This is the 8th & final full-length outing from Yonkers icon DMX, whom originally started off as a beatboxer for Ready Ron as a teenager in the mid-80s. However it wasn’t until 1998 when X saved Def Jam Recordings from bankruptcy by dropping 2 of the most critically acclaimed hip hop albums of that decade back to back: It’s Dark & Hell’s Hot and Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood. The follow-up …And Then There Was X at the tail-end of the next year was just as great in my opinion but from there, the next 4 albums from Ruff Ryders Entertainment’s flagship artist would range from average at best or hideous at worst. But after completing Exodus 1:7 just before his unfortunate passing 7 weeks back, Swizz Beatz & Def Jam are coming together to release it publicly.
The araabMUZIK co-produced “That’s My Dog” with The LOX kicks the album off as a misty ode to friendship whereas the next track “Bath Salt” with both JAY-Z & Nas is an aggressive, blaring theme for the streets. We get a cool sample of “California My Way” by The Main Ingredient on “Dog’s Out” as Lil Wayne joins X to wreak havoc on the mic whereas the Moneybagg Yo assisted “Money Money Money” is a weak attempt at trying to get a radio hit despite it’s Phantom of the Opera-esque production.
Meanwhile on “Hold Me Down”, we go into a more electro direction as X alludes to spirituality just before doing his own version of an unreleased Swizz/Kanye collab that is “Skyscrapers” co-produced by the underappreciated Jerry “Wonda” Duplessis. After the “Stick Up” skit, the almighty Griselda comes along for “Hood Blues” as the 4 reminisce on their come-up whilst sampling “Shady Blues” by Lee Mason before things take a turn into a more romantic direction as X & Snoop Dogg jump on a “Sexual Healing” sample provided for the mR. pOrTeR co-produced “Take Control”.
Nas is re-enlisted for the meditative yet uplifting “Walking in the Rain” & after the titular skit, the penultimate track “Letter to My Son” finishes off the album by making a guitar-tinged tribute to X’s youngest son Exodus (whom the album was named after). To round it out, the “Prayer” outro is a spoken word piece that asks God to always look after us whether it be good times or bad times.
Anyone who’s been following me long enough probably already knows my stance on posthumous albums, so I’m not gonna get too deep into it. That being said, Exodus 1:7 is absolutely amongst the better ones out there. I understand some heads might be turned off by the large amount of features going into it which I understand because that tends to be the case with a lot of posthumous albums, but you can definitely tell this was completed before X’s passing because every joint sounds fully fleshed out & he actually has chemistry with those who contributed. Rest In Peace to the Dog!
This is the 12th full-length album from Atlanta veteran Jeezy. Dropping 2 mediocre albums at the beginning of the 2000s, it wouldn’t be until 2005 where he completely revolutionized trap by dropping Thug Motivation 101: Let’s Get It. Last we heard from Jeezy was a little over a year ago when he dropped his “retirement” album Thug Motivation 104: The Legend of the Snowman but after becoming the senior advisor for Def Jam Recordings’ chairman & given the times we’re currently in, we are being treated to a sequel to the 2008 classic The Recession.
Things kick off with “Oh Lord”, where Jeezy opens up on how nobody know his troubles but God over angelic instrumental. The next song “Here We Go” talks about keeping faith when times get hard over a gladiator-sounding beat from Don Cannon while the track “Modern Day” talks about how being black is a crime these days over an maniacal instrumental. The song “Back” with Yo Gotti sees the 2 talking about carrying their hoods over a vibrant beat while the track “Da Ghetto” with E-40 finds the 2 talking about getting their blessings in the streets over a hair-raising instrumental.
The song “Niggaz” talks about lame ass people over a wobbly beat from Charles Hamilton of all people while the track “Death of Me” talks about needing this woman over an easing instrumental. The song “Stimulus Check” gets on the woke side of things over a soulful boom bap beat while the track “My Reputation” with Lil Duval sees the 2 getting back on the romance tip over a Silkk the Shocker sample.
