Saint Kendrick: The Cinematic Nature of Kendrick Lamar Part I

This is the first part of a multi-part release exclusively on this page. 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 I. 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!

It is truly amazing if you think about it. At the heart of every culture lies those who can speak and lead the culture, fostering new ideas into this zeitgeist of the culture. The culture starts a movement that affects greater society and those are lead by the strong-voiced and courageous. Leaders like Martin Luther King, Bob Dylan or Dave Chappelle each left something in the fabric of their area of culture, whether they wanted to carry the cross of leadership. Thoughts of the unknown as well as those of contraband of those like Plato or Descartes echo through history and help people make sense of the absurd string of coincidence that we call life. More modern examples of those who make us challenge our thoughts do exist in people like Elon Musk, Jon Stewart, and Malala Yousafzai. Each one of these people in all different aspects of life has made an indelible mark on humanity that will be felt forever. Some of them continue to do so. To find an artist to create a sound that lasts forever is a rare trait to find. Finding a writer who can make you think and expand and challenge your vocabulary, thoughts, and beliefs is not a gift that everyone has. It is a rare find that only a handful of great artists, thinkers, and leaders progress the arts and culture as much as these people have.

And then there’s Kendrick Lamar.

“See a lot of y’all don’t understand Kendrick Lamar
Because you wonder how I could talk about money, hoes, clothes
God and history all in the same sentence
You know what all the things have in common?
Only half of the truth, if you tell it
See I spent twenty-three years on the earth searching for answers
’til one day I realized I had to come up with my own
I’m not on the outside looking in, I’m not on the inside looking out
I’m in the dead fucking center, looking around
You ever seen a newborn baby kill a grown man?
That’s an analogy for the way the world make me react
My innocence been dead
So the next time I talk about money, hoes, clothes
God and history all in the same sentence
Just know I meant it, and you felt it ’cause you too are searching for answers
I’m not the next pop star, I’m not the next socially aware rapper
I am a human mothafuckin’ being, over dope ass instrumentation
Kendrick Lamar”

Kendrick at the end of his first album set a template out for exactly what he was going to show the world in his music. Whether the scale of it was known at the time to us or even Kendrick himself, but this foresight at the end of his debut album set the world that Kendrick would guide us through with his music. Kendrick is a human being with joys and sorrows, triumph, and struggles, just like all of us and he echoes this throughout his music. He never presents himself as something he is not. His use of multiple points of view in his narratives does, however, give it several more layers of depth. We know who Kendrick is and we know how Kendrick feels but throughout each song, interlude, album and beyond but he shows other sides and perspectives and characters. We know that the story is being told by Kendrick and it is Kendrick’s story but he also never lets us forget that there are other people in this world inhabited by him because he is just like one of us. It’s these recurring characters that develop a piece of music and art that crosses through each of his works. Kendrick develops a theatrical world that, through his music, exists in a way that is reflective of ours but still wholly his. This is the reason that listening to a Kendrick Lamar album has that sense of cohesion at the end; the cinematic nature of his songwriting and storytelling.

3×3 Monday’s 5/28/18

Do It Now – Mos Def ft. Busta Rhymes

It took me a long time to get into Mos Def mostly due to my incompetence to listen to “good” music growing up. However, I’ve recently gotten into Mos Def and I enjoy quite a lot of songs by him today. “Do It Now” is without a doubt one of those songs I enjoy. I personally have a soft spot for rap songs that include duos who tend to rap back and forth. Artists like Kanye West and Big Sean is perhaps my favorite duo to do this, however, Mos Def and Busta Rhymes destroy it on the track. The sharing of the chorus is something I will always smile at when this song plays due to the perfect chemistry of these two rap legends.

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Blue Dream – Dance Gavin Dance

This weekend saw my feelings being exposed as “Blue Dream” was on repeat this week. This band was introduced to me by a few close friends and since then I’ve slowly become a fan of their work. “Blue Dream” is perhaps my all-time favorite Dance Gavin Dance song as it features vocalist Jonny Craig pushing himself to his limits vocal wise. While “Blue Dream” might be about a girl with blue eyes, it means a lot more to me. “Blue Dream” is a love ballad that I will always feel connected to. I cannot wait to see what Dance Gavin Dance has to offer next month with their new album Artificial Selection.

