Mixtape Review-The Iron Way by T-Pain
T-Pain is the Mozart of strip club music. No matter how many changes he has gone through I’ve never given up on him because I know that to be true. I know he is capable of stifling musical intelligence and flawless execution on very silly songs about strippers and butts, even if he does go into the more silly than genius realm on occasion. Just listen to the T-Pain produced Booty Butt Ass off of his new The Iron Way mixtape with DJ Drama; I just kept picturing Luther Campbell from 2 Live Crew with one single tear coming down his face like “that was beautiful.” He has more range with his autotune usage than anyone else in music (proof of this starts two minutes and fifty eight seconds in and goes till the end).
The most educated critic had to feel that roller coaster nervousness during the first listen of The Iron Way. The Jay-z song D.O.A. changed T-Pain in a big way. It wasn’t a diss to him at all, Jay clearly took to task people ripping him off, but T-Pain took the hit and became unfashionable. Part of this was that he was already over exposed; part of this is that he’s a goof. This is the dude who complimented Ray J’s dick size on live radio when the Kim K sex tape leaked. People were ready to turn their back before they did. So when the first track ,Kill These N_’s, started and fed into the blistering rap diss Trust Issues we didn’t know if this was all angry rap T-Pain. Little did we know the supremely zoned out and darn near tranquil Sun Goes Down(Audio Push are perfect guests on this one) and Need To Be Smokin were to come. Really every kind of song was to come; this mixtape is twenty songs long. If you like enormous rap anthems with rewindable bars you need to hear King where Bun B goes bananas and Big Krit sounds like Denzel looks in Man On Fire. If your into braggadocio reggae influenced finger snap hip hop then play Disa My Ting. He also drops the really sticky sweet club love song Heartbeat where he says “I can’t control it; it’s like your running electricity through me!”
As cheesy and novelty as Hashtag is the story of the relationships straining is very engaging and well-constructed. It’s a perfect example of what The Iron Way gives you. Its genius; well sung, super listenable and genuinely evocative but cheesy as all get out. You have to find a way to embrace both to enjoy it. Like forgetting while watching a genuinely brilliant Kung Fu movie that these are dudes fighting on strings. By the way Pain can rap too; his verse at the end of 15 is acrobatic and venomous.
T-Pain is not in a position to fade out because he can do too much. He’s a very good rapper, producer, and the king of autotune singing. Dude can construct incredible melodies that sticks in your head and this T-Pain ,the post-D.O.A. edition, has a bit of an edge. He understandably feels betrayed by an industry that shuns him while re-purposing his sound. That means the gushy booty music like Ever comes alongside fiery anti-industry anthems like Personal Business. The imbalance is a perfect balance.
stream or download The Iron Way below:
P.S. I wanted to give you my favorite silly lines from The Iron Way mixtape since T-Pain just can’t help himself.
“She make me bite my fist, I guarantee you ain’t seen a booty quite like this” Booty Butt Ass
“Put my face in her booty like a vanilla cake” Did It Anyway
Best line is “You actin’ like your style fell from the sky. The good news is…you got it from a hell of a guy.” Relax
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Tagged 2015 mixtapes, Audio Push, autotune, Big K.R.I.T., Booty Butt Ass, Bun-B, D.O.A., datpiff, Dj Drama, mixtape review, T-Pain, The Iron Way
Mixtape Review-Mailbox Money by Nipsey Hussle
I have said things about Nipsey Hussle like “If he broke in the 90’s he would be just another West Coast Gangsta rapper,” or “I don’t know why everyone cares so much about Nipsey Hussle?” Scarface turned it all around for me. In an interview he did on the Combat Jack Podcast he passionately defended Nipsey to the point where I took to re-listening.
Enter Mailbox Money. His newest mixtape dropped as 2014 was becoming 2015. Nipsey has always had a great ear for production but this time it’s on another level. The tone of the conversation he’s leading and the assembled sounds that back him are as cool as the icy blue cover of the mixtape.
All the reasons I disliked Nipsey Hussle are still very present. The way he rhymes is not great; his delivery sounds choppy like a man running out of breath, his word choice is predictable. The undeniable counterargument supplied by Mailbox Money is that this music is calm, faultlessly sequenced, and very purposely seamless. Pick the silky Vernardo assisted Be Here For A While or bath in the sneering A Hunnit A Show featuring Rick Ross; its all in that TDE, Jay Ant West Coast anti-ratchet Chillwave style. When he brings in R & B voices for the hook its K Camp (see: Between Us) and not another Skylar Grey hip hop assist situation.
It’s rare to hear a free release, fifteen tracks long, that hangs together so well. THC, DJ Mustard, HitBoy, Scoop Deville and DrewByrd all do very different kinds of production but Mr. Hussle had a vision for what he wanted Mailbox Money to sound like. It’s unified but not boring, Only A Case bubbles up with a wonderful curse-word chorus and almost bangs but it never leaves the chillosphere.
The most important lyric is probably on Count Up That Loot where he says “Built this label up just like Russell do, gimme ten years they gone be like Russell who?” and he believes it. He does not say it with any of the desperation that Kid Rock had when he yelled he was going platinum. It’s a warning from one of the hardest working rappers alive. He drops a mixtape every year and his last one was twenty one songs long(he sold it for a $100 a tape at the release party). He’s already working on another one. So while it’s true that he’s not a great or very good technical rapper, working this hard and crafting this polished a product has to make you great.
