Saint Kendrick: The Cinematic Nature of Kendrick Lamar Part IV

This is the fourth part of a multi-part release exclusively on this page. (link to the first part here, second here, and third here)  My friend Dan Glennon (@ZiggyStarscream) on Twitter and Instagram has been working tirelessly for many weeks to write these entries for my readers. I hope you all enjoy, and I present to you Saint Kendrick: The Cinematic Nature of Kendrick Lamar Part IV. If you like and enjoy the content that I have to offer please consider liking, following, and/or commenting on my posts. It really means a lot. Thanks for your continued support!

DAMN: The Opine Comedy – Saint Kendrick’s Faustian Odyssey: Part One

Kendrick’s third album, ‘DAMN.’ is the most layered of his albums to date. There are actually multiple stories that this album tells as it is flushed with subtle details to the narrative of Saint Kendrick. From social and political commentary to cultural trends, Kendrick uses each song to make a point on a particular subject while interweaving a subtle narrative of the two paths that Kendrick had available to him after his first break into entertainment business success; the path of righteousness, atonement for moments of weakness, and growth into the Saint of Compton or to follow the material and gluttonous life that Lucy offers and succumb to the wickedness inside of him. Kendrick speaks of the human experience as well as the internal struggle inside him. ‘We’ put him on a pedestal and shoved him into the role of Saint Kendrick in the first place and now he speaks of his internal struggle and the consequences of his actions just as his ‘disciples’ deal with every day.

The best way to describe the mood that the album kicks off with is on “BLOOD” which is a dreamlike state. Kendrick speaks very slowly as if he had just woken from or fell into a deep sleep. The song is rather short as it serves as an intro/outro track to the two narratives. The fact that he is killed by a blind woman is symbolic in two regards. First is that a woman was the one that kills him; Lucy. But the additional fact of her being blind could symbolize ‘Lady Justice’ which is her most notable trait given the widely used figure of speech in American vernacular, “Justice is Blind.” This plays into the other key component in ‘BLOOD’; the outro featuring Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera and others quoting his lyrics to “Alright” from his previous album in a framing that makes him seem like another figurehead to place blame on for the rot of the inner city where in reality Kendrick is trying to rise above and be more than that figurehead that they portray him as. Saint Kendrick is trying to deliver his people out of the darkness and to the sunnier side of the American dream.

After the sample from Fox News, the song abruptly ends and leads into “DNA.” The blistering verbal assault from Kendrick is an affirmation of who he is and where he comes from as he proudly steps into the spotlight from the cocoon that had institutionalized him. He quickly fleshes out the world that he had come from and proclaims that he is, in fact, going to take what the world has given to him and use it. Kendrick acknowledges throughout the song the negative aspects of himself and his humanity and how he will not change for his circumstances because he is in those circumstances because of who he is in his DNA.

While largely about his upbringing and the effects of his environment on who he is as a person, Kendrick does not ignore the religious ties in the song:

“I was born like this, since one like this
Immaculate conception
I transform like this, perform like this
Was Yeshua’s new weapon”

-DNA

This little stretch is crucial to the character of Saint Kendrick. He is stating that he was chosen since birth to lead this movement which is a reference to Luke 1, in where an angel appeared to Mary and foretold of that she was chosen by God to bring his son into the world and his name shall be Jesus (paraphrasing here of course). One curious thing to me personally about the bible is that after the story of Jesus as a 12-year-old boy in the temple at the end of Luke 2, there is a nothing on the life of Jesus until the age of 30 with his baptism in the river Jordan. I have always thought about that 18-year gap of time. The Christian belief is that Jesus was all God and all Man. For all of his divinity, he was still but a young boy when he first showed that he was the Son of God. How would any normal human at that young an age could you imagine handling what Jesus had to? And he hadn’t even hit puberty! I personally believe that this gap of time could be Jesus struggling personally to accept the role that he has been given as the savior of man. Jesus was the Son of God but he still had to mature into adulthood just like any other man.

