Wednesday, December 31, 2014

All Time Best of 2014 + Changes in Blog

1. Run The Jewels 2- Run The Jewels

2. Cilvia Demo- Isaiah Rashad

3. Praise Break- Daniel Caesar

4. Days Before Rodeo- Travi$ Scott

5. Pinata- Freddie Gibbs & Madlib

6. Z- SZA


8. 2014 Forest Hills Drive- J. Cole

9. Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2- Vince Staples

10. #000000 & #ffffff- The Neighbourhood

A little over three months ago, I was just a music nerd with no outlet, and then I decided to create And now, after 44 articles, and over 3.1k views, I couldn't be happier. I created this blog not just as a way for me to write about what I'm passionate about, but to share great music with my friends, and with people across the globe. And I truly hope I have accomplished that. But in 2015, I plan on some changes for the website. There will certainly be more design changes, but the biggest change as of now is the way that I will be reviewing projects. I will write a normal review, as always, but additionally add ranked criteria on a scale of 1-5, and give an average score for the project. The criteria is as follows:
1.Lyrical Skill- Does the artist craft lyrics that have a deep meaning? Lyrics that make you think, and have an actual purpose, or that tell a story will gain high points here.
2. Technical Skill- Does the way that the artist links lyrics and bars together sound great? Metaphors, puns, flows, and everything that deals with how catchy the lyrics are, and how the lyrics actually sound will go in here.
3. Production- This goes past just if the beat is good. Production that is consistent, yet not boring/redundant will gain a lot of points in this area, as will production that blends well with the lyrics.
4.   Listenability- Will this project make me want to go back and listen to it over and over again months later? This is basically a combination of lyrical skill, technical skill, and production.
5.Features- This will judge not only the featured artist's lyrical and technical skill, but also how the inclusion of a featured artist adds to the project.
6. Consistency/Theme- Is the project consistent in sound/story/mood throughout the entire project? Concept albums and projects that tell a full story will gain a lot of points here.
Thank you so much for all the support in 2014, and I can't wait to write even more in 2015. Have a happy New Years!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Best Songs of 2014: Part 2

24. "Be Free"- J. Cole

While Cole certainly had some amazing songs of off 2014 Forest Hills Drive, "Be Free" was his shinning moment. Simple, yet profound, "Be Free" was a reaction to the killing of Michael Brown, and is one of the most passionate songs of the year.

23. "The Season"- Nas

Nas spitting over a J. Dilla beat. Nuff said.

22. "No. 99"- Joey Bada$$

A bombastic, energetic, and conscious track, "No. 99" is the best of Bada$$'s singles off of B4.DA.$$.

21. "Soul Food"- Big K.R.I.T. feat. Raphael Saadiq

A clever food/love metaphor and a gorgeous hook from Saadiq made this the standout track on an otherwise mediocre album.

20. "Made In Black America"- Common feat. Ab-Soul


Common spits some hot fire over a great No I.D. production, but who really shines is Ab-Soul. Soul sounds confident and sharp, and has one of the best guest verses of the year.

19. "Seasons (Waiting On You)"- Future Islands

"Seasons" may at first sound like an alternative 80's pop song, the lyrics have a lot of depth. Future Islands wrestle with a break up, and the struggles of trying to change oneself for their significant other, an issue many listeners can relate to.

18. "Wonderful Everyday: Arthur"- Chance the Rapper and the Social Experiment

The first half of the song is pretty repetitive and boring, but "Wonderful Everyday" redeems itself with a booming, joyous ending. With assistance from Wyclef Jean to Jessie Ware, "Wonderful Everyday" is an upgraded "Happy" that isn't overplayed yet.

17. "Soul of a Woman"- BJ The Chicago Kid

One of the simpler songs off of the M.A.F.E. Project, BJ abandons some of his more recent poppy sounds to create a smooth, heartfelt track.

16. "West District"- PARTYNEXTDOOR

A flipped version of Drake's "Days In The East", PARTY struggles with his feelings with his girl, wondering if they're true or just lust. The submersive, lonely track is perfect for listening to alone late at night.

15. "Heavenly Father"- Bon Iver

The lulling horns match well with Bon Iver's echoing voice, and the track is a much welcomed return from Bon Iver.

14. "Drugs You Should Try It"- Travi$ Scott

Although not a terribly complex song, Scott combines multiple elements to create a muddled, yet elegant melody.

13. "Multiply"- A$AP Rocky

Over a dark, simple production, Rocky flexes all up and down the track to create a banger. It's A$AP Rocky doing what he does best.

12. "West Savannah"- Isaiah Rashad feat. SZA

An ariose ending to an amazing EP, Rashad and SZA have great chemistry as they happily bounce back and forth on "West Savannah".

