Rick Ross – God Forgives, I Don’t album review

Rick Ross, MMG CEO and rap superstar recently dropped his fourth solo release, God Forgives, I Don’t. This album features MMG members Wale and Omarion, alongside Drake, Dr. Dre, Jay-Z, and Andre 3000. The production is polished and fantastic; GFID is worth a listen.

“Sixteen” is arguably the best track of the album with Andre 3000 dropping one of the most notable verses of his career. Other highlights include “Presidential,” “Diced Pineapples,” “3 Kings,” and “Amsterdam”.

It is important to note, as strictly an emcee and lyricist, Rick Ross has made little progress with this release, and rather, has moved to strictly what should be understood as an entertainer. Stories of drugs, guns, women, and riches have grown tiresome and implausible to a certain extent – Rick Ross was a former corrections officer. The production on the other hand is fantastic, featuring Jake One, Pharrell Williams, the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, Cool & Dre, and others; the issue is that as a multi-millionaire, Ross can create an album with fantastic instrumentation, which in this case, covers for the simplicity/dullness of Rick Ross as an emcee.

Designate what you are seeking when playing this album: for me, it is difficult to argue a good rap album when lyrical content is next to null. There is far better ‘trap music’ with content out there. That is not to say this is a poor album, and it should be listened to in its entirety—but it is to say that without the features and production, this album would most definitely be a weed plate.

The feature guests are incredible, the production is great and there are a handful of very good songs on the album. Rick Ross is a consistent entertainer, and again receives commercial success worldwide with this release. However, I repeat, it is hard to appreciate an album when the artist himself is the afterthought. If you are able to put aside these (minute), details, this album may be very enjoyable to you. My very subjective critique will speak to some, and be disregarded by others. Final words: listen to this album for the features and instrumentation and you will undoubtedly be pleased; Rick Ross fans will have no problem playing this front to back.

Prodigy – H.N.I.C. 3 album review

Prodigy, half of Queensbridge duo, Mobb Deep, releases his third installment of the H.N.I.C. series, H.N.I.C. 3. This album features Wiz Khalifa, T.I., Willie Taylor of Day26 and Havoc. This album is strange, and awkward. P’s lyrics seem to be constructed lazily, and his lyrical content strays very far from what we have known him for. Moreover, the production is generally snooze-worthy. The end result is something that should have never seen the light of day.

After spending time in prison, Prodigy changed his lyrical style from his formerly intricate and cleverly delivered rhyme structures, to a generally non-rhyming scheme. P definitely gives us a taste of the latter in this release, which at times, is very comedic (in a bad way).

Lyrical content is the primary source of my criticism. We know Prodigy as the “hardcore” Queens rapper that helped to bless the game with albums such as Hell on Earth, The Infamous, and Murda Muzik. These are what we know P and the M-O-B-B for—rather, P delivers multiple love songs over sappy beats. This is not the lane he should be exploring so late in his career.

There are few, if any, notable tracks on this album. “Get Money” offers a catchy club-banger track, but one which cannot possibly save such a poor album.

H.N.I.C. 3 sounds like a sell-out project. Love songs and terrible lyrics on top of boring production is a combination that should be avoided at all costs. It is a disappointing result, especially from a rapper that has proven to be so capable, even in the late H.N.I.C. 1 and 2. Easily one of the worst albums this year– a real chore to get through.

Oddisee – People Hear What They See album review

People Hear What They See is a collection of thoughts that take us into the mind of producer and emcee, Oddisee. The album is a brilliant combination of funky, soulful melodies, and philosophical wordplay that grasps listeners and finally enlightens us to a non-commercial work of hip-hop music. Every spoken word is raw and real… “Picture that from a small town with big dreams/ from flying coach to buying Coach I’m in between/ I’m not a star, somebody lying, I ride the subway as a car”. No fluff, Oddisee demonstrates he is both a talented musician and a true hip-hop artist with this debut album.

The album is astounding, because even in an era where hip-hop has moved in an incredibly mainstream-focused direction, Oddisee has chosen to divert his work from this pathway; the outcome is incredibly sincere. From the soul/funk inspired instrumentalism, to lyrics that include cultural and political themes (alongside specific issues including relationships, greed, and personal struggle), there is much to enjoy. Standout personal favourites include: Do it All, That Real, and Thinking Maybes– but each track offers something unique of its own.

Oddisee is an independent and fearless artist that hip-hop purists will appreciate. His debut album is an experience that I recommend to all because there is something that truly everyone will appreciate in this release. People Hear What They See is undoubtedly one of the best albums to have been released for hip-hop in 2012; this grandiose statement will be clear after you take a moment to listen.

Waka Flocka – Triple F Life album review

Waka Flocka drops his second official studio album, Triple F Life (Friends, Fans & Family), with the same intensity and energy that we have known him to deliver in the past. Triple F Life offers gritty street-anthem style beats and lyrics alongside appearances from the likes of Meek Mill, Drake, Trey Songz, Nicki Minaj, Tyga, Flo Rida, Ludacris and Bun B. Fans will be pleased to know Waka doesn’t stray far from the style of music that made him the industry icon that he is today—new listeners expecting anything otherwise will be disappointed.

