Song Review-Figure It Out by Wiz Khalifa produced by Sledgren & Cookin’ Soul
I love Wiz Khalifa’s first album Show and Prove released in 2006. He was a 19 year old kid spitting fire and I loved his bars. It was not always an easy process watching him become this generations Snoop. By Kush and OJ I’d figured it out like everyone else but I still miss hungry Pittsburgh Sound Khalifa.
It might be weird to write about him now, a lot of important critics have probably pronounced his latest album Laugh Now, Fly Later another Khalifa album to ignore. I like it. It is the first post-monoculture Khalifa album. Laugh Now, Fly Later accepts that the spotlight he was trying to get back isn’t even there anymore. At this point he just needs to do what Curren$y does and focus on keeping his fans laced; the rest is what it is.
Songs like Stay Focused and City of Steel are back in any fans comfort zone. My favorite of all is Figure It Out. I am a documented Cookin’ Soul nut (don’t sleep on Sledgren either). This beat feels like a Caribbean beach. Not only is Wiz in Rolling Papers form when singing the chorus, but it’s about something. The chorus is
“Sometimes things ain’t gon work out
How you think you want it to go
Sometimes you gotta keep going
When you think you can’t no more
Sometimes you can’t depend on
Who you think you can no more
Sometimes you gotta try, gotta try and
Figure it out”
He masters the tone of determined faith and energy while maintaining a meditative level of chill. You can hear him getting mad at people trying to derail him and letting go of that anger. Lyrically you can see it in the end of the second verse. “Goals, set em, achieve em/ Joints smoke em and leave em/ Ten toes, no matter the season/ Hot tub with my feet in/ Living comfortably cheesing.” Figure It Out is the Wiz we need. Every generation needs it’s Snoop; someone to buck the traditional RA-RA chest beating cadence and give you something to ride the speed limit to. For Wiz he’s at his best when he can give you the mood and some verses that mean something to him. I hope he’s building to that place and he can give us his own variation on Blue Carpet Treatment.
Mixtape Review-Blue Dream & Lean 2 by Juicy J
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:
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Tagged #ClockworkJuicy, 2015 mixtapes, Blue Dream & Lean 2, Crazy Mike, Crunk, future, Juicy J, Lil Awree, mike will made it, mixtape review, Mystic Stylez, Taylor Gang, Three 6 Mafia
Mixtape Review-Prohibition by Berner & B-Real
Mixtapes give upcoming artists a chance to put together something that purely reflects them; not vetted by record executives and plotted for the radio. It also gives the major and middle class artists a chance to drop something cool out of nowhere. Prohibition falls into the second category. Far from a tear-soaked confessional Berner and B-Real come together for a merry celebration of legalized marijuana (in Colorado and other places).
If you need proof this is an A-list event just look at the track listing. Features include Devin The Dude, Snoop Dogg, and multiple stuck in your head hooks from Wiz Khalifa (not to mention a production credit from Harry Fraud).
Berner has been a commodity for a while. His flow moves at a trudge but he knows what good rap sounds like (evidenced here by co-production credit on Faded). His slower assured flow finds a perfect fit in front of B-Real’s pinched voice and faster pace on Prohibitions first song Shatter. Berner is one of those perfectly self sufficient dudes who makes a great musical accomplice. Not only is he used to doing it all himself but his sound is big enough to welcome just about anyone comfortably in it. On Faded (which samples my favorite Jay-Z beat) Berner ends the first verse with a cool tip of the hat to B-Real “sh#t I burned my first joint to…Cypress Hill” acknowledging that you will likely listen to this for B-Real and he’s fine with that. He is the Arn Anderson to B-Real’s Ric Flair (#prowrestlingreference).
Cozmo and Maxwell Smart keep things moving with big screen production that pulses and pounds like a speaker avalanche. All the hooks are super catchy and everyone knows what Prohibition is supposed to achieve. Fun. Beyond the excitement of big names and sweet hooks over car rattling beats its great to have B-Real back.
It was Method Man who said once when you are dope your always dope you don’t lose that. I don’t agree. If you don’t move, your muscles turn to mush and if you don’t spit dope verses….you lose your place in the process of creating them. It takes time to get it back and a lot of veterans don’t ever get it back. Over the last few years B-Real has been WORKING. His guest verse on the Curren$y track ET was remarkable when compared to low points on Stoned Raiders. I don’t think new school artists like Khalifa, Curren$y, and Berner are propping the old dog up. It’s the opposite. B-Real is determined to be dope. He sounds right at home on the Taylor Gang pimptastic anthem Breeze. He can still rip through a hardcore beat but he doesn’t need too. He’s adept enough to adapt without sounding corny. This is still the B-Real that spit smoker verses from your old boom box into the smoke clouds of your cold garage. For proof listen to him on 1 Hit “I got a dab on the nail…inhale. Got the flavors flowing outta my lungs when I exhale. Man I’m riding on a cloud hovering over the crowd…” that could have been from the Friday soundtrack. All that Prohibition achieves it does in only 8 tracks with the title track being a skit. It’s a concise love letter to not only weed but the weed song and all the surreal lushness of its landscape. I’ve never smoked marijuana in my life but man do I love a weed song. The high points of Prohibition are enough to cause a contact high.
Stream of download Prohibition below:
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Tagged B-Real, Berner, Curren$y, Cypress Hill, Devin The Dude, Friday soundtrack, Harry Fraud, Method Man, mixtape review, Prohibition, Snoop Dogg, Stoned Raiders, Taylor Gang, weed songs, west coast hip hop, Wiz Khalifa