XV is an artist whom I've had my eye on for some time. I can't say that I'm familiar with all sixteen of his mixtapes that have dropped since 2006, but from what I have heard, I like him because his rhymes are fresh and he raps with heavy pop culture references. For whatever reason, when people rap about pop culture elements, it amuses me. I live in the now, I suppose. Anyhow, sometimes, those pop culture references can be his kryptonite, as defined by Wikipedia as "synonymous with an Achilles' heel—the one weakness of an otherwise invulnerable hero" (I had to refer to Wikipedia to make sure that allusion worked, and it did!). Basically, sometimes I feel like htere are too many pop culture references in his rhymes, which makes me wonder how relevant, or even understandable, his music will be ten years from now. Admittedly, it's difficult for me to critique him on that point because it is part of what draws me to him in the first place. That, and his nerdiness is very endearing. Compared to the XV projects that I have listened to, the Zero Heroes tape feels much more timeless, more along the lines of Return of 4Eva, where I can imagine it is still largely relevant years from now. He achieves this feeling of sentiment both with production, but more importantly, through the theme that ties the tape together. "Not everybody lives, but everybody dies," so said on Seven-produced "When We're Done," is the underlying theme of the tape. Everyone, including heroes, dies. That's a little anticlimactic, now that I actually sit here and think about it, but at least it's provocative and makes me want ...
Archive for the ‘Mixtape Reviews’ Category
Sometimes, I just enjoy projects so much that all I want to do is listen and not write about them because I know that no matter what I write, it won't measure up in greatness to the music. Big K.R.I.T.'s Return Of 4Eva dropped a couple weeks ago, and I have been almost consistently listening to it ever since. Every time I listen to it, Return Of 4Eva gets better to my ears! I'm not even exaggerating! It just gets better with age, like fine wine, or me (that's what I tell myself is the reason that no one ever recognizes me from high school). But now it's April, and I'm pretty sure we've already heard one of the best projects, mixtape or album, from 2011. Yeah, I'm saying it. That's how much I love and enjoy Return Of 4Eva. Over at The Madbury Club, Matthew Trammell writes that "The story of the hungry country boy determined to put his state on his back is one we’ve heard done before, and done better, by greater Southern artists," although he seems to share my appreciation for the project on the whole. While he seems to think the whole Southern thing has been done before, I interpreted Return of 4Eva to be providing commentary on the Southern life from K.R.I.T.'s point of view that happens to be steeped in Southern music. There is no denying that he channels Outkast's and UGK's music from 10-15 years ago, thus paying homage to other great artists but also paving his own lane.Perhaps I was jaded by the fact that K.R.I.T. produced everything himself, but I thought that Return Of 4Eva felt and sounded like a ...
Shawn Chrys is one of my favorite artists, and I have enjoyed listening to him growing musically over the last year that I've become acquainted with his music. I Wear Glasses 3: Third Time's a Charm (IWG3 from here on out) was supposed to drop last month, but was delayed without date until Shawn randomly started tweeting about dropping the DJ Green Lantern-hosted tape yesterday. If Green Lantern, aka "The Evil Genius," is involved, I always feel like that's an indication as to the quality of the project. While there is no abundance of dope artists from the best West coast right now (Dom Kennedy, Pac Div, Odd Future, Black Hippy, Kendrick Lamar, Fashawn, etc.), the downside is that all these talented artists really need to find a way to stand out from each other. Sometimes, they all start to sound the same to me. Shawn Chrys, however, is witty and amusing, rapping about things like his Jesus piece and his grandma, and his music has high replay value for me (his song "Like a Kid Again" was my highest played song in 2010). I always go back and listen to his old projects because his beats are dope, and he's entertaining. Even though I'm not a fan of skits, he really knows how to use them to his advantage to connect with the listener, and demonstrate another element of his personality that might not be evident in his music. For example, he talks about the name of his mixtape series ("I Wear Glasses 3...because, well, I wear glasses and really can't see at night") and tells us a funny story about his Jesus piece in "Rick James." After listening to IWG3, I still can't believe that Shawn doesn't get radio play ...
