Sunday, 22 December 2013

Childish Gambino's "Because The Internet": A Wonderful Journey Pt. 2

On December 6th, Childish Gambino released his highly anticipated sophomore album Because The Internet, the follow up to his 2011 classic Camp. Being a very personal album to me, this follow up was eagerly anticipated, especially after his mixtape Royalty. I saw an interview where he said mixtapes are like practice for him and I assumed that the purpose behind Royalty was to earn some credit and popularity with the large amount of high profile features (such as ScHoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, Ghostface Killah and many others) and the southern influenced boom-bap production. So while I was looking forward to this album, I was a bit afraid that it wouldn't blow me away the same way Camp did. The single 3005 didn't hold my interest at the time but some of the leaked tracks such as Yaphet Kotto and Sweatpants did hold my attention. With him announcing that it would be a concept album (by releasing a script), I couldn't wait for the release of the album. Upon release, I thought Childish Gambino has once again released a monster of an album that is beyond what I was expecting.

I read a lot of comments about how the album shouldn't be listened to without reading the script because it would feel very disjointed. However, I decided not to read the script because I prefer analyzing albums by myself. From the moment the album starts, you can tell that Gambino is experimenting with a lot of different sounds. Crawl opens up with a huge beat, filled with a yelling sample and female vocals in front of heavy layered production. It is a very catchy start and Gambino spits some great bars like "They wanna smoke niggas when they Black & Mild so we acting out" and the booty line was hilarious! The song then transitions into a string section instrumental with the female vocals creating a lot of dramatic contrast between the different sounds. The next song is WORLDSTAR which is a mockery or satire of the famous website itself. The beat is very spacious and hypnotizing and Gambino critiques Worldstar and its users in a very serious yet still funny way. The Worldstar chanting creates atmosphere and the beat switch up near the end is excellent as well.

Shadows is a highlight track because it is a return to Gambino's introspective side when it comes to relationships. Throughout the song, he describes his feelings towards a girl and how much she means to him. It may sound corny but it works well for Gambino and the beat switch up again in the end alludes to a lot of negative energy, implying that she may not have the same feelings back or that she may be seeing someone else. The importance of this song is that it heavily influences the next track Telegraph Ave. which is Gambino running red lights and stop signs trying to get to his girl as fast as possible taking the risk of dying because he would rather die than not be with her. With tracks like these, it is obvious that Gambino has gotten a lot more personal, deep, and introspective with his music. The melody throughout the track and the Lloyd sample feel so elegant and fitting. 

Sweatpants then follows, which like I said was already a familiar track because it leaked  before the album's release. The beat is too hype, and it features Gambino doing his classic spitting, wordplay, and punchline jokes. He paints himself as an asshole rich kid who is above everyone hence "Don't be mad coz I'm doing me better than you doing you" and all the other braggadocios punchlines. It is a very pleasant change in mood from the seriousness of the previous tracks. 3005 comes right after, but to be honest with more listens, it becomes catchier and catchier to the point were it becomes very tolerable and not as corny. The Party and No Exit bring the serious tones back to the album, showcasing how insecure and isolated Gambino feels. In The Party, Gambino invites friends, who as a result spread the rumor about the party, and his house ends up being filled with strangers. He then snaps and tells them all to "Get the fuck outta my house!". In No Exit, Gambino is frustrated about his life and view of reality and he finds himself becoming more of a recluse. 

I feel like if I continue talking about individual tracks at this point, I may never end because the tracks after No Exit are very coded and open to interpretation. They tie the whole album together for me and add soul to the album. Earth: The Oldest Computer and Life: The Biggest Troll may be some of the deepest and most personal tracks to come out this year. He reflects on the idea of life itself being so wonderful and beautiful, yet insignificant in the end because we are destined to die since the day we were born. In the last few lines of the album, he says "Life's the biggest troll but the joke is on us/Yeah, the joke's you showed up". This paints a picture of how deep of a lyricist Gambino is, and how he should be taken more seriously as an artist and even a poet from now. 

In conclusion, Because The Internet is by far one of the best albums of the year regardless of genre. It's experimentation, unique sounds, stellar production, and excellent lyricism keep the momentum going for the entirety of the album (which stands at 19 tracks!). The album also contains short instrumental interludes which tie the whole album together, and this shows how Gambino is one hell of a producer as well (Props to Ludwig Goransson also). You might not get it at first listen, but you eventually will which makes it such a great experience. I highly recommend this album so got out and cop it and support great Hip-Hop. Happy Holidays!


Favorite Track(s): 
Crawl, Shadows, Telegraph Ave, Sweatpants, The Party, No Exit, Pink Toes (Feat.  Jhen√© Aiko), Earth: The Oldest Computer (The Last Night) (Feat. Azealia Banks), & Life: The Biggest Troll .

Least Favorite Track(s): 
The Worst Guys (Feat. Chance The Rapper) (IF I HAD TO CHOOSE ONE)

What are your thoughts of the album? Do you think the experimentation worked? Is Childish Gambino more mature or is he as corny as ever? Let me know by leaving a comment!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

The Marshall Mathers LP 2 - Eminem - ALBUM REVIEW

I wasn't going to let one of my most anticipated album of the year go without me talking about it on this blog. Everyone that follows this blog knows that I have mentioned the original The Marshall Mathers LP as one of my favorite, if not my favorite album of all time. The way Eminem displayed his flows and told stories, whether comical or serious, on that album made it a classic to a lot of people. It remains to this day one of the few albums to go Diamond and it has won multiple accolades including Best Rap Album at the Grammys and was named the best rap album by a white rapper by Rhapsody. So clearly, this album means a lot to many people just the same way Illmatic or Me Against The World does. How could Eminem possibly try to create a sequel to such a monumental album?

I will admit I lost hope for this album shortly after it was announced. When Berzerk came out, I was absolutely excited. I loved the old school Beastie Boys feel of the track, it was catchy as hell without sounding to poppy (coughs*Not Afraid*coughs), and Eminem sounded like he was going back to his classic Shady roots. He was rapping coherent and not using the same yelling flow he picked up on Forever and Drop the World (See what Cash Money has done?). Survival came out as well but I wasn't worried about that track because I heard it was a Call of Duty bonus edition track. It sounded like a Recovery leftover track and had a very weak hook. Then Eminem dropped Rap God... When this track dropped, I had it on repeat for a while. The beat and hook weren't great, but it was obvious what that track was: an epic display of flows. Eminem had at least 5 different and unique flows on that track, including slow, aggressive, internal rhymes and the infamous super sonic verse. He truly proved that he was illegible for the title it represents. How could he go wrong now? Then The Monster came out... that track was terrible. It was probably the most bubblegum instrumental he has ever rapped on and Rihanna's hook was unbearable. Then it was announced Survival would make the album and I started to get worried. Were we gonna get another Recovery with MMLP2 but without the yelling? Thankfully we didn't.

I'm not gonna lie and say I waited for the actual release date of the album to listen to it because that would be stupid. The album leaked a week early and I wanted to know what I was investing my money into before hand. The album opens up with Bad Guy, a narrative over a simple spacious beat from the perspective of Stan's younger brother Mitchell coming back to murder Eminem (btw you don't realize this till maybe the 2nd or 3rd verse). I thought this track was pretty good but I didn't absolutely love it till it switched up beats in the end and Eminem just went the fuck off. He was aggressive, apologetic, and his flow was dangerous. I got excited. I wasn't crazy over the hook (btw we'll get into the hooks later) but it was tolerable. A skit that continues upon Criminal comes and introduces Rhyme or Reason, a highlight of this album. I loved the Zombie's sample (I remember hearing it on Logic's Young Sinatra) and Eminem's flow was crazy good, the Yoda imitation was hilarious. He raps about some of the things he went through to obtain his success, and of coarse his non-existing relationship to his dad. So Much Better follows and it is classic Shady, taking shots at people and trends with no fucks given. Asshole is a great track with a monstrous beat (Alex Da Kid actually comes through this time) and Eminem's immaculate flow showcases, rapping about how and why he's an asshole; classic Shady again. Berzerk and Rap God were better than never through the context of the album. Brainless sounded like a more modern MMLP track, which I loved. Then the album hit a low point for me...

