Tag Archives: mike will made it

Mixtape Review-In Tune We Trust by Lil Wayne

Mixtape Review-In Tune We Trust by Lil Wayne

by Dan-O

Looking back on what Wayne accomplished is shocking, even if you start at 2007. By the end of 2008 he had sold 2.88 million copies of Carter III and changed how pop rap albums sound forever. He created the pop mixtape market with his Dedication series that started in 2005. Wayne didn’t fall out of touch he savagely experimented and when he was wrong he was so committed to that wrong that it was unbearable (see Rebirth).

The lessons Wayne teaches are all present on In Tune We Trust which is likely a collection of loosies he had hanging around.  Loyalty kicks off the mixtape with a brilliant first verse from Gudda Gudda. The key here is the beat by ChefBoy’RT is simple but filled with kinetic energy that drives at Weezy speed. Wayne taught us all what energy is. Whenever you hear Kendrick get into his take-over-the-world flow you know that comes from Weezy. In an interview Isaiah Rashad called Wayne the Michael Jordan of rap! You can debate the comparison but even on the low stakes freestyle Magnolia you marvel at how easy the art is for him.

The best song is Fireworks produced by Mike Will Made It. Jeezy kicks off the track with a great verse that puts Wayne into his perfect zone. While Jeezy has a pinpoint verse about success and drug dealing, Weezy wanders and jokes (“whip it like a big booty b__ like a cup of coffee with a spoon in it”) with the flow of a master and the mentality of a thirty four year old perverted Dennis The Menace. The difference in the two approaches makes the song work stand out.

The four song length of In Tune We Trust sets expectations low but it is a reminder that while you may think of Weezy as last era’s guy he is the same age as Future. He has just been professionally rapping before he could legally buy cigarettes.   I am dead sure that when he does get his label situation right his next album will be a monster.

Stream or download In Tune We Trust below:



Kendrick to Ice Cube: Damn is the Death Certificate of his catalog

Kendrick to Ice Cube: Damn is the Death Certificate of his catalog

by Dan-O

It is very well established that To Pimp A Butterfly has a direct connection to Tupac’s Me Against The World.  If you don’t believe it go to https://freemusicempire.com/2016/06/09/nihilism-in-rap-music-2pac-shakur-me-against-the-world/ and do the full podcast run. I think Kendrick has a different base point this time that accomplishes a very different thing.

Before Death Certificate Ice Cube was definitely respected, his first solo album Amerikkka’s Most Wanted is one of the best rap albums ever released with wonderful production from the bomb squad but his follow up is more in every way. In 1991 we didn’t have a real understanding of the concept album in hip hop. Death Certificate gives a template that you can still follow.

First step: Start with scorched earth

Both Damn and Death Certificate start with a brief intro into a scorched earth don’t F_ with me song.  The scorched earth first song gives the emcee absolute command and leaves the audience wide eyed and patiently awaiting more. Some of the old classical composers used to write massive swells into their symphony’s to wake up anyone in the audience sleeping. This method is very similar. Cube starts by yelling “GOD DAMN! It’s a brand new payback!” He shouts half of the first verse to make sure you are dialed in.

Mike Will Made It laces a world rattling bassline and Kendrick is off to the races daring us to catch up. With a minute and seven seconds left in DNA we hear Geraldo spewing his evil nonsense and then Kendrick is back spitting in response while the sample scratches. This switch is to let you know that while Kendrick lives in a very confusing world where he is used as a political football, etc he will never be drowned out by it. Same reason Ice Cube called his first song The Wrong Nigga to Fuck Wit.

Ice Cube-Wrong Nigga To Fuck Wit

Kendrick Lamar-DNA

Second Step: Takedown

Ice Cube tried to be nice on Amerikkka’s Most Wanted.  He didn’t spend a second on N.W.A.  After Niggaz4Life (where N.W.A. feverishly threw shots left, right and center) Cube had no choice and took command of the music industry for the next five years with the most unforgiving diss premise of all time. On No Vaseline he is saying you are being raped without lubricant and I am not.

