Boogey takes on Drake’s “Diplomatic Immunity” instrumental and uses it to vent his mind on a myriad of issues.
Boogey online: Soundcloud
Boogey takes on Drake’s “Diplomatic Immunity” instrumental and uses it to vent his mind on a myriad of issues.
Boogey online: Soundcloud
Hip-hop is extremely special to me, and I love it more than anything. But one thing I noticed about this genre and its listeners comparing it to other genres such as rock and r&b, is that the bar for excellence changes so much over the years. One thing that bothers me about this and with fans is that the fans are so extremely passionate about the genre, sometimes to a fault. What I mean by that is the overuse of the word “classic”. Allow me some time to explain please.
If you use any sort of social media I’m sure if you’ve seen it. An album comes out by ANY rapper on a Thursday night, and before the night is over, the fans are calling it “classic”. And boy oh boy is it troubling and down right annoying. I’ll litter a few examples in here. About a month Jaden Smith released his highly anticipated SYRE album. Solid body of work from a young kid who still has room to grow. But sure enough when it was released, hours later, the fans on Twitter were calling it a classic album. What pissed me off about this is that I hadn’t even gotten a chance to listen to the album yet. I know what you’re saying to yourself. “But JORDAN, you’re just being a hater! But JORDAN, what about instant classics?! What do YOU think is a classic?” Allow me to explain the issue with calling everything “classic”.
There are VERY few “instant classic” albums. Period. Let’s get that out the way. How does one define a classic? Does it define a sound, a year or even an ERA? Is it high quality music? An album with absolutely no skips? Is it about time and longevity? Is it about numbers? Is it a mixture of all of those? Well the short answer is yes. Albums such as the Wu-Tang Clan’s “36 Chambers“, Nas’ “Illmatic“, Jay-Z’s “Reasonable Doubt” and Kanye West’s “College Dropout” are held in such a high regard and are called undisputed classics because they have some sort of beautiful mixture of all of the aforementioned qualities in them.
“Okay Jordan, so what’s the problem?”
Well the problem comes when the rappers and fans sling the term around so much. The word “classic” should be reserved for art that earns it. I know I’m not anyone to be telling people what they can and can’t think is classic, but the genre begins to get watered down when everything that comes out is considered classic before we even give it a chance to breathe. Listeners don’t even bother to digest the album good before asking for more music. Rappers (most of them, anyway) work extremely hard to give us product to listen to and people should learn to love and live with an album before the slap a label on it and move on to the next work. Listeners are fans of rappers and people, such big fans that they will do anything to put that rapper on a pedestal with other top tier artists that have multiple classics under their belts. Example? Don’t mind if I do.
I am the biggest fan of Kendrick Lamar. Kendrick, Drake and others like them consistently give their fans quality albums every couple of years. But they have risen to astronomical levels of superstardom to the point where anything they drop is put on that level of “classic” because they’re so well loved and fans want one to be better than the others. Hip-hop is by far the most hyper competitive genre, period, and no other genre pits their stars against each other like rap does. Don’t even get me started with Kanye West’s stans.
Calling everything a classic is really watering down something that should be special. There is nothing wrong with appreciating an album while we have it before moving on to the next. This is why I love when rappers take their time with the music and don’t rush the product. And let’s be honest, trolling or not, nothing can be a classic before you finish listening to it. That’s silly! By the time y’all finish reading this…let me guess…”CLASSIC”.
…..Y’all are aware that this is just my opinion, right…?
