Ramirez – “The Tragedy of a Clown” review

This is the 8th mixtape from San Francisco emcee Ramirez. Coming up in 2014 as a longtime affiliate of the $uicideboy$, he would go on to co-found to the New Orleans-based indie label G*59 Record$ with them & build himself as an artist by dropping his last 7 tapes, 10 EPs & 4 full-lengths in the span of nearly a decade. The last album Tha Playa$ Manual was his best yet with it’s g-funk production from Rocci & the gangsta rap lyricism, so that definitely intrigued me to check out The Tragedy of a Clown over here.

After the intro, the first song “Return of the Corpse” kicks off the tape with some heavy bass & a plucky loop asking if there’s a problem whereas the Pouya-assisted “Bacon, Eggs & Grits” finds the 2 over trap beat with a violin sample belittling everyone who be on their balls. “The Dungeon” dives into boom bap territory declaring himself to be the motherfucker you better run from, but then Germ tags along for the quirky yet alien-like trap banger “Carthart Vest” spitting aggressive braggadocio.

Meanwhile on “What the Hook Gon’ Be?”, we have Shakewell & Fat Nick joining Ramirez for an energetic Memphis gangsta rap heater just before “6 Feet Under” shoots for a more haunting aesthetic talking about being in rehab. “The Root of Demise” follows it up with a twangy trap ballad detailing depression leading into the misty yet rowdy “Murdered Out Vehicles” spitting some wicked shit.

“The Gallows Wait” has a more psychedelic quality to the production especially with the chopped & the screwed sample at the start & finish talking about being 1 gangsta ass ghost with Shakewell returning for the closer “Shameless Gorilla” boasting that there’s no shame in their game” with some morbid production from Mikey the Magician.

For him to give us this coming off his most critically acclaimed work to date, I think G*59 fans like myself are gonna be more than satisfied with it considering how consistent they’ve been. Ramirez takes it back to a more Memphis rap emphasis as far as sound goes with the lyricism being a bit more darker 2 & a half years later.

Score: 3.5/5

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The Game – “Drillmatic: Heart vs. Mind” review

The Game is a 42 year old MC from Compton, California who was initially taken under the wing of JT the Bigga Figga. His 2002 debut mixtape You Know What It Is would catch the attention of Dr. Dre & 50 Cent. Both of whom signed Game to a joint venture to their individually respective labels Aftermath Entertainment & G-Unit Records distributed by Interscope Records. With their help, his debut album The Documentary the following year would go on to become a West Coast essential. However, a falling out between Game & 50 just months after the album’s release would result in Game moving over to Geffen Records to complete his 5-album contract. His next 4 albums Dr.’s Advocate, LAX, The RE.D. (RE-Dedication) Album & Je5us PiecE all showed that Game didn’t need Dre or 50 to make quality music. Once fulfilling his major label obligations, he went the independent route by founding his own label Prolific Records & showcasing the artists with a compilation entitled Blood Moon: Year of the Wolf in 2014. Game then put out an overloaded yet decent sequel to his debut with The Documentary 2+2.5 the next year as well as 1992 the year after & his previous effort Born 2 Rap on his 40th birthday. But with the help of Hit-Boy, Game’s returning from “retirement” yet again in the form is his 10th album.

“1 Time” kicks off the album with a plucky guitar & Game talking about being a nightmare walking whereas “Eazy” with Kanye West samples the late Eazy-E thanks to Hit-Boy himself alongside Mike Dean & even DJ Premier confessing that their lives were never a breeze. Fivio Foreign tags along for the drill-infused “Burnin’ Checks” talking about being real ones, but then “Voodoo” incorporates a swooning trap instrumental detailing being a menace.

Meanwhile on “Home Invasion”, we have Game chaotically telling the story of his life just before YoungBoy Never Broke Again comes into the picture for the DJ Paul-produced “Opp” expressing their dislike for the feds. “Outside” with YG has a more ghostly aesthetic from S1 calling out those who claim Compton that didn’t grow up there just before “La La Land” goes into jazzier turf showing his love for Los Angeles.

“Change the Game” goes full-blown g-funk talking about never switching up while the piano-driven “How Far I’ve Came” says it all. “Heart vs. Mind” has a drearier tone to it thanks to DJ Mustard with the lyrics talking about his heart & mind being at war with one another while “No Smoke at the Polo Lounge” returns to soulful territory looking for smoke.