If Kendrick had a No Vaseline moment it was probably that Control verse. He did bring that back in the lead up to this album, The Heart Part 4 with the second verse “My fans can’t wait for me to son ya punk ass and crush ya whole lil shit. I’ll Big Pun ya punk-ass, you scared lil’ bitch. Tiptoein’ around my name, nigga, you lame and when I get at you, homie. Don’t you just tell me you was just playin'” Kendrick doesn’t think of the rap world as full of people individually important enough to diss. He has his reasons.

Ice Cube-No Vaseline

Kendrick Lamar-The Heart Part 4

Kendrick Lamar-Control

Third Step: Vision

Ice Cube was consumed with correcting the perception of blackness. His second verse on True To The Game is absolutely the father of a lot of discussion on DAMN.

“When you first start rhyming It started off slow and then you start climbing But it wasn’t fast enough I guess So you gave your other style a test You was hardcore hip-hop Now look at yourself, boy you done flip-flopped Giving our music away to the mainstream Don’t you know they ain’t down with the team They just sent they boss over Put a bug in your ear and now you crossed over On MTV but they don’t care They’ll have a new nigga next year You out in the cold No more white fans and no more soul And you might have a heart attack When you find out the black folks don’t want you back And you know what’s worse? You was just like the nigga in the first verse Stop selling out your race And wipe that stupid-ass smile off your face Niggas always gotta show they teeth Now I’m a be brief Be true to the game”

1991 Ice Cube wanted to be in control of every aspect of his presentation and was very frustrated by people who just didn’t have the determination to shoulder that responsibility. Kendrick talks about this on verse 2 of Feel “I feel like debating on who the greatest can stop it. I am legend, I feel like all of y’all is peasants. I feel like all of y’all is desperate.” The lesson to learn from DAMN is the one rap learned from Cube in 1991. The best rapper is not that because of pure mic skill. The best rapper in the world has command and vision. The best rapper gives you vulnerable personal experiences like Cube on Doing Dumb Shit and Kendrick on Duckworth.  Political messages might be overt or laced inside the songs but the total concept and vision will be challenging even if it offends you sometimes. The best rapper brings his own sound to the table (Sir Jinx for Cube, Sounwave for Kendrick).

Ice Cube-True To The Game

Kendrick Lamar-Feel

Top 5 Takeaways from 2 Future Albums in 2 Weeks

Top 5 Takeaways from 2 Future Albums in 2 Weeks

by Dan-O

Future just released back to back #1 albums (Future and HNDRXX). I wanted to provide five things to think about as you digest this mass of content. Are these in order of importance?

Don’t be a nerd. No one cares.

  1. Who is Dre Moon?

Dre Moon is 3 for 3 on HNDRXX (Solo, Incredible, and Hallucinating) with some of my absolute favorite songs. I clicked on his Wikipedia page and it says he wrote Drunk In Love and produced a bunch of beloved Drake songs (off Nothing Was The Same). He also produced I Be U, I’ll Be Yours, and Side Effects off Future’s Honest album(which I think is underrated). I am very glad Future has a relationship with Dre Moon and apparently more people should. He provides a rich sound, a large musical world that never seems crowded.

2. Nothing Future Does is haphazard

Future puts out a lot of music. Even Young Thug told him he should slow down. At times, Future has released bad albums and tastemakers have pronounced his run over only to be embarrassed by the success that followed. Future is like Gucci Mane in that he will release a ton of content and 70% of it is great but that thirty percent is still a lot of bad music and in this fickle age it always seems like he is close to falling off.

3.You can be like Future but you cannot be Future

Future just released 34 songs in two weeks and both albums went number one. Be careful about going big picture and turning to your friends with a simple “this is how things are now,” explanation. This is not how things are for Kendrick or Wale etc etc. Future works better loose and in a zone. If you think it’s easy and your just going to autotune your voice and shout “Content! Content! Content!” you won’t be Future. Desiigner is promising but he is not Future. Future is not mumble rap. Future is really vividly articulating his emotional state of mind like a blockbuster movie. On HNDRXX especially you can hear every word he says.

