Let The Mac Rip: The Tail-End of September Music Reviews

Posted: October 1, 2013 in Dyscyplynary Action, Hip-Hop, Mixtape, Music Review
Tags: , , , ,

iHeartRadio Music Festival - Day 2 - Show

Hello guys. As one month ends and another begins, I look back on the last few projects that came out in September including Drake, The Internet, The Foreign Exchange, and Audio Push. Go check it out.

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Drake – Nothing Was The Same (OVOSound/Young Money/Republic)

‘My sophomore, I was all for it/They all saw it/My junior and senior will only get meaner’ were the closing words from Drake’s Take Care outro “The Ride”. The Toronto songwriter/MC had put his stamp on the music world with his excellent 2011 follow-up to Thank Me Later, propelling him up to one of the biggest names in rap today. The line that ended the album felt prophetic in its delivery; as if he promised that he was only going to be more menacing and revealing with each record. He stayed true to his word with the Sampha-assisted “Too Much” – a possible double entendre of a title – lamenting on the increasing family issues that casts a shadow over his fame (All my family down in M-Town, that I’ve been ‘round/Started treating me like I’m him now/Like we don’t know each other/We ain’t grow together, we’re just friends now).

Interesting to see how his rise had came this far: from minimal fame for his role on Degrassi: The Next Generation to subsequently penning a deal with Lil Wayne’s Young Money imprint and releasing one of the most notable mixtapes in So Far Gone. Who would have thought that an awkward-looking Canadian actor would turn out to be one of the most talented individuals this generation has ever seen? It is something he wears on his chest in Boys Scout fashion very proudly and the third major-label album Nothing Was The Same continues carving out a dominant reign for Aubrey Graham.

As stated earlier, NWTS is darker, heavier, and more introspective than his previous works. Aubrey has come to a point where he’s so in tune with himself and aware of the reactions he incite from his actions that it is second nature to be him in the most outlandish way possible. Whether it is the reflective head-in-the-clouds album cover or wearing internet memes on his t-shirts, Drizzy draws admiration and ire alike in a way John Cena and Lebron James have been doing for over a decade. Some people want to see him win, others would like to see him fail, yet all would spectate out of the pure entertainment of it all.

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The opening “Tuscan Leather” is a six-minute adventure that summarizes what we were going to expect on the album: Boastful chants of success that swirls deeper into the cracks of a flawed individual coping from rocky relationships with Nicki Minaj (now fixed) and Hooter waitresses (further elaborated on “From Time”). The beats changes three times using the same flipped Whitney Houston sample, all produced by right-hand man Noah “40” Shebib. He handles most of the production and direction of the album, with synths more haunting and claustrophobic than their predecessors as heard on “Wu-Tang Forever” before transitioning flawlessly to the PARTYNEXTDOOR co-written “Own It”.

While the album isn’t entirely gloomy, its bright spots show when he is sulking. “Connect” is another ode to Houston rap if you listen closely enough aside from the frivolous ‘running over my feelings drinkin’ and driving in an 18-wheeler’ line.  Jhene Aiko slides through calmly on “From Time”, delivering one of her better feature spots in quite a while. Both songs eliciting the potential of another single on an album derived of home-run pop records. The only exceptions are easily “Started From The Bottom” and “Hold On, We’re Going Home”; the latter itself being one of the best songs to come out this year.

It is no question that Drake can make great crossover songs and “Hold On” is 80s Miami synth-pop at its core, only amplified by the accompanied music video for it. There’s only so much fuel left of him producing journal-entry level vents on wax and Aubrey knows this. For that, I can’t blame him for preparing the inevitable run of making two-step wedding tunes by the time he’s 40.