Kendrick was seen as the Son of Compton and just like Jesus in the temple at the end of Luke 2 with Kendrick’s first flash of talent and as well as establishing his voice in Section 80 he did not have the luxury to have a gap of 18 years because that was not the world we lived in. Kendrick’s ascension to his role as the Savior of Compton was gradual and chronicled through the social struggle in Good Kid mAAd City: A Short Film by Kendrick Lamar as well as the internal struggle in To Pimp A Butterfly. The world was a witness to Kendrick’s growth from childhood to a man willing to bear the weight of being the one to lead Compton and the culture forward to salvation. Kendrick ends the song with a prophecy of sorts:

“Tell me when destruction gonna be my fate
Gonna be your fate, gonna be our faith
Peace to the world, let it rotate
Sex, money, murder—our DNA”

-DNA

He speaks that he is doomed to the fate of destruction much as Jesus knew he

was to sacrifice himself to forgive the sins of man but also warns of the possible destruction of those around him if they surrender to their old ways that have institutionalized them inside the mad city.

The next song on the album, YAH, essentially shows the level of complete exhaustion that Kendrick has been dealing with. He speaks of how he is pressured for his thoughts and his actions are scrutinized to a level no one else can fathom. At the end of the song, he leaves one line “I know he walk the earth” which is an interesting line because it could be a reference to God himself as Kendrick has an encounter with him in How Much A Dollar Cost? Or it could be a reference to Lucifer but not in a personal sense as the character Lucy appears to be. Afterwards, he laboriously talks about falling back into the material world that he is climbing out of.

Kendrick unleashes his anger at the world and specifically the state of hip-hop in ELEMENT. Reveling in his state as the best rapper in the world he criticizes how other rappers’ potential is nothing close to Kendrick’s as he verbally beats down the game until he ends with “On my last LP I tried to lift the black artist / But there’s a difference between black artists and whack artists.” Biblically this connects to Jesus walking into the temple to find it turned into a market and not a place of worship. Both Kendrick and Jesus looked at the state of their pedestals to speak and preach from only to find it corrupted and distorted from its original purpose. At this point in Kendrick’s narrative as well as the New Testament both Kendrick and Jesus have now fully accepted their roles as leaders of something greater than themselves.
FEEL is the next song on the album and it is very reflective and presents Kendrick as the ‘wholly man’ with his own words instead of the extrapolation of text as is the case with Jesus (or lack thereof if it is assumed this struggle for Jesus’ coming to terms took place in the unrecorded 18 years). Kendrick is angry and struggling to understand how to control his anger. While he has assumed the role of Saint Kendrick already but the weight of influence can be a bitter burden. Focusing a lot of his material world anger out on the world that Compton and the black community by proxy are hampered by. The “school to prison pipeline”, government influence in the flooding of urban areas with drugs and even insignificant arguments such as who’s the best rapper are the objects of Kendrick’s judgment. He states that he knows he is the best and everyone knows he is the best in the world so that is why he is in the position he is in; the Savior of Compton. So why do people worry themselves with pointless endless arguments thinking about who is the best but not actually listen to what the artist is saying? Kendrick’s music is not only a perfect representation of this idea but on FEEL, he essentially screams it from the lyrics. A parallel to Tupac is stated by Kendrick when he is thinking about how Tupac was trying to tell the world his message but the world only heard his delivery. The path that Kendrick has chosen to follow both professionally, culturally and personally is one that has Tupac as the guiding post but he was killed at the age of 27 and now all Kendrick has to go on is what his image of “Tupac” would think and feel in the world they both came from.

Ski Mask the Slump God

After working with my brother for a few weeks, I was finally able to finish the article that he wanted to write. I figured it would be a good way for him to express himself and put himself out there. I hope you enjoy this, and if want to hear more from him let me know!

