Hip Hop

Big K.R.I.T. Cadillactica Album Review

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As Mississippi rapper Big K.R.I.T. geared up for his second album release titled Cadillactica, fans and critics alike pondered the musical direction Krizzle would take next. Live From the Underground failed to live up to the lofty expectations listeners placed upon it, as Krit’s music began to follow a predictable pattern. Progression was desired, something Cadillactica aims to appease.

Cadillactica is the wild ride through an imaginary planet within Krit’s mind. The planet itself is symbolic of life, with Krit rolling his candy painted caddy through the geographic ebbs and flows of existence. Even more so, it is a personal album about the hardships of growing old. Gone is the “soul food” we are accustomed to as youngsters and in comes the struggles of carving your own path within a very different looking society. Relationship struggles, societal issues and cultural shortcomings all rotate within Krit’s mind, helping shape the perception of Cadillactica from its creation to the destruction of the planet. Without further ado, a track by track breakdown of Cadillactica. 

1. Kreation (Intro):

This song is literally the birth of both the planet Cadillactica and the creative process within Krit’s mind, a soothing and soulful introduction into the rapper’s world. Krit’s pursuit of perfection is echoed throughout the track, something he seeks for both the planet he has created as well as his music. Strong intro.

2. Life

Krit oozes passion in this haunting anthem, searching for deeper meanings in both his own life and the life of the planet he has created. Krit also makes it clear that while life may be hard, he appreciates the chance to live it. Solid track with Krit showing off his ability to tackle deep concepts yet keep it entertaining.

3. My Sub Part 3 (Big Bang):

Banger. Krit brings all of the down south swagger on this one, finding himself chanting methodically atop of hard hitting bass. This song reflects the Big Bang explosion, something Krit uses as a celebration of his beloved trunk rattling bass.

4. Cadillactica:

One of the best tracks on the album. The intricate, yet knocking instrumentation on this track truly brings out the best in Krit lyrically, as he tears apart each verse he spits. This is a track where Krit aims to show off his lyrical ability and confidence as a rapper, taking you inside his world. The interlude leading up to the Soul Food track is amazing, as a Cadillactica fast food joint tries to sell Krit the “fast food” of the new generation.

5. Soul Food (Featuring Raphael Saadiq):

Standout track. This song is truly incredible. Under smooth instrumentation, Krit brings listeners back to the old days of childhood, where living was easy and “soul food” represented the comfort of life. Yet this feeling of protection begins to disappear and the “soul food” begins to rot as you grow older, exposing you to the hardships of the new generation you are a part of. Very touching track, as Krit’s ability to be introspective and incorporate concepts truly makes him a special artist in these moments. Raphael Saadiq blends in perfectly on the hook.

6. Pay Attention (featuring Rico Love): 

You knew Krit had to make one for the strip clubs. This stripper anthem is one for the clubs and shows Krit’s progression in making marketable yet respectable singles.

7. King of the South:

“I’m here bitches and I’m not going anywhere.” That is essentially what Krit is saying on this southern banger. Krit’s brazen lyrics and viscous flows serve to stake his claim for the crown. Even more so, Krit is sending a message that he is underappreciated and deserves more recognition than what he has been getting. This song is country to the core and one of the most aggressive songs on the album.

8. Mind Control (featuring E-40 and Wiz Khalifa):

This soulful beat finds Krit trying to get into the head of a woman and seduce her, something he croons out on the hook. Decent track, although both E-40 and Wiz Khalifa share forgettable verses.

9. Standby (Interlude):

This jazzy instrumental has Krit attempting to navigate the hardships he is facing, while sending the message to always continue trying. Meaningful interlude.

10. Do you love me? (featuring Mara Hruby):

Krit had to dedicate a song to his one true love, his cadillac. Real life girlfriend Mara Hruby serves as Krizzle’s car on this soulful track, singing to him on the hook as Krit raps of his appreciation for all aspects of his whip. Really smooth, southern track, something Krit is very comfortable making.

11. Third Eye:

Very melodic anthem, as Krit’s search continues for love and relationships. Even more so, this song shows where he sees his future heading and represents the visions of where he believes his life could go.

12. Mo Better Cool (featuring Devin the Dude, Bun B and Big Sant):

Funky instrumentation has Krit flexing his confidence with the ladies all over this record, with Devin the Dude practically floating on the chorus. Bun B delivers a solid guest verse and Big Sant shows he embodies Krit’s sound.

13. Angels

Very soft sounding song, with Krit detailing his confusion as to the type of person he will be. He explores good vs. evil on this track, using the allusion of bad acting angels throughout the track. This song shows Krit trying to persevere despite all the questions he has about what is going on around him. Solid track.

14. Saturdays=Celebration(featuring Jamie N Commons)

Very vintage sounding record, with the message being to not let your sorrows bring you down. Blues rocker and folk artist Jamie N Commons brings a very unique sound to this track, making it a very interesting combination of artists.

