Pusha T – “It’s Almost Dry” review

This is the 4th full-length album from Virginia emcee, songwriter & record executive Pusha T. Coming up as 1/2 of the duo Clipse alongside his older brother No Malice about 3 decades ago, their debut Lord Willin’ & their sophomore effort Hell Hath No Fury would go on to become some of the best of the 2000s & essentials in the coke rap scene. But following the brothers’ final album together ‘Til the Casket Drops, they would disband after No Malice became a born again Christian & resulted in Push signing to Kanye West’s very own Def Jam Recordings imprint G.O.O.D. Music as a solo act. He has since made himself home under Ye’s wing by dropping 3 solo efforts, with the last one being the Kanye-produced DAYTONA in the spring of 2018 & one of the greatest diss tracks of all-time “The Story of Adidon” merely days later. But after 4 long years, Push is returning with It’s Almost Dry.

“Brambleton” opens up the album with a cloudy yet rubbery instrumental from longtime collaborator Pharrell & lyrics addressing Pusha’s relationship with his former manager Geesy whereas “Let the Smokers Shine the Coups” has a more triumphant tone to it saying he’s just here to find the truth. Kanye tags along for “Dreamin’ of the Past” sampling “Jealous Guy” by Donny Hathaway to belittle their competition, but then JAY-Z comes into the picture for “Neck & Wrist” working in some experimental undertones talking about the rapstar life.

Meanwhile on “Just So You Remember”, we have Push reminding the whole world who they’re fucking with over a sample of “6 Day War” by Colonel Bagshot just before “Diet Coke” flips “Take the Time to Tell Her” by Jerry Butler taking jabs at those who be selling impure shit. KIDS SEE GHOSTS reunite 1 last time for “Rock n Roll” due to KiD CuDi & Kanye’s falling out talking about how this is their story over a sample of “1+1” by Beyoncé leading into the eerie “Call My Bluff” telling listeners that everything don’t need to be addressed.

“Scrape It Off the Top” has a more playful sound to it as Lil Uzi Vert helps Push spit them coke bars & “Hear Me Clearly” was one of my favorites off Nigo’s recent solo debut I Know Nigo, so I’m happy he put it on here. The penultimate track “Open Air” incorporates some flutes talking about slanging powder in an unenclosed space outdoors & “Labyrinth” ends the album with an organ-heavy Clipse reunion talking about all the people they pray for.

This has been one of my most anticipated albums of 2022 for a minute now & boy it did not disappoint. He continues to spit the gangsta rap we all know & love, except Kanye & Pharrell’s production is like yin & yang with the Chicago genius’ signature chipmunk soul sound that he came up on or the some of the pop rap undertones coming from some of the cuts that the Virginia visionary has to offer.

Score: 4.5/5

Kanye West – “DONDA 2” review

Kanye West is a 44 year old rapper, singer, songwriter, producer, businessman, fashion designer & supposed politician from Chicago, Illinois who everyone should be familiar with by now. You absolutely CAN’T deny the impact that Ye has had on hip hop within the past 18 years with albums like The College Dropout or My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, regardless of how one may feel about his polarizing public image. The last we heard from him was over the summer when he dropped DONDA which was much more consistent than it’s predecessor Jesus is King, but the 2 hour runtime was unnecessary. 6 months later, we’re now being treated to his 11th full-length outing executive produced by Future & exclusive to his Stem Player platform.

“True Love” kicks off the album with an instrumental kin to “Runaway” talking about how genuine romance shouldn’t be complicated with a surprisingly great hook from the late XXXTENTACION whereas “Broken Road” pondering what it means to find your soul on top of a doleful beat & Don Toliver’s hook on here is so goddamn catchy. “Get Lost” goes a cappella looking back on all the good & bad memories of his life so far with an excessive amount of auto-tune slathering his vocals just before “Too Easy” has this glitchy quality to the production discussing his current trials & tribulations.

Meanwhile on “Flowers”, we have Kanye throwing it back to the Graduation days in terms of sound encouraging to send him $100k rather than the titular object leading into “Security” asserting that nothing can get in the way of him being with his family & Digital Nas’ production here almost reminds me of Yeezus in a way. “We Did It Kid” hardly has any Ye presence at all & it sticks out like a sore thumb even though I genuinely enjoy it’s horn-heavy groove alongside Baby Keem & the Migos’ verses, but then the Future-assisted “Pablo” follows it up with a trap cut that encourages the listener to try to have fun except it falls flat on it’s face.

