Posts Tagged ‘Drake’

Music Journal, June 6th 2016

June 5, 2016

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Islah by Kevin Gates

The great contradictions of a person make them interesting, like when Vin Diesel goes to give a woman a kiss. Kevin Gates is the greatest embodiment of contrast, with moments of real empathy and openness right alongside tracks where he goes on and on defending his decision to assault a fan at a show. The music is good to great across the board, lush and full without being overproduced, the beats aren’t particularly showy but never generic. Islah has Gates offering footrubs while his lady talks about her day, juggles his two phones(business and pleasure) and he loves to fuck. He can also rap, sing the hook, and eschews guests. Kevin Gates is too real.

Ξ by The Toxic Avenger 

The overhanging menace is a bit much. No attempts to dance. I think there is a GG Allin sound bite. A good reminder that blog house is dead too. Closing track “Together” aspires to some kind of lights in the sky, hands up in the air losing it moment but that dark menace, for whatever purpose it is supposed to lend, just sucks the air out of the room. This is so tasteful it might as well be hors d’oeuvres tray.

The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us by Beach Slang

The lead singer has that nice grit in his voice that makes guys like Ryan Adams and Walter Schreifels so appealing. The majority of these tracks rip it up, and “Dirty Lights” might be the rippiest of them all. My favorite part is this line in “Ride the Wild Haze”:

Get really high
Stay up for days
I come back down and somehow things are all the same

That’s fucking life, man.

The Life of Pablo by Kanye West

7 for 7, or 8 for 8 if you count Watch The Throne. For all the mess of the release and the fact that you still can’t buy it unless you have a Tidal account, TLOP is a winner. I’ve been listening to it incessently and it’s one of my favorite things he’s ever done, just like Yeezus before it. Kanye doesn’t seem interested in being a rapper anymore, and his twitter bears this out, but his curating and production abilities are still without peer. Is this a mess? I feel like Late Registration was a messier album, plus it had those terrible skits. TLOP doesn’t have any skits, it does have more prayers but it also has the drops and misogyny and that certainly gives you whiplash but that’s every Kanye album.

Post Pop Depression by Iggy Pop 

Iggy has made hints that this is a retirement record and it sounds like it. More subdued than one would expect considering the Josh Homme assembled band, Iggy Pop gets some jabs and wails in but he mostly sounds like someone who is tying up loose ends. A nice record to go out on, just don’t expect him to tear the world down around him while he exits.

Don’t You by Wet

This album is boring and sucks.

Majid Jordan by Majid Jordan

This is nice and pleasant and then you’ve fallen asleep on the couch.

Hotel Paranoia by Jazz Cartier

Fake Drake songs bump into fake Meek Mill songs into fake everybody else. Guy has no personality of his own. He is sure of himself though, so shouts to his self esteem.

I Don’t Think It Is by Say Anything

This is the worst album Say Anything have ever made. The production is either purposely bad or they literally had no budget. I kinda think it’s the latter. Max Bemis does more of the same from the last couple Say Anything albums, but with weaker hooks and a thin sound. I would say it’s a cry for help but every Say Anything album is a cry for help. This one just sounds more desperate.

Khalifa by Wiz Khalifa 

Wiz Khalifa is the owner of the most bored tone in rap, maybe tied with Big Sean. He just never sounds that interested in anything he is saying. The production on this one is not bad, always good to see Lex Luger getting a check. Strictly for the die hard Wizheads, or whatever they’re called.

10 Ways to Steal Home Plate by Wolfgang Gartner

We’re ten years removed from the Summer of 06, the beginning of the blog house era, an incredible time to be alive and have an internet connection. We’re now in a sort of post EDM era, so guys like Gartner, who as recently as 2011 were dropping mega opus albums with 8 minute tracks, are turning around and making 3 minute pop tracks featuring rappers. Not complaining, you have to work hard to put food on your family. 10 Ways gets the job done.

Views by Drake

I guess I’m back off the Drake train again. After the back to back delivery of Nothing Was The Same and it’s run of all timers (“Worst Behavior”, “Hold On We’re Going Home”) with 2015’s If You’re Reading This Its Too Late I figured Views would be a slam dunk. But instead Drake has delivered his first dirge record. Rapping at a minimum, singing and whining cranked up to 11, all over 40’s “The fridge is running” production soundscapes. No one needs these cold bummer tracks for such a hot summer.

