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

Skribbal – “Black Eyed Children” review

This is the 3rd album from Los Angeles emcee Skribbal. Coming up in 2016 off the strength of his full-length debut Drug Spun Funk, the man would catch the attention of the rising Wisconsin underground label Force 5 Records & put out his sophomore effort Skinwalker a couple years later. But once Skribbal dropped his debut EP Quarantine Sessions last 4/20, he would leave the label to form his own Sony Music imprint Hell Patrol Records & the newfound independence by coming together with the highly anticipated Black Eyed Children.

After the “Retribution” intro performed by death metal icon Chris Barnes, the first actual song on the album “Born All Over” is a Napalm Drop cut where Skribbal & Big Left get together to talk about how hip hop gets them through the day on top of a sample of the O.V. Wright joint of the same name whereas “Find My Way” is a somber boom bap cut about being afraid of change.

For “Bring the Pain”, we have Skribbal on top of a quasi-funky instrumental to declare music as his therapy before declaring that he’ll never sell his soul on the dysphoric “Vampire Tactics”. We have RedCloud accompanying the mic for the heinous “Dreams in the Witch House” & the Iyze Lowe takes his spot to rap about how “can’t nobody do it like we do” on “Keep It Movin’”.

Meanwhile on “The Man Who Fell from the Sky”, Skribbal vividly details a story about a man trying to escape the US while he & Emycst declare themselves stronger than ever on the enchantingly-produced “Stronger Than Ever”. The song “We Are Not Alone” with Aether Haze is a cool dedication to all the struggling foster kids in the world on top of a beat with some grimly bells, but Celph Titled & Damian Krypt come together to get on the horrorcore tip for “Halloween Apples”.

Even though “Beyond the Black Rainbow” has a dark sound to it, I do enjoy the motivational lyrics about finding the light. The penultimate track “Wreck the System” with The R.O.C. is a dusty battle rap cut & to finish it all off, Dopehead Dan & the DG@F general himself Chucky Chuck hop on for the weed-themed “Pass the Green”.

The first of 4 bonus songs “Man with the Screaming Brain” goes into a more trap direction as Skribbal challenges all competition to bring the smoke before returning to a more boom bap sound to detail everything he’s learned on “Child of the State”. Dude brings in an organ & vocal harmonizing for the self-deprecating “Slave to the Pain & then we get some ominous keyboards as he details a regular day in the ghetto on “No Good: A Hood Story”.

In comparison to Skribbal’s last 2 albums, Black Eyed Children is a completely different vibe but in a good way. He focuses a lot less on the horrorcore aspect of things lyrically to focus on displaying his overall skills a lot more & is prominently boom bappy than before.

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

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

Kevin Abstract – “ARIZONA baby” review

Kevin Abstract is a 23 year old rapper, singer-songwriter, producer & director from Corpus Christi, Texas 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. However after a rough 2018, he’s back with his 3rd full-length album.

Things start off with “Big Wheels”, where Kevin raps about his personal demons over a synth & some hi-hats. Not a bad opener, but it sounds unfinished. The next song “Joy Ride” melodically reflects on how he would never listen over a some soothing horns while the track “Georgia” talks about being at peace over a relaxing instrumental. The track “Corpus Christi” raps about feeling like a loner as well as addresses Ameer Vann being kicked out of BROCKHAMPTON over a prominent synthesizer while “Baby Boy” is a full-blown psych-rock that touches down on an ex.

The track “Mississippi” is a somber R&B cut telling his loved ones not to get it twisted with him while the song “Use Me” reflects on going from growing up rough to being successful over an atmospheric beat. The track “Peach” with Dominic Fike is a psychedelic tune about a past relationship while the song “American Problem” literally sounds like a leftover from Childish Gambino’s last album “Awaken, My Love!”. The penultimate track “Crumble” is a guitar ballad about getting back to his lover & then the album finishes with “Boyer”, where Kevin talks about how he & this guy can’t run forever over a banger beat.

