Album Review: A$AP Rocky – At.Long.Last.A$AP

A$AP Rocky – AT.LONG.LAST.A$AP

When it comes to sophomore albums it’s usually a hit or miss situation, especially in the world of hip hop. A lot of pressure looms over the quality of a sophomore album, if a rappers debut record is a success then the expectations of their follow up is tremendous. The same can also be said if the debut album is a flop as the sophomore creates an opportunity for the artist to make amends which ultimately generates even higher expectations. Over the years we have seen plenty of failed sophomore albums (Raekwon – Immobilarity, Snoop Dogg – Tha Doggfather) however; we have also seen some amazing ones to (Eminem – Marshall Mathers LP, The Fugees – The Score), so where does AT.LONG.LAST.A$AP sit on this long list of sophomore attempts?

It was over two years ago when the world was introduced to LONG.LIVE.A$AP, the chart topping debut album from Rakim Mayers a.k.a. A$AP Rocky. L.L.A was a huge success and generated a number of hits such as Fuckin’ Problems, Goldie and Fashion Killa. Now the Harlem emcee has followed that up with his highly anticipated sophomore album AT.LONG.LAST.A$AP, a solid and forward moving effort that certainly doesn’t succumb to the sophomore slump however; at the same time it does fall just short of satisfying our high expectations.

At first those high expectations seem like they are going to be met after hearing the albums opening track Holy Ghost. With a retro guitar riff sampled from Lucero’s Noon as Dark as Midnight, the track holds a smooth tempo which features a polished flow from Flacko that actually seems to have improved since we last heard him. The smooth tempos continue with Canal St which is easily one of the best tunes on the album. The track is accompanied by a mellow piano beat that combines perfectly with A$AP’s crisp vocals, the beat and hook are actually edited versions from featuring artist Bones own track Dirt. Taking a stab at fake rappers Flacko goes hard on this one claiming he has always been honest and reputable however; some serious questions have to be asked about one line in particular ‘your favourite rappers corpses couldn’t measure my importance’. Is Jodye really stating that his influence and importance is greater than lost legends such as 2pac, Biggie, Big L and Guru? (Not even close!)

Whilst many consider Fine Whine to be one of the best tracks on the album, I believe it’s the first of the one to many boring tracks on here. Featuring Flacko’s trademark psychedelic sound and morphed vocals the song fails to make an impression. I think a bit more of M.I.A could have been helpful, I mean is 16 seconds really enough time to be considered a feature? And as for Future well let’s be honest does anyone really enjoy his annoying style of rapping? I sure as hell don’t.

L$D, Better Things, West Side Highway and M’$ all join Fine Whine in becoming the albums less impressive tracks, you could also throw Electric Body into this category but only once Schoolboy Q enters the picture. If A$AP would have made this a solo track it’d definitely be one of my favourite on the album unfortunately though Schoolboy Q lets it down with his Fred Durst/Yelawolf inspired tone.

That’s enough with the battering though because once you push past these ordinary tracks there is actually some really dope material. Take for instance Excuse Me, this would have to be without a doubt my favourite track on the album. Flacko’s flow on here is absolutely impeccable, running at almost four minutes we get to hear the Harlem native spit pure fire as he lets everyone know that his crew is supposedly running shit now (whilst I love the track I have to disagree with Rocky on that one as I think Pro Era are the leaders in the game right now!). The other highlights of the album go to Max B, Pharsyde and Wavybone, all of these tracks show a lyrically matured Flacko who seems to be at his best. Some of his best lines are delivered on these tracks in particular his dark verse on Pharsyde. Here we see A$AP rap about stumbling across a dead body in Harlem ‘Found his body parts in awkward places, like apartments, basements, garbage, vacant lots, garages, spaces, Harlem’s far too spacious’. Pharsyde is a deep track from a rapper who seems to be lyrically evolving, if there were more tunes like this on the album it would be a close contender for hip hop album of the year.

Everyday which features Miguel and Rod Stewart is probably the most talked about track on the album obviously because of its unlikely pairing. At first listen I was not a fan however; after a number of sittings I have to say the song has definitely grown on me, whilst you could say Rod Stewarts hook which is taken from In a Broken Dream is kind of corny, A$AP makes up for it with yet some more killer flows.

