Future – “I Never Liked You” review

Future is a 38 year old rapper, singer & songwriter from Atlanta, Georgia who came up as a member of the Dungeon Family thanks to his cousin Rico Wade of Organized Noize. He officially made his debut in 2012 with Pluto & would later follow it up with a hot streak of modern day trap essentials like Honest, Monster, Beast Mode & my personal favorite of his: D.S. 2 (Dirty Sprite 2). However since 2017, Future has mostly been painting himself in a corner & prioritizing quantity over quality. I mean sure HNDRXX took a more sensual approach & SUPER SLIMEY showed a pretty great chemistry with fellow trap trailblazer Young Thug, but Beast Mode 2 was a step down from the predecessor & he got with the late Juice WRLD that same fall to put out a collab tape that literally should’ve never happened: WRLD on Drugs. Finally at the very beginning of that next year, The WIZRD was just passable even though it showed NO artistic evolution whatsoever & Save Me was a decent attempt at being more vulnerable yet versatile. However, his last album High Off Life admirably found him staying true to himself & trying new things. But after spending 2021 doing features, he’s returning in the form of his 9th full-length album.

“7:12pm” opens up the album with some dramatic trap production from Wheezy talking about his ice whereas “I’m Dat N****a” works in some suspenseful piano chords thanks to Southside & DY talking about being the shit even though the “Fucked in her ass, made her peepee” line is hilariously bad. Kanye West tags along for “Keep It Burnin’” encouraging to keep the city on fire over an atmospheric instrumental, but then Gunna & Young Thug tag along for “For a Nut” to talk about bossing bitches up for such over some hi-hats & heavy bass.

Meanwhile on “Puffin’ on Zootiez”, we have Future coming through with a cloudy smoker’s ode produced by TM88 leading into the vibrant “Gold Stacks” talking about being a rich junkie. Drake comes into the picture for the guitar-driven “Wait for U” getting romantic just before “Love You Better” melodically confronts an ex over a spacious beat.

“Massaging Me” has a more energetic vibe to it talking about getting these millions persistent while “Chickens” with EST G. goes into more nocturnal territory saying that’s all they want. “We Jus Wanna Get High” shoots for a more eerie sound talking about being in love with the money while “Voodoo” incorporates some pitched-up vocals & pianos as well as a stellar hook from Kodak Black to tackle the idea of dancing with the devil.

Following that, “Holy Ghost” confesses that nobody speaks the language he does over a bone-chilling instrumental down to the choir vocals while the song “The Way Things Going” is a piano ballad talking about how only family matters. Drake returns for the penultimate track “I’m on One” to brag that they’re built different over a cinematic beat even though Drizzy decided to pretend to be Blueface at the end of the hook for whatever reason. “Back to the Basics” finishes off the album by saying he doesn’t want to go back to such over a violin.

It’s been almost 2 years since the trap pioneer has made an artistic statement on his own, but I think this is a solid follow-up to High Off Life. Although I personally think the production on the latter album was better, I do admire that Future wanted to put himself out there more so he can learn how to become a better person & succeeded in doing so.

Score: 3.5/5

Rick Ross – “Richer Than I Ever Been” review

This is the 11th full-length album from Floridian rapper, entrepreneur & record executive Rick Ross. Making his debut on wax in 2000 on Erick Sermon’s 3rd album Erick Onasis he would eventually make his full-length debut 6 years later with Port of Miami & was followed up by Trilla. Both of which were just ok, but it wouldn’t be until 2009 that Rozay would really solidify himself as a legend in the game as Deeper Than Rap, Teflon Don, God Forgives, I Don’t & Mastermind are all rightfully regarded as his best bodies of work. Rather You Than Me & Port of Miami 2 were both impressive as well, so to see him come back in the form of Richer Than I Ever Been had me excited given the mediocrity of both Expensive Pain & Folarin II earlier this fall.

The-Dream tags along for the opener “Little Havana” advising listeners that you gotta learn to use your mind to help keep you out of certain situations on top of a Boi-1da instrumental whereas the Timbaland-produced “The Pulitzer”, which has a more ominous sound & boastful lyrics. Benny the Butcher comes into the fold for the lavish “Rapper Estates” talking about living big time, but then “Marathon” weaves in a glistening STREETRUNNER beat reminding that he’s more than rich.