Anti by Rihanna

It is easy to declare “Best Rihanna Album” on first listen. It seems so cohesive! I went back and listened to Rated R, Loud, Unapologetic and Talk That Talk just to be sure and those albums basically have the same success/failure rate as Anti, though Anti has less obvious A&R trend chasing.  Without any bangers, much of Anti’s runtime is given over to moody midtempo slither. “Needed Me” and “Kiss It Better” have a simple majesty and as a singer Rihanna has never sounded better and maybe one day she’ll make a true front to back burner. “Work” still sounds like RiRi’s “The Lady I Know” and that Tame Impala song is now a Rihanna song, sorry, no take backs.

Hymns by Bloc Party

A couple years ago I went to my cousin’s high school graduation party and I happened to mention an upcoming Bloc Party concert. “No one cares about Bloc Party anymore”, my cousin informed me. Hymns will not change that view. The title is taken in a literal sense, with endless soft paeans to a higher power that have no interest in strong hooks or melodies. Now running without Matt Tong’s iconic drumming or Gordon Moakes bass work, Bloc Party has taken on the guise of one of front man Kele Okereke’s tedious solo records. This guys used to be the jam. A real bummer.

Transmission by Death in Vegas

Richard Fearless is now partnering with Sasha Grey on his ventures as Death in Vegas, and while it’s a better album than 2011’s endless drone Trans-Love Energies it doesn’t play as much more than extended interludes. Grey doesn’t add much to the mix besides some monotone vocals, and besides functioning as a kind of white noise, I’m not sure what anyone is supposed to do with this music. It never elevates to the point of interesting art and instead functions as elaborate “on hold” muzak.

Coloring Book by Chance The Rapper

I still can’t take Chance’s voice for too long. Too thin, always sounds like he’s on the verge of a gasp or a crack. And if he tries to sing, it’s even worse. Sorry Chance, you’re no Kevin Gates. Still, Coloring Book has his best songs so far. “No Problem” has an incredible hook and some pretty good verses from 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne and “All Night” is the kind of party banger that you have to put on repeat because 2 minutes and 21 seconds isn’t long enough. Chance says his favorite Kanye album is The College Dropout and Coloring Book is slathered in it’s influence. Not a bad place to start.

 

 

 

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Best Music of 2015

January 14, 2016

2015 went in directions I never could have anticipated. Here is what I loved this year.

Best Albums of 2015

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1. Sleater-Kinney – No Cities To Love

What a triumph. After an almost ten year hiatus, to return and be this great? Sleater-Kinney are one of the greatest bands to ever exist and No Cities is chokablock with burners. Corin Tucker still wails, Carrie Brownstein is still a guitar god, and Janet Weiss is still one of the greatest drummersalive. This album is so powerful and true, it crushes and makes my heart ache with joy. Album of the year, band of your life.

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2. HEALTH – Death Magic

Like being engulfed in a supernova but you can hear a tender voice whispering sweet nothings as the flames consume your body. Imagine the noise of a collapsing building restructured with a melody. The proper follow up “Die Slow” demanded.

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3. Madeon – Adventure

Dance album of the year. Finally someone makes the sequel to Discovery that Daft Punk couldn’t be bothered with. Adventure has about five peak moments and never lets up. My most listened to album of 2015.
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4. Carly Rae Jepsen – E•MO•TION

Jepsen is now two for two for great albums that were ignored by the general public. Like KissE•MO•TION is front to back pop bangers, impeccably produced and performed. Jepsen is over here making fucking albums, ALBUMS! and people don’t even care. Hope she never stops, “Run Away With Me” and “Making The Most of the Night” already classics.

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5. Capsule – Wave Runner

Yasutaka Nakata first came on my radar when I was advised by many a twitter denizen to listen to Perfume’s 2013 album Level3. That album sounds like being executed by a thousand lazer synths at once. It’s incredible but eventually overwhelming. Nakata produces for Perfume but Capsule is his main band and he has a long career of various pop and dance meldings and experimentation. Wave Runner is actually straight ahead dance pop for the most part, but it’s more aggressive than what I am used to hearing. Every song sounds like it was made for a space launch.

