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Tabby: White Trash – Review | Cross Examinations

Release Date: June 24, 2017
Labels: 688753
Genres: Alternative Hip Hop / Experimental Hip Hop / Indie Hip Hop / Left Field Hip Hop

For those that do not know Tabby, I just want to say this: you need to. Not only did he release a solid debut mixtape recently, but he is also a YouTuber who releases quality music reactions and reviews on his channel Tabby. Check out his videos…after you read this review, of course.

My hype for Tabby’s project started way back in September of last year when he uploaded a video of an acapella version of his song “Buckwheat.” I was very surprised at how lyrical he was in the video and my excitement for the project crept up more and more. It was with “Cranston” that my excitement for the mixtape went over the edge as everything about the song was awesome. Lyrics, flow, production, you name it. I honestly watched the video five or six times before the mixtape finally dropped.

The track that really made me realize that this was going to be something special was Malcolm.” I was a bit thrown off at first by the production and what I initially considered “unorthodox” lyrics and flow, but once I heard the hook I was, well, I think you know I’m trying to say. This track has one of my favorite lines on the entire project: “They higher than Aang on Appa / Get bent rule bending that dangerous dogma.”

I really enjoy Tabby’s flow as well as the hook on “Yellow Belly.” It really makes me want to move my entire body every time I hear it. “Twelve 27” is another track that I thoroughly enjoy. I had my suspicions on “Malcolm” that Tabby might be an atheist or at the very least secular, but this track confirmed my suspicions. It’s quite refreshing to hear an atheist rapper or someone rapping with a different approach to religion, being an atheist myself. You don’t really hear it that much from many rappers. Of course, if my assumption is incorrect, I would be more than glad to admit my mistake.

I felt that “Doozy” was the only track on the mixtape where he’s really going in hard and being more braggadocio. Another one of my favorite lines on the project appears in this track: “I’m that cracker that Polly want.” I absolutely love it when rappers twister certain phrases around and make them more interesting. I love “White Trash” purely for the reason that Tabby raps from the different perspectives of Trump supporter stereotypes. I also want to mention the sixth track “Rufus” where Tabby raps from the perspective of his titular cat. In this track, Tabby seeks guidance from Rufus, a giant mystical cat being. Yes, that makes more sense than anything ever.

One of the funniest lines to me in the entire project is on the tenth track “Umami:” “Busting nuts on marble statue busts / I’m a lover of art ’til guards catch me.” He really takes aesthete to a different level, if you ask me.

I also really enjoyed the humorous interludes performed by fellow YouTuber and music reactor BIGQUINT INDEED. He appeared on the opening track, “Rufus,” “Umami,” and “Doozy.” In these short interludes, Big Quint provided commentary on Tabby’s personality, love of music, and his cat. I found these to be an essential part of the project. If you didn’t, it’s probably because you a little bitch (it’s just a referential joke, please don’t hate me). And if I missed a track in which Big Quint provided commentary, please feel free to correct and insult me about it in the comments.

This mixtape was better than I expected it to be. The production – provided almost exclusively by a fourteen-year-old producer – was very crisp. It might take a few listens for some listeners to get used to it, but I definitely feel that it’s more than worth it. Throughout the mixtape, Tabby gives off vibes that are similar to Danny Brown, Earl Sweatshirt, Eminem, Mac Miller, and Tyler, The Creator. Don’t worry; I’ll review Tyler’s new album a month after its release date too.

I really do enjoy listening to this album, and I feel that it has a very good chance of being on my year-end Hip Hop favorites list.

Always be awesome and thanks for existing,

Austin

Favorite tracks: “Malcolm,” “Cranston,” “Yellow Belly,” “Twelve 27,” “Doozy,” and “White Trash.” NOTE: I honestly love all the tracks. It’s just these six tracks are the ones that I revisit the most often.