11. "Till The End"- Logic

Over a fast-paced production that would've been perfect for College Dropout-era Kanye, Logic hurriedly sums up everything his debut album is about, with slick lines like "Won't speak on my bank account/so many commas I'd have to pause/ and I can't afford to just waste the bars". It's the best outro song on any album of the year.
An ode to her young daughter and her deceased brother, "Promises" is an extremely passionate song and is the only tear-jerker on this list.

9. "Blue Suede"- Vince Staples

Over blaring synth horns with deep bass drops, Staples spits about the violence he grew up around. The frantic production matches perfectly with Vince's delivery.

8. "Never Catch Me"- Flying Lotus feat. Kendrick Lamar

The standout track from You're Dead!, blends together Lamar's vocals into the instrumentation that he sounds like another aspect of the beat. The jazzy, hurried production from FlyLo is some of his best

7. "Child's Play"- SZA feat. Chance the Rapper

SZA flows across a mellow beat courtesy of XXYYXX and is assisted by a very unique Chance verse, and ends with a sweet harmony from both artists. The sleepy track is the definition of cloud r&b.

6. "Easy Rider"- Action Bronson

With the coolest rap video ever created, and a rock-heavy production, this Harley-dedicated song is tremendous, and leaves fans wanting to hear more of Bronson's buttery flow.

5. "Pseudo"- Daniel Caesar

A gospel-heavy track with Caesar tackling religion and death, this is one of the most stunning songs off of Praise Break, with gorgeous guitar riffs to boot.

4. "Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)"- Run The Jewels feat. Zach de la Rocha

If there was an award for the best song title ever, this would win. It's hard to pick the best song off of RTJ 2, but the explosive (literally) production with Rocha's looped vocals takes the cake.

3. "Down On My Luck"- Vic Mensa

Mensa flows effortlessly over a kickass bouncy production that blends in party music with Mensa's distaste for the struggles of Hollywood. This is Mensa at his best, and everything about this track is extremely polished. Screw "Fancy", "Down On My Luck" was the song of the summer.

2. "We Made It (Remix)"- Jay Electronica feat. Jay-Z

When Soulja Boy and Drake originally made "We Made It", it already was an awesome anthem. But Electronica made it something so much more. Having two of the mostly lyrically gifted rappers of all time jump on the remix crafted one of the best songs of the year. "We Made It (Remix)" is a banger with a message.

1. "i"- Kendrick Lamar

I know this is a controversial opinion, but I think "i" was not just the best, but the most necessary song of 2014. In the midst of police brutality, and the realization that racism is thriving much more than most people thought, out burst "i" like a shinning light. Most of K.Dot's features this past year have been aggressive and savage, but on "i", Kendrick takes up an entirely new flow, crying out for positivity  and inner happiness. Lamar is a leader in the rap game, and this change of tone and plea for peace is much needed. And besides the importance of the song, it's just plain great. The upbeat, sample-heavy production is mesmerizing, and Lamar switches up flows and bursts at the seems with happiness while tackling ideas like depression, death, and being imprisoned. If this song doesn't make you want to get up and dance every time you hear it, you're lying. "i" really will make you love yourself.


Friday, December 26, 2014

Best Songs of 2014: Part 1

50. "Pay For It"- Jay Rock feat. Kendrick Lamar and Chantal

Jay Rock Shares
One of the lead singles of Jay Rock's untitled sophomore album, "Pay For It" is a passionate song from beginning to end.

49. "15 Minutes of Fame"- Jamla Records

With production from 9th Wonder, vocals from BJ The Chicago Kid, and a closing verse from Chicago up-and-comer Add-2, "15 Minutes of Fame" is success.

48. "Buy The World" - Mike Will Made It feat. Kendrick Lamar, Lil Wayne, and Future

With such big names on the single, "Buy The World" was dropped pretty quietly. Nonetheless, the bouncy track was one of the best of the summer.

47. "New Faces v2"- Mac Miller feat. Earl Sweatshirt and Da$h

The outro to "Faces" has one of the best verses from Earl Sweatshirt ever.

46. "Brand New"- Pharrell feat. Justin Timberlake

A fresh, funky song from a duo that should work together much more often

45. "A Place Like This"- Majid Jordan

The smooth, cloudy title track from the producers/singers Majid Jordan is emotional and catchy as hell.

44. "OG Bobby Johnson"- Que

The breakout track for Que, "OG Bobby Johnson" is a banger from beginning to end. While Que hasn't really seemed to capitalize on his success from this track, few songs have been able to match how hype "OG Bobby Johnson" is.

43. "24 Freestyle"- Visionary Music Group

A song made for Logic's 24th birthday turned out to be one of the best songs all year from the camp. With a hypnotic beat created by in-house producer 6ix in less than 15 minutes, each member from VMG flexes their lyrical muscles, even Jon Bellion, who doesn't normally rap.

42. "Sober"- Childish Gambino

While pretty tacky, it's undeniable how catchy this track is, and the beat switch-up near the end is pretty cool. 

