The Pilgrimage of Kanye West

Religion is everywhere, whether from holidays to our weekly or daily devotions to higher powers, religion is everywhere. The way religion is interpreted is completely up to each individual, however, some praise their God to a different extent. Kanye West has been an interesting character throughout his career and 2019 spares no expenses in this stage of his life. However, while most would say this newfound love in God is unexpected and only an act for attention or money, one would be very wrong to assume that. Kanye’s faith in religion and God has been around since his first album The College Dropout in 2004 with “Jesus Walks”. The song “Jesus Walks” was a huge success in 2004 and Kanye continued to reference God in his music ever since, however, he never fully made an album revolving around his Lord and Savior.  Some religious artists found some traction such as Skillet and Lecrae, but many failed to grasp a loyal and dedicated fanbase over the years. But was 2004-2019 the proper climate to discuss religious tones in music for Kanye West?

“They say you can rap about anything except for Jesus

That means guns, sex, lies, videotape

But if I talk about God my record won’t get played, huh?”

With “Jesus Walks” being a hit in the music industry, Kanye West proved that religious themed-songs could succeed in the modern industry of music. But a successful religious rap album was simply a dream for Kanye. Instead of making a whole album devoted to God, he instead decided to sprinkle religious themes and religion into his albums since 2004 as a way to praise his God while still being a commercial hit. While Kanye’s lyrics weren’t necessarily “holy”, they were put in place for a reason. Up to his release of Yeezus, Kanye particularly discussed his own sins and focused the narratives of each album on himself and how he lives. With Yeezus, Kanye suggested that he himself is a God with his song “I Am a God”; this very sinful act would become the catalyst for a brand new and rejuvenated Kanye West in 2019. 

In “I Am a God”, Kanye single-handedly proclaimed that he is a being of higher power and should be treated as such. This statement comes from his second wind that My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy created in 2010. After the release of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye was as motivated as ever to continue his streak of success and hits that MBDTF produced. In doing so, Kanye West became as sinful, influential, and experimental as ever. This new era of Kanye that gave us Yeezus, a new perspective of what it felt like to be an influential multi-millionaire living in the year 2013. Kanye was fueled by money and power at this time and it is reflected in his songs from Yeezus. This new side of Kanye would last for a few years until his next perspective change that would occur in 2016.

2016 would change Kanye West’s music, ideology, and life forever because it is the year that he would allegedly be $53 million in debt. This debt would lead Kanye to a figure that he hasn’t seen in a while, God. With his 2016 album, The Life Of Pablo Kanye starts off the album with a track titled “Ultralight Beam”. What might be one of the best Kanye West album introductions also reveals a tease of who Kanye has been talking to during his troubled times. Kanye reconnected with the one figure who was there with him from the start; and in doing so was able to solve his debt crisis, release a highly regarded and successful album, and continue his sumptuous clothing line. Kanye has high praise for this figure and talking to Him was able to put him in a great position until his stability issues in 2018 with Ye

2018 was an interesting year for Mr. West. Two years after reaffirming his faith in Christianity he lost security within his own life. The album Ye features Kanye discussing his battle with mental health and relationships with loved ones and friends. This is a low point for Kanye that hasn’t been seen since 2008 with his complete emotional breakdown and the release of 808s & Heartbreak. But with his strong work ethic, friends, and family he was able to rise once more about a week later with the release of Kids See Ghosts. With the release of this collaboration with Kid Cudi, Kanye found himself again and was eventually reborn as a new and stronger man who was still searching for answers and a figure of power.

Fast-forward to October of 2018 and we have Kanye West attempting to find an idol in former businessman and current President Donald Trump. This led to a tirade and a slew of negative comments. Kanye thought that the President would make a good idol but was met with negative reactions from a fair amount of listeners. Where Kanye thought he could come back into touch with power, he was only met with hate and pessimism from his community. This brings us to January 1st of 2019 where we have Kanye West leaving Twitter after never releasing his scheduled album Yandhi in November and facing backlash for his political comments. With not releasing Yandhi and aligning himself with a political figure, Kanye West essentially left many fans upset, confused, and worried for Kanye and his future. 

With Kanye West officially off of social media, waves of people wondered where he was heading following the 1st of January 2019. It was at this point where Kanye had to reinvent himself and his style like he’s done numerous times in the past. Kanye reached out to the one person who never left his side, God. In doing so he started the highly energetic and faithful Sunday Service’s that have played a huge role in his return to Christianity and God. Kanye went back to his roots and asked God for another favor; redemption. When Kanye left God behind in 2018 his life started to fall apart and his ideologies became questionable. But in 2019, Kanye Omari West fully pledged himself to Christianity and decided to spread the word of Jesus around the world with his newest album, Jesus Is King. This album marks the rebirth of Kanye and his first non-secular album release.

After 15 years, Kanye finally decided to release a religious album without fearing the repercussions and potential of being a commercial and critical failure. The album was received by the critics as average but was a chart-topping success for it’s the first opening week. The album fell off the top charts fairly quickly, but the impact it made remains to this day. Within 15 years we’ve seen Kanye West battle with love, loss, success, failure, and most importantly religion. Today, Kanye West is talked about and associated with religion, the single force that put him on the map. The path of Kanye West has been a long, tough, and often questionable but he is finally happy. Kanye West is finally free.

 

The Man on the Moon

2009 saw the rise of one of the most noteworthy artists going into the next decade. Scott Mescudi released his debut album Man On The Moon: The End Of Day on September 15, 2009, after working on it for two years. The album was received well and had decent sales, but to some this album was an answer to their calls for help. Kid Cudi is notably someone who speaks out about mental health in his music and with young teens and adults starting to be open with their problems in the 2000s, Kid Cudi was their savior. This record is relatable, fun, and deep as it features Cudi discussing his childhood, mental health, and overall wellbeing over a 58-minute album. Being under the wing of Kanye West, Scott Mescudi was given the tools to voice his message to the world. While MOTM: TEOD is certainly a staple of modern hip-hop but what makes it so acclaimed and respected 10 years later?

