Music Recommendation – Single – T.I., B.o.B and Kendrick Lamar ft. Kris Stephens, “Memories Back Then”

memories-back-thenWhile the song did have a brief run on the Billboard Hot 100, “Memories Back Then” is one of those mainstream Hip-Hop songs that you can toss in the category of “Good Rap Music” Or “Rap Music That Isn’t Rae Sremmurd Or Bobby Smurda”. I hate playing the “Popular music is awful” card, but when it comes to Rap, that has become the case with acts such as Sremmurd, Smurda, and Young Thug. But I’m sure I have gone on that tangent before.

The song features three expert lyricists, who set the bar for real verses and use their flow to their advantage. While I had yet to hear a great story by any of the three, this one did not disappoint from any of the camps. One by one, they go into a story from their younger lives, and open up the vault of memories based on other women and their last encounters with them. Each verse is superb as it is fascinating and focused; In fact, the chorus takes away from the song’s credibility more than anything else.

Overall, I would rate the song at:

9.25/10

This is definitely a song with excellent lyricism and some of the best work by each of the three rappers. You can check out the song below:

Continue reading

Advertisements

Music Recommendation – Single – Pusha T ft. Kendrick Lamar, “Nostelgia”

pusha-t-kendrick-lamar-nosetalgiaIt seems like every third post on here is a song somehow featuring Kendrick Lamar. I have to hand it to Pusha T for keeping me interested until Kendrick’s verse, as it might be the best by Pusha T and draws up comparisons to a classic and elegant Kanye West.

Of course the song is about cocaine, because what else would Pusha T want to talk about? Kendrick Lamar gets a bit more open and personal with the song and delivers a massive verse that ranks among his best. Production does a huge part in making this song fascinating because of how difficult it had to be to make a verse for the beat. The flow of both rappers is superb and I could see no way in which their roles could be filled by any other rapper.

The song screams classic Hip-Hop, and steers away from a hook, which I generally look down upon. However, it fits with this song, despite it lowering the appeal rate and ultimately the biggest reason it did not go big. It takes dedication to go back to the song and appreciate the lyricism when you find it hard to keep up with (hence why Twista will never find true fame, only awe).

Overall, I would rate the song at:

9.5/10

You can check out the song below:

Continue reading

Hear It First – Kendrick Lamar, “The Blacker The Berry”

kendrick-lamar-2Yesterday, Kendrick Lamar celebrated his two Grammy awards for “i” with a new song. Kendrick has yet to reveal much about his new album, but “The Blacker The Berry” is an interesting change from “i” and feels more like the Kendrick Lamar audiences know and love.

The song has a slight Reggae and Soul influence to it, but definitely feels like real Hip-Hop. You can check out the new song and see what you think of it below:

Continue reading

Music Recommendation – Single – Punch ft. Kendrick Lamar, 25

25-punchFresh off the Hip-Hop grill is the sobering 25 by Punch, featuring Kendrick Lamar on the hook. While at first I felt the urge to click away from the song, I was glad I stuck around to listen to the track in full. This song will have to grow on you, but I feel most Hip-Hop/Rap fans will appreciate the meaning and subject behind the lyrics.

Punch raps on about how most did not expect him or his friends to survive past 25 years old, or that they would be deadbeats. He looks back and recognizes those who tried to pull him down. The introduction in the first 30 seconds sets the tone and the beat samples classic 90’s and early 2000’s Hip-Hop.

As the first verse continues, Punch’s sound begins to remind me of Mobb Deep. I aim that as a serious compliment. Kendrick Lamar enters and his role reminds me of his sound on Flying Lotus’ Never Catch Me. The lyrics stay relevant and deep, though I have read that these verses may recycle a couple of already-used lines. Rumors are rumors, but noone wants to come close to ripping off other artists unless you want instant hate.