41. "Often"- The Weeknd

A bit scaled back from the incredibly NSFW "Or Nah" verse, "Often" is The Weeknd's only single from this year, and just as slick and nasty as his previous work.

40. "Blind Threats"- ScHoolboy Q feat. Raekwon

One of the best songs from Oxymoron, Q and Raekwon effortlessly flow about the dangers of street life over a very unique beat.

39. "Holy Ghost (Remix)"- Jeezy feat. Kendrick Lamar

"Holy Ghost" is Jeezy's answer to Freddie Gibbs's diss track "Real", but is handled with much more finesse. And an extra verse from King Kendrick doesn't hurt.

38. "Attak"- Rustie feat. Danny Brown

I usually hate EDM, but the chaotic beat courtesy of Rustie matches perfectly with Danny Brown's frantic flow.

37."Tuesday" ILOVEMAKKONEN feat. Drake

The viral song of the year, I had to put this sleepy club banger on the list.

36. "U Guessed It"- OG Maco

"U Guessed It" probably has the simplest production of any song this year, but due to the screaming/rapping from breakout star OG Maco makes this song a certified banger.
This dark, brooding closing track from the Chicago rapper features some of the best chemistry from Jenkins, Bada$$, and producer Kirk Knight.

34. "Can't Stop" Theophilus London feat. Kanye West

This is one of the bounciest, funnest songs that West has been on in years.

33. "I Just Wanna Party"- YG feat. ScHoolboy Q and Jay Rock

"I Just Wanna Party" is a unique combination of a gritty and street song, with hardcore verses from all of the Compton natives.

32. "The Experiment"- Rome Fortune feat. OG Maco

A trippy beat that Rome Fortune and OG Maco easily flow over, showing that these two ATL natives are destined to be big.

31. "Amor"- Raury

Raury flaunts his alternative rock and roll sound on "Amor". The Kanye West-cosigned artist shines on his latest mixtape Indigo Child.

30. "Jealou$y"- The Neighbourhood feat. Casey Veggies and the 100s

The most unique song on the most unique project of the year. Featuring a personal beginning of track from Veggies, a jazzy middle with "A Mili" sample, and an alienesque outro from 100s.

29. "Alarm Clock"- Statik Selektah feat. Ab-Soul, John Connor, and Logic

The jazzy first single off of #WhatGoesAround features superb verses from each artist.

28. "Old English"- Young Thug feat. A$AP Ferg and Freddie Gibbs

Young Thug flows crazily over the trippy, brooding beat, and Freddie Gibbs and A$AP Ferg all add diverse, banging verses as well.

27."Juveniles"- Audio Push feat. Logic

Off of the LA Leaker's mixtape, Hit Boy's HS87 provides a great beat that each artist confidently raps over. "Juveniles" sounds like a victory lap.

26. "Broken"- Freddie Gibbs and Madlib feat. Scarface

Don't be fooled by the smooth production by Madlib. Freddie Gibbs gives one of his most personal verses of all time, with lines like "promise I've done seen everything but old age", and the legendary emcee Scarface lends a great verse.

25. "My N-gga Just Made Bail"- Bas feat. J. Cole

You wouldn't think of a hear someone rapping over a ukulele. "My N-gga Just Made Bail" is the bounciest rap song of the year, and is a great song to chill to.

Look out for the second part in the next few days! 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Best Albums of 2014

Earlier this year, A$AP Yams said that 2014 was the worst year for rap music ever. And he's partially right. No first week sales topped more than 180,000 until mid-December, and there were few big names that released albums this year. And where were the promised albums from Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock, Action Bronson, Chance the Rapper, Kanye West, and Frank Ocean? Who really led albums this year were the new-comers.

10. Nobody's Smiling- Common

The seventh LP from the Chicago spitter is dedicated to his city. Common raps about his difficulties and the crime in Chi-town growing up, and is aided by current Chicago rappers such as Dreezy and Lil Herb to paint a more current portrait. While many of the sample choices by No I.D. were a bit repetitive, Common still spits some raw rhymes on this album.

9. Souled Out- Jhene Aiko

The follow-up to the Sail Out EP, Jhene Aiko takes a much more personal route with only two features and more openness about parenthood and her deceased brother. Smooth production and soothing vocals characterize this vibrant LP. While some songs sound pretty similar, any new music from this gorgeous songstress is much appreciated.   

8. My Krazy Life- YG

My Krazy Life, YG
When "My N-gga" was released last year, no one really was thinking that YG's debut album would be anything substantial. But the Compton rapper released one of the best street rap albums of the year. Vivid story-telling and banging production courtesy of DJ Mustard craft an interesting album reminiscent of what Dre and Snoop released in the 90's.

7. G I R L- Pharrell

Between producing for everyone in 2013 and producing for almost everyone in 2014, Pharrell managed to drop a ten track album in the beginning of the year. Featuring Justin Timberlake, Daft Punk, Miley Cyrus, and Alicia Keys, the ageless producer/singer/rapper crafted probably the bounciest, most upbeat album of the year. There isn't a ton of depth to this album, but it had us humming along all year long.  

