Tag Archives: Rick Ross

Song Review-Bail Bond by Mozzy & Gunplay

Song Review-Bail Bond by Mozzy & Gunplay

by Dan-O

The story of this partnership is an one for the history books. Gunplay is a top 5 all time rap crew guy. Fought all of G-unit by himself for the MMG team, went on the lamb came back dropped a great album. Truth is, he was never going to patiently wait for the rotation of major label push to go from Ross to Meek to Wale to him. So after an amicable exit (he still kills his guest spot on Port of Miami 2) he went West.

Mozzy works different. His beats are economically constructed West Coast slappers and he pumps out dope song after dope song. If your a fan you always have something new to chew on. Gunplay took to it like a man finally unleashed. The two have been pumping out GRIMY collaborative albums with lyrics so hardcore they can be stymieing. Bail Bond is the perfect table setter for 2019’s best GOON rap album (Chop Stixx & Banana Clips). When Gunplay said ” My dog gon’ tell you he done died three times/Over one bad bitch, a brick and three dimes.” I made a promise to myself if I ever meet Gunplay I have to ask him for that full story.

Both of these guys are old enough to know a hardcore life is hard to live. This isn’t a joyride through street cred. Both of them know prison like you don’t, know being hunted like you never will. Listening to them is not just great it is instructive. Mozzy can put you in the scene where they are yelling “free the team” while doing business with the enemies your locked up for riding on. The world leaves you cold and alone in lock up and even those who love you the most, move on. You lose something and I can never describe it because I haven’t lived it. Gunplay and Mozzy paint pictures so you can see the crook’s whole journey, not just the sentence.

 

Song of The Year-Speedboat by Denzel Curry produced by Rugah Rahj

Song of The Year-Speedboat by Denzel Curry produced by Rugah Rahj

by Dan-O

Very few people do what Denzel Curry does. That is what struck me when I listened to his new album ZUU and heard him rapping with Rick Ross over a crunchy jagged industrial beat. If you are an old school hip hop head you should rep Curry. He can rap. On that Ross collab the Florida MC says “My pastor making dollars like he’s Eric Sermon,” which is a heady EPMD reference. He knows the culture, can rap with anyone, and what he gives is not just a finished product but one with dynamic individual characteristics.

Speedboat is the best. It is crazy fun to listen to and exhibits impressive melodic and lyrical work. The bridge that leads into the chorus is

Pre-Chorus]
Jesus, please deliver us from evil
Please pray over all my people
What you see in life’s illegal
I don’t wanna use my Desert Eagle

The pauses he makes between each word adds even more gravity to the paranoia and violence PTSD discussed. Now check out the 2pac-esque chorus to go with it.

[Chorus]
Big talk, speedboat (Speedboat)
Pray to God I don’t get repoed (Repoed)
Didn’t go to college for a free throw (Swish)
People gettin’ killed through the peephole (Blah)
Have your money up before you go to war (Hmm)
Put the mask on like a luchador (Hmm)
My dawg didn’t make it to 21, so I gotta make it past 24
Big talk, speedboat (Speedboat)
Pray to God I don’t get repoed (Repoed)
Didn’t go to college for a free throw (Swish)
People gettin’ killed through the peephole (Blah)
Have your money up before you go to war (Hmm)
Put the mask on like a luchador (Hmm)
My dawg didn’t make it to 21, so I gotta make it past 24

Think about how much is discussed in that chorus? We talk about college scholarships, robbery, mortality ages in bad neighborhoods. You can feel it all coming after you(hence the 2pac comp). ZUU belongs on the year end lists because Curry is Floridas shining hope for the future. Not that the state doesn’t have talent but Denzel Curry has star power. When he raps it is important every time. That is an important distinction.  Curry can shout, rap, or compose a hook with equal dexterity and he doesn’t owe anything to a co-sign. No movement has him hanging onto it. His work and his voice got him here.

Sample Snitch-Rick Ross, Scarface, Ice Cube, The Stylistics and Thom Bell—hip hop’s relationship to the song People Make The World Go Round

Sample Snitch-Rick Ross, Scarface, Ice Cube, The Stylistics and Thom Bell—hip hop’s relationship to the song People Make The World Go Round

By Dan-O

The name you need to know is Thom Bell. Philadelphia Soul is known for its grand production, the downside being major name producers treated the singers as dispensable. The notion became “over this production any reasonable voice is going to sound good.” Thom Bell is the man behind the curtain for not just The Stylistics but The Delfonics and The Spinners.

The missing element for Bell who wrote and produced (Linda Creed co-wrote the classic Stylistics stuff) was the impressive other-worldly falsetto leadership of Russell Thompkins Jr. and the end result was the Stylistics self-titled 1971 album. It is one of the very best in the history of R&B, damn near every song is a recognizable classic.

