Mixtape review-ILOVEMAKONNEN x Ronny J
Makonnen is so much better in an unorthodox state. Whenever he tries to fit the traditional role of rapper or R & B singer he ends up sounding very out of sorts. I think he is at the very cutting edge of making music that achieves bits of both but only without the pressure of expectations (this entire rundown applies to Lil Yachty as well). So it makes sense that when I listened to his new five song collection and thought he was back on track Makonnen himself stated this is not a tape just the two having fun. It proves my point. It has to be loose.
Makonnen has a voice that can be annoying or enchanting with a very thin line to separate. His commitment to it and use of audaciously emotional content matches up perfectly with off kilter bass burps and sharp sounds that Ronny J brings into the production. They keep it weird and stark and it works. Y U Leave is a song that takes over the landscape of your mind with far away vocal overdubs and a lurching melody.
Paper Chase is a little more celebratory and Ronny J really fuzzes up the foreground to produce a splendidly creepy trap beat to collect checks to. Lonely Thoughts features a superb guest appearance by Teddy, it’s exactly the kind of song I come to Makonnen for. Ronny J makes the strings cry over 808’s while Makonnen leverages an even more wounded delivery to his vocal performance. He’s not a stand out verse guy who is going to dazzle you with bars but if left to his own devices he can fill your music storage with something you only get from him. Something I wish I could describe better.
Kick It is the last song and high point of this song collection (which boasts some thoughtful shifts in tempo from loneliness to braggadocio to anger). He tells his mom to sit down while he goes out to hustle, “I wasn’t proud of what I did man I had F%*@in’ frowns, I lost so many F!*#in’ friends I buried them in the ground.” While it is a song about the potent emotional state of hustling he sounds so earnest which makes how catchy it is earned.
I definitely want him to do what Lil Uzi did and figure out his blueprint for the main stage. He has dropped off tapes and loosies but when he puts a debut together I’d like him to push for another level of what he’s best at. Maybe he needs to develop a plan for that, maybe plans are not best for him. He might just need pen pad food and Ronny J.
stream or download ILOVEMAKONNEN x Ronny J below:
Song of The Year-Other Guys by ILoveMakonnen
I’m probably addicted to ILoveMakonnen but I’m not alone. His new mixtape Drink More Water 5 starts with a freestyle under the same name that is a train wreck. It’s more clear than ever from his new output that Makonnen is that weird character in the fighting game that no one wants to play as (because he’s hard to figure out) or go against (cause his unorthodox style is hard to beat). If you try and fit him into the typical structure of a rap song he won’t. The 10 tracks after that first one never come back to it; they represent his herky jerky, croaking heartfelt mumble. The beat on Other Guys rides a steady drum wave while jangling like janitor keys are in the background.
Try getting this out of your head. The satisfied mmm’s, the high note attempts, the creepy “I’m not a stalker” stalker bits like how she’s changed her name trying to get away. The internet says he produced this and you can feel how much he loves this kind of oddness but it’s not even close to the limits of what he can do. He sounds great alongside Migos and Rich The Kid on the Whip It remix. He can do triumphant drug talk or heartbreak it’s all available to him.
I’m glad he’s aligned with OVO because I’m sure 40 and Drake can’t wait to flush out all the directions ILoveMakonnen is capable of going. Songs like this are a complete pallet cleanser for the unconvincing posturing bad rappers do. Other Guys is raw and a step off of sane and purposely so. Those two (40 and Drake) are too smart to ask the golden goose to go silver.
stream or download Drink More Water 5 below:
Mixtape Review-No One Is Safe by Trinidad James
This mixtape is definitely an appetizer sampler of Atlanta hip hop circa 2014-15 but it’s so good it might ruin your meal. Six out of the ten total tracks share time with guest stars and the names are major: Scotty ATL, OG Maco, ILoveMakonnen, PeeWee Longway, Problem, Lil Debbie, and K-Major. Trinidad sounds at home with a guest and as comfortable with them taking the lead as he does on his own. $hroom Party is a construction all his own that is triumphantly turned all the way up (thank you Brandon Thomas for that ill horn based beat). It’s a song that creates a party within the first five seconds. ALLAU$ by comparison is OG Maco’s turn in the spotlight doing his trademark quiet to shouting chorus over a stampede of rippling bass by Marteini, Trinidad has no problem adjusting into a constructed yelling snarl of his own. All creative decisions executed on No One Is Safe are for the sake of the momentum which can’t be jeopardized for anything.
