Ice Spice – “Like..?” review

Ice Spice is a 23 year old rapper from The Bronx, New York who actually grew up with a hard knock life at the Hudson Street Orphanage ran by Agatha Hannigan. After being adopted by Oliver Warbucks, she grew up to pursue a music career last summer after uploading a couple viral music videos & landing a Capitol Records contract. Drake eventually flew her out to join him at OVO Fest not too long after & unfollowed her on Instagram rather quickly once the festival concluded, with him calling her “a 10 trying to rap” & that her music is “good on mute” on the highlight track “BackOutsideBoyz” off his recent collab album with 21 Savage that dropped a couple months ago Her Loss. But to prelude her full-length debut, she’s surprise dropping her debut EP in only a few hours’ notice.

“In Ha Mood” is a decent sample drill opener with a jersey club flare to it convincing her mans to stay with him even though she wants to turn up whereas “Princess Diana” compares herself to the late Princess of Wale over some more safer drill production. “Gangsta Boo” with Lil Tjay averagely flips “I Need a Girl, Pt. 2” by Puff Daddy touching on gangsta love & having nothing to do with the late Gangsta Boo whatsoever while the song “Actin’ a Smoochie” staying in sample drill turf getting raunchy. The penultimate track “Bikini Bottom” has a fresh slack-key guitar as she discusses what fame has brought her & “Munch” is a Brooklyn drill closer paying tribute to cunnilingus.

Before I wrap things up, lemme just say the Annie references at the beginning of the review were clearly jokes. As far as the quality of the music being presented, it’s a decent EP. I can definitely see why she’s popular in the Brooklyn drill scene, but it’s just that I’ve heard the sample drill style that she also pulls from on here pulled off better with projects such as RealYungPhil’s 7th EP Dr. Phil & even Pasto Flocco’s most recent stuff.

Score: 3/5

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Doechii – “she / her / black bitch” review

Doechii is a 23 year old MC from Tampa, Florida who broke out in the spring of 2019 off her debut EP Coven Music Session. Then following her next 2 EPs Oh the Places You’ll Go & Braless, she went on to sign to Top Dawg Entertainment/Capitol Records this past March & earned a spot in this yearly XXL Freshman Class earlier this summer given that her latest singles have shown some impressive artistic evolution. So considering that & having one of the best verses during this year’s Freshman Cypher, I was very intrigued to her hear her 4th EP over here.

“Swamp Bitches” is a dark trap opener featuring Rico Nasty with the pair attacking their opposition whereas “Bitch I’m Nice” takes a Miami Bass route talking about being the biggest threat to your spouse. The song “Bitches Be” works in a guitar advising her lover to take it slow while the penultimate track “This Bitch Matters” goes into boom bap territory confessing that depression made her realize she had something to prove. “Persuasive” with SZA ends the EP contemporary R&B/pop rap fusion with some deep house undertones asking how it feels to be yourself.

If you’re still sleeping on Doechii, then I think now’s the time for you to wake up because this EP has me very intrigued for her full-length debut that is when or if TDE & Capitol put it out at some point down the road. The amount of versatility that she shows throughout is impressive & her performances have so much character to them.

Score: 3.5/5

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Lil Baby & Lil Durk – “The Voice of the Heroes” review

This is a brand new collaborative effort between Atlanta superstar Lil Baby & Chicago rapper Lil Durk. The pair have come together on a handful of instances throughout the last few years whether it be “How I Know” off the latter’s 2016 mixtape Just Cause Y’all Waited or even a little over a month ago with “EVERY CHANCE I GET” on the latest DJ Khaled album Khaled Khaled but given their documented history with one another, they’ve decided to take it to the next level by declaring themselves as The Voice of the Heroes.

The title track is a cloudy kickstarter to the album & even though I appreciate the message “2040” being about balling forever, the instrumental is just middle of the road. Travis Scott tags along for the synth-heavy “Hats Off” as the trio shout out those who be keeping it real whereas the Wheezy-produced “Who I Want” brings in some rich piano melodies as they talk about running trains on bitches.

Meanwhile on “Still Hood”, we have Baby & Durk reminding listeners of where they came from backed by a mellow beat from London on da Track before incorporating strings on the loyalty themed “Man of My Word”. We have Nick Papz working in some flutes for the duo as they link up with Meek Mill for the braggaodious “Still Runnin’”, but then “Medical” is easily the saddest joint on the whole thing as they’re crying for help from drug addiction.

