Kendrick Lamar – “Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers” review

It’s really here: The 5th full-length album from Compton emcee, songwriter & actor Kendrick Lamar. Coming up in ‘04 off his debut mixtape Y.H.N.I.C. (Youngest Head N***a in Charge): Hub City Threat (Minor of the Year), he would go on to follow-up with 2 more tapes as well as an eponymous debut EP before breaking out in the fall of 2010 off his 4th mixtape O(verly) D(edicated) & then Section.80 that next summer. Then came him signing to Dr. Dre’s very own Interscope Records imprint Aftermath Entertainment, where Kendrick has made himself home since then. Especially given that good kid, m.A.A.d city & To Pimp a Butterfly have quickly become some of the most beloved hip hop albums ever made in their own rights for good reason whether it be gkmc coming off as a hood movie on wax or TPaB delivering relevant social commentary on top of jazzy, funky production. Kendrick’s last album DAMN. however was definitely his most commercial one yet & I don’t listen to it as much as his other work, but it’s still a great listen nonetheless with it’s phenomenal duality concept. But only 3 months after performing the Super Bowl halftime show, Kendrick has finally returned in the form of the double disc Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers to fulfill his Top Dawg Entertainment contract.

“United in Grief” opens up the album a piano & drum instrumental from oklama himself surprisingly alongside Sounwave amongst a few others talking about mourning differently whereas “N95” works in some synth-horns & hi-hats provided by Boi-1da & Baby Keem to declare that “You’re back outside, but they still lied”, obviously referring to the COVID-19 pandemic. I also loved when he says “You entertain the mediocre, need to stop it. You entertainin’ old friends when they toxic” during the outro. “Worldwide Steppers” takes a more tenser route with co-production from Tae Beast sampling “Breakthrough” by The Funkees talking about how “we’s them killers”, but then the DJ Dahi co-produced “Die Hard” shoots for a more catchier vibe down to the hook shared by both Blxst & especially Amanda Reifer flipping “Remember the Rain” by Kadjha Bonet encouraging listeners to not let your past keep me you from your best.

Meanwhile on “Father Time”, we have Kendrick over some solemn boom bap production sampling “You’re Not There” by Hoskins ‘Ncrowd detailing the relationship that he had with his pops with a killer hook from Sampha & the “Rich” interlude is basically Kodak Black detailing what he learned in the business over some bare pianos. “Rich Spirit” turns things into more spacious territory with some finger-snaps, snares & hi-hats talking about staying strong mentally, but then “We Cry Together” is pretty much Kendrick & Taylour Paige (should’ve been Rico Nasty but it is what it is) re-enacting a legitimate argument that K-Dot had with his fiancée Whitney Alford over an Uncle Al beat flipping “June” by Florence + the Machine. It’s tense, but feels reminiscent to “Kim” off of Eminem’s iconic 2000 masterpiece The Marshall Mathers LP.

Ghostface Killah & Summer Walker tag along for the smooth love ballad “Purple Hearts” to the complete the 1st disc even though I can’t stand the “yeah baby” at the end of the hook & the 1 line on Summer’s verse co-written by fellow Compton representative/Shady Records signee Westside Boogie about eating ass had me rollin’ while “Count Me Out” opens up the 2nd disc by mixing trap influences with some catchy vocal melodies taking aim at his detractors. “Crown” is a vulnerable piano ballad admitting that he can’t please everybody while “Silent Hill” easily has the worst hook on the album, although I appreciate Kendrick & Kodak riding a nocturnal trap beat talking about pushing snakes off them.

Following that, the “Savior” interlude is in the same vein as “Rich” from the string/piano instrumental to Baby Keem recalling some memories that he had growing up while the actual “Savior” song itself has an irresistibly catchy groove to the beat from Cardo asking if one is really happy for him as well as admitting that he started questioning Kyrie after catching the rona. “Auntie Diaries” starts off with a moodier aesthetic before getting triumphant at the end with Kung Fu Kenny discussing his uncle & one of his cousins being transgender while the song “Mr. Morale” opens up about the heavy shit that’s been on his mind as of late over a Pharrell instrumental with a peppy, futuristic tone to it. The penultimate track “Mother I Sober” is definitely the saddest on the album with it’s bare pianos along with former Portishead frontwoman Beth Gibbons on the hook & K-Dot reflecting on witnessing his mom being sexually assaulted when he was 5 years old as “Mirror” finishes the album by apologizing for choosing himself over anyone else over a colorful beat with an empowering hook.

