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

Tyler, The Creator – “Scum Fuck Flower Boy” review

After dropping the horrendously mixed Cherry Bomb on us back in 2015, Odd Future de facto leader Tyler, The Creator is finally returning with his 4th full-length album. The opener “Foreward” sees Tyler asking a bunch of questions & addressing his fear of potentially falling off over a guitar along with some wavy synthesizers. The Rex Orange County bridge & outro aren’t too bad, either. The next track “Where This Flower Blooms” then reflects on his from being in the center to driving around Cali over some strings that kick it off along with some piano keys & a couple synths sprinkled in, too. As for the Frank Ocean hook, I think I like a lot more than the hook he did for “Caught Their Eyes” off of JAY-Z’s latest album 4:44. After a 36 second Golf Radio skit with “Sometimes…”, we are then treated to the next song on the track listing called “See You Again”. Here, Tyler is singing then later rapping about being in dream state with a lover forever over an instrumental that’s mostly symphonic, but throws in some monstrous bass in once Tyler begins rapping. I also like how the hook from Kali Uchis compliments Tyler’s desires. The track “Who Dat Boy?” sees both T & A$AP Rocky getting braggadocious over an abrasive beat & it shows perfect chemistry between the 2. Especially during the final verse. The song “Pothole” uses driving as a metaphor for success over a synth funk beat & surprisingly, the Jaden Smith hook doesn’t bother me like I originally thought it was going to. The track “Garden Shed” is basically T coming out as bisexual & I absolutely love the melancholically toned instrumental progresses as the song continues. The Estelle feature on here is beautiful as well. The song “Boredom” with Rex & Anna of the North expresses his desires to find time to do something & being over his friends & the instrumental is mellow as Hell. The track “I Ain’t Got the Time!” straightforwardly tells us that Tyler doesn’t fuck with phonies over an instrumental with a surprising Middle Eastern influence. Also can’t forget to mention the “I’ve been kissing white boys since 2004” line that some media outlets were making a big deal of when the album leaked a couple weeks ago. The song “911 / Mr. Lonely” starts off with Tyler & Frank informing their respective lovers to give them call sometime over a funky beat, but then it perfectly translations to just Tyler venting about being lonely over a more hard hitting yet very spacey beat. The 1-minute “Droppin’ Seeds” is mostly dominated by a short verse from Lil Wayne over with a jazzy yet spacey instrumental & while some may be turned off by that, he does compliment the album by delivering what I think is one of his hardest verses in a long time. The song “November” has a somber beat & it sees Tyler venting about if he’s “hustling backwards” or if his manager Christian Clancy is doing him dirty. He even sends a message to his lover, even though he knows that he or she isn’t gonna answer his calls. The penultimate track “Glitter” then continues where the previous one left off & the way the beat along Tyler’s voice & delivery changes halfway through it was well incorporated. This magnum opus then closes out with “Enjoy Right Now, Today”, which is a 4 minute instrumental track that I guarantee will make you feel good as soon as it starts. There are also some background vocals from T’s musical idol Pharrell during the last couple minutes or so that are just as pleasant to the ears. When I referred to this album as a “magnum opus” right before I started talking about the final track, I really think it is Tyler’s best work yet. It’s mature, it’s honest, it sounds more luscious than ever & it’ll truly amaze you to see how much he’s grown from his Bastard mixtape to this. I know Tyler was known for using homophobic terms early on in his career & he trolls too but if he really is bisexual, then I think we should all embrace him for it. Give this thing a listen as soon as you can, because is truly is the album of the summer in my eyes

