Rapsody – “Laila’s Wisdom” review

After signing to Roc Nation last year, North Carolina MC Rapsody is delivering her sophomore full-length album & her first in 5 years. The album opens up with the title track, where Rapsody tells you not to worry about anyone tells you along with knowing your worth & the instrumental from Nottz has some great piano chords along with some boom bap drums & even choir vocals. The next song “Power” with Kendrick Lamar gets self-explanatory & their chemistry on here is just as great as it was on “Complex (A Zulu Love)” off of Kendrick’s previous album To Pimp a Butterfly. Also, I really like the Bootsy Collins sample that Rapsody’s mentor 9th Wonder uses for the instrumental. The track “Chrome (Like Ooo)” talks about ending your career if you diss her along with respecting the driver more than the ride & while the production from Ka$h & Khrysis was just ok to me, her ambition really makes up for it. Also, I found the Forest Whitaker line near the end of the first verse to be pretty funny & clever. The song “Pay Up” vividly tells the story of a money hungry woman along with the final verse being about her bum-ass boyfriend who wants to get her pregnant over a funky instrumental. The track “Ridin’” with GQ speaks on finding oneself but with a dark tone to it & the instrumental from 9th & Eric G. starts off with a spacey time, but then it nicely transitions into something more boom bap-esque for the final verse. The song “Sassy” flaunts about success over a vibrant instrumental & the charismatic tone in her voice is absolutely absolutely flawless. The track “Nobody” intelligently talks about how no one really knows anything from Biggie & 2Pac’s murderers to even minding one’s business over a smooth instrumental. Also, I think the one line during the 2nd verse about how you can’t divide hip hop at all despite not everyone liking someone in the vein of Waka Flocka Flame is absolutely true. As for the features, the Anderson .Paak hook is on point & the Black Thought verse is just as flawless as one would expect. The song “Black & Ugly” dives into beauty over a 9th Wonder instrumental with some scent guitar licks as well as some explosive boom bap drums & I really like how she incorporates her personal experiences into it. Also the hook from BJ the Chicago Kid kinda reminds me of D’Angelo for some reason, but not in a bad way at all. The track “You Should Know” sees Rapsody getting braggadocious about her skills over an menacing instrumental from 9th, but then it transitions into something more lush & we are treated with a verse from Busta Rhymes that compliments Rapsody perfectly. The song “A Rollercoaster Jam Called Love” talks about staying with her man no matter what & the way 9th constantly changes the instrumental after each verse is just fantastic. The track “U Used 2 Love Me” is basically Rapsody speaking to her ex-boyfriend & musically, it really gives me some Zapp vibes & 9th did a damn good job at it. The song “Knock on My Door” vividly talks about Rapsody’s desire to have a man over her place over some jazzy piano keys along with a soul sample in the back. The penultimate track “OooWee” was taken from Rapsody’s 3rd EP Crown that came out last November, but it still sounds great from her aggressive delivery & the Anderson .Paak hook to the guitar loop throughout. The album then closes out with “Jesus Coming”, where Rapsody creatively spits about “going home” in 3 different perspectives over a spacey instrumental & the Amber Navran hook is beautiful. If you ask me, this could very well be Rapsody’s best work yet. The production (mostly handled by 9th Wonder) is beautiful, the features fit in perfect, Rapsody’s lyricism is stronger than before & the passion that was put into it is as bright as day. I know a lot of cats are stuck on Cardi B’s latest hit single “Bodak Yellow” but if you want an actual female MC with intelligent lyrics & organic production, PLEASE give this a listen

Score: 4.5/5

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Lil Peep – “Come Over When You’re Sober” review