6. Oxymoron- ScHoolboy Q

ScHoolboy Q has always been the raunchier, partying member of TDE. But on Oxymoron, Q moves past party musics and creates a much more introspective album. Don't get me wrong, the bangers on here ("Collard Greens", "Man of the Year", ect.) are amazing, but unlike Habits and Contradictions, which felt like a collection of singles, Oxymoron told a cohesive story. Over gritty, dark production, Q details struggling with addiction, gangs, and drug slinging while simultaneously raising a daughter and becoming a rapper.  

5. Under Pressure- Logic

After a string of successful mixtapes, the Maryland rapper released his debut album to a surprising amount of support. The twelve track, featureless album showcases Logic touching on subjects like drug abuse in his family, finally getting famous off of his music, and his nicotine addiction. While the album was not ground-breaking, with obvious influences and less darker, personal subjects than promised, the fast-paced production and Logic's lyricism was unmatched this year.

4. 2014 Forest Hills Drive- J. Cole

With little to none marketing, 2014 Forest Hills Drive became the first (and so far only) rap album to be certified gold, and in less than half a month. This is a testament to how well done J. Cole's third album is. With sharper production, and a more centralized theme, 2014 Forest Hills Drive is Cole at his best.


What stands out so much to me about PARTYNEXTDOOR TWO is how much of an upgrade it was from his previous album. PARTYNEXTDOOR TWO has much more polished production, and refined lyrical content. PARTYNEXTDOOR created a smooth summer album, that's also moody and hazy. On songs like "Her Way" and "Recognize", PARTY praises women, not objectifies them, which is a refreshing change in this genre.

2. Pinata- Freddie Gibbs & Madlib 

While there may never be another Madvillainy 2, Pinata comes very close. It's a street rap album with some of the best production of this year. Freddie Gibbs and Madlib blend Midwest rap with 90's East Coast sound, and it meshes together perfectly. Gibbs sounds confident on the record, yet expands on the fear and arrogance of his youth in the streets. Pinata also boasts some of the best features of the year, from BJ The Chicago Kid and Danny Brown, to Scarface and Raekwon.

1. Run The Jewels 2- Run The Jewels

Run The Jewels has found their niche. The duo of Killer Mike and El-P created, yet again, an amazing combination of over-the-top violent lyricism with perceptive social commentary. It's like getting slapped in the face with a picket sign. Explosive production from El-P matches perfectly with the tag-team rapping style of the duo. Run The Jewels 2 is a whirlwind, fun experience that all rap fans can enjoy. The album can be downloaded for free on their website, so there's no reason not to cop the best album of the year.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Best Mixtapes of 2014

Mixtapes are how musicians get famous. These free projects allow for musicians to release their music to the masses with less effort and expense than a commercial project. Last year, we saw some amazing mixtapes, such as Innanetape and Acid Rap. This year, we saw mixtapes used as not just a way for newcomers to release music, but for established artists to experiment more.

6. The Water[s]- Mick Jenkins

The Water[s] - Mick Jenkins
Mick Jenkins is a Chicago MC who doesn't really fit well in the drill music scene or the bouncy, experimental music scene of SAVE MONEY and Chance the Rapper. Instead, Jenkins carves out a darker, jazzy sound. A blend of East Coast hip-hop and Kendrick Lamar with its own twist, The Water[s] is a cohesive, introspective and socially conscious effort that could easily be a commercial project. Serious, yet poetic spitting over concise production characterizes this mixtape.

5. Faces- Mac Miller  

Long gone are the frat-raps of Mac Miller. The Pittsburgh rapper is evolving, and his latest project Faces shows how far he's come. Self-produced with features from close friends (and Rick Ross?), this mixtape is Miller's most experimental work to date. Largely introverted, the mixtape is range of sounds, ideas, and themes, but all seem extremely personal. Faces takes its listeners into Mac Miller's head, and most will find something they like.

4. #000000 & #ffffff- The Neighbourhood  

This is undoubtedly the oddest mixtape on this list. #000000 & #ffffff is a indie-rock mixtape hosted by Don Cannon and DJ Drama, and features a host of the hottest rappers. While certainly weird, this mixtape is great. There isn't a single song that I don't like. This unorthodox project is a refreshing change in rock music.

3.  The M.A.F.E. Project- BJ the Chicago Kid

The M.A.F.E. Project is more of a collection of singles then a full mixtape, but it's still amazing. After dropping singles almost every week for a few months, BJ the Chicago Kid compiled them together and added a few updated and new tracks. The mixtape ventures a bit from the Motown influences on BJ's previous works, and has a more contemporary, hip-hop sound. The M.A.F.E. Project is a great tease for his upcoming commercial album.

