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Albums We Love: Vince Staples-Hell Can Wait

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The progression of Long Beach rapper Vince Staples from Shyne Coldchain Vol. 1 to now has been staggering. His songs are sounding more complete, his lyricism more refined and his imagery more distinct than ever. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Staples’s debut EP, Hell Can Wait. From the sounds of screen doors creaking to helicopters buzzing, as well as vivid stories of Vince’s father doing anything to make ends meet, Staples has crafted grim imagery depicting the streets of California almost perfectly. This EP feels like a musical rendition of Menace II Society, something definitely worth a rotation.

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Artist of the Week: Action Bronson

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Upon first listen, certain comments often arise. It usually begins with, “does this guy think he is Ghostface?” But to frame Bronsolino’s music in the same light as the heralded Wu Tang rapper is unjustified and simply wrong. Bronson is very much in his own lane and offers unique subject matter that few can rival. The man weighs over 300 pounds and has as much bravado to accompany it. He spits intricate raps about the lavish lifestyle he lives, detailing sexual encounters, drug experiences and the exquisite tastes he possesses. The former culinary chef mentions the finest cuisines in nearly every track he touches and has many facets to his music that go beyond sounding like an established rapper. Not to mention, the dude has bars. So sit back, fire up some octopus and lamb on the grill and take a listen to the artist of the week.

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Songs We Love: Vince Staples- Hands Up

Long Beach lyricist Vince Staples delivers a grim take on America’s current conflict with the boys in blue. Staple’s vivid tales of friends lost to the corruption of police that has shaped his rebellious attitude is an intriguing take on the current issues stemming from Mike Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri. Hit the link below and make sure to pick up Vince’s Hell Can Wait EP, which should drop later this year.

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Schoolboy Q Oxymoron Album Review

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Prior to the release of Q’s highly anticipated Oxymoron, the social media world was abuzz with high hopes and impatience; often paralleling expectations with Kendrick Lamar’s highly coveted and celebrated Good Kid, M.A.A.D City. To be clear, Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q are two different rappers possessing completely different skill sets. To plug in Q’s album with expecting Kendrick’s narrative of trying to navigate the hardships of his environment would be an injustice to the uniqueness every Black Hippy member brings to the table. While Q can relate to Kendrick in the environment they were raised in, his serving Oxymoron offers a less introspective, more menacing tale of a violent and grimy Hoover Street existence.

 Oxymoron starts out with a bang, dropping dark keys after a brief, somewhat sinister introduction from Schoolboy’s daughter. Gangsta is the type of sound that works well on this album, with Q’s loud, menacing flow accompanying a head nodding instrumental. Schoolboy truly excels in his execution of bridges and hooks on this project, having smooth transitions between verses to complete songs. While ghetto anthems like What they Want and Yay Yay will have you ghost riding the whip, Q does a nice job blending in songs reflective of the experiences that have shaped him. Hoover Street, one of the best songs on the album, has Q bringing it back to the block he was raised on, spitting stories of fascination with OGs as a youngster and his discovery of his grandmother’s gun. Prescription/Oxymoron examines the often-hypocritical roles Q has played in his life, both as a user and supplier. This introspective record shows Q at his most vulnerable, losing control as his addiction heads off the rails. The Purge and Blind Threats are solid hip-hop offerings, with Kurupt delivering one of the best verses on the entire project.

With all said, Oxymoron delivers what you would expect from Q. Despite some standout tracks and generally well-constructed songs, Q falters at times with forgettable verses and records running just a bit too long. This is a solid album overall, with Schoolboy adding a much darker, sinister chapter to his impressive catalogue.

Rating: 7.6/10

Best Songs: Break the Bank, Hoover Street, Prescription/Oxymoron

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Albums We Love: Troy Ave-New York City:The Album

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Too often rappers sacrifice the integrity of their music to step outside of the box and create something innovative and new. While innovation is an essential aspect of the growth of hip hop, staying true to formulas that have worked in the past has never been a bad option. Enter Troy Ave. The New York rapper stays true to the roots of the early 2000s east coast sounds, channeling his inner 50 Cent/Dipset on New York City: The Album. There is nothing groundbreaking about this album, yet it returns to the sounds we thoroughly enjoyed a decade ago. It serves as a refreshment to the “groundbreaking” swag rap currently being jammed down our throats. Respect. 

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Previewing Cocaine Pinata: What to Expect

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On March 18, blood will be spilt. No, not real blood. Hypothetical blood. Of every sucker industry rapper in Gibb’s crosshairs. Cocaine Pinata is now a week away and rumors have it Madlib and Freddie have created a masterpiece. As the anticipation builds, here are some important things to look for in the duo’s first full length release. 

1. Soulful Synergy- Gibbs and Madlib combine to bring something never before done in the history of rap music. A gangster rapper consistently spitting smooth, intricate verses over sample rich instrumentals, creating something altogether incredible and unique. Look for Freddie and Madlib to build upon the chemistry created in previous collaborations, bringing their rap audience something never done so well before. 

2. Features- Gibbs is well known for having strong features from outside artists on his projects. Expect him to bring the best for this cohesive project, enlisting help from Danny Brown, Mac Miller, Flatbush Zombies, Scarface, Raekwon, and more to round out the album and improve the extent of its reach. 

3. Explosion- This is Freddie’s time. It has finally come for Gibbs to solidify himself as an underground king and THE only current face in gangster rap. Gibbs recently performed in front of a raucous sold out crowd in Chicago, all there in support of his ESGN movement.  Freddie’s fast paced, evolutionary lyricism on this project will take him to the next level in the realm of the public eye, earning him at least more of the respect he righteously deserves. 

Purchase Pinata on March 18. The LP will be available in CD, vinyl, and digital format. 

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MC of the Week: Cali Agents

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Planet Asia and Rasco are lyrical assassins, intently focused on intricate word plays and murdering underground beats with a purpose. The lesser known Cali Agents dropped a classic titled How the West Was One, staying true to the streets and bouncing off each other’s flows more efficiently than molecular atoms, demanding your respect.  Well, they caught our attention. Real Shit.  

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