Punchline Rappers: North East’s Hottest


In Hip-Hop, having a good cadence is one thing. But if you deliver dope punchlines, you’re more likely to stand out and be remembered. Dictionary.com’s definition of a punch line is

“The climatic phrase or sentence in a joke, speech, advertisement or humorous story that produces a desired effect”

In layman’s terms, it’s the standout bar in a verse or a couplet that’s unexpected. Because there are so many dope emcees that excel in this field, I decided to divide them up by region. Without further ado, here’s the hottest punchline rappers in the North East.

Fabolous

Best Showcase of Punchlines: There Is No Competition 2

It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t start the list off with one of the most consistent lyricists out there. Fab has been around since 1998 and got his big break by being featured on DJ Clue mixtapes. Throughout the years, he has released 6 studio albums, & a joint album with Jadakiss. But it is on his mixtapes where Fabolous’ lyrics shine the brightest, particularly the There Is No Competition series.

Cassidy

Best Showcase of Punchlines: Cassidy Vs. Freeway

Though his discography isn’t as large as others on the list, Cassidy is the one of the funniest rappers to ever grab the mic. His ability to put together freestyles is still unmatched to this very day. It was the battle that he participated in with Freeway that caught my attention. Delivering dope rhymes acapella against one of Rocafella Records up and coming premier artist was no easy feat but Cassidy executed flawlessly.

Lloyd Banks

Best Showcase of Punchlines: Work Magic (feat. Young Buck)

Lloyd Banks a.k.a. Punchline King (PLK) is known from the G-Unit clique that came into the music game and popularized the mixtape. With 50 Cent singing the hooks & Tony Yayo providing the hype, Banks was given the light to shine and body whatever verses he hopped on. On his debut album The Hunger For More, PLK showed everyone that he can hold his own when it came to crafting an entire LP. Work Magic is Banks at his most impressive and has remained on my gym playlist for many years.


Joe Budden

Best Showcase of Punchlines: Mood Muzik Series

Joe Budden has seen a rise in popularity since his appearance on Everyday Struggle, a show that he created with DJ Akademiks & moderated by Nadeska Alexis & The Joe Budden Podcast w/ Rory & Mal, the best podcast out today. But if we rewind 10 years ago, Joe had become an independent act after being released from Def Jam. Not to be one to keep his frustrations in, he crafted the Mood Musik series and has become a founding father in releasing all original music on a mixtape. It is here where fans got a chance to see things from his point of view.


Wale

Best Showcase of Punchlines: The Mixtape About Nothing

Wale is another example of underrated punchline rapper. The D.C. native had his breakout song with Nike Boots & has since signed to Maybach Music Group. He’s rarely mentioned along the ranks of Kendrick Lamar & J. Cole when “Top Artist of Today” conversations are being had which is baffling.

Jadakiss

Best Showcase of Punchlines: Jadakiss vs. Beanie Sigel

One-third of the L.O.X. & a Ruff Ryders affiliate, Jadakiss is referred to many as the stand out artist of the group. With his signature laugh & raspy voice, Jada ensures that regardless of whomever is a on track, they’re going to have a hard time outshining him. The world got to see him in his prime through the Rocafella vs. Ruff Ryders beef that was started over nonsense.

Conclusion

In all actuality, there are a ton of artists that are excellent wordsmiths. But those mentioned above take it up a notch further. Do you agree with this list? If not, who would you consider the hottest? Leave a comment below.

Rap Album Reviews: Travis Scott “ASTROWORLD”

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For the longest of time I was not a Travis Scott fan for the longest. I listened to Rodeo and wasn’t impressed. To me, he was another one of the artists that lacked substance and glorified drug use (see what I did there?). Throughout social media and the confinements of the prison cell that I referred to as work, everyone that I knew was praising the sophomore album Birds In The Trap Sing Mcknight. I decided to give him another listen and It’s a good thing that I did because I was sadly mistaken. It has been nearly 2 years since that album was released and now ASTROWORLD has finally arrived. Did he outdo himself the third time around? How does it fare in comparison to his previous bodies of work? Stay tuned for my rap album review.

 

 

STARGAZING

Produced by 30 Roc, Bkorn, BWheezy & Sonny Digital. It’s apparent that the birth of his child Stormi has had a somewhat positive impact on Travis.

“I was hot as hell out in the heat

Then the storm came in to save my life

Meditate, just got down on my knees

Out of nowhere, you came in to save the night”

Travis talks about life on the psychedelic drugs in the way that he knows how.

 

 

CAROUSEL (feat. Frank Ocean)

First half of the record sounds like something out of a retro video game. The beat switches mid-song & Frank comes in at the end of the record with references to his new place in New York that he resides.

“Brand new, brand new, this new place I got to

New world, new sky that’s so blue it’s black too”.

Hit-Boy gets production credit for this record.

 

 

SICKO MODE (feat. Drake & Swae Lee)

Rogét Chahayed, Hit-Boy, OZ, Tay Keith & CuBeatz are responsible for the production credits. Travis collaborates with Drake again for a song that I’m sure will be a single. I see that Aubrey talks about his alleged deal with Adidas that was sabotaged

“Jesus Christ, (yeah) checks over stripes (yeah)

That’s what I like, (yeah) that’s what we like (yeah)”.

Pretty dope track & the first time I’ve heard Swae Lee & Drake on the same song.

 

 

R.I.P. Screw (feat. Swae Lee)

Travis Scott crafted this smooth record along with FKi 1st. Travis pays his respects to DJ Screw, a Houston native who is known for popularizing the “chopped & screwed” sound to hip-hop. In the way that he knows how, Travis wants the listener to jump in the mind frame that he’s in and enjoy the ride.

“Rest in peace to Screw, tonight we take it slowly

Oh my God, I just can feel the love

Drop top with the windows up

Jump inside, oh won’t you roll with us?”

I’m feeling the vibe on this record & it’s already a favorite of mine.

 

 

STOP TRYING TO BE GOD (feat. James Blake, Kid Cudi, Philip Bailey & Stevie Wonder)

Showcasing his musical genius, Travis Scott along with CuBeatz, Mike Dean & JBeatzz create an elegant backdrop. As the title suggests, Travis talks about remaining true to who you are as a person & not looking down upon those who’ve seen you at your lowest.

“Stop tryna be God Almighty

F*** the money, never leave your people behind, yeah

It’s never love, no matter what you try

Still can see it comin’ down your eyes”

He also mentions how it’s a waste of time trying to understand his thought process. He’s a visionary & things won’t make sense until everything is pieced together.

“You won’t succeed tryna learn me

Stick to the roads in my journey”

The transition from the previous record is super dope. Another favorite of mine from the album.

 

 

NO BYSTANDERS (feat. Juice WRLD & Sheck Wes)

TM88, Larry David, Mike Dean, Gezin of 808 Mafia & WondaGurl all work their magic on this banger. This particular song is likely one that will go off in the clubs, judging by the chorus. The song essentially talks about the lifestyle of the artist, particularly sex, drugs & partying. Accompanied by new artists, Juice WRLD & Sheck Wes, both provides the backdrop to a record that will surely have plenty of people getting wild.

This reminds me of Blue Cheese of mine from the Pretty Girls Like Trap Music album by 2 Chainz.

