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.
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.
Future is a 35 year old rapper, singer & songwriter from Atlanta, Georgia that blew up at the beginning of the decade bringing his own unique sound to the trap subgenre. He spent 2018 doing features, the soundtrack for the recent Superfly remake, dominating the recent DJ Esco album KOLORBLIND, his BEAST MODE 2 mixtape & the redundant WRLD on Drugs collab with Juice WRLD. But now to bring in the new year, he’s delivering his 7th full-length album.
Things kick off with “Never Stop”, which talks about his come up over a disappointingly generic beat. The next song “Jumpin’ on a Jet” gets boastful over a spacey trap beat from Southside while the track “Rocket Ship” talks about how he’s been popular since his demos over an airy beat. The song “Temptation” is an introspective look at just that over a somber beat from Tay Keith & even though I didn’t care for the track “Crushed Up” at first, it did grow on me a little.
The song “F&N” talks about putting hits out with a pretty cool beat switch during the last minute or so while the track “Call the Coroner” talks about his desire to live like a drug lord over an eerie TM88 beat. The song “Talk Shit Like a Preacher” is a painfully boring bragging anthem while the track “Promise U That” talks about thug love over a spacious, bass heavy Tay Keith beat. The song “Stick To the Models” is another drab brag, but the track “Overdose” does pick back up as he’s flexin’ more charmingly over a Southside & DY beat with some bells.
The song “Krazy But True” talks about his influence over a woozy trap beat from Wheezy while the track “Servin’ Killa Kam” talks about the shit he got over a nondescript beat. The song “Baptiize” talks about his grind over an atmospheric beat that cleverly switches up into a “Slave Master” sample during the second half & even though the track “Unicorn Purp” with Young Thug & Gunna sounds like a leftover from SUPER SLIMEY, the chemistry between the 3 is flawless.
The song “Goin’ Dummi” pretty much speaks for itself over a bland beat while the track “First Off” with Travis Scott is an off the wall wealth anthem. The song “Faceshot” yet again talks about the drug game, but the skrrt adlibs at the start of every verse is annoying. The penultimate track “Ain’t Coming Back” talks about haters over a spacious beat & then the closer “Tricks on Me” talks about fame over a mellow 1985 beat.
This isn’t bad, but it’s not that great either. Not only is there nothing new sonically, but there are quite a bit of filler cuts on here as well. Yet another example of someone as boundary pushing as Future prioritizing quantity over quality.
21 Savage is a 26 year old rapper & producer from Atlanta, Georgia who I first caught wind of on the 2016 XXL Freshman Class. Shortly after, he dropped his 2nd EP Savage Mode with Metro Boomin’ producing it in it’s entirety. I wasn’t a fan of the project at first admittedly because I thought it was boring, but it has grown on me overtime. He dropped a solid full-length debut with Issa Album last summer & then last Halloween, he teamed up with Offset & Metro to put out one of the best collab projects of the decade: Without Warning. Now after spending a bulk of 2018 killing it with features, he’s dropping his highly anticipated sophomore album.
Things kick off with “a lot”, where Savage & surprisingly teams up with J. Cole to talk about what they’re thankful for over a soulful trap beat from DJ Dahi. The next song “break da law” pretty much speaks for itself over an eerie beat from the So Icey Boyz while the track “a&t (ass & titties)” with Yung Miami is a strip club anthem that interpolates the Hypnotize Camp Posse song of the same name & it goes over very well. The song “out for the night” is an ode to his lady over an airy beat while the track “gun smoke” talks about being a 1-man army over a dreary trap beat. The song “1.5” with Offset sees the 2 getting charismatically boastful over a Wheezy instrumental that actually has kind of a mafioso vibe to it while the track “all my friends” with Post Malone sees the 2 talking about how their fame has resulted in falling outs with their homies over a druggy beat.
The song “can’t leave without it” feels like a mediocre leftover from Gunna & Lil Baby’s recent collab tape Drip Harder down to the dime a dozen Wheezy production while the track “asmr” if you couldn’t tell serves as an equally whisper-delivered, cold blooded sequel to “Don’t Come Out the House” off of Metro Boomin’s latest album NOT ALL HEROES WEAR CAPES. The song “ball w/o you” is a breakup tune with a piano-laced trap beat from TM88 & even though the Cardo & 30 Roc produced “good day” is gritty on all fronts, it sounds out of place as 21 only handles the hook while ScHoolboy Q & Project Pat handle the verses. The track “pad lock” recalls life before a deal over a spacey trap beat while the song “monster” with Childish Gambino discuss how fame has changed them over a luscious piano instrumental. The penultimate track “letter 2 my momma” is a heartwarming dedication to 21’s mother Heather Abraham-Joseph & then the closer “4L” with Young Nudy see the 2 getting murderous over an Old Western/trap fusion.