This album isn't without its flaws (and they're terrible ones too), as I have skipped talking about a couple of songs from the beginning of the album for a reason. When Survival came in, I was completely thrown off. That song did not belong there at all, it sounded so out of place. Legacy was also a track I didn't like at all. I thought the message was kinda boring and corny and the hook stood out in a bad way. I actually had no problems with this track till the Dead End Hip Hop review came out and they pointed it out, and now I can't stand it (Thanks a lot guys :P) They were right though, I can't lie. It was very poppy and sounded awkward to listen to. Stronger Than I Was is a track that I think confused the fuck out of a lot of people because it was Eminem doing something so different; basically singing on most of the track. I think he was trying to do what he did with Hailey's Song on The Eminem Show (which worked for me) but it didn't at all here. His vocals sounded so forced and the content was corny as well. Some people might relate to that track (I've seen fans praise it) but I can't stand it. The Monster is trash like I've said before. The hooks on this album are an issue for me as well, as many of them didn't work at all like the mentioned tracks here and Bad Guy a bit

I'm gonna finish off the review with the last quarter of the album, which was very enjoyable. I really liked So Far... because Eminem was very funny on that track. The beat didn't grab me at first but it really grew on me as I listened to it more and more. Love Game was a surprise because I had a lot of expectations for the Kendrick Lamar feature and hoping they would lyrically go back and forth. Instead, they went for a comedic track about relationships. They both had hilarious verses and Kendrick was able to keep up with Eminem and not be overshadowed; which I applaud him for it. The beat wasn't amazing, but it worked for the content of the track. I also liked how this track and So Far were sequenced right after each other setting a good mood for the album. Headlights was a great track to me personally, with Eminem apologizing to his mother in a very touching and emotional way and the hook grew on me a lot. To be honest I expected to hate this track because of the guest feature Nate Reuss, but to say he was bad would be a lie. He killed it and the result was a track that touched me to the point were I felt like tears might fall. Then my favorite track came, Evil Twin. That track was classic Shady, with the most clever wordplay and rhymes on the album. The line about the top 4 was dope as hell and I liked how he was going back and forth between Shady and Marshall. He finished the album perfectly. 

So in conclusion, I thought the album was great. I feel like Eminem was comfortable making this album which is something I haven't heard him do in years (with the exception of maybe Hell The Sequel). He was rapping like he was actually the best rapper of all time and he made a more cohesive album than Recovery, Relapse, and Encore. I do have a problem with the hooks and some of the production, but the positives out-way the negatives for me. Maybe the title may have been inappropriate, but I won't let that distract me from the dopeness of the album. So go out and support the album, I'm sure you'll find this album very enjoyable. Its definitely one of the best commercial Hip-Hop albums of the year (along with Pusha T's My Name Is My Name; that album is incredibly dope so be sure to check it out as well!), but I don't know about top 10 of the year as a whole so far like I would have wanted.


Favorite Tracks: Rhyme or Reason, Rap God, Asshole (Feat. Skylar Grey), So Far, Love Game (Feat. Kendrick Lamar) & Headlights, Evil Twin. 

Least Favorite Tracks: Legacy, Stronger Than I Was & The Monster (Feat. Rihanna)

Albums To Check Out That I Haven't Covered on this Blog : 
- My Name Is My Name - Pusha T
- Old - Danny Brown
- Mr. Motherfuckin' eXquire - Kismet (Top 5 material)
- Dour Candy - Billy Woods
- Parts of Speech - Dessa
- 8 Miles to Moenaet - Tall Black Guy (Instrumental Album)
- Blue Chips 2 - Action Bronson
- No Poison No Paradise - Black Milk
- Race Music - Armand Hammer
- Gold PP7's - Clear Soul Forces
- Better Off Dead - Flatbush Zombies (Top 5 material)
- Left in the Deck - Brother Ali (Top 5 material)

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Nothing Was the Same - Drake - ALBUM REVIEW

It's been about a week or so since Nothing Was the Same leaked which basically means the internet has blown up since. Drake seems to have taken the Hip-Hop genre by storm since 2009 by creating a lane that seems to be only occupied by him and no one else. He creates a fusion of Hip-Hop and R&B, choosing mellow beets, and both rapping and singing on his tracks. He isn't afraid of talking about his feelings or sharing his experiences with women. For those reasons I have always respected Drake. He has managed to create a huge fan base and even garner critical praise for his albums, taking the Grammy for Best Rap Album last year (although I felt The Roots or even Nas deserved that one, but you know how the Grammys are). With all that being said, with all the respect I have for Drake and all of the praise he receives from other people in the industry and general public, I will say that I personally can't stand his music. I find his flow very disjointed and his singing voice very annoying. He barely releases verses that overly impress me (only ones I can think of are Lord Knows or Underground Kings) and the way he approaches his subject matter bores me. I mean I think its fine to rap about the things he raps about, as I've praised Childish Gambino for doing so, but Drake's execution doesn't appeal to me. However, a lot of people have told me that his new effort Nothing Was the Same was a very interesting and impressive project, many friends even saying its his best effort since So Far Gone. After many people's recommendations, I decided to give it a chance and give it a listen. I didn't have high expectations but I wanted to get into this project with an open mind.

Nothing Was the Same to me is a very similar project to Take Care for me, which isn't really a good thing to me because I wasn't a huge fan of that album. They way it differs is that its not as consistent as Take Care, but it has less filler. (Take Care was 80 mins, that's too much Drake for me :P) Despite having a couple of highlights, Drake didn't step out of his boundaries to create something original or new, but merely stayed in his box and filled it more. He even creates songs that mimic derivative tracks that already exist on the radio. 

The album starts out with Tuscan Leather, a really nice track with very smooth and soulful production. The synths and the vocal distortions in the beginning really set the mood of the track and gave it a tender feel. The beat switches up a minute or so in but still sounds good. Drake's rapping was great and the  production carried it perfectly. He raps about this fame and how he's on the level of some of the greats (commercially), and can you really deny that? The guys is one of a few to still go platinum (even though album sales don't mean much to me). The album then rolls into Furthest Thing which is a mellow track reminiscent of Take Care, but it was a good track. Drake does the hook as well but what I liked about this track is the beat switch-up near the end and Drake raps great on it as well. Then the albums gets to Started From the Bottom and its all downhill from there...

I don't feel the need to bash Started From the Bottom to the ground (even though it should be) because it's been done ever since it was released in February by lots of people. This track is terrible, and this covers the beat, flow, lyrics and hook. The beat is very annoying to listen to and Drake's flow is absolutely horrible. With this track, its obvious Drake wanted to go for that radio sound that Lil Wayne has been so successful at. He wanted to dumb down his flow (which gets even worse than usual) and raps in the most disjointed way I've ever heard him rap. Its painful. And I'm not even gonna get into the lyrics or argue if he did start from the bottom or not because it doesn't really matter. If the track doesn't sound good, then its not worth dissecting.