“The Glory” talks about g-stepping over a Marvin Gaye sample while the song “Live & Die” talks about life in Atlanta over a serene instrumental. The track “Praying Right” get spiritual over some keys & synths while the song “Therapy for My Soul” is a diss towards 50 Cent & Freddie Gibbs backed by a wavy J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League instrumental. The penultimate track “Almighty Black Dollar” with Rick Ross finds the 2 calling out big name designer brands over a horn-inflicted beat & then “The Kingdom” talks about giving them his heart over a fancy boom bap instrumental.
We all know everybody says they’re gonna retire, but I can’t even mad at this album because I think it’s Jeezy’s best album since Seen It All: The Autobiography. The production has stepped up tremendously in comparison to his last few studio efforts & his maturity really shines through.
This is the 5th full-length album from Atlanta veteran 2 Chainz. Coming up as 1/2 of the duo Playaz Circle, they eventually signed to Disturbing tha Peace Records/Def Jam Recordings in the 2000s & only released 2 albums before venturing off into solo careers. His last 2 outings Pretty Girls 👍 TRΛP MUSIC & Rap or Go to the League have truly become staples in Tity Boi’s career as both of them excellently showcasing his maturity. But after being hyped all year, here we are with the man’s 5th full-length album.
The album starts with “Lambo Wrist”, where 2 Chainz boasts over a wavy instrumental from STREETRUNNER & LilJu. The next song “Grey Area” talks about being old enough to be & do a number of things over a jazzy beat while the track “Save Me” with YoungBoy Never Broke Again sees the 2 talking about being their own worst enemies over a soulful instrumental from Mike WiLL Made-It. The song “Money Maker” finds ColleGrove reuniting to make a decent strip club banger backed by an awesome sample of “Piece of My Love” by Guy while the track “Can’t Go for That” ponders where to draw the line with this woman over an instrumental sampling The Bird & the Bee.
The song “Feel a Way” with Kanye West finds the 2 talking about how God don’t make no mistakes over a nightly beat from Boi-1da & Mike Dean while the track “Quarantine Thick” with Mulatto sees the 2 paying tribute to all the sexy ladies in the world over an instrumental with a dope piano-loop. The song “Ziploc” with Kevin Gates finds the 2 talking about drug dealing over a monstrous beat while the track “Free Lighter” with Chief Keef & Lil Uzi Vert sees the trio talking about getting hooked up with their dope over a rowdy instrumental from Keef himself.
The song “Toni” talks about how ill this bitch by the same name is over a TM88 beat with some prominent bells while the track “Southside Hov” if you couldn’t tell by the title compares himself to JAY-Z over a climatic instrumental. The song “Vampire” talks about keeping a gun by his car seat over a lavish beat from Cool & Dre while the track “Y.R.B. (Young, Rich & Black)” with Rick Ross finds the 2 talking about what it means to be such over an orchestral instrumental. The penultimate song “Wait for You to Die” talks about how no one cares about you until you’re gone over a David Banner beat with an Alan Lomax sample & then the closer “55 Times” talks about how he’s doing something right over a chilled out instrumental from Dem Jointz.
A lot of cats put out their best work when they’re younger, but 2 Chainz is one of the few instances of an artist getting better as they get older & it’s undeniable. There are a few features in the tracklisting that I could’ve done without, but the personal lyrics are compelling & the production choices are very consistent as well.
Public Enemy is an iconic political hip hop outfit from Long Island, New York lead by Chuck D. Their first 5 albums are hip hop essentials as what Chuck & company were saying on all of them are still very much relevant today. They ended up leaving Def Jam Recordings in ‘98 after releasing the He Got Game soundtrack, but have put out a total of 10 albums independently. But with everything that’s happened in 2020, the group has seen fit to return to Def Jam for their 16th full-length album.
After the George Clinton intro, the first song “Grid” with Cypress Hill finds the 2 groups talking about the current digital age over a funky instrumental from my homie C-Doc while the track “State of the Union (STFU)” takes a jab at Donald Trump over a hypnotic boom bap beat from DJ Premier. After the “Merica Mirror” interlude, the song “Public Enemy Number Won” with the Beastie Boys & Run-D.M.C. is a modern version of “Public Enemy #1” off their 1987 debut Yo! Bum Rush the Show down to the Fred Wesley & The J.B.’s sample while the track “Toxic” continues to take aim at Trump over an doomsday-sounding beat.
