Album Review – Anakin Artz, “Dark Matter” (EP)

anakin-artzMy first Anakin Artz song was “OP”, which I reviewed a few days after first hearing it. My initial impression of Artz and the song’s production was interested, but not fully amused enough to hear a full album. I gave the song a recommendation anyways, then was offered to hear the full EP “Dark Matter” by Artz himself. After going out of my way and hearing it, I must say that each song has its own uniqueness and I was impressed by the album. Rena1ssance also does a fantastic job on production as well, as he produces every song on the EP.

Let’s not play around with vague statements, let’s just bust right into this and break it down track-by-track:

1. “In$ide” – The mellow start to the album through the beat starts it out just right. As it breaks into the rap verse, it begins a bit rough but molds into what sound it wants to be. The song stays focused and breaks into a catchy chorus. The second verse picks up speed and proves that Anakin Artz is at his best on a higher-paced sound (then again, who isn’t?). The song is a solid start to the EP and definitely grabs the attention of the listener.

8.25/10

2. “That Talk” – A beat entirely different from the first enters but the same Anakin Artz comes back. This song feels much deeper and the flow is much smoother. The bars are genuine and Artz feels more relatable. The chorus is a bit of a downgrade from the previous, but the overall Hip-Hop aspect is done very well. The beat may not be as remarkable as the first, but it brings the song the right tone for its attitude and lyrics.

9/10

3. “OP – Already reviewed that one here.

7.25/10

4. “The Gusto” – I am sure this song samples something, but whatever it uses is a perfect fit for the song. Production again proves to build up the song into something big. The pacing is right and the song is one of the best on the EP. The song’s general focus might be a bit difficult to decipher, but otherwise it is a great song for any Hip-Hop fan.

9.5/10

5. “Tough <3” – The beat changes into a more ominous and low-key sound, and Anakin Artz goes into personal life details. He breaks down his relationships and his sound reminds me the most of Wale at this point. The chorus is catchy just as “OP” was, and brings the verses together well. The bars are a bit slower but the song is another solid pick from “Dark Matter”.

9.25/10

6. “November” – We cap the song off with another slow track. The beat is complex and introduces the chorus by a female vocalist. This was definitely a smart move by production and Artz, and his verses fit in quite well. The lyrics feel a bit more awkward this time, but “November” still manages to be a very notable ending and leaving me wanting more from Anakin Artz.

8.25/10

So overall, I would rate the full album at around:

8.5/10

The EP is a step in the right direction for Anakin Artz, who draws comparisons to Wale and Meek Mill. His flow is developing and his lyricism is molding into something he becomes more and more comfortable with, The EP starts out with decent music and ends with even better songs. While “OP” got its own music video, I found the other five songs way more personal and intriguing, and causes me to wish I had heard them first. My hopes is that Artz finds his voice on some higher-paced tunes and so that he can give a full display of his hottest verses.

Rena1ssance does an incredible job on production and is a huge part of this album’s success. Props go out to him as well for every beat. Great starts for both of these young artists allow me to look forward to hearing more.

So you can stream the whole EP on AudioMack below. Make sure to check him out as well on his official Facebook page here. Check out the music below:

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Music Recommendation – Single – Audio Push ft. Wale, Quick Fast

quick-fastI have talked about my appreciation for Audio Push before, but in all honesty until now my favorite song by the Hip-Hop/Rap group was Shine. During a time when Hip-Hop was not reaching me, this song brought me back in. Then I discovered their new hit with Wale, Quick Fast, and guess what my new favorite Hip-Hop/Rap song is?

Quick Fast seems to hint at what the song’s subject could be. However, it is less vulgar than I assumed. It is more relaxed and takes a risk by leaning more towards RnB on the hook than Hip-Hop, which I can easily appreciate. Each rap verse brings its own appeal, and even with Wale’s role adding to the enjoyment of the song, it is not necessarily the only reason to listen to the track. It did, however, lure me in when I gazed at this feature, so kudos to Audio Push for picking a solid feature artist.

Audio Push has worked with rappers such as Lil Wayne before, but I was rather excited to hear Wale alongside these two differing and original rappers. Production was also a huge piece of this song, with names such as Hit-Boy and Preach assisting S-Dot and $.O.N. on the beat.

