Friday, January 31, 2014

Isaiah Rashad- Cilvia

With Kendrick Lamar blowing up and gaining even more steam recently because of his snubs at the Grammys and with Schoolboy Q set to drop his highly anticipated and often delayed debut album, Oxymoron, the crew with the most to prove looks to be Top Dawg Entertainment. In 2013, the TDE crew expanded to include Isaiah Rashad and SZA joining Kendrick, Schoolboy, Jay Rock, and Ab-Soul to the most potent label in hip-hop right now. For all the lovers of radio rap, TDE is better than Young Money and MMG (although Fat Trel is going to make some noise). J Cole has his start up team that is looking to make some noise (but won't). For all the underground lovers, TDE is better than Slaughterhouse, Funk Volume, Pro Era, ASAP Rocky and friends, and Odd Future. There should be no debate. TDE is reigning supreme. So after that brief jocking, let me get into what I'm trying to say. TDE is set up for a huge year because they announced all six members will release new projects this year and that Isaiah Rashad is going to lead them off. I knew absolutely nothing about the dude from Tennessee before his signing but obviously him signing to such a label meant he must have had talent. I tried not to check his stuff out before his debut EP (which at 14 tracks should have just been an album) but I ended up catching Shot You Down and the BET cypher. He didn't wow me but I still had faith since Rashad was signed to TDE after all and they wouldn't just sign a scrub. So I present, the review of Isaiah Rashad's debut EP, Cilvia Demo...

After listening to this project several times, the one thing that came to my mind was that this was a very good debut for Isaiah Rashad. He didn't drop an Illmatic or a Get Rich or Die Tryin as his debut but Rashad didn't need to and no one was expecting him to do so. The bad thing about dropping a 5 star classic as your debut is that your whole career will be defined by that debut and every subsequent release will be viewed as "...but it wasn't as good as his first one." The most important thing in a debut album, for me, is to find out who the artist is. Fans have no idea who Isaiah Rashad was other than he is from Tennessee. Well we found out he has had a lot of anger and daddy issues in his life and that's good that he was telling us. The very best songs tend to be the ones that are the most emotional because they relate to us not as fans but as humans and we can hear the pain in a musician's voice. But other than the pain is his life, his music also lets us know Rashad is a very spiritual person. It seems to be a theme with the TDE artists that spirituality is a major part of their lives and it shows in all of their music.

Another thing that was great about Rashad's debut was that he seems to have a certain direction that he wants to go in with his music already. This means on future projects, he can get right into that comfort zone instead of wasting tracks and multiple projects on finding his lane. I already mentioned the anger and the spirituality, but he also rhymes a lot about past experiences which he uses to make better decisions for the future. That comfort zone I was talking about is that laid back zone. I don't know if that was his decision or if it was TDE's but Isaiah Rashad appears as if he is being marketed as the chill guy you could smoke to. This is all a part of TDE's plan to put together a strong team. The problem with a group like Slaughterhouse, for example, is that all four are dope dope dope spitters, but that is really it. There is nothing that really differentiates one member from the other. If you hear Budden, it isn't anything different than listening to Ortiz. With TDE, you have Kendrick as the Top Dog (pun intended), then Schoolboy as the party guy, Ab-Soul as the spiritual lyricist, Jay Rock is the gangster who gets hungrier with every track he spits on, and SZA is the singer who will make you think about life. Everyone in TDE has a niche and each individual is one of the top, if not the best, artists in that niche they are in. That being said, I loved the production on Cilvia because it matches the laid back rhymes of Rashad to create that atmosphere. Every song fit with the beat. There wasn't any track that me thinking "why did they use this beat for that track?" There was a plan in place for the sound and it was executed.

The last thing that I really liked about the project was that Isaiah Rashad did most of the hooks. That shows he knows how to write a hook (which is probably the most important component to getting radio play) and that he can handle having himself on the hooks. He does a Kid Cudi-like cadence when on the hooks but he actually sound like he prepares what he is going to say unlike Cudi. Rashad sounds good on it meaning that TDE and Interscope don't have to break the bank to get someone to sing a hook for him.