The song “Yesterday Man” with Daddy-O ponders what happened to hip hop over a rap-rock instrumental & after the “Crossroads Burning” interlude, the following track is a star-studded sequel to one of PE’s most iconic joints: “Fight the Power”. The song “Beat ‘Em All” talks about being ready to fight over a dusty instrumental while the track “Smash the Crowd” with Ice-T & PMD discusses how great they are over a dynamic beat.
The track “If You Can’t Beat ‘Em Join ‘Em” is a noisy & repetitive interlude while the song “Go at Me” with Jahi talks about revolution over a beat with some more rock influences to it. The track “Rest In Beats” with The Impossebulls pays tribute to all the hip hop legends we’ve lost over a forlorn beat co-produced by Easy Mo Bee. Then before finishing with the “I’m Black” outro, the closer R.I.P. Blackat” is a Flavor Flav solo cut paying tribute to Clyde Bazile Jr. with a melancholic instrumental.
If anyone asks me, this is Public Enemy’s best effort in a while. The lyrical content is as stronger & thought-provoking than ever before, but what makes this stand out more than a handful of their output in the past 21 years is that it’s a lot more well-produced. However, I don’t get why 6 songs on here from the group’s previous album Nothing’s Quick in the Desert reappear on here. Nonetheless, definitely worth checking out for the current times.
Big Sean is a 32 year old rapper, singer & songwriter from Detroit, Michigan coming up as a protege of Chicago icon Kanye West & signing to his Def Jam Recordings imprint GOOD Music. He generated some buzz in the late 2000s by dropping the Finally Famous mixtape trilogy, but it wouldn’t be until 2011 when his profile significantly increased when Sean dropped a 4th installment as his full-length debut. This was followed up the next year with the highly acclaimed Detroit mixtape & then a sophomore album the year after that entitled Hall of Fame. However, his next 2 full-lengths Dark Sky Paradise & I Decided. were both mediocre in comparison to all those past efforts. Now the last time Big Sean dropped a project was in late 2017 with Double or Nothing which had INCREDIBLE production from Metro Boomin’ top to bottom, but Sean himself was SEVERELY lacking. But after a couple years of speculation, he’s returning with a sequel to Detroit as his 6th full-length album.
The opener “Why Would I Stop?” speaks on where he is now come over an abrasive instrumental from Hit-Boy, who had a huge hand in overseeing the whole album. The next song “Lucky Me” opens up on things he’s never talked about over a relaxing beat before a dope switch-up during the 2nd half while the track “Deep Reverence” with Nipsey Hu$$le sees the 2 talking about being legends in the streets over a spacious beat. The song “Wolves” with Post Malone finds the 2 looking back on how they grew up over a cavernous instrumental while the track “Body Language” is a TWENTY88 reunion about lust over a moody KeY Wane beat.
After the Dave Chappelle story, the track “Harder Than My Demons” talks about how Sean thanks God for everything over a Mike WiLL Made-It & DJ Khalil instrumental sampling the classic [Michael Jackson] joint “Human Nature” while the song “Everything That’s Missing” talks about heartbreak over a bare piano instrumental. The track “Z.T.F.O. (Zen The Fuck Out)” talks about canceling bad energy over an ghostly Cool & Dre instrumental with co-production from No I.D. while the song “Guard Your Heart” with Wale & Anderson .Paak finds the 3 getting on the conscious side of things over a luxurious boom bap beat.
The track “Respect It” with Young Thug sees the 2 talking about how no one will do them dirty over a vibrant instrumental while the song “Lithuania” with Travis Scott finds 2 boasting over a psychedelic trap beat. The track “Full Circle” with KeY Wane sees the 2 about how everything in their lives/careers have come together over an uplifting instrumental while the song “Time In” by TWENTY88 gets back on the romantic tip over a wavy beat & with what is EASILY the worst hook on the entire album. After the Erykah Badu story, the track “FEED” talks about time moving fast over a murky beat from Boi-1da while “The Baddest” tells his significant other she’s just that over a heavy instrumental with some menacing horns.
