Drake – “Honestly, Nevermind” review

Drake is a 35 year old rapper, singer, songwriter, actor, producer & entrepreneur from Toronto, Canada who skyrocketed to fame in 2009 off his 3rd mixtape So Far Gone. The success of this groundbreaking project resulted in a contract with both Young Money Entertainment/Cash Money Records & they helped put out the man’s full-length debut Thank Me Later the next summer. His sophomore effort Take Care the year after would be even better & I enjoyed Nothing Was the Same too but after If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late & then What a Time to Be Alive with Future (both of which came out in 2015), that’s when the quality in Drake’s music really began to take a nosedive. VIEWS was a terrible foray into dancehall, More Life was mediocre despite being stylistically eclectic, his YM/CM swan song Scorpion was a disappointingly failed attempt at making a double disc album showcasing his hip hop/R&B sides of his music respectively, Care Package is decent collection of 17 loosies from 2010-2016 that we’ve all heard before, Dark Lane Demo Tapes tried to experiment with new sounds only to miss the landing & Certified Lover Boy just felt like the same old shit we’ve heard from him before. However to celebrate his new SiriusXM radio show, Drizzy is surprise-dropping his 7th album.

After the intro, “Falling Back” opens up the album by going full-blown afrobeats with Drake singing about giving his all into a relationship whereas “Texts Go Green” is a more mellower cut produced by the album’s executive producer Black Coffee as he details him moving on from an ex. “Currents” pulls from Jersey club music with a distracting squeaking sound throughout talking about how he feels like he’s tumbling & doing a shitty Abel impression on the hook, but then “A Keeper” asks his old muse why he’d have her stick around over an airy instrumental.

Meanwhile on “Calling My Name”, we have Drizzy returning to dance-pop turf thanks to Carnage asking why it’s hard for him to give this bitch up just before “Sticky” comes through as the best track off the album with the lyrics about knowing tough situations can be & how the drums just hit you in the chest. “Massive” embraces a housier sound singing to his lover about finding them again, but then “Flight’s Booked” incorporates some synths to singing for his chick not to make him wait.

“Overdrive” has a funky ass groove to it with a fresh guitar solo at the end that I both really like admitting that his heart’s racing while “Down Hill” tells his bitch that they’re done & the 40 instrumental has an intriguingly wavy flare of the beat as well as the finger-snaps. The song “Tie That Blinds” throws a nylon guitar in with some prominent drums confessing that he never wants to see his lover leave while the penultimate track “Liability” slathers his vocals in chopped & screwed effects singing about changing for this woman with the hi-hats being mixed louder than the synths. “Jimmy Cooks” with 21 Savage ends the album with a fun 2-parter produced by Vinylz, Tay Keith & Cubeatz describing them throwing a party for their Day 1s.

I’ve noticed the reception for this has been very polarizing but for it to be a homage to the late Off-White founder Virgil Abloh, I’m honestly on the fence with it. I respect that Drake put his signature pop rap sound in the back-burner in comparison to Certified Lover Boy not elevating it any further so he can mix house & alternative R&B with afrobeats, but the results are extremely hit or miss.

Score: 2.5/5

Conway the Machine – “What Has Been Blessed Cannot Be Cursed” review

This is the 11th EP from Buffalo emcee & entrepreneur Conway the Machine. Blowing up in late 2015 as part of the 3 OGs of Griselda Records alongside his brother Westside Gunn & their cousin Benny the Butcher. Ever since the trio have rose to prominence, they’ve had hip hop lock by their constant work ethic balancing quality & quality as well as vividly detailing their lives in the streets on top of boom bap production kin to that of RZA & Havoc in their music. Con’s full-length debut From King to a God was my Album of the Year for 2020 & just dropped his Shady Records-backed sophomore effort God Don’t Make Mistakes back in February, which is the most personal he’s ever been. He just dropped Organized Grime 2 a few weeks ago & is reuniting with Big Ghost Ltd. for What Has Been Blessed Cannot Be Cursed.