This song achieves an easy hook and makes it catchy as can be, so I do recommend listening to it. Overall, I would rate the song at:

9.25/10

The verses may have their weak spots, especially how each one seems to start off slow. I would say the first verse is the best, but the second verse and Wale’s brief spot are both also impressive. Flow is a smooth as a baby’s bottom after the first couple of tough strides into each verse.

You can go over to HotNewHipHop.com and check out the track until I can get a better link:

http://hnhh.co/sehnyk

-Austin Heath

Music Recommendation – Single – Meek Mill ft. Wale, Rick Ross, and Trey Songz, Lay Up

meek-millLay Up may not be the best Rap song out there (Rick Ross and Meek Mill’s verses never honestly did it for me) but Trey Songz’s chorus is one of my favorite chorus’ all-time. It would be a stretch to call this song an all-timer, but I jotted this track down as my favorite for three months in a row back when it was released in Fall 2012.

Each verse hardly stays on focus, but if I had to choose a favorite of the three, it would be Wale’s. It is fast-paced and easier to listen to, but again this song recommendation is mostly for the chorus. I tend not to listen to a lot of MMG, save for a couple of decent tracks by Wale and Omarion. However, I always found this one easy to listen to.

Overall, I would rate the song at 7.75/10. I do recommend a listen as the hook is fire and Trey Songz absolutely kills his spot. Check out the song below:

-Austin Heath

Album Review – Sebastian Mikael, Speechless

I wanted to emphasize the two songs I have already written about, Forever and Made Me, before writing about the whole album. Now that I have broken those down thoroughly, I can go through the whole Speechless album by Sebastian Mikael. It sticks to pure RnB and resembles a smooth combination of Chris Brown and Usher while staying strictly original and unique. I think highly of Sebastian Mikael’s music, and any other RnB fan usually does. Of course I will be as neutral as possible while examining the music.

So let us break down this album track-by-track:

1. Last Night ft. Wale – Last Night was the most successful individual song on Speechless, with rightful cause. The song has a catchy sound and adds a solid rap verse for good measure. I have felt that Wale has been in decline since his Ambition album, but I was impressed by his work on Last Night. Sebastian Mikael’s vocals sound beautiful and compliment the beat well. It is truly hard to find a flaw in this song, and I am glad that this became such a hit. I cannot lie either, this song is excellent. 9.75/10

2. 4 U ft. Rick Ross –  5 U (typo was intended for sarcastic purposes) adds another good feature for an up-and-coming artist with Rick Ross. I thought the verse was impressive, if slightly off-focus here and there. Rick Ross did a better job than usual of staying on topic and using better rhymes. Sebastian Mikael still sounds incredible, though his voice is dominated a bit too much by the beat. The upbeat pace is catchy and this is another excellent song on the album. 9/10

3. Forever – Already broke this song down here. I consider this the best song on the album, right above Last Night. I can still say I love this song and hope everyone who reads this can hear it.

4. Made For Me – Literally just broke this down here for emphasis purposes. I had a lot to say about the song and could not contain it in one album review.

5. Speechless – We finally get a song that truly focuses on the vocal talent of Sebastian Mikael. I loved the guitar behind his mellow voice and wish this track was longer. The lyrics feel a bit rushed at times, and slowing down would probably not only fulfill my first wish of length, but also emphasize his talent even more and be able to provide Sebastian Mikael with an extra ego boost. I find this a huge showcase of talent though regardless. 9/10

6. Thinkin About You Girl – The instant throwback Hip-Hop sound of Thinkin About You Girl was right away reeling. His voice sounds more like Chris Brown’s pure vocals on this track than any other. The RnB/Soul vibe of this song is prominent and makes it quite enjoyable. It tends to appeal to more RnB lovers than anyone else, so most likely if you are not into that thing, this may not be the song for you. 9/10

7. Kiss Me – This song, while staying on pace with the rest of the album’s sound, is probably my least favorite on the album. The echo on the vocals throughout is disappointing and the song as a whole just feels too over-edited. The problem is how concealed and hidden Sebastian Mikael’s voice feels when it should be the emphasis of the whole LP. The overall song still has a mellow and relaxing sound to it, and the fact that a song this good is my least favorite means the album is one of the best this year. 7.75/10