“How I Feel” doesn’t have much going on instrumentally despite the lyrics saying you’re not alone on feeling a certain way in certain situations while “Lying” angrily calls out wankstas on their bluff. The rapid keyboards on “Okay” are really cool as both parties talk about being stuck in their ways whereas the horn-inflicted “That’s Facts” finds them speaking their truths. The song “Please” is a more romantic cut down to the airy production from Turbo, but then Durk & Baby bring in Young Thug for the celebratory wealth anthem “Up the Side”.

They later acknowledge the fact that people look up to them on “If You Want To” & even though the guitars come in on occasion, they’re a really awesome touch. The song “Rich Off Pain” is a summery cut saying they became successful due to expressing their struggles while the penultimate track “Make It Out” expresses their desire to “rid this curse” over a dejected Murda Beatz instrumental. To round it out, “Bruised Up” is an emotional finisher pondering what they’d do if they got locked up.

A lot of mainstream collab albums this day in age tend to be hit or miss, but I think it’s safe to say The Voice of the Heroes is leagues better than Drip Harder was. Not just because the chemistry has improved, but the production choices are more refined too.

Score: 3.5/5

Lil Yachty – “Michigan Boy Boat” review

This is the 5th mixtape from Mableton rapper & songwriter Lil Yachty. Skyrocketing to fame in 2016 by bringing a unique sound & personality to the trap subgenre on his debut mixtape Lil Boat, his subsequent pretty much took a nosedive from there. Why? Because he made a song on that breakout tape about never switching up & that’s EXACTLY what he did. But to pay homage to this reviewer’s home state, Yachty has amassed together some of the hottest rappers Detroit has to offer currently for Michigan Boy Boat.

“Final Form” is a ruthless opener with a hyphy instrumental from Helluva, but then Tee Grizzley tags along for the airy “Dynamic Duo” to talk about how his chemistry with Yachty is unmatched. The harp on “Concrete Goonies” shortly after is pretty cool except the fact that it’s a tad bit offputting hearing him start it off by saying he wants to fuck Kali Uchis. Meanwhile, we have Veeze & Baby Smoove jumping on a piano instrumental to brush off those who wanna fight for a print on “Don’t Even Bother” whereas the song “G.I. Joe” with Louie Ray finds the 2 talking about being young cats who got it over a colorful beat from Buddah Bless.

“Never Did Coke” is one of my favorites on the project with it’s bongo & string-laced instrumental as well as Yachty’s chemistry with Swae Lee, but that same back-&-forth magic on the RMC Mike-featured “Ghetto Boy Shit” falls flat for me even though I like the grubby instrumental. Icewear Vezzo & Rio da Yung OG help him go into gangsta rap territory for “Plastic” while the track “Fight Night Round 3” with Babyface Ray & Veeze does it’s title justice by providing a lethal moshpit joint.

Sada Baby’s feature on the braggadocious “SB 2021” is cool, but his performances on the 30 Roc-produced “SB5” are much better if you ask me. Rio comes back into the fold for the glassily-produced “Stunt Double”, except his feature on here doesn’t stick the landing like it did on “Plastic”. The penultimate track “Hybrid” has these inauspicious keyboard melodies Yachty & Babytron both give flashy performances before bringing in some bells for the “This That One” cypher to finish things off.

Coming from someone who’s lived in The Mitten his entire life, I’m a bit torn coming away from this. Even though Yachty doesn’t do the modern Detroit style all that much justice, I still admire the fact he took some of the hottest rappers the city currently has to offer & brought them all together.

Score: 2.5/5

Lil Baby – “My Turn” review

Lil Baby is a rapper from Atlanta, Georgia that rose to stardom in 2018 with his debut album Harder Than Ever. This was followed up with a collab project with Gunna entitled Drip Harder & his 4th solo mixtape Street Gossip, both of which didn’t match the quality of Harder Than Ever in my opinion. But after spending the last year doing features, he’s back with his sophomore album.

The opener “Get Ugly” talks about how life can be rough over a trap beat with some synths while the next song “Heatin’ Up” seems like a boring Drip Harder leftover. The song “How” takes aim it people ridin’ his wave over a bassy Murda Beatz instrumental while the track “Grace” with 42 Dugg sees the 2 flexing over an ominous instrumental. The song “Woah” continues to show off over a dull instrumental while the track “Live Off My Closet” with Future sees the 2 talking about their fancy possessions over a beat with some haunting keyboards.

