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.
stream or download Black Dollar below:
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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
Song of The Year-Seen It All by Jeezy featuring Jay-Z produced by Cardo
The Snowman’s new album Seen It All: The Autobiography is definitely a disjointed listen. A lot of that is because of how unhinged and emotional it is. Consider how similar Jay and Jeezy’s position is. Jeezy is looking out on a landscape of successful trap rappers created directly in his image. Would the rap universe embrace a Young Thug without Jeezy to open the door? No. At the same time critical favor has turned away from Jeezy to some of those same artists that carry his dna. Jay is going through the same thing with Kanye.
So two of the games most influential artists come together on a track to shout their historical significance. It’s odd that they need too but that’s rap for you. I understand not liking this era Jeezy. All he knows how to do is make action movie albums with crazy forward momentum so when Jeezy starts loading his verses with indignant stories of betrayal (Freddie Gibbs is definitely getting to him) he can’t help but mix them with jokes about cocaine sandwiches. The outcome is something clearly not correctly done but also superbly unique.
The real winner on this track is Cardo. So far he’s my favorite producer of 2014. He was never just Wiz Khalifa’s secret weapon, working with everyone everywhere (great work with Gerald Walker), and his development has been amazing to watch. His signature DJ Quik-ian west coast feel has evolved into something nearly indescribably dope. This song feels like 2014 in a nutshell because it has established artists finding their footing and a lesser known one coming into his own as a top top dog in the industry. This kind of shifting can be naturally transitional or destructive. I’m watching either way.
Song of The Year-Knicks by Freddie Gibbs produced by Madlib
When the full album collaboration between these two forces was announced some aspects of it were certain. The lyrics were going to be tough. Gibbs has a range of toughness that runs anywhere from Rambo going back in Vietnam to win it himself to Carlito Brigante narrating from a leather jacket about how the worlds changed while walking in the rain. The lyrics fall somewhere in between on their album Piñata with Madlib being the true wildcard. Instead of throwing the oddest collection of acid jazz and obscure funk samples behind Gibbs, Madlib makes everything feel dusty and soulful which serves well in amplifying the spotlight on Gibbs natural anger and fascinating flow (even if it does partially sedate the listening experience).
While Piñata is a true underground album that sneers at the very concept of “hits” or “stand alone singles” Knicks is my favorite sports song in years. It directly follows a song dedicated to the Lakers that’s joyously about their winning history, hot California girls and Magic Johnson owning the Dodgers. Once Lakers stops and Knicks begin the tone change is like stepping into a freezer. The sample sweetly calls and Freddie is watching Jordan carve up the Knicks (or later on watching Lebron do the same thing) within forty three seconds he’s shooting up someone’s home. He seethes with thoughts of revenge for dead friends. While the Lakers song is all celebratory, the Knicks song is all cold hard anger a perfect backdrop for the team with the biggest spotlight and the worst record at utilizing it. By the end of it he actually just starts laughing at the Knicks for all their losses in the Jordan era (Bulls fans old enough to remember Jordan are ALL like this. Terrible to be around like I would be if my sister became president and I did nothing but brag about it forever after. Great team, great fans…just saying…).
Piñata is a weird album. Not better than Gibbs scalding Man on Fire style Jeezy revenge album ESGN from last year but better and better with repeated listens. It’s an album you just need and a song like this is right at its beating pulse.
Mixtape Review-Its Tha World 2 by Young Jeezy
If Its Tha World 2 was a vehicle it wouldn’t be a minivan. The eight track smash mouth Young Jeezy and company mixtape would be a muscle car riding at top speed along a dirt road, leaving trails of dust on the competition.
Young Jeezy might be the most frustrating artist of my time. His great verses are few and far between. The most famously interesting thing about him is the ad-lib (that everyone does a variation of now). Jeezy is the artist people most often turn to me and laud while I’m scratching my head. I’ve never been able to figure out why everyone is so interested in him while so many other great artists are out there. Its Tha World 2 provides my answer.
The sonic world of this thing has no comparison. It starts off with a soul shattering Drumma Boy fist fight trap beat (Foul Play) which will make you want to upgrade the speakers in your vehicle and transitions into DJ Mustard ratchet. Except it doesn’t transition it digests the Mustard sound and snowballs. Jeezy makes everything trap by sheer force of persona. You can feel his twisted smile through every bar and he’s constantly hype, imploring the audience and the beat to get crazier and crazier. The strength and determination of the music go beyond the verses and make every chorus something you want spit out along with him (“Whip it right here in your face! Benihana.” –Benihana)
Jeezy has never been a star builder (hence the Freddie Gibbs problem) so don’t expect songs from YG(Left Right) or Doughboyz Cashout(I’m Dat N_) to blow you away. He needs a crew to fill in whatever spots on songs he’s not interested in filling but it doesn’t matter. Benihana is one of the more star studded songs (featuring 2 Chainz and Rocko) and it’s not even close to the best moment on the project. By the time you get to the super duper catchy In My Head you’ll be head nodding like someone under mind control. It’s Tha World 2 isn’t good or great its unbelievable. Every producer from Childish Major to Tony Rey to Drumma Boy and Mustard just hand over their best beats excited to see what will come out the other side.
My favorite lyrical image is on the song Birfday when Jeezy says “See I’m trying to get these units off then cop a flying saucer, come through w/ a Spanish B_#$ top down banging salsa.” The notion that on the other end of spending all this time in the kitchen and moving this weight is a smiling Jeezy with the top down riding somewhere with salsa music blaring from his car as he lets out a thirty second long YYYYEEEEEAAAAHHHHH is indelible.
For any fan of coke rap the coming together of Pusha T and Jeezy on Pure (with yet another of Big Krits amazing 2013 chorus assists) is the high point. The track (produced by Cam Wallace) whistles with D-boy Colombian flavor while hand claps propel it forward. As great as that song is the next one (Left Right) will have you jumping just as hard. After the second listen I decided that Its Tha World 2 is something I’m going to have to work hard at not listening too. My fingers will want to hit the play button on it everyday. All I can do is sit across from it and enjoy the mad voodoo of Jeezy somehow not being a part of any genre while cackling at the center of everything. Now I need to dig into his older stuff and see if it’s always been this good and my vision was obscured.
Download or stream Its Tha World 2 below:
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Tagged Big K.R.I.T., DJ Mustard, Doughboyz Cashout, Drumma Boy, Its Tha World 2, mixtape review, Pusha T, Southern Hip Hop, Trap Music, YG, 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.
Stream or download I Am King below:
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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
Freddie Gibbs #BFK mixtape review by Dan-O On a handful of occasions I’ve closed my eyes and listened to a Freddie Gibbs verse as if I was listening to the next Kool G Rap. Someone who would redefine tough talk … Continue reading