Its been a long time since I have been able to stick to one artist and enjoy the mass majority of their music until I heard Ski Mask the Slump God. I started listening to him around June of 2016 after being introduced by one of my friends. He had shown me the song “Wheres The Blow!” with Lil Pump and I would constantly blast it throughout my school day. As soon as the song starts you’re greeted by one of my favorite samples which is “Tokyo Drift” by Teriyaki Boyz. It’s such an unexpected use of a sample but the way it works is even more intriguing. My playlist slowly started to be filled with most of his third mixtape DROWN IN DESIGNER.

Ski Mask really caught my attention with his many collabs with XXXTentacion, and I would even be inclined to say that they’re one of the best duos of the Soundcloud era. After Ski Mask co-founded his collaborative rap group Members Only with XXXTentacion and releasing Members Only Vol.1 in 2015, they instantly rose to popularity together. Collaborating with Denzel Curry and Ronny J on songs such as “SPACEGHOSTP***Y” along with his feature on Members Only, Vol. 3 with “Bowser” which helped boost himself onto the rap scene. On June 13, 2017, Ski Mask dropped “Catch Me Outside” and he instantly blew up thanks to the Cole Bennet visuals. It’s hard to pinpoint where in the song he shined the most because he had so many different components that instantly made this song a hit. Using a sample of Missy Elliott’s “She’s a B***h” he delivered punchline after punchline which resulted in a nonstop flow and it was a great way to introduce him to the hip-hop scene.

Flash forward to June 2017 with his release of YouWillRegret, Ski Mask had done something that I’ve personally never seen. Ski Mask included samples from cartoons and movies such as his song “DURAGFLOWZ” by using the “Stadium Rave (Jellyfish Jam)” sample from Spongebob Squarepants. Growing up watching Spongebob, anybody can recognize the sample and start jamming to it. A few months later Ski dropped “Achoo!” with 88rising’s Keith Ape and appeared on the Higher Brother’s song titled “Flo Rida”.

Ski Mask has recently been divided about his music since the untimely passing of frequent collaborator and close friend XXXTentacion. Ski Mask has also been delaying the release of any new music since being on his U.S. tour, and his recent struggle to continue to keep rapping in general. Time can only tell if we will see any more of Ski Mask the Slump God in the future of the music industry.

The Curious Case of B.o.B and the Resurgence of Mixtapes

The day is April 13, 2010, and B.o.B just released “Airplanes” featuring Hayley Williams to the world. This day is an important day for Bobby Ray as it marked his second hit single within a four-month period. After “Nothin’ on You” which featured Bruno Mars was released four months prior, it became the song that made B.o.B a sensation in the world. B.o.B. would go on to release many more singles over the years but with low numbers, he simply couldn’t recreate the success that he debuted with. Since B.o.B was no longer getting radio play, his career as a musician needed to be sustained. This is the period when B.o.B returned to his basics; the mixtape.

The “digital” mixtape era of the late 2000’s into early 2010’s is perhaps the closest thing modern hip-hop would have to a renaissance. Artists such as Meek Mill, Wiz Khalifa, Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, J. Cole and Chance the Rapper thrived in the digital mixtape era and all went on to be mainstays of modern hip-hop. Mixtapes in this period would often even be considered superior to the albums artists were releasing. With kids, teens, and adults being able to access these projects for free it became a breeding ground for upcoming rappers to be more creative and experimental. While mixtapes were thriving at this time, they’re often forgotten due to their limited access. Digital mixtapes from this era simply aren’t the most convenient thing to obtain. While music streaming services such as Spotify have mentioned acquiring these projects for their app, it has yet to be done.

Although many rappers would be launched into stardom with their mixtapes, not all were as fortunate. While rappers such as Meek Mill and Wiz Khalifa were able to produce albums that would be met with overwhelming commercial success, the same cannot be said about B.o.B. After releasing more mixtapes especially ones that many would consider being some of his best work, B.o.B went on to release his second album Strange Clouds in 2012. Strange Clouds was backed by four singles including “Strange Clouds” which featured Lil Wayne and the hit “So Good”. The album did very well selling over 295,000 copies in the United States by 2013. While the album performed not only commercially but also garnered positive reviews from critics, it would go on to be B.o.B’s last successful release.

