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Category Archives: ALBUM REVIEWS

ALBUM REVIEW: Ab-Soul “These Days…”

Those familiar with Ab dash Soul may consider him the elusive and otherworldly member of TDE. Always donning sunglasses and frequently a fitted cap crown, Ad-Soul can fade into the background for those unfamiliar. His past projects have included themes uncommon in mainstream rap – outer space, conspiracies and the like. But with the spotlight on TDE (arguably because of Kendrick‘s stellar debut album and guest verses), everyone is paying attention to Ab-Soul like never before. ScHoolBoy Q released an amazing album in Oxymoron. The newest signees, SZA & Isiah Rashad both released impressive projects, See.SZA.Run & Cilvia Demo, respectively. After a little public angst over his project not being released (see: Twitter), Top Dawg of Top Dawg Entertainment pulled the trigger on the promotion for Ab-Soul‘s latest release. Check my review for These Days… below.

Before I talk my shit, let me start with being honest. I never really liked Ab-Soul‘s brand of hip-hop. Not that I thought he wasn’t a talented rapper, I just couldn’t totally get jiggy with his previous releases – Long Term Mentality, Control System. But, I have a new appreciation for him after listening to These Days…, perhaps even for the obvious reasons. I could relate to the material more. The production is more familiar to TDE and the left coast sound. Additionally, his content is more accessible. I was impressed by this album and I plan to revisit previous releases.

The album features a seemingly random menage of features: Rick Ross, Lupe Fiasco, Action Bronson, Danny Brown, Ravaughn, most of TDE, and more. J.Cole even makes an uncredited ad-lib appearance courtesy of a track he produced. But Herbert Stevens IV makes them all work. In an interview with Life+Times, Ab-Soul shares that he wanted this album to have something for everyone, and he achieves this perhaps getting slightly lost in the struggle to appeal to various listeners. The album opens with “Gods Reign” featuring the airy vocals of SZA, clearly the reference point for the album artwork and the stand-in for a title track for the album. Ab-Soul gives us a peek into where his head is at now after the death of a girlfriend and a binge of various drugs. However, it doesn’t sound tortured or particularly sad mentioned with enlightening baby mamas and booking tour dates. Check it below.

The first half of the album features production and content familiar to original Ab-Soul fans including “Dub Sac,” a soulful two-part track detailing personal drug use and the effects of the drug game on his family and upbringing. SZA makes an uncredited airy appearance that reminds me of a different time in west coast rap music. Lupe Fiasco and Rick Ross both make appearances in the first half of the album, with the latter’s appearance much more impressive. But then again, when is the last time Lupe Fiasco impressed anyone.

The weakness in the album comes with the odd inclusion of an alter-ego Jimmy (aka The White Ab-Soul) and the overused “Migos-flow.” Like, why? Right as you start to side-eye the project, Kendrick Lamar shows up for a jazzy mid-point interlude prime to make you salivate for Kendrick‘s sophomore album. “Sapiosexual” includes a credited SZA appearance but it seems juvenile and outdated. I was under the impression we were done with the fuck-your-mind analogies in the early 90s (see: dead prez “Mind Sex”). The second half of the album continues to be lyrical, yet slightly uninteresting until “Ride Slow” featuring the always entertaining Danny Brown. Definitely not a fan of Danny Brown, but I’m always intrigued by his inclusion on “traditional” rap beats. And then the album closes with Ab-Soul rapping acapella in a battle with another rapper (battle rapper, Daylyt) showcasing his play on words, overall lyrical dexterity, and what appears to be the camaraderie within TDE.

Perhaps Ab-Soul‘s album suffers from sequencing issues. The overall flow of the album is sporadic with the most interesting tracks occurring before the Kendrick interlude. Is this an instant classic? Nah. But it’s a decent rap album and I’m impressed by Ab-Soul‘s latest project. I expected accessible music, but I still prefer the cerebral mood of Control System. Ab-Soul‘s need to please so many different listeners has me wondering what type of artist he would be if he only made the music he wanted. There are lyrical gems reminding me that Ab-Soul is a lyricist first, but tracks like “Sapiosexual” and “Twact” leave me wondering what’s on the cutting room floor.

Standout Tracks: Gods Reign, Hunnid Stax, Nevermind

Skippable Tracks: Twact, Sapiosexual

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MUSIC WORLD: *UPDATED* One Year Later… My Extended Review of Kendrick Lamar’s “good kid, m.A.A.d. city”

*One Year Later*

What a difference a year makes? With popular culture’s attention span being shorter than Kevin Hart, it’s amazing that this album still has legs. People are still listening, still talking about it, and still fawning over Kendrick – really now more than ever. Since this release, Kendrick Lamar has provided amazing guest verses (Fucking Problems, How Many Drinks Remix, 1 Train, etc.) and crowned himself the King of New York. A young nigga from the west coast decided he was King! How audacious of him.  In a year that saw albums from heavyweights like Nicki Minaj, Nas, Rick Ross, G.O.O.D. Music, T.I. & 2 Chainz, this is the album everyone is still talking about. Kendrick’s stardom has increased the chatter about his TDE labelmates set to make a splash in the next couple of quarters. What’s left to be seen is what a sophomore album from Kendrick sounds like. Following his Hip-Hop Awards cypher, I am extremely excited.  What do you think? Read my original review below.

I can’t even front. I’ve been thirsty for this album to drop since I was first introduced to Kendrick Lamar. Section.80 was everything. I tried not to get too hype for his debut album because I didn’t want to be disappointed if it didn’t live up to what I was expecting (cue: Cruel Summer). But guess what, it did.

My quick review: This is one of the best debut albums from ANY recent rap artist. Definitely in the running for instant classic status. Cop it. You won’t be disappointed.

Want more? Check my full, track-by-track, review below.

Kendrick has emerged as a premier storyteller for our generation. Borrowing from the likes of Slick Rick. Nas, and Notorious B.I.G., Kendrick uses his supreme lyricism to weave tales that feel as personal as if our best friend was recounting them to us. He led off the debut of this album with two “singles.” One served as a buzz-single, “The Recipe.” The other, “Swimming Pools (Drank)” was a cautionary tale of the pitfalls of alcoholism and peer pressure. Naturally it’s become a drinking anthem. Both sound better in the grand scheme of the album. I’m a big proponent of complete projects. By that I mean, I love when an artist takes the time to sequence tracks in a way that they tell a story. Mr. Lamar has presented good kid, m.A.A.D. city in this manner.

The album opens with the first mention of Sherane and the voices of a group of young men that sound straight from the set of “The Wood.” The storytelling kicks off immediately with Kendrick recounting his 17 year old self involving Nextels, his first sexual experience, and a hint of gang activity in Compton. Then his mother calls in a hilarious voicemail skit where his father chastises him about dominoes and his mother implores him to bring her car back. The personal notes in this track alone start the album off strong.

One of my favorite tracks of the album, so far, “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” follows the opening track. This track fully displays the different flows that old fans are used to hearing from Kendrick. He weaves in and out of the beat, a perfect west coast circa 1995 beat with familiar modern drums and bounce. “Backseat Freestyle” is next. When this track hit the internet early last week, it was just okay. In the full scheme of the album though, it shines.

Another standout track for its content more than anything, “The Art of Peer Pressure” first details why Kendrick doesn’t partake in smoking weed now. Without completely ruining your listening experience, Kendrick picked up the wrong joint. It’s a great story that most of us can relate to involving mob mentality and peer pressure with the homies. Jay Rock serves as his first feature on the next track, “Money Trees.” Kendrick’s use of the word “bish” is hilarious and just as ridiculous and it sounds when us chicks use it trying to be more polite than using “bitch” towards each other. I love how the voicemails from his parents continue through the album making it a cohesive project.

Drake serves as the next feature for a 40-produced track with Janet Jackson‘s angelic voice in the background of “Poetic Justice.” Drake doesn’t disappoint and the song feels and sounds good. The album continues with “Good Kid” and “M.A.A.D city.” The latter features MC Eiht in the second half of the track with stories of the gang violence frequently associated with Compton.  It left me wondering where the hell he found MC Eiht, but it randomly works on this track.

His first official single “Swimming Pools (Drank)” also sounds more complete while sandwiched between album cuts. The album version has a little more pizzaz with some added bars. As the album begins to come to a close, Kendrick presents a 12-minute opus titled “Sing About Me, Dying of Thirst.” I love that he meshed these two tracks into one offering. They flow, share themes, and again display Kendrick‘s storytelling ability. And any song that references Menace II Society, well, has won in my book. I don’t know who Anna Wise of Sonnymoon is, but I love her voice on one of my favorite tracks, “Real.” It feels like Kendrick is talking about where fame has got him while he’s still trying to remain real to who he is and where he comes from.

If you have the regular release, the album ends with “Compton” featuring Dr. Dre. Buuut, no one cops the regular release anymore. So depending on which leak  where you copped the album from (iTunes, physical copy, Amazon), your bonus tracks vary. Each include “The Recipe,” “Black Boy Fly,” and “Now or Never” featuring Mary J. Blige.  Spotify also has a remix to “The Recipe” featuring the entire Black Hippy Collective. The iTunes version includes “Collect Calls.” Either way, more Kendrick is always welcome.

Whew! So with all that, my overall view of this album remains. This is a great album, easily shitting on so many debut albums from other freshman artists. I was super hype to hear the album and it lived up to and exceeded my expectations. Kendrick Lamar appeared to stay true to himself while still releasing a commercially appealing project. His voice, figuratively speaking, is still apparent.

My overall review: 4.5/5… damn near classic status

Standout Tracks: Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe,  The Art of Peer Pressure, Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst

Forgettable Tracks: None, really…

You can purchase the album on iTunes HERE and listen on Spotify HERE. 

 

MUSIC WORLD: My Quick Review of Janelle Monae’s “The Electric Lady”

Janelle Monae received early cosigns from Big Boi and is signed to Diddy, but she still hasn’t really translated to “mainstream” Black America. Her songs don’t usually get much urban radio play and there’s an entire subset of America that has no idea who she is, despite her Covergirl commercials. And maybe she likes it that way. Her new album is sure to change that, though. Check out my review of Janelle Monae‘s sophomore album, The Electric Lady.

Led by the infectious single “Q.U.E.E.N.” featuring an almost audibly indivisible Erykah Badu and a rapping Janelle Monae, The Electric Lady is here for a good time and a message. Prince, Solange, Miguel, Esperanza Spalding, and the aforementioned Badu all make appearances. Considering the music styling of Janelle, this seems more than appropriate. Check the video to “Q.U.E.E.N.” below.

The Electric Lady is equally R&B and Rock. And by Rock, I mean the rock we’re used to getting from Prince. That digestible and feel-good rock backed by a live band, not fabricated sounds. And the result is an amazing collection of songs. Janelle croons on songs like “Primetime” and “It’s Code.” She screams and shouts in songs like “Givin’ Em What The Love” and “Sally Ride” And it all works. Check out “Primetime” below.

I wish the title track “Electric Lady” saw more of Solange in the song since she’s billed as a feature. Her gentle crooning and soft soprano would’ve played well with Janelle‘s voice. And maybe it did and that’s why their two voices are indecipherable. The other features fare well on this album as well. With each feature providing a standout on an already excellent album. Her voice shines in songs like “Victory” and “Dorothy Dandridge Eyes.” And there’s something about “It’s Code” that makes me feel like I’m hearing a young Michael Jackson. It’s a well-done nod to The Jackson 5.

As a whole. I enjoy The Electric Lady. It has a feel good feel to hit, reminiscent of the Funk & B album Daft Punk recently released. To compare it, it almost a slight to Janelle Monae though. This album is more than an inspiration from the music of the past. It’s an interpretation and modernization of the music our parents played while we cleaned the house on Saturday mornings. There’s a disjointed feel to the project with odd interludes. But the creativity and quality of the project shouldn’t be overlooked.

Standout Tracks: Electric Lady, Primetime, Victory, Dorothy Dandridge Eyes

 

ALBUM REVIEW: A$AP Ferg’s “Trap Lord”

A$AP Ferguson stands as the second member of the A$AP Mob to release a solo project. As an early standout on A$AP Rocky and the A$AP Mob‘s mixtapes, it only makes sense that he’d be the next to blow. Following the surprise success of his single “Work” along with the subsequent remix, A$AP Ferg wasted no time getting his debut project together. Check my full review below.

The overall feel of the project is not far from what you would expect from the A$AP Mob. Southern influences. Trippy production. Haunting themes and undertones. And A$AP Ferg knows exactly what he’s doing and who his audience is. The opening track, “Let It Go” is a great introduction to new fans of A$AP Ferg. The first line of the entire project is, “Trap Lord season begins, now repent your sins…” The album continues with my personal favorite song that I’ve heard from him so far features A$AP Rocky. “Shabba” is referring to exactly who you think it is. But it’s a great party song with a sing-along hook. The video is just as entertaining. Check it below.

A$AP Ferg taps another group that is familiar with sinister beats for his first non-A$AP feature on this project. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony make an amazing appearance. It doesn’t leave you wanting new music from them, but it leaves a sense of nostalgia for those of us that grew up when “Crossroads” was being played on The Box. Krayzie Bone closes the track like only he can, reminding everyone he was one of the standouts from the group. The next track, “Hood Pope” follows the theme of the album title. He switches up his flow to almost harmonize with the beat detailing how he acts as an advisor to the young trap lords. Check the song below.

“Fergivicious” sounds like the title of a song that would be on Fergie (from The Black Eyed Peas) album. In contrast to the previous track which details his mentorship-like stance with the young trap lords, this track details his own experiences as a hustler in Harlem. The track haunts but gives you a peek into Young Fergivicious’ life with lyrics like

“Fuck your opinion nigga, I be killing/Pimping white bitch on the penicillin/Getting all the bad bitches I be feeling/Thing a nigga trapping? Yeah, I’m drug dealing.”

“4:02” details a threesome between Ferg and his girl. One is chocolate, one is caramel. Every man’s fantasy, right? And where did the new girl come from? It’s explained in the next track “Dump Dump.” Which honestly is full of cliche rhymes, though entertaining. He’s partying in the club, fucking your bitches, and chilling next to Meek Mill. No big deal. Then “Work Remix” shows up and reminds you why you’re listening to the album at all. A$AP Rocky, French Montana, Trinidad James, and ScHoolboy Q all serve their purpose. So much so, the original “Work” track doesn’t even appear on the album, though far superior, lyrically. If you’ve never seen the video, check it below.

The rest of the album slows back down with “Didn’t Wanna Do That” reminding us that A$AP Ferg named his album Trap Lord because he’s lived that life. He details retaliating against another crew that robbed a member of his crew. It’s cautionary tale as much as it’s a peek into A$AP Ferg‘s young life. Waka Flocka Flame makes a memorable appearance detailing trap violence in the next track “Murda Something.” The theme continues with “Make a Scene.” Ferg employs a similar flow style that he used in “Hood Pope.” It’s an effective track detailing a near death experience that flows directly into “Fuck Out My Face.”

 

Maintaining his theme of grabbing 90s rap groups for features, Onyx and B-Real from Cypress Hill make appearances in this track. A$ton Matthews, an upcoming rapper from the West Coast also appears. Though not as hard as the title suggests, “Fuck Out My Face” has great production. Again, you don’t exactly miss Onyx or Cypress Hill from listening to this track, but it’s nice to listen to.  A$AP Ferg closes the album giving an overview of his experience in a Carter-like environment. “Cocaine Castle” shares the type of people that you see coming in and out of a dope spot trying to cop their hit.

As a whole, A$AP Ferg‘s project stands well against other debut albums. We’re not talking about a Kendrick-level debut, which all future debut albums are now measured against. Instead, this album fits perfectly into the overall A$AP catalogue. In comparison to A$AP Rocky‘s debut, it’s a much more “traditional” rap album with familiar themes that feed right into the title of the album. Solid effort. It’s exciting to see these new rap posses (A$AP Mob, TDE, etc.) actually be fill with talented rappers outside of their leader (St. Lunatics, Disturbing Tha Peace).

Standout Tracks:  Let It Go, Shabba, Lord

Forgettable Tracks: Dump Dump, Make a Scene

 

 

 

MUSIC WORLD: My Review of “Magna Carta Holy Grail”

The last solo Jay-Z album was 2009’s Blueprint III. In between, he’s dropped Watch the Throne with Kanye West and been featured on a few more G.O.O.D. Music offerings. Jay-Z gave us about a month to accept the fact that he was dropping an album out of nowhere. With a blockbuster announcement during the NBA Finals in the form of an extended commercial featuring Timbaland, Swizz Beatz, Pharrell, and Rick Rubin, Jay ignited the interest of fans like only he can. Ushering in #NewRules, Jay proclaimed his album would be dropped to Samsung users exclusively a few days before the general release. He even forced the RIAA to change how they certify an album as platinum. Despite the presumed exclusivity to Samsung users, most of the public was able to secure the album the same day. Check my review below.

Naming an album Magna Carta Holy Grail seems right in vein with the theme of Watch The Throne, but this is a very different album. Jay-Z is proud to be Blue Ivy’s father. He’s happy with his wife, Beyonce. And he’s a billionaire. But the album is decidedly a bit deeper than that. With no “traditional” promotion- meaning no singles or music videos, few artists could conjure the same organic interest. Kanye West comes to mind. As does Beyonce who’s on a full world tour performing songs we’ve been listening to for three years. Let me start by saying, the production is the true standout. Timbaland served as an executive producer of the project. And if you thought Timbaland was having a good year with the release of The 20/20 Experience, this just catapulted him as the go-to producer of the year. Check him discussing his role in the project, below.

The album contains 16 tracks, no bonuses. The first half of the album is much more enjoyable to listen to, in my opinion. “Holy Grail” features a gritty Justin Timberlake honing in on his southern roots crooning like he’s singing the blues. This story isn’t about the blues of being broke or losing the love of your life though. Instead, Jay and Justin are reflecting on the pitfalls (and peaks) of being famous. And rich. A little Nirvana helps to drive that theme home. Jay admitted to not owning a Picasso, but he can dream and spit his art shit like the best of them, as evidenced on “Picasso Baby.” The next track, “Tom Ford,” could easily transition to radio plays, including Beyonce‘s whispered ad-libs and Timbaland’s almost signature beat change. Listen below.

(Editor’s Note: Beyonce’s adlibs are credited as “Third World Trill.” Hilarity.)

One of the most infectious tracks on the album features Rick Ross. “FuckwithmeyouknowIgotit” opens with a declaration from an uncredited contributor about Black history and the culture’s desire to have gold and “shiny things.” Because of this opening, the track feels abbreviated. “Oceans” was reportedly recorded two years ago. Which would make sense since Frank Ocean is included and he’s been noticeably absent in the past year and a half. This is the album’s first appearance by Pharrell as a producer. The overall theme of the track explores Jay’s visceral thoughts in regards to our history and The Middle Passage v. his current success. These are the Jay tracks that I enjoy. On the surface, it seems like your standard shit talking affair. Then you tune in and listen to Frank Ocean singing for his life and it clicks.

The next three tracks, (F.U.T.W., SomewhereInamerica, Crown) all feature Jay discussing how it feels to be wealthy when he started from the projects. Oh, and he makes fun of how scary that is to 1% of America. In the first “interlude” of the album, Jay hilariously tells Miley Cyrus to twerk even though high society is looking down on him for his new money. “Crown” sounds the most like a track Kanye would be featured on (or Travis $cott, if you’re paying attention). We all know it was produced by 16 year old producer WondaGurl by now. The auto tune and haunting feel of the track could’ve slid right in Yeezus (or Owl Pharaoh). Skip a track and an interlude and you have “Part II (On the Run)” featuring Beyonce. This tracks serves as the 10 years later follow-up to “03 Bonnie and Clyde.” Though we’re all still waiting for a new Beyonce album, she’s busy crooning about her love for Jay and how she’d hold his heart and his gun. And I believe her. It was rumored this track was originally going to be featured on her album, but it works here. It’s a feel good track that comes at just the right time. Check it below.

Easily one of my favorite sounding tracks is only 56 seconds long. Mike Will Made It produced it and features lines like, “Girl why you never ready, for as long as you took You better look like Halle Berry. Or Beyonce” and “I brought sand to the beach, cause my beach is better.” And then “BBC” happened. I get it. They’re having fun. Nas randomly shows up. But it doesn’t fit for me. The next three tracks are the most personally introspective of the entire album. One discusses his struggles as a fatherless child  who finds himself a father. The other discusses his pressure to be successful and take care of his entire family. The last track on the album follows both themes. It’s a familiar Jay that harkens back to pre-billionaire Jay with problems and concerns we can all relate to. Listen to my favorite interlude “Beach is Better,” below.

In the current state of music with reviews being boiled down to Twitter posts, if an album isn’t a classic upon first listen, it’s garbage. Let me start by saying that most albums can’t be deemed classic within a year of being released, much less within a few hours. good kid, m.A.A.d city is the only recent album that I feel was deserving of this praise. That being said, Magna Carta Holy Grail is a good album. One of Jay’s best? Nah. Better than your favorite rapper’s though? Probably. As his 12th studio album, I don’t think this is one to be ashamed of (see: most of Kingdom ComeBlueprint 2). With that being said, I still find that the true highlight of the album is the sound and production, not the content. Kanye West is noticeably absent, as was Jay-Z on on Yeezus. During his Twitter takeover yesterday, Jay hinted at Watch the Thorone 2 coming soon. Thank God… or Hov… or Yeezus. Whatever.

Standout tracks: Holy Grail, Fuckwithmeyouknowigotit, Oceans, Part II, Beach is Better

MUSIC WORLD: My Review of Kanye West’s “Yeezus”

The anticipation for Yeezus mirrored that of any other Kanye West release. Kanye conducted a mostly viral marketing campaign consisting of surprise listening parties, public video projections, and no real single release. Articles were written about how Rick Rubin was called in to help Kanye strip the sound down. Kanye ranted about how he transcended a genre of music. Ahead of the release, we were treated to “New Slaves,” “Black Skinhead,” and “I Am A God.” And then the album leaked. Check my full review below.

Let me begin by stating the obvious. The “singles” we received ahead of the official leak release are misleading. They in no way represent the whole sound of the album. Honestly, if the album sounded like “New Slaves” or even “Black Skinhead,” I would’ve felt like Kanye was trying something truly innovate and interesting. Almost like a punk-rap genre of music. But instead, we get an album with a background echo, autotune, and a random Buju Banton clone shouting incomprehensible Patois.

The album opens with no warning. The first track, “On Sight” almost sounds like a radio-rip. But I guess this is what Rick Rubin was referencing when he said that Kanye wanted a stripped down sound and they actually ended up “un-producing” a lot of tracks. Kanye premiered a rousing performance of “Black Skinhead” and it still stands out as one of my favorite tracks from the album. The energy of that entire song is captivating. And in the grand scheme of the album, it shines.

After listening to the entire album a few times, I’m still surprised by the amount of autotune that Kanye (and Chief Keef) utilize. It removes the potential freshness of the album. In fact, “Bound 2” sounds like a track that could’ve easily fit into Late Registration. Not because of autotune, but because of the soul sample backtrack. Not quite the progression I was seeking after hearing the lead “singles” from Yeezus.

My favorite tracks from this short project are those that don’t sound like anything that anyone else in hip-hop could or would do right now. “I’m In It” is an early favorite because of the sound and feel of the track. The content is typical comical Kanye West, but the way this track makes me feel is EVERYTHING. I feel the same way about the production on “Blood on the Leaves.” Kanye sampling C-Murder’s “Down 4 My Niggas?” Love it! It’s almost subtle but so recognizable. And to layer that with a sample of Nina Simone’s “Strange Fruit,” who else would do that or think of that? Only Yeezus.

Kanye comes off as a true Gemini. He doesn’t know what he wants to express and as such, this album is all over the damn place. We’re new slaves but he then goes on to mention putting his fist in a woman like it’s Civil Rights. I just can’t. I wish he would’ve let this album cook a little more or came with more tracks reminiscent of the first 4. Album about nothing? Kinda. I struggled to write this review because after listening to this entire album 8+ times, I’m still not sure how I feel overall about the project. There are tracks that I absolutely love (see below), there’s sounds that I wish were more prominent, but as a whole, this album feels so disjointed. Take a few tracks and make that super forward punk rap album. Then take a few others and make a trap album. And then put “Bound 2” on Late Registration. What do you think? Help me out here!

Standout Tracks: Black Skinhead, New Slaves, I’m In It, Blood on the Leaves

MUSIC WORLD: My Review of Chance the Rapper’s “Acid Rap” + Listen and Download Links

Don’t let age deter you from pressing play on Chance the Rapper‘s newest mixtape, “Acid Rap.” Though not old enough to (legally) buy a drink, Chance the Rapper let his experience with LSD shape his stellar follow-up to the well-received “10 Day.” Check my review below.

It’s always a breath of fresh air to notice Chicago rappers outside of drill music get some shine. Drill music represents a segment of the region, without question. But Chance the Rapper is helping to widen the narrow-minded view that all young rappers from Chicago tote glocs and shout “bang bang.”

Using his voice as an instrument, Chance the Rapper sings just as much as he raps. If you can embrace his delivery, you’ll be exposed to some of the best song construction in recent memory. Visiting themes ranging from education to murders in Chicago to drug use to young love, Chance the Rapper exposes us to his world post “10 Day.” He starts one of the standout tracks “Pusha Man” with the line: 10 damn days/And all I got to show for it is shoes and shows and chauffeurs with road rage.

That’s not even the best rap or cadence from the extended double-featured song, it’s just how it opens. It’s easily one of my favorites from the project. Following the release of Acid Rap, I highly doubt all Chancelor will be left with is some Nikes, some local shows, and pissy drivers. With features ranging from fellow Chicago rapper Twista to Childish Gambino to Ab-Soul, clearly his peers are paying attention.

One of the best thing about “Acid Rap” outside of the apparent honesty and lyrical prowess, are the juxtapositions Chance presents to his listeners. Chance is a young black man from Chicago that has dabbled in the use of acid. He has burn holes in his hoodies that his friends assume is from weed smoking, but it’s actually from smoking cigarettes. The idea of a song titled “Good Ass Intro” with clear gospel influences. It’s interesting and incredibly entertaining to participate in. Chance shared a video of him reportedly tripping on acid while in Mexico. Check it below.

Not to discredit the obvious favorite “Cocoa Butter Kisses,” but “Lost” excites me just as much. The reflective tale of love developed between the sheets that creates an addictive, though surface, connection is all too familiar and incredibly well shared in this song. Continuing with the rest of the project, it’s incredibly difficult to pick favorite tracks, but I find myself going back to “Smoke Again” featuring Ab-Soul. Chopped and screwed hook with verses from Chance that sound VERY Chicago. He drops petty, Kiwi Mystics, nacho-cheese covered Cheetos, and references someone being a lick.

The easy comparisons include Kendrick Lamar or Lil’ Wayne in regards to the way that he uses his voice on tracks. But my friend Ajonra brought to my attention the unlikely comparison to Wyclef. After really listening, I could see that argument as well. Comparisons aside, “Acid Rap” is an amazingly well-crafted project set to propel Chance the Rapper to the next stratosphere of stardom. With no major cosign, I wouldn’t be surprised to witness a bidding war for the young rapper. And if XXL doesn’t pay attention for the next go round of Freshman MCs…

Treat yourself and press play and/or download.

BONUS!

Vibe & Rap Genius also did a pretty cool feature of “The Dopest Lines from Acid Rap.” Check it HERE.