Score: 4.5/5

Marlon D – “Shadows 3” review

Marlon D is an underground MC based in Oxnard, California & this is his 9th full-length album. The album opens up with the intro, where Marlon is talking about speaking to the lost generation & putting you in a hearse by the time the song’s sole verse ends over a hard boom bap beat. The next song “Fine Wine” talks about making his story count & the soul sample on here is beautiful yet very fitting. The track “Crack That Whip” discusses several things such as his past work as well as life being complicated over an expected yet solid sample of the classic Devo song “Whip It”. The song “Wake Up” discusses getting rid of negative energy & still keeping his third eye open over an instrumental that enhances the uplifting vibe perfectly. The track “Raw Shit” talks about thanking God for maintaining his skills & wanting to get busy on the mic over a beautiful soul sample. The song “Top of the Morning” ambitiously talks about not wanting to dream about getting money & actually getting it over a piano as well as some hard hitting boom bap drums. The track “DUI” may have very vivid storytelling, but I was kinda indifferent towards the beat for it. The song “The Cypher” lives up to it’s title, as Marlon brings on Nasty Nelo as well as Rufio Spenz & Crow Flocks on to aggressively go in (in their own rights too) over an abrasive beat. The track “T-Shirts” with Know Big Deal may be the shortest track on the entire album, but both MCs absolutely rip the horns & hard hitting drums to shreds. The song “Wrong or Right” is both reflective & emotional, but it reminds me of the classic JAY-Z track “This Can’t Be Life”. Not just because of the reference to it during the hook, but he even uses the exact same Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes sample that Kanye used on that original song throughout it’s 6 minute runtime. The track “Stand for Something” discusses unity & the soul sample during the hook enhances Marlon’s sincereness very well. The song “Don’t You Worry” is a message to all the people who’re currently struggling in life & I like how he rides the smooth instrumental on here as well. The track “Cry” vents about a breakup over a perfectly incorporated soul sample along with some hard boom bap drums. The song “Leave Me Alone” basically tells the listener that you can either support him or back off over a somber instrumental & he’s pouring his heart out on here. The track “I Wonder What’s Real” expresses his desire of being a better man as well as reflecting on a shitty boss he had over a somber instrumental that starts off with some great piano keys. The song “Flying Locusts” has a conscious tone to it lyrically & it was really cool for me to hear that they sampled the instrumental break that pops in during the last minute of “Between Friends” by Captain Murphy from beginning to end. The penultimate track “A Dream Deffered” with News may brag about their rhyming skills & the beat is gritty as well, but the execution of the hook was really awkward to me. The album then closes out with the outro, where Marlon is getting thankful over a beautifully symphonic instrumental. Personally, this final installment of the Shadows trilogy might be Marlon D’s best work yet. Not just because of the beats being a healthy mix of both boom bap & soul, but also because I really think Marlon D himself sounds as focused & ambitious as ever. If any of you are looking for an underground album in 2017 that’s well produced & full of charisma, then I’d personally say this is the album for you