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I Was Never There – The Weeknd

My Dear Melancholy, is an EP that I believe was greatly overlooked compared to The Weeknd’s other releases. Nonetheless, this EP delivers on its name “Melancholy” with the song “I Was Never There”. This song could perhaps be one of my favorite songs this year especially with the production credit by Gesaffelstein. “I Was Never There” really captures the sound and image that The Weeknd first debuted with his notorious Trilogy albums. With sadness in his heart and depression in his head, The Weeknd perfectly details those feelings on this song and it shows. While the breaking up of him and Selena Gomez is undoubtedly the sole motivation of this sound, it could be considered a crucial moment in his life and subsequently his career which ultimately depends on his life experience. I hope to see The Weeknd happy again this year and come out with at least one more release before the year is over.

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Saturation 3 (Album) – Brockhampton

With Saturation 2 being one of my favorite albums of last year, Saturation 3 had high standards to beat in order to impress me. Unfortunately, after first hearing Saturation 3 when it was released I found it to still be inferior to Saturation 2. I decided to listen to it again this week and multiple occasions and found it to be more enjoyable than I first thought. Songs like “Alaska”, “Zipper”, and “Stupid” have really grown on me. Although I still find Saturation 2 to be their best album. With the recent removal of my favorite member, Ameer Vann I am curious to see how the group can continue after taking such a critical hit.

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Testing (Album) – A$AP Rocky

I have a love/hate relationship with A$AP Rocky’s music ever since he first debuted with LONG.LIVE.A$AP which I only really liked two songs from the album. However, two years later he would go on to release one of my favorite albums of all time with AT.LONG.LAST.A$AP. Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoy A$AP Rocky, A$AP Mob, AT.LONG.LAST.A$AP, and Testing. Testing is a very outlandish sounding album coming from someone like A$AP Rocky, except it somehow still works well as an A$AP Rocky album. The sampling he uses to craft most of the album makes it feel like a classic A$AP Rocky album. I plan to listen to this album more in order to get a better feel for it and might even revisit it after enough time has passed so that I may further evaluate and compare this album to his other work. Until then, A$AP Mob as a whole has yet to let me down and hope to see them do more collaborative and solo projects this year.

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Daytona (Album) – Pusha T

With King Push being renamed to Daytona, I’ve come to wonder what the album used to sound like back when it was King Push. Regardless, Pusha T delivers a solid album in 2018 and I am thoroughly impressed by this release. Being one of my most anticipated albums of 2018, it certainly didn’t disappoint by any means. With production by Kanye West and even a Kanye West feature, it’s good to see Kanye is still putting out quality work amongst all the recent criticism and debates. In 7 songs, Daytona delivers a short but sweet album that I have absolutely no complaints with. The lyrics, beats, and theme are all on point for a Pusha T album and I am glad this album was on par if not better than his last album which was King Push – Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude.

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The Nights – Avicii

This week I felt like some electronic “feel-good” music was needed and with the recent passing of Avicii, I decided to revisit some of his work. “The Nights” is very much so a “feel-good” song that shares an undertone of wisdom and experience. Taking into account the producer’s passing, songs like these seem to take on a dual meaning which in turn can give these songs a new purpose and story to tell. The passing of Avicii has only made his music more effective at invoking emotion through song and it is fully exemplified on “The Nights” where a father gives his son advice about remembering the good nights in life that we often would otherwise forget. Avicii was an amazing artist and his music continues to inspire fans like myself and many millions of others.

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Call on Me – Eric Prydz

Continuing this theme of electronic music for the week I decided to revisit Eric Prydz who many years ago produced some of my favorite electronic tunes. “Call on Me” is a very simple song that is filled with simple happiness. Coming out in 2004, this song samples the song “Valerie” by Steve Winwood in order to create the elementary yet enjoyable chorus. With a questionable music video and a great song, Eric Prydz really struck gold when he created “Call on Me” and it wouldn’t surprise me if his work was the foundation for this newer era of electronic producers.

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Halloween – Kodak Black

“Halloween” by Kodak Black is a song that I listen to on a daily basis and have on every Spotify playlist I’ve made. Is Kodak Black my favorite rapper of all time? No. However, he does know how to create dynamic songs that can be interpreted is great pieces of music due to his wild imagination and creative use of descriptions. Songs such as “No Flockin” and “Roll In Peace” further support my argument, however, “Halloween” is perhaps the best Kodak Black song to display this skill. Kodak Black is gritty and honest which in turn allows him to paint pictures with his words, this, therefore, allows for some truly great songs to come out every once in a while. I recommend “Halloween” to enjoy who enjoys a laid back rap song with an outstanding beat that will surely allow you to close your eyes and imagine what Kodak Black is going through on this song.

