Friday, November 28, 2014

Listen to James Fauntleroy's Free Project "The Warmest Winter Ever"

Even if you've never heard of James Fauntleroy, you've probably heard of his work. He is a gifted writer, working on most of Justin Timberlake's 20/20 Experience Part 1&2, as well as working closely with legendary producer No I.D. Fauntleroy also contributes vocals to many artists, such as Jhene Aiko, Common, and Travi$ Scott. Last night, Fauntleroy released a free project via his SoundCloud entitled The Warmest Winter Ever. The ten-track project is very short, with a run time of less than twenty minutes. Fauntleroy croons over simplistic instrumentals of warm acoustic guitars and drums. He uses his voice as an instrument, quietly moaning in the back of many songs that sounds similar to a synthesizer. Fauntleroy weaves together harmonic melodies and lovely lyricism into a short, nice holiday project. Cozy up by the fire to The Warmest Winter Ever this holiday season.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Listen to the Social Experiment's Newest Single "Sunday Candy"

A month ago, Chance the Rapper announced that he and his band the Social Experiment would be releasing a free album by years end. Besides small amounts of information about the album, and fans waiting patiently for news, there was very little information given from Chance. But two days ago, the Social Experiment released the very first single from their first album Surf: "Sunday Candy".

Surf is primarily a Donnie Trumpet album. Trumpet, who's real name is Nico Segal, was a former bandmate of Vic Mensa in Kids These Days, but currently is plays the trumpet in the Social Experiment. While Surf will still feature Chance and the rest of the Social Experiment, Trumpet has the most artistic say in the album. And on the first single "Sunday Candy" you can hear Trumpet's influence. Donnie Trumpet produces the track, which encompasses live instrumentation of trumpets, bass, piano, and drums all wrapped up in a sweet product. The single features Chance rapping over most of it, and the hook and bridge sung by Jamila Woods. The song is upbeat and happy, while superb production. Chance and Woods rap/sing about grandmas, church, and love. It's a lovely song that could go against Pharrell's "Happy" and win for the Most Uplifting Song Award.

At first, I was wary of Chance's move to rely so heavily on the Social Experiment. I wasn't the hugest fan of songs like "I Am Very, Very Lonely" and "Home Studio", but recent songs like "Wonderful Everyday" and "Sunday Candy" are absolutely stunning. Few groups can create upbeat tracks without seeming corny, and the Social Experiment is doing just that, which I can stand behind. Look out for the release of Surf, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Listen to BJ The Chicago Kid's Flashy New Mixtape "The M.A.F.E. Project"

After teasing his fans with random songs from his SoundCloud, BJ The Chicago released an official new project yesterday. Entitled the M.A.F.E. Project, the mixtape features nine previously released singles and three completely new songs. Many of the songs are remixes or covers, such as "Gimme Mo", "Strawberry Bubblegum ;)" and Aaliyah's "One In A Million" (with accompanying music video), but there are also many original songs on the project as well. The project features ScHoolboy Q, Freddie Gibbs, Smoke DZA, and Sasha Go Hard. The project has a more-poppy sound than BJ's previous projects, possibly due to the cover choices. BJ sounds much more confident on the project, singing more like mainstream R&B artists. There is a lot of voice-altering technology on the project, somewhat similar to another Chicago native Kanye West (BJ even samples West's "Hold My Liquor" and "I'm In It". While I really love BJ's unique, Motown-esque sound, the M.A.F.E. Project still sounds as gorgeous and soulful as BJ's previous songs. Make sure to cop the free mixtape, and be on the look out for BJ's first official album through Motown Records in the coming months.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

J. Cole's New Album "2014 Forest Hills Drive" Will Be Released December 9th

J. Cole has been relatively quiet for the last year. Besides a few featured verses here and there, and two tours, Cole has been mostly quiet. Earlier this year, his label Dreamville Records dropped a mixtape and his signees Bas and Cozz released their debut albums, but there has been little word about Cole's follow up to 2013's Born Sinner. But, a few days ago, Cole took to Twitter to announce that he will be releasing a new album by the end of the year, called 2014 Forest Hills Drive.

The announcement was accompanied by a YouTube video showing Cole chilling back in his hometown. The video explained that Cole was going back to his roots and moving away from Hollywood influences. 2014 Forest Hills Drive is actually the address of Cole's childhood home, which he purchased earlier this year. To promote the album, Cole is having a listening party at the house, and you can enter the drawing to be at the session here. Cole said that he will have no singles for the album, which will probably mean less sales. But Cole is following up on first week sales competition anyways. Last year, Cole dropped Born Sinner on June 18th, the same day Kanye West and Mac Miller dropped albums. And this year, 2014 Forest Hills Drive will be released on December 9th, the same day that Lil Wayne, Royce Da 5'9 & DJ Premier, E-40, YG, and Ghostface Killah will be release albums. You can pre-order 2014 Forest Hills Drive here. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Review: "Cadillactica" Shows Room For Improvement

Last Tuesday, rapper Big K.R.I.T. released his second commercial album Cadillactica. K.R.I.T. had teased his fans with a week of six new singles last spring and a mixtape about a month beforehand. While many were excited for K.R.I.T.'s first album in over two years, I think Cadillactica was a bit disappointing.