“Salutations” is a grim opener talking about whacking motherfuckers whereas “It’s a Green Light works in a piano & a harp admitting that he’s more confident than ever. “Bodie Broadus” takes a richer albeit drumless route calling out those who waited until he blew up to reach out to him leading into Jae Skeese tagging along for bloodcurdling “In My Soul” talking about people wanting them gone. “Y.B.C.M. (Your Bitch Chose Me)” goes into more soulful territory saying they know the game just before “Why You Ain’t Move on Me?” eerily gets on his murder shit.

Meanwhile on “Sunday Sermon”, we have Conway reuniting with Jae Skeese to go back & forth with each other over yet another soul sample bragging about their legendary status while the song “Scared II Death” with Method Man is a ghoulish boom bap banger taking a shot at those who be afraid of them. The final song “Big Drum” comes through with yet another Drumwork posse cut except he’s showcasing damn new the full roster at this point & “Dog Food” ends the EP with an outro from the skit gawd himself Lukey Cage.

No One Mourns the Wicked & If It Bleeds It Can Be Killed have quickly become some of the best EPs that Con have put out yet, so I had very high hopes going into into What Has Been Blessed Cannot Be Cursed & I’m very satisfied with it. As raw as Organized Grime 2 was, the production from Big Ghost Ltd. is much spookier & Con’s lyricism remains unmatched in today’s hip hop climate.

Score: 4.5/5

Will Gates – “Procuring the Wicced” review

Will Gates is a 20 year old MC from Traverse City, Michigan who’s been catching my attention for the last year or so by dropping singles like “Juggalo Rage” or more recently “Clown Town”. However with the 1-year anniversary of his debut mixtape Trashboy passing a couple months ago, he’s returning by dropping his debut EP under his own label Trashboy Entertainment.

“Dedication” kicks off the EP with a hi-hat heavy tribute to his homie Ashton whereas “Undisputed” is a fresh ass ode to Detroit down the hyphy sound that some of the younger acts out here be bearing in the music. “Reppin’” takes it back to the trap route to talk about being underground just before the title track brings back the Detroit trap flavor of “Undisputed” to remind everyone he’s obtaining the wicked shit.

The track “Fuccin’ wit da Oppz” works in some pianos to so he can spit that gangsta shit while the final song “I Keep That Hachet on Me” is a keyboard, hi-hat infused juggalo anthem. “Gratitude” ends the album with a 2-minute spoken word cut giving shoutouts to all the people he’s grateful for including myself, which I’m very honored by.

If any of y’all still aren’t hip to Will yet, then I recommend you give Procuring the Wicced a listen because it’s my favorite body of work that he’s put out thus far. The sound of this EP is very refreshing considering that I don’t think I’ve ever heard many people or anyone really put a horrorcore spin on the Detroit trap style & he’s at his hungriest lyrically.

Score: 3.5/5

Logic – “Vinyl Days” review

Logic is a 32 year old rapper, singer, songwriter, producer, author & Twitch streamer from Rockville, Maryland who came up just about a decade ago off the strength of the first 3 installments of the Young Sinatra mixtape series. His potential would continually be shown on his first 2 albums Under Pressure & The Incredible True Story but it’s no secret that since the release of Bobby Tarantino in 2016, the dude’s discography has become a definition of inconsistent. ΞVERYBODY, Bobby Tarantino II & Young Sinatra IV were all mid at best, but who can forget the embarrassing attempt at going indie rock on Supermarket or the unlikeable bitterness of Confessions of a Dangerous Mind? No Pressure however was a mature sequel to his full-length debut & I also thought the Doc D concept mixtape Planetory Destruction was decent too, but Bobby Tarantino III was pretty underwhelming. That being said, almost every single he dropped leading up to this 8th album of his albeit his last with Def Jam Recordings has been incredible & had me very excited going into it.