Honestly, this was a pretty solid way for 21 Savage to end his year. There are some lowpoints on here but for the most part, the album truly lives up to it’s title as it lyrically sounds like that 21’s been maturing quite a bit.
Swizz Beatz is a legendary 40 year old producer, DJ & “rapper” (that is if you wanna call him one) who blew up in 1998 as the in-house producer for Ruff Ryders Entertainment. He later started his now defunct Full Surface Records in 2001 & dropped a decent compilation called G.H.E.T.T.O. Stories the following year. It wouldn’t until 2007 that he would try to officially go solo with 1 Man Band Man, a solidly produced album that was unfortunately weighed down by the lack of features & of course Swizz’ horrendous rapping on every song. He has since spent the last decade teasing a sophomore album that never came to fruition up until now with J. Cole as a co-executive producer, interestingly enough.
After a spoken word intro, the first song “P.O.M.S. (Pistol On My Side)” by Lil Wayne kicks things off fantastically as Weezy gets in your face over some militant drums along with a set of eerie piano chords provided by Swizz’ ever so stunning wife Alicia Keys. The track “Come Again” by Giggs awkwardly talks about how crazy he is over a chaotic beat while the song “Something Dirty (Pic Got Us) sees Jadakiss & Styles P trading bars back & forth with each other like old tomes over an araabMUZIK instrumental with some triumphant horns. The track “Preach” by Jim Jones vividly goes into the mind of a drug dealer over a minimalist instrumental while the song “Echo” by Nas is recalls growing up in Queens over a soul sample from DJ Scratch.
The track “Cold Blooded” by Pusha T is an eerie tale about growing up in the hood that plays out fantastically & while the song “25 Soldiers” by Young Thug is honestly very gritty & adrenaline inducing from the araabMUZIK production down to Thugger’s flow. The penultimate track “Stunt” by 2 Chainz is of course a braggadocious anthem over a trap beat from Bink! with an alluring vocal sample & the closer “SWIZZMONTANA” is French Montana bragging about his wealth better than I thought he would over an instrumental that screams classic Swizz.
For a 10 year wait, this was totally worth it. I wish Swizz Beatz & J. Cole added a few more tracks & I really don’t get why the ones Swizz didn’t produce at all were included but other than that, I love how he took a huge step back from “rapping” & focused more on production. The guest MCs mostly do their thing as well with the instrumentals suiting them fantastically.
T.I. is a 38 year old rapper from Atlanta, Georgia who started out as the founding member of P$C in 1997. He then went solo in 2001 with his debut album I’m Serious, but it didn’t do well commercially & he was dropped from Arista Records as a result. He then formed his own label Grand Hustle Records & dropped his sophomore album Trap Muzik in 2003, which had a huge hand in popularizing the titular hip hop subgenre. He then continued the success of that album with Urban Legend & King, but then his next album T.I. vs. T.I.P. would be a disappointing longwinded mixed bag with a pretty great concept. He redeemed himself with Paper Trail in 2008, but dropped another mixed bag with No Mercy in 2010. Both of which came out during back to back prison sentences. He then returned to the scene at the end of 2012 with the flawed yet solid Trouble Man: Heavy is the Head in 2012 as well as the Pharrell executive produced Paperwork in 2014. He then took a more political tone at 2016 with his double EP Us or Else: Letter to the System but now, he’s returning with his highly anticipated 10th full-length album.
Things kick off with “Seasons”, where TIP talks about his desire to succeed over an organ. The next track “Laugh at ‘Em” is a middle finger to his haters over a triumphant Just Blaze beat while the song “Big Ol’ Drip” vividly talks about the drug dealing lifestyle over a trap beat with some nice horns in the mix. The track “Wraith” with Yo Gotti sees the 2 getting braggadocious over a gloomy Scott Storch instrumental while the song “The Weekend” with Young Thug talks about partying over a boom bappy Swizz Beatz instrumental with a prominently twangy guitar.
The track “The Amazing Mr. Fuck Up” endearingly addresses his current relationship with his wife Tiny over a laidback boom bap beat with Victoria Monet providing some background vocals while the song “At Least I Know” continues the theme of the previous joint with a moody beat. The track “What Can I Say?” reflects on how he got to where he is today over a druggy trap beat while the song “Jefe” with Meek Mill sees the 2 charismatically calling themselves bosses over a Latin-infused trap beat from Bangladesh. The track “More & More” with Jeezy sees the 2 talking about making money over a gritty trap beat with an organ while the song “Pray for Me” does talk about backstabbers, the YFN Lucci verse at the start is probably the weakest feature on the entire album.
