The Yellow Album
For proof positive that you are listening to an artist with the potential for pop rap stardom not just hip hop notoriety press play; The Yellow Album sounds like a platinum seller that should be in every Target you step in. An easy to way to judge this is to listen closely at the two highest profile guests: Kendrick Lamar on We Ball and Rick Ross on Gold Alpinas. We Ball is produced by the marvelous Chase N Cashe and sounds exactly like the kind of minimalist piano driven banger TDE generates (this makes sense because a lot of the TDE production team crosses over with Dom’s). Kendrick calmly leads us into his bubbling flow and sizzling bravado. Ross sounds so giddy to be a part of the DrewByrd produced Gold Alpinas that you can almost hear him debating if he’s going to put the song on his next album. The Aaliyah sample leads the song but the drums destroy it.
The Yellow Album would sound great if no one spoke a word on it. DJ Dahi and THC from the TDE camp do a lot of great work crafting beats that grow from a central element feeling instantly resonant. The masterstroke of production is resisting the bad instinct to either overstuff the beat or starve it. It takes a sharp musical mind to know when something is done. Just listen to the swirling hypnotism of 50 Conversations. Put that on and drive somewhere; see if the universe doesn’t fold into itself for six minutes or so.
Lyrically Dom has his chest out more than ever. This is a natural part of dropping successful project after successful project while others flounder. That being said he’s still a goof who says things like “Play this while you sleep so you never have to sleep alone (50 Conversations).” When I say goofy I mean that in a positive way, he always seems earnest especially on lines like “If you happy being you I F$%& with you on the strength (1 25).” He doesn’t have tough songs for the male fans and candles in the moonlight songs for the ladies; it’s all a jumble of what’s in his mind. Even as he raps alongside the Darth Vader of modern gangsta rap , Freddie Gibbs, his thoughts are scattered: from tracing his hip hop lineage from Melle Mel to modern day, to women on cocaine, and people in jail. Gibbs comes on the track like a shark with a laser attached; focused and mean. All the greatest lyricists rap alongside Dom cause 1. he isn’t afraid to talk about something straight up true but often unmentioned or goofy 2. he will never play the trying to kill you on the song game where he adds supplemental verses to dwarf yours. This is a dude who ends his biggest most pop friendly album with a track called P H (meaning peace and happiness) where he chuckles while saying “I be counting all this cash I get….shout out to my baby mama…cause she be paying half the rent!”
None of the old laws of hip hop seem to apply to Dom Kennedy. The thing I like is that he’s always smart enough to obey the old ones that make sense for him.
I can’t find the flippin’ audiomack link I found before so BOOM!
stream or download The Yellow Album via DJ BOOTH
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Tagged audiomack, Chase N Cashe, DJ Booth, Dj Dahi, Dom Kennedy, Drewbyrd, Freddie Gibbs, Gold Alpinas, hip hop, Kendrick Lamar, Melle Mell, mixtape reviews, Rick Ross, TDE, THC, The Yellow Album, west coast hip hop
How audiomack links taught me to relax and embrace Dom Kennedy p.1
The first thing I ever knew about LA MC Dom Kennedy was EVERYONE loves this guy. He features on SchoolBoy Q’s album, Freddie Gibbs mixtape, Smoke Dza takes time to rap about conversations with Dom that changed his life. Curren$y does the same on just about every project. Dom scores a Kendrick Lamar feature for the song We Ball off his Yellow Album mixtape that drops 4 months before Good Kid, Maad City. I just assumed this was one of those bad rappers who is also an awesome person and everyone loves…so they give him a verse. Why did I think of him as bad? His flow is outrageously stunted and off beat like an old parent remembering something in chunks and his verses are about things that don’t make any coherent picture (he loves rhyming the same word off itself over and over)…or didn’t until recently. Sometimes it takes time for me to understand the appeal of an artist and here are the projects that helped me with that.
