BROCKHAMPTON – “T.M. (Tomorrow Morning)” review

BROCKHAMPTON was a hip hop “boy band” that originated in San Marcos, Texas in 2010 via the “KanyeToTheForum under the original name AliveSinceForever. But when things started to look good for them after they released the SATURATION trilogy to universal acclaim in 2017, one of their founding members Ameer Vann was kicked out midway through the following year due to sexual misconduct resulting in the boys’ next 2 albums following iridescence & GINGER were both released to moderate reception. ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW MACHINE however became their best post-Ameer album a year & a half ago at this point but after announcing their disbandment following their Coachella performances this past April & only a day after their de facto leader Kevin Abstract dropped his new solo effort The Family, the boys are getting back together one last time for their 7th & final album.

“F.M.G. (Fuck My Gang)” is an aggressive trap opener produced by Kiko Merley & JOBA with Dom McLennon & Matt Champion accompanying Kevin to quit being humble whereas “Animal” finds Jabari Manwa, Kevin & Matt talking about turning into beasts over a cloudy Romil Hemnani instrumental. Listerine” though returns to trap territory as Dom & Jabari addressing a bitch that’s tripping ’cause it’s less on them prior to the playful sounding “New Shoes” with Kevin, Dom, Matt & Merlyn Wood assuring everyone that the group is still on good terms with one another even though they’re disbanding.

However on “Keep It Southern”, we have Kevin & Merlyn over a trap beat with some synths paying tribute to their Texas roots just before “Man on the Moon” dives into more melancholic territory with a cool dance break at the end for Kevin & Matt to talk about wanting to make out with their lover on the actual moon itself & the hook is probably the catchiest on the album. “Better Things” is pretty much a moody Kevin Abstract solo cut with Matt on the hook & an outro from JOBA to speak on the next chapter of their lives just before “Crucify Me” works in some live drums & pianos for Kevin & Matt express their desire to rewind & pretend that they knew what they were in for with a crazy instrumental outro pulling from jazz music.

The song “Duct Tape” has a more booming quality to the instrumental as Jabari, Matt & Kevin admitting that they don’t have anything to talk about anymore as a unit while the penultimate track “Always Something” shoots for a more melodic approach as Dom, JOBA & Kevin sing about letting motherfuckers in something they should know. But then, “GOODBYE” serves as a bittersweet EDM-influenced coda with JOBA & Matt talking about not the “best time of our lives” for granted.

I’ll never forget seeing the SATURATION artwork everywhere when that album was first released when I was 20 & it prompting me to check out their music because it was good enough to make me to stick around for the whole ride, to which I’m happy I did because this was great swan song from them. I like how they fuse elements of trap, alternative R&B, cloud rap & even neo-psychedelia with their west coast pop rap style as everyone braces themselves for the next chapter. And before I end this review, I just wanna thank BROCKHAMPTON for all the dope music they’ve given us in the last 5 years & I wish them all nothing but the best going forward.

Score: 4.5/5

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Kevin Abstract – “The Family” review

This is the 4th full-length album from Corpus Christi rapper, rapper, singer-songwriter, producer & director Kevin Abstract. who made his debut in 2014 with MTV1987. He followed it up 2 years later with the fantastic American Boyfriend: A Suburban Love Story & then the following year, he rose to stardom as the de facto leader of BROCKHAMPTON. But with their 7th & final album TM coming tomorrow, Kevin’s re-emerging on his own with The Family marketed as a group project only to fulfill their RCA Records contract.

“Take It Back” is a chipmunk soul opener with Kevin admitting that he had to wash the blue paint off to set himself free & promising the next chapter to be everything whereas “RZA” works in another pitched-vocal sample from bearface talks about having to be more like The Abbot himself after speaking to his mother the other day trying to give him advice. “Gold Teeth” looks back on the early days of the boy band over a crooning loop kin to “They Don’t Care About Us” by Michael Jackson just before “Big Pussy” has more of a jazzy boom bap flare to it asking to stop harassing him because the show’s over.

