Don Toliver – “Lovesick” review

Don Toliver is a 28 year old rapper from Houston, Texas who caught my attention in 2018 off his debut mixtape Donny Womack along with being featured on “Can’t Say” off his mentor Travis Scott’s last album ASTROWORLD & signed to Cactus Jack Records literally the very next day. Fast forward a year & a half later right when the COVID-19 pandemic started, his full-length debut Heaven or Hell is a bit underappreciated in my opinion & the sophomore effort Life of a Don was solid yet not as good. However, I was still looking forward to Lovesick considering the singles.

“Love Sickness” is a seductive opener produced by Cardo singing about his obsession with his new girl whereas “Let Her Go” works in some synthesizers, a rubbery bass-line & some hi-hats from James Blake & Dez Wright asking if he makes her feel special. Glorilla & Lil Durk come into the picture for the Rodeo inspired 2-parter “Leave the Club” encouraging all the baddies to buss it prior to “4 Me” blending alternative R&B with pop rap & dancehall thanks to Wheezy talking about his lover being the only woman he needs. Also as a longtime Neptunes mark, Kali Uchis killed it with the “Girls Dem Sugar” interpolation.

However with “Go Down”, we have Don over some spacious trap production from Hit-Boy sampling the TisaKorean cut “Backseat” asking his girl if they can fuck in the backseat of his whip just before “Time Heals All” has a shimmery quality to the beat that Allen Ritter brings to the table as he talks about wanting to see how his girl works the pole. “Leather Coat” is another 2-parter with a guitar driven trap instrumental feeling like she can’t hear him leading into the irresistibly catchy “Honeymoon” embracing synth-funk with the help of KAYTRANADA talking about how he can love her & hate her at the same time.

Cardio’s entrancing production throughout “Private Landing” is really impressive as Future & surprisingly Justin Bieber in one of his best performances I’ve heard in a while personally both hop on board to confess that they feel stuck while the cloudy “Slow Motion” expressing the desire for his girl who just wants to go dancing to tell him what she’s hoping. “Do It Right” is a pop rap/alternative R&B hybrid with some future bass undertones co-produced by Boi-1da encouraging to go back to his girl’s place, but then “If I Had” is a remarkable R&B duet with Uncle Charlie Wilson that DJ Dahi laced about keeping the love forever.

The final leg of the album begins with the 3rd installment of the “Company” trilogy wondering how she feels inside over a twangy trap beat while the song “Bus Stop” with Brent Faiyaz is a peppier vibe with Hit-Boy on the boards once again to tell his girl how much he needs & wants her to fall in love with no issues as Brent dedicates his verse to all his bitches in the drop top. The penultimate track “Cinderella” has a synth-based instrumental from Ronny J calling this a love letter & “Encouragement” is a wavy send off to the album detailing a way he’s never felt before.

Some people consider Life of a Don to be a sophomore slump even though I myself enjoyed it albeit not as much as Heaven or Hell, but Lovesick is unquestionably a cut above as my 2nd favorite album in his catalogue currently. It’s most certainly the most conceptual we’ve ever heard him on the lyrical front & the production catering to the futuristic R&B/soul kind of sound that he was shooting for.

Score: 3.5/5

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Lil Uzi Vert – “Red + White” review

Lil Uzi Vert is a 26 year old rapper & singer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that became a household name in the trap scene with their 2015 mixtape LUV is Rage & then Lil Uzi Vert vs. the World the following year. Since the release of their 2017 debut album LUV is Rage 2, Uzi has been entangled with a nasty legal battle with Generation Now Entertainment/Atlantic Records until Eternal Atake came out in March of 2020 to moderate reception & followed it up a week later with the far superior Lil Uzi Vert vs. the World 2 that spawned the deluxe version trend where artists would drop a “deluxe version” of their newest project that’s basically an entirely new album. But after dropping a bunch of singles on SoundCloud thought the past week, Uzi is warming everyone up for The Pink Tape by dropping their 3rd EP.

“Space Cadet” is an pluggy opener produced by Brandon Finessin’ that’s a bit all over the place if I’m being honest with Uzi talking about not being used to stallin’ & used to cake whereas “I Know” taking a cloudier route thanks to Sonny Digital being aware of what their lover is really like. “Flex Up” reunites with Maaly Raw for a mellow trap banger talking about being the next & best one, but then “Hittin’ My Shoulder” has a more abstract approach thanks to Dun Deal calling out people on their fake love & biters.