While it’s no American Boyfriend 2, this in my opinion is still the 2nd best release in Kevin’s solo discography. He continues to show how diverse of an artist he is & the production is detailed, but he drowns in his influences on some of these cuts to the point where it’s distracting. Noneless, it’s still worth checking out if you’re a big BROCKHAMPTON fan.

Score: 3.5/5

Solange – “When I Get Home” review

1280x1280.jpgSolange is a 32 year old singer, songwriter & actress from Houston, Texas known for being the younger sister of Beyoncé. Her first 2 full-length outings in the 2000s were average at best, but came back fantastically in 2016 with A Seat at the Table. But now 3 years later, she’s returning out of the blue with her 4th album.

Things kick off with “Things I Imagined”, which is a mellow yet repetitive piece. After the “S. McGregor” interlude, the next song “Down With the Clique” sings about how she comes first & the keyboards from Tyler, The Creator on here are absolutely gorgeous. The track “Way to the Show” is about how this guy can get it over a spacey yet funky beat & after the “Can I Hold the Mic?” interlude, the song “Stay Flo” talks about lust over a settle instrumental from Metro Boomin’ of all people. The track “Dreams” talks about just that over a relaxing instrumental from both Earl Sweatshirt & Blood Orange and after the “Nothing Without Intention” interlude, the song “Almeda” with Playboi Carti sees the 2 listing common traits of black people over some militant drums & beautiful keyboard passages.

The track “Time (Is)” sings about how this guy isn’t for her over some keys & bass-playing while the song “My Skin My Logo” with Gucci Mane sees the 2 complimenting each other perfectly over a bass-guitar. After the “We Deal with the Freak’n” intermission, the track “Jerrod” is a guitar ballad about how Solange wants the titular guy to call her. The song “Binz” talks about how she wants to wake up over a minimalist instrumental while the track “Beltway” is a half-written ballad about how this dude loves her. After the “Exit Scott” interlude, the song “Sound of Rain” is another repetitive piece, but I do admire the atmospheric Pharrell production. Then after the “Not Screwed!” interlude, the song “I’m a Witness” serves as a flawless closer with a prominent bass-line.

This is EASILY a serious contender for the best R&B album of 2019. It’s bit more psychedelic than A Seat at the Table, but it’s just as introspective & lush. Another near perfect example of why Solange is on par (or maybe even better) than her sister.

Score: 4.5/5

Earl Sweatshirt – “Some Rap Songs” review

Earl Sweatshirt is a 24 year old MC & producer from Los Angeles, California who began his career in 2008 under the name Sly Tendencies. He posted a handful of tracks for a mixtape called Kitchen Cutlery on MySpace, but the tape would never be released to this day. Then he formed a rap trio with 2 of his friends called The Backpackerz & planned to release a mixtape together titled World Playground, but they disbanded sometime in 2009. Shortly after, he joined Odd Future & appeared on their 2nd & final mixtape Radical that May. 10 months later, he put out his only mixtape to date Earl with OF’s de facto leader Tyler, The Creator producing a bulk of it. The tape received a lot of buzz, but Earl’s mother would send him to a therapeutic retreat school for at-risk boys in Samoa sometime after until February of 2012. He was then granted his own Columbia Records imprint Tan Cressida Records & released his debut album Doris in 2013 to critical acclaim for his clever rhyme schemes & the gritty production from those such as The Neptunes & even the RZA. He then formed the duo Hog Slaughta Boyz with OF affiliate Na’kel at the beginning of 2015 & released his sophomore album I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside a couple months after. Many of which consider to be better than Doris for it’s darker aesthetic. He’s been laying low since then but with the deaths of his father Keorapetse Kgositsile as well as his his uncle Hugh Masekela & his friend Mac Miller earlier this year, he’s putting out his highly anticipated 3rd album.

The album begins with “Shattered Dreams”, where Earl discusses his comeback over a soul sample. The next track “Red Water” serves as a short yet equally gratifying sequel to Solace while the song “Cold Summers” uses some clever gun imagery over a mellow instrumental. The track “Nowhere2Go” talks about depression over a glitchy abstract instrumental while the song “December 24” gets intellectually conscious over a Denmark Vessey instrumental with a prominently gloomy piano sample. The track “Ontheway!” talks about his mood swinging over a smooth guitar sample while “The Mint” with Navy Blue sees the 2 talking about fighting their demons over an amazing piano loop.