2. Shyne Coldchain II- Vince Staples

Earlier this year, before departing on a tour with ScHoolboy Q and Isaiah Rashad, Staples released a free mixtape for all his fans. Shyne Coldchain II was much more personal than Staples's previous effort Stolen Youth. With production from No I.D., each track was a banger with a story. Staples is brilliant at storytelling, but his technical skill can be lacking, but with amazing production from No I.D., Shyne Coldchain II was one of the most listenable mixtapes of the year. 

1. Days Before Rodeo- Travi$ Scott 

In anticipation for his debut album, Travi$ Scott quietly dropped a free mixtape Days Before Rodeo. His last project, Owl Pharaoh was an immense project, that perfectly blended tremendous production with Scott's vocals into a cohesive project, but had a heavy hand of influence from T.I. and Kanye West. But Days Before Rodeo, Travi$ Scott finds more of his voice. It's a druggy anthem, fueled by southern roots and influences from his mentors. The blending of lyrics and production is still present on this project, but Scott greatly improves his lyricism. With features from Migos, Young Thug, and Big Sean, Scott crafts a more personal project. Days Before Rodeo is a must cop. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Best EP's of 2014

The use of EP's has been gaining a lot of popularity recently. As an outlet for artists to collaborate, try new things, and hype up larger projects, most rappers have released at least one EP. Last year, some notable EP's were Jhene Aiko's Sail Out and Action Bronson's Saab Stories. This year, there were some extremely strong EP's, even a few that could contend for project of the year.

7. Clockwork Indigo- Flatbush Zombies & The Underachievers

Brooklyn rap groups Flatbush Zombies and The Underachievers have often collaborated and toured together. To hype up their most recent nationwide tour, the groups came together to form Clockwork Indigo, and released a free, five-track EP under the same name. The EP features the five rappers going bar for bar on production ranging from flowing to head-banging. Each song, from the explosive "Benefit Concert" to the socially conscious "Butterfly Effect" features superb chemistry between this newly formed super-group.


Another free, tour-hyping EP, the four songs show PARTYNEXTDOOR crooning over more self-produced beats, with the help of Travi$ Scott and Ca$h Out. While less complex than PARTY's most recent full-length album, PNDCOLOURS is nonetheless a great listen.

5. A Place Like This- Majid Jordan

A Place Like This - EP, Majid Jordan
The producing duo behind Drake's "Hold On, We're Going Home" released their first commercial project this summer. The five songs contain the pair's echoing vocals over their atmospheric, refined production that would fit perfectly in an H&M. A Place Like This shows that Majid Jordan are a lot more than just guest producers.

4. Hell Can Wait- Vince Staples

Hell Can Wait, Vince Staples
 Hell Can Wait finds Vince Staples at his strongest. Staples takes his listeners into his youth in Long Beach, California. From having fiends knock on his backdoor asking for a fix to seeing police brutality in his city, Staples paints a vivid image with his most poignant and conscious raps to date. Production is some of the weirdest of the year, from the banging synth-horns on "Blue Suede" to the eerie creaks in "Screen Door.

3. Z- SZA

After releasing two free EP's independently, the newly TDE-signed songstress released her most best project to date. The neo-soul album finds SZA crooning about love and life over some of the best production of the year, from producers like Mac Miller, DJ Dahi, Emilie Hayne, and XXYYXX. "Child's Play" with Chance the Rapper and "Babylon" with Kendrick Lamar are standout tracks, but there isn't a single song on this EP I don't like. Z is the perfect EP to vibe to.

2. Praise Break- Daniel Caesar


Praise Break is undoubtedly the most beautiful, soulful project of this year. Producers Jordan Evans and Matthew Burnett, who crafted Drake's "Pound Cake" create distinct sounds in only seven tracks that Daniel Caesar easily croons over. It's a quasi-religious/love project, but is something so much better than either. From the sparse piano keys of "Chevalier" to the striking guitar riffs on "Pseudo", Caesar perfects each track with an astonishing vocal range. Praise Break is a must cop.

1. Cilvia Demo- Isaiah Rashad

When Isaiah Rashad first began to craft his debut project, he had a lot of difficulty coming up with a theme, as shown in the etched out names on the cover art. But when he released Cilvia Demo in January, it was as perfect as it could be. It's truly amazing that the newest signee to TDE, who had never dropped a single project before, crafted the best release from the camp this year, and one of the best projects TDE has ever released. Rashad details his story growing up in Tennessee, in an extremely relatable manner. Racism, suicide, parenthood, and love are all wrestled with in Cilvia Demo, and is so refined that it nearly rivals good kid, M.A.A.D. city in story telling. The production is superb as well, with a unique, southern boom-bap sound with a cloudy twist. From bangers ("R.I.P. Kevin Miller") to introspective records ("Tranquility") to melodic ("West Savannah")  Cilvia Demo has everything any hip-hop fan would want. This slept-on record should be heard by all.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Review: "2014 Forest Hills Drive" is J. Cole's Strongest Effort To Date

"Do you wanna be happy?" This is the first line off of J. Cole's third album 2014 Forest Hills Drive. And nothing better encompasses this passionate, reflective album than that first line.