Meanwhile on “For Fun”, we have Uzi over an airy instrumental taking about counting ranks solely for his pleasure leading into the vibrant “Believe Me” continuing to brag lyrically. The song “Issa Hit” shoots for a more abrasive aesthetic asking if it’s lit just before the penultimate track “Glock in My Purse” advises to look at it like a bag with DJ Mustard providing a synth-heavy sound. “Final Fantasy” on the other end finishes the EP with a rage beat bragging that they have the strategy.

It’s been over a little over 2 years since we last heard from Uzi on their own & for them to give us Red + White in advance, I think it’ll definitely hold us over until The Pink Tape whenever it comes out. It sounds laser-focused & I appreciate that production experiments with the plugg/hypertrap sounds that’ve been becoming more popular in recent memory.

Score: 3.5/5

Roddy Ricch – “The Big 3” review

Roddy Ricch is a 23 year old rapper & singer/songwriter from Compton, California who came up in the fall of 2017 off his debut mixtape Feed tha Streets. He would follow it up with a sequel almost a year later & signed to Atlantic Records shortly after, who put out his full-length debut Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial the year after that to moderate reception. His sophomore effort Live Live Fast came out this past winter & even though a lot of people found it to be a disappointment, I personally consider it to be his best work yet. So given that, I was curious to hear this debut EP of his ahead of his upcoming 3rd mixtape Feed tha Streets III.

“Real Talk” is a solid introduction to the EP with it’s twangy trap production from DJ Mustard on top of Roddy’s lyricism touching on loyalty & brotherhood, but the penultimate track “Tootsie’s” has to easily be my least favorite of the 3 with it’s nondescript instrumental & bland braggadocio. I do however find “No Mop” to be a sensual conclusion from the misty trap beat from London on da Track to Roddy’s raunchy pen-game.

I know I’m in the minority for liking Live Life Fast more than most people, but I really hope Feed tha Streets III is better than The Big 3 because it’s an average appetizer before the main course. You got a great way to start it off, but then you get a miss & a mid closer. Hopefully the tape will be a moment of redemption for Roddy.

Score: 3/5

Jack Harlow – “Come Home the Kids Miss You” review

Jack Harlow is a 24 year old rapper & songwriter from Louisville, Kentucky who broke through when the pandemic started off the single “What’s Poppin’?”. This resulted in DJ Drama & Don Cannon signing him to their Atlantic Records imprint Generation Now Entertainment as well as them putting out his full-length debut That’s What They All Say that same winter, which was pretty mediocre in my opinion. However, I still went into this sophomore effort of his with an open mind given some of the features that were revealed earlier this week.

“Talk of the Town” kicks off the album with a sample of “No No No” by Destiny’s Child so Jack can speak on coming a long way from Bardstown whereas “Young Harleezy” is a generic trap cut with braggadocious lyrics. “I’d Do Anything to Make You Smile” follows it up with a corny romance ballad produced by Boi-1da, but then “1st Class” is no better as he pretty much bastardizes the classic single “Glamorous” by Fergie & Ludacris.

Meanwhile on “Dua Lipa”, we have Jack simping over the titular singer accompanied by a bland trap beat just before “Side Piece” butchers “Beautiful” by Snoop Dogg talking about wanting to bring DeJ Loaf home to meet his family. “Movie Star” is one of the better cuts on the album thanks to Pharrell’s bassy instrumental & his verse at the back end declaring themselves as such, but then “Lil Secret” gets back to the tepid lovey dovey bullshit even though the GoldLink sample is impressive.

“I Got a Shot” is such a pathetic attempt at him hitting on any bitch he wants over a tropical beat while “Churchill Downs” has a more skeletal approach talking about where he’s at now & Drake just phones his verse the fuck in down to the cringy Pusha T jabs. “Like a Blade of Grass” shoots for a moodier vibe with uneventful storytelling about a woman he met in the dark & “Parent Trap” picks it up with cold trap production from Timbaland talking about his lover holding him down.

The song “Poison” with Lil Wayne sees the 2 comparing their significant others to such over a cloudy trap instrumental sampling “Mrs. Officer” while the penultimate track “Nail Tech” is a decently victorious ballad about the “king” if you can even call him that being back in his hometown. “State Fair” on the other end closes out the album with some hi-hats & a mellow atmosphere reflecting on fame.