Cudi creates this first act titled The End of Day as an introductory dream sequence in which he can do, say, and think whatever he wishes knowing there will be no consequences for his actions. This section of the album features Cudi introducing himself to the world as a troubled man who has flaws just like everyone else in the world. While he wasn’t a huge celebrity at this point, he paints himself as just an average man who’s voice can make an impact on society. “Soundtrack 2 My Life” and “In My Dreams” show us that Cudi is full of emotions especially love, sadness, and hope. With these three emotions in tow, Cudi uses them to his advantage when detailing his life and how he copes with the issues that life throws at him. After these tracks, we are greeted to the transitional track, “Simple As…” which ends with Common ushering the listeners into the Rise of the Night Terrors section.

The Rise of the Night Terrors act has Cudi exploring his weaknesses and how his mistakes have shaped him into the man he is today. On “Solo Dolo”, Cudi questions why he can never win in the world even when he does everything properly in life. The song ends with Cudi realizing that he has never once taken his own advice and continues to create problems for himself without even realizing it. This prompts the next song, “Heart Of A Lion” to serve as the first internal fight that Cudi has with himself. While he claims to have the heart of a lion, he never fully embraces it because his mind is in a constant battle with itself. The repetitive “no’s” and “yeah’s” that make up the chorus serve as this battle that he is consistently struggling with internally. After this struggle is highlighted and shown, Cudi sets out to create his perfect plans for the future on “My World”. Cudi describes what he would do if he had full control of his dreams and actions where he inevitably hopes to own the world and run it in his image.

After Cudi’s plans are revealed, we are once again reminded that he may never actually achieve these goals due to his internal struggles pressing on each and every day. In order to deal with his mind, Cudi turns to drugs, notably marijuana so that he may ease his mind in order to enact his dreams in the real world. Act III is labeled Taking a Trip as that’s exactly what Cudi does in order to suppress his negative thoughts. “Day ‘N’ Nite” is perhaps the best example in this act where we get to see a calm and reasonably happy form of Scott Mescudi. Turning to drugs has given him the strength and courage to face the world confidently. “Sky Might Fall” is where we see this new incarnation of Cudi dealing with the end of the world with full confidence and no worries at all. Cudi has received a boost of determination when it comes to dealing with cataclysmic events in his life and mind. “Enter Galactic” once again reminds the listener that Kid Cudi has become reliant on drugs in order to solve his problems as we venture into the fourth act, Stuck.

Stuck shows Cudi at his peak upon drug use and how he has become fueled with energy to take over the world. “Alive” shows this surge of energy and confidence well as he compares himself to a werewolf when he’s on a high. This comparison makes sense as both Cudi and a werewolf are a raging monster at night. After a song full of strength and excitement, Cudi introduces us to “Cudi Zone”. “Cudi Zone” is an upbeat song where he continues to ride his wave of confidence and energy. This energy that Cudi exerts come to full fruition when he, Kanye West, and Common team up for “Make Her Say”. This song features Lady Gaga as the three men surf on the beat to showcase how much fun they have when they’re free to do what they want. But, after their fun and shenanigans, Cudi once again continues his search for peace and happiness on “Pursuit Of Happiness”. The song “Pursuit Of Happiness” sets out to accomplish exactly what its name implies. Cudi searches for happiness everywhere but ends up finding out the hard truth that not everything that shines is truly gold. Cudi understands the lowlight that plagues his career, life, and future. But, what he knows is that he will eventually find peace within himself and be able to appreciate his life and all that he has.

With this new revelation, the album enters its final Act titled A New Beginning. The first song after his new enlightenment is “Hyyerr”. With newfound knowledge and self-purpose Cudi tackles drug use with a better mentality. Instead of using drugs as a crutch, he decides to use them to better his creativity. Cudi closes out the album with “Up Up & Away” which serves as a conclusion to the Man On The Moon: The End Of Day story. Scott Mescudi has been through a lot since the album’s beginning and has fallen into many holes that he was forced to dig himself out of, however, in the end, he came out on top. Kid Cudi confronted his demons, found a new purpose, and discovered a new way to live life. In 15 songs Cudi managed to accomplish what many strive to do in their whole lifetime. However, this story is far from over as his demons and problems eventually return in the second part of the story, Man On The Moon II: The Legend Of Mr. Rager. Scott Mescudi’s life is full of ups and downs but at the end of the day, he always strives to live a better tomorrow for his friends, family, and most importantly himself.

I Was Wrong About Kids See Ghosts

Kids See Ghosts came out on June 8th, 2018 and my opinion on it has bothered me ever since. When this album was first played during the live stream I wasn’t a fan of the sound and style and immediately dismissed the album as something I wouldn’t enjoy. That night I stayed up for many hours with the album on repeat, especially the song “Reborn”. When I wrote my article I took the approach that the album was a project made by friends for the populous to enjoy as an experience rather than a traditional album. But, after numerous relistens, I came to the conclusion that I was wrong on three occasions.

My first fault was labeling the album as purely an experience when in reality, Kids See Ghosts stands as an album but also as an experience. Kid Cudi and Kanye West made this album to celebrate their years of friendship and wanted to share this musical masterpiece with us, the fans. By doing so, they invoked the true power of friendship in their work and created a way in which the album can be taken as an experience, an experience of true friendship. This album is full of emotions that the two men share throughout each song. Songs like “Freeee” detail being free of your demons while Reborn showcases becoming someone new, free of demons and sins of the past. These two songs flow perfectly together as do all of the songs on this album. Emotions take full control when it comes to lyricism and it should be known that both Kanye West and Kid Cudi put their all into their words and delivery.

My next fault was saying that “Freeee (Ghost Town Pt.2)” should’ve been left off the album because of the “Ghost Town” name. After multiple listens, this song has become one of my favorite songs on the album and potentially of 2018. The whole idea of losing your demons and moving on is a strong message that I’m sure I and many others could relate to. I thoroughly enjoy this song and have learned to ignore the “Ghost Town” title because I still believe it’s better off without it.