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Almost a year after the release of his terrible breakout mixtape Hellboy, New York SoundCloud rapper Lil Peep is now delivering his debut full-length album. The album opens up with “Benz Truck (Гелик)”, where Lil Peep is pretty much singing comatosely about not letting his newfound fame change him over an ominous trap instrumental. The next track “Save That Shit” sounds underwritten, as he’s just basically copied & pasted the same lyrics about relationship issues over & over but at least the acoustic/trap fused beat is decent. The song “Awful Things” continues into the whole bad relationship topic over a psychedelic guitar with some snares, but it just sounds like he’s just yelling at me rather than pouring his heart out. Especially during the hook. Oh & as for the sole feature from Peep’s fellow GothBoiClique member Lil Tracy that pops up on here: Yeah, it doesn’t do any justice whatsoever. The track “U Said” has beat switch up during the 2nd half that’s actually not too bad, but the lyrics about popping pills to escape the pain that Lil Peep is going through just comes off as corny. Especially with the line about him wishing he didn’t have a heart so he couldn’t love his girl. The song “Better Off (Dying)” talks about how he’s not gonna make it over a spacey trap instrumental & his vocals on here are probably the most laughable on the entire project. The penultimate track “The Brightside” is a cloudy guitar-ballad where Peep realizing that his ex wasn’t the right one for him, but it’s just sappy. The closer “Problems” reflects about his ex & how she acts like he’s now to her, but he just sounds so atonal that it’s painful. Although Pitchfork recently calling him “the future of emo”, I don’t think this makes the case for it at all. In fact, this is almost as bad as Hellboy was. Sure the production has slightly improved, but the singing is just as awful & the lyrics are as equally melodramatically corny than before. I’m not saying Lil Peep isn’t depressed, he might be. I’m saying if you want an emo release in 2017 that has legitimate emotion, this is not worth your time. I’m sure the upcoming World’s a Beautiful Place & I’m No Longer Afraid to Die album Always Foreign has all of that covered for us

Score: 0.5/5

XXXTENTACION – “17” review

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If you’ve been living under a rock all year, XXXTENTACION is a reasonably polarizing Floridian rapper & this is his debut studio album. He’s been having a huge 2017 from his 2015 debut single “Look at Me!” receiving a newfound popularity to being apart of this year’s XXL Freshman Class. The album opens up with “The Explanation”, which is just a nearly 1-minute spoken word piece where X is telling us that we’re about to enter his mind & thanking us for listening. The first song “Jocelyn Flores” is a tribute to a friend that X’s with the same name who committed suicide a few months back & you can just hear how hurt he was about it over this cloudy instrumental. The next track “Depression & Obsession” sees X singing while playing an acoustic guitar & while I do like the vibe of it, the vocals & the lyrics don’t really captivate me at all. The song “Everybody Dies in Their Nightmares” has an druggy instrumental & the delivery is actually pretty nice, but the songwriting doesn’t really progress all that much. The track “Revenge” is another dedication to Jocelyn Flores except with a folky tone to it & while he does sound emotionless on here, I do like the track quite a bit. The song “Save Me” has an eerie instrumental, but the lyrics are just angsty. Also as the song goes on, his vocals go from being badly mixed to the point of inaudibility to being absolutely cringey. The next track “Dead Inside” has a decent piano throughout, but X’s singing is yet again buried in the mix & it sounds underwritten. The song “Fuck Love” is a message to X’s pregnant ex-girlfriend Geneva Ayala over a trap beat & for some reason, the hook from Trippie Redd painfully reminds me of Lil Uzi Vert. The next song “Carry On” is self-explanatory, as X speaks about moving on despite all the bullshit he’s been through while mentioning Geneva yet again over a decent boom bap instrumental. The penultimate track “Orlando” yet again features X singing over a piano, but the songwriting is so hilariously corny. The album then closes out with “Ayala”, where X sings about making a list of regrets & Geneva (which is obvious given her last name is used as the song title) being the first on it over a dreary guitar. Although I do think there is SOME potential in XXXTENTACION, this “album” doesn’t showcase it all that well. The production is decent, but the tracks mostly feel unfinished & rushed from the songwriting to it’s 22 minute runtime. And on top of that, the depressed content just comes off as angsty rather than deep

