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:
The Yellow Album
For proof positive that you are listening to an artist with the potential for pop rap stardom not just hip hop notoriety press play; The Yellow Album sounds like a platinum seller that should be in every Target you step in. An easy to way to judge this is to listen closely at the two highest profile guests: Kendrick Lamar on We Ball and Rick Ross on Gold Alpinas. We Ball is produced by the marvelous Chase N Cashe and sounds exactly like the kind of minimalist piano driven banger TDE generates (this makes sense because a lot of the TDE production team crosses over with Dom’s). Kendrick calmly leads us into his bubbling flow and sizzling bravado. Ross sounds so giddy to be a part of the DrewByrd produced Gold Alpinas that you can almost hear him debating if he’s going to put the song on his next album. The Aaliyah sample leads the song but the drums destroy it.
The Yellow Album would sound great if no one spoke a word on it. DJ Dahi and THC from the TDE camp do a lot of great work crafting beats that grow from a central element feeling instantly resonant. The masterstroke of production is resisting the bad instinct to either overstuff the beat or starve it. It takes a sharp musical mind to know when something is done. Just listen to the swirling hypnotism of 50 Conversations. Put that on and drive somewhere; see if the universe doesn’t fold into itself for six minutes or so.
Lyrically Dom has his chest out more than ever. This is a natural part of dropping successful project after successful project while others flounder. That being said he’s still a goof who says things like “Play this while you sleep so you never have to sleep alone (50 Conversations).” When I say goofy I mean that in a positive way, he always seems earnest especially on lines like “If you happy being you I F$%& with you on the strength (1 25).” He doesn’t have tough songs for the male fans and candles in the moonlight songs for the ladies; it’s all a jumble of what’s in his mind. Even as he raps alongside the Darth Vader of modern gangsta rap , Freddie Gibbs, his thoughts are scattered: from tracing his hip hop lineage from Melle Mel to modern day, to women on cocaine, and people in jail. Gibbs comes on the track like a shark with a laser attached; focused and mean. All the greatest lyricists rap alongside Dom cause 1. he isn’t afraid to talk about something straight up true but often unmentioned or goofy 2. he will never play the trying to kill you on the song game where he adds supplemental verses to dwarf yours. This is a dude who ends his biggest most pop friendly album with a track called P H (meaning peace and happiness) where he chuckles while saying “I be counting all this cash I get….shout out to my baby mama…cause she be paying half the rent!”
None of the old laws of hip hop seem to apply to Dom Kennedy. The thing I like is that he’s always smart enough to obey the old ones that make sense for him.
I can’t find the flippin’ audiomack link I found before so BOOM!
stream or download The Yellow Album via DJ BOOTH
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Tagged audiomack, Chase N Cashe, DJ Booth, Dj Dahi, Dom Kennedy, Drewbyrd, Freddie Gibbs, Gold Alpinas, hip hop, Kendrick Lamar, Melle Mell, mixtape reviews, Rick Ross, TDE, THC, The Yellow Album, west coast hip hop
Mixtape Review-Gold Bottles by Ziggy x C-Note
My family loves the movie Tombstone. It’s not the greatest movie of all time but we can never seem to look away. The mustaches, the camera angles, the Shakespearean arc of Ringo and Doc Holiday just work. Everything is in the right place.I can name fifty five movies that mean more to me, that are more important to film history, and I never watch them. Not at the rate at which I consume Kurt Russell and crew.
Gold Bottles is the audio equivalent. Its brevity is part explanation. The ten track mixtape with nothing out of place always has an advantage. It’s a complete and seamless collaboration between the production of C-Note and Ziggy’s lyrical assuredness. It doesn’t really have any standout tracks and is somehow comfortable sounding old school and new school, vain and thoughtful, materialistic and discreet.
If you are used to the wild world of Trap Rap you would see a song title like Mexican and plan for the worst; anticipating a chorus of screaming racially cringe worthy stuff like “ROLLING WITH ALL MY HOMIES LIKE WE MEXICAN!!!” Instead what we get is a bubbling baseline and cold confident boasts with a chorus about living and learning (the song gets its title from an offhand reference “good weed and expensive champagne, this sh#$ is from Costa Rica I can’t even say the name. They claim I need to behave cause I be on some extra sh*^ my Guatemalan chick hate when I call her Mexican.”). The production is straightforward and bumping, feeling more in line with a definition of boom bap than ratchet. It still carries some light finger snap club tendencies but that is background. The mid tempo pace of drum and bass matches Ziggy’s easy transition from one verse to the next.