Hip hop has an intimate relationship with People Make The World Go Round. WC, Ice Cube, and Mack 10 remade it into Gangstas Make The World Go Round in 1996, Scarface into Money Makes the World Go Round in 1997. In 2017 Rick Ross’s second single I Think She Like Me featuring Ty Dolla Sign takes the original whole with a slight strengthening of the original baseline. Can you blame him? People Make The World Go Round is the epitome of that 1970’s Cadillac R &B fully formed unabashedly pimpish. While Rather You Than Me will forever be known as the album he dissed Birdman on (very successfully), it’s kind of his Blueprint full of soulful horns and expertly used R & B singer features(Anthony Hamilton, Raphael Saadiq), leveraged against thumping snarling takeover music(Dead Presidents, She on My Dick, Summer Seventeen). It really does represent all the things he does well done at their highest level.

Most remakes of People make The World Go Round leave the vocals off, dining on Bell’s soundscape whole hog. Ross kept Thompkins dynamic falsetto in the loop. He didn’t want to conceal how much he owed to the original vision of Bell. Ross wants you to know how dope it was when he first heard it.

The original

 

Westside Connection version

Scarface version

Rick Ross featuring Ty Dolla Sign

LATE PASS Mixtape Review-Imperial by Denzel Curry

LATE PASS Mixtape Review-Imperial by Denzel Curry

by Dan-O

Everyone should like Denzel Curry. If you’re a hip hop purist than you hate biters, people who can easily be traced into others. Success breeds copying so you can find a lot of rappers in New York who sound like Jay and a lot of yelling Atlanta dudes who sound like Waka (lotta Drakes out there). I dare anyone to look into the history of Florida (Curry is from Florida) hip hop and put Curry under one branch of someone’s tree. He’s totally unique in delivery with a flow that can tighten up to a speed bag pace or loosen up without losing any diction.

Imperial is ten songs with no filler. The hooks are all catchy and usually meaningful (example: This Life). The topics aren’t always what you expect and go in interesting directions while following a clearly understandable perspective. Narcotics sounds like the glint of cold steel and (produced by the Suicide Boys) feels like a trap anthem but it’s about the assumption that he deals with from the police.  It’s menacing as hell and begging you to connect it in your mind to a song about hardcore dealing…but that’s just perception. Another icy banger is Knotty Head featuring Rick Ross produced (like most of the songs) by Ronny J & FNZ. This one is official bluster; twisting weed, not giving an F, doing whatever you want to do…perfect for a Ross feature. Curry also has the line “My pockets on Andy Milonakis” which I can’t get enough of.

Just like Knotty Head fits Ross and creates a great Carroll City connection, Zenith is ideal for Joey Badass.  It’s the species of warped boom bap beauty (from Ronny J x FNZ x Freebase) that any lyricist lives for. The elements are simple enough to give the rapper a clear stage but it knocks hard enough to make a gorgeous song. Joey continues the Method Man-like characteristic of sounding way more dialed in on other people’s songs.  I love that he is a feature killer, it keeps us from forgetting how utterly dope he is.

If you are looking for trademark Denzel Curry moments, this project is full of them.  Sick and Tired is dark, frustrated, and paranoid. People are looking at him like a target because he is doing well so he has to protect himself as well as his family from that, not to mention duck the confines of the law. My favorite song on the mixtape is Story No Title where he launches violent disagreement with his peers “How the F_ the rap game become a beauty pageant? Candy @$$ rappers tryin’ to sound like Atlanta b/c they got no identity. I’m off the top like O-Ren Ishii v. Uma Thurman…” It’s a statement to his audience outlining the difference between Denzel Curry and other listening experiences. It’s a story with no title because the title will come later or not, the point is the story and the story is unique. A great title without a good story is a letdown. Curry vows not to be that. Pure Enough also builds on this conversation.

If Tomorrow’s Not Here is a perfect way to end the album. It reminds me of the last song on Goodie Mob-Soul Food (The Day After); thickly soulful, chunky and thoughtful. By track ten (Tomorrow’s Not Here) Denzel Curry is perfectly defined along with all of his fears. Even those of us who are hearing him for the first time on Imperial know exactly who he is and that’s such a brilliant relief.

Stream or download Imperial below:

https://www.spinrilla.com/mixtapes/denzel-curry-imperial

 

Mixtape Review-Drunk Uncle by N.O.R.E.

Mixtape Review-Drunk Uncle by N.O.R.E.

by Dan-O

I am a pretty passionate hip hop head. I hate pet peeve artists I’ve never met worse than family or friends that have slighted me, but I’ve never really had an opinion on N.O.R.E. Never been able to call him wack because he swings in on tracks and destroys his guest verse (example: What U Rep on Prodigy’s H.N.I.C. album) but N.O.R.E. is too funny to be hardcore and too hardcore to be backpacker. Not living in New York, I never found a way to care much about him either way; one thing was for certain: all the best rappers love this dude.  If you need clarity on why just listen to the first episode of his new podcast Drink Champs where he is hilarious and intuitive while pushing his guests for the juiciest stories. This is a dude you’d want to hang out with whether you are Nas or me.