One year after releasing Strange Clouds, B.o.B would put out his third album titled Underground Luxury. Unlike his previous work, Underground Luxury wasn’t as well received by critics and was a commercial failure. With album sales being under 100,000 by 2014, it would seem that B.o.B’s tenure as a star was coming to an end. However, while this marked the end of B.o.B’s success as a mainstream artist, it would not be the end of his career. Less than a year after Underground Luxury came out, B.o.B went back once more to his roots and released several mixtapes before making another attempt at an album. Mixtapes such as No Genre Pt.2, Psycadelik Thoughtz, and the Elements series would go on to become some of his most acclaimed projects. It would then be four years until his next album Ether would be released.

Unfortunately, once again B.o.B’s newest album Ether failed commercially but still managed to receive positive reviews. Shortly later, he would go on to release The Upside Down and then Naga which he has hinted that it will be his final album. While both of these projects failed to gain much traction, they still stand as a testament to B.o.B’s dedication to music. While the digital mixtape era may eventually be forgotten, the artists and their influence on hip-hop will not. B.o.B has released five albums and 21 mixtapes since 2006 and while Naga might be the end of his career as a rapper, it goes without saying that his impact and dedication to the music and mixtape industry will never be disregarded.

Mac Miller (1992-2018)

Very rarely in music do we see an artist actually grow and age before our very eyes. This concept has always been something that’s been observed in film and television, however, it is unusual to not only see this growth but also grow with them as well. Growth is one of the few guarantees in life. Nobody is exactly the same way they were in the past, often changing and becoming into the person they strive to be or unfortunately becoming the very thing they sought to stray away from. 2010 saw the introduction of an artist who would suffer from immense issues but continued to use music as an outlet for their thoughts. 2010 was the year that Mac Miller became known in the music industry.

Mac Miller’s journey started in 2007 with his first mixtape titled But My Mackin’ Ain’t Easy when he went by the name of Easy Mac. I, like most others, became familiar with Mac Miller in 2010 with his mixtape K.I.D.S, which I believe set him up on the path to success and fame. 2010 was a great year for artists who released mixtapes such as Wiz Khalifa, J. Cole, and Tyler, The Creator. However, K.I.D.S  brought something new to the table that others were never truly able to capture, Mac Miller was only 18 at the time which allowed him to bring the idea of youth to fruition. This first incarnation of Mac Miller was the personification of youth, this concept would lead him to create many well-known and enjoyed songs at this stage of his career. As the next couple of years went on, Mac Miller would find great success in songs like “Donald Trump”, “Loud”, and “Party on Fifth Ave.” All of these songs were filled with the concept of what it means to be young and cool while still amassing wealth and fame in the background.

Blue Slide Park, is Mac Miller’s debut album and got released in 2011 and was met with mixed reviews. At this time Mac Miller was a frequent user of cocaine and promethazine and would begin to fight substance abuse for the next seven years. During this period, Mac Miller would evolve into an artist who explored different sounds, styles, and concepts. In Mac Miller’s music career, he was always open about addiction, depression, and suicidal thoughts. Mac Miller’s dedication to transparency in his art is what set him apart from a majority of other rappers during this time. The transparency about his struggles and detrimental coping mechanisms allowed listeners to really connect with him on a personal level. While fighting substance abuse, Mac Miller continued to evolve musically which would result in his final two albums taking a new sound and style, unlike anything he’s ever released.

The Divine Feminine is very much an album of self-exploration and reflection. Mac Miller was currently dating Ariana Grande at this time which resulted in the album sounding more like a love letter instead of a hip-hop album. The Divine Feminine tackles the genre of jazz while infusing it with rap lyrics. Mac Miller’s talent shined through on this album as it impeccably shows how an artist can successfully change genres in order to explore different facets of sound. The album was met with positive reviews from critics and fans alike, thus reaffirming that this change of sound was prosperous. Two years later, Mac Miller would release an album titled Swimming. Mac Miller continues his jazz-rap sound on Swimming as he is finally able to confront his demons confidently. Mac Miller seemingly knew his self-destructive tendencies would always win. Mac Miller comes to terms with this reality on Swimming which ended up becoming his last album. Swimming is the heartbreaking end to Mac Miller’s career as he, unfortunately, passed away a month later due to overdosing.