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Audio Push – Come As You Are (Mixtape, HS87)

Yes, it is the same Audio Push from the “Teach Me How To Jerk” days. Yes, they do want you to forget about those days and let you know that they can make quality songs. While that it is great and all, there’s nothing to be ashamed about the awesomeness that is “Teach Me How To Jerk”. The Los Angeles duo Pricetag and Ocktane who comprise of Audio Push are signed to Hit-Boy’s HS87 label and really are trying to reinvent themselves from potential one-hit wonders to a force to be reckoned with. Surprisingly enough, they succeeded with their latest mixtape Come As You Are. The mixtape takes a nostalgic feel of 90s rap samples slapped with braggadocio, Kendrick Lamar-impressions, and infectious club bangers which all turn into something oddly new. The production is handled mostly by Hit-Boy and Hazebanga, providing a smooth vibe of hi-claps and sweeping horns on “I Like It” and a pitched-down Janet Jackson sample on “Shine”. A mixture of big names (T.I., Lil Wayne, Wale) and rising contenders  (Vic Mensa, Iamsu!, & Joey Bada$$) are featured on the tape, adding to the duo’s attempt to be taken a little more seriously now than they were before. They don’t have to try too hard if they continue to make music as good as this.

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The Internet – Feel Good (Odd Future)

2013 for Odd Future was met with relative anticipation and calamity alike, with Tyler, The Creator releasing the third installment of his psychotherapy narrative Wolf and Earl Sweatshirt wearing his thoughts on his sleeve on his major-label debut Doris. Both albums (along with Frank Ocean’s groundbreaking channel.ORANGE) demonstrate that the collective are here stay, filled to the brim with talented producers, lyricists, and songwriters experimenting and expanding their ideas. Within the fray stands cult OF favorite The Internet, a band consisting of the group’s DJ Syd The Kyd and The Super 3’s Matt Martians being the lead heads of the side project. Their debut Purple Naked Ladies was met with fair reception despite showing anything new in the quasi-jazz hybrid and with Feel Good, it is a little more of the same.

When I listen to The Internet, their music takes an influential overhaul of many of N.E.R.D.’s later work and absolutely unable to relinquish it. None of it is completely awful, as the Tay Walker-assisted “You Don’t Even Know” stands out as one of the better tracks to be released this past month. The slow, melting keys exudes near-Robert Glasper levels complementing the vocals of both Syd and Tay alike. Unfortunately, that is the only highlight I can really groove for since much of it is plastic funk that you’ll hear on an episode of Pretty Little Liars. They are akin to Phony Ppl – who themselves are a clone of Slum Village – but the latter is more interesting by a long shot.

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Tanya Morgan – Rubber Souls

If there was any group that could count as the New-York, Native Tongues counterpart to the laid-back Cali-bred Pac Div, it would be Tanya Morgan. The Brooklyn duo of Von Pea and Donwill have been a slight favorite of mine for quite some time and their album is a throwback to the sounds of A Tribe Called Quest, The Roots, and Little Brother and it sounds so good. The jazzy, smooth production provides the perfect backdrop for the buttery flows of the duo, ranging from empowering anthems (“Only One”) to odes to their heroes (“For Real” and the all too obvious Tribe-influenced “All ‘Em”). It is soulful music that backpackers love and would shout, “This is the real Hip-Hop shit. No gimmicks” with their chest puffed out smugly only to receive a kick to the nuts. The thing is it is totally refreshing and I catch myself playing it consistently as a comfortable alternative to New York’s bewildering battle for their identity. It will also be remembered for getting Outasight out of the electro pop realm for a moment and back on the boom bap and keeping MC Nitty Scott from dropping a sixteen and reserved on hook duty. For that, I thank you Tanya Morgan.

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The Foreign Exchange – Love In Flying Colors (FE Music)

Phonte Coleman has steadily transformed from a witty wordsmith as one-third of Little Brother to mellow songwriter and soul man in one smooth transition. Since partnering up with producer Nicolay to form The Foreign Exchange, his ideas have leaned increasingly to the matters of the heart. As a result, he began making music his one-time protégé Aubrey wish he could and tries so hard to do. But Phonte knows his audience is definitely for the grown and sexy and his fourth group album Love In Flying Colors exemplifies quiet storm with two-stepping romance through and through. The production is incredibly upbeat compared to the silky calm of Leave It All Behind and acoustic touch of Authenticity, relying on Euro pop textures and new age funk. Phonte taps into his inner-Marvin on “The Moment”, tip-toeing on a beat designed for a night of dancing in the bedroom with your significant other. He keeps his rapping minimal here (“Better” and “Can’t Turn Around”) and I feel that he wants to keep it that way, further distancing himself from the past and embracing what he haves now.

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