The Internet – “Hive Mind” review

It’s been 3 years since their magnum opus Ego Death & with 4 of it’s 5 members making their solo debuts within the past year, Odd Future subgroup The Internet is returning with their 4th full-length album.

Things begin with “Come Together”, where multiple band members beautifully sing in unison & the instrumental takes me back to Jamiroquai’s first 2 albums Emergency on Planet Earth & The Return of the Space Cowboy. The next song “Roll (Burbank Funk)” is taken over by guitarist Steve Lacy & it talks about listening to your heart over a psychedelic instrumental while the track “Come Over” sees Syd singing to this girl she loves over a funky instrumental. The song “La Di Da” sings about dancing with the instrumental suiting the content perfectly while the track “Stay the Night” is a laidback ballad about Syd not wanting this girl she’s with to go home for the evening. The song “Bravo” sees Syd singing to an ex over some prominent drums while the track “Mood” tells the story about a date over some pounding drums & some synth chords.

The song “Next Time / Humble Pie” talks about a woman she’ll never see again over a Neptunes inspired instrumental that’s pretty cool, but then it transitions into the second half pretty well about needing a real love over a more spacey beat. The track “It Gets Better (With Time)” sees Syd telling this woman just that over some dreamy synthesizers while the song “Look What U Started” tells this ex that she’s gonna pay over a funky instrumental. The song “Wanna Be” is a mellow guitar ballad asking this woman to become her girlfriend while the penultimate track “Beat Goes On” sees Matt Martians singing about moving forward & I like how the instrumental transitions from being funky to going into a more high-tempo drum & bass direction. The album then finishes with “Hold On”, where Syd singing to her girl about their love for each other over a dreamy yet settle beat.

I’ve been waiting on this for quite some time after the wait, it definitely lives up to my expectations. Not only is it almost as well written & vibrantly produced as the last album was, but you can just tell that everyone sounds happy to be back.

Score: 4/5

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G-Mo Skee – “Chaly & the Filth Factory” review

After dropping the raw & very creative 8 Bit Filth EP a little over 4 months ago, Richmond MC G-Mo Skee is back with his highly anticipated sophomore album. Following up the highly slept-on My Filthy Spirit Bomb that was dropped at the very end of 2016.

After the “Moldy Ticket” intro that parodies, the first song “Ocarina of Crime” sees G spitting some gritty battle bars on here over an eerie instrumental from 7 (who produced a bulk of the album). I also love the g-funk synthesizers that pop up during the hook. The next track “Filth Factory” takes the listener inside of his head over a punchy instrumental with some keyboards while the song “Filthy Wonka” has a flute-tinged boom bap beat as well as hilarious bars like a wack rapper’s album going triple styrofoam & getting jumped if you’re hating on him front row at his concerts. Coincidentally, G was on tour with the CES Cru earlier this year & there was an incident where a hater made it past the security gate in front of the stage & G literally kicked him in the face.

The track “Ninja Money” is about his filthy style as well as how the game is fucked up now because they paid him over a murky beat while the song “Mad Hatter” is a jab at all of those biting him over an instrumental with a more vintage West Coast feel to it. The track “Ghost Town” sees him cursing out those who doubted him & did him wrong throughout his career over a somber beat while the song “Front Seat” gets murderous over an eerie instrumental. After the hilarious Oompa Loompa song parody during the “Midget Army” skit, we go into the track “Laughin’ At You”. Here, G-Mo hooks up with the album’s mixer The Jokerr alongside the legendary Vinnie Paz talks how they don’t take you seriously over a killer rap rock beat.

The song “Grouch” talks about how he woke up mad over some bass & a Latin guitar while the track “Bring It On” is an Inf Gang posse cut that’s just overall nasty & in-your-face. The song “Wavedash” with Kevin MacLane sees the 2 talking about enjoying the better days over a smooth instrumental while the track “Don’t Wait” compellingly advises the listener not to let their dreams go to waste over a booming instrumental with some gloomy keys with some synthesizers added during the hook. The song “I’m Underground” tells you how filthy he is over a sinister piano-boom bap beat from C-Lance & before things finish with a 40 second outro, the final song “Filthy Imagination” is about how insane he is with a hilarious hook parodying the “Pure Imagination” song.

