Posts Tagged ‘album review’

Greetings all,

As promised, I’m dropping my review for the Fly Rebel Society’s newest collection reFRSH (finally). For those who are unfamiliar with the collective, check out some of my previous coverage of them.

 

The first track, “reCAP,” serves as an introduction and, well, a recap of who they are (Lega-c, Ryda Black, Cooley, TeeJay, and godlymC), what they bring to the game (five distinct, but well-meshed sounds) and why listeners should pay attention to them. The next two tracks from the collection, “Wake Up” and “Introverts Theme Song” feature some sick jazz-rap production. Perfect for that smoking session (that I don’t necessarily promote, but if that’s you, do you), both tracks still drop some gems of knowledge and overall dopeness. One sampling of lines that stands out to me goes as follows:

Need more ‘Good Times’ ‘fore I’m cancelled/
Need to clear my head like a sample/
Dismantle each beat, I’ve got problems I can’t handle
[Shoot], with the Scandals, I don’t watch TV unless I’m on it…

That group of lines in some ways summarizes the album as a whole: fun rap, emotional rap, and retrospective rap all in an hour-plus collection.

From the jazzy Tribe-like flows, listeners are blown away by bass and bravado-heavy tracks such as “Grind,” jazz-meets-heavy-rap tracks such as “She Hearts Raps,” and tracks that fans of artists like J. Cole will rock with such as “Rearview.” This project has a song for every type of listener. Also, with FRS, listeners are given a cohesive group that shines individually and collectively. reFRSH is no different from this formula, considering there are “solo” tracks and posse cuts, and both shine just as bright as the previous track. Overall, the collection has something for everyone, and is a great early summer release. The only grievance I can think of is that the constant switch between styles may take some listeners by surprise. But, at least it’ll keep listeners on their toes.

#SkiesAintSafe.

K. Michelle vs. Perez Hilton and Iggy Azalea (Or Something Like That)

iggy-azalea-billboard.com

Now, I usually try to stay away from gossip and the like. But, since it does deal with some things I feel are big issues in music, I’ll speak on it.

For those who missed it, K. Michelle got a bit heated about Iggy’s southern rap flow (and subsequent Australian accent). Perez came to Iggy’s defense, which sparked a war of words, including some not-safe-for-work terms and suggestions. Now, I’m not a big fan of Iggy Azalea. Big KRIT warned us about impostors jacking Southern ways and appropriating them for their own use. Secondly, Iggy’s got some moments, but it’s nothing I haven’t heard before from a slew of other artists. But, she’s a character, exaggerated for “Joe Listener” to both identify with and laugh at/with. With that said, I’ve got to ask a few questions:

  • Should we be mad at Iggy for adopting a Southern persona?
  • Should we be mad at executives who feel that parading a woman from Mullumbimby playing the role of Southern pop-rap-meets-gangsta-rap princess as “authentic” is the right thing to do?
  • Or…should we shut up and enjoy her brand of pop-rap–or turn it off if we don’t rock with it?

Honestly, I’m a bit “ugh” or what-have-you over her appropriating what she views as southern culture. But, by the same token, she’s not representative of Southern culture as a whole (just one eschewed subset of it). And, if listening to Iggy Azalea can introduce a legion of teenyboppers to “real” Southern artists and “real” rap, I’m cautiously, for it. Notice, however, that I removed race from the equation. Yes, part of Iggy’s appeal is that she is a blond white Australian woman who raps like Diamond from Crime Mob. But, these days, I’d like to have a conversation about a black person and a white person without their race being the reason why I’m discussing them.

Maya Angelou Passes at 86

maya-angelou

I know, I should have saved this for another post, but I’d rather not overwhelm people with Speed musings. Dr. Angelou’s impact on myself and artists worldwide can never be measured. I could take up pages upon pages upon pages gushing over Dr. Angelou’s amazing gift(s). However, I’d like to talk a bit about her late 1950’s album Miss Calypso (which, unfortunately, you can’t find using typical means and either have to buy from third-parties or stream from YouTube). Considering a lot, it’s a pretty unique find. It’s both haunting and just “cool” to hear/see a different side of such an esteemed person. Haunting because her poetic voice shines through and makes even a “simple” calypso song resonate and “cool” because it’s Maya Angelou singing.

Chuck Brown lovers have to appreciate her cover of the song Chuck covered himself, “Run Joe.” While I prefer Chuck’s cover, it’s amazing to hear Dr. Angelou’s voice do this song justice.

 

Until next time guys.

(For part one, click here. This is also probably a post Lord Jamar won’t like. Or maybe he will. I don’t know. )

eminem_zps67e24207Once upon a time, a man named Marshall with drug, drinking, and daddy issues (not to mention mommy issues) became a rapper named Eminem who made women swoon by rapping about doing horrible things to them and their families. The “white honky devil” (his words, not mine) made a killing in hip-hop, almost Elvis-like with his approach–except Eminem was better than some of his black counterparts. Elvis, in my opinion, was never better than any of his contemporaries. But, that’s another rant for another time entirely.

Ever the equal opportunity offender, everyone became target practice. Well, almost everyone. You’re not going to hear him rap tongue-in-cheek about, say, Trayvon Martin. He’s a “devil,” but not completely stupid–or Rick Ross. Anyhow, fast forward to today, the day after the world ended. To those not named Stan, I’m referring to the day that Em’s MMLP2 dropped. As an Eminem fan, I’m happy that he’s still alive from the whole addiction thing. Secondly, I give his music a chance before I completely say that his stuff sucks. Therefore, my thoughts on “Love Game” and the like from Part One of “The Death of Marshall” weren’t just for unwarranted shock value.

(This is the uncensored deluxe edition of the album)

 

Marshall "Eminem" Mathers in 2013, ESPN

Marshall “Eminem” Mathers in 2013, ESPN

But, here? It looks like my initial thoughts were halfway warranted. I hoped that Em and his camp learned from the mistakes of Recovery. Taking everything that’s made the past couple Eminem albums almost un-listenable (kind of corny similesdouble-time flows with no real reason, pop-friendly hooks/beats/lyrics/messages, dated pop culture references, songs with a million words in them with over 9000 fan-made meanings, but really no real meaning, etc.), Eminem here has created an album that will face a Yeezus type of hype.

The first few weeks, we’ll hear everyone say that it’s GOAT-caliber, then after that? Nothing, aside from uber-fans having eargasms over it and ignoring everything else, saying that anything other than MMLP2 means you love Future songs. Sidenote, that new Future/Miley/Mr. Hudson song isn’t my cup of hot tea, per se. But, it could put Future (even more so) in the ears of those that listen to Top 40 pop-rap and stuff. So, just as a forewarning. If you don’t like Future, you’ll probably have to deal with him in a Flo Rida/Pitbull sort of way for a bit.

Macklemore sez: "I influenced Eminem? Time to pop some tags!"

Macklemore sez: “I influenced Eminem? Time to pop some tags!”

Cynicism (and naked Alien-Miley) aside, MMLP2 lacks a lot of the plot development Eminem songs were once known for, instead opting to go over 9000 words per second. The album does have some highlights, such as the “Cleaning Out My Closet”-like “Headlights,” which almost sounds as if Marshall took a page from that other popular white rapper of today. Except, you know, Eminem uses that page to talk about his parental issues, not same-sex love and his happiness about his two uncles. The second standout track for me is the Jamie N Commons-aided “Desperation,” mostly because it’s the closest Eminem has come to going completely Kid Rock to date. It’s bluesy and embraces Eminem’s self-professed “White Trash Party” roots in a way unseen in his music thus far.

stanAnother highlight, in my opinion is Stan: Part Two–I mean, the intro track “Bad Guy.” This song deserves a segment of its own. Now, technically, it’s part three of the Stan saga. But, that’s only if you count Tunechi Tuna Fish‘s spin-off song “Anne.” And, most people don’t. At all. Ever. The song is almost worth a portion of the price of admission, just because it answers a lot of questions regarding the wax-made mythos of Eminem–and some of his real-life issues. If you’ve never listened to an Eminem song, but want a good starting point, “Bad Guy,” in my opinion is for you. It talks about literally everything you could want to know about the journey he’s taken since starting his career.

But, for every “Bad Guy,” we get a “Love Game.” For every “Monster”–which for what it is, is at least better than “Love Game” and “Not Afraid” from Recovery–we get “Beautiful Pain.” Now, “Beautiful Pain” isn’t a bad song per se. Sia’s vocals are hauntingly beautiful, but after “Monster,” “Love the Way You Lie,” “Space Bound,” and so on, it’s overkill. And overkill, as mentioned, is an overdone problem in this potentially overrated album.

So, in short, Marshall’s dead (maybe for good this time). And while this album wasn’t as stripper sweat as I thought it’d be, its good moments are outweighed by its bad-to-meh moments. If you’re an Eminem fan, you’ll either love it, be saddened by the decline, or just say “…at least it’s not Relapse.”

Matthew Mitchell: He's just as off as Stan, and with good reason.

One last note, be sure to check out my brother True God’s efforts to expand the #TeamDAR brand. While I try to keep my own endeavors out of the pages of Thee Arteest, only because I don’t want to abuse it, True’s efforts not only revolve around building a brand. They are also focused on keeping his family together and promoting change in the world. Check it out.

#TeamDAR: Moving the Movement and Making A Change — Indiegogo