Scum & Smallz 1 – “Blame Us” review

This is the new collaborative album between Russian-American horrorcore veteran Scum & his New Mexico-based protégé Smallz 1, who has been a longtime signee to Lyrikal Snuff Productionz for the last 15 years or so. Of course they’ve been working with one another for a long time & always killed it whenever they popped up together, so it was only a matter of time they dropped Blame Us a week after headline the first night of the Gathering of Dreams.

“Victim” kicks off the whole album with a symphonic boom bap beat attacking those with a victim’s mentality whereas the apocalyptic title track confessing to be the root of every issue. “Never” works in some rock undertones reminiscing on the times one had to lose it all just before the rebellious “March” talking about the Army of Beasts they have.

Meanwhile on “Blood”, we have Smallz & her mentor over some g-funk production detailing a bloodbath prior to “The Tab” embracing a funereal sound confessing to pay such in order for issues to be resolved. “That Kind of Shit” is a piano/string infused banger basically beeping the wicked shit leading into “Needful Things” asks about selling your soul over a glistening trap instrumental.

“Would That Be Alright?” shoots for a more deranging aesthetic expressing their desire to stab while “Rage” aggressively goes back & forth with one another stomping a motherfucker out. The song “What They Say” has a more jazzy, boom bap vibe talking about never giving a fuck about what others think of them while the penultimate track “Hate” is a livid diss towards all their enemies. “Off the Juice” however ends with a depressing tune about drinking & their inner demons.

I knew it was only a matter of time that they put this out on DSPs & if you love all the songs they’ve worked on since 2007, then I highly recommend listening to Blame Us. Scum & Smallz bring the best out of each other lyrically accompanied by some gruesome production.

Score: 4/5

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Megan Thee Stallion – “Traumazine” review

This is the surprise sophomore album from Houston rapper Megan Thee Stallion. Rising to prominence in the spring of 2019 with the release of her debut mixtape Fever, I myself was very impressed with how it displayed Megan’s knack for catchy songwriting, dirty south/Memphis inspired production & a unique personality. Her popularity began to rapidly increase off her 3rd EP Suga & the full-length debut Good News, but Something for thee Hotties: From thee Archives was a bit underwhelming in my opinion. However, I was optimistic going into Traumazine over here given how much I genuinely enjoyed the singles she’s dropped recently.

“NDA” is a horn-laced opener asking where the real bitches at whereas “Ungrateful” with Key Glock calling out the fake shit over a piano/trap hybrid from BandPlay, which is just mild in my personal opinion.. “Not Nice” takes a cloudier route getting on her fuck you shit just before Latto tags along for the OG Parker-produced “Budget” talking about upping their prices.

Meanwhile on “Her”, we have Megan embracing a dancier sound thanks to CashMoneyAP & YoungKio acknowledging that she’s pretty as fuck leading into “Gift & a Curse” weaves some keys back in provided by Murda Beatz talking about how fuckin’ with her is both a gift & a curse at the same time. “Ms. Nasty” is a cloudier cut declaring herself as such, but then the Pooh Shiesty-assisted “Who Me” has a more nocturnal trap vibe talking about fucking.

“Red Wine” shoots for a sensually glossy aesthetic asking to give her some time while “Scary” with Rico Nasty finds the 2 best females in the mainstream right now (not the best right now overall period. That would be Rapsody) over a spooky instrumental sending shots to the hoes they got beef with & even though “Anxiety” is a bit oxymoronic given the playful production & Megan’s lyrics about having bad days too, it’s good.

Moving on from there, “Flip Flop” throws in an incredible sample in the mix going on that she’s fightin’ tears behind her smile while “Consistency” with a clever Isley Brothers flip from Bongo getting romantic. “Star” is a funky ballad rightfully rubbing her superstar status in the noses of everyone while “Pressurelicious” has a weirdly mixed verse from Future despite the Memphis rap undertones & the subject matter about their affluence & shared toxicity.

