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.

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Nipsey Hussle – Victory Lap Review

This release is a true reflection of how talented Nipsey Hussle is as both an artist and a business man. Victory Lap is a perfect title to fit this as it shows not only the content of the music, but also how Nipsey has progressed in recent times.

The production on this is energetic and impactful. Each beat is full of classic west coast sounds that show that Nipsey is a strong representation of what the modern west coast sounds like. Something further afield then this signature sound might give an indication that Hussle is trying new things, but he knows what works well for him and uses this to pick backings that he is extremely effective over.

The lyricism is great with the delivery helping to boost the impact. The wordplay is fantastic and helps shows why Nipsey Hussle has such a loyal fan base in the first place. Maybe something with more of a story to tell would be interesting, to see how he would handle it, however he is definitely adept at using what made him a household name in the first place.

The features do a great job of adding their voices to the message of the track they are on. Each shows their own skills and passion for music while helping to build on Nipsey’s work on the song. Maybe a few more singers could add another dimension, but the guests all do fine work on this album.

Overall, this is an entertaining release that has plenty of replay value. Nipsey Hussle has had some great success and this should show that it isn’t fleeting.

Kendrick Lamar – DAMN Review

This is a charged listen that should appeal to everyone. Kendrick Lamar spins great stories with very poignant messages while keeping an entertaining edge.

The production is different from what is out there currently, with less emphasis on polish and more on dynamic impact. Each beat is effective at creating the atmosphere for the point of each track. Kendrick has already shown that he can make polished tracks and it is interesting to see that this was designed to be gritty and not so finessed.

The lyricism is obviously amazing and Kendrick Lamar uses his impressive wordplay skills to embellish his stories. Each bar is layered with meanings and every lyrical device is included. There are no issues here with a varied delivery, interesting flow and great rhymes.

The features are good because they help bring another level to the album with fresh voices. Each does a good job of adding a new flavour to the track they are on and aiding in making this project more cohesive. Some more rap guests could have made a few more interesting moments, but Kendrick does so well that others might have brought the quality down.

Overall, this is a truly great release and will only have commercial success. Kendrick Lamar is doing a lot to shape the youth and is doing it in a very effective way.

Mike WiLL Made-It – Ransom 2 Review

This is an energetic release reminiscent of the first Ransom project, but there is a certain amount of formula that is clear in each of the tracks. While the production from Mike WiLL is fantastic, what each artists does with it all seems to lead down the same path, with a few exceptions.

The production is phenomenal, with Mike WiLL creating trap beats that may seem similar, but all have different aspects that makes each individual. In a few cases it seems like there is a base guideline rather than an organic blooming to his creative process, but it still yields some great results. Maybe seeing what he can do outside the trap sub-genre could be an interesting challenge for the producer.

The features on this project are exactly what you would expect to find on songs from a producer as big as Mike WiLL. A stream of A-List rappers as well as fresh up-and-comers helps show a great level of respect for the producer here. It is a shame that so many come from the same vein of writing and delivery, but individually, they all still have good performances.

Overall, this is another release from an exceptional producer that proves he deserves the money and respect he is given. Only time will tell if he will attempt to branch out and attempt to work with a wider pool of talent.

A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service Review

This is a great project from a legendary group. Not only does it show that there is still a way to make unique sounding music, but it is the best farewell they could ever give to Phife Dawg, may he rest in peace.

The production is full of the jazz influences you would expect to hear from this group. They use the instruments to create great atmosphere throughout the project as well as affect the energy as it flows through the songs. There are some moments that are sudden changes but they are out there for effect and are not mistakes as they are part of how the project plays out.

The lyricism is great with each member who raps doing a great job of showing their signature flow with enjoyable rhymes to make tracks that are thought provoking and yet easy listening. maybe a few more changes between flows could make slightly more impact, but there are no weaknesses in the performances on this album.

The features are great as each shows off their own impressive skills while showing great chemistry with the group. All are uncredited on the album which means that on first listen through they are a surprise and are somewhat refreshing. This is a nice touch as there is a good balance between singers and rappers which leads to a smooth project on each listen through.

Overall, this is a great alternative project from what is popular in the mainstream and should help show people that rap is more than the generic pop tunes. Each member should be proud that they could make Phife Dawg’s last project as great as this.

Danny Brown -Atrocity Exhibition Review

This is a very interesting release as Danny Brown continues his psychedelic and somewhat psychotic approach to his music with results that push the experimental envelope. Fortunately there are some gems in all the confusion that make this a success.

The production is certainly different with a lot of unusual sounds and patterns used to make an unusual feel that helps somewhat to explain the album title. While not conventional beats used as a backing, they do all work with Brown’s style and with the guest appearances. It may not be for everyone, it does prove that making music does not have to be formulaic as it so often is in mainstream Hip Hop.

The lyricism is clever with Danny Brown showing he can write clever lines about a range of subject matter while keeping his signature tone and flow. He works with the range of production to make emotional songs as well as tracks for the recreational drug user and even high energy offerings. Listeners should be able to find rhymes for everyone on this particular project.

The features are good as they don’t fill the project while helping to elevate it to new heights. Brown selects some A-List acts to prove he can rap with the best and does so with gusto. it will be interesting to see who he chooses to work with in the future as he is already close to the Hip Hop elite.

Overall, this is a very entertaining listen because it is so different. Few artists would try something so experimental, or be able to pull it off so well. Danny Brown should be celebrated for even attempting this, let alone for how well he has crafted it.

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.