My final mistake was on my 2018 Best Albums List when I gave Jay Rock’s Redemption the number one slot on my list. I gave Kids See Ghosts the number three spot while Dance Gavin Dance took second place. I firmly believe that after listening to these three albums many times, Kids See Ghosts is my album of the year. Jay Rock did a great job on Redemption but I just do not see myself listening to this album as often as I do Kids See Ghosts. If I were to amend the list, Kids See Ghosts is my number one spot with Dance Gavin Dance taking second still, and Jay Rock in third. I must give it to Kanye West and Kid Cudi for not only being my two favorite artists of all time but also making one of my favorite albums of all time and especially of 2018.

I intend to use my experience with Kids See Ghosts as an opportunity to learn from my mistakes. Never again will I write something off because I didn’t enjoy it at first but rather give it time and give it a fair retry. Kids See Ghosts has taught me a lot about feelings and humanity and I, in turn, wish to keep these lessons close as I move forward through life.

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Gorgeous: The Complications of Tenacity

How simple is it to convey messages about hate, racism, proving oneself, and success? The answer here: is not simple at all, unless you’re a genius. Kanye West conveyed these messages, broke social barriers, and created a memorable beat all in one song. “Gorgeous” from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is one of Kanye’s greatest songs to date.

The Intro/Kanye

At first, I wasn’t a huge fan of “Gorgeous” due to the distortion effect added onto Kanye West’s voice, however, after focusing on the lyrics, sample, and chorus I have come to appreciate this song as my third favorite Kanye West song of all time. The distortion effect gives a special layer of emotion to Kanye’s voice as it matches the sample from Enoch Lights and the Glittering Guitars song “You Showed Me” which samples the Turtles song of the same name. With the guitar sample and effect in full, Kanye is able to dig deep into this song, especially when he recruits Kid Cudi for the venomous chorus. Kanye starts his verse by highlighting the racial injustice and blatant discriminative actions that plague the country. Kanye understands these problems but he takes it upon himself to warn others of the corrupt system and how they’re all a part of it whether they want to or not.

Kanye Pt.2

In this section, Kanye points out the necessity of hip-hop for teens as they need role models to follow similar to a religious practice. Kanye West has often proclaimed himself to be a god throughout his career and this verse seemingly shows that he wouldn’t mind leading the new generation as their God, going so far as to compare himself to civil rights leader Malcolm X when he says “Malcolm West had the whole nation standing at attention.” However, Kanye goes on to claim that being a role model isn’t the full extent of his goals and that he wants to be the greatest rapper that there can be. Kanye will stop at nothing to be the best but there are always going to be forces against him every step of the way.

Kanye Pt.3

In his final verse of the song, Kanye decides to talk about how he is determined to be the successive icon that he truly wants to become even if it has its problems. He even shows this by stating how his problems won’t leave him, referencing a Beatles track in the line “I was looking at my resume feeling real fresh today, they rewrite history, I don’t believe in yesterday.” This is Kanye stating how no matter how far he comes, history can be rewritten and it can all be taken away from him. He continues this sentiment with the now iconic line “What’s a black Beatle anyway, a fucking roach? I guess that’s why they got me sitting in fucking Coach.” This is Kanye continuing his Beatle reference from the previous line, and showing how even as a musician who’s accomplished as many musical feats as the Beatles, he will never be shown the same amount of respect, and that’s why he’s seated in Coach, behind First-Class. Kanye knows he’s back on the rise at this time in 2010 and doesn’t plan on stopping soon. Kanye seeks a lot in “Gorgeous” and whether it’s fame, success, or worship he is always set on achieving his goals. Kanye ends this verse by reaffirming his tenacity of becoming the best rapper in the world.

Raekwon

The last verse in Gorgeous is a guest verse from legendary Staten Island rapper Raekwon. At face value, one might mistake Raekwon’s appearance on this politically charged track to be redundant to the themes in the first three verses, but as a whole, it actually adds value to and perspective to verse three, as well to the themes of the album as a whole. Kanye spends his time on Gorgeous addressing America’s twisted views on African Americans and how it’s affected him personally. Raekwon uses his verse to paint a different picture, a black man who has risen above the racial injustice and become an icon himself. Raekwon starts off with “I done copped Timbs, lived in lenses, kid, Armani suits, fresh fruits Bally boots and Benzes.” Right away we can tell that Raekwon is somebody who’s successful. He lives a life of designer clothing and luxury cars, he also references his time in the spotlight, being followed by paparazzi and the media with the “lived in lenses” line. He would then go on to rap about Louis bags, and red Jaguars, to truly show the extent to which he has succeeded in his life. The tone of this guest feature changes and circles back to the themes addressed before when Raekwon calls back to his own time at the bottom of the pyramid with the line “Throwing dice for decimals the older head, bolder head, would train a soldier head, make sure he in the right field, not a soldier dead.” grimey, right? This is Raekwon making callbacks to where he would shoot dice for small amounts of money, and how the elders in his neighborhood would “train” the youth to know the ins and outs of the streets because a mistake could get them killed. Raekwon closes out his feature with this: “Keep grinding, keep shining, to every young man, this is a plan, learn from others like your brothers, Rae and Kanye.” This is a beautiful message to send the listener off with, a message from two prolific cultural leaders that if they keep at their passions, they will rise above the injustice in America and be okay.

Kanye West attacks the idea of racism, racial profiling, and racial inequality while bringing in his own experiences into the light. With Kid Cudi giving a ghostly chorus about being afraid to lose and a feature from Raekwon, Kanye West once again brought a wonderful trio together for this masterpiece. The song itself is a great piece of social commentary and gives those who don’t have a voice a way to be heard. While Kanye West isn’t a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or a Malcolm X, he still knows where the problems are and isn’t afraid to point them out to the world on “Gorgeous”.

