2 Chainz – Based On a T.R.U Story album review

Some albums you just have to take it for what it is when reviewing it. As much as I would like to you can’t compare the Chief Keefs to the Nases of the world when reviewing, or else just about everything would get a bad review. I tried to keep this in mind when reviewing 2 Chainz new album Based On A T.R.U Story, and even with no comparisons, the album Is still unbelievably ridiculously bad. I tried, I really did.

The album begins with “Yuck”, a menacing Lil Wayne featured track. Right off the bat 2 Chainz flow is really awkward, where he drags out every word at the end of his verses, which got really irritating after the fifth time. However, Lil Wayne saved the track delivering clever one liners, that he is known for and flowing with the beat in an effortless manner. After “Yuck” comes “Crack.” In this track, 2 Chainz brags about being in possession of crack, and thinks it’s a good idea to add N’s in between words. “I got that Cr-n-ak” and “B-n-ag” are among some of the alterations he made to words.

“Dope Peddler” is lyrically so bad that it is nearly unbearable. Once again, I knew coming into this that the lyrical content wouldn’t be great, but come on…I mean really? “ I said I pull up to that club like muthafuckin ho you don’t know me/ Most of my niggas got gold teeth /Most of my bitches got tattoos /Most of my niggas think cash rules /And I mess up hair dos like it’s a pair of shoes /And I need a parachute when I’m up there.” The best parts of Based on a T.R.U Story are the tracks that feature collaborations. That is probably why most of the singles from the album are the featured tracks, because even he knows he can’t hold his own.

The Sonny Digital produced “Birthday Song” has an epic trap beat that overpowers 2 Chainz, but when Kanye West gives out his verse, you almost forget its 2 Chainz song. “I Luv Dem Strippers” is nothing more than a good song to mindlessly dance to after getting plastered at a club, but sober it doesn’t have the same effect (check out the number of dislikes on the music video…YIKES). Nicki Minaj’s quirky rapping style is refreshing on the beat, making the song bearable. Mike Posner croons on “In Town” giving us the ear candy of the album with an infectious voice. 2 Chainz attempts to show his soft side talking about crushing and blushing, which is a refreshing break from the incessant talk of “Big booty hoes” on the rest of the album.

The album ends with his single “Riot”, which makes for a good high energy party song, was the first single from the album. All in all, this debut left me wondering what exactly Kanye was getting at when signing him to G.O.O.D music. Maybe this is all a good joke and we are all being Punk’d, but something tells me it’s not.

Blackalicious – Melodica album review

Everything about Blackalicious’s EP Melodica  exudes classic. From Gift of Gab’s complex raps to Chief Xcel’s extremely fresh production, their debut EP should be used as an example for every rapper on how to make a classic album. The production on the album takes elements from every genre, creating a melting pot of sounds that Gift of Gab conforms to in each track.

“Swan Lake” begins with a clash of sounds that sound like the beginning to a rock track, then quickly descends into the smooth sounds of jazz. Gift of Gab’s delivery is also as smooth as honey pouring over the infectious saxophone blares.

“This is a song called ‘Attica Black’. A song about mediocracy, hip hop, and just in general the mediocracy in life. I hope you enjoy our presentation,” explains Gift of Gab at the beginning of Attica Black. The syrupy blues sound takes over and the track begins, pretty much summing up the sound of the 90’s all in one track. Most of the tracks on the album are laid back and soupy, but when Gift of Gab goes hard, he does it well. “Lyric of Fathom” gets in your face with an abrasive attitude and a delivery similar to the early sound of Outkast’s Big Boi. “Deep in the Jungle” also brings the heat with a double time delivery, that shows early signs of the speed rap seen in recent rappers like Ludacris and Twista.

An ode to malt liquor and urban life, “40 Oz for Breakfast” is over seven minutes long with an extremely chill and euphoric beats with hints of piano that creates a creamy sound that moves fluidly around Gift of Gab’s complex storytelling about his life. Melodica comes to an end with “Change” a serene effort that highlights Gift of Gab revealing his insecurities about life and living, something that everyone can relate to.

Melodica is one of those timeless albums that will go down in hip hop history as something that no matter what the time period, people can always find a track in the album that speaks to them. Whether it’s the perils of urban life or just plain inner insecurities, Gift of Gab puts his problem’s on the table so that we all know that we aren’t alone.