Prior to the album’s release, Waka noted in an interview that “being lyrical” is not a goal, and rather, will divert him from his path of being a “crunk,” energetic, street-anthem rapper. Lyrically, Waka remains consistent to this statement and his past work—each track is laced with several screams (“Flex!” “Squad!” “Flocka!” etc.), which boost the energy and entertainment value of Triple F Life. Lyrical content ranges from cars and women to his hometown (see Candy Paint and Gold Teeth, Clap, and Rooster in my Rari). Arguably, the two most notable songs on the album—Round of Applause ft. Drake, and I Don’t Really Care ft. Trey Songz, offers us both mainstream appeal and strong features from both Drake and Trey Songz.

That being said, there are a number of flaws that hurt the lasting appeal of this album in its entirety. While lyrical content is not a particular goal of the rapper, there are very few notable bars that make Waka even remotely shine on this release. The energy and excitement that Waka boasts grows incredibly repetitive, and creates a strong feeling of redundancy after only a few listens. The first two singles on the album are really only relevant because of their featured artists, both of whom outshine Waka on his own tracks.

I think fans (the keyword is fans) will generally be satisfied upon listening to Triple F Life. However, Waka offers us no surprises, which will leave listeners with the “haven’t I heard this song before?” feeling before every track. There is very little offered in this release to make a lasting impact on the rap game, and this album will be a forgotten afterthought for hip-hop this summer.

Fraction + Fresh Kils – Extra Science album review

Fraction and Fresh Kils have collectively worked with some of the most well-known pioneers of hip-hop including De La Soul, Raekwon, Nas, and Redman. It comes to no surprise that their finished product, Extra Science, is both a reflection, inspiration, and ode to the 90?s hip-hop era. These two artists have been putting in work since the 90?s, and their sound remains authentic and true in this release.

Fraction comes correct with meaningful lyrical content focusing upon real life, down to earth issues, while blessing us with clever punchlines and the bars that will have you nodding in agreement. The other half of the duo, Fresh Kils, cooks up the perfect combination of jazzy melodies and cuts, all created and performed himself. Think the smoothness of Dilla with the gritty drums of Preemo.

Extra Science kicks off with the track– ‘Extra Science’ which paints a picture that’s hard for me to put into words… think summertime… Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing”. This is a true standout track that had me feeling like I was on the streets in the mid-90’s. The album suddenly takes a turn in which the following tracks jump straight to the grittier ability of this duo- Enemies Close, and Another One Forgotten amongst others. That’s a Rap stands out as a clear album favourite with 1960?s-style superhero trumpets laced with raw lyrical heat (think Lyrics of Fury meets Daytona 500). The remainder of the tracks speak about the rap game, alongside cultural, religious, and political themes.

Extra Science is an explosive LP that rehashes the 90?s and brings you right back to the roots of hip-hop. Fraction and Fresh Kils are two raw artists that complement one another perfectly. Hip-hop heads will undoubtedly love this album, but this review is for the young cats– after you turn off the radio, start taking notes – Extra Science is a good place to look to.

Travis Porter – From Day 1 album review

After generating quite a buzz in 2010 with their hit single Make it Rain, the trio, Travis Porter, have finally released their debut studio album From Day 1, featuring the likes of Tyga, 2 Chainz, Mac Miller, and others. The Atlanta-born trio gives us exactly what we’re expecting of them: southern party tracks discussing topics of fornication to getting money.

The familiar, previously-released tracks Make it Rain, and Bring it Back, stand-out and strengthen the album from the outset– the issue, however, being that these tracks were released over a year ago. There proves to be little reliance on these singles, as tracks like Ayy Ladies (ft. Tyga), P-ssy Real Good (ft. 2 Chainz), and Ride Like That (ft. Jeremih), offer fans with newer, club-banger material besides the previous (dated), singles featured on the album. Of the remaining tracks, Ballin, Wobble, and Pop a Rubberband, offer catchy party vibes that keep the feel of the album consistent in its play-through.

Travis Porter’s lyrics are by no-means intended to stimulate any creative thinking (“Shawty goin hard, concrete/ She can shake her ass, one cheek, two cheeks”), rather, encourage sing-alongs; likewise, their production is intended for club-friendly, party atmospheres. The group is proving to  have some success in falling into the party/club rap niche with this album release. Unfortunately, the subject matter and 808 drum claps grow incredibly tiresome and repetitive by the end of the album. In many instances, I was turned off at the blatantly packaged, unoriginality in both TP’s lyricism and instrumental production– both of which seemed all too familiar after only hearing the first few tracks of the album.

From Day 1 is packed with catchy hooks, and party-friendly production that will attract those listeners whom seek this music. The consistent energy and simplicity of the album makes it a great choice for background music at any party this summer. While the album does grow somewhat tiresome in its entirety, it is good to note that there are some indisputably catchy singles that will have listeners bobbing their heads. Travis Porter loses points in originality, but whether you like it or not, you will be hearing from these guys this summer.