Posts tagged Jay Rock
Less is More: the case for shorter albums

Advancements in technology have, for better or for worse, changed the way 1. consumers receive music; and 2. artists create and distribute final compositions. Instead of the need to be physically present to collaborate with others that are thousands of miles away, unfinished tracks can quickly be shared electronically with a click of the mouse, bridging the virtual gap between collaborators that are countries apart.

An ambitious high schooler can become a rapper, producer, and audio engineer by watching instructional videos on YouTube straight from their momma’s basement. In lieu of a proper studio, plenty of hits during the SoundCloud era (again, for better or for worse) were performed in a bathroom with makeshift soundproof paneling. DIY mentality, in conjunction with the tech boom, saturated the market of recordings, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. More opportunities to take risks to expand the sound of a genre. More output also means more chances to miss, which leaves an increasing clutter of broken songs to sift through.

Sorting the mess can be a daunting task in 2018. Even with the advent of streaming services - with thousands of neatly organized albums at our instant disposal for the cost of about 12 CDs per year - keeping up with the latest releases is a chaotic schedule to maintain. It shouldn't be a chore to press play on a new project by a favorite artist. "Are you fucking kidding me?" shouldn't be the first thing that comes to mind when looking at a tracklist. That, for example, should be reserved for the optimistic shock of seeing guest features; however, exasperating said phrase at the long runtime or the number of songs has become a negative trend.

There are obvious exceptions, but a CD should not be the same length as a motion picture movie. Human attention spans have unsurprisingly been dwindling because of technology. It's no wonder that why can only focus on something important for about 30 minutes or less. The internet alone stimulates our minds in many different ways to ensure that we're never truly "bored."

Oh, and there's life: social with friends, relationships with significant others, work with people you secretly hate. It's a lot for our minds juggle at once. Even if one sits at home and does nothing but consume music, listening to something for an hour and a half straight seems laborious, not joyful.

Artistic merits exist within these projects, but a few of the biggest culprits of an extended runtime happen to be three of the biggest names in hip-hop: Migos, Rae Sremmurd, and Drake. Culture II (24 tracks; 1hr 45m), SR3MM (triple disc, 27 tracks; 1h 41m), and Scorpion (double disc, 26 tracks; 1hr 30m) rack up 77 songs totaling 5 hours & 56 minutes. In that same time, you could watch Black Panther & Infinity War back-to-back, or take a flight from NYC to London.

Long albums can hide behind the guise of "we're giving more to our fans," but the jig was never fooling anyone. In the streaming age where all sorts of sales records are being broken by the hour, a loaded tracklist primarily has rich goals of achieving RIAA certifications. The logic behind it is to compile as many records as possible, including scraps off the cutting room floor, and see which single pops. Essentially, throw a bunch of stuff against the wall and see what sticks. Can't knock these artists for their business acumen but with lengthy projects, they run the risk of sacrificing the quality of a finished product. RIAA certifications add little to a legacy in the streaming age if there's an asterisk.

What Kanye West tried to do with five projects in five weeks was disrupt a flow that was endlessly trending upwards. A disorganized circus in Wyoming played active defense against his strategy, leaving the experiment as a whole disheveled. While the panned three-fifths of the session was hastily put together, the two standout products DAYTONA and KIDS SEE GHOSTS succeeded with precision and conciseness, as they took more than a week to plan. Having seven songs per project leaves little room for error but increases the chances of a high, efficient batting average.

Many believe they hit, but there are some groups with the flawed opinion that DAYTONA and KIDS SEE GHOSTS are not "legitimate albums" because their 20-minute runtime. It's fine if they get left off Album of the Year discussions; this isn't a campaign about that. Disregarding them because there wasn't additional filler shouldn't be a valid dismissal.

A complete thought can be assembled in 30 minutes or less. In an over-saturated music economy, stripping a project down to the bare essentials is a merit in and of itself. As streaming becomes the preferred method of listening, the lines are getting blurred between what separates an album from a mixtape or an EP. The EP vs. LP distinction was strict when the boundaries of distribution were as well. Why can't these distinctions evolve with the times? A comprehensive story can be told in 30 minutes or less just as effectively as an hour-long release. The M.O. of "less is more" was influenced by three impressive projects: FETTI, FM!, and White Bronco.