The song “Same Thing” describes a day in the life of Lil Baby over a Tay Keith beat with an awesome acoustic sample while the track “Emotionally Scarred” talks about an ex over a bland beat. The song “Commercial” with Lil Uzi Vert sees the 2 talking about not looking back over a skeletal beat while the track “Forever” finds Baby getting with Lil Wayne to remind their listeners to be themselves over a demented beat. The song “Can’t Explain” talks about acting the same despite his new lifestyle over a trap beat with a quiet piano lead while the track “No Sucker” with Moneybagg Yo is pretty much both of them bragging over an airy beat.

The song “Sum 2 Prove” lyrically needs no further explanation backed with some strings & hi-hats while the track “We Should” with Young Thug finds both of them boasting about going from broke to rich & I love the ghostly melody in the beat. The song “Catch the Sun” gets more personal over a [Hit-Boy] beat with a mellow guitar lead while the track “Consistent” talks about his grind over a woozy beat.

The song “Gang Signs” is essentially about reppin’ your set over a surprising yet vicious DJ Paul instrumental with a vintage Three 6 Mafia sample while the track “Hurtin’” vents about his pain over a spacious beat. The song “Forget That” with Rylo Rodriguez is them both of them trippin’ on wax over a somber beat & then the closer “Solid” continues to spit from the heart over an uneventful instrumental.

Wasn’t expecting a whole lot & walking away from it, I didn’t get much. There are a small handful of catchy bangers on here, but I find both the production & rapping to be subpar for a good portion cod it. Just another mediocre trap album.

Score: 2/5

ИF – “The Search” review

ИF is a 28 year old rapper from Gladwin, Michigan who started out in 2010 with his debut mixtape Moments. 4 years later, he signed to Capitol Records & made his full-length debut the following year with Mansion. This was followed up in 2016 with Therapy Session, but it wouldn’t be until 2017 where ИF would finally achieve mainstream success with Perception. He’s been laying low since then but now, he’s returning with his 4th full-length album.

It all kicks off with the title track, where ИF rambles about his newfound fame over an apocalyptic trap beat. The next song “Leave Me Alone” talks about his mental heath over an orchestral instrumental while the track “Change” simplistically talks about just that over a minimalist trap beat. The track “My Stress” pretty much sees him whining over a moody trap beat while the song “Nate” looks back on his younger self over a bland beat.

The next track is a pointlessly extended version of the closer while the song “Returns” hilariously tries to get confrontational over a dark beat. The track “When I Grow Up” talks about hip hop being his #1 passion over some plinky keys & strings while “Only” is a sappy love tune heavy revolving around the Sasha Sloan song with the same name.

The track “Let Me Go” moans about someone who won’t accept him over a nocturnal beat & after the interlude, the track “Hate Myself” talks about depression over some militant drums with a piano in the background. The song “I Miss the Days” reflects on his childhood over some keyboards while the track “No Excuses” is another attempt at being edgy with a generic trap beat.

The song “Like This” talks about going through the motions over an atmospheric beat while the track “Options” talks about how he has to make it over an eerily dime a dozen trap beat. The song “WHY?” is pretty much the same as the opener while the track “Thinking” gets reflective over a cavernous trap beat.

The song “Trauma” cries about someone who won’t love him back over a bare piano instrumental & then the torture finally ends with “Time”, which pays tribute to ИF’s wife over a nondescript beat.

There’s not much else for me to say beyond that, this was truly a painful listening experience. It sounds a bit more passionate than his previous work but the lyrics are cornier than ever, the production is uneventful, it’s 1-dimensional & it REALLY did not need to be 80 minutes long.

Score: 1.5/5

Offset – “FATHER OF 4” review

7396316.jpegOffset is a 27 year old rapper who came up at the beginning of the decade as 1/3 of the Migos. He released a fantastic collab album with 21 Savage & Metro Boomin’ on Halloween 2017 called Without Warning but now just a few months after his cousins Quavo & Takeoff made their solo debuts with QUAVO HUNCHO & The Last Rocket respectively, Offset is the final Migo at bat.

The album kicks off with the title track, which is a heartwarming dedication to his children over a somber beat from Metro. The next track “How Did I Get Here?” with J. Cole sees the 2 talking about fame over an atmospheric beat while the song “Lick” talks about his rags to riches over a bland woodwind-infused beat with some rubbery bass. The track “Tats on My Face” gets boastful over a nocturnal trap beat from the So Icey Boyz while the song “Made Men” talks about how he’s just that over a grimy trap beat from Southside. The track “Wild Wild West” with Gunna gets back on the boastful tip over an eerie Metro beat while the song “North Star” talks about the stresses of fame over a beautifully stripped back beat.