The album's intro, "Kreation", begins with K.R.I.T. laying in bed with a woman, talking about creating a new planet. The song shows K.R.I.T. as a god, creating a new planet that he calls "Cadillactica". The idea of rapping from the point of view of a god would be an amazing concept, and could be expanded to space-age rap, but most of the album fails to mention this creation except for on a few songs, which is a shame. The planet "Cadillactica" is an obvious metaphor for creating an album, but this subject could be expanded much further. A few songs later, K.R.I.T. raps about his love for his car, but the lyricism is very repetitive on the tracks. On "My Sub Pt. 3 (Big Bang)", K.R.I.T. gloats about his car's speaker system, but he raps over a beat so stripped down and bass-heavy that it sounds unfinished. On the title track, K.R.I.T. showcases a strong flow, but the chorus "Cadillac lac lac, Cadillac lac lac, fuck your whip ni--a" is repetitive and boring. But, the next two songs are probably the strongest on the album. "Soul Food" has a gorgeous hook from Rapheal Saadiq, and the first released single features a nice chorus from Rico Love. The second half of the album is more introspective, and focuses on love and life. The album ends with K.R.I.T. destroying the planet he created.

The album has its strengths and weaknesses. The production is superb, and has some of the best beats I've heard all year. Jazzy, bass-heavy sounds make the album sound very futuristic and spacey, which fits well with the theme of Cadillactica. The features are hit-or-miss. A$AP Ferg delivers a very smooth verse on "Lac Lac", and Rico Love, Rapheal Saadiq, and Mara Hruby all have superb vocals, but the features on "Mind Control" sound unnecessary, and Jamie N Commons verse on "Saturdays=Celebration" almost ruins the amazing drum line. But what lacks the most is K.R.I.T.'s lyricism. There are barely any clever lines, and K.R.I.T. relays entirely on extended metaphors and storytelling. But this leads to boring songs and stumbled flows. K.R.I.T.'s technical ability needs a lot of work.

On the album, K.R.I.T. declares himself the "King of the South". With so much southern rap moving towards the street, trap-heavy Atlanta sound, K.R.I.T. probably is the king of the South. But with OutKast, UGK, and 8 Ball & MGJ mostly out of the rap game, K.R.I.T. is one of the only few carrying the true southern sound. And he'll have to work harder to keep it alive.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Theophilus London Brings Good "Vibes" On His Latest LP

On November 5th, Theophilus London debuted his second commercial album: Vibes. London is a 27 year old singer/rapper/producer from New York. He has a style similar to Pharrell, but is certainly a unique artist. Vibes has many different sounds, but a similar theme: to make the listener feel good vibes. Synthesizer-heavy production and altered vocals combine to create songs that make you want to dance, party, or just chill. London sings over slow, simple instrumentals on songs like "Water Me", "Smoke", and "Neu Law", and he also raps and sings over bombastic, hype beats on "Tribe" and "Can't Stop". Many of the instrumentals sound like new-age 80's pop, and it works well with London's lyrics of women and his distinctive style. Vibes has features from Leon Ware, Devonte Hynes, and Kanye West, among others. West actually executive produced the album, and his influence is noticeable, West's ability to weave together lyrics and production to one, cohesive, flowing project is showcased in Vibes. London's new album is extremely listenable, and can be enjoyed by anyone at anytime. Cop the new album on iTunes here.  

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Three Awesome New Singles Were Released Today

Last night, Eminem dropped a new single from his upcoming album SHADYXV titled "Detroit Vs. Everybody". The new track features practically every rapper from Detroit: Eminem, Royce Da 5'9", Big Sean, Dej Loaf, Trick Trick, and Danny Brown. It's awesome to hear all these rappers who all have completely different styles come together to represent their city. Dej Loaf raps the chorus, while Royce Da 5'9", Big Sean, Danny Brown, and Eminem all go in on their verses, especially Danny Brown. While the song completely reps the northern Michigan city, the production is handled by outsider Statik Selektah. Make sure you cop SHADYXV on November 24th.