After the “Danger” intro, “Tetris” kicks off the album with a soulful boom bap note spitting some braggadocio whereas “In My Lifetime” with Action Bronson has a more energetic tone to it warning their competition to be concerned. “Decades” flips “Oh How You Hurt Me” by The Fabulous Performers talking about how money isn’t everything & after the J.J. Abrahams” skit, “BLACKWHITEBOY” comes through with a visceral shot at everyone who’s ever doubted him.

Meanwhile on “Quasi”, we have Logic asking Madlib to start rapping again with an instrumental that’s clearly influenced by The Beat Konducta just before “Bleed It” heavily samples the Beastie Boys looking back on his childhood. “LaDonda” has a bit of a J Dilla influence to the production with Logic looking back on his career up to this point & after the “Aaron Judge” skit, “Clouds” with Langston Bristol serves as a decent prelude to College Park with the beat-switching up during the last minute so Curren$y can steal the show.

After the “Michael Rap” skit, “Therapy Music” was the only single that I didn’t like prior to the album’s release due to how similar Russ & Logic both sound. However, I do like the jazzy instrumental. After the “Tony Revolori” skit, “Rogue 1” works in some dusty drums & a whistling teapot kettle to talk about how he had to take a step back leading into “Breath Control” sampling “I Really Really Love You” by Father’s Children as he & Wiz Khalifa tell anyone who wants to set up to them not to try them.

After the “NEMS” skit, “Nardwuar” marks the return of Logic’s alter-ego Doc D accompanied by a fuzzy boom bap beat while “Kickstyle” is just a decent Ratt Pack reunion & I’m disappointed that Bobby doesn’t have a verse on here at all because Big Lenbo & IamJMARS’ are both just mid. After the “EarlyBird” skit, Royce da 5’9” tags along for the raw “10 Years” to celebrate their accomplishments in the previous decade while RZA comes into the picture for the basement-sounding “Porta 1” to spit some hardcore bars.

After the “NeedleDrop” skit, “Introducing Nezi” is basically Logic’s way of showing Nezi Momodu to a wider audience with a siren-laced instrumental while “Orville” with Blu & Exile and Like has a chipmunk soul flare to it letting y’all know how they get down. “Carnival” with AZ finds the 2 over some horns to creep up on them lyrically & after the “Lena’s Insight” skit, the title track goes into a more symphonic direction talking about getting it all.

The penultimate track “I Guess I Love It” with The Game brings back the jazz to admit that it’s funny how their feet been on the beach lookin’ at the sky & the stars above with “Sayonara” ending the album with a 10-minute open letter to Def Jam since Vinyl Days fulfills his contract with the label after being signed to them for the past decade.

Going into this, I had a strong feeling that this would be the best album of Logic’s career given how much I loved almost every single that he put out prior & that ended up being the case here. Granted there are WAY too many skits & some of the “mumble rap” lines are outdated as Hell but once you get past that, the actual music on here is actually his most artistically definitive yet.

Score: 4/5

Westside Boogie – “More Black Superheroes” review

This is the sophomore album from Compton emcee Westside Boogie. Breaking out onto the scene in 2014 with his debut mixtape Thirst 48 as well as following it up with The Reach exactly a year later as well as Thirst 48, Pt. II the year after that, he would eventually catch the attention of Detroit icon Eminem by signing to his Interscope Records imprint Shady Records in late 2017. His full-length debut Everything’s for Sale at the beginning of 2019 was a solid way to introduce himself to a wider audience & he’s finally returning in the form of More Black Superheroes.

“KILLA MODE” opens up the album with an acoustic guitar & some crooning vocals as Westside Boogie warns everyone to stop playing with him whereas “STUCK” takes a more piano-trap route & show a more contemplative side of him. “NONCHALANT” has a more summery tone to it getting romantic just before “LOL SMH II” starts off with a more soulful tone talking about needing power to be present, but switches into somewhat of a funkier sound saying he’s as calm as can be.

