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Monthly Archives: July 2012

MUSIC WORLD: Take It Back Tuesday… Today in 1992

For this week’s installment of Take it Back Tuesday, I’ve done a little research on the Billboard Charts from this week, in 1992. Sitting at the top of the Hip-Hop/R&B charts was Mary J. Blige‘s “You Remind Me.” This was when Mary was truly the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul.

Enjoy.

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MUSIC WORLD: Rick Ross Presents “God Forgives, I Don’t”

I’ve been going back and forth about whether social networking has hurt or helped album releases. I’m specifically referring to the buzz around artists via tweets from tastemakers and friends. Before an album releases, bloggers who’ve had the privilege of hearing it early, usually hype an album up to astronomical levels which in turn makes it impossible for the actual product to live up to the hype. We’ve all seen it done. Enter: God Forgives, I Don’t. 

Just like the rest of the thirst mongers, I listened to the album almost a week before it dropped because it leaked to the internets. But before the drop, there were a number of tracks made available, including the hotly anticipated “3 Kings” track featuring Dr. Dre and Jay-Z. We won’t talk about how unimpressive that entire track was, except the Jay-Z contribution (which I’ve featured for this week’s “Lyrics of the Week”). I’ve been a not-so-secret semi-fan of Ricky Rozay for years. I hate that I like him. Are there better rappers? Sure. Better camps? Definitely. But you can’t deny the anticipation surrounding his new releases.

Despite lackluster singles (“So Sophisticated,” “Hold Me Back”), listeners have been cochlear-ly salivating to listen to The Bawse’s newest work. As a whole, I found the album to be exactly what I expect from a Rick Ross album. Full of unexpected features, MMG all over the album, and another rendition of “Maybach Music.” Interestingly enough, the singles are some of the weakest tracks on the album. The album opens with a prayer asking God for forgiveness to a nigga that doesn’t know the way. I couldn’t make this shit up. The album picks up steam with the second track. “Pirates” is exactly what you expect from Rick Ross. Heavy beat, drug and money talk, grunting, etc. The album then hits what I consider it’s buildup and peak. And not enough could be said about Rick Ross bringing out the mixtape Shawn Carter. How long has it been since we’ve been exposed to that?  Tracks 3-7 are the most cohesive sounding tracks of the album, most notably the transition between the Ne-Yo assisted “Maybach Music IV” and the soulful “Sixteen” featuring (the I-won’t-drop-a-solo-album-but-I’ll-be-on-every-hot-album-of 2012) Andre 3000. Check it out below.

After the smootheness of “Sixteen,” Rozay picks up speed with his usual southern bump sound, grouping “Hold Me Back” and “911” which I could’ve sworn were produced by the same people. But apparently they weren’t. I’m not sure who that’s insulting, but he could’ve made it a 10-minute track a la Frank Ocean‘s “Pyramids.” The album then slows down for the last third. Here’s where the MMG crew comes in, including Omarion. “Diced Pineapples,” featuring spoken word and a verse from Wale and hook courtesy of Drake, was released ahead of the album, as well. It’s definitely one of the standout tracks, further solidifying Wale‘s move to MMG. When are we going to get a book of poetry from Wale Folarin? The standard release includes one more track with Stalley that has a bluesy feel while the deluxe version includes two more tracks from his “Rick Forever” mixtape release. Including the Nas-assisted “Triple Beam Dreams” was genius. His album is hot and the track was one of the best from the mixtape.

My overall conclusion of the album: 7/10. Solid. Rick Ross assembled a collective of interesting features while still appealing to those fans that seek his hard-thumping drug talk and his soulful retrospective tracks. If you’ve already downloaded the album, save yourself the couple of dollars and buy two copies of Cruel Summer. You’re welcome.

Standout tracks: “Sixteen,” “Diced Pineapples,”Ashamed,” and “Maybach Music IV.” Throwaways: “Hold Me Back,” “Presidential,” and “Ice Cold.”

What do you think?

*Editor’s Note: Was I the only person that didn’t know “Touch’n You” was going to be “Fucking You” on the album? My virgin ears were assaulted by this revelation.*

FOTO FRIDAY: Jay-Z and Jaz-O

Once a week, on Fridays, I’m sharing a classic music photo. No words, just an image.

Today: Jay-Z and Jaz-O.