A few days ago, A$AP Ferg posted an Instagram video of him in the studio, telling his fans that he has a mixtape coming out soon entitled FERG FOREVER. And today, he dropped the first single, "This Side" featuring YG.  East Coast meets West Coast on this new certified banger. Ferg experiments with some new flows on the track, and Ferg's soon-to-be tourmate YG spits hot fire. With A$AP Rocky's album coming soon, A$AP Nast's mixtape, and FERG FOREVER, the A$AP Mob is set to take over 2015.

Rick Ross also released a new track today. The fourth single off of Hood Billionaire, is called "Movin' Bass". The track features Jay-Z rapping the hook, and Ross detailing his days of drug slinging. While not as strong as the previous Ross/Hov collab on "The Devil is a Lie", it's still nice to hear new music from the pear aficionado, especially over a Timberland production. Catch Hood Billionaire, Ross's second album this year, on November 24.  

Monday, November 10, 2014

Listen to Domo Genesis's "Under the Influence 2"

Domo Genesis is one of the lesser known members of the rap collective Odd Future. Since 2009, Genesis has worked with Tyler the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, and Frank Ocean. But unlike most of OFWGKTA, Genesis's lyrics focused less on the violent, satirical content that the collective was known for, and more along the lines of weed-smoking and women. Often, Genesis sounded more similar to Smoke DZA and Curren$y than Odd Future. For the last five years, Genesis has been sharpening his skills, but has been quiet for the last year. But, last week, he dropped probably his strongest effort to date, Under the Influence 2

The mixtape begins slowly, but begins to pick up. The first five tracks are mostly filled with just talking, and when Domo raps, it mostly just sounds like a freestyle. But the mixtape picks up with the song "Go Outside" featuring IAMSU!, arguably the best song on the mixtape. The rest of the project is much more focused, and sounds more like a bonafide mixtape than just some people messing around over an instrumental. The mixtape features verses by Mac Miller and frequent-collaborator Hodgy Beats. Under the Influence 2 includes none of the "horrorcore" rap that Odd Future was once known for, which is a great step, and features a very personal track titled "Follow Me", with a nice hook from Tay Walker. Production is mostly handled by Left Brain and SAP, who have previously worked with Genesis.

In the last year, Odd Future has been fairly quiet. In fact, Under the Influence 2 has been the first release in over a year, following The Internet's Feel Good in September 2013. Last weekend, Odd Future held a carnival in Los Angles, featuring the collective along with Rick Ross, Pharrell, Action Bronson, Schoolboy Q, Vince Staples, and others. The FADER sat down with Tyler, the Creator and interviewed him about the carnival. In the interview, Tyler revealed that while Odd Future is still a family, they have been drifting apart. This explains the recent quietness of the group. But, hopefully we'll hear new music from Frank Ocean, Tyler, Earl Sweatshirt, and even Domo Genesis's debut album.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Vine Stars Make Horrible Music

The popular social media platform Vine has created many "stars" who post funny or interesting videos regularly. While many of these Vine "stars" have millions of followers, many can't capitalize on their six seconds of fame. Some attempt to try their hand at making music. But for most of them, they fail miserably. 

One such "star" is Brent Rivera. This kid makes vines that feature his extremely high voice, and cliche scenarios. He's pretty awful. And he just released a pretty awful song. "Doubt Your Doubts" is his newest single, and the song is just as bad as the title. Rivera sings cringe-worthy lyrics over a basic guitar and whistling production. Rivera begins the song by saying "We all fall down, but we get back up again, get back up again". He then tries to almost rap for about twenty seconds. "Doubt Your Doubts" is too cheesy to even be an early 2000's Disney song. I would link the song, but it's just too bad.

Another person famous from Vine Bryan Silva. The tattoo-clad, ex-gay porn star became famous for posting shirtless Vines of himself gloating about money, guns, and violence. These Vines sounded like a knock-off Chief Keef, and Silva eventually did get into the rap game. He has released a few songs on Vine and Youtube, and even an album entitled All I Know. Silva is the worst rapper I have ever heard in my life. His songs, which are usually only about a minute long, and feature him stumbling over productions that sounds like it was made in a basement in less than ten minutes. Silva has absolutely no flow at all, a lazy delivery, no rhyme-scheme to speak of, and lyrics only about drugs and violence. He sounds like (and probably is) he's high off of lean on all of his songs, and often sounds like he's just talking over a beat. I struggle to classify Silva as a rapper.

Lastly, The duo Jack and Jack have ventured from Vine into creating music. They create pop-rappy music, with an EDM influence. They actually aren't too bad. They have professional production, and some well-created music videos. But, their themes and lyrics are all pretty basic and have no substance or originality at all. Their latest single, "Wild Life" actually made it to the Billboard Top 100, peaking at 87. This is probably due to the tacky EDM-esque production, and general popularity of the duo, but none of the songs they have put out have commendable lyricism or flow. Basically, Vine "stars" should stick to six second videos.