Meanwhile on “CAN’T EVEN LIE”, we have Soulja Boy tagging along over some keys & hi-hats calling out the pussies leading into the smooth “PRIDEFUL II” asking his girl what she be getting into. “AIGHT” returns to trap territory to brush off all the cap people be telling him, but then Smino & Teezo Touchdown come into the picture for the sensual “CAN’T GET OVER YOU” talking about how they can’t get over their significant others.

“RATCHET BOOG” is an aggressive introduction to one of the 3 alter egos that Westside Boogie has with a cool beat-switch towards the end while “SOMETHIN’ STRANGE” seems a little out of place given the fact that Kalan.FrFr has the most presence on it out of everyone. The penultimate track “WINDOWS DOWN” with Snoop Dogg finds the 2 talking about smoking weed over a tranquilizing instrumental & “ANTHONY (WAR)” finishes the album with a well sequenced 2-parter admitting he thinks he’s too bougie now.

We’ve waited 3 long years for this one to come out & I think I happen like it a tad bit better than Everything’s for Sale. I admire the whole concept of embracing your powers as well as how much Westside Boogie has grown both creatively & personally since the last time we heard from him.

Score: 3.5/5

SoFaygo – “B4PINK” review

SoFaygo is a 21 year old rapper from Cobb County, Georgia who has cemented himself as one of the biggest faces in the plugg/pluggnB & rage scenes scenes. He’s gone on to drop a total of 10 EPs since 2015 & now in light of Travis Scott signing him to Cactus Jack Records early last year, SoFaygo is preluding his upcoming full-length debut Pink Heartz by dropping an 11th EP & to celebrate him earning a spot on the new XXL Freshman Class list that also came out today.

“Long Way” is an amazingly energetic opener produced by Nick Mira talking about how far he’s come whereas “Count Me Out” takes a airier, trap route instrumental wise dismissing those who be doubting him. The song “Good Day” returns to a more cloudier approach confessing that he can’t stay in Atlanta anymore while the penultimate track “Fall” is him bragging about him being the shit over a hazy beat. “Got Damn!” ends the EP by venting out what’s been on his mind & the instrumental on here has a futuristic flare to it that I really like.

My lil bro J$zpiech actually put me onto SoFaygo months before he signed to Cactus Jack & I really think he gave everyone a fun little prelude ahead of Pink Heartz. The production is alright, but I can’t deny that he has a knack for catchy songwriting & melodic performances. All that being said: I’ll be going into his upcoming full-length debut expecting it to be a pivotal moment in his career.

Score: 3.5/5

Rome Streetz – “Pyrex Pot Poetry” review

Rome Streetz is a 35 year old MC from New York who broke out in 2016 off his debut mixtape I Been Thru Mad Shit. This was followed up by a plethora of projects, most notably the Noise Kandy tetralogy & Headcrack. Last year however was probably his biggest one yet, as he dropped some of the best work of his career from the DJ Muggs-produced Death & the Magician or the Futurewave-produced Razor’s Edge to the Ransom-assisted collab effort Coup de Grâce & the Griselda Records deal that followed. Fast forward a little over 7 months later, Royalz is being brought into the picture to produce Rome’s 7th album from front to back.

After the “Pure Crystal” intro, the first song “Peep the Status” truly kicks the album off on a bluesy note with Rome talking about being cut from a different cloth whereas the Eto-assisted “Wise Guys” mixes some dusty drums & a guitar with both MCs getting in their mafioso bag. The title track with al.divino works in these creepy piano melodies describing the hustler life just before “Versace Drip” laces some horns saying he’s all about the checks.

Meanwhile on “High Noon”, we have Rim accompanying Rome on top of an orchestral beat asking what the move is leading into “Lexus Coupe” fusing pianos & a guitar together talking about forever being on a mission for the loot. “Xo” then incorporates a vocal sample expressing his eternal love for the paper, but then Ty Farris comes into the picture for the rock-tinged “Rebel Forces” talking about how losing ain’t an option for them.