To be perfectly honest this album feels like a guilty pleasure at times because I’m not usually into this style of hip hop however; A$AP does it so well it’s impossible not to like. There are enough quality tracks on here to make A.L.L.A a solid album, as mentioned before a lot of artists have failed with their sophomore attempts however; A$AP fights off the sophomore slump and provides us with a compelling follow up. That being said though there are still one to many yawns on here that stop the album from reaching its full potential. A.L.L.A is definitely one of the better hip hop releases of the year thus far however; it falls short on becoming the best. That title in my opinion belongs to Joey Bada$$ and his debut album B4.DA.$$… but hey that could all change as there is a long list of promising albums still to come before the years end.

Rating: 7/10.

Advertisements

Rewind: 2pac – Fuck All Y’all

2pac – Fuck All Y’all

In celebration of what would have been Pac’s 44th birthday, this week’s Rewind will be Fuck All Y’all which is easily one of my favourite tracks from the legendary rapper. Fuck All Y’all featured on Pac’s second posthumous album R U Still Down? (Remember Me) which was released in 1997. Whilst the track was released after his death the production was still fundamentally similar to the original recording with only a bit of mastering and perfecting of the instrumental and vocals. Pac’s trademark smooth flow is at it’s best here and from the opening lines ‘Money gone fuck friends, I need a homie that know me’ you just know he’s about to go hard. The song see’s Pac create a diatribe against his so called friends and talks about how he has no one to turn to in times of need.

Production was provided by We Got Kidz and rumours suggest that the track was written some time between 1992-1994. Like most of Pac’s songs Fuck All Y’all is a deep and insightful listening, it navigates us through the rappers paranoid life. R U Still Down? (Remember Me) went on to reach multi-platinum status and has sold over two million copies since it’s release.

It’s safe to say 2pac was and always will be one of the greatest rappers of all time, there will never be another emcee like him and he will forever be missed.

Rest In Beats Tupac Amaru Shakur.

New Music: Ghostface Killah & Adrian Younge – Let the Record Spin ft Raekwon

Ghostface Killah & Adrian Younge – Let the Record Spin ft Raekwon

Ghostface Killah and Adrian Younge are back together to bring us Twelve Reasons To Die II, the sequel to their 2013 album Twelve Reasons To Die. Last month we got our first taste of the album as the duo released Return of the Savage which featured fellow Wu-Tang members Raekwon and RZA. To keep the hype flowing the pair have decided to release another track off the album, this time it’s the old-school sounding Let the Record Spin. Raekwon again lends his raw flow on this one and judging by the albums tracklist we’ll be hearing a lot from him throughout.

What I love most about this track is that it sounds like it was made in the 90’s, apparently the whole album was recorded on analog tape to give it that old school sound (tell me that isn’t dope as fuck!). Now Ghost has been releasing some incredibly wicked music lately (36 Seasons, Sour Soul), Raekwon’s latest album Fly International Luxurious Art was sick and Method Man’s The Meth Lab looks set to be a killer, so why was A Better Tomorrow so average? These guys are releasing such dope solo music and yet when they all got together for what should have been an amazing album they failed. Is RZA to blame? To be honest I don’t really know, I guess that’s a conversation for another time.

What I do know is this record is hot and I’m sure the album will too, so listen to Let the Record Spin below and be sure to cop the album when it drops on July 10.

New Music: Obie Trice – Good Girls

Obie Trice – Good Girls

Obie Trice real name no gimmicks! The long awaited return of the Detroit emcee is finally over. Whilst we’ve heard a few tracks here and there in recent years it still feels like forever since we last heard a solo joint from Obie however; that’s all about to change as the Eminem affiliate is back behind the mic. You heard correctly Obie trice is back behind the mic and will be releasing a new album later this year titled The Hangover and to show his gratitude to all the patient fans he has released the albums lead single Good Girls. Judging by that title I’m pretty sure you can all predict what the track will sound like before you even listen to it, so whatever you think it is going to sound like you’re probably right.

Obie brings a very solid flow on this one and I have to admit it feels damn good to hear that voice again. Unfortunately though the track is basically ruined thanks to one of the worst hooks I have heard in a long time, what on earth was he thinking? It sounds like it should be part of a Steve Aoki song or something. And the production which is provided by Magnedo is nothing to get excited about either, I’m sure it will take off in the clubs but hopefully there isn’t too much similar sounding tracks on the album. On a positive note though Obie sounds like he is having fun and I’m sure we will gain some quality tracks from The Hangover.

Check out Good Girls below and be sure to cop The Hangover when it drops sometime later this year.

