Tag Archives: Tyler the Creator

Review: Blank Face LP

via Rap God
via Rap God

Blank Face LP (2016)

ScHoolboy Q

Rap / Hip-Hop

Interscope / Top Dawg


When you glance at ScHoolboy Q’s album cover for his latest release Blank Face LP, it’s immediately apparent that this album might be a bit dark.  On what looks like a movie ticket, we see an image of branching tree limbs and fiery clouds.  In the bottom corner we see a mysterious looking man, presumably ScHoolboy Q himself, who has a mask covering his face.  I understand the fact that “Blank Face” has a deeper meaning, but calling the album Blank Face LP is perhaps doing this album a disservice.  This album is anything but blank, as ScHoolboy Q hones in on everything from his childhood to his current life.  With a smattering of psychedelically bizarre production, we get an album that’s honest and poignant, and perhaps Q’s best album yet.

via Rap Wave
via Rap Wave

Unlike his previous pieces of work, like Habits and Contradictions and Oxymoron which focused on his drug addictions, Blank Face LP is a broader canvas that covers a lot more than simply just his past drug addictions.  He has overcome those addictions and has moved on to a broader view of the world.  This might welcome criticism that the album isn’t focused and too broad, but Q manages to bring everything into a precise and focused picture.  There are some songs that don’t necessarily fit in the picture, but the vast majority of the album works well in harmony.  The song “TorcH,” which serves as the album’s intro, does a pretty good job at giving you a taste of what you’re going to get.

The album has a bigger focus on ScHoolboy Q’s gang banging lifestyle that he has been a part of in the past.  “JoHn Muir” is a song named after his former middle school in Los Angeles, which fits pretty well since middle school marked the time that Q began his gang lifestyle.  Other songs like the unnerving “Dope Dealer,” featuring E-40, and “Str8 Ballin” also go pretty in depth into his lifestyle.  He seems to want to move on however, as “Lord Have Mercy” is a darkish plea to God for mercy for his sinful lifestyle.  There’s a lot of earnest emotion here, laced over some seriously good production from Swizz Beatz.

via Booska
via Booska

Another thing I couldn’t help but notice is the similarities this album has to fellow label mate Kendrick Lamar’s last album To Pimp A Butterfly.  “Groovy Tony / Eddie Kane,” featuring Jadakiss, is a well-written song that has the type of storytelling that could be found on Kendrick’s album.  Kendrick, obviously, goes a little deeper and gets more metaphorical, but his influence on ScHoolboy Q is apparent.  Other songs like the erratic “Kno Ya Wrong” and the heavy cut “Ride Out” featuring Vince Staples have the type of flow and production that I could easily see on a To Pimp A Butterfly B-side.

Some other songs worth mentioning include “Neva Change” and “Black THoughts.”  “Neva Change” has some sweet and melodic production with a wonderful hook from R&B singer SZA while “Black THoughts” is a little darker.  The thing that these two songs have in common is their relevance, especially in the past couple of weeks with all the horrible violence that has been taking place in our country.  “Black THoughts” is a commentary on the current state of the black community and its culture, which has been facing a lot of hardships the past couple of weeks.  The sad part is, ScHoolboy Q acknowledges that he wrote these songs a year ago and they are still relevant and important today.  I guess things “Neva Change.”

via Okay Player
via Okay Player

As I mentioned before, ScHoolboy Q does a bang-up job at taking us through the many facets of his life, both past and present, through the majority of his songs.  Unfortunately, some songs don’t fit in with the bigger picture.  “Big Body,” a funky cut featuring Tha Dogg Pound and produced by Tyler the Creator, is a fun song that ultimately feels out of place compared with the dark and heavy beats that we have seen elsewhere on the album.  There’s also “Overtime,” a song that clearly panders to the label in hopes of getting some radio airplay.  It’s a radio ready song that loses it’s luster in an attempt to appeal to a broader audience.  The one redeeming quality of this song is Justine Skye’s smooth contribution to the track.

There’s some songs that I have failed to mention, like Q’s collaboration with Kanye West “THat Part,” the sequel to Habits and Contradictions’ interlude “Tookie Knows II,” and the T.I. “Whatever You Like” inspired electronic jam “WHatever You Want,” featuring Candice Pillay.  These are all good songs that deserve some attention.  The whole album deserves attention.  There’s some songs that could be cut and some tracks that could be made tighter, but the overall package is a brilliant snapshot of ScHoolboy Q’s life as well as his ability to put together raps.  As I mentioned with his previous release Oxymoron, Blank Face LP might not be for everyone, but it’s certainly ScHoolboy Q’s best piece of work to this day.  I think Kendrick Lamar has been a good influence on the guy.