What else do y’all want me to say beyond that? I still don’t see what’s so appealing about Jack because this album to me is even worse than That’s What They All Say was. Not that I have anything against pop rap since I’ve made that clear as day if you look at some of my past reviews in the subgenre, but Jack’s performances/songwriting are primarily mediocre mixing that with some decent features & annoying production.

Score: 1.5/5

Cordae – “From a Bird’s Eye View” review

Cordae is 23 year old MC from Suitland, Maryland that came up as a member of the YBN collective just a few years ago. He first came on my radar with “Old N****s”, an immensely well written response to “1985”, which was one of the better tracks that J. Cole’s 5th album K.O.D. had to offer. That single alone earned Cordae a HUGE co-sign from none other than Dr. Dre as well as a deal with Atlantic Records, where he put out a potential showing debut The Lost Boy the following summer right after his 2019 XXL Freshman Class placement. But after dropping a prelude EP Just Until….. over the spring, Cordae’s finally back with his 2nd full-length.

After the “Shiloh’s Intro”, the first song “Jean Michel” sets it off with a rich boom bap instrumental & Cordae providing listeners with introspection whereas ”Super” has a soulful trap vibe boasting his success. “Momma’s Hood” has a more woozier vibe to it talking about driving down his mother’s old stomping grounds in a Jeep just before “Want From Me” goes into a more psychedelic direction with the help of Dem Jointz & Jake One asking this girl what more does she want from him. Meanwhile on “Today”, we have a unique trap beat from Kid Culture as none other than Gunna tags along with Cordae to talk about grinding & dismissing bullshit leading into “Shiloh’s Interlude”.

Following that, “C Carter” instrumentally has a west coast feel to it reminding listeners that he’s arrived & then Lil Wayne comes in for the Hit-Boy produced “Sinister” going at anyone who chooses to go bar-to-bar against them. Boi-1da takes it into acoustic trap territory for the H.E.R./Lil Durk-assisted “Chronicles” talking about not being sure where their hearts are headed while “Champagne Glasses” with Freddie Gibbs finds them on top of a spacious beat detailing conversations being complicated these days.

The song “Westlake High” works in a soul sample apologizing for his mistakes as well as shouting out his loved ones while the penultimate track “Parables” finds him & Eminem talking about on top of a twangy boom bap instrumental from Cardiak. “Gifted” with Roddy Ricch then ends the album with the 2 going back & forth with each other telling the world how blessed both of them are over a moody Bongo instrumental.

Compared to The Lost Boy, I think From a Bird’s Eye View happens to be a slightly better yet very much enjoyable follow-up. His production choices have gotten better & lyrically, it seems to me that he’s detailing a lot more of his life than he did 2 & a half years back.

Score: 3.5/5

Roddy Ricch – “Live Life Fast” review

This is the highly anticipated sophomore album from Compton rapper Roddy Ricch. Coming up in the fall of 2017 off his debut mixtape Feed tha Streets, he would follow it up with a sequel almost a year later & signed to Atlantic Records shortly after. His full-length debut Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial was a significant improvement over this early tapes & with the 2-year anniversary of that album passing by a couple weeks ago, Roddy is finally following it up with Live Life Fast.

After the titular intro, the first song “thailand” starts off the album excellently with a bassy instrumental from Southside & some catchy braggadocio whereas “all good” follows it up with a zestful Ronny J beat as well as Future tagging along to talk about everything being straight. “rollercoastin’” to me seems like a blatant Young Thug ripoff that goes over horribly, but then “hibachi” seems out of place since Roddy barely has any presence on it only handling the hook. Even though Kodak Black’s verse at the start is just vapid, 21 Savage manages to go off at the backend of it & I also like Wheezy’s twangy production.

Meanwhile on “paid my dues”, we have Roddy & Takeoff impressively going back & forth with each other on top of a spacious Boi-1da instrumental about earning everything they got just before “crash the party” follows it up with some keyboards & hi-hats pondering if this woman really loves him. “no way” follows it up by talking about how he can’t trust an ungrateful bitch on top of a tranquil Cardo beat & after the “slow it down” interlude, “man made” is a fantastic piano ballad about being proud of himself.

“murda 1” with Fivio Foreign has a more cloudier approach to it with the help of Kenny Beats as the 2 compliment each other well spitting that gangsta shit while “everything you need” comes off as a boring attempt at a moody, lovey dovey ballad. Lil Baby comes into the picture for “moved to miami” proclaiming themselves as champs with TM88 having the best instrumental on the album without question, but I can’t say the same for “don’t i” even though Roddy & Gunna both kill their verses.