     

New Music: Asher Roth – That’s Cute

Asher Roth – That’s Cute

Pennsylvania MC Asher Roth has combined with frequent collaborator Chuck Inglish to bring us a fresh new jam titled That’s Cute. It’s the first track we’ve heard from the creative rapper since the release of his sophomore album RetroHash last year. Chuck provides an incredibly dope beat with his trademark low bass lines and I have to say it works a fucking treat. While it could almost be mistaken for a Cool Kids track, Roth brings his own unique flow that makes this one a super funky track. There is no word on whether this is part of an upcoming project however; I would like to think that Roth is cooking up something special for hopefully a 2015 release. Chuck on the other hand seems to be keeping busy, last week we heard the track 2003 which will appear on his upcoming album Everybody’s Big Brother which we hope will also drop this year.

Check out the bumpin’ track below!

New Music: Method Man – Serious ft Hanz On

Method Man – Serious ft Hanz On

It was only last week that we discovered the release date for Method Man’s upcoming album The Meth Lab, however; that hasn’t stopped the Wu-Tang member from giving us a sneak peak at what is to come. Along with the release date announcement last week (August 21st) we were also lucky enough to receive the albums title track the Meth Lab which features Hanz On and Streetlife and was accompanied by a Breaking Bad themed video clip. The track see’s Meth bring his trademark raw flow and as usual it’s dope, Streetlife also makes a good contribution but it’s a shame the same can’t be said for Hanz On.

Unfortunately Hanz On makes a return for Serious, the latest track to be leaked off the album. Meth while not at his best still provides some wicked words however; the track is brought down by the amateur sounding Hanz On. I have a feeling that Hanz On is going to feature quite heavily on the Meth Lab which is a worrying thought, hopefully we don’t hear too much of him. I just want to hear Meth on his own bringing that raw and rugged flow that we all love, and obviously the Redman feature.

Check out Serious below and prepare yourselves for the release of The Meth Lab on August 21, you’ve been warned!

New Music: Statik Selektah – Beautiful Life ft Action Bronson & Joey Bada$$

Statik Selektah – Beautiful Life ft Action Bronson & Joey Bada$$

Last year Statik Selektah graced us with What Goes Around, a solid album filled with soothing jazz influenced beats along with a very long list of new and old MC’s. Not even a year later and the beat maestro is at it again with a new album in the works titled Lucky 7. The album is scheduled to drop on July 7 and like What Goes Around it will feature a tremendous amount of dope MC’s starting off with frequent collaborators Action Bronson and Joey Bada$$. Both Action and Joey featured on What Goes Around whilst Action also featured on Joey’s debut album B4.DA.$$ so you know that the chemistry is there. Both MC’s bring their own unique flow which combines smoothly with Statik’s funky feel good beat.

Whilst Action goes hard I find myself just waiting for Joey to come in and as usual he absolutely kills it, his flow fits just perfectly to Statik’s groovy production. Statik Selektah is a man who just won’t stop working, he is constantly busy working on albums here, there and everywhere. His beats are always on point and as Funk Flex of Hot 97 puts it ‘if DJ Premier and Dre had a brother it would be Statik Selektah’. Cop the tracklist for Lucky 7 below and also check out the first single Beautiful Life.

Tracklist

1. Intro ft. Hannibal Buress
2. Another Level ft. Rapsody
3. Beautiful Life ft. Action Bronson & Joey Bada$$
4. Hood Boogers ft Your Old Droog & Chauncy Sherod
5. The Locker Room ft. Dave East
6. In The Wind ft. Joey Bada$$, Big K.R.I.T. & Chauncy Sherod
7. Crystal Clear ft. Royce Da 5’9”
8. How You Feel ft. Mick Jenkins
9. Murder Game ft. Smif N Wessun, Young M.A & Buckshot
10. Gentlemen ft. Illa Ghee, Sean Price & Fame of M.O.P.
11. Bodega! Ft. Bodega Bamz
12. The Trophy Room ft. Skyzoo, Ea$y Money, Domo Genesis & Masspike Miles
13. Sucker Free ft. JFK
14. Wall Flowers ft Your Old Droog, Termanology, & Lord Sear
15. Top Tier ft. Sean Price, Bun B, & Styles P
16. Silver Lining ft. ASAP Twelvyy, Kirk Knight, & Chauncy Sherod
17. Cold ft. Wais P & Jared Evan
18. All You Need ft. Action Bronson, Ab-Soul, & Elle Varner
19. Scratch Off ft. CJ Fly, Talib Kweli & Cane
20. Alone ft. Joey Bada$$
21. Harley’s Blues

Fresh Weekly #7

Fresh Weekly #7

Fresh Weekly is back! Episode seven is finally here and I got to say its filled with some monster tracks. There is a lot of new music in here from the likes of Raekwon, Method Man and Open Mike Eagle whilst there is also a tonne of bumpin’ classics from artists such as Outkast, MF Doom and Digable Planets. I also throw in an Eminem track from Relapse that certainty never received the credit it deserves and to kick things off I’ve got my favourite track off A$AP Rocky’s new album that is just pure fire! So kick back and take a listen to this week’s Fresh Weekly, you won’t be disappointed!