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6. Drake – If You’re Reading This Its Too Late

I keep thinking I don’t like Drake that much and then I listen to this repeatedly for a month.

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7. Daniel Johns – Talk

The surprise of the year was the r&b album from the former lead singer of Silverchair. Mostly midtempo, Talk isn’t going from some white guy lover man schtick, instead displaying a wounded vulnerability that Silverchair tended to overpower with it’s alt rock thud. Johns is a confident crooner, and the production is wonderfully varied and unique.

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8. dumblonde – Dumblonde

The production shimmers and it sounds like the vocals were chopped and filtered and sprinkled around the tracks like ornaments. Danity Kane is the worst thing that created the best things.

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9. Vince Staples – Summertime ’06

A double album without the feeling of being worn down by the length. Staples raps with fury and with a smirk and the beats are undeniable.

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10. Local H – Hey, Killer

Local H are one of my all time favorite bands. They are responsible for two of my all time favorite albums and their live show is without peer. Hey, Killer is a better than solid collection of crushers, peaking with “John The Baptist Blues”, which has one of those riffs that makes life worth living.

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11. Future – Dirty Sprite 2

Can a mumble and a gurgle be profound? I say yes. Future raps of opulence and excess overwhelmed by sadness. Is this guy ok? Someone check on Future!

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12. Janet Jackson – Unbreakable

One of the greatest to ever do it, still doing it. This is one of those front to back, bring a smile and bring a tear kinda albums.

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13. Girls’ Generation – Lion Heart

The accusing tone of “songs made by committee” holds less weight to me than say, a film made by committee. A great pop song can be written by someone alone, just flowing out of them as the muse hits. Or it can be made in the lab, tinkering so that the chorus is bigger and the verses are tighter and the whole package races out the door like a spaceship at lift off. That is what this album delivers, carefully crafted and molded pop/dance without a speck of dust or grit. In a way, it is perfect.

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14. Failure – The Heart is a Monster

My senior year of college I became a Ken Andrews obsessive after hearing the album Make Believe he released under the On moniker. I went back and got all his other shit, did an embarrassing interview with Andrews for my college radio station(the recording is in my basement somewhere, safe from us all), devoured his other solo and side project work (Year of the Rabbit is a used bin staple, but it rocks), and of course meeting other Ken Andrews fanatics in my travels. The uniting principle for all of us Andrewsheads is his first band Failure and their 1996 opus Fantastic Planet, one of those cult pieces that burrows deep inside a small audience and has them still talking about and obsessing some 20 years later. The Heart is a Monster is a direct sequel to FP and it ended up being even better than anyone could have hoped. For the hardcore Andrewsheads it is a fulfillment of long held hopes and dreams.

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15. Fall Out Boy – American Beauty/American Psycho

FOB’s strange pop comeback barrels on, and for every strange left turn decision that I have trouble reconciling (Big Sean on the last album, the Munster’s sample on this one), they still deliver some career best work(“Jetpack Blues”, “Fourth of July”) and make a song with SebastiAn (“American Beauty/American Psycho”) that sounds just a like a SebastiAn song. So, good. And the remix album for this was not half bad either.

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16. Empress Of – Me

This one reminded me of when Bjork made albums with beats and melodies you could dance to and play over and over again.

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17. Destroy This Place – Animal Rites

Not to discount the previous Destroy This Place albums, but this is the first one that sounds like a real, fully fleshed out Band. The influences are obvious but the tracks aren’t boneheaded, and if you thought the last Foo Fighters album was a dud this one picks up the slack. “No Apologies” is a particular triumph as it is one of the great closing tracks. Great closing tracks are so few and far between! These guys are on a roll.

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18. Dr. Dre – Compton

Dre didn’t owe us shit but he dropped this anyway. I guess there is a backlash to this album but it knocks and I didn’t think Dre was into knocking anything anymore.

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19. Neon Indian – VEGA INTL. Night School

This thing has a weird gurgle sound on the keyboard for the first half but the songs themselves are solid and the back half is all hits. Best thing Alan has done since “Parking Lot Nights”.