5 long years later & Kendrick is parting TDE with what I consider to be hip hop’s best double album since Big K.R.I.T. dropped 4eva’s a Mighty Long Time only 6 months after DAMN. came out. Hell, I find Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers to be superior to it’s predecessor because I really admire that he decided to come back after all this time to reflect on his life past & present over production mixing together it’s more trappy, poppier cuts with the politically charged jazz rap from the greatest hip hop album of the 2010s even down to the latter’s experimental, neo-soul undertones.

Score: 4.5/5

Dr. Dre – “The Contract” review

Dr. Dre is a 56 year old producer, rapper & entrepreneur from Compton, California who came up in the mid-80’s as part of the World Class Wreckin’ Cru octet. They would only put out 2 full-lengths before disbanding, but would go on to have a HUGE impact on the culture. Popularizing gangsta rap as part of N.W.A, getting everyone in the whole west coast to ride the g-funk bandwagon with his solo debut The Chronic, expanding that sound on 2001, the Beats headphones & who can forget introducing likes of Eminem or Kendrick Lamar to the world? His previous album Compton: A Soundtrack by Dr. Dre in the summer of 2015 was said to be his “grand finale” but ahead of his Super Bowl halftime performance next weekend, he’s dropping off 6 new songs attached to GTA V’s latest DLC.

“Falling Up” is an entrancing yet charismatic opener co-produced by Dem Jointz with Dre spitting some braggadocio whereas “Gospel” finds him rightfully calling his ex-wife a gold digger & I don’t mind the piano instrumental backing him pretty cool, but the Eminem verse at the back end of it will test your patience. Bink! weaves in a soul sample for “Black Privilege” to get in his grown man bag while the late Nipsey Hu$$le tags along for “Diamond Mind” to talk about how crazy their lives have been & those guitar licks that Alchemist uses throughout the beat just gives you nothing but summertime vibes.

The penultimate track “ETA” with has an insane sample of “You’re the One For Me” by The Edwards Generation starting off with Anderson .Paak & Dre going back & forth with one another leading into the playful Snoop Dogg hook as well as a monstrous Busta Rhymes verse to end it. “The Scenic Route” closes out the EP on a somewhat jazzier note with Dre going back & forth with none other than Rick Ross to talk about putting their families first in line.

A lot of music tie-ins with movies as well as TV shows & video games have become pretty boring in recent years. However, I knew for a fact that this wasn’t going to be the case with this & I stood corrected. The production & guests all come correct as always, but I should also note that The D.O.C. recently replied to a fan on Twitter saying that Dre’s starting to write his own verses now. If that’s indeed the case, then it’s definitely impressive.

Score: 3.5/5

Silk Sonic – “An Evening with Silk Sonic” review

Silk Sonic is a newly formed superduo consisting of Anderson .Paak & Bruno Mars. The latter coming up in 2010 by dominating the pop charts & the other beginning to turn heads by being featured all over his mentor Dr. Dre’ final album to date Compton: A Soundtrack by Dr. Dre about 5 years later. Their paths first crossed with one another during the European leg of the 24K Magic World Tour where .Paak opened up for Bruno but after announcing the superduo’s full-length debut back in February to high anticipation, they’re finally unleashing it to the world.

After the funky intro, the first song “Leave the Door Open” kicks off the album with a smooth soul banger telling their lovers they’re there for them whereas “Fly as Me” takes a funkier route & the lyrics basically speak for itself. “After Last Night” is a slow jam professing their love for the women they slept with the previous evening just before “Smokin’ Out the Window” works in some Philly soul undertones talking about a woman who belongs to everyone.

Meanwhile on “Put on a Smile”, we have .Paak & Bruno coming together over some strings encouraging listeners to look forward to the better days while the song “777” serves as a groovy pimp anthem. The penultimate track “Skate” is a straight up disco tune flirting with the hottest bitches in the room & finally, “Blast Off” finishes the album off on a glossier note talking about flying to the stars.