Tracklist

1. A$AP Rocky – Excuse ME
2. Outkast – Spaghetti Junction
3. Stro – K.I.N.G. ft Bishop Nehru
4. Digable Planets – Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)
5. Snoop Dogg – Peaches N Cream ft Charlie Wilson
6. Run the Jewels – Lie Cheat Steal
7. RZA – Just Blowin’ in the Wind ft Flatbush Zombies
8. Beastie Boys – B-Boys in the Cut
9. Chuck Inglish – 2003 ft Grey Sweatpants
10. Raekwon – All About You ft Estelle
11. Eminem – Stay Wide Awake
12. Open Mike Eagle –  Ziggy Starfish (Anti-Anxiety Raps)
13. MF Doom – Gazzillion Ear
14. Method Man – The Meth Lab ft Hanz On & Streetlife

New Music: Stro – K.I.N.G. ft Bishop Nehru

Stro – K.I.N.G. ft Bishop Nehru

Now K.I.N.G. is not exactly a new track, it appeared last year on Stro’s (formerly known as Astro) second EP Computer Era, its only now that the track has received a individual release with a video that packs a powerful punch. K.I.N.G. which stands for Keeping Ignorant Niggas Glorified is a meaningful track that explores the pitfalls of today such as reality TV, gossip media and the commercial rap scene. Featuring along side Stro for this one is up and comer Bishop Nehru and let me tell you these two together make a powerful team. Both Stro and Bishop are younger than 20 years old however; their lyrical game is much stronger than most rappers out there today. I’ve been following both of these MC’s from their early days which makes this track something special, both of them have matured a lot since they started and I can already tell that they are the future of hip hop.

The video for K.I.N.G. sees both Stro and Nehru recreate certain famous poses from the likes of Malcolm X, Huey P. Newton and Minister Louis Farrakhan. Also in the video there is strong referencing to slavery as we see young patrons wearing new sneakers with chains attached to their ankles. This is the type of hip hop we should be hearing today, unfortunately though K.I.N.G. will not receive the recognition it deserves, instead the commercial garbage that is suffocating today’s society will.

Check out the influential track below and make sure you check out the rest of Computer Era which is available on iTunes. But don’t stop there, if you like what you hear you should also check out Bishop Nehru’s collaborative album with the legendary MF DOOM titled NehruvianDOOM. There is also plenty of mix tapes from both MC’s that are definitely worth the download.

      

New Music: Eminem – Phenomenal

Eminem – Phenomenal

He’s back again! However; this time its for the soundtrack of Southpaw, an upcoming boxing film starring Jake Gyllenhaal. Rumours have been circulating that Eminem was actually considered for the main role but eventually it was handed over to Gyllenhaal which to be honest seems like a better fit. That’s not to say that Marshall isn’t a good actor though, his performance in 8 Mile was pure quality, I’m not to sure how he would go as a boxer though (I guess we’ll never know). So instead of starring Eminem will feature heavily on the film’s soundtrack with Phenomenal being the film’s feature song. Now look I’ve said this a million times and it doesn’t change Eminem is and always will be my favourite rapper of all time however; lately I feel like all of music is starting to sound the same. It almost feels like he is trying to fit as many words in a sentence as possible and ultimately its killing his flow (well that’s how I feel anyway). Around the three minute mark things pick up and his final verse packs a solid punch but its not enough to say the track is dope. I really hate to say this but unfortunately I just don’t get as hyped when I hear of a new Eminem track anymore. I keep hoping that he is going to release some crazy ass old school shit but it doesn’t look like its going to happen. On the Brightside though the film looks like its going to be quite epic, hopefully Em is saving the dopeness for the other tracks on the soundtrack (there goes that hope again!).
Check out the new track below, and underneath that you can check out the trailer for Southpaw which is in cinemas August.