After Started From the Bottom comes the track Wu-Tang Forever, a song that has nothing to do with the Wu-Tang Clan or their music (to a certain degree). It's basically a love song with a catchy smooth beat but lackluster verses about a love interest and how his fame has separated him from close friends. Own It was a very forgettable track with very elementary rhyme scheme that even for Drake sounds bad but the track right after was pretty memorable, sort of. Worst Behavior was a very aweful song to listen to, which features Drake yelling at certain points which is very annoying (I see the Yeezus wagon getting more popular unfortunately). He's basically rapping about how far he's advanced in the game and to be honest we have enough Drake songs like this already. From that point till the second last track, there was nothing that truly held my attention or impressed me in any way. Jhene Aiko had some nice vocals and you could tell Drake has been practicing with his singing voice on the track Hold On We're Going Home (not that it was a great song, but it wasn't that bad). I also felt Drake had good bars on From Time, but that's about it. Tracks like Connect and The Language seemed very uninspired. I was surprised to see many people liking The Language, but I guess it just didn't appeal to me. Drake kept the same flow throughout the album, which could be a good or a bad thing for certain people, but I just felt I needed more variety. The album doesn't catch my interest in an impressive way until the last track. 

On the last track titled Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music 2, my interest resurfaced with the album because it sounded like Drake was hungry on that track. I guess the obvious reason was because he had Jay Z on that track, a living Hip-Hop legend (whether you like his music or not, you can't disagree with that statement). The production was very atmospheric and the background vocals sounded very chilling, and the C.R.E.A.M. loop didn't bother me much. (Speaking of which, am I the only one that noticed a huge amount of Wu-Tang references? - Raekwon, Capadonna, Inspectah Deck references) Drake laid pretty impressive verses but surprisingly Jay Z stole the show with his verse, flowing very nicely which is something that seems very easy for Jay Z (maybe not recently but you can't deny his previous work). It was a solid end to the album, but not a lot of people seem to agree with me on that track, but whatever, opinions are opinions.

In conclusion, Drake's latest effort Nothing Was the Same was a very flat and sombre album to listen to. I wouldn't say that you should take my word for it completely as I'm not the biggest Drake fan, but I did give it a shot and gave Drake credit where credit is due on 3 of the 13 songs (not counting the bonus tracks). I guess Drake's music is something that won't appeal to me, but its totally cool if it does to you. I don't think I walked away from the album thinking it was terrible. I just didn't get much from it. For those reasons, I won't give a rating for this album as it isn't an accurate representation of how good it is, but I appreciate the effort, even though its clearly not meant for me. However, a Drake fan would absolutely love this, so don't let my opinion sway you, check it out for yourself and formulate your own opinion.

Favorite Track(s): Tuscan Leather - Furthest Thing - Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music 2 (Feat. Jay Z)

Least Favorite Track(s): Started From the Bottom - Worst Behavior - Connect - The Language - 305 to My City (Feat. Detail)

* For reviews of J. Cole's Born Sinner, Kanye West's Yeezus, and Jay Z's Magna Carta Holy Grail, click here *

Sunday, 15 September 2013

What Makes a Hip-Hop Album a Classic?

Over the past couple of years, we can all agree that Hip-Hop has clearly taken a very drastic turn with all of the impressive releases that came out, especially in 2011 and 2012. Rappers like Kendrick Lamar, Danny Brown, Killer Mike, Ab-Soul, Joey Bada$$, A$AP Rocky, Elzhi, Big K.R.I.T. and any others dropped albums that were so fantastic that they set new standards for modern Hip-Hop. Fans now-a-days are more critical to the music that comes out and are able to determine what Hip-Hop should sound like and what Hip-Hop should be promoted, which I feel is amazing. Rappers like Lil Wayne, French Montana, Big Sean and other lack luster commercial artists are no longer getting the love they used to receive and are suffering from this new wave of Hip-Hop. We are clearly in a new Golden Age of Hip-Hop, as many other people can agree and support that statement. However, something that I noticed is people throwing out the word "classic" at critically acclaimed albums without thinking twice about the labels they're throwing. People were calling albums such as Section.80, good kid m.A.A.d city, Elmatic, Black Up, 1999 and XXX classics upon release and even I will admit that I refer to these albums as classics sometimes, but I never really truly believe that they are and I don't think its a good idea to do so for the following reasons.  

Hip-Hop is a genre that has existed for about 40 years, so what made albums classics in the past isn't the same anymore. When Eric B. & Rakim dropped Paid in Full in 1987, that album set standards for East Coast Hip-Hop. Rakim revolutionized the way rapping was presented and delivered, and Eric B.'s sampling and production set the foundations for producers to come after him. At the same time, N.W.A.'s Straight Outta Compton was also revolutionary in the way it allowed rappers to present their perspective of real life situations at the time such as police brutality among African-Americans, racism and violence (Same with Public Enemy's A Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back). A few years later, albums such as Nas' Illamatic, Wu-Tang Clan's Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), Mobb Deep's The Infamous, Jay-Z's Reasonable Doubt, The Notorious B.I.G.'s Ready to Die among others solidified the quality of Hip-Hop as the crack epidemic occurred and created the mafioso subgenre of Hip-Hop while creating and presenting different flows, rap structure and production sound. However, albums like 2Pac's Me Against the World, A Trible Called Quest's The Low End Theory, Common's Resurrection, Mos Def's Black on Both Sides among others presented the conscious side of Hip-Hop and and delivered complex lyricism via metaphors and similes to world related matters to convey a positive message. All these albums are classics in their own way because they changed the rap game. They basically created the rules that other rappers must follow in order to create a rap album, or the blueprint that must be followed by rappers today. For this reason, we shouldn't be quick to call modern albums classics because they can never do what the previous albums did. While these old albums may seem dated, they still hold the power to move listeners today. Current albums take time to settle and show their effect. Elzhi's Elmatic is a perfect example because while it is a fantastic album and is able to hold its own next to Nas' Illmatic (imo), Elmatic will never do what Illmatic did which was change the game completely. Illmatic made rappers like Jay-Z switch up their styles to meet the same standard. Elmatic won't change anything, but its still a great album nevertheless. However, an album doesn't have to be very old like the ones I mentioned to be a classic for many reasons as well. 

For an album to be called a classic, it has to accomplish some kind of change in the game. It has to attract a lot of attention and gain respect because of the impact it has. For example, I personally consider Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP a classic because it was very original and it made Hip-Hop more acceptable to mainstream listeners. It was one of the first raw Hip-Hop albums to be nominated for Album of the Year at the Grammys despite its content and abrasiveness. It had a cultural impact with the song Stan and influenced many rappers' style. It may seem biased to claim this album as a classic because it is my favorite album of all time, but I don't believe an album has to be good to be a classic. For example, I personally believe Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III is a classic. I will say that I am in no way a Lil Wayne fan, but I will admit that Tha Carter III is classic because it set a new standard for commercial Hip-Hop, whether you consider that a good or a bad thing. Many rappers (Such as Drake, Big Sean, Tyga and others) have followed the same formula Lil Wayne has created with Tha Carter III and have achieved success. For these reasons, I believe that it is a classic even though I don't really care for it. 

Another way an album can receive classic status is by pushing the genre to such a great extent that it creates a new subgenre. For example, when Company Flow dropped Funcrusher Plus, people were very negative towards it because they didn't believe it followed the Hip-Hop rules in the way the rapping and the production was presented. However, many people praised it because of the abstract lyricism and alternative futuristic production and received a great cult following after. El-P also dropped Fantastic Damage which went through the same reception as well as other albums under his acclaimed label Definitive Jux such as Cannibal Ox's The Cold Vein and Aesop Rock's Labor Days which similarly pushed the genre but created classics. They redefined the underground Hip-Hop landscape and increased the amount of creativity in the game. Rappers like MF DOOM, Slug, Brother Ali, Immortal Technique, Ill Bill and many others received acclaim for taking the Hip-Hop genre in their way and transforming it. For these reasons, albums like Shabazz Palaces' Black Up and Death Grips's Exmilitary and The Money Store aren't really classics, but have the potential of being classics in the future. 