Meanwhile on “All That”, we have Kevin admitting that the boys’ success came with problems of becoming rich with an amazing interpolation of the theme song from the titular Nickelodeon show that I grew up watching leading into “(Back from the) Road” reflecting on the Love Your Parents tour over a jangly instrumental. “Basement” has a more experimental quality to the production acknowledges his love for the fans despite that they’d kill him if they could, but then “Southside” tells those to stop actin’ like they know him over a sample-based trap beat.

“Good Time” has a more drumless approach to it speaking on the days when the boys played their final shows in London while the syrupy sample throughout “37th” is a cool ode to their Texas roots talking about ending up on the titular street if he could fly through a Cali night. “Boyband” weaves a gospel loop into the fold à la Kanye West’s last finished full-length DONDAacknowledging that they’ve always been outside of the lines while “Any Way You Want Me” asking what if he could change for us because we have him everything over a guitar.

Moving on to the title track, where Kevin jumps on top of a peppy beat with no drums talking about those not knowing shit about him while “Prayer” is a more melodic cut with some bare synths asking God not to make him grow up because he doesn’t want to move on from this amazing chapter in his life. The song “My American Life” goes in depth of how far he’s come in the last 7 years over some acoustics while the penultimate track “The Ending”samples “Let Me Be the One” by Willie Hutch asking if this is the way we all visioned the demise. “Brockhampton” though is a symphonic closer to the album with Kevin bidding farewell to the best boy band since 1 Direction.

It’s pretty much a Kevin Abstract solo effort labeled as a BROCKHAMPTON album & I’m assuming that’s the case because of contractual reasons, but I happen to think The Family is the best thing Kevin has done since American Boyfriend only 6 years back by now. He comes from the heart as he reflects one last time on the journey he & the boys have been on together with the production pulling from chipmunk soul, drumless, jazz rap & gospel. Considering that, I think TM will be a remarkably bittersweet swan song when it drops tomorrow.

Score: 4/5

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Latto – “777” review

Latto is a 23 year old rapper from Atlanta, Georgia who won the very first season of The Rap Game & eventually turned down a deal with So So Def Recordings because it wasn’t enough money. She eventually broke through a couple summers back after signing to RCA Records & putting out her full-length debut Queen of da Souf, which I personally thought was just mid. However given her recent singles, I was definitely interested in checking out her sophomore album over here.

The title track is a 2-part opener with the first half on top of a cloudy trap instrumental from Sonny Digital with the other mixing choir vocals to reaffirm her Queen of da Souf status. 21 Savage tags along for the phonk-influenced “Wheelie” getting raunchy whereas “Big Energy” samples “Fantasy” by Mariah Carey & “Genius of Love” by Tom Tom Club encouraging listeners to believe in themselves. Childish Gambino & Lil Wayne come into the picture for the undeniably catchy “Sunshine” produced by Bongo to talk about feeling good, but then the Lil Durk-assisted “Like a Thug” goes into a more striped back direction for a lust anthem.

Meanwhile on “It’s Givin’”, we have Latto going full on Dirty South with the help of Pooh Beatz & JetsonMade for a dedication to all the boss bitches out there leading into “Stepper” having a Detroit trap quality to it getting on some Bonnie & Clyde shit even though Nardo Wick’s verse does not thing for me at all. “Trust No Bitch” basically speaks for itself on top of an aggressive beat just before “Bussdown” with Kodak Black finds the 2 for a glossy braggadocio tune produced by OG Parker.

The song “Soufside” breaks down how it be where she’s from with a string-heavy backdrop while the penultimate track “Sleep Sleep” is an entrancing ballad produced by BoogzDaBeast about sleeping naked. “Real One” ends the album with a bouncy Pharrell instrumental admitting that she feels disrespected. As for the “Big Energy” remix with Nicki Minaj, I happen to like it less than the original.

If you haven’t been sold on Latto yet, then I think 777 would be the most important place to start because it has me appreciating her a lot more as an artist than I did when she initially broke out. Her songwriting has gotten better with the same thing applying to the production & the feature choices are a lot more consistent than they were a little over a year back.