Listen to Tabby’s mixtape now!!!
Apple Music / iTunes: White Trash on Apple Music and iTunes
Bandcamp: White Trash on Bandcamp
Soundcloud:
White Trash on Soundcloud
Spotify: White Trash on Spotify
YouTube: White Trash on YouTube

 

Kendrick Lamar: DAMN – Review |Cross Examinations

Release Date: April 14, 2017
Labels: Top Dawg Entertainment / Aftermath / Interscope
Genres: Alternative Hip Hop / Conscious Hip Hop / Trap

I know this is very late, but I wanted to listen to it as many times as I felt appropriate, because it’s a Kendrick album. You really have to delve in deep with a Kendrick album; otherwise, you’re not really getting the full scope that comes with listening to one.

When the leadoff single “Humble” dropped at the end of March and I heard the significant change in genre, I wondered how Kendrick was going to go from there. I was a little bit worried about what direction he was going in. The track, while very headnodic in instrumentation and production and meaningful in overall message, gets a little bit too played out after a few listens. When I realized he was going to be releasing the album in April, I was really excited to hear it, because it wass Kendrick. At the same time, however, there was a thought etching it’s way into my mind: Maybe this album won’t be as good as the last two.

And now that it’s been out for a couple of months, I can finally say, to the best of my ability, what I really think about this album. I feel all these high marks for Kendrick Lamar’s fourth studio album DAMN are a bit unwarranted. This album is not as good as so many critics and other fans are saying it is. Don’t get me wrong, though. There are many instances on this album that would make me say that this is one of the better albums of this year, but this is not the best work that Kendrick Lamar has put out during his highly-acclaimed musical career.

This album shows a significant departure from the jazzy and experimental hip hop vibe that Kendrick has been acquainted with since his 2015 release To Pimp a Butterfly that continued into his 2016 compilation EP Untitled Unmastered. This album instead features a more trap-heavy sound that still keeps the overall conscious aspect that many of Kendrick’s releases have had in the past. This change in the overall genre might make past listeners shy away, but it could also bring in new listeners, which is what I think that Kendrick was trying to do here. It also has some elements of Contemporary R&B in tracks like the Rhianna featured “Loyalty” and “Love,” which is one of my favorites from the album.

Like many of Kendrick’s albums, this album has an overall theme that can be heard throughout. This theme is basically Kendrick questioning himself and his influence on the hip hop game and whether it is a good thing or a bad thing. It’s not as hard-hitting as the themes from his last two albums, but it certainly does enough to keep me listening to the whole album. He also deals with topics of religion, God, violence, love, media, and the hip hop game itself. It begins on the first track “Blood” where Kendrick encounters a blind woman who shoots him, a very strong opening track if you ask me.

Throughout the fourteen tracks on this album, there are five or six of them that I do not really listen to when I feel the need to listen to the entire album. That is a big letdown for me, especially with a Kendrick album. Tracks like “Feel,” “Loyalty,” “Pride,” “Fear,” and “God” are among these tracks. There is nothing entirely bad about them, but they just didn’t have the amount of appeal to me that many of the other tracks did.

I feel that “DNA” is one of the hardest tracks released this year, and the music video was shot very well. “Yah” is a very trippy tracks that deals with Kendrick’s religion and his beef with Fox News. The track “Element” basically narrates how Kendrick feels as though he is the most dominant rapper in the game right now, and based on his past credits, I would agree with him. “Humble,” while very mainstream and commercial, is another good song that I feel deserves a lot of recognition.

Kendrick comments on the aggressive and repetitive lifestyles that many of us live on “Lust.” “Love” is basically an ode to his fiancee Whitney Alford and is a track that I consider perhaps my most favorite on the album. The feature by Zacari really escalates the awesomeness of the track. “XXX” features popular Irish rock band U2. While I am very on the fence about this track, the feature by U2 is actually utilized very well and the use of the police siren that is used throughout the track is sonically pleasing. And finally, “Duckworth” narrates how his and label-owner Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith’s lives are actually much closer than the listener thinks. The way everything is executed on the album’s final track really showcases Kendrick’s ability as a storyteller as well as how strange and connected life can really be.

Overall, the new album by Kung-Fu Kenny is quite enjoyable and can be considered one of the best this year. It is, however, not Kendrick’s best album. Honestly, I would put it a notch above Section.80, but several notches below Good Kid, Maad City and To Pimp a Butterfly. This album is definitely worth a listen.

Favorite tracks: “DNA,” “Yah,” “Element,” “Humble,” “Lust,” “Love,” “XXX” (to a degree), and “Duckworth.”