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Favorite Song Friday #2

5/15/18

“Another Part of Me” – Michael Jackson

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“Another Part of Me” was released in 1987 by Michael Jackson on his seventh album Bad. “Another Part of Me” was introduced to me when I attended the Captain EO attraction at Walt Disney World in Florida. Captain EO was produced by George Lucas, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, and starred Michael Jackson. Captain EO tells the story of Michael Jackson as Captain EO and his adventures to meet the “Supreme Leader” and give her the “gift”(music). This mission gets complicated when the crew crash lands and is subsequently captured which forces Michael Jackson to present the “Supreme Leader” the “gift”. The gift then turns her planet into a paradise and her people along with herself into beautiful Greek citizens. This song played during the show itself and then at the end when guests would leave the theatre.

The main reason I chose this song for this week’s FSF is the heart and soul that is heard throughout this track. Michael Jackson clearly believes that Captain EO and his gift can change the world in the film and therefore it translates perfectly into song form. Without having even seen Captain EO, one can enjoy this song simply due to it’s infectious and groovy beat and it’s storytelling aspects. “Another Part of Me” is a reminder that we can all change the world if we channel our inner peace and ultimate willingness to do good things in the world. This song informs the listener that changing the world is something anyone can do because we as humans simply have an inherent lust for doing the right thing even if that means showing a different and lesser seen side of yourself. “Another Part of Me” is a song I will always enjoy as it reminds me of the attraction at Disney that is unfortunately no longer operational, however, it also serves as a reminder to do good in the world and show people your “other side”.

3×3 Monday’s 5/21/18

Yet again another new series on this site, 3×3 Monday’s. Every week or two I plan to release my 3×3 chart of what I listened to each previous week along with an explanation of each choice. I hope my music suggestions can open you up to new genres, sounds, and artists as I highlight my favorite listens of the week.

Shoota – Playboi Carti ft. Lil Uzi Vert

Previously, I wasn’t a huge fan of Playboi Carti, however, this changed when he released “Shoota” on his album Die Lit. With an incredible introduction by Lil Uzi Vert followed by a memorable verse by Carti, “Shoota” has become one of my favorite songs of 2018 already. The iconic line of “Woke up with my toolie, what it do?” has been one I look forward to hearing every time I listen to this song. With this song’s release I am willing to look more into Playboi Carti and what else he has to offer assuming “Shoota” isn’t his best song out there.

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This Is America – Childish Gambino

Donald Glover has always been a person that I’ve been inspired by whether it’s from his acting career or music career, he simply is one of the best in both of these categories. His comedy performances aren’t even that bad either. However, it’s his work under Childish Gambino that has been a standout from me over the past seven years with his debut album Camp. Seven years later and two albums later we have a new single from Gambino titled “This Is America”. The release of “This Is America” was accompanied by the release of a stellar music video that highlights everything wrong in America. “This Is America” is not only a strong political statement, it’s also a celebration of freedom of speech and how Gambino’s connections in the music industry can come to life. With supporting lyrics by Young Thug, 21 Savage, and Quavo intertwined with others, Gambino really is in charge of the industry in this single. If “This Is America” is the new sound that Gambino is going after since his latest album Awaken! My Love, I for one cannot wait to see what this new album is going to offer.

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

With the release of AstroWorld seemingly being any day now, the first single from the album is monumental. “Watch” is an anthem in every aspect of the word. Travis Scott links up with Lil Uzi Vert and Kanye West to produce one of the most fun and hype singles of this year so far. With clever features by Uzi and Kanye, “Watch” feels like just a hint of what we will be hearing on the upcoming AstroWorld. “Watch” not only makes me excited for AstroWorld, it also makes me excited to see what else Lil Uzi Vert plans to do this year along with Kanye West’s two albums due in June.

