Jay Rock – Redemption Review

This album is a step away from the more street rhymes and moves towards a more open view of Jay Rock. He shows personal growth and is willing to try new things here that could pay off in a big way.

The production is great with the right touches in place for the appropriate songs. With this being a softer album, there is a high level of polish throughout the release that makes a very cohesive listen. It might be nice to hear a little more aggression in the beats, but Jay Rock’s delivery takes care of that.

The lyricism is strong and there is an increase in diversity from Rock too. He plays around more with a little bit of auto tune, used very tastefully, and variation in flow to keep every song sounding fresh. Again, it is missing a little bit of an aggressive edge, but the personal growth on this out shines that fact.

The features all do fantastic work helping to make this album great. Each puts across their own talents and finds the right tone for every song. The only thing missing for a lot of listeners is the rest of the Top Dawg Entertainment label, but there are still brilliant moments from the ones on here to tide people over.

Overall, this is quietly phenomenal and should be highly commended. People seem to forget that Jay Rock was the first one to break into the mainstream from Top Dawg and should keep this in mind when he releases projects like this.

Royce Da 5’9 – Book Of Ryan Review

This album feels like a continuation into Royce’s life that he started on “Layers”. Full of emotions, stories and clever rhymes, this is a masterpiece of music.

The production is amazing. There is a lot of different beats on offer and all help add up to a cohesive listen. There are some missteps where some songs try to cater for specific times and/or places like the club, but it is not like they do not fit the message of the track still.

The lyricism is fantastic as Royce continues to flaunt his incredible ability. The wordplay is smart and adds a level of detail to the anecdotes and helps expand the messages of the songs to bigger proportions. There are no complaints about Royce’s performance on this project as it is this ability that has allowed him to continue despite a few problems earlier in his career.

The features are great and show how a combination of A-List and lesser known artists can come together and create great tracks. Each does astonishing work showing their own skills as well as building upon the work Royce has already put down. There is also a good blend of singing to rapping to help give an extra edge to the project.

Overall, this release is the project that Royce needed to capitalise off the momentum gained from his last releases. Including his work as various duos and groups, this is the peak of his rap career so far and it looks like he is only getting started.

Joey Bada$$ – ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ Review

This is a fantastic release with all the elementsĀ a classic album should have. Joey Bada$$ has made an album that is politically charged but with clear messages and not just blind fury.

The production is great because it is easy listening with enough room for Joey to flex his lyrical muscles. There are some jazz influences that help to make this feel more like easy listening than any effort at all. Maybe something with more of a modern feel to attract another audience in Hip Hop, but Joey hits his target audience so squarely that it wont be a huge difference.

The lyricism is incredible, with the flow and delivery only accentuating the experience. Joey Bada$$ weaves great tapestries of description as well as strong messages without losing the edge. There are no issues with the wordplay on this release and hopefully it continues on this vein.

The features are great as they help add new voices and opinions to this album. Each does a good job of their verse or hook which keeps the whole thing cohesive and flowing. Maybe some more aggressive guests could sharpen that end of this project’s spectrum but there isn’t any major room for improvement.

Overall, this is an album that a lot will listen to and many will enjoy. Joey Bada$$ has crafted a truly great release here and the entire Hip Hop community should agree.

J. Cole – 4 Your Eyes Only Review

This release is a smooth and thought provoking journey that has a lot of replay value. J Cole is a master at making cohesive albums and this one does not disappoint.

The production is simpler then most other releases out there, with less background noise to help show off the actual artist. Each beat still has good impact with the listener and is one of the reason a full listen through is no work at all.

The lyricism is strong, with J Cole using his flow and clever wordplay to tell the stories and educate in these songs. There is vivid imagery all the way through this project and the delivery is getting the words across to the listener rather than shouted at them, as the trends in rap might suggest.

Overall, with no features to cloud Cole’s performance. This will be another great release from another visionary artist that will reverberate with audiences for a long time.

DJ Khaled – Major Key Review

This album had high hopes, but falls flat a lot more than it soars. Some tracks come across as cohesive genius whereas others seem more like formulaic noise to try and bring in more listeners who are not Hip Hop educated.

The production is good in places and great in others. There is a lot of energy running through the project but in a lot of places the elements in the tracks become more merged together into background noise rather than being effectively tools. Maybe some more beats with less happening in them would open up more space for the artists.

The features all do their job and most do it well to help flesh out this project. The verses tend to be effective but the hooks come across as repetitive in a lot of cases which really lets the album down. Some more imagination in that particular aspect would go a long way.

Overall, Khaled has made his playlist of high value artists and put together a collection of music that will appeal to most. However only a few tracks will remain with the listener.

Various Artists – Revenge Of The Dreamers II Review

This surprise release has all the signs of being a Dreamville release but has too much of J Coles own signiture flavour to make it feel like a group project. While not a huge loss, you lose some of the other talents impact.

The production is good with a lot of room for the artists to put thier own spin on the track. While J Cole does this with ease, the other struggle to put thier spice on it. Maybe some beats with some more of thier own strengths could be great but the backings on this are a good platform for the artists to work off of.