From The Westside with Love
As much as Dom clearly looks up to the pimpish precision of DJ Quik he’s different. From The Westside with Love is one of the most affectionate mixtapes in the last five or ten years. All the production credits you’ll find for Dom Kennedy projects are ahead of their time. On this one the recognizable names, Hit Boy and BrandUn DeShay, are ones you wouldn’t have been that interested in circa 2010. This is part of the reason why all his mixtapes seem so crisp years later.
A Leimert Park Song provides exact explanation for the oddness of Dom. “The game need me cause this affectionate. Not just a bunch of N’s wanting Tech’s and shi#t. Not just a bunch of N’s wanting sex and sh#t. Dissing the same N’s that they texting with.” While he shouts out Ice Cube, 2pac and all the gods of West Coast he brings a warm and casual vibe to his music. On the opening track In Memory Of he compares this music to Tribe Called Quest which is an interesting comparison. Q-Tip was one of the first cool rappers to appeal directly to women in verses without sounding corny. Q-Tip would love the pulsating conversational Home Alone where he’s able to specify breakfast while sounding evocative “I like toast in the morning, you need to know that in case you close in the morning.”
West Coast hip hop can seem like the movie 300 from far away. If you go straight from Ice T to Jay Rock (no shots I own everything by both those dudes); which is what makes From The Westside with Love so cool its filled with trunk rattling funk and love. Loving recollections of hearing Run-DMC for the first time, loving shout outs to Leimert Park where he’s from and all the women who have sex with him. Which I appreciate; too often rappers run down the people who have sex with them. Dom sends out love like he doesn’t have time to hate and its infectious.
Stream or Download From The Westside with Love below:
Stay tuned next week keyboard Jedi as part 2 of my Dom Kennedy breakdown continues!!!!!!
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Tagged audiomack, Brandun Deshay, DJ Quik, Dom Kennedy, From The Westside with Love, Hit Boy, Jay Rock, LA hip hop, Leimert Park, Pimp Rap, Q-Tip, Run-DMC, Smoke Dza, Tribe Called Quest, west coast hip hop
Free EP Review- The Stage by Curren$y & Smoke Dza produced by Harry Fraud
As a supporter of the Jet Life movement I’ve always been realistic. Like most prolific artists Curren$y can sound listless at times; possibly a product of doing too much or the constant experimenting with different collaborators and producers. Sometimes the chemistry doesn’t have time to establish but when he needs to step up, he delivers.
As much of the spotlight as Curren$y got for his prolific output and Harry Fraud gets for mixing sticky sludge into the NY sound, Smoke Dza still doesn’t seem to be nearly as acclaimed as he should be. His delivery is one of the most emphatic in all of hip hop and his collaborators/peers know it. On the opening track (First Light) he seems to vengefully stab with every word and even though the Jet Life general leads off and lays down an impressive verse…the voice that rings in your mind is Dza.
No review of The Stage should go without focusing on the immaculate song 10 Bricks. If the narrative of this project is how focused the three primary components are then it makes sense on 10 Bricks that we get the most focused French Montana verse of the year and a dead serious pitch perfect Big K.R.I.T. chorus. Fraud composes richly orchestrated elements for the mid tempo funk of it. It’s the essence of the Jet Life experience; everyone vibes out and brings their best bars to the table.
The Stage is more than in-the-zone vibe out music. It’s a sampler meant to energize all the people that want another Pilot Talk or Rugby Thompson and in that regard it’s an unmitigated success. Every song has more than a few rewindable moments; like on Gifts where Smoke Dza says “Every boss once was the best student,” or in 10 Bricks where Curren$y recreates himself as Joe Namath in a fur coat. Not many people even know what the whole Jet Life term means. It’s an acronym meaning just enjoy this and that’s exactly what you should do.
Stream or download The Stage below:
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Tagged audiomack, Big K.R.I.T., Curren$y, ep reviews, French Montana, Harry Fraud, hip hop, Jet Life, mixtape reviews, Rugby Thompson, Smoke Dza, THe Stage EP, weed rap