Top 5 Takeaways from 2 Future Albums in 2 Weeks

Top 5 Takeaways from 2 Future Albums in 2 Weeks

by Dan-O

Future just released back to back #1 albums (Future and HNDRXX). I wanted to provide five things to think about as you digest this mass of content. Are these in order of importance?

Don’t be a nerd. No one cares.

  1. Who is Dre Moon?

Dre Moon is 3 for 3 on HNDRXX (Solo, Incredible, and Hallucinating) with some of my absolute favorite songs. I clicked on his Wikipedia page and it says he wrote Drunk In Love and produced a bunch of beloved Drake songs (off Nothing Was The Same). He also produced I Be U, I’ll Be Yours, and Side Effects off Future’s Honest album(which I think is underrated). I am very glad Future has a relationship with Dre Moon and apparently more people should. He provides a rich sound, a large musical world that never seems crowded.

2. Nothing Future Does is haphazard

Future puts out a lot of music. Even Young Thug told him he should slow down. At times, Future has released bad albums and tastemakers have pronounced his run over only to be embarrassed by the success that followed. Future is like Gucci Mane in that he will release a ton of content and 70% of it is great but that thirty percent is still a lot of bad music and in this fickle age it always seems like he is close to falling off.

3.You can be like Future but you cannot be Future

Future just released 34 songs in two weeks and both albums went number one. Be careful about going big picture and turning to your friends with a simple “this is how things are now,” explanation. This is not how things are for Kendrick or Wale etc etc. Future works better loose and in a zone. If you think it’s easy and your just going to autotune your voice and shout “Content! Content! Content!” you won’t be Future. Desiigner is promising but he is not Future. Future is not mumble rap. Future is really vividly articulating his emotional state of mind like a blockbuster movie. On HNDRXX especially you can hear every word he says.

4. Previously Future’s beef with Ciara has been ugly but now that ugly is terrifying

The Future mixtape Project E.T. made me unhappy.  As good as anything on there was that Juice song Future did about killing Ciara was no Bueno. This isn’t a double racial standard. I didn’t like it when Marshall Mathers did the killing my ex songs. HNDRXX takes the anguish Future feels about the relationship and takes it to new emotional heights. Testify never comes right out and declares her as subject matter but it’s mad creepy. As he sings “Anything we go through is a test of times. Can you be the one who loves me all the time?” my hairs stood up on end and then the song ends with him hauntingly repeating “confess your love for me…testify” as his voice fades out.  The scariest Ciara moment is CLEARLY My Collection. A superbly disturbing analysis of the mind state a man has after a broken relationship. If you’re looking for  TMI moments they are plentiful from crooning “this codeine ain’t got nothin’ to do with my little child!”   “She told me she was an angel, she F*&#ed two rappers and three sangers.” The hook is paralyzingly gross without any swearing “…even if I hit you once you part of my collection.” The diseased mind that holds these women in some sort of mental art museum is something Future consciously wanted to observe. It’s clear that part of this is in him and part of this is an artist analyzing the emotions that could happen if he doesn’t let go. The complexity of his anger is so marvelously rendered you can’t be mad. It’s terrifying but the beautiful kind.

5. Future is bigger than trap

Think of it the same way we do Mike Will Made It. When Trap was at its white hottest he was lacing Gucci Mane and giving the genre definition (Metro Boomin certainly took the baton and ran) and now you see his production credits in The Grammys Song of The Year category because he produced Beyoncé’s biggest hit off her new album Lemonade. Future still makes rough and tumble Trap, just listen to Scrape or Draco on the self-titled album, but he smashes pop songs as well.  Selfish is the duet with Rihanna which comes to mind first but Incredible is a friendly radio hit. Aside from pop songs  HNDRXX has one song with vocals from Mayer Hawthorne and production by Jake One (Lookin’ Exotic).  Anyone predict that collaboration? He works with DJ Mustard and Detail for that finger snapping ratchet movement and he knocks it all out of the park. This is what Mike Will taught us about the process. Just because Future started in Trap and elevated it, doesn’t mean that is his limitation. He’s incredibly durable and bubbling over creatively.

#Bandcampgold= Jidenna-The Chief

Bandcampgold=Jidenna-The Chief

by Dan-O

The Netflix series Luke Cage did a fantastic job maximizing the musical environment it presented. One of the show stopping performances was Jidenna who absolutely tore it down. My wife looked at me and said “That guy is GOOD.” All I could do was shrug. I don’t listen to the radio at all so I had heard Classic Man once and moved on. I had no reference point for dude but I stored that moment in my head and when his new album The Chief dropped it was at the top of my list to check out.