Zac Brown Band: Welcome Home – Album Review | Cross Examinations

Release Date: May 12, 2017
Labels: No Reserve / Southern Ground / Elektra
Genres: Contemporary Country / Neotraditional Country

When the Zac Brown Band first came on the Country music scene way back in 2008, I was really excited for what they had to offer. Fronted by the band’s namesake, Zac Brown offered up to Country music what would not be exclusively offered afterward: a traditional Country sound with traditional Country content. That’s what attracted me to them in the first place. With the track “Chicken Fried,” they would rise up to fame in the quickest way possible.

They would then release their release their major-label debut album The Foundation later that year, an album in which I would say is among my favorite country albums of all time. I remember listening to that album when it first came out multiple times thinking that “Toes,” “Highway 20 Ride,” and “Free” would be really good radio hits. I was right about those tracks though I may have missed the mark with “Whatever it Is,” but you can’t tell me that I didn’t call the other three. I consider this album a favorite because it shows a classic side to Country music all the while incorporating their own beachy, Jimmy Buffett-esque style. That’s why I really loved that album.

While I would enjoy many songs from their follow-up You Get What You Give, I would find myself straying from the Zac Brown Band as well as Country music in general. While their next album Uncaged would contain the massive hits “Sweet Annie” and “Goodbye in Her Eyes,” I would still find myself not really immersing myself into what I thought was a very promising band. Then Jekyll + Hyde was released and my fears were amplified. While I understood the direction they were going for with this album with the varying genres throughout the album, it felt all over the place and very confusing at times. You can probably make the assumption that I was not a big fan of it.

So when I heard that they were working on a new album to be released in 2017, I was a bit hesitant to fully say that I wanted to listen to it. Then the single “My Old Man” was released and my hesitancy was gone. I really enjoyed the song and equated it to a song from their very first album: “Highway 20 Ride.” I was actually excited for a new Zac Brown Band album.

So how do I feel about Welcome Home, the new album by the Zac Brown Band? Honestly, a little bit underwhelmed, but I do think that it’s a step in the right direction.

There were two tracks on this album that I did not really enjoy as much as the others. “Start Over” is the first track I want to mention. It has the Zac Brown Band’s signature beachy country music style, and while I have enjoyed that very much in several past releases, I found it to be very lackluster. It seems as though it was thrown together last minute just to even out the track listing. It might even have something to do with the fact that it was co-written with Pharrell Williams. The other track I would like to mention is “All the Best.” While I was unaware at first that it was a John Prine cover, I really did not enjoy the song during my first few listens. After listening to the original version, I found myself respecting the cover even more, but there is still something about it that makes me not enjoy it that much. Maybe it’s just the way it was executed. It sounds very similar to the original. The background vocals by Kacey Musgraves are very crisp though and probably makes the track better than it could have been.

The first three tracks – “Roots,” “Real Thing,” and “Long Haul” – are really great openers to the album. “Roots” is a wonderful song about looking back on what makes you who you are now. “Real Thing” is probably the best, and my favorite, song on the album. It has a clever concept on what the “real thing” is, likening it to drinking a bottle of whiskey, experiencing true love, and a really good Country song. Definitely the highlighted track on the album. “Long Haul” is a very heartfelt song about a struggling relationship that has hopes of overcoming those struggles.

The other four tracks – “2 Places at 1 Time,” “Family Table,” “Your Majesty,” and “Trying to Drive” – are good songs, but they just don’t have the same appeal, in my opinion, that some of the others do. I would, however, prefer those four tracks over “Start Over” and “All the Best.” I would say that the harmonies are another high point throughout the album. The Zac Brown Band are definitely one of the best in today’s Country music scene that can do this well.

All in all, this album was good, but I wouldn’t call it great by any means. It definitely has some high points and it definitely has its low points. With an album like this released after their hodge-podge attempt in 2015, it certainly seems like a breath of fresh air to hear them go back to the sound that made them popular and their fans like to hear from them, but it certainly could have been better executed. Hopefully, this is a step in the right direction for them and their next album blows us out of the water.