I’ve been very open about Majik Ninja Entertainment being one of the hottest labels out right now & not only is this one of my favorite albums from them, but I’ll even say it’s WAY better than Violent J’s Wizard of the Hood EP from 2003. G-Mo Skee truly crafts his magnum opus with a humorous concept parodying the classic 1973 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory with selected fans portraying the 5 ticket winners & refining the hard-hitting production & sharp lyricism that were present on his last album

Score: 5/5

38 Spesh & Kool G Rap – “Son of G Rap” review

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Just a few months after the release of the Stabbed & Shot collab EP with Griselda Records’ very own Benny, Rochester MC/producer .38 Spesh is now teaming up with the legendary Kool G Rap for a full-length collab album.

After the intro, we go into the first song “Upstate to Queens”. Here, the 2 get confrontational over a soul sample. The track “Land Mind” is the first of 5 without G Rap, but Ransom fills in for him & they both spit about their closets being filled with fabrics as well as their skills over this somber Alchemist beat. The track “Shame” is basically Spesh solely freestyling over the instrumental of the classic G Rap song “It’s a Shame” while “G Heist” sees the 2 reuniting to talk about a robbery over a Daringer beat with a faint soul sample in the background.

While the song “Dead or Alive” with Cormega does see the 3 vividly talking about the street life, the beat is just alright. “The Meeting” is definitely a big improvement though, as the duo talk about making either problems or peace over a grimy DJ Premier beat. The song “Binoculars” is the 3rd without G Rap, as it’s basically .38 Spesh with Benny, N.O.R.E. & Vado talking about drug dealing over a boom bap beat with some eerie strings. The track “Nothin’ Gonna Change” contains more mafioso bars over a decent instrumental as does the song “Bricks at the Pen”, except I feel like the Showbiz instrumental on the latter suits the vibe a lot better.

The track “Flow Gods” with Meyhem Lauren & Freddie Gibbs is a lyrical onslaught with a soulful boom bap beat from Pete Rock while “Heartless” displays their individually compelling storytelling skills over some sinister piano chords. This is also the last song on the entire album to with G Rap on it. The song “Honest Truth” is basically Spesh & AZ “showing cats how to rhyme” over a gloomy beat while the penultimate track “Young 1s” with Che Noir reminisce about growing up over a DJ Premier beat that’s almost as hard as the one he provided earlier. The album then finishes with Spesh freestyling over “Last Name” off of Smoke DZA’s 2016 magnum opus Don’t Smoke Rock about his aborted child.

Wasn’t expecting this around the corner, but it’s pretty solid for the most part. Other than the freestyles being ok & some of the beats being a bit generic, the chemistry between G Rap & .38 Spesh is definitely there on the tracks they appear on together & most of the instrumentals suit them both very well

Score: 3.5/5

B.o.B – “NAGA” review

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B.o.B is a 29 year old rapper, singer, songwriter & producer from Decatur, Georgia. He blew up at the beginning of the decade as a T.I. protégé signing to Grand Hustle Records & putting out a pretty solid debut with B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray in 2010. His sophomore album Strange Clouds in 2012 was just as fun as the debut, but then I started to fall out of favor with B.o.B not too long after & for a few reasons. His next album Underground Luxury was pretty uninspired on all fronts & then he followed it up with a couple mixtapes that were just as mediocre like New Black & Psycadelik Thoughtz. Then in late 2015/early 2016, we saw B.o.B completely reinventing himself. He ditched the pop rap sound he became known for & went “conscious”, putting out the first 2 installments of his Elements mixtape series W.A.T.E.R. (We Are the Enemy Really) & F.I.R.E. (False Idols Ruin Egos). He then stated his belief that the Earth is flat, going as far to put out a horrendous diss track towards Neil deGrasse Tyson called “Flatline”. But just a year after following up the Elements mixtapes with Ether, B.o.B is now claiming that he’s retiring from music & that his 5th full-length album over here is his parting gift.

