Jeezy – Seen It All: The Autobiography

It was less than a month ago that the Atlanta rapper and Senior VP of A&R of Atlantic was arrested following a Wiz Khalifa show in California. Jeezy, real name Jay Jenkins, was under suspicion of an assault weapon with six other men in connection to the murder of Eric Johnson backstage in Irvine. He wasn’t even present during the whole fiasco and the owner of the gun wasn’t even present.  It is a story all too familiar during the build for a major album release nowadays, but rather grim in the current light of events.

I doubt it was the best publicity he wanted for his fifth solo studio album Seen It All: The Autobiography, but he managed to top the Billboard charts at #1 in Hip-Hop and #2 of the Top 200 within its first week of sales.  Despite the numerous legal circumstances surrounding him, it is well deserved for an artist who has been around for well over a decade being a pioneer of ‘Trap Music’. He managed to maintain his momentum for the past three years linking up with DJ Mustard for the club smash “R.I.P.” and signing YG to his CTE World imprint. He also had a well-known fallout with his former associate Freddie Gibbs, who wasted no time in trying to bury Snowman’s name on multiple occasions.

Jeezy proceeds to make light of that on the album (“Holy Ghost”), which happens to be some of his best work since The Recession. He doesn’t stray away from what made him popular to begin with, laying down brick-by-brick hustling bar over refreshing production from Childish Major, Black Metaphor, and Frank Dukes. He reconnects with Drumma Boy for “Me OK”, a bone-rattling street number that could have easily been slotted in TM101’s bonus tracks. The most experimental track on here is the autotuned lead “4 Zones”, which could have use a different voice to substitute for Jeezy on the hook (2006 Wayne maybe?).

With the abundance of guests on the album’s backend, it doesn’t completely derail the album’s consistency.  Jay-Z stops by to deliver one of his best feature performances in quite some time on the title track, tip-toeing over the tropical Pokeflute snap of Cardo’s production. Boosie continues with his post-prison run of resurgence with a solid verse for “Beez Like” and Game and Rick Ross unite with Snowman for the lush and elegant “Beautiful”. The two missteps (“Been Getting Money” and “Fuck The World”) were expected to be content-wise aside, but Jeezy shows that he can still deliver when it matters.


Mick Jenkins – The Water[s]

You can very well say that Mick Jenkins dropped unexpectedly like bird shit in certain corners of the Hip-Hop blogosphere. A Chicago MC that started out within the poetry scene along with fellow artists such as Chance The Rapper, NoName Gypsy, and Alex Wiley, he is signed to the Cinematic Music Group and released The Water[s] as his first treat (for the free!). It is a 15-track metaphor of spirituality, love, social consciousness, and aggressive articulation through somber and chilling production. As with the title of the tape suggests, it sinks in melodic jazz and swims in the current of Jenkins’ double entendres and rugged voice (It’s been tragic/Since Boy Meets World, it’s been(Ben) savage/but the goal was never really to beef/it’s been cabbage).

It vibes similarly in the vein of Isaiah Rashad’s Cilvia Demo, which grows with each listen and extra gems unveiled through its timely body of work. Both projects are quick to get a lot of replay value with its impressive outlook on society, and Jenkins seeing through the transparency of current rap. The features are kept light, with Jane Deaux and NoName Gypsy delivering a seductive one-two punch of “The Healer” and “Comfortable”, flowing gracefully with their poetic presence. The grand highlight is the DJ Dahi-produced “Dehydration”, equipped with a hook by The Mind that sounds very familiar to Chano but entirely unconfirmed.


Travi$ Scott – Days Before Rodeo

After making a slight debut on G.O.O.D. Music’s sole (and maybe last) compilation project Cruel Summer, Houston’s Travis Scott has build a brand equivalent to his mentor Kanye. He signed with GOOD’s production wing and T.I.’s Grand Hustle label, dropped the solid Owl Pharaoh, and played a very heavy hand in both Kanye West and Jay-Z’s 2013 full-length LPs. ‘After three #1 albums, would’ve thought I would feel amazing/Still impatient’ he mentions in the opening “The Prayer”, still hungry and aiming to make something greater than the previous achievements in his young life. With Days Before Rodeo, he serves up a prelude to his upcoming Rodeo album and we very well may be in for a treat.