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20. Eagles of Death Metal – Zipper Down

My kneejerk response was too slight, but it has grown on me with repeated listens and the riffs are strong. I was also foolish in not realizing that “I Love You All The Time” is a new one for the canon.

 

Honorable Mentions

Grimes – Art Angels
John Carpenter- Lost Themes
Shamir – Ratchet
Jack Ü – Skrillex and Diplo Present Jack Ü

 

Best Songs of 2015 

Cool For The Summer

 

 

  1. “Cool for the Summer” by Demi Lovato: “Cool for the Summer” was my most listened to song this past year. It is a perfect piece of pop design, with the kind of blow-out-the-speakers chorus that Max Martin has become the master of creating. Demi Lovato imbues the track with the obvious sexual fire but also a yearning humanity that I don’t get from someone like Katy Perry. Other artists perform, but Lovato owns this track. There are many ways to sell the “bodytype” line, Lovato made it legendary.
  2. “Back Together” by Robin Thicke featuring Nicki Minaj: Robin Thicke is the most hated man in pop music, and all he did was be kinda skeevy and have a drug problem. In comparison to Justin Bieber and R. Kelly, he’s practically a saint. So this comeback track failed to do just that, but it still stands a supreme piece of production and writing by, yup, Max Martin. My wife and I listen to this song a lot.
  3. “A New Wave” by Sleater-Kinney: This is the feeling of infinite possibilities, set to music.
  4. “Run Away With Me” by Carly Rae Jepsen: Jepsen bringing that sax fire. Bowie would be proud.
  5. “Cool On Fire” by Daniel Johns: The best groove on the album.
  6. “10 Bands” by Drake: Fuck it, let’s not even discuss it, man.
  7. “tender green life” by dumblonde: The vocals are pitched up almost to a chirp, and the coo over the chorus is inspired. The whole thing sounds like “You know what would be crazy? If we did THIS!” But 11 times.
  8. “John the Baptist Blues” by Local H: Monster riff milked for 6 glorious minutes. Rock n roll heaven.
  9. “L.A. LOOKS” by HEALTH: The closest HEALTH will get to being poppy, and the closest to a love song. “It’s not love but I still want you.”
  10. “Sign” by Girls’ Generation: On an album of pop perfection, this one is the most perfect.
  11. “Solid” by Ty Dolla $ign featuring Babyface: No drums! Just the guitar and that hook. When the notes go higher and then ring in unison, ohhhhhhhhh baby.
  12. “Keep Searchin'” by R. Kelly: R. Kelly is probably a sexual predator. That said, he still possesses one of the greatest voices on the planet. It’s tough. His new album is ok, but this bonus track is some wonderful throwback shit. Almost sounds like Michael Jackson near the finale. Oh, Michael was problematic too.
  13. “To Ü” by Jack Ü featuring AlunaGeorge: Best drop of the year.
  14. “Wolves” by Kate Pierson: Kate Pierson has a hall of fame voice. Her work in the B-52s is peerless. Her solo album is a fun jaunt, and this track is it’s peak.
  15. “All Day” by Kanye West featuring Theophilus London, Allan Kingdom and Paul McCartney: The definitive version is live with flame throwers, but the studio version is also fire.
  16. “B Boy” by Meek Mill featuring Big Sean and A$AP Ferg: What? Big Sean on a good song? 2015 was out of control. Best song that Meek Mill kept off his album.
  17. “Coffee” by Miguel: I thought the new Miguel album was a disappointment(Please no more California Songs) but “Coffee” was a strong single and closest to the sound I loved on his last album.
  18. “Right Here, Right Now” by Giorgio Moroder featuring Kylie Minogue: Moroder dropped the ball on his album but “Right Here” is a flames collaboration with Kylie, who tends to pull greatness from her producers. If the rest of album wasn’t a stinkfish I’d say make a whole project together.
  19. “Nightclub Amnesia” by Ratatat: Every Ratatat album has a song that makes you forget that Ratatat albums are largely boring filler.
  20. “Dreamin’ Boy” by CAPSULE: “Are you ready?”