The album starts off with “Kumbaya”, where he monotonously talks about his return over a murky beat. The track “Matador Bobby” is supposed to be a club banger, but it’s annoying. Especially the part halfway through the verse where he repeats Janet Jackson’s name a hundred times. Then we have “Good N****r Sticker”, which contains some bass & rattling hi-hats alongside some painfully corny lyrics. Especially the lines about “It’s sad when you find out the world is trash, wait till they discover it’s flat” & “singing prayers like Sky Daddy blessing black people with good behavior“. The song “Elbows” with Amara La Negra is a cliché ode to twerking with a lifeless hip house instrumental while the track “Gerald Levert” is a generic trap banger down to the flow & the “skrt” adlibs we’ve heard a dozen times already.

The track “Don’t Be Nobody’s Bitch” is one of the better tracks on here, which has a moody trap beat & I do like the concept of him jabbing those who try to bring B.o.B down. Despite a couple corny lines like “I don’t want no kids, that’s for sure. Pulling out my dick like it’s a sword” & “Who do I ride for? Definitely no clowns, you sideshows”. The song “T.M.I.” with Havi is a diss towards the police & it’s not that I don’t like the message (case in point: N.W.A‘s “Fuck tha Police”), but it just comes off vapid. Then we have “Cuello”, which is mindlessly raunchy with a prominent sample of Future’s God awful bridge on “King’s Dead” from earlier this year. The penultimate track ”How It Is” isn’t as obnoxious as the previous song I mentioned, but it is sappy. Especially with lines like “We can do this shit without training wheels”. Then we finally end off with “Bad Computer”, which has a bland beat & a hilariously bad concept about what B.o.B thinks life in 5625 will be like.

If he’s truly retiring from music (because so many artists have said it & a vast majority of them are still around), then this is a horrible way to go out. The production is subpar, the concepts are delusional & a lot of the bars are trite. Don’t get me wrong though: I truly loved B.o.B’s first 2 albums, but he lost his mind shortly after & it’s upsetting to see that confirmed in the end. Still though, I wish him the best of luck on his future endeavors.

Score: 1/5

Drake – “Scorpion” review

In the midst of his beef with Pusha T late last month, Canadian superstar Drake is giving fans his long-awaited 5th full-length album. Interestingly too, it consists of 2 discs & 25 tracks in total: first disc is all hip hop songs & the other is all R&B songs.

The opener “Survival” is a reflection of his career over a killer Lil B sample from No I.D. & 40 while the next song “Nonstop” talks about his grind over some prominent bass. The track “Elevate” talks about becoming famous & making life better for him & his loved ones over some atmospheric background vocals while the song “Emotionless” is a response to Pusha T’s nasty “Story of Adidon” diss track from last month. He’s not dissing him, but he does confirm that he has a son named Adonis over this trap beat with a beautiful soul sample. However the one line where he says “I wasn’t hidin’ my kid from the world, I was hidin’ the world from my kid” made me chuckle a little bit. I mean it’s no question that the media would’ve been all over the baby if his birth was announced prior, but I kinda laughed because of the fact that the mother Sophie Brussaux went on Twitter last fall & dissed him. The track “God’s Plan” is just as fun as it was on his Scary Hours EP from earlier this year while “I’m Upset” boringly talks about alimony over a gloomy trap beat.

The track “8/10” talks about where he’s at now over an uplifting boom bap beat from Boi-1da while the song “Mob Ties” talks about cutting people off over a bouncy beat. The track “Can’t Take a Joke” is about hanging out with the titular people in Hidden Hills & Italy over a murky beat. The song “Sandra’s Rose” talks about how his life has changed since being in the music industry over a beautiful DJ Premier beat & the track “Take Up” sees him talking about childhood over a grimy DJ Paul beat with JAY-Z’s verse kinda reminds me of his mafioso days. I also love how he ends the song by saying “I got your president tweetin’, I won’t even meet with him. Y’all killed XXXTENTACION & let George Zimmerman live, streets is done”. The first disc then finishes off with fittingly with “Is There More?”, where Drake is asking questions about life over a moody beat.

