Category Archives: Hip-Hop/ Rap Albums

Jay-Z’s New Album, ‘Magna Carta Holy Grail’

This summer has been an exciting for all of the hip hop world, but the album we all know would set the bar for summer releases, hit last week.  That album is Jay-Z’s latest effort, Magna Carta Holy Grail which was released via a Samsung app, a move that Jay-Z thought would re-write the rules in this new age of high-tech music. But one thing is the consistency of Jay-Z’s work. This album has some high points and some low points, but overall is a great listening experience.

One of the best parts of the album is the first track, “Holy Grail,” which is a mid-tempo track featuring Justin Timberlake who provides an awesome performance with the bravado needed to push the track. “Piccasso Baby” is the second track on the album, and this track is strange because I liked the live instrumentation, but could not stand what sounded like a dental drill. “Tom Ford” is a highlight on the album, as it definitely has a catchy beat.

“Crown” is one of the best hip-hop tracks that has been released in recent years, especially because it brings back something that has been missing in hip-hop, a good dis that effects more than just hip-hop culture. Not since the Ludacris Bill O’Rielly fued have I heard a dis so good then the one Jay-Z put on Scott Boras the infamous sports agent when he states, “Scott Boras, you over baby.” Obviously this is in reference to the next big project that Jay-Z has been working on, Roc-Nation Sports. The next track you should listen to is “Heaven” which is the best track on the album.

Magna Carta Holy Grail is a great album, I suggest you find a stream and check it out!

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Snoop Lion?

During the late summer of 2012 Snoop introduced a new stage name, Snoop Lion. He tells the story that when he was in Jamaica working on a new album that he went  to meet with Jamaicans and was rechristened Snoop Lion by a Rastafarian priest. Snoop then declared himself the reincarnation of Bob Marley who passed away in 1981, but Snoop was born in 1971, so the jury is still out on that part of the story.  He says the reason was partially due to not liking the violence in hip hop, and wanting provide the world light.

The album starts off with a track called “Rebel Way” which starts off with a monologue that may explain the Dogg Father’s transformation into Snoop Lion. “There’s so much death, there’s so much destruction, there’s so much mayhem, and there’s so much misunderstanding in music. We’re losing so many great musicians and we don’t love them while they’re here. And I want to be loved while I’m here, and the only way to get love is to give love,”  a very touching monologue which really is the mission statement behind Reincarnation. The song itself is a solid track consisting of well thought out lyrics and a steady back beat which carries the song.

When you think you’re getting into the record and believing the whole reggae thing the second track, “Here Comes The King” kicks in and you hear one of the most annoying things and that is the Major-Lazer tag. This ruined the song for me as it didn’t make the song feel like an authentic reggae track. The next track that comes up, “Lighters Up” makes up for it. It’s a great track that talks about unity and getting high together.

One of the best songs on the album is entitled “So Long.” It’s a strong track with a solid beat, but it doesn’t stray much from the traditional reggae sound which makes the track perfect. The song also has very good lyrics that are very potent and deserve the listener’s ears and undivided attention. Another track that is very lyrically strong is the sixth track “No Guns Allowed” which is a relevant song with all the violence in our world today. The lyrics of the track feature many interesting lines like the first verse which states “Money makes a man, and that’s a crime/If we all were rich we’d spend more time/With our daughters and sons their losing their minds.” This is a very touching lyric considering the events of last December at Sandy Hook Elementary School and all the other violence that happens on the streets.  The song also features Snoop’s daughter, Cori B, harmonizing nicely throughout. It also features a great verse from Drake.

The next song that is definitely worth a listen is Snoop’s collaboration with Miley Cyrus, “Ashtrays and Heartbreaks.” This song is great especially Snoop’s verse, but what carries the song is Cyrus’ slightly processed voice.

Overall I think this album has some great cuts. I think this change to Snoop Lion will be a good thing for everyone’s favorite from Long Beach.

-B. Harlow

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A Closer Look At Tyler, The Creator’s New Album ‘Wolf’

Tyler, the Creator is one of the strangest artists one will ever encounter in the rap game. In fact you never know what is going to come out of the 22-year-old M.C.’s mouth, and this is why many people gravitate to the rapper. There is no exception to this rule when it comes to his third album, Wolf. Wolf is a strange collection of treats that was produced by Tyler, The Creator himself. The album also features guest spots from The Frank Ocean, Mike G, Domo Genesis, Left Brain, Hodgy Beats, Pharrell, Casey Veggies and Erykah Badu.

Wolf starts out innocently enough with the smoothish introduction to the title track, “WOLF,” but this smooth listening vibe gets turned over when the listener hears the word ‘Fuck.’ Tyler then goes into a verse, and we get to hear a little conversation between two of Tyler’s alter-ego’s, Sam and Wolf. This leads into the track “Jamba” which is an interesting track featuring Hodgy Beats. Next up is the track “Cowboy” which is one of my favorite tracks on the album because we hear Tyler’s dark and thematic lyrics throughout his narrative verses.