Joint albums - even with three legendary acts such as Freddie Gibbs, Curren$y, and The Alchemist - always look great on paper but are far from a guarantee. Listeners have been scorned by recent collab tapes with chief complaints stemming from the chemistry or lack thereof. Big names will certainly attract an audience. A compilation of throwaways and a lack of effort will dissipate said crowd faster than yelling fire! in a movie theater. Heavy smoke (no pun intended) surrounded the anticipation of FETTI after a surprise announcement. Clocking in at 23 and a half minutes, this powerhouse trio exceeded expectations by delivering an intricate balancing act with two rap styles, seemingly on polar ends of the spectrum, complementing each other like Yin & Yang. Gangsta Gibbs is known for expertly running through sets of triplets in rapid succession, all the while flexing on a 16 with hay makers for punches ("My baby said if I be faithful, she gone hold me down / I'm fuckin' these hoes, I want it all like an only child // About to take a trip, I got coke and dope on my grocery list // Oxycontin pack, I be switchin' rackets like Djokovic"). He slickly does so most prominently on Willie Lloyd and even sings with conviction on Now & Later Gators.

In many ways, Spitta Andretti is just different. If Freddie is a renegade assassin, then the New Orleans native is a cerebral marksman that moves with grace and precision who is equally as lethal. Curren$y's flow embodies a cool ass nigga; his presence will be felt without ever doing the most ("It's like divin' out the plane / Once that music hit our veins / Tins of Rose Champagne // Mascara telling her tale, Revealin' her pain"). A confident calmness, exhibited on Saturday Night Special and No Window Tints, showcases skilled rap ability without needing to spazz out. And what's left to say about Alan The Chemist that hasn't been said already. There's a masterful, haunted essence to his production that's sharp, distinct and one-of-a-kind. The sample-driven, minimalist landscape The Alchemist provides for the duo is deranged and beautiful, manic but never frantic. No one truly dominates except FETTI as a whole; Gibbs, Spitta & ALC co-exist without intruding each others space. These veterans understand the strength of effective teamwork.


Vince Staples can rap his ass off. He's technically sound, quick, witty, and intelligent. At such a *young* age, the North Long Beach native has a wisdom that resembles a man in his mid-40s. People think his interviews are hilarious. All of the above is a recipe for a hip-hop star in 2018, not to say that he isn't. How come he's not universally beloved? The beats. For lack of a better phrase, the "robotic production" on Prima Donna and Big Fish Theory - two solid pieces of work with underlying creativity - has been sonically off-putting to some. The thing is: he doesn't give a fuck. It's evident by his brash attitude and the way he carries himself. Vince's latest project, FM!, thanks in part to the chameleon-like super-producer Kenny Beats, is a more palatable experience to all listeners involved. At just over 22 minutes, FM! is a straightforward concept album on the surface: someone turning on Power 106 ("Big Boy's Neighborhood" to be specific) hearing him rap about his life. In meta terms, it could be interpreted as a voyeur’s experience of a real story; a brief snapshot of a complex individual that's witnessed the traumatic pain of street life, but disguises it as entertainment. The visuals to the ironically titled, E-40-featured FUN and the song itself captures that point. With assistance on the hook by Jay Rock, Don't Get Chipped is a weary, bass-heavy track that talks about remaining skeptical even after you've "made it":

Everybody say it's lonely at the top
I want my homies at the top
My little homie, he got shot
And now I'm moving by my lonely with the .40 and the mop
Finna pull up early morning and somebody getting dropped
I throw a party on your block, like I'm Tommy the clown
Hundred thousand dollar car, bet you proud of me now
Took my mama out the set, house as big as my mouth

That balance between light and dark keeps Staples on edge, knowing that his work isn't done. Ty Dolla $ign, Kehlani, Buddy and Kamaiyah (“head on a swivel, no bleedin’ me!”) all make an appearance (engineered by MixedByAli) to help provide as much of a vibrant West Coast feel as possible. Even 1-verse snippets from Tyga and Earl Sweatshirt, with dashes of segments of Big Boy's Neighborhood, add to the authenticity of the FM! radio show. Vince Staples had much to say in this concept album without belaboring the point.