Lollapalooza Review from a dedicated festie

If you ever wanted to know what beautiful chaos was then the one place for you to check out would be Lollapalooza. Within the magnificent Grant Park, there is another dimension where cell phone service is lost amongst the crowd, everyone is looking for these mysterious people Lucy and Molly, cut off shorts and cut up shirts is the suggested uniform, and literally anything goes. One thing is for sure, everyone Is there to bask in the comfort of some good music. Whether it was basking in the sun at Of Monster’s and Men’s Sunday or swimming in mud at Skream and Benga’s set, people made sure that they made most of their time.

Although Black Sabbath, Wale, Bassnectar and the Black Keys were headlining on Friday, I think the real headliner of the day was the sun playing a full set all day. Still as dedicated as the Lolla crowd is, they raged harder than ever under the beaming sun, really kicking up the energy for Zedd’s amazing set. The German producer played an extremely high turbo electro based set that had the crowd going completely insane with his mix keeping everyone on their feet.

The highlight for Friday had to be Die Antwoord’s South African zef/rave set that was just as theatrical as it was pure genius. DJ Hi-tek donned his infamous prostethetic mask from the “Fok Julle Naaiers”, while pumping out their hit tunes from his PC computer. While half the audience were clearly diehard fans, most were just curious cats making their way over to the set based on the buzz that has been going on in the blogosphere. While confused eyes looked on while they broke into “DJ Hi Tek will fok you in the ass” poured out the speakers, soon Die Antwoord had everyone moving to their vulgar tracks. Yo Landi of course captivated everyone with her helium voice and huge charisma.

Saturday started off as sunny as ever at Perry’s with the growing crowd happily raging to the infectious sound of SALVA and Star Slinger before impending doom began to take over the skies. Before you knew it, rumors of evacuation began and people looked around in confusion until it was obvious that this was real. As waves and waves of people exited Grant Park, there was speculation on whether or not we would return. “What! I’m too drunk to move!” said the guy beside me, which was probably many people’s sentiments.

Alas, the crazy storm cleared leaving us with mud and pent up energy, so we returned back to Grant Park only to rage harder to an unbelievable set from Skream and Benga complete with a giant mudpit at Perry’s and mudslinging. Things got insane when their set ended with “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and angsty people (me included) mosh-pitted in the mud with the essence of Woodstock. With the schedule pushed back people still got to see amazing sets from headliners Red Hot Chili Peppers and the ever enchanting Santigold, as well as the other favorites on all of the stages.

Finally Sunday had arrived, and although people were starting to feel the soreness from two days of nonstop partying, it was the final day to enjoy everything Lolla had to offer. A blaring sun promised an amazing day ahead, and Nadastrom got the crowd going with his Moombahton beats, shortly after Little Dragon came on stage while the sun was in full force. While most stood in the shade to enjoy her sultry jazz influenced voice, the brave ones stayed in the middle to enjoy it. Although the sun had dried up most of the mud, there was still a pretty thick amount of the stuff right smack dab in the middle of Perry’s, people took advantage of it, especially for the craziness that ensued during Doctor P’s heavy dubstep set.

Dubstep reigned that day with another excting set from Canadian duo Zeds Dead with their go-to MC Omar Link hyping up the crowd with the bass heavy dub-rap. The real treat for electronic fans came at night when the anticipated set from Justice blew minds with their heart pounding amazing grainy electro sending shock waves and lightening through the feets of a throbbing crowd. A perfect way to end one of the most chaotic and amazing weekends ever. Perry Farrell, I can’t wait to see what you do next year.

Lollapalooza Daily preview Sunday

It is Sunday, August 5th. The last day is always bittersweet. You have officially survived two days of some of the most beautiful chaos that you will ever experience, but sadly this is the last day you will be able to rage out in Grant Park until another year approaches. Sure you are feeling tired, but you know that today is the day that you must release all of your energy to give a lasting impression.

This day there are plenty of acts to rage to that span plenty of genres, with the main focuses being on hip hop and EDM. For a taste of some infectious Moombahton, people should definitely check out Nadastrom’s 2:00 pm set over at Perry’s. In the hip hop realm, Roc Nation signee J. Cole will be hitting the Budlight stage at 4:15 pm to perform fan favorites and deliver some hard hitting lyricism that he is known for. Meanwhile Doctor P will be at Perry’s at 4:30 pm making the crowd rave their hearts out for his fat dubstep tunes.

Dubstep takes over with another set that you can’t miss with Canadian duo Zeds Dead, busting subwoofers with their signature gritty bass. You can expect to hear tunes from their freshly released The Living Dead EP, as well as the favorites that made them shoot to the top in the EDM world. As day turns to dusk and the sun goes down, highlighting Chicago’s amazing skyline, the headliners take the stage. This is where the biggest conflicts of the whole night come into play.