The next disc starts off with “Peak”, where he sings to an unnamed love interest over a settle beat. The next track “Summer Games” talks about a breakup over a spacey instrumental that to me sounds like it would pop up on any KiD CuDi album while the song “Jaded” is a dedication to Jorja Smith over an atmospheric beat. The track “Nice for What” is an empowering women’s anthem over a Murda Beatz instrumental with a beautiful sample of Lauryn Hill’s “Ex-Factor”, but it feels like it should’ve been on the previous disc. The song “Finesse” is a message to his current significant other over another settle instrumental, but then “Ratchet Happy Birthday” might be the worst Drizzy track I’ve ever heard. I get that he wants this girl to have a good time on her birthday, but it’s just really corny. The instrumental is buttery as Hell, too.

The song “That’s How You Feel” talks about spending time with an unknown girl over another moody beat while the track “Blue Tint” is a response to all his haters but just like “Nice for What”, it sounds like it was made for the first disc. The song “In My Feelings” asks the City Girls if they love him, but it seems desperate & sappy. The track “Don’t Matter to Me” talks about his ex doing drugs & alcohol as a result of breaking up with him, but it actually works well thanks to the unreleased Michael Jackson vocals that’re evenly balanced.

The song “After Dark” with Ty$ sees the 2 talking about hooking up with women in the late night hours over a laidback instrumental from none other than Static Major & while the penultimate track “Final Fantasy” is probably the freakiest I’ve ever heard Aubrey get, but it’s the 3rd track on this R&B side feels like it should’ve been on the first disc. The album then finishes with “March 14”, which is a 4th misplaced rap song on the entire album. However it’s not bad, because I like how he goes more in-depth about Adonis over this moody boom bap beat

While this is definitely better than VIEWS & More Life, it’s still a mixed bag. He sounds a lot more passionate on here than he did on the last 2 projects I mentioned & I can definitely appreciate the A Side/B Side concept, but there are 4 tracks on the 2nd disc that really should’ve been on the first one & A LOT of filler. If you evenly took the best tracks from both discs & put them onto just 1, then it would’ve been pretty great.

Score: 2.5/5

Gorillaz – “The Now Now” review

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Just a little over a year after their painfully bloated comeback Humanz, legendary British virtual band Gorillaz is now giving us their 5th full-length album.

Things start off with “Humility”, where Damon Albarn sings about isolation over an smooth tropical instrumental. The next track “Tranz” is pretty much Damon talking to his lover an electronic instrumental while the song “Hollywood” by Jamie Principle & Snoop Dogg sees the 2 talking about the famous life over an electro-funk instrumental. The track “Kansas” vents about finding another dream over a funky beat with some rubbery bass while the song “Sorcererz” advises everyone to hold onto their inner-visions over a synth-heavy instrumental.

The track “Idaho” recalls a time where he stayed at Bruce Willis’ ski lodge over an atmospheric instrumental that gets more layered as it progresses while the song “Lake Zurich” is mostly a fun synth-funk instrumental. The track “Magic City” refers to being higher over a synthpop instrumental while the song “Fireflies” talks to an ex over a gloomy instrumental that suits the vibe fantastically. The last 2 tracks “1%” & “Souk Eyes” get romantic, but the latter is actually fully written.

I never expected this coming around the corner given the gap between the last album & the album prior The Fall, but it is a solid album. Of course it’s well produced, but I also really love the fact that the lyrics are written in Damon’s perspective as opposed to 2D’s. Also, there’s A LOT less filler on here than there was on Humanz.

Score: 3.5/5

Teyana Taylor – “K.T.S.E. (Keep That Same Energy)” review

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With the release of her average debut VII in 2014 & the birth of her daughter the year after, Harlem recording artist Teyana Taylor is returning with her sophomore album & she has enlisted GOOD Music founder Kanye West to produce it in it’s entirety.