Man I knew Silk Sonic was gonna deliver on this album, but they went even harder than I expected them to because An Evening with Silk Sonic is unquestionably the best R&B album that I’ve heard all year. They have a uniquely natural chemistry & it’s amazing how they resurrected the sounds of the 70’s soul down to Bootsy Collins “hosting” it.

Score: 4.5/5

Eminem – “Music to Be Murdered By: Side B” review

Eminem. Slim Shady. Marshall Mathers. B-Rabbit. The white guy from D12. What can be said now about the Detroit icon that hasn’t been said already? Especially since his first 3 major label albums The Slim Shady LP, The Marshall Mathers LP & The Eminem Show are considered by many to be the holy trinity in his discography. However, things have been quite rough for Em in the last 3-4 years. Revival was unquestionably one of the worst albums of the 2010s, which he would vent his frustration with on his last 2 full-lengths Kamikaze & Music to Be Murdered By. But after many rumors, we’re being treated to a sequel to his previous album.

After the “Alfred” intro, the first song “Black Magic” is a questionable opener about this woman having his heart in chains over a glossy beat whereas the next track “Alfred’s Theme” picks things up as Eminem reaffirms his technicality over a zany, cartoonish instrumental. My favorite line was when he said “I won’t buy a designer ’cause I don’t pander”. The song “Tone Deaf” talks about those who try to cancel him along with an awkward line about “playing Fortnite with your grandma” & a dope tribute to King Von over a funky ass beat with co-production from Luis Resto while the track “Book of Rhymes” lets loose every thought he had over a generic trap instrumental with co-production from Illa da Producer & a mediocre switch-up. Also of all joints, why have DJ Premier do scratching for this?

The song “Favorite Bitch” looks back on the days when he was young & hungry over an wavy beat while the track “Guns Blazing” with Dr. Dre finds the 2 talking about being back on their bullshit just like the old days over a grand, bassy instrumental. The song “Gnat” compares his lyrics to COVID & throws a redundant MGK jab over a mellow beat while the track “Higher” compellingly talks about not knowing where to go from here over a buzzing instrumental. I liked it when Em said “Reminds me of how an overcrowded hospital waitin’ room’ll get, what I mean it’s maybe I have more patience than I’m able to admit“. The song “These Demons” talks about how funny haters are along with a clever ICP reference over a quasi-tropical beat & after the “Key” skit, the track “She Loves Me” talks about this women being “Carmen Electrocute” over a triumphant instrumental from Dre.

The song “Killer” talks about money over a rubbery beat while the track “Zeus” is a “Rap God” sequel backed with a depressive instrumental from T-Minus & I don’t think he’s dissing Snoop Dogg like a lot of people are saying because Uncle Snoop has always had nothing but love for Em. Also the Rihanna line was dope & the opening line “She says I’m trash, but listens to Tekashi” made me cringe because let’s be real: NOBODY listens to that clown in 2020. And this is coming from someone who’s never even listened to TattleTales. After the “Thus Far” interlude, the closer “Discombobulated” takes it back to the Relapse days as Eminem is rapping in accents about being just that over over a Dr. Dre beat reminiscent to the early 2000s co-produced by Black Bethoven & S1.

We all saw this coming (especially since Aftermath Entertainment’s in-house producer Dem Jointz posted the artwork on Instagram just 2-3 days before) & to be honest, it’s better than it’s predecessor. Nothing that’s gonna change my year-end lists but the production has improved whereas lyrically, Eminem is focusing less on the backlash Revival justifiably received & looking forward to the future. It also fits the whole Hitchcock theme a lot better if you ask me.

Score: 3.5/5

Eminem – “Music to Be Murdered By” review

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This is the surprise 11th full-length album from Detroit icon Eminem. His first 3 major label albums The Slim Shady LP, The Marshall Mathers LP & The Eminem Show are considered by many to be the holy trinity in discography. The last few years have been rough for Marshall though, as Revival is widely considered to be one of the worst albums of the 2010s. The follow-up Kamikaze was actually a solid return to form & he’s continuing that with Music to Be Murdered By.