The song “Empire State Haze” returns to a more symphonic sound saying he’s trying to touch $1M while the penultimate track “Walter White” eerily proclaims that everything he spits is biohazardous whilst paying homage to the main character of one of the greatest TV shows ever made. “Unfamiliar Projects” closes out the album with a crooning loop & Rome telling the story of a man who later shoots someone in the elevator after fucking a bitch the night prior.

Given that he’s got another album with Muggs on the way along with his Griselda debut & one fully produced by Big Ghost Ltd. on the way, Pyrex Pot Poetry is a great effort to hold us over until then. Royalz continues to reveal himself as one of the best producers out of Australia currently & Rome’s intricate lyricism never fails to amuse me.

Score: 4/5

Young Z – “Scumbag” review

Young Z is a 51 year old MC from Newark, New Jersey who came up in the early 90s as a founding member of the Outsidaz. He then branched out solo in ‘96 with the full-length debut Musical Meltdown, which was followed up 16 years later with the Mr. Green-produced 1 Crazy Weekend. Fast forward a decade later, Z’s returning once more by dropping a debut EP under the newly formed Hand to Hand Records based out in Australia.

“D.N.A. (Dat N***a Ass)” is an unsettling boom bap opener where Z’s just ripping on everyone’s favorite rapper whereas “Monkey Bars” with Vinnie Paz almost has a bit of a Middle Eastern flare to the instrumental bragging about how sick their rhymes are. The title track responds to those asking why he doesn’t speak on himself or his relationships over a mystic beat just before “Slave Son” is a deranged piano ballad talking about his grandpa.

The song “S.T.F.U. (Shut the Fuck Up)” with Pacewon finds the 2 heinously reminding everyone to keep their mouths shut when they’re talking, but then the penultimate track “Go Fund Me” works in an alluring vocal sample to get back in his battle rap bag even though R’s verse is pretty weak. “Tonight” with Rah Digga however ends the EP on a cinematic note saying they don’t wanna shoot no one.

For anyone who missed the Outsidaz de factoleader as much as I did, then do yourself a favor & PLEASE give Scumbag a listen because I think it’s a great comeback effort. Flu’s production from front to back is incredibly dark & Z’s casually destroying mics like he never went away for a decade.

Score: 4/5

Post Malone – “12kt Toothache” review

Post Malone is a 26 year old rapper, singer, songwriter & producer from Grapevine, Texas who rose to stardom in 2015 with the single “White Iverson”. This resulted in him signing to Republic Records, where’s made himself home ever since by dropping a total 3 full-lengths & a mixtape in that span of time. Now even though I’ve never really been the biggest fan of Posty’s work, there’s no denying that he has a decent amount of tracks that I genuinely enjoy like “Congratulations” as well as “rockstar” & who could forget “Sunflower”? Hell I even liked his sophomore effort beerbongs & bentleys, which I maintain is the crown jewel of his discography. It’s been almost 3 years since we last heard from him in the form of Hollywood’s Bleeding, which didn’t resonate to me because I felt like he was just riding the emo rap coattails. That being said, I didn’t know what to expect from this 4th album of his given how long it’s been since he’s put out music.

“Reputation” is a passionate piano ballad produced by longtime collaborator Louis Bell to open up the album with Posty advising the world to save themselves whereas “Cooped Up” with Roddy Ricch has somewhat of a hyphy flare to it & the way they both go on about pullin’ up to a party is just so boring. “Lemon Tree” takes a more acoustic route singing that he’s shit out of luck, but then “Wrapped Around Your Finger” goes full blown dance-pop to whine & cry about missing his ex.

Meanwhile on “I Like You (A Happier Song)”, we have Doja Cat accompanying Post for a moody trap banger with a playful attitude to it leading into the Gunna-assisted counterpart “I Cannot Be (A Sadder Song)” asking what they want them to be over a cloudy instrumental. “Insane” obnoxiously describes a bitch that went from classy to nasty over a cavernous beat just before “Love/Hate Letter to Alcohol” comes through as my favorite off the album, as Posty wears his heart on his sleeve about alcoholism & the production is intense.