Favorite tracks: “Real Thing,” “Roots,” “Long Haul,” and “My Old Man”
Least favorite tracks: “Start Over” and “All the Best”

Thanks for existing,

Austin

Rick Ross: Rather You Than Me – Review | Cross Examinations

Release Date: March 17, 2017
Labels: Maybach Music / Epic
Genres: Gangsta Rap / Hardcore Hip Hop / Southern Hip Hop / Trap

So, I will be the first to admit that I have never been the biggest fan of Rick Ross for a lot of reasons, the main one being that I just never really cared for his music. It seemed more boastful than it probably should have been and didn’t really offer anything much up for me lyric-wise. That was why I was so hesitant to listen to and review this album because I had a feeling that I would not enjoy it. That seems to be the going trend for me nowadays: an album by an artist I don’t really listen to drops, I initially decide to not listen to or review it, I finally give in to peer pressure and listen to it, and my opinion changes, either somewhat or completely. This happens to be one of those albums.

The album for me started quite strong with the opening track “Apple of My Eye.” The jazzy instrumentation coupled with the soulful vocals by Raphael Saadiq really make this song one of the bright spots on the album. In the song, Ross goes into detail about his mom, Meek Mill and his relationship with Nicki Minaj, his battle with epilepsy, how he’s happy that Donald Trump became president because “we gotta destroy before we elevate,” the $5.8 million dollar house that he bought in 2014 which has the biggest residential pool in the United States (I’m not sure why that is in need of bragging, but I digress), and his relationship with his daughter. The final verse by Saadiq really brings the song together.

The instrumentation and production on the album’s next track “Santorini Greece” is very sonically pleasing to listen to, though I feel that it was a bit lengthy and could have been reduced by about a minute or so. The song sees Rick Ross chronicling his past and comparing it to his present and speaking on such topics like racism, drug-dealing, and the struggles of minorities in the United States. It was produced by Bink, who produced two other tracks on the album which I consider amongst my favorites on the album.

“Idols Become Rivals” is another strong track on the album, the beat being very trap-heavy. In the song, he goes into detail about his loss of respect for producer Birdman for his treatment of rapper Lil Wayne. Ross said later via Billboard that the song is “basically me writing a letter to someone in the game that I looked up to damn near the most and I hate what things have come to.” It also has a somewhat humorous feature by Chris Rock who is basically hyping Rick Ross up at the beginning of the track.The next track, “Trap Trap Trap,” is another trap-influenced track featuring

The next track, “Trap Trap Trap,” is another trap-influenced track featuring Young Thug and Wale. It is another one of my favorites on the album. I honestly really enjoyed all of the verses on the track, Young Thug’s included. It seemed as though he was very comfortable on this track with that certain type of beat, which really makes you want to nod your head. “Dead Presidents,” while not an entirely bad song, could have been a great song if Future’s verse was either rewritten or replaced. The hook with Jeezy and Yo Gotti is very catchy.

I think it’s safe to say that the first five tracks were actually very strong to start off the album.

“She on My Dick:” No. Just no.

The next track “Think She Like” featuring Ty Dolla $ign is another soulful track and one that I enjoyed more than the last track. The only thing about the track that I did not like was that Ty was utilized for more than just the hook, but his vocals still bring the entire song together. And while I enjoyed the next track “Powers That Be,” mainly for the great verse by the legendary Nas, I wish that there was more of a chorus than “Uh, yeah / Uh, yeah / Uh, yeah.” Ross’s flow on the track is very professional.

Bink returns to produce the next two tracks on the album: “Game Ain’t Based on Sympathy” and “Scientology.” Like his first contribution on the album, “Santorini Greece,” “Game Ain’t Based on Sympathy” has this jazzy production supported by this saxophone heard sporadically throughout. While I do not consider this one of the best tracks on the album, I still commend it for the wonderful production. “Scientology,” however, I enjoyed immensely, both production- and lyrical content-wise. The instrumental interlude between the two verses on the track: WHOA. In the track, he continues with the Lil Wayne/Birdman drama and says that he has the money to sign Lil Wayne to Maybach Music.