4. Previously Future’s beef with Ciara has been ugly but now that ugly is terrifying

The Future mixtape Project E.T. made me unhappy.  As good as anything on there was that Juice song Future did about killing Ciara was no Bueno. This isn’t a double racial standard. I didn’t like it when Marshall Mathers did the killing my ex songs. HNDRXX takes the anguish Future feels about the relationship and takes it to new emotional heights. Testify never comes right out and declares her as subject matter but it’s mad creepy. As he sings “Anything we go through is a test of times. Can you be the one who loves me all the time?” my hairs stood up on end and then the song ends with him hauntingly repeating “confess your love for me…testify” as his voice fades out.  The scariest Ciara moment is CLEARLY My Collection. A superbly disturbing analysis of the mind state a man has after a broken relationship. If you’re looking for  TMI moments they are plentiful from crooning “this codeine ain’t got nothin’ to do with my little child!”   “She told me she was an angel, she F*&#ed two rappers and three sangers.” The hook is paralyzingly gross without any swearing “…even if I hit you once you part of my collection.” The diseased mind that holds these women in some sort of mental art museum is something Future consciously wanted to observe. It’s clear that part of this is in him and part of this is an artist analyzing the emotions that could happen if he doesn’t let go. The complexity of his anger is so marvelously rendered you can’t be mad. It’s terrifying but the beautiful kind.

5. Future is bigger than trap

Think of it the same way we do Mike Will Made It. When Trap was at its white hottest he was lacing Gucci Mane and giving the genre definition (Metro Boomin certainly took the baton and ran) and now you see his production credits in The Grammys Song of The Year category because he produced Beyoncé’s biggest hit off her new album Lemonade. Future still makes rough and tumble Trap, just listen to Scrape or Draco on the self-titled album, but he smashes pop songs as well.  Selfish is the duet with Rihanna which comes to mind first but Incredible is a friendly radio hit. Aside from pop songs  HNDRXX has one song with vocals from Mayer Hawthorne and production by Jake One (Lookin’ Exotic).  Anyone predict that collaboration? He works with DJ Mustard and Detail for that finger snapping ratchet movement and he knocks it all out of the park. This is what Mike Will taught us about the process. Just because Future started in Trap and elevated it, doesn’t mean that is his limitation. He’s incredibly durable and bubbling over creatively.

Mixtape Review-MMM by Diddy

Mixtape Review-MMM by Diddy

by Dan-O

Diddy is a human tapeworm. His musical career is characterized by the systematic withdrawal of artistic vitality from those he worked with; G. Dep, Black Rob, Shyne, Loon, Craig Mack and on and on. The distaste I have for Diddy is both cavernous and voluminous in ways that should not be expanded upon. No matter how hostile your relationship to him is no one can deny how good he is as a musical strategist and his new mixtape MMM which stands for Money Makin’ Mitch is absolute proof of that.

How could 2015 music from Diddy not seem dated? He’s richer than god from selling liquor and clothes and doesn’t write his own verses. His label’s biggest star is a poor recalibration of Yelawolf (not sorry Machine Gun Kelly). One key ingredient is that Puff really performs these verses and doesn’t pay for wack ones.  On the first real song of the mixtape, Harlem, he takes the first two minutes and forty seconds of the three minutes and thirty six seconds to dominate the song alone(then Grizzle comes in). He clearly doesn’t need to do this but he really invests himself in it. His opening verse on the fantastic collaboration Auction (with King Los, Styles P, and Lil Kim) is airtight and damn near steals the song. The production is genius throughout borrowing just enough from Trap music to feel modern but maintaining the personality of that Harlem World swagger. The Hitmen produce but Hit Boy does 2 beats, Young Chop does 2 as well (Auction is one), TM88, Mike Will Made It and Harry Fraud are also in the mix. 

Diddy also knows when enough is enough so he limits the mixtape to thirteen tracks with a few interludes. The theme of the project is conceptualized on the intro,Facts, this mixtape is a fictionalization story of a magical hustler who doesn’t take a hard fall at the end like every  real hustler. Money Makin’ Mitch goes happily ever after. This opens the door to endless swagger and guest verses from Travis Scott, Big Sean, Ty Dolla Sign sounds fantastic on You Could Be My Lover, and Future comes through for the title track.