With a career starting in 2007 and ending in 2018, Mac Miller’s growth over 11 years is perhaps the most unique and advantageous journey to ever occur in the hip-hop genre. The tale of Mac Miller which unfortunately ended in tragedy will undeniably live on forever in the hearts and headphones of many. Mac Miller not only put immense time and effort into learning how to make music, he also learned how to personify and perfect it. Albums such as GO:OD AMThe Divine Feminine, and Swimming are what I would consider classic albums from the 2010’s. His inner drive to express himself to the world will forever be an inspiration to those who listen to his work. Mac Miller’s influence on music will be known eternally due to his extensive experimentation and passion that each album was crafted with. Although Mac Miller lost the battle, he succeeded in giving others a chance to fight back and ultimately win the war against substance abuse.

 

Legacy Pt.2

Everyone wants to be remembered after they leave the Earth. Being remembered could range from memories made with family and friends to actual entities that they’ve created in their lifetime. One of these entities that a fair amount of people have created over the years is music. Music can be used in a multitude of ways to leave a mark on the world. If one wants to reach more people with their legacy they need to stand out and have a reason to be remembered in the first place. There are plenty of musicians from the 70’s and 80’s that have never managed to break out of a local scene or be able to produce a hit song. The year is now 2018 and it’s easier to make music now more than ever before. With technology constantly evolving, musicians easily come and go while collecting their paychecks and garnering their fame and fanbase.

One of the greatest and most successful rappers of all time is Eminem. Eminem has decades of experience, talent, and knowledge under his belt as he continues to release music here and there over the years. The rap god himself, however, fell from his throne last year with the release of RevivalRevival wasn’t the worst album in the world, but it certainly wasn’t the best. Although often considered his worst album, it still says a lot when considering  Eminem’s discography is quite impressive and full of classic albums. While Revival didn’t exactly hit the marks, it did allow Eminem to create an album that he seemingly enjoyed making and wanted to see the public’s reaction to his thoughts on the world. The album, however, was not what people wanted to hear and left many feeling disappointed. Less than a year later, Eminem released Kamikaze. This album is Eminem’s response to the listeners and critics that ostensibly chastised Revival in the previous year.

Kamikaze, was the perfect opportunity for Eminem to get his anger and feelings out against those who loathed Revival. With Kamikaze being a sudden and surprising release, Eminem undoubtedly had the public’s attention again. The album itself is admittedly one of his better albums that further explores his opinions while showcasing his technical skill when it comes to rapping and writing. Kamikaze is a good album, however, with Eminem being one of the most controversial humans in existence it was bound to be met with negativity. This negativity commonly stems from comments aimed at his disses towards newer rappers, old friends, and even a questionable insult to Tyler, The Creator. With fans and critics once again blasting Eminem for being his usual controversial self, one must ponder about the impact this has on his legacy. Eminem is now constantly coming under fire whenever he releases an album thus making one wonder if he’s destroying or bettering his legacy with each release.

A legacy can vary depending on the nature of the person who’s leaving it. Someone who caused pain and torment to others in their lifetime will surely be remembered, but they will be remembered as an example of what not to do in life. On the other hand, leaving a positive legacy behind is not an easy task. Now more than ever are people being found guilty of past issues which subsequently leads to their name forever being associated with that act. Eminem is a special case in regards to the mark he will certainly leave on the world. Eminem is different because his influence is constantly changing throughout the years. In the early 2000’s, Eminem was one of the biggest celebrities that appealed to kids, teens, and adults while simultaneously receiving hate from Congress. Compare early 2000’s Eminem to modern day Eminem who now has a divided fan base due to his album releases and political stance, and it’s easy to see why his legacy is in a peculiar position.