The last four tracks really finish the album off on a high note. “Lamborghini Doors” is an overall enjoyable track with features by fellow labelmate and rapper Meek Mill and R&B artist Anthony Hamilton. “Triple Platinum” is perhaps a step up from “Lamborghini Doors,” however he does say “triple platinum” more times than I really would like to hear. In the song, Ross says that his albums deserve to achieve triple platinum status because of his material success and other accomplishments. The verse by Scrilla really put the song into a more personal perspective. “Maybach Music,” while probably not the best in that particular series of songs, is fairly decent and features a very enjoyable sing-rap verse by Dej Loaf. “Summer Seventeen” finishes off the album very strong where he promises his “family” will share in his wealth.

I was honestly surprised by this album. I liked it more than I thought I would have. With crisp production and more relatable lyrical content than many of his previous album, I might have become a fan of Rick Ross. I give this album a 79 / C+.

Favorites songs include: “Apple of My Eye,” “Scientology,” “Summer Seventeen,” “Scientology,” and “Trap Trap Trap.”
Least favorite songs include: “She on My Dick.”

Freddie Gibbs: You Only Live 2wice – Review | Cross Examinations

Release Date: March 31, 2017
Label: ESGN / Empire
Genre: Gangsta Rap / Midwest Hip Hop

Freddie Gibbs has not been an artist that I have listened to in the past. I had always heard his name, but for some reason, I never really had any desire to explore his music. So, when I heard that he would be releasing a new album this year, after having some legal problems in Austria last year, I honestly felt that I had to give this album a listen. So, what did I think of this album? Well…

In opposition to one of the previous albums (or playlist, or what have you) that I reviewed, this album has fourteen fewer tracks. That was a big plus for me. It’s not that I do not enjoy it when some artists put more than, say, fifteen tracks on an album, but there are some artists who simply cannot do that. While I enjoyed the shorter length of this album, I feel as though this album should have been maybe two or three tracks longer. I feel as though it didn’t go fully into what Gibbs wanted to get across, but that certainly does not mean that this was a bad album. Not in the slightest.

“20 Karat Jesus,” which is probably one of the most awesome names for a song that I have ever heard in my entire life, is an awesome opening track. The production is simply epic and Gibbs goes into many topics, such as the Solange/Jay Z incident and the mannequin challenge. The overall track basically details his career as a cocaine dealer in the past. “Alexys” is another epic song, though I would consider it to be on a lower level than its predecessor. Much like “20 Karat Jesus,” this track goes back to the topic of cocaine and drug dealing, though this one seems to be about his first time doing the drug and dealing it as well.

In “Crushed Glass,” Gibbs goes into explicit and gritty detail about his time in jail and the reasons that he was arrested in the first place. The lines “I just beat a rape case, groupie bitch I never fucked / Tried to give me ten for some pussy I never touched” really showcases the absurdity of why this all happened in the first place. “Maria” is perhaps my least favorite track on the album. In the track, Gibbs raps about a past love named Maria, but this could possibly be symbolic of marijuana. His conflicting opinions about his time with “Maria” is actually quite relatable in some respects. The reason I do not particularly enjoy this track is because Gibbs just seems to mumble/half-rap on here that I find it a bit hard to understand at times.

“Amnesia” is a track where Gibbs raps about the lifestyle that he has become accustomed to after becoming a rapper while comparing himself to other rappers that may or may not live the same way or live up to Gibbs’s expectations of how a rapper should live. Also, the concept that money is somehow a cause of amnesia is actually quite clever. “Andrea” is about on the same level as the previous two tracks, though I would say that it is superior only because of the hook as it sort has this G-Funk vibe to it.

“Phone Lit” is a big step-up from the last three tracks where the instrumentation and production sounds as though it could have been recorded in the early to mid 2000’s and done really well at the time. The album’s last track “Homesick” closes out the album on a very high note. In the track, Gibbs raps about returning from jail and makes the vow to never be away from his daughter again and not live his life for his so-called “friends.”

I am giving this album an 81 / B- because while it had many high points, there were some aspects of it that could have been worked on. It feels as though Gibbs was in a bit of a hurry to get this album to release. While the length was managable, I feel that he could have recorded two or three more tracks to make the album seem a bit more whole.

