Tag Archives: The Dream

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

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Review: The Life of Pablo

tlop cover
via rap.de

The Life of Pablo (2016)

Kanye West

Rap / Hip-Hop

GOOD Music / Def Jam


How about this Kanye West guy, huh?  What a character.  Over the past couple of months my opinion of Kanye West has changed…and not for the better.  Before the rapper’s media cycle for his latest work The Life of Pablo, I generally had a neutral opinion of the artist.  He didn’t have the best personality, but his music sure was great.  After a couple of album name changes, celebrity feuds, and social media rants, I have started to get more negative with my feelings for Kanye.  He still makes fantastic music, but boy is his personality garbage.  The release of The Life of Pablo, the rapper’s seventh studio album, was miles from perfect.  In fact, it was a flaming garbage pile of a mess.  However, when you strip back Kanye’s personality and the release of the album, TLOP is actually a well-produced and unique collection of songs.

tlop 1
via showlove

Within the confines of the eighteen song track-list is a smorgasbord of concepts, sounds, and ideas.  Some have said that the scattershot nature of the album serves as a portrait of Kanye’s mindset during the course of the album’s production.  All you had to do was follow the rapper on Twitter to get an idea of what I mean.  The wide range of concepts featured on the album isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  An album doesn’t have to have a singular cohesive theme for it to be good.  Unfortunately, the variety of tracks was sometimes a source of headache.

At this point, I might as well get my other negative out of the way, and that is the nature of some of Kanye’s lyrics.  Again, I normally don’t really care about the intensity or morality of lyrics in music.  I mean, I listen to rap, which is full of questionable lyrics.  On TLOP, I found myself cringing a lot more than normal, which usually isn’t a good sign.  Perhaps the biggest inducer was “Famous,” a track, featuring Rihanna, full of braggadocio.  The song has received a lot of word of mouth due to the line about Taylor Swift, where he goes ahead and proclaims that, “he made that bitch famous.”  First off, the line is not true and second…it just seems a little weird, especially considering he goes on to say he could still have sex with her today.  Where was Kim Kardashian during this song’s production?  Did she give Kanye the okay?  Was she like, “yes honey, I think these lyrics sound great.”  It raises a lot of questions.  There’s other songs like this one as well, including “Highlights” and “Freestyle 4.”  (Side note: Highlights would have been a great track if it wasn’t for Young Thug.  I don’t get the rapper’s appeal.  He just seems to muddle everything he works on.)

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via MCM

Now, let’s move on to a more positive note, because that’s what Kanye would want, right?  Don’t let my negativity in the beginning give you the wrong idea, TLOP isn’t Kanye’s best work, but it is still full of great stuff.  The album’s first track, “Ultralight Beam,” featuring the likes of The-Dream, Kelly Price, Kirk Franklin, and Chance the Rapper, is an angelic and soulful offering that feels like it was ripped straight from a Sunday morning sermon.  There’s good production all over the song and Chance spits a great verse, further proving himself as one of today’s most underrated rappers.  There’s also “No More Parties in LA,” featuring A-list rapper Kendrick Lamar.  The two swap stories about the fakeness of Hollywood culture and their frustrations with the rich “elite.”  The song marks the rappers’ first collaboration and it shines brightly on the project.

“Wolves”, one of the more bizarre tracks on the album, features Caroline Shaw and Frank Ocean.  The song goes through a multitude of different emotions like love, fear, and hope, and features a lot of different ideas all smacked into one.  The crazy thing about the song is that Kanye was still working on the song, even after the full album released. Thanks to the age of the internet, I guess things like this are now possible.  A song that almost didn’t make the cut was “Waves.”  The song was basically on the cutting room floor until Chance the Rapper suggested the song to be included.  After some last minute fixes, the song made it back onto the album, and it’s a wonderful thing because I really enjoyed the offering.  Lastly, “I Love Kanye,” an interlude of sorts, is a self-aware and humorous track that breaks down some of the criticisms he has received and has a little fun with it.  At least he’s a little self-aware of the kind of person he is, right?

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via News Oxy

It’s not often that we get an album like this.  The Life of Pablo can be incoherent and scattershot at times, but it is a fantastically produced collection of great songs from arguably one of the best rappers in the game.  Say what you want about his personality, but you can’t deny the amount of things that Kanye is doing for music today.  Unfortunately, the album is only accessible through Jay-Z’s streaming service Tidal, so it might be a little tough for you to give it a listen.  The decision to not release the album outside of the, well, crappy streaming service is a little head-scratching.  Hopefully you don’t want a physical release of the album either, because Kanye has kissed the physical CD goodbye forever.  We’ll see how long these promises last, but given the rapper’s stubbornness, it seems likely they will.  TLOP’s release was botched, to say the least, but the final product is an intriguing look into one of the loudest and most eclectic minds in rap.

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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.