Let That Mac Rip: November/December Reviews Part One

Posted: December 15, 2014 in Album, Blog, Dyscyplynary Action, Music Review
Tags: , , , , , , ,

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Big K.R.I.T. – Cadillactica

It can be given that Big K.R.I.T.’s role among the young Hip-Hop elite is deep in the background. Along with a fellow Southern DIY-er J. Cole, Justin Scott has taken a route of remaining quiet after the initial buzz in 2011 releasing two consecutively great mixtapes, KRIT Wuz Here and ReturnOf4Eva. Crowned early (and amusingly) as one of the south’s new rap saviors, K.R.I.T. already had a heavy path to carve out that already had the doors kicked out by Scarface, UGK, and those OutKast guys. Since then, he really had trouble finding his footing as each subsequent release was sounding like a R4 clone. 4EvaInADay didn’t live up to the hype and Live From The Underground was a disappointing debut crippled by sample clearances Def Jam couldn’t secure.

It took some soul searching, a grown-out Amish beard, and an appearance of a Color Purple extra that has K.R.I.T. kicking himself in the ass and guiding his artistry in the right direction. With Cadillactica, he takes the best of his trunk-rattling melancholy and creates one of the most cohesive projects this year. K.R.I.T. is still vying on his own beats to get through the day, but it is a vast improvement over recent releases that are soaked in jazzy soul, booming 808s, and glittering guitar solos. He probably get these comparisons a lot, but sometimes it sounds he buries himself into notebooks and manuals from Organized Noize and Mike Dean in making quality music.

However, it does feel like a dead horse is getting bludgeoned by a brick the way K.R.I.T. title these tracks. “My Sub Pt. 3” looks to be on its way to a never-ending Gangsta Grillz volume mixtapes or worse, the Saw movie series, but it keeps my attention swaying from the candy paint thump early on to an aquatic funk transition in one of the highlights on the album. While K.R.I.T.’s production does a number here, his best stuff comes from the help of others. The ever-underrated DJ Dahi (“Money Trees”, “Worst Behavior”) brings out the K.R.I.T’s emotional spectrum with the title track, love-stricken “Third Eye”, and “Mt. Olympus”, continuing to add to his great 2014 resume.

K.R.I.T. also returns to his reflective side that made him so beloved to begin with. With Raphael Saadiq assisting on “Soul Food”, his presence alone would make the track meaningful but K.R.I.T. holds his own. He laments on the lack of family functions and the struggles of adulthood when yesteryear was all good. (Back in the day, the yard was oh so filled/But now, no one comes around here). When he gets in touch with his “Boobie Miles” side, he’s as précised and engaging as any ‘conscious’ rapper can be.

The features are also kept to a minimum, but they don’t derail the flow of the project and merely enhance them. K.R.I.T.’s girlfriend Mara Hruby – to whom I’m still wondering if she makes music or not – appears on “Do You Love Me?” and of course there’s the yearly Big Sant verse that has to be on a K.R.I.T. tape. But it’s ASAP Ferg who wins once again on the Bone Thugs-inspired “Lac Lac” and E-40 being as effortless as he can be on “Mind Control”. This still might hit under the radar for some, but Cadillactica is an album that’s worth the time and a lesson to be learned that perseverance does reign supreme.

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Stalley – Ohio

It’s still pretty damn weird that Stalley is a part of Ross’ Maybach Music Group imprint. Sure, there are other guys that focus on LYRICISM on the label like Wale and to a lesser extent Rockie Fresh, but nothing about the Ohio native really seems to fit with the crew. He does have a beard like his mentor and fancies about Chevys, but his focus more on his stance of reflection and a penchant for good beats. Hey wait that’s it, and reconnecting with his good friend and remarkable artist in his own right Rashad gives his full-length studio debut Ohio an impressive showing.

It’s great that Stalley and Rashad were able to rekindle that Intelligent Trunk Music vibe as the Maybach push didn’t halt the organic chemistry. The jazzy bump of “What It Be Like” comes creeping on a night drive and has Stalley at his cockiest form on the record. It’s one of his finest outings to date musically, though the direction lacks in certain areas. Stalley said he studied Ross and Wale on building albums, tracking them together, and creating a quality body of work. He’ll get there soon enough, but one has the question when will Rashad have a follow-up to Museum.

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Rick Ross – Hood Billionaire

Rick Ross has come a long way from his feud with 50 Cent to building a musical empire (for 18 months) with MMG. After ruling for three summers with Mafia Music, Teflon Don, and Rich Forever, Ross stumbled with health issues, faltering singles, and a couple of albums that didn’t reach the heights of his previous works commercially and critically. Since then he’s been keeping his weight in check and slimmed down to some pears and was working on his second album to release this year along with Mastermind.

Hood Billionaire came slightly out of nowhere with little fanfare or single airplay on the radio, which can attribute to Ross still chasing the magic which made Teflon Don so magical. Listening to it felt like watching an episode of Monday Night Raw: A pretty lit intro only to be packed with filler in the middle and an anti-climatic finish. While his ear for beats continue to be immaculate with Beat Billionaire and Timbaland giving him some great sounds, there’s not much I can go back to.  I still look at it as Mastermind’s Rich Forever , but even then that’s not saying much. It’s time for him to go back to the drawing board.

Honorable Mention: 

Dej Loaf – Sell Sole

It’s hard to envision if she wants to be a drug dealer from a 1970s blaxploatation movie or Detroit’s answer to Tink, but the adorably infectious Dej Loaf turns heads with her breakthrough mixtape. (“Try Me”, “Blood”, “Grinding”)

DeLorean – Look Alive

Enough boom in the bass to get a Pontiac Sunfire feeling like a Cadillac. (“Ghetto Boy 2”, “Parallel Park”, “Tithes”)

BJ The Chicago Kid – The M.A.F.E. Project

Slick, sexy, and smooth, BJ The Chicago Kid’s proper follow-up to Pineapple Now-Laters serves as an excellent appetizer for the main course held in the bedroom. (“B.A.M.”, “Perfect”, “One In A Million”)

Migos – Rich Nigga Timeline

For a trio of very good rappers, they still haven’t learned the useful edict of ‘less is more’. (“Cross The Country”, “Hit Em”, “Pop That”)

Logic – Under Pressure

“Every night we live for reasons/people are in your life for seasons”  The Aubrey Grahams of this world can resonate with this. (“Soul Food”, “Bounce”, “Under Pressure”)

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Comments
  1. Olivia says:

    Hello Chris!
    My name is Olivia and I am the Chief Writer at FDRMX (http://fdrmx.com), an online music publication. I came across your blog and really enjoyed reading your reviews. We were wondering if you would be interested in writing for our website? We are looking to expand our team and we think you would be a great fit. You can contact me at o@fdrmx.com if you would like to get involved.
    Looking forward to hearing from you!
    Olivia

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