“Akward” is the fourth track on the album. This track has a definite 90’s hip hop feel that I really enjoyed.  “Domo23” is the next track, and this is another one of my favorite tracks on the album due to Tyler’s tight and rhythmic rhyme scheme. Tyler’s voice is angry, and in this track we get to hear about Tyler’s recurring topic of getting at a house. I also enjoyed Tyler’s diss about One Direction.

“Answer” is a strange track that I didn’t get, and I didn’t really know why it’s on the record. But then I heard Tyler’s verse, but then I learned that this is a song about Tyler’s  baggage with his father. The next track on the album is called “Slater” which features Frank Ocean who I’m not really a fan of, so obviously I started on the wrong foot with this song, but I realized I was right Frank Ocean’s part was just like an annoying voice over. The next track I really took note of was “Pigs” which I related to lyrically, sort of. Or at least till he talked about starting riots.

“Rusty” is another must listen to track on the record. The first verse which is provided by Domo Genisis is tight, and that is all we can ask. Right? Tyler then comes in with a verse that I loved because lyrically I could really relate to it.

Earlier I stated that Tyler, the Creator is one of the strangest artists one will ever encounter in the rap game, and that you never know what is going to come out of the 22-year-old M.C.’s mouth. Wolf continues this unpredictable nature in grand fashion. I definitely think you should check this album out!

-B. Harlow

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Country Fresh: Yelawolf Releases New Mix-Tape, ‘Trunk Muzik Returns’

Yelawolf, hit my radar about two years ago after he re-released the mix-tape Trunk Muzik 0-60 with a few additional tracks. I loved that EP and have played it over and over. The tunes on that EP are tight, and the grooves are infectious, and show the unique styling of the Gagsden, Alabama based rapper. Since the release of Trunk Muzik 0-60, Yelawolf has been keeping a busy schedule including recording a full length for a major label, promoting his music through live performances, and releasing another mix-tape this summer called Heart of Dixie. Last week Yelawolf kept his busy pace up by releasing a new mix-tape entitled Trunk Muzik Returns.

The mix-tape starts off with the track “Firestarter.” Just from the title you’d think this would be a fast track, but to my surprise it’s a slower song which is emphasized by the lyrics telling you to relax. Next up on the mix-tape is the track, “Way Out.” “Way Out” is a good track that starts off with a synth part that is followed by a verse by Yelawolf that has a very space like feel. Then the beat drops in and Yelawolf comes in with a verse that is tighter than the first verse.

“F.A.S.T. Ride” is the third song on the E.P., and is one of the tightest songs on the mix-tape. Yelawolf shows off his excellent flow on this song especially on the verses. This song is a real return for Yelawolf especially when it comes to the tight rhymes. “Box Chevy Part 4” is also another return to form for Yelawolf, as we know his favorite thing to do is riding around in his Chevy and rapping about his Chevy. Musically the track is different from anything I’ve heard anywhere, There’s a part that’s very trance like that I enjoyed. Yelawolf also shows his singing pipes off on this song, and he can sing.

“Hustle” is the next track and it features Texas’ finest rapper, Paul Wall. Wall starts the song, and gives the listener a good verse, but then Yelawolf comes in and delivers his signature fast paced southern rhymes. “Catfish Billy” is the next track on the mix-tape, and it’s an odd track that starts with a conversation, but then it tells the story of Catfish Billy one of Yelawolf’s aliases. The next song that really caught my attention was called “Fame,” and it has a very slow and etheral feel at the beginning, but Yelawolf then comes in with a verse that brings the song up a notch. “Tenesse Love” finishes off the mix-tape, and is another one of my favorite tracks. Yelawolf’s narrative voice is very strong on this very mellow track. Yelawolf shows his singing voice off on this track too, and it sounds awesome especially mixed with the very country influenced pedal steel guitar.

I loved Radioactive, but I have to say that I am even more impressed with this mix-tape. Check it out, I don’t think you’ll be sorry, especially if you’re a hip-hop fan. And it’s free so what can you loose?

-B. Harlow

Download and/or listen to Trunk Muzik Returns  HERE

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Yelawolf and Travis Barker’s Monster of a Collaboration, ‘Psycho White’

If you were to get a copy of Travis Barkey and Yelawolf’s new EP that comes out today, you’d understand how the pair got the title of the EP, Psycho White. From that moment you put on the record on you understand why Newport said that the EP was “Man, that’s some psycho white boy shit.” Psycho White, is an odd mix of music, but to the seasoned hip hop listener you’ll see that the combination works.