 

Runaway: The Proof of Excellence

Very rarely does a song guide one through many emotions in less than 10 minutes. These songs do exist but they are often hard to discover and listen to endlessly. “Runaway” by Kanye West is an example of a master-class song that still stands tall to this day. Nine years ago this song was considered to be a beautiful masterpiece that highlighted the best things that Kanye West had to offer, and all of that remains true to this day and then some. Nine minutes and eight seconds is the amount of time that Kanye West has to take you on a spiritual adventure throughout verses and autotune to deliver his message. “Runaway” is Kanye West’s second best song in my opinion and that says a lot when you look at his portfolio spanning 15 years. “Runaway” truly is a perfect song and one that I believe all can enjoy whether you’re a fan or not.

The Intro/Kanye

“Runaway” begins with the famous piano intro featuring heavy use of the E key which then transitions into the grand beat of the song. This slow start is a great way to build up excitement and tension as each key is pressed. This intro quickly turns into a ballad as Kanye begins his first chorus of the song. In this chorus Kanye discussing a fictitious toast to all those who doubted him, those who gave up on him, and his inner-self. Kanye’s life had become shrouded in drama at this time and this chorus is his first attempt to redeem himself by revealing his true nature. After this catchy chorus, Kanye decides to spit some truth about his love life and how he consistently fails to find true love. Kanye takes this time to assert his arrogance and how he blames everyone for his mistakes because that’s all he ever does. After another chorus section, fellow collaborator Pusha T is recruited to perform the next verse of the song.

Pusha T

Pusha T enters the scene with a short but sweet verse about the lavish lifestyle and the trials and tribulations that come with it. Pusha T’s verse is quite particular when you consider he is referencing Ichabod Crane from Sleepy Hollow to Rolex watches. However, Pusha T details his issues with being rich and famous by showing off an ignorance similar to Kanye’s first verse. This verse is great from Pusha T because not only does it paint a picture of the jerk that he views himself as but also the self-realization aspect that comes with it. Pusha T isn’t afraid to flex his wealth and will surely make sure you see his bling before he gives the song back to Kanye.

Kanye Pt.2

This second verse from Kanye is very short but is a great way to pick up where Pusha T left off. Kanye is afraid of losing his partner and simply doesn’t know how to live without her. Kanye knows he’s done wrong and he knows he’s hurt her but he truly loves her deep down inside past all the ignorance. Kanye wants the one thing he can never buy, Kanye West wants to love.

The Outro

The outro of “Runaway” is honestly something that cannot be put into words. Using a vocoder, Kanye sings the chorus of the song in such a beautiful way that I cannot help but have a tear in my eye. This nonsensical section is perhaps the most powerful part of the whole song as we see Kanye ending the song in an absolutely different way than he started it. This beautiful outro is what makes the song for me and I think Kanye really outdid himself on this track especially in the film. The film features Kanye performing which a multitude of ballet dancers perform until just a few remain for the remainder of the outro. I am thankful that this song exists because it induces many thoughts and feelings for people to ponder as they listen to this piece of art unfold around them. This song is a must listen to as it is so poetic yet beautiful that describing it is nearly impossible to someone who’s never heard it before. “Runaway” is the perfect song and I am thankful that we have this song in the world and I hope you feel the same way after you listen to this masterpiece.

 

Fixing the 2019 GRAMMY Awards

Every year the GRAMMY awards fail to give those who deserve an award an award. This year after some outrageous decisions, I decided to fix the nominations and winners for this year’s GRAMMY awards in the shape that I think it should be. I will only be making revisions to major categories in which I don’t agree with the winners. Also, I would like to say congratulations to Childish Gambino for all of his well-deserved wins.

Best Rock Album

Real Winner – From the Fires – Greta Van Fleet

My Winner: Artificial Selection – Dance Gavin Dance

Best Urban Contemporary Album

Real Winner – Everything Is Love –  The Carters

My Winner – The Kids Are Alright – Chloe x Halle

Best R&B Album

Real Winner – H.E.R. – H.E.R.

My Winner – Good Thing – Leon Bridges

Best Rap Song

Real Winner – “God’s Plan” – Drake

My Winner – “Lucky You” Eminem featuring Joyner Lucas

Best Rap Album

Real Winner- Invasion of Privacy – Cardi B

My Winners – Swimming – Mac Miller & Redemption – Jay Rock

Best Dance/Electronic Album

Real Winner – Woman Worldwide – Justice

My Winner – Oil Of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides – SOPHIE

Best Dance Recording

Real Winner – “Electricity” – Silk City & Dua Lipa

My Winner – “Crab Rave” – Noisestorm

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

Real Winner – “Shallow” – Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper

My Winner – “Audio” – LSD

Best New Artist

Real Winner – Dua Lipa

My Winner – Chloe x Halle

Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical

Real Winner – Pharrell Williams

My Winner – Kanye West

Album Of The Year

Real Winner – Golden Hour – Kacey Musgraves

My Winner – KIDS SEE GHOSTS – KIDS SEE GHOSTS

 

 

 

 

 

18 Songs of 2018

Just like last year, the rules for this year’s list are simple. One song per artist/album. These are my favorite songs from the year 2018. This list was cut from about 50 songs so even the 18th place song is still a high recommendation. Only songs from January 1st – December 31st.

Honorable Mention

This is America – Childish Gambino

Following 2016’s R&B, funk, and soul album Awaken, My Love!, Donald Glover decided to take a stance politically and used his expertise and artistry to paint the current situation of America. Tackling the problems with guns, violence, and discrimination in the country proved the be quite the task but Donald Glover somehow pulled it off with the music video. Unfortunately, that is what makes this song an honorable mention. This song is easily a top five song, however, the music video is the reason why it works so well. The music video for “This is America” gives more insight into the song and the message it is trying to deliver. So while this is my honorable mention I must admit that it is one of the best songs of 2018.

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18. Top Down On Da NAWF – Migos

When Culture II came out earlier this year I was thrilled by the number of great songs on the album. Unfortunately, these songs fell out of my rotation save “Top Down On Da NAWF” and “White Sand”. However, “Top Down On Da NAWF” was a song I really enjoyed listening to and would often play it every day before school. With the song taking a slower and more melodic tone than others, it highlights Quavo’s singing and gives Takeoff and Offset to shine with their short but sweet verses. I told myself when I first heard this song in January that I would have to include it on my list. So with Migos taking the 18th spot on my list, I can finally stay true to my promise.