8. Lose It – Now that we are back to the incredible pure gift of Sebastian Mikael’s voice, we get Lose It, which shows off his vocal range and talent. The beat follows the vocals while standing out and making the song the beautiful melody it should be. This comes close to being one of the best songs on the album, and is very-well placed in the titles as well. The muffled follow-out is slightly early, but that is honestly the only complaint I have, and we had a similar issue with Forever, my favorite song on Speechless. 9.5/10

9. Crash – The harmonizing on this song resembles Chris Brown’s Forever but with my favorite RnB sound. The beat goes well with the song and the song continues to give listeners the beautiful vocals of Sebastian Mikael. It is closer to Pop than most of the other songs, and I do like the change up. Another close call for personal favorite on the album, though the repetition throws off the appeal slightly. 9.25/10

10. Beautiful Life – Produced by Sebastian Mikael himself is Beautiful Life. Ending an album well is a difficult feat, and I was curious to see how he would finish off an incredible album like Speechless. I believe that Sebastian Mikael knew to add more of his own pure vocals by the end of the album, and I loved hearing it at the end of the album while the quiet acoustic and drums in the back supported him. The song has a catchy hook and excellent vocals, with focus on his sound. An amazing way to close out the album. 9.75/10

So that averages out to a little over 9.25/10, which is appropriate for a nearly-perfect album like Speechless. I consider this one of the best RnB albums of the year and can only hope to hear more soon. My only desire is more emphasis on his own voice and perhaps less on the music behind it.

In essence, this whole album is an RnB fan’s dream. I recommend a listen to the whole album, but if you cannot hear all of it, I would recommend everything at 9/10 and above.

Go ahead and head over to DJBooth.net to stream the whole album, and you can buy it on iTunes here. Check it out:

http://www.djbooth.net/index/albums/review/sebastian-mikael-speechless#stream

-Austin Heath

Music Recommendation – Single – Trae Tha Truth ft. MDMA, Lupe Fiasco, Big Boi, Wale and Wiz Khalifa , I’m On

Oh boy, I’ve been saving this one for a rainy day. And by rainy day, I mean any day where I would rather huddle up under a blanket and use my computer as my only access to the outside world than step outside the boundaries of my home.

“But Austin, why put off writing about music that you enjoy?” Well, Mr. Imaginary Reader Who I Know I Don’t Have, that is an excellent question. You see, if I write about the kind-of okay I’m On rapfest, then I have to write about the I’m On 2.0 remix. And to put this project into perspective, the first I’m On is a rapfest, but the remix is like a 3-day weekend rap collaboration concert. And naturally, the urges in me will make me rank the rappers’ verses from best to worst.

For starters, there is no chorus. There’s a beat that goes “I’m On” if that counts though here and there. It is hard for me to enjoy a song with no chorus to look forward to, but this song stuck out. Keep in mind this is back when Wiz Khalifa, Wale and Lupe Fiasco were going to be the next Biggie, Jay-Z and some other top-ranked rapper (Boy were they wrong). All of the verses are consistent, but I do want to rank them quickly because there are some that are much better than others (and there seems to be confusion as to who is actually the best on this track according to the humanity-glorifying YouTube comment section):

1. Big Boi

2. Wiz Khalifa

3. Wale

4. Lupe Fiasco

5. Trae Tha Truth

I guess MDMA is on the beat, so he doesn’t count. But without a doubt, Big Boi dominates the competition in this one. Call it bias but it is pretty difficult to compare to Big Boi, so kudos to Wiz Khalifa and Wale for coming close.

So overall, I would rate the song at 8.75/10. This one never stood out (unlike I’m On 2.0, which I am writing about next) and it always just felt like there was nothing to look forward to through the song. Also, what really is the point of the song? Just seems redundant, like what is it exactly you are on? Maybe drugs, but I cannot quite tell.

You can listen to the song below, while I have my criticisms it is still a decent Hip-Hop track:

-Austin Heath

P.S. I’ll get to 2.0 in a little bit, as it will take a while to write, so don’t go out of your way to look it up or you are no reader of mine. Okay just kidding please just read my stuff I promise it’s somewhat decent.