The song “Plan B” weaves a killer JoDeCi sample into the fold to deliver an passionate female empowerment anthem which is needed because of the Roe vs. Wade overturning while the Juicy J/Mr. Lee-laced “Southside Royalty” freestyle with Big Pokey, Lil’ Keke & Sauce Walka is an immaculate ode to H-Town. “Sweetest Pie” however ends the album on an Atlanta Bass note promising the ride of her man’s life.

If you were disappointed with Something for thee Hotties like I was, then I definitely think you’re gonna like Traumazine a bit more. The production is just as varied as Good News was almost 2 years ago at this point & how Megan decided to move on from the whole Tory drama to remind everyone that she’s gonna win regardless.

Score: 3.5/5

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Destroy Lonely – “No Stylist” review

This is the highly anticipated full-length debut from Atlanta recording artist Destroy Lonely. The son of former Disturbing tha Peace Records signee I-20, he’s released a total of 6 EPs & 2 mixtapes since originally breaking out through SoundCloud a couple years back & has even signed to Playboi Carti’s very own Interscope Records imprint Opium Records to surprise drop No Stylist in light of his ongoing tour with fellow label-mate Ken Carson.

“JETLGGD” is a futuristic trap opener talking about switching up his swag whereas “BERGDORF” takes a more triumphant route detailing the crazy life that he lives. “<3MYGNG” is a dance/trap hybrid expressing his love for his crew leading into the bassy “VTMNTSCOAT” showing off some new drip over an electronic-flavored instrumental.

The title track works in some retro video game like-synths bragging that he’s fresh as fuck, but then “FAKNGGAS” shoots for a more futuristic aesthetic talking about the wankstas. “SOARIN’” gives off a bassier tone admitting he doesn’t get fly no more just before “TURNINUP” is a colorful trap banger talking about getting lit.

“LNLY” dives into cloudy territory thanks to Clayco going into detail as to why they call him that prior to the rubbery yet atmospheric “PRSSURE” talking about how he knew he was special. “ONTHETABLE” is a bombastic ode to the bread while “SWGSKOOL” samples the Deftones joint “Beauty School” confessing that he done lost his motherfucking mind.

Following that, the vocal sample throughout “CRYSTLCSTLES” is hypnotic as fuck with Lonely comparing his girl to Alice Glass while “DANGEROUS” brings back the trap/rock combination to detail the side of Atlanta that he’s from. The guitars throughout “MKEITSTOP” are a bit more punk-inspired talking about making it all the way to the top while “ONTHEFLOOR” is cloudy trap rock amalgamation confessing the shit he’s seen at 20 years old.

The song “PASSAROUND” has a more quirkier feel to it talking about his preference to face his hoes while the penultimate track “OTW” rattles off some hi-hats with more mellow backdrop detailing the things that’ve been coming his way lately. “VETERAN” with Ken Carson is a rage-inducing closer as 2 Carti protégés put the lifestyles that they both live on wax.

At the end of my review of Ken’s solid yet overhated sophomore album X, I said that I respectfully think Lonely is the best Opium signee yet & this full-length debut of his pretty much proves my point. He has more versatility than Ken as proven by the production, his vocal performances & songwriting. Very excited to see them both when they come to town.

Score: 4/5

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The Musalini – “Pure Izm” review

This is the 6th full-length album from New York emcee The Musalini. Beginning to take the underground by storm since 2018 after dropping his debut mixtape Musalini Season, would go on to release 3 full-lengths & another tape before signing to TCF Music Group. Since then, he’s made himself home by dropping a few EPs & Return of the Oro in the early part of this decade. Last we heard from Mus was at the very beginning of 2022 when he dropped my favorite album of his yet The Don & Eye fully produced 9th Wonder to produce his 5th album from beginning to end & has decided to recruit Khrysis for Pure Izm.

“Weed & Coffee” is a jazzy talking about life being beautiful whereas “Goldie in Town” takes a more sample-based boom bap route taking about he had to straighten up. Ian Kelly & Izzy Hott tag along for the soulful yet classy “Well Done” declaring themselves as the top dogs prior to Reuben Vincent coming into the picture for the piano-driven “$200 Pasta” to talk about that’s how they do.