Psycho White starts off with the track “Push ‘Em.”  Push ‘Em’” is a good track, to keep up with Barker’s fast paced rhythms, Yelawolf lays down a tight performance, and spits with authority on subjects including cars, boozing, and raging. The song also features appearances from Skinhead Rob and Tim Armstrong. Tim Armstrong also makes an appearance on the second track, which also happens to be my favorite on the EP, “6 Feet Undergound.” This track is a great song that starts off with a creepy hook, but what makes the song is Yelawolf’s great reggae inspired verses. It seems as if though Yelawolf is trying to move into other areas, and by doing this shows us his vast influences. The next track on Psycho White is the track, “Funky Shit.” Now this song sounds like it could have been off Yelawolf’s Trunk Muzik. It has that dirty southern feel that Yelawolf is famous for. Barker’s drums mix well with the slow electronic beat.

“Whistle Dixie” is the second video single off the EP, and this song is by far the second best on the collection. It features a whistled part that is looped throughout the song, but what I enjoyed the most is the odd production techniques that make it sound as if Yelawolf and Barker’s drums were all the way back in the mix. The final track on the EP is called “Directors Cut,” and this is a great conclusions, and shows Yelawolfs excellent storytelling abilities in his lyrics.

If you like Hip-Hop and Rap that is unconventional then Psycho White   is perfect for you. Go check out this awesome collaboration between Yelawolf and Travis Barker.

-B. Harlow

 

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Yelawolf’s New Mixtape, ‘Heart Of Dixie’

Alabama Rapper, Yelawolf has seen his world change in the last couple years, especially after getting signed to Shady/ Interscope records. Even though recently Yelawolf has expressed some hostility towards Interscope records and their ability to release and promote singles. But even with that frustration he’s back with another mix-tape, Heart of Dixie.

Heart of Dixie is a great mix-tape, and is a return for Yelawolf to his Trunk Muzik  sound which is completely different from the overly produced mainstream debut, Radioactive. I mean Radioactive had some great cuts, but Yelawolf’s stripped down dirty southern sound was what drew many of his early fans. It turns out DJ Frank White hosted and M16 produced project is a sample of what’s to come on Yelawolf’s forthcoming album Trunk Muzik Returns.

There are some great tracks on this 10 track mix-tape. The first track, “Howdy” is a great track with many in depth lyrics that make the listener think. What particularly stuck out was the line, “Passionate like a political poet in an artist lounge. /Hungry like a poor daddy with a gun and a starving child.” Another great track that stuck out was the second song on the mixtape, “Let Me Out” which stylistically is a real return to form for Yelawolf. Another stand out track was the eighth track, “Out My Face” which features Rittz and Shawty Fat. I particularly enjoy Rittz’s verse, but also enjoy Yelawolf’s verse about Tyler the Creator. In my opinion the best track on the album is “Father’s Day” which is an ode to fathers and the struggles of being a father and an artist.

I loved Radioactive, but I have to say that I am even more impressed with this mix-tape. Check it out I don’t think you’ll be sorry especially if you’re a hip-hop fan.

-B. Harlow

Check Out The Mix-Tape HERE

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Moufy Drops New Mix-Tape, ‘The Preparation’

One of my favorite rappers to emerge from Boston has been, Moufy. A Boston native, Moufy takes pride in his city, and this is apparent on his new mix-tape, The Preparation. Moufy takes his life experiences of growing up in Roxbury and going to private school to shape his music. Moufy also uses interesting beats, lyrics, and melodies to create a very listenable mix-tape which is of high production quality. The Preparation is a natural progression from his previous mixtape, Boston Lights, and will probably receive mainstream press soon. Jump on the Star Gang train as it’s about to leave Boston, and is headed to your city.

The Preparation actually starts off with the track “Skyline” which is a very mellow track featuring Moufy’s upbeat rhymes, and also features Mackey on a great clean vocal. “Glass Break” is the next song, and is also single off the mix-tape. I enjoyed this track because of the heartfelt lyrics, and because of the awesome relaxing beat. The track also features a catchy chorus performed by Masspike Miles. The next track that caught my attention was the fourth track, “Hundred Thou”. The track has a catchy beat with a killer bass line reminiscent of southern rappers like, Yelawolf or Rittz.   One of the songs that I think could get a lot of mainstream play is the sixth track, “Nobody”. “Nobody” has a catchy beat with a catchy chorus that would find itself comfortable on mainstream radio. My favorite track on the Mix-tape has to be the final track, “Forever More.” To me it’s the perfect way to end a mix-tape due to the nature of the lyrics, and the beat which is sprinkled with piano.

Moufy is one of the best rappers to release music in the last five years. I think that with the right label and PR team Moufy will take over the rap game and stand up next to heavyweights like Wiz Khalifa, Mac Miller, and Yelawolf.