Score: 3.5/5

Doja Cat – “Planet Her” review

Doja Cat is a 25 year old rapper, singer, songwriter & producer from Los Angeles, California who caught my attention in 2018 off her viral novelty single “MOOO!”. This was followed up the next year with her debut mixtape Hot Pink which was decent as a whole, but “Say So” solidified that she wasn’t going away anytime soon. However, I did get excited for this sophomore album of hers given how much I enjoyed the singles leading up to it & wanted to give it a shot.

“Woman” is a dancehall flavored opener telling this man to let her in his life whereas “Naked” is a wintry ode to sex. Young Thug comes into the picture for the acoustic trap money anthem “Payday” just before paying homage to Nicki Minaj on the bouncy “Get Into It (Yuh)”. Meanwhile with “Need to Know”, we get an 808s & Heartbreak inspired tune telling her man to throw the pipe leading into the moody [Ariana Grande duet “I Don’t Do Drugs”.

Doja Cat goes on to reminisce about an ex on the trap flavored slow jam “Love to Dream” while The Weeknd duet “You Right” is an atmospheric anthem about lust. “Been Like This” is a psychedelic look at a man who’s changed on her whereas the J.I.D-assisted “Options” works in a flute & they get kinky.

Some plinky pianos get incorporated to call out bum-ass men on “Ain’t Shit” & then for “Imagine”, we get a vibrant trap banger about her hard work paying off. The penultimate track “Alone” ponders if she’s crazy for wanting to be single over a summery instrumental & then there’s “Kiss Me More”, which is an infectiously dance-pop heavy duet with SZA.

Now despite me thinking Doja Cat’s last 2 projects were mid, I genuinely think she delivered on Planet Her. Undoubtedly her magnum opus so far in my personal opinion. I love how diverse the production is & the whole concept of this self-originated world is well pieced together.

Score: 3.5/5

BROCKHAMPTON – “ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW MACHINE (PLUS PACK)” review

This is the surprise 2nd EP from San Marcos, Texas hip hop boyband BROCKHAMPTON. Originally emerging under the name AliveSinceForever in 2010, they put out a self-titled EP in 2013 under the radar before catching some attention off their debut mixtape ALL-AMERICAN TRASH back in 2016. However, it wouldn’t be until the following year that we saw them completely reinventing themselves by dropping the near-perfectly creative SATURATION trilogy. Then there’s the infamous sexual misconduct scandal revolving around the boyband’s most popular lyricist at the time Ameer Vann halfway through 2018, which resulted in him being kicked out of BROCKHAMPTON. A decision that to this very day resulted in many people to fall off with the boys. Their next 2 albums iridescence & GINGER were both released to moderate reception, but they eventually took 2020 off & returned to form a couple months back off ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW MACHINE. However after being initially released with the box set as CD exclusive bonus tracks, Kevin Abstract & company have finally decided to make them available for streaming.

“PRESSURE” is pretty much Merlyn Wood & Dom McLennon on top of a generic trap beat showing off, but then the 2nd half “BOW WOW” is pretty much a brief ssgkobe solo cut with a summery instrumental & Kevin Abstract on the hook taking it back to the fashion style of the early 2000’s.

The next song “SEX” finds the whole gang together on top of some hi-hats & synthesizers to rap about fucking, but then the EP finishes off with the remix & original version of “JEREMIAH”. The lyrics on both versions are the same proclaiming themselves as profits, but the difference between them is that the remix has a guitar intro, the vocals are pitched up & there’s a shorter beat outro. The original is the other away around.

I’ve said before that ROADRUNNER is the most consistent BROCKHAMPTON album I’ve heard since SATURATION III & that still stands. However, I’m kinda torn on this EP. None of these joints are necessarily amazing or horrible, they just feel like mediocre throwaways to me.

Score: 2.5/5

Young Nudy – “DR. EV4L” review

Young Nudy is a 28 year old rapper from Atlanta, Georgia notable for being cousins with 21 Savage. Ever since coming up together in 2016, the cat released a total of 6 mixtapes (the most notable one being the Pi’erre Bourne-produced Sli’merre) before putting out his full-length debut Anyways just a little over a year ago. But as summer approaches next month, Nudy is following it up by dropping his highly anticipated sophomore album.