Action Bronson has had one of the most interesting careers in entertainment since the start of the decade. After breaking a leg in the kitchen, gourmet chefs don't typically end up signing to a major as a result of releasing critically acclaimed mixtapes. They don't typically parlay their success into two television shows AND a book deal. Completely self-made. Last year’s effort Blue Chips 7000 may have indirectly foreshadowed the chaotic gap between 2017-2018. Unlike the nonretail mixtapes Blue Chips 1 & 2, 7000 (retail) felt...forced and uncharacteristic. 2018 marked the end of the Atlantic partnership and the Queens-bred talent cut ties with Vice for not fully appreciating him. Like OJ speeding down the 405 in '94, White Bronco is Action Bronson's burst of freedom (under less grave circumstances). 26 minutes was all that he needed to confirm his return to true independence.

When left to his own devices, Bam Bam has an incredible ear for beats. Having enlisted heavyweights like Harry Fraud, Party Supplies, Daringer who have collabed with him before, these producers helped to restore the feeling from earlier in his career. The narrative on White Bronco, never explicitly stated, is wild and cathartic - something that can't be tamed. He's at his best when his shit talking with a grin with absurd one-liners and quotables you can't help but laugh at ("all these women calling me Taye Diggs," "my haircut is like Dominican folk art," etc.). On the soulful Knxwledge-produced Prince Charming, there's a mix of reckless hilarity and controlled sentimental moments that a well-balanced Action tape sounds like. Featuring two of his closest friends (Big Body Bes and Meyham Lauren) and fellow statesman ASAP Rocky, White Bronco is a strong return to his independent roots in a major way. Sometimes the raps aren't perfectly strung together, but that's okay. He sounds free of constraint, happy to be himself again (“Hold up, just let me roll up, bitch, I'm 'bout to fly // Your boy been out his mind, tears fall out his eyes”). The signature "it's me" rings louder these days.


It was a struggle to power through both in one sitting, but 03 Greedo and Lupe Fiasco are examples of artists who had a legitimate reason for their lengthy projects. Greedo dropping an official album exceeding 90 minutes, God Level, just days before the start of a 20-year prison sentence is understandable. Lupe's Drogas Wave is a deeply thorough epic that's meant to be dissected for years to come. I see why it's over an hour and a half. A slight variation in production for the course of damn near two hours is unnecessary without a purpose. The three recent examples by FETTI, Vince Staples, and Action Bronson are proof that a condensed album can be just as declarative as a sprawling "full-length LP."

It's a low stakes investment for both the consumer and content creator. If it works, great; bump it multiple times until it falls out of rotation - it's bound to eventually reach the same amount of plays as the 30-track CD. If it doesn't work, great; move on to the next project - literally in the case of the artists; sometimes a fresh start is needed. Too much music to listen to is a great problem to have but we're adults now, we got shit to do. Less is truly more in an increasingly congested world of information. If you don't have anything interesting to say for an hour+, please keep it under 60 and...

tenor.gif
The songs of Summer '18

The vibes for Summer 2018 were a little different this year. I can't put a finger on why, but the season is almost over and there's not an anthem that truly defines this summer. Some songs fall into that category, but the masses haven't decided on one singular banger like usual. I've taken the liberty of picking out a few songs that could hold that distinction. I'll let you be the judge.

Ella Mai- Boo’d Up

This song  was originally on Ella Mai’s Ready EP which was released last year. But somehow it resurfaced this year and created a  life of its own. I appreciate the “Trust the process” story. Ella Mai is deserving of all this attention he’s getting. Everybody loves it especially the guys.

Drake - Nice for What

It’s not Summer without a club anthem from Drake. From the song to the visual, you can tell this was dedicated more to the women out there working hard and looking simultaneously. He made it clear for the women that this was the summer to start acting up and letting the men know what time it was. .

YG - Big Bank

Everybody loves a ratchet west coast style single from YG alongside DJ Mustard on the production boards. Its felt good to hear Mustard & YG linking back up again for Stay Dangerous. You can't help but do your dance when “My bitch drive an all white range/ Couldn't hit if you niggas had aim..” first comes on.