“The Bends” touches down on his success over a soul sample & some strings while the song “Loosie” seems to talk about a backstabber over a slow yet funky beat. The track “Azucar” talks about how he’s been coping with his depression over a blissful instrumental while the song “Eclipse” is about him missing his shine. The track “Veins” talks about keeping faith over an AMAZING Curtis Mayfield sample & after the heartwarming “Playing Possum” interlude from Earl’s parents, the penultimate track “Peanut” discusses the deaths of Keorapetse & Hugh over a settle yet dark beat. The album ends with “Riot!”, which is an instrumental cut heavily sampling the Hugh Masekela song with the same name.

This has been one of my most anticipated albums of 2018 & at the end, Earl has just given what I believe to be the best album I’ve heard all year. I’m a little disappointed that it’s only 25 minutes long, but the Madvillainy influenced production is super creative & Earl continues to prove himself as the 2nd best lyricist of the decade (#1 of course being Kendrick Lamar) by cleverly detailing the darkest year of his life.

Score: 4.5/5

BROCKHAMPTON – “iridescence” review

BROCKHAMPTON is a hip hop “boyband” that originated in San Marcos, Texas in 2015. They dropped a flawed yet decent mixtape in 2016 called ALL-AMERICAN TRASH but in 2017, they completely reinvented themselves by dropping 3 near-perfectly creative albums with the SATURATION trilogy. However, things this year looked bleak for them in part of Ameer Vann (who was featured on the cover of all 3 SATURATION albums) was kicked out in May due to sexual misconduct. They then dropped 3 solid singles over the summer but now, they’re finally returning with their 4th full-length album.

Things start off with “NEW ORLEANS”, where they talk about how they’re calling their own shots over a gritty beat. The next track “THUG LIFE” sees the boyband’s de facto leader Kevin Abstract linking up with his older brother Dom McLennon alongside bearface to talk about depression over a beautiful piano instrumental while the song “BERLIN” sees Dom getting with Matt Champion & JOBA to talk shit over an abrasive beat. The “SOMETHING ABOUT HIM” interlude is an endearing tribute to Kevin’s husband Jaden Walker with a smooth instrumental from Romil Hemnani & Q3, but it sounds unfinished.

The track “WHERE THE CASH AT” sees Merlyn Wood & Matt Champion talks about their new rich life over a bouncy beat while the song “WEIGHT” is a heartfelt look into the boyband’s inner demons over some strings, but then it constantly switches from drum & bass with a piano to just simply punchy drums. The track “DISTRICT” is a club banger over a video gamey beat & after the “LOOPHOLE” interlude, we go into the song “TAPE”. Here, the boyband talks about their insecurities over a gloomy beat with skittering drums. The track “J’OUVERT” talks about success over a chaotic beat & while everyone’s performance on here was great, JOBA’s angry verse stood out to me the most.

The song “HONEY” gets braggadocious over an electro-funk beat while the track “VIVID” talks about how they’re making money now over an eerie electronic beat. The song “SAN MARCOS” is a guitar ballad about wanting more out of life while the penultimate track “TONYA” talks about unstable stardom over a prominent piano. The short switch up during Kevin’s verse & JOBA’s bridge was just ok, though. The album then finishes with “FABRIC”, where the boyband talks about still being depressed despite their newfound success & I absolutely love how the beat constantly switches throughout.

Being one of my most anticipated albums of the year, this did not disappoint. BROCKHAMPTON continues to be the most unique group in today’s hip hop landscape as their sound on here is refreshingly different than that of the SATURATION trilogy & I’ve also noticed that the chemistry between every member has improved.

Score: 4/5

Camila Cabello – “Camila” review

6773332

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

Score: 4/5 

Huncho Jack – “Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho” review

https_%2F%2Fimages.genius.com%2F6975c7290d7a6e6342aa6101bd15318d.1000x1000x1.jpg

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