While the title track is definitely about being rich enough to drink out of Gold Bottles it doesn’t ever alienate you through the brag. The bottles are purely symbolic, it’s the work that remains topic as the song begins with the line “Up early and working I know the grind well. N’s rather copy than ever think for theyselves. That’s why I’m back to myself, writing alone. Trying to find that hunger I had at 9 years old.” The edict given on the chorus that “family and money important all that other sh#$ isn’t” is real talk without ever coming across as preachy. This isn’t struggle music or D-boy music. It’s reflective strong and flashy in the sense of brazenly wearing its confidence.
It’s also crazy soulful. The Gold Outro shows the masterful sampling C-Note runs along with his boom. He never overloads a song with too many elements but this certainly doesn’t feel like a minimalist approach. The beat never feels like it has been stripped of anything. Along with that Ziggy says “Go get your money young man…” with the casual touch of an older brother or family friend. It never comes across as rich rapper bark. The last track on this mixtape ends feeling almost as soulful as a 90’s Goodie Mobb outro.
Only two guest show up: Royce on Gold (Raise Ya Glass) and Taj Withers on Roll With Us. Most of the time (even on the songs listed previously since the guests do chorus work) the voice we hear is Ziggy who without crazy vocal acrobatics or scientifical raps is irrepressibly listenable. The same way I turn to my wife and say “We could always watch Tombstone…” I always come back to Gold Bottles even as high profile experimental mixtapes drop. None of them feel as form fitted for my ears as Gold Bottles.
Stream or download Gold Bottles below:
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Tagged C-Note, Doc Holiday, Gold Bottles, Kurt Russell, mixtape reviews, Royce, San Jose, Taj Withers, Thizzler.com, Tombstone, west coast hip hop, Ziggy
Mixtape Review-Fukk Fame by Frenchie
Everybody has one of those cheesy action movies they just love. For a buddy of mine it’s Hudson Hawk. For me it’s The Last Boy Scout with Damon Wayans and Bruce Willis. This year Frenchie’s Fukk Fame is the mixtape equivalent. It’s soaked in autotune, a brisk ten tracks without a single meditative reflection song. A lot of trap and drill music this year has made 2 mistakes: a) making the music so serious its not fun b) packaging hardcore material alongside really silly insulting love songs. Frenchie has been around long enough to avoid both mistakes.
If Fukk Fame is a satisfying action movie track 4 Birds and Keys is the car chase pinnacle. DJ Pain 1 adds adrenaline and razor sharp samples to the bridge of any beat he constructs (but this one especially) and a Trae Tha Truth guest verse is solid gold in 2014. Frenchie has a line that says “My daddy made me with vodka and cocaine,” and follows it with neighborhood toughs shooting the casket at a funeral to make sure someone they killed is really dead.
Frenchie makes several attempts at singing that are so bad they are awesome. It helps that none of the hooks feel like some drunken audible at the line of scrimmage. When you hear him have a go at the chorus for Fun he’s really trying to nail it. The mixtape begins with So Long as our narrator croons in warbly robot voice that makes very serious content seem campy. Lyrics on Fukk Fame seem to be half and half serious and silly (whether conscious or unconsciously). In the aforementioned track So Long he says “Told the psychic I wish I could get my friends back, she said they close to you.” While the thought of the deceased staying close to us is poignant, it’s a bit silly to lay such an emotional moment at the hand of a lady in a fake gypsy outfit who has a big goofy hand with an eyeball in the center on her window. If one line from this mixtape represents what I like about Frenchie and Fukk Fame it comes as the first rapped line on Oh No; a Sonny Digital produced banger. Frenchie starts “I bet you can’t do it like me….” And pauses as if he’s going to follow up with the customary $500 jeans and private boat brags then goes left “…but why would you wanna do it like me? I would never want to do it like you!” It’s a brash line and its 100% true. Frenchie didn’t find success off someone else’s blueprint so why would you try it that way?