The track “After Dark” is pays tribute to Paris Brown over a luscious trap beat while the song “Don’t Lose Me” addresses his split-up with Cardi B over a spacious beat. The track “Underrated” talks about how he feels just that over another nocturnal trap beat from the So Icey Boyz while the song “Legacy” with Travis Scott & 21 Savage talks about their success over a dreary beat. The track “Clout” with Cardi B attack people who‘ll do anything to be famous over a keyboard-inflicted trap beat while the song “On Fleek” with Quavo is a sex tune with an moody beat. The track “Quarter Milli” with Gucci Mane sees the 2 bragging about their wealth over a bass-heavy beat while the song “Red Room” talks about how crazy his life has been over a pretty trap beat. The album then finishes with “Came a Long Way”, where Offset pulls a pretty heart wrenching performance over a gloomy trap beat.

We all know the Migos’ material since C U L T U R E II has been very lackluster, but this is easily the best of the 3 solo debuts & it actually gives me hope for C U L T U R E III. The lyrics are a lot more personal surprisingly, it’s more well-produced & it seems like they actually focused more on quality over quantity.

Score: 3.5/5

Takeoff – “The Last Rocket” review

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Takeoff is a 24 year old rapper from Atlanta, Georgia who rose to prominence in 2013 as 1/3 of the Migos with his nephew quavo & his cousin Offset. The first of whom Quavo is arguably the most notable member & he actually happened to drop his solo debut QUAVO HUNCHO just 3 weeks prior. Now if that wasn’t enough for you, Takeoff here is now next at bat.

The album kicks off with “Martian”, where Takeoff talks about his success throughout the years over some prominent hi-hats from DJ Durel. The next track “She Gon’ Wink” with Quavo sees the 2 getting boastful over a spacey trap instrumental while the song “None to Me” introspectively talks about the famous life over a gloomy beat from 808 Mafia members DY, Gezin & TM88. The track “Vacation” pretty much speaks for itself over a trap beat from Murda Beatz & Cubeatz with some faint keyboards while the song “Last Memory” is a painfully bland braggadocious tune. The track “I Remember” vividly recalls drug dealing days over an eerie Murda Beatz instrumental while the song “Lead the Wave” talks about being a leader over a vibrant trap beat from DJ Durel.

The track “Casper” talks about him & his girl cruising down in a wraith over a somber Nonstop da Hitman instrumental while the song “Insomnia” is a boring freestyle over the beat from the latest Juicy J & Travis Scott song “Neighbor”. The track “Infatuation” is an awkwardly buttery love story while the song “Soul Plane” marks a returns to the braggadocious lyrics over a bass-heavy trap beat. The album then ends with “Bruce Wayne”, where Takeoff tells the audience to picture him rolling over an atmospheric beat from Cassius Jay & Wheezy.

This was better than I had anticipated, but it’s still decent. I can appreciate Takeoff for handling a good chunk of it on his own, but it really weighs it down because it tends to get monotonous after a while.

Score: 2.5/5

Quavo – “QUAVO HUNCHO” review

Quavo is a 27 year old rapper, singer, songwriter & producer from Atlanta, Georgia who rose to prominence in 2013 as 1/3 of the Migos with his nephew Takeoff & his cousin Offset. He also formed the duo Huncho Jack in late 2016 with one of the most creative minds in hip hop today: Travis Scott, dropping their debut album Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho at the very end of last year. He then got back with Takeoff & Offset at the beginning of THIS year to drop the Migos’ 3rd full length album C U L T U R E II, which is easily one of the most disappointing hip hop albums of 2018. However, they aren’t stopping there as Quavo is now the very 1st member of the trio to put out a full-length solo effort.

The album kicks off triumphantly with “BIGGEST ALLEY OOP”, where Quavo talks about his place in hip hop over a 30 Roc instrumental with a chilling flute & some female background vocals. The next track “PASS OUT” with 21 Savage sees the 2 getting boastful over a druggy instrumental, but the post-chorus where Quavo repeats his “skrr” ad-lib constantly is very tedious. The song “HUNCHO DREAMS” is a pretty solid response to “Barbie Dreams” off of Nicki Minaj’s latest album Queen backed with an atmospheric Murda Beatz instrumental while the track “FLIP THE SWITCH” with Drake sees the 2 talking about a bad bitch over a vibrant trap beat from Wheezy. The song “GIVE IT TO ‘EM” gets cold blooded over an eerie piano lead while the track “SHINE” is a club anthem with a spacey Tay Keith instrumental.