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17. Fullest – cupcakKe

It is very difficult to describe cupcakKe. She often is disregarded when it comes to rising stars, however, if cupcakKe creates more songs similar to “Fullest” I can see her earning her spot on the charts. “Fullest” has one of the greatest beats of 2018 and cupcakKe matches its exuberance with ease. While hip-hop generally only considers a handful of female rappers to be “good” and “memorable”, cupcakKe breaks this barrier completely. Just like Nicki Minaj’s verse on Kanye West’s “Monster”, cupcakKe brings a new and refreshing style to the genre. If “Fullest” is just a hint of the potential that she has moving forward I think cupcakKe will be a huge name moving forward into the next year.

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16. Lovely – Billie Eilish ft. Khalid

Another rising star in the music industry is Billie Eilish who released the wonderful song “Lovely” this year. While Billie Eilish has a phenomenal voice on her own, she invites Khalid to create a unique blend of their two distinct voices. “Lovely” creates a sound that is grand and powerful thus allowing these two to show their chemistry and talent. This song reminds me of some of Lana Del Rey’s work, however, the youth that these two singers bring is incomparable to similar ballads. I hope these two work together in the future and perhaps we could see another album from Billie Eilish in 2019.

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15. FABRIC – BROCKHAMPTON

It’s very difficult to talk about Brockhampton without mentioning the removal of Ameer Vann in May. Ameer Vann played a crucial part in the group and was by far my favorite member, however, their first album without him introduced us to a very different Brockhampton. While Ameer Vann was one of the most prominent members in previous work, his removal gave Brockhampton a chance to reinvent themselves. “FABRIC” is a great example of the evolution of the group. Bearface who usually did closing tracks on previous albums was given a chance to shine once more on this album. “FABRIC” is the closing track to their album iridescence and allows almost every main member to shine except for Matt Champion. With Brockhampton’s excellent producers, “FABRIC” completes the story of the first chapter in their new life perfectly. Brockhampton once again proves that they are the future and I cannot wait to see what that future holds.

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14. Audio – LSD

2018 saw the creation of the electronic-pop group LSD which is comprised of Labrinth, Sia, and Diplo. These three artists are very well known on their own and their collaboration over the year was a great surprise to see. “Audio” is perhaps the year’s summer anthem as it features top-notch production from Diplo and the combined voices of Sia and Labrinth filling the song. While the lyrics aren’t all that special, the song really shines when it allows these artists to work as one solid unit. I cannot wait to see what the group has for 2019 as I firmly believe that they have what it takes to be a powerful group in the music industry.

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13. Watch – Travis Scott ft. Lil Uzi Vert & Kanye West

With the promise of Astroworld on the horizon, the hype would only be matched by Travis Scott’s best song of the year. “Watch” has Travis Scott recruiting Lil Uzi Vert and Kanye West to give some fun verses on a very memorable beat. While this song unfortunately never made it to Astroworld, Travis Scott did not fail to release one of his best songs last year.

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12. Champion – NAV ft. Travis Scott

Last year I said that NAV wasn’t the best rapper, nor should he be and that statement still stands today. NAV shines when he has another artist to work with and “Champion” proves that idea. “Champion” is yet another song where NAV discusses his fame and success, however, bringing along frequent collaborator Travis Scott results in a fun anthem for 2018.

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11. Mona Lisa – Lil Wayne ft. Kendrick Lamar

When Lil Wayne released Tha Carter V, there was a fairly sizable amount of hype surrounding it. With Lil Wayne having released his last album in 2013, Tha Carter V had expectations to meet. With a majority of the album being forgettable but fun tracks, one song that stands out the most on the album is “Mona Lisa”. With Lil Wayne and Kendrick Lamar discussing deceptiveness and betrayal in their romantic-lives, “Mona Lisa” ends up becoming one of the most powerful and thoughtful songs of 2018. While it is not a banger or even a hit, “Mona Lisa” stands as a testament to the concept of storytelling in hip-hop. Storytelling was a huge part of the genre in the early decades, however, bringing it into 2018 with two of the greatest rappers of all time is a great way to revitalize the element that has been a huge factor in the genre’s success.

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10. CLOUT COBAIN|CLOUT CO13A1N

Denzel Curry brings consciousness to hip-hop this year with his album TA13OO. The album covers a plethora of topics from suicide to love in an effort to present his perspectives to listeners. In doing so he released “CLOUT COBAIN” which ties fame, success, mental health, self-destruction, and Kurt Cobain together. Denzel Curry acknowledges the difficulties of achieving fame while still retaining his humanity and stability. Fame has led to many deaths in the world and Denzel Curry refuses to end up as another name on the list. Kurt Cobain notably is a member of the “27 Club” and as Denzel Curry is approaching his 27th birthday in a few years his worries are understandable. Denzel Curry doesn’t want to die nor does he want to travel down the wrong path, in “CLOUT COBAIN” Denzel Curry knows exactly how to stay on track in the coming years.

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9. I Was Never There – The Weeknd

Times have been tough for The Weeknd recently. Failed relationships have taken an obvious toll on him and subsequently his music. However, out of the ashes out sadness and depression, The Weeknd released his latest EP titled My Dear Melancholy. On this EP we were treated to many tremendous new songs by the heartbroken artist and “I Was Never There” is one of them. In this song, The Weeknd teams up with Gesaffelstein to create one of the most pleasant sounding tracks this year had to offer. While The Weeknd birthed these songs out of pure sadness and pain, his work will not go without praise as he once again made one of this year’s best songs.