I didn't even know that Rich Boy was dropping a mixtape on Friday, so I'm happy to see that he's making music (verses being on bank debit cards). I always feel like Rich Boy is kind of an underrated artist, and he doesn't release music very often, but when he does, its always of high quality. As a result, I was excited to listen to 12 Diamonds, a mixtape comprised of, you guessed, 12 tracks.12 Diamonds has that unmistakable, southern rap sound that reminds me of Drumma Boy and even Lex Lugar, thanks in part for most of it being produced by Supa Villain. I have no problem with southern rappers like Gucci Mane and Waka Flocka, but I can't say that I fully enjoy them unless I'm wasted. Rich Boy, on the other hand, combines those beats that go hard with lyrics that go equally as hard. As a result, I don't feel like listening to him is a guilty pleasure.The tape immediately starts off energetic with "Off The Court," and doesn't let up. I would imagine that it is Rich Boy's verse only from Yelawolf's song "Just Want to Party," and it makes me want to listen to the Yelawolf song in its entirety (which is a rarity for me). Actually, after having listened to this for the whole weekend, and re-listening as I write this, I realize that I really enjoyed it. I am having trouble just choosing a couple tracks to write about, because "Fresh Cut," "Gwap," "Struggling," and "Street Champs" are all dope, as is the rest of the tape.I like that Rich Boy doesn't flood the internet with music, because I get excited ...
The 2011 XXL Freshmen mixtape was everything that I expected it to be. It made me really want to listen to some artists, and it also made me really not want to listen to the other artists. I just think it's a cool concept that XXL does, what with all the pomp and circumstance with the issue, "freestyles," cyphers, and mixtape. It's kind of neat how it serves as an introduction to all the artists, with the exception of Diggy, who is notably absent on this tape.The mixtape kicks off with the cyphers, and goes into Mac Miller's "Futuristic Funk." I feel like if I listened to Justin Bieber, I would listen to "Mildew" (aka Mac Miller, according to his freestyle). His music, like Twist's, just doesn't do it for me. Both "At The Moment" and "Futuristic Funk" sound like their target audience is teenagers, with the children cheering (that kind of cracks me up, by the way). If Diggy wasn't too good for this mixtape, he'd probably fall into the "child" category, too. These kids aren't bad, in fact they're probably better than some of the other Freshmen (especially YG), but they're just not my cup of tea.For the most part, I didn't learn anything new about the artists who I knew that I liked. Kendrick was dope, as expected, but Big K.R.I.T. is my favorite Freshman. As I was listening to his songs, I downloaded his mixtapes because they were so fresh. I can't really tell if I like the Meek Mill tracks, or if everything else is so bad that they artificially make his stuff sound decent. Further research is needed. As for Lil B, he's the Based ...
Pusha T's Fear of God mixtape was one of my most anticipated project for this whole year, and to be completely honest with you, my dear reader, I felt like this project was missing something. I will let Pusha T tell you, in his own words, what was missing from Fear of God, but I'm sure that if you apply yourself, you can guess the missing element." doing this book is him slapping me again, telling me how much greater he is than me...this book is the ultimate stunt!" Isn't that one of the sweetest interviews you've ever seen? While he makes my ice box of a heart want to melt, Pusha also sheds some light on how his solo project is so different from the Clipse records. Spoiler alert: it's because Malice isn't there.Collectively, the Clipse have always been some of my favorite lyricists, but Pusha's solo effort lacked the great dynamic and depth found in the Clipse's music, which Pusha says himself. In retrospect, after listening to Fear of God about five times all the way through, I like it more than I thought I did. It starts off solid, with the Hit-Boy-produced "My God" and "I Still Wanna" featuring Officer Ricky and Ab-Liva, but after that the project kind of lost some steam. I also enjoyed Tha Bizness-produced "Feeling Myself" and "Raid" (shoutout to Sunday Night Sound Session for playing that last night!), and I thought the tape ended on a positive note with "Alone in Vegas" (I also appreciated that Harry Potter mention).I think that initially, I was a little harder on Pusha simply because I hold him and his lyrical abilities ...