So in conclusion, an album needs to sit longer with the Hip-Hop community to be called a classic. The albums released in the 80s and 90s  have been here for so long that they set the blueprint for Hip-Hop and are worthy of the classic title. But an album can also be a classic in the way it affects and changed the game, whether on a commercial or underground level. So albums like Black Up, good kid m.A.A.d city, XXX, R.A.P. Music and other albums aren't classics but have the potential to be classics. With the new Golden Age of Hip-Hop, it is great to see the genre reinvent itself and achieve success and I can definitely see certain artists produce potential classics in the future. 

Albums I Consider Classics:
- Paid in Full - Eric B. & Rakim
- He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper - DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince
- It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back - Public Enemy
- Straight Outta Compton - N.W.A.
- The Great Adventure of Slick Rick - Slick Rick
- The Chronic - Dr. Dre
- Amerikkka's Most Wanted - Ice Cube
- Illmatic - Nas
- The Low End Theory - A Tribe Called Quest
- The Infamous - Mobb Deep
- Me Against the World - 2Pac
- Ready to Die - The Notorious B.I.G.
- Resurrection - Common
- Black on Both Sides - Mos Def
- Reasonable Doubt - Jay-Z
- Enter the Wu-Tang (32 Chambers) - Wu-Tang Clan
- Illadelph Halflife - The Roots
- Aquemini - OutKast
- Funcrusher Plus - Company Flow
- The Cold Vein - Cannibal Ox & El-P
- Fantastic Damage - El-P
- Madvillainy - Madvillain
- The Marshall Mathers LP - Eminem
- The College Dropout - Kanye West
- Revolutionary Vol. 1 - Immortal Technique
- A Piece of Strange - CunninLynguists
- Donuts - J Dilla
- God Loves Ugly - Atmosphere
- Tha Carter III - Lil Wayne

Albums With Potential of Becoming Classics:

- Earl - Earl Sweatshirt
- XXX - Danny Brown
- good kid, m.A.A.d city - Kendrick Lamar
- No Kings - Doomtree
- Black Up - Shabazz Palaces
- The Money Store - Death Grips
- Bastard - Tyler, the Creator
- R.A.P. Music - Killer Mike & El-P
- Undun - The Roots
- Kismet - Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire
- My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy - Kanye West

Friday, 16 August 2013

Thoughts on Kendrick Lamar's Verse on "Control"

On Tuesday, August 13th 2013, Big Sean released a track entitled Control featuring lyricists Kendrick Lamar and Jay Electronica. Big Sean claimed this track was supposed to make his upcoming album Hall of Fame but due to a problem with sample clearing didn't make the cut. So when this track leaked, the internet was set on fire. All I could see is tweets like "Kendrick Lamar just killed everyone in the game on Control" or "Kendrick claims King of New York and the game". Now to be honest, I am not the biggest Big Sean fan. I found his flow to be very basic, his voice annoying, and he has a terrible rhyme scheme so that pushed me away from the track at first. But me being the biggest Kendrick Lamar fan out there (He got the #1 spot on my Top Ten Lyricists in the Game) and all the claims people were making, I had to see what all the hype around this track was. Also, I highly respect Jay Electronica as an artists (Still waiting on that album though :P). After I listened to the track and Kendrick's verse in particular, I could definitely see something special that people are deteriorating with their stupidity. 

First, I'm gonna talk about Big Sean and Jay Electronica's verses briefly then dissect the content of Kendrick's verse and state my opinions on the controversy and acclaim its getting. The production was handled by legendary Chicago producer No I.D. and I gotta say the beat is monstrous! The instrumentation is mellow but when the bass comes in it sounds fantastic. The chanting sample makes the beat even more haunting. Big Sean's verse was ok, I'm not gonna lie and say it was terrible but he tried to hold his own. Some of his punchlines were very corny and his flow kinda gets lost in the track sometimes but he had some good lines. The problem to me is Big Sean doesn't sound very passionate and doesn't convey character when he's spitting. For example, I didn't hear any tone when he said personal lines like Detroit being mayorless. Jay Electronica's verse was pretty dope. He comes in at the end with a very poetic verse and references his success, signing to the Roc, and how he credits all of that to staying faithful. Lines like "I Earth, Wind, and Fire’d the verse, then rained on the hook" really stick out and show his creativeness. 

When the Bridge came in I thought Kendrick was gonna do the Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe flow. He was flowing very well but when the actual verse comes on, you can tell Kendrick wasn't fucking around any more. He switches up to the Jig Is Up (Dumpin') or The City flow but amps it up to the max. I always wished Kendrick rapped like this on more tracks so I was very happy to see him flow this viciously. Kendrick took no prisoners with his verse, not giving a fuck whether people would feel disrespected or attacked when they heard it. He claims king of the game, then name drops today's biggest rappers and says he's gonna murder them. The extended metaphor at the end was a perfect way to end the verse, reminiscent of a 1999-2001 Slim Shady. "I'm tryna raise the bar high/Who tryna jump and get it? You better off tryna skydive". Yeah, no prisoners. 

I think everyone can agree that Kendrick's verse was the highlight of the track and one of the best verses to come out in a while. The people that don't like the verse are either 1) Not Hip-Hop fans 2) Stupid 3) Snobby Backpackers or 4) Drake fans. I haven't seen a track create this much buzz since Jay Electronica's own Exhibit C. My Twitter feed was going insane and I loved seeing so many people showing Kendrick love and paying him the respect he deserves. Some people however were tweeting the stupidest stuff and it revolved around two main things: 1) Kendrick claiming he's the King of New York and 2) Kendrick "dissing" all the rappers he named (or the ones he didn't). I would like to discuss these two points real quick.

1) "King of New York" Line: I think people are taking this line way to seriously and literally. Kendrick Lamar is from the West, we all know that, so why would he claim to be King of New York? He's not stupid as to say New York is his city, and if you pay attention to what he's saying you wouldn't be flipping over this line. Kendrick said "I'm Makaveli's offspring, I'm the king of New York/King of the Coast, one hand, I juggle them both" Kendrick is saying he wants to challenge everyone, whether its from his area (King of the Coast) or from the opposite side of the game (King of New York). He wants kill MCs no matter where they're from (I JUGGLE THE BOTH). So really, if New York is gonna take offence to this, Cali should too because he wan'ts to challenged everyone no matter where they reside from.

2) "Dissing" the Mentioned/Non-Mentioned MCs: This is the one that everyone misunderstood. People quickly saw this as a diss when they heard Kendrick mentioning names which is completely stupid. People are skimming through the verse without taking a closer look at what he's saying. 

"I'm usually homeboys with the same niggas I'm rhymin' wit
But this is hip-hop and them niggas should know what time it is
And that goes for Jermaine Cole, Big K.R.I.T., Wale
Pusha T, Meek Millz, A$AP Rocky, Drake
Big Sean, Jay Electron', Tyler, Mac Miller
I got love for you all but I'm tryna murder you niggas
Tryna make sure your core fans never heard of you niggas
They dont wanna hear not one more noun or verb from you niggas"

The way I interpreted these lines is Kendrick is saying he got a lot of respect for these rappers, but Hip-Hop was always about competition and he wants to bring that back. Every rapper strives to be the best and to do so he has to claim he can rap better than all the other rappers in the game. And what's wrong with that? I think this is something that has been missing in the game on the commercial level for a while. Now did Kendrick diss the rappers that weren't mentioned? I don't think so because I'm sure he had other rappers in mind but naming all of them would take too long and would look stupid. As for responses, I believe the rappers that were mentioned should respond soon because they were specifically challenged on this track. I haven't heard many good responses so far but Joell Ortiz's response was incredible. 