2015 BET Experience - Ice Cube, Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, Jay Rock

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Review: GO:OD AM

via Music Times
via Music Times

GO:OD AM (2015)

Mac Miller

Rap / Hip-Hop

Warner Bros. Records / REMember Music


When an artist releases their third studio album, usually it isn’t that big of a deal.  Their freshman album is their first foray into the field while their sophomore album determines if they can withstand and keep the intensity.  The third album is when an artist settles into things.  It’s different with Mac Miller.  GO:OD AM, the Pittsburgh rapper’s third album, feels a little different…a little more special.  A new multimillion dollar record deal with a new label will do that.  GO:OD AM is the rapper’s third album, but it’s his first album since signing to Warner Bros Records for ten million dollars.  Mac isn’t your favorite underground rapper anymore.  He’s primetime.

via NPR
via NPR

A new record deal raises the bar when it comes down to the production of an album.  Mac has been pretty vocal about the amount of work that he has put into his latest offering, and it shows.  According to his tweets, he developed nine full albums before settling with the final product.  Mac was meticulous with every little detail.  The album had to be perfect in his eyes; a new standard had to be set. Did the work pay off?  Hell yeah it did.  GO:OD AM is probably the most complex and dynamic album coming from the Pittsburgh kid.  If I had to describe it with one word, well…it’s joyous.  I mean, it’s easy to be happy when you’re reaping the benefits of a new record deal and mainstream fame.

GO:OD AM seemingly leaves behind the trippy, dreary, and often depressing moods that emanated from Watching Movies With the Sound Off and goes back to his old style featured on Blue Slide Park.  There are still some elements from WMWTSO that seep into his latest project, as well as some from Faces, but for the most part GO:OD AM showcases a much happier Mac who’s more laid back and just happy to be where he’s at.  Its songs like the smooth and melodic Tyler, the Creator produced “Doors” and the happy go lucky “Brand Name” that demonstrate that pretty well.

via Life Is Tremendez
via Life Is Tremendez

Mac also gets nostalgic at points, reminiscing on the past and how far he has come from his Easy Mac days.  “100 Grandkids,” the album’s first released single, is probably one of the strongest songs on the album.  Mac raps over a beat, one that would feel right at home on a Drake album, about the time he cashed his first 100 grand.  There’s also “Perfect Circle/God Speed” that features an epic second half that goes into the good old days of “Most Dope.”

With the kind of work that Mac has put into his precious album, it only makes sense that the album sounds great.  WMWTSO brought us a lot of cool sounds, but GO:OD AM gives us a ton of complex beats that are super diverse.  ID Labs, long time collaborators with Mac, have once again signed on to do a majority of the production duties for the album.  Songs like the silky smooth “ROS”, hard and fast “When In Rome,” and the loud and pompous “The Festival” demonstrate the wide variety of different sounds that the album showcases.  Mac has outdone himself once again.

via Respect Mag
via Respect Mag

Perhaps the only downside of the album is its underwhelming features.  Mac and Ab-Soul team up again on the sequel to WMWTSO’s “Matches,” with “Two Matches.”  The song was alright, but it could have been better.  There is also “Cut the Check,” featuring Chief Keef.  Although you can actually understand what Sosa is rapping about this time around, the track wasn’t really special.  I’m not really a Chief Keef fan in the first place, but the song really didn’t match up to the albums other great offerings.  Maybe the biggest surprise was Lil B’s addition to “Time Flies.”  Although Mac carries the majority of the weight on the cut, the Based God gives us some contemplative spoken word interludes that get a little philosophical.  It’s not much but it was interesting to say the least.

I can’t help but feel happy for Mac Miller.  He’s really put his name out there and made something of himself.  With a new record deal, I can only see Mac’s trajectory getting higher and higher as time goes on.  GO:OD AM is going to be the first of many great albums from the rapper.  The album has a mesmerizing sound and it just makes you happy when you listen to it.  Plain and simple.  GO:OD AM is a…wait for it…pretty GO:OD album.  (I had to do it, I’m sorry)

good am score

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.

Review: Tyler, the Creator’s Cherry Bomb

via Miss Info
via Miss Info

Cherry Bomb (2015)

Tyler, the Creator

Rap / Alternative Hip-Hop

Odd Future Records / Sony


What a year it has been so far for Rap.  We are a little past a quarter of the way through the year and we have already had a plethora of great albums from some of the day’s best rappers.  Everyone must be on their A-game I presume.  The party continues with Tyler, the Creator’s newest offering, Cherry Bomb.  Tyler gives us another worthy rap release, although some minor quibbles and missteps put a blemish on the finished product.

It is immediately apparent that there are a lot of different sound and musical influences on the album from some of Tyler’s idols.  Some of the more notable influences that we see on the album are from Stevie Wonder and N.E.R.D., especially in the album’s opening track “DEATHCAMP.”  Tyler also managed to get some of his idols as features, including the likes of Lil Wayne, Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, and the Colombian singer Kali Uchis, who seems to have hit it off pretty well with Tyler.  The songs that they worked on together, including “FUCKING YOUNG/PERFECT” and “FIND YOUR WINGS,” are some of the highlights from the thirteen song track list.

via NSS Mag
via NSS Mag

The two most intriguing features out of the bunch came from Kanye West, Lil Wayne, and Pharrell.  “SMUCKERS” received a lot of hype prior to the album’s release due to the fact that the hip-hop legends Kanye and Wayne would be on the track.  The song might not have lived up to the heavy amounts of hype, but I was still pleased with the outcome.  I really enjoyed Pharrell’s feature on “KEEP DA O’S” because it brought us back to the 2006 Pharrell, with Slim Thug’s Already Platinum.  It was a cool sound from Pharrell, one that most contemporary pop fans are not too familiar with.

