Mixtape review-4 Respect by Kevin Gates & Youngboy Never Broke Again
Hip hop people say the same thing to each other about Kevin Gates. We look at each other with a head scratchers facial expression and say “I think he’d be one of the best rappers in the world if he wasn’t…crazy.” Anyone who heard him interviewed on Combat Jack knows how deeply cracked Kevin Gates is but if we’re honest with each other that was the excitement of diving into The Luca Brasi Story in the first place. What we mean when we are talking about Gates as crazy is his oversharing. Gates is the anti-Drake. While Drizzy shares nuggets of his life they always feel as if they rolled off the conveyor belt of a 5 year plan to keep his massive audience enraptured in the persona of his character. Gates will talk about having sex with his cousin on twitter, he’ll drop two bars about eating butt that mess up your whole listening experience. This is the Gates situation it isn’t a problem because it is what makes us want to hear every new Gates verse. What is this madman going to say next? The downside: some things are so messed up you can’t unsay them to an audience and it ruptures the relationship.
Enter NBA Youngboy who last year stamped himself into the center of the hardest worker conversation. This year he put out the long and fantastic Until Death Call My Name in April and now he is back with this four song collaboration with the Michael Madsen of New Orleans rap music. The John Henry-like focus Youngboy has in building his name up as an MC who makes music both deeply personal yet super fun is infectious and as a result Gates hasn’t sounded this focused since Islah. Gates is as good as anyone at catchy hooks, he knows exactly when to let his voice get weird and crackly amidst the melody. Youngboy is the sure thing rapping with intensity on 2 Hands while Gates comes into the chorus laid back in a semi-hush. These two seem to get each other on a deep level. 4 Respect is the fastest EP of the year, the New Orleans pace has always been quicker than most places but they pack songs like TTG with visceral imagery about prison and cigars. Even a two minute song like Head On slams, it could easily just have been another useless trap song about banging my girlfriend (lot of trap songs about banging my girlfriend) but Gates flow is legend and the Youngboy chorus is ill. They get a lot done in a short time.
I think these two should form a rap group and never look back. Youngboy can keep Kevin out of his own head and Kevin can add some odd kinks in the pounding propulsion of Youngboy.
stream or download 4 Respect below:
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Tagged 4 Respect, best mcs in the world, hip hop groups, Islah, Kevin Gates, mixtape review, NBA Youngboy, New Orleans hip hop, The Luca Brasi Story, Until Death Call My Name, Youngboy Never Broke Again
Mixtape Review-Murder For Hire by Kevin Gates
My Kevin Gates honeymoon period was so great. Listening to the Luca Brasi mixtape was like seeing Manny Pacquiao take Marco Antonio Barrera apart piece by piece(in 2003) and thinking “who is this kid?”No feeling quite like being floored by the pure versatility and talent on display.
The honeymoon was over when the world realized that Kevin Gates is crazier than a Tom Waits song. Now people ask me “Isn’t that the dude who banged his cousin” and instead of saying NO this is the future of hip hop I just say “yup…” because this dude is indefensibly crazy and got on social media about the cousin love when NO ONE was asking about it; can’t put that genie back in the bottle.
His new mixtape Murder For Hire is 7 tracks long and moving like a top athlete full of adrenaline. The Intro isn’t an intro at all but a blistering attack from Gates; who stays in his trademark elastically fast or normal paced flow the whole tape. The only guest is OG Boobie Black on Her. This is a showcase for Gates. More than just a showcase for his abilities Murder For Hire makes his case for being amongst the best rappers in the world. What do you like? Catchy, listenable songs with great hooks and rappers who can actually ride the beat….check out Rican Johnny. While Rican Johnny sounds like it should eat radio alive it’s still about trapping, rubber bands, the feds, the suppliers, and what jail takes from you. It’s just all in an incredibly seductive package. This is what TI and Jeezy were always able to do.
As great as Rican Johnny is it is not the song that will be burned into your mind after you finish your first listen. The things he says on Khaza are not to be spoiled by my review (meaning I ain’t gonna quote it you got to hear it). It’s a song that will leave you with your hands over your mouth thinking a) I can’t believe he said that b) I need to hear that again. This is where being these-bushes-I-live-in-are-my-spaceship crazy is a benefit for Gates. His punches come from angles no one anticipated. If you’re used to trap its likely you’re bored with it and that’s because a lot of those guys put on the same personality. Gates will tell you he likes to eat butt and not feel at all bashful about it.