Meanwhile on “Transmission”, we have Mus delivering a funky prelude to the next joint “2 Step on ‘Em” with King Draft embracing a dustier sound doing just that. “Off the Nest” mixes some pianos & an angelic vocal sample talking about doing this for the culture, but then “Nutella” with Planet Asia brings back the soul loop spitting braggadocio-infused lyricism.

The song “Crab Rangoon” with O-Finesse sonically feels like something ripped from a blaxploitation flick spitting that fly shit while the penultimate track “Ghost” with Izzy Hott shoots for a more solemn tone with the beat swearing that they’ll never go back to prison. “Panamanian Brunch” with Ice Lord is a classy sendoff to the album talking about being the big dogs.

Despite that I still maintain that The Don & Eye could very well be my favorite body of work that Mus has put out yet, this is still a solid follow-up in my eyes. The features are alright, but Khrysis’ sound suits Mus just as well as his mentor’s did with the MC continuing to put his lavish lifestyle on wax.

Score: 3.5/5

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Dangerous Thoughts – “Cheat Codes” review

Dangerous Thoughts is an MC/producer duo consisting of Danger Mouse behind the boards & Black Thought on the mic. 1 has an impressive resume of artists he’s worked with in the past ranging from Prince Po to the late MF DOOM & the other is one of the most acclaimed lyricists in all of hip hop. They initially formed in 2006 & when it seemed like we were never gonna get a full-length debut from them, the day has now come 16 years later.

“Sometimes” is a symphonic, soulful opener talking about thinking of a master plan à la The God MC himself Rakim Allah whereas the title track is a robotic boom bap cut boasting that he’s playing unlimited free throws. Raekwon tags along for the piano/soul-tinged “The Darkest Part” to talk about being in another echelon just before “No Gold Teeth” samples “Stop” by Hugh Masakela promising to never retire.

Meanwhile on “Because”, we have Joey Bada$$ & Russ accompanying Thought in describing the harsh realities of America with a guitar driven instrumental as well as a passionate Dylan Cartlidge hook leading into the rugged “Belize” seeing DANGERDOOM coming together potentially for the last time to assist in some battle raps. “Aquamarine” blends abstract with neo-soul confessing the conflict between him as a person & his status in hip hop, but then “Identical Deaths” brings some xylophones to the table talking about living many lives.

A$AP Rocky & Run the Jewels come into the picture for the hardcore “Strangers” to call out the bluff of those who dare to step up to them lyrically while the song “Close to Famous” almost gives me J Dilla vibes sonically talking about that’s how everyone be nowadays. The penultimate track “Saltwater” with Conway the Machine is a tense boom bap heater delivering some rugged ass bars only for the organ-laced “Violas & Lupitas” ending the album talking about doing God’s work.

For this being 16 years in the making & finally having it in the palm of our hands, it was much well worth it. Danger Mouse’s production is more sample-based than Sean Cane’s was on Streams of Thought 3: Cain & Able, the features all come correct (I don’t even mind Russ on “Because”) & Thought lyrically is just doing what he’s been doing best from the very moment he picked up a mic.

Score: 4.5/5

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Your Old Droog – “Yodney Dangerfield” review

This is the 7th EP from Ukrainian-American emcee Your Old Droog. Catching my attention when he dropped his self-titled debut, many actually first thought he was an alter ego of Nas given that their voices are somewhat similar. He eventually became a legend in his own right off later projects such as Packs as well as It Wasn’t Even Close, TIME & the Nicholas Craven-produced YOD Wave. YOD Stewart came out this past spring & it was ok, but the singles Droog has dropped in the last month had me raised my anticipation for Yodney Dangerfield immensely.

Of all 3 of the EPs that Droog has dropped this year, Yodney Dangerfield has to be right behind YOD Wave for my favorite so far. The bars that he spits here are like earworms in a good way & the production compared to YOD Stewart is significantly better too. If “The Return of Sasquatch” is supposed to be on YODFATHER, then my anticipation is very high because it’s one of my favorite singles of the year.