Score: 4/5

2 CHΛINZ – “Pretty Girls 👍 TRΛP MUSIC” review

Just a little over a year after dropping the ColleGrove self-titled album with Lil Wayne, Playaz Circle member 2 Chainz is now delivering his 3rd full-length album. The opener “Saturday Night” sees Tity Boi talking about treating every day like it’s a Saturday & the production from Mike WiLL Made-It has these ominous piano keys as well as a KILLER electric guitar throughout. The next song “Riverdale Rd” talks discusses going from grams to Grammys & the beat is eerie, yet very abrasive. The track “Good Drank” with Gucci Mane originally appeared on 2 Chainz’ 3rd EP Hibachi for Lunch back from last October & it’s still as much of a spacey club banger as it was when it first came out then. The Quavo hook doesn’t really bother me at all either, especially with the hilarious Dr. Dre/André 3000 line that pops up near the end of it. The song “4 AM” talks about selling drugs at the titular time & while I do like the murky production that fits the vibe, I was disappointed that Travi$ Scott only did the hook & a couple adlibs on here. The track “Door Swangin'” goes in about hustlin’ & the atmospheric production isn’t too bad, either. The song “Realize” sees 2 Chainz talking about partying as well as Nicki Minaj dissing Remy Ma over a cloudy-ish beat & I gotta say, Nicki actually went in on this song. Oh, & the “fuck mumble rap” line that 2 Chainz spits at the end of his verse surprised me as well. The track “Poor Fool” has an ambitious tone lyrically & I really love the wind chimes throughout the beat. I’m also happy that Swae Lee only does the hook on this track & he definitely did a decent job at that here. The song “Big Amount” with Drake originally appeared on Tity Boi’s 9th mixtape Daniel Son; Necklace Don from last August & it still sounds as much of a chill braggadocious tune as it originally was then. However, the Drake verse is still average. The track “It’s a Vibe” with Ty$ as well as Trey Songz & Jhené Aiko is a sex banger that really does live up to the title. Especially with the funky guitar on here. The song “Rolls Royce Bitch” talks about believing in yourself & the really smooth guitar passages on here actually make it my 2nd favorite track on the entire album. The track “Sleep When You Die” talks about never resting & while the sampled OJ da Juiceman adlibs do kinda get annoying after a while, the production is on some straight sensei shit. The song “Trap Check” talks about cashing in checks & buying shit with the money over an sinister beat with some rattling hi-hats. The track “Blue Cheese” has a wavy beat, but the Migos feature is what REALLY kills the vibe for me on here & the 2 Chainz verse at the beginning does it little justice. The song “OG Kush Diet” talks about getting high since his friend passed as well as saying your favorite rapper has no talent (presumably another shot at mumble rap) & I absolutely love the beat change halfway through. The penultimate track “Bailan” is actually my favorite track on the entire album. Not just because of Pharrell’s relaxing production, but also how charismatic Tity Boi sounds on here too. The album then closes out with “Burglar Bars”, where it gets motivational to the listener over an instrumental that compliments the vibe perfectly! Even though I’ve never been a big fan of this guy, this new album of his took me by surprise. The production’s hard as Hell as one would expect, but what got me the most was how 2 Chainz was sounding a lot more interesting me over them this time around. If any of you are like me & didn’t care for his last 2 albums B.O.A.T.S. (Based On A T.R.U. Story) or it’s sequel Me Time all that much, then I HIGHLY recommend checking this new album out because it truly is like night & day

Score: 3.5/5

JL – “D.I.B.K.I.S. (Do It Big, Keep It Strange)” review

After being affiliated with Strange Music for several years, Kansas City emcee JL finally signed with the independent hip hop powerhouse in 2015 & is now releasing his first album with them. The opener “Strange the World” has a killer rap rock beat & given the title of the track, JL does not disappoint. The next song “2 Up” with Strange founder Tech N9ne talks about being 2 brackets above everyone else & while I do enjoy verses as well as the heavy bass in the production, the execution of the hook could’ve been much better. The track “Own Thang” originally appeared on Tech’s last non-Collabos album The Storm back when it first came out back in December & it’s just as great as it was then from the stereotype topic to 7’s hard hitting production. The song “Hate Nature” addresses all the haters out there & 7’s production fits JL’s aggressive delivery like a glove. The track “Out Da Hood” is basically about going from rags to riches over a hyphy beat & the guest verse from Nef the Pharaoh isn’t too bad either. The song “Saturday” with Tech as well as The Popper & Marlon Young is a club banger, but it just feels redundant to me. The track “Risky” talks about sex over a spacey beat & while he does it cleverly, the hook from Navé Monjo is just ok. The song “Catch a Wave” with Joey Cool talks about grinding & I absolutely love how it starts off with some ominous strings. The keyboards on here are pretty nice, too. The track “Password” is yet another club banger just like the previously mentioned “Saturday”, but this one goes WAY harder. Not just because of ¡MAYDAY!’s production, but JL changes his flow near the end of both verses very cohesively. The song “Technology” with Tech N9ne talks about sexual activity via technology (hence the title) & both of them do it very creatively. Especially with the reference to the classic Zapp track “Computer Love” right before Tech’s verse. The perfectly titled “Fuck Everything” is pretty much JL angrily going at every single thing from clubs to excuses & while one may complain about the excessive use of the word “fuck”, I personally think it’s an abrasive track. The track “Done to Me” vents about a breakup & I like how the guitar matches the sincere vibe that’s being given off. The song “Propaganda” sees JL getting conscious & there are some really cool DJ scratches going on in the background throughout the duration of the track. The penultimate track “Elevation” talks about being stressed then eventually making it & between the guest verses from Joey Cool along with Emilio Rojas & Krizz Kaliko, I felt that Krizz had the best flow of the 3 despite the mediocre PlayStation simile that pops in a little bit after his verse starts. The album then closes out with “This Time”, where JL’s passionately spitting about how thankful he is that his time isn’t up yet as well as how he feels right at home with Strange Music over a beat from 7 that has an fittingly ambitious vibe to it. There’s also a pre-order track to this thing called “Everywhere”, which pretty much brags about success & the production from The Dead Beatz is just THUNDEROUS! If you ask me, this could very well be JL’s best work yet. His lyricism & delivery are on point like it’s always been & the production is probably the hardest set of beats he’s ever had. I’ve always felt that this cat is very underappreciated & the fact that Tech N9ne is giving him proper exposure with this album makes me very happy for both parties, because this dude really is gonna be Strange’s next big artist