Following that, “No Man Falls” with Pusha T & 2 Chainz has a more drumless vibe talking about how they all crutches while the London on da Track laced “Chrome Slugs-n-Harmony” with G Herbo & Lil Wayne is a fantastic ode to the Bone Thugs-n-Harmony from the sample to London on da Track tapping into the the g-funk sounds that made E. 1999 Eternal the beloved masterpiece it is. “Start from Scratch II” is a sequel to one of my favorite cuts off The Documentary also being an emotional tribute to Prodigy while “What We Not Gon’ Do” dives into a more futuristic vibe talking about not going to war or calling the cops.

Ye & Dreezy accompany Game for the Middle Eastern-inspired “Fortunate” produced by Timbaland bragging that they’re doing it big whole “Rubi’s Rose” starts off with Twista rapping about fucking over an acoustic guitar prior to the beat switching up to a slower groove & Game elaborating on. After the “Drake with the Braids” interlude, “Nikki Beach” with French Montana comes through with a phoned in advertisement for DJ Khaled’s upcoming 13th album They Didn’t Believe in Us, God Did dropping in a couple of weeks while the Meek Mill/Moneybagg Yo-assisted “Talk to Me Nice” playfully confesses being too big-headed for other’s advice.

Continuing from there, the Mike Zombie/Swizz Beatz-laced “Money Cash Clothes” with A$AP Rocky embraces the boom bap sound to flex how fly both of them are while “Killas” comes through with a tribute to The Diplomats’ de facto leader himself Cam’ron & I’m happy to hear him give love to the Brooklyn drill sound considering the purists’ distaste for it. Then there’s “The Black Slim Shady”, which is a 10-minute diss track towards Eminem with some well sequenced beat switches throughout & mimicking his flows. I’d much rather listen to this than “Rap Devil”, but the best Em diss has always been “Searching 4 Bobby Fisher” by Evidence in my opinion.

Speaking of Big Sean, he shows up for the organ/boom bap hybrid “Stupid” boasting how hard both of them go on the mic while the bluesy “.38 Special” talking about every day being Cripmas. “Twisted” takes it back to the trap confessing that the liquor he sippin on got his guy fucked up while “World Tours” with the late Nipsey Hu$$le is a spacey ode to their self-made hustle.

The luxurious “Save the Best for Last” with Rick Ross cooked up by G. Ry & OG Parker expresses their gratitude to still be walking on this planet Earth today while the penultimate track “A Father’s Prayer” blends a gospel sample with some dusty drums for an open letter to his daughter. “Universal Love” sends off the album with a warm pea that love is everything.

Dude can be attention whore, but goddamn it I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think Drillmatic: Heart vs. Mind makes up for how mid Born 2 Rap was on the final Thanksgiving before COVID-19 changed the world forever. There is some filler, but Game sounds like he has a fire under his ass lyrically & Hit-Boy’s ear for production is just what was needed.

Score: 4/5

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Night Lovell – “Just Say You Don’t Care” review

Night Lovell is a 23 year old rapper, songwriter & producer from Ottawa, Canada originally emerging in 2014 when he dropped his debut EP I’ll Be Back & then following it up 4 months later with his debut mixtape Concept Vague. Heads continued to turn in 2016 off the sophomore tape Red Teenage Melody & the 2019 full-length debut Goodnight Lovell, but his biggest break came just a few months ago when the $uicideboy$ signed him to their Virgin Music imprint G*59 Record$. And with his born day coming up later this month, it’s only right for Night to drop his sophomore album.

“Trying to Float” is a stellar way to kick off the album with it’s jangly trap beat as well as Night Lovell telling a story of him in the position to change everything about his life whereas the next song “Smoke Screen” is a cloud rap banger telling those to mind their business. The instrumental on “Bandage” is somewhat similar to the opener except dude goes into detail about fake people & then piano-trap infused “I Know Your Ways” serves as an expansion of this theme lyrically.

Meanwhile on “You Motherfucker”, we have Night Lovell jumping on top of a cacophonous beat to brush of those who’re envious of him before leading up to the depraving sex song “Call Me Water” & a melancholy-filled breakup anthem “Sadly I Can’t Control”. The song “10 Wishes” is a distorted description of what he would do if he had such while “Bottom Top” goes into psychedelic territory to talk about getting head.

“Puppet” has a more industrial-edge to it with lyrics detailing a woman controlling him before thinking about his life on the airy “On the Hill”. The song “Crawl” is a woozier cut about living in 2029 & then the penultimate track “Counting Down the List” is a cloud rap tune about knowing this woman was a demon. To finish the album off, we have Night Lovell detailing his loneliness on the atmospheric “Alone”.

I can totally see why Ruby da Cherry & $crim took this kid under their wing because is a pretty solid album. He sticks to his typically dark sound in terms of production & the songwriting is at it’s best. Looking forward to keep watching him evolve from hereon out.

Score: 3.5/5