My favorite song off of the EP was no doubt Heavenly Father. I just loved everything about that song and it is in the daily rotation. Not the best part of the song but a memorable one was at the end when he was talking about the dudes who give trill a bad name. I don't know exactly which rappers he was talking about but we can all trace that whack trillness to ASAP Rocky. He gave trill a new life and even though he isn't guilty of degrading the word, he is guilty for inspiring the degradation of it. I need to know who is the beautiful voice on the hook though. Other tracks I really liked were Banana, Soliloquy of course, Tranquility, Cilvia Demo, and I loved the juxtaposition of Modest. There weren't any tracks i would have thrown away but there were a few I skip right now. My mind usually changes on that kind of stuff though so that's why I won't name them now.

My closing was a very good debut for Isaiah Rashad and he set himself up for improvement with his next release. You don't need a home run in your first at bat. When that happens, you try to do that everytime and kind of miss the small shit that is the most important. He hit a double with this debut, not a homerun but he is still in scoring position. Now he can fine tune his techniques, learn from the other members of TDE, and just gain experience to get home. For what it is worth i'll give the album a solid B. The reason why it isn't higher is because I feel like Rashad has set himself up perfectly to drop an even better sophmore release. It was a very good debut but at the same time left a little something to be desired. I am anticipating his next release will be geared towards the radio, so it will be interesting to see if he changes anything up the next time around.

I got the Broncos beating the Pigeons 24-20. I hate you Dick Sherman and everything you stand for. Earl Thomas and Marshawn Lynch are the only Pigeons I root for and Russell Wilson has to have some skeletons in the closet.

Spice 1- The Murda Show

Fat Trel- Bitches

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Best Projects Of 2013...Real Boy List

I told you the real boy list would be coming real soon. If you didn't check out the preview post which has my honorable mentions and stuff i really wasn't feeling too much, check it out here. The reason why this list is coming out "later" than other lists is because i wanted to wait until 2013 actually came to a close before deciding on a best of list. I still don't understand how you can have a Best Of list when the year isn't over. Anyways 2013 wasn't a great year for hip-hop. A lot of mediocre stuff was released. No instant classics were dropped in my opinion. A few years down the road, a couple may be retroactively considered classics but there are none at the moment. Instead of hating on the year i'll just let you read what i feel were the best 10 projects of 2013.

10. Roc Marciano- The Pimpire Strikes Back

Like many people i have been sleeping on Roc Marciano for way too long. He had a career revival with 2011's Reloaded album and i've been meaning to check it out but just never got around to it. i loved his feature on Pouches of Tuna with Action Bronson but i was still putting off listening to him for some reason. I randomly saw The Pimpire Strikes Back for free on some website and decided to finally give him a listen and i was surprised in a good way. Because he is a New York rapper and he had that Flipmode Squad association i automatically assumed Roc to be some typical New York rapper where it is just bar after bar after bar. Little did i know he is some slick pimp rapper who can flow his ass off. I can't tell you how many time i've replayed The Sacrifice to the point where it prevents me from listening to the entire project sometimes. Since he is already a vet, i'm not expecting Roc to have a 2 Chainz-like revival this late into his career but as long as he keeps making some heat, there won't be a need to. Although Roc has bars when it comes to the production he needs to team up with Madlib and let him produce everything on a project.

9. Vince Staples & Larry Fisherman- Stolen Youth LP

I'll say it again and again, my favorite new rapper that i discovered in 2013 has to be Vince Staples. It doesn't happen too often that one verse can make me check out an artist but his verse on Hive did just that. There was a grittiness to it that you just don't hear nowadays. I know the Chief Keefs, Lil Durks, and Fat Trels of the world bring violence into rap but they don't do it like Vince. The formers do it in a way where its shoot first, ask questions later. When you hear Vince Staples, you hear a kid who is self aware and socially aware and understands why he needs to act in violence. That shit is believable. He isn't some ignorant kid shooting a 9 but rather someone who has an actual reasoning for his actions. What i liked about this project is that it brought us into his world. He told us stories about his father going to jail for being a dope dealer, getting raised by a single mother, his own experiences selling drugs, and wisdom beyond his gang infested years. The tracks i liked the most were the ones he had no features on: the Intro, Guns and Roses, Stuck In My Ways, Thought About You, and the Outro were my standouts. The features really brought the project down with the exception of the Schoolboy Q one, Back Sellin Crack. The Ab Soul one was cool but it wasn't my favorite and i can live without it. If you didn't know, Larry Fisherman is the name Mac Miller uses when producing and i have to say, he did his thing. He surprised me with the production skills for sure. Maybe that's what he needs to stick to but that's my opinion. I liked his production work on this more than i liked his album Watching Movies With The Sound Off. Looking forward to Vince in 2014, get him on that XXL cover.