The thirteen tracks of this album traces J. Cole's life. Beginning in his hometown of Fayetteville, North Carolina, Cole details his youth growing up, and then shows him taking off as a successful rapper. But the album comes full circle, with Cole realizing that the flashiness of Hollywood won't bring true happiness, but family, friends, and love that he found in Fayetteville will. 2014 Forest Hills Drive is actually the address of his childhood home, that he bought back a few months ago. Cole does everything on this album. There are no guest features and all the production is handled by Cole, but the album still sounds diverse and full nonetheless. Everything about this album shows Cole at his highest. He rhymes energetically and with cleverness, and balances passionate anecdotes with addictive hooks. His production is much more polished than on past albums. The sampling on 2014 Forest Hills Drive is less obvious than on Cole's previous works, and the use of chords, piano keys, and drums all blend together perfectly to create bouncy, varied sounds. On tracks like "Fire Squad" and "Tale of Two Citiez" Cole raps aggressively with production to match. And on tracks like "Love Yourz" and "St. Tropez" Cole spits positive lines over bouncy, joyful production. One of my favorite things about this album is that it hides a deeper narrative behind what appears to be a conventional rap album. While first listen of "Fire Squad" might sound like an attack on current hip hop, Cole slips in lines like "damn, my n-gga why you acting like a b-tch?/If you scared to take a chance how the f-ck we gon get rich?" as an introspective taunt to his younger self. Unlike Born Sinner, where it seemed like each song had a meaning behind it, 2014 Forest Hills Drive asks its listeners to find true happiness throughout the entirety of the album.

A few of the songs aren't t my favorite. "Wet Dreamz" is a story about Cole losing his virginity, but gets pretty detailed and illustrates Cole fiddling with condoms and getting boners in class, which I'd rather not imagine. "Hello" is an odd song, that features Cole saying "hello" repetitively  in an weird tone, and is probably the weakest track on the album. "Note To Self" is the outro track, and runs for over fourteen minutes. The last ten minutes is just Cole thanking everyone who helped on the album, his friends, family, and fans. While it probably won't get a lot of plays, it is very nice to hear Cole so ecstatic at how his album turned out

2014 Forest Hills Drive is about a week old at the time of this article, and has already sold over 375,000 copies. That's the biggest first week opening of any hip hop album this year, destroying Mastermind's first week sales of 179,000. And this was accomplished with no singles, barely any marketing, a single music video before the release, and even after it leaked a week before release. You can cop the album here.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Review: One Listen of "PRhyme" is Enough

Many hip-hop heads lost their mind when DJ Premier and Royce Da 5'9'' announced that they would work together on an album, under the moniker PRhyme. Premier is the legendary producer who helped produce Illmatic, and 5'9" is one of the few MC's who can go toe-to-toe against Eminem. When the self titled album was released on December 9th, it was a pleasant listen for the first time, but became pretty boring after multiple listens.

PRhyme boasts some of the features of any project this year. Ab-Soul, Mac Miller, Dwele, Common, Jay Electronica, Schoolboy Q, Killer Mike, and Slaughterhouse all lend verses on the nine-track album. 5'9" aggressively raps over the gritty, sample and scratch heavy production from DJ Premier. Most of the album is just straight spitting, with very stripped down, basic hooks on a few songs. The project clocks in at about thirty five minutes, but doesn't really leave the audience hungry for more.

I wouldn't say this is a bad album, but there isn't a lot to it. While 5'9" raps with vigor, his flow sounds about the same throughout the album. DJ Premier is a gifted producer, but the issue with using a single producer for an entire album is that there is little diversity in sound, and after a few listens PRhyme gets boring. There's little direction or theme behind the album. One of the most disappointing tracks on the album is "To Me, To You" featuring Jay Electronica. The song is over five minutes long, and gets bogged down by the same gritty production from Premier and flow from 5'9" that's in the rest of the album. After three and a half minutes of 5'9" rapping, Jay Electronica steps in, but the engineering job for Electonica's verse is horrendous. It sounds as if he's rapping ten feet away from a $20 mike surrounded by mattresses. You can give PRhyme a listen here.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

End Of The Year Posts

2014 is drawing to a close, and as always, music nerds are looking back on the year and making lists. I will review Prhyme and 2014 Forest Hills Drive and possibly one or two other articles before I move into year's end lists. For the last week or two of this year, I'll be writing about the best mixtapes, EP's, albums, songs, and overall projects of the year. I will also be posting about changes for the site for 2015, and a new ranking scale. If anyone has any input to the year's end lists, or would like to write a guest article, please contact me on Twitter @MusicBenLikes or email me at

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Check Out Joey Bada$$'s New Music Video "No. 99"

Joey Bada$$ is gearing up to drop his debut album. After releasing the singles and accompanying videos of "Big Dusty" and "Christ Conscious", Bada$$ released the third single with one of the coolest videos he's made: "No. 99".