The opener “Premonition” sees Em taking a jab at his critics over a surprisingly haunting trap beat from his mentor Dr. Dre while the next song “Unaccommodating” with Young M.A. of all people sees the 2 discussing their titular attitude over a generic trap beat & a very cringey hook. A lot of people are complaining about the Ariana Grande line too, but let’s not forget when Em referenced Columbine on The Marshall Mathers LP. The track “You Gon’ Learn” is a Bad Meets Ǝvil reunion where Em & his partner in rhyme Royce da 5’9″ discuss some of their internal conflicts over a boom bap beat with a mesmerizing soul sample. After the “Alfred” interlude, the song “Those Kinda Nights” reflects on his golden years over a bouncy beat & a needless Ed Sheeran hook while the track “In Too Deep” is packed with relationship melodrama & the beat is pretty uneventful too.

The song “Godzilla” talks about how much of a monster Em is over a vibrant trap beat & while I’m surprised to hear the late Juice WRLD on the hook, it’s not bad. The track “Darkness” talks about depression over a bleak instrumental while the song “Leaving Heaven” talks about who he is now over a guitar & some drums going off like gunshots. Also, Skylar Grey’s performance on here is tasteless as she usually is. The track “Yah Yah” sees Bad Meets Ǝvil getting with Black Thought to remind us of their places in the culture as elite MCs over a cluttered beat from dEnAuN.

After the “Stepdad” intro, we get into the actual song “Stepdad”. Where Marshall disses a man who was abusive to him & his mother Debbie when he was younger over a grimy beat from The Alchemist. I get where he’s coming from, but the hook on here is patience testing. The track “Marsh” talks about being out of this world over a trap beat with some plinky keys while the song “Never Love Again” is a sappy breakup song backed-up by a mediocre Dre beat.

The track “Little Engine” talks about losing control over an eerie beat while the song “Lock It Up” with Anderson .Paak sees the 2 talking about almost losing it & it sounds like there’s a Chinese sample in the beat. The track “Farewell” talks about his ex-wife Kim over a punchy beat while the song “No Regrets” talks about his come-up over an abrasive beat. Before the “Alfred” outro, the final song “I Will” finds Marshall reuniting Slaughterhouse sans Joe Budden to talk about homicide over a boom bap beat with a haunting organ.

Personally, this is a step-up from Kamikaze. The hooks & the mixing could’ve been better at points, but it’s like a modern day update of the criminally underrated Relapse just 11 years back from Dr. Dre returning behind the boards to the Aflred Hitchcock homages throughout. Hope Marshall continues to go down this path towards redemption.

Score: 3.5/5

Anderson .Paak – “Ventura” review

Anderson .Paak is a 33 year old rapper, singer, songwriter & producer from Oxnard, California who gained notoriety by landing a handful of features on my all-time favorite producer Dr. Dre’s 3rd & final album Compton: A Soundtrack by Dr. Dre in 2015 as well as forming the duo NxWorries with Knxwledge & signing to Stones Throw Records together that same year. He then dropped one of the best R&B albums of the decade with Malibu at the beginning of 2016 & that lead to Dre officially signing him to Aftermath Entertainment a few weeks later. But with his fantastic major label debut Oxnard dropping 5 months ago, it seems like .Paak is now delivering a follow-up.

Things start off with “Come Home”, where .Paak & André 3000 ask for their former lovers to reconcile over a jazzy beat. The next track “Make It Better” talks about mending over a smooth instrumental from Fredwreck & The Alchemist alongside a gorgeous Smokey Robinson hook while the song “Reachin’ 2 Much” is an infectiously funky odyssey about this woman who is excessive for him. The track “Winner’s Circle” is a lust anthem over a beautifully minimalist instrumental while the song “Good Heels” with Jazmine Sullivan sounds like an unfinished duet.

The track “Yada Yada” brushes off his naysayers over a mellow instrumental while the song “King James” of course pays tribute to the Los Angeles Lakers player LeBron James over a funky instrumental. The track “Chosen One” is a dedication to .Paak’s potential soulmate over a spacey beat while the song “Jet Black” talks about this couple peakin’ over a laidback beat. The penultimate track “Twilight” is about this woman who puts .Paak back in place over a vintage Pharrell instrumental, but then the closer “What Can We Do?” is a duet with Nate Dogg about moving on from a past relationship over an uplifting instrumental.