There is something about this track that combines the throwback sound of Rap with modern Hip-Hop and its signature beats, making this an enjoyable song. Overall, I would rate it at:

9.5/10

The song’s flow in the first verse starts out a bit rough, but comes together and becomes a solid track. The beat is unique yet classic. I think this is a Rap song definitely not worth sleeping on. You can check it out below:

-Austin Heath

Album Review – Jasmine V, That’s Me Right There (EP)

I am a human of the male gender, therefore I will have at least some attraction to Jasmine Villegas. Fun fact: Jasmine V was the star of Justin Bieber’s Baby music video; You know, the girl that made “pretending” to hate Justin Bieber look easy. Maybe it’s because she did not have to pretend…

On that note, Jasmine V’s new EP That’s Me Right There is not her first impression on the music industry, but it does show a transformation on her part. This EP reveals a more adult and mature version of Jasmine, and features a prominent RnB sound throughout. Now let us break down this EP track-by-track:

1. That’s Me Right There ft. Kendrick Lamar – Already reviewed it here, and while I stand by that review, I want to add that this song features an excellent Kendrick Lamar verse and really grew on me to become one of my favorite songs recently. Therefore I recommend a second listen along with this album if you have already heard it.

2. Me Without You – While the first track may be a good start, Me Without You comes up close to beating it out. It is an upbeat RnB track that resembles Ne-Yo’s charm. The beat feels a bit misplaced though, but I can appreciate the focus on Jasmine’s voice. 8.75/10

3. Walk Away – Despite That’s Me Right There‘s excellent intro into the album, I believe Walk Away is the best song on the EP. The EDM twist on Jasmine V’s sound is excellent and makes this one of the catchiest songs she has released. The first beat drop hardly changes the pace, but the second really picks up the song and makes it stand out amongst the rest. Definitely a solid listen, 9.5/10

4. I Love Your Crazy – The songs starts out slow and melodious, but picks up pace and features the “snap, pop” beat that we have grown accustomed to in RnB. Jasmine V’s voice should not be autotuned in this song, as it just does not fit. The hook is brief and is easy to miss, making it a bit rough to listen to. Regardless, it is still serves it purpose as existing to be a slow jam. 8/10

5. Who That – While the grammar in Who That may be slightly wrong, the song works out a solid pace and picks up slow enough to make it interesting. The lyricism is disappointing and the most appealing part of the song is the beat. How Who That was able to be 4:30 long but I Love Your Crazy is almost half of that is baffling to me. The song can be appealing to RnB listeners but I was disappointed with the EP’s closing out with such an un-catchy hook and over-edited vocals. 6.75/10

So that averages out to a little under 8.5/10, which is rather accurate. The focus is generally on Jasmine V’s vocals, and I know she has singing talent as per her covers; however, her voice has been seriously over-edited at points and production just worked too hard. The final two songs just disappoint after the first three make this appealing.

I recommend at least listening to the first three tracks, but the other two are not worth sleeping on either per say. I like the EP as a whole, but hope to hear more pure sound from Jasmine V’s next works in music. In the meantime, go ahead and stream the EP below (You can also find it on iTunes here):

-Austin Heath

Album Review – Logic, Under Pressure

Whoa, look at me going all mainstream and posting about one of the best-selling albums of the year. How about those who have not had the time to listen to a whole album though, is it worth the buy? On my last album review, I was pretty extensive; but this time, I do not think I will have to break down the album that hard.

“Wait, so you’re saying this will be a brief review?” Hell no, in fact, I have a lot to say about the Maryland-based rapper and his debut album (though not his first release, quite a few mixtapes before this). However I can say with confidence that this review will not have to be too extensive unless I want to get excessive. The album has a similar sound in every song, therefore making each song description short, as I cannot use the same synonyms for every track on Under Pressure.

I consider Logic the child of J. Cole’s rhymes and rap style and Kendrick’s flow after their first honeymoon. It is really hard to say anything bad about his rapping skills, and there is some evident talent. Calling this album of the year is a bit much though, but let’s save it for the track by track breakdown:

1. Intro – The highlight of this album, believe it or not. Samples the album’s sound and features some hard verses by Logic in his introduction. These subjects of the raps though will appear again soon. Reflective start though, really pulled me in. 9.75/10

2. Soul Food – I love the original beat of this song, and the soul-vibe. Of course we should expect that with a name like Soul Food. Right away Logic breaks out, and really drops some of the strongest lines on the album. Definitely one of the more stand-out products of the LP. 9.5/10

3. I’m Gone – A bit similar to Soul Food except this song tells more of a story. This is where Logic begins to really open up, and I like the life breakdown of I’m Gone. The hook is subtle, though repetitive, and it sticks with you. The raps are not as hard and impressive as the previous tracks, but they still show his skill in verse. I also really like the supporting vocals by whoever that woman is. 9.25/10