He regularly picks beats like Mexico that build tension into his verses, and feel different from any trap production out. Kevin Gates is a trap rapper plus forty percent more and that forty is always ambushing you when you least expect it. When something does ambush you, like an abortion image on Mexico, it’s never done just to push your buttons or “keep you on your toes” it’s an important part of the songs emotional quilt. All these songs are important moments in a life sewn together out of order to give you windows into who Gates is while never letting you fully get there. That way, you always want more.
Stream or download Murder For Hire below:
Mixtape review-Trappers Alley 2: Risk vs. Reward by Boldy James
At times it feels like Rakim and Big Daddy Kane split the rap world in half. During all the Nas interview interludes on the new Boldy James mixtape Trappers Alley 2: Risk vs. Reward it was all I could think about. Rakim was the prototype stone faced rappers rapper. Calm, cool and changing the rap universe with every verse that is who Nas grew into, that’s what Guru(from Gangstarr) aimed for. While Big Daddy Kane was still changing rap and blowing doors down he made sure it was stylishly, with slick clothes and exciting live shows. He is the blueprint for the east coast player/big time lyricist Biggie and Jay became. On the surface you would think that over time these differences would fade and everything would be everything, but the rift is still there. When Nas went looking for rappers to sign how could he not love Boldy James? Boldy can’t stop rapping and his biggest fault in the past has been that his delivery is so dry his music doesn’t pop like others with wilder deliveries or crazy ad-libs.
On other projects the stark minimalism of the production and the dry bars lulled me into sleeping on Boldy, I’m not going to lie. Even Rakim needed those bouncy dance beats to contrast his flow. Boldy is starting to get beats with more pop to them as his spotlight shines. On Trappers Alley 2: Risk vs. Reward it’s an all star production lineup of Black Milk, JMSN, TM808, and Go Grizzly (not to mention guest verses from Prodigy, AZ, JMSN, and Kevin Gates). Noided pops and crackles with Superfly soundtrack feeling, Big Bank sounds like one of those oddly gorgeous Zaytoven beats, and 2 Craps in A Missout is Black Milk feeding James just enough sound to serve him well like Madlib did for Freddie Gibbs on Pinata.
Production changes are not the story. Boldy James is still the story. Over the course of 20 tracks his verses are everywhere (he can’t even tolerate a rapless intro, he just has to spit). His hooks are big time, Costcos has an undeniably catchy snicker in its delivery. 3D delivers a triumphant THIS IS MY TIME hook on Realist and Boldy manages to temper his braggadocio with paranoid drug talk and family.
Boldy sounds just as comfortable rapping with Prodigy on Off The Wall as Kevin Gates and Snootie Wild on Moment In Time. On first listen this felt like Boldy’s I’ve-found-ATL-production project but over repeated listens I have been left in awe of his love of wordplay, like on Moment in Time when he uses Snooties name to start an avalanche of related rhyming words in his verse. Trappers Alley 2 is not about Boldy James finding the better production he needs; it’s about him finding the bigger production that we need as an audience. By the time you get to the last track (Confessional Cathedral) you get the feeling that he’s rap music’s Ray Allen. He could shoot like this for years and years and on his last day his form would still be perfect. He loves the craft and the discipline in a way a lot of more popular contemporaries can’t lay claim too. Nas recognizes that, the way everyone did when he laid his Live At The Barbeque verse for Main Source.
stream or download Trapper’s Alley 2: Risk vs. Reward below:
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Tagged AZ, Big Daddy Kane, Biggie, Black Milk, Boldy James, Go Grizzly, Jay-Z, JMSN, Kevin Gates, mixtape review, Nas, Prodigy, Rakim, Ray Allen of rap, Snootie WIld, TM808, Trapper's Alley 2: Risk vs Reward
Mixtape Review-Humble Hustle 3 by Young Moe
When I tell people that I adore Young Moe’s music they look at me cross-eyed. This is fully attributable to the fact that most people don’t know his music and he has a stupid name. The first time I was told of Moe’s awesomeness I certainly had my doubts based on the name. In order to comprehend the connection his Humble Hustle mixtape series has with its listeners you need to dive in.
The strained vocals birth imagery that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the lyrical spectrum of rap. You can hear it on the pulsing All I Got Is Me when he’s kissing his mothers tears away and losing his money in a crap game. He can make a drug deal a personal journey of fear and terror. You can feel the rain coming down on him as he’s selling on the corner and you know he feels for the people sleeping in urine infested hallways
Nothing about the interlocking tragedies of jealousy articulated on Tino 2 is conscious rap. Moe is just as happy to jump on a song with Fat Trel and churn out mid tempo head nod rider music (see Souljah). The clearest verse illustration of what Moe does different than anyone comes at the very beginning of Freedom “We been living in apartments, lighting candles in the darkness. Coming from the bottom be the hardest, when you trying to get a dream out of the garbage.” These first two lines are so poignantly striking they show a level of emotional investment and premeditated poeticism in his lyrics that most MC’s just fast forward through. He talks about looking after peoples kids after they get locked up, hugging their mother to make her feel like he’s still around. Who else would even want to discuss that side of the life? Young Moe isn’t just rapping about selling drugs he’s rapping about selling drugs in a coat not warm enough for the weather, missing his kid during a long stretch on the corner. He turned drug dealing rap away from Scarface (the movie) and pointed it towards The Wire.
