Archive

Tag Archives: Rap

This is a very late review especially because everyone has moved way past this tape and is probably now obsessed with Frank’s Blonde but as they say better late than never and I’m still bumping this way more than anything else. If you’re not familiar with Chance he is a Chicago native who has been active and relevant for around five years now. Probably best known for (Justin Beiber features aside) his sophmore mixtape Acid Rap and it’s been a long wait since 2013 for his next project.

I don’t often find room to praise Kanye West these days because for all his genius, he is intent on flaunting his stupidity and arrogance; however in this case his influence is undeniable. If it was not for College Dropout, a project like this could not exist. The strong Gospel notes and cohesive production is a direct throwback to 2004 when the now classic Debut dropped, this isn’t to say the project sounds dated or an imitation. It is  very much a fresh and current project.

Speaking of production, it’s nothing short of excellent. Most of the heavy lifting is done by The Social Experiment and I miss the times when majority of a project was produced by one entity. It just brings an essence and feeling to the whole album that makes it easy listening from beginning to end. The whole emotion is very chilled and laid back on this project (I keep referring it to as a project because I’m not 100% sure if it’s a mix-tape or an album) with no really strong standout for the radio singles, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It is very much a cruise around and relax or rejoice whilst cooking project for me.

There is an abundance of features on this tape, all but two songs has one. In general that would be something that would make you raise your eyebrow and think twice. Not here, Chance’s mammoth personality carries the project and with the exception of Lil Wayne and Jay Electronica he manages to outshine all collaborators. Take a second to think about that, this tape has features from Future, Thugga, Kanye and Justin Beiber amongst others but Chance’s charisma still shines through.

The tape reaches its pinnacle on the tracks “Juke Jam” and “How Great”. “Juke Jam” is a story of Chano reminiscing to his youth and one relationship in particular which is imprinted in his memory. Lyrically it is nothing to ring home about, that being said it achieves its purpose very effectively with a rhythmic flow that is emotive and chill at the same time. The real highlight for me personally is the assistance Chance receives from Justin Beiber on the hook, which is a very pleasant surprise and just adds an extra dimension to the already catchy chorus. Perhaps the strongest and definitive track on this mixtape is “How Great”. The track starts with a grand scope  utilising a Gospel choir to sing hymns which you would usually expect to hear on a sister act movie. The track later transitions seamlessly in to a powerful Chance verse which is easily his lyrical peak on this album with complex and thoughtful biblical references and metaphors  that rap fans would truly relish. Only criticism of this verse can possibly the abrupt ending which leaves you longing for more. Even then it’s followed up by a Jay Electronica verse which is just exceptional.

I feel the tape only has low points on “All Night” and “Smoke Break” which sound as if they’re thrown in and feel out of place ruining the flow of a project that is otherwise immaculate. The tracks produced by Kaytranada and Garren respectively aren’t bad by any means, they just don’t really fit the mood of the rest of the tape. There are also some bars which make you think twice about Chance’s lyrical prowess such as “I might give Satan a swirlie”, although I must admit I do find these occasions humorous and are a nice touch.

Overall this is a very strong project that urges you to re-listen again and again. At the end of hearing this tape if you’re not possessed by an undeniable urge to wheel it up you may not be a “true” hip hop fan. All jokes aside it’s excellent and it’s no surprise that Slate’s Jack Hamilton ended up hailing this as a “true gospel-rap masterpiece”. Best parts in my opinion: Summer Friends, Juke Jam, How Great and Blessings (outro).

 

 

Advertisements

drake-views-car

I can’t quite remember when Drake announced Views from the 6; a homage to his hometown (Toronto if you’re still not up on the 6) but it doesn’t seem like it was long after his last full album the single packed unforgettable NWTS. Maybe it was planned that the now renamed “Views” would drop in Spring Sixteen ready in time to be a Summer anthem.

The album starts with “Keep the Family Close” and unlike previous intro tracks such as “Tuscan Leather” or “Over My Dead Body” this track isn’t the hardest or most impacting start to the album. I actually feel although it’s supposed to have a dark winter vibe; it doesn’t fit in place or set the tone for the rest of the album. The flow is a little too slow and the harp a bit too heavy.

The album soon picks up where I expected it to with 9, which probably could’ve been the intro that this album deserved. Drake is back to talking on this one about how the rap life is treating him and how since getting the key to the city he has turned the 6 upside down by going as hard as possible everytime he gets the chance “Last night I made the decision I’d die for it”. The Movado sample is a recurring theme throughout the album of dancehall stylee vibes.

Being defensive is a recurring a theme now for an artist in the position Drake finds himself. As they say “Heavy is the head that wears the crown” and on “Hype” Drake takes time to remind you what he has come in and done; if you want to come in and try and end his reign feel free to but past challengers haven’t really managed to live up to the “Hype”. The themes continue on “Weston Road Flows” and “Still Here”, whilst reminiscing about his past life in Toronto Drake reminds up and comers “I’m lookin at ya first week numbers like what’re those”; there’s still some way for them to travel before they’re reaching him. However Drake doesn’t forget the blessing he’s been given and acknowledges his Jewish roots proclaiming himself “Lion of the Judah”. Overall I feel this is the most street friendly part of the album and it’s not really about radio or airplay more so about addressing all the questions people are raising in regards to Drakes place in the list of hip hop legends. He does well reminding me people of his impeccable flow and lyricism that hasn’t been on display this apparently since maybe “So Far Gone”.

For me the album reaches its pinnacle at “Child’s Play”. People always complain that Drake has played out the stories of past relationship and their imperfections but truth be told this is what Drake does best. His story of arguing with his girlfriend at Cheesecake Factory is refreshing; giving us the story of a man who is both imperfect and vulnerable, which even after the emergence of Drake is still somewhat of a rarity in the culture. Similarly “Fire & Desire” is the classic Drake ballad that we have come to expect. Sampling Brandy, 40 and Drake combine once again for what is a perfect transition towards the end of the album. There’s nothing more for anyone to stay about “Hotline Bling”; at this point it simply is what it is.

Overall the “Views” album is an extremely diverse collection of music with various transitions and changes of style reminding us of the chameleon like quality Drake possess to make any style of vibe a banger.  It was a long time coming and Drake hasn’t failed to deliver; a lot of initial reviews complained about the length of the album but it almost feels like two different albums both of which are great collectively and as separate pieces. The island vibes that are sure to heat up this summer and the cold Toronto homages that give you a chance to reflect on the career of one of the most talented artist of our time. Drake does not apologize for his success to the annoyance of others and why should he. Drake is a product of a society which builds people just to destroy them and he acknowledges both in and outside of his music as to how lucky he is to have been given this opportunity. He is on a beautiful ride which is moving up and up with the inevitable drop on its way Drake invites us to enjoy with him the trials and tribulations of a man who is on top of the world and although it’s a lonely place to be would you rather he be at the bottom? As he once said “first place is often the worst place but fuck it I love it here call it my birthplace”, the words he forewarned us with on “Comeback Season” are truer than ever and rather than pretend that he’s still in the streets and one with the struggles that other artist portray Drake is true to both his fans and himself on “Views” and it makes for really great listening.