The video shows Bada$$ as a vigilante named "Badmon". Between battles with the police and media coverage, Badmon and his crew incite protests across Brooklyn. The song features Bada$$ flexing his lyrical chops over a bombastic production by Statik Selektah. Bada$$ spits flows against the government and police alongside images of Eric Garner and Micheal Brown. The video ends on a touching note, with a dedication to Bada$$'s cousin Junior B, who tragically passed away on December 6th.

Along with the video, the Brooklyn rapper dropped the album cover and tracklist of his debut album B4.Da.$$ listed below:

  1. Save the Children
  2. Greenbox (Introlude)
  3. Paper Trail$
  4. Piece of Mind
  5. Big Dusty
  6. Hazeus View 
  7. Like Me (Featuring BJ the Chicago Kid)
  8. Belly of the Beast (Featuring Cronixx)
  9. No. 99
  10. Christ Conscious
  11. On & On (Featuring Maverick Sabre and Dymeond Lewis)
  12. Escape 120 (Featuring Raury)
  13. Black Beetles
  14. O.C.B.
  15. Curry Chicken
  16. Run Up On Ya (Featuring Action Bronson and Elle Varner) (Bonus Track)
  17. Teach Me (Featuring Kiesza)
Pre-order the album here, or wait for it to be released on January 20th. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014


PARTYNEXTDOOR has had a fantastic 2014. From touring with Drake to releasing one of the best albums of the year, he's been owning this year. And to finish it off, the signer/producer released a new EP entitled PNDCOLOURS.

The EP was released alongside a world tour announcement (sadly no stops in Louisville). The four track EP contains the smooth, hazy production and semi-autotuned singing PARTYNEXTDOOR is known for. PNDCOLOURS contains features Ca$h Out and Travi$ Scott, which is odd considering the only other featured artist that PARTY has had on his records has been Drake. The song with Scott, called "Juss Know" showcases the two artist harmonizing in a higher pitch than both artists, and sounds completely different than either artist. Needless to say, the EP is fantastic, and you can cop it for free here.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Cash Money Records is in Trouble

Cash Money Records is one of the most well known record labels in hip-hop today. Led by CEO's Birdman and Slim, Cash Money has an extensive roster that includes big names such as Lil Wayne, Drake, Nicki Minaj, and Tyga. While Cash Money Records have produced a stream of popular music in the last few years, they have been having a multitude of problems recently. With the parting of many artists to lead artist Lil Wayne stating that Cash Money was holding his latest album hostage, Cash Money Records is in hot water.

Troubles began in late October when Tyga starting tweeting about his discrepancies with his label, stating that they had been delaying the release of his sophomore album. He then sat down with Vibe and told them that he didn't get along with Drake or Nicki Minaj, even calling Drake "fake". The Toronto rapper then threw some petty shade at Tyga by liking Tyga's ex-girlfriend's pictures on Instagram, which is probably the stupidest way in the world to throw shade. Tyga fought back by hiring Drake's ex-girlfriend to star in a music video with Tyga, which is also pretty petty. It appears the Tyga was finally let off of his label, as he tweeted that his next album would be released independently. This is the third artist to leave Cash Money Records in the last few months, as rapper Busta Rhymes and singer Jay Sean have both left. But unlike Tyga, Rhymes and Sean both said that they left the label on good terms. Lesser known rapper Lil Twist also expressed his disdain with Cash Money's management team, but Twist appears to still be on the label.

But yesterday, Lil Wayne revealed he's also at ends with the label. He took to Twitter to say that he wants off of Cash Money and that his soon-to-be-released album Tha Carter V has been held back by the label and won't be released. This came as a complete shock, as Wayne was one of the original members of Cash Money, and they seemed to be on great terms. Tha Carter V was supposed to be released on October 28th, but was pushed back to this Tuesday.

Truly, I have no problem at all if Cash Money crashes and burns. Almost all of the music Cash Money has produced in recent years has been tacky and unoriginal. Lil Wayne hasn't put out a solid project since Tha Carter III. Nicki Minaj's last albums have sounded more like pop albums than rap albums, and her singles "Super Bass" and "Starships" are a disgrace to hip-hop music. Her soon-to-be-released album The Pinkprint sounds as if she's getting back to her hip-hop roots, which is a definite plus, but leaving Cash Money as well might help her further distance her more recent work from her previous projects. And Drake has focused much more time on his personal OVO label than on Cash Money. I have to agree with Tyga, because I think Drake is pretty fake. Being on Degrassi before becoming a rapper definitely doesn't mean you're "Starting From the Bottom" and at the rate of artists he's cosigning, "No New Friends" is just a blatant lie. Cash Money has done a terrible job promoting their lesser known artists. But with a roster that includes Limp Bizkit, Paris Hilton, and Austin Mahone, the world would be better off if Cash Money Records closed.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Review: The Neighbourhood's "#000000 & #ffffff" Is One of the Most Unique Projects of This Year

Indie rock band The Neighbourhood gained a lot of popularity last year following their smooth single "Sweater Weather". How would a band capitalize on this popularity? Definitely not by releasing a Don Cannon and DJ Drama hosted mixtape filled to the brim with rap features. But that is exactly what The Neighbourhood last week, by releasing the unique and unprecedented mixtape "#000000 & #ffffff".