-B. Harlow

Check out the full mix-tape below:

http://www.datpiff.com/embed/mixtape/m8ace17b/tall

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B.o.B’s ‘Strange Clouds’

B.o.B’s song “Airplanes” was one of the biggest hits of 2010, and went quadruple platinum. This solidified the 23 year old rapper in the world of music. Recently B.o.B released a fifteen track album Strange Clouds that features a great number of collaborations. The album also features tremendous production from various producers including Dr. Luke, Jim Jonsin, and B.o.B himself.

The album starts out with the track “Bombs Away” which features a guess spot from the amazing voice of Morgan Freeman. Lyrically the song talks about B.o.B’s struggle with success. The next track is called “Ray Bans” which is a clever play on the rappers first name, Bobby Ray. The next track is called “So Hard To Breathe” a heartfelt track about his struggles to remain normal, whilst experiencing tremendous success.  The track also features a killer hook with a tremendous bass part which is put far up into the mix.  The next track was really unexpected especially because it features country star, Taylor Swift. The song is called “Both of Us” and starts out with just Swift and an acoustic guitar. This leads into a tight verse from B.o.B. and a chorus that is sung beautifully by Swift. The next track is the album’s title track “Strange Clouds” which features Lil Wayne, and is an ode to hard partying and living. The next track is called “So Good” and is the second single, and my personal favorite from the album because of its catchy hook and clever verses. The next track is “Play for Keeps” which is an awesome track with a tight beat and verse. The next track that caught my attention was “Out of My Mind” which features an awful guess spot from Nicki Minaj.  The final track “Where Are You” is interesting because it features an inner dialogue about the struggle between being Bobby Ray and B.o.B.

Strange Clouds is one of the most diverse Hip-Hop/Rap albums I’ve heard. I mean at points it goes country, and at some points it hits lows, but it came back and delivers with tracks like “Where Are You”. Check out Strange Clouds!

-B. Harlow

Check Out the Music Video for “So Good” Below:

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RITTZ – White Jesus

Coming out of the Gwinnett County a little ways out of Atlanta, Rittz is one of the most promising underground rappers in the game. Rittz had humble beginnings growing up in a musical family Rittz was around instruments and music studios. It was no surprise that in 1995 he began rapping, until the year 2003 when he took a slight break. In 2009 Rittz returned to the rap game and in 2010 was featured in Yelawolf’s “Box Chevy” off of his mix tape Trunk Muzic 0-60. Since this guest spot and signing to Slumerican Records.

In 2011 Rittz released the mix tape White Jesus and in 2012 he re-released the mix tape which was dubbed White Jesus: Revival. White Jesus: Revival features 17 songs, including guest spots from Big K.R.I.T, Nikkiya, and Yelawolf. Rittz provides great lyrics on all the tracks which paint a picture of his southern up brining. Another constant theme throughout the tape is relationships especially the track “Sleep at Night” whose lyrics talk about a significant other who decides to leave for another person. One of the best tracks on the album is “High Five” where Rittz shows his spitting ability verse after verse. Another key track is the title track “White Jesus”, ‘but don’t trip cause this aint blasphemy’ lyrics one should consider before listening to. The track is a testament to who he is as an artist.

-B. Harlow

Check out Rittz and download his Mix Tape HERE.

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Just Love Here: Sammy Adams

‘Boston’s Boy’ the title of Sammy Adams’ 2010 EP is a great way of describing this Wayland native. After making music on his laptop in 2008, Sammy Adams decided to take it up a level in 2010 by releasing a parody version of the Asher Roth song ‘I Love College’ entitled ‘I Hate College’ . Due to the remixes sudden popularity Adam’s EP made it to #73 on the Billboard 200, an unprecedented feat for a debut record. Adam’s EP consisted of eight tracks including the single ‘Driving Me Crazy’ and ‘Coast to Coast’. The EP also featured ‘Just Love Here’ an autobiographical track mixed which features a nice beat and a hooky keyboard sample.

In late 2011 Adams released a new pre-Album mixtape entitled Into The Wild’ (1st Round). The mixtape features 10 tracks including the highlights ‘Midnight Run’, ‘Big Lights’, and the final track ‘Bullets’. This final track is by far my favorite, it mix styles well, and overall is the most put together compositionally. However the track sounds like Mac Miller at points. The most surprising part of the track is the songs hook, which sounds a great deal like the chorus in Tinie Tempah’s track ‘Written in the Stars’.

Sammy Adams is a great artist who has a great future in front of him. I love his original sound on his EP, but hope that he really does something unique on his album that sets him apart from his peers, mainly Mac Miller.

Check out the Sammy Adams’ ‘Into The Wild’ Mix Tape Video and the track ‘Bullets’ below:

 

 

 

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