 

 

SKELETONS (feat. Pharrell Williams, Tame Impala & The Weeknd)

Production credit goes to Tame Impala. This tracks talks about the secret relationship between Travis & Kylie while they attended Coachella.

“We just rocked Coachella, I gave her half of the check

It was good sex, honorable mention to the ‘net”

The Weeknd comes through as usual with smooth vocals.

 

 

WAKE UP (feat. The Weeknd)

I believe the intention was to blend the previous song and this one. Frank Dukes, Wallis Lane & Sevn Thomas helped create the beat here. Travis collaborates with Abel again to discuss the love that he has for the mother of his daughter.

“Took the belt-way down to your hood (it’s lit!)

Say you was in the crowd, I never looked

Looking back how things came back around

Guess I was hooked”

It’s crazy how the universe may subconsciously introduce prominent people in your life. A good track that I can see myself replaying.

 

5% TINT

FKi 1st is the contributor to this record. Nothing out of the ordinary is present here. The typical Travis Scott subject matter is showcased here. This is one of the weaker records on the album.

 

NC-17 (feat. 21 Savage)

An appropriate title for this song. 21 Savage & Travis says very explicit things about the women that associate with. This record was put together by Allen Ritter, Boi-1da & CuBeatz.

 

 

ASTROTHUNDER

Matty (of BADBADNOTGOOD), River Tiber (whom I’ve heard working on some of Usher’s past albums), John Mayer, Thundercat, Frank Dukes & Travis Scott. Production on this record is “spacey” for a lack of better wording. Travis stays in his own pocket as he mentions police brutality while at the same time realizing that’s a topic that’s too much for him to dive into

“Hands up, why they tryna reach? I can’t even get that deep

Told you I don’t teach, yeah

Practice, oh no, never preach

Practice, oh no, never preach”.

YOSEMITE (feat. Gunna & Nav)

Not up on my Gunna & Nav verses but this is a nice track. The guitar prevalent throughout the record is a nice addition to the Travis Scott catalog. Turbo & June James get credit for the production on this one.

 

 

CAN’T SAY (feat. Don Toliver)

Don Toliver on this record harmonizes like CeeLo Green. It’s an alright track though it is repetitive. The song is produced by London Cyr, Frank Dukes & WondaGurl.

 

 

WHO? WHAT! (feat. Quavo & Takeoff)

Cardo & 30 Rocs put their best foot forward with this beat. Good to see Cardo getting more recognized in the music industry. I can see this one as a single. Very catchy although it’s very short.

 

 

BUTTERFLY EFFECT

I want to say that this is the single for the album as the song was performed last year while Travis was on tour. Produced by Felix Leone & Murda Beatz, Travis Scott coasts on this beat in and makes mention of his upcoming and such. Couldn’t stand this record but it has since started to grow on me.

 

 

HOUSTONFORNICATION

Production credits go to Sevn Thomas & Wallis Lane. HOUSTONFORNICATION talks about the life of Travis in his hometown of Houston vs. his current living situation in California. Regardless of his super stardom, he is aware that he is still a Black man living in America

“How I’m supposed to feel safe? Twelve live adjacent

Yeah, crib built like a prison where that b**** is gated.”

Even with the newfound popularity, he chooses to remain the same person he’s always been and lie low.

“I’m just tryna get the paper, stayin’ out the papers”

He stays in pocket on this record and it’s really catchy.

 

 

COFFEE BEAN

This is hands down my favorite song of the album. Produced by Nineteen85, Travis speaks on his relationship with Kylie Jenner & the backlash that he has received because of it.

“Your family told you I’m a bad move

Plus, I’m already a black dude”

What makes that line quite humorous is the fact that the rest of the Kardashian family is known for being messy in the tabloids. In addition, the fact that both have been busy has been lingering on his mind but rest assured he hasn’t forgotten about her.

“I know they told you I’d be bad for you

Don’t worry, I’ll be back for you”

Great record from La Flame & probably his most introspective yet.

 

 

Conclusion

Astroworld is Travis Scott’s best work to date. His production is top-notch & serves as a testament to his artistry. At the time of this post, it is the best produced album of 2018. As expected, I wasn’t blown away with the lyrics but that’s not why fans of La Flame listen to him. What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below

 

 

Highlights

Rap Album Reviews: Freeway “Think Free”

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I was first introduced to Freeway during the infamous battle between him & Cassidy. Though he didn’t emerge victorious, I seen him as an artist that had talent and was sure he was going to be around. During the summer of 2003, I got my hands on a copy of Philadelphia Freeway, his debut album and was thoroughly impressed with the album. It would go on to be a classic in my eyes, if not others. Fast forward 17 years and we are here with his sixth studio album? How is it? Scroll on to read my rap album review of Think Free.

 

 

Intro

The album opens up with a sample from The Game’s classic album Jesus Piece called “Freedom” that features Elijah Blake). Free talks about growing up in the city of Philadelphia and the struggles that he along with many others had to deal with which meant hanging out with the drug dealers and resorting to selling them.

“Had to post up with the stickers, that a stigmata?

If you don’t hustle where I live, then you don’t get nada

Was a disgrace to my mom, pulled my first case

Grinding in the crack house, on my 26th hour

No fresh pair of clothes, took no shower

I was posted like the Baker trying to flip the flour”

Coming up in the city of the Philadelphia, where majority of the population is predominately poor, he emphasized the fact that in order to make it, one must hustle like his life depended on it because essentially it did. Free did his thing with this intro.

 

 

Blood Pressure (feat. Lil Wayne)

The second record delivers some high energy production. Free raps at a fast pace and lets listeners know that he is still here after all of this time

Flame thrower, we be scorin’, we be reppin’

Till the game over

I’m a bitter rap legend in a Range Rover

Put the 6 and the 7 up my blessings

Mess with us, precious, so check his vitals

North Philly icon, built for survival

Lil Wayne comes in on the second verse and follows up with the hunger that I haven’t heard from him in almost a decade. This one will be added to my gym playlist.

 

 

The Nation (feat. Jadakiss)

A rather short record that find Freeway in a good pocket talking about the yesteryear and how the rivals were fabricating a lifestyle. Jadakiss comes through and what always amazes me is how he can implement a life lesson that sounds simple yet profound

“Tryna’ locate P yo’ where Donnie at?

I was kinda hoping that he would bring Bronnie back

violate me I bring the Tommie bac

You only get one life, you should honor that”

This is a dope track. I do wish that there was another verse though.

 

Blessed (feat. Faith Evans)

Very refreshing production. Free is counting his blessings. He makes mention of his previous run-ins with the law in 1999. Being released in 2000 & having the opportunity to rap alongside Beanie Sigel & his State Property crew. He also talks about his near death experience with kidney failure. He had to be on dialysis, which to those who are diabetic, knows that can be a serious issue. In addition, Freeway also had the privilege to ink a joint deal between his record label New Rothchilds & Roc Nation. A track that I thoroughly enjoy.

 

 

Legacy

Freeway lets it be known that he has support from everyone including those that are Christian & Muslim on this track. He also talks about being a responsible family man by taking care of his kids. I noticed within the first 5 tracks that there is a lot of growth from him and this is great news to hear from a big fan of his music.