15. Lost Generation(featuring Lupe Fiasco)

Finally comes the destruction of the planet Cadillactica to round out the project, but with the reminder within Krit’s mind that “We will create again”. This concluding track has Krit and Lupe playing good vs. evil in regards to the perceptions of the “Lost Generation”. Krit is on the good side, stressing that living the right way and avoiding temptation is the best course of action. Lupe then negates this, stating getting to the top by any means is the motive and showing total disregard for life. Really cool concept to go out on, as both rappers equally thrive on this banging conclusion to Cadillactica.

Big K.R.I.T. has always been a talented rapper with much to offer. His songs often carry deeper meaning and his passion resonates with listeners. But some of Krit’s recent projects lacked that next step in progression that would take him to new heights. In Cadillactica, Krit has taken that next step. Handing over just a smidgen of his creative control does wonders for this project, as the addition of other production credits only enhances Krit’s brilliance. Every song seems a little more put together, Krit’s flows a little smoother and the album as a whole a little more concise. Cadillactica, both the planet and the train of thought racing through Krizzle’s mind, is a galactic adventure worth exploring.

How real was this album? 9.1/10

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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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Diamond in the Rough: Examining the Versatility of Freddie Gibbs

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The culture of rap music is one of diversity. Many rappers have different styles to offer to listeners, making the genre appealing to a vast audience. But what many MCs fail to do is be well rounded with their craft. Rappers like Wiz Khalifa and Lil Wayne, despite what their adoring fans believe, fail with attempts to step outside of their comfort zones (See Wiz’ new shit, Lil Wayne’s trash rock album). These rappers lack the versatility that makes some artists special and puts them above the rest.

Gangsta Gibbs is not one of these rappers. The unique talents that Freddie possess have been reflected through his catalogue for years and continue to attract new fans while still maintaining his loyal core followers. Here are aspects of Gibbs as a rapper that truly make him a diamond in the rough of today’s materialistic, generic bullshit we like to call rap.

1. Street Credibility- How refreshing. Finally a rapper that actually lives the life he raps about. Gibbs doesn’t have to pretend to be something he isn’t like Rick Ross, CO turned “Drug Lord” turned rapper. He is authentic, something fans find appealing.

2. Relatable- Gibbs isn’t all about having more money than his fans and flossing chains and cars. He has songs that people from all walks of life can relate to. (Rock Bottom) depicts struggles of trying to provide food for his family, an issue many Americans face on a daily basis. (One more time) recalls the painful struggles of losing friends, something every person must someday go through. 

3. Technical Ability- Lyrically, Gibbs is incredible. This dude can switch up his flows and cadences at the drop of a dime, going from melodic verses to machine gun flow to straight gangster bars. His wordplay is truly unique and something missing from the game for some time.

4. Diversity of Beats- What other rapper could spit on a Madlib beat and a Young Chop beat in the same month? Gibbs caters his style and sound to different instrumentals, murdering trap beats and boombap beats with the same intensity. He even has full melodic verses on some smoother sounding beats (The Color Purple)

5. Feature Verses- Freddie always brings something special to collaborations. One of the first verses I ever heard from Gibbs was on Curren$y’s (Scottie Pippens), which was one of the best displays of lyricism I have heard in many years. Be prepared for Gibbs to be superior lyrically to the artist he is being featured with on pretty much everything he jumps on.

6. Visuals- Freddie’s music videos always are on point, often traveling back to Gary, Indiana to tell vivid stories of crime and betrayal. Expect LOTS of guns.

7. ESGN- Departing from CTE and Young Jeezy, Gibbs went on to form his own rap group and label. Quality street artists such as G-Wiz and Hit Screwface contributed to the ESGN album, helping make it THE best gangster rap album of the year. Gibbs is branding himself and helping put on his crew in the process.

8. Personality- Freddie says what the hell he wants. There is no sugarcoating anything. If he doesn’t like you, he will say it to you. His interviews are hilarious and his “Fuck The World” persona is refreshing in the new subliminal dissing, kiss ass rap game. 

9. Consistency- Freddie stays dropping heat and has been for some time. From his classic mix tapes like Miseducation and Str8 Killa to Thuggin’ EP to BFK and ESGN, Gibbs continues to put out solid material that can stay in rotation for a long time.

A lot of rap fans have never heard or probably will never hear Freddie Gibbs rap. They will be too busy making their ear drums bleed with Tyga’s new single or purchasing MMG’s new weed plate. The simple truth is that Gibbs possesses what many of these popular artists lack, and that is versatility. The man is a lyrical monster and truly a diamond in the rough. Look out for Cocaine Piñata March 18th. 

 

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MC of The Week: Black Moon

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Buckshot, 5 ft and DJ Evil Dee make up the legendary underground rap group Black Moon. Enta Da Stage is hip hop at its rawest form, entertaining lyrical street bars over boombap beats, consistent throughout and true to its sound. To many, the album is an underground classic. Songs like “Act Like You Want it, How Many MCs, and I Got Cha Opin” continue to get spins from underground hip hop heads to this day. Even rap icon Eminem paid ode to the group on his newest album MMLP2, remixing “I Got Cha Opin” and referencing nearly signing to Duck Down records. Salute to pioneers of this real rap shit. 

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