8. Varth Dader- Tice Nitties

This album has been out for a while and i still don't know anything about Varth Dader beyond his/their music. I still don't even know if it is a group, one person, or a collective but goddamn, this project was fresh. The best part about the album is that it is Name Your Price on their bandcamp page. You can be a cheap bastard like me and get it for free or pay a price for it because this project is worth your money. I first found out about Varth Dader on the DEHH youtube page via beezy430, shout out to the crew. When i searched him/them on youtube i found Forever Omnipresent and was hooked. I checked out the rest of the project and the first track was on some more goddamn stuff. The first half of the song sucked but once that beat changed up and he said "I forgot to turn the swagger off before I went to sleep, next morning i woke up with six naked Puerto Ricans up in my sheets," I knew it was my shit. The project was a little long for my liking but my favorites off of it were Angel Dust and Clones. Those 4 that i mentioned are the ones that i play the most. The rest of the album is cool and i definitely listen to them all but i don't go searching for each one when i have nothing to listen to. If it's on i listen, if it's not, then i don't.

7. Run The Jewels

The self titled debut of BFF's El-P and Killer Mike is needed in 2013 and beyond. It is some hard hitting rap that gets straight to the point and is bound to cause some riots. If you're a fan of Big Sean you probably won't like this. If you're a Wale fan, no disrespect, but you probably will be turned away because the bass hurts your ears and the music makes you feel like you don't have enough testosterone. It's not like I listen to this album (released for free btw, shout out to Mike and El-P for that) every day front to back but when i do listen to it, it gets a good week in the rotation. The thing with these guys is that you don't have to be a fan of their work to enjoy their music (maybe El-P). I am in the belief that once you hear these guys, whether solo or together, they make such good music that you will become fans. Not only is it some music that will cause some riots and make your neighbors hate you, but you'll learn something from the duo. They sprinkle knowledge in there that makes you want to look further into the issues being spoken about. If you call yourself a rap fan but don't listen to Killer Mike or El-P then don't call yourself a rap fan. It's cool if you don't like it but you have to at least listen to them. I can't wait for another Run The Jewels project and solo projects from each individual. Where's that Despot album at though?

6. Kevin Gates- The Luca Brasi Story

This Kevin Gates mixtape is a late bloomer for me. It was released back in February I believe but i did not start messing with it heavy until late December. The track i was feeling for the longest time was Paper Chasers. Whenever i listened to the rest of the project, the trap sound was just too much for me to take seriously. Then i stopped being an elitist and started appreciating that trap sound again and gave this listen another go around. Even though the auto tuned sound is heavy throughout the 20 plus track mixtape, it doesn't get on my nerves like Future does for some reason. Gates knows how to not sound like a pussy when rapping with autotune. And he can make those songs for the ladies as well and i was feeling them. Neon Lights, Arms of a Stranger, and Around Me are heavy in the rotation. Instead of sounding like a dying cat when using autotune, Gates uses it to get that emotion out of him and it works. Then after writing his trap love ballads, he can become that dude on the corner that has chicks working for him armed with hammers while selling that arm & hammer. Then he'll ice pick your knees if he feels the need to take matters into his own hands. I went in expecting to hate this project but i was way wrong and now became a fan of the dude. I never thought i could ever take a dude making a love ballad in autotune seriously but lo and behold, it happened. Looking forward to what he does next.

5. Big Krit- King Remembered In Time

Anyone that has read the blog knows that Big Krit is my dude so of course i was excited to hear that he was coming out with this mixtape. The previous project he released was his debut studio album, Live From The Underground, which was cool but it didn't capture me at all like it did his other four mixtapes. Although i ended up loving 4eva N a Day, it definitely took several listens for me to come around to it and i feared it was going to be the same for this self titled project. Needless to say i didn't have that same problem with this and i loved it. The production has toned down on the classic southern beats, although he still has bangers with My Trunk (where trinidad James did his thing) and How U Luv That with Big Sant. The production on the mixtape was generally very soulful with enough bass in there to make the trunk knock and Krit is matching his great production with improving lyricism. When i say lyricism i don't mean just being able to rhyme words in a dope way *cough Slaughterhouse* but rather the combination of dope to the point lyricism with stories and subject matter. I mean did anyone else notice how tracks 12-15 were all related and i guess you could throw in the Bigger Picture into that mix. Just absolutely amazing to me and Krit is without a doubt the best producer/MC in the game right now. If he was just a spitter he would be dope, if he was just a producer he would be beyond dope but he combines the two so well. Can't wait until Cadillactica comes out. Everyone needs to support this man.