Meanwhile on “Warm Words in a Cold World”, we have Future & Wale accompanying Rozay for an infectiously fun ballad about icing out their shawties leading into the DreamDoll-assisted “Wiggle” which is basically a failed attempt at strip club banger despite the Don Cannon instrumental.

“Can’t Be Broke” has an admirable concept with Johnny Shipes’ production applying to Thang, but Yungeen Ace & Major 9’s performances are both wack as fuck. “Made It Out Alive” has one of the weaker beats on the album even though Rozay kills it lyrically detailing him surviving the hood prior to araabMUZIK & Infamous bringing in the horns for “Outlawz” with 21 Savage declaring themselves as such forever.

The song “Imperial High” has a grim DJ Toomp instrumental comparing himself to royalty while the Black Metaphor-produced title track has a more piano heavy sound talking about being at his wealthiest. To finish the album off, “Hella Smoke” with Wiz Khalifa for the glossy weed smoking theme.

Ross has always stayed consistent with his music, but I feel like Richer Than I Ever Been is one of his best albums thus far. The production is top notch as to be expected & lyrically, it’s nice to hear him take listeners through where he’s at currently.

Score: 3.5/5

DJ Khaled – “Khaled Khaled” review

DJ Khaled is a 45 year old DJ, record executive, producer & media personality from New Orleans, Louisiana whom a lot of people may not know came up as a tour DJ for the Terror Squad. But for the last 15 years, Khaled has curated a total of 11 albums under his own name. However when his last effort Father of Asahd charted at #2 right behind IGOR on the Billboard 200, dude completely ruined his Mr. Nice Guy image by dissing Tyler, The Creator out of bitterness. Almost 2 years later, Khaled is returning with his 12th full-length project.

Jeremih & Lil Wayne kick the album off on “Thankful”, where the 2 speak on gratefulness over a sample of Bobby Bland’s iconic “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City”. The song “Every Chance I Get” has a Three 6-inspired sound from Tay Keith as Lil Baby & Lil Durk go back & forth about turning up on haters while the Cardi B solo cut “Big Paper” is a grimy braggadocious anthem down to the beat too. The track “We Going Crazy” not only has a weird synth-instrumental, but the chemistry between H.E.R. & the Migos are totally off.

Lil Baby returns albeit with Megan Thee Stallion & DaBaby for the ironically enjoyable rap rock banger “I Did It” whereas Justin Bieber & 21 Savage deliver a boring look at the saying “Time is money” on the plainly-produced “Let It Go”. The song “Body in Motion” by Bryson Tiller, Lil Baby & Roddy Ricch is a gross attempt at going romantic while the first Drake solo cut “Popstar” sounds completely uninspired.

Meanwhile, we have A Boogie wit da Hoodie joining forces with Big Sean & Rick Ross to ruin Biggie’s “Long Kiss Goodnight” on the conquering “This is My Year” whereas the highly anticipated “Sorry Not Sorry” is easily my favorite off the entire album as JAY-Z & Nas talk about living the dream over a sample of Bobby Glenn’s “Sound’s Like a Love Song” provided by STREETRUNNER. “Just Be” by Justin Timberlake unapologetically ruins the Ghostface Killah joint “All That I Got Is You” right before “I Can Have It All” by H.E.R. & Meek Mill butchers one of my favorite Beanie Sigel songs: “Feel It in the Air”.

The other Drake solo cut “Greece” is even worse than “Popstar” only because he is completely trying to rip off The Weeknd’s vocal inflections from start to finish & if you’re familiar with Khaled’s previous output, you already know the album ends with a reggae note & that’s what “Where You Come From” by Barrington Levy, Buju Banton & Capleton does.

I don’t know what else to say other than that, he just keeps making the same goddamn album over & over again. The usual line-up of guests hardly compliment one another & the radio friendly production is just average at best. Just put 3-4 joints in a playlist & call it a day.