The track “Looking Back” sees TIP getting retrospective on his life over a somber David Banner instrumental while the song “Light Day” is a message to those who wanna live the life that T.I. lived in the past with what could very well be the best flow on the entire album. The penultimate track “You” talks about judgmental people over an instrumental with a somber atmosphere to it & the closer “Be There” is all about being by someone’s side when feeling down over an eerie instrumental with a guitar that kicks in later.
For the 4 year wait, this was well worth it. The production’s on point, Dave Chappelle’s narrations are intelligent & T.I. gets a lot off his chest lyrically. If you wanna hear a trap legend sounding more mature than ever, then give this a listen.
Almost 2 years after his underappreciated sophomore album Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight & with the solid debut album from Huncho Jack at the tail-end of last year, Houston trap mastermind Travis Scott is finally delivering his long-awaited 3rd full-length album.
Things start off with “STARGAZING”, where Travis recalls a drug trip over a Sonny Digital instrumental that starts off atmospheric, but then switches into an eerie trap instrumental. The next song “CAROUSEL” talks about how fly he is over a gritty Hit-Boy instrumental & the Frank Ocean hook is very pretty. The track “SICKO MODE” with Drake sees the 2 talking shit & I like how the instrumental constantly switches up while maintaining a dark sound. The song “R.I.P. SCREW” is an atmospheric tribute to the legendary Screwed Up Click leader DJ Screw while the track “STOP TRYING TO BE GOD” advises the listener to stay true to yourself over a cloudy trap beat & the James Blake/KiD CuDi hook is phenomenal. I also love the Stevie Wonder harmonica that pops up occasionally.
The song “NO BYSTANDERS” is a club banger with a psychedelic trap beat & the Waka Flocka sample for the hook is amazing. The track “SKELETONS” is a slow love ballad with a mellow Tame Impala instrumental along with some harmonious background vocals from Pharrell & The Weeknd. The song “WAKE UP” is a tribute to both Kylie Jenner & Bella Hadid over a Frank Dukes instrumental with rattling hi-hats & some unexpected acoustic guitar passages. I also love the cloudy instrumental outro during the last 40 seconds. The track “5% TINT” gets braggadocious over some bass & ominous keyboards while the perfectly “NC-17” with 21 Savage gets raunchy over a trap beat from Boi-1da with some prominent chimes. The track “ASTROTHUNDER” vents about needing distance over a spacey beat from Travis himself with co-production from John Mayer, Thundercat & Frank Dukes and while the song “YOSEMITE” does about the lavish things in life over a nice acoustic trap beat & the Gunna hook is pretty, but the very short NAV verse at the end is totally redundant.
The track “CAN’T SAY” has an amazing Trae tha Truth sample in the WondaGurl instrumental, but I feel like Don Toliver takes up most of it & his nasal tone does absolutely nothing for me. The song “WHO? WHAT!” feels like an leftover from Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho down to the disappointingly generic instrumental from Cardo, but the song “BUTTERFLY EFFECT” makes up for it as he talks about the famous life over a druggy Murda Beatz instrumental. The penultimate track “HOUSTONFORNICATION” is a tribute to Travis’ hometown of Houston over a murky trap beat & then “COFFEE BEAN” finishes it off with fireworks as Travis reflects on his career up until this point over an unexpected boom bap beat from 1985. The prominently twangy guitar throughout is a nice touch, but the heavy guitar & the string sections that pop up during the last minute are just beautiful.
I’ve been waiting 3 years for this & overall, it’s on the same caliber as Rodeo. The production returns to the experimental sound that was displayed on that album & I love how Travis is rapping a lot more than ever on here. There are a couple lackluster moments but outside of that, it’s just another example of why Travis is the greatest trap rapper of this generation.
Aside from the soundtrack for the recent Superfly remake as well as dominating the recent DJ Esco album KOLORBLIND & a ton of features (most notably: his God awful bridge on “King’s Dead” off the Black Panther soundtrack), Atlanta trap superstar Future hasn’t dropped a project in over a year. He spent 2017 dropping 2 albums back to back, the bloated self-titled album & the more pop/R&B inspired HNDRXX. Now, he is coming out of the blue with his 13th mixtape & it is a sequel to one of his most critically acclaimed tapes Beast Mode. Of course, Zaytoven is returning on the boards for it as well.
The opener “WIFI LIT” talks about being on “rich nigga shit” over an instrumental with a nice woodwind sample & it’s no “Mask Off”, but it is a solid way to start off the tape. The next track “CUDDLE MY WRIST” vents about having a monkey on his back over a laidback beat while the song “RACKS BLUE” of course about wealth over a trap beat with some gorgeous piano keys. The track “31 DAYS” talks about sex, but nothing about it sets the mood for me at all. It literally sounds like a bad leftover from HNDRXX.
