Greetings, all. It’s been a while–or at least, it feels like it. In the past week or so, a lot has happened in the world of hip-hop. However, instead of creating another post on Lil’ Boosie’s release and the ramifications of celebrating his release, or a post on his track with C-Murder, I’ll direct my attention to two more big happenings this past week or so.
Pharrell dropped G I R L. Yes, the album with possibly the most catchy song this side of “The Macarena,” the 24-hour-video-inspiring “Happy.” I went into this album with low(ered) expectations. Why? Well, as much as I love Pharrell’s music–and I love his music–I find sometimes that his production overpowers his lyrics (rap and otherwise) and makes the lyrics seem somewhat simplistic in comparison. This album, in some ways, is no different. It focuses more on the production than, you know, “deep” songs. But, that’s what makes it work.
(Spotify stream of G I R L. Songs are pretty safe for work.)
G I R L is, well, songs about and for women. Women aren’t complicated, regardless of how much men try to make them seem. In some ways, I’d compare it to John Legend’s album from last year–only because both albums were conceived and released around the time that both artists were tying the knot. Plus, they’re both solid albums that deserve to be checked out. However, where John Legend’s somewhat syrupy musings still draw you in because of his conviction, Pharrell’s falsetto wears thin from time to time. Plus, as mentioned, the production values, while amazing, overpower the lyrical content (or lack thereof, at points). But, as I said, it’s not all gloom and doom for this album. I loved Pharrell musically flipping conventional thoughts of women on their head. For instance, with the song “Gush,” it starts out like one would expect it to. I won’t go into many details (let’s keep it PG-13 here), but you probably know what I’m getting at. And then it switches into more of a sensual, almost Prince-like feel. Pharrell isn’t a lyrical genius on this one, but he accomplishes so much.
Overall, I’d recommend checking it out if you’re a fan of not-so-heavy soul-pop music and a fan of R&B that probably won’t get played while a dancer is twerking in front of you. I just wish that Pharrell didn’t use the word “bae” in one of the songs.
On the more gritty side of things, Rick Ross released Mastermind, an album that, in some ways, spits in the face of Freeway Ricky Ross’s lawsuit against The Grunting One. I mean, the intro track pretty much says “hey, a ‘mastermind’ can take other people’s experiences and get rich off them.”
(Spotify stream of edited version of the album)
My gripe with Rozay’s music is that Ross has a few subject topics: drugs (selling and using), sex, and violence. Oh, and money. Lots and lots of money. What made God Forgives, I Don’t an almost classic album is that he spat every bar with conviction and power. Even though it was way past album one, he still sounded hungry. On Mastermind, it seems that even Ross doesn’t really believe what he’s speaking. He sounds bored almost. The production is still pretty solid, but that’s expected. It’s “M-m-m-maybach Music!”
At least Ross teams up with The Weeknd for a pretty decent track, “In Vein.” Considering Ross’s history with date rape-like lyrics (the “UOENO” bar wasn’t the first time) and Weeknd’s history of making music that sounds like he’s under the influence of a few molly’s and whatnot, the song creates an uncomfortable vibe. It’s Weeknd at his finest, honestly. And that’s what keeps Mastermind from completely failing: guest appearances from artists such as Scarface, The Weeknd, Kanye, Jay Z, a reunion collabo with Jeezy, Mavado, Lil’ Wayne and more.
Listen for the guest voices and don’t expect Ross to break new ground.
Until next time.
-Speed on the Beat