Score: 1.5/5

DDG – “Die 4 Respect” review

DDG is a 23 year old from Pontiac, Michigan who originally broke out in 2015 as a YouTuber. However after being interested in music at a very young age, he put out his debut EP Take Me Serious in 2018 & ended up signing to Epic Records. His profile continued to grow from there in 2019 off the Sorry 4 the Hold Up EP & the full-length debut Valedictorian but after spending last year forming his own label Zooted Entertainment & dropping a boatload of singles (the most notable one being “Moonwalking in Calabasas” of course), the kid is dropping his debut mixtape with Quality Control Music in-house producer OG Parker behind the boards from start to finish.

The opener “Hood Melody” with YoungBoy Never Broke Again finds the 2 talking about their homie’s dying because they don’t know life outside the trap over a piano loop & some snares whereas the next song “Treat Me Right” talks about wanting a bitch who respects him over a spicy beat. The track “Rule #1” with Lil Yachty sees the 2 talking about moving out of the hood after getting rich over a plinky trap instrumental while the song “Impatient” motivates his girlfriend to stay focused & Coi LeRay responds from her perspective over a pillowy beat.

The track “Get What You Want” with PnB Rock finds the 2 getting raunchy over an ample instrumental while the song “Way You Talk” talks about the way his girl drives him crazy over a summery beat. The track “Hakuna Matata” with Tyla Yaweh sees the 2 talking about going from broke to having Gucci over a guitar-tinged trap instrumental while the song “Let ‘Em Go” with 2KBaby finds the 2 talking about bitches who get out of line with them over a sluggish beat.

The penultimate track “Money Long” with 42 Dugg sees the 2 talking about their bread stacking up over an instrumental that sounds like it was made for Sada Baby & then the closer “I Need Security” talks about needing more protection over an acoustic/trap beat. However the bonus cut is a remix to “Moonwalking in Calabasas” with Blueface, which is mediocre in comparison to the original.

Not what I was expecting from DDG, but it’s a pretty good listen. He somewhat overdid it on the features, but his songwriting has gotten better in the last couple year as did his performances & OG Parker hones in on a more improved sound than DDG’s previous efforts.

Score: 3/5

Future & Lil Uzi Vert – “PLUTO X BABY PLUTO” review

This is the new collaborative effort from 2 household names in the trap subgenre of hip hop, Future & Lil Uzi Vert. The 2 have come together a handful of times throughout the last few years with songs like “Too Much Sauce” or Wassup” but after dropping a couple singles this past summer, they have seen fit to take things to the next level on PLUTO X BABY PLUTO.

The opener “Stripes Like Burberry” sees the 2 talking about wanting to make their mother’s proud over a energizing instrumental from DJ Esco whereas the next song “Marni on Me” pays tribute to the Italian clothing company Marni over a bland beat. The track “Sleeping on the Floor” talks about partying over an instrumental with some rubbery bass while the song “Real Baby Pluto” talks about their alter egos over a banger beat from Zaytoven.

The track “Drankin’ n’ Smokin’” talks about women over a calming instrumental while the song “$1M Play” talks about shooting it up over a woodwind-infused beat. The track “Plastic” talks about their Cartiers over an instrumental with some strings while the song “That’s It” talks about their woadies being coyotes over an hypnotic beat from Wheezy.

The track “Bought a Bad Bitch” talks about how fine their girls are over a nondescript instrumental while the song “Rockstar Chainz” is a solo Future cut about feeing like autopilot over an uneventful beat. The track “Lullaby” right after is of course an Uzi solo cut about doing wrong over a DY instrumental with an AMAZING vocal sample while the song “She Never Been to Pluto” is the duo getting back together to talk about kicking hoes out like Kudos over an EDM/trap fusion.

The track “F-Off Dat” talks about smoking a good pack over a plain instrumental while the next song “I Don’t Wanna Break Up” talks about wanting to stay with their significant others over a moody beat. The penultimate track “Bankroll” talks about their money over a triumphant instrumental & then the closer “Moment of Clarity” talks about everyday being a movie premiere over a luxurious Turbo beat.

For the 4 month wait, the end result is pretty mid. Not only is Uzi carrying a good portion of the tape, but I wish he & Future took more risks because on the production on here is just so mediocre & safely played. Would’ve been a much better EP if you ask me.

