T.I. – “DIME TRAP” review

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.

Score: 4/5

Travis Scott – “AstroWorld” review

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.

Score: 4.5/5

B.o.B – “NAGA” review

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B.o.B is a 29 year old rapper, singer, songwriter & producer from Decatur, Georgia. He blew up at the beginning of the decade as a T.I. protégé signing to Grand Hustle Records & putting out a pretty solid debut with B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray in 2010. His sophomore album Strange Clouds in 2012 was just as fun as the debut, but then I started to fall out of favor with B.o.B not too long after & for a few reasons. His next album Underground Luxury was pretty uninspired on all fronts & then he followed it up with a couple mixtapes that were just as mediocre like New Black & Psycadelik Thoughtz. Then in late 2015/early 2016, we saw B.o.B completely reinventing himself. He ditched the pop rap sound he became known for & went “conscious”, putting out the first 2 installments of his Elements mixtape series W.A.T.E.R. (We Are the Enemy Really) & F.I.R.E. (False Idols Ruin Egos). He then stated his belief that the Earth is flat, going as far to put out a horrendous diss track towards Neil deGrasse Tyson called “Flatline”. But just a year after following up the Elements mixtapes with Ether, B.o.B is now claiming that he’s retiring from music & that his 5th full-length album over here is his parting gift.

The album starts off with “Kumbaya”, where he monotonously talks about his return over a murky beat. The track “Matador Bobby” is supposed to be a club banger, but it’s annoying. Especially the part halfway through the verse where he repeats Janet Jackson’s name a hundred times. Then we have “Good N****r Sticker”, which contains some bass & rattling hi-hats alongside some painfully corny lyrics. Especially the lines about “It’s sad when you find out the world is trash, wait till they discover it’s flat” & “singing prayers like Sky Daddy blessing black people with good behavior“. The song “Elbows” with Amara La Negra is a cliché ode to twerking with a lifeless hip house instrumental while the track “Gerald Levert” is a generic trap banger down to the flow & the “skrt” adlibs we’ve heard a dozen times already.

The track “Don’t Be Nobody’s Bitch” is one of the better tracks on here, which has a moody trap beat & I do like the concept of him jabbing those who try to bring B.o.B down. Despite a couple corny lines like “I don’t want no kids, that’s for sure. Pulling out my dick like it’s a sword” & “Who do I ride for? Definitely no clowns, you sideshows”. The song “T.M.I.” with Havi is a diss towards the police & it’s not that I don’t like the message (case in point: N.W.A‘s “Fuck tha Police”), but it just comes off vapid. Then we have “Cuello”, which is mindlessly raunchy with a prominent sample of Future’s God awful bridge on “King’s Dead” from earlier this year. The penultimate track ”How It Is” isn’t as obnoxious as the previous song I mentioned, but it is sappy. Especially with lines like “We can do this shit without training wheels”. Then we finally end off with “Bad Computer”, which has a bland beat & a hilariously bad concept about what B.o.B thinks life in 5625 will be like.

If he’s truly retiring from music (because so many artists have said it & a vast majority of them are still around), then this is a horrible way to go out. The production is subpar, the concepts are delusional & a lot of the bars are trite. Don’t get me wrong though: I truly loved B.o.B’s first 2 albums, but he lost his mind shortly after & it’s upsetting to see that confirmed in the end. Still though, I wish him the best of luck on his future endeavors.

Score: 1/5

Huncho Jack – “Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho” review

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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

Score: 3.5/5