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8. Paramedic! – SOB X RBE

The soundtrack for Black Panther undoubtedly surprised the world when it came out in 2018. Kendrick Lamar crafted such a powerful and catchy album that broke all expectations upon release. A major reason for this album’s success is the release of “Paramedic!” by SOB X RBE. This group is fairly new to the hip-hop world since they only started in 2016, however, within two years they had already caught the eye of one of the most prolific artist’s of all time. “Paramedic!” gives a strong introduction to the group as they swiftly glide across the beat with Kendrick Lamar providing the chorus. This song is definitely the best song to come off the album and has informed the world of SOB X RBE as they continue to put out solid music.

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7. Lucky You – Eminem ft. Joyner Lucas

Eminem came into the year with his emotions prepped and his words ready as he took his complaints to the microphone on Kamikaze. Eminem teamed up with Joyner Lucas to wage the war on talentless and ungrateful rappers. This song was also the first time I actually liked Joyner Lucas and would like to see him perform like this more often. Eminem continues to work on his rapping speed and once again shows his prowess as a wordsmith. In his attempt to set the younger generation in their place, Eminem sets a new standard when it comes to making clapback tracks.

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6. Sin – Young Thug ft. Jaden Smith

Young Thug is a prominent figure of the hip-hop industry. Whether it’s from his unique lyrics and overall style to his unusual flows, Young Thug always brings some level of excitement when he releases a new project. This year’s EP titled On The Rvn, put Young Thug’s typical hype level on a higher plane with the song “Sin” featuring Jaden Smith. With Jaden Smith and Young Thug being two of my favorite artists, their eventual collaboration would have to be great. However, saying that “Sin” is great would be an understatement. “Sin” gives Young Thug and Jaden Smith an opportunity to shine and play off of each other while being supported by a beat by London on da Track. If this is what Young Thug and Jaden Smith can do together, I cannot wait to see what they can do again in the future.

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5. Self Care – Mac Miller

2018, unfortunately, was the year that Mac Miller would pass away at the age of 26. Before his untimely death, Mac Miller released his final album titled Swimming. On his final project, Mac Miller seemingly made peace with his demons while still acknowledging their haunting effects and eventual return. “Self Care” is a chance for Mac Miller to right his wrongs as he attempts to give life a new chance. However, Mac Miller would only have a little over a month left before passing away. “Self Care” was Mac Miller’s final plea for change and acceptance during the short time he had left. Mac Miller was an incredible artist and I’ve loved following him throughout the years, however, while his physical presence is gone his music shall live on forever.

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4. Midnight Crusade – Dance Gavin Dance

Dance Gavin Dance surprised me more in 2018 than any other artist or band. “Midnight Crusade” was their first single from their latest album Artificial Selection. I have high regard for this album and that mostly stems from this song. “Midnight Crusade” is a beautiful masterpiece of a song that can be enjoyed for long-time fans of the band or even newer fans such as myself. Artificial Selection is the first album to come out since I’ve been a fan of the band due to hearing some songs from their 2016 album Mothership. Dance Gavin Dance really took 2018 by surprise with the release of “Midnight Crusade” and ultimately their eighth album.

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3. Praise The Lord (Da Shine) – A$AP Rocky ft. Skepta

While A$AP Rocky’s album Testing was met with mixed reviews, it produced one of this year’s greatest songs. “Praise The Lord” is a spectacle in every way imaginable. A$AP Rocky is at his highest point on this song and it only gets better when English rapper Skepta joins the track. With a fun beat that’s made from panpipes, and the duo putting out their best talent, this song was destined for success. Along with the “A$AP Forever REMIX”, A$AP Rocky had a great year for hit songs and Testing is to thank for these hits.

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2. Reborn – KIDS SEE GHOSTS

Deciding between “Reborn” and “Ghost Town” is almost impossible. Kanye West and Kid Cudi created the two best songs of 2018 and deciding which one was better than the other was an impossible task.”Reborn” is a very Kid Cudi centered song while “Ghost Town” is prominently Kanye West’s song (since it’s on his album). On the soulful and beautiful “Reborn”, Kanye West pours his heart into his verse on this song while Kid Cudi sings the rest of the song perfectly. I cannot recommend this song enough and it could potentially even be considered interchangeable with “Ghost Town” as the number one spot.

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1. Ghost Town – Kanye West ft. PARTYNEXTDOOR, Kid Cudi, & 070 Shake

My #1 pick for the best song of 2018 has to be “Ghost Town” by Kanye West on his 2018 album titled Ye. “Ghost Town” is a work of art that sees Kanye West enlisting long-time collaborator and best friend Kid Cudi along with 070 Shake who’s a newcomer that I absolutely adore. “Ghost Town” is the perfect song for the year as it is the personification of growth and maturity. With Kanye West realizing he’s getting older and his life won’t last forever, his “torch-passing” to artists such as 070 Shake is very admirable as he is preparing these young talented individuals for success. Whether or not that was the true meaning of “Ghost Town”, Kanye West once again shows how important he truly is in the music industry and that is why this is my favorite song of 2018.

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808s & Heartbreak: Welcome to Heartbreak

808s & Heartbreak is the prelude to what hip-hop music would become in the late 2000s into the 2010s. Kanye West created the album out of sorrow and sadness of his failed relationships and the passing of his mother Donda West. These factors drove a young Kanye to branch out and break the norms he had previously set within his previous albums. 808s & Heartbreak is a pop album through and through, however, it is forged by one of the most prominent rappers of all time. By combining his multifarious knowledge of writing and producing along with an inner desire and passion to express himself, Kanye West changed the face of hip-hop forever with 808s & Heartbreak.

Before 808s & Heartbreak, there had been emotional albums and songs from the hip-hop genre, however, none of them could surmount the narrative that Kanye West culminated in 2008. Before 808s & Heartbreakrappers such as 2Pac, Eminem, and Geto Boys were at the forefront when it came to emotional rap until the end of 2008. Kanye West set out to express himself and his feelings on the album and that is exactly what 808s & Heartbreak is. By switching his singing with auto-tune, Kanye set the guidelines for the future of hip-hop. Kanye West would even seek out T-Pain for advice on the program. Since Kanye West took this simple yet polished approach to auto-tune, his influence has remained fully intact over the years.