As a project this will not change your opinion of James. If you think he’s entertaining the work will validate you. If you think he’s a clown looking at this Spinal Tap feeling mixtape cover and listening to the shouting nonsense of his spoken word intro on Talk That $hit Trinidad will have you calling him the black Riff Raff. I have to tell you I’ve listened to No One Is Safe a lot and while its not enriching or soul stirring its so good. I even love T Jame$ Expre$$ where he mixes train imagery with sex and within the first minute says “Coulda brought flowers but I brought the DDDIIIICCKKK.” It’s not just silly and fun its catchy with top notch production and real changes in emotional tempo. ALLAU$ is OG Maco style menacing, H.O.M.E. spirals through that dizzying ILoveMakonnen melodic universe, but F*ck That Stre$$ illustrates a really interesting chemistry Trinidad has with Scotty Atl (they did a few songs on the last Scotty project). This Trinidad is concerned with the struggle of people trying to do better and Scotty talks Ramen noodles like he can still remember the taste. The song sounds like a 90’s Roots jam (maybe that’s the neo-soul chorus and hand clapping).
Some people think Trinidad James is stupid, some people think he’s playing a character. I don’t think I care. No One Is Safe proves he knows exactly how to use elite features and beats. Listen to the last track, My Rule$, a totally triumphant faultlessly sung outro where Trinidad uses his voice like the instrument it is. I don’t know how someone so good at understanding the emotional journey of an album could be stupid? Someone this good at track construction?
If I could change one thing I would delete Lil Debbie from Definition of A F*ck Nigga. It’s not really the best work from Trinidad or Problem but she pollutes it with her artificially grown hood voice, forgettable verse and listless background noises. I’ll accept the irritation of Lil Debbie if it earns the utter elbow throwing Atlanta fight song Only N Atlanta. This is a beat that will make people want to fight or dance provocatively or both. Which is exactly how I like my mixtapes. No apologies.
Stream or download No One Is Safe below:
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Tagged 2015 mixtapes, Atlanta hip hop, Brandon Thomas, ILoveMakonnen, Lil Debbie, mixtape review, No One is Safe, OG Maco, Peewee Longway, problem, Scotty ATL, Trinidad James
Song Review-Fuckemx3 by OG Maco produced by Ducko McFli
If I gave a yearly award for best yelling in rap music (I WOULD DO THE WRITE UP IN ALL CAPS!) OG Maco would win 2014. His fantastic self titled ep is fifteen tracks of weird wonderful screaming. The only normalized moment might be the 2 Chainz verse on U Guessed and it’s still pretty odd.
Anti-hater music is at its pure best the less specific it is. The more it becomes a dynamic emotional chant (see Kendrick Lamar The Spiteful Chant) the deeper it seems to cut. His voice is an instrument perfect for crafting this kind of yell-ody. This chorus might hit me harder than you if you don’t share my love of swearing. This is some real good swearing; listen to the opening line “Musty p#ssy maggot b#tches tryin’ lick my sack for riches mmm hmmm yeah yeah…” That’ll wake you up in the morning.
Ducko McFli revolves everything around a deeply striking repetitive tone. It’s so minimal and serene that its not trap or drill it’s just kind of gorgeous in its simplicity. The extreme contrast between Maco’s forest fire delivery and McFli’s first winter day of falling snow beat is enough to make this one of the year’s most fascinating listens. Maco’s next project should be called And Now For Something Completely Different. The only comparable artist in my eyes would be IloveMakonnen for how purely left field and great his contribution to music in 2014 has been.
Song of The Year-Club Goin’ Up On A Tuesday by ILoveMakonnen produced by Sonny Digital & Metro Boomin
Whenever the 2014 mixtape universe gets discussed a large part of that shouting match is dedicated to how delightfully strange Atlanta hip hop has been. The first name given as an example of the engaging ATL oddity is ILoveMakonnen. His self titled ep glistens sonically with extremely polished production (a lot of it comes from Metro Boomin and Sonny Digital) running its seven track length. With no real guests to speak of it’s the kind of full introduction that earns you a fanbase.
I have no idea whether ILoveMakonnen has a great voice or not (listen to Tonight and tell me). His sing-shouting covers a lot of tracks. I know he creates fascinating herky jerky melodies over a completely different kind of production from Young Thug, Gucci Mane or any ATL trap sing/shouter. Interestingly enough he’s using the same producers those guys go too. His skill set allows them to stake out trails in different directions. It’s still muted and bass beautiful but the foggy remnants of a club beat are barely visible through the haze of broken trap space. He doesn’t seem to be interested in goofing around with his voice like Young Thug but he does do drug talk. It just feels like drug talk from space(like trap discovering David Bowie). Not only is this one of the best songs of the year but the ILoveMakonnen EP is one of the very best short form listens in 2014 hip hop. Not just from Atlanta. From anywhere.
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Tagged Atlanta hip hop, David Bowie, Drug Talk from Space, Gucci Mane, hip hop, ILoveMakonnen, ILoveMakonnen EP, Metro Boomin, song of the year, Sonny Digital, Trap, Young Thug