 

 

All Falls Down

Living an opulent lifestyle can have anyone believing that the love that they’re receiving from everyone is genuine. It is when the person is going through a hardship that the true colors of the fraudulent people begin to showcase their intent. Free touches on the fact that his phone was barely ringing when he was going thorough kidney failure. He also talks about how a foolproof plan doesn’t always end up the way that one would think it would.

“You was the man ’til your plan foiled

Now you sittin’ in a can ’cause your man ain’t loyal

He’s sittin’ on a stand with his hand on the Bible

Confessing to the jury how you whipped it to the oils”

I hope that those who are dealing drug understand the types of risks that are involved. This is a decent track.

 

 

Life On The Line

A former woman that Free was involved with & hip-hop are the topics of discussion on this record. He lets the person know that although he checks in periodically with her, the love isn’t reciprocated. Freeway grew up on hip-hop and he’s disappointed in the direction that it’s taken. It’s lacking substance and isn’t getting the respect that “she” properly deserves. Another solid track to me.

 

 

Cocaine White (feat. Fat Joe)

This record is the usual rags-to-riches story. Free talks about growing up in the hood and the surrounding people not being able to get jobs because of their prior records

“The way I rose from the bottom, the people oughta pay me

Fried rice type, sugar water baby

From the hood, all my G’s got felonies

They couldn’t make it to the Army or the Navy”

Fat Joe comes through with the “dope” line informing people that anyone that gets in his way are getting stopped or pushed back

“This is business, never personal

Either they put you in park, or they reversing you”

Not a fan of this record personally. The chorus isn’t fitting.

 

 

All The Way Live

One of my favorites off the album. Produced by E^ST & Bizzness, I wouldn’t be too surprised of this one getting a lot of spins in the Philly nightclubs. There’s no extravagant lyricism here, just a good track to nod your head to. Free keeps at least one banger in the tuck.

 

Real One (feat. BJ The Chicago Kid & Kamillion)

Another feel good track that talks about real scenarios that plague the Black community. From not being able to find employment to Blacks being killed by police in the streets, Freeway lets it be known that he keeps his ears to the streets and provides a voice to those who aren’t able to speak out.

 

 

Swagger On Mayo (feat. Lil Uzi Vert)

Still not exactly sure what this means. Not a fan of the word swag, mayo, or Lil Uzi Vert’s lyrics on this record. But I do appreciate 2 Philadelphia artists being able to coexist on a track and bridging the gap between two generations together.

About You (feat. Johnny)

A showcase of his softer side, Freeway talks about the difficulties that he has with his woman and how he’s willing to fight for their relationship to work. Grown man music right here. Johnny from Johnny and the Hurricanes provides the hook. Not sure who he is but hopefully we get to see more work from him in the future

 

 

Come Back

Freeway closes out the album with a track that highlights himself as being an artist that necessary to the culture. Now that he has the joint venture with Roc Nation, he’s letting everyone know that you’ll hear more of him more frequently. It’s a cool track to end the album with.

 

The Verdict Is In…

Think Free is a testament that a 17-year veteran can still make an album that’s current a caters to various audiences. Do you have your own review of the album? Comment below

 

 

Highlights

Rap Album Reviews: Meek Mill “Legends of the Summer EP”

 

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They say that you don’t realize what you have until its gone, artists included. It’s been almost a year since Wins & Losses, the third album from Meek Mill was released. It’s also been about 8 months since he was sent to jail for a parole violation. The reason? riding through the streets on a dirt bike in Harlem, New York. Fast forward 5 months, with rallies & fellow artists such as Jay-Z & Rick Ross voicing their opinion of an unjust system, Meek is released. The question on everyone’s mind: what kind of content will we be receiving from the MMG artist? Read on for my breakdown.

 

 

Millidelphia (feat. Swizz Beats)

It would be an injustice to his fans if Meek didn’t come through with a hard intro & he delivers. Collaborating with one of hip-hop’s prominent producers, Swizz Beats provides the backdrop that Meek is album to showcase his energetic flow along with the braggadocious lyrics that we’ve come to expect from him.

 

 

Dangerous (feat. Jeremih & PnB Rock)

I see that Meek is starting to take a liking to smoother tracks. I think it showcases the versatility as an artist. Produced by Prince Chrishan & Hitmaka, this one is sure to receive a lot of spins on media outlets this summer. PnB Rock & Jerimih both come through singing. PnB sounds like Ty Dolla $ on the chorus.

 

 

1am

I haven’t heard from Jahlil Beats in quite some time. The two have worked together in the past, most notably on “I’m A Boss”. This is an uptempo record that I’m sure will make its way to the clubs. Not too fond of this one but I do appreciate the “Do It Again” reference that was heard on Jay-Z’s record.

 

 

Stay Woke (feat. Miguel)

This record premiered at the BET Awards with a very vivid visualization of what its like growing up in the United States, particularly Philadelphia, as an African American. Meek mentions that even though we’re fighting against social injustice, the internal conflict within our own community doesn’t help the overall scenario

“We scream, “Black Lives Matter,” but we still toting ladders

Watching our own brothers trying to get at us”

He touches on the subject of the broken home and the effect it has on all parties involved: the mother on drugs who copes with the stresses of raising a son alone and teaching him about survival before formal education, the dad who can no longer provide the love & protection for his son because he’s incarcerated & the son who forced to deal with the horrors of the world when no one is around.

“Mama taught you how to fight, fight, before she taught you how to write, right

And daddy locked down in the cell, can’t kiss you night, night

Monsters under the bed every night, feel like its fright night

Coke fumes in the air, mama holding on that pipe tight”

On the second verse in a manner similar to J. Cole’s record “1985” Meek speaks to the current generation of hip-hop not from a place of discernment, but rather one of understanding.

“Picture me ten years younger with some tats on my face

Takin’ a bunch of Xannys with the strap on my waist

Pointin’ it at the camera like mama ain’t teach me manners

Tryna see mo’ bills like I’m headed to Alabama, no, wait

I can’t judge them, I’m just trying to understand them

‘Cause I used to pop Percs, pourin’ purple in my Fanta

Had me swerving in my Phantom like I’m runnin’ from my dreams

I was headed for the slammer, I was plantin’ all the seed”

Meek starts the third verse of with a question many agree with. In a place where there is alleged equality for all, how can African Americans be supportive of a country that guns down minorities & does nothing to stop it?

” How can I pledge allegiance to the flag

When they killin’ all our sons, all our dads?

I come from a place, when you kill your own brother you can brag

Like he got bodies, but that’s a fad, no, that’s a fact”

Cue in Miguel’s vocals on the hooks & we have a record that is a direct reflection of the country as a whole. This record was properly executed & showcases the side of Meek few gets to see. I would love to hear more songs in this realm.

 

Conclusion

Legends of the Summer EP is evident that getting incarcerated hasn’t slowed down the creative process of Meek Mill. If I only had one gripe about the project, it would be that its rather short. But I do believe that it serves as an appetizer for a full length project coming soon. Do you have any questions about the review or want to leave your own personal review, leave a comment below.

 

 

Highlights

 

 

 

Rap Album Reviews: Drake “Scorpion”

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It’s been quite some time since we got a Drake album (More Life is considered a Playlist). With the pressures of ghostwriting still lingering over his head, as well as allegations of hiding a child recently being brought up, how does Scorpion fare? Read on for my take on this record.

