Mixtape Review-Jugg King by Young Scooter
From afar I like Young Scooter. When I think about how much trap has changed and how much Scooter’s new mixtape Jugg King is right in the pocket of F.B.G. The Movie mixtape from 2013 my overactive mind wanders. Does Scooter see these new happier trappers and see them as a disservice? Does he look down on them appropriating dealer culture while clearly not having the experience in it (by their own admission)? Is Scooter going to see my review and respond to me on twitter? The answer to all these questions is no, a firm no.
Scooter came into rap with beautiful hooks and a hypnotizing flow dedicating every word to dealing and being independent and he is the same today. If you listen to the title track this isn’t one of those rappers who had a fire in his belly when he started and has become jaded. Jugg King’s hook declares it “I do what I want, you do what you can.” How could he be jaded? He never fell underneath Gucci or Future’s wing, never took a spot on a deep roster of MC’s clamoring for number one. He just forged good relationships and maintained them which is why you still see Metro Boomin and Zaytoven on the production list after all these years. This is why you haven’t heard from him in a while and he drops a mixtape featuring Young Thug, Meek Mill, Young Dolph, and Future.
You can listen to Jugg King front to back a few times without picking out favorite songs. Nothing throws Scooter off his spot, every verse is dope money and deceivers eating his dust. You can just press play and drive. Even surprising turns fade into comfort; Cassius Jay takes Gin and Juice and flips it into a trap beat for Young Scooter who makes OG Snoop an absolutely weird joy. On Cook Up Young Thug’s purposely distorted voice clicks into synergy with Scooter’s cocksure Juvenile sense of melody, that is the group album that should grow out of Jugg King.
Scooter is great with guests but does not need them. Streets on Fire is a straightforward hi hat first beat produced by Stack Boy Twaun and Scooter deals like it is life’s greatest joy “Jugghouse on a one way, I got four in a row I sold more pounds than Boston George, motherfuck Diego I just stuffed a thousand pounds in a Winnebago” I tip my hat to anyone who can bow out of Jugg King on moral implications. If you don’t want drug dealing to be glorified and Jugg King is too much of an advertisement for the wrong message I get it. Scooter is just too much of a snake charmer for me to let go. He knows how to sway with his tone in subtle softer ways like on Life which gets somber and mixes in anger, pride, shame, and parental joy.
His grand sense of DIY means I don’t even have to ponder his next move. He’s signed to his own label (Black Migo Gang). He’s the Xzibit of trap music. The same way X could jump on Snoop’s album, get Dre to produce for his album and never have to sign to any of them is how Scooter navigates between Freebandz (Future) and 1017 Brick Squad (Gucci) while never losing anyone’s respect. It’s impossible to even watch him sweat under the lights. He’s still smiling.
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Tagged 1017 Brick Squad, best mixtapes of 2017, Black Migo Gang, Cassius Jay, Freeband Gang, future, Gucci Mane, Jugg King, Meek Mill, Metro Boomin, mixtape review, Snoop Dogg, Stack Boy Twaun, Xzibit, young scooter, Young Thug, Zaytoven
Mixtape Review-Meekend Music by Meek Mill
The notion that your diss song is better so you kill your opponent’s careers is as real as Santa. Santa is grounded in a real factual dude from who cares how long ago who did stuff for his neighborhood but that dude is gone. The notion that Drake made a good song out of his response to Meek’s angry twitter feed and now Meek is over… is hilarious. That is probably how it worked for Busy Bee and Kool Moe Dee but let’s not pretend this hip hop is that hip hop. In this hip hop world what happened to Meek was great.
My proof is Meekend Music, the three song EP he dropped with two guests (A$AP Ferg & Young Thug). It showcases perfectly the two rules in any great Meek Mill release.
- The production needs to be weird. It’s not that Meek gets bored if the production is boring, normal Meek is good but just listen to the first song Lay. Honorable C-Note gives a trap beat pumped up by horns, with a marching band feeling and Meek delivers the best bars he has in years. The weirder the beat is (the more forward momentum it carries) the more snarling Meek gets and snarling is exactly who he really is. This is why it makes sense for A$AP Ferg to pop in; Ferg owns his gross tough guy chic and in order for Meek to achieve his best possible outcome he will need to do similar. The difference between the two is that Meek is great at fast flowing over beats that race against him. He loves to be pushed. Backboard puts him next to Young Thug and it makes more sense than most would think because while Meek has Philly tough as nails rap roots he’s also secretly weird and it is a key part of what makes him special.
- Too much Meek Mill is not good. If I had my way all his projects would be ten songs or less. On Meekend Music he doesn’t yell nearly as much as he has in the past(the beef and break up with Nicki seem to have focused him in on lyricism) but he has been guilty of yelling in place of real content before. Instead we get Left Hollywood where he reaffirms his identity and every emphasized second counts. Even when he isn’t shouting Meek has a tough time with album transitions and showcasing different dimensions on the journey of the listener. He needs to blast off and leave you wide eyed wanting more which is what Meekend Music is all about.