The song “RED LIGHT” talks about going from sleeping on the floor at night to making millions over some somber piano chords & rubbery bass while the track “DOH DOH” with Young Scooter sees the 2 talking about counting up money over an eerie beat. “WHEN I THINK ABOUT IT” is a freestyle to “WEAK” by Larry League that is a lot better than the original song while the penultimate track “SOME MORE” is a mediocre ripoff of “Mo Reala”, which appeared on Zaytoven’s latest album Trap HoliZay. The tape finishes with “HATE THE REAL ME”, where he gets high & reminisces about the good times he had with Ciara over a cloudy beat.
I was a little concerned about this given the “King’s Dead” feature, but it went beyond my expectations. It’s not perfect at all, but I do believe’s this is just as fun as the first Beast Mode from Zaytoven’s production to Future’s delivery
Camila Cabello is 20 year old singer/songwriter from Eastern Havana, Cuba who has been receiving quite a bit of attention in the pop scene for the past couple years now. She broke off from 5th Harmony in late 2016 & I first caught wind of her when she did a duet with MGK on his latest album bloom calmed “Bad Things”. But I personally found it to be diabetically lovey dovey & given that, I at first wasn’t really looking forward to hearing her solo debut right here. That was until I heard the singles off this thing & saw that Frank Dukes produced almost every track.
The album starts off with “Never Be the Same”, where Camila singing about being addicted to this man like a drug addict & the druggy yet tension building instrumental isn’t too bad either. The next track “All These Years” reflects on a breakup over a pretty acoustic instrumental while the song “She Loves Control” talks about a woman who wants things her way over a tropical instrumental. The track “Havana” is a dedication to her hometown with some piano chords & thumping drums. Also, the Young Thug verse on here is a nice touch as well. The song “Inside Out” has a seductive tone to it lyrically, but it is catchy. Also, the sunny production from Cashmere Cat enhances this catchy vibe.
The track “Consequences” talks about the results of breaking up with someone while the song “Real Friends” expresses Camila’s desire to find just that over a pretty piano passage. The song “Something’s Gotta Give” is another breakup song & while the instrumental does have a nice build up as it progresses, but I don’t find it as intriguing as “Consequences”. The penultimate track “In the Dark” recalls an encounter she had with a famous John Doe & then the closer “Into It”, she sings about sex. Both of which contain wavy electro-esque instrumentals.
As a whole, I’m floored. I didn’t like her duets with Shawn Mendes or MGK at all, but this was a great listen. More than I expected it to be. Camila Cabello’s vocals have stepped up majorly, it sounds focused & actually very well-put together from the colorful, vibrant production to the solid songwriting. I was wrong about you, Camila. This is just the beginning of a very successful solo career & I can’t wait to see what you’re gonna do next
Huncho Jack is a duo consisting of Migos’ standout member Quavo & the KiD CuDi of trap music, Travi$ Scott. Both members have shown quite a bit of chemistry with songs like “Oh My Dis Side”, “pick up the phone” & “Portland”. And alas, here we are with their full-length debut.
The album starts off with “Modern Slavery”, where they’re going back & forth about the lavish life & the Otis Redding sample is surprising yet cool. The next track “Black & Chinese” talks about their favorite types of women over an abrasive Southside beat & the track “Eye 2 Eye” gets with Takeoff gets celebratory over a druggy instrumental from Murda Beatz. The song “Motorcycle Patches” talks about acid & while it would turn me off, it is fun. The track “Huncho Jack” is a prime example of their chemistry over this semi-spacey beat while the song “Saint” flaunts about their success & the bass on here is explosive!
The track “Go” talks about the life of a hustler & the flute sample on here is killer! The song “Dubai Shit” talks about partying in Dubai (obviously) over a druggy beat & I love how Offset is incorporated as he goes back & forth with Quavo during the final verse. The track “St. Laurent Mask” gets into them as dealers & I absolutely love the keys on here. The song “Moon Rock” is an ode to the titular strain of weed & the beat from Vinylz is sinister, yet bass heavy. The track “How U Feel” talks about getting fucked up on lean & the sample on here is absolutely beautiful. The penultimate track “Where U From?” vents about living life in the fast lane & it fantastically samples my favorite Mac DeMarco song: “Chamber of Reflection”. Then album then closes with “Best Man”, where they both get appreciative of their success over another spacey beat.
Personally, this was WELL worth the wait. The production slaps & the chemistry between Quavo & Travi$ is stronger than before