 

Survival

Aubrey wastes no time coming in with the bars. From the situation with Meek Mill to the recent rap scuffle with Pusha T, his credibility as an emcee has been in question. He makes it clear that no one is going to do anything to end his career. He addresses the situation with his OVO affiliate getting killed, as well as the fact that he has information that could damage the career of another artist. There were also a few jabs at Jay-Z & Puff.

“Takin’ shots with the GOAT and talked about shots that we sendin’

I’ve had scuffles with bad boys that wasn’t pretendin’

 

Nonstop

On this record, homage is paid to Southern rap with a Mack Daddy Ju sample throughout. He references his business practices with his DJ Future The Prince & Ollie, who has been running everything in the background since Nothing Was The Same. If anyone is going to reveal information pertaining to Drake, it is he himself

“Pullin’ back the curtain by myself, take a look, ayy”.

Elevate

Produced by Nonstop The Hitman & PARTYNEXTDOOR, Drake is thankful how he was able to dodge all the troubles that have appeared.

“I wanna thank God for workin’ way harder than Satan

He’s playin’ favorites, it feels amazin’ (yeah)

Short record but pretty dope nonetheless.

 

 

Emotionless

And the curtain has been revealed. The song begins with a Mariah Carey sample & is very appropriate for the content that follows. Drake doesn’t want to hear from Kanye West about what his favorite songs are from the album. In the recent months he feels like he has been blindsided by the G.O.O.D. Music camp, particularly Ye. He’s well aware that he is seen as competition that has to be eliminated.

“I know the truth is you won’t love me until I’m gone

And even then the thing that comes after is movin’ on”

Once looked up to, Drake realized that there’s a lot of smoke & mirrors behind the scenes with the so-called “greats”

“I can’t even capture the feeling I had at first

Meetin’ all my heroes like seein’ how magic works

The people I look up to are goin’ from bad to worse

Their actions out of character even when they rehearse”

He also comes clean with the accusations of hiding a child with Sophie Brussaux, a former porn star. Drake opted to listen to what his mother told him once before, which was take the high road when others stoop low.

“I wasn’t hidin’ my kid from the world

I was hidin’ the world from my kid

From empty souls who just wake up and look to debate

Until you starin’ at your seed, you can never relate”

Phenomenal track in my opinion & sets the stage for his smash hit, God’s Plan.

 

 

God’s Plan

The first single of Scorpion. Another reference to how iconic he has become, Drake mentions how artists don’t receive the praises until after they pass away.

“I don’t wanna die for them to miss me”

He feels that this shouldn’t be the case & if it does happen, he knows that the people around him carry on the legacy of how great he really was. He also states since he’s been in the game, there are people that think that he’s undeserving of everything he’s accomplished as evidenced by the chorus

“Bad things

It’s a lot of bad things

That they wishin’ and wishin’ and wishin’ and wishin’

They wishin’ on me”

Another dope song produced by Cardo, Yung Exclusive & Boi-1da.

 

 

I’m Upset

This is the album’s second official single. Seems to me as if he’s quite agitated on this record obviously as the name of the record is “I’m Upset”. Here we have Drake saying that he doesn’t believe in supporting a woman who’s only goal is to empty his pockets through alimony.

“I’m supposed to pay her bills and get her what she want

I still got like seven years of doin’ what I want

My dad still got child support from 1991”

Production provided by Oogie Mane, an upcoming producer from Philadelphia.

8 Out Of 10

It’s getting pretty personal. From the start, shots are thrown about how Kanye disses his friends when he’s on stage, how he’s not in the same ballpark financially as he is and how he has no intentions on rekindling their friendship

“Too rich for who? Y’all just got rich again

Who grips the mic and likes to kill they friends?

I’ve never been the type to make amends”

He also addresses the accusations of him being a deadbeat and how others will cling to successful people hoping that it will spread to them

I gotta breathe real deep when I catch an attitude

I got a whole nother level that I can tap into

Max said they only blessed when they attached to you

The only deadbeats is whatever beats I been rappin’ to

Drake seen the tactic that Kanye tried to use to sabotage the rollout of his album, which was to release multiple projects from G.O.O.D. music that were 7 track albums (Pusha T, Kanye, Kanye/Kid Cudi, Nas, & Teyana Taylor) right before his

I guess luck is on your side

All sevens, no sixes, rest easy, get some shut eye

He also believes Kanye feels a sense of fear of being overshadowed and has been planning this for a while

They been keepin’ tabs on me like I’m payin’ next time

I think I sense a little fear from the other side

White vans parked across the street, real subtle guys

Another stand out track on the album. This one is produced by OB O’Brien, Boi-1da & Jahaan Sweet.

 

 

Mob Ties

Production on this track sounds like some wild west duel complete with old pistols, which is appropriate because “Affirmative Action” by Nas was sampled. Drake takes aim at Kanye again all throughout & says a few cringe worthy lines.

I’m not with the ra-ra

I am a Dada

Not a personal favorite. Seems like a filler track

 

 

Can’t Take A Joke

I can see this one getting lots of spins in the clubs. Drake talks about living out in Hidden Hills, which is a prestigious neighborhood that is right next door to Calabasas, which ironically is where Kanye stays. More shots are thrown here about how a certain artist thinks he runs the town until he causes him to leave. His flow on this record is one that I haven’t heard him use before so that’s refreshing.

Sandra’s Rose

It’s official: Aubrey is one of the few artists that actually worked with DJ Premier. Premo is very particular with who he works with so this is telling. The record goes talks about how the fame has had an effect on him and in case you haven’t read, it’s a negative one. This one is a cool track. It’s not high on my favorites but I don’t hate it.

 

 

Talk Up (feat. Jay-Z)

This one took me by surprise. Although they’ve previously worked together before, they have been known to throw subliminal jabs at each other for the past 4 years. Produced by DJ Paul from the legendary Three 6 Mafia, this record touches on how he came up & addresses those who feels like he lost his battle with Pusha T

“You might think I’ve taken some lumps

Only if we talkin’ ’bout sums (yeah)”

Jay comes in on the second half with recollections of his past life & talks about how the street life that he grew up in is completely different from today. He even talks about not wanting to meet with Trump.

“I got your President tweetin’, I won’t even meet with him

Y’all killed X and let Zimmerman live, shhh, s-streets is done”

It’s good to see the versatility that Drake has on various records.

Is There More

Drake finds himself asking realizing that there is more to life than what he and his peers perceive, while at the same time trying to understand what exactly that means. It serves as a proper way to close out the first side of the album.

 

 

Peak

And now we get into the melodic side of the album. This song talks about the relationship problems that Drake has had with various women but could allude to the relationship that he supposedly had with Jorja Smith last year. Can’t confirm that one. It sounds like PARTYNEXTDOOR influenced him on this one.

 

Summer Games

Funny thing about this record to me is that it reminds me of a 808’s & Heartbreak song that didn’t make the cut on the album. Another song about a past relationship that didn’t make it past the summer. 40 & No I.D. produced this one.