Yeah, it’s just as amazing as the last 2 albums were. There are a few underwhelming moments, but .Paak’s sticking to his R&B guns again in contrast to Oxnard & he continues to show how dynamic of an artist he really is.

Score: 4.5/5

Anderson .Paak – “Oxnard” review

Anderson .Paak is a 32 year old rapper, singer, songwriter & producer from Oxnard, California who first came onto the scene under the name Breezy Lovejoy at the beginning of the decade. He released 2 albums in 2012 but then after changing his moniker & releasing Venice in 2014, that’s when he started getting more recognition. He landed a handful of features on my all-time favorite producer Dr. Dre’s 3rd & final album Compton: A Soundtrack by Dr. Dre in 2015 as well as forming the duo NxWorries with Knxwledge & signing to Stones Throw Records together that same year. Then to kick off 2016, he dropped one of the best R&B albums of the decade with Malibu & that lead to him officially signing with Dre’s Interscope Records imprint Aftermath Entertainment as a solo act a couple weeks after it’s release. He would then link back up with Knxwledge to put out NxWorries’ debut album Yes Lawd! & now 2 years later, .Paak is delivering his long-awaited major label debut.

The album kicks off with “The Chase”, where .Paak talks about this girl being with him in spirit over a blaxploitation film-inspired instrumental. The next track “Headlow” talks about hanging out with this woman over a smooth instrumental while the song “Tints” sees .Paak teaming up with Kendrick Lamar to talk about fame over an infectious synth-funk instrumental while the track “Who R U?” is is a charismatic challenge to .Paak’s competition over a thunderous instrumental from the Quincy Jones of hip hop himself. Despite the fact that Dr. Dre’s made so much money off the headphones that he really doesn’t really need to be making music anymore, it’s very refreshing to hear him producing again with this joint. The track “6 Summers” gets conscious over a settle instrumental while the song “Saviers Road” tells the story of a drug dealer over a boom bap beat from 9th Wonder with some settle guitar licking. The track “Smile / Petty” is a 2-part odyssey about deceiving women over an instrumental that starts off slow, but then cleverly switches up into something more trunk knocking.

The song “Mansa Musa” vents the frustrations with the music industry today over a suiting instrumental & even though Cocoa Sarai’s verse at the start is just ok, the following verses from Dr. Dre & Anderson .Paak take it out the ballpark. The track “Brother’s Keeper” sees .Paak getting spiritual & Pusha T addressing the current status of Clipse over a guitar & these faint, skittering hi-hats while the song “Anywhere” with Snoop Dogg talks about ghetto love over an infectious funk instrumental. The track “Trippy” with J. Cole sees the 2 talking about how their significant others will always be somewhere in between over a settle instrumental & the song “Cheers” sees Paak paying an endearing tribute to Mac Miller while Q-Tip comforts the mothers of his now deceased friends over a luscious instrumental from Focus… with co-production from both Tip & Dre. The penultimate track “Sweet Chick” talks about hooking up with all kinds of women over some horns & then the closer “Left to Right” is an awkward tropical banger complete with .Paak employing a fake patois.

I’ve been waiting for this album all year & at the end, this is on the same level as Malibu. The personal stories are just as compelling, Anderson .Paak’s versatility is more present than ever & the production is almost more vibrant. We all know how much of a perfectionist Dr. Dre is & that’s resulted in multiple Aftermath artists leaving because of their albums being shelved, but I really think this is gonna give .Paak a lot more of the exposure that he truly deserves.

Score: 4.5/5

Eminem – “KAMIKAZƎ” review

It’s been merely 8 months since the critically panned RƎVIVAL was released but earlier this weekend out of nowhere, Detroit hip hop icon Eminem is returning with his 10th full-length album.