Score: 2.5/5

21 Savage – “Savage Mode II” review

This is the brand new & highly anticipated album from Atlanta rapper, songwriter & occasional producer 21 Savage. Coming on my radar by appearing on the iconic 2016 XXL Freshman Class list, he continued to make a household name for himself in the current trap landscape by dropping his 2nd EP Savage Mode with Metro Boomin’ producing it in it’s entirety shortly after. Then came his full-length debut Issa Album & an incredible collab album he did with Offset called Without Warning the following year, but it wouldn’t be until the end of 2018 where 21 dropped his most mature work to date with i am > i was. Fast forward a little over a month later, he was arrested by ICE after it was revealed that he was born in the UK & stayed in the US on an expired visa. Luckily, he was freed 10 days later & has been laying low for the most part since then. However, 21 is reuniting with Metro for a sequel to Savage Mode.

After the Morgan Freeman intro (who narrates the whole album), the first song “Runnin’” talks about buying a Hollywood bitch over a best sampling of Diana Ross’ “I Thought It Took a Little Time (But Today I Fell in Love)” while the track “Glock in My Lap” talks about being strapped everywhere over a haunting instrumental from Honorable C.N.O.T.E. & the So Icey Boyz. The song “Mr. Right Now” with Drake sees the 2 getting raunchy over a wavy beat while the track “Rich Nigga Shit” with Young Thug finds both of them getting materialistic over a spacious instrumental.

The song “Slidin’” spits that gun talk over a ghostly beat while the track “Many Men” is pretty much his own version of 50 Cent’s “Many Men (Wish Death)” down to sampling the actual joint itself. After the “Snitches & Rats” interlude, the actual “Snitches & Rats” song itself Young Nudy take aim at 6ix9ine then the track “My Dawg” pays tribute to Nipsey Hu$$le over a trap beat with some melancholic keyboard passages.

The song “Steppin’ on N****s” gets bloodthirsty over a beat that kinda has a dirty south feel to it while the track “Brand New Draco” gets boastful over a vibrant beat. The song “No Opp Left Behind” talks about corrupt cops over an instrumental with an apocalyptic atmosphere to it while the penultimate track “RIP Luv” talks about giving up on romance backed by a mournful beat with some co-production from Zaytoven. The album finishes with “San N Done”, where 21 ponders if this new chick is gonna ride for him over a nightly instrumental.

We all know that many sequel projects don’t exactly live up to the hype of the predecessor, but this is definitely an exception. 21’s maturity is very much present on here as it was on his last full-length album about 2 years ago & Metro Boomin’ manages to remind listeners of his place as one of the greatest producers in the trap subgenre.

Score: 3.5/5

Future – “High Off Life” review

This is the 8th full-length album from Atlanta rapper, singer & songwriter Future. Lot a people don’t know that he got his start being brought into the Dungeon Family thanks to his cousin Rico Wade of Organized Noize but he did become one of the leading figures in the trap subgenre with releases like Honest, Monster, Beast Mode, 56 Nights & my personal favorite: D.S. 2 (Dirty Sprite 2). It’s been a little over a year since Future’s last album The WIZRD, but he’s now coming out of the shadows with High Off Life.

Things kick off with “Trapped in the Sun”, where Future talks about giving game to his sons over a tense instrumental. The next song “HiTek Tek” of course gets materialistic over a bland instrumental while the track “Touch the Sky” talks about how no one can finesse him over a cavernous Southside beat. The song “Solitaries” with Travis Scott sees the 2 getting boastful over a lively beat from Wheezy & Mike Dean while the track “Ridin’ Strikers” talks about sending shooters & the way that the So Icey Boyz’ instrumental on here transitions during the last minute or so is just jaw-dropping.

The song “One of My” gets annoyingly repetitive over a dime a dozen trap beat while the track “Posted with Demons” talks about pimpin’ over a DJ Spinz beat with some luscious string sections. The song “Hard to Choose One” talks about having too many bitches over a keyboard heavy instrumental while the track “Trillionaire” with YoungBoy Never Broke Again sees the 2 vapidly talking about becoming richer than they already are over a comatose instrumental.

