2018 got off to a slow start with notable music releases, but the second half of January really picked up the slack. Here at The Barber's Chair, our resident music contributors, Eyeless and Just JT, will do a monthly round-up of their favorite projects, giving you on the most respective drops every month.
SiR - November
Eyeless: From a talent standpoint, the roster on Top Dawg Entertainment is damn near impeccable. For me, November by SiR has been on repeat since the clock turned midnight on January 18th. Bruh, this album is so fucking soulful that if I were still capable of crying, I would have shed a tear on the first complete spin. The production is as intricate and complex as every other TDE release, but the entire experience of this one felt like a completely novel journey. The way SiR floats on the album, mixing in different cadences with sharp, distinctive wails, can really evoke emotion from the listener. Strong songwriting about subject matter dealing with different narratives about relationships are highly relatable, no matter where you come from. Cool out on a late night with your significant other (or sidepiece) to November. It's sure to the set the mood.
Favorite Tracks: D'Evils, Something New (ft. Etta Bond), Dreaming of Me.
JT: The TDE Machine is the strongest well oiled machine in the music industry right now. Everything that they touch always turn into gold and their track record with artist as Kendrick, SZA, Schoolboy Q, etc. Im really convinced that after Top or Punch comes across dope talent, they then throw them in the TDE hyperbolic time chamber for training and they come out stronger than when they first walked in. So what a perfect way to start off January 2018 but with some fresh new R&B sounds from their newest and latest talent in the roster, SiR. The Production on the album is usual TDE standards: Soulful, complex, soothing, Intricate, etc. Each song on the album can evoke different emotions from you, whether you’re out cruising thinking about life or you’re chilling with the opposite sex. Im looking forward to seeing more collaborations and records from SiR in the near future.
Favorite Tracks: D’Evils, That’s Alright, Something Foreign, Something New
Maxo Kream - Punken
Eyeless: Whew, Punken caught me off guard, for real. I had never listened to Maxo Kream prior to this album, but many people on the internet were rightfully lauding him for this effort. Slick raps and harrowing tales about street life are painted vividly with Max's commentary throughout Punken. In one of the standouts, "Roaches," the Houston native talks about in detail about the sad troubles his family was going through when dealing with the impact and aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. There's plenty of ig'nant shit on here to go dumb to, but there's also some very thoughtful and poignant rhymes on here as well. Hands down my favorite rap project of this early year, so far.
Favorite Tracks: Work, Roaches, Grannies;
Evidence - Weather or Not
Eyeless: WEST COAST FLOWS MEETS EAST COAST BOOM BAP. The Venice, Caljfornia hip-hop veteran Evidence has lowkey been one of the most consistent rappers. As one can tell by his subdued demeanor and laid-back delivery, EV, isn't worried about the flash and frills; just straight raps. That's not to say he's lazy in the slightest, rather, he carved a lane in this game by staying authentic, without ever conforming to normal trends:
Everyone's an imitation, spitters cop the G Rap, the rest are on some Drake shit// I took my time to find my own shit, 10,000 hours//
With production from Nottz, The Alchemist, DJ Premier, and more, Mr. Slow Flow kills it again by sticking to the blueprint here on Weather or Not. Prayerss up to his long-term girlfriend who he, on the final song, revealed to have stage three breast cancer. A very personal album with great effort put forth into it.
Favorite tracks: Throw it All Away (prod. The Alchemist), Jim Dean, Love Is a Funny Thing (feat. Styles P, Rapsody & Khrysis; prod. The Alchemist);
Payroll Giovanni & Cardo - Big Bossin Vol 2
JT: I'm going to be keep it real honest with you, I’m JUST NOW jumping onto the Payroll Giovanni bandwagon after the homie Baby Shad had made his playlist of his best songs. What draws me so much into his music is his sound. What’s crazy to me is how their sound is so G-Funk so West Coast, but Payroll & Cardo both from the Midwest. Not only is the sound amazing, but Big Bossin Vol 2 to me is one of the best albums to play when you’re fiending for life motivation to help you secure that bag. This is my current life go-to soundtrack when I’m making moves and setting plays to secure my bag. Payroll Giovanni for President.
Favorite Tracks: 5s to 6s, Rapped My Way, Good Day to Get Money, 10 Years, 1 Summer, BYLUG Outro
Drake - Scary Hours EP
JT: At this point, what’s there to not love about Drake. No matter how many times i tend to overly criticize him, the boy always finds a way to come through and gives us heat. Listening to Scary Hours EP, i get the feeling that Drake feels refreshed and ready to take one 2018. Not only did he give us another smash with God’s Plan, he also blessed us with the raps on Diplomatic Immunity. Right after More Life dropped, I really wanted Drake to just take a break from music at first because to me it felt like most of his music lately since after If You’re Reading This, It’s too Late. To me, it felt like he was more concerned with making hit records more than impactful records. I'm not mad at him for that because he’s been giving folks hits. But I love Introspective Drake much more. When he’s giving us tracks like 30 for 30, The Resistance, Do Not Disturb, Lose You, etc i feel like that’s when drake is at his best. I'm looking forward to seeing what’s next up for the boy for 2018.
Favorite tracks: Diplomatic Immunity
Migos - Culture II
Justine Skye - Ultraviolet