Score: 1.5/5

Lil Dicky – “I’m Brain” review

Just 2 years after dropping his highly subpar debut Professional Rapper, Pennsylvania comedy rapper & 2016 XXL Freshman Lil Dicky is reemerging from the dark with his 1st EP. Oddly enough though, he’s releasing it under the alias Brain. The opener “On Smash” is a sex tune with a banging club instrumental, but it really doesn’t give off that vibe at all. The next track “Cocaine” talks about a party girl giving him ecstasy & while the instrumental is just ok, the song as a whole comes off as pretty stupid. The song “Whippin’ It Up” has a hard hitting trap beat, but the actual song topic itself is really generic & the lines deeper into it are absolutely mind-numbing. The track “Brainstorm” starts off with a convo between Lil Dicky & his Brain, but then we are treated with a spacey instrumental & lyrics about…well…brainstorming. And it’s so painfully corny. The penultimate song “F Slo” is about sex yet again, but it’s even worse than before. In every aspect. After a spoken word interlude, the nightmare finally ends with “How Can U Sleep?”. I really like the trap instrumental with the piano loop throughout along with the EP’s sole guest verse from The Game, but those are really the only highlights of the song & Lil Dicky doesn’t even bring in the Brain character at all on here. To be completely honest, this is one of the worst things I’ve heard this year. I will say that the production is decent, but Lil Dicky just ruins them with a bunch of dumb lines & song topics. Oh & as for the Brain character, I really cannot tolerate it’s voice. I mean there’s nothing wrong with making comedy music at all, but there’s nothing funny about this. It just comes off as corny & vapid throughout a majority of it’s 20 minute runtime

Score: 0.5/5

BROCKHAMPTON – “SATURATION II” review

Almost 3 months after their breakout debut SATURATION, San Marcos hip hop boyband BROCKHAMPTON is now delivering a follow-up. The opener “GUMMY” addresses their haters along with how they’ll ride with each other until the end over an amazingly eerie g-funk instrumental from in-house producers Romil Hemnani & Q3. The next song “QUEER” starts off even more abrasive both sonically & with the first 2 verses that’re delivered by Matt Champion & Merlyn Wood, but then it sounds more relaxing & the way they express & transition into each mood are just flawless. The track “JELLO” talks about their newfound success over an suspicious sounding instrumental & while the hook from the collective’s de facto leader Kevin Abstract is high-pitched, it is catchy. The short Ameer Vann solo cut “TEETH” vents about going from getting in trouble all his life to tanning on an island over some beautiful female soul vocals in the background. The track “SWAMP” talks about them going from rags to riches & while Jabari Manwa’s production does sound Neptunes inspired, it doesn’t come off as generic whatsoever. After a 40-second skit of Robert Ontenient sending a message to a lover, things then transition into the next song “TOKYO” where the group vents about internal conflict along with finding yourself over a jazzy instrumental. However, the Trick Daddy inspired hook from Kevin is just meh to me. The track “JESUS” solely has these somber keys throughout & it sees Kevin Abstract rapping a verse directed towards his ex-lover for the first half, but then we get a beautifully sung outro from bearface. on the other half. The track “CHICK” pretty much tells the internet gangsters to relax & that they’re only gonna become more popular over an ominous yet galactic-sounding instrumental. The song “JUNKY” has a hardcore beat & the way that they vent about their individual problems was very passionate. Especially with the first verse, where Kevin Abstract fires back at all the people who criticize him for being bisexual. After a skit where Robert’s praying in Spanish, we are then treated to the next song “FIGHT”. Here, Ameer & Dom McLennon talking about being bigger than just a target & not letting their worlds be attempted over an instrumental with a creepy Middle Eastern vibe to it. Funny enough, Kiko Merley’s production on the next track “SWEET” sounds kinda reminiscent to Madlib’s Beat Konducta in India album & out of all the verses, the last one from JOBA really stood out to me. Mainly because of the way he continuously changes the pitch of his voice throughout the duration of it à la Kendrick Lamar. The song “GAMBA” sees the group singing about being happy with their lovers over a spacey instrumental that sounds just as beautiful & mood-enlightening. The penultimate track “SUNNY” talks about not wanting to see bad days along with smoking after talking to Ameer’s parole officer over a twangy guitar with a Southern tone to it. The closer “SUMMER” is pretty much bearface. is singing about how his male crush should be his over some somber piano keys, but then comes in a guitar that sounds reminiscent to the psychedelic rock era from the 60’s & you can’t help but just slowly groove along to it. Not a lot of sequel albums live up to the hype of their predecessors, but this is one of those rare occasions where it actually does. It’s similar to the first one in a few ways (i.e. the letters of the song titles along with the Ameer solo cut & the bearface. closer) but it sounds so much different & it’s just as consistent, creative & passionate than before. This definitely makes me anticipate SATURATION III to drop by the end of the year, because they’re really continuing to be a breath of fresh air in today’s hip hop scene