Let me start off by saying I have very particular tastes in music and I do not like that about myself. I’m someone who doesn’t always listen to the newest tunes, but my New Year’s Resolution was to give mainstream artists more of my time, so my list is a mix of names both well-known and underground. My favorite album of the year so far would have to be Ears Hear Spears by Insight The Truncator and Damu The Fudgemnuk. This album applies the sample-heavy sounds of early hip-hop while critiquing recent social issues, which have been a problem longer than most people think. It’s “old-school” to say the least. An equally sample-heavy album is Apocalyptic Bastard by Darko The Super. Darko is probably my favorite current artist, and although his music will repel the general population, I deeply admire his honest lyrics and wild manipulation of samples for his own devious purposes. He’s pure punk. Roc Marciano’s Rosebudd’s Revenge illustrative lyrics paint a rough and luxurious picture, like a Mona Lisa made of bullets. And the beats! They’re somehow simultaneously icy and hot. I haven’t heard too much about Oddisee, but The Iceberg was seriously some great music, whether you like hip-hop or not. His is a sound that anyone could be in to. The World Is MIND by KRS-One makes my list, partially due to the beats. I still love KRS-One’s verses, but the production on this album was for lack of a better term “hard.” It was hard, everybody. If I’m allowed to include SZA’s Ctrl, I’ll gladly leave it here. I don’t usually ingest a lot of R&B, but this album ignited some feelings I didn’t know I had. I thought I would feel pressured to include DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar because most people would be expecting it, but I think it’s a deserving album and I enjoyed it. And the videos for “DNA.” and “HUMBLE.” were a bonus! Darko The Super and ialive comprise a duo called The Hell Hole Store, and their recent album Return To The Hell Hole Store is so very solid. The back and forth lyrics of the duo is very natural for a group specializing is atypical and unique wordplay and sound. Another immersive project on my list is No More Favors by Tek.Lun and DrewsThatDude, and it’s a diverse instrumental album that I feel truly has something for everyone, especially if you like to drive at night. Number 10 is ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$. I’m not sure why I like this as much as I did, and I think the dollar signs and title are a little korny. I think many artists cover the topics Joey Bada$$ does on this album and they do it well, but something about his delivery was engaging to me. So there are my top 10 favorite hip-hop albums of 2017 so far, and Ctrl, as I guess it’s not really a hip-hop album. This list might be wildly different come the end of the year, but these are currently my 10 favorites.
1. “Ears Hear Spears” by Insight The Truncator and Damu The Fudgemunk
2. “Apocalyptic Bastard” by Darko The Super
3. “Rosebudd’s Revenge” by Roc Marciano
4. “The Iceberg” by Oddisee
5. “The World Is MIND” by KRS-One
6. “Ctrl” by SZA
7. DAMN.” by Kendrick Lamar
8. “Return To The Hell Hole Store” by The Hell Hole Store
9. “No More Favors” by Tek.Lun and DrewsThatDude
10. “ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$” by Joey Bada$$
It has been an interesting 1st half of 2017 I tell you. A slew of incredible projects already dropped and the rest of the year is looking solid from what I can see here. My pick is a mix bag of rap/RnB/Funk. Some of the names here are pretty obvious and shouldn’t surprise anyone. Lupe’s DROGAS light-despite not being as consistent as Tetsuo it still hits the mark because Lupe can rap his ass off regardless. Thunder Cat is highly recommended-I cant say much but just go cop it. Rick Ross’ RYTM got me surprised- it is actually DOPE regardless of what you think of Rozay. Oddisee’s is pretty much critically acclaimed at press time so check it out if you haven’t. In usual fashion I had to pick 3 from my underground stash. Westside Gunn comes through with the heavy “Hitler On Steroids“, Saga & Thelonious Monk flip things up with their collabo project “Molotov” while Wille The Kid (he is so underrated, it makes me cry) hits the 3 point shot with the grainy “Deutsche Marks“. Obvious ones are SZA’s sensual CTRL and K Dot’s “DAMN”
1 Oddisee – The Iceberg
2 Thundercat Drunk
3 WestSide Gunn – Hitler On Steroids
4 SZA – CTRL
5 Kendrick Lamar- DAMN
6 Rick Ross – Rather You Than Me
7 Saga & Thelonious Monk: Molotov
8 Joey Bada$$$ – All american badass
9 Lupe- DROGAS Light
10 Willie The Kid – Deutsche Marks
Honorable Mentions: Raekwon “The Wild”, Syd “Fin”
2017 for music so far has been STACKED with projects. I had to go back and listen to everything to see what I forgot about and what I missed. One of my favorite rappers King Kendrick Lamar gave us a surprise hit with DAMN. GoldLink gave the DMV even more reason to stand up and get the rest of us hip to issues and their way of life with At What Cost. 2 Chainz proved he’s still got it and takes us on a journey with Pretty Girls Like Trap Music (I even reviewed it!) and we saw Joey Bada$$ release a politically charged album that’s exactly what 2017 needed called All-Amerikkkan Badass. Steve Lacy, SZA, and Khalid all had me feeling some kind of way on the emotional spectrum with their releases…ranging from sadness, cool, non-existential relationship woes and wanting to go on a road trip with friends and forgetting about life for a second. The three biggest more polarizing releases this year would fall to Vince Staple’s Big Fish Theory, Thundercat’s Drunk, and Young Thug’s Easy Breezy Beautiful Thugger Girls. These three albums play with what your use to from the rapper and producer and while they may turn people off, I found the two albums confident approaches and evolutions of their discography. These are some of the best albums of 2017, so far in a nutshell to me.