“Louie Bags” starts off great with it’s hypnotic beat & talking about boycotting LV after Virgil Abloh’s passing, then Jack Harlow’s verse comes in & ruins the whole vibe. Future returns for “Happy” & it’s WAY better than “Pablo” from Wheezy peppy production to the subject matter asking the world if they look like they’re doing fine to them. “Sci-Fi” then works in some string sections as Sean Leon joins Ye in addressing his divorce from The Hobbit, but that line where he said “When you lay down & I gave you the semen. I swear I heard God, the voice of Morgan Freeman” had me ROLLIN’ in laughter.

Following that, “Selfish” goes into a minimal yet cloudier direction talking about how selfishness & materialism can damage a relationship while the symphonic “Lord Lift Me Up” is a decent Vory solo cut asking for God to lift up his spirits. The song “Keep It Burning” with Future finds the 2 basically flipping the Talking Heads joint “Burning Down the House” & making a hard hitting trap banger out of it while the penultimate track “City of Gods” with Fivio Foreign goes into drill turf telling NY to go easy on them. “First Time in a Long Time” ends the album on a triumphant yet electronic note with Ye opening up about his faith in God & feelings stemming from his divorce but on the other hand, fucking Soulja Boy comes through flexing his success & kills it.

I really don’t know what else to say beyond that, it’s just so painfully average even by Kanye’s standards. There are some interesting song topics & production ideas without a doubt, but it’s all blatantly unfinished. If Ye does plan on updating the album once it’s actually done like Stem Player co-inventor Alex Klein was saying on Twitter, then I feel like it’ll be A LOT better than what we got here.

Score: 2.5/5

Kanye West – “DONDA” review

This is the 10th full-length album from Chicago rapper, singer, songwriter, producer, businessman, fashion designer & supposed politician Kanye West. What can be said now about this man that hasn’t been said already? Regardless of how you feel about his public image, you can’t deny his creativity nor the impact his discography has had on hip hop over the last 17 years. More specifically The College Dropout & My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. The last time we heard him in secular form was back in 2018 with ye, which in my opinion doesn’t get enough appreciation for detailing his struggles with bipolar disorder even to this day. Kanye later became a born-again Christian & went into gospel rap territory for his previous album Jesus is King in which the music was fine, but the mix was absolutely horrendous. But now after a embarrassing attempt at becoming president of the United States last fall & divorcing his Hobbit ex-wife, one can only go into DONDA expecting Ye to get a lot off his chest.

After the tedious “Donda Chant” intro, the first song “Jail” is a rock-tinged kickstarter with The Throne returning saying God’s gonna post their bail with co-production from Mike Dean alongside Dem Jointz & 88-Keys whereas “God Breathed” has assisted by E*Vax some choir vocals hanging in the back encouraging the listener to put their faith in the higher power. Playboi Carti & Fivio Foreign tag along for the trap-tinged “Off the Grid” co-produced by with 30 Roc proclaiming they did everything for the crib just before the Lil Baby-assisted “Hurricane” brings in some organs & snares with co-production from DJ Khalil & Ronny J to tell God to hold them close.

Meanwhile on “Praise God”, we have Baby Keem & Travis Scott joining forces to say they’re gonna praise their way out the grave helping work in an organ & choir vocals leading into “Jonah” with Lil Durk & Vory having some hypnotizing production as well as lyrics about loneliness. “Ok Ok” is an atmospheric cut co-produced with Boi-1da linking up with Lil Yachty & Rooga to call out those who’ve betrayed them, but then Ye & Carti pay homage to Junya Watanabe on the organ-bass infused “Junya” assisted by Digital Nas.

“Believe What I Say” does a fine job at sampling the iconic Lauryn Hill joint “Doo-Wop (That Thing)” telling the listener not to let the lifestyle drag you down whereas “24” brings back in some organs to say God’s not finished. “Remote Control” with Young Thug satirizes society these days with an ambient backdrop & snares whereas “Moon” is the greatest interlude of the year hands down, with Don Toliver & KiD CuDi hitting every note perfectly as the guitars that’re wailing behind them.