Favorite tracks include: “20 Karat Jesus,” “Homesick,” “Phone Lit,” and “Crushed Glass.”

 

J.I.D: The Never Story – Review | Cross Examinations

Release Date: March 10, 2017
Labels: Dreamville / Interscope
Genres: Alternative R&B / Southern Hip Hop / Trap / Underground Hip Hop

The newest artist signed to J.Cole’s label Dreamville, J.I.D has released one of the more solid Hip Hop releases of this year so far. The Atlanta native certainly emphasizes his southern roots so much so that at some points he sounds a little bit like Lil Wayne, but he also seems to take some influences from the West Coast as well because, throughout the album, we hear elements of Kendrick Lamar and Anderson Paak, especially with the latter. His voice has that smoothness and raspiness that Paak has only J.I.D seems to be more calculated with his voice than with the soulfulness and swagger of Paak, but that certainly does not take away from what the album is.

The album starts off with a sort of acapella track “Doo Wop,” where the vocal track sounds exactly like a doo-wop group from the fifties and sixties. It leads into the second track “General,” where we start to hear the raspy and somewhat whiny (but whiny in a good way) voice that I mentioned earlier. With this track, we begin to see what J.I.D’s early life was like, from not really seeing his older brother to his introduction to Hip Hop. “NEVER” is probably the first track on the album that I really enjoyed. With the flow in his first verse and his rhyme scheme, I was uncertain that it could get any better. Then, the beat switched and J.I.D’s flow got a lot more bouncy with the beat. It’s one of the first tracks where we hear the Kendrick Lamar influence being utilized.

“EdEddnEddy” is another one of my favorites from the album. Of course being named after the popular children’s animation series on Cartoon Network Ed, Edd n Eddy, this track chronicles the mishaps of J.I.D and his two friends. The beat is a bit inconspicuous, meaning that I didn’t really expect much to come from it, but again J.I.D’s flow on this track is definitely one of the best. While I enjoyed the track, I don’t feel that it should have been placed on the standard track list; it has more of a deluxe edition bonus track feel to it, or maybe even like a hidden track. Still, one of my favorites from the album.

“D/vision” is another good song with some good featured verses by Doctur Dot and Johnny Venus from EARTHGANG. The album’s next track “Hereditary” has more of an R&B feel to it with some elements of Hip Hop sprinkled in with it, but I still like it and it’s one of my overall favorites on the album. It is one of the few tracks where he exclusively sings. The hook on this track actually kind of reminds me of the hook from Drake’s song “Forever.” “All Bad” is another decent track, but for some reason, it did not really connect with me. However, both of the vocalists on the track, J.I.D and Mereba, sound very professional and they are really enjoyable to listen to. The instrumentation at the end unnerves me a little bit, but in a good way, and it kind of makes me feel as though I am trapped.

“Underwear” is another track where the influence of Kendrick Lamar seems very strong. The flow and rhyme scheme on this track is top quality and the hook just makes you want to nod your head. I also liked the underwear reference in it too; it’s pretty funny. “8701” isn’t anything special. It’s one of the shorter songs that appears as though it should have been about two, two-and-a-half minutes longer. The feature by 6LACK (pronounced “black”) is actually quite enjoyable. In the song, J.I.D boasts that another rapper’s best shit “isn’t better than his worst shit.” “Hoodbooger” just basically repeats how I feel about the previoius track.

“Somebody” is probably my favorite track on the album. It sounds like a very inspiration and uplifting track where J.I.D, again, channels his inner Kendrick Lamar, especially during the first six or seven lines of the second verse, where his flow never ceases to stop and his rhyme scheme starts going crazy. It’s definitely one of the best tracks on the album, in my opinion. “LAUDER” closes off the album on a high note. The hook on this track is really catchy and you can’t help but sing along with it.

Overall, this album was very solid for a debut project by someone who is as young J.I.D is; he is twenty-two at the time of this review. He seems to mix Hip Hop with R&B and a little bit of Trap music. While I think this combination worked well in the concept of this album, the album in its entirety seems a bit all over the place. Depsite this, however, as I said, it’s still very solid. Because of this, I give this album a 85 / B.

Favorite tracks include: “Somebody,” “EdEddnEddy,” “LAUDER,” “NEVER,” and “Underwear.”