The Chief is not a cohesive album. This is not a walk through a specific story that gets you to know the narrator. This is the flexing your muscles album (less Good Kid Maad City more Section 80). Everything about it feels different. If I say that this is one of those threats that can sing and rap you’ll rightly say…that’s a lot of people. The difference is this dude is the son of a Nigerian scientist, his knowledge of African sonic textures gives him a totally different base he sings from. Adaora moves like Salsa but maintains the precious emotional center a Nat King Cole song has.

The unignorably brilliant stuff begins going through tracks two, three, and four. Two is called Chief Don’t Run and features Roman GianArthur on the hook. It is a straight ahead rap banger with punch lines to spare. The beat absolutely tramples and then it leads into the biggest pop hit on the album. Trampoline you’ll never get out of your head and the rewarding thing about it is that it takes the shape of a traditional slut shaming anthem while being the absolute opposite.  Example, “Anyone who works hard as you got the right to get lit. She might even have a wedding ring or a doctorate in medicine or the daughter of the reverend or the daughter of the president!(Trampoline)” Usually, banging pop anthems about women are condescending at their best but Jidenna doesn’t function like other people and definitely doesn’t care for expectations. Trampoline would easily be the best song on The Chief if Bambi didn’t come next. I can’t stop listening to it. My only reference point was Harry Belafonte calypso but my wife says that’s not right. She says the only thing she’s ever heard that reminds her of Bambi is The Lion Sleeps Tonight. The difference is this song is actually full on engaged in a discussion about relationships and loneliness.

Jidenna is very cool. He dresses cool, makes money and intellectually defends all of it with very cool one liners. The last two songs on the album (White Nigga & Bully of The Earth) are very intelligent without ever dipping into pretention. Underneath the sleekness The Chief definitely talks about how detached he gets from traditional relationships and the defenses he puts up against people who get too close. A lot of people who listen will likely never even engage The Chief on that level because of its snazzy wrapping paper. Jidenna doesn’t mind. This time around he wants you to know he can hit homeruns with or without Janelle Monae. Point made.

Stream or pay for this great album below:

https://jidennanow.bandcamp.com/album/the-chief

Song of The Year-Like A Rockstar by Kodie Shane featuring Saucy Longwe produced by Matty P, Stonii Tha Melody God & D. Clax

Song of The Year-Like A Rockstar by Kodie Shane featuring Saucy Longwe produced by Matty P, Stonii Tha Melody God & D. Clax

by Dan-O

Kodie Shane’s new mixtape is called Big Trouble Little Jupiter and it is a great example of why Atlanta WINS.  Atlanta is the epicenter of weird (in my opinion the Bay Area is right up there as well). If Kodie Shane dropped a slamming anthem like this in NY the media would start debating whether it stacked up to old EPMD singles or whether this is even rap. What is real hip hop? Yuck.

This hook is fantastic, the beat pounds and leads into a guitar solo. Big Trouble Little Jupiter has 10 songs and they are all experiments. Your Side ventures into that 90’s R &B sound, Be With or Without is a lush break up song over a tough as jerky trap beat. Big Trouble Little Jupiter will look right at your preconceptions and shout WHO CARES. It is rap, it is singing, it is gorgeous, it is ugly.

If you read The Fader article about her it will not surprise you to hear that Shane is aligned with Yachty and the manager of The Migos. Those are all smart oddballs and it is quite apparent listening to Like A Rockstar that Kodie knows how to throw her voice where it is best needed. In this case it is tense and brazen in other places it is smooth and goes down like hot cocoa on a sore throat (how is this my reference? I am so old. So very old.).  It is refreshing that we live in a hip hop culture that nurtures an artist like Kodie Shane because I shudder to think how many my generation left behind keeping the sound “pure”.

stream or download Big Trouble Little Jupiter:

http://indy.livemixtapes.com/mixtapes/42359/kodie-shane-big-trouble-little-jupiter.html

Contrasting The Unsatisfying with The Satisfying

syd-fin-2017-2480x2480

Contrasting The Unsatisfying with The Satisfying

By Dan-O

From the first Kehlani song I heard I filed her into my head as an important person. She has world domination pipes and a real versatility to her. Her new album SweetSexySavage was built around her ability to dig into many moods and styles of R&B. She can give you a snarling stepping out of the ashes anthem in Crzy or get super radio friendly with a song like Advice. The savage end of the three part equation isn’t quite there but that’s fine. Even on a song like Do U Dirty where she is the cocksure mistress declaring intentions to do you dirty and that we should be worried….you won’t be. Kehlani doesn’t have the dangerous side someone like Rihanna has. If Rihanna said she was gonna do me dirty and that I should worry…I would be genuinely fearful of getting a lamp broken over my head or something.