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Bubblin – Anderson .Paak

Anderson .Paak is one of the greatest working musicians currently, and “Bubblin” is a testament to this statement. “Bubblin” is fun, fast, and inventive as Anderson .Paak seemingly glides over the beat with playful and intuitive rhymes. Since his work on Dr. Dre’s album Compton, I’ve been a huge fan of .Paak and this song only reaffirm my love for this artist. One of the greatest and most hardworking musicians, Anderson .Paak absolutely earns my praise and recommendation for “Bubblin”.  I cannot say this enough, but if you haven’t already, listen to his second album Malibu especially if you enjoyed “Bubblin”.

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Reckless (Album) – NAV

The year is 2016, Travis Scott just released Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight and one song, in particular, stands out to me more than the rest. “Beibs in the Trap” is that song. However, NAV is the main reason why that song works so well. Fast-forward to 2017 and NAV releases two projects, NAV Perfect Timing which both became favorites of mine very quickly. Now we’re in 2018 and NAV releases yet another project called Reckless. While not my favorite of the three, Reckless proves once again that NAV knows how to be entertaining. Songs like “Champion”, “Wanted You”, and “Faith” explore NAV’s synergy with feature rappers such as Travis Scott, Lil Uzi Vert, and Quavo while songs such as “Never Change”, “Hold Your Hand”, and “Freshman List” show his versatility on his own. The XO artist continues to impress me every release, and I am looking forward to hearing from NAV again this year.

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In Da Club – 50 Cent

Earlier this month I decided to make a Spotify playlist filled with songs that reminded me of the Summer season. “In Da Club” by 50 Cent fits the category of Summer music quite well. While 2003 50 Cent is one of my favorite artists, Get Rich Or Die Tryin isn’t one of my favorite albums. Regardless, however, “In Da Club” is the definition of a hit single from this era. Arguably, “In Da Club” is a timeless single that still holds up to this day and is almost if not better now than it was then. 50 Cent puts his talent on display while Dr. Dre’s production ascends this song into a whole different tier of excellence. This rap song is one of the greatest songs of all time and I look forward to listening to it often.

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Midnight Crusade – Dance Gavin Dance

I got into Dance Gavin Dance last year, and I hate myself for not getting into them sooner. “Midnight Crusade” is perhaps on my list of favorite songs of all time, and with that, it has a very high replay value. Since it’s release in April, I’ve listened to this song at least once a day and plan to continue doing so until the end of time. “Midnight Crusade” is such a fantastic song that I’ve recommended it to at least 15 people this month alone. Tilian Pearson brings this song to life with his dynamic synergy with the rest of the band as they escalate my expectations for their new album Artificial Selection. I’m very happy to call myself a Dance Gavin Dance fan now as the release of “Midnight Crusade” only further exemplifies my love for this band.

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Lost Y’all Mind – Kilo Ali

While creating my Summer playlist I came across an artist named Kilo Ali, to which I’m quite happy I came across him. Kilo Ali makes bass music and more specifically makes bass music similar to Miami bass which has quickly become one of my favorite genres recently. While not the most successful or popular artist of this genre, Kilo Ali holds his own on “Lost Y’all Mind”. This 1997 song from his album Organized Bass makes me thankful for discovering him while searching for Miami bass songs to add to my playlist. With a song that’s 21 years old, it holds up surprisingly well and the production and bass are still very well constructed even to this day. I hope to find other lesser-known artists in the Miami bass genre, but Kilo Ali is definitely a highlight of the genre in my opinion.

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Audio – LSD

LSD is a collaborative group that consists of Labrinth, Sia, and Diplo. Their first release “Genius” is a very fun and rhythmic song, however, their second release “Audio” is what really got my attention. “Audio” is perhaps my favorite Summer-oriented release of this year so far and for good reason too. Sia’s voice is the perfect choice for this super-group as she simply makes every electronic-pop song stand out from the rest. Combined with Diplo’s production and Labrinth’s lyrics, “Audio” is the recipe for a successful pop song in 2018. There is nothing bad about this song, and every listen makes me like it even more than the last. If I can say anything, it’s that I will be playing this song in my car on every drive and trip this Summer.

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What To Expect: Summer 2018

With school being finished for the Summer, I intend to put out a lot more content over the next few months. With this statement, I figured now would be a good time to detail the upcoming releases and projects I want to publish this Summer.

I appreciate any and all feedback and suggestions for things that you, my audience want to see me write. Thank you so much for all of the support since April of last year and I look forward to seeing what else we can come up with!