While Eminem will obviously be remembered as one of the greatest and most controversial rappers of all time, it is imperative to take a step outside of the box and view Eminem as a whole. With an insanely successful career comes hardships and obstacles, both of which Eminem has surely detailed in his music. Eminem struggled for a long time until he got his chance to shine, and with that opportunity from Dr. Dre, he made the best of it. Eminem learned not to let anyone walk over him, use him, or even disrespect him in his career, which has led to some notable feuds. The story of Marshall Mathers is a culmination of one man attempting to make his opinion heard and fight for what he believes in. Revival may have been a fumble, but Kamikaze once again reaffirms that the rap god will fight to his death to defend what he believes in. Leaving a legacy behind as a man who doesn’t care about what other people think will inevitably be Eminem’s destiny.

I’ve Been Gone for a While

I, unfortunately, haven’t had the right mentality nor motivation to write recently. After burning out I simply found it hard to put my thoughts into words thus making it practically impossible to produce content worth reading. With Collective Minds never really taking off and a slew of personal obstacles ranging from mental health to university enrollment I simply lost the passion to write. However, I recently started writing for CSUITEMUSIC.com which has been a supportive company in allowing me to introduce my content and thoughts to a brand new audience. I recently published my first article there today and I hope you can take a few minutes out of your day to give it a read. With school starting in less than a week, I will attempt to get back into the swing of things and have some more articles rolling out soon!

I do have an article in the works from my younger brother. He decided to write about one of his favorite rappers and I am allowing him to post on here to give him a platform for his ideas and voice. I hope to have the article out very soon and look forward to seeing what else he comes up with in the future.

Until then, here is the link to my new article on CSUITEMUSIC.

 

ON REPEAT: Domo Genesis’ Studio Debut is an Underrated Gem of the Neo-Soul Catalogue

This is a guest post from fellow writer Musicwithmink. This is the first time I’ve featured someone since January when I featured Steveforthedeaf, so I hope you enjoy this content from yet another great writer!

I think it’s safe to say that when most people think of Odd Future in 2018, they probably remember the collective as Tyler the Creator, Frank Ocean, Earl Sweatshirt, and somewhere between five and 20 other dudes that fell off five years ago. While the group’s three stars have been consistently (and rightfully) a part of the alternative hip-hop/R&B conversation in recent years, with their artistic progression and maturity since the proudly-ignorant OF days well-documented and highly celebrated, it’s easy to assume that those who created less buzz stayed in that stagnant teenage mindset and faded away as a result.

While that may be true for some, not every lesser-known member should be counted out – Syd Tha Kid’s group The Internet has been quietly releasing material throughout the 2010s and is coming out with a new album very soon, Mike G released a pretty solid mixtape on 4/20, and Domo Genesis has come out with a studio album and two mixtapes in just the past 3 years. Regrettably, it wasn’t until a month or so ago that I started delving into Domo’s solo material, but within just minutes of hitting play on his 2016 album Genesis, I knew I was being introduced to something special. Fully countering every expectation I had going into it, Genesis is an uplifting, mature, and beautiful hip-hop album with strong neo-soul influences, and it’s sure to sit firmly in my summer rotation.

Domo’s work in the early 2010s was marked by a sharp, cocky flow with braggadocious lyrical content to match, usually spat over the spacious, MIDI-centric instrumentals of Tyler the Creator and Left Brain. I can definitely get into that style, dated as it may be, so when I went into this album I expected to be moderately pleased by some more of that simplistic and hard-hitting content.  What I got, however, was completely different. In a good way.

The production on this album is top-notch – nearly every beat is lush but tasteful, featuring a nice combination of real instruments and MIDI, a ton of buttery Fender Rhodes (the number one way for producers to win my heart), and beautifully sung vocal hooks. The entire musical landscape is very contemplative; this matches the lyrical content, which most often concerns Domo’s meditations on his place in the music world, as an artist stuck somewhere between obscurity and fame and forced to live in the shadow of his adolescent success.

