Let That Mac Rip March/April 2016 Reviews
Better late than never, I review a number of projects that I am fond of… or not.
It’s April 2016 and HiTunes — the much anticipated debut studio album from Young Thug — is still not out. Yet there’s a chamber of loosies and tracks that the insanely creative artist has at his disposal. This became apparent with the trilogy of mixtapes he released in the last six months, starting with the first two of three Slime Season mixtapes. Along with the short pit stop in I’m Up two months back, Young Thug has been able to sustain the momentum he’s steadily built post-Rich Gang. Just two weeks ago, he released the third (and final) installment of his Slime Season trilogy to end it on a good note.
While it doesn’t have as much bite as its predecessors with standouts like “Hey, I”, “Be Me See Me” , and “Never Made Love”, SS3 is a lean 8-track appetizer in the same vein as I’m Up…just without the songs that immediately grab you. Sure, there is the opening “With Them” that made a ‘premiere’ at Kanye West’s Pablo listening party/art show and LondonOnDaTrack-produced “Digits” that both have radio potential, but everything else just falls in line. Far from bad, the breezy 30-minutes keeps it from being too middling and shows a good example that sometimes less is more. B-
Oddisee — Alwasta EP
Fresh off 2015’s excellent The Good Fight, Mello Music Group’s consistent MVP and Maryland’s own Oddissee is building his already impressive catalog with another beat tape in May. To hold many of his listeners over in the meantime, his FreEp on his Soundcloud expands more into his palette with new material and leftovers from The Good Fight sessions. As a producer he never wanes with his instrumentation: bringing it a chorus of strings, howling guitar riffs, and somber drums that build as a fluorescent backdrop to the grown man raps that Amir Khalifa delivers.
Alwasta is an inner-reflection of Oddisee with ideas bouncing around his head while continues to mature as a songwriter. One of the more shining examples sheds a light of racial and religious persecution in “Lifting Shadows”, showing pride in his Muslim faith while acknowledging the scrutiny that comes with living as one in America. B
Delaware’s Sap is best known for his production contributions for Mac Miller’s “Donald Trump” and Game’s “Celebration”, a fact that he reiterates on his debut album’s intro “O Eight”. Aligned with Cool & Dre’s Epidemic’s Records and a number of credits to his name, Sap also shows that he’s a capable rapper. Armed with his own versatile production for Self Employed, he doesn’t disappoint. In what can be a detriment for a rapper/producer combo, Sap holds up his own displaying solid writing chops along with a plethora of beats splitting from soul-looping boom bap to up-tempo funk numbers.
It’s mostly his affair on the 14-track project, with guests including Hit-Boy, Hodgy Beats, and Mike Zombiie on the posse cut “Boom Bap”. Mac Miller, Game, Stat Quo, and Chris Webby also makes their presence known on the album, but Sap is the main star here in his best highlights “On Mute” and “Nobody Out There”. There’s a great amount of potential and Self-Employed is way more satisfying than it should be. And that’s a good thing. B
There have been a number of revolutionary instances of women taking control of male-dominated areas in society. From UFC to college basketball and even pro wrestling, there have been women who had extraordinary performances that took their presence seriously. Yet in rap, we still haven’t seen much breakthrough of another star post Nicki Minaj. While she continues to win the same BET Awards for best Female rapper, it’s easy to cast aside burgeoning talents of Tink, Dreezy, Dej Loaf, and Azealia Banks if it’s treated like a joke.
Enter Kamaiyah; 20-year-old Oakland native much like Nef The Pharoah shares an affinity for the Cash Money era of Big Tymers. It shows in the inflection of her voice, a guttural rasp that’s pitched up to a Boosie-esque cadence and flow that bounces with the West-Coast thump of G-Funk and R&B swing samples. On her proper mixtape release A Good Night In The Ghetto, she praises her success in getting out of poverty and enjoying the simple things in life (Remember when I didn’t have cash for the rent?/Now I’m loafed up, having cash in advance). She also manage to do the ultimate role-reversal Trina would be proud of in the “Niggas”, a sexually-empowering anthem with reassuring that men can get played like a fiddle too.
There’s a lot here in this 44-minute project that packs a good feeling and through the turmoil of life and losing love ones, there’s something to celebrate (“For My Dawgs”). B+
It’s been over a year since Compton’s young lion became a giant in rap with his magnum opus To Pimp A Butterfly, cementing his standing as one of rap’s top contemporary stars. Tackling subjects of individuality, depression, black identity, and social awareness over lush compositions of jazz fusion/post-Shades Of Blue era musicality, Kendrick Lamar set himself on a pedestal that might be too high to top in this day and age. As time progresses no matter the decade, you are only as good as your last and as better as your next.
While he’s not exactly following up to TPAB, he releases a compilation of material that was left off of sessions between good kid, m.A.A.d. city and TPAB. These songs were brought back in the process and fleshed out a bit, producing an EP that sounds as loose and free-flowing as a cohesive album. All eight tracks are untitled in the namesake of the project, but all have an identity to its own. The claustrophobic “#5” zips between Geto Boys references and a back-and-forth between Lamar and Black Hippy compatriot Jay Rock, while the three-act “#7” rumbles through eight minutes of levitation and reprisal. A-
Two-9 cohort starts making waves on his own with a project that vibes with his strengths and the group’s musical consistency. (“Call Log”, “Designer Drugs/Re-Up”, “Jesse Owens”)
Rome Fortune is for the people and in his most revealing project to date, he can find joy in the darkest moments of life. (“Love”, “Dance”, “Still I Fight On”)
When the internet became the turning point for rap, it brought us an overhaul of brilliance and then this. Unfortunately, I think he’s here to stay for better or worse. (“Minnesota Remix”, “Not My Bro”, “Run:RUNNING”)
Another Palette-Swap outing but a little more appealing to the ears, though an imitation of a Chicago Sauce Walker isn’t the best strategy. (“Ciabatta”, “Hell Yeaaaaa Remix”, “We Next”)