“Revenge” kicks things off with an ominous, bass-heavy instrumental from Coupe (who produced all but 5 joints on the album) & Young Nudy exposing someone for trickin’ people out their cash, but then “Mini Me” is essentially about sending youngins to pull a shootout & I like how they sample “Black Butterfly” by Deniece Williams. Meanwhile on “Yellow Tape”, we have Lil Uzi Vert coming into fold as he & Nudy jump on a cloudy beat from 20 Rocket saying they have murder on their minds before trying to find “the reason why the fuck your folks ain’t breathin’” on the synth-laced “Roughneck”.

The song “Perc 30” has a more hypnotic tone instrumentally as Young Nudy proclaims himself as a rich shooter whereas “The Rustlers” goes into a more braggadocious direction lyrically with the production from Mojo & Bavier having a spectral feel to it. “Child’s Play” with 21 Savage is a cool lil homage to the horror movie franchise of the same name despite the comatose beat, but then he admits that he “doesn’t like to beef with pussies” if he “ain’t got no reason” on the minimally-produced “Soul Keeper”. I thought “2Face” was a good choice for a single leading up to the album because or perfectly lives up to it’s name with the instrumental switch-up during the 2nd half along with Nudy & G Herbo’s lyrics about being famous yet reckless.

The nocturnal beat on “Scott Evil” is pretty dope as are the lyrics about how he “don’t need nobody squeeze for me” before asking for smoke on the glum-sounding title track. The penultimate track “Colombian Necktie” is pretty much a ruthless 4-minute freestyle about slitting throats & finally, the closer “Walking Dead” is basically Young Nudy going on about how he’s seen it all & I almost wanna say the instrumental almost goes into a more dungeon synth sound which is pretty cool.

It’s pretty safe to say that DR. EV4L is easily Nudy’s darkest body of work yet. Throughout the 45 minute runtime, the songwriting borderlines horrorcore at some points & Coupe could possibly become trap’s next big producer because his contributions to the production-end of the album ties into it’s theme more.

Score: 3.5/5

BROCKHAMPTON – “ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW MACHINE” review

BROCKHAMPTON is a hip hop boy band that originated in San Marcos, Texas in 2010 via the “KanyeToTheForum under the original name AliveSinceForever. But when things started to look good for them after they released the SATURATION trilogy to universal acclaim in 2017, one of their founding members Ameer Vann was kicked out midway through the following year due to sexual misconduct. The boys’ next 2 albums following iridescence & GINGER were both released to moderate reception & after taking 2020 off, Kevin Abstract & the gang are returning from the shadows by dropping their 6th & allegedly penultimate album.

“BUZZCUT” is a off-the-wall opener as Kevin & Danny Brown come through with some conscious undertones through their lyrics backed by a psychedelic instrumental from Jabari Manwa. The next song “Chain On” goes into a more cloud rap direction as Kevin connects with JPEGMAFIA to speak out against police brutality whereas “Count on Me” is a summery anthem about how everything will be ok regardless of what they say & even though I think Matt Champion & A$AP Rocky both kill their verses, I can’t say the same for SoGoneSoFlexy.

The track “Bankroll” is a hazy trap banger with Merlyn Wood, Jabari & A$AP Ferg to show off their wealth while “The Light” is pretty much JOBA & Kevin venting about something being missing deep inside them over an ominous boom bap instrumental. The song “Windows” everyone reuniting with SoGoneSoFlexy to talk about how crazy they are with an icier instrumental than the previous cut & then “I’ll Take You On” finds Charlie Wilson joining Matt & bearface to cook up an gorgeous alternative R&B joint.

The instrumental on “Old News” kinda reminds me of Baby Bash’s “Suga Suga” for some odd reason as the boys tap in Baird to address the games their lovers put them through, but then Matt & JOBA get together on “What’s the Occasion?” to vent about how “a million little pieces all add up to nothing lately” on top of an acoustic/boom bap instrumental with some occasional synths. Chad Hugo laces the piano ballad “When I Ball” that sees Matt & Dom McLennon looking back on their younger days whereas the chaotically-produced “Don’t Shoot Up the Party” finds Kevin & Matt speaking against the bigotry in America. The track “Dear Lord” is a short, a capella bearface solo cut about his brother needing help & then “The Light, Pt. II” is an optimistic, almost gospel-flavored closer from Kevin & JOBA.