The three-track run of “Wanderer”, “Questions”, and “My Own” exemplifies this perfectly, all of them carrying the message that though Domo may not be a nobody, he’s still hungry and still has a lot left to prove. Later tracks speak similarly, with the line ‘If you don’t like this song, they’re gonna turn my lights off’ from “All Night” is a particularly good summation of the precariousness of Domo’s career. In addition to the solid lyrics and instrumentals, I was struck by just how well the tracks flow into each other. Many are bookended by spacy transitional sections that lead into the next track seamlessly, making much of the album feels like a single, episodic work.

The track “Go (Gas)”, produced by Tyler the Creator and featuring Wiz Khalifa and Juicy J, unfortunately, sticks out like a sore thumb in the middle of this lineup. It’s not a bad song, and it’s clearly meant to be a throwback to Domo’s older style of carefree, arrogant bars (complete with very “Goblin/Wolf” sounding production from Tyler), but it would have fared so much better as a single or bonus track than as the midpoint of an otherwise much-classier album.

Still, aside from the awkward placement of that particular track and the somewhat one-dimensional overall subject matter, Genesis is an album that, in my opinion, should be way more talked about than it has been. The contemplative, motivational lyrics and bittersweet instrumentals, along with Domo’s flow, which is as solid and laid back as ever, make a great album for those quiet summer evenings spent with music, the sunset, and maybe some cheap beer. If you’re a fan of artists like Oddisee, Rapsody, Anderson .Paak (who has a feature on “Dapper”), and TPAB/Untitled Unmastered-era Kendrick, definitely give this one a shot.  

 

Major Announcement

After careful and meaningful consideration I have decided to join forces with other writers to form a side project called Collective Minds. Collective Minds is made up of friend’s I’ve made through writing and our plan is to explore different aspects and facets of the world through writing. We will be stepping in and out of our comfort zone on the site to further widen our portfolio and try new things. I am only of four members that we currently have in the group. Together with MusiCommentatorMolasses, and Underdog Off The Bench we plan to provide our audience with unique and thought-provoking content that we normally wouldn’t always write on our main sites. This group is a chance to be more creative and experimental in our writing while still having our roots intact on our main sites. I would appreciate if you could give Collective Minds a follow so we can grow and have a wonderful combined audience to write for. I appreciate you reading this and I hope Collective Minds has your support!

Thanks,

Ant

The Problem With Writing For Almost 20 Days Straight

June has been a big month for me in terms of productivity and writing. I’ve managed to write for almost 20 days straight (19 days due to a guest upload). I have a unique relationship with writing as a hobby, I often find it be more of a love-hate relationship more than anything. When I’m inspired, I write topics I’ve always wanted to discuss but never had an outlet to. When I’m not inspired, I write about relevant and trendy topics. This, however, has become very hard to manage. While I’m still on Summer Vacation, I’ve been putting so much effort into this site that I find myself often stressing out over it constantly. I have good ideas and ways to take on certain topics, yet I feel as if I’m losing my passion to write when I’m constantly writing one or more an articles a day. I think it is for the best that I write when I feel inspired to do so and not because I have to. I’ve noticed when I set a long period of time aside and sit down and write when I’m inspired my work tends to be exponentially greater than writing it one to two hours before posting it. With this change comes a few changes I need to address.

While I may not be publishing every day, I will still continue the Artist Spotlights, Favorite Song Friday’s, and the ongoing Saint Kendrick multi-part series. I will, unfortunately, be stopping the 3×3 Monday’s as they take an immense amount of time to produce, and it is my main stressor. This Summer will still feature some upcoming collaborations and projects that I will announce once I have further shareable details on. I also plan to write about more movies, including some of my favorite movies of all time.

I would like to thank everyone for reading this and not to think of it as me becoming lazy or unenthusiastic, as content will still be put out often with higher quality and will create more room for conversation and opinions. I will also now start taking suggestions on topics, as I want to be more involved with my followers and see what you really want me to cover. If you have a suggestion, please contact me and send me an email(contact button on the homepage). Until next time, here’s to a new goal and path for this site!

