Tag Archives: Rick Ross

Review: Bush

via missinfo.tv
via missinfo.tv

Bush (2015)

Snoop Dogg

Funk / West Coast Hip-Hop

Doggystyle / i am OTHER / Colombia


When it comes to the classic west coast sound, arguably no one does it better than Snoop Dogg and Pharrell Williams.  The news that Snoop’s Bush would be entirely produced by Pharrell was good news, because Pharrell is one hot producer right now.  Bush is the rapper’s thirteenth studio album and it gets some things right, but largely did not stand out in the grand scope of the west coast rapper’s discography.

Snoop brings the funk 110% with a mix of hip-hop and R&B.  Any fan of Pharrell’s previous work will feel right at home, with a lot of real familiar sound that stays in touch with the producer’s past work.  It is a rather short offering, with a track list of ten songs all about getting high, among other things.  What else would you expect from Snoop?  He manages to provide a nice flow on the tracks, giving us a different sounding Snoop when compared to some of his previous work.

via The Stashed
via The Stashed

The beats are nice, with Pharrell providing a nice does of funky flavor along with some poppy instrumentals.  Its party music, and it will most definitely want to make you get off your feet.  Songs like “Peaches N Cream,” “So Many Pros,” and “This City” will make it hard for you to stand still.  They were some of the strongest tracks from the album.

Perhaps one of my favorite tracks comes with Snoop’s collaboration with rappers Rick Ross and Kendrick Lamar.  The two are probably some of the hottest in the game right now, and they live up to the hype by providing the heat on “I’m Ya Dogg.”  As always, Kendrick Lamar continues to showcase his trademark flow over his power punch of a verse and Rick Ross just continues to be a boss.

via The Stashed
via The Stashed

When most of your songs on the album sound the same, it’s hard to keep the party fresh.  A lot of songs off the album fell into a pool of mediocrity and just sound like top 40 wannabe’s.  That is the kind of vibe that I got from the album.  It seems like Snoop and Pharrell were trying to make an entire album that sounds like the kinds of songs that you would currently find on the top 40 airwaves.  Although this works for some of the tracks, like the ones I mentioned previously, the idea does not work as well as they would expect.

I probably struggled the hardest with what to say about the album.  I did not hate it, but I did not find it overly enjoyable either.  There really is not too many words to describe Bush.  The album has a cool California sound to it, but most of the songs did not manage to keep my attention for long.  This is not Snoop’s best piece of work, but there is some things that you can find to like about it.

bush score

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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.

Review: Burning Bridges

burning bridges coverBurning Bridges (2014)

Ludacris

Rap / Hip-Hop

Def Jam


It’s been a long time since Ludacris has graced the rap scene with his presence.  If you can remember, last year Ludacris released his mixtape #IDGAF, but it was 2010 when he released his last studio album Battle of the Sexes.  So yeah, it’s been a long time…but that doesn’t mean that Ludacris has been vacationing in the Bahamas either.  He’s been hard at work with the Fast and Furious films, as well as his next studio album Ludaversal, which is scheduled to come out next March.

Then, out of the blue, we get an announcement of a small little EP titled Burning Bridges that was going to be released in anticipation of Ludaversal.  It was announced to be coming out in December, and now the mini album is finally here, all six tracks in all.  It’s a feature heavy project, but it still gives us a nice little dose of Ludacris.  It’s also only a Google Play exclusive, so it’s not going to be filling a lot of ears either.

Gabrielle's Angel Foundation Hosts Angel Ball 2014 - Inside

 

The main theme that can be found on the album is Ludacris’ attitude towards the critics and the people that have been giving him a lot of flack lately.  It’s completely made known in the album that he could frankly care less about what the people say.  It’s songs like “Problem” featuring Cee-Lo and “In My Life” featuring John Legend that show he is going to keep doing what he does best, and he’s going to continue to stay relevant in the music industry, given the time he has taken off.

My two favorite songs of the EP were “Money”, which featured Rick Ross and “Burning Bridges”, which featured the interesting collaboration of Jason Aldean.  “Money” is a track about the evils that come along with money and wealth, which I found ironic considering the song was coming from the guy who put out “Money Maker.”  Nonetheless, it was a great song that showed of Luda’s signature flow.  “Burning Bridges” was partly interesting because of the collaboration that came from Jason Aldean.  He was the last person I would expect to be on the album, but his country sound actually made the song quite fantastic.

burning bridges 1

The last track on the album, “Good Lovin” which features Miguel, was the only song to be released before the EP’s release.  It’s a sobering little tale about the relationship struggles that both Ludacris and Miguel have to go through.  It’s a deeper song, which is a welcoming sign.

