Everybody loves to hate on Wale. It has become the cool thing to indulge in on the hip-hop internets for years now and the D.C. native is prone to emotional outbursts which are essentially softballs for his trolls, allowing them to hit moonshot home runs by means of their shade-filled diss tweets. From his ill-advised presence on generic Rick Ross/MMG trap records to his legendary threats to Complex over their ‘50 Best Albums Of 2013’ list (The Gifted was nowhere to be found), Wale has persevered through many trials and tribulations. But with his latest body of work The Album About Nothing, Wale has attempted to bring his music back to its essence. Building off his 2008 project The Mixtape About Nothing (the tape that gained him initial notoriety), Wale hit the studio with his spiritual advisor Jerry Seinfeld and created an album that provides introspective insights as well as commentary on the ills of present-day society. However, this honorable artistic endeavor doesn’t quite reach the ambition of its creator and, in consequence, the album falls short of its lofty goals.
It is fair to say that Action Bronson is ‘The Most Interesting Man” in the world of hip-hop. The captivating Queens native garnered the attention of New York’s underground surveyors about four years ago and Bronson has gained a cult-like fanbase due to his consistent collection of mixtapes/EPs that are engaging as his personality. From a certified level of stature as a cuisine connoisseur to his outlandish antics both on the mic and outside the studio, Bronson radiates a unique form of artistic energy which has effectively guided him to this point in his career. Backed by an assuring, well-received catalogue, Action has released his official major label debut album Mr. Wonderful. While the humor and charismatic aspects of his previous projects remain at the forefront of Bronson’s identity, Mr. Wonderful is a daring body of work which provides a fascinating experience for long-time Bronsolino fans as well as first-time listeners.
March 25th, 2015 by Eric Bernsen
How does one follow-up an album which has been unanimously declared as a modern-day classic? This was the task appointed to Kendrick Lamar, the good kid from the mad city of Compton. good kid, m.A.A.d City instantly levitated Kendrick into a top spot amongst the new-school leaders of hip-hop. But unlike many artists who feel pressured into constantly releasing music in order to maintain their highly desired status, the TDE torchbearer took his time in crafting his highly anticipated and second magnum opus To Pimp A Butterfly. All eyes have been on K Dot as fans and critics alike speculated about his musical direction upon the release of his up-tempo self-loving single “i” and the conversely hard-hitting, brutally honest “The Blacker The Berry”. Once Kendrick released the iconic cover artwork for the project, the hip-hop world braced itself and strapped on their seat belt for another monumental, statement-making body of work. And while some listeners have had to re-adjust their expectations in terms of what To Pimp A Butterfly (full production credits here) sounds like, the album is a stellar showcasing of Kendrick Lamar’s artistic ambitions and firm proof that he is in a league of his own.
Ever since he swiftly levitated into the mainstream hip-hop discussion back in 2011, Big Sean has always been a commanding artist who seems to consistently shift the limelight toward his direction. Not because of any glorious lyrical ability or ingenious concepts; it was Sean’s knack for smash records (“Dance”) and show-stealing features (“Clique” and “Mercy”) that demanded our attention. But despite a quick rise to fame for the Detroit rapper, Big Sean’s first two solo efforts left more to be desired and are not considered to be groundbreaking bodies of work. And while it is a valid claim to state that Dark Sky Paradise is Big Sean’s best album yet, the LP still suffers from his previous undoings and these repetitive weaknesses unfortunately cast a shadow over the multiple high points of the LP.
February 16th, 2015 by Eric Bernsen
At any given time in the world of hip-hop, spirited debates occur when the classic question of ‘who is the best rapper out’ arises. It is an immortal discussion, a topic that draws us in to the point of no return and is as consistent as the changing of the seasons. While there are several legitimate sides one can support in this matter, there is no denying that Drake is the most influential (aka the ‘hottest’) artist in the game. In a span of about 5 years, Drake has morphed from Lil Wayne’s potentially profitable investment to a well-rounded musician capable of monumental bodies of work such as Take Care and Nothing Was The Same. When we fast-forward to present day, Aubrey has immortalized himself as the ‘6 God’ and his devoted fans are living in the midst of the Views From The 6 era. But before Drake decides to unveil his official album, the Toronto icon fulfilled on the well-informed rumors that he would be dropping a project before VFT6. And while If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late may have surprised the general public, Drake previously declared he would have ‘spring of 2015 poppin’ on his Grammy-nominated one-off “0 to 100”, and there is nothing wrong with being early to the party.
The first sound you hear when listening to Joey Bada$$’s highly anticipated debut album B4.Da.$$ is an electrified crowd chanting his name. This introduction is a fitting one when we look at the early career trajectory of the Pro Era leader, who became a New York hip-hop prodigy of sorts when he burst onto the scene in 2012 with his acclaimed mixtape 1999. Disciples of the classic 90s golden-era style proclaimed Joey Bada$$ as their modern-day savior, a young Brooklyn-bred emcee who could flow over J Dilla/Lord Finesse/MF Doom beats with supreme ‘third-eye open’ lyrical precision. And while Joey’s most recent mixtape/free album Summer Knights fell short of the standard he set for himself, B4.Da.$$ proves to be his most polished and refined body of work to date, with Bada$$ simultaneously sticking to his rugged roots yet also displaying prominent indications of branching out beyond the streets of Bed Stuy.