The album begins “The Ringer”, where he says “fuck you” to everyone who trashed his last album over a gloomy beat. He also takes shots at Lil Yachty, Lil Pump, Lil Xan & Vince Staples. I found the disses at all 3 Lil’s to be pretty funny, but I can’t say the same for the one about Vince. The next song “Greatest” serves as a sequel to “Rap God” with a Mike WiLL-Made It instrumental while the track “Lucky You” with Joyner Lucas sees the 2 talking about being underlooked & overlooked despite their success over a trap beat with some chimes. After the Paul skit, we go into the song “Normal”. Em on here talks about an ex over a instrumental that starts off grimy, but switches into a trap beat with plinky keys. However, the hook & the delivery when the beat switches is trash. After the “Em Calls Paul” skit, we go into the song “Stepping Stone”. Here, Em pretty much confirms that D12 is done over a punchy instrumental. The song “Not Alike” by Bad Meets Ǝvil literally starts off as a parody of “Look Alive” by BlocBoy JB & Drake down to the Tay Keith instrumental, but it does a complete 180 as an original instrumental with a futuristic bass-heavy vibe comes in halfway through the track. I also liked the MGK diss at the halfway point of Em’s verse.

The title track sees Em pretty much calling RƎVIVAL the “FACK” of his albums over a Mike WiLL-Made It instrumental kin to ƎNCORE & while I don’t care for the instrumental or the hook on “Fall”, Eminem responds to his critics very well. I also found the one line at the beginning of the 2nd verse dissing Everyday Struggle creators DJ Akademiks & Joe Budden (the latter of whom was once signed to Shady Records as 1/4 of the now defunct supergroup Slaughterhouse)  to be pretty unapologetically lethal. However, the jab at Charlemagne Tha God was just ok & the ones towards both Tyler, The Creator & Earl Sweatshirt were my least favorites on the entire album. It’s not even because he called Tyler a “faggot”, because Eminem has literally calling people that throughout his entire career. It’s because I found it to be unnecessary. However, I did find it interesting that he ends the final verse by taking a jab at Lord Jamar as well as owning up to influencing Hopsin & Logic, both of whom’s latest material has been pretty awful in my personal opinion. The next 2 songs “Nice Guy” & “Good Guy” with Jessie Reyez on both tracks Segway into each other very well sonically & lyrically, as they each talk about a failing relationship. The instrumental on “Nice Guy” has some pretty piano chords during the awkward Melanie Martinez sounding hook, but during the verses it switches into a gritty baseline. As for the beat on “Good Guy”, it has a WAY more classier tone to it. Both of them are just ok, but I just wish they were fused into 1 single track. The album ends oddly with “Venom”, which is commissioned for the upcoming Marvel movie with the same name. It’s a good theme song for it, but the hook is hilariously awful.

To be quite honest, I enjoyed this album quite a bit. A couple of the beats & hooks are weak but for the most part, Eminem manages to come out of the dark with a vengeance. The production is much better than RƎVIVAL’s down to the mixing & Em lights a fire under his ass, both lyrically & delivery-wise.

Score: 3.5/5

Various Artists – “Black Panther: The Album” review

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With the Black Panther coming out a week from today,  Top Dawg Entertainment is giving us the soundtrack alongside Aftermath Entertainment & Interscope Records. The opener “Black Panther” by Kendrick Lamar (who curated the whole soundtrack) talks about being a king over a gloomy piano instrumental. However, there’s one point where it gets abrasive. The song “All the Stars” is a spacey love duet with Kendrick & SZA that’s just ok. The track “X” by ScHoolboy Q, 2 Chainz & Saudi gets celebratory over a decent trap beat while the song “The Ways” by Khalid & Swae Lee is a duet about this attractive woman over a moody trap beat. The track “Opps” by Kendrick, Vince Staples & Yugen Blakrok gets into the mind of criminals over a hip house beat while the song “I Am” by Jorja Smith gets insightful about change & how we aren’t meant to be free over a funk rock beat.

The track “Parademic!” by SOB x RBE is an eerie gangsta rap tune while the song “Bloody Waters” by Ab-Soul vividly talks from the point of view from an organized criminal over a kick-back beat. The track “King’s Dead” starts off with a eerie beat & while Jay Rock’s flow is absolutely deadly, but the Future bridge is so hilariously bad. However, they make up for it during the 2nd half when the beat switches into something more hard hitting & Kendrick comes in with an angry verse filled with references to the film’s antagonist Erik Killmonger.