Projects In Progress:

Top 50 Albums List

Favorite Song Friday’s

Explicitly – article

Saint Kendrick: The Cinematic Nature of Kendrick Lamar – article

Projects To Do:

Weekly/Biweekly 3×3 album review

Kanye West album review

Brockhampton album review

More artist highlight articles

Possible Projects:

Collabs

Guest Appearances

Reviews of older albums

More personal oriented articles

BONUS: 

In the upcoming weeks, you can look forward to the creation of the SoundCloud from a collective group of musicians that I associate with. This SoundCloud will be a side project that I and others will pour our heart and soul into in order to spread music and get out our dreams. So please give this a follow and a share as we will be debuting work on it very soon.

 

Favorite Song Friday

With school finally being over for the Summer vacation, I have decided to start a new series here called: Favorite Song Friday. The name says it all, and every Friday(hopefully) I will release an article containing one of my favorite songs and my reasoning behind the choice. None of these songs are in order nor does this account for all of my favorite songs. This will be my first planned series of releases and I would appreciate any feedback and criticisms that one may have. Anyways, here’s my first song of Favorite Song Friday.

5/18/18

“Mind Playing Tricks on Me” – Geto Boys

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“Mind Playing Tricks on Me” was released in 1991 by the Geto Boys on their third album We Can’t Be Stopped.  This song was more than likely introduced to me by my Dad, however, many fans of this song could trace it’s recent popularity to the hit game Grand Theft Auto V. “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” details the story of Scarface, Willie D, and Bushwick Bill experiencing illusions and hallucinations as they go about their days. Each rapper experiences a different illusion such as Scarface suffering from paranoia about being set up potentially getting shot, Willie D imagines being tailed by someone he did wrong while driving about, and finally, Bushwick Bill thinks he and his crew are in the middle of a fight with a cop. Each verse ends with each rapper realizing their mind was indeed playing a trick on them and that they imagined every situation due to paranoia and other mental-health related issues.

The main reason I adore this song is the beat that is sampled from Isaac Hayes’ classic “Hung Up On My Baby”. The beat matches perfectly when paired with the Geto Boys chronicling these unusual situations they find themselves thinking that they are in. Another strength of the song is the harrowing detail and lyricism that is explored each rapper’s verse. The animosity and terrors that the Geto Boys encounter in these illusions paint a very vivid and realistic into their lives and what they experience through these imaginary situations. This song will forever be a favorite in my book simply because this song is timeless. I enjoy this song driving in the Summer, doing school work in the Fall, and even working out in the Spring. “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” is and forever will be one of my favorite songs of all time and that is why I chose it to be my first entry in this series.

Experimentation

Hip-hop is just one genre in a world where at least 1,260 others exist. With hip-hop surpassing rock music recently in terms of popularity it is essential to understand how flexible this genre can be. With Kendrick Lamar beating out Taylor Swift in consumption last year, the fight for success is more evident than ever. Successful hip-hop artists like Drake and Wiz Khalifa have already started working on transforming their sound away from modern rap into a more popish sound. Songs like “Hotline Bling” and “See You Again” ran the charts for a considerably long amount of time during their peak. The secret to their success is simply merging two of the most dominant genres into one super-genre.

Pop-Rap has been on the rise lately as artists are using this genre to their advantage to extend their fan base and increase sales and streams. Lately, pop artists have decided to also engage in the pop-rap culture, however, most find little to no success in this transition. Most notably, Miley Cyrus attempted to make a name for herself in the pop-rap genre in 2013-2015 which led to mixed reviews. This leads us to someone who has been able to subtly make her presence in hip-hop known while still maintaining her status as a pop icon, this is Lana Del Rey.

Lana Del Rey has always been considered unconventional in her career as a pop artist. Lana Del Rey can be described as a modern woman who lives her life in the past. Her music is very reminiscent of 1950’s and 1960’s American pop music, however, her modern twist on this style creates a particular sound that she has undoubtedly perfected over the years. Her voice is sincere and her stories are grim, yet this phenomenal artist continues to surprise fans and the charts. Her second album, Born to Die is a multi-platinum classic that spent over 300 weeks on the charts. By 2015 Lana Del Rey had the formula and sound perfected, her career as a musician was untouchable. Despite all of her achievements, she continued to keep the industry on their toes with her 2017 album Lust For Life.