On Owl Pharaoh, it was difficult to distinguish who Travis was as a rapper. His sinister, dark beats were enough to give him an identity and cohesiveness of an enjoyable project, but he often sound like he wanted to be too much like Kanye, Pusha T, or Clifford himself. On Days, he’s improved significantly and it’s pretty clear how much his influence has sprinkled through the additional producers on this tape. It is his vision to the forefront; from the murky, distorted “Skyfall”, the subtle knock of “Quintana Pt. 2”, and the very TDE-esque feel of “Backyard”. It is just as polished as his last output and indicates good things to come from him in the future.


Wara From The NBHD – Kidnapped

Wara is an Atlanta transplant via Brooklyn, New York with a love for all things Pharrell and N.E.R.D.

With his fully-produced album Kidnapped, the significance of that fact is incredibly striking and at times it is like I’m in a time machine revisiting the nostalgic greatness of In Search Of… That’s a good thing as the spacey jazz production gets gritty, creating a vivid backdrop for Wara’s street tales of selling dope, hustling, and telling is little brother to do better for himself. ‘Most kids around here don’t even make it past 21’ which has become the norm for many rough inner-city neighborhoods and Wara’s protagonist here knows of the pitfalls surrounding his lifestyle. Here he finds the music to be his escape from the shootouts and cop cars. For a growing producer in his own right, Wara makes a sonically cohesive package that will take a few listeners back while pushing forward an artistry and sound that’s still beloved.


Ty Dolla $ign – Sign Language

Everyone’s favorite girl-stealing crooner continues with his wonderful 2014. After gaining momentum with his charted singles “Paranoid” and “Or Nah”, and giving Chris Brown his biggest single in long time, the Taylor Gang soldier prepares to put to work for his debut full-length album Free TeeCee. $ign Language serves as another appetizer for the full course, taking the vibrant sensibilities of Ty’s first Beach House mixtapes. He gets in full savage mode on “Stretch” and “Drank N Cranberry” (‘Blood ain’t thicker than cum, been fuckin’ with my enemies’ sister/What’s all in her tummy?), with the familiar sounds of D.R.U.G.$. filling the background. It is those tracks featuring that winning combination that stands out the most, while the hilarious “Type Of Shit I Hate” is another DJ Mustard club number that can get some burn. Ty also manages to nab BJ The Chicago Kid and Jeremih for this project, though unfortunately they only served as vocal filler for interludes along with K Camp, Mila J, and…. Ed Sheeran? Overall, this project does its job in keeping fans satisfied while preparing for the main course.

Honorable Mention:

Lil Bibby – Free Crack 2

Riding on the wave of his XXL Freshman nab, Bibby shines on the sequel to his critically acclaimed 2013 release. Though it lacks in chipmunk soul-soaked deep cuts as its predecessor, he flexes his muscles just enough to keep everyone aware that he’s here to stay. (“Dead Or In Prison”, “Boy”, “We Are Strong”)

Rustie – Green Language

The man responsible for the drug-frenzied backend of Danny Brown’s Old delivers more of the same on his latest LP, along with some cool funk in between. (“Raptor”, “Attak”, “Lost”)

Conrizzle – Eastern Wayne Alumni

This is a project worth checking out for its trunk-rattling production, timely transitions, and boastful rhymes from one of North Carolina’s most overlooked talent. (“Carolina Waterz”, “Drugzz”, “Gold Honda Girl”)

Ca$h Out – Let’s Get It

Two years since he burst on the scene with “Cashin’ Out”, we finally get a proper debut full-length from the Atlanta rapper. Away with the early Future comparisons (as with so many that came with or after him), and more of an album where he’s still trying to find his footing. It is the closing track where he shows flashes of brilliance and stretch his limits. (“She Twerkin'”, “She Wanna Ride”, “Startin’ Tonight”)

DJ Mustard – 10 Summers 

It is unquestionably Dijon’s year and his compilation album packs enough summer jams for next year. It is a formula that has yet to falter and with one great album already topping the year-end lists, this one could sneak up right alongside with it. (“Ghetto Tales”, “Face Down”, “4 Digits”)

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