Album Review: ScHoolboy Q – Oxymoron

Dark, heavy bassed-out beats create the kind of atmosphere that you would expect after a glimpse of his album cover art, but behind this eerie feel and often chaotic flow, lies a deep, intellectual rapper who is ready to take the limelight.

Following in the footsteps of fellow TDE and Black Hippy member Kendrick Lamar, the album conveys a level of maturity and skill that has the accessibility and mainstream friendliness to propel him to the top. Q hasn’t lost any of his grit and darkness however from previous albums, instead combining this with the vision of Interscope, he has created a commercially viable rap album while still remaining true to his previous style. The tension that is brought about by these two conflicting aspirations works a treat. Whatever messed up compromises Q has had to make, it’s interesting to hear him break through these boundaries as he constantly explodes into different directions and concepts. Like Lamar, Q has been in the game for a while now slowly building a steady fan base and nurturing his style and technique, this all culminating in this album. The already rapturous reception it has received comes as no surprise, the hype around ‘Collard Greens’ and ‘Man of the Year’, both singles off the album released prior to it dropping, had already made the album highly anticipated, and all in all the LA native lives up to all these expectations and more.

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Album Review: J. Cole – Revenge Of The Dreamers

Following the announcement that the J. Cole lead label Dreamville had officially signed a partnership with legendary Interscope Records, Cole, also celebrating his 29th birthday on the same day, released a free 11 track mixtape entitled Revenge Of The Dreamers. Boasting a pretty impressive record of two number one albums and a handful of gold and platinum selling singles it is apparent that Cole is eager to use his still-rising status to let others shine. The mixtape introduces Dreamville’s small, but talented roster, including Bas, Omen and K-Quick, with Cole also featuring on tracks and intertwining with freestyles.

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Album Review: Young Fathers – Dead

What’s this?

A combination of electronic sounds and hard-hitting psychedelic hip-hop, Dead is the debut album from the Edinburgh based trio Young Fathers. A wild mash-up of sonic and lyrical styles, distorted beats and off-key notes, it’s guaranteed this LP will be nothing like you’ve heard before. Drawing heavily from their African background it has a very distinct sound and feel to it, mixing together different genres and bizarre sounds into the melting pot, resulting in an album that will make you stand up and listen.

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Album Review: French Montana – Coke Boys 4

What’s this?

Off the back of his extremely successful debut album ‘Excuse My French’, American rapper French Montana returns with the mixtape Coke Boys 4 to kick off 2014 with style. The Coke Boys, which is made up of Montana, Chinx, Lil Durk, Flip and Cheeze, release the 4th instalment of the series strongly showcasing the labels talent and skills. On top of these artists, the mixtape also features Diddy, Wiz Khalifa, Rick Ross, Meek Mill, Jadakiss and Snoop Dogg.

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Album Review: J. Cole – Born Sinner

Cole returns with his second studio album entitled ‘Born Sinner’ bringing his usual classical hip-hop style and smooth flow. The album was released on June 18th, which just so happened to be the release date for Kanye Wests album ‘Yeezus’, and also Mac Millers new album ‘Watching Movies With The Sound Off.’ Having already reviewed those two albums I can safely say that all three are completely different, in style, lyrical content and also in what audience they are for. ‘Born Sinner’ brings a more linear less experimental hip-hop album to the table, instead focusing on the lyrical content and storytelling side of things, portraying his life in North Carolina and points of views on more traditional beats. The album has a nice relaxed feel about it with Cole having the uncanny ability to paint pictures in your mind, giving off an autobiographical film type of atmosphere. Clever and funny ad-libs (skits) and also freestyles (interludes) feature throughout the album, which breaks up and links the album together really well. In terms of features there’s not too many, and most only feature as a chorus singer, i.e. Miguel, TLC, Amber Coffman, Cole relying on his versatility to keep the album interesting and on point. The only criticism I would have is that the album kind of just stays on the same level and there’s not enough variety in it, but in saying that I think that could just be because there’s no bad tracks on the album, they’re all good. My personal favourites from the album include ‘Power Trip’, ‘Rich Niggaz’ and ‘Let Nas Down.’ The art of story telling and lyricism certainly goes to Cole out of the three and ‘Born Sinner’ is a brilliantly put together piece of work.

9/10

First published: July 4, 2013

Where?: https://willgcollege.wordpress.com/2013/07/04/j-cole-born-sinner-album-review/

June 18th saw three completely different artists go head-to-head, in my opinion ‘Born Sinner’ was the best out of the three, but what’s your opinion, what do you think was the best? The creative and innovative ‘Yeezus’, the classical story telling of ‘Born Sinner’ or the variety and complex lyricism of ‘WMWTSO.’ Let me know your opinion in the comments…