Now the big question still needs to be answered: Will this verse change Hip-Hop by making rappers step their bars up? To be honest I don't think that matters right now. This track has already caused rappers to put forth immediate responses but it feels like the hype around the track will soon fade. I loved what the track did for Hip-Hop for the past 48-72 hours. It brought back life to the game and inspired many. I do hope it changes the game, but if it doesn't I wouldn't be so surprised. Either way, Kendrick still put out a stellar verse and I will go on record and say this is Verse of the Year so far. After multiple listens, his flow, wordplay, aggression and hunger still gives me goosebumps. So shout-out to Kendrick Lamar, thanks for giving us something we desperately needed. 

You know the drill. What did you think of Kendrick's verse (or any of the other verses)? Do you think it will bring a change to Hip-Hop and make rappers step their game up? Is this verse even worthy of all the praise? Let me know by leaving a comment. 

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Born Sinner VS. Yeezus VS. Magna Carta Holy Grail: And the Winner Is...

Over the past month or so, a lot of people have been debating over their opinions on what were probably three of the most anticipated releases of 2013: J. Cole's Born Sinner, Kanye West's Yeezus, and Jay Z's Magna Carta... Holy Grail. Arguments were made about which album was the most superior, diverse and creative. To be honest I've read many reviews and saw many tweets and couldn't help but share my opinion, yet what I saw was that a lot of people couldn't agree with my opinion about these albums. Now these albums have been out for a good period of time for me to take multiple listens and formulate a full concise opinion. While I have tweeted a bit on the albums when they were released, the 140 character limit on twitter wasn't really helping me. So this forum is much more comfortable for me, as I can touch on many different aspects of the albums easily. I'll start with Born Sinner since it was released first, followed by Yeezus (same release date as Born Sinner but it leaked after), and I will conclude it with Magna Carta... Holy Grail.

J. Cole - Born Sinner:
Born Sinner was probably the most anticipated release out of the three for me because I'm a huge J. Cole fan. I've heard all of his releases since The Warm Up in which he dropped in my opinion the best Dead Presidents remix out there. I really loved his debut album Cole World: The Sideline Story, and Friday Night Lights was a stellar mixtape. Miss America only increased my expectations of the album and I couldn't wait for the release. So when the album finally dropped and I got a chance to listen to it, my first reaction was: That's it? That's all you got Cole? I was really disappointed with the album. I didn't walk with that many memorable lines or songs and I lost interest while listening to it. Now before you stop reading thinking this is gonna be a negative review, you should let me finish! As June passed and July came, I continued to listen to the album hoping it would grow on me. By the end of July, I finally got to see how great of an album Born Sinner is. With Born Sinner, J. Cole truly shows how he can create an album were the production fully matches the lyrics, and I guess that's why the album fell short at first. The production is very mellow most of the time, so its a mood album. If you're expecting to get a boom-bap spitteriffic album, this album could bore you. But with repeated listens, I fully submerged myself into the music. 

Lyrically, J. Cole has improved incredible and his production is fantastic. The strings, horns, and jazz samples fit perfectly, and the lack of guest features shows how J. Cole can carry an album by himself. Songs like She Knows, Trouble, and Runaway grew on me a lot, with the first getting extremely catchy with every listen. Songs I loved from the first listen like Villuminati, Power Trip, Let Nas Down, and Born Sinner got even better with every listen. Also, I thought it was very daring of Cole to use the beat from OutKast's classic Da Art of Storytellin' Pt. 1 on LAnd of the Snakes, but he does his thing on that song and it works out great. My only disappointment with this album is the lack of a Kendrick Lamar verse on Forbidden Fruit. That track was so dope but after the song was done and all I heard from Kendrick was the hook, I was pissed. The song would've been a classic if Kendrick dropped a verse, but nevertheless its still one of my favorite songs on the album. So those are my thoughts on Born Sinner. Be sure to check it out if you haven't already. Also, check out Nas's remix of Let Nas Down in which he responds and tells the story from his perspective, its incredible!


Favorite Track(s): Villuminati, Mo Money (Interlude), Power Trip, She Knows, Forbidden Fruit, Ain't That Some Shit (Interlude), Let Nas Down & Born Sinner.

Least Favorite Track(s): Chaining Day

Kanye West - Yeezus:
Warning: The following "review" contains opinions that can be perceived as being presented in a negative tone. No hate is intended, only constructive criticism. If you feel a negative review will offend you (which really shouldn't happen), please don't bother reading this.

OKAY! This is gonna be fun! Kanye West is arrogant, a hypocrite, and an asshole; but he's also one of my favorite rappers. The College Dropout and Late Registration are classics in my opinion, featuring Kanye in his prime as both a lyricist AND a producer. How could you deny his talent on tracks like We Major, Gone, Drive Slow, Touch the Sky, and Two Words? (You could tell Late Registration is my favorite). Graduation was solid, 808s & Heartbreaks was a masterpiece in my opinion, and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was absolutely stellar. So up to this point, Kanye is on a roll right? Then came Watch the Throne, yeah I didn't like that album at all. Kanye seemed like he was uninspired and the production was decent at best. Otis, Murder to Excellence, and New Day were excellent, but every other track fell short to me. Songs like Lift Off and That's My Bitch made me wonder why everyone loved it so much, but whatever, everyone has their own opinion. So Yeezus was announced and I got super excited. I thought maybe Watch the Throne fell short due to it being a collaborative project. Now that his next album was a solo one, he'd be more focused. Right? That's actually pretty ironic because "focused" seems to be the antithesis of this album. 

To me,Yeezus was a very lazy attempt to experiment with a sound that was blowing up last year. Kanye probably heard El-P production on Killer Mike's R.A.P. Music and his own Cancer 4 Cure, and mixed that with some weird dubstep. But his biggest, and most obvious, "influence" seems to be Death Grips. Kanye obviously heard Exmilitary and The Money Store and decided to prove he can bring this type of sound into the mainstream, in a cocky way. Not to say the sounds from those albums are bad, I love Death Grips and El-P and Killer Mike's albums were some of my favorites last year, but Kanye's attempt fell short. It sounded very noisy and the production wasn't layered very well. Which brings me to my biggest gripe: EVERYONE SAYING THIS ALBUM IS ORIGINAL! Yeezus is in no way original, creative or groundbreaking. Music like this has existed for years and has not received enough recognition, but when Kanye does it, it has to be the best thing ever right? Nah bro, not for me. Another big gripe is Kanye struggled very much with his verses. His lyrics were so bad at times they made my skin crawl. How can someone stand a track like I'm In It? It feels like Kanye was either struggling with his bars or was just rushing this album. Sure tracks like New Slaves were very topical, but everything he said in that song feels insignificant because he  contradicts himself on tracks like On Sight. If there's anything great about Yeezus its that last song Bound 2 which was very soulful and touching, reminiscent of The College Dropout production style, which kinda makes me feel like Kanye tricked me with this album. Black Skinhead was also pretty awesome, I thought the production one that track was very extravagant and colossal, and I definitely see replay value with it. Blood on the Leaves was also a great track, reminiscent of 808s & Heartbreaks sound (which I personally loved). Kanye may have overused the autotune, but the soul of the song is still there. But in the end, I tend to find more flaws with Yeezus with evry repeated listens to the point were I don't feel the need to listen to it anymore. I actually remember liking it a bit at first, but it definitely didn't grow on me. So yeah I'm not feeling this album that much and I don't really recommend it either. My dislike for it seems to be more concerned with the album conceptually, but I don't feel I dislike it to the point were I hate it. I don't mind if people like it though, its really cool if you do, I just don't agree with the "ground-breaking" statements. 


