Posts Tagged ‘This Week In’

Greetings, all.

So, after last week’s WCW-influenced cluster-you-know-what, let’s switch some gears here.

August Alsina’s proper debut Testimony dropped this week. To be honest, I’d somewhat forgotten about Alsina’s ghetto gospel-tinged tracks since “I Luv This S***” didn’t get as much play as I thought it would thought that his style was a bit too gritty for R&B. I mean, Tha Product 2 was a beautiful mix of real life themes and hip-hop-based bravado. It’s like someone took The Weeknd’s honesty, took the “fun” from it and added in the story of, for instance, a Yo Gotti (who Alsina worked with, coincidentally enough, on Testimony). So, I put Alsina on the back-burner, because as much as I looked forward to his full-length debut, I feared it. Why? Well, tell me the last time an R&B album that wasn’t really a traditional R&B album, but instead steeped in hip-hop, came out as well as it should have.

And no, Kiss Land doesn’t count. That album was on another level. Plus, it wasn’t exactly “steeped in hip-hop.”

Testimony begins with “Testify,” an atonement of sorts. It sets the mood for the album (so-called real n**** s***” sung over strip-club-friendly production) and acts as Alsina’s “Dreams and Nightmares” intro. But, after lofty expectations from the intro, the album stays in neutral for a lot of the sixty-one-or-so minutes it exists. It doesn’t steer too far from familiar topics and doesn’t really offer that much more insight into this young man’s life. Essentially, if you’ve heard Tha Product or its sequel you’ll have heard this album. That’s not to say it’s not worth a listen. It’s a solid full-length debut and he’s improving in his songwriting…and not relying on four-letter-words to get his point across all the time. Just don’t expect anything “brand new.” I still recommend you check it out though, especially the Pusha T-assisted “FML.”

(Album stream is the edited deluxe version on Spotify.)


On another note, of course, it’s the 20-year-anniversary of Illmatic, the GAWD CD. I’ve nothing to say about this except, if you’ve never heard this CD and call yourself a rap fan, I feel ashamed for you and your family. The XX edition features some remixes of the original album (mainly three remixes of “It Ain’t Hard To Tell”) and is pretty cool to see this CD hasn’t exactly aged horribly, as even the boombap feel has started to come back (thank you Joey Bada$$ and more). I think it’s safe to say that Nas has not–and will not–lose with this one. If you put out an album that’s still heralded as a classic twenty years later–and still inspires artists to drop some bars (shameless plug), you win.

(Album stream below is NSFW; edited version not available on Spotify at the moment)


To stream Future’s new album Honest courtesy of simply click the album cover art below. Unfortunately it is unsafe for listening on your office speakers, so you may want to plug those headphones in if you’re at work. The album is surprisingly good. Although, as with Alsina’s album there isn’t much new ground broken, but it keeps you intrigued. I mentioned this on Twitter, but Future’s Dungeon Family heritage is starting to shine through with this one, as it’s a great mix between turn-up anthems, lover-man Auto-Tune rap-sung songs (although “I Won” is a bit too pandering for my taste) and hood stories. In some ways, it complements Alsina’s Testimony perfectly, as one tells the story of the young man trying to make it (Testimony), the other tells the story of the older man who’s already made it, but still sees the world as ripe for the picking (Honest).


Wow, three thumbs up in one week. Either I’m losing my touch or music’s starting to just get better.

Until next time.

-Speed on the Beat

(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

Ok, guess who’s bizzack, even though you can’t smell the crack on my clothes. Nor do I have to relapse on hoes. Thankfully, of course. That’d just be messy. It’s the No-Fi King back with another edition of This Week in Hip-Hop on Thee Arteest!

In the same week that Diddy says that hip-hop’s gotten too soft, Ja Rule talks about his love of prison cheesecake. No, that’s not some sort of euphemism. He really made cheesecake in prison. The game done changed, Sean. People don’t want to see gangstas or “hard” music. Hell, they barely want to see artists go at each other. People’ll say they do (see: “Control”), but when the proverbial you-know-what hits the fan, the internets go crazy for a bit and no one else really responds (or if they do, they don’t come correct). For instance, with “Control” and that TDE Cypher, they’ve got people hyped up–for now. Most artists have forgotten about “Control” as, while it said a lot, it still didn’t say much–in a long-term sort of way. Inversely, and I’m not championing the kid, but someone like a Chief Keef comes out talking about “bang-bang kill kill” and people are ready to call him the scourge of the earth. But, wait! I thought that’s what you wanted, more “realism” to counter the backpackers and such.


Anyhow, before I have to take this to my own blog, looks like Lupe’s going to get some Cadillatica for his new album. Big K.R.I.T is slated to appear (in some way) on Lu’s Tetsuo and Youth. Now, long-time followers of me know that I have my reservations about Lupe, but this could very well be a dope combination–especially if K.R.I.T actually spits on the track as well as produces it. Now, some of you may ask, “Weren’t KRIT and Lu on the same song before?” No. As far as I know, and as far as The Google’s told me, they appeared on separate versions of Trae’s “I’m On,” but not on the same song (aside from some random Soundcloud remixes).

Suffering from Success, or “How I Made the Same CD Twenty Times”

DJ Khaled has released another monstrocity I mean hellacious I mean weedpl–OK, you know what? They say if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say it. DJ Khaled released another CD this week. If you liked his other work, you’ll probably still find something on this one you like–unless you’re tired of hearing the same people do the same song for the umpteenth time. If you grew tired of his mixtape-albums back before LeBron won a championship, then you should stay away. Stay far away. I know, “Speed hates Khaled but loves Jean Grae’s album. He’s such a snob.” No, I’m just a fan of good music. Khaled and his team have been doing, legitimately, the same song since I was in high school. I don’t care if the song’s talking about guns and butter, the socioeconomic decline of middle-class Black America, or watching a stripper do pole tricks. Just make it good, and I’ll give it a chance. That’s all I ask of music, is that it actually try to be good. Even if it fails, even if it sounds more no-fi than anything I’ve put out, even if it flops–just try. That’s what gets me about the Khaled album-tapes. There’s no sort of effort anymore to even try to make it good.

Well, I’m out until next time. Hopefully, this time next week I can actually be on a full episode of #TeamDARRadio.