DJ Khaled – “Khaled Khaled” review

DJ Khaled is a 45 year old DJ, record executive, producer & media personality from New Orleans, Louisiana whom a lot of people may not know came up as a tour DJ for the Terror Squad. But for the last 15 years, Khaled has curated a total of 11 albums under his own name. However when his last effort Father of Asahd charted at #2 right behind IGOR on the Billboard 200, dude completely ruined his Mr. Nice Guy image by dissing Tyler, The Creator out of bitterness. Almost 2 years later, Khaled is returning with his 12th full-length project.

Jeremih & Lil Wayne kick the album off on “Thankful”, where the 2 speak on gratefulness over a sample of Bobby Bland’s iconic “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City”. The song “Every Chance I Get” has a Three 6-inspired sound from Tay Keith as Lil Baby & Lil Durk go back & forth about turning up on haters while the Cardi B solo cut “Big Paper” is a grimy braggadocious anthem down to the beat too. The track “We Going Crazy” not only has a weird synth-instrumental, but the chemistry between H.E.R. & the Migos are totally off.

Lil Baby returns albeit with Megan Thee Stallion & DaBaby for the ironically enjoyable rap rock banger “I Did It” whereas Justin Bieber & 21 Savage deliver a boring look at the saying “Time is money” on the plainly-produced “Let It Go”. The song “Body in Motion” by Bryson Tiller, Lil Baby & Roddy Ricch is a gross attempt at going romantic while the first Drake solo cut “Popstar” sounds completely uninspired.

Meanwhile, we have A Boogie wit da Hoodie joining forces with Big Sean & Rick Ross to ruin Biggie’s “Long Kiss Goodnight” on the conquering “This is My Year” whereas the highly anticipated “Sorry Not Sorry” is easily my favorite off the entire album as JAY-Z & Nas talk about living the dream over a sample of Bobby Glenn’s “Sound’s Like a Love Song” provided by STREETRUNNER. “Just Be” by Justin Timberlake unapologetically ruins the Ghostface Killah joint “All That I Got Is You” right before “I Can Have It All” by H.E.R. & Meek Mill butchers one of my favorite Beanie Sigel songs: “Feel It in the Air”.

The other Drake solo cut “Greece” is even worse than “Popstar” only because he is completely trying to rip off The Weeknd’s vocal inflections from start to finish & if you’re familiar with Khaled’s previous output, you already know the album ends with a reggae note & that’s what “Where You Come From” by Barrington Levy, Buju Banton & Capleton does.

I don’t know what else to say other than that, he just keeps making the same goddamn album over & over again. The usual line-up of guests hardly compliment one another & the radio friendly production is just average at best. Just put 3-4 joints in a playlist & call it a day.

Score: 1.5/5

The Alchemist – “This Thing of Ours” review

This is the 9th EP from Beverly Hills producer, DJ & emcee The Alchemist. Coming up as 1/2 of The Whooliganz in 1993 with Scott Caan, the disbanded a year later after recording a debut album that eventually got shelved & Scott went onto acting. Mudfoot however, quickly established himself as a household name in hip hop production by working with a handful of the culture’s most iconic names ranging from Mobb Deep to Eminem. Last thing we heard from him solo wise was The Food Villain back in October & after producing the new Armand Hammer album Haram to universal acclaim last month, Uncle Al is staying busy by amassing 6 emcees for This Thing of Ours.

The opener “Nobles” weaves in a Sun Ra sample as Navy Blue & Earl Sweatshirt trade bars back & forth with one another while the next song “TV Dinners” is a bit oxymoronic with it’s calming instrumental along with Boldy James & Sideshow declaring themselves as soldiers through the lyrics. The penultimate track “Holy Hell” by Maxo & Pink Siifu goes on about the devil wanting their souls over a guitar & a vocal sample before Earl returns to talk about people nickel & diming on the trumpet-heavy closer “Loose Change”.

Not the best EP we’ve heard from The Alchemist, but still an enjoyable listen. His production is a lot more chilled out in comparison to Haram & despite a couple of the guest MCs providing weak verses, most of them do what they do best.