Most of the production is handled by Tone P, BassHedz, and Sergio Cortez. The wheel is not reinvented by anyone and nor should it be. The beat needs to knock but beyond that, pressure is on Moe to deliver the storylines and character development for each song. Its interesting that Kevin Gates appears (alongside Fat Trel) on On Our Own because he’s done such good work on lyrical discussions of women and betrayal adding expressive intensity to everything he touches. On Our Own has Gates doing much the same burning down the verse with words that all feel true to his heart, like a coaches impassioned half time speech. When Moe’s verse starts he’s Gary Cooper in High Noon; all his friends are gone at the sight of trouble and he’s noticeably distraught but resigned to the fact that making it work is the only option. He talks about putting it all in the mic and he damn sure does. That’s why once you’re a fan your all the way in with no other way to be.
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Tagged Basshedz, datpiff, DMV hip hop, Fat Trel, Humble Hustle, Humble Hustle 3, Kevin Gates, mixtape review, realism, Sergio Cortez, The Wire, Tone P, Young Moe
Mixtape Review-Air Time by Mouse On Tha Track
Some people can’t help but be fun. It’s in their bones. In my generation we all looked at Billy Joe Armstrong from Green Day and snickered. It seemed like he just couldn’t stop making fun bankable pop music no matter what he tried to do. He was called a sell out by the “real” punks but as time moved on to The American Idiot years more of the old heads realized this is just who Billy is.
Air Time isn’t an exercise in emulating the Cash Money spirit. It’s produced like Millionaire Dreamzzz before it as if Mouse On Tha Track exists on that roster in the late nineties making his own music. The opening track is less about ridding yourself of old relationships than about feeling great after a haircut-Liberation(The Cut). Within the first 45 seconds of Haters Don’t Like That he’s already said “You can come up out that mud just like a 4 wheel drive” warned that on the come up you will have to leave friends behind and recommended strongly its best to pay your taxes.
Mouse is a genius. He’s one of the only living descendants of the Juvenile every bar should feel like a chorus methodology. While he is definitely focused on his grind the pestering annoyances of life are poking at him in a way he just can’t ignore. Because the sway of how he says it you might miss lines like “Everywhere I look there’s a crook and a vulture with a m$#%*% problem to offer (Never Slow My Roll).” It seems like the world raises its frustration level to challenge him and in turn he raises the power of his catchy New Orleans bounce to overcome it and get back in the right state of mind.
The best collaborations on this project are hands down the two tracks with Kevin Gates (Don’t Make’em Like Me and Sex Drugs and Money). Both do a brilliant job of taking personal stories of adversity and mixing them into songs. Gates and Mouse are great at giving songs real themes and differentiating them from one another. Far too many artists are stuck creating the same song over and over again. All the songs are about the same thing and run together in a mushy mess. That will never happen to these two they have a real sharp sense of how they are supposed to sound.
You could disregard lyrics and subtext and still enjoy Air Time. Even if you didn’t find fascination in watching one of the most fun and entertaining rappers in the game do a song like Bye Bitch(which bleeds undiscussed anger). You could just listen to this mixtape and bounce with the beats and hooks followed by hooks. I love how genuinely disturbed he sounds on Air Time it feels like watching The Dude lose it throughout the course of The Big Lebowksi. He always centers himself and maybe the beginning, the new haircut, is really the end. He goes through all the BS of bad relationships and people nipping at him for this and that and cuts the locks to start over. So its about feeling fresh again and what your ridding yourself of.
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Mixtape Review- Alley Shakur: The Soul of a Runaway Slave by Alley Boy
I think a lot of us are conditioned (through Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix examples) to believe that our most important artists burn brightly for a short moment and then leave the stage forever. It’s only as you get older that you realize how much better a career Audrey Hepburn had than Marilyn Monroe. At this stage a lot of my favorite artists are like Alley Boy not bound to burn the brightest but like a subway train there whenever I need him with the ability to get me where I need to be.