After the “bibi’s interlude”, the song “more than a trend” reveals itself as a half baked attempt at being flirtatious down to the skeletal beat while the penultimate track “late at night” takes another jab at it except it’s MUCH much better from the DJ Mustard beat to the songwriting. “$25M” finishes it all off with a cavernous banger produced by Tarentino reflecting on a vow he made when he was younger to make more bread.

For the 2 year wait, I’d say Live Life Fast very much lived up to the hype & I’ll even go as far to say that it’s Roddy’s most impressive body of work yet. It’s more well-produced compared to his previous material & I appreciate that he’s showing a more vulnerable side to him lyrically

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

Young Thug – “P*nk” review

This is the sophomore album from Atlanta, rapper & singer/songwriter Young Thug. Hate him or love him, but the man has proven himself as a modern trap icon from dropping classic mixtapes like Barter 6 & JEFFERY to starting up his 300 Entertainment imprint YSL Records & even the clothing line SP5DER. He finally dropped his full-length debut So Much Fun a couple summers back & not only was it executive produced by J. Cole, but it also ended up being the best trap project of that entire year. So given that, I was very excited going into P*nk over here.

“Die Slow” is a bare acoustic opener sending a warning to anyone who goes against him, but then the T-Minus produced “Stressed” feels like a J. Cole song featuring T-Shyne since there’s barely any Thugger presence & Cole’s flow is just so hilariously awful. Metro Thuggin’ return for “Stupid” which once again takes the bare acoustic route calling out an idiot just before “Asking” switches into some keyboards & snares getting romantic.

Meanwhile on “Recognize Real”, we have Gunna tagging along on top of a low register guitar tone talking about not being victimized leading into “Contagious” touchingly calls for more loyalty. BSlime & Future come into the picture for the piano-tinged “Peepin’ Out the Window” talking about doubling up in life whereas “Rich N***a Shit” works in a bass-heavy Pi’erre Bourne beat as Thugger & the late Juice WRLD get on the materialistic tip.

A$AP Rocky hops on the stripped back “Livin’ It Up” to help talk about how they’re doing good in life now while “Yea Yea Yea” has a danceable Wheezy instrumental expressing his gratitude. “Insure My Wrist” has a lavish [Taurus] beat as Gunna returns to look back on going from being broke to rich in a span of a decade, but then the Lil Double 0-assisted “Scoliosis” seems like a parody of “Hot”.

“Bubbly” starts out with Thugger & Travis Scott bombastically speaking on their career blasting, but I felt like the beat switch from Cardo during [Drake]’s verse was a bit unnecessary. “Road Rage” takes a cloudier turn talking about chasing those millions while “Faces” vulnerably opens up about his heart being gone because of a ratchet double crossing him.

I think Turbo’s production on “Droppin’ Jewels” is perfect as Thugger spits some real life shit while “5th Day Dead” hazily addresses those who hate seeing you racking. “Icy Hot” is a romance duet with Doja Cat that has nothing going on instrumentally, but then “Love You More” kinda seems underwritten despite it’s positive message & more poppier sound.

The penultimate track “Hate the Game” takes it back to the acoustic direction addressing all the people who’ve talking down on him throughout his career & “Day Before” with the late Mac Miller finds them on top of a sample of “charlie brown” by Verzache speaking on how they don’t need a lot, but have a lot.

Now this album isn’t as great as [i]So Much Fun[/i], but I still ended up enjoying it. I think it’s pretty cool that he kinda takes it back to the BEAUTIFUL THUGGER GIRLS says in terms of sound as well as fusing elements of alternative R&B, but just wish he’d kinda tone it down with the features a little bit.

1017 Worldwide – “So Icy Boyz” review

1017 Worldwide is a record label founded in 2009 by trap pioneer Gucci Mane after his departure from Mizay Entertainment. They’ve housed a revolving door of artists ranging from Waka Flocka Flame to Asian Doll during it’s first decade, but regained momentum last year after revamping itself along with putting out it’s first 2 compilations So Icy Summer & So Icy Gang last year showcasing their brand new roster of young talent. Most notably Pooh Shiesty, who earned a spot in this year’s XXL Freshman Class over the summer. But now with 3 new signees coming into the picture, it’s only right for Wop & the rest of the 1017 family to come together for their 3rd showcase comp.