Lust For Life seems like a typical Lana Del Rey album at first glance, however, this 14 track album deviated from the formula. This is the first Lana Del Rey album to have features on it from other artists. This addition to the album opened up a new realm of possibilities, especially within the hip-hop genre. By this point in time, The Weeknd already had Lana featured on his albums, Beauty Behind The Madness and Starboy. Normally, an artist having features wouldn’t matter except this is Lana Del Rey who hasn’t had a single feature during her five-year career. Features such as Stevie Nicks and Sean Lennon are nice additions to the album, but the real focus is on “Lust For Life”, “Summer Bummer”, and “Groupie Love”. These three songs feature popular names in hip-hop with The Weeknd, A$AP Rocky, and Playboi Carti being featured on this album.

Lana Del Rey auspiciously integrated her pop song with modern rappers. On her fifth album, she singlehandedly combined the two genres seamlessly. This combination of old American sound mixed with modern hip-hop is huge when examined. Two sounds that never coexisted at the same time in history finally coming together in 2017 is phenomenal. In three songs Lana Del Rey accomplished what some couldn’t even do in a whole album. This move not only opens the doors for future collaborations, but it also allows for her fanbase to grow as members of the hip-hop culture can be introduced to her. Pop-Rap was not created by Lana Del Rey, however, she was the first to make a new sound through this experimentation between two separate genres. With these new options on the table, Lana Del Rey should be held to a higher standard now, as she will undoubtedly continue to surprise everyone with her amazing talent and ability to merge completely opposite sounds and styles into one.

 

10 Best Albums of 2018 (1/1-3/22)

This year is shaping up to be another great year for music, so here are 10 of my favorite releases so far. Mixtapes and EP’s are included.

January

Culture II – Migos

After last year’s Culture, the Migos had a lot to live up to with Culture II. Their unique use of the triplet flow would need to carry them to different heights in 2018, however, Culture II had some trouble finding its footing. With 24 songs and a lot of repetition, the Migos couldn’t necessarily top last years work. Regardless, Culture II does stand on its own when not being compared to the group’s previous work. With a majority of the songs being nothing but pure hype and top-notch features, the Migos deliver an above average album. With songs like “White Sand”, “Walk It Talk It”, and “Top Down On Da NAWF” being some of the better songs on this album, the Migos can once again dominate the charts and prove once again that they are one of the greatest musical trios of all time.

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February

Amen – Rich Brian

Debut albums are imperative in modern music. The debut of an artist can be the make or break for their career now more than ever before. Rich Brian needed Amen to work so he can fully transition from music video star to respectable artist in the rap genre. Amen did an exceptional job at introducing the world to Rich Brian, however, this is greatly attributed to his style. The look, style, and sound of Rich Brian scream eccentricity. This unusualness greatly benefits Amen. Rich Brian created some of my favorite songs on Amen such as “Trespass” and “See Me” which each deliver a satisfactory level of hype and appreciation towards Rich Brian’s work. While this album does has some flaws and may not be for everyone, I believe that for a debut release Rich Brian is on the right path.

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Black Panther (The Album) – Kendrick Lamar

With movie soundtracks on the rise, it only makes sense that Kendrick Lamar would be the one to bring the best lyrics, production, and guests to Black Panther. Kendrick’s connections are what really make this album a high-caliber release in 2018. Kendrick Lamar’s voice echoes all over this album as he puts several guests on the spot and allows them to voice their own interpretation of what the Black Panther is about. Songs like “Paramedic”, “X”, and “Pray for Me” are just a few of the prodigious songs that can accurately portray the trials and tribulations that Black Panther faces in his billion dollar grossing movie. Hopefully, this soundtrack can be the spark that lights the way for more outstanding movie soundtracks in the future.

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2 Heartless – Moneybagg Yo

Moneybagg Yo’s 13th mixtape 2 Heartless is an exhilarating way to start the year for the Memphis rapper. After a solid string of releases in 2017, Moneybagg was destined for greatness this year, and thankfully he delivered. 2 Heartless proves a point in its 18 songs. Moneybagg is here to stay, and his greatness will stretch for years to come. With 14 solo songs and four features, Moneybagg is able to drive this mixtape in the right direction with his heartfelt storytelling about his quest for money, fame, and love. This album is a great listen in one sitting, however, a few songs can be enjoyed outside of the project. Surely, this is not the last we’ll hear from Moneybagg this year and any future releases have a lot to live up to with 2 Heartless being a great way to start his year.