#000000 & #ffffff (also called Black and White) sounds like the weirdest and possibly worst project ever made. A California rock band who's known for making breezy hits teams up with hip-hop producers DJ Drama and Don Cannon to make a mixtape featuring only rap artists, such as Danny Brown, French Montana, Casey Veggies, and even new comers Raury, OG Maco, and Dej Loaf. Despite the insanity of this project, its one of the best mixtapes released this year.

It would be hard to call this mixtape a rock mixtape. The production moves away from the previous breezy, Cali-influenced sound that The Neighbourhood is known for, and sounds much more hazy and atmospheric. Black and White sounds like it was created by the Weeknd instead of a rock band. But this new production style blends perfectly with the topics that The Neighbourhood sings about on this mixtape, which range from hate, lust, betrayal, and all other sorts of issues The Neighbourhood has had with women. Lead vocalist Jesse Rutherford says that the mixtape is "a diary of songs that are inspired by our thoughts while on the road. It exposes our anxiety, rejoices in our achievement and expresses our ability to create whatever the f*** we want." The mixtape is as diverse as it is unique. The song "When I Get Back" featuring G-Easy sounds like much of the previous songs that The Neighbourhood has released, while the song "H8M4CH1N3" featuring Danny Brown sounds like a creeping threat filled with oriental chords. And the song "Jealousy" featuring Casey Veggies and the 100s contains a wailing saxophone, a sample of Lil Wayne's "A Milli" and ends with an outro from the 100s that sounds like its being shouted down from an alien on an UFO.

Few artists can take their music in completely different directions and have it be a success. But that's exactly what The Neighbourhood did with this mixtape. Besides the obnoxious intros from Don Cannon and Dj Drama, this mixtape is refreshing and awesome. Download the mixtape from the link above.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Review: "Ferg Forever" Needs Some Polishing

Ever since A$AP Ferg released his debut album Trap Lord fans have been hungry for more. Ferg emerged from the cloud of A$AP Rocky and the rest of the A$AP Mob with his own unique sound and has been gaining a lot of popularity on his own. Ferg's been on a few songs in the last year, such as Ariana Grande's "Hands On Me", Big K.R.I.T.'s "Lac Lac", and A$AP Mob's "Hella Hoes", among others. So when Ferg announced that he'd be releasing a mixtape entitled Ferg Forever on Black Friday, fans were ecstatic. But sadly, this mixtape is pretty hit-or-miss.

Ferg Forever features verses from Big Sean, YG, MIA, SZA, A$AP Nast, among others. Production is handled by a variety of producers, notably Big K.R.I.T., Clams Casino, Mike Will Made It, Childish Major, and Stelios Phili. The 19 track mixtape is hosted by DJ Drama, who constantly (and obnoxiously) acts as a hype man on the mixtape, usually by introducing a song. Ferg experiments with a variety of flows, production styles, and themes. This experimentation is the downfall of Ferg Forever

Songs on the mixtape range from trap-heavy to 90's R&B influenced to personal to even a reggae song. This inconsistency just sounds awkward, as Ferg tries to also add in his darker, club banger sound that Ferg used heavily in previous projects. The majority of the production is airy and trap heavy, which when coupled with Ferg's flow, sound like cheap and cliche. Ferg's delivery is all over the place. On many of the trappy tracks, Ferg's flows get progressively more and more aggressive until it sounds like he's screaming, such as on "Dope Walk". And on slower songs with a message, Ferg abandons almost all technical skill and sounds like he's just rhythmically talking, like on "Talk It" and "Commitment Issues". 

There are still many good songs on Ferg Forever. "Fergsomnia" featuring Twista, features steller verses from both, and sounds like an anthem. "NV" with fellow A$AP Mob member A$AP Nast sounds like a cool battle rap. "Real Thing" has a very nice, flowing beat and a great hook from SZA. Ferg Forever has a few shining stars, but overall the mixtape needs work.

A$AP Ferg's first album, Trap Lord, was one of the best projects released last year, with a great tone and balance. But Ferg Forever is all over the place, and sounds like a cheap mixtape. Many artists, such as Mac Miller, Big Sean, and Big K.R.I.T., go back to mixtapes to experiment musically, with tremendous results. Unfortunately Ferg Forever is a step back for Ferg. Hopefully, Ferg can firm up and polish his next release much more than this mixtape.