The album starts off with “No Manners”, where she sings about her husband Iman Shumpert over some strings & piano chords. The next song “Gonna Love Me” gets romantic over an acoustic instrumental & a beautiful soul sample during the hook while the track “Issues / Hold On”. vents about fighting to keep Iman with her over a mellow guitar. The song “Hurry” with Kanye sees the 2 getting playful over a funky beat with my favorite hook on the entire album while the track “3Way” is about Teyana bringing in another woman for Iman so they can have a threesome over a moody instrumental & the Ty$ verse compliments it so perfectly. The song “Rose in Harlem” talks about being betrayed over some horns & a fitting soul sample while the track “Never Would’ve Made It” is a heartwarming tribute to her daughter over some stuttering drums & piano keys. Unfortunately, the worst song on the entire album would pop up with the closer: W.T.P. (Work This Pussy). The house production is ok, but it’s structured poorly & the vocal sample is annoying as fuck.

Other than that, this is the album that I’ve been waiting Teyana to make (even back in her Star Trak days). It’s passionate, the vocals are a lot stronger as is the songwriting & it’s WAY better produced than her debut. If she & Kanye are gonna work with each other in the future, than I’m all for it

Score: 4/5

Death Grips – “Year of the Snitch” review

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After having a quiet 2017 with the exception of their Steroids EP, renown Sacramento experimental hip hop trio Death Grips are returning with their 6th full-length album.

The album begins with “Death Grips is Online”, where The I.L.Y’s provide an instrumental with a futuristic atmosphere to it as MC Ride calmly delivers his cryptic verses. I also love the scratches from DJ Swamp as well as the moments where Ride tells “BREAK IT, BREAK IT DOWN!”. The next track “Flies” talks about severing all ties over a glitch hop instrumental while the song “Black Paint” talks about requiring privacy & finally thinking over a noise rock instrumental. The track “Linda’s in Custody” has a nice electronic beat & the depressed tone in Ride’s voice suits it very well. After the short drill & bass interlude “Horn Section“, we go into the song “Ha Ha Ha”. Here, Ride gets sexual & the way the trio samples their past songs “Lock Your Doors”, “Up My Sleeves”, “Black Dice”, “Inanimate Sensation”, “I Want It I Need It (Death Heated)” & “Lord of the Game” was very creative.

The track “Shitshow” is a wild 2-minute sequel to “Hot Head” off their last album Bottomless Pit down to Ride’s aggressive delivery & the digital hardcore instrumental while the track “Streaky” talks about the hustler life over an instrumental with their signature industrial hip hop sound. The track “Dilemma” talks about Ride’s lifestyle over a synth-punk instrumental while the song “Little Richard” has a nice EDM instrumental, Ride’s robotic delivery is just ok. “The Fear” sees Ride venting being afraid to die & I absolutely love the sinister synths that Andy Morin brings to the table. Also, the way Ride famously screams his brains out during the hook never fails to amuse me. After the heavy guitar “outro”, we get into the actual closer “Disappointed” which is anything but. Zach Hill’s rattling drums in the instrumental are insane & the call/shout delivery that Ride employs will make you wanna fight someone. Especially when he yells “WHHHYYY ME?” throughout the hook.

To be honest, this is one of Death Grips’ best albums. As expected, MC Ride’s lyrics are cryptic & there are strong elements of both industrial hip hop & punk music. However, they also fuse elements of noise rock & IDM near-perfectly. My only real complaint about this (aside from Ride’s delivery on “Little Richard”) is that I feel like the last 2 tracks should’ve been switched around. Other than that, Death Grips yet again prove why I consider them the greatest experimental hip hop act of all-time

Score: 4.5/5

Westside Gunn – “Supreme Blientele” review

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Just a couple months after his FLYGOD is Good…All the Time EP, Buffalo MC Westside Gunn is delivering his highly anticipated sophomore album.

After a spoken word intro from Arn Anderson, we go into the first song “GOD$ Don’t Bleed”. Here, the FLYGOD hooks up with Benny & Jadakiss get confrontational towards their competition over a haunting soul sample from Daringer. The next track “Dean Malenko” is about drug dealing over a boom bap beat with some beautiful piano chords while the song “Brutus” is a bloody Griselda Records posse cut sans El Camino over an epic Pete Rock instrumental. The track “Amherst Station” vividly tells the story of the hustler life over a soulful beat while the song “RVD” gets braggadocious over a boom bap beat with some somber keys. I also like the spoken word passage from Keisha Plum during the second half.

