Favorites Friday – The Game ft. Ne-Yo, Camera Phone

camera-phoneThis song felt like something that bordered on a “Music Recommendation” article but was deserving enough to have a “Favorites Friday” post. I do not believe I would go as far to say it places in my all-time favorites, but Game raps some real verses and Ne-Yo slays each different chorus with a smooth RnB sound.

There was a time when Game was in my Top 5 rappers, but he dropped seriously after the last few years in Hip-Hop alone. This song shows his talent and what listeners miss from the rapper. The flow is consistent throughout, and the short lines are pulled off well despite how quick he drops them. Ne-Yo, meanwhile, does everything I usually want Ne-Yo to do in music: gives the song a smooth RnB twist while keeping it modern and enjoyable for most listeners.

I am tired and distraught from outside circumstances, so satire and wit are not really up my alley tonight. But hey, here’s a good one: The song is about “camera phones,” which are basically all modern phones. Go ahead and laugh at that, as it will be the only decent joke you get tonight. Actually, your life is rather dull if that is the funniest thing you hear on a Friday night.

Now that I wasted a paragraph on that, I would rate the song at 9.75/10. The lyrics are hard to keep up with, and while the whole “ladies talking” thing may not sound appealing, the rhyming and flow of the request makes it actually sound like a viable part of the song. Otherwise the song is definitely worth a listen or re-listen. Go ahead and enjoy the song below:

-Austin Heath

Advertisements

Album Review – Eric Bellinger, Choose Up Season

ebtracks

Eric Bellinger brings us his new mixtape, Choose Up Season, to explain the process of going from single life to a relationship and then back to being single. However, what I love about this is that he numbers the songs chronologically to make a story. Here is his comment on the story of Choose Up Season:

“The single life in LA is wild. And the ‘CHOOSE UP’ can get very real. After you choose up, it’s time to leave the club and get your car from ‘VALET’ before continuing the turn up with a ‘HOUSE PARTY’ at the crib. If things go right, you know she’ll pulling out the ‘NIGHT BAG’ and talking to ‘THE PILLOW’ while the two of you become ‘NIGHT OWLS.’ However, it’s usually agreed upon in the beginning that the two of you will ‘NEVER BE TOGETHER’ and that things are just ‘CASUAL’ until one of them catches feeling and things instantly get ‘AWKWARD.’”

I think this is a cool concept, you get to experience the journey with the artist. Statement courtesy of ThisIsRnB.com. Choose Up Season is only a preview for Cuffin Season, Bellinger’s next project due for release early next year. Did we mention the mixtape was mixed by Swift, member of MIDI Mafia (featuring 50 Cent and Frank Ocean). Now let’s break this mixtape down track by track:

1. Choose Up – Eric Bellinger starts of his mixtape with some a great song featuring a solid beat produced by John $K and A-Major. The introduction is only a couple of minutes but has some sick bars from Bellinger’s singing. The end samples a conversation, not sure from where though. Still a decent track except for the odd finale. 9/10.

2. Valet ft. Pleasure P and Teeflii – Valet is the first real song on the track, and it makes an immediate impression. Bellinger’s vocals are impressive and Pleasure P also sings nicely. Unfortunately his verse seems a little misplaced with the beat. Definitely one of the better songs on the tape, has a lot of catchy parts to it, including the hook. 9.25/10.

3. House Party – While the beginning statement is a bit uncalled for, this song reminds me of a single released by Trey Songz. Sounds very similar to his RnB sound, and I mean that as a huge compliment. The hook is excellent and the voice-overs are beautiful. Probably my favorite song on the mixtape, seriously recommend a listen. Though the end is a bit annoying and vocals can sound a bit auto-tuned, but still great. 9.5/10.

4. Night Bag – This song is a bit fast for me, the lyrics seem crammed into the track. However it is still catchy and the beat is pretty original. Bellinger brought an all-star group of producers to help with the whole mixtape, which is evident on this one. The hook is a little weak but the song is still interesting. 8.25/10.

5. The Pillow – The start is oddly similar to Frank Ocean’s Thinking Bout You, but this song is the climax (no pun intended) of the night, as obvious from the lyrics. While the song is decent, it has an annoyingly repetitive hook and some over-editing. The beat is actually really nice though, and the bridge is definitely enjoyable. I still definitely like the song as a whole. 7.75/10.

6. Night Owls – Night Owls is a bit slower and smoother than the others, and features superb vocals from Bellinger. Has a very sick RnB flow and sound to it. The beat really goes with the mood of the song, and his voice is, though slightly over-edited, solid overall. 8.75/10.

