A Few Hidden Gems

The best thing about music these days is the fact that you’re no longer limited to only hear the “popular songs” (by popular I mostly mean songs that get tons of radio play). There are tons of artists these days and plenty of platforms to hear whatever it is that you want to hear. While that in many ways is a blessing, it is also a curse because of the fact that many talented artists don’t get to shine as bright because the pool of artists is so big.

So today I’ve decided to give a shout out to a few of my favorite songs from artists who should be a lot more famous than they are.

I’ll start with the most recent single from my favorite R&B songstress, NAO.  Her song “Another Lifetime” is just an example of the great voice along with the powerful songwriting ability combined the amazing production that all her songs possess which makes her a force to be reckoned with. And its only a matter of time before the world gets hip to it.

Another song people should know about is a little older, because it dropped last year but its never too late to listen to some fire music. “Nvm What I Was Saying” by Donte Jackson is a song that when I heard it, it reminded me of “Marvin’s Room” by Drake. A great song from a great artist that I know is flying under the radar.

 

And the last gem I’ll bestow upon the people will be in the form of a rap song. ATL native, Nick Grant is incredibly underrated, and I believe its because he’s a rapper who prefers to rap over boom-bap beats as opposed to the heavy bassed trap beats that are popular today. He’s a vintage style emcee who is trying to shine in this new generation of rap, and I admire him for valuing his craft. Here’s “Lincoln Apts.” off his latest LP “Dreamin Out Loud:

 

 

“SCORPION” Album Review: Did it Live Up to the Hype?

It’s been 3 days since the release of Drake’s 5th studio album, “Scorpion”, and after sitting with it for the weekend with about 5 or 6 listens throughout, I’m ready to give my review on the project.

With every Drake project, there are always a few things that you can always expect; He’s going to rap on some songs, he’s going to sing on others, and there will be at least 1 or 2 smash hits on there. Known for being a dual talented artist, Drake and his camp decided to take this to a whole new level by delivering a 2-disc album (One dedicated to rap, the other focused on R&B); a move that shows a lot of confidence in the artist’s song making ability. But how effective was it?

Honestly, when hearing about the idea of the 2 discs, I was excited, but after hearing the album, I realized it was kinda unnecessary. Of course I understand the thinking of it, Drake is such huge star these days he has all kinds of fans, many who may not like him rapping, so to basically make 2 albums for his two kinds of fans is marketing genius. But as a fan of both sides of Drake, the album just seems to drag on.

Not to say that the album was bad, but there are definitely “skip-worthy” tracks on both albums. So on a 25-track album, I found myself keeping about 18 of them. A lot of these tracks are the songs where you can tell Drake is trying to appeal to the younger generation of music listeners, songs like “Nonstop”, “I’m Upset”, and “Ratchet Happy Birthday”. Then some tracks aren’t necessarily horrible, but they just seemed to be forgettable, and on such a long project, I don’t need to sit through a song I’m not in love with; some of these songs included “Peak”, “That’s How You Feel”, & “Mob Ties”.

Then you had the songs where you read the tracklist and saw the features and became extremely interested, these songs would be “Don’t Matter to Me” (ft. Michael Jackson) and “Talk Up” (ft. Jay-Z). And while both songs were good, they definitely didn’t meet my initial expectations, so that was kinda disappointing. Especially because these are two of the greatest of all time, I was expecting to be blown away by these songs and after hearing them they were really nothing special.

But even with that being said, there were still high upsides on this album. Great rapping tracks like “Emotionless” (which featured a beautiful sample of Mariah Carey), and “Sandra’s Rose” reminded me of how great Drake can be when he decides to rap seriously. And on the R&B side, songs like “After Dark” and “Jaded” were definitely some of my favorites, and seemed to be the same for the listening public.

If you listened to this album, you’ll notice on huge thing, Drake’s references to his child. It seems that on at least more than half of this album, Drake is talking about his son or his baby mom or making subtle references to his recent beef with Pusha T, which left me thinking one thing, Pusha T won their beef and his raps really stuck with Drake. Lines like ‘The only deadbeats, are the beats I’m rapping on” and “I wasn’t hiding my kid from the world, I was hiding the world from my kid” are obvious attempts of Drake to save his image, and honestly, they’re failed attempts. Possibly the worst of them is “March 14th” where Drake basically dedicates a whole song to his child, and honestly, listening to it is cringe-worthy. It sounds as though Drake wrote it up in an hour and nothing about it sounds genuine, just a lazy song and it shouldn’t have been on the album, especially not the last song.