Here is Kehlani Do U Dirty

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hIG5xhPwGQ

If you get the deluxe edition of SweetSexySavage it is 18 songs where she is changing personas but keeping each song as big screen as it can be. Every song is a swing for the fences radio hit that nearly clears the ball park but falls in an outstretched glove. Kehlani is frantically getting dressed in different characters for the big dance, her debut album. By the time the limo gets here she is mismatched and trying too hard. It is not a bad album AT ALL. Lots of great stuff on it, but it is not satisfying.

Syd’s album Fin is another story. This is a side project from the lead singer of The Internet. They put out one of 2015’s best albums Ego Death. Fin doesn’t have nearly the stakes that Kehlani’s debut has or seek the pressure of radio domination. Fin is such a personable album with a beating heart right next to Aaliyah’s legacy. Know sounds like Aaliyah, like really does…which is something to say. So few things sound like Aaliyah. She is genuinely funny “If I go to hell hope all my B’s can visit (Nothin To Somethin’)” and impossibly personable cashing in on a mid-tempo groove with a mixture of gratitude for where she is, confidence as to what she can do, where she came from, and psychosis. She stews it so perfectly that while Kehlani forces her voice in every crevice of SweetSexySavage you can find yourself forgetting how special Syd is as a vocalist. She doesn’t go full Mariah but when she hits a beautiful moment it is striking (See: Smile More). The other times you are led by these incredible lines. My favorite song on Fin is All About Me which starts “I be more than a god in my dreams, it’s wishful thinking. I sleep more than I need to, I drink more on the weekend.” To sleep more than you need to so you can return to the dreamscape you rule which contrasts to what?! Well, I’m hooked.

Here is All About Me

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNIOrsxsa0A

Syd might be incredibly versatile as well but you get the idea that she doesn’t care whether it ends up that way. This is a side project that will be full of stuff SHE WANTS IN. “When I die my grave gon’ be my music, my soul is living through it.(All About Me)” and she says it just as casual as anything else. It’s why Fin feels so damn free.

Nick Grant and The Hip Hop Cultural Divide

Nick Grant and The Hip Hop Cultural Divide

by Dan-O

A lot of hip hop’s most important cultural “beefs” are forced onto it from the audience and not actually a problem the artists have. The west coast/east coast beef comes to mind as an example. What is happening right now is the great splitting of the world of hip hop into two schools: mumble & trap rap vs. emcees that stand by their lyricism. Back when I was young we would have seen a rapper like Schoolboy Q and a rapper like J. Cole as oppositional; one representing the grim and grit of street life and the other middle class suburbia now they are on the same side and on the other you get Fetty Wap, Lil Yachty and the like.

Fans of each feel insulted by the presence of the other. Media outlets are split in a very odd way. All kinds of people are referred to as “throwback” artists just because they are focusing on rapping and don’t have a strong southern accent. The problem with throwing all lyricists on one side is that Nick Grant bears no resemblance to Cole or Kendrick. He isn’t necessarily lacing you with save the world lyrics, his album Return of The Cool is just that.  On the title track he says “Cool N_ I’m here to break the monotony,” which is a perfect summation.  He’s great at rapping and picking beats, doesn’t do a lot of singing his own hooks or finger snap turn up.  This isn’t to say he is your classic low energy lyricist. Just listen to Get Up featuring WatchTheDuck and enjoy the classic James Brown sample brought into new light and his energy matches it. It is a fun song and the album is my favorite of 2017.

He released some pretty great mixtapes. A Seat At The Table (+1)  took four songs from Solange’s album and rendered them limb from limb. Over the gorgeous minimal landscapes he burst forth reminding me of Do or Die AZ.  That project and his mixtape 88 were all about establishing the level at which he spits and getting us as an audience comfortable with that.