JAY-Z – “4:44” review

Almost 4 years after the disappointingly mediocre Magna Carta…Holy Grail, renown Brooklyn rapper & businessman JAY-Z is finally delivering his 13th album & he has enlisted No I.D. to produce it in it’s entirety. The opener “Kill JAY-Z” talks about killing his ego over a soulful instrumental & it even addresses his Throne cohort Kanye West’s stage rants from last November. Despite calling him insane, he does assure Ye that he does feel bad for him. The next song “The Story of O.J.” sees JAY getting conscious over some piano keys & a sample of “4 Women” by Nina Simone. Matter of fact, Jigga actually makes a PERFECT reference to the original Nina Simone song during the hook. The track “Smile” talks about pushing through the pain & while I don’t care for the drums at all, the Stevie Wonder sample is nice & I love the background vocals too. Also, the outro from his mother Gloria (whom JAY publicly announces & supports for being a lesbian near the end of the first verse) was endearing. The song “Caught Their Eyes” talks about watching your surroundings over an instrumental with a tropical vibe to it & the Frank Ocean hook isn’t as great as his hook on “Oceans” was, I still liked it. The title track is a sincerely delivered apology to Jigga’s wife Beyoncé & the soul sample on here enhances the remorse that JAY is letting out. Despite the song “Family Feud” being said to be about the recent beef between older & younger hip hop artists, it could possibly refer more to his wife almost leaving him for cheating on her (especially with the line at the beginning of the 3rd verse about telling Becky to let him alone). Also, Beyoncé’s background vocals that can be heard throughout the entire track are just beautiful. The track “Bam” has a braggadocious tone to it lyrically & while I do enjoy the horns as well as the hook from Damian Marley, that one line Rae Sremmurd & Bobby Shmurda at the beginning of the 2nd verse is really corny. However, he does make an interesting reference to “30 Hours” off of Kanye’s latest album The Life of Pablo shortly after. Plus, there’s no denying that the IG pictures line during the first verse couldn’t be any more true The song “Moonlight” is a message to all the new rappers & I absolutely LOVE the “Fu-Gee-La” sample on here. The penultimate track “Marcy Me” is a dedication to the streets delivered over a soothing instrumental, but I thought the reference to “Unbelievable” by Biggie during the intro was just ok. Same goes with the outro from The-Dream. The album then closes out with “Legacy”, where his daughter Blue Ivy asks him what a will is & he responds by talking about his family’s workmanship over some jazzy horns. If any of you were disappointed with Magna Carta…Holy Grail as much as I was, then I can tell right now that this is A LOT better. No I.D.’s production is soul sample galore & lyrically, it could very well be his most personal effort yet. It’s pretty much the male equivalent to Beyoncé’s latest album Lemonade, except I’ll go as far to say that it’s better

Score: 4/5