game while the song “If It Matters What I Think Now” is a dedication to people who have their backs over an acoustic guitar passage with some drums thrown in. The track “4 the Nightmare Children” is a grimy ode to the outcasts & after the “End of the Beginning” outro, the final song “Strike” is a gruesome showcasing of Twiztid’s newly formed supergroup with Alla Xul Elu called the Venomous 5.

To me, this is easily one of the demented duo’s best releases & it’s what their mentors’ latest album Fearless Fred Fury should’ve been. The production is hard, both Jamie & Paul stick to their guns lyrically & most importantly: it sounds like Twiztid actually took their time in making an album they wanted to rather than just throwing a bunch of songs together at the last minute.

Score: 4/5

Rico Nasty – “Anger Management” review

Rico Nasty is a 21 year old rapper from New York City that I first caught wind of last year with the release of her Nasty mixtape, which showcased a unique personality in Rico as well as her eclecticism. However, she’s now teaming up with Kenny Beats to deliver her debut EP.

The EP kicks off with “Cold”, where Rico talks about being the hottest female spitter in the game right now over an industrial beat. The next track “Cheat Code” talks about biters over an abrasive beat while the song “Hatin’” is an ode to boss bitches & I love how they revamp the same sample that JAY-Z & Timbaland used for “Dirt Off Your Shoulder”. The track “Big Titties” with EARTHGANG sees the 3 talking about their lifestyles over a quirky beat & after the “Nasty World” skit,  the song “Relative” talks about how Rico’s  fame as affected those around her over some somber piano chords & heavy bass. The track “Mood” feels more like a Splurge joint since he takes up a bulk of it while the song “Sellout” talks about loving yourself over a moody trap beat. The EP then finishes with “Again”, where Rico celebrates her success over a spacey trap beat.

Yeah, this is Rico’s best work yet. Her lyricism is sharper & Kenny just goes to show that he’s one of the hottest producers in the game at this very moment.

Score: 4/5