Jay Rock - WIN

This isn’t just a song. It’s a Life mantra that the people strive to live for in life. This was the perfect to officially kick off Jay Rock’s run with Redemption, which happens to be one of top rap albums albums so far in 2018. Once again the TDE brand remains strong.

Tory Lanez ft Rich The Kid - Talk to Me

I was having a tough time trying to choose between BID and Talk to Me but the chorus alone for Talk to Me is so catchy that it just rolls off of your tongue with ease. Tory is planning to drop a new project Love Me Now right after releasing his Sophomore Effort Memories Don’t Die.

Drake - In My Feelings

When i first heard this record on the night Scorpion released, I already knew this was going to be a smash single, between the New Orleans influence and Drake giving City Girls catching a huge look, it had all of the ingredients for a successful moment. And it all kicked off when comedian Shiggy started the “In My Feelings” challenge.

Khalid ft Ty Dolla Sign & 6lack - On the Way

The visual and vibe of this song gave me 90s vibes with a twist. It’s always great to hear feel good R&B records that you just automatically know is going to stand the test of time especially when hearing great young R&B acts. Ty Dolla currently on his run with best guest features in 2018 so far meanwhile everyone is anticipating 6lack’s next album release at any moment.

Valee ft Jeremih - Womp Womp

The rising stardom of Chicago rapper Valee has been an trajectory to watch this year from his debut EP GOOD Job, You Found to Me to watching other rappers try and imitate his rap flow.  This is one of the records that helps highlight the up-and-coming Valee. I'm looking forward to hearing his next project with Cardo to see where he’s going to go next with his music.

Tyga ft Offset - Taste

With all of the constant slander and jokes that the masses have made towards rapper Tyga, we forget about his ability to keep a hit record under his belt. At first I wasn’t sure what to think about the reactions to the song, but after listening and living with this song, I was sold. Between that, his other record Swish, and his new LA Leakers Freestyle, I’m liking what he’s doing with his music and hope he continues this streak of great music.

Jay Rock's "Redemption" story launches him into the mainstream
Jay-Rock-Win.jpg

Top Dawg Entertainment has been leading the rap industry by setting the bar as being one of the best record labels in rap. Coming off an award-winning 2017 with the releases of DAMN & CTRL, the crew decided to go double or nothing this year, and what better way to start off the takeover then with one of the OGs of the crew, Jay Rock.

Rock released his third album Redemption after a more-than-two-year hiatus after his sophomore album 90059 and the aftermath of his motorcycle accident. King’s Dead, which served as one of the lead singles for the Black Panther soundtrack, is also the lead single for Redemption, along with the song WIN, a play off of TDE's current "Championship tour" theme. With his life mantra exclaimed proudly on the song - “Win Win Win Win/Fuck everything else/ Win Win Win Win,” - he reminds listeners why his words still hold value.

Redemption is unique compared to its predecessor thanks to a healthy mix of modern mainstream production & the true essence of Rock's artistry - gangsta rap. The balance is evident on up-tempo records like Rotation 112th, Knock It Off, & Tap Out. One of the fun standout records on the album is Wow Freestyle.  We listen as Eastside Johnny & Cornrow Kenny take it back to when Top had the Red Charger going bar-for-bar over an energetic Hit Boy production. With more friendly production and catchier hooks, day one TDE fans and newcomers alike can enjoy the album. I’d say that is a “Win-Win” if you ask me.

There’s also some introspective songs on the album. Rock raps alongside J-Cole on OSOM where he influences listeners to create an idea of what paranoia feels like. Along with SZA’s beautiful chorus and K-Dot's background vocals, Rock paints an image on the song Redemption of what his funeral would've been like had he not survived his motorcycle accident. This feels like Rock’s second chance at showcasing to the world that he deserves as much love as the rest of the TDE camp. He’s known to all the day ones as the first artist that started it off with TDE. He sacrificed and went through trial and error at the beginning stages of the label, which in the long run helped his team reach the current positions they’re in now. Because of that ultimate sacrifice, it's helped Rock mature as an artist and as a person.

Overall, Redemption is a dynamic story of what second chances can do to those who take advantage of it. Even dropping amongst big names like Nas and The Carters, Redemption still holds its own as a standout album that could potentially be one of the top hip-hop albums of 2018.