 

 

Jaded

Another stand out track, Drake enlists Ty Dolla $ign to help out with vocals to discuss a short fling he had with Jorja Smith allegedly. He felt as if they could’ve really had something special if she was willing to give him the chance. This is the perfect record to listen to on a cool summer evening.

 

 

Nice For What

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few months, I’m sure you’re quite familiar with this song. It’s played every day, every hour on the hour. It’s the third official single from the album that features a dope Lauryn Hill sample & has The New Orleans bounce that fans have come to love. Reminds me of the new age Cash Money smash hit “Back Dat A** Up” from 20 years ago. Aubrey big ups the women who are living an honest life in the digital era and informs them that it doesn’t go unnoticed.

 

 

Finesse

No deep dive. Typical R&B record in which he wishes things were different between him and a lover not mentioned. Sounds like James Fauntleroy provided some vocals at the end of the record.

 

 

Ratchet Happy Birthday

An upbeat song that reminds me of the Young Money record “Bedrock”. PARTYNEXTDOOR faintly sings in the background as Drake talks about a woman who lacks emotion and how she shouldn’t let unimportant things affect her on her Birthday.

 

 

That’s How You Feel

This one has a Nicki Minaj sample that I’m not too fond of. The song is about feelings that Drake has for a woman but isn’t sure of the love is reciprocated. Another filler track to me.

 

 

Blue Tint

Future adlibs on this track that is about the ex that has received a second chance with Drake. He’s surprised himself that she’s come back around

“She had an attitude in the summer

But she bein’ nice again”

JRHitmaker, Taz Taylor,!llmind & Supah Mario get production credits.

 

 

In My Feelings

I believe this is single number 4 & it’s another bouncy record that has samples from Lil Wayne & the duo City Girls & Magnolia Shorty in the background. Keshia Chanté, who has previously dated Drake when they were teenagers, is the “Kiki” that he’s referring to in the chorus

“Kiki, do you love me? Are you riding?

Say you’ll never ever leave from beside me

‘Cause I want ya, and I need ya

And I’m down for you always”

It wouldn’t surprise me if this shoots up to be a top 10 hit, if not number 1.

 

 

Don’t Matter To Me (feat. Michael Jackson)

I don’t know what strings he pulled to get the King of Pop’s vocals but it’s very appreciated. Nineteen85 & Noah “40” Shebib are responsible for lending a hand in crafting this song.

 

 

After Dark (feat. Static Major & Ty Dolla $ign)

Typical Drake with a Ty Dolla $ign feature. Drake again talks about a hooking up with a woman. Shout out to the Al Woods 93.7 WBLK skit . It took me back to a time in life when those artists mentioned (Luther Vandross, Jill Scott, Fantasia, etc) were prominent acts on the radio.

 

 

Final Fantasy

A new direction in which Aubrey talks about the ladies. He goes on to discuss his sexual fantasies with women

Arch back, heart attack, cardiac

I need it nasty like, like Evil Angel, like Vivid

You know, nasty like how they give it

You know, I need you to be open like Kai’s kitchen

Boi-1da, Jahaan Sweet& Noah “40” Shebib produced this one. I’m sure it’ll be a favorite among the Drake fans.

 

 

March 14

We arrive at the album closer & Drake provides us with details that he indeed has a son. It’s essentially a letter to Adonis & how his co parenting is strikingly similar to his parent’s situation which he was trying to avoid.

It’s breakin’ my spirit

Single father, I hate when I hear it

I used to challenge my parents on every album

Now I’m embarrassed to tell ’em I ended up as a co-parent

Always promised the family unit

I wanted it to be different because I’ve been through it

But this is the harsh truth now

Brutally honest indeed. Not sure where this song ranks in his discography yet but a pretty good song.

 

 

Conclusion

Although the first half flows exceptionally well, there was a lot of fillers overall that halted this album from being one of his best bodies of work. That’s not to say that the album isn’t enjoyable because it is. If half of the records were removed, it would be thoroughly more enjoyable. What’s your take on it? Leave a comment below.

 

 

Highlights

 

Best Hip Hop Podcasts

 

If you would’ve asked me 10 years ago if podcasts would be as popular as they are, I probably would’ve told you that they would be for the tech savvy people. I still was unfamiliar with the structure of one & thought it was a fad that came along with the iPod craze. The internet has advanced very quickly & has far exceeded my expectations as to how advanced it has become. With Phones in our pockets that are filled with the latest & greatest technology, we can do more than I ever imagined. We have the ability to control things on our terms. If you want to watch a particular video, you simply search on YouTube. If you want to hear a snippet of a song before purchase, you go to the music app store and click the link. And if you want great content from shows in specific niches, then you turn to podcasts. 2014 was when I first began to submerge myself within the podcast community. I realized of the potential impact that they were causing on traditional radio. Podcasts are uncensored compared to its counterpart & can be listened to whenever the subscriber chooses to do so. Content is more relevant to the listener & more personable. I’ve found out very interesting facts from some of my favorite artists that I never would’ve uncovered had it not been for podcast hosts asking great questions. I’ve had time to research listening to many podcasts & I’ve narrowed down the lists to my favorite ones.

Joe Budden Podcast w/ Rory & Mal

This one comes in at the top of the list. Joe Budden is an 20-year veteran who has since retired from music & has taken his talents to the booth in another way. He is joined by long time friends Rory & Mal and covers a variety of topics from the time Joe had an audition for the movie Daredevil to wondering if Jay-Z makes good greens. At the end of the show, they have what they refer to as a “sleeper” which is a song that listening audience may not familiar with.

Tax Season

Although he’s currently incarcerated & dealing with an open case, Tax Season scores high in replay ability & overall enjoyment. Taxstone got his break from being a comedian on Twitter. After seeing how engaged his audience was with his blunt personality, Charlamagne Tha God took a liking and referred him to a few prominent people on the Loud Speakers Network and the rest is history. Tax covered a variety of current events but soon became the go-to guy for great interview with hip-hop artists like Meek Mill & Beanie Sigel.

 

Drink Champs

For untold hilarious stories that probably would’ve never seen the light of day, look no further than the Drink Champs podcast with hip-hop legend N.O.R.E. & DJ EFN. The two make an excellent duo as they get artists such as Onyx & Brand Nubian to come through & tell tales of experiences over shots of Tiger Bone & loud air horns. They’ve even managed to get DMX to bless them with a prayer. No rock is left upturned & you never know what you’re getting when you tune in.

Brilliant Idiots

Radio Personality Charlamagne Tha God & Comedian Andrew Schulz make up the Brilliant Idiots. The duo covers a variety of topics from race relations in the country, sex, politics, and entertainment. It’s a raw side of Charlamagne that we rarely get to see considering the fact that he’s still co hosting the Breakfast Club w/ Angela Yee & DJ Envy. This is another example of a show where you shouldn’t expect structure, as the topic can be all over the place but still entertaining nevertheless.

 

Combat Jack

Reginald Joseph “Reggie” Ossé, otherwise known as Combat Jack is a legendary in its own right. Combat was early to the podcast realm before it became cool to do. Truly an individual that was for the culture, he had the pleasure of giving his audience (The Internets) fantastic interviews from The RZA & Just Blaze. What was truly unique was how was able to conduct interviews for extended lengths of time effortlessly. If you’re looking for entertainment with a kick of hip hop knowledge, this is the podcast for you. R.I.P. Combat Jack.