Listen to the Spotify Playlist

Listen on Apple Music

Music, September 2015

October 3, 2015

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What a Time To Be Alive by Drake & Future

Future is on a roll. Drake is on a roll. This album is just coasting but it doesn’t feel halfassed. It doesn’t sound like Drake and Future collaborated on themes but the beats are good to great across the board and “Big Rings” is fire. Drake is referring to this and If You’re Reading This Its Too Late as mixtapes and not official albums, citing (paraphrasing)”a lack of cohesion and quality” that his regular albums supposedly display. I think they’re about equal, and neither of these recordings have nearly as much filler as Take Care.

Every Open Eye by Chvrches

Better than their first one. Still can’t figure out why they let that guy sing at all. His tracks always sound like a favor and a chore. Unless this guy has shit on you, keep him off the mic! A little too workmanlike at times but these guys are solid.

Rodeo by Travi$ Scott

Too long and flames. Sometimes you are bored but then it heats up and you’re chanting “Travis! Travis!” and you have to find a car to flip. Two stars but also five stars.

Rub by Peaches

I liked I Feel Cream way more. This has a consistent throbbing sound throughout but not enough variation in the beats. Great lyrics though about chicks with dicks.

Music Complete by New Order

Brandon Flowers tries to ruin things but he can’t totally undermine this operation and while most of the songs need an editor, it’s more of a too much of a good thing problem. New Order doesn’t owe us anything so every album is a gift.

Fetty Wap by Fetty Wap

Long album. Every song sounds the same, which is good for business but not for me. I wish him well.

Caracal by Disclosure

I thought Settle was a chore to get through, so Caracal wins just by being more benign. Disclosure have no sense of adventure so there are no surprises, just rehashes of sounds and melodies done better by others. The footwork track “Holding On” might be the laziest song of the year. Also all of the vocal guests are rendered featureless, so money wasted there. Disclosure makes music that sounds like they couldn’t wait to get it done and do anything else.

Zipper Down by Eagles of Death Metal

Love these guys forever, but considering the seven year gap between albums, I was expecting more. Fun but noticeably slight, with 11 tracks consisting of one cover, one interlude, and the lead single a re-recording of a song from the Jesse Hughes solo album. However it does rock, which is a rarity these days. Better than the last Queens album.

Dumblonde by dumblonde

Is Danity Kane the worst thing to ever result in great things? Dawn Richard solo albums, Diddy/Dirty Money, and now dumblonde? Wow, thank you Danity Kane. Adventurous dance-pop production, the vocals often reduced to sound effects or other production trickery, I expect this kind of thing from a J-Pop artist, but not the American Pop Music Industrial Complex. They’re touring tiny clubs right now but they should be ruling the world. “Tender Green Life” one of the best songs of the year.

Photograph by Dirty Vegas

I thought Dirty Vegas would go after that Calvin Harris money after 2011’s surprising Electric Love but they seem to be after the indie set instead. Simple sounds for small rooms. I prefer the big dance moments, which Photograph is lacking.

Black Dollar by Rick Ross

Best thing he’s done since Rich Forever. Still sounds out of breath, but that’s just my personal issue. If you love Ross he is ready to love you back.

HITNRUN Phase One by Prince

This album stinks. Bad songs, bad production, like someone’s dad wearing skinny jeans to a Lady Gaga concert.

Beauty Behind the Madness by The Weeknd

Come for “Can’t Feel My Face” and then quickly leave. Everything else is a wet slog.

Compton by Dr. Dre

There is already a backlast but it sounds great and it fucking knocks. Much of this is the textbook definition of “fire”. We waited a long time and this delivers, and in such big quantities.

Permanence by No Devotion

Much of this sounds like The Guest Soundtrack with more riffs. Pretty great, tell your friends.

Lorin’s Favorite Music of the year 2013

December 30, 2013

2013 turned about to be the year when every major artist in the game dropped a big album and maybe half of them were any good. For every triumph like Yeezus or Hesitation Marks you’d have a disappointment like Magna Carta Holy Grail or Random Access Memories. I could write a whole thing on the let down albums this year. Nah. Too easy.

20) Stay Trippy – Juicy J

Those Rubberband Business mixtapes were my shit and Stay Trippy was a long time coming and totally worth the wait. All bangers about strippers and drugs, which is what we as human beings want from Juicy J. “All I Blow Is Loud” and “Gun Plus a Mask” are instant classics and “The Woods” is probably the best thing Justin Timberlake did all year.