“The Unknown Comic” opens up the EP with an abstract boom bap beat taking about sending his opposition to the G League whereas “The Hand of YOD” works in some pianos to confess that people are just mad at him because he outgrew his peers.“$50K of Brunch” takes a soulful route thanks to Nicholas Craven talking about choosing to flip that bread than have brunch with Hov, but then “The Man on the Moon” mixes a crooning loop & strings provided by Jonwayne to air out some hacks. The song “The Simpsons” shoots for a cloudier yet dustier aesthetic talking about being the only one at the top while the penultimate track “The Tonight Show” embraces the funk to remind everyone that hoes will treat you like an OutKast unless you got some Stankonia. The Sadhugold-produced “Triple Lindy” ends the album by grimly promising to get his competition in their roots like Black Thought.

Score: 3.5/5

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The Game – “Drillmatic: Heart vs. Mind” review

The Game is a 42 year old MC from Compton, California who was initially taken under the wing of JT the Bigga Figga. His 2002 debut mixtape You Know What It Is would catch the attention of Dr. Dre & 50 Cent. Both of whom signed Game to a joint venture to their individually respective labels Aftermath Entertainment & G-Unit Records distributed by Interscope Records. With their help, his debut album The Documentary the following year would go on to become a West Coast essential. However, a falling out between Game & 50 just months after the album’s release would result in Game moving over to Geffen Records to complete his 5-album contract. His next 4 albums Dr.’s Advocate, LAX, The RE.D. (RE-Dedication) Album & Je5us PiecE all showed that Game didn’t need Dre or 50 to make quality music. Once fulfilling his major label obligations, he went the independent route by founding his own label Prolific Records & showcasing the artists with a compilation entitled Blood Moon: Year of the Wolf in 2014. Game then put out an overloaded yet decent sequel to his debut with The Documentary 2+2.5 the next year as well as 1992 the year after & his previous effort Born 2 Rap on his 40th birthday. But with the help of Hit-Boy, Game’s returning from “retirement” yet again in the form is his 10th album.

“1 Time” kicks off the album with a plucky guitar & Game talking about being a nightmare walking whereas “Eazy” with Kanye West samples the late Eazy-E thanks to Hit-Boy himself alongside Mike Dean & even DJ Premier confessing that their lives were never a breeze. Fivio Foreign tags along for the drill-infused “Burnin’ Checks” talking about being real ones, but then “Voodoo” incorporates a swooning trap instrumental detailing being a menace.

Meanwhile on “Home Invasion”, we have Game chaotically telling the story of his life just before YoungBoy Never Broke Again comes into the picture for the DJ Paul-produced “Opp” expressing their dislike for the feds. “Outside” with YG has a more ghostly aesthetic from S1 calling out those who claim Compton that didn’t grow up there just before “La La Land” goes into jazzier turf showing his love for Los Angeles.

“Change the Game” goes full-blown g-funk talking about never switching up while the piano-driven “How Far I’ve Came” says it all. “Heart vs. Mind” has a drearier tone to it thanks to DJ Mustard with the lyrics talking about his heart & mind being at war with one another while “No Smoke at the Polo Lounge” returns to soulful territory looking for smoke.

Following that, “No Man Falls” with Pusha T & 2 Chainz has a more drumless vibe talking about how they all crutches while the London on da Track laced “Chrome Slugs-n-Harmony” with G Herbo & Lil Wayne is a fantastic ode to the Bone Thugs-n-Harmony from the sample to London on da Track tapping into the the g-funk sounds that made E. 1999 Eternal the beloved masterpiece it is. “Start from Scratch II” is a sequel to one of my favorite cuts off The Documentary also being an emotional tribute to Prodigy while “What We Not Gon’ Do” dives into a more futuristic vibe talking about not going to war or calling the cops.