Overall though, SCORPION is a solid Drake project. Definitely not his best, but far from his worst. One of the most intriguing takes I saw on this album was that Drake no longer makes cohesive albums, now it just seems as he though he makes large compilation projects, and I’m inclined to agree. Drake’s album haven’t felt cohesive since maybe Nothing Was The Same, now does that mean that’s a bad thing? No, but its definitely something to think about. What did you think about the album?

SCORPION is available on all music streaming services.

Has Nike Regained Their Status as The Most “Hyped” Sneakers?

Like it or not, this generation of sneakerheads will be defined as the hype generation. Of course in the history of sneaker culture, hype has always played a part of what shoes were successful, but I think it goes without saying that this generation has taken that to another level. With resellers and “Hypebeasts” the culture has been infested with people who will buy shoes for the sole reason that their deemed as whats hot, and not even for the fact that they like the shoe.

I think we saw a large number of that when Yeezy made the change from Nike to Adidas. We saw a huge wave of people going absolutely crazy over all his new shoes and that put a huge spike in the Adidas stock. Then there seemed to be for quite some time that Adidas was the new hyped sneaker brand; sneakers like the NMDs, and the Ultraboosts were extremely popular and successful which led to many spin-offs of the two sneakers and consumers ate them up.

kanye-west-million-adidas-yeezys-2016

So of course, Nike & Jordan were still in the mix as they always will be, but for a long time people weren’t as excited for Nikes as they once were. But it wasn’t until the Silver Bullet Air Max 97s last year where Nike had a shoe that extremely hyped. It was that moment where I noticed the tide starting to turn in Nike’s favor. And now with their collaborations with Off-White, Nike & Jordan are on fire.

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With the 9 different silhouettes, every single one is extremely sought after by the sneaker community, and to me at least it looks as if Nike is back on top. Highs Nobiety ran an article of the top 10 most valuable shoes of the year (https://www.highsnobiety.com/p/valuable-sneakers-2018-q1/) , and 5 of those shoes are either Nike or Jordan .

It was only a matter of time before Nike reclaimed its throne at the top of the Hypebeast pecking order. What I’m actually looking forward to is to see what Nike does to capitalize on this, or if Adidas pulls out some new shoes to try and win back the attention of the masses. Nike vs Adidas, who do you think is better?

 

What Twitter Has Taught Me About Rap Beef

I think I learned a long time ago that Twitter is probably the absolute worst place to get objective opinions on pretty much everything. Twitter is the birthplace of extremely wild theories and people just saying whatever they think will get them the most Retweets or favorites. And that’s totally fine, but when it comes to actually having a real conversation about anything, Twitter should be taken as one thing and one thing only, entertainment.

Now with Pusha T dropping his response diss to Drake’s “Duppy Freestyle” with his “The Story of Adidon”, it’s safe to say that a lot of Twitter fans are either new rap fans or just plain have no clue about what rap beef is actually like, or battle rap in general.

In previous disses, Pusha kept it light by talking about strictly finances and ghostwriting rumors about Drake. But since Drake mentioned Pusha T’s fiancé in his diss, I guess this was the perfect opportunity for Push to release some of the info he’s had on Aubrey for quite some time. And boy did it get one hell of a reaction.

Pusha T mentioned Drake’s alleged pornstar baby mother Rose Devine, his potential son with said pornstar, the fact that Drake struggled with his identity issues being biracial, Drake’s father abandoning him at an early age, his mom never being married, and even talked about how Drake’s producer 40 has MS and will probably die soon.Yeah, it was that deep. And maybe the worst part of it all was the cover art for the song, it was a picture of Drake in blackface! Now I don’t think I have to go into detail about how crazy that is but, yeah that’s pretty insane.

So of course, Drake fans came to his defense and they were more than displeased with Pusha’s attempt to ruin Drake’s character.

These tweets are just the example of how Drake fans argued against the diss. It even got so bad that people were making whole threads defending their 6 God. Although I can admit Pusha T’s bars were hurtful it’s nothing new to things we’ve seen in past battles between rappers. Just look at any one of them in the past and you’ll fine way worse things said, and that brings me to another point that this generation is far too sensitive but that’s a talk for another day.

If you aren’t on Twitter I suggest you make one because if nothing else, Twitter is definitely an experience when big moments in pop culture occur like this one. I can only imagine the feedback if Drake chooses to respond to this. I honestly can’t wait. I love it.

Take a listen to the monstrous diss track:

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Why Making Another NBA Finals Will Hurt Lebron’s Legacy

Let’s be honest, now that we’ve watched the Celtics and Rockets basically choke away their chances at playing in the NBA Finals, we have to sit through yet another Warriors and Cavaliers championship. And again, if we’re keeping it real the Cavs have little to no chance at beating the sharpshooters that wait for them in Golden State. Which leaves me to my ultimate point, which is losing another Finals is the only thing that can hurt Lebron’s legacy.