The mind numbing part of the Nick Grant experience for me is that I’m reading reviews that this type of lyricism is boring, that I should be listening to Migos instead. Leave it to hip hop to demand of me that I only listen to one kind of music all the time. Hearing someone with confidence in their delivery and great ear for beats never gets boring. Nick Grant is exciting, so are Migos. I will listen to both and don’t let yourself be steered one way or another. Take every artist as they come.  We should be excited by the choices we have and not pit them against each other.

Here is your Nick Grant start up kit:

https://www.spinrilla.com/mixtapes/nick-grant-88

https://www.spinrilla.com/mixtapes/nick-grant-a-seat-at-the-table-1

If you like what you hear there, seek out Return of The Cool (buy or stream)

 

Song Review-A Little While by Lorine Chia & Romero Mosley

Song Review-A Little While by Lorine Chia & Romero Mosley

by Dan-O

Lorine Chia released a mixtape in 2015 produced entirely by Slade Da Monsta that sticks in my brain to this day. It was called Ono.Mato.Poeic. It was so unique, dexterous and comfortable I just kept walking around asking people if they had heard of her and telling people to find her. Little did I know that she would attack the end of 2016 so vigorously. She dropped a four song self-titled EP with Blended Babies that is without a dull moment and every inch outstanding. Before that she dropped a six song EP called Introduction to Sweet Noise (which I am still hunting down) but her new ep collaboration with Romero Mosley (When Morning Comes) provides several elements that you won’t find elsewhere and this ep could be her best work to date.

A Little While gives you what you need to know. Lyrically it makes sense that she has worked with people like The Game and Jeezy; while she has a sleek and interestingly slow amble to her singing she tightens up and delivers her verses as well as anyone. A minute thirty into the song she goes in and then fades back to that slow sticky syrupy delivery. Lorine Chia works well over intense dance-oriented production (see self-titled ep with Blended Babies) or more organic neo-soul production. She fits into any sonic vessel and makes the big picture better.

People only hearing When Morning Comes will think she is a throwback to that classic sound of early Badu and that is fine. Let them be surprised when they see her name floating in a totally different direction.

FME 2016 MVP is Boosie Badazz

FME 2016 MVP is Boosie Badazz

by Dan-O

Most of my frustration with music reviews stems from people judging influence in the moment. We can look back and understand the influence great albums or artists had on previous eras but anyone telling you the influence someone right now is having on the world right now…is pulling that out of their butt. In the moment all we have is the work.

No one put in better work in 2016 than Boosie Badazz. He beat cancer got out of prison and released six fantastic projects.  You could select the worst of those six projects (probably Thug Talk) and still get more out of it (content and enjoyment-wise) than the numerical victors of 2016. Over a total of 103 songs he poured his heart out time after time.

The emotional progression of his work in 2016 was masterful. In January he released a tight and earth shattering collection of music called In My Feelings. (Goin’ Thru It).  It’s a devastating journey; he turned introspective internal monologues into anthemic bangers.  While he roars he also ruminates all the way through going from The Rain to his cancer experience (Cancer) to sleeping in a puddle in his federal prison cell to the responsibility he has to his family and friends(Call of Duty) it makes perfect sense that the last song is I Know They Gone Miss Me where he wistfully hopes that his kids and friends will hold his memory close even after he passes. Nothing he released in 2016 was as uncomfortable as In My Feelings because of the unfiltered level of disclosure he abided by for those ten songs.  Forgive Me Being Lost in the wrong hands would be a humble brag about the depth and unstoppable nature of our narrators vengeance but right off the bat he confesses seeing his first dead body at 8 years old, he describes himself and his crew as roaches and as the song progresses he delivers the blistering “They tried to give me life, said I’m bad for the community. How I’m supposed ta feel about some people tryin’ to ruin me? Why should I stop for the cops if they shootin’ me? Why I get rich now my friends using me? Cold Winters, why us I need answers, if I sin god forgive me but my baby need pampers.”  Every Boosie verse takes place on the lowest dirtiest scariest continuum of existence, and it’s in a very consciously Springsteen way.  No matter how rich he gets he doesn’t want to lose that identity.

Out My Feelings In My Past is a brilliant follow up that hit a month after its predecessor. He makes the transition from internal dialogue to engaging with the world and wrestling with his memory of it vs. the state it is in now. You can see this on World War 6, New School/Old School, and especially on Mann where he talks about how horrifying the newest generation of younger hustlers are compared to his era.  Takem Back is a vivid rendering of his path to success where you can hear the implication that Boosie uses his experiences as parables and abides by the lessons they teach.