4. Gang Related – This song is, you guessed it, gang related. I do appreciate the honesty of Logic’s verses, and more of the story-telling I started to like in I’m Gone. This song does what I’m Gone could not and spits strong rhymes while still informing the listener of growing up in the hood. The beat is very original as well, though it almost stands out so much it takes away from taking in the lines of Logic. Regardless, this is one of the best tracks on the album. 9.75/10

5. Buried Alive – This is the first time we actually get a glimpse of the singing voice of Logic. I wish we could get it more, as this is where he reminds me most of J. Cole (who sounded golden on Work Out and Can’t Get Enough). The editing over the verses to emphasize phrases also channels Kendrick Lamar, so this song really appeals to me. Another favorite on the album, though the rap verses is similar to the previous songs (especially Soul Food and Gang Related). Still feels perfect in my eyes, best song on the album to me. 10/10

6. Bounce – Right away I was terrified that this song would have a sexual tone that would throw the album into wack. However the song is true to the album’s focus, the story and upbringing of Logic. Definitely one of the most upbeat tracks on the album, which I definitely like. It does feel like the song gets lost in the chaos towards the end, but catches itself by the end with a smooth ride out. 9.25/10

7. Growing Pains III – More opening up of Logic, but wow I felt like it was forever until we could actually hear Logic start. I don’t mind snippets of conversation, but this just lasted a long time. When it starts, there are some incredible rapping going on. Almost reminds me of Eminem, and the sounds actually add to the song’s atmosphere. However I use my similar sound complaint, with some serious Gang Related material and subject matter applied. Also saddening when there is a lack of hook. 9/10

8. Never Enough – A huge shoutout to production on this track, golden work. The opening hook was not very appealing, however. These were some of my favorite Logic verses and the added-in sampling from the woman singer (I cannot place the song though) along with the nod to Kid Cudi’s Pursuit of Happiness (One of my favorite Cudi songs) were superb. The song really improves and end up becoming one of my favorites after a minute in. 9.5/10

9. Metropolis – More storytelling, which I do not mind. The song does sound like previous works though, and does not seem to attempt at creating a hook. Good story and an enjoyable listen but perhaps my least favorite song on the track, despite quick and hard raps by Logic. The dialogue feels uncalled for as well towards the end of the song. 8.25/10

10. Nikki – Named after his child’s mother is the track Nikki. I do hear a lot of emotion in the words of Logic and is refreshing to see the love from a rapper to who they are with. While the song’s lyricism is incredible, the song itself is not as enjoyable of a listen as some of the preceding tracks. 8.5/10

11. Under Pressure – The song named after the album is usually given the most attention, unless there is a strong collaboration (stay tuned). This track is over nine minutes, and if you’ve liked listening to Logic’s verses in the last few songs, you will enjoy this. More of the same sound and raps it feels, but I have to give him credit for rapping hard for so long. 8.75/10

12. Till The End – Interesting production, though I was not very amused. Logic stays on focus while telling his struggles of entering the music business, which is a heavy story. The hook is also really catchy. Decent song but the beat almost weighs it down. 9/10

13. Driving Ms. Daisy ft. Childish Gambino – Here is one of the most listened to songs on the album, Driving Ms. Daisy. Now that we are beginning the deluxe version songs, we have to keep in mind that these songs cost some extra, so they will have a lot more pressure on them. I liked Gambino’s verse, almost sounding like classic T.I. Logic sounds similar as before, but this is actually one of the best songs on the album for the low-key production and emphasis on rapping. 9.5/10

14. Now – Now featured some heavy production from big names, including 6ix and Arthur McArthur. The hook is hard, and most Hip-Hop fans will immediately like it. These are strong raps by Logic, and seem more original than the others. I found it hard to keep up with this song, and the track overall was very impressive. 9.75/10

15. Alright ft. Big Sean – This song includes some of my favorite lines on the album, especially with his mention of Danny Devito, which gave me a good laugh. Of course Big Sean will help make this the most-listened-to song on Under Pressure, but Big Sean was a bit disappointing. The verse was solid but unfocused, though the whole song feels like that. 9/10

So that averages out to exactly 9.25. It was hard to keep it brief, in fact I could not. However my point of lying in the beginning was the emphasize that the same sound is used often, and if you’ve heard one you’ve heard the next four or five. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, right? Hopefully Logic has more up his sleeve for his next project, as he will run out of ideas if he uses the same technique over and over again. I would love to hear more singing and vocal-work from him.