Rap Radar

Rap Radar has been around for quite sometime with their blog posts but they have since done a relaunching of sorts & stepped into the podcasting realm. One of the very few podcasts that have gotten an Interview of Jay-Z (which clocks in at over 90 minutes), Elliott Wilson & Brian “B. Dot” Miller provides an in-depth interview with the hottest acts of today and yesteryear with facts that the average listener may not be privy to. All the episodes used to be in audio form but has since been replaced with video versions.

 

A Waste Of Time with ItsTheReal

Jeff & Eric Rosenthal are the two hosts of this hilariously funny podcasts. Started in 2015 in their New York apartment, these guys have had the pleasure of engaging in genuine conversation with label execs, rap veterans, influencers & upcoming talent. But don’t get it twisted, they’ve done their due diligence on the person being interviewed. They’re usually so prepared, that they sometimes shock the interviewee with their questions. If you’re looking for a ton of laughs, look no further.

Conclusion

As you can see, the podcasts has come a long way from its initial perception as digital talk for the tech nerds. As of March 2018 there literally 525,000 active shows with 18.5 million episodes, with that number rapidly growing each and every day. From finance to fitness to music & politics, there’s a market to fulfill anything that may be of interest to you. In my opinion it’s only a matter of time before they do away with traditional radio. Do you have a favorite that I left out but feel everyone should know about? Drop a comment in the section.

 

 

 

Most Popular Sneaker Brands

 

When it comes to fashion, particularly in the hip-hop community, sneakers rank high as the one accessory that’s never ignored. While they date back 2 centuries ago, the rubber-soled footwear has been the staple amid artists since Run D.M.C. released the iconic song “My A.D.I.D.A.S.” 35 years later and they are just as important as ever, if not more now that Hip-Hop has been named the most listened to genre in the world (Newsflash: it’s been that way for the last 15 years). Throughout this time, brands left the scene as quickly as they came in but there are a few that outlasted the rest. Read on for the brands that prevailed.

 

 

Nike

Originally titled Blue Ribbon Sports, Nike got its start by Phil Knight & Bill Bowerman of the University of Oregon as a distributor for Onitsuka Tiger which we would refer to today as ASICS in 1964. Within its first year of business, the company went on to gross $8000 with revenue nearly tripling a year later. In 1971, Onitsuka Tiger parted ways with Blue Ribbon Sports & the Nike name with the legendary “Swoosh” logo was born. With it’s many acquisitions in other businesses, namely Converse & Cole Haan, it’s no wonder that Nike has been able to stay on top as the number 1 shoemaker for years. From the Air Force 1’s to the Air Max 95’s & 97’s to the Jordans, hip-hop artists like Nelly & The Game have made references to the iconic shoes in their records. It also goes without saying that this brand has been at the forefront of hip-hop for a strong 25 years, as there’s a correlation between the music genre and the sneaker company. Both have come from small beginnings and have transcended into a world domination in their prospective fields.

 

 

Adidas

The birth of Adidas comes from Adolf Dassler who began making the shoes in his mother’s house in Herzogenaurach, Germany in 1924. Teaming up with his brother Rudolf, they became the Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory. The specialty of the duo were spiked shoes which were unheard-of at the time constructed of rubber & canvas. The Dassler Brothers would see an influx of demand when they got Jesse Owens to wear them in the Olympics of 1936. After winning 4 gold medals, they soon became the go-to shoes in high performance selling 200,000 pairs a year. Tensions began brewing between the two brothers and forced them to split in 1947. Within that split Rudolf went on to create Ruda which goes by the name Puma today & Adolf created Adidas SG in 1949. The possession of the 3-Stripe logo happened in 1952, right after the Summer Olympics. Since it’s mentioning in the classic record “My Adidas”, The corporation has developed a cult like following with sneakerheads. Favorites that have resurfaced include the Superstar, Stan Smiths, & Gazelles. Within the last 4 years, the creative designers for Nike Marc Dolce, Mark Miner, and Denis Dekovichave left & took their services over to Adidas. Pair that with Kanye West & now Drake endorsing them, it wouldn’t surprise me if they eclipse Nike as the most popular brand in the world.

 

 

Vans

The story of how Vans came about is an example of what hard work & persistence can do for a person. In 1944 Paul Van Doren came to realization at the age of 14 that he wasn’t to fond of school & decided to drop out. His mother was certainly not a fan of his choices and told him to get a job at a shoe manufacturing company named Randy’s. He started off cleaning floors & making shoes. By staying committed to seeing things through, Paul worked his way up to Executive Vice President in 20 years. Under his reign, Randy’s became one of the largest U.S. shoe manufacturers in the state of Massachusetts & because of the growth, the company in turn reassigned him to other stores who weren’t doing so good. The results were great: the reassigned store in California was doing better than the store where he started out. Realizing that he had a gift to sell shoes, he decided to start his own company. With the help from his brother James Van Doren and friends Gordon C Lee & Serge D’Elia, the first store was opened in 1966 under the name The Van Doren Rubber Company. Today, Lil Wayne, Dom Kennedy, Joe Budden, Kanye West, G-Eazy, Chris Brown, YG & countless others have been spotted rocking the sneakers in various colorways.

 

 

Puma

As mentioned earlier, Rudolf Dassler went on with the Puma company after splitting with his brother Adolf in 1948. With its series of up and downs over the past few decades, there has been a resurgence in the brand. Artists such as Rihanna, who serves as the creative director & overseer of the women sneaker line, Meek Mill & Nipsey Hussle have exclusive partnerships that have brought awareness in today’s market.

 

 

Reebok

Founded in 1895, Joseph William Foster designed his first pair of spiked shoes in Bolton England. The name became J.W. Foster & Sons, after pairing up with his children to open a small factory. The shoes began to become popular amid the British Athletes in the UK. J.W. Foster & Sons eventually changed their name to Reebok in 1958 which derives from grey rhebok, which is an African antelope. In 1979, a man by the name of Paul Fireman took a liking to the company at a sneaker trade show in Chicago. He negotiated a deal to market & license the shoes in the U.S. As soon as that deal was signed, he went on to manufacture 3 different types of shoes under the Reebok moniker. By 1981, the company had raked in $1.5 million. Fast forward 20 years, Reebok gained exclusive rights to manufacture merchandise for the NFL. What was once laughed at in my childhood has become a form of fashionable footwear worn by the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Allen Iverson (with his Question lineup) & Rick Ross.

 

 

Converse

Now what kind of blogger would I be if I didn’t mention Converse? This American shoe company was founded in 1908 by Marquis Mills Converse & introduced its famous All Star Shoe in 1917. Who would’ve known that a basketball player by the name of Charles “Chuck” Taylor complaining about how his feet were hurting would elevate the shoe to massive popularity? The shoes received the prominent signature on the patch in 1932. It was 1962 when Wilt Chamberlain would wear them in his record setting 100-point game against the New York Knicks. The organization would go on to be purchased by sneaker conglomerate Nike for $309 million. Even after being around for nearly a century, artists like Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa, The Game (who’s alias is Chuck Taylor) & Tyga have continued the legacy by rocking the canvas shoes.