4. Azizi Gibson- Ghost In The Shell

For me, this project came out of nowhere. I would not have heard of the dude or his music if it wasn't for the homie putting me on to him this past summer. For those that don't know, Azizi Gibson is signed to Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder Label. That's really all i know about him to be honest other than he grew up around the world because he was an army brat. Getting right into it, my favorite track is the title track, Ghost In The Shell. I guess you can say that is his most serious/introspective track and you could hear in the music that he was letting us listeners into his world. Despite all the tracks not being on the same level as the title tracks, they were all dope. It was an interesting and entertaining listen. He seems like he is all over the place with his stories but at the heart of it all he wants to do is get famous, stack paper, and make romance with the finest of women. Azizi's a character and that's the great thing about Brainfeeder. Flying Lotus gives his artists complete creative control over their music and product is stuff like this. Who knows if Azizi would have gotten his small number of listens without the support of Brainfeeder. He is someone i'm definitely keeping an eye on. I will be anticipating his next project and will be having big expectations for it.

3. Chance The Rapper- Acid Rap

I should have seen this coming but for some reason i didn't realize that Chance is a polarizing rapper. Either people love him or they hate him. Personally, i love the guy's music. I really liked his 2012 release, 10 Day, and that got me anticipating his second project. I feel like people that hate him can't stand his voice. That was my problem at first too because that was really annoying to no end but once i got past that and just started listening to his music, his voice not only became a non-issue but it became one of the more appealing aspects to the music. There's only a couple tracks on here that i don't like which are the intro and a few in the middle of the tape but other than that i love the rest of them. Chance has managed to differentiate himself from other rappers in 2013 at the age of 20. It isn't just because he spits bars and is "bringing rap back," but rather Chance is bringing a whole new style mixing melodies, flow, and meaningful lyrics into one package. He is far from a great singer but he sounds good on his hooks. His adlibs are annoying but they get stuck in your head to the point where you have to play the songs the minute you get back to your computer. Chance is going to be a force to be reckoned with and is one of the flag bearers for the new wave of hip-hop artists coming up.

2. The Underachievers- Indigoism

I don't even like every track on The Underachievers' debut project but the ones i do like, i play A LOT. I probably went back to these songs more than any other throughout the whole year. There's something about their spirituality talking that gets me everytime, i don't know what it is. I pretty much listen to at least one song of theirs every day and it has not gotten old whatsoever. AK and Issa are some interesting artists because they are direct products of the internet age. With what they talk about, i can't see how they have any chance of getting radio play therefore they must rely on tours to make money. Like Azizi Gibson, they are signed to Brainfeeder and their creative control is seen in the type of music they put out. This was actually the first of two mixtapes that UA released in the year and apparently they have an album in the works for 2014. I can't even explain why i like the tracks so i'm being lazy and you gotta take my word for it. Just listen to the damn thing and form your own opinion. P.S. I'm praying to God that Issa and AK don't break up because they will probably be doomed if that's the case.

1. Mr Muthafuckin eXquire- Kismet 

This one is slept on and its a damn shame too. I first caught wind of Mr Muhafuckin eXquire when i saw his 2011 mixtape, Lost In Translation, pop up on the best of... lists so i checked it out. It was cool for me but i wasn't vibing with it. Although the Huzzah remix was the one though. I checked his other tapes and wasn't too impressed with it so he was kind of out of sight out of mind for me. Then I heard eXquire on that El-P track, Oh Hail No, and it was like a revelation for me. I had to keep tabs on my dude again but when Kismet dropped i admit that it wasn't in the rotation at first. Once it did get in the rotation however, it didn't leave. I was listening to this everyday. The dude is deep, has left field beats, and can ride those beats like its no ones business. This isn't everyone's cup of tea so it's one of those love it or hate it projects but if you love it you LOVE IT. He drops lines like "9 chains on my neck, you can weigh my pain," or lines like "can't sell records, too much complexity." Then the next song will be I Was Drunk When I Wrote This and brings the party right back. He's got the new morning anthem with Illest Niggaz Breathin which I play every morning along with So Fresh, So Clean. He's got the women stories with Cherry Raindrops. He'll talk about love with Vanilla Rainbows. He's got the fuck society track with Chains. Paper Hearts is my shit. eXxx Studio is a great way to  end the project. I enjoyed this project thoroughly and this was the one i played the most front to back. He looks like he's making a push for radio play because he dropped the Mr. Muthafuckin and is going just by eXquire right now so i hope he can make it. If we can hear his stuff on the radio, that would be an amazing change of pace to what we have been hearing between all the swag rap and the i can't control my emotions rap. Support the dude.