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Victory Lap – Nipsey Hussle

Nipsey Hussle blew open the gates this year with his explosive release: Victory Lap. In 16 songs Nipsey Hussle invigorates the iconic West Coast sound in 2018. Nipsey Hussle seriously delivered on his debut album as he paints a vivid picture of gangs, money, and music in California. Although being named Victory Lap, Nipsey Hussle details his troubles from gangs and violence that eventually propelled him to stardom and success. After almost a six-year grind, Victory Lap is Nipsey Hussle’s trials and tribulations finally come to fruition on this debut album. I can confidently say that this album is going to be a staple of West Coast rap and a huge victory for Nipsey Hussle as he continues to follow his ambitions for success.

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If There Is Light, It Will Find You – Senses Fail

Senses Fail took a rather softer approach this year on their seventh album, If There Is Light, It Will Find You. The harsh and abrasive sound from 2015’s Pull the Thorns from Your Heart is dropped in favor of a more melodic and cordial concept. This style works wonders on this album as it shows a style reminiscent of the middle 2000s. This revitalization of their older sound is pulled off very well and also greatly benefits from having the lead singer Buddy Nielsen writing all of the lyrics for this album. Senses Fail have proven time after time again that they are one of the few dominant emo bands to stand the test of time, and this album only adds to that statement. Hopefully, their next release can build upon and improve this older sound and breathe new life into the genre. Until then, If There Is Light, It Will Find You is an essential album for 2018 and vital for the resurgence of the emo genre.

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Gangin – SOB X RXE

After a huge success on the Black Panther album, SOB X RBE once again delivers their second album in two years. Gangin once again displays the talent that this quartet has to offer. With loud beats and quick lyrics SOB X RBE continue the unique sound that they displayed to their fullest potential on “Paramedic” from the Black Panther album. With two impressive releases in two years, SOB X RBE simply cannot do wrong it seems. Their outlandish sound is refreshing in such an oversaturated genre. Songs like “Once Upon a Time” and “Carpoolin'” are some of my favorites off this album, and I cannot wait to see what else this quartet has to offer in the near future.

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March

Planet – Tech N9ne

Planet is a huge landmark for Tech N9ne’s career as it’s his 20th album release. Since his debut in 1999, Tech N9ne has released at least one album almost every year since. With this incredible track record, a few of his releases have had their problems. With last year’s Storm being one of his weaker albums, Tech N9ne had to reinvent himself to get back on track to crush his 20th album. Planet is worthy of taking this 20th slot as it shows Tech N9ne displaying almost 20 years of technical ability. Tech N9ne is a master of his craft and Planet is a reassurance to this claim. Planet is considerably a slower paced albums which is great for Tech N9ne as he’s allowed to demonstrate his rhyming skill to the fullest extent. After 20 albums, and numerous features and collaborations Tech N9ne continues to show the world the power of Strange Music and more importantly the power of words. If Planet is any indication, Tech N9ne unquestionably has another 20 albums left in him to deliver to the fans.

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? – XXXTentacion

XXXTentacion delivers his heart and soul on his second album, ?. This album is a great way to start off the year for XXXTentacion and continues to solidify his authenticity for being one of the more influential artists of this modern age. ? benefits from the range and versatility that XXXTentacion has to offer. Songs like “I Don’t Even Speak Spanish Lol” wouldn’t normally be seen in this context nor would it even be good, however, XXXTentacion has cracked this formula on ?. With 17 and ? under his belt, XXXTentacion has had an impressive run over the past two years and I doubt we will be seeing him slow down anytime soon.

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Corinthiax – Wicca Phase Springs Eternal

Wicca Phase Springs Eternal has become quite the favorite of mine recently, especially with his collaborations with former GothBoiClique member Lil Peep. After his work with Tigers Jaw, Wicca Phase has been a solo artist for a few years now as he continues to explore himself through music. Corinthiax is another strong release from Wicca Phase as he continues his reflection of love and happiness. With this short EP only having five songs, the emotion conveyed is visible in every second of each song. With songs like “Corinthiax” and “High Strangeness”, Corinthiax has something to offer for everyone. With this being his first release of 2018, I believe we will be seeing some more quality releases from Wicca Phase Springs Eternal this year as he continues to excel at mastering his distinctive sound.