The track “Don Life” with Lil Wayne finds the 2 talking about being top dogs over a futuristic instrumental whereas the Friday Night Cypher” is an epic posse cut with constant, perfectly transitioned beat changes featuring a handful of Detroit spitters ranging from Sada Baby & Tee Grizzley to Boldy James & even Bad Meets Ǝvil. Then after the Stevie Wonder story, the closer “Still I Rise” gets on the motivational side of things over a victorious instrumental.
The singles leading up had me excited & as for the final product, this album definitely Big Sean’s best work in a while. Not only has the production improved compared to Dark Sky Paradise & I Decided., but you can definitely hear how much he’s matured in the past 13 years & it does a good job of recapturing the essence of that original Detroit tape.
Logic is a 30 year old rapper, singer, songwriter, producer & author from Rockville, Maryland who showed quite a bit of potential in the early 2010s with his Young Sinatra mixtape series. His first 2 full-lengths Under Pressure & The Incredible True Story were both solid as well but beginning with the Bobby Tarantino tape in 2016, his discography has been VERY rocky. Mostly because his lyrical topics got trite & he drowned deeper in his influences to the point where it’s distracting. Case in point: His 3rd album ΞVERYBODY in 2017 was pretty much a Dollar Store version of Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly & then Bobby Tarantino II almost a year after sounded like a poor man’s Travis Scott album. However, I thought Young Sinatra IV was decent at best & MAYBE he would bounce back going forward. But somehow someway, Logic was able to drop 2 of the worst albums of last year in the span of 6 weeks with Supermarket & Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. Of course the backlash both those records justifiably received resulted in him going AWOL & since then, he’s started his own family with a second-wife & conceiving a child together. To focus on that, he’s giving us a sequel to Under Pressure as a parting gift from the music industry.
The album kicks off with the title track, where Logic gets reflective over some old school production. The next song “Hit My Line” talks about hoping God fixes all the bad stuff in the world today over a boom bap beat from longtime collaborator 6ix with some joyous keyboard melodies while the track “GP4” is a lame bastardization of OutKast’s “Elevators (Me & You)”. The song “Celebration” is an ode to his time in the music industry over a soulful No I.D. instrumental & while I like the beat switch on “Aquarius III”, the lyrics are an odd mash-up of “OCD” & “I’m Gone”.
The song “Soul Food II” is a dope revamp of the original “Soul Food” down to the beat while the track “Perfect” talks his shit over a vibrant instrumental. The song “man i is” talks about being happy with the person he’s become over a sample of Erykah Badu’s “Didn’t Cha Know?”. The song “DadBod” of course speaks on his newfound fatherhood over a delicate instrumental while the track “5 Hooks” charismatically boasts over a dynamic instrumental from Toro y Moi.
The song “Dark Place” talks about his anxiety & depression over a moody beat while the track “A2Z” is a modern take on Blackalicious’ “Alphabet Aerobics” backed by a punchy beat with some haunting keyboards. The song “Heard ‘Em Say” is a motivational anthem that actually goes over & before the spoken word outro “Obediently Yours”, the track “Amen” talks about how grateful he is for everything over a gospel-like boom bap beat.
In the past, a lot of rappers have said they’re gonna retire from making music & almost none of them actually do. But if this truly is the last Logic album, then I’m not mad at all. Easily his best since The Incredible True Story in my opinion. It’s well produced & Logic actually sounds focused this time around. Thank you, Bobby!
Sunday Service is a gospel outfit lead by Chicago‘s very own Kanye West. The group was put together earlier this year when the latter became a born-again Christian & he has been going all around the world with them for his weekend live performances of the same name. Kanye just released his gospel debut Jesus is King exactly 2 months ago to polarizing reception & even I myself felt like it was his 2nd weakest album thus far, right behind Yeezus. Reason being because the music on that album was fine, but the mixing was just so horrendous. And just when we thought he wouldn’t drop Jesus is Born over here when it was announced the day before Jesus is King came out, Ye actually stood by his word this time around.
The album starts off with “Count Your Blessings”, where a choir sings about being more positive in your life. The song right after “Excellent” is about how great God is over an organ while the track “Revelations 19:1” is a musical version of the titular Bible passage over some settle piano passages. The song “Rain” completely ruins the SWV joint of the same name & while the track “Balm in Gilead” has a calming instrumental, it sounds like Kanye & company wrote it in less than a minute.