Drake: More Life – Review | Cross Examinations

Release Date: March 18, 2017
Label: OVO Sound / Young Money / Cash Money / Republic
Genres: Contemporary R&B / Dancehall / Grime (debatable) / Pop Rap

Here’s an artist that does not really need any introduction, but for the sake of new listeners and my conscience, I will go into a brief history of Drake. The Canadian former actor of Degrassi fame became a rapper/singer in about 2006 and pretty much took the world by storm. With hit singles like “HYFR” and “The Motto” from his 2011 album Take Care, Drake pretty much cemented his name in the mainstream hip hop game with his sing-type rap and personal, introspective lyrical content. In recent releases, he has come to acquire a more Jamaican and Dancehall feel to his music, and that pretty much assured me that I would not be an all-out Drake fan. Despite this, however, after much hesitation and thinking, I decided to review this “playlist” to see what he could do for me.

Well, let me just say this first: twenty-two tracks, eighty-one minutes. That’s…well, that’s simply too much. There are very few artists who can release an album (or a “playlist” in this case) with twenty tracks, Eminem being the most prominent example, though he has strayed from that in recent releases. If Drake just reduced his twenty-two track, eighty-one-minute album (I am going to call it an album from this point because that’s exactly what it is) to about fifteen tracks and the running time of about fifty-one minutes, this album would 1) not seem like a George R.R. Martin novel and not make the listener feel as though they’re taking on some big task; and 2) have rated a little bit higher than what I gave it.

Along with the Dancehall and Jamaican influences that Drake has incorporated since his last album Views – which was, in my opinion, a musical atrocity – Drake seems to have also incorporated a bit of a Grime sound as well, going so far as to mimic how some of the more prominent Grime acts sound on tracks like “No Long Talk,” which features Giggs, one of the more prominent British Hip Hop acts. To me, this was a very bad move on Drake’s part. I mean, I can understand incorporating some sounds from your contemporaries, but going fully like Drake did on this track is a bit too much for me. The Giggs feature was pretty good, though.

One of the main things that I honestly like about Drake is his introspective material. When a rapper or singer can feel comfortable enough to rap or sing about the many instances in his life, I can definitely get behind them. He does that for the most part on the album, but there are times when it gets to be too much. With twenty-two tracks, that might be a very big flaw. Another good aspect of the album is the instrumentation and the production (though it was a bit less on par than Views, which I actually praise for the overall production of). I can pretty much always count on Drake to give quality instrumentation on his tracks, and that’s one of the biggest reasons why I do not fully say that I do not listen to his music.

Honestly, Drake hasn’t made an album that I have been fully able to listen to since Nothing Was the Same, and I am not even entirely sure if I fully like that album, to begin with. He just seems to all over the place all the time with his music, and when done right, that can be one of the best things about a musician and his music. Drake honestly really hasn’t done a good job of that with his last two releases. I also did not care for his collaborative mixtape with Future, either. Despite almost top quality production and instrumentation as well as his introspective material that I find myself liking every now and then, Drake just doesn’t give the right amount of umph to make me say that I fully enjoy Drake’s music and Drake as an artist. For this, I give the album/playlist/lengthy monstrosity a 73 / C-. If he reduced the twenty-two tracks down to fifteen tracks, the fifteen that I seemed to enjoy the most out of all of them, the album would have been four points higher. But no, Drake can do whatever he pleases because he’s Drake, and that’s perfectly all right, because it’s certainly working for him.

I still won’t give up on him though. On this album, he shows very promising signs of something. I’m just not sure of what it is yet.

Favorite tracks: “Passion Fruit,” “Jorja Interlude,” “4422,” “Skepta Interlude,” “Sacrifices,” “Glow,” and “Do Not Disturb.”
Meh tracks: “Free Smoke,” “No Long Talk,” “Get it Together,” “Gyalchester,” “Portland,” “Lose You,” “Can’t Have Everything,” and “Since Way Back.”
Least favorite tracks: “Madiba Riddim,” “Blem,” “Nothings Into Somethings,” “Teenage Fever,” “KMT,” “Fake Love,” and “Ice Melts.”