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Expression Pt.2 – ?

One of the more controversial figures of modern music has made his intentions clear with his newest album titled ?. XXXTentacion has had a rough start whether it be from Drake, legal issues, or even betrayal. Even with a bumpy origin and difficult career, XXXTentacion has been creating some of the most out-there music lately. His unique take on music has seen him ranging from aggressive to sad often, however, on ? his full potential is realized. XXXTentacion is arguably one of the most talented musicians in modern music, but why?

XXXTentacion originally got famous off of “Look At Me”, which is a very abrasive and aggressive track that many people celebrated especially during his time spent incarcerated. Following his release, he released 17 which became yet another large topic of discussion. People were confused when they heard this aggressive rapper making slow, sad, and thought-provoking music which stemmed from depression and obsession. 17 was a turning point in his career as it not only showed his versatility, it also showed his true feelings and thoughts. These thoughts are quite saddening and hint at an internal struggle of love and hate for those he cares about. The album introduced us to a new side of XXXTentacion one that would be fully explored on ?.

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The album is a further indoctrination into the mind, heart, and soul of XXXTentacion. This album is far from rap, as it has a very slow and angsty sound. XXXTentacion steps out of his comfort zone and crosses the genre line especially on songs like “NUMB” and “Changes”. is XXXTentacion showing his true intent and feelings, while still keeping his signature style intact at times. The sound of ? is rare as it has hardly been seen coming from an artist who started their career in rap. Lil Peep and Trippie Redd are roughly the only comparative musicians that come to mind when discussing this sound. The alternative nature of ? what makes it work so well, the sound is refreshing yet powerful.

In 18 tracks, XXXTentacion accomplishes what many artists can’t. invokes emotion from the deepest depths of one’s psyche. shows the grim reality of life through deep lyrics and slow beats. XXXTentacion has departed from his rap roots on ? and I hope this transition continues to see the light of day. With each release, XXXTentacion is slowly dissipating music norms as he continues to put out another high-quality album that deviates from the standard trap sound that modern rap has fallen into.

 

 

Legends Pt.3

Growing up, I was exposed to a lot of music. I can remember riding in the car with my Dad and hearing the usual rotation of Eminem, D12, and Ludacris shake the car as we went places. However, one song stood out to me like no other, I didn’t know what the words were nor the story it was telling but I particularly remember falling in love with the beat.

Eventually, I wouldn’t hear that song again until I was in high school; simply because I could not remember who made it or what the words were. “One More Road To Cross” immediately found it’s way into my iPod library along with the rest of DMX’s discography. Out of all of the rappers, I grew up listening to, DMX amongst few has had an everlasting impact on me and continue to be one of my favorite musicians of all time.

Earl Simmons, otherwise known as DMX is singlehandedly one of the greatest rappers to enter the game. At the time of his entrance, not many rappers could talk about both their feelings and their hood status on the album. No other rapper had such a menacing and aggressive intro track than DMX when he released It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot in 1998. However, the album that grabbed my attention as a 14-year-old was his third album …And Then There Was X this album was all I listened to at that time. While most of the kids in my school were listening to newcomers such as Big Sean, Tyga, and J.Cole I listened heavily to DMX. Every song that DMX has created shows human emotion to the fullest extent that can be relatable and inspiring. DMX is a true thug, but often shows a religious aspect on his albums which makes DMX the perfect blend of good and evil.

And Then There Was X is the album that really inspired my childhood interests and one of the albums that propelled me deeper in the rap genre. Not many albums could capture my attention like this one did almost seven years ago. With one of my favorite tracks growing up (“One More Road to Cross”) being on this album, the rest of the songs are just a bonus in my opinion. Each song serves a purpose and tells a deep and heavy story about the everyday situations of life and death that DMX faces with his lifestyle. DMX even has the party staple of the 2000’s “Party Up” on this album.

1999 was a great year for rap with albums from Eminem, Mos Def, Jay-Z, and Dr. Dre coming out. DMX happened to just come out at the right time to be associated with these other rap legends. With a generous mix of emotion and hype, DMX nails this album and deserves to be considered a classic in all regards. With this classic album and many other great projects under his belt, it’s safe to say that DMX is a legend in the rap genre.