The way “Heaven & Hell” samples Drum Broker’s “Arena” is really cool with Ye standing up to to the system & after the titular interlude co-produced by BoogzDaBeast, “Keep My Spirit Alive” with Hall ‘N Nash finds the trio saying “you can take it all with the Lord on my side” over a cloudy instrumental. Jay Electronica & The LOX come in for the gorgeous “Jesus Lord” co-produced by Swizz Beatz & Gesaffelstein wanting to know someone who needs God, but then “New Again” sounds like a throwback to the Graduation days production-wise talking about being born again.

Tell the Vision” from the latest posthumous Pop Smoke album Faith feels out of place given that Ye has no presence on this version, but “Lord I Need You” makes up for it with it’s pillowy beat co-produced by Wheezy as Ye asks God to wrap his arms around him whereas the Roddy Ricch-assisted “Pure Souls” fuses organs with bass & handclaps to say “The truth is only what you get away with”.

The penultimate track “Come to Life” is an luxurious ballad pondering if you’ve ever wished you had another life & finally, “No Child Left Behind” ends the album with a straight up gospel ballad saying God has done miracles on him. We are then treated to alternate versions of “Jail”, “Ok Ok”, “Junya” & “Jesus Lord” as bonus cuts.

It should really go without saying that DONDA is what Jesus is King should’ve been & it’s a respectable tribute to Ye’s mom. There are a tad bit of filler cuts running at 27 joints & nearly 2 hours, but the mix sounds so much better in comparison to the last album.

Score: 4/5

Sunday Service – “Jesus is Born” review

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.

Score: 2/5

Ray Romolus
Philip Cornish
Rob Gueringer
Jason White
The Samples

Kanye West – “Jesus is King” review

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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.

Score: 3/5

Teyana Taylor – “K.T.S.E. (Keep That Same Energy)” review

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With the release of her average debut VII in 2014 & the birth of her daughter the year after, Harlem recording artist Teyana Taylor is returning with her sophomore album & she has enlisted GOOD Music founder Kanye West to produce it in it’s entirety.

The album starts off with “No Manners”, where she sings about her husband Iman Shumpert over some strings & piano chords. The next song “Gonna Love Me” gets romantic over an acoustic instrumental & a beautiful soul sample during the hook while the track “Issues / Hold On”. vents about fighting to keep Iman with her over a mellow guitar. The song “Hurry” with Kanye sees the 2 getting playful over a funky beat with my favorite hook on the entire album while the track “3Way” is about Teyana bringing in another woman for Iman so they can have a threesome over a moody instrumental & the Ty$ verse compliments it so perfectly. The song “Rose in Harlem” talks about being betrayed over some horns & a fitting soul sample while the track “Never Would’ve Made It” is a heartwarming tribute to her daughter over some stuttering drums & piano keys. Unfortunately, the worst song on the entire album would pop up with the closer: W.T.P. (Work This Pussy). The house production is ok, but it’s structured poorly & the vocal sample is annoying as fuck.

Other than that, this is the album that I’ve been waiting Teyana to make (even back in her Star Trak days). It’s passionate, the vocals are a lot stronger as is the songwriting & it’s WAY better produced than her debut. If she & Kanye are gonna work with each other in the future, than I’m all for it

Score: 4/5

Nas – “NASIR” review

Despite saying it was done when DJ Khaled gave us a Major 🔑Ÿ”‘ in the Summer of 2016, the legendary Queensbridge MC Nas is finally coming through with his 11th album & he has enlisted Kanye West to produce it in it’s entirety.

The album begins with “Not for Radio”, where he vents about how he feels like the world is afraid of African American people over some haunting choir vocals. The next track “Cops Shot the Kid” with Kanye sees the 2 talking about police brutality over a perfect sample of the classic Slick Rick tune “Children’s Story” while the song “White Label” is pretty much a humble brag with a beautiful sample. The track “Bonjour” gets romantic over a soulful beat with some strings while the song “Everything” does talk about the current state of the world over some marching drums & a funky bass guitar, the first 2 minutes could’ve been cut off easily. The penultimate track track “Adam & Eve” lyrically reminds me of his Escobar days over some piano keys & then the closer “Simple Things” pretty much speaks for itself over a soulful beat.