Kanye West decided that in addition to capitalizing on the capabilities of auto-tune, he would also prominently feature the Roland TR-808 drum machine that is referenced in the title of the album. By combining auto-tune and Roland TR-808 drum machine, Kanye West gave his fourth outing a chance to be one of the most sui generis albums in his entire career. Not only would this album be a talking point amongst fans and critics, but it also gave hip-hop a new sound to explore. There is a reason why so many artists in the musician industry have cited Kanye West as a major influence on their sound, style, and career since he first released The College Dropout in 2004. Kanye West isn’t afraid to take chances when it comes to his art and image. While he’s notoriously known for his interruption of Taylor Swift, sporadic rants, and odd views in regards to politics they never once have jeopardized his career in art, music, and fashion. Kanye West knows that his idiosyncratic choices in regards to his behavior and career will be rewarded with attention and profit. However, 808s and Heartbreaks wasn’t about the attention or the profit. 808s and Heartbreaks was about expression through his dark times leading up to its release.

While he was definitely a rising star at this point in his career, he wasn’t always jubilant. Shortly after Graduation was released in 2007, his mother and muse passed away from coronary artery disease following plastic surgery. Donda West was not only Kanye’s mother but also his biggest supporter. Kanye West appointed her as his first manager once he became serious about pursuing a career in the music industry. Donda West not only gave the world Kanye West, but she also gave Kanye the opportunity to achieve success. With Donda West playing such a crucial and supportive role in Kanye’s life, her passing was devastating. After this damaging and unfortunate loss, Kanye West would suffer again just five months later when his engagement was called off with Alexis Phifer. Losing the two most important women in his life at that time had a profound effect on Kanye West moving forward. After loss and heartbreak, Kanye had more than enough reason to create 808s & Heartbreaks.

As Kanye West was on track to be the mega-celebrity that he is today, he quickly realized that it wasn’t entirely what he thought it would be. In order to achieve his success, Kanye West would inevitably have to lose those that meant the most to him. As Kanye’s career was about to spike with the release of songs such as “Love Lockdown”, “Heartless”, and “Amazing” he had lost all that he cared for. From 2007 until the release of 808s & Heartbreak, Kanye West’s life was seemingly ruined. Everything Kanye West knew and loved was wiped out from existence within four years of starting his music career. Kanye West did what any capable musician would do and channeled his loss to create an album that can resonate with everyone. Everyone in life will suffer loss until eventually suffering one’s own, however, it is what we do with this heartbreak that conveys humanity unlike anything else. Whether it’s changing one’s ways, honoring promises of those who were lost, or making a piece of art we all have a way to cope through the sorrow and sadness. Heartbreak is a guarantee in life, but for Kanye West, he used the loss of the two women he loved the most to escalate his career and become one of the biggest names in the world.

 

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. Feel free to contact me for anything too! Thanks for your continued support! Also, give my Facebook Page a like for updates and notifications for all my future releases.

Kids See Ghosts Review

As the Cruel Summer continues, I decided to turn this week’s planned 3×3 Monday into yet another Kanye West-related album review. Next Monday should be the return to 3×3 Monday’s as I have a lot of different genres and songs to share. Here’s my track by track review of the new Kid Cudi and Kanye West album titled Kids See Ghosts.

Feel the Love

Kids See Ghosts starts off explosively with the opening song “Feel the Love”. “Feel the Love” begins with a clever and enjoyable introduction from Pusha-T which then evolves into Kanye West seemingly channeling his inner Desiigner combined with the “scoopty woop” vibes from “Lift Yourself” to create a unique and loud chorus to challenge Kid Cudi’s simple and melodic chorus. This song is without a doubt a hell of a way to introduce one of the most anticipated albums of all time. “Feel the Love” seems like the best way to set the youthful and personal tone that this album will take throughout its seven-song course. But the hype doesn’t stop here as it’s simply building up to another great song which is “Fire”.

Fire

If “Feel the Love” was a precursor to the hype levels of Kids See Ghosts, “Fire” subsequently is ultimately the payoff of this buildup. The song features both Kid Cudi and Kanye West reverting to their roots to deliver some serious and suave rhymes accompanied by a simple yet fun beat. Since both started off as rappers and have both gone on to invent and perfect their own sound, this return to form is beautiful. With Kid Cudi doing his usual chorus routine, “Fire” is inevitably what the name suggests. This is one of my favorite songs of this year especially due in part to the nostalgia I get when hearing my idols in their purest form once more.

4th Dimension

If “Fire” was any indication, Kid Cudi, and Kanye West once again continue this back-to-basics pattern into their next song “4th Dimension”. This song features a gospel drum beat over a sample from a Louis Prima’s song “What Will Santa Claus Say”. “4th Dimension” is seemingly a timeless classic as 1936 meets 2018 with the help of Kanye West’s immaculate sampling techniques. The powerhouse duo glides over the beat to deliver yet another memorable song on Kids See Ghosts. Kanye West once again displays that sampling can give life to songs that people otherwise wouldn’t know. This creativity is definitely a highlight of this 23-minute project.

Freeee

Unfortunately, if I had to pick my least favorite song from Kids See Ghosts, it would have to be “Freeee”. While this song is still great on its own, it’s the one song I find myself listening to the least out of the seven. “Freeee” is technically a sequel to “Ghost Town” from Ye, however, it fails to live up to the extraordinary sound and feeling that came from the original. With yet another Ty Dolla $ign feature, Kids See Ghosts could be better off without “Freeee”. I personally believe “Ghost Town” and “Freeee” should’ve been switched but regardless, it’s still a song to find enjoyment in.

Reborn

“Reborn” has got to be the best song on this album hands down. Taking Kid Cudi’s ability to slay any chorus combined with the sincere and down-to-Earth Kanye West we got from Ye is simply a recipe for greatness. Kid Cudi and Kanye West deliver perhaps their best song together of all time with “Reborn”. The message is powerful as Kid Cudi reminds us all to keep moving forward in our search for eternal peace and happiness that we all seek to find in life. This deep message combined with a catchy and dreamy beat is truly the best part of Kids See Ghosts. This constant suggestion to keep moving forward is something that has and surely will stick with me for the rest of my life. This song brings a tear to my eye as it allows me to see the possibilities that life has to offer. Even when life is at it’s absolute worst, it’s important to keep moving forward.