There you have it. If you're wondering why i may have some more What? choices in my top 10 it is because 1) they were my favorite projects of the year and 2) if you wanted to see Yeezus or J Cole or Jay Z or Pusha T on the list you can literally go to any other person's list and see them. I'm trying to give these dude's some shine and put a new audience onto them because if i liked them odds are that there are other people who liked or will like them too. Let me know of any comments, questions, or vulgarities you have at the list and i'll get back to you.

Big Boy's Favorite Projects of the Year (no order):
Rich Homie Quan >>>> everything else

The Ill Fashionista's Favorite Projects of the Year (no order):
Kevin Gates- The Luca Brasi Story
Trinidad James- Don't Be Safe (I am aware it was 2012)
Chief Keef- Finally Rich
Drake- Nothing Was The Same
Kendrick Lamar- good kid M.A.A.d city (I am aware it was 2012) 

The Girlfriend's Favorite Stuff of the Year (no order):
The Lumineers- Ho Hey
Passengers- Let Her Go
Eminem feat Rihanna- Monsters
Lorde- Pure Heroine (forgot to put that on the real boy list)

Lil B- Where The Game Began

Lil B- I Own Swag

Friday, January 3, 2014

Best Albums/Mixtapes/EP's/Projects/Whatevers of 2013...Preview

As you can tell from the title, this is going to be a best of 2013 list of music that i was digging in these past 365 days. Now I was going to do one huge post but i decided to split it into two. This first post you could call a preview I guess. What I did was listen to as much as I could in the music world in 2013. All the projects I listened to and remembered will be on here. As I'm writing this sentence I remembered that I listened to Tyga and French Montana's albums but at the same time I have no desire to revisit them. So it's a list of the projects I want to take time out of and show some love to whether i liked it or not. This post isn't really a ranking but more so a shout out to those projects I was mehh on and the honorable mention projects of the year. The real actual Best Of list won't come until 2014 and will have rankings that have some merit in my mind but probably only mean anything to me. So for this one, tell me why i'm stupid for not liking certain projects or if you got any projects you feel were honorable mention worthy in this year of mediocre music. Here we go with the kickoff to the end.

Wasn't Really Feelins/Mehhs

Psalms of David 2 by Dee-1 and Church Clothes 2 by Lecrae

Dee-1 and Lecrae dropped their projects in lateish 2013 and i just want to give a shout out for what they're doing. Lecrae actually has a grammy for best gospel album if that means anything but i'm giving them a shoutout for making hip-hop music in a positive light. They don't swear, they don't drink or smoke, they're not preachy about how they live a clean lifestyle which is always a plus, and they try to be as uplifting as they can. To me, their stuff is just boring. Lecrae's first Church Clothes mixtape apparently was better than the sequel so i'll give that a listen when i get the chance, but these projects didn't have any replay value for me. It is refreshing to hear this kind of style in hip-hop so let's just hope there's some kids listening that could make it interesting. It's already an uphill battle for these guys but i like what they're trying to do.

Untitled 2- Hodgy Beats

Normally i don't mess with Odd Future but i saw Hodgy get interviewed by Nardwuar and thought he was hilarious so i had to check his music out. Normally i'm all about progression for the artists but when you say bukakke in a recorded interview, you're not going to drop any wisdom or say anything that hasn't been said before. And there's nothing wrong with that. Just give me a project full of tracks like Karateman (one of my favorite tracks of the year) and that would have probably would have made the real boy end of the year list. Shout out to Odd Future though. I still don't really mess with them but they're doing their thing and its paying off for them.

Nehruvia- Bishop Nehru

I remember listening to Bishop Nehru way back early in the year and kind of forgot about him until now. I haven't even gone back to listen to anything of his so its been out of sight out of mind. I did do a post on this mixtape though. I remember liking it for his flow and subject matter especially since the guy was only 16. Looking back, the problems i had with it was that he was sounding too much like Joey Badass in voice, flow, and subject matter. He is a dope rapper, don't get me wrong, but he needs to do something that differentiates himself from the pro era boys especially since this 90's enlightenment rap seems to be taking over. I know he had another project this year but i didn't check it out and supposedly he is going to do a collaboration project with MF DOOM so i think everyone is on the lookout for that. Hopefully he comes correct next year.