As expected, this is tied with Pusha T’s latest album DAYTONA for being my favorite of the 5 albums that Kanye has dropped within the past month. I’m not surprised by the fact that it’s 7 tracks long given the other 3 albums are also in that length but it sounds focused, it’s well written & the production is more richer than it was on Nas’ last album Life is Good in 2012.

Score: 4.5/5

KIDS SEE GHOSTS – Self-titled review

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KIDS SEE GHOSTS is a midwest hip hop duo consisting of the renown yet polarizing Chicago legend Kanye West & Cleveland recording artist KiD CuDi. The 2 have worked with each other numerous times dating back to when Yeezy signed CuDi to his GOOD Music record label in 2008 & let him co-write 4 songs on 808s & Heartbreak later that same year. KiD CuDi has contributed to every Kanye album since then. More recently the song “Ghost Town” on his latest album ye, which is a prelude track to this album over here. CuDi even released his first 3 albums with GOOD Music before he left on amicable terms in 2013 to form his Republic Records imprint Wicked Awesome Records. The duo would later have a brief falling out in the fall of 2016, but they would eventually reconcile after the St. Pablo Tour was cancelled due to Kanye‘s hospitalization for stress & exhaustion.

The album opens with “Feel the Love”, which is pretty much being dominated by Pusha T. He definitely goes in, but the gunshot adlibs from Kanye are VERY annoying. I also like the spacey keyboards & the later added drums that come through in the instrumental. The next track “Fire” actually sees the 2 getting together & responding to everyone who criticize them for their failures in the past over some militant drums & an eerie guitar in the background. The song “4th Dimension” has a prominent Louis Prima sample & as for the content, they pretty much talk about sex. I loved Kanye’s references to Master P & Rick Ross’ signature adlibs during his verse & I actually laughed harder than I should’ve when I first heard the line about him trying to have anal with the woman he’s sleeping with. The track “Freee (Ghost Town, Pt. 2)” with a brief Ty$ appearance tells the audience that that’s exactly how they feel right now over a killer guitar, but the way the say the titular word does get old after a while.

The song “Reborn” is easily my favorite one on the entire album. The lyrics are all about moving forward from their pasts & the uplifting instrumental is a serious throwback to CuDi’s 2009 debut album Man on the Moon: The End of Day. The self-produced title track has a surprising yet solid Yasiin Bey hook & the instrumental has an intergalactic atmosphere to it that’s very pretty. Lyrically, KiD CuDi‘s verse about how he can’t be stopped & that he’ll be finding heaven in a matter of time while Kanye’s talks about fame. The album then finishes with “CuDi Montage”, where CuDi tells God to save him & Kanye gets insightfully conscious over a fitting sample of “Burn the Rain” by the late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain.

As a whole, I think it’s on the same enjoyability level as ye. The pop rap production is a lot more refined & given the recent hospitalizations of both members, the chemistry between KiD CuDi & Kanye West is stronger than it ever was before.

Score: 4/5

Kanye West – “ye” review

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After going A.W.O.L. ever since his hospitalization in late 2016, the ever so polarizing Kanye West is finally coming out of the shadows to release his 8th full-length album. The opener “I Thought About Killing You” has a beautiful spoken word piece at the beginning about depression & then we get a confident verse over a moody beat, but then it switches into a more trap-like sound as he responds to his haters near the end. The next track “Yikes” talks about drugs over a hard hitting beat with a humorous outro about being a bipolar superhero while the song “All Mine” talks about a supermodel thick woman over a bouncy beat. Also, I found the hook on here to be somewhat hilarious.

The track “Wouldn’t Leave” talks about his sensitivity over a beautiful gospel-like beat & I love how he starts it off by responding to his infamous TMZ appearance a couple months ago. The song “No Mistakes” is a response to Drake’s Duppy freestyle with a beautiful sample of the classic Slick Rick jam “Hey Young World” & while the penultimate track “Ghost Town” talks about being loved over a rap rock beat, I wish it was structured better. Then we have the closer “Violent Crimes”, where he talks about his kids over an atmospheric beat. Also, the I like the references to Nicki Minaj & “Monster” halfway through the verse. It makes even more sense that Nicki pops up at the end via cell phone saying the line & that she wants everyone to hear it, but I don’t know about ending the album that way.

Regardless, this is still a fantastic. While he did say it would be only 7 tracks, it’s mostly focused & consistent with vibrant production & honest lyrics

Score: 4/5