I hope he gets meaner and closer to his real on court personality. In basketball terms he is an Isiah Thomas, a smiling prince who is meaner than his competition. He cannot look to his left or right and cheat off his peers for answers. He is not in Drake’s lane he is in Raekwon’s lane. He has all the components to do great things and all this beefing did was stoke the drive. Now he just needs the right setting.
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Mixtape Review-Black Dollar by Rick Ross
Rick Ross has been artistically splitting in half recently. The dirty Miami bass of Hood Billionaire v. the wordy luxury of God Forgives, I Don’t. The smooth J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League Yacht Club sound of Deeper Than Rap v. the deep growling muscle of Lex Luger’s production on The Albert Anastasia Ep. The problem is not his capability to do both but the distance between the two versions of Ross. His new mixtape Black Dollar (it’s really a free album) answers the million dollar question: how do you bring it all together and make any sense out of the result?
J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League definitely leaves an imprint on Black Dollar they heighten rather than smooth out all the rough edges. The production on the first song Foreclosures is soulful to a ghostly extent that allows Ross to dig into the somber complexity of financial irresponsibility and the chaos that new money brings to the ecosystem around it. He doesn’t just talk about label deals and recouping he goes bigger “Young N’s time to act your wage! Buying belts you seen on other N’s waist. Ho’s F’ing for photos they want to post online, whole time shorty knowin’ I’m the gold mine.” The most J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League moment is without a doubt Icon featuring Anthony Hamilton which leverages Hamilton’s soulful voice against their plush landscape. The light piano keys might lead you to think this is a gentle celebratory song if not for Ross ceaselessly spitting fiery decadent gangsta brags.
Jay-z isn’t just directly mentioned on several occasions but the collaboration between Ross and Meek (World’s Finest) comes on a beat that flips the Reasonable Doubt beat Brooklyn’s Finest. Black Dollar as a whole has a jazzy/soulful production feel clearly derived from Jay’s Blueprint. He wanted to take the air out of that luxury all-white-on-a-boat music and do more than growl over dirty beats. The newer streamlined middle ground gives room for our narrator to just blow. His verses are long and breezy, words just roll into each other easily and we go from crack brags to restauranteur brags feeling the link.
Bill Gates is a weird beat with an odd chunky rhythm that not everyone could manage. It’s indicative of the lyrical development of Rick Ross. He reads Robert Greene books, balances his accounts, and writes verses. Knights of The Templar is creepy as heck partially because it develops out of a Scarface soundtrack sample but also due to how easily Ross can connect telling his story on Oprah to murder and then to Jake The Snake Roberts.
If anything feels out of place, for me, it’s Money & The Powder which is a thick slow thump through a chorus that gets repeated far too often. It’s not a bad song it just doesn’t fit amongst the finest content present elsewhere. By contrast, Drive a Nigga Crazy is by far my favorite song on the mixtape and one of my favorite songs this year. The strings attack your ears and the beat backs it up. Ross sounds at his most confident and his flow is straight up hypnosis
The only features on Black Dollar are people Ross loves to be on songs with: Meek Mill, Wale, Future, The Dream, Anthony Hamilton, Gucci Mane who has the best guest verse, and August Alsina). However you feel about the bawse the rap world is a far more interesting place with Rick Ross, Young Jeezy, and Gucci Mane at their best. They provide motivation for the hard heads; the people who don’t care how good Drake is, dudes who want prison weight lifting music or young men huddled in smoke boxed vehicles getting motivated. Sure the streets need Rick Ross but not just the streets you’re thinking of. Rick Ross’s sonic universe is Game of Thrones at this point; even if you don’t watch you HAVE to know what’s going on.
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Tagged 2015 albums, 2015 mixtapes, Anthony Hamilton, Black Dollar, Gucci Mane, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, Jay-Z, Lex Luger, luxury, Maybach Music, Meek Mill, MMG, Reasonable Doubt, Rick Ross, the two rick ross's, v. hood, Young Jeezy
Mixtape Review-I Am King by Trae The Truth
The sound most affiliated with Houston hip hop is the one we all remember from Mike Jones (and Paul Wall). The gleeful gold grilled riding music that Drake has brought back into every stereo. A lot of the country knows the name DJ Screw but wasn’t around Texas during his height when slowed down 2pac songs played in grocery stores and croaked from car windows. Even fewer recall that horrorcore hip hop originated in Houston with The Geto Boys.
It seems only fitting that the same guy who socked Mike Jones in the face at the height of his fame now steps into the spotlight with the darkest Houston project in years. I Am King is 20 tracks long (with 6 unnecessary skits) and largely the product of Trae the Truth’s relentless guest verse grind. He has smashed tracks with everyone in the industry which is why he can make an event mixtape like I Am King that features: TI, Young Jeezy, Diddy, Meek Mill, B.O.B., Lupe Fiasco, Krayzie Bone, Da Brat, Big Krit, Jadakiss, Snoop Dogg, and a Floyd Mayweather personal reference interlude.