Alley Boy churns out mixtape after mixtape with startling consistency and ferocity. On his new mixtape Alley Shakur we aren’t even out of the Intro before he’s threatening to piss on his opponent’s graves and do physical harm to their children. Everyone prizes the good old fashioned NY Goon music well this is Atlanta Goon music, twenty one tracks of it. While its hardcore it doesn’t fit the bounce of the Trap movement and its too focused and lyrical to be Atlanta Pop Rap.
The connection this mixtape has to 2pac Shakur is supposed to be his seething anger and pursuit of truth but I don’t think that’s really it. All the interludes woven into the project lead us there but in reality Pac was the type of dude that made every song important and Alley wants to connect to his audience like that. Back when I was in the military during down times we would all put our headphones on and sing Hail Mary together in 2pac voice…it sounds silly now but it wasn’t, the song meant a lot to us. While Alley’s fantastically satisfying chanting on For The High captivates and demands re-listening I can’t even fathom Alley getting to that level. Partially because music doesn’t work like that anymore, we have so much of it we don’t attend it as well as we used too. Partially because Alley isn’t willing to get very personal on his music; try to find anything on Wholes or Too Many that’s personal beyond personally threatening.
Starlito, Kevin Gates, and Trey Songz don’t feature on talentless artists projects though. Alley Boy can switch from a song about hitting on a lady (Come On Over) to how wonderful he is (Great) and not betray his sensibilities while making them all fun. I couldn’t find production credits but all these tracks bounce and warrant copious bow throwing while containing admirable lyrical dexterity. Celebration uses the finger snap DJ Mustard feel, When I Ride could be on Jeezy’s first album. Alley Shakur is long but doesn’t feel like it because within the twenty one tracks we get a lot of different shades of the ATL goon sound.
It makes perfect sense that Alley was one of the guys Master P grabbed up when he re-emerged as his old self. No Limit was built on a roster of minor miracle artists that could absolutely kill verses, tracks, even albums while staying in the background waiting for their time. The theme of Alley Shakur is Alley asking when his time is. No matter when that is, a lot of people respect his grind.
download or stream Alley Shakur below:
Mixtape Review-By Any Means by Kevin Gates
A cynical person would probably say that Kevin Gates is a product of the modern rap landscape. A lot of his songs have to do with longing for female companionship or trapping and the melody in everything he says might be considered a post-Juvenile trait. As any reader of this site knows I am not cynical; Kevin Gates is a standout artist. If you gave ten of your current favorite rappers use the same beat same song concept alongside Gates he would have the version that sticks with you. It’s more than a skill at half-singing or his voice being a weapon of a thousand growl variations, Gates is a master of tempo and balance.
By Any Means is his new mixtape and more evidence of the thinker at work. His trap contribution Arm and Hammer growls and throttles your speakers but isn’t full of outrageous lies either just proper amounts of good humor, paranoia and determination. He brags along with the best of them on Amnesia showing genuine excitement over the birth of a child on Movie and one other thing I forgot to mention, no one feels betrayed better than Kevin Gates. The ability to swing from slyly not remembering people (Amnesia) to shaming those who betrayed his trust (Stop Lyin’) is an emotional strain. I’ve never heard a Kevin Gates song and thought to myself that he was doing this one for the club or to hit some target demo. It’s a saving grace especially when we get to the really gross sex songs. I’m not sure how a reasonable person could make it through Go Hard featuring Rico Love, where we hear dripping in the background while Rico croons a chorus about how he wants to give oral to his lady until she goes to sleep, unless we knew he was coming from an honest place. He is an honestly gross dude just like he’s an honest trapper or street tale storyteller, honest in the sense that he means it.
His internal rhyming is meticulous and everyone sounds great on songs with him. Plies sounds re-invigorated and 2 Chainz sounds ferocious. Production is handled by Dun Deal, V12 Tha Hitman, Beewirks, Honorable C-Note, The Runners and others and it’s exactly the Gates sound you found on Luca Brasi and Stranger Than Fiction; that big rippling boom brought to order by a true master of ceremonies. A conductor of the track who can make you cringe your way out of a head nod with shocking confessions like the car crash “don’t know how I’m walkin’” portion of the lead single Don’t Know. He sews little shocking fragments of stories into his verses that make you want to learn so much more. It’s not because he is in an emotional zone or it’s a topic on the top of his mind. He’s smart and knows how to lead an audience where he wants them. By Any Means doesn’t blow away any previous offerings, Stranger Than Fiction was the high point of his bouncing vocal changes and Luca Brasi felt like it told you everything you needed to know but once you are a fan of Gates music you are in it for the long haul. If you don’t understand you aren’t yet a fan.
stream or download By Any Means below: