Tag Archives: Eminem

Review: I Decided.

i-decided-cover
via Henncredibly Dope

I Decided. (2017)

Big Sean

Rap / Hip-Hop

GOOD Music / Def Jam


When you stack up Big Sean’s I Decided. against his previous albums like Hall of Fame and his debut Finally Famous, it is quite clear that the Detroit-based rapper has taken a more introspective turn in his career.  Songs like “Dance (A$$)” and “Guap” are a thing of the past compared to his more recent offerings.  Dark Sky Paradise was a good indication of this change, mixing fun and more lighthearted party rap with deeper, reflective tracks.  I Decided., Big Sean’s fourth studio album, is not unlike what other rappers have been doing lately, but it still is Big Sean’s best work yet.

i-decided-1
via Dancehall Hip-Hop

Things get rolling, theme-wised, in the album’s intro track.  Big Sean’s older self, voiced by actor J.R. Starr gets hit by a car and dies.  He is then reincarnated as his present self in another life.  The whole album serves as a reflection on Sean’s life, with his older self is giving him advice and wisdom every step of the way.  It is a cool theme, but one that is underused.  The intro track came and went but I was only reminded of the theme later in the album on “Halfway Off the Balcony.”  I Decided. has a clear and consistent message throughout, but I would have liked the bits with J.R. Starr to be sprinkled a little more throughout.

“Bounce Back,” the most popular song from the album, also happens to be one of the highlights from the project.  It is an upbeat banger about bouncing back after taking an “L”.  Big Sean has some great flow on the track, similar in style to the flow found on Drake’s song “6 Man.”  Next on the track list is “No Favors,” a controversial collaboration with everyone’s favorite rabble-rouser Eminem.  Produced by WondaGurl, the song marks the first time Eminem has appeared on a Big Sean’s album.  Big Sean’s verse is great, but the biggest take-away is Eminem’s verse, where he makes a bunch of verbal jabs, including a threat against Ann Coulter.  Whether he meant it or not (he probably did not), people are still taking some offense.  This is not the first time Eminem has said something controversial.  He is the king of controversy of course.  It should not be a surprise to anyone.

i-decided-2
via Saint Heron

These are not the only bangers that appear on the album.  “Voices in My Head/Stick to the Plan,” produced by Metro Boomin, is another great track with a double-edged sound.  In the song, Big Sean tells himself and his listeners to stay true to himself and to heed the advice of your elders.  Then things heat up and quicken as Metro steers the beat in a new direction with the second part, where Sean convinces himself to stay focused amid the endless distractions of drugs, money, and sex.  One of the more personal tracks, “Sunday Morning Jetpack,” is a song full of nostalgia and the struggles and how they made him the person he is today.  The song features The Dream, who gives a great hook over a breezy beat.  The song almost acts as an alternative “One Man Can Change the World,” one of the strongest offerings from Dark Sky Paradise.

Not every track is a slam dunk.  “Same Time Pt. 1,” featuring Big Sean’s lady friend Jhene Aiko, is an underwhelming ballad that features a less-than-stellar verse from Aiko.  I was expecting a little more from the TWENTY88 duo.  There is also “Inspire Me,” which is a cliché and sappy tribute to Sean’s mother and the role she has played in the rapper’s life.  It is sweet in concept but does not bring anything fresh to the table when compared to similar tracks from other rappers.

i-decided-3
via Stupid Dope

I Decided. is capped with “Bigger Than Me,” a booming track featuring Starrah and the Flint Chozen Choir.  Big Sean wraps up the album, going off about how he has made it to the top but still needs to improve as a person.  There are some great moments with the choir and a nice verse from Starrah.  The track ends with a phone call with Big Sean’s grandma, just like his previous albums.  A lot of I Decided. is predictable, but it is the culmination of Big Sean’s career in a good way.  Big Sean has matured as a rapper and a person and that is prevalent in almost every corner of his latest project.  There are bangers galore and reflection aplenty.  Big Sean fans will rejoice.

i-decided-score

Advertisements

Review: Compton: The Soundtrack

via Rap God
via Rap God

Compton: The Soundtrack (2015)

Dr. Dre

Rap / Hip-Hop

Aftermath / Interscope


When’s the last time Dr. Dre released an album?  You’re telling me it’s been sixteen years?  It seems kind of crazy when you say it, but in fact it has been over sixteen years since the rapper/producer and former member of N.W.A. has released an official studio album.  His name has not been forgotten in that time, but musically he has been silent for a long time.  Now that his final album, Compton: The Soundtrack, has been released, the musical silence has officially come to an end.  You would think that Dre would be a little rusty on the hinges after all those years, but he delivers in every aspect, giving us what some have already been saying an “instant classic.”

What does a Dr. Dre album look like in the year 2015?  He’s come a long way since his rabble-rousing days roaming the streets of Compton with N.W.A.  He’s brought up some of the best names in hip-hop, most notably Eminem.  He has also produced a pretty honorable library of albums that hold a lot of regard critically.  Compton, the rapper’s grand finale showing, gives us a taste of old and new and aims to please everybody’s tastes.

via Hip-Hop n More
via Hip-Hop n More

Compton is like a personal ride through the city streets of Compton, with Dr. Dre rolling in the driver’s seat.  As you make your way through the city, which has gone through its fair share of triumphs and hardships, Dre earnestly tells a story full of recollections of past memories, reflective analyzations of the present, and glimpses of the opportunistic future.  Dre realizes the position that he stands in and the kind of influence that he has on the masses and he runs forward with eagerness and passion, without ever forgetting his humble and pain ridden beginnings.

The album, from beginning to end, contains almost no slip ups.  Dr. Dre is still sharp as ever and his classic flow comes back like a nostalgic knockout punch.  To my surprise, Dre leaves a lot of room for others on the album, both old and new, giving them room to breathe.  Former member of N.W.A. Ice Cube makes a loud appearance on “Issues,” a track that looks at the current state of rap and pretty much disses the entirety of it.  Dr. Dre puts it simply: “Man this industry to me, it feels like plastic.  I ain’t heard nothin’ that I’d consider a classic.”  Although it’s only a snippet, we also hear the voice of Eazy-E, one of the most iconic voices from N.W.A.   Snoop Dogg makes two appearances as well, providing lyrical back-up on songs like “One Shot, One Kill” and “Satisfiction,” a fitting look at the fake satisfaction that comes with the rap lifestyle.  Finally, “Loose Cannons” features the like of Cold 187um and Xzibit, who both give pompous performances on a track with an extremely dark ending. It was these features that really brought back the sound that we all came to know and love from back in the days.

via Softpedia News
via Softpedia News

There were also features from current hip-hop powerhouses like Eminem and Kendrick Lamar.  Lamar shares a lot in common with Dre, being that there both from the same hood, with his lyrics reflecting that.  “Darkside / Gone” and “Deep Water” are two tracks that the West Coast rapper appears on, but the most notable song is “Genocide.”  Dr. Dre, Lamar, Candice Pillay, and Marsha Ambrosius give a chilling, but real account of one of the biggest problems that the city of Compton faces; the murder rate.  Towards the end of the album, Dre and Eminem team up for probably one of the best tracks on the album; “Medicine Man.”  Dr. Dre gives us a great verse, but it’s Eminem that really takes the song by the reigns, delivering a fantastic verse that, in classic Shady fashion, covers a lot of ground in little time.  At this point, it’s almost like Eminem can do no wrong.  However, the song contains some alarming lyrics that made me frown.  Lines like “I even make the bitches I rape come” are not the kinds of lyrics that will go unnoticed.  There might be backlash, there might not be, but either way it still doesn’t bode well with most.

I have to give major props to some of the new talent that gets a lot of time on the album to shine.  Justus, Anderson .Paak, Marsha Ambrosius, and King Mez are all up-and-coming artists with a whole lot to prove.  Dre takes them under his wing and gives them a chance to take the spotlight on a number of songs on the album.  Songs like “Talk About It” and “It’s All on Me” are two of the tracks that really stick out.  Anderson .Paak truly makes a name for himself on “Animals,” a song that dives into the problems that black people face on a daily basis.  It’s well-trodden ground at this point, especially given the events that have transpired this year, but .Paak manages to demand your attention.

via Okay Player
via Okay Player

The journey through the city concludes with the finale, “Talking to My Diary.”  It’s a fitting end to our ride with Dre through his city of Compton.  As he flips through the pages of his work, he takes one final gaze at the road that he has travelled behind him and looks into the future with eagerness.  Compton shows that the rapper, although dormant for more than a decade, still has what it takes to grab listeners by neck and show them what real rap sounds like. I may not agree with his line about there being no classics out there today, especially given the amazing year of rap that we have had so far.  With that being said, I can agree that Dr. Dre has given us an epic final swan song, a masterpiece that has indeed earned classic status.

compton score

The Weekly Drop: 4/24/15

This week was pretty slow when it came to new songs.  We got some new stuff from DeJ Loaf and Tech N9ne, with his explosive rap collaboration with Eminem and Krizz Kaliko.  There was not too many mixtapes that managed to impress either.  Here’s what I was listening to…


via Hip Hop Illustrated
via Hip Hop Illustrated

“Me U & Hennessy”

DeJ Loaf (feat. Lil Wayne)

Stream

The video for DeJ Loaf’s sensual and steamy “Me U & Hennessy” released last week, but this week gives us the remix, which has Lil Wayne on the other end of the track.  The song is an explicit and overtly sexual run through of a night of drinks and love making.  DeJ Loaf gets raunchy, but Lil Wayne out does her in classic Weezy fashion.  The song has a smooth sound, perfect for any lover’s night.  If you are looking for some baby making music for your next occasion, DeJ Loaf and Lil Wayne can hook you up.


via mbjunk.com
via mbjunk.com

“Speedom (WWC 2)”

Tech N9ne (feat. Eminem & Krizz Kaliko)

Buy

If you are looking to get your heart racing, Tech N9ne may have the song for you.  With his next album Special Effects on the way, N9ne dropped his newest single “Speedom,” which was the sequel to “World Wide Choppers.”  The song features N9ne, Eminem, and Krizz Kaliko going 0-60 in trailblazing time on their respective verses.  Eminem’s verse is quite the handful, taking shots at people like Ellen Degeneres, Drake, and Kanye West.  Eminem and Tech N9ne have collaborated before, and their newest team-up efforts do not disappoint.  Be sure to catch the track if you can.


via Rap-Up
via Rap-Up

“Thuggin'”

Glasses Malone (feat. Kendrick Lamar)

Buy

Up till this point, we haven not heard too much about Glasses Malone’s upcoming project Glasshouse 2.  In a leak on Monday, we got to hear the rapper’s first song from the album, entitled “Thuggin’.”  The song, produced by Sega, is a song about the thug life over a sample of Bone Thugs n Harmony’s “For the Love of Money.”  It starts off with a snippet from an 1994 interview of 2Pac outside of a courthouse and then leads to Glasses Malone giving us a clinic on what it means to be a thug.  The rap powerhouse Kendrick Lamar also provides some lyrical help with a one-two punch of a verse.  As most songs of this nature like to do, it took aim at some of the current issues that stand today.  It is a promising preview of Malone’s future music he has in store.


via Can't Stop Hip Hop
via Can’t Stop Hip Hop

Trips to Trinidad EP

Trinidad James

Stream

It’s been a while since we have heard any music from Trinidad James.  His new EP, Trips to Trinidad gives fans something to devour in the meantime however.  The small collection of songs has “Island Music” written all over it.  The first two songs, “Trini Wolve$” and “$.T.I.Y. (Save the Island Youth),” are one part reggae and one part rap.  The last two tracks give us a freestyle, and some wisdom to go with it.  “TTT Free$tyle” is a pretty average freestyle that has a different sound from the previous two tracks, and it probably could have been excluded from the project as a whole.  “Po$$ible No Guarantee” has Trinidad speaking about relationships at the start, only to move on to his outlook on life as a whole.  It might have felt scattered at times, but it was an interesting piece to end with.  The project, largely produced by Dark Conceptz, is nothing special, but it still manages to please.


via Datpiff
via Datpiff

No Chill

Jae Millz

Pass

I have been following Jae Millz ever since “Green Goblin,” his collaboration with Chris Brown.  His style of music could almost be classified as dark and menacing, with some heavy beats to back it up.  No Chill, the newest of his many mixtapes, continues in that style of music, but did not impress in it’s execution.  There were some songs from the project that caught my attention, like “Shining” and “Yeah I Know,” but most were nothing to write home about.  Most of the songs on the tape ranged from average to below average, which does not make it worth going out of your way to listen to it.  Jae Millz has done better.


via Hoodstok
via Hoodstok

Life of a Soulja II

Lil Soulja Slim

Pass

If you have not heard of Lil Soulja Slim, that is okay.  He has not hit it big yet.  He is the son of Soulja Slim, the rapper who died at the hands of an unknown shooter.  Soulja Slim’s son continues on, furthering his father’s legacy.  He has not put out that much music yet, which is why his second mixtape in the Life of a Soulja series was intriguing to me.  I wanted to see what his rapping abilities looked like.  It is fair to say that he sounds a lot like his father, but some of his lyrics do not fly too well.  He needs some work, as demonstrated by the quality of the mixtape.  The release has some good production from producers like Playboy Pat and Crack Tracks, but his lyrical abilities were not all there.  The last song on the mixtape “Listen,” which happened to be a bonus track featuring Juvenile, Young Juve, and Danny Heartless, was probably my favorite out of all of them.  His newest offering can probably be passed over, but I will be interested to see if he gets better over time, and if he gets any traction and recognition in the future.

The Weekly Drop: 4/18/15

This week saw the release of Tyler, the Creator’s album Cherry Bomb along with a mix and match of other singles as well.  Trey Songz delivered a surprise mixtape Intermission, and Rihanna released her newest single from her upcoming album, “American Oxygen.”  Here is what came out this week…


via Zumic
via Zumic

“American Oxygen”

Rihanna

Buy

Technically the song came out on April 5th on the new Tidal Music platform, but I was not really a fan of Tidal, so I decided to wait till it was available everywhere.  With that being said, this patriotic and energetic song is actually pretty good.  It is pretty significant because Rihanna, the island girl herself, is a black immigrant of the United States.  The song, which served as the theme song for March Madness, is about achieving the American Dream.  The song also has some obvious influences from Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA.”  “American Oxygen” gets me pretty excited for what is to come with Rihanna’s #R8, her highly anticipated next album, but this should do till then.


via Deezer
via Deezer

“Addicted to a Memory”

Zedd (feat. Bahari)

Stream

“Addicted to a Memory” is Zedd’s second offering off his new album True Colors which comes out on the 19th of this month.  It is a “what could have been” type of song, which has Bahari reflecting on a relationship that probably did not go as planned.  It has a deep techno kind of feel with a drop that will shake any dance club.  It started to run a little long towards the end, but overall it felt like a Zedd song.


via Josepvinaixa
via Josepvinaixa

“Darker than Blood”

Steve Aoki (feat. Linkin Park)

Pass

The other EDM track to come out this week came from the rage inducer Steve Aoki himself, along with the surprise help of Linkin Park.  This is not the first time that we have had rock mixed with electronic music, but it did not feel quite right with “Darker than Blood.”  The song, which supposedly has been in production for almost two years, did not quite have the effect that I thought it would have.  The song sounds like Steve Aoki, as well as Linkin Park.  It just made me realize that the song probably would have sounded better separated.  I would have rather had Steve Aoki release the song by himself, with Linkin Park doing the same.  Then we could have had a comparison.


via Dj Booth
via Dj Booth

“So Many Pros”

Snoop Dogg

Pass

Bush is on its way, and Snoop seems to be making a comeback, albeit with a new sound.  His second single “So Many Pros” has similarities to his other single “Peaches and Cream,” which makes it apparent that the album is going to have a smooth and more “pop-y” feel to it.  “So Many Pros” has production from Pharrell Williams, and some back up vocals from the talented Charlie Wilson.  It brought me back to Snoop’s earlier ballad “Sensual Seduction,” but “So Many Pros” failed to do it for me.  It just sounded like a tired and lazy pop song with little to no rap at all.  If I did not know better, I would not have guessed that it was a Snoop Dogg song.


via Rap Dose
via Rap Dose

“Best Friend”

Yelawolf (feat. Eminem)

Buy

I have a strong feeling that Yelawolf has a good album coming our way to add to the collection of great hip hop albums that have come out this year.  “Best Friend” is his latest single from the upcoming release, which includes the only feature on the album; and no one better to fill that role than Slim Shady himself.  The two sound great together on the track, with Yelawolf getting a little more spiritual while Eminem delivers his trademark aggressive rhymes.  There’s a overarching spiritual tone to the song, which makes me excited for the kind of territory that the southern rapper will cover on Love Story.


via MWM Forum
via MWM Forum

Intermission

Trey Songz

Stream

Trey Songz noted on his Twitter that he feels like he is at his best whenever he releases surprise music for his fans.  The mixtape, which could be called an EP, features a small collection of songs from the R&B singer.  Some of my favorites from the release are “Don’t Play” and “Talk About It.”  They both do the job of being pretty alright R&B songs.  The others on the EP are not knock-outs, but they were not bad.  Intermission was not Trey Songz at his absolute best, but he gives his fans something to grapple to during their wait for his upcoming project.

The Weekly Drop: 3/27/15

This is a new weekly series that I will start that will cover new singles and mixtapes that were released throughout the week.  Every Friday, I will go in depth and let you know whether you should download, stream, or pass on the newest releases.  On the blog, I have reviewed a lot of albums, but I have never really looked at the other types of releases that come out in a given week.  So, without further ado…

This week pretty much centered around Rihanna’s new single, “Bitch Better Have My Money.”  She has been releasing some snippets from the single, but on Thursday she finally released the full song.  We also saw a comeback from T-Pain.  In terms of other releases, we had some new stuff from Gucci Mane, Que, T.I., Yelawolf, Ludacris, and more.


via Beyond Gossip
via Beyond Gossip

“Bitch Better Have My Money”

Rihanna

Buy

There was a lot of hype surrounding the single from Rihanna’s next big album.  “Bitch Better Have My Money” is the second single of her upcoming album R8.  The song features a mix of singing and rapping, with a bunch of confidence.  The bass heavy song, produced by Deputy, is no doubt going to be a hit for a while.


gibberish“Gibberish”

MAX feat. Hoodie Allen

Stream

As it turns out, singer MAX and up-and-coming rapper Hoodie Allen are actually best buds.  That’s why it makes sense that they release a song together, entitled “Gibberish.”  The song, which is about meeting a girl and realizing that she is not who you thought she was, is something that we have all heard before in pop music, but it still manages to be pretty catchy.  Hoodie Allen also brings a good verse to the equation as well.  It’s definitely worth a listen, but that’s about all.


charge it to the rap game“Charge it to the Rap Game”

Ludacris

Buy

Ludacris’ next album Ludaversal is going to be pretty big.  However, there hasn’t been too much released yet from the album, with “Good Lovin” being the only single released so far.  “Charge it to the Rap Game,” produced by Illmind, shows off that classical lyrical flow that Ludacris has been known for.  The rap game has a lot of highs and lows to it, and Ludacris weighs in on all of it.  This might not be a groundbreaking track by any sense of the word, but it is still pretty good.


via hulkshare.com
via hulkshare.com

“Project Steps”

T.I.

Pass

T.I. has made it known before that his past was not pretty, growing up in the hood of Atlanta, Georgia.  His newest song “Project Steps,” produced by Mars of 1500 or Nothin’, goes into the struggles that T.I. faces with not reverting to his past ways to solve the problems he comes across today.  A song as hard and raw as this seems like it should be faster and not as sluggish.  The beat in the background also got a little repetitive as well.  I was expecting more from T.I.


via Rap Wave
via Rap Wave

“I Go Hard”

T.I. feat. Kat

Buy

This is the better of the two T.I. songs that were released this week.  “I Go Hard,” is inspired by Get Hard, the Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell comedy that comes out this week.  T.I. also plays a role in the film, starring as Russell, a former convict.  The song actually appears on the ending credits as well.  The track goes hard, with a loud and booming hook from Kat.  T.I. lays some hard rhymes over the tough sounding song.  The song definitely lives up to it’s name.


via Juno Download
via Juno Download

“Roll the Bass”

Major Lazer

Stream

Major Lazer has been around for a while, with is third major studio album Peace is the Mission on the way soon.  “Roll the Bass”, a single from the new album, is an energetic mix of Major Lazer’s reggae style of music with the heavy beats of trap step.  It is fast and it is fun, and it will most likely have you dancing in no time.


via Rap Wave
via Rap Wave

“American You”

Yelawolf

Buy

This song is actually pulled from Catfish Billy’s next album Love Story.  With Eminem and Malay handling production duties, “American You” has Yelawolf talking about the kinds of things that go through a young teenage American’s mind.  We get some nice vocals from the rapper, with a nice and easy sound.  There are some instrumentals in the background that really just make the song feel like an American piece of work.  It was surprisingly really good.


via XXL
via XXL

Dessert (EP)

Gucci Mane

Pass

If you are talking about the hardest working rapper in the game, you are most likely talking about rapper Gucci Mane.  Last week, the rapper released three full-length albums; Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.  To top things off, he also released a three song EP this week as well, called Dessert.  The mixtape features some good production work from the likes of Mike WILL Made-It and The Honorable C-Note, but the three songs are just average at best.  “Don’t Make Me Mad” was probably my least favorite of the three tracks, with it sounding like a garbled mess at times.  It is hard not to applaud the work ethic that Gucci Mane puts out, but I would honestly like to see him channel that energy into making less albums, with a bigger focus on quality.  Putting out song after song, album after album, is not always a sound strategy of success.  This is a pretty good example of why that does not always work.


via Far Out Hip Hop
via Far Out Hip Hop

The 6th Man

Que

Stream

Atlanta’s own Que is here with a new mixtape called The 6th Man.  The album is primarily a one man show, with the only feature from Young Dolph on “Weak.”  The mixtape includes a pretty good sounding intro, which leads into one of my favorite tracks from the project, “Type I Am.”  Some of my other favorites include “Stick Up Kid” and “Emotions,” a song that features some vocals from the rapper.  Not all of the songs are A-grade material however.  “Type of Party” gets a little repetitive after a while and “Digg It” leaves more to be desired.  However, the XXL Magazine nominated Freshman of the Year has some good flow and his lyrics roll off the tongue pretty well.  The mixtape also sounds good, with some production from up-and-coming producers like OZ and 30roc.  I do not think that the mixtape is worth a download, but I still think you should give the rapper a listen.


via All Hip-Hop
via All Hip-Hop

The Iron Way

T-Pain

Download

It’s been four years since the release of T-Pain’s Revolver.  Say what you want about the album, but it was not really a big commercial or critical success.  It was a good time for T-Pain to take a break and lay low.  Fast forward to 2015 and we now have The Iron Way, T-Pain’s comeback mixtape if you will, hosted by DJ Drama.  The tape contains twenty tracks, as well as a star-studded features list.  Lil Wayne, The Dream, Big K.R.I.T., Yo Gotti, Migos, and more lend verses to the project.  The Iron Way contains some hard and raw raps from the rapper, including the mixtapes intro “Kill These N*****,” as well as those seductive auto-tune ballads that you have come to expect from T-Pain, like “Let Your Hair Down,” featuring help from The Dream and Vantrease.  Some other good cuts are “15,” the bouncy club anthem, as well as “Let Me Through,” the feature with Lil Wayne.  It is interesting to note the apparent absence of T-Pains collaboration with Aaliyah, titled “Girlfriend.”  He played the song at a recent preview session in Manhattan, but perhaps the internet backlash was the reasoning for its cut off the album.  T-Pain’s intentions are clear and he wants a swift comeback.  If this spawns another album, that’s great.  If not, we at least got some more music from the auto-tune genius.

The Grammys 2015: Wrap-Up

grammysIf you watched the Grammys last night, you probably heard the phrase “Grammy Moment” over and over again.  It was the main theme of the night.  “So and so is going to make a Grammy moment.”  “Don’t miss the Grammy moment, coming up next!”  The 57th Annual Grammy Awards took place last night, and there were indeed a lot of moments…some more memorable then others.

Right off the bat, the award for Best New Artist, which was presented by Taylor Swift, was given to Sam Smith.  This surprised me a lot, considering the fact that Iggy Azalea was in the category as well.  (Although I really wouldn’t call her “new”)  This was the start of two new trends for the night.  Iggy, who was nominated for four awards, took home a big zero.  On the other hand, Sam Smith cleaned house with a grand total of four Grammy’s, including Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Pop Vocal Album, in addition to his New Artist award.  This was a big night for the emotional Sam Smith, who accepted the awards with a lot of gratitude.

grammys sam smith

Other notable award winners included Beck for Album of the Year for Morning Phase.  This was by far my biggest surprise.  Beck had a pretty successful and critically acclaimed album, but I didn’t think there was that much buzz around his album, especially compared to the other nominees in the category.  Kanye West must have thought the same thing, as he almost performed “I ’ma Let You Finish” Part 2.  Luckily, he refrained from interrupting Beck, but it was still one of my favorite moments from the night.  Others didn’t find it funny, calling Kanye a jerk.  This is true in a sense, but I don’t think Kanye did anything wrong last night…besides his later comments about Beck and his win.  Anyway…

Other award winners include Pharrell Williams for Best Pop Solo Performance for his song “Happy” and Beyonce for Best R&B Performance for her song “Drunk In Love” with her hubby Jay Z.  One surprising omission from the show was the absence of the Hip-Hop and Rap awards being presented live.  All of the awards for these categories were announced before the live show…for reasons I can’t really explain.  Either way, Eminem won Best Rap Album for The Marshal Mathers LP2 and Kendrick Lamar won Best Rap Performance for “I”.  There were a lot more awards that were left out of the picture during the live show, with only nine awards being given out at the big show.  The awards were three hours long and only nine were actually given out?  That only means one thing…performances.

grammys beck

So how were the performances?

Well, there were so much that host LL Cool J had to skip his normal comedic (that term used lightly) monologue in order to make room for the plethora of artists that made the stage.  This year there were twenty three performances, kicked off by the rock legends AC/DC with “Rock or Bust” and “Highway to Hell.”  It was a strong start to the show, and it probably had a lot of people confused as to why they were even up there.  Then things started to go downhill…

grammys acdc

We got some love songs from Ariana Grande and the duo of Jessie J and Tom Jones.  The two performances were alright, but they were nothing special.  We then got a rather forgettable performance from Miranda Lambert who sung “Little Red Wagon.”  Surprising to most, Kanye West picked things up a bit with his minimalist act of “Only One.”  It was then Madonna who gave a weird and often times uncomfortable performance of “Living for Love.”

There was then a long string of unmemorable performances that just didn’t make an impression on me.  Pharrell Williams however, gave a cinematic and epic performance of “Happy”, debuting a new elevator boy hat.  I hope the tradition continues every year.  Katy Perry, after a talk about domestic violence, gave a somber, yet dazzling performance of “By the Grace of God”, which was one of the standouts of the night.  One of the other standouts was the much anticipated performance of “FourFiveSeconds” by the trio of Sir Paul McCartney, Rihanna, and Kanye West.  It was an upbeat live showing of a song that just doesn’t get old.  They three had fun with it.

grammys four five seconds

The show closed with two final performances from Beyonce and John Legend, featuring rapper Common.  Beyonce performed an angelic version of “Precious Lord, Take My Hand.”  It was a powerful performance that further cemented Beyonce’s status of dominance in music.  As an encore of sorts, John Legend and Common performed the Oscar nominated “Glory” from the Oscar recognized Selma.  It was another epic performance, complete with instrumentals and a full choir.  The Grammys started strong and ended strong…but had a ton of rough patches in between held up by the occasional memorable performance.

The Grammys weren’t what I thought they were going to be this year.  They were kind of a let down.  Yes, some very talented musicians took home there well deserved awards, but I kind of wished there were more awards, instead of the performances that were just thrown in there to fatten up the runtime.  Half of the performances could have been cut out, leaving room for more awards and what ever else they could have come up with.  It was a big night for music, no doubt…but it could have been bigger.

grammys beyonce


Here were some of the winners from the night…

Record of the Year

Sam Smith – “Stay With Me”

Song of the Year

Sam Smith – “Stay With Me” [Darkchild Version]

Album of the Year

Beck – “Morning Phase”

Best New Artist

Sam Smith

Best Pop Solo Performance

Pharrell Williams – “Happy”

Best Pop Vocal Album

Sam Smith – “In The Lonely Hour”

Best Rock Album

Beck – “Morning Phase”

Best Rap Album

Eminem – “The Marshal Mathers LP2”

Best Country Album

Miranda Lambert – “Platinum”

Best R&B Performance

Beyonce ft. Jay Z – “Drunk In Love”

grammys happy


Now, what about my predictions?  Well…here’s how I did…

Record of the Year

I predicted… “Shake If Off” by Taylor Swift

Actual winner: “Stay With Me” by Sam Smith

Album of the Year

I predicted… In The Lonely Hour by Sam Smith

Actual winner: Morning Phase by Beck

Song of the Year

I predicted… “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift

Actual winner: “Stay With Me” [Darkchild Version] by Sam Smith

Best New Artist

I predicted… Iggy Azalea

Actual winner: Sam Smith

Best Pop Vocal Album

I predicted… Prism by Katy Perry

Actual winner: In The Lonely Hour by Sam Smith

Best Dance/Electronic Album

I predicted… While (1>2) by Deadmau5

Actual winner: Syro by Aphex Twin

Best R&B Performance

I predicted… “Drunk In Love” by Beyonce feat. Jay Z

Actual winner: “Drunk In Love” by Beyonce feat. Jay Z

Best Urban Contemporary Album

I predicted… Beyonce by Beyonce

Actual winner: Beyonce by Beyonce

Best Rap Song

I predicted… “I” by Kendrick Lamar

Actual winner: “I” by Kendrick Lamar

Best Rap Album

I predicted… The Marshal Mathers LP2 by Eminem

Actual winner: The Marshal Mathers LP2 by Eminem

grammys taylor swift

Basically, I didn’t do so well.  I knew Sam Smith was going to win some awards, but I wasn’t expecting him to take the show.  I also expected Taylor Swift to take his place with the top song categories.  Obviously that didn’t pan out.  As for the Rap categories, I did alright.  I also did a good job with predicting Beyonce to win big as well.  I could have done better, but I went with the popular route.  I should have known better…

2014 Album of the Year

It’s been a pretty good year for music.  I would have to argue that last year was probably better in terms of releases, but 2014 started to get much stronger as the year went on, especially as it was coming to a close.  There were some great albums (many that made it to the top of the list) that came out pretty late into the year.  I should  preface this by saying that my musical tastes lie in the hip-hop and pop realm.  With that being said, there were some great albums that came out, but I just wasn’t in to them.  Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran had a great year (thus their Grammy nominations).

Now, here are my top ten albums that came out this year…

10. While (1<2) – Deadmau5

2014 album of the year whileDeadmau5 has always been an innovator when it comes to electronic music.  All you have to do is follow him on social media to figure that out.  While (1<2) is no different when it comes to innovation.  There is a wide range of sounds on this one and I couldn’t stop myself from tapping to the beat on pretty much all of them.  If you are an electronic music fan, you should definitely give one of the best electronic albums of the year a listen…but I probably didn’t have to tell you that.


9. Mastermind – Rick Ross

2014 album of the year mastermindIt’s been a busy year for Rick Ross, the only artist on this list to release to albums in one year.  His second album, Hood Billionaire, was a little iffy and could have used a little more time, but I’m here to talk about his superior album of the two, Mastermind.  The album contained hits like “War Ready” featuring Jeezy and “Vein” featuring The Weeknd.  Not to mention Rick Ross teamed up with Jay Z with the song “The Devil Is A Lie”, which received a lot of critical praise.  Rick Ross is a powerhouse, and Mastermind displayed this fact brilliantly.


8. Broke With Expensive Taste – Azealia Banks

2014 album of the year brokeThis was an album that flew quietly under a lot of people’s radars.  After a long wait, Azealia Banks released Broke With Expensive Taste to quite a lot of critical praise.  Azealia Banks isn’t really a household name, but she deserves to be.  The album contained a lot of different and unique sounds that made it different from the rest.  With songs like “Chasing Time” and “Desperado”, I couldn’t get the album out of my head.  This album was probably my surprise of the year.  I wasn’t expecting much from it, but it delivered.


7. My Everything – Ariana Grande

2014 album of the year everythingAriana Grande has had a big year, and part of it was because of her latest release My Everything.  It’s hard to argue with the talent that the young singer has.  Her vocal range is enormous and it’s possible that she could become the next Mariah Carey.  The album contained hits like the summer sensation “Problem”, the energetic “Break Free” and the deep, yet sensual “Love Me Harder” featuring the talented The Weeknd.  There is a tone of great songs on the album, making it one of my top pop albums of the year.  (Sorry Taylor Swift)


6. The Pinkprint – Nicki Minaj

2014 album of the year pinkprintNicki Minaj is slowly turning into a feminine hip-hop powerhouse.  She also had a fantastic year, topped by the release of The Pinkprint, which features the strongest Nicki Minaj yet.  The album contains so many different genres, all in one complete package.  There’s some rap that hearkens back to her earlier days, pop, and even some R&B.  Some of my favorites included “Pills N Potions”, “The Crying Game”, “Only”, “Feeling Myself”, and “The Night Is Still Young.”  Any Nicki Minaj fan should find something that they like on the album.


5. The Inevitable End – Royksopp

2014 album of the year inevitable endThis is another album that people might not have heard about when it was released back in November.  The Norwegian electronic duo Royksopp put out The Inevitable End with the plan to stop making music.  They might be taking a break, or they might be done for good.  Either way, I thought that the album was a fitting conclusion to their career.  You could tell that there was a sad tone throughout the album, but it also had some warm feelings as well.  They also collaborated with pop star Robyn for songs like “Do It Again” and “Monument”.  The album also ended with the simply titled “Thank You”, which was a strong finish.


4. The New Classic – Iggy Azalea

2014 album of the year new classicIggy Azalea took the hip-hop world by the horns.  Her first album The New Classic, contained a plethora of hits that propelled her to the top of her game.  “Work”, “Change Your Life”, “Fancy” and “Black Widow” were all songs that put her in the spotlight of the hip-hop industry.  She has also faced equal amounts of backlash and attacks from fellow rappers, but I thought that she has handled herself pretty well despite the things she has gone through.  The album was a strong first impression, and I can only imagine the type of hits she will come out with in the coming years.


3. Shady XV – Eminem & Shady Records

2014 album of the year shadyThe king of controversy is back again with the aptly named Shady XV.  Eminem has built his record label Shady Records into a formidalbe empire in the hip-hop industry.  The album came in two parts, the first being some of the new stuff from the record label, including songs like Eminem’s “Guts Over Fear” and the Detroit fight songs “Detroit Vs Everybody”.  The second part of the album went back in time, reviewing some of the classics that have come from the label.  There was a ton of stuff featured in the package, and it was hard to be disapointed with the final product.  Eminem continues to be one of the best rappers out there.


2. Blacc Hollywood – Wiz Khalifa

2014 album of the year hollywoodWiz Khalifa has had a tough year due to his break-up with long time wife Amber Rose.  However, when Wiz Khalifa goes and looks back on his year, Blacc Hollywood will probably make everything okay.  Wiz’s fifth studio album was supported to the top of the hip-hop charts with songs like “We Dem Boyz”, “KK”, and the pleasant sounding “Staying Out All Night.”  There was a lot more depth to the album than Wiz’s previous projects, making it just a joy to listen to.  Some people didn’t like it as much, but I thought there was a ton to like about the album.


1. 2014 Forest Hills Drive by J. Cole

2014 album of the year jcole

Finally, we have the recently released 2014 Forest Hills Drive, the third studio album by rapper J. Cole.  In my review, I stated that the album was more than just an album, but instead, a story.  J. Cole took us on a journey through his life, beginning in is childhood years and went till the current day J. Cole.  He had some revelations throughout the album and decided to act upon those revelations by the end.  It was amazing to see the progression of the rapper from being young, reckless, and famous to being the wise and talented artist that he is today.  J. Cole isn’t the household rapper that he should be.  If you are a fan of hip-hop at all, make sure to give his latest piece of work a listen, you wont regret it.  It’s fitting that the album has “2014” in it’s name, because it was by far my favorite of the year.

2015 Grammy Awards Predictions

The lists are out and the nominees have been announced!  There looks to be a lot of tough races in some of the categories.  It’s going to be interesting once it all goes down on February 8th.  Now, it’s time for me to make my semi-educational guesses as to who will take home the big awards…

RECORD OF THE YEARgrammy 2014 1

-“Fancy” by Iggy Azalea feat. Charlie XCX

-“Chandelier” by Sia

-“Stay With Me” (Darkchild Version) by Sam Smith

-“Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift (WINNER)

-“All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor

This was one of the tougher categories to choose.  The favorites are probably “Fancy”, “Shake It Off”, and “All About That Bass”.  However, I think Taylor Swift will be the lucky lady that takes home the award.

ALBUM OF THE YEARgrammy 2014 2

Morning Phase by Beck

Beyonce by Beyonce

by Ed Sheeran

In The Lonely Hour by Sam Smith  (WINNER)

Girl by Pharrell Williams

This was probably the toughest category for me to choose.  All of the albums that were nominated have an extremely likely chance of getting the award, however I thought that Sam Smith had a hell of a year and his album might sit well with the board of judges.   I guess we will have to wait and see.

SONG OF THE YEAR

-“All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor

-“Chandelier” by Sia

-“Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift  (WINNER)

-“Stay With Me” (Darkchild Version) by Sam Smith

-“Take Me To Church” by Hozier

“Shake It Off” was the song that got in your head every time you listened to it, no matter if you liked Taylor Swift or not.  It’s a catchy tune that served as one of the standout tracks on her album 1989.  I am going to go ahead and say that the award will be in Taylor Swift’s hands by the end of the night.

BEST NEW ARTISTgrammy 2014 3

-Iggy Azalea  (WINNER)

-Bastille

-Brandy Clark

-Haim

-Sam Smith

Iggy Azalea has had a busy year.  She’s been on many hit singles and she has put out a hit album as well.  She also has come under a ton of fire from some of her hip-hop superiors.  Don’t forget about her night at the American Music Awards as well, where she took home all the awards for the hip-hop category.  She has handled herself really well through all of this, and that is why I think she is the best new artist of the year.  However, Sam Smith would make a good choice as well.

And now for some of the other categories that interest me…

BEST POP VOCAL ALBUMgrammy 2014 4

Ghost Stories by Coldplay

Bangerz by Miley Cyrus

My Everything by Ariana Grande

Prism by Katy Perry  (WINNER)

by Ed Sheeran

In The Lonely Hour by Sam Smith

BEST DANCE/ELECTRONIC ALBUMgrammy 2014 5

Syro by Aphex Twin

While (1>2) by Deadmau5  (WINNER)

Nabuma Rubberband by Little Dragon

Do It Again by Royksopp & Robyn

Damage Control by Mat Zo

BEST R&B PERFORMANCEgrammy 2014 6

-“Drunk In Love” by Beyonce feat. Jay Z  (WINNER)

-“New Flame” by Chris Brown feat. Usher & Rick Ross

-“It’s Your World” by Jennifer Hudson feat. R. Kelly

-“Like This” by Ledisi

-“Good Kisser” by Usher

BEST URBAN CONTEMPORARY ALBUMgrammy 2014 7

Sail Out by Jhene Aiko

Beyonce by Beyonce  (WINNER)

X by Chris Brown

Mali Is… by Mali Music

Girl by Pharrell Williams

BEST RAP SONGgrammy 2014 8

-“Anaconda” by Nicki Minaj

-“Bound 2” by Kanye West

-“I” by Kendrick Lamar  (WINNER)

-“We Dem Boyz” by Wiz Khalifa

-“0 to 100/The Catch Up” by Drake

BEST RAP ALBUM??????????????????????????????????

The New Classic by Iggy Azalea

Because The Internet by Childish Gambino

-Nobody’s Smiling by Common

The Marshall Mathers LP2 by Eminem  (WINNER)

Oxymoron by Schoolboy Q

Blacc Hollywood by Wiz Khalifa

*Side Note: This category should be interesting given all of the controversy and words that have been exchanged between Iggy and Eminem.

With that, my predictions have been made for the big categories as well as the categories that interest me the most.  Now we will have to wait till February 8th to see whether or not I was right about these choices, or a complete idiot.  Probably the latter, but I like to think that I am better than that.

 

 

Review: Shady XV

shady xv album coverShady XV (2014)

Various Artists

Rap / Hip-Hop

Shady / Interscope


Fifteen is a special number for the group at Shady Records, led by founder Eminem.  It’s been fifteen years since the label was created, a label that has put out a lot of great work.  Fifteen is also the number of projects that the label has put out, including Shady XV and excluding all of Eminem’s solo work.  Shady XV is a celebration of the past, as well as a bright look into the future of what Shady has to offer.  It’s a fun ride.

The album is split into two parts, discs X and V.  The first disc contains some new material from Shady artists like Yelawolf, Royce da 5’9″, Slaughterhouse, Bad Meets Evil, and Eminem.  The second disc is a “greatest hits” of sorts that contains some past work from Shady Records.  There is a lot to this album, so I will first start off with the new stuff.

shady xv 1

The new tracks that were released for the album mostly come from Eminem, as well as Slaughterhouse and D12.  The album starts off with the title track “Shady XV”, and then goes into “Psychopath Killer” and “Die Alone.”  It’s immediately apparent that the album has a raw and unfiltered tone.  I guess that’s the perk of Eminem founding his own label.  He’s not going to have any executive whispering in his ear what he can and cannot say.

Which leads me to the track “Vegas” by Bad Meets Evil.  There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the song as of late regarding some things Eminem says on the track.  He takes pot shots at Ke$ha, Nicki Minaj, and probably more prominently Iggy Azalea.  He makes a reference to raping her, which is a little unsettling when you hear it.  But that’s what Eminem thrives on.  He frankly doesn’t care and he prides himself in stirring up controversy.

Other song’s like “Guts Over Fear” featuring Sia and “Detroit vs Everybody”, which features a lot of rappers from the city, are prime examples of excellence.  “Guts Over Fear” is a song of motivation and inspiration, while “Detroit vs Everybody” gives Detroit natives a fight song that they can rally behind.

shady xv 2

The second disc features a bunch of knockout hits from Shady Records past.  Some of them are well known, while others could be considered to be deep cuts.  Hits like “I Get Money” and “In Da Club” are two hits from 50 Cent that are probably the most recognizable.  We also get a version of “Lose Yourself”, one of Eminem’s hits from the 8 Mile Soundtrack.  We also get hits like “Fight Music” from D12 and “Let’s Roll” from Yelawolf, which was a sleeper hit in my opinion.

I would have liked to see a more of Eminem’s hits on the second disc, but it tends to be hard to please everybody when it comes to greatest hits albums.  My guess is that Eminem will probably come out with his own Greatest Hits album later in his career that will chronicle his long history in the rap game.  However, if Shady XV doesn’t satisfy your appetite for classic hits, I would point you to the Shady Classics mixtape, which features 66 songs from Shady Record’s past.  It’s a long listen but well worth it.

Shady XV is a wonderful piece of work from the Shady camp.  A lot of people mostly care about Eminem when it comes to Shady Records, but the album contains a lot of great samples of some of the other lesser known members of the label.  If you are completely new to the label, Shady XV is a great starting point, but I highly recommend going back and listening to their older stuff as well.  The new songs on the album are all great as well, with some of them destined to be on a future Greatest Hits album as well.

Eminem hasn’t slowed down at all.  In fact, he is getting better at what he does, which is hard to believe considering how great he is already.  His lyrics still entrance me and its easy to get lost in his music.  Shady XV features some raw Eminem, and that’s a brilliant thing.

 

The 2014 American Music Awards – Recap

The 2014 American Music Awards have come and gone, and it was certainly an action packed show.  The night was hosted by everybody’s favorite, Pitbull.  I guess hosting award shows is what Pitbull does now, because he seems to do a lot of it.  He did an alright job, but his opening monologue was hit-and-miss and some of his jokes just came off plain creepy.  (Yeah, I am looking right at that “Booty” joke)

Fan choice award shows, especially fan choice music award shows, tend to make me grumble.  It’s when one band gets a massive following to stand behind them and vote them to the top of every category that they are nominated for.  Yes, this may speak to an artist’s talent, but this always isn’t the case.  Sometimes a band can get a massive following do to their looks, for example.  A massive fan-base is not always proportionate to an artist’s talent.

10553440_10152442591251087_1124775277303319974_n

With that being said, it was One Direction that took home the most awards of the night at the Nokia Theater in L.A., including the big one; Artist of the Year.  For Artist of the Year, the band was up against the likes of Iggy Azalea, Luke Bryan, Beyonce, and Katy Perry.  All four of those artists, in my opinion, probably deserved the award the most.  But since there was no committee voting for the awards, it was the fans that had the final say.

Iggy Azalea was also a big winner last night, wrapping up all of the awards for the hip-hop category.  There is some interesting commentary that can be had about this as well, given the recent controversy between Eminem and Iggy.  If you haven’t heard already, Eminem released a snippet of the song “Vegas” of his newest album that contained lyrics about physical harm and rape directed at both Nicki Minaj and Iggy Azalea.  Iggy ended up getting back at Eminem by calling him an “old man” and speaking her thoughts on Twitter.  Both Nicki Minaj and Iggy Azalea were at the awards last night, and it was Iggy that got the last laugh.  She was facing both Drake and Eminem for the two hip hop categories, and she came out on top for both of them.

1610851_10152442644826087_1921359742039853842_n

In her speeches, she name checked Eminem (in the lightest way possible) saying that because she got the award, she knew she was heading in the right direction.  These two awards were the first two AMAs she has ever received.  Her mentor T.I., who seemed to have picked up the role of peacemaker in light of all of Iggy’s harassment, was right by her side during the acceptance.  It was a big night for her.

Other notable awards included Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist, which went to Sam Smith.  The Favorite Rock/Alternative Artist award went to Imagine Dragons, who has been having a pretty big year.  The Favorite Country Album award went to Brantley Gilbert for his third studio album Just As I Am.  Taylor Swift also won big, being the recipient of the Dick Clark Award for Excellence.

10401978_10152442830861087_1747298782945255852_n

But anyway, the American Music Awards, in my opinion, are about the performances and the moments that come along with them.

Taylor Swift kicked off the show with a bang, performing her newest hit “Blank Space.”  She transformed the stage into a black-and-white striped mansion and danced all throughout the halls with her army of back-up dancers.  It was quite a spectacle and a great way to kick off the show.

10687110_10152442591191087_2417890664290810522_n

There were a lot of acts that involved first time live performances of a lot of songs.  Imagine Dragons sung their newest hit “I Bet My Life” with an energetic and sentimental performance.  We also saw Lil Wayne later in the show debuting his new song of the Carter V, “Start A Fire”, with Christina Milian.  We also got a performance by Sam Smith and A$ap Rocky, who performed “I’m Not The Only One”.

The most fun performance of the night probably came from Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj who performed the hit “Bang Bang.”  I always like when they play this song live because it’s easy to see how much fan the trio have with the song.  You can tell that they never get tired of it.  Fergie also had a colorful and exotic performance of “L.A. Love” with DJ Mustard and YG.  There were some massive set-pieces and a lot going on onstage.  It’s was a performance that evidenced that Fergie is still relevant in today’s music sphere.

10459915_10152442749706087_3422774736497497505_n

Ariana Grande gave a brilliant acoustic performance of her songs “Problem” and “Break Free”, which really showcased the true talent of the young artist.  Her performance was finally topped off with a rendition of her newest song “Love Me Harder”, which featured the vocal magic of The Weeknd.  Those two on stage together was a pretty awesome showing.  We also got “emotional performance of the night” from Selena Gomez, who sung her deeply intimate “The Heart Wants What It Wants.”

1610838_10152442854746087_2363239498480669503_n

There were a bunch of other performances, some lackluster and others completely fine.  The most intriguing performance was Garth Brooks, who came live from North Carolina and performed the song “People Loving People” to a large arena crowd.  We also had Iggy Azalea and Charlie XCX, who both gave performances of their songs “Boom Clap” and “Fancy”.   Iggy Azalea went back on stage with Jennifer Lopez at the end to close out the show with “Booty.”  The performance was not big enough to close out the show, but it did deliver on the promise of high levels of booty.

10675540_10152442909786087_4526377968218484266_n

Like I said before, there was a lot going on during last nights festivities.  I may not have agreed with most of the winners, but I knew I wasn’t going to before the show even started.  However, there was a lot of great performances that made up for it.  Pitbull should also stop hosting awards shows.  That is all.

The full list of winners can be found below:

Artist of the Year: One Direction

New Artist of the Year: 5 Seconds of Summer

Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist: Sam Smith

Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist: Katy Perry

Favorite Pop/Rock Band/Duo/Group: One Direction

Favorite Pop/Rock Album: Midnight Memories by One Direction

Favorite Country Male Artist: Luke Bryan

Favorite Country Female Artist: Carrie Underwood

Favorite Country Duo or Group: Florida Georgia Line

Favorite Country Album: Just As I Am by Brantley Gilbert

Favorite Rap/Hip-hop Artist: Iggy Azalea

Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Album: The New Classic by Iggy Azalea

Favorite Soul/R&B Male Artist: John Legend

Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist: Beyonce

Favorite Soul/R&B Album: Beyonce by Beyonce

Favorite Alternative Artist: Imagine Dragons

Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist: Katy Perry

Favorite Latin Artist: Enrique Inglesias

Favorite Contemporary Inspirational Artist: Casting Crowns

Favorite EDM Artist: Calvin Harris

Single of the Year: “Dark Horse” by Katy Perry, featuring Juicy J

Top Soundtrack: Frozen

Dick Clark Award for Excellence: Taylor Swift