That is not enough to survive in hip hop as long as N.O.R.E. has. He’s stayed profitable since 1997. Imagine how many great lyricists have fallen completely off in that time. His new mixtape, Drunk Uncle, showcases all of the reasons why he’s still here and valuable. N.O.R.E. has a hall of famers ear for beats. He knew that beat Butchrock gave for the song Queens needed Kool G Rap on it the same way he knew the DJ Mustard beat We Don’t needed Rick Ross & Ty Dolla Sign. The purpose of the mixtape is to draw a line in the sand between the old heads spending all their time complaining about what rap is and the thirsty new kids who don’t care about the history. N.O.R.E. stands right between the two sides calling on old friends like Swizz Beatz, Dame Grease and SPK for production (Jadakiss, Fat Joe and Nature on verses) but also reaching out to new schoolers like A$AP Ferg, Dave East, Rick Ross, and Ty Dolla Sign. He still has that club hit skill set, a song like Buckets (with French Montana & Manolo Rose) screams night club with glasses in the air.

N.O.R.E. fits everywhere. He grinds out a face scrunching hardcore gem, handling all verses, on Get Money even over that simple hard-nosed beat he throws in some left field humor that grabs your attention “Don’t play with me I’ll get you popped on your hover board, throw you in the river with the manatee’s…”  somehow he sounds like he fits over Mustard standing next to Ross.  I was shocked  that after hearing his collaboration with Killer Mike & Sleepy Brown I wanted a group to form. Mike and N.O.R.E. share a rollicking don’t give a F__ attitude.  Sleepy Brown is absolutely dope, still the southern Nate Dogg without a doubt.

My hope is that this is a sampler plate and he has more surprises to come. The mixtapes best moment, the song Moments,  illustrates how maturity and old age might give us a more interesting spread of content from N.O.R.E. while we all loved his jovial songs about oral sex in 1998, at this point it’s great to hear him build introspection without falling into high handed backpacker talk.  He lists moments in his life that are important; bid in jail, wedding, convo w/ Jay and one of them is “the birth of every one of my kids”, he says the line originally was “the birth of my first kid” but he changed it (he said this on his legendary Rap Radar podcast interview). I love that he changed it; that his team pushed him to change it. That means he doesn’t have a team of yes men, he has people keeping him fresh and it means he’s really considering what everything means and how it can be taken.  I hope Drunk Uncle really does get a buzz going because I’d love to hear what N.O.R.E. could do to rap now.

stream or download Drunk Uncle:

http://www.datpiff.com/NORE-Drunk-Uncle-mixtape.771328.html

 

Mixtape Review-Black Dollar by Rick Ross

Mixtape Review-Black Dollar by Rick Ross

by Dan-O

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.

stream or download Black Dollar below:

http://www.datpiff.com/Rick-Ross-Black-Dollar-mixtape.732049.html

Song Review-I Got Money by Raekwon featuring A$AP Rocky produced by S1

Song Review-I Got Money by Raekwon featuring A$AP Rocky produced by S1

by Dan-O

Raekwon’s 2015 album could be called Raekwon and Friends(it’s called Fly International Luxurious Art) for all the guests it carries (12 guests 13 total tracks) and a lot of reviewers have pointed out that its disjointed and not The Chef’s best work but it is interesting to hear him play off of other MC’s. Rae and Ghost are the last two Wu-Tang affiliates still sharpening their swords in 2015 and anyone who jumps on a song takes it seriously.

Sonically Rae is looking to evolve his East Coast gritty classic sound into something a bit livelier, and give him credit for knowing that’s something that needs to happen, he is picking the best beats in the Wu at this point and still murders verses. If you’re an old head you will love F.I.L.A.but be ready to catch verses from new school cats like 2 Chainz, Rick Ross and French Montana. While old heads might not respect some of these dudes Rae does and doesn’t seem to care about the generational difference. He who spits can spit.

This song totally supports my A$AP Rocky theory that the narrative about how interesting it is that he’s from NY and likes to make Southern Trap style stuff is holding him back. A$AP always sounds more interesting (to me) on a well-made East Coast beat than doing his own spin on trap. Raekwon has his own universe where every verse is smooth and smart; the imagery is always surprising and that environment is a place every rapper wants a guest spot. If you hate A$AP Rocky this isn’t the Rocky you hate and now you have to rethink what he’s capable of. The Chef knew the whole time and that’s why F.I.L.A. remains interesting a few listens in, cause when he does a song with 2 Chainz (F.I.L.A. World) its cause he bought weed off him when his name was Tity Boi and always knew he’d be star, back when all of us were stuck at “Why would you name yourself Tity Boi?”