The mix of frustration, death, partying, and sillyness comes across as a more authentic mix even at its ham fisted height (see track 9: Move On) than anyone in the BSM universe has presented this year. Frenchie is able to find freshness in his sound where others go through the motions because he’s a passionate dude and connects with his music. The beats are fresh but they aren’t from anyone you wouldn’t expect: 808 Mafia, Fatboi, Tino. The difference is he’s all the way plugged in and that energy raises everyone’s bar.
Stream or Download Fukk Fame below:
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Tagged 808 mafia, brick squad, cheesy action movie hip hop, DJ Pain 1, Fatboi, Frenchie, Fukk Fame, Hudson Hawk, mixtape reviews, Sonny Digital, The Last Boy Scout, Tino, Trae The Truth
Mixtape Review-Zero Fucks Given by Emilio Rojas
The first song of every single Emilio Rojas project is absolute fire. He starts off things the way Ice Cube used too with that “EVERYBODY MAKE WAY I AM ABOUT TO DOMINATE” song. He does it yet again on his new mixtape Zero Fucks Given “Nobody help we did this on our Fing own. All these other cats that’s out just a bunch of Fing clones. They don’t even dress themselves a stylist pull they clothes, somebody making them fly they like a bunch of Fing drones (ZFG Intro).” The difference this time is that the rest of it holds that sense of urgency.
In the past his mixtapes lost steam and digressed into club songs about how girls can’t get enough of Emilio Rojas. I’ll give every mixtape allowance for at least one of these songs. The road must be a lonely place and songs about how delightful ladies find you can ensure companionship on those lonesome stops along the way. I don’t need 7 of them. On Zero Fucks Given those songs are replaced with laser focused intelligence. This is evident from the first track onward “167 baby I got the whole block with me! I’m where the poverty created an economy, everyone selling souls now the devil on a shopping spree (Trouble)!”
Rojas has a flow that craves the spotlight. It can speedbag and dazzle or stamp down on the right line so no one misses it. Even with Nore growling and spitting a great verse Rojas stands center stage on Trouble. I had hoped we would get more work like Zero Fucks Given when I heard he got signed to Maybach Music. MMG seems to be a label full of artists who are almost hitting their potential and this mixtape feels like Rojas as Popeye taking the spinach (does anyone even get that reference? I’m old.)
Zero Fucks Given is noticeably and stylistically darker than previous works. I’m thinking about the church bells and ghoul voice in the background repeating the song title 167. Or the interlude at the end where a car accident hits a woman and Rojas urgently requests no one move her. To his credit Emilio never pushes a tough guy angle. He presents himself as slick, intelligent, and unrelenting while admitting he didn’t have to sell drugs (rather than acting as if he did). The ferocious bars in the project seem to carry the weight of his hopes for his community without directly overstating them. He talks angrily about kids ignoring educational goals and girls not being raised to pursue sensible outcomes. The tone of his voice makes you believe none of his concerns are general, the names and faces are in his head as he spits (listen to track 8 Dead Presidents for an example). This is the lean (11 tracks) brazen Rojas I can wave like a flag in front of kids who are looking for something new and ill. The happy go lucky king of the club song has been replaced by the world weary smh of Bitch is Crazy (Joe Budden heard the song title and was like YES I WILL THROW A VERSE ON THAT) and clear headed confessional The Only One. He never loses track of himself or takes a detour or turns confession into self-pity; all the way to the warm celebratory last track (Dynasty) this is the Emilio Rojas I wanted. The one I talked about to anyone who listened; standing under the stars on my house phone saying “If only all the songs could be like the first one!” way too loud.
Stream or Download Zero Fucks Given below:
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Tagged datpiff, Dead Presidents, Emilio Rojas, hip hop, Ice Cube, Joe Budden, Joe Buden, Maybach Music, Mixtape, mixtape reviews, Noreaga, speedbag flow, Zero Fucks Given
Mixtape Review-Real Nigga Shit by Kolley
While it’s easier to be a Southern rapper than it ever has been, it really depends on how Southern you are considered. UGK and Outkast are deeply embedded in the public mind as architects of the south. If you ask the same hip hop elitist who reps these groups if he has the same affection for Eightball & MJG or Goodie Mobb you’d be surprised at the rebuff. Some artists are TOO Southern and still make the industry uncomfortable.