The track “Harlem Shake” with Young Thug sees the 2 talking about being trap stars over an Italian-flavored beat while the song “Up the River” pretty much addresses that he’s the one a lot of trap rappers got their styles from over an euphoric beat. The track “Pray for a Key” gets reflective over a cloudy TM88 beat with some occasional vinyl crackling if you listen very closely while the song “Too Comfortable” is a message to all the hoes that wanna fuck with him over an acoustic trap beat.

The track “All Bad” with Lil Uzi Vert sees the 2 talking about how fine the women around them are over a colorful instrumental while the song “Outer Space Bih” talks about over a DY beat with a piano-loop that’s sweet to the ear. The track “Accepting My Flaws” is a beautiful thank you to Lori Harvey backed by a heavenly instrumental while the song “Life is Good” with Drake is pretty much 2 mediocre solo songs from each artist combined into 1.

The track “Last Name” with Lil Durk sees the 2 talking about paranoia over a dismal beat while the song “Tycoon” talks about being a magnate over a sedating instrumental. The penultimate track “100 Shooters” with Doe Boy & Meek Mill sees the 3 talking about how street their are over a woodwind-infused Tay Keith beat & then the album finishes off with a pointless sequel to “Life is Good” except it’s Future on the first half then DaBaby & Lil Baby on the other.

You know I wasn’t really looking forward to this album given how hit or miss Future’s discography has been since 2017, but this is definitely one of his better releases within the past 3 years. Some tracks during the 70 minutes runtime definitely could’ve been left on the cutting room floor, but the production is a lot more interesting for the most part & the songwriting is a lot catchier too.

Score: 3.5/5

JACKBOYS – Self-Titled review

This is the brand new EP from Houston, Texas record label Cactus Jack Records. Founded in 2017 by trap music’s current mastermind Travis Scott, the label has been steadily building itself up since it’s foundation by signing the likes of Sheck Wes & Don Toliver. However when it seemed like Travis was gonna take 2019 off due to the massive success of ASTROWORLD last summer, he’s finally showcasing his camp as a whole with JACKBOYS.

The EP starts off with a remix to “HIGHEST IN THE ROOM”, which was an obvious leftover from ASTROWORLD. However in this case, Rosalía & Lil Baby both add redundant verses. Then after a 47 second “intro”, we get into the first actual song “GANG GANG”. Where Travis, Sheck & Don get with Luxury Tax to talk about their brotherhood over a woozy trap beat from WondaGurl. The track “HAD ENOUGH” by Don, Offset & Quavo sees the 3 talking about being fed up with this promiscuous woman over a spacey beat while the song “OUT WEST” sees Travis & Young Thug getting sexual over an abrasive Buddah Bless beat. The penultimate track “WHAT TO DO?” by Trav & Don is them describing how they would treat their significant others over a trap beat with a plucky acoustic lead then there’s the closer “GATTI”, where Travis gets with Pop Smoke to talk about people cappin’ over a dark yet bouncy instrumental.

These record label showcase projects are never really all that great to begin with, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this is a mediocre EP. Travis himself sounds lively as always, but almost everyone else involved seems to be playing it safe both instrumentally & performance-wise. That being said, I’m still really looking forward to what LaFlame is gonna do next year.

Score: 2.5/5

Rick Ross – “Port of Miami 2” review

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Rick Ross is a renown 43 year old rapper, entrepreneur & record executive from Carol City, Florida that made his debut on wax in 2000 on Erick Sermon’s 3rd album Erick Onasis. He would eventually make his full-length debut in 2006 with Port of Miami, which was followed up in 2 years later with Trilla. Both of which were just ok, but it wouldn’t be until 2009 that Rozay would really solidify himself as a legend in the game. As Deeper Than Rap, Teflon Don, God Forgives, I Don’t & Mastermind are all rightfully regarded as his best bodies of work. The last time we heard from Ross in a full-length capacity was in 2017 with Rather You Than Me & to commemorate the 13 year anniversary of his debut this month, he’s back with a sequel to the album that started it all.