The most anticipated Hip-Hop albums of Summer 2018

One of my favorite summer pastimes have come around yet again, as GOOD Music, TDE and Drake have opened up the summer with more quality bangers. Here's four hip hop albums I'm most looking forward to this summer.

Jay Rock - Redemption

Jay Rock’s newest single Win off his new album Redemption has become a mantra for life. Hearing the chorus go “Win Win Win Win/ Fuck everything else/ Win Win Win Win” always gets my spirit going. There was a lot of mixed reviews regarding Rock’s last album 90059. However the anticipation for his follow-up was built up off the strength of the Black Panther-soundtrack hit, King’s Dead.

TDE is already having a blockbuster year and now it’s time for the label mates to shine.

Schoolboy Q - TBD

Another TDE superstar is gearing up for his third major studio release. Schoolboy Q says his album is done and will drop sometime in 2018. He's also said the production on the album will be more mainstream.

His recent verses on Addicted to Ballin, Code of Honor, X, & Movin Around shows me how much Q has improved as a rapper. Right now he’s on the Championship Tour with the rest of the Top Dawg family celebrating their wins. We'll see what he's got in store for us next go-around.

YG- Stay Dangerous

It wouldn't be summer without an album of ratchet YG anthems!

YG announced Stay Dangerous, the follow-up to 2016's Still Brazy, back in February, and unlike its predecessor, he's linked back up with DJ Mustard, whose presence was missing on the last album. Mustard's production sounds polished on the single Suu Woop, making me anxious for some heat to hold us over this summer.

YG's other single Big Bank is out as well.

Drake -Scorpion

Yeah Push gave Aubrey the biggest ass-whooping in hip-hop history... but I'm still hype for Scorpion. When you have the superstar power Drake has, your career can stand to take a few hits.

So far he’s dropped God’s Plan, Nice for What, and I'm Upset to build up anticipation for the June 29 release. Everybody knows that regardless of what happened, Drake is still going to do his numbers and drop his hits (we won’t forget the beatdown though). I'm looking forward to seeing what energy he brings and whether or not he’s going to address a lot of the allegations Push mentioned.

Most anticipated albums of 2018

There’s a couple of things that come to mind when I think about New Years; it’s new beginnings, new energy, new people, new opportunities, and most importantly, new music. Every year when it feels there’s no way the music atmosphere can get that better, I’m  hit me with that “Iight BET” text message from the new year.  New music releases in 2018  means new sounds, waves, flows, tunes, artists, etc. When it’s not the usual artists dominating, there’s always some new faces that make big noise for themselves.  Despite push back old heads give us, music is in a great spot. With all of these diverse  categories of hip-hop specifically tailored to different crowds, you would think complaining about the state of music would experience some cutback.  But people are never satisfied. Either way it goes,  I’m excited to hear  what’s in stored for our 2018 Life soundtrack. I’ve come up with the list of rappers whom in which I’m excited for releasing new music this year.

Migos - Culture 2

Coming off an astounding year, Migos are already prepping for their upcoming album Culture 2, which drops on January 26th. This release falls a day before the one year anniversary of Culture. With two single already in rotation (Motor Sport and Stir Fry), I’m interested in what direction the group is taking the sound & vibe this next go round. I don't know if it’s because of the Quality Control compilation release, but the buzz doesn't feel entirely the same as it did last year. However, I have faith in Migos to drop that flame. I'm looking forward to hearing my guy Offset (aka the BEST MIGO out the group) to do work on the album. . 

Rae Sremmurd - Sremmlife 3

SremmLife 3 has been teased on several occasions by Mike Will Made It and the group through social media and interviews. Back in August while with speaking with Tim Westwood , Swae Lee confirmed that SremmLife 3 was just about complete. Prior to that, Slim Jxmmi initially said initially that the third album was going to be a departure from the Sremmlife series, but later, Swae changed the plans up. We haven’t got an actual release date yet, but we were told it’s supposed to drop sometime in January. I’m not sure if it will since release dates always change, but I’m certain Sremmlife 3 will drop for us sometime in the first quarter of 2018.

On a side note, I really wish they would start dropping their albums in the spring time so their records could blow up and get in the summer rotation.