The cover of Kolley’s new mixtape Real Nigga Shit is about as uncomfortably in your face as possible. He’s flexing gold teeth with his chain in his mouth; inside his gold shades gifs of dancing lady butt and money fans dominate. This mixtape is not for the faint of heart and it’s also not for the tragedy chasers who need their Southern rappers to be ignorant lean sipping Kamikaze cases. Kolley is not rapping about how pointlessly off track his life is; it’s quite the opposite. This MC with a beasts voice from Bassfield, Mississippi (2000 Census said it had a population of 315 people) tells us right off the bat how special he is on Follow Me “Even though I am a sinner god saved me; took me from the mind state of crazy into the mind set of pay me.”
A mixtape consisting of sixteen tracks should feel perfect but this is a long journey. No inserts or interludes shorten the ride and it’s full of high energy growling tracks that burst with energy and wear you out. Hanna could cause a club riot. Seen Shit could have your head nodding so hard you forget that the Bobby Johnson beat just destroyed your car speakers.
I’m not sure how much buzz exists about Kolley outside of the music industry (partially cause I’m a music reviewer who avoids a lot of other music reviewers) but it’s evident that the South knows how dope he is; since this is a debut mixtape with a Big Krit feature and production credit not to mention other beats from trap generals Zaytoven, Metro Boomin, and TM88 of 808 Mafia.
Kolley will infuse you with his ferocity on Hanna and have you riding reflectively in the Krit assisted Poetry In Motion (is anyone better at rapping about driving cars or cars in general as Krit?). This mixtape has a full spread of emotion tackling love, pills, violence, money, success and all of it in the assured manner of an artist who has been doing this for years and years. If you think I’m talking about another knucklehead Lil John rip off listen to the first verse of Real Love and tell me this dude isn’t the truth. I file Real Nigga Shit in the “Who is this kid?!?!” category.
I wanted this mixtape to be terrible so I wouldn’t have to use the N word so much. The first listen turned into the third listen so quickly that I had to make up my mind quickly. My preferences don’t matter. Kolley has artistic presence on tracks that needs a full spotlight and it’s his title. It reflects an artist dictating realness in a different light and it works on every discernible level. Even though the journey feels long its not, it’s just big.
Stream or Download Real Nigga Shit below:
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Tagged 808 mafia, Bassfield Mississippi, Big K.R.I.T., Eightball & MJG, Goodie Mobb, Kolley, Metro Boomin, Mixtape, mixtape reviews, Real Nigga Shit, Southern Hip Hop, Zaytoven
Song of The Year-OMG by Young Thug
If you are a Trap-a-holic, DJ Scream, DJ Holiday, Trap aficionado I know you love Young Thug. You must since not much else is going on. Waka, Frenchie and his team have been serving up underwhelming efforts all year while Gucci Mane is a part of the much lauded Young Thugga Mane La Flare mixtape he barely is. Gucci doesn’t say anything memorable whatsoever and any minor recovery in his energy level from the devastation of last year (putting out 11 projects each one stepping down in quality) is due to the supernova of pure unpredictable energy from his co-star.
That’s a huge part of why this song is fantastic and why Thugga is the future (whether we like it or not). The synth and galloping drum pattern of Trap has become painfully predictable as has its follow-the-bouncing-ball cadence. Young Thug is the only commodity in the market that can flip his voice inflection three times in this chorus while this monster bass ripples through the center. Thugga doesn’t seem to mind words or their meanings that much as long as they sound funny; using phrases like ding dong and rolly polly. Gucci isn’t even on this track and who cares.
Trap has a new voice and he’s the ultimate solution. A voice with a thousand voices who prefers to flip between all of them. An emcee who won’t ever lay a predictable verse and remains so far out of the box that he can’t find it. I don’t even know that I like Young Thug. I find his mixtapes to be stressful. In a moment’s breath he’ll switch from an amazing voice to an irritating stupid one and I’m the type of listener who needs to KNOW what I’m getting. I’m not stupid though. Anyone can see this is an important moment in the musical format because he’s here and hopefully he’ll accomplish his mission of instilling that rampaging energy back into Trap. If he does that, I’ll buy a T-shirt.
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Tagged brick squad, crazy flow, crazy voices, Dj Holiday, DJ Scream, Gucci Mane, mixtape reviews, song of the year, Trap, Trap-A-Holics, Young Thug, Young Thugga, Young Thugga Mane La Flare