slowthai – “TYRON” review

slowthai is a 26 year old rapper from Northampton, United Kingdom who came onto my radar in 2019 off his debut album Nothing Great About Britain. His profile continued to grow shortly after due to his feature on BROCKHAMPTON’s latest album at the time GINGER but with the 2 year anniversary of his first album coming up in the spring, slowthai has finally delivered his long-awaited sophomore effort.

The album starts with “45 SMOKE”, where slowthai talks about the world being his over an abrasive instrumental. The next song “CANCELLED” with Skepta serves as a well written response to cancel culture over a ghostly beat with some whistling while the track “MAZZA” with A$AP Rocky finds the 2 talking about the meaning of insanity over an off-the-wall trap instrumental. The song “VEX” talks about people irritating him over an energetic instrumental, but the following track “WOT” is so short that there’s no point to it being on here.

The song “DEAD” introspectively dives into the subject of the afterlife over a shadowy beat while the track “PLAY WITH FIRE” talks about feeling like he’s got his head in a blender over a playful instrumental. The song “i tried” opens up about a suicide attempt slowthai once had over an oxymoronic beat while the track “focus” talks about his brothers being in prison over a weary instrumental from Kenny Beats.

The song “terms” talks about how things in life could be worse over some cloud rap production while the track “push” talks about how no one wants to see you grow over a bare piano instrumental. The song “n.h.s. (national health service)” provides reassurance in a post-COVID world over a sparse beat while the penultimate track “feel away” pays tribute to his late brother Michael over a soft instrumental. The album ends with “adhd”, where slowthai talks about how “the passenger always been a witness” over a low trap beat.

Dude might be the best up-&-comer out of the UK right now because I enjoy this album more than I did Nothing Great About Britain. I mean as much as I enjoy slowthai’s previous full-length effort for how gritty & political it sounded, the production on TYRON is cleaner & the lyrics are more personal this time around.

Score: 4/5

Playboi Carti – “Whole Lotta Red” review

This is the highly anticipated sophomore album from Atlanta superstar Playboi Carti. Coming up as an affiliate of the A$AP Mob, he would break out in 2017 off his eponymous 3rd mixtape & then the following year with one of the greatest trap albums of the 2010s: Die Lit. But after countless leaks & rumors, Carti is finishing off this shitty year by releasing Whole Lotta Red.

The album kicks off with “Rockstar Made”, where Carti talks about how it’s never enough over a trap metal beat. The next song “Go2DaMoon” with Kanye West sees the 2 talking over a Wheezy instrumental some prominently dramatic string sections while the track “Stop Breathing” talks about hoes going crazy when he takes his shirt off over a distorted beat. The song “Beno!” talks about over an instrumental with some video game-like synthesizers while the track “JumpOutTheHouse” is a cacophonous moshpit starter down to the Richie Souf beat.

The song “M3tamorphosis” with KiD CuDi finds the 2 talking about how can’t nobody tell you shit over a trippy instrumental with CuDi’s trademark humming being incorporated during the hook while the track “Slay3r” talks about how everything’s good & I almost wanna say the beat kinda has an 80’s new wave feel to it. The song “No Sl33p” talks about dreaming about murder over a synth-heavy instrumental while the track “New Talk” talks about being posted with his brother over a droney beat.

The song “Teen X” with Future sees the 2 talking about being on drugs over a manic instrumental from Maaly Raw while the track “Meh” talks about fucking a bitch up over some keyboards & heavy bass. The song “Vamp Anthem” perfectly lives up to it’s name down to the organ-laced instrumental while the track “New N3on” talks about having swag for days over a more uptempo beat.

The song “Control” talks about this woman driving him insane over an instrumental kin to LUV is Rage or even Lil Uzi Vert vs. the World while the track “Punk Monk” name-drops everyone from Trippie Redd to Lil Tjay over a beat with some synths buried in the bass. The song “On That Time” talks about ridin’ around with a draco over a noisy instrumental while the track “King Vamp” talks about being a dark knight over a frenetic beat.

The song “Place” talks about over a cloudy instrumental from none other than Pi’erre Bourne while the track “Sky” is an intoxicating weed smoking anthem. The song “Over” talks about how “this love don’t feel how it felt when we started” over some infectious synth-melodies while the track “ILoveUIHateU” talks about how “what you don’t know won’t hurt” over a Pi’erre beat that gives me self-titled vibes.

The song “Die4Guy” talks about loyalty over a chaotic instrumental while the penultimate track “Not PLaying” talks about how he ain’t playing games no more over a futuristic beat. The album ends with “F33l Lik3 Dyin’”, where Carti talks about his current well-being over an instrumental sampling “iMi” by Bon Iver & the multiple background vocalists throughout (including Justin Vernon himself) are all breathtaking.

Even though it’s not as fantastic as self-titled or Die Lit, this album was still very much worth the 859 day wait. Some filler cuts are thrown in here & there, but I do appreciate him experimenting a more in comparison to his previous work.