Score: 3.5/5

Substance810 – “The Hanging Gardens” review

This is the 8th full-length album from Port Huron emcee/producer Substance810. Originally emerging in 2006 with his debut The Definition under his original moniker Tekneek, it wasn’t until last year when he dropped the fantastic sequel The Definition Of in the summer & then a debut EP Chess Pieces in the fall. But just 3 months after the release of his previous album Makin’ Waves, Substance810 is tapping in Hobgoblin for The Hanging Gardens.

“From a Seed” has some jazz undertones in the instrumental as the Michigander raps about growth before Josiah the Gift accompanies him to spit that pyrex shit on the gospel-sounding “Full Bloom”. The song “Marvel of Mankind” jumps on a flute to talk about being different from those around his way whereas “Pillars of Stone” goes into a more boom bap direction with lyrics about residing in the shadows of the underground.

Meanwhile, we have Jamil Honesty & Pure jumping on the horn-inflicted “Majestic” to come for their opposition’s throats before Substance810 brings in an orchestra for the Ma Dukes-tribute “Mother Earth”. Right after that, the minimal “From Darkness to Light” goes in about overcoming all obstacles & then E the Mad Assassin tags along to talk about wanting more on the grimy title track. “Harvest” is a victorious closer & the ambition in his lyrics is undeniable.

Substance810 is quickly becoming one of my favorite MCs that my home state has to offer & The Hanging Gardens is an absolute crown jewel in his discography. His lyricism is more introspective this time around & Hobgoblin brings in a wide range of sounds for him.

Score: 4.5/5

Skribbal – “Black Eyed Children” review

This is the 3rd album from Los Angeles emcee Skribbal. Coming up in 2016 off the strength of his full-length debut Drug Spun Funk, the man would catch the attention of the rising Wisconsin underground label Force 5 Records & put out his sophomore effort Skinwalker a couple years later. But once Skribbal dropped his debut EP Quarantine Sessions last 4/20, he would leave the label to form his own Sony Music imprint Hell Patrol Records & the newfound independence by coming together with the highly anticipated Black Eyed Children.

After the “Retribution” intro performed by death metal icon Chris Barnes, the first actual song on the album “Born All Over” is a Napalm Drop cut where Skribbal & Big Left get together to talk about how hip hop gets them through the day on top of a sample of the O.V. Wright joint of the same name whereas “Find My Way” is a somber boom bap cut about being afraid of change.

For “Bring the Pain”, we have Skribbal on top of a quasi-funky instrumental to declare music as his therapy before declaring that he’ll never sell his soul on the dysphoric “Vampire Tactics”. We have RedCloud accompanying the mic for the heinous “Dreams in the Witch House” & the Iyze Lowe takes his spot to rap about how “can’t nobody do it like we do” on “Keep It Movin’”.

Meanwhile on “The Man Who Fell from the Sky”, Skribbal vividly details a story about a man trying to escape the US while he & Emycst declare themselves stronger than ever on the enchantingly-produced “Stronger Than Ever”. The song “We Are Not Alone” with Aether Haze is a cool dedication to all the struggling foster kids in the world on top of a beat with some grimly bells, but Celph Titled & Damian Krypt come together to get on the horrorcore tip for “Halloween Apples”.

Even though “Beyond the Black Rainbow” has a dark sound to it, I do enjoy the motivational lyrics about finding the light. The penultimate track “Wreck the System” with The R.O.C. is a dusty battle rap cut & to finish it all off, Dopehead Dan & the DG@F general himself Chucky Chuck hop on for the weed-themed “Pass the Green”.

The first of 4 bonus songs “Man with the Screaming Brain” goes into a more trap direction as Skribbal challenges all competition to bring the smoke before returning to a more boom bap sound to detail everything he’s learned on “Child of the State”. Dude brings in an organ & vocal harmonizing for the self-deprecating “Slave to the Pain & then we get some ominous keyboards as he details a regular day in the ghetto on “No Good: A Hood Story”.