1. Kendrick Lamar- DAMN
2. 2 Chainz- Pretty Girls Like Trap Music
3. GoldLink- At What Cost
4. Joey Bada$$- All-Amerikkkan Badass
5. SZA- CTRL
6. Khalid- American Teen
7. Vince Staples- Big Fish Theory
8. Young Thug- EBBTG
9. Thundercat- Drunk
10. Steve Lacy- Steve Lacy’s Demo
The first 6 months of 2017 has been crazy for hip hop and R&B. It’s usually a hard hitting year for one or the other but rarely both. Somehow 2017 has managed to allow both genres to flourish and let me just say that we have truly been blessed. Kehlani and Jidenna finally released their debut albums and it was everything we never knew we needed. Kehlani’s album SweetSexySavage in particular definitely lived up to all the hype it was getting. Mixing in soulful 90’s R&B with a smooth millennial twist SweetSexySavage is easily my favorite body of work so far this year and the most played album in my lineup. I even have mini solo karaoke parties where I specifically sing this album at the top of my lungs but that’s unimportant. What is important is that this album deserves to be on everyone’s top list. Along with Kehlani we received another debut R&B album coming from Khalid with American Teen that was equally as impressive as it was enjoyable. Location is the biggest hit off the record currently but I foresee many more tracks being highlighted as the year progresses.
Now, what would a top ten list be without anyone mentioning Kendrick Lamar and DAMN though? Basically a terrible top ten list. Everything Kendrick drops is gold and DAMN is no different. It’s the highest selling album so far this year and that honestly shouldn’t be surprising. Storytelling has always been Kendrick Lamar’s greatest gift to hip hop and the imagery that DAMN paints through each track is worth a listen over and over again.
One of my favorite and most surprising guilty pleasures so far has been Queen Elizabitch by CupcakKe and if I didn’t list her in my top 10I wouldn’t forgive myself. Reminiscent of an old Lil Kim or Nicki Minaj (back when she used to really spit) CupcakKe definitely laced her tracks with sensuality and a lyrical prowess that will continue to keep her name in your mouth especially if she isn’t in it yet. If you don’t believe me just listen to “Cumshot” and you’ll understand why she deserves every bit of recognition I’m giving her.
This list was not easy to make (which it never really is). Each one of the albums I have listed has a crazy amount of replay value. I honestly can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to Thundercat’s Drunk or Pretty Girls Like Trap Music by 2 Chainz. If the first 6 months are any indication for how the rest of the year is going to go than it’s going to be LIT!