 

Conclusion

As you can see, the companies that have been around the longest are the ones that are still producing to this day. As long as these companies can continue to be stylish & accepting of the hip hop genre, the community will continue to support them. What do you think? leave a comment

 

 

 

 

Hip-Hop Clothing Brands

 

Since its inception, Hip-Hop music has had a correlation with fashion. From the baggy clothes’ era to preppy, how an artist dresses is indicative to how the times are. Rappers also began to become business savvy & started clothing lines. Below is the list of the most popular ones that I can think of relative to the impact that it had.

Rocawear

It’s the Roc! Created by Jay-Z & Dame Dash, Rocawear was founded in 1999 & would go on to be one of the biggest clothing brands of hip-hop. Annual sales reached the heights of $700 million dollars in its peak years. Rocawear had its hand in a variety of items including clothes’ for children and juniors, leather, suede and fur jackets & coats, sandals, socks, handbags, belts, headwear, loungewear, jewelry, big & tall, & sunglasses. Subsidy brands came in the form of State Property, & Pro-Keds. In 2007, the brand was sold for $204 million dollars cash, with Jay-Z still overseeing operations today.

Sean John

Take that, take that! Sean John made its debut in 1999 by Puff Daddy aka Diddy aka P. Diddy & whatever else moniker he goes by. Sean John took the world by store grossing $525 million annually. Diddy had the backing in the community from the likes of Nas, Fabolous, Nelly, T.I. Pharrell, Rick Ross, Busta & many others. Subsidy brands included the acquisition of Enyce for $20 million. The brand covers an assortment of different garments including tailored suits, ties, footwear, hosiery, eyewear, childrenswear, cold weather accessories, fragrances, time pieces, outerwear, underwear, dress shirts, loungewear, & headwear.

Phat Farm

If its one group of people that got the clothing market right, it was the moguls. Russell Simmons is responsible for creating the Phat Farm brand in 1992. To ensure that needs were met for men & women, Kimora Lee Simmons spawned created Baby Phat which is the extension Russell’s foundation company. After building up its equity, Russell sold the company in 2004 for $140 million.

TrukFit

Trukfit was introduced to the world by Lil Wayne in 2012. It’s name stands for “The Reason U Kill For It”. Weird name, but it actually became a fast moving brand with Weezy’s name attached to it. Clothing came in the form of t shirts, sweats, & hoodies.

Billionaire Boys Club

Not only was Pharrell killing the charts with hits, he was also dabbling into the clothing industry with his Billionaire Boys Club collaboration with Nigo, the Japanese founder responsible for A Bathing Ape. With the two working in unison, two brands were born: BBC & Ice Cream sneakers. Reebok was set to back the two brands in 2005 but Pharrell decided to go another route. The clothing line has T-shirts, underwear , sweatshirts, knits, polos, denim, suits and shirts; outerwear in leather, cotton, and various types of fabrics, hats, sneakers, socks and other accessories that are considered high end. Through a joint venture with Jay-Z, BBC’s numbers were able to climb to $30 million annually. Within the last year, Pharrell repossessed stake in the company Iconix & have manufacturing companies in many countries including Mexico & Turkey.

G-Unit

GGG G-Unit! When 50 Cent came onto the scene in 2003 with the certified classic Get Rich or Die Tryin’, he meant that in a literal sense. Teaming up with Selman Hasanaj and Marc Eckō, the G-Unit clothing branded was birthed in 2003. 50 had the world in the palm of his hands, so much in fact that over the course of 6 years, that the brand amassed $100 million. It has since shut down with talks of a relaunching in the future.

 

What A Time

I remember vividly all of these clothing lines growing up. For me, my go to was Rocawear because one of my favorite rappers endorsed it. And most people know typically what Jay-Z endorses are things that carry prestige. What about you? what do you remember about these brands? Drop a comment

 

 

 

 

Rap Album Reviews: J.Cole “KOD”

 

 

Production:

💿 💿 💿 💿

Replay Value:

💿 💿 💿 💿

Originality:

💿 💿 💿 💿 💿

Flow:

💿 💿 💿 💿 💿

Lyrics:

💿 💿 💿

Overall:

💿 💿 💿 💿

 

 

KOD is the 5th album by J.Cole. As outlined in a trailer before the album release, He stated that the acronym has 3 different definitions: Kids On Drugs, King Overdosed, & Killing Our Demons. Pretty strong titles. But how does the album sound? Does it connect? Scroll down for my rap album review of KOD by J. Cole

 

 

Intro

The albums opens up with somber jazz instrumentation & a few words from Cole that indicate the direction he chose to go for this album: “Can someone please turn off my mind?/ My thoughts are racing all the time/ There is no reason or no rhyme/ I’m trapped inside myself”. A woman’s voice comes in afterwards and gives a description of the only two forms of communication that a newborn baby possesses: laughter & crying. With that being said, we as people go through so much dismay throughout our lives that we resort to different mechanisms to cope. The last few words uttered “choose wisely” means that there can be consequences with the route that a person chooses.

KOD

And here we go: first record in. KOD has J. Cole rapping at a rapid fire pace addressing critics and naysayers who wonder why he doesn’t have a lot of features on his records: “How come you won’t get a few features?/I think you should? How ’bout I don’t?/How ’bout you just get the f**k off my d**k?/ How ’bout you listen and never forget?/Only gon’ say this one time, then I’ll dip/ N***as ain’t worthy to be on my s**t.” Cole is letting everyone know that no one can’t see him lyrically. The second verse of the song revisits Cole’s past & and him getting introduced to drugs which in turn allow him to forget about the things he’s witnessed: “How I grew up, only few would’ve loved/’Member I got my first view of the blood/I’m hangin’ out and they shoot up the club/My homie got pharmaceutical plug/I smoke the drug and it run through my vein/I think it’s workin’, it’s numbin’ the pain”. The beat is hard and I can tell that he’s been honing his craft on the production side.

 

 

Photograph

Photograph tells the story of the addiction of social media & how it’s detrimental to health. The chorus goes: “Fell in love through photograph/I don’t even know your name/Wonder if you’d follow back/I hope to see you one day/I won’t show my n***as now/I’II keep this one for myself/Love today’s gone digital/And it’s messing with my health”. Nowadays, it’s rather simple to preoccupy ourselves over photos of people without knowing not one single thing about them. With obsession comes feelings of selfishness & jealousy to the point that people opt to not tell their friends about someone that they’re crushing over. The protagonist in the record suffers from a lack of social skill which in turn paralyzes him from interacting with his crush because of fear of rejection. This ties into the first meaning of the album title Kids On Drugs.

The Cut Off (feat. kiLL edward)

As the title states, this record is about J. Cole having to cut ties with people who were deceitful to him. In the entertainment business, it’s hard to differentiate the trustworthy people from the snakes & because Cole is generally a caring person, certain people in his squad were recipients to his generosity. Meanwhile, the same people were nowhere to be found when it came time to support, not so much as a phone call. Angering him to the point where he wants to cause harm, he decides to leave it in God’s hands to take care of the situation as he realizes that he doesn’t owe anything to those who never contributed to the cause.