19) Heartthrob – Tegan and Sara

“Love They Say” is pure beauty and sadness. So is “Closer”. Whole thing has this weird mix of happy/sad going on. I’ve never really cared for Tegan and Sara before this album and I know there was talk about Heartthrob as some kind of craven grab at popularity but these songs sound real good, and real true. Getting a budget doesn’t mean you can’t still be true! And everyone wants to be popular! Who are we to tell Tegan and Sara they can’t put food on their families?

18) Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke

If this guy could dance he would have the world on a string. Still, everything on this album is better than both those bloated 20/20 thuds. Breezy and fun, done in 40 minutes.

17) Trap Lord– A$AP Ferg

All you need to know about this album is that the chorus to “Dump Dump” is

“I fucked your bitch, nigga, I fucked your bitch

I fucked your bitch, nigga, I fucked your bitch

She suck my dick, nigga, she suck my dick

She suck my dick, nigga, she suck my dick”

16) Artpop– Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga is overstudied and not nearly as good as she thinks she is. And yet, this album is fire. So many bangers, just vicious shit. Purposely ugly in all the ways that appeal to me, yet with these huge neon hooks. The hook for “Sexxx Dreams” is like a laser to the face. “Aura” is a monster.

15) B.O.A.T.S II: #MeTime – 2 Chainz

2 Chainz goes front to back here, just casually dropping bangers and classics like it is just the most natural thing in the world.

14) Save Rock and Roll – Fall Out Boy

Fall Out Boy are one of my favorite bands. Their three album run in the mid 2000’s is some hall of fame shit. They don’t get any respect though because their audience is largely girls and old men like to write rock history. Save Rock and Roll is weird and actually doesn’t have a ton of guitars on it, but it still has great hooks, fantastic singing from Patrick Stump, and a song about masturbation. The boys are back.

13) Nothing Was The Same – Drake

2013 was my year of Drake. I know why people don’t like him and sometimes I still don’t like him but I think he has more songs I like than dislike and Nothing Was The Same is pretty good. I think it could have used a couple more bangers like “Started From The Bottom” but that wasn’t what he was feeling at the moment. But did you hear “Trophies”? Shittttt.

12) Excuse My French – French Montana

This may be the last we hear from French Montana. The album flopped and people have already moved on but this album has tracks. Hot fire all over and these beats, son. Diddy paid good money for these beats and it would be a shame for all of us to ignore them. Also, the ignorance of “Pop That”, “Marble Floors” and “Ocho Cinco” all on the same album is awe inspiring. May French continue to be worried about nothing.

11) Dynamics – Holy Ghost!

The first three songs are kinda eh but then it makes a huge jump in quality and you can forgive those first tracks and come to like them a little bit. I saw these guys live this year and they aren’t very interesting performers but the songs sounded good and while they can’t really pull off their ballads live, those tracks are the best songs on Dynamics. “I Want To Be Your Hand” is an instant classic.

10) Matangi– M.I.A.

This album should have been called Bangers. M.I.A. never fell off, really. I’ve gone back to MAYA a few times and it is still hit and miss but who doesn’t have a moment like that? We keep giving Jay-Z second chances. Matangi is easily M.I.A.’s best album, no contest. The production is vicious, she still doesn’t give a fuck, and unlike her other records it isn’t back loaded, it’s just loaded.

9) My Name Is My Name– Pusha T

I still listen to Hell Hath No Fury all the time. I bought Till The Casket Drops even though the reviews were bad. I listened to No Malice’s solo album(terrible, btw). I rocked that Play Clothes mixtape for like half of 2009. I’ve listened to the Re-Up Gang record at least 4 times. I really really like The Clipse. My Name Is My Name is largely flames, Pusha T goes hard, Kanye hooked him up with some hot beats(“No Regrets” oh shit), dude is back. I wish The Clipse were back but this is great. Best Pusha track of the year is “Millions” off of the Wrath of Kaine mixtape.

8) Hesitation Marks – Nine Inch Nails

Nine Inch Nails have never made a bad record. This is a fact. Look it up. Every album is good to great, though us hardcore Nailheads can argue over which is which. (Year Zero is my shit). Hesitation Marks isn’t a return to form, thank god, it’s just the next step. There are dancey songs and funky songs and songs that are slow like “Hurt” and it is all fine and good.