Kids See Ghosts

After the masterpiece that is “Reborn” we enter the final two songs of Kids See Ghosts. With a chorus by Mos Def/Yasiin Bey, the duo decide to go off on their second to last song. The self-titled song is well deserving of the name especially when you take into consideration the relaxed first verse from Kid Cudi that leisurely transitions into an amazing verse by Kanye West who then raps over the smooth beat. This song is very slick and mellow as each of the three rappers lend their voice to increase the level of suave that they have to offer on this track. The highlight of this song has to be the bridge by Yasiin Bey.

Civilization without society
Power and wealth with nobility
Stability without stasis
Places and spaces
Civilization without society
Power and wealth with nobility
Stability without stasis
Spaces and places

With all things considered, this song is perhaps the smoothest and most calm song on this album, which is absolutely refreshing. After this song ends we start the beginning of the end of Kids See Ghosts.

Cudi Montage

“Cudi Montage” is disputably Kid Cudi at his best. While this song is about the rising rates of violence and crime in the world, it also serves as a reminder that we can all be “saved”. With Kanye West detailing the unfortunate and all too real cases of violence in America and around the world, we’re offered refuge by Kid Cudi, Kanye West, and Mr. Hudson in the chorus. Their chorus is about staying strong while asking for forgiveness and assistance when it comes to beating the odds in their lives. This touching ending to an amazing album is a reminder that we can all beat the odds and be better people if we actively apply ourselves and seek out the positive people in the world. As I stated in my article about Kids See Ghosts, this album is ultimately about the friendship between Kid Cudi and Kanye West. Their friendship is the ideal example of the transcendental relationship we all seek to have with others in life. “Cudi Montage” ends the story of Kids See Ghosts on a positive and uplifting note that shows friendship and love will always overcome hate and adversity in life.

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. Feel free to contact me for anything too! Thanks for your continued support! Also, give my Facebook Page a like for updates and notifications for all my future releases.

Kids See Ghosts

I’ve waited eight years for this moment, yet was it really worth the hype and wait? Being a longtime Kanye West fan has had its ups and downs. However, at the end of the day, him and Kid Cudi are my two biggest inspirations and all-time favorite musicians. Kids See Ghosts, by all means, should be my favorite album of all time then right? Yet, it’s not. It’s not even in my top five. It’s not my favorite Kanye West nor favorite Kid Cudi album. What it is, however, is an experience and a testament to the idea of friendship. Kid Cudi and Kanye West have been friends for around a decade now ever since Kanye West saw the potential in a young Scott Mescudi and decided to bring him to his label G.O.O.D. Music in 2008. This friendship and comradery is the true idea behind Kids See Ghosts.

Kid Cudi and Kanye West have had an obvious bond throughout their music careers especially on Kanye West’s albums. Five out of eight of Kanye West’s albums feature Kid Cudi. Most of these songs end up being my favorites of the album. Songs such as “Waves” and “Ghost Town” are some of my favorite songs of all time. So why isn’t Kids See Ghosts, an album that’s purely Kid Cudi and Kanye West, not my favorite album of all time? Simply put, this album isn’t for the fans as much as it is for them.

My longest friendship is currently eight, almost nine years long and the one thing I’ve learned from this friendship is that differences will exist. We take opposing sides on almost everything, yet at the end of the day, we agree on what’s important and what needs to be attended to. This same rule goes for Kid Cudi and Kanye West.
Kid Cudi and Kanye West haven’t had the best relationship with constant falling outs and feuds seemingly occurring every few years, yet one thing is guaranteed: Kid Cudi will always appear on Kanye West’s albums.

This friendship is genuine and compassionate, to say the least. At the end of the day, these two rap legends are best friends, and more importantly brothers. So it is inevitably up to Kids See Ghosts to translate this connection into music form. And that’s exactly what Kids See Ghosts does at the end of the day. I don’t love this album because it’s my two favorite musicians making amazing songs, I love this album because it’s my two favorite musicians working together on what brought them together in the first place. Kids See Ghosts is a nod to the years of success, fighting, and association that the two have gone through in the past decade.

Kids See Ghosts is at it’s best when they each have their moment to display the chemistry between each other. Kid Cudi’s soulful hums and singing compliment Kanye West’s witty lyricism, while Kanye West’s ability to take the spotlight allow Kid Cudi to shine on the hooks and chorus to create a harmonious sound.
This album is more than just friendship, it’s about love. This love between friends cannot be broken and this album only further solidifies this claim. Just like my relationship with my friend, we always set our differences aside when it’s essential. We drop our opinions and ideologies in order to find common ground and allow our minds to see the other person’s point of view. This method is exactly what makes Kids See Ghosts work. By thinking that Kids See Ghosts is a thematic sequel to Ye, it allows for a clear and concise conclusion to the narrative of this new version of Kanye West.

Ye introduced us to a transformed Kanye West, a man of friends, family, and happiness. By turning the negatives in his life into positives, Kanye West successfully transitioned into becoming a happy and less-troubled man. However, he couldn’t have done it without Kid Cudi on “Ghost Town”. If we follow this theme into Kids See Ghosts we realize that Kid Cudi and Kanye West have always been there for each other whether it’s Kid Cudi being a good moral support and collaborator with Kanye West to Kanye West putting Kid Cudi on the map, both have been there for each other.

This is why Kids See Ghosts is an experience rather than an album in my opinion. This friendship is what the world needs to see in a world full of hate and anger. Positives and negatives are associated with everything in life, however, it’s crucial we highlight the good over the bad and that’s exactly what these songs do. Both of these legends are growing older and wiser each year but one thing is for sure: Kanye West will always feature Kid Cudi on his album no matter what. That’s what real friends do.

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!