YG- Just Re’d Up 3

When we last heard YG on his Red Friday EP, he said on Public Service Announcement intro "Just Re’d Up 3 coming soon.” YG has been quietly working in the lab, whether with Mustard for the album or assisting with features with other rappers. He’s dropped some loosie singles post-Still Brazy in Fuck it up, YNS & Pop it Shake It. It’s about to be about two years since Still Brazy dropped (which i think is top album of 2016 despite some push back since the album missed Mustards’ presence) and I think it’s about time for a new YG album in order to prep us for the summer.

Nipsey Hussle - Victory Lap

It's about DAMN time our playa’ potna Nipsey Hussle is finally dropping Victory Lap on February 16th. I’ve been a fan of his music since Hussle in the House dropped and he’s grabbed me with his mixtapes series Bullets Aint Got No Name and The Marathon. After Crenshaw dropped in 2013, Nipsey started teasing us with Victory Lap, but it was starting to reach Detox status. But it seems like Victory Lap is finally about to happen. If my boy Cyhi could delay his album process and drop heat like No Dope on Sundays, then I have all the faith in Nipsey.

Travis Scott- Astroworld

Travis Scott is for the people and he proves it every single time with each new project release. Birds in The Trap Sing McKnight is still holding it down as we’re we wait for Astroworld. Huncho Jack with Quavo was cool and all, but we all are waiting for what’s coming with their own projects. Last year, Trav dropped three throwaway records; Green and Purple with Playboi Carti, The Butterfly Effect, and A Man. I’m anxious to hear what new sounds he's got cooking in the works with Mike Dean. He had a great all star cast on his last album and i’m interested in who's making contributions this next go round. Will he outdo Birds and Rodeo? Stay tuned.

Schoolboy Q- TBD

Blank Face was the album of 2016, point blank period. Schoolboy Q came through with the heat and it still sticks today. If you follow Q on Snapchat or his IG stories, then you would know he’s putting the finishing touches on his next album. He’s already warned us that he’s taking the mainstream route with the production. We don’t know much about the new album yet but I can guarantee you that Q’s is about to lace us with some heat the TDE way.

Jay Rock - TBD

Jay Rock has been silently working on his next album for awhile now. TDE has already made their power move by dropping King’s Dead with Kendrick and Future, which not only will serve as a single for The Black Panther but also the first single off his upcoming Album. We don’t have a lot of information regarding the album, but judging off the snippets, I'm looking forward to the album. I can’t wait until the second single comes out.

Future - TBD

We’ve been long overdue for a new solo Future album. Last year, he pulled a double whammy on us dropping FUTURE & HNDRXX, both albums which could possibly be argued as the best albums of 2017.  The only thing missing is a Grammy nomination but only time will tell.

Between the rumors of Beast Mode 2 with him & Zaytoven and finding he will be curating the soundtrack for the Superfly remake, there’s no telling exactly what direction Future is going to go with his music. All we can tell you is that expect some new heat soon. To keep it a buck, I really hope somehow we can add No Wallet into the mix.

Drake - TBD

At the end of “Do Not Disturb,” Drake said,  “Takin summer off, cause they tell me I need recovery/ Maybe gettin’ back to my regular life will humble me/ I’ll be back in 2018 to give you the summary.”  We really don’t know what Drizzy has in stored for us this year, but based on the snippets that’s dropped on social media, he’s been working. Even though I would much rather prefer him to take the year off and really put his foot into the next album, he’s going to do what he want to do. All I can hope for is more flame to come on the way.

Kanye West - TBD

As an OG Kanye stan,  these days I feel bittersweet about him as a whole from his recent music to how he is as a person.  Even though I’m not as fond of him as I was before, there’s still some love for Uncle Ye deep down. Not only do we want the best for him, but we also want the mild sauce flowing back in his veins.

He was very quiet for the most of 2017 minus a verse on Cyhi’s Dat Side. We’ve heard from numerous members of G.O.O.D. Music that Kanye is back on his “five beats a day for three summers” flow. I’m not believing anything until I actually hear it. But the good thing about Ye’s music is that you’ll never know what to expect from him. So for that, I’m interested to see where he will take it since he’s been so quiet.