Smino – blkswn
St. Louis has been looking for another breakout star since the rise of Nelly and Chingy over a decade ago. Many names have come and gone but the future of St. Louis rests on the shoulders of Smino. His album blkswn is a groovy mixture of jazz influenced production, ear grabbing melodies, and tales of chasing a path of success. “Netflix & Dusse” shows Smino can cater to the pop crowd while the title record brings the hope of money trees with it’s double-time sing-song flow on its chorus. You won’t even realize you’re listening to the full album from how well it flows from track to track. Smino’s future is bright and this is just the beginning for him. Expect a resurgence from St. Louis in the future as Smino has just rejuvenated the music scene in the STL.
Mike WiLL Made It – Ransom 2
For over five years, Mike Will Made It has been one of the go to producers if you wanted a hot record. He’s proved he’s multifaceted as he’s produced for everyone from Gucci Mane and Rae Sremmurd to Beyonce and Miley Cyrus. Mike’s solo debut in Ransom featured an all-star cast with his best production. It had sounded like he was able to keep his favorite beats and still give everyone hit records at the same time. Ransom 2 doesn’t sound that way; this album feels like Mike Will gave away his hottest production and forgot to keep some for himself. The album isn’t all bad though; 2 Chainz on ‘Y’all Ain’t Ready’ pulls a bat-flip that would make Jose Bautista proud and “Come Down” is radio ready with its catchy Chief Keef hook. It’s difficult to have success at the rate that Mike Will has had, so to have a sub-par project isn’t the end of the world for this super producer.
Mansionz – Self Titled
While the marketing for the first collaboration album from the duo Mansionz (Mike Posner and Blackbear) verged on parody, the music is far from it. The two display frequently that not only do their sounds create an interesting dynamic, they also bring out the best in each other at times. Mike Posner brings his unique voice and Blackbear, who sounds eerily similar to Ty Dolla Sign at times, brings his raunchy lyrics and strong hooks. Early singles ‘STFU’ and ‘Rich White Girls’ are two of the albums strongest moments as they create buttery smooth ballads backed by guitar strums that don’t take themselves too seriously. In the same vein are late album cuts ‘White Linen’ and ‘Gorgeous’ with the former featuring an appropriate albeit sort of left field Cyhi verse and the latter featuring arguably the albums strongest hook. The biggest critique is that there aren’t enough moments where they pick up the tempo and let the fun they’re having match the music. No song on here is necessarily bad, but the highlights outshine the less memorable moments by a far margin. Mansionz overall is an album that’s a good showcase of the two artists’ talents, and standing on its own it is strong, but it could have been an even stronger and tighter 6-7 song EP.