In comparison to Skribbal’s last 2 albums, Black Eyed Children is a completely different vibe but in a good way. He focuses a lot less on the horrorcore aspect of things lyrically to focus on displaying his overall skills a lot more & is prominently boom bappy than before.

Score: 3.5/5

Ouija Macc – “Dirtbag” review

This is the 5th mixtape from Las Vegas rapper Ouija Macc. Originally breaking out in 2017 off the strength of his debut EP Trashfire, this resulted in the Insane Clown Posse making him the final act to ever sign with Psychopathic Records later that year. Ouija has since been holding it down for the hatchet by dropping 2 full-length albums, 3 EPs, 4 tape, a greatest hits compilation & a collab EP with Starfoxlaflare. But after forming his own label Chapter 17 Records & dropping a collaborative mixtape with Young Money Entertainment signee Baby E a couple months ago, Ouija is enlisting the Floridian production duo Mythic Mindz for Dirtbag.

“Ain’t No Savior” kicks the door down by encouraging the listener to crank the volume up super high over a sitar-laced trap beat from Devereaux whereas the next song “Demon Seed” is a cacophonous depiction of a ritual. Ouija goes on to do a good job at melodically opening up about depression on the grungy “Route 17” & then “Killing Spree” brings in a chiming instrumental as the lyrics take a turn into horrorcore turf.

The track “Domino” brings in a bit of a country twang in the production to talk how this is the way it has to be while we get a bass-heavy ode to the kinky motherfuckers out there on “Nympho”. For “Did It Myself”, we get a Bollywood-flavored anthem about his grind before the Shaggytheairhead provides a dinky beat for Ouija to acknowledge his weirdness on “Walking WTF”.

Meanwhile on “La Cienega”, we get a quirky instrumental & Ouija bringing his speediest flows imaginable without making it sound cliche whereas “Thuggalo Slide” is a bassy anthem for the thuggalos to ride to. The song “Monster vs. Man” continues to bring in guitars as the lyrics tackle inner turmoil while “Not Enough” is Ouija talking about wanting more sex & drugs on top of a wailing trap beat.

The adrenaline-inducing “Die Like This” takes aim at his detractors whereas the electronic-influenced “Understand Us” is about how misunderstood juggalos are in the hip hop world. “I Don’t Know” doesn’t sound too bad for a cloudy love song while the penultimate track is a trap/rock fusion about burning it all down. As for the closer, “I’m Nowhere” talks about being a ghost over a sludgy instrumental.

This dude is just reaffirming his status as one of the most consistent artists in the underground today. He makes a great return to his normal style after the more commercial We Never Forgot & it’s cool to hear Mythic Mindz helping him out dabbling into new sounds.

Score: 4/5

Yelawolf – “Mud Mouth” review

This is the 7th full-length outing from Alabama rapper, singer, songwriter, fashion designer & entrepreneur Yelawolf. Originally getting his name out there 16 years ago by appearing on The Road to Stardom along with the mediocre debut album Creekwater, it wasn’t until the 2010s where Catfish Billy got his big break by dropping his 4th mixtape Trunk Muzik & later going on to sign a 4-album deal with the Eminem-owned Interscope Records imprint Shady Records. Once his contract was fulfilled, Yelawolf has since been focusing more on his own label Slumerican Records & celebrated his newfound independence by dropping his last album Ghetto Cowboy in late 2019. But the dude has been on a roll as far as 2021 goes by putting out a collab album with Caskey in February & a total of 3 EPs throughout this past month (one of them being a collaborative effort with RiFF RAFF) leading up to Mud Mouth.

The opener “Light as a Feather” has these unexpected cricket noises as Yelawolf talks about feeling better than ever before incorporating an organ & bass guitar to declare himself a bad motherfucker on the next song “Oh No”. “Bounce” is an in-your-face club banger that I don’t mind up until the millennial whoops that pop up during the hook, but then we get a vivid depiction of him selling drugs behind a gas station on the rap rock flavored-“Conoco”.