Old Boy John- Dumbfoundead

This Dumbfoundead project has the same issue i had with the Bishop Nehru project, it has no replay value for me. I liked it at the time, it was cool, but it was the perfect example of a MEHHH project. He is a guy i want to see do well because i've seen videos of him battle rapping and straight taking out fool in the alleyways of LA, so i know he has put in the time but the project didn't hold my interest. Only reason i remember he dropped a project was because i was looking through my posts from this year and i found his review. If he does drop something in the future, i'm definitely going to check it out just to see how he has progressed, but i'm not going to be counting down the days until its release. The most memorable line from the album was "I'm Johnny, Im Manziel, that freshman with the Heisman." Take that line however you want to take it. If you think it's clever...okay.

Innanetape- Vic Mensa

Shout out to Vic and Chance the Rapper for representing Chicago well. If you want a full in depth review of what i thought about the mixtape, click here. In short it was cool, but it didn't have enough replay value to stick in the itunes playlist. The only track i remember that i liked off the top of my head was Tweakin mainly because of Chance's verse and i played it like 30 times before going to the next track. I'm interested in seeing Vic's progression but at the same time i won't be losing any sleep if i see that i missed like 3 Vic Mensa releases in the future.

Long.Live.A$AP- A$AP Rocky

I hate myself for doing this because i really try not to compare artists with previous works but i couldn't shake the fact that Rocky's studio debut was not even close to Live.Love.A$AP. The production on Long Live was dope but other than that, nothing stood out other than 1 Train and every rapper got busy with their verses. I want Rocky to do well and i think we're all counting the days until he breaks off from ASAP Mob and really tries to build his own brand up. I'll obviously keep an eye out for Rocky but his next actual album i'll probably only check out if it gets good reviews and stuff. Shout out to Method Man for getting on that ASAP Nast track and showing some love.

The Psychic World of Walter Reed- Killah Priest

If you guys don't know who Killah Priest is, he is a Wu Tang affiliate best known for his appearance on GZA's Liquid Swords album with the solo track B.I.B.L.E. If you're a hip-hop fan and you don't know that track or that album then turn in your hip-hop card and you won't be allowed to get it back for a year at least because if you don't know that album or song, then you need at least a year to catch up just to get your card back. To the album, i'm not going to front and act like I bump this everyday because i don't. It's a double album clocking in at 2 and a half hours so you need a lot of time on your hands if you want to listen to this in one sitting. Killah Priest is a smart dude who can combine that knowledge of religion/wisdom/life lessons into his music without sounding corny. The problem is that you have to be in the mood to listen to his music. If you are in the mood, then it is perfect. If not, then it is going to be a boring listen. Also, i though the production was boring as hell. No matter how dope the lyrics are, this production can't make the biggest Killah Priests fans listen for 2 and a half hours.  

Million Dollar Afro- Iamsu and Problem/ Kilt 2- Iamsu

Going to do a double mini review here with two of Iamsu's mixtapes released during the year, one of them being a collabo with Problem. If you need something to play at a party, just pick any track pretty much off of these two mixtapes. You can't go wrong. It's scientifically impossible to listen to an Iamsu track and not wanna just say "AYYYE" over and over again. Problem got his ignorant on too. I think he might have a phd in ignorance. Best tracks were Bout Me, Return of the Mac, 100 Grand Remix feat Juvenile aka the Back That Ass Up guy for all those that don't remember, and On Citas.