Then we get into my favorite song on the album “Elizabeth”, where he talks about his street knowledge over a jazzy Alchemist beat. Then it transitions into “Mean Gene” perfectly, where he spits his signature “flyshit” over a soulful beat. However, the next 2 tracks “Stefflon Don & “Sabu” are easily the weakest on the entire album. They’re not bad, but they definitely sounded unfinished to me. If he added another verse on both tracks, that would’ve been perfect. The song “Brossface Brippler” with Benny & Busta Rhymes sees the 3 getting murderous over an eerie soul sample from Alchemist that fits the vibe perfectly while the track “Spanish Jesus” with Crimeapple sees the 2 returning to the drug dealer themes over a rap rock beat from Harry Fraud.

“The Steiners” with eLZhi is filled with battle bars over a joyous boom bap beat from Pete Rock & then “Ric Martiel” with Roc Marciano go back to the drug dealer days over a soulful Roc beat. The track “WESTSIDE” gets braggadocious once again over a sinister Statik Selektah beat & before a spoken word outro from A.A. Rashid, it ends with the epic “WrestleMania 20”. Here, Westside tells us that he’s not playing games over a 9th Wonder instrumental with a prominent acoustic guitar & a smooth Anderson .Paak hook.

As expected, this is Westside’s best work yet. There are a couple tracks that could’ve been fully fleshed out but other than that, the hardcore boom bap production & Westside’s signature street bars is a lot more refined than it was on his 2016 debut FLYGOD

Score: 4.5/5

Jedi Mind Tricks – “The Bridge & The Abyss” review

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After triumphantly returning to form in 2015 with The Thief & The Fallen, Philadelphia underground legends Jedi Mind Tricks are now coming out of the blue with their 9th full-length album.

After a 96 second intro, we go into the first song “San La Muerte”. Here, MC Vinnie Paz talks about how he isn’t fucking with anyone over a sinister Stoupe the Enemy of Mankind instrumental. The track “Rashindun Caliphate” sees Vinnie talking to his haters over an instrumental with an eerie atmosphere to it while the song “Freshco & Miz” talks about their longevity over a boom bap beat with some jazzy horns. The track “When the Body Goes Cold” gets confrontational over a gloomy boom bap beat while the song “What She Left Behind” vividly describes an abusive relationship over an alluring soul sample & the drums are going off like Desert Eagles. Honestly, I think it’s the most disturbing JMT song I’ve ever listened to

The track “Death Toll Rising” talks about ghetto life over a boom bap beat with a pretty Latin vocal sample & after the “Shed the Skin to Receive the World” interlude, we go into the song “Certified Dope”. Here, Pazzy spits that gun-talk over an instrumental that doesn’t really suit the vibe to me. The track “Hell’s Henchman” talks about snakes over an instrumental with some intense strings while the song “God Forsaken” is filled with murder bars over an instrumental that perfectly fits into a final battle.  The track “Legacy of the Prophet” with Sean Price talks about their place in hip hop & while it is hard, I feel like we’ve heard Sean on so many JMT tracks at this point.

After the “Void Ritual” interlude, we go into the song “You Have 1 Devil but 5 Angels”. Here, Paz spits some battle bars over some bass & keyboards while DJ Kwestion’s scratch hook suits the vibe fantastically. The track “Marciano’s Reign” intellectually talks about overcoming the negatives over an orchestral instrumental while the song “Torture Chamber” with CZARFACE goes back to the battle bar tip over a rap rock beat. The track “The Letter Concerning the Intellect” pretty much speaks for itself over a gloomy guitar & a soul sample on the hook while the final song “Making a Killing” talks about the meat industry a beautiful piano instrumental before the album finishes with a 1-minute instrumental.

While I prefer their last album a lot more, this is still great. Vinnie Paz’s lyricism has gotten sharper with age & Stoupe’s production compliments him just as much, but there were too many interludes for me

Score: 3.5/5