The track “Dope” melodically brags over an icy piano instrumental the Shawty Fatt tribute “Rocks at Your Window” is an inferior version of “Ride or Die” off Trial by Fire. Catfish Billy later picks things back up by delivering motivation on the acoustic-backed “Hillbilly Einstein” before enlisting Waylon & Willie for the electro-trap banger “Money” to declare that they don’t give a fuck about wealth.

After the “Losers Win Again” interlude, Yelawolf gets back on the country tip for the summery “Dog House” while he goes on about returning from the road on the stripped-back “Homeward Bound”.The song “Aquanet” is an odd tribute to the hair spray of the same name despite the luxurious instrumental & for the last taste of hip hop on the album, we go back into a more rap rock direction for the braggadocious “Hot”. As for the closer, the title track is a blues-sounding cut about being a product of the south.

Mile 0 is my favorite project that Yelawolf has dropped throughout the month, but this main course is pretty enjoyable. Other than a few lulls throughout the 1 hour run, it’s a solid return to the country/rock influences that began on Love Story & what other producer could’ve honed in on that sound than Jim Jonsin?

Jay-Ef – “Believe It or Not” review

Jay-Ef is a 51 year old DJ from Tenafly, New Jersey notable for being a protege of DJ Rob Swift as well as the co-host of The Leschea Show. But after putting out a handful of stuff from different artists on his Mona Hip Hop record label, the east coast veteran is beginning to build a solo discography from himself by dropping a debut EP with J. Pedina on the boards from start to finish.

After the Rob Swift & DJ Total Eclipse-assisted turntablism intro “Back 2 the Basics”, the title track by Wordsworth encourages the listener to take a look around over a classy boom bap beat before going into jazz rap territory as Torae details what happens when the sun goes down on “Night Time”.

The song “Stages of Asia” by Planet Asia is a piano-tinged mafiosio ballad whereas the string-heavy “Still Friends” by Masta Ace details what friendship means to him. The closer “9 Lives” incorporates some saxophones as Pearl Gates spills out wisdom.

Now if Jay-Ef has plans to put out any more material like this down the road, then sign me up. The guests are well picked out with just about all of them giving fiery performances as J. Pedina’s production predominantly sticks to the traditional hip hop sound we’ve all come to love.

Score: 3.5/5

ssgkobe – “KO.” review

ssgkobe is a 17 year old rapper from Louisiana emerging out of the SoundCloud scene just a few years back, but I was unfamiliar with him until earlier this month when he was featured on a bonus track off of BROCKHAMPTON’s new album ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW MACHINE. And with his profile continuously growing, of course he’s gonna ride the wave by dropping a 15 minute EP.

“listen before you indulge” is a bare acoustic opener with underwritten lyrics about being torn spiritually whereas the next “Capsules” sees right past the bluff on top of a plucky trap beat. “Condo” is an annoying cloud rap diatribe about how kobe & BoofPaxkMooky got money walking while the track “Angels” portrays his adventures in the sunshine state.

Then we have the rushjob of a breakup cut that is “why’re you scared?”, but then the WondaGurl-produced “Again” is basically the other side of the coin as he talks about moving on to a new chick. The song “Calabasas” featuring $not is a pretty drab way to end the EP, but I do enjoy the Crimson Chin reference in the hook quite a bit.

Yeah I ain’t got much else to say other that KO. is just another addition to the ever-growing pile of run of the mill trap projects. Despite being far from the worst thing I’ve listened to all year & maybe he’ll refine his style on the next project, it’s nothing that I haven’t heard already.

Score: 2/5

Lil Yachty – “Michigan Boy Boat” review

This is the 5th mixtape from Mableton rapper & songwriter Lil Yachty. Skyrocketing to fame in 2016 by bringing a unique sound & personality to the trap subgenre on his debut mixtape Lil Boat, his subsequent pretty much took a nosedive from there. Why? Because he made a song on that breakout tape about never switching up & that’s EXACTLY what he did. But to pay homage to this reviewer’s home state, Yachty has amassed together some of the hottest rappers Detroit has to offer currently for Michigan Boy Boat.