Kaskade, Justice, Childish Gambino, and Jack White are all scheduled to play at the same time. While rock listeners will most likely make their way to see Jack White, and hip hop fans go see Childish Gambino, EDM fans are going to have a hard time to decide which one to choose.

Currently on his highly anticipated Freaks of Nature tour, Kaskade is known to bring beautiful melodic house music sounds that are high in euphoria and big on unity. French electro legends Justice sends festival fans into frenzies and judging by their latest album Audio, Video, Disco their live set is going to be crazy. Whichever one you choose, I’m sure it will be the perfect way to end an amazing Chicago festival.

As people clear out of Grant Park, I’m sure the same thing will be on everyone’s minds: Is Lollapalooza 2013 here yet?

Lollapalooza daily preview Friday

People from all over will be putting on some comfy sneakers, stocking up on neon and headbands, and making sure they are nice and hydrated for a chaotic three days of music and camaraderie that is the Lollapalooza Music Festival in Chicago, Illinois. With a star studded lineup that includes some of the biggest live acts in the industry, it is no wonder that this festival sold out in record time.

With Grant Park filling up with enthusiastic music fans, there will be some hard decisions that some people will have to make, due to some scheduling conflicts. However, there a few must-see acts that will be spreading their music to the massive pulsating crowds during those wonderful three days.

Kicking off Friday, August 3, the festival begins with some high octane performances that are sure to send crowds into a music induced frenzy. The weather calls for some scattered thunderstorms, so be sure to pack umbrellas and ponchos, or wear some clothes that you aren’t attached to and make mud angels, like the previous year. Don’t let the rain bring you down, it actually makes the festival even more magical, as everyone dances under the rain.

Friday is definitely is a big one for EDM fans with heavy hitters Madeon and Porter Robinson coming on before UK duo Nero hit the decks for one of their stellar sets that they are known for. The highlight of the day will be South African zef rappers, Die Antwoord. You can catch Ninja and Yolandi spitting their NSFW rhymes on the Playstation stage at 5:00 PM.

The show will close out with probably the most talked about performance of the festival, which would be Black Sabbath’s only performance in North America. Regardless, those who want to see one of the most exciting electronic sets in the entire scene should check out the dubstep messiah himself, Bassnectar. His explosive bass mixed with his high energy sets brings crowds together as one for his headlining 8:46 pm set.

Azealia Banks – Fantasea album review

Azealia Banks is essentially the year 2012 embodied into one charismatic female with a love for all things Aquarian and a gorgeous mane of colorful hair. This year has probably been the craziest year for music yet. Music is steady becoming genre-less with categories of music clashing together that would never had even been a thought in someone’s mind a decade ago. Hip Hop has melded together with the high energy world of dance music, with artists like Nicki Minaj rapping over synth filled tracks with lead ups and breakdowns that used to be only reserved for raves.

Speaking of Nicki Minaj, 2012 is also the year of the female rapper. In a field where women often have to struggle to be accepted or to even reach a high plateau, female rappers have made It to the top and now sit on top of a throne. The Kreayshawns, Iggy Azaleas, and of course the Azealia Bankses of the world are taking over the industry. The issue of gender and sexuality doesn’t stop there. 2012 was also a milestone in the hip hop/ R&B world when multi talented singer/songwriter came out as a bisexual via an eloquently written letter on his Tumblr page. Alas, Azealia Banks had came out as a bi sexual way before Ocean with bi-curious lyrics in her breakout hit “212” such as “Now she wanna lick my plum in the evenin.’”

Azealia carries that excellent rawness into her mixtape Fantasea with new and exciting material that makes me feel like I did when I first heard “212”. The mixtape begins with “Out of Space”, which I was wary about because The Prodigy is my favorite band of all time, and I am protective of them, but Azealia Banks did it complete justice with her confrontational delivery over the classic rave track.

“Neptune” serves as an audible underwater mermaid gathering with a slow bubbly synths and Azealia’s smooth vocals battling with raps similar to her “212” flow. The track also features a hard hitting verse from British rapper, Shystie. It is hard to pick a favorite track on Fantasea, simply because every track has mind bending production that somehow fits perfectly with Azealia’s voice. Everything from the Diplo produced drum line track “Fuck Up the Fun” or the Drums of Death produced lo fi tune “Nathan.” Azealia Banks flow ability is exceptional in “Nathan” with an impressive flow change up that gets speedy then slows down.