ATM

The narrator of this record gives his perspective of his lifestyle that he depicts and is addicted to. From accumulating money and aimlessly misusing it, to the cars with big rims and wild women, every stereotype of the rapper is encompassed here. Within the redundant hook and the overused flow that many of the new artists of today use is a forewarning of glorifying material possessions. The narrator understands that chasing after money will not fulfill the voids in your life but refuses to take heed: “Proceed with caution/I heard if you chase it only results in/A hole in your heart/ F**k it, I take the whole cake and I won’t leave a portion/It’s only an organ”.

Motiv8

There’s no deep dive for this one. The song is the mimicking of a 2018 drugged up “inspirational” song to get money. There’s a Junior Mafia sample present throughout the entirety of the track. The theme of this record is one that is prevalent throughout our communities: to consume pharmaceuticals to overcome the lack of happiness & the demons that are bottled up. “I’m crackin’ a smile, I’m dyin’ inside/My demons are close, I’m tryin’ to hide/ I’m poppin’ a pill, I’m feelin’ alive/I’m feelin’ alive, I’m feelin’ alive”.

Kevin’s Heart

J. Cole gives two different perspectives on this record. First, he narrates the story through the eyes of the drug user fighting addiction. Then he weaves in the story of infidelity and how the two are actually two sides of the same coin. The title derives from the comedian Kevin Heart getting caught cheating on his wife. He understands that what he’s doing is hurting the person he loves, but it also fuels his ego at the same time. The verse that sums up the record: “I love her, I don’t want to lose her/I’m selfish, I know that I use her/My ego get stroked and I bruise her/My ego get stroked and I bruise her/My actions I know they confusin’/At home I look happy as usual/On the road I’m a mack, I’m a chooser/I’m a addict, I’m maskin’ that.”

BRACKETS

Cole discusses the troubles of being in a different economic status. It is brought to his attention that more people are dissing him more because of his position but refrains from giving them the fame they so desperately want. He is in his own lane and has more serious issues to tend to. He also mentions how he’s a taxpaying citizen and it seems as if his dollars aren’t being used in the right way. It is brought to his attention well aware that the country doesn’t care for his own people, as evidenced by the lack of education in his neighborhood growing up as well as the inflation of gun violence.

Once An Addict (Interlude)

Alcoholism is the subject matter in this record. When he was younger, Cole’s stepfather left his mother and had a child with another woman. This in turn caused his mother to fall into a downward spiral and suffer from depression. He talks about his interactions with his mother & it hurt to see her going through it as he mentioned in these lines: Subconsciously I was nervous that if I came home early/ then what would surface was her inner demons/And then I’d have to end up seein’ my hero on ground zero. To avoid those interactions, he turned to running the streets because he felt that was the best way to cope. It’s not until he’s become more mature that he wish he would’ve intervened more to help his mother with her mental struggles.

FRIENDS (feat. kiLL edward)

This is a letter to everyone from Fayetteville. Cole examines the effects drug addiction has on his people and why it continues to be a prominent coping mechanism. He explains that with the variety of obstacles placed in the way of people and with the stigma of mental health in black community, it can be hard to not use drugs to get by. But instead of succumbing to the demons, Cole suggests that people learn to meditate.

Window Pain (Outro)

The beginning of this song has a girl discussing how her cousin got killed a few hours later after she initially saw him. Cole goes on to talk about all the perils that go on in the world including people in his own city claiming Blood and Crip knowing that the gang banging lifestyle originated in Los Angeles. Acceptance and the means that people will go through to obtain it is prevalent throughout this track.

1985 (Intro to “The Fall Off”)

Cole has reached a pivotal point in his career where he has become the veteran voice for the rap genre. He acknowledges the fact that the subject matter of music has since declined but also advises the listeners that the kids have to be given a chance to mature. Since his verse on Everybody Dies, Cole has become a target by the younger rappers. Instead of retorting, he decides to use his words to offer financial advice on how to flourish & stay relevant years from now.

Conclusion

What makes this album so powerful is how effortlessly J. Cole is able to narrate multiple stories. While rather familiar with recounting the world through the eyes of another person from the previous album 4 Your Eyez Only, KOD strikes a balance between informative & enjoyable. Huge salute goes out to him for touching on the subjects of recreational drug use, materialism, adultery, & depression within the hip-hop community that many try but very few execute without coming off as preachy.

 

Highlights

 

 

 

 

 

Beats By Dre Pill+ Review: Hard to Swallow?


 


 

 

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 10 years, I’m sure you’ve heard the name Beats By Dre or Beats for short when referring to headphones. As the name suggest, they were created by Dr. Dre after stating his frustrations with music piracy and listening to audio with crappy headphones. With the help of Monster, Beats By Dre hit the market and targeted the millennial demographic. Fast forward a few years and the disbandment of Dre & Monster and we’re left with a new merger with Apple & Beats now worth over a billion dollars. That’s all fine and dandy, but how’s the product? Keep scrolling for the Beats By Dre Review of the Pill+ .

 

 

How Do You Connect This Thing?

Bluetooth audio for a while wasn’t in the running when it came to my choice of audio speaker because of its spottiness. Even if I was relatively close to the tech I was connecting to, there would be issues with the connectivity. Welcome to 2018: Bluetooth has advanced and now is more reliable than ever. Connectivity was relatively easy with only having to press a few buttons (and reading the tiny instruction manual) and voila! A successful paired device. Apple fanatics should have an even easier time getting the Pill+ up and running.

 

 

How’s The Build Quality?

Beats has pulled out all the stops when It comes to the construction of the Pill+. Obviously as the name suggests, it is shaped like a pill and It features a sturdier build than its predecessor with 3 rubber buttons that power the device off and on and adjusts volume. There’s a 4th button at the top where the logo is that’s used for the device pairing. On the back of the device is a charge out port to plug other devices in, an aux jack and the charging port. There’s also nifty rubber piece to protect those ports from dirt and debris. I’m thoroughly impressed with how comfortable it is to hold in the hand. The Pill+ also includes a sock-like case to transport it. It’s not monstrous, but its no small fry either. You can tell Apple had their hands in the redesign of the Pill+ to make it easier on the eyes. Battery life is rated at 12 hours, which should have you jamming at the summer cookouts all day. If you’re running low on juice, use the supplied lightning cable to give it a quick power up over the course of 3 hours.

 

 

What does it sound like?

The Pill+ plus sounds pretty damn good. The reason for this is that it has what Beats calls an “active 2-way crossover system”. What exactly does this mean? Each speaker has its very own amplifier. This is the same setup that is used in professional recording studios. This results in a variety of music coming in with more clarity and depth. From the guitar solo at the end of Frank Ocean’s Pyramids, to the heavy bass in Kendrick Lamar’s DNA, everything comes through sounding phenomenal. I’ve seen people use these speakers as part of their home theater system.

 

 

Pricing

As with everything Apple & Beats, pricing can big a pretty big pill to swallow (see what I did there?) when compared to its competitors. The Pill+ originally retails for $179 but can be found in black, gray, olive green, white, or limited edition (PRODUCT)RED for $129 here

 

 

Final Thoughts

I’ve owned the Pill+ for over a year and it still holds up like a champ. I’ve since paired it with my Amazon Echo Dot & use it as the main speaker in my household. I would encourage those who are up on the fence about getting one that you won’t be disappointed. Do you have any questions about the Pill+? Leave them in the comments