7) Black Panties– R. Kelly

What do I do with you, R. Kelly? How do I reconcile your past actions with the music you made and continue to make? It’s tough. And tougher for the victims of your crimes. Black Panties is a really good album. The track with Future is next level. “Legs Shakin'” is bananas. “Every Position”, totally nuts……Man. I dunno.

6) Long.Live.A$AP – A$AP Rocky

A$AP Rocky is a cool dude. That’s what he sells, being cool as shit. The first half of this album is like riding in a haze of cool(and weed smoke). Then he drops “Fucking Problems” and “Wild For The Night” and your heart level jumps up and you freak out and start breaking things and then you simmer down again. Then “Ghetto Symphony” comes on and you level a city.

5) Old– Danny Brown

If you ever bad mouth Danny Brown on Twitter, Danny Brown Stans will come out of the darkness and flood your mentions with anger and vitriol. “Danny Brown is the truth!”, they will scream. “Danny knows what is going down in these streets!” He does! I agree! This album is great, leave me alone.

4) Beyoncé– Beyoncé

Like the rest of you, I’m still digging into this one, but it’s highlights are plentiful. “Drunk In Love” and “Blow” were early favorites, and “XO” gets better with every listen. I was rocking “Bow Down/I’ve Been On” since January so “***Flawless” is of course my shit. Frank Ocean is still boring, though.

3) Yeezus – Kanye West

I like how nothing is going right for him in “I Am A God”, which everyone seemed to miss. Oh well, Kanye foreverandeverandeverandever.

2) For Professional Use Only – Araabmuzik

Araabmuzik got shot this year by some guy trying to steal his chain. Araab lived, dropped a sick remix album, kept on keeping on. Plus, you’re asking for trouble trying to rob the guy who made “This For The Ones Who Care”.

1) Paramore – Paramore

I started to like Paramore a lot after those two guys left the band and some astute blogger somewhere pointed out that all the songs on their last album were about how those two guys were just a bunch of assholes. That they quit because they were concerned about “keeping it real”, whatever that means in the pop/punk scene, which is the phoniest scene around. This album is a great rebuke to those guys, and really anyone who shit on this band, because the songs are sooooo good. Songs about being adults, and moving forward, and living your life after hard shit happens. I listened to this album a lot, and it was a no brainer when I had to pick my favorite of the year. “Ain’t It Fun” is a nice final “fuck you” to those guys who quit, but it could also just be about lazy people. There are levels to this shit.

Best songs of 2013
1) “This For The Ones Who Care” – Araabmuzik

2) “Fo Real” – Future featuring Drake

3) “Do What You Want” – Lady Gaga featuring R. Kelly

4) “Hold On, We’re Going Home” – Drake featuring Majid Jordan

5) “Fucking Problems” – A$AP Rocky Featuring Drake, Kendrick Lamar, & 2 Chainz

6) “Suit And Commercial” – The Hood Internet (Daft Punk/Justin Timberlake)

7) “Higher” – Just Blaze x Baauer featuring Jay Z

8) “All You’re Waiting For” – Classixx featuring Nancy Whang

9) “Going With You” – Sebastien Grainger

10) “I Told Em” – French Montana

On Take Care, Fear of God II, Camp and Talk That Talk

November 16, 2011

The problem with Take Care is that Drake’s honesty is boring. Love or hate his decision to write songs about drunk dialing ex-girlfriends and this self involved “fame is hard” narrative, he fails to be interesting lyrically and musically. Take Care‘s 17 tracks of maudlin pity parties feature the kind of bland pronouncements just about anyone could convey. The act of a great artist is to make the mundane interesting, to present the human condition from an angle not always considered. The Drake on Take Care appears lucky instead of talented. Drake presents his scenarios in a unadorned and straightforward manner with little word play and a confessional style reminiscent of over hearing someone else’s conversation involving people you’ve never met. Unlike Kanye West, who is a mess of doubt and hubris and quite obviously a little crazy, Drake is pretty simple, a rich guy who fucks a lot of women. “Marvin’s Room” might be based on a real ill-advised drunk dial but is Drake any different on this track than any other where he’s telling women “they can do better”. There is a cloying sexism to Drake with his “Take care” and “Make me proud” sentiments that feel jerky and condescending. Drake’s party line would be “Had a lot of sex, made plenty of money, not bragging just saying, feels empty”, delivered in that same plain spoken style, artless and often tone deaf. Drake’s lyrics on his first album  and his mixtapes were kinda corny but that corniness was endearing (Heck, I made sure “Best I Ever Had” got played at my wedding) and to abandon those attempts at lyricism for dull statements is a strange decision. Also, what is this; “Don’t listen to those lies/I swear they’re all lies“. This is Drake 2.0 so he’s not trying to be funny.