Lebron James is a 3-time champion, 3-time Finals MVP, 4-Time MVP, 14-time All Star, 3-Time MVP of the All Star Game, 12-Time First Team All NBA, top 10 scorer of all time, the all time leader in playoff points, and the list goes on and on. The arguments for him being the greatest basketball player ever are alive and well. Lebron James has led his team to the NBA Finals 8 years in a row now, something like that sounds made up. You could list his accomplishments for days, because there’s tons of them, and yet people are holding on to one thing when it comes to the King, his finals losses.

Of course making it to the big dance every year for pretty much a whole decade is extremely impressive, but it means nothing if you’re losing all the time. And that is why Lebron may never be looked at as the “G.O.A.T.”. Of course you’ll have the people who come to his defense and say that he is over-matched in majority of the Finals series he’s played in but that doesn’t matter. Because his naysayers will always bring up his not so stellar record in the NBA Finals (he’s currently 3-5).

Golden State was a problem for Lebron before the Kevin Durant addition, but we saw last year that with him on their squad they’re pretty much unbeatable. This current Cavs team doesn’t have the star power nor the scoring ability that Golden State does, so its really hard to see an outcome in which they’re the ones carrying the Larry O’Brien trophy. But with all that being said, you should never count out someone as great as Lebron James, so we’ll just have to see how things play out.

Tune into the NBA Finals that begin at 9PM on May 31st on ABC.

Beef is Great for Hip-Hop

 

In case you been living under a rock for the past 24 hours, just know that we’ve been blessed with another great moment in hip-hop. Beef/tension is something that makes Rap unlike any other genre, because in this culture, rather than immediately try to squash it, we encourage it (unless it results in any violent activities then by all means we try to end it). The best part of any rap beef is when we get great music that comes from it, because in its essence, Hip-Hop is competition and hearing two emcees duke it out on tracks is the greatest. Whether its Ice Cube vs NWA, Biggie vs Pac, Jay vs Nas, 50 vs Game, or even today with Drake vs Pusha T; Hip-Hop fans relish at the opportunity to hear a great diss records.

To give some background, Pusha T has been sending shots at the head of Drake and Cash Money records for quite some time. Whether it be more subtle on a verse or more blatant on full records like “Exodus 23:1”; its safe to say that Push has wanted the smoke for quite some time. To the casual fan, putting a diss record like “Infrared” on his new album, DAYTONA may come off as a ploy to get more attention, but to the people who know, this is just Pusha being Pusha.

“The game’s fucked up
Niggas beats is bangin’, nigga, ya hooks did it
The lyric pennin’ equal the Trumps winnin’
The bigger question is how the Russians did it
It was written like Nas but it came from Quentin”

For years Pusha T has been making records like this, so of course this isn’t what made the headlines. When the snippet of this record began to surface, rumors began to circulate from Drake’s camp that a response may be in the works, but no one thought anything of it due to the fact that Drake had been ignoring him for so long.

BUT BOY WERE WE IN FOR A SURPRISE. Not only did Drake surprise the world, but he came out swinging with nothing but haymakers. From the moment Drake’s “Duppy Freestyle” dropped, Twitter could not stop talking about it. And for good reason:

Must’ve had your Infrared wrong, now your head in the beam
Y’all are the spitting image of whatever jealousy breeds

Don’t push me when I’m in album mode
You not even top 5 as far as your label talent goes
You send shots, well, I got to challenge those
But I bring Calicos to the Alamo

Beef excites the hip-hop community, and if these are the type of records we’re going to get, I honestly can’t wait to hear about whatever happens next.

Back Like Never Before

My mom tells me all the time that things tend to trend in cycles. Meaning if they go away for a period of time, eventually they find their way back in a different form but with similarities to the previous ones. And I think that’s what we’re starting to see with this new emergence of R&B.

No offense to the legend, but when T-Pain reached his peak of success back in 09′-’10, his overuse of “autotune” slowly killed R&B. No longer were singing artists actually singing and caring about their lyrics like we’re used to. We saw an overflow of not only singers, but rappers making music with autotune, and were more focused on being catchy rather than substantive. The quality of music took a deep decline.

This is not to say that all R&B that was being made during this time was poor; we still had artists such as Beyonce, Trey Songz, Frank Ocean, Chris Brown, etc. giving us quality music but the majority of the hip hop and R&B landscape was being dominated with the use of autotune. We saw more and more artists who didn’t have strong vocals but we’re considered R&B acts because of their melodic songs (i.e Fetty Wap, Bryson Tiller). But times are starting to change.