If anyone’s been turned off by these guys given the moderate reception of their last 2 albums, then I highly recommend giving this a shot because this is their most consistent effort since SATURATION III. I really dig how they started to incorporate more outside collaborators even though not all of them stick the landing & the boys do a great job at showing listeners what’s been going on in their world ever since GINGER came out.

Score: 4/5

Various Artists – “Judas & the Black Messiah: The Inspired Album” review

This is a brand new soundtrack album curated by California producer, rapper & singer/songwriter Hit-Boy. Coming up in the late 2000s under the wing of Polow da Don, he eventually become an in-house producer for the Kanye West-owned Def Jam Recordings imprint G.O.O.D. Music from 2011 to 2013 before forming his own label HS87 Music distributed by Interscope Records. But it goes without saying that 2020 was Hit-Boy’s biggest year yet, starting off when he entirely produced Nas’ latest full-length outing King’s Disease in it’s entirety in late August. This would result in a 3-peat for Hit-Boy, as he went on to produce nearly half of Big Sean’s last album Detroit 2 a couple weeks later & then lacing Benny the Butcher’s sophomore effort Burden of Proof from front to back a little over a month after. But to accompany the universally acclaimed political drama Judas & the Black Messiah hitting HBO Max & select theaters, the West Coast producer has amassed an all-star cast of performers to make music inspired by the motion picture.

After the 3-minute spoken word intro “COINTELPRO / DEC. 4” by Chairman Fred Hampton Jr., the first song “Fight for You” by H.E.R. talks about freedom over a glossy yet funky beat whereas the next song “EPMD” by Nas gets in his Escobar bag over an more aggressive instrumental from Hit-Boy himself. The song “Welcome to America” by Black Thought talks about dreaming as long as you’re breathing in the U.S. over a tribal beat from Sean C while the track “What It Feels Like” by JAY-Z & the late Nipsey Hu$$le talks about success over an instrumental with an ambitious atmosphere to it.

The song “Broad Day” by Hit-Boy talks about A&Ring the game over an angelic beat while the track “Plead the .45th” by Saba & Smino talks about remaining silent over a colorless instrumental. The song “Something Ain’t Right” by J.I.D & Rapsody talks about corruption over a calming beat from Cardiak while the track “Letter 2 U” by BJ the Chicago Kid asks to set this woman’s soul on fire over a tactile instrumental.

The song “On Your Mind” by Lil Durk gets confessional over a trap beat with some wonderful keyboard arpeggios while the track “Appraise” by White Dave talks about being the last hope over a cloudy instrumental. The song “All Black” by G Herbo talks about poppin’ out over some celebratory horn sections from Turbo while the track “I Declare War” by Nado Wick gets violent over an drugged-out instrumental from Cardo.

The song “No Profanity” by Pooh Shiesty perfectly lives up to it’s name as he talks about standing on what he believes in without cussing over a sumptuous trap beat while the track “Last Man Standing” by Polo G talks about leading Chicago the way Fred Hampton did over a wretched instrumental. The song “Respect My Mind” by Dom Kennedy talks about rising to the challenges over a hair-raising beat while the track “Revolutionary” by G Herbo & Bump J talks about “standing like a man” over a beautiful vocal sample laced throughout the instrumental.

The song “Teach Me” by SiR talks about having the wrong idea of love over a holy beat while the track “Contagious” by SAFE & Liana Ledé is a cliché romance duet carried by the spicy instrumental. The song “Rich N***a Problems” by A$AP Rocky details the cons of being wealthy over a jazzy trap beat & after the “J.A.T.B.M”. outro, the bonus cut “Black Messiah” by Rakim is essentially Fred Hampton’s life on wax backed by a soul sample from The God MC himself.

This is hands down the best soundtrack album I’ve heard in a while. I mean I’m not too big on soundtrack albums this day in age & I made that pretty clear when I gave a positive review towards the Conflicted soundtrack last month, but I consider this to be the Black Panther soundtrack on steroids from the guests & production to the subject matter.