When Azealia declared on her Tumblr that she would rather be viewed as a dance artist then a rapper, she must have had her track “Luxury” in mind, the sexy house tune features more of her sultry singing voice as well as a sexy “talk-rap” that could compete with some of the best underground warehouse tunes out there. Fantasea ends with the infectious trance-hop sounds of the extremely talented Araabmuzik. “Salute a bad bitch, you should” raps an arrogant Banks.

Banks represents a new generation of intelligent carelessness that has become evident in this IDGAF world of today, and I must say her mixtape Fantasea captures this new attitude with raw skill that makes me excited for what else this boisterous mermaid-esque raptress has in store for the future.

Nas – Life is Good album review

Nas is no stranger to controversy. The politically conscious rapper got noticed with his amazing ability on his debut “Illmatic.” Nas continued to make headlines as he went on to make ten studio albums, including one that was called Untitled, because the original title was rejected due to the sensitive racial epithet he was going to use.

Fast forward four years to Life is Good, and Nas stirred up attention when he revealed that he was going to get personal with this album, by releasing the album artwork which featured him holding ex wife’s Kelis’ green wedding dress. When the cover was first released, there was speculation on whether or not this was a diss to the songstress, but once you give a listen to the album, it is evident that this entire project is a journey to Nas’ acceptance.

“No Introduction” hypnotizes with its smooth piano chords, leading up to a breakdown of vibrating guitar riffs, inspiring organs and an earnest Nas, delivering lyrics that let us begin his emotional journey with him. “The tales you hear is the truth, on me/ Who wasn’t the most faithful husband/ Reveal my life, you will forgive me/ You will love me, hate me, judge me, relate to me.”

The collaborations are a plenty in Life is Good, with an appearance by Rick Ross on “Accident Murders” as well as other notable features by R&B legends Mary J Blige and Anthony Hamilton. Nas displays radio play ability with his upbeat Summer anthem, “Summer on Smash” featuring Swizz Beats and R&B crooner, Miguel.

If it isn’t for Nas’ amazing skills, then another reason to put this album down in musical history is the collaboration between him and Amy Winehouse. As “Cherry Wine” begins and Amy Winehouse’s gorgeous voice spreads throughout the tune, you can’t help but get chills. I admit that I felt my eyes get wet as the late Winehouse displayed why we all fell in love with her in the first place. Nas raps over the downtempo jazz beat repeating “Life is good”, while Winehouse belts her soul out. This moment is unreal and truly magical.

Nas’ Life is Good is his personal therapy session. He lays it all out on the table, and after expressing all of his feelings through fourteen tracks of advanced beats and lyricism supremacy. It just so happened that this musical therapy session is a piece of classic hip hop that we all are lucky enough to listen to.

MMG – MMG Presents Self Made Vol. 2 album review

In recent years, music collectives have been put in the forefront of the music industry with groups like YMCMB, Good Music, OFWGKTA, ASAP Mob, and Raider Klvn taking over the hip hop industry. In 2008, Maybach Music Group is Rick Ross’s addition to this trend, leading artists like Meek Mill, Wale, Gunplay, Stalley and more recently R&B crooner Omarion. Displaying their talents on Self Made Vol. 1, the first album shot Meek Mill into stardom, gaining him success on singles “Tupac Back” and “Ima Boss”. Now the hip hop collective is back with another volume to their Self Made series, rightfully titled MMG Presents: Self Made Vol. 2.

“Power Circle” features the entire Maybach Music Group sans Omarion, and is heavy on quality lyrical content, which may surprise people who are only familiar with Maybach Music Group through their tracks that constantly talk about drug dealing and women. The six minute track gives everyone a chance to shine, but the real standout on this track isn’t even a part of MMG. When Kendrick Lamar closes out the track, you almost forget about all of the other verses that were featured.

The singles from Self Made Vol. 2 aren’t too much to write home about with the Rico Love produced “Actin’ Up” acting as a high energy club banger and “Bag of Money” being a hip hop ballad of sorts featuring the auto tuned squelch of T Pain.

Everyone has their place in the Maybach Music Group, with each artist on the label bringing something different to the table. Stalley brings the lyrical content with the haunting track “Fountain of Youth” being an ode to his struggle coming up. Wale’s excels in delivery, with hard hitting one liners and changing up his flow within the middle of a track to keep it fresh, as seen as the party anthem “I Be Puttin’ On” featuring Wiz Khalifa, French Montana and Roscoe Dash. There was some speculation and criticism when Rick Ross announced his decision to sign Omarion to MMG, but it is evident why this is a good choice on “This Thing is Ours”, with his R&B vocals adding a polished sound to the normally hard sound of MMG’s music.