Ye & Dreezy accompany Game for the Middle Eastern-inspired “Fortunate” produced by Timbaland bragging that they’re doing it big whole “Rubi’s Rose” starts off with Twista rapping about fucking over an acoustic guitar prior to the beat switching up to a slower groove & Game elaborating on. After the “Drake with the Braids” interlude, “Nikki Beach” with French Montana comes through with a phoned in advertisement for DJ Khaled’s upcoming 13th album They Didn’t Believe in Us, God Did dropping in a couple of weeks while the Meek Mill/Moneybagg Yo-assisted “Talk to Me Nice” playfully confesses being too big-headed for other’s advice.

Continuing from there, the Mike Zombie/Swizz Beatz-laced “Money Cash Clothes” with A$AP Rocky embraces the boom bap sound to flex how fly both of them are while “Killas” comes through with a tribute to The Diplomats’ de facto leader himself Cam’ron & I’m happy to hear him give love to the Brooklyn drill sound considering the purists’ distaste for it. Then there’s “The Black Slim Shady”, which is a 10-minute diss track towards Eminem with some well sequenced beat switches throughout & mimicking his flows. I’d much rather listen to this than “Rap Devil”, but the best Em diss has always been “Searching 4 Bobby Fisher” by Evidence in my opinion.

Speaking of Big Sean, he shows up for the organ/boom bap hybrid “Stupid” boasting how hard both of them go on the mic while the bluesy “.38 Special” talking about every day being Cripmas. “Twisted” takes it back to the trap confessing that the liquor he sippin on got his guy fucked up while “World Tours” with the late Nipsey Hu$$le is a spacey ode to their self-made hustle.

The luxurious “Save the Best for Last” with Rick Ross cooked up by G. Ry & OG Parker expresses their gratitude to still be walking on this planet Earth today while the penultimate track “A Father’s Prayer” blends a gospel sample with some dusty drums for an open letter to his daughter. “Universal Love” sends off the album with a warm pea that love is everything.

Dude can be attention whore, but goddamn it I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think Drillmatic: Heart vs. Mind makes up for how mid Born 2 Rap was on the final Thanksgiving before COVID-19 changed the world forever. There is some filler, but Game sounds like he has a fire under his ass lyrically & Hit-Boy’s ear for production is just what was needed.

Score: 4/5

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Young Nudy – “EA Monster” review

This is the 9th mixtape from Atlanta rapper Young Nudy. Despite being cousins with 21 Savage, he eventually carved a lane of his own in the last 8 years with his last 8 mixtapes (the most notable one being the Pi’erre Bourne-produced Sli’merre) & 2 full-lengths. Rich Shooter just celebrated it’s 1-year anniversary a few days ago & Nudy’s re-emerging in the form of EA Monster.

“Nun to Do” is a bassy opener describing being spaced the fuck out whereas “KitKat” works in some quirky synths thanks to Pi’erre talking about having deadly assassins. “Impala” takes a ghoulish route for him & his homie to creep in his whip, but then “Fresh as Fuck” brings back the synths warning that you don’t want no smoke with him.

Meanwhile on “Lunch Meat”, we have Nudy over a cloudy instrumental talking about being a stepper leading into the solemn yet rubbery 4L anthem “My Gang”. The delicate synths throughout “No Chaser” are a nice touch talking about itching for a body just before “Ready” shoots for a moodier aesthetic to deliver an ode for all of those who like to get high.

The song “Sick of Slime” lividly calls out every single dick rider he knows while the penultimate track “Duntsane” wasn’t the best choice for a single in my personal opinion despite the gangsta rap themes & the beat that Coupe brings to the table. Primarily because I personally felt that Baby Drill’s performances compared to Nudy’s was underwhelming. “Project X” however sends the tape with a rowdy fight anthem not for the bitch made.

Nudy had always been consistent throughout the course of his career & EA Monster further cements his status as such in my eyes. He delivers some animated performances/sticky songwriting throughout, I like how he toned it down with the features compared to Rich Shooter & the production is a healthy mix of Coupe & Pi’erre’s respectively unique sounds much like his last tape was.