2018 XXL Freshman Class

After keeping up with the XXL Freshman class for the past couple of years, ever since the insanely memorable 2016 list. The 2016 Freshman list was quite a unique list as it featured mostly mumble rappers along with some interesting characters. While I think XXL did a great job of highlighting the artists that deserve their fame and success, I believe 2018 missed a lot of important names. I propose five lineup changes to the XXL Freshman Class. With so much talent and creativity in modern music, I believe four of these rappers deserve to stay on the list. The rappers that stay are Ski Mask The Slump God, Smokepurpp, Trippie Redd, and Lil Pump. Now let’s examine who deserves to take the spots of YBN Nahmir, Stefflon Don, BlocBoy JB, Wifisfuneral, and J.I.D.

Honorary Mention:

Lil Peep

Since the current list is only nine people, I believe an honorary mention should be enacted. I think Lil Peep should be honored since he more than likely would be on this list had he still been alive during the voting process. Lil Peep’s unique sound, style, and delivery make him worthy of at least being mentioned as an XXL Freshman. I think this would be a great way to bring more attention to his music while also honoring the late rapper. Perhaps, XXL considered this, however, I would wish to see it actually done especially since the list is missing one person.

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Now time for my choices for the 2018 XXL Freshman list:

Rich Brian

Rich Brian is hands down one of the most distinctive rappers currently working. Coming from Indonesia, Rich Brian has made quite the name for himself over the past two years. With songs like “Dat $tick” and his debut album Amen, Rich Brian has come far since his days as Rich Chigga. Rarely do we see we see an Asian rapper find success in America, which leads to me support Rich Brian even further for this list. I think had XXL listened to his album prior to choosing the slots, Rich Brian would absolutely be in consideration. Hopefully, they fix this for next year and give him the recognition he deserves.

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YoungBoy Never Broke Again

YoungBoy NBA absolutely deserves a spot on the 2018 Freshman list, and I’m honestly surprised he didn’t get in. “Outside Today” is one of my favorite songs of this year and I am genuinely questioning why he isn’t on this list. He has connections, hits, and a huge following. It’s a shame that XXL didn’t realize his talent and put him on the list. I really hope he gets put on next year’s list as he deserves it more than almost anyone on the actual 2018 list. I hope XXL sees the mistake that made and could possibly put him on next years list.

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Moneybagg Yo

Moneybagg Yo is more-or-less my guilty pleasure choice for this list. His album 2 Heartless is something I find myself listening to often and I seemingly can’t stop. I thoroughly enjoy this album and would put him on the list based on this release alone. I also think adding him would help compliment YoungBoy Never Broke Again since they’re known, collaborators and friends. Moneybagg Yo is my most ambitious pick out of all of these, but I simply can’t resist putting him on here for my own entertainment. I also believe he’s one of the few modern rappers who’d benefit from a cypher and freestyle so he can really show off his lyricism.

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Cardi B

Cardi B is perhaps the best female rapper in the rap industry since Nicki Minaj first debuted in 2010. Cardi B is energetic, witty, and talented enough to make it onto this list. Since rap is primarily male-based, it would be great to see Cardi B on there since here song “Bodak Yellow” and album Invasion of Privacy, both of which have become extremely well known and received a great amount of praise. I think Cardi B should’ve been the first contender on this list simply based on her track record alone. I truly hope XXL makes her a Freshman at some point.

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Jaden Smith

If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that I placed Jaden Smith’s album SYRE at number one on my list last year. Not only am I a major Jaden Smith fan, but I also think he has what it takes to make it to the Freshman list. With SYRE being such a great album in 2017, I don’t see why they wouldn’t place one of rap’s main music innovators on their list. With Jaden Smith being unpredictable when it comes to genre and expressing himself, seeing a cypher with him on it would be an interesting and exciting moment to see, especially if I would’ve gotten my dream list.

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