“Poppin’” by BigWalkDog & Gucci starts the comp off with some keyboards & hi-hats to show off their charisma whereas “Sno Cone” by BiC Fizzle & Gucci has a more symphonic sound with the help of Tay Keith talking about how cold they are. BigWalkDog returns alongside Bankroll Freddie to detail the “Trap Life” over an instrumental kin to the opener, but then BiC & Wop return alongside Cootie on “TrapMania” to reaffirm their big dog status despite the nondescript beat.

Meanwhile on “Rolling Loud”, we have Hotboy Wes alongside Big Scarr & BigWalkDog over some more piano trap shit using the title as a few clever metaphors just before “Whole Lotta Ice” by BigWalkDog, Lil Baby & Pooh Shiesty of course lavishly details the chains they got. Big Scarr gets his own solo joint with “From da South” grimly detailing life in Atlanta leading into the [Honorable C.N.O.T.E.]-produced “Trap God”, where Gucci rightfully proclaims himself as such alongside BigWalkDog.

“Free Smoke” by Big Scarr & Hotboy Wes finds 2 heinously detailing how they living while the guitar-driven BiC Fizzle solo cut “Mo Money” speaks on the increasing problems them dollar bills bring. “Free Foo” by Foogiano works in a bassy instrumental talking about doing better & the BigWalkDog solo joint “So Icy” incorporated some strings paying homage to the squad.

I feel like everything about “On God” is a bit of a rehash of “TrapMania” down to how it’s structured, but “My Lil Dance” by Gucci & Hotboy Wes energetically details the latter’s past with his mentor talking about getting him right. Sure enough, Wes gets his own solo song with “Slide” spitting that gangsta shit while the penultimate track “Freestyle” by Big Scarr & Gucci feels like some off-the-cuff shit despite it’s flute-heavy beat. “Never Trust a Soul” by Enchanting, Foogiano & Gucci ends the comp by living up to it’s title concept-wise even though there’s not much to the instrumental.

It’s been made pretty clear that label compilations like this can be either hit or miss & as much as I really admire the camaraderie between everyone on 1017, I’m kinda torn by So Icy Boyz. I genuinely think there is potential with the signees, but the production is very generic even by Gucci’s standards.

Score: 3/5

Don Toliver – “Life of a Don” review

This is the sophomore album from Houston rapper & singer/songwriter Don Toliver. Emerging in 2018 after quietly signing to Cactus Jack Records & Atlantic Records, his name truly wouldn’t be first known to the masses until he out his debut mixtape Donny Womack & then being featured on “Can’t Say” off his mentor Travis Scott’s latest album at the time ASTROWORLD literally the very next day. Fast forward a year & a half later right when the COVID-19 pandemic started, his full-length debut Heaven or Hell revealed himself as the most talented that Cactus Jack has to offer. But now that he started hitting the road again very recently, Don is dropping Life of a Don in the midst of it.

“Xscape” starts it off with a horn-infused R&B cut produced by DJ Chase B & Mike Dean about needing the love to keep his woman whereas “5X” almost has a bit of a West Coast feeling from the Cardo instrumental with Don detailing how fine this stripper is. “Way Bigger” gets boastful with the help of a psychedelic Sonny Digital beat leading into the woozy “Flocky Flocky” with Travis Scott talking about their blessings.

Meanwhile on “What You Need”, we have Don on top of a cloudy Hit-Boy instrumental saying he’ll do anything for his bitch just before “Double Standards” works in a Three 6 sample opening up about how it’s hard to be human. “Swangin’ on Westheimer” has some slick production from Metro Boomin’ getting charismatic, but then “Drugs n Hella Melodies” nocturnally pays homage to the 2 things he loves the most.

“2AM” hazily gets in his late night lust bag while “Get Throwed” works in some keyboards with the help of Murda Beatz & DJ Mustard talking about a rich hoe. “Company, Pt. 2” is an incredibly fun sequel to one of my favorites off Heaven or Hell whereas “Outerspace” with Baby Keem is an exhilarating 2-parter getting flirtatious.

On the other hand, HVN & SoFaygo tag along for “Smoke” for an entrancing party anthem while the song “You” finds Travis returning to playfully talk about what comes with their bitches. The penultimate track “Crossfaded” is a mind-altering ode to smoking weed & getting drunk but lastly, “Bogus” ends the album with a more glossier note saying he don’t go for bullshit.

Heaven or Hell was one of the most underrated albums of last year & for a follow-up, I think fans are gonna like Life of a Don just as much or possibly even more than the debut. The lyrics are bit more personal this time around & the lack of features throughout kinda exemplifies that in a sense.

Score: 4/5