Burning Bridges seems like it is the definition of an “underground release”, but it is still worth a listen.  Ludacris is back, and he is just as good as he was before.  The EP did succeed in it’s purpose, which was to get me excited for what Luda has in store with his upcoming project Ludaverse.  In the meantime, this should hold you over.

(It’s also free on Google Play right now, so there is really no excuse for you to not pick it up…just saying)

 

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: Hood Billionaire

hood billionaire album coverHood Billionaire (2014)

Rick Ross

Rap / Hip-Hop

Maybach / Def Jam / Slip-n-Slide


Two full-size albums in one year?  Some might consider that crazy, especially considering the amount of work that goes into putting a studio album together.  Other’s might think it doesn’t make sense.  It’s the principle of supply and demand.  You don’t want people to burn out on your music, you want to release a little bit here and there to keep them longing for more.

So why did Rick Ross release Hood Billionaire during the same year that Mastermind came out?  Well, it’s what being a boss is about.  Boss’ put in a lot of work, right?  Well Rick Ross had that same state of mind when working on his second album of the year.  He goes on to describe the album, saying, “it’s just that feel good record. A lot of 808s, real bass heavy. And it’s gon’ feel different to you. So, it’s gonna feel like a full year from the boss.”

Okay, so Rozay wants us to feel good while listening to the record.  He is right about the base and the 808’s.  Hood Billionaire is a technically good sounding album.  Rick Ross entrusted the likes of Beat Billionaire, Big K.R.I.T., Lex Luger, and Timbaland to produce the album.  Almost all of the tracks sound really good, but do they really offer up anything new?

hood billionaire 1

Let me go back to that example that I made earlier about music burning out.  The sound that you heard on Mastermind is extremely similiar, if not the same, as Hood Billionaire.  Ross does a poor job of bringing something new to the table, which is pretty understandable given the nature of the two albums.  Mastermind and Hood Billionaire were released in the same year, which means that Rick Ross had to have been working on both albums at the same time, thus the lack of difference between the two.

I couldn’t help but think what would have happened if Rick Ross released both of these albums as a two disc album.  It probably would have made more sense.  But instead, we got Mastermind which was alright on its own and then Hood Billionaire, which seems like an awkward continuation of the latter.

There are some standout tracks that made the listening experience a little enjoyable though.  Some of my favorite cuts from the album include “Hood Billionaire”, “Heavyweight”, “Coke Like the 80s”, and “Elvis Presley Blvd”.  If you look at the track listing, these were all in the beginning of the album as well.  The album just went on after that, offering nothing that caught my attention.  You would think “Moving Bass”, Rick Ross’s collaboration with Jay Z would have been a standout, but instead it was a major buzz-kill.  Jay Z did little to offer the track any oomph.  It just fell flat, which is a shame considering how great “The Devil is a Lie” was on Rick Ross’ previous album.  There are also appearances by R Kelly, Big K.R.I.T., and Snoop Dogg, but none of them really offered anything exciting.

You can tell that Rick Ross was trying to tell a story on the album, considering the amount of skits and voice overs that were featured.  In the opening intro to the album, we hear Rick Ross and a friend digging up some bags of money, each with eight million apiece.  However, it’s a story we have all heard before.  Rags to riches.  Rick Ross is a boss, we know.  He’s told us many times before, and he continues the tired narrative on this album.

I think it’s the perfect time for Rick Ross to just sit back for a while and start thinking about where he is as an artist and where he can go from there.  It’s doubtful that he is going to release new music any time soon, so its a good time for him to get back to the drawing board.  He has the money and he is the boss.  But what is going to make him stand out above the rest?  How is he going to be remembered?  He is this stage of his career where he needs to take a step back in order to take two steps forward.

 

Review: Blacc Hollywood

blacc hollywoodLet me tell you about a place called Blacc Hollywood.  It’s a place reserved for the rich and famous.  The successful.  You can almost consider it a lifestyle.  Let me also tell you about a rapper named Wiz Khalifa.  He embodies the Blacc Hollywood mantra.  He’s the man that runs the town.

Blacc Hollywood, Wiz Khalifa’s fifth studio album, has a ton to like.  There is a little bit for everyone this time around.  There’s something for those who liked Trap Wiz, Wiz’s last mixtape, and there’s something for the people who are familiar with the old, ganja-smoking Wiz.  It seems that Wiz has formulated all that is old and new and put it into one style that is unique to just Wiz Khalifa himself.