Score: 4.5/5

Sean Price – “Imperius Rex” review

On the 2 year anniversary of Sean Price’s unfortunate death, Duck Down Music Inc. has decided to release his 1st posthumous album but 4th overall. The album opens up with the title track, where P starts off talking about having sex with his now-widow Bernadette but abruptly stops a few seconds in to speak that “monkey shit”. Very similar to the intro of “Tonight’s da Night” by Redman, but it’s just as hilarious. The Alchemist’s production has these dramatic strings throughout that give the track an eerie vibe to it. The next song “Dead or Alive” sees Sean getting braggadocious about his rapping prowess over a hard hitting beat from 4th Disciple & the hook from Bernadette was actually interesting. The track “Definition of God” then informs the listener about how there’s no one higher than him & Stu Bangas’ production has these eerie synths & piano keys throughout that’re really great. The song. “Ape in His Apex” with his protégé Ruste Juxx sees the 2 aggressively rapping about shooting/stabbing you & how both of them are in their apexes (hence the title) over an organ with some hard hitting drums. The track “Apartheid” has an eerie beat with a fitting Jamaican vocal sample & he gets with fellow Boot Camp Clik members Buckshot & Steele for some unapologetically hardcore degrading. The song “Lord Have Mercy” has this twangy guitar & a sped-up vocal sample throughout & while it’s not as hard hitting as the other instrumentals on the album, it’s still pretty great. Also can’t forget the guest verses from both Rim P & Vic Spencer are just as rough as the opening one from Sean. The track “Negus” with MF DOOM talks about “being a nigga” over an creepy sounding guitar & even though both MCs did their thing on here, I think DOOM’s verse was harder than Sean’s. The song “Church Bells” has a great hook from Junior Reid & the gloomy production enhances Sean’s street bars to make it sound purely evil. The track “The 3 Lyrical P’s” with Prodigy (Rest In Peace) & Styles P has this instrumental from Fraud that kinda has an electronic vibe to it & given the title, the lyricism makes the track live up to it perfectly. After Sean impersonating Funkmaster Flex for a minute & a half on the “Not97” skit, we are then led into the next track “Refrigerator P!”. Here, Sean’s talking about scaring haters & the instrumental has a solid rap rock sound to it. The song “Prisoner” addresses all MCs from the real to the wack over a somber instrumental from Marco Polo & the guest verse from Freeway midway through fits in a lot better than I actually expected it to. The song “Clans & Cliks” is a collaborative posse cut with 3 members of the Boot Camp Clik (Smif-n-Wessun & Sean’s former Heltah Skeltah cohort Rock) & 3 members of the almighty Wu-Tang Clan (Raekwon, Method Man & Inspectah Deck) over a gritty instrumental from Nottz & I can say it truly is a hardcore hip hop fan’s wet dream. The track “Resident Evil” is pretty much gun talk when it comes to the content, but the production truly enhances the ruggedness of it. The penultimate track “Rap Professor” tells the listener to “acknowledge the scholarship” & how he makes “nice rap shit” over a funky bass guitar provided by DJ Skizz. The album closes out with “Price Family”, where Sean talks about fucking shit up & slapping ear rings off a woman over a funky boom bap beat. Hell, the verse from Bernadette about wack rappers needing to get off Sean’s dick & to shut the fuck up were pretty cool as well. Can’t forget how flawless they compliment each other from the leading up into Bernadette’s verse to them nothing rapping together for a few seconds before a sung outdo over some piano keys. While posthumous albums can be hit or miss for me, this one was a home run. The bars are head, the features are all on point, it’s well produced & overall well put together. Not sure if this is the last Sean Price album we’ll ever get but if it is, then he went out with a bang. Rest In Peace to one of the most underrated to ever do it