Album Review: Mac Miller – Watching Movies With The Sound Off

“But sill got some dumb ass fans who wants kids back, and I forget that they 12 years old, I must accept that, probably stop thinking so much and just rap”, that was taken off one of Macs soundcloud songs under the name of Larry Fisherman entitled ‘Doodling In The key Of C Sharp’, where a flurry of tracks was released between his last album ‘Blue Slide Park’ and his latest ‘Watching Movies With The Sound Off.’ These, alongside the mixtape ‘Macadelic’, really tell the transition period between the Mac Miller who burst onto the scene as a happy go lucky 18 year old, to the Mac Miller we see now. As Mac has admitted in interviews this was a somewhat depressing time for him, going on long hard countrywide tours without seeing family, but more importantly trying to find himself as a person and his place in the industry. WMWTSO is the culmination of that transition period as Mac looks to redeem himself for past pop/rap songs, and to try and shake off the ‘teenage girl’ demographic of fan that he had accumulated. It was a massive risk as that is the fanbase that has made him so big and got his name out there, and with people so eager to pigeonhole and judge off past merits, who knew if the hardcore rap fans would take notice anyway. Well, luckily they did, and what they would have heard is a brilliant piece of work from a young rapper evolving into a very deep and complex lyricist. The album has a distinct hippy kind of feel about it, with nature and smoking weed being prominent themes that run throughout. From the outset on the first song ‘The Star Room’ we can tell his change, the messages and style he now wants to convey and his frustration, take the lyrics as examples ‘think I’m living paradise what I have to worry about, dealing with these demons feel the pressure find the perfect style’ and ‘haven’t picked a major label think I’m blackboard, I still aint got the heart to pick the phone up when my dad calls, will he recognise this song when he hears my voice.’

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Album Review: Kanye West – Yeezus

Dark, twisted, extreme and epic all at the same time. This is how I responded when first asked what I thought of Kanye West’s newest album ‘Yeezus’, and several listens later my opinion hasn’t changed one bit. From the outset I think people knew this wasn’t going to be your typical Kanye album, and after revealing the singles ‘New Slaves’ and ‘Black Skinhead’ these thoughts were confirmed.

In his usual lavish style Kanye put them out via video projections in various locations across sixty-six countries, this was certainly something different and whole new experience for fans, gathering an unbelievable amount of expectation and hype around the album. Apart from the projections though and appearing on ‘Saturday Night Live’ once, the album had minimal promotion, West stating ‘with this album, we aint drop no single to radio. We aint got no NBA campaign, nothing like that. Shit, we aint even got no cover. We just made some real music.’ In a world were everything is pretty open and things are hard to keep a secret, this level of mysteriousness over the project definitely aided in catching peoples curiosity and attention. This all culminated on the official release date of June 18th, although the album was leaked by an unknown source four days earlier. Despite the leak though the album shot straight to number one in several countries, but has received a mixed reception by many. Some think it is a ‘masterpiece’ whereas others feel it is one of his ‘least compelling’ pieces of work, heres my view. It is certainly different compared to previous albums, but that’s where I feel people go wrong, because this project is incomparable to them, it is a completely different sound and focus point for Kanye and take the album on its own, with no outside influences, it’s a brave, bold and ultimately brilliant piece of work. He experiments with several sounds, going from a techno transient feel, to Jamaican ad-libs and jazz infused beats, to fast paced drums, and it works superbly like ingredients to an amazing smoothie that you thought would never work.

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Album Review: Action Bronson – SAAAB STORIES

Action Bronson gave his ever growing fan base a sneak preview of what a full length album could be like with the release of his 7 track EP entitled ‘SAAAB STORIES.’ Having recently been named in XXL magazines prestigious 2013 freshman class, amongst the likes of Joey Bada$$, Schoolboy Q etc, you could say the pressure was on to live up to this and to impress a new audience that would’ve come about because of it. All in all the EP shows that Action Bronson is well equipped to do this and will continue to progress. Lyrically he is extremely clever, mixing crudeness, obscenity and insightfulness together like they were born to coincide, delivering it all in his usual classical hip-hop style. The production is very smooth and the EP is brilliantly constructed together, with the beats being the stand out area, beautifully matching Bronson’s style of delivery and bringing multiple gasms to your ears. This is all thanks to fellow New Yorker, friend and producer for the EP Harry Fraud, who confidently showcases his unique type of jazz/Mediterranean influenced beats, showing a degree of confidence and further expanding his reputation in the hip-hop industry. It would definitely seem that Action Bronson and Harry Fraud are a match made in heaven, they go together like bread and butter, peanut butter and jelly, a cup of tea and a digestive biscuit. Anyway, I think its safe to say that we will definitely be seeing them team up together for future releases, and I for one can’t wait. The EP is pretty short with the highlights being ‘Strictly 4 My Jeeps’ and ‘Seven Series Triplets’, with also Wiz Khalifa featuring on a track called ‘The Rockers.’ One would presume that this is just a filler for an album to come later on in the year, and if the EP is anything to go by, then the album is going to huge.

8/10

First published: June 14, 2013

Where?: https://willgcollege.wordpress.com/2013/06/14/action-bronson-saab-stories-ep-review/

Album Review: Disclosure – Settle

One of the most highly anticipated albums this year dropped a couple of weeks ago on the 3rd of June, and it didn’t disappoint. The UK garage and house pairing of Disclosure have been steadily building noise in the underground scene, and in ‘Settle’ comes a well oiled and polished album, that is ready to take over not only UK charts, but International ones too. The Brothers who grew up in Surrey manage to keep to there traditional four-four house/garage style, infusing this with catchy vocals from the likes of Sam Smith, AlunaGeorge, Eliza Doolittle, Jessie Ware etc, which works really well.

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