Nas had a story to tell. It wouldn’t be the first time he talked about his Queens hometown, but it would become his most memorable. With Salaam Remi on the boards, the Q.U. producer allows aggressive strings to confront an unforgiving boom bap. The results are harmonious and leave Esco’s manuscript sounding stupid!
Marijuana and beer were the driving forces behind ScHoolboy Q’s intoxicating single, “Hands On The Wheel”. But as the saying goes, it ain’t no fun if the homies can’t have none. Enter: A$AP Rocky. Utilizing an impressive double time flow, A$AP skims through a personal checklist of controlled substances: “With a little bit of crack, little bit of dope/Little bit of smoke/Little coke/Little weed, when they on them pills/Little bit of E/Little bit of shrooms/Little bit of deuce, what it do, hand on the wheels.” Say no to drugs, yes to this verse.
What would drive a man to say such mean things? What pushed Pusha T to the limit to subliminally air Lil Wayne out and say f Cash Money as a staff, record label and crew? I say it was the dark track crafted by Rico Beats. The Brooklyn-bred producer’s credits include Soulja Boy and 50 Cent’s “Mean Mug” and Nicki and Lil Wayne’s “Roman Reloaded” (how ironic?), but it’s his Pusha Ton and Terius Nash collab that really put him on our radar. Armed with ambulance sounds and haunting piano, “Exodus 23:1″ sounds like the soundtrack to a murder scene. It ain’t safe no more.
The Heist is a fitting title for Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ official debut. Seemingly in broad daylight, the independent contractors infiltrated Middle America, made their demands, and robbed naysaysers blind. Anchored entirely by Ryan Lewis’ sonic boom, Macklemore begins their caper with “Ten Thousand Hours” and follows up with the irresistible “Can’t Hold Us”. He offers pieces of himself (“Neon Cathedral”, “Make The Money”, ”Starting Over”) and even has some fun (“Thrift Shop”) in the process. As far as social commentary goes, he handles controversy with “Same Love” while questioning materialism on the Nike-inspired “Wing$”. As one of game’s most sought after free agents, Mack knows his self worth. And on the album’s crown jewel “Jimmy Iovine”, he imagines a meeting with a greedy label bigwig. Macklemore and Ryan got what they came for. Luckily, we all get to bear witness.
The best selling rap album of the year. The most controversial rap album of the year. And the most disappointing! Oh Nicki you can rhyme but the direction you’re taking your career is disturbing. Who cosigned this Roman character shit in the first place? The intro here is dreadful. And did you really have to put your dick in our face on the clumsy “Come On A Cone”? Besides the terrific “Beez In The Trap” (Thank you, 2 Chainz) you failed to satisfy us on the hip-hop side of your second disc. You seem way more comfortable on crossover tunes like the much-maligned “Starships”, the EDM-packed “Pound The Alarm” and the stuck in the worst club in Las Vegas sounding “Va Va Voom”. Men lie, women lie, and numbers don’t so I guess we should all kiss her gold and platinum plaques. Yes it’s true Ms. Minaj missed the sophomore jinx. That don’t mean this album doesn’t stink. Yuck, ma.
Everyone likes when a plan comes together. Such is the case when producer El-P hooked up with Killer Mike to score last year’s R.A.P. Music (Rebellious African People). Bun B, T.I. and Trouble set the tone on the lyrical monster “Big Beast”. But make no mistake, Mike’s no slouch. He’s meaner than John Hinckley Jr. on ”Reagan” and engrossing with narratives like “JoJo’s Chillin” and “Don’t Die”. He catches the holy ghost on the title track and wrestles with his spirituality on “Ghetto Gospel”. Before closing out the project, he saves the best for last with the ode to his grandfather, “Willie Burke Sherwood”. It’s safe to say, hip-hop’s got a new people’s champ.
Let’s face it, Waka was hit with the sophomore jinx for Triple F Life. For starters his single, “I Don’t Really Care” lived up to its name and “Get Low” was just a poor effort. The project did have a few highlights with “Lurkin”, ”Let Dem Guns Blam” , “Power Of My Pen” and of course, the Drake-aided “Round of Applause”. But outside of those chosen few, it was downhill from there. Lackluster cuts such as ”Rooster In My Rari”, “Fist Pump”, “Flex”, and “Clap” filled in holes that never existed on Flockaveli. Sorry Waka, but for friends, fans and family, we deserved better.
I’m starting to think y’all niggas take DJ Khaled for granted. Maybe it’s because the Mouth of The South continues to make amazing all-star collabos look so easy. “Bitches and Bottles” is one of his career best with an infectious Future hook and a rejuvenated T.I.’s opening bars. “I got my own shine/But I want yours.” Khaled has always been able to get the most out of an MC. Who else could motivate Kanye West to spaz out like he did on the Hit Boy-powered “I Wish You Would”? And don’t get me started on “Hip Hop”, a legendary exchange between NaS, Scarface and DJ Premier on the culture we all love. For that joint alone, Kiss The Ring should’ve moved way more units. But y’all all lamed out. I hope you really appreciate the next time DJ Khaled comes out.
With two celebrated mixtapes under his belt, Big K.R.I.T.’s official debut, Live From The Underground had high expectations. Unfortunately, listeners were let down by some rookie mistakes. No one knows K.R.I.T.’s sound better than himself and on Live From The Underground, he mans the boards by his lonely. There’s the commanding “I Got This” and salacious “What U Mean”. “Praying Man” deserves praise, but for the most part, a bulk of the player falls flat. ”Hydroplaning” and “Money On The Floor” lack enthusiasm while “Yeah Dats Me” sounds out of place. Same goes for Anthony Hamilton’s hook on “Porchlight”. There’s no doubt K.R.I.T. will be remembered in time. It’s this album that we are worried about.
Curren$y loves to flood the game with free music, but last year, he made fans come out of pocket with his major Warner Bros. debut, The Stoned Immaculate. Through the clouds of smoke, Spitta pulls up with a bundle of standouts (“Chandelier”, “Showroom”). He’s equipped with witty lines (“Sunroof”, “Chasin’ Papers”, ) and stands tall amongst collaborators as evidenced by “No Squares” (Wiz Khalifa), “What It Look Like” (Wale), “Fast Cars, Faster Women” (Daz), “Capitol” (2 Chainz), “That’s The Thing” (Estelle) and oh, let’s not forget,the impressive “Take You There” (Marsha Ambrosius). Make no mistake, the jet setter has officially taken off. Stoners rejoice.