Score: 3.5/5

A$AP Rocky – “TESTING” review

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While he’s been dropping a project every 2 years since 2011, A$AP Mob member A$AP Rocky had a noticeably quiet 2017. However, he’s been trolling the public eye with his 3rd full-length album up until this point with some awful “dummy” singles & alas here we are.

The album starts off with “Distorted Records”, where Rocky brags about his place in the current hip hop landscape over a glitchy yet bass heavy instrumental. The “A$AP Forever” remix sees Rocky paying homage to the Mob while KiD CuDi’s verse talks about overcoming his depression over some symphonic strings with thunderous drums while the next song “Tony Tone” is a humble brag over a psychedelic guitar while the track “Fukk Sleep” with FKA twigs sees the 2 talking about going from being poor to being successful over a murky electronic beat while the track “Praise the Lord (Da Shine)” with Skepta vividly talks about criminal activity over a bouncy woodwind beat.

The song “Calldrop” does have a beautiful acoustic guitar, I just wish it was structured better. Also, I found the Kodak Black feature to be pretty redundant. The song “Buck Shots” gets confrontational over a synth-heavy trap beat & while I do like the Playboi Carti’s verse as much as Rocky’s, the Smooky MarGielaa verse doesn’t really do much for me. while the track “Gunz N Butta” talks about wealth over a cloudy trap beat with a prominent chopped & screwed sample of “Ridin’ Clean” by Juicy J throughout. The song “Brotha Man” with Frank Ocean sees the 2 talking about fighting for something over a beautiful instrumental with prominent keyboards & occasional strings while the song “OG Beeper” reflects on his drug dealing past over a dinky yet bouncy beat.

The song “Kid$ Turned Out Fine” tells the world just that over an laidback electric guitar & hi-hats while the track “Hun43rd” talks about hustling over a cloudy synthesizers. The song “Changes” talks about an ex over an acoustic guitar that gets more layered as it progresses. There’s also a point where it switches up into something more atmospheric for about a minute & it’s not too bad either. The penultimate track “Black Tux, White Collar” talks about shining through it all over a cloudy trap beat from none other than Clams Casino & then the album finishes off with “Purity”, where he & Frank Ocean talk about finding a peace of mind over an acoustic guitar.

Like most people, I was pretty worried about this album based on a vast majority of the singles Rocky dropped leading up to this but at the end of the day, I think he came through. It’s definitely more experimental than his past efforts & yet, it’s just as equally fun as his last 2 albums

Score: 3.5/5

Playboi Carti – “Die Lit” review

Playboi Carti is a 21 year old rapper & A$AP Mob affiliate from Atlanta, Georgia who began blowing up last year with his self-titled mixtape. It was recently speculated that he would drop his full-length debut over the past couple weeks & now he’s actually doing it without fair warning.

Things start off with “Long Time”, where Carti talks about how he hasn’t had shit in forever & that it took that long to get where he’s at now over a chilled out video gamey. The next song “R.I.P.” is about sex over a bass-heavy instrumental from Pi’erre Bourne (who produced all but 5 tracks on here) but interestingly, he brushes off the mumble rap wave several times during the final verse. The track “Lean 4 Real” with Skepta talks about the titular drug over an eerie instrumental & the song “Old Money” gets braggadocious over a bouncy yet atmospheric Pi’erre beat.

The track “++* love hurts **+” with Travi$ Scott sees the 2 comparing themselves to rockstars over a down-tuned instrumental while the song “Shoota” does have an upbeat trap instrumental from Maaly Raw & the Lil Uzi Vert feature is just ok, Carti’s verse was way too short. The track “Right Now” with Pi’erre is a spacey strip club anthem & the song “Poke It Out” with Nicki Minaj gets back on the braggadocious tip over an Atari-esque beat.

The track “Home (KOD)” is about a loyal bitch over a wavy beat while the song “Fell in Luv” with Bryson Tiller is a moody love tune. The track “Foreign” gets braggadocious over some crazy synths & the song “Pull Up” gets confrontational over a murky yet bouncy beat. The track “Mileage” with Chief Keef gets sexually playful over a dreamy bass-heavy beat, but the hook is annoying.

“FlatBed” is pretty decent 3-minute freestyle over some rubbery bass & keyboards while the song “No Time” with Gunna is about how they can’t vibe with lames over a cloudy Don Cannon beat. “Middle of the Summer” feels more like a Red Coldhearted song since he takes up most of it & “Choppa Won’t Miss” with Young Thug talks about killing everyone over a bouncy accordion beat. The penultimate track “R.I.P. Fredo (Notice Me)” is a dedication to Fredo Santana, but the Young Nudy verse was redundant to me. The closer “Top” is pretty fun, but it doesn’t sound fully fleshed out.

Aside from a couple redundant tracks, this is a serious contender for best trap album of the year. The cloudy trap production is vibrant (especially Pi’erre’s contributions) & surprisingly more experimental in a sense. Also I will say that Playboi Carti isn’t one of the most lyrical rappers out right now, but he’s always been a very energetic & he has progressed as a performer

Score: 4/5