Gunplay brings pure street with no chaser to the MMG group, warning “I’m a shark out the tank, I don’t bark I just bite/Keep the K all day, don’t walk up on me I’ll pull that knife” on “Black on Black”. Self Made Vol. 2 was definitely a step up from the previous effort, this time focusing more on content than flashy tracks to keep people’s attention. Fans of MMG, will appreciate this work while new fans might be gained for those who questioned MMG’s skills.

Smoke DZA – Rugby Thompson album review

Sometimes, when it comes to stoner rap, the only people who will enjoy the music are stoners. This isn’t the case for Smoke DZA’s signature marijuana-praising raps. For Smoke DZA’s latest album, Rugby Thompson he enlisted east coast beat maker Harry Fraud to produce the album in its entirety. This latest effort shows Smoke DZA’s growth from just another weed rapper to rapping about different content. Where this would hinder the versatility in many other albums, Harry Fraud’s soulful production brings something different with each track. The features on Rugby Thompson compliment his style well, getting verses from the likes of OFWGKTA’s Domo Genesis, A$AP Mob’s A$AP Twelvyy, Action Bronson, Schoolboy Q and fellow Jet Life member Curren$y.

Flowing right into the title track, “Rugby Thompson” acts as a time capsule for the 90’s with a vintage beat and a vintage flow and a smooth delivery that creates a track that is comparable to riding on a cloud. Probably the most refreshing aspect of the album, is DZA’s ability to switch up his flow from syrupy stoner rap to high energy double time style as heard on “New Jack”. The chopped and screwed “Ashtray”, serves as musical codeine with Smoke DZA’s dragged out verses coupled with Domo Genesis and Schoolboy Q’s unapologetic hard hitting verses. Harry Fraud also shows off his chopping and screwing skills in the mystical track “Rivermonts.”

Although Kenny Powers is not the best song on the album, it is understandable why it was a single judging by its radio play ability. The infectious hook and the upbeat production can please general audiences. The switch off verses between Action Bronson and Smoke DZA in “Turnbuckle Music”, are enjoyable as they are effective with the track giving up a street video with the in-your-face delivery that is evident throughout the song.

The album comes to an end with the extra terrestrial sound with Smoke DZA spitting verses in a delivery that is similar to Earl Sweatshirt’s. When explaining this track Smoke DZA said “This Outro is like the end of Rugby Thompson and the lead into my next endeavor. We took the Christopher Walken skit from Poolhall Junkies. So, it marks the end of this and the beginning of George Kush Da Button: The 2nd Term, which is the next album.” If the growth from Smoke DZA’s previous album Rolling Stoned to this one, then George Kush Da Button: The 2nd Term will most likely not disappoint.

Kid Ink – Up and Away album review

In the past year a new genre called “swag rap” made its way into the forefront. This type of music isn’t too much about the lyrical content, as it is about a hot beat coupled with an infectious hook. A “swag rapper” is usually identified by having a body covered in tattoos with some hip skater boutique clothing. Kid Ink fits this description exactly with his debut album Up and Away falling into the category of what I would consider “swag rap”. Kid Ink’s hype began when his mixtapes began to hit the blogosphere and the industry began to buzz about him. The shining spotlight really landed on Kid Ink when he was revealed as being a part of XXL’s 2012 Freshman class. His debut album was his time to raise his star and let it shine to show the world what this inked up artist was really about, but the star just ended up being pretty dull and unnoticeable by the album’s end.

The album begins with a bass heavy, synthesizer filled effort titled “No One Left”, the hook is contagious and will have you singing along by the time the track ends. The album continues with “Is It You”, which has a nice melodic beat that will capture you. This would have been a much better single than “Time of Your Life”, which doesn’t seem to be very memorable. As the album progresses, it becomes evident that the production is starting to sound pretty repetitious in each song. The constant bass and synths end up mashing together to one big hour long track that talks about clubs, women and liquor. The only stand out track from the bunch was the trunk rattling anthem called “Neva Gave a Fuck”, which features a sassy female voice repeating the word “bumping”.

Up and Away is fine to throw on if you are throwing a party and want to get a gyrating crowd going, but if you are looking for a memorable album with some kind of variety then this one can be passed on. Hopefully, for Kid Ink’s next effort he steps out of the box and uses some groundbreaking production to separate himself from the slew of other “swag rappers” that have appeared in the industry.