Favorite Track(s): Bound 2, Blood on the Leaves & Black Skinhead

Least Favorite Track(s): On Sight, I Am a God, I'm In It, Guilt Trip & Send It Up

Jay Z - Magna Carta... Holy Grail: 
To me, Jay Z is easily one of the most influential Hip-Hop figures of all time. The way he was able to crossover into the mainstream and maintain a career of straight number 1 albums is commendable. He has maintained his popularity over the years through music, his interest in sports, business ventures and much more. But all that aside, is Jay Z the best of all time as a rapper? No. Not even close. Not even top 10 for me. I personally believe Jay Z is overrated as a rapper, possibly the most overrated in the game. To me, Jay Z hasn't dropped a great album since The Black Album (with the exception of American Gangster). Even before The Black Album, I only truly loved The Blueprint and my personal favorite; Reasonable Doubt. Sure Jay Z isn't in the same place he used to be, but after a while, the bragging gets a bit too boring for me. He isn't as creative and lyrically complex as he used to be, yet people still hold him so high up the pedestal. To be honest, I didn't really care much about Jay Z releasing this album. I mean the title sounded cool, and some of the features sounded interesting, but I wasn't very hyped for it. Nevertheless I copped the album and gave it a listen and to be honest, I wasn't that disappointed. 

 I didn't like this album that much. Yeah I wasn't disappointed, but that's because I didn't expect anything amazing. I expected Jay Z to rap about his fame, money, influence and to brag, and he does all this throughout Magna Carta... Holy Grail. I only wish he did it better. When the first song Holy Grail came in, I was overly impressed with Justin Timberlake's vocals. He sounded incredible and very passionate. But then came Jay Z and ruined the whole song with verses that have nothing to do with the hook. His flow on this album sounded very off on many songs and he wasn't getting busy on the mic very often. What saves this album a little bit was the production, which was very well layered throughout the album. Picasso Baby sounded awesome and Jay Z was dropping nice bars on that track as well. Oceans, which features vocals from Frank Ocean, was also a great song. Jay Z was really flowing well on that track and Frank Ocean added to the tone of the song with his chilling vocals. But there were too many tracks that fell short for me. Tom Ford was horrible and FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt with Rick Ross was almost unlistenable. Even Nas didn't impress me on BBC, which I was looking forward to the most. Overall, the album sounded very rushed and Jay Z wasn't impressing me as a lyricist. Like Yeezus, this album got worse with repeated listens. 


Favorite Track(s): Picasso Baby & Oceans

Least Favorite Track(s): Tom Ford, FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt, F.U.T.W., Jay Z Blue & La Familia. 

So yeah, that's my opinion on Born Sinner, Yeezus, and Magna Carta... Holy Grail. As for the winner, J. Cole takes that spot easily. He had by far the best album of the 3 and I look forward to more of his music now that he established himself as a consistent mainstream yet lyrical solo artist. I found it ironic that my favorite of the three started off as very disappointing, but with more listens got better while the others got worse with each listen. What do you guys think? Which album was the best? Let me know by leaving a comment. Peace. 

Monday, 8 July 2013

Top 5 Albums of 2013 So Far...

Hello everyone! Sorry for the delay (caused by exams and travel) but I'm back with a relatively short entry on my top 5 albums of the midyear so far (albums released before the end of June). To be honest, 2013 has not been that great of a year for Hip-Hop so far. After a much anticipated wait for both Kanye West's Yeezus and J. Cole's Born Sinner, both projects ended up being disappointing on some level and there has been a very small amount of albums that have wowed me this year; especially compared to last year (midyear releases included: El-P's Cancer 4 Cure, Lushlife's Plateau Vision, ScHoolboy Q's Habits & Contradictions, Death Grips' The Money Store, Ab-Soul's Control System, Killer Mike's R.A.P. Music, etc...). However, my picks for this year so far have been incredible albums, all worth your time and money. So without further adieu, I give you my top 5 albums of the midyear so far!

5- Twelve Reasons to Die - Ghostface Killah & Adrian Younge:
Ghostface Killah has always been my favorite member of the Wu-Tang Clan for his immaculate flow and vivid storytelling. For these traits, its no surprise that this album would land on my list. Twelve Reasons to Die is a concept album that truly shows how great Ghostface can tell a horror story with incredible detail. He allows you to be transported into the storyline of the concept and witness the murders and drug deals that occur. He portrays a character that's very violent, gory, inhuman but strong and determined. Adrian Younge handled the production on this album and did a fantastic job. His production is stellar and sounds like he's orchestrating an opera or scoring a movie. The chemistry between him and Ghostface seems natural and I hope they collaborate more in the future. The features were all great, adding more depth and character development to the story. If you're a Ghostface Killah fan, I highly recommend you listen to this album. It truly is a great listening experience. I hear Ghostface is dropping the second installment of the Supreme Clientele series and a collaborative album with MF DOOM which should both be dope as hell. So keep your eye out for those. 

Favorite Track: Beware of the Stare - I Declare War - Enemies All Around Me

4- King Remembered in Time - Big K.R.I.T.:
Continuing his streak of incredible albums, Big K.R.I.T. came back with yet another stand-out self-produced mixtape. To be honest, I wasn't feeling this mixtape from the first listen, however as I sat with it longer and started dissecting it, I grew to appreciate it a lot more. Big K.R.I.T. is still as lyrical and personal as ever, if not more, yet he still manages to not repeat himself. He continues to make quality albums, all of which are distinctively diverse. The production was stepped up a lot more this time around, with Big K.R.I.T. experimenting with different sounds yet yielding lots of success. Big K.R.I.T. continues to impress me with his awesome albums and I'm looking forward to his collaborative album with Yelawolf. Be sure to check this mixtape out!

Favorite Tracks: WTF - R.E.M. - Banana Clip Theory - Bigger Picture 

3- Czarface - Inspectah Deck & 7L & Esoteric:
Czarface has been an album that I have repeatedly played over the months. This album brings back the 90s feel of Hip-Hop, especially with 7L's dope production. Inspectah Deck and Esoteric spit incredible verses, incorporating super hero and comic book references that are sure to bring out the nerd in all of the comic book fans. They show how they can lyrically go back and forth on tracks like World War 4, It's Raw and Rock Beast. You'd think after years of them being in the game, they would run out of things to say. But they prove themselves by delivering some of the best verses of the year. They're both very underrated artists (people forget Inspectah Deck was on Wu-Tang's classic C.R.E.A.M.) and I hope many people listen to this album. The guest features play a large role to the success of the album, with Action Bronson, Roc Marciano and Vinnie Paz dropping dope verses and Ghostface Killah killing his verse. Overall, this albums is absolutely incredible and is sure to entertain with all of the spastic flows, delivery, pop culture references and hard hitting punchlines. 

Favorite Tracks: Savagely Attack (Feat. Ghostface Killah) - Rock Beast - World War 4 - Cement 3's (Feat. Roc Marciano) 

2- Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels (Killer Mike & El-P):
With the success of Killer Mike's R.A.P. Music and El-P's Cancer 4 Cure and their new found chemistry last year, the duo teamed up and joined together to create a collaborative album that I cannot stop listening to (along with my number 1 album). With only 10 songs, this album is doing what 18-track albums are failing to do which is; create a project that appeals both lyrically and sonically. El-P and Killer Mike have clearly not missed a step since last year and have spit some of the illest verses of the year. The chemistry between these two surpasses any collaborative project released in a while (ex. Bad Meets Evil, The Throne etc...). Never does this album bore or drag, and the punchlines the rappers spit are dope as hell. El-P hitting you with the complex rhymes that require decoding to fully appreciate and Killer Mike hits you with the straight up clear meaning but still "don't fuck with me" lyrics. Lines like Killer Mike's "Producer gave me a beat, said its the beat of the year/I said El-P didn't do it so get the fuck out of here" show the chemistry and passion these MCs got. El-P's production is incredible, creating a vibe that doesn't sound like neither R.A.P. Music nor Cancer 4 Cure. He creates a sound that is uniquely yet strictly just Run the Jewels. Me talking won't do this album justice. Its up for free download so go and download it asap! You won't (or shouldn't be) disappointed. 