“Final Form” is a ruthless opener with a hyphy instrumental from Helluva, but then Tee Grizzley tags along for the airy “Dynamic Duo” to talk about how his chemistry with Yachty is unmatched. The harp on “Concrete Goonies” shortly after is pretty cool except the fact that it’s a tad bit offputting hearing him start it off by saying he wants to fuck Kali Uchis. Meanwhile, we have Veeze & Baby Smoove jumping on a piano instrumental to brush off those who wanna fight for a print on “Don’t Even Bother” whereas the song “G.I. Joe” with Louie Ray finds the 2 talking about being young cats who got it over a colorful beat from Buddah Bless.

“Never Did Coke” is one of my favorites on the project with it’s bongo & string-laced instrumental as well as Yachty’s chemistry with Swae Lee, but that same back-&-forth magic on the RMC Mike-featured “Ghetto Boy Shit” falls flat for me even though I like the grubby instrumental. Icewear Vezzo & Rio da Yung OG help him go into gangsta rap territory for “Plastic” while the track “Fight Night Round 3” with Babyface Ray & Veeze does it’s title justice by providing a lethal moshpit joint.

Sada Baby’s feature on the braggadocious “SB 2021” is cool, but his performances on the 30 Roc-produced “SB5” are much better if you ask me. Rio comes back into the fold for the glassily-produced “Stunt Double”, except his feature on here doesn’t stick the landing like it did on “Plastic”. The penultimate track “Hybrid” has these inauspicious keyboard melodies Yachty & Babytron both give flashy performances before bringing in some bells for the “This That One” cypher to finish things off.

Coming from someone who’s lived in The Mitten his entire life, I’m a bit torn coming away from this. Even though Yachty doesn’t do the modern Detroit style all that much justice, I still admire the fact he took some of the hottest rappers the city currently has to offer & brought them all together.

Score: 2.5/5

Yelawolf – “Mile 0” review

Yelawolf is a 41 year old rapper, singer, songwriter, fashion designer & entrepreneur from Gassen, Alabama coming up on the scene as a contender on The Road to Stardom in 2005. His debut album Creekwater that same year, but didn’t catch the mainstream’s attention until New Year’s Day 2010 off the strength of his 4th mixtape Trunk Muzik. This caught the attention of Detroit icon Eminem, who signed Catfish Billy to his Interscope Records imprint Shady Records the following year. Yelawolf went on to release 4 albums under his contract with Slim, leaving in Spring 2019 to focus on continuing to build his own label Slumerican Records. Dude’s been staying busy all month by dropping a project damn near each week & to come fresh off his latest EP Slumafia produced entirely by DJ Paul, we’re being treated to another EP produced entirely by DJ Muggs of Cypress Hill fame.

“W.T.F. (What the Fuck?)” kicks the whole thing off by Yelawolf depicting his seriousness on top of an string-laced boom bap beat & the next song “Geeyat Damnit” recaptures that sound except with a piano being weaved in as he spits about how he’s “getting it”. B-Real hops aboard the cavernous, money-stacking anthem “Hand Over Fist” in a natural fashion before diving into the cinematic, rags-to-riches story “Harvest” featuring Struggle Jennings.

“The Catch” is a breezy, romantic boom bap track while Caskey of course joins Catfish Billy for the rich tribute to success that is “Matador”. The song “Flea Market” with Bub Styles is oxymoron giving that they’re rapping about keeping it g over a peaceful instrumental, but then longtime collaborator DJ Paul jumps on the mic accompanied by Del the Funky Homosapien of all people come together to talk about desired-reclusiveness for the spacey yet jazzy “Privacy”. As for the closer “Dust Broom”, I do appreciate it’s wretched tone despite Christian Rose & Sam Lee having the weakest features on the whole project.

Of all the projects Yelawolf has dropped in 2021 so far, I genuinely don’t know if anything can top Mile 0. Everything about it is a welcoming detour from what you’d expect from him in terms of his wise lyrics & the lo-fi sound DJ Muggs shoots for. Will I be proven wrong when Mud Mouth drops next Friday? Find out next time on Dragon Ball Z.

Score: 4/5