We’re now seeing actual vocalists and songwriters being championed again. You see the great success that Solange had with her last project, A Seat At The Table. We’re also seeing the rise of a new R&B songstress SZA with her critically acclaimed debut, CTRL. And with the growth of social media and the internet being the main location where people hear music now, more and more artists are being discovered and the quality of music hitting mainstream sound-waves has increased. Artists like Daniel Ceasar, Khalid, H.E.R., Brent Faiyaz, dvsn, and many more have benefited from this new wave of receiving music.

As a fan of quality music, I think the direction that music is going in, at least as far as R&B is concerned, we’re in a good space. I don’t think we’ll ever matched the kind of music made back in the 90s, but I think we’re taking steps to be just as great.

Great New Talent from the 6

If you’ve been paying attention to music recently, you would’ve noticed by now that many big acts that are dominating the charts are all coming from Canada. We’ve watched artists like The Weeknd, Justin Beiber, and most importantly Drake put the city of Toronto on the map for the music scene and ever since it’s seem like a wave of different Canadian-born artists have popped up and making great music.

Today I bring you a new one that you should be on the look out for. Brampton-born and raised, Derin Falana is an up and coming rapper who’s due to break through to mainstream media any moment now. He’s been building buzz with his first two mixtapes, 905 and Live from Rocky Mountain , and with new tracks seeming to be dropping almost every week now, it seems like we’re on the cusp of getting a new project from “The Flan”, as he like s to call himself.

To hear his recent music as well as some of his previous works, check out the playlist below:

An Artist to be on the Lookout For

A lot of the knock on today’s hip-hop and R&B is that no one makes music about love anymore. Its all about exploiting women and being the coolest guy with the most money, but every once in a while we get a new artist who reminds us of that old R&B music that we used to love so much. That new artist is Brent Faiyaz.

The Baltimore raised crooner is the lead singer in his group Sonder who is based in LA. The 20 year old crooner has the voice that is very reminiscent of the sound that we used to hear in the 90s and even before that. It’s angelic but raw; passionate but not too aggressive. His song content as well as his aesthetic matches one of someone that doesn’t intend on “fitting in” with everyone of today’s music.

His group released their debut EP on January 27th of this year, and have already picked up some steam with his recent collaboration on “Crew” by DC-native GoldLink. The future is looking bright for Faiyaz with a sound unlike anyone else’s and the quality of music that will make any fan of R&B fall in love.

His solo EP, A.M. Paradox , which released in September of last year is available everywhere, steam it below and check him out:

 

 

 

Who’s It Gonna Be?

The MVP race for this season is probably as close as its ever been due to the amazing play from several superstars. With that said, there are two front runners who have been in the conversation since the beginning of the year; and that’s James Harden of the Houston Rockets and Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Its basically like choosing between the red pill and the blue pill at this point. Both players are having record breaking seasons, so no matter who wins it would be understandable.

If there was someone who had an edge it would probably be Russell Westbrook because he’s averaging a Triple-Double for the entire year, a feat that hasn’t been done since Oscar Robertson did it in 1962. Not only is he averaging a triple-double but he’s set the record for most triple-doubles in a single season, with 42, and possibly a few more before the season’s end. Westbrook also leads the league in points per game with 31.7, and probably the most important factor of Westbrook’s season is that this is all following the departure of his long time teammate Kevin Durant, who left at the end of last season to play for the Golden State Warriors.

Westbrook’s season has been one for the record books, but don’t sleep on Harden’s season. He may not be averaging a triple double, but he sure is pretty close. Harden is currently averaging 29.2 points per game (2nd in the league), 8.1 Rebounds a game, and 11.2 assists per game (1st in the NBA). His assists numbers are not something to be overlooked because with a league that is dominated by elite point guards; the league’s assist leader is a shooting guard, that’s impressive. Harden is also playing for the most successful team, with his team sitting in 3rd place in the Western Conference with a 53-26 record while Westbrook’s Thunder are in 6th place with a 45-34 record. This makes things even more interesting, because if these standings stay the same by playoff time that means we’ll see a first round matchup where these two teams will play each other.

The winner of the MVP this year will ultimately come down to what the voters value more important. If they care for record breaking and stats alone, then Westbrook will probably be winning, which would be a pretty safe bet. But if they decide that they’re going to reward winning and take into consideration that Harden is doing almost everything that Westbrook is with just a few less rebounds a game, then Harden will be the MVP. Brodie vs The Beard, the former teammates to be the league’s premier player, the story writes itself.