Enjoy.

MUSIC WORLD: Is 2 Chainz Here to Stay?

Whilst conversing with some of my homies about 2 Chainz debut album, Based on a T.R.U. Story, we were perplexed with the idea of whether 2 Chainz is nothing more than a flash in the pan? I believe he has the ability to be around for at least another 2 or 3 years. My friends, on the other hand, disagree. So let’s explore this idea.

2 Chainz has been appearing on everyone’s tracks, no matter the status or genre of the artist. 2 Chainz has worked with Kreshawn, Justin Bieber, Big Sean, Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, Drake, Meek Mill, Jeremih, and Wiz Khalifa to name a few. His propensity to not turning down a feature opportunity has caused many to question whether he’s just the new hot feature artist of the moment. I disagree.

2 Chainz is more than just some catchy lines, a hilarious trending topic, and the comedic fodder of rappers everywhere. He caters to an audience that wants to be entertained. And in the same token, he has a relatable quality to his writing that doesn’t involve deeper dissection to understand and enjoy. I relate his recent rise to fame to that of Nicki Minaj. Everyone thought she was a gimmick, and here she is two albums deep and an international superstar.

Being cosigned but what is (arguably) the best rap crew right now, G.O.O.D. Music, has done nothing but helped place 2 Chainz in the faces of people who may not have been tuned into him on the mixtape level. Here’s a couple of 2 Chainz essential contributions. Review, then decide if he’s just a gimmick.

His shit may not be the most thought-provoking, but I bet you remember at least two of his bars out of every song… TRUUUU!

Sooo… what do you think?

FOTO FRIDAY: LL Cool J circa 1988

Once a week, on Fridays, I’m sharing a classic music photo. No words, just an image.

Today: LL Cool J circa 1988. Enjoy.

MUSIC WORLD: channelORANGE… Classic?

Frank Ocean, a relative newcomer to the music world, recently followed up his critically acclaimed mixtape “nostalgia,ULTRA” with his first solo effort, channelORANGE. I consider myself a relatively new fan of Mr. Ocean [read: no relation to Billy]. “nostalgia,ULTRA” presented a cohesive project of familiar sounds while challenging your eardrums. As a listener, you wanted to associate Frank’s race with his musical genre, automatically pegging “nostalgia,ULTRA” as R&B when it felt more like a Coldplay album than an Usher album.

tumblr announcement aside, channelORANGE initially left me scratching my head. I fell in love with Frank Ocean thru his mixtape and contributions to the Watch the Throne and 4 albums. I don’t disagree that channelORANGE is a great debut album, but I’m left wondering if he’s totally alienated the fans that fell in love with “Novacane” and “Thinkin Bout You.”

I applaud Mr. Ocean’s bravery in presenting material that is personal to him. Specifcially “Forrest Gump” which is clearly about a man. The creative balls that it takes to include a song that so clearly represents the love he had for another man is remarkable. Upon first listen, I am more than satisfied by this debut album. I do feel like the hype may overpower the overall quality of the offering. This is not to say that it’s not an amazing album, it is. But the hype surrounding this album has created an almost “automatic classic” ranking.

I completely understand the idea of a classic album is mostly subjective. Frank Ocean was able to release his debut album digitally, an entire week before the physical copy was set to hit stores. And he saw great numbers, debuting at number 2 on the charts. Aside from that, I don’t find the album as anything particularly impressive. After listening for about a week now, it’s a good album, but it doesn’t stand out as innovative or something that has changed the game forever. If you remove his declaration of independence about his sexuality, the album just sounds like a good debut album. The writing is awesome, the production is smooth, and the sequence of tracks is calculated. Have we become so accustomed to terrible R&B offerings (read: Fortune from Chris Brown) that a good album has to be pegged as “classic” almost as soon as it hits our ears and is digested by our brain? He definitely presents standout tracks with “Pink Matter,” featuring the always impressive Andre 3000, the 10-minute “Pyramids,” and the Earl Sweatshirt-assisted- “Super Rich Kids.” But then there are songs like “Monks” and “Lost” that I felt could’ve been left off the project.

So what do you think? Too soon for the “classic” talk? Or do you think channelORANGE is indeed a classic album?

editor’s note: if you’ve never read an issue of “The Source” or “VIBE” in the 90s, any answer to this question will be deemed invalid.