If you could not tell already from the album’s track list, the album has a theme of flying, or finding your wings.  “PILOT,” “RUN,” and “FIND YOUR WINGS,” as well as other songs, all carry out the overarching theme of finding your own place in life.  Doing what you want to do without anybody else judging you or bringing you down.  It is a pretty positive overtone that is sort of a far cry from some of Tyler’s past work.

via NME
via NME

The album’s production and musical choices are what hurts the album and takes it down a couple of pegs.  It is like Tyler just figured out what distortion and compression was, and decided to sprinkle the effects everywhere.  His overuse of these musical effects made some of the songs sound like a jumbled mess of noises.  They work well with a tiny minority of the tracks, but they do not really have the effect that Tyler probably was wanting them to have.  The best example I can give is the album’s title track, “CHERRY BOMB,” which turned out to be a mess.

There is also some instrumentals that find their way on to a couple of songs which sound pretty good.  The sax solos in “2SEATER” give the song a mellow and moody feel and “BLOW MY LOAD” is another smooth sounding “ballad” about the dirty act of *ahem* blowing your load.  Only on a Tyler, the Creator album.

via DIY Mag
via DIY Mag

Any fan of Tyler, the Creator will most likely find their selves at home among the goofy and often immature lyrics and weird sounds.   Cherry Bomb might be some of Tyler’s best work when you compare it to the likes of Goblin and Wolf.  Both of those albums had some great moments, but so does Cherry Bomb.  The album could have used some work on the production side, with Tyler not going crazy with the weird musical effects, but we get an album that was made “by Tyler, for Tyler,” if that makes sense.  He accomplished a lot of his dream projects and goals on this one, which gives a pretty authentic and real feel to the album.  If Tyler’s happy, I guess we must be happy too.

cherry bomb score

Review: Oxymoron by Schoolboy Q

The west coast has a new, fresh, voice in Schoolboy Q.  Oxymoron, the follow up to Habits and Contradictions, has been heavily anticipated by critics and fans alike.  Schoolboy Q, who was part of XXL Magazine’s 2013 Freshman Class has been making lots of waves in the rap game ever since he released his independent LP’s.  He also was a supporting act for A$AP Rocky on his Long. Live. A$AP. Tour, which introduced a lot of fans to one of rap’s newest emcee’s."Oxymoron" by Schoolboy Q

So, does Oxymoron, live up to all of the hype it has been collecting the past couple of months?  In short, it meets all of the expectations, and probably exceeds them as well.  It is easily apparent that Schoolboy Q has improved a ton since Habits and Contradictions and that he has finally started to find his own voice and style.

The album covers a lot of ground content wise.  It offers an interesting snapshot into Schoolboy Q’s life, which basically explains how he got to this point in his young career.  Songs like the title track “Prescription/Oxymoron” offer a pretty deep depiction of pill abuse and an interesting narrative on the contrast of user and seller.  The track that caught my attention the most was “Hoover Street”, which offers a look into Schoolboy Q’s life in a quite graphic manner.  We learn about the family issues that he experienced in his life, with topics like “Grandma’s gun, drug test, his drug-addict uncle who was a bad influence, and the roaches in his cereal box.  It is an eye opening song and it really gives listeners a look at Schoolboy Q’s past.

Schoolboy Q is not alone on his album, which a bunch of collaborations this time around. The likes of Kendrick Lamar, 2 Chainz, Tyler the Creator, Kurupt, and Raekwon all offer verses on the album.  Tyler, the Creator and Kurupt, who are featured on the song “The Purge” both deliver killer verses that make the track stand out from the rest on the album.  Kendrick Lamar’s verse on “Collard schoolboy qGreens” is also just as good.

There is also a lot to the album on the production side.  Songs like “Los Awesome” feature unique and energetic beats that really make this album a stand-out.  There is also a beat-switch in “Hoover Street” towards the middle of the song that really was unexpected and pretty epic.  You can tell a lot of work was infused into the sound of the album.

Oxymoron may not be for everyone, but it is still a brilliant album nonetheless.  Consider it as Schoolboy Q’s breaking out moment.  It is a great showcase of his lyrical talent and his ability to put together meaningful raps that have a lot more thematic weight than most rap out there now.  Schoolboy Q summed up his album pretty well with an interview with XXL.  He said, “This album is like a real street album, like a gangsta rap album if you would say. It’s like my story of my past life or whatever.”  It’s a great album, or whatever.