In essence, this album is complete Hip-Hop. It channels some of the best rappers and gives Logic the potential for a right future. So go ahead and ignore my rant on the whole thing and give the album a listen below (At the very least, I recommend the songs rated 9.5 or more):

-Austin Heath

Music Recommendation – Single – Jay Rock ft. Kendrick Lamar and Chantal, Pay For It

Fresh off the grill today is Jay Rock’s Pay For It. I have gotten a bit behind in new music the past couple of days but I am sure you can guess the biggest reason I felt the need to listen to this track. If you guessed Kendrick, you had a 1/3 chance and knew my Lamar man-crush anyways, so no cookies for you.

Jay Rock channels The Game with his new sound in Pay For It, while Kendrick Lamar resembles Eminem at times to my ears. We are all opinionated and though their voices do not sound very similar, their rap style comes close to these two. The song is tough and gritty, making it an empowering and motivational Hip-Hop/Rap track and rises on each repeat of the chorus by Chantal.

Because these two have worked on successful songs together before, this formula had to be a big hit. Overall, I would rate the song at 9.75/10. This is a seriously solid rap song, with a unique beat and some amazing rap verse from Jay Rock and Kendrick Lamar. You can give the song a listen below:

-Austin Heath

Music Recommendation – Single – Trae Tha Truth, I’m On 2.0

There is honestly no point of listing all of the rappers in this song. I just wrote about I’m On earlier, which is the original Trae song. The “remix” (even though it hardly sounds like the original, so I just call it a sequel) is actually quite good. Any rapper who you may call “crap” or “not good” could prove you wrong with this song, as the verses are rather good, if not unfocused.

I said my complaint in the last one and I will say it again, what is this song trying to convey? You are on what, exactly? The verses sound excellent and the music is good but it feels empty. Even though the second I’m On is the same length as the first, 2.0 features several more appearances.

So now I go through that thing where I rank the verses, though this one is a bit easier than the first I’m On because there are actually some not-so-great parts in this song here and there:

1. Kendrick Lamar (who else did you expect me to pick?)

2. B.o.B

3. Bun B

4. J. Cole

5. Jadakiss

6. Big K.R.I.T.

7. Gudda Gudda (actually not bad)

8. Tyga

When I say rapfest about these songs, it is not only because of the amount of popular rappers on two tracks, but also how many are in the music videos (a lot, by the way). So overall, I would rate the song at 9.5/10. Some very solid verses and a great song, but no chorus sadly and a couple of a disappointing Tyga verse (but then again, what did you expect?).

Give it a listen below:

-Austin Heath

Music Recommendation – Single – Jasmine V ft. Kendrick Lamar, That’s Me Right There

I could tell when I first heard That’s Me Right There that it would be a banger RnB track. Jasmine V did not fail that, and Kendrick Lamar only gives the song more hype. This gives listeners a preview of her upcoming album this November, featuring artists including Ne-Yo and Problem.

The song uses a mix of RnB and Hip-Hop to make a killer beat, though a bit lazy at times with the same sound throughout. Kendrick’s verse is solid but does not live up to his usual standard. Jasmine is definitely the star of this song and gives it some serious character.

Overall, I would rate the song at 8.75/10. Jasmine V shows that she’s all grown up and brings on a sick rap verse to support the track, but there are a few flaws that I hope to see trend less in the other album’s tracks. Give it a listen below and see what you think:

-Austin Heath

Music Recommendation – Single – Chris Brown ft. Kendrick Lamar, Autumn Leaves

People who don’t like Chris Brown’s music even agree this is the best song on X, and of course Kendrick Lamar has a huge part in it. Surprisingly, it seems to have been skipped a few times. This, along with Songs On 12 Play is one of the best tracks on Chris Brown’s new album.

I had planned on doing a review on Chris Brown’s X, but I felt like highlighting the best songs on here would be smarter. I will probably do the same thing for other popular artists’ albums.

Now back to the song. Both artists do their part and it doesn’t seem to be carried by one of them. It’s a typical love song, but lyrically it doesn’t really stay with the message. Kendrick’s verse starts out a little odd but it all adds up in the end and becomes a very passionate part of the track, lasting longer than you’d originally think.

Overall, the song is pretty good for both RnB fans and those leaning more towards Hip-Hop/Rap. I would rate it at around 9.5/10. Really deserves a listen, lyrics are a bit hard to keep up with but still a solid song from a relatively great album:

-Austin Heath