The beats on Take Care rarely ascend above a plodding midtempo so you can’t even dance to this shit. Just Blaze shows up at one point and straight up kills it but Drake doesn’t help by literally rapping about going through a girls phone and turns what should be a swagged out jam into another pity party. Oh well, I’m just glad to see Blaze back in the game. That dude has still got it. Finally, I don’t know what to make of the choice of turning “Back That Ass Up” into a ballad, but rest assured it was a bad one.

What must it be like when an artist or creative type realizes that their glory days are behind them?  Pusha T solo stuff remains a mixed bag of decent spitting on top of whatever beats that is solidly OK, which for anyone would be fine but this is one half of The Clipse, the guys who did this and this and THIS. The beats are never out and out bad but like I said, just OK. The best tracks are the Juicy J feature “Body Work” and the Neptunes production “Raid”. “Body Work” is your standard “we kill people” track and those are usually pretty good and hey so is this. “Raid” has a great beat and inspired verses from Pusha and 50 Cent of all people but strikes out with a particularly grating Pharrell hook which, y’know, hey, they can’t all be winners. The most exciting moment on the album is when Pusha promises a new Clipse record during the outro. Don’t forget to call the Neptunes when you’re making that one, Push.

I was about four tracks into Camp when I realized that I didn’t like any of the Childish Gambino mixtapes and that Camp is just more of the same, frantic rapping with pop culture references but no strong hooks. Obviously Donald Glover wants to be taken seriously as a rapper which means no funny business but Childish Gambino just gives me a “Party All The Time” vibe, Glover playing against his strengths to deliver “serious” hip hop that no one would ever put on at a party or dance to yet is the essence of what type of music he is clearly trying to make. There is no arrogant foolishness or wild eyed frenzy because Glover is so intent on being taken seriously that there is no room to breathe. Watch the video for “Freaks and Geeks“, where Glover raps his heart out with rhyme after rhyme of references and word play but it isn’t exhilarating, only exhausting. It’s a shame that the album title refers to this instead of this.

Talk That Talk has the most good songs by Rihanna in one place at least until her inevitable Greatest Hits album. The ballads are still dull and the sex talk awkward and unconvincing but there are some bangers which I didn’t really expect. Loud did a bait and switch with “Only Girl In The World” and with Talk That Talk‘s lead single “We Found Love” I figured that would be the album’s peak, much like how “Rude Boy” was the shining moment of glory amongst Rated R‘s crappy rock songs and dubstep. Imagine my joy and surprise upon hearing “Where Have You Been”. A straight up monster, “Where Have You Been” is a future Hall of Famer which is surprising since part of the vocal steals it’s melody from a Johnny Cash classic that I wouldn’t think to nick from when crafting a dancefloor jam. The hook is pure butter and proves that Rihanna is at her best when she abandons the ice queen style that she tends to fall back on and embraces being a human being. Most importantly, the beat is fucking sick as hell. Elsewhere, Talk That Talk is about what one could hope for from a Rihanna album with an obligatory Jay-Z verse on the title track that I enjoy in spite of the fact that I find Hov unconvincing in his pose as a man who is still actively pursued by groupies. Over 40 and about to be a father I can’t believe Jay-Z would spend any time interacting with anyone he talks about on the track. The-Dream and Tricky Stewart contribute of course but for some reason their track “Birthday Cake” fades out before it even becomes anything. The dubstep track is relegated to the deluxe version so small favors there. At this pace, Rihanna will make a half way decent album by the time she’s thirty. Just keep making those club bangers, girl.