The next 3 songs are all redundant Christianized versions of “Father Stretch My Hands”, “Fade” & “Ultralight Beam” off of Kanye’s 2016 album The Life of Pablo whereas the track “Lift Up Your Voices” talks about giving praises over some low-pitched keyboards as well as handclaps. The song “More Than Anything” speaks on how the only person they love most in life is God & I actually love how the instrumental gets more layered as it progresses.
The track “Weak” talks about how strong their love for God is over some horns later transitioning into an smooth instrumental while the song “That’s How the Good Lord Works” touches down on not questioning God over a beautiful piano instrumental. The track “Sunshine” is all about how Jesus makes their day over some plinky piano chords & intense live drumming & despite the song “Back to Life” having an upbeat instrumental & that I actually like, there’s not much for me to write home about lyrically.
The track “Souls Anchored” talks about being set free over a skeletal instrumental while the song “Sweet Grace” talks about how great His glory is over a more lush instrumental. The track “Paradise” is a ballad about how accepting God will make you at peace while the song “Satan, We’re Gonna Tear Your Kingdom Down” is a decent anti-Hell anthem. The album finally ends with “Total Praise”, where the choir predominantly sings the word “Amen” for 3 & a half minutes.
I was really hoping that Kanye would refine what he did on Jesus is King for this new album, but boy I was wrong. In fact, I’d argue that this actually worse than his last album was. I have nothing against gospel music whatsoever & I’m happy that Ye is at peace with himself, but it just seems rushed & that everyone involved threw in as many tracks as they could.
Dave East is a 31 year old rapper from Harlem, New York who first caught my attention as a part of the 2016 XXL Freshman Class. This earned him a contract with Mass Appeal Records/Def Jam Recordings & now after 3 years of mixtapes leading up, Dave is finally fulfilling fans’ hopes for his full-length debut.
The opener “They Wanna Kill You” talks about being glad that he never got shelved over a bland Swizz Beatz instrumental then the next song “Penthouse” talks about making it over an uneventful beat. The track “Godfather IV” with Nas sees the 2 trading verses over a classy DJ Green Lantern instrumental while the song “Need a Sign” talks about people acting cool with him now that Dave’s famous over a somber instrumental from araabMUZIK.
The track “On My Way 2 School” reflects on his time in school over a moody instrumental while the song “17” looks back at his adolescence over a woozy trap beat from Timbaland. The track “Mama I Made It” needs no further explanation over an orchestral instrumental while the song “OG” with Rick Ross gets sensual over a luxurious instrumental.
The track “What’s Goin’ On?” with Fabolous sees the 2 spitting charismatic bars over a synth-funk instrumental while the song “Baby” talks about his ride or die woman over a soul sample-inflicted trap beat. The track “Alone” is a trite reiteration of JoDeCi’s “Feenin’” while the song “Everyday” with Gunna sees the 2 talking about their new lifestyles over a dime a dozen trap beat.
The track “Devil Eyes” with E-40 & Mozzy sees the 3 talks about the life in the streets over a grim instrumental while the song “Night Shift” with Lil Baby sees the 2 flexing over a vibrant Murda Beatz instrumental. The track “Wanna Be a G” with Max B finds the 2 talking about a kid who wants to gangbang over slow yet rhythmic instrumental while the song “Me & Mines” talks a homie of his over a jazzy beat.
The track “Daddy Knows” is a touching tribute to his daughter Kairi with a neo-soul flavored instrumental while the song “What You Mad At?” finds Dave angrily going at his haters over a churchy sample that later switches up into a tense boom bap beat. The penultimate track “On Sight” is a decent club banger & then the closer “The Marathon Continues” of course pays tribute to Nipsey Hu$$le over a boom bap beat with some keys.
As much as I love Dave, this was just decent. He’s definitely still a great lyricist, but it’s longer than it needed to be & a bit too focus-grouped for me. Nonetheless, he’s earned the right to make it as far as he has & I hope the album’s gonna do well on the charts.