While You Wait- Sir Michael Rocks

I have no idea why but one day in October or November, i think i was watching a Sir Michael Rocks (aka Mikey Rocks) interview and he was talking about how rappers stole the Cool Kids (his group with Chuck Inglish) vibe and swag without really giving them credit so you know being the history major that i am, i had to see what Mikey was talking about. I checked out Lap of Lux first and was digging the vibe. I mean i kind of new just from the his past with the Cool Kids and his affiliation with Jet Life that Mikey Rocks isn't going to be some lyrical wizard that is dropping triple entendres and having metaphors that go over listeners heads until the fifth time you hear it while reading along to the lyrics but he is a pretty boy rapper. To me, he is Big Sean except i don't want to hit him with a swanton bomb off a 20 foot ladder. While You Wait was a good listen and a solid project but it wasn't anything special. It's almost perfect that it dropped in 2013 since the year as a whole has seen "cool but ehhh" projects get dropped left and right. For someone that was talking about how other rappers stole his style i found it kind of awkward that he bit the popular Atlanta flow that seems to be the rage right now on In A Minute. Mikey has the last verse and uses the flow that has been popularized by Migos which i believe but am not too sure they got from Young Thug (let me know if i am wrong though for sure). He has a really good ear for beats and i feel like the production is the thing that carries Mikey throughout the project. I'm still a fan of the dude, don't get me wrong, and i'll still be on the lookout for his stuff especially anything with Jetlife. Speaking of that, i don't know of anything that he has done with those guys in a while so i don't even know how involved he is with them. Mikey is just one of those guys for me that i'll see he dropped a new track or whatever but it won't be a must listen. I have to be in the flossy mood to listen to his music and there's nothing wrong with that, just not my main craving. Big salute though for being an overlooked pioneer. While I wait for a Cool Kids reunion (pun intended), i'll check in on Mikey Rocks here and there.

Honorable Mentions

Special Shout Outs to these projects:
Deltron 3030- Event II                                                                                  Czarface                                   

Starlito & Don Trip- Step Brothers 2                                                     Stalley- Honest Cowboy

Black Milk- No Poison No Paradise                                                                                                   Danny Brown- Old
Foreign Exchange- Love In Flying Colors                                Flatbush Zombies- Better Off Dead                                           
Earl Sweatshirt- Doris                                            Action Bronson & Party Supplies- Blue Chips 2

Earth To Arima- Arima Ederra

This is kind of awkward because this was actually released late in December of 2012. I actually didn't know this was a 2012 release until looking for a picture of the album cover. But seeing how all the album of the year lists come out in early December for some weird reason, this project probably didn't get any love. I found out about it from HipHopFightsBack, shout out to Jake Bourey (the ultimate hip hop elitist). Onto the actual album, it really took me several listens to enjoy this project but i did. It really gives a Erykah Badu, Jhene Aiko feel to it. Its ironic that she emerged too because TDE signed a very similar artist in my opinion in SZA a few months back who i also really like. Listening to this project kind of gives you a feeling of being in a different dimension with the spacy beats, spiritual lyrics, and just overall vibe to it. I have no information about her (other than her being from Las Vegas), who she is signed with (if at all), collabs with any artists, or plans with future projects. However, doing a quick youtube search reveled she has a couple joints with Blu. Speaking of Blu, there was a Blu feature on the project which kind of reminded me of Blu's Madlib produced track, Jesus. Favorite tracks on the project were Characteristics Of An Aquarian, Lovemological, and Flow Chart. The only track i really wasn't fucking with was Lovers Lane which featured Gibby. No disrespect, i just felt the verse was boring and a lot of movements were going on but nothing was being said. All in a all a very solid project especially from someone who i never even heard of before and i will definitely be looking forward to her next stuff and see if she stays in her spirituality lane or if she mixes it up.

Handful Of Dust- ANTHM

I first heard about ANTHM on the rapgenius forum when asking about some humble rappers i should be paying attention to. Usually rapgenius sucks for this kind of stuff but i never heard of the guy before and gave it a listen. I was thoroughly impressed by him and decided to get this project. Looking into ANTHM a little bit i found out he is a Duke graduate who had a steady career working on Wall Street. He threw it all away to follow his passion of rapping so you could question the guy's sanity maybe but you can't deny he's got some balls to throw that Wall Street career away. I don't remember if this was a free download or if i had to pay for it but it's in my possession now so who cares. First off, this whole project was produced by GodLeeBarnes, which is Blu's name when he does production. I have never heard a Blu production before so this caught me off guard with how well the project was put together. It's an EP so it's only 7 tracks coming at just over 20 minutes. I like projects like this because you can listen to the entire thing just by walking to school or taking a shit. I realized when making the list that this isn't necessarily something i go back to a lot but when i do i usually give the project a good 3 lessons each time. There aren't any skip worthy tracks on the EP but at the same time there isn't exactly one i would go back to constantly if that makes sense. I'm definitely keeping my eye on him in the future and can't wait to see where he goes from here. Favorite tracks were Debbie and Low Class which uses he same sample as Masta Ace's Take A Walk.