The lyricism is good from the group on this project and helps show how talented they actually are. No one is slacking on this and J Cole leads the group by really excelling on his songs. Each member does a good job and it will be interesting to see where they go from here.

Overall, this is an enjoyable project to help bring the Dreamville artists further into the public eyes, but we need to see them do more by themselves to know what they are really capable of.

Trae Tha Truth – Tha Truth Review

This album is what the title describes. All the tracks have truth in them and Trae does a good job putting his passion into the rhymes.

The production is great and gives enough scope for Trae to really explore around his emotions and feelings. There is not too much going on in the background to overpower the artists but they do have enough impact that they aren’t forgotten. Some more higher energy tracks could have balanced it out slightly more, however that would not be in the spirit of the emotional sharing.

The lyricism is good but most of the enjoyment comes from his delivery. His unique tone makes Trae easily discernible to the listener while his rhymes have enough power behind them to sink in and make you think. Some more complex techniques could entice more of an audiance, however that is not the aim of this project. Trae has selected his audiance and plays directly to them.

The features all do a good job of adding more depth to the tracks. They all bring a lot of effort to thier songs and give another opinion on the topic at hand. A couple more singing guests could strengthen the additional dimension, but Trae has selected a good group for this project.

Overall, this album is enjoyable to listen to while also making you think. It is good to see Trae make a full album rather than the stream of features the world has seen from him recently.

Boosie Badazz – Touch Down 2 Cause Hell Review

This album is a great comback for Boosie after his incarceration and after putting in work on other peoples projects. He takes all his effots growing as an artist and his connections made with other artists to craft an album with a great balance of fun, emotions and guests.

The production is excellent and works perfectly with each track’s message. The beats are all diverse and definately wont be confused with each other, while also staying true to the message of each track. Maybe mixing up the structure of the album to space out the emotional content could help to make a whole listen through easyier to digest but it is all still entertaining to hear a whole play through.

The lyricism is good and is improving still, but falls short of perfect. Boosie fills his song with wordplay and the lines that don’t have a rap technique in, he fills with passion and emotion so that it has a good amount of impact with the listener. He may want to try and add a touch more complex wordplay into a few more lines to pull in the lyrical purists.

The features all put in a good job assisting Boosie on the tracks. They each write great verses and put on fantastic performances that lead to great cohesion over the album. A lot of big names are involved in the credits and shows how far Boosie has come in his career.

Overall, this album has a lot of great points and with no obvious mis-steps, this is an easy album to listen to. It could still be a bit smoother and Boosie could still improve his lyricism, but there is no doubt that he has been able to craft one of the better albums of this year so far.

Wale – The Album About Nothing Review

This album does not have a great finish to it like other albums released in recent times but it does still have a lot of great qualities. Wale seems to be trying to imitate Drake or J. Cole in his delivery while trying to keep his individuality intact.

The production is good but can sometimes feel like it is missing something. A lot of the tracks have a lot of good, strong moments that really help to make this a project to listen to, but they tend to lack flair and relying on Wale and his rapping to bring it all together. While that can work some of the time, it should not be relied on for one element to bring every track together.

The lyricism is good but not great. In recent times, the level of lyricism in the rap game has increased and Wale may need to increase his level higher to help himself stand out more from the rest of the pack. However what he delivers on this project is still enjoyable and fun to listen to.

The features do a great job helping to bring a higher level of diversity to this otherwise single track project. Each of them puts in good effort to bring the level of entertainment on the song they are on to a higher level. Some features that weren’t so generic or almost expected may have made some more interesting moments.

Overall, this is a nice project that does not have the flair to be an elite album in todays game. A lot of elements on this album are good but do not rise to the level of greatness that Wale needs to keep his high ranking position.

J. Cole – 2014 Forest Hills Drive Review

This is an emotional roller-coaster of an album. It explores a lot of what people can go through in their lives as a whole as well as in their day to day experiences and this makes for an album that really connects with the listener. It is cohesive and all works together well as an overall project.

The production is amazing and really draws the listener in. It creates the perfect atmosphere on each song and helps to boost the message of each track to get the point across better. It all flows very easily together and isn’t jagged or shifting. Instead it runs smoothly and is a joy to listen to.

The lyricism is clever and has a lot of re-listen ability. Cole masterfully shapes his lyrics into very smart story telling rhymes and witty wordplay. Cole does a great job at staying on point in the songs and making powerful messages in songs, which is also true for this project.

With no features to compare to, Cole does a greatĀ  job of shouting out everyone who helped to make this project on the last track where after the first three minutes, leads to him joking around and thanking everybody. He says it is like “the credits rolling” and it is like that if the credits were amusing and made you want to keep listening.

Overall, this is a great album which can be listened to over and over again as it is so easy to listen to while still being engaging to the listener. This is a great feat for Cole and for his Dreamville label as he shouts them out in the “credits” on the album. If you are a fan of Hip Hop, get this album.