Score: 4/5

Childish Gambino – "3.15.20" review

This is the surprise 4th full-length album from California rapper, singer, DJ, actor, comedian, producer & director Childish Gambino a.k.a. Donald Glover. His 2011 debut album Camp was pretty mediocre, but he would show his artistic growth on his next 2 projects R O Y A L T Y & Because of the Internet. Last time we heard from Donald in a full-length capacity was in 2016 with “Awaken, My Love!”, which was an awesome throwback to the days of Parliament-Funkadelic. But after leaking 3.15.20 on his website in it’s entirety just a week ago, he’s now officially putting it out on all streaming services.

After the almost ambient like “0.00” intro, the first song “Algorythm” finds Donald talks about partying over an enticing instrumental co-produced by DJ Dahi. The track “Time” with Sarah Aarons sees the 2 talking about how life is moving fast over a synth-heavy instrumental while the song “Vibrate” gets romantic over a Neptunes inspired instrumental that’s actually pretty great & the 21 Savage verse that actually compliments the track more than I thought it would. However, it didn’t need to be 6 & a half minutes long. The track “19.10” talks about what it is to be beautiful over an industrial instrumental while the song “24.19” gets flirtatious over a shimmery instrumental.

The track “32.22” finds Donald whispering & then singing in auto-tune over an instrumental kin to Kanye West’s Yeezus while the song “35.31” tells the story of a young drug dealer over a country-inspired instrumental. The track “39.28” is just Donald harmoniously singing a capella while the song “Feels Like Summer” still doesn’t quite live up to it’s name both lyrically & instrumentally. while the track “47.48” talks about how cruel the world can be over a funky instrumental & then the album ends with song “53.49”, where Donald talks about finding love over a euphoric instrumental.

If this is truly the last Gambino album like he’s been saying over the past few years, then I’m not mad because it’s his most esoteric body of work to date. I can see why some other people may not like it because of how weird it can be but I like the eclectic production & his vocals have continued to get better over time.

Score: 3.5/5

BROCKHAMPTON – “GINGER” review

This is the 5th full-length album from San Marcos, Texas hip hop boyband BROCKHAMPTON. They first came together with an average debut mixtape in 2016 called ALL-AMERICAN TRASH, but it wouldn’t be until the following year that we saw them completely reinventing themselves by dropping the near-perfectly creative SATURATION trilogy. Then there’s the infamous sexual misconduct scandal revolving around the boyband’s most popular lyricist Ameer Vann last May, which resulted in him being kicked out of BROCKHAMPTON. A decision that to this very day is still polarizing by many. However, I think they managed to pull through shortly after with their last full-length album iridescence. Fast forward 11 months later, here we are with GINGER.

The album kicks off with “NO HALO”, where the boys sans de facto leader Kevin Abstract venting about personal issues over an acoustic instrumental from Jabari Manwa. The next song “SUGAR” gets romantic over another acoustic instrumental while the track “BOY BYE” talks about each member’s highs & lows over a quirky beat from Romil Hemnani & Q3. The short “HEAVEN BELONGS TO YOU” is a completely random slowthai song while the track “ST. PERCY” finds the boys charismatically bragging over a bassy instrumental & I absolutely love the Missy Elliott/Timbaland vibes during the hook. The track “IF YOU PRAY RIGHT” gets spiritual over a prominent tuba with Dom McLennon starting it off in a charming fashion while the song “DEARLY DEPARTED” addresses Ameer Vann’s dismissal over a cavernously melodic beat.

The track “I BEEN BORN AGAIN” talk about their newfound fame over a minimalist beat while the titular song finds Kevin teaming with Matt Champion & bearface to get a bit darker on the topical end over an inebriating beat. The track “BIG BOY” sees Kevin, bearface & JOBA recalling their childhood experiences over a dream-like instrumental while the penultimate song “LOVE ME FOR LIFE” finds everyone from then previous joint getting with Merlyn Wood over a lively yet subdued instrumental. The album then finishes with “VICTOR ROBERTS”, which is an introduction to a rapper with the same name over a bare piano instrumental.

This is the boys’ weakest album so far, but it’s still solid. Of course each song stands out in it’s own way, but it kinda lacks in catchiness both rapping-wise & instrumentally. Hopefully, they’ll step it up on the next effort.

Score: 3.5/5