The problem a lot of us are having with MMM is it comes off as a label showcase, a reclaiming of the narrative for Bad Boy as a label….but who is on Bad Boy? French Montana is all over MMM but not in an exciting way he’s the same old French, great hooks and ad libs but not saying much. All the biggest stars on MMM are imports like Ty Dolla Sign, Future, Styles P, and Jadakiss. King Los isn’t on Bad Boy anymore but he definitely shows up, thing is if you didn’t know who Los was before this isn’t going to get you into him. If this is a set up for Puff’s album then it works but what happened to Puff going after talent? Remember when he grabbed hardened street lyricists and polished them into finished stars (Shyne, Biggie, Craig Mack, Black Rob)? I have a list in my head of who would really fit on Bad Boy (1. ASAP ROCKY 2. Action Bronson 3. Troy Ave) but Diddy is throwing energy down the French Montana, Machine Gun Kelly sink hole and that’s his business. I remember when he used to do things we didn’t expect and if he still cares as much as this mixtape makes it seem…he should think about changing directions.

Stream or download MMM below:


Mixtape Review-Necessary Evil: The Preface by Yung Joey

Mixtape Review-Necessary Evil: The Preface by Yung Joey

by Dan-O

However you feel about the trap and drill section of the rap universe when you see a mixtape with production credits that include Southside, 808 Mafia, Metro Boomin, Mike Will Made It and features from LL Cool J and Dej Loaf…you have to take notice. Instead of putting out another long and arduous 19 track mixtape where all the production sounds the same (common in the trap/drill world) Yung Joey gives us a project that is equal parts lean and mean.

The combination of the massive ugly thump that well done Trap production provides and the slick Jamaica Queens delivery of Joey creates a different vibe. His reference points are different (see: out of nowhere Silence of The Lambs mention on What Up) and he’s not married to the vocal meter Trap usually necessitates. His slick NY goon talk is always visceral and hostile matching the production perfectly, but he doesn’t need to shout to be scary.

While some of the beats kind of sound like bass avalanches others are smokey and soaring. Big Dawg is produced by Southside, 808 Mafia and Metro Boomin’ which is like having the three producers of the strongest coffee brew a batch together. Not only is the bass overwhelming but it has hisses whirs and pops going in the background that are positively fascinating. Joey raps fast when the time is right and slows down, elongating his swears, when the time is right.

The promising part of Necessary Evil is that its best parts are merely teasers. You can’t begrudge a mixtape for leading you into the album and ReRock ,in particular, is quite effective at this. The version here is one minute and thirty seconds long but I’m certain the full song is saved somewhere safe for the official release. It’s too nasty and gorgeous to just hand out as some sort of interlude. Doe Pesci makes it spooky and thumping while Joey whips drugs like he’s whipping up grits. Doe does four of the ten total tracks and really does have the best ear for what Joey hopes to achieve. A window into the present day and future that incorporates the fun and street sensibilities of trap while staying true to all the complex contradictory elements of a NY rap personality. Road To Riches sounds like it could be on a Mobb Deep album if Doe hadn’t tweaked it fifteen degrees into trap territory.

So Joey can pull off classic NY sound enough to make LL Cool J comfortable and fresh on I Can Tell You (thank you The Audible Doctor). He sings the chorus and doesn’t try to overextend his voice. Joey works his strengths and lays a mean verse into the proceedings. Lyrically he doesn’t change the world on Necessary Evil but he does enough to keep your eyes wide open and your ears attentive. When he says “So much pressure to be great the sh## be stressin’ me, my cousin F’d the game I told him keep it wet for me…” on the song High it sends a tremor of surprise through you. He just knows those push button phrases and where to sprinkle them, how to take advantage of the spotlight they draw to convey what he wants to say. I was guilty of not paying enough attention to Joey before this but if he can step up with this many people behind him and win like this…I need to do my homework. Add another page to the book of people on the move. 

Stream or download Necessary Evil: The Preface below:


Mixtape Review-Blue Dream & Lean 2 by Juicy J

Mixtape Review-Blue Dream & Lean 2 by Juicy J

by Dan-O

If you don’t like Juicy J Blue Dream & Lean 2 is not going to change your mind. If you are a fan of the raucous king of repugnant imagery and gleeful mischief this is a must hear. Juicy doesn’t just give you the hardcore you are used too but a little more than you’d expect.