Score: 4.5/5

Vic Mensa – “The Autobiography” review

Almost 2 months after releasing his 2nd EP The Manuscript, SAVEMONEY leader Vic Mensa is finally releasing his full-length debut. The album kicks off with “Didn’t I (Say I Didn’t)”, where he’s passionately & gratefully talking about making it to the top over a beautiful Darondo sample as well as a semi-funky guitar. The next track “Memories on 47th St.” pretty much speaks for itself, as Vic’s vividly reflecting about the rough days of living in his home block over a murky beat. The song “Rollin’ Like a Stoner” originally appeared as the 3rd track off of The Manuscript, but it still sounds like a knockoff of “Pursuit of Happiness” by KiD CuDi in every aspect. And on top of that, I don’t really care for Vic’s delivery. Especially when the hook comes around. The track “Homewrecker” with Weezer sees Vic pretty much blaming himself for breaking up with his ex-girlfriend & he even recalls a couple fights that they’ve had with each other over a somber rap rock instrumental. The song “Gorgeous” then talks about Vic wanting to be with 2 different women instead of 1 over a Daft Punk-inspired instrumental & as much as I love Syd, I found her feature on here to be just ok. The track “Heaven on Earth” is a dedication to his murdered friend Cam & I absolutely love how Vic writes the 2nd & 3rd verse from the perspectives of both Cam & his murderer respectively. The production has an eerie atmosphere to it & The-Dream’s hook sounded like it was sung by an angel. After a 70 second skit, we are then treated to the next song on the track listing “Down for Some Ignorance (Ghetto Lullaby)”. Here, both Vic & Chief Keef speak on Chicago street violence over a creepy-sounding beat from the ever so underrated Mike Dean. The next song “Coffee & Cigarettes” sings then later raps about the first girl to break Vic’s heart over a electric guitar passage, but then transitions into some piano keys along with some decent drums. The track “Wings” expresses Vic’s desires to get away from all the drama in his life & the beat from Pharrell will just make you wanna start bouncing. The next song is pretty much The-Dream reprising “Heaven on Earth” by himself for 2 minutes, but with completely different lyrics & a different instrumental. It’s ok. The track “The Fire Next Time” talks about overcoming dark times & the production from No I.D. has this down-tuned electric guitar throughout that sounds pretty cool. The closer “We Could Be Free” talks about us being slaves of our own pain over a somber guitar, but then it adds an ambitious atmosphere near the end. As for the Ty$ feature, I didn’t think his vocals during the outro were gonna be as beautiful as they were. We then get 2 bonus tracks “OMG” & “Rage”, both of which also appeared on The Manuscript & sound a lot better than “Rollin’ Like a Stoner” did. While this obviously isn’t better than INNANETAPE, it was still worth the long wait. The lyrics are immensely personal & while there are a couple duds in the track listing, the production fits the vibes of these personal stories well for the most part. If any of you were like me & thought his last couple EPs were alright, then give this thing a listen because it really does live up to it’s title

Score: 3.5/5