The album starts off with “Act a Fool”, where Rozay & Wale brag over a vibrant trap beat. The next song “Turnpike Ike” gets luxurious over a beautiful piano instrumental from Jake One while the track “Nobody’s Favorite” with Gunplay sees the 2 talking about their success over a nocturnal trap beat. The song “Summer Reign” gets romantic over a moody beat while the track “White Lines” gets mafioso over an atmospheric beat.

The song “Big Tyme” talks about doing it huge over a lavish Just Blaze instrumental while the track “Bogus Charms” with Meek Mill sees the 2 talking about living on over a beautiful piano instrumental from StreetRunner. The song “Rich N***a Lifestyle” with the late Nipsey Hu$$le needs no further explanation over a blaxploitation-esque instrumental from Cardiak while the track “Born to Kill” with Jeezy sees the 2 talking about death over a dreamy trap beat.

The song “Fascinated” is a tribute to his friends that’re either dead or in jail over a smooth instrumental & while the track “I Still Pray” with YFN Lucci & Ball Greezy does have one of the most fanciest instrumentals on the entire project provided by DJ Toomp, the lyrics are a vapid diss towards their haters. The song “Running the Streets” with A Boogie wit da Hoodie & Denzel Curry sees the 3 talking about their place in the Florida hip hop scene over a church-esque instrumental while the track “Vegas Residency” is a party anthem with a harmonious instrumental from none other than the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League.

The penultimate track “Maybach Music VI” was probably the most anticipated on the entire album, because it was said to feature both Lil Wayne & Pusha T. However despite Pusha not appearing on the song at all, it still sounds grand both lyrically & sonically. The album then finishes up with “Gold Roses”, which is basically an equally boring sequel to that “Money in the Grave” single that Drake dropped not too long ago.

This could very well be better than the original Port of Miami, in my personal opinion. Not only does Rozay continue to show how amazing his ear for production truly is, but his mob bars are of course a lot sharper than they were on his debut & most of the features on here add to ’em pretty solidly. You can also tell that he really took his time with this one in comparison to rushing out some of his latest projects like Hood Billionaire & Black Market.

Score: 3.5/5

Future – “SAVE ME” review

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Future is a 35 year old rapper, singer & songwriter from Atlanta, Georgia who came up as a member of the Dungeon Family thanks to his cousin Rico Wade of Organized Noize. He officially made his debut in 2012 with Pluto & would later follow it up with a hot streak of modern day trap essentials like Honest, Monster, Beast Mode & my personal favorite of his: D.S. 2 (Dirty Sprite 2). However since 2017, Future has mostly been painting himself in a corner & prioritizing quantity over quality. I mean sure HNDRXX took a more sensual approach & SUPER SLIMEY showed a pretty great chemistry with fellow trap trailblazer Young Thug, but Beast Mode 2 was a step down from the predecessor & he got with Juice WRLD last fall to put out a collab tape that literally should’ve never happened: WRLD on Drugs. Finally at the very beginning of this year, Future’s previous album The WIZRD was just passable even though it showed NO artistic evolution WHATSOEVER. All that being said, I was curious in trying out his debut EP over here that he randomly decided to drop.

The opener “XANAX DAMAGE” is a mindnumbingly repetitive piece about venting to this chick over a trap beat with a depressing acoustic guitar passage while the next track “ST. LUCIA” sounds like it could’ve been on Future’s last album, really. The song “PLEASE TELL ME” is a simp anthem a spacey beat while the track “SHOTGUN” is a horrifically corny ballad with an annoying hook & a buttery instrumental. The song “GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL” talks about the party life over a haunting trap beat & while the penultimate track “EXTRA” has an endearingly depressing tone to it, the producer FXXXXY sounds EXACTLY like Drake on the post-chorus & it’s SCARY. The EP then closes out with “LOVE THY ENEMIES”, where Future vents about his insecurities over an gloomy guitar passage.

I wasn’t expecting much from this & the end result was pretty average. It’s interesting to hear him going into a more emo direction on a few cuts, but the songs don’t sound fully complete to me. If we’re truly getting a HNDRXX 2 at some point, then I hope it’s better than this.

Score: 2.5/5