My book on Trae previous to this was that he could ALWAYS give you a fantastic verse but his mixtapes were freestyle hodgepodges largely unorganized and hard to listen too. If you’ve never heard Trae he has a voice like a dying robotic Clint Eastwood and it becomes grating after a while. I Am King threw the book out. On Stay Trill(Bill Collector) it’s not just two of the catchiest artists of all time hookery (Roscoe Dash and Krayzie Bone) making the song stick in your brain. Trae starts his verse in a pleasant sway I had no idea was in his arsenal. By the time Roscoe jumps in the song is already awesome. Trae also navigates a League of Starz air horn/hand clap ratchet beat without feeling like he’s challenged himself at all.
The hits on I Am King really hit. The first real song Hold Up features Young Jeezy Diddy and TI and bangs just as hard as it should. No matter who shows up the vibe never changes. Trae is keeping both eyes open carefully searching for disloyalty and lacing raspy warnings over old school Rick Ross feeling thick hardcore instrumentals. I Am King ,in a few words, is hip hop heavy metal. It has exceptions like the sparkling Old School where things turn quite playalistic. Trae not only macks many women but exercises till he gets a cramp which feels like a very pimpish thing to do. Snoop shows up and vibes out with a good verse. The contemplative(Big Krit assisted) I Believe also breaks the heavyness.
Meek Mill destroys his Ride With Me verse but coming off Dreamchasers 3 we should have anticipated that. I Am King is more than proof that Trae is the truth or can rap his ass off in any number of situations. It’s the mixtape I always used to snicker that he couldn’t make. Houston is full of talented underachievers with the skill to create music at the very highest level. They never get there. Trae The Truth absolutely did and the entire time he yelled I AM KING so all I could do was nod. Well Played.
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Tagged DJ Screw, Dreamchasers 3, Geto Boys, Horrorcore, Houston hip hop, I Am King, Meek Mill, Mike Jones facepunch, mixtape reviews, Roscoe Dash, Trae The Truth, Young Jeezy
Mixtape Review-Dreamchasers 3 by Meek Mill
The Dreamchasers series of mixtapes have all seemed like big screen blockbusters that almost hit the mark. Something like the Oceans series with stars everywhere, slick lush backdrops but something missing. That something in my eyes was always cohesion. You could mark out the first two Dreamchasers in thirds: one great third, one terrible third and the other forgettable. Never should anyone question Meek’s level of skill however. Anyone in doubt about that need only go back to his Mr. Philadelphia mixtape and hear Meek run circles around the most outrageous beats while never even having his limits in view.
Dreamchasers 3 is the blockbuster done right (Oceans 13). Every song belongs exactly where it is and while the stars are certainly out (Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, Fabulous, Jadakiss, Diddy, French Montana, Future, Yo Gotti, Mase) and the sonic back drop is big screen (production from Cardo, Southside, and Boi-1da) Meek handles a lot of this himself. The super catchy melody that makes Make Me is Meek by himself, complimenting his automatic weapon flow with the right beat and the right chorus.
As much of a big screen smash as Dreamchasers 3 was intended to be chemistry is still a huge part of its equation. Absolutely no one shows up who shouldn’t be there. On Right Now and My Life French Montana and Meek go so well together I was tweeting about the need for a group mixtape from them during my first listening of the tape. The only other multi-appearance verses go to Nicki, Fabulous and Ross. Ross and Mill still do a great Batman and Robin on Rich Porter and Dope Dealer where brick talk braggadocio and hater hate mix seamlessly.
DJ Drama still has insane adlibs he tosses in that stick in your head (although less of them than normal). Corey Gunz explodes out of the big smash posse track Right Now to deliver an impressive guest verse where he hits every word like a boxer hitting a speed bag. As Driven as Meek is on Dreamchasers 3 it doesn’t just seem like a drive that results from being underrated for too long. Some of that drive to succeed is a tribute to his fallen comrade Lil Snupe. Meek has always done really well with dealing out anger in his music, it’s a pivotal driving force for him and its laser focused on the track Lil N_ Snupe. He spits at warp speed but if you really listen you can hear stuff like “they telling me I ain’t s#*t I made it for my father I just hope you pray for me matter fact sing for me…Lil Snupe…they killed my lil N_ Snupe…My Lil N_ was the truth…and all he wanted was a coupe…so what’s a N_ supposed to do? Tell them put the guns down or tell these lil N_’s shoot? Cause they’ll do the same thing to me do the same s#%t to you…” He’s not just struggling with the death of a dear friend but the resulting violence, he’s smart enough to stand back and ponder the cycle of violence that retribution creates. You can feel his exasperation two minutes in when he says “Where the love at? Where the love at? I’ll give up all of this money to get lil cuz back…”
However I felt about his previous mixtapes, liking some and disliking others, I always liked Meek. When he’s given the right stage he’s one of the top 4 talents in rap and Dreamchasers 3 is that stage. From the I’m Leanin’ intro with Travis Scott and Diddy to the soulful Black Metaphor produced outro The End he blasts through every verse and if your heads not nodding…check your neck.
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