Favorite Tracks: Run the Jewels - Banana Clipper (Feat. Big Boi) - Sea Legs - DDFH - Get It - No Come Down - A Christmas Fucking Miracle 

1- Legends Never Die - R.A. The Rugged Man:
To be honest, this is the first R.A. the Rugged Man album I have ever listened to. I wasn't familiar with his music until this album was released. Turns out he had verse of the year on Jedi Mind Trick's Uncommon Valor: A Vietnam Story, so I checked that out and I was overly impressed with his lyrical ability, the imagery he uses in his storytelling and the unbelievable dopeness of his flow. So I copped his album and listened to a masterpiece. I don't know why but it seems like this album has been slept on hard this year. No one seems to be talking about it much or hyping it up to the extent that it deserves. From track one, R.A. spits hot fire, putting together the best verses this year. They aren't super complex but they can be very emotional, hard-hitting, political and even funny. The production is pretty good, but your focus is on his flow the whole time so it almost doesn't matter what beat he's on. The features are all perfect, with the exception of Hopsin (he was good, but not as good as the others). Tech N9ne killed his verse but Brother Ali, Talib Kweli and Vinnie Paz all "Two of my bars are more lyrical than two of your verses". Couldn't have said it better myself! So if you haven't checked out this album yet, be sure to do so. You will not be disappointed. 

Favorite Tracks: The People's Champ - Definition of a Rap Flow - Learn Truth (Feat. Talib Kweli) - Bang Boogie - Legends Never Die (Daddy's Halo) - The Dangerous Three (Feat. Brother Ali & Masta Ace) - Sam Peckinpah (Feat. Vinnie Paz & Sadat X)

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Top 10 Lyricists in the Game

In March, XXL released their popular Top Ten Freshmen list that includes, to them, the rappers to look out for this year. Also, MTV compiles a list of its "Hottest MCs" in the game every year. I personally think the lists they put together aren't reliable because it seems like all they are doing is putting rappers that they think will make them look like a more reliable source onto a list. If it were in my hands, I'd show the rappers that in my opinion are the top lyricists in the game. People need to see which rappers are the ones to look out for when it comes to quality Hip-Hop with substance and meaning. So for the past few days, I was formulating a list that has the top ten rappers I think are the most lyrical who are active and dropping albums soon. This list will be in no particular order as each of these rappers has their own style, flow and content. So without further adieu, I present the Top 10 Lyricists in the Game!

*Note* I really wanted to place EL-P, Killer Mike, Aesop Rock, Brother Ali, Immortal Technique and other rappers like them on this list. However, they only drop music every once in a while (With EL-P dropping albums every 5 years) so I don't wanna place them when they could potentially not put out music any time soon. They are however top lyricists that you guys should check out! I want this list to have rappers active and dropping albums soon.

10-  Elzhi:
Also known as "Detroit's Best Kept Secret", Elzhi has proven the strength of his lyrical ability to everyone in the Hip-Hop community. With the release of Elmatic, everyone (including myself) started paying attention to Elzhi waiting for his next release. Not only did he make each song and the whole album his own in the process, but he was able to incorporate his own life story into his music. His version of One Love is to me better than Nas's and that's saying something! While The Weather Man has been scrapped off, Elzhi still promised a 2013 release and I'm looking forward to that, as you should be as well. To see my previous article on Elzhi and his originality, click here. If you haven't checked out Elmatic or The Preface, be sure to do so!

Notable Lyrics: "The hood is like a glass house the devil throws stones through." - Detroit State of Mind

9- Big K.R.I.T.:
For those of you who don't know (which you should by now!), Big K.R.I.T. is a southern rapper who has been putting out nothing but consistently fantastic music since K.R.I.T. Wuz Here (K.R.I.T. stands for King Remembered in Time). He has repeatedly shown us his roots through 4 great mixtape and a well put together studio debut. He is the epitome of what Southern Hip-Hop should be and is helping keep what made UGK and OutKast so legendary back in the day. He is able to draw you in with his simplistic hooks to make you memorize and vibe to them and then you start to pay attention to his deep lyrics. Big K.R.I.T. isn't afraid of getting personal in his songs and talking about conscious topics such as religion, life and hardships. He released his mixtape King Remembered in Time earlier this year, which I loved, and is working on a collaborative album with Yelawolf called Country Cousins. Big K.R.I.T. is planning a big year and I am very excited to hear his new music. Most importantly, he's very lyrical and with his smooth flow, you can't deny his talent.

Notable Lyrics: "Be a better man in the world of negligence/Pedophilic malvolence, don't trust your reverend/When they settling for settlements/Lock your doors, shut your windows, don't let the devil in." - Rich Dad, Poor Dad.

8- Danny Brown: 
Danny Brown is a Detroit based rapper who's rise to fame got kick-started through the release of his highly acclaimed album XXX in 2011. XXX put Danny Brown on the map, getting Spin's Album of the Year and Metro Time's Artist of the Year. I personally loved the album and still listen to it to this day. Danny Brown was able to present serious topics such as drug and alcohol addiction using incredible storytelling on songs like Die Like A Rockstar and mocking the radio with Radio Song. Danny Brown has some of the funniest as well as the most put together lyrics. He presents himself as the modern Ol Dirty Bastard or even early Eminem in his Slim Shady days. The problem with Danny Brown is his flow. I personally love his flow, but it takes a minute to get used to it. If you were to give him a chance and listen to his music a lot, you'll start to love his weird voice. But if you give up from the first song, then you'll be missing out on something special. His lyrical ability got him featured on A&AP Rocky's 1 Train, EL-P's Oh Hail No and Ab-Soul's Terrorist Threats. He's built a great fanbase and I'm highly looking forward to his upcoming album Old.

Notable Lyrics: "I'm a borderline porcupine, A step from drinking turpentine/Just to wash down a plate of these wack rappers rhymes." - Detroit 187

7- Joey Bada$$:
When Joey dropped 1999 last year, it propelled him to the top of the game immediately and gave him wide-spread acclaim instantaneously. And can you blame him? His lyrics on that album mirrored a modern Nas spitting on 90s sounding beats. That's the main reason I loved that album (taking the number 5 spot for favorites of last year). It brought back old-school sounding Hip-Hop into this generation. What makes Joey Bada$$ so entertaining though is not only his lyrical ability but his immaculate flow. The guy can ride any beat he's thrown at, whether its old-school or new school. And the most impressive part is that Joey is only 18 years old, 17 when 1999 dropped! That's incredible! Joey Bada$$ announced that he will be dropping an album this year by the name of B4.Da.$$, with the single Unorthadox produced by DJ Premiere dropped earlier this year. He claims he got Premo, Q-Tip and Pete Rock to produce for the album so you can expect something amazing to drop. Check out 1999 if you haven't (its a free mixtape damn it!).

Notable Lyrics: "Cause when ni**as start equipin' and throw the clip in/Your blood drippin' and got you slippin' Under the victim, don't know what's hit them/Through his spinal, just another man who defeated by survival" - Survival Tactics (R.I.P. Capital STEEZ)

6- P.O.S.:
This is a rapper you might not be familiar with, however he possesses a great amount of talent. P.O.S. is known mostly for being part of the Hip-Hop group Doomtree releasing an amazing album back in 2011 called No Kings (be sure to check it out) but he really caught my attention last year with his incredible solo effort We Don't Even Live Here. I was blown away by that album and still listen to it on a regular basis to this day because of how P.O.S. handled the production of the album. He puts dancy-pop but layered beats while adding dope rhymes consisting of deep and social commentary type lyrics. He's what Lupe Fiasco is trying to do except he's doing it 100% better. His lyrics are very personal, relating to drug addictions, society, corruption and materialism (which he does incredible on the song Fuck Your Stuff). I'm highly looking forward to anything this guy drops from now on because he gives you the deep lyrics while making beats that get you moving. Be sure to check the album or Get Down, How We Land or Fuck Your Stuff. Dope music!