The Kid Laroi comes into the picture for “Wasting Angels”, which unfortunately wastes a synth-heavy beat for them to spit some unlikeable bars about how crazy their lives are while “Euthanasia” has a more skeletal approach in terms of sound singing that it’s not gonna hurt when he passes. “When I’m Alone” fuses these synths & punky drums only to spill more breakup melodrama while the song “Waiting For a Miracle” is yet another piano ballad about how he stays fucked up. The penultimate track “1 Right Now” is a laughable “Blinding Lights” ripoff which is a shame since The Weeknd carries it & the closer “New Recording 12, Jan 3, 2020” ends the album with an unfinished acoustic demo.

For this to be Posty’s comeback after 3 long years, I can say that I walked away from 12kt Toothache enjoying it even less than Hollywood’s Bleeding. Primarily because it seems like there’s little to no risks being taken as far as the overall sound goes & he sounds mostly uninspired throughout a good portion of the 43 minute run.

Score: 1.5/5

Bizarre – “He Got a Gun” review

Bizarre is a 45 year old MC from Detroit, Michigan who came up as an original member of the now defunct D12 led by the late Proof. He was also among the first in the crew to put out solo efforts, with his 1998 debut EP Attack of the Weirdos being a hometown classic in my eyes. Fast forward 7 years later, Biz followed it up with a worthy full-length debut Hannicap Circus & has continued to put out music on his own since, with the last time we heard him being his 10th mixtape Peter this past winter. But for his 5th album, the idiotic kid is bringing in one of the city’s greatest producers Foul Mouth behind the boards for the whole thing.

“Uzi” is a soulful boom bap opener with Bizarre going at the throats of anyone who wants to step up to him lyrically whereas “Hecker” with Kool Keith takes a grimier route talking about how they’re just built different. “Gauge” works in some strings reminding everyone he doesn’t think realistically just before Dope D.O.D. tags along for the dusty “Desert E” talking about how dangerous they are.

Meanwhile on “MG3”, we have Kain Cole joining Bizzy over some pianos admitting that they just wanna fly leading into “XM307 (Night Shift)” throwing a soul sample into the mix talking about him looking forward to his bitch clocking out of work as she comes in during the evenings. “FN” returns to boom bap turf asking if people are really living what they’re rapping & after the first of 2 skits, “9MM” shoots for a more psychedelic sound telling the story of his sex life.

NEMS & Young Z both come into the picture for the gully “25” to get ignorant on the mic while “Smith & Wesson” with the homies Dango Forlaine, Nick Speed, Ty Farris & 7 the General finds the quartet over some keys for an incredible Detroit posse cut. “AS50” encourages listeners to run because you don’t wanna get shot by him over an uncanny beat, but then “Dillinger” fuses elements of rock & boom bap talking about fucking up people outside.

Following that, Guilty Simpson & Mvck Nyce join Bizarre for the forlorn “Saw Off” to apply pressure while “45” incorporates a guitar talking about coming from the gutter. “Glock (College Bitch)” is one of the weaker cuts on the album despite it’s soulful production due to it’s subject matter about fucking bitches that’re over 2 decades younger than him & after the “Coney Island” skit, “Detroit” picks it up with a raw ode to the city. Prior to the outro though, “Rusty 38” with Big T ends the album on a chaotic note delivering that raw hip hop.

A lot of people like to dismiss Bizarre as an MC, but I came away from He Got a Gun liking it just as much as Attack of the Weirdos & Hannicap Circus. Easily some of the best work of his career in my opinion. There are a couple lackluster features & song topics throughout, but Foul Mouth’s production doesn’t miss a step & Peter S. himself has a fire under his ass lyrically.

Score: 4.5/5