We’ve written pretty extensively about Juicy on the site and most interestingly about his age and the fight he’s waged against it. Most artists are forced to develop and acknowledge growth as they get older but Juicy still seems his most content on songs like Anybody where he’s choking necks, blowing grass and daring anybody to bring violence to him. That point in the song where he says something really really nasty, planting an image in your head you won’t get out, that’s when you hear Juicy’s voice perked and engaged. He’s scratching his nails on the chalkboard staring right into your face and laughing.  #ClockworkJuicy

That being said Juicy has tempo changes on this one, gear shifts that he doesn’t always use. Stoners Night 3 feels like it should be sped up and made into a Saturday-Night-get-crazy anthem but its mid tempo, Don’t Trust has horror movie piano and a deep baseline with an ominous chorus. When he says “How can a N trust any one of you clowns? When my own family let me down,” it feels like he is taking his hands from the chalkboard and really talking to us. It’s crazy and happens a few times.

The most prominent example of Juicy pulling aside the curtains and really opening up is his last verse on All I Need.  He starts the song throwing nasty sex talk combinations; dirty vaginas, blowjobs, etc and hands off to K Camp who swaggers all over the track. This is all very standard in the Juicy J universe and its fun but that last verse goes in a totally different direction  “Damn I miss the 90’s, yeah sh#$ was wild. We were living like rock stars dropping Mystic Stylez. Ain’t nobody else believe in what we was putting down. N almost homeless trying to get it off the ground.” It’s the most interesting moment of the project. He talks about how hard it was and how the times have turned and Three 6 has influenced everything, in his own words he speaks of his old Three 6 gang and says he loves them and calls them brothers as his voice echoes the words. For someone following the hostility between Juicy and the old gang this was a jaw dropping moment. I wasn’t happy because I need him to collaborate with Gangsta Boo again; he deserves to be content in his legacy and I’m glad he can look back fondly on the experiences without chewing on the bitterness of small disagreements.

My favorite song is Smoked Out, Dabbed Out which moves at an inch worms pace creating the slowest moving head nod of all time. It feels like uncompromising Juicy translated into summer BBQ music.  At least 5 of the 17 songs give production credit to the collective of Juicy J, Crazy Mike and Lil Awree which means Juicy was plugged into this. He didn’t just grab whatever beats were in his email. That doesn’t mean this mixtape is perfect. Workin Hard is just Juicy saying Workin Hard over and over again so I could definitely delete that. Film feels more like a Future song than a Juicy one and those two types of songs are so different that it doesn’t fit. All that said Blue Dream & Lean 2 feels like a new Juicy and the same old Juicy. As shocking as his reflections are on All I Need he sounds like he’s going to LOVE taking revenge on Do It To Em. If you own any Three 6 Mafia you need to download this as its bookend.

Stream or download Blue Dream & Lean 2 below:

Song Review-Money Counter by Two-9 produced by Charlie Heat

Song Review-Money Counter by Two-9 produced by Charlie Heat

by Dan-O

This whole who-killed-who-on-the-track way of thinking is post-Eminem v. Jay on Renegade(on The Blueprint). That’s not how we listened to rap music when real groups existed. To be honest my favorite groups were the ones where I never thought about whose verse I was listening too. The song was dope, the album was dope. If you ask yourself why hip hop isn’t filled with important groups today look no further than this difference; every modern collaboration seems judged by a power rankings philosophy of who did what on the track. This is the only way I would consider the new Two-9 mixtape B4FRVR old school.

They sound so good together, just chattering before the song starts, handing off the mic after laying blustering joyful toughguy verses that you sometimes forget this is five guys. This is a group of smaller groups that became a massive group. B4FRVR is rock solid night riding music with fun southern production shaded a little darker than you might be used too. It has multiple Mike Will Made It beats(3 credits total) as well as one from Metro Boomin and features from Wiz Khalifa, Ty Dolla $ign, Swae Lee of Rae Sremmurd so these guys are known.

The chemistry between members is so good it’s not a competition it’s a song. This isn’t sports, its art; functioning under a menacing determined vision. Two-9 music can only get bigger from here and judging from Money Counter they have the foundation to withstand getting much bigger.