Notable Lyrics: "No one gives a fuck about shit, so fuck your shit/We fuck shit up cause shit's fucked anyway." - Get Down 

5- J. Cole:
I know some of you guys are wondering why I have J. Cole on here but lets be real for a minute; the songs J. Cole has on the radio are made intentionally for the radio (Work Out, Power Trip etc.). However, if you dig deep into his album, you will see that J. Cole is a damn good lyricists. He has an incredible rhyme scheme and can go toe-to-toe with rappers on his level or even above (I'm On 2.0, We Ready). And to top it off, J. Cole is also a very good song-writer. He is able to craft positive  as well as socially conscious songs and leave his signature flow like on Lost Ones or Dollar & A Dream III. Not only is he a great rapper, but like Big K.R.I.T., J. Cole raps over his own beats making him a double threat. I heard Miss America earlier this year and that got me psyched for his next album he's dropping this year entitled Born Sinner. He has dropped two EPs to build anticipation for his next album and I'll be there to pick it up. Also, if the rumors are true, I can't wait for his collaborative album with Kendrick Lamar. That album would destroy the game right now!

Notable Lyrics: "Overcame a low life status to blow like Gladys/Ahead of my time like I live my whole life backwards" - Dead Presidents II

4- Macklemore:
I don't care what anyone says, Macklemore to me is the next rapper that can make lyrics super popular while spreading a positive message in his music. The Heist was an incredible album that showcased Macklemore's lyricism and depth as an artist, touching many different topics such as violence, discrimination and homophobia. Same Love is probably the best song I've heard that tackles the topic it represents, and I commend Macklemore for doing that song because it shows that you don't have to be super hard-core to be respected as a rapper. Macklemore is a personal dude, but not to the point where it gets too over the top (coughs-Drake-coughs). He is a great songwriter, being able to have incredible song structure and giving us probably the catchiest hook of last year - y'all know I'm talking about Thrift Shop. He does have other fantastic songs that I wished got more recognition like Make The Money, Starting Over, Neon Cathedral and one of my favorites Wing$. Macklemore has a great future ahead of him and I highly recommend you listen to this guy's music. And shout-out to Ryan Lewis too for supplying Macklemore with beats that suit him 100%. 

Notable Lyrics: "Bartender, please give me a confession/Exchange fear for courage in the form of a well drink/There’s a heavy current, got a long way to swim/Closed the Bible a while ago, I need some shots for this sin" - Neon Cathedral 

3- Black Thought:
Who's Black Thought you ask? Well reader I'll tell you who he is. For those of you who know who he is you got mad props from me. For the rest of y'all, Black Thought is the lead MC of the legendary Hip-Hop band/group The Roots. Still not familiar with them? If the answer is yes, I feel bad for you... But Black Thought to me is probably the most underrated rapper in Hip-Hop, period. He keeps spitting incredible bars on every album The Roots have dropped since 1993's Organix!. He's the type of rapper that never lost his lyrical ability and is still able to leave your jaw dropped by the time his verse is done. He has some of the best flows I've ever heard and his rhyme scheme is immaculate. If you want something to confirm this, check out the BET Cypher with him, Mos Def and Eminem and see how he holds his own and even surpasses them. How I Got Over in 2010 was amazing and so was Undun that was released late 2011. The Roots plan on releasing an album this year hopefully but even if they don't, Black Thought is working on a solo album anyway so its a win-win for me! If you're not familiar with The Roots and Black Thought, I recommend you check Things Fall Apart, Phrenology, or Illadelph Halflife to start off and make sure to thank me later. They probably have the most perfect discography in Hip-Hop. 

Notable Lines: "Who knows what you snorted? Or who support what you recording? But don't get it distorted, in this orbit you're aborting.This authentic shit's imported, exported/Styles, they get sported my paragraphs aortic/Behold, the illest medley lock you in the choke hold" - No Alibi 

2- Ab-Soul:
How can you go wrong with Ab-Soul? To me, Ab-Soul is one of the few rappers out right now that can out-do Kendrick Lamar on a song and if you're not convinced, check out Ab-Soul's Outro, Rapper Shit and Illuminate and make the decision yourself. Ab-Soul is a rapper with multiple personalities, but not to the point were it gets annoying like it does with rappers like Nicki Minaj. He has multiple flows because he's so diverse with the beats he chooses, and that is show-cased on his album he released last year called Control System; which took the number 2 spot of favorites. When you listen to Ab-Soul, you get who he is 100% because he's real all the time. For example, before last year, he'd rap about how poor he was living with his mom and now he raps about how he remembers being poor. His lyrics are incredible as well, making any song catchy as hell while still spitting deep bars on songs like The Book of Soul. Also, Ab-Soul, like Kendrick Lamar, is one of the few rappers that make songs about women's issues. For example, on his song  Double Standards, he talks about the expectations women have from men and how its unfair to them. So be sure to check out Ab-Soul's music. You might find yourself listening to your new favorite rapper. I'm looking forward to his collaborative album with JMSN coming out this year called Unit 6. That'll be dope.

Notable Lines: "Lord forbid The homie got wet, so we trying to soak it in/The president is black, but you can't vote for skin You vote for the better man/Come to our show you can see the diversity/Unified people they going to peep it universally/We might not change the world but we going to manipulate it I hope you participating." - Ab-Soul's Outro

1- Kendrick Lamar:
Don't act like you didn't see this one coming. Kendrick Lamar should be on top of every lyricists list anyone is making right now. I know I said this list is in no particular order, but Kendrick to me is the top dude in the game right now. Not only is he able to cross over and appeal to the mainstream, he does it without sacrificing dope lyrcis, catchy hooks and stellar production. From his Kendrick Lamar EP to Overly Dedicated to Section.80 and finally good kid, m.A.A.d city, Kendrick Lamar has proven he's a force to be reckoned with. Never has he had to dumb-down himself to appeal to a new audience because he makes everyone else change to suit his music himself. Even when he wants to do stereotypical boom-bap songs like Michael Jordan, he does it by adding his own flavor surpassing anyone else who tries to do that type of music. But what makes Kendrick the best lyricists is he always has a concept behind the music he's putting out and he paints a picture of the stories he's telling so well. Section.80 was a perfect album telling us the life of fictional characters Keisha and Tammy and good kid, m.A.A.d city showed Kendrick stepping up his game a bit with telling his own personal story. His flow is perfect. His rhyme scheme is immaculate and the acclaim he's getting is worthy of all the praises. I predict good kid, m.A.A.d city bringing home many Grammys next year. I recommend you check out all the albums I mentioned here.

Notable Lyrics: 

"See a lot of ya'll 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've 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've 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
Because 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 motherfucking being, over dope ass instrumentation Kendrick Lamar" - Ab-Soul's Outro

What do you think of my list? Do you think there's anyone missing or a rapper that should be on this list? Please keep in mind that this is my opinion and there's only 10 spots. I know there are a ton of other dope rappers but I chose the ones that will be active for a while and that are still active. Black Thought was an exception because I feel he deserves more recognition. But anyway thanks for reading! Who are your top lyricists? Leave a comment and let me know!

Notable Mentions: Action Bronson, ScHoolboy Q, Jay Rock, Aesop Rock, Eminem, EL-P, Killer Mike, Immortal Technique, Logic, Roc Marciano, Ghostface Killah. (Hope I'm not forgetting anyone).