30 August 2016

REVIEW: DJ Khaled - Major Key

Another one.

The Iyanla Vanzant of Snapchat is back with Major Key, the latest in his nearly annual offerings, but this time it's different. Sure, Lil Wayne is on the album, as is Rick Ross, Drake, and Future. That alone might be enough for you to say "meh" and to just wait for the radio singles, right? Bad idea...

In addition to mainstays, we have lyrical juggernauts in the form of Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole, Busta Rhymes and Jadakiss bowling over tracks. I'm not one to stand in line and hold up a Khaled banner, but this album is diverse, and in the best way possible. How diverse? He's got Meghan Trainor (the All About The Bass singer) on a song with Wiz Khalifa, and it's actually not bad!

I have listened to this album multiple times a day for the last few weeks for two reasons: one, to give you all a fair and informed review, but also because the jawn actually bangs. Khaled has undoubtedly produced the most impressive and complete work of his career, and it shows on the charts because this is also his most successful album to touch Billboard, peaking at number 1 in a variety of categories.

Ok, let's get to the nitty gritty and get the bad out of the way first. As mentioned earlier, there are some mainstays that Khaled probably *had* to put on or their feelings would be hurt. Tracks like "Fuck Up The Club" and "Do You Mind" are in the middle of the album and severely bring down the quality of the scene. The latter is led off by arguably one of Nicki Minaj's worst verses, and it's only barely brought above the surface by August Alsina's crooning. The former is a typical and boring offering featuring DJ Khaled's current plaything, Future, who is featured on four separate tracks, unfortunately. Stay away from those songs, and yes, that includes "I Got The Keys," which is easily one of the worst tracks on the whole thing.

On the good side, however, there are plenty of tracks that serve to drown out the nonsense that is trap-hop. The third song, "Nas Album Done," is enough to wake you up and make you think that maybe, just maybe, Khaled has found the ghost of hip-hop past and brought him into the present. The track gives us two treats, Nas all by his lonesome and murdering a beat, and sworn word by God's Son that his next album is complete and will be released soon. This one is worth repeat listens and Khaled speaks truth when he says "Classic shit, timeless...iconic" at the end of the track, because that's exactly what this is.

The next two songs continue the aural orgasm with "Holy Key" and "Jermaine's Interlude," the former featuring Big Sean, Betty Wright (powerful voice, see about her), and K. Dot. The latter is a singular offering with J. Cole, who definitely has the soul and powerful lyrics to pull it off alone. Both tracks feature the raw energy, emotion, and political drive and ambition that we have learned to love and appreciate from J. Cole and Kendrick, and Big Sean has definitely thrown his towel into the ring to show that he belongs with the New Greats.

Later on, past the Future trash, there is a song that will undoubtedly go unnoticed by everyone. "Don't Ever Play Yourself" is one that you need to look up right now. Yes, right now. Right now. I'll wait for you...ok, you back? Yes, you heard correctly: Jadakiss, Fabolous, and Busta mothafuckin' Rhymes on a track together and that beat is bananas! Actually, Fat Joe is on it too, and he's not half bad. You can't bring your 'C' game to a track with juggernauts like this on a instrumental like that.

Lastly, my guilty pleasure. I love rap songs about love. More so, I love rap songs about how rappers hate falling in love; it's like a guilty irony, as if they're trying to prove to you that they're too good for these hoes...and yet, these ladies keep winding up pregnant (*sips tea*). The #GuiltyPleasure award goes to "Pick These Hoes Apart" featuring a rapper I don't know, a rapper I don't care about, and Jeezy. The slightly melancholy backdrop and Kodak Black's intro actually did it for me, and Jeezy's hook brings it home. The ad-libs are a bit much in hindsight, but it's a catchy tune, and another anthem for the rapping misogynists.

Overall, the album is a solid effort and worthy of its commercial success. Khaled did more than drop "another one" with Major Key, he actually stepped his game up. If you haven't peeped this entire work, you're doing yourself a disservice.

Worth multiple listens: Nas Album Done, Holy Key, Work For It, Don't Ever Play Yourself

Worth skipping every time: Do You Mind, Fuck Up The Club, Ima Be Alright

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22 August 2016

SINGLE: Frank Ocean - Solo (Reprise) ft. Andre 3000

Well, really it's just Stacks by himself on this brief, yet dense, interlude.  After being completely underwhelmed while sampling Frank Ocean's new album Boys Don't Cry Blonde on iTunes last night, I came stumbled across a surprise about halfway through.  I'm glad I stuck it out because to be honest, time has only been kind to 2011's Nostalgia, Ultra, Frank's lesser known mixtape that is far superior in quality to his debut album Channel ORANGE.  After sampling half of Blonde, it was starting to just sound like the same ole same ole again.  That is, until Hip-hop's savior Andre 3000 literally came out of nowhere on "Solo (Reprise)" steamrolling the minute-long track with more quotables and stray shots than your brain may be able to process the first go-round.  The line that is most likely to strike you instantly is toward the end when Stacks appears to blast a certain Canadian,

 "After 20yrs in, I'm so naive I was under the IM- / pression that everyone wrote they own verses / it's comin back different and yeah that shit hurts me / I'm humming and whistling to those not deserving / I stumbled and lived every word was I just working way too hard?"

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14 August 2016

NEWS - West Coast Perseverance

Longevity is something that all artists strive to achieve.  In most cases, if they put in the work necessary and continue to produce quality content, chances are they will eventually reach that plateau.  Nipsey Hussle is someone I believe is finally living up to his namesake.