7. Never Be Together – I really enjoy this song, except for the “Aye” every couple of seconds on the hook. Has a serious Chris Brown vibe to it. Good song overall except for some small nitpicking, such as the crammed lyrics (again) in the stanzas. Still a decent track. 9.25/10.

8. Casual ft. Teyana Taylor – I really love this song. No seriously, this is an incredible song. The impressive combination of his voice and the acoustic beat is pretty sick. Teyana Taylor sounds good with Bellinger, and though the repetitive hook can get to you, his sound can easily be compared to Usher. The phone call at the bridge and finale is a little annoying, but does not ruin the song. There is some serious talent provided throughout. 9.5/10.

9. Awkward – Already wrote about it.

So that averages to approximately 9/10, which is very good for a whole album. A mixtape no less! I seriously recommend a listen, time flies by when you’re enjoying quality work like this. All I can say is that I am pumped for Cuffin Season. Get a taste of Eric Bellinger below:

-Austin Heath

Music Recommendation – Single – The Game ft. Kendrick Lamar, The City

This one dates back a couple of years now and even has quite a lot of views, but I want to use this opportunity for a couple of reasons. First, there should be some real appreciation given to Kendrick Lamar. This was the first real song where we got an idea of his potential.

Of course after Game named his top five rappers all-time, it gave me the idea to come up with my own. After hearing this song over two years ago, I think it is safe to say I will stick with my list. But first let’s talk about the song.

The City is definitely not home to some of Game’s best lines, but absolutely that for Kendrick. General topic of the track is city gang wars in Los Angeles, but the beat gives the song a perfect ominous feel. I have always loved The City’s sound.

Overall, I have to give this a 8.5/10. It is very hard to rate this when Game is so disappointing but Kendrick Lamar kills the hook and his verse. However I have to rate it neutrally, though Game’s parts are not exceptionally disappointing. Definitely listen below:

And now my top 5:

  1. Nas (because duh)
  2. Wu-Tang Clan (Can they count as one? If not than basically RZA and Raekwon)
  3. Tech N9ne (Not on most lists but this man has quite the verses and stories to tell)
  4. Eminem (Per Tech N9ne but more mainstream)
  5. Kendrick Lamar (Best flow of any rapper currently, just barely beats out Big Boi and Andre 3000)

Call it what you want, but that’s my list and it has been that way for the past two years. I know it’s not everyone’s favorite (trust me, Biggie, Pac and Hov are close behind them, still in my Top 10) but those are my personal top 5 best. Sorry Game, you didn’t make my list.

-Austin Heath

Music Recommendation – Single – DJ Khaled, Welcome to My Hood (Remix)

I listed the artists featured in the song below, as there are a lot. This legendary collaboration comes from DJ Khaled’s 2011 album, We The Best Forever. The first 10 ranked verses are pretty insane, and this 7-minute rap-fest is impressive all-together.

In the end, it was hard to rank some of these. Even at #6 I think Ludacris is one of the best verses on the track, but the others above him are still even better. T-Pain kind of ditches the hook after the first couple of verses, but it hardly changes the pace of the song.

Overall, I would rate the song at around 9.5/10. One of the best rap songs out there and highly underrated, Welcome to My Hood has a couple of disappointing verses but features some great talent from several notable rappers. Here are my rankings on the features in the song, which you can listen to below the list:

1. Ace Hood

2. T-Pain

3. Twista

4. Bun B

5. Busta Rhymes

6. Ludacris

7. Game

8. Jadakiss

9. Wake Flocka

10. Fat Joe

11. Mavado

12. Birdman

13. DJ Khaled

-Austin Heath

Music Recommendation – Single – Eric Bellinger ft. The Game, Awkward

Eric Bellinger isn’t very popular yet in the music industry, at least solo. His work with  is very underappreciated though, after helping write songs for several prominent celebrities and artists. Along with his writing team, The Writing Camp, he helped create songs including HaloRight Here (Departed), Think Like A Man and Lemme See.

Awkward is his second single preparing for his sophomore album, though this coming LP will be his first alone. The Grammy winner teams up with The Game to deliver the message to a not-so-subtle girl that he’s not interested. The song is a bit explicit but a very good listen, and though the beat is chaotic it gives it the hip-hop vibe it needs. The Game’s verse is nothing memorable but goes well with the song.

Overall I give it a 8.75/10. A decent song but I want to see something big from Eric Bellinger, he definitely has the potential to go far. We’ll see how his next few songs sound, in the meantime give it a listen below:

-Austin Heath