Score: 3.5/5

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Pasto Flocco – “Walking Glitch” review

Pasto Flocco is a 18 year old rapper from Queens, New York notable for being formerly being associated with Lil Tecca. However since their falling out, he’s seen quite the success off his own dropping his first 2 albums March Madness & Dreams 2 Reality along with a debut mixtape Surf to Kill (SGBSTK) as a member of the now defunct Surf Gang collective. This was all followed up back in the spring with his sophomore tape R.O.A.M. (Rich Off A Mic) but considering how much I liked March Madness 2 in the spring, I was still optimistic going into Pasto’s 5th EP over here nonetheless.

“3Hunna” is an rage-inducing opener talking about stacking them Benjamins whereas the “Murder She Wrote” remix takes the sample drill route calling out those who tried to play him like a pussy. “FA$TER THAN YOU!” works in some synths bragging that he’s getting richer faster than everyone, but then “All Blacc” shoots for a more futuristic aesthetic talking about how he prefers his outfit.

Meanwhile on “GLiTCH”, we have Pasto over a plugg/drill fusion describing going from nothing to rich while “GLiTCH 2” turns into intergalactic territory airing out those moving like hoes & bragging that GLE gets it poppin’. The song “Send Him 2 God” addresses his desire to run up $100M over a hypertrap beat while the penultimate track “HunnitBandzUp” keeps the rage going talking about stacking his bread. “Heartstop!” though ends the EP with some synths & bells saying this bitch is so hot, that she’ll give him a heart attack.

Since Walking Glitch’s here in it’s entirety, I’m gonna conclude this review by letting everyone know that it’s much of a consistent listen as March Madness 2 was a few months ago. Pasto’s hunger & knack for catchy songwriting only continues to grow stronger with the production continuing the tradition of evolving with each project that he puts out more.

Score: 3.5/5

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Calvin Harris – “Funk Wav Bounces 2” review

Calvin Harris is a 38 year old DJ, producer & singer/songwriter from Dumfries, Scotland who came in 2007 off his decent full-length debut I Created Disco. Ready for the Weekend & 18 Months both went on to receive moderate reception as well, but his 4th album Motion was easily his worst. However, the last album we got from Calvin was Funk Wav Bounces in the summer of 2017 & is widely acknowledged as his best one yet. So here we are 5 years later with a sequel & was anticipating it considering the singles leading up to it.

After the 40 second intro, the first song “New Money” is a disco/rap opener with 21 Savage flexing on the mic whereas “Potion” by Dua Lipa & Young Thug fuses contemporary R&B with dance-pop & synth funk to deliver an enticing slow jam. “Woman of the Year” by Chlöe & Coi Leray keeps the funk alive declaring themselves as such, but then “Obsessed” by Charlie Puth & Shenseea works in some cheery piano chords as they talk about missing 1 another.

“New to You” by Offset & Tinashe goes full-blown boogie confessing they want each other just before “Ready or Not” by Busta Rhymes brings back the keys to talk about taking this shit to the galaxy. “Stay with Me” by Justin Timberlake takes the nu disco route encouraging his lady to stick by him the whole night leading into the sequel which has a funky groove to it, but feels a bit redundant in the track listing.

Meanwhile on “Somebody Else”, we have these incredible bass-guitar licks as Jorja Smith & Lil Durk confess that both of them are in love with another person while “Nothing More to Say” by 6LACK is a groovy slow jam talking about getting the feeling right. The song “Live My Best Life” by Latto & Snoop Dogg has a more tropical aesthetic to it describing a place where the people have a good time while the penultimate track “Lean on Me” by Swae Lee is more synth-based talking about money following. “Day 1” by Pharrell & Pusha T ends the album with a warm ode to loyalty.

Like I said at the beginning of this review: I wasn’t really the biggest fan of Calvin prior to Funk Wav Bounces, but I’ve been wanting a sequel every since it initially came out & it’s just as much of a solid listen as the predecessor if you ask me. The production is colorful & the performances from the guests are pretty consistent for a good portion of the album.

Score: 3.5/5

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