Anyway, lets get to the music shall we.  The album features the likes of Ty Dollar $ign, Juicy J, Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, Snoop Dogg, Schoolboy Q, and much more.  They all offer great back up to Wiz, especially Taylor Gang’s own Chevy Woods.  In fact, I see a lot of potential for Chevy Woods.  He has a lot of talent and him and Wiz work pretty well together.

“We Dem Boyz” can probably be summed up as the anthem and the theme song for the album.  This can be a good and bad thing though.  It has a catchy beat but the song gets repetitive after a while.  I actually prefer the remix that is featured later on in the album.  It includes the likes of Rick Ross, Schoolboy Q, and Nas and it slows down the original song for a pretty cool sounding remix.  It’s probably one of my favorite songs on the album.

However, it’s songs like “Promises” and “Stayin Out All Night” that really showcase the artistic skills of Wiz.  He provides the vocals that really make those songs hum.  They sound great and they offer something more diversified.  On the other hand, songs like “Ass Drop” and “True Colors” are the club bangers that have some great beats, but that’s about it.

We see the lifestyle that Wiz is living through songs like “The Sleaze” and “Raw”.  He and his crew, the Taylor Gang have made it and they aren’t afraid to brag about it.  They’re living the life of Blacc Hollywood.  As for the fans of old Wiz, there’s still those marijuana-infused songs throughout like “So High” and “Kk”.  Wiz can’t live without those greens.  That’s something that hasn’t changed.

Blacc Hollywood is impressive.  I started listening to it with the mindset that it was going to be sub-par; that Wiz didn’t really have it in him.  I was proved wrong, and I am glad that I was.  I also started to notice something as I was listening through.  I got the impression that perhaps Wiz has gotten some inspiration from Snoop Dogg in his life.  He does in fact appear on the album anyway.  It wouldn’t surprise me, because I believe that one day, Wiz might just become the next Snoop Dogg…and that’s a good thing.

Review: Mastermind by Rick Ross

rick ross mastermindGod Forgives, I Don’t, Rick Ross’s last studio album, was a rare misstep for the rapper.  It was almost like he was trying just a bit too hard.  He was constantly boasting about his latest projects and it contained so many features and ad-libs that it could almost be considered a mess.  With Mastermind, Rick Ross’s sixth studio album, he cleans up the mess, and he does a good job with it too.

When you listen through the album, I began to marvel at what Rick Ross has become.  He went from being a young signee of Slip n Slide Records, a division of Def Jam Records, in 2006 to basically owning his own record label, MMG.  He has come a long way, and there were definitely a fair share of struggles along the way for the rapper.  In fact, the track “Nobody” goes into more detail about the shooting that he was a victim of back in the day.  He came from a rough place, but he did end up progressing to the point where he is today.

Tracks like “The Devil is a Lie” and “War Ready” are where the album shines.  “The Devil is a Lie” features two powerhouses on one track (Rick Ross himself and Jay-Z) and they both give verses that truly demonstrate their brilliance.  It’s also an interesting song because it delves a little into the topic of faith, which is an area that most rappers don’t really go.  On the other hand, “War Ready” is the definition of street rap at its finest.  Jeezy, who gives a verse is the highlight of the track, outdoing himself as well as Rick Ross with his iconic raspy voice. rick ross

Other features that appear on the album are Diddy, French Montana, Lil Wayne, Big Sean, and Kanye West.  There are some others too, but overall, there are far fewer features on this album than God Forgives, I Don’t, which is actually a good thing.  There was so much features on his last album which made it seem all over the place in terms of content.  With Mastermind, Rick Ross brings on some of the best in the game that give their take on the successes and struggles of the rap game.

The album has its fair share of deep cuts and street beats but you also see some blues, reggae, and R&B that give a break to those familiar Rick Ross tunes.  The Weeknd, who is becoming one of the biggest names in R&B offers his talent in “In Vein”.  We also see some features from Mavado and Sizzla who are becoming big names in the Reggae sphere.  In general, there is a lot more variety on Mastermind than there was on previous albums from Rick Ross.

Don’t get me wrong, Rick Ross still raps about his money and his fame.  That’s what he does.  Rick Ross has become a millionaire through persistence and hard work, and that is what Mastermind is an example of.  It’s a great example of where Rick Ross has come from, as well as why he has become one of the most successful rappers in the game.