Thug Talk came in March and embraced fully the anger bubbling in the first two releases. On the second song (Finish U) he shouts the song into a melee that would make Waka Flocka proud; Off The Chain makes every brag kinetic and might not be his most meaningful song but pumps adrenaline through your speakers(“Say you gangsta I don’t buy that. I can smell where you hide at. Six murders and two attempts you talkin’ that ish B__ you lying! Go to war with any creature B__ you F_ing with a lion!!!”—Off The Chain). This roaring tsunami of anger feeds the soulful seething hopelessness of Menace II Society.  Guest verses on Thug Talk are no joke featuring the holy trinity of Z-ro, Pimp C, and Webbie.

In May Bleek Mode (Thug In Peace Lil Bleek) blew more holes in our available hard drive space. Not only was this project #5 but it is nineteen tracks!   My favorite Boosie song of 2016 is on this one, Hard But Sweet where he refers to his childhood as the Jolly Rancher days because they were hard but sweet.  The image fits him like a glove and defines the project which is full of hard, violent bangers but reveals itself in the sweet songs longing for the companionship of his favorite people. Destined To Blow and Blue Money are full to the brim with swagger but Not My N_ and Family Rules are intensely emotionally. Boosie doesn’t need death to get intense. He doesn’t “get intense” he just is. Dis Morning is just Boosie going off, about Ebola and distrust, paranoia, police violence, & ambition.Boosie is so ceaselessly dialed in to passionate full force response that it is actually difficult to maintain his level of energy. Boosie wears you out! At one point in Bleek Mode Boosie is convinced that in prison the insulin he uses for diabetes is being tampered with in order to murder him. Can you imagine being in that state of mind? Bleek Mode takes you there and it is scary. Still Not as scary as C-Murders voice.

A month before we even got Bleek Mode Boosie & C-Murder came together to put out an album called Penitentiary Chances. I didn’t have high hopes since prison albums(C-Murder is still locked up) tend to sound awful from a sound quality pov. I was wrong. Every Boosie song takes place in Boosie world so all vocals are clean as a new white T-shirt and all beats rumble with bass. The high point of the project is hearing C-Murder dialed into the power of that horrifying voice over the creepy chanting of Dear Supreme Court. If the song was intended to convince people he was innocent I’m not sure it should have been as creepy as it is. As a C-Murder song it is amazing. Penitentiary Chances is a real discussion about prison life from two people who shared the same cell block at one point. Boosie says “Used to have a personal chef…now I work in the kitchen(In The Pen),” let that image really sink in. It is intense. You listen to This Ain’t Living, For My Homies That’s Dead, Blame My Mother, & When We Came 2 The Can and before you hit song ten you feel like your living Donald Goines White Man’s Justice, Black Man’s Grief. Great book, tough read. Same deal here.

By the time Boosie dropped Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas I was ready for some joy to peek in.  No one has dropped a Christmas project this hardcore. The track that made headlines was No Drake On where we have a Boyz N The Hood moment gone left. The protagonist of the song is riding around seething for revenge but he’s not getting out of the car. Instead of Drake playing in the ride he pops on Murder Was The Case. Lil Scrappy is great on the song, Hurricane Chris is vicious on Hurricane, Rich Homie Quan is probably my favorite guest verse of the album but I like my Boosie songs solo. Vlad TV features Boosie hitting that TI level of boisterous-but-he-means-every-word performance.

This isn’t just some paper Burger King crown of an award I’m giving to Boosie. I listened to over a hundred songs of his this year MANY MANY times. I know about his grandmother, his spirituality, his kidney cancer, his childhood love for pickles and hot chips and that level of successful vivid storytelling creates a relationship to the music and its author. I never sit back wondering why Boosie can’t break out into the international sensation the top 3 guys are. I’m just thankful that in 2016 anyone gave this much of themselves.

Stream or download Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas below:

https://www.spinrilla.com/mixtapes/boosie-badazz-happy-thanksgiving-merry-Christmas

Stream or purchase Bleek Mode below:

https://www.spinrilla.com/mixtapes/lil-boosie-bleek-mode

Stream or purchase Thug Talk below:

https://www.spinrilla.com/mixtapes/lil-boosie-thug-talk

Stream or purchase Out My Feelings (In My Past) below:

https://www.spinrilla.com/mixtapes/boosie-badazz-out-my-feelings-in-my-past

If you get this far and like what you hear buy or stream In My Feelings and Penitentiary Chances from the service you pay for or hunt down the physical copy like us old heads do. Best Buy still has music…for now.