After the “Redemption Interlude”, we then go into the actual song “Redemption” by Zacari & Babes Wudomo. Here, they get sexual albeit in an underwritten & generic fashion. The following song “Seasons Change” by Mozzy, Sjava & Reason talks about escape the ghetto over a somber yet reggae-infused instrumental. The penultimate track “Big Shot” by Kendrick & Travi$ Scott talks about the celebrity lifestyle & the flute sample that Cardo uses on here is absolutely beautiful. Also, I love how Kendrick reuses the first couple lines from his “New Freezer” verse for the hook. The soundtrack then finishes off with “Pray for Me, where The Weeknd & Kendrick talk about heroes burden over an electropop beat.

While I wouldn’t call this a future classic by any means, this is still a solid soundtrack album. It’s not too overproduced like many soundtrack albums nowadays, it’s well written & most of the performers do their thing

Score: 3.5/5

Eminem – “RƎVIVAL” review

After cleverly promoting it for the past month or so with the fake-drug ads, renown Detroit hip hop superstar Eminem is finally giving fans with his 9th full-length album. The opener “Walk on Water” vents about the struggles he’s had for the best decade or so over a gospel like-piano instrumental from Rick Rubin. The song “Believe” pretty much asks the listeners if they would turn their backs on him over a piano & some awkward snares. The flow is pretty uninteresting as well.

The track “Chloraspetic” gets braggadocious about his rapping prowess over a trap beat from mR. pOrTeR, but the parts where he bites Migos flow is absolutely embarrassing. The song “Untouchable” intelligently talks about racial injustice, but the production on here was just ok & it didn’t need to be 6 minutes long. And on top of that, the “white boy white boy, you’re a rock star” hook is God awful. However, the second half of this is much better than the rap rock-tinged first half. The track “River” talks about a failing relationship over a guitar & after an unnecessary skit preluding the next song “Remind Me”, we get the actual song & it’s sickeningly lovey dovey. Especially with the cheesy “I Love Rock & Roll” sample that’s used throughout a bulk of the track & the corny ass lines like “Your booty is heavy duty like diarrhea” & “you’re smoking like Snoop Dogg”.

After the “Revival” interlude, we then go into the next song “Like Home”. Here, Eminem is dissing Donald Trump over an uplifting instrumental & the Alicia Keys hook is just ok. The track “Bad Husband” is an open apology letter to Em’s ex-wife Kim Mathers over a somber beat & the X Ambasadors hook is mediocre. The track “Tragic Endings” sees Em being pushed around by a manipulative lover over an abrasive beat & while “Framed” goes back to his horrorcore roots with an eerie beat, the hook is annoying.

The song “Nowhere Fast” gets reflective about the younger days over string-induced trap beat & the Kehlani hook doesn’t help at all. The track “Heat” talks about this chick who he thinks is as vile as his RELAPSƎ album from 2009 & the beat is almost the same as “So Far…” off his last album The Marshall Mathers LP 2. The song “Offended” takes a jab at all the naysayers & while the verses & the beat aren’t too bad, the interpolation of “The Knife Game Song” is drab. The track “Need Me” feels more like a P!nk song than an Eminem song given that Em only appears at the end & almost as unbearably sappy as “Revenge” off of P!nk’s latest album Beautiful Drama.

The song “In Your Head” talks about his famous alter ego Slim Shady & The Cranberries sample actually works well. The penultimate track “Castle” sees Em writing 3 different letters to his daughter Hailie in 1995, 1996 & 2007 respectively & it’s absolutely touching. The closer “Arose” talks about his overdose in 2008 & his output since then over an ambitious instrumental, but he literally “rewinds it” to the final verse from the previous song “Castle” during the last minute & a half & it ruins the vibe.

Overall, this is Eminem’s worst album yet. He still has it lyrically, but he needs better features. He needs better production. He needs to stop making some tracks drag on longer than they should’ve. I really had hope that this would be a consistently great album, but I‘m gonna have to accept that poppy Eminem is here to stay forever

Score: 1/5