Kanye West is a Chicago icon that really needs no introduction at this point. From his polarizing public image to his damn near flawless discography, the man has really made a continuous & undeniable impact on hip hop within the past 15 years. However throughout 2019, Kanye has been going around the world with his newly formed gospel-rap outfit Sunday Service performing gospel songs & covers of his discography for an hour. But after teasing fans with listening parties for his 9th full-length album for the past month, he’s actually dropping it worldwide.
The album begins with “Every Hour”, where the Sunday Service choir sing about how we always need God over a bare piano instrumental. The next song the track “Selah” talks about looking back & reflecting upon over an organ while the track Follow God” finds Ye encouraging the listener to find a higher power over a College Dropout-esque instrumental. The song “Closed on Sunday” makes painfully corny references to Chick-fil-A over a Timbaland instrumental starting off with an acoustic guitar & later switching up into something more minimalist & ominous while the track “On God” uses the titular expression to address his current well-being along with his past comments on the 13th amendment over a Graduation-inspired instrumental from Pi’erre Bourne.
The song “Everything We Need” with Ty$ & Ant Clemons sees the 3 talking about switching their attitudes over an trap beat co-produced by Ronny J & Mike Dean with an organ in the background while the track “Water” with Ant finds the 2 talking about purity over a somewhat funky instrumental co-produced by Timbaland. The song “God Is” sings about how the Lord is victorious & gives him power over a soulful instrumental while the track “Hands On” talks about religion being more prominent in Ye’s life over an intoxicating instrumental. The song “Use This Gospel” is pretty much a full blown Clipse reunion as Kanye only does the hook, but I’ll take it. Pusha T & No Malice both talk about seeking forgiveness like they never left over some plinky keys, but the sax solo from Kenny G was unexpectedly good. The album then finishes off with “Jesus is Lord”, where Kanye of course sings about his newfound love for Christ himself over some horns.
While I myself am not the biggest fan of gospel music, this is a decent experience. Kanye truly sounds like he’s legitimately happy & finally at peace with himself in comparison to his last 3 albums, but the mixing is absolutely terrible. Hopefully down the road, he’ll patch it up like he did with The Life of Pablo back in 2016.
Jeezy is a legendary 41 year old rapper from Atlanta, Georgia known for being one of the Big 3 pioneers of trap music alongside T.I. & Gucci Mane. He dropped 2 mediocre albums at the beginning of the 2000s, but it wouldn’t be until 2005 that he made his 1st big break with Thug Motivation 101: Let’s Get It. An album that completely revolutionized trap, spawned 2 sequels that’re both solid in their own rights & just celebrated it’s 14 year anniversary last month. In light of the latter, Jeezy has saw fit to deliver his 11th & allegedly final full-length album.
It all begins with “the enTRAPreneur”, where Jeezy proclaims himself as just that over an orchestral trap beat from MP808. The next song “Big Shit” charismatically brags over a nocturnal trap beat while the track “Look Like” gets confrontational over a rowdy beat. The song “Better Tell ‘Em” flaunts over a generic beat while the track “Mr. Pyrex” speaks for itself over a nondescript beat.
The song “Already Rich” speaks for itself over an infectious J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League instrumental while the track “1 Time” gets celebratory over an unexpected JAY-Z sample. The song “Oh Yea” with Ball Greezy is completely redundant despite the rhythmic beat while the track “White Keys” talks about the drug game over a piano-inflicted trap beat.
The song “MLK BVLD” with Meek Mill sees the 2 boasting over a haunting Lex Luger beat while the track “‘06” with Rick Ross sees the 2 over a luxurious instrumental. The song “Don’t Make Me” talks about designer material over a somewhat jazzy beat while the track “Fake Love” talks about just that over a smooth beat.
The song “All Night” with Gunna sees the 2 flexing over a wavy beat while the track “4Play” is of course a trite sex anthem. The song “Play It Safe” is a sensual follow-up to the previous cut that actually works a lot better while the penultimate track “Don’t Forget” gets reflective over a somber beat. The album then finishes with “The Real MVP”, where Jeezy pays homage to his mother over a beautiful instrumental.
If this truly is the last time we’ll ever hear Jeezy in a full-length capacity, he went out decently. He sounds focused, but the production is hit or miss with me.