The song “WORKIN’ ME” talks about his relationship with his girlfriend Saweetie over an airy instrumental from Murda Beatz while the track “HOW ‘BOUT THAT?” talks about how the Migos are running the trap scene over a nondescript instrumental. The song “CHAMPAGNE ROSÉ” with Cardi B is an alcohol anthem over a relaxing woodwind instrumental from Murda Beatz & the Madonna hook was a nice surprise as well. The track “KEEP THAT SHIT” with Takeoff is about how they’re rich & your broke over a murky Dun Deal instrumental while the song “FUCK 12” with Offset disses corrupt cops over a gloomy instrumental.

The track “LOSE IT” with Lil Baby is a mediocre tune about how hot this woman is & the song “RERUN” is an obvious & unfortunately structureless Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho leftover with a beautifully spacious WondaGurl instrumental. The track “GO ALL THE WAY” is very repetitive lyrically,but the electronic instrumental that Pharrell brings to the table kinda reminds me of some of the better cuts that he & his Neptunes cohort Chad Hugo produced together on Common’s Universal Mind Control a decade prior. The song “LAMB TALK” is of course Quavo bragging about his lifestyle over an airy beat while the track “BIG BRO” is a more mature cut as he talks about taking this person under his wing over a cloudy beat. However, that one line at the very beginning about Lil Peep was in horribly bad taste. The song “SWING” is an awkward attempt at going dancehall while the penultimate track “BUBBLE GUM” talks about how this chick has it over a generic instrumental. The album ends with “LOST”, where Quavo & KiD CuDi talk about rising above over a settle beat.

I’ve been waiting on a Quavo solo album & overall, it’s pretty solid. There are a small handful of boring & run of the mill joints but outside of that, the production is more consistent than C U L T U R E II‘s & Quavo himself sounds a lot more focused than he did on that album with his charisma shining brighter even on his own.

Score: 3.5/5

Gunna & Lil Baby – “Drip Harder” review

 

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Gunna is a 25 year old rapper from College Park, Georgia who signed to Young Thug’s 300 Entertainment imprint YSL Records in 2016. He’s released his Drip Season trilogy of mixtapes over the course of those 2 years, with the first 2 from 2016 & 2017 respectively being average & the latest installment Drip Season 3 that came out at the beginning the year easily becoming Gunna’s best work yet.

Lil Baby on the other hand is a 23 year old rapper from Atlanta, Georgia who signed to Quality Control Music, Motown Records & Capitol Records while releasing 3 mediocre mixtapes just last year: Perfect Timing, Harder Than Hard & Too Hard. He even released his surprisingly consistent full-length debut Harder Than Ever just this past May & after a handful of collabs with Gunna over the past year, the 2 have decided to take it to the next level with a full-length collab mixtape.

The tape opens with “Off White VLONE”, where the duo link up with Lil Durk & NAV to deliver a boring sequel to “Chanel (Go Get It)“ off the recent YSL compilation Slime Language. The next track “Business is Business” sees the 2 talking about how they better get paid an eerie trap beat while the song “Belly” talks about how they have women like Taral Hicks’ character in the titular movie over an instrumental kin to Young Thug’s BEAUTIFUL THUGGER GIRLS. The track “Deep End” is a Lil Baby solo cut talking about how he has a gang feeling in him over a nondescript instrumental that doesn’t enhance the vibe at all while the song “World is Yours” is a Gunna solo cut talks about being a rockstar over a slow, laidback trap beat from Wheezy.

The track “Underdog” sees Gunna & Lil Baby reuniting to talk about how they feel like the titular idiom in today’s hip hop landscape over a spacey trap beat while the song “I Am” talks about they’re stuck in their own lanes over some piano keys & skittering snares. The track “Seals Pills” is a moody drug anthem while the song “My Jeans” talks about money over a bland Wheezy beat & I’m actually REALLY disappointed that Thugger only handles the hook on here.

The track “Style Stealer” is another Gunna solo cut albeit being about biters over a trap beat with an alluring woodwind in the background while the song “Close Friends” is a Lil Baby solo cut about how this woman became her girlfriend over a mellow beat. The penultimate track “Drip Too Hard” gets braggadocious over a moody, bass-heavy trap beat & then the closer “Never Recover” with Drake continues the vibe of the previous joint except with a more sinister atmosphere to the Tay Keith production.

There are some highlights on here, but it just comes off as a poor man’s SUPER SLIMEY. The production, the duo’s chemistry, their similar styles, nearly everything just comes off as VERY average at the end of the day.

Score: 3/5