Nipsey’s consistency after fully dedicating himself to music has been phenomenal.  His most recent milestone of note has been releasing the “Crenshaw” mixtape for $100 and then following up with “Mailbox Money” for $1000 the following year.  Now that seems way out-of-pocket but, both projects sold out in a day!  As an independent artist, that feat is amazing.  Not only did he choose to sell these two projects for a ridiculous amount, but he also made back 100% of his album sales!  This is pretty much unprecedented in today’s world. Though there were limited copies of both albums, his fan base is strong enough for copies to sell out at these prices. 

Even though we don’t have the West Coast King’s long-awaited for album Victory Lap yet, he has been on a tear lately.  Falling in line with the theme of his brand, he has been on a 16 week marathon run dropping nothing but quality music.  Call me biased, but I believe the majority of people would agree that the tracks he's released so far are of album caliber.  The discipline that Nipsey has displayed throughout the past few months has been impressive, and will soon prove the summer is indeed his.  Beginning on April 25th of this year, the Westside Crip initiated his takeover.  This late Spring/Summer reign consists of 16 tracks and 4 music videos without including his many guest appearances on other artists tracks.

For those of our BITM readers who aren’t privy to Nip, now is a good time to get familiar.  Nipsey Hussle is a well-gifted and well-versed emcee to the core. His knowledge of the game is displayed through how he moves and the business decisions that have earned him notoriety from the Forbes List.  With lyrics like, “Nip the Crip that flipped the blueprint that Hova laid” or “I study rich niggas moves like they my homework,” it’s easy to see that he is about ownership.  Nipsey being an independent artist and having full control of his masters just adds to his repertoire of success.  A big announcement is supposed to be given to fans this Monday on the 15th of August (which is also his birthday); and more than likely the announcement of his up and coming album, Victory Lap. Be on the lookout for a review from us here at BITM!

Nipsey's 16-week Marathon Monday's release record:

1.  Nipsey Hussle - Thug Life Feat. Young Thug * Apr 25, 2016                                       
2.  Nipsey Hussle - Ocean Views * May 2, 2016
3.  Nipsey Hussle - Basic Instinct Feat. G Perico * May 9, 2016
4.  Nipsey Hussle - The Field Feat. Bino & Young Dolph * May 16, 2016
5.  Nipsey Hussle - I Do This Feat. Young Thug & Mozzy * May 23, 2016
6.  Nipsey Hussle - Status Symbol 2 Feat. Buddy * May 30, 2016
7.  Nipsey Hussle - Down As A Great Feat. Kirko Bangz * Jun 6, 2016
8.  Nipsey Hussle - Question #1 Feat. Snoop Dogg * Jun 13, 2016
9.  Nipsey Hussle - Ain't Hard Enough Feat. Mozzy * Jun 21, 2016
10. Nipsey Hussle - Full Time Feat. Mitchy Slick * Jun 27, 2016
11. Nipsey Hussle - One Hunnit * Jul 4, 2016
12. Nipsey Hussle - Picture Me Rollin Feat. OverDoz. * Jul 11, 2016
13. Nipsey Hussle - Clarity Feat. Bino Rideaux & Dave East * Jul 18, 2016
14. Nipsey Hussle - I Don't Stress * Jul 25, 2016
15. Nipsey Hussle - Shell Shocked * Aug 2, 2016
16. Nipsey Hussle - On The Floor Feat. Cuzzy Capone * Aug 8, 2016

Check Out Nipsey Hussle's "Question #1" Video feat. Snoop Dogg below as well as his "Picture Me Rollin" video.
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12 August 2016

VIDEO: Joey Bada$$ - Devastated

A few months ago Joey Bada$$ dropped the single "Devastated" to the surprise of many fans. Mainly because it's a more melodic offering than we are accustomed to getting from the Brooklyn emcee. And while Joey isn't "just" a conscious emcee, he does usually create thought provoking and introspective tracks. But with "Devastated", Joey gives us an overall concept that is far more playful then we are used to.

The video places Joey performing with his Pro Era camp in a football stadium, a small parade and on a rooftop with the crowd below him. The visuals supplement the feel of the single well and create a more cohesive track. While we at BITM champion the Kendricks and K.R.I.T.s on a regular basis, we def want to make sure you don't sleep on Joey Bada$$ and his Pro Era family. If you've been bumping this track on your summer drives, peep the equally energetic video below.

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03 August 2016

VIDEO: Mac Miller - Dang! ft Anderson .Paak

Mac Miller is currently set to drop his fourth LP, The Divine Feminine, on September 16th. His first single "Dang!" dropped a few days ago but the video made it's debut yesterday. The feel good track features the young star Anderson .Paak on the vocals. Not much is known about the other nine tracks on the album, except there will be features from Kendrick Lamar, CeeLo Green, and Robert Glasper (along with "and more"..per a Rolling Stone interview). But we can assume the rest of the album will continue with a female heavy theme.

With "Dang!", this normally conscious and introspective emcee is able to transfer those skills to profess his love to his girl. The Pittsburgh emcee also navigates the more macro theme of the universal ups and downs of relationships. Alongside .Paak, Mac Miller tries his hand at a more melodic delivery. The Canadian producer Pomo is more at home in his electronic element, but provides a groovy funkadelic instrumental for the track. Overall, you get a track with very little weak areas.

Peep the video for "Dang!" below, and keep an eye out for The Divine Feminine later next month.

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