Crenshaw- Nipsey Hussle

I already kind of gave my thoughts on Nipsey's $100 mixtape here but after giving it a few more listens i'll speak on it some more. My favorite Nip project is still The Marathon and it is going to take a lot for Nipsey to dethrone that one but Crenshaw i can honestly say is my second favorite even though that wasn't that hard to do. I like the variety of producers and artists he worked with on the project with 9th Wonder, Officer Ricky, some of Houston's finest in Z-Ro and Slim Thug, and of course the LA cats like Dom Kennedy and Futuristics. I had said my favorite track was Face the World but that has changed to Go Long. Everytime i see some stupid ass person do something i'm thinking "get the fuck out my face bitch nigga go long." This was a cool project but it doesn't have much replay value other than a few projects. If the year wasn't so mediocre for music i do not know if it would even make the list. The thing that i guess is disappointing is that Nipsey has been in the game for so long that we have kind of seen it all from him. I hope he proves me wrong but i think as listeners we know what to expect from him in the future. I still can't believe he sold all the copies of his mixtape.


S is the debut EP/mixtape from the First Lady of TDE (Top Dawg Entertainment as in the best label in the game right now for all you guys whose top 3 rappers are Eminem, Drake, and Macklemore). Although i do believe this was released before she was signed to the label. I'm not going to pretend and say I've known about SZA ever since she uploaded her first song to myspace. I found out about her when news broszake that she had signed to TDE. This was a left field choice because when you think of TDE you think of the rappers on the label: Kendrick, Schoolboy, Ab Soul, Jay Rock, Poor Man's Kendrick aka Isaiah Rashad. What these guys have in common is that they rap and rap well. SZA is not a rapper, although i thought she was about to spit during the BET cypher. Anyways, i'm going off topic. Back to the project. I liked that it was only 8 tracks which is like the perfect amount for a debut. An artist should be able to give us a taste of what they're about and leave us wanting more for their sophmore release. What we learned about SZA is that she is mysterious. She has a lot of meaning in her lyrics dealing with spirituality, never fitting in, and some other stuff that went over my head. I liked the vibe of it. Just from the sound you already knew SZA is some out of this world, thinks on a different level type artist. She probably has a third eye if you can visualize the kind of r&b she makes. Definitely looking for her on future collabs with Kendrick, Schoolboy, Ab Soul, and if Jay Rock ever does anything again. Its god for her because she will probably be the one singing on the hooks aka singing on the singles aka singing on the money makers. Favorite ones were Terror Dome and Aftermath. Everything else was cool and has left me wanting to here more from her.

The Golden Age- Dizzy Wright

I like to think I have an invested interest in Dizzy Wright since i tabbed him as one of my freshmen in the first annual Slim Samurai freshman edition which was probably the biggest flop in the history of picking the next breakout stars but I did pick Dizzy who actually has buzz. He is my favorite out of the Funk Volume crew, which isn't saying much, and he surprised me. The homie kept talking about his song Killem With Kindness so i looked it up and i was digging it. Anytime you sample Player's Club, i'm going to like it. I was surprised with how he flipped it but he did it well nonetheless. Those are the kind of songs that make you root for Dizzy to be successful. He lets his guard down and lets you into his world versus someone like Hopsin who gets buzz for taking shots at other rappers. That schtick is getting old and getting old fast. The main gripe i have with this project, and i know it is a problem for others as well, is that is is too long. It comes in around an hour and a half and i just got too much to do to be sitting around for an hour and a half listening to this. I feel like he should have put forth the best 12, 13, 14 tracks whatever and saved the others for a throwaway release like a month later or something. I understand he wanted to put out what he felt was his best material, but Dizzy has to understand quality is better than quantity, especially in this short attention span generation that we live in. I like The Prospective where it talked about why instagram girls only put pictures up for the likes and the self esteem boost while dudes just be hella thirsty on there. It's something i never understood but i don't have an instagram so i don't know. I also liked Welcome Home which sampled the Janet Jackson song. Its got my girl, Arima Ederra, on the hook and she sang it lovely. Props to Dizzy for giving his fellow Las Vegas compadres some love. All in all this felt like a coming of age project. I caught glimpses of his maturity in Smokeout Conversations, but he still had growing up to do. Now with his daughter, it seems Dizzy has a better perspective on life and it shows in his music. Like i said, he is someone you want to root for and you hope keeps getting better and better.

There are my honorable mentions of the year if you will. The real boy list is coming real soon too so keep an eye out for that.

RIP James Avery