Sometimes reviewing music is not about deciding the validity of artistry it’s about gauging the enthusiasm of entertainment product. Mailbox Money as a product is spectacularly entertaining. Much like Dom Kennedy (who pops up on Real Nigga Moves) Mr. Hussle has a personality that you can’t help but get sucked into. At the end of Status Symbol he listens to a 16 year old rapper freestyle and salutes his skill. It’s something we used to hear on every great album in the 90’s and he knows that. He’s big enough to give time to people. He’s also not so big that he feels obligated to shy away from issues like police violence; on 50 Niggaz he goes all the way in on Zimmerman and maneuvers the topic with intelligence and tact asking questions like “Could you just accept that we murdered your children?”
As skilled as Jay-z was for a long time a lot of us didn’t know. We thought he was ok. He outworked all his competition and got where he is. I’m not saying we are looking at young Jay. I just may need to think harder about the components of being dope.
Stream or download Mailbox Money:
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Tagged anti-ratchet west coast chillwave, Combat Jack Podcast, Dj Drama, DJ Mustard, Dom Kennedy, Drewbyrd, Hitboy, K Camp, Mailbox Money, mixtape review, Nipsey Hussle, Rick Ross, scarface, Scoop Deville, THC, Vernardo
Mixtape Review-Allegiance by Ya Boy Rich Rocka
Nothing separates the coal from the diamonds like the grind. Every time you see an artist hit with a hot debut you can chart their tumble out of the spotlight as they realize the pressure of following up that content while building up a touring audience. Ya Boy got his DJ Drama Gangsta Grillz spotlight at exactly the right time. Allegiance is the outcome of years and years of relentless grinding. When his first few tapes dropped I shrugged with an audible “The west coast has a trap rapper…cool.” The progression from that point to now is not just impressive it happened at a natural pace; meaning the level of success he has at this point synchs up with his talent.
I don’t think early Ya Boy could have made a chorus as catchy as I Want It. Nor would he have access to monster left field beats like Psychadellic. The production is judiciously distributed between Hidden Faces, Yung Ced, Blackcard R, and Kid Jupiter (great name). The landmark production moments are usually Hidden Faces (Psychadellic, Earl Stevens) or Blackcard R (I Want It, Fadeaway). The guest list is bay area legit: E-40, Droop-E, Cousin Fik, Short Dawg, and Galaxy Atoms.
Somehow Ya Boy naturally combines trap and ratchet tendencies. The thick spooky sneer of Fadeaway feels equal parts of both movements. He doesn’t bring the sensitivity of Kendrick or the in your face tone of Schoolboy Q. Allegiance doesn’t even have the subject matter balance of the YG album. This is straight up bay area GOON RAP. Rich Rocka (aka Ya Boy) seems to have no regard for how his audience processes his journey. When he says “I’m from where they sell that vagina” on Do It Right it’s not the start of a fascinating story it’s just a line that passes. He doesn’t say it to shock, he’s just from there.
It’s exciting to see the spotlight come back to California. Tracks like Earl Stevens that salute the legacy and career or E-40 bring a smile to my face. As hated as 40 was by East Coast cats (and Rasheed Wallace) back in the day, so many artists now have weirdo flow lanes open to them now because Earl blazed that trail. And he’s still dope; just listen to his verse on track 11 of Allegiance.
On the negative side of the ledger this mixtape is way too long. I always feel bad saying this about bay area mixtapes because for the bay it’s not bad. Every mixtape in the bay is 20 tracks minimum but this one is a LONG 19. You could easily cut Pop Dat P, Flip Phone, and I Got That Fire without feeling their loss. In a digital mp3 age this is a quick solve (delete what you don’t dig from your files).
Hip hop not only needs good goon music, It needs good high energy goon music cause the day is long and sometimes a snarl is exactly what I need to hear. The content is dope dealing, sex brags, and generally stewing in the finger snaps and base lines but he’s done it right this time and I’m banging Allegiance.
Stream or download Allegiance below:
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Tagged Allegiance, bay area hip hop, Blackcard R, Cousin FIk, datpiff, Dj Drama, Droop-E, E-40, Gangsta Grillz, Hidden Faces, Kid Jupiter, mixtape review, Rich Rocka, Ya Boy, Yung Ced
Song Review-Mucho by Young Dro produced by FKi
My mind always puts Dro in the same place with Lloyd Banks. Guys that are #2’s to really important rappers and remain under-appreciated due to that proximity. I think this comparison bears analysis. While TI and 50 Cent have struggled to clarify their musical identity at times, Dro and Banks put out exactly what they want.
In Young Dro’s case its fun, joke driven, fast pace southern semi-hardcore. Sometimes he postures, sometimes he jokes but the entire time he’s charging through the track like a streaker on a tennis court. His biggest hit, the song Shoulder Lean, is not an outlier in his catalog; it fits his template of being both joyful and tough.
Mucho is from the DJ Drama hosted mixtape Day Two and it’s solid Dro. Sure this song is about dealing drugs but the Spanish language rap and the goofy horns (with the ridiculous hook and its mouth sounds) are bound to make you smile and shoulder dance. You might not even register the threats of kidnapping adversaries’ family members or chopping people to pieces because of how fun it is.
We still have not seen the best of Dro. When the production and his off-kilter style fully align for an entire project worth of material I really believe he has a mixtape of the year in him. Day Two isn’t it but it bolsters my hopes for the future.
Freddie Gibbs #BFK mixtape review by Dan-O On a handful of occasions I’ve closed my eyes and listened to a Freddie Gibbs verse as if I was listening to the next Kool G Rap. Someone who would redefine tough talk … Continue reading