A few weeks back, Azad reached out to me and told me to check out his 6 track EP A Piece Of Mine because he thought that I would like it based on what I post (I guess my tastes are predictable). Lo and behold, he was right. To be honest, I was surprised that I enjoyed this EP so much, and how nice it is.I enjoyed A Piece of Mine because while there were only two different producers, the selection of beats really demonstrated that Azad's range and lyrical abilities. Some of the tracks are slower, and some are more upbeat, and the constant element between them is his rapping. At times, he just starts spitting! Unexpected, but dope. Plus, I also like the juxtaposition between the instrumentals and his slightly rougher sounding flow on all the tracks, all while telling stories in his lyrics."Have No Fear" is probably my favorite track because it's upbeat, the bass is bumping, and he's spitting. "Spiderwebs" and "Love of the Game" are slower, and feature him going in lyrically. However, I beg to differ when he says that "I'm a walking contradiction / I'm constantly inconsistent" in "Player's Club" because he sounds consistent throughout the whole project! Have no fear...download here
I guess I'm a little late to jump on the Lil B bandwagon, but he is definitely one of those artists who intrigue me along the lines of Plies the Valedictorian, and perhaps to a lesser extent, Waka Flocka Flame (he isn't trying to be a lyrical genius, he just wants to make hits). Lil B has got to be somewhat of a genius just to create and cultivate his brand through thousands of songs, and being more than a little eccentric. There is no one else out there remotely like him, and that's what's working for him. Just look at the cover of Illusions of Grandeur! How can you pass up listening to a project with a cover like this?!He sums himself up pretty well in general on "What It Feel Like," rapping "I don't give a fuck what I say, what I feel, what you feel, what you do." Like the other Lil B songs I have listened to, not much admittedly, all of the tracks on Illusions of Grandeur feature his stream of consciousness-type of talking/pseudo rapping.To me, Lil B has always seemed a little goofy (he says that he looks like a princess and Jesus in one song), so I was a little surprised at how serious some of his tracks are. He talks about his dad on "Illusions of Grandeur," saying "he wanted to be the hero, an anti hero, well dude was a nerd, got picked on and got berserk." In "How I Feel," he's conflicted because while he was born in 1989, he lived in the 90's but relates more to the 80's, and somehow makes you feel for him. Or maybe that's just me. ...
While The Original Dom Kennedy dropped yesterday, I'm just getting around to writing about it now. This morning, he tweeted today that "It's not about rap no more. We all can rap I'm sure you all know people that can "rap" better than me. It's about restoring pride in music," and that's a really good assessment of this tape. I would imagine that The Original Dom Kennedy is something that he is proud of, considering it is another solid project from this Cali emcee. "Can't Let You Go" is probably my favorite cut, but "Playas Punch" is another top contender. Both of them are kind of the more upbeat type of songs that I can dance to. Plus, "Can't Let You Go" is kind of amusing with him rapping "I don't need no calls today/ I don't want no company/ I just checked my messages/ that bitch just broke up with me." Poor Dom. I don't know if that's true, but at least his lyrics capture my attention. The Original Dom Kennedy features all new production, and it has that distinctive West coast sound. It is a little reminiscent of Pac Div's recent release Mania, although I don't hear my high school marching band. I feel like a lot of artists are producing music of high quality right now, such as Dom, Pac Div, and Chip the Ripper even though he's not a west coaster, so I feel like Dom could assert himself more in order to make himself stand out, and I have enjoyed watching (hearing?) him grow and evolve as an artist. As a result, I'm excited for From the Westside with Love II.Yeah I'll say it again...this ...
I feel weird saying this, since I've been ridiculing Lil Kim for this entire Black Friday fiasco, but the mixtape isn't that bad. The whole premise, however, is a little more than absurd. I guess I might as well compare it to Pink Friday, since that's the reason she made it in the first place. Both of them have approximately 0% replay value to me, but at least in Black Friday, she's making less weird voices than Nicki makes in Pink Friday. But on the whole, it's just absurd, and I think Black Friday would have made more sense if it was just the instrumentals from Pink Friday.The absurdity starts immediately with the Intro, with the singing about the queen, and then it segue ways into "Pissin On Em," her version of Nicki's "Did It On Em," complete with her making all those bodily function sound effects. Her version of "Hustle Hard" wasn't terrible, either, and she was kind of funny ("same old shit, just a different toilet").I found a fair amount of her songs to be ironic, but I don't know if that was intended. The 4 foot tall Kimmy Blanco rapping over "6 Foot 7 Foot" ("6 Foot Tall," but who really cares about being grammatically correct?) and then "Do The Kimmy," where she's rapping about how she's lighter than a frisbee. By the way, my ears have still not forgiven me for my assault on them with Pill and Kim's versions of this trainwreck song. Furthermore, there is the IRS Freestyle over "So Appalled," and it's just funny to me that they're rapping about tax season and "what you going to do when the IRS comes to you? Pay yo money." If ...
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