1. Kehlani – SweetSexySavage
2. Thundercat – Drunk
3. Kendrick Lamar – DAMN
4. Dj Khaled – Grateful
5. 2 Chainz – Pretty Girls Like Trap Music
6. Kintaro – Universal EP
7. Jonwayne – Rap Album Two
8. CupcakKe – Queen Elizabitch
9. Jidenna – The Chief
10.Khalid – American Teen
SZA – CTRL
Murs – Captain California
2017 felt like the year of sleeper hits. At the tail end of my top 10 is Vince Staples with BIG FISH THEORY. The young rapper who has been fed a diet of R&B, Soul, Funk, and other fusions of music to bring us his sophomore album. Much like the title suggests, the album allows its listeners to peer into a fishbowl lense of the rap game: the toxic behavior it can breed while also celebrating the new life rap stardom can give an emerging artist. At 9, we have Raekwon with THE WILD. The seasoned Wu-Tang member returns to us again with a packed house of 808 synths, high-hats, & that classic boom bap with a spin all his own. Syd makes perfect sex music, and that’s not up for debate. In her breakout album, Fin, Syd the Kid bring us a confident, cool new voice to R&B. Even from the first track, “Shake Em Off”, Syd establishes herself as the boss, “Young star in the making/Swear they sleeping on me”. What I love about this album is Syd knows exactly who she is. Now she is waiting for you to recognize game or get left behind. I couldn’t be any more grateful to for Joey Bada$$ sophomore album “ALL AMERIKKKAN BADA$$”. While many artists can come off as heavy-handed with overtly political content, The Badmon’s approach is more earnest, only further compliment by a solid production, which pulls both 80’s and 90’s flavored beats, smooth bass guitars, and disjointed piano riffs. Thundercat’s DRUNK speaks to the weird black kid in me before I became a hip-hop head. Thundercat is as much weird as he is soulful, an oddball with strange but powerful command of the lyrical. As a cool falsetto, and artist whose work has looked death in the eye time and time again, Drunk is not only a return to live but how to negotiate the normalcy of it. I was surprised Jay-Z’s 4:44 made the list. At this point in his career, and several alleged retirements from the game, I didn’t think Jay-Z had anything left to rap about. I was right. This isn’t a Jay-Z album, but rather Sean Carter’s first album. From the beginning the rapper kills his ego and lays down that ego which has driven much of his career. I didn’t expect these startling turns in this album, especially the knock-out cameo from his mother Gloria Carter. I knew DAMN had to make my list. At number 4, DAMN is the first of its kind, a palindrome album— an album that is two different albums played back and forth. DAMN is currently the highest selling and streaming album of 2017 . In my top 3, all women and all newcomers to music take their rightful places. Sabrina Claudio’s CONFIDENTLY LOST is sexy, vulnerable, and honest. Claudio’s sound is a miasma of nostalgia while still looking forward. Kelhani’s “SweetSexySavage” is the “The Bad Bitch Gospel” album. Kelhani effortlessly blend irreverent youth and confidence with vulnerability and sensuality to address all the personal and professional hurdles Kelhani has endured to make it here. Kelhani just isnt’t here to play games and god bless. At number 1, is CTRL by SZA.
16-22-year-old me waited a very long time for CTRL to come into the world. I have never listened to an album in which I felt so seen and understood. From starling confessions (“I’ve been secretly banging your homeboy”) more tender remarks (“I can’t be that easy to forget like that”) and even these brief churches of lyrics (“Lie to me and tell me my booty gettin’ bigger even if it ain’t”), SZA maturity, foresight, and ability to reflect back to the girls she has been—the girl who revenge fucks her ex’s friends, the “side-chick”, the girl who validates herself by how much attention she gets— is a testament to how much the young artist has grown and how much she still has to offer.
1. CTRL: SZA
2. Kelhani: SweetSexy Savage
3. Sabrina Claudio: Confidently Lost
4. DAMN: Kendrick Lamar
5. [4:44]: Jay-Z
6. Drunk: Thundercat
7. ALL AMERIKKKAN BADA$$: Joey Bada$$
8. Fin: Syd
9. Raekwon: The Wild
10. Vince Staples: Big Fish Theory
In case you’ve been under a rock…anime has been a very prevalent part of hip-hop culture, especially in the past few years. No other anime has been more popular amongst most hip-hop artists than Dragon Ball Z. Now, Dragon Ball Z may not be your favorite anime, but no one can deny how seamlessly it has integrated itself into some of our favorite rappers punchlines. For example, Lupe Fiasco said “I push Ki like Dragon Ball Z, know what I’m sayin’?”, Joey Bada$$ said “Got Dragon Balls (draggin’ balls) like my name was Vegeta”, and Robb Bank$ said “I’m Babidi, you Majin Vegeta I’ll put some M’s on ya head”. My point is, anime and hip-hop will always mix.
Anyway, I happened to scroll down my Twitter timeline, minding my business and then BAM…
Enter 15 year old artist @TheWrightAr. This is the coolest art I’ve seen in a while. This Dragon Ball Z inspired piece of art includes a lot of my favorites, such as Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, Lil Uzi Vert, Future, DJ Khaled (!!!!!), 2 Chainz and Thugger. This is the coolest thing I’ve seen in a while! Y’all go show the young man some love with a retweet and a favorite. Ask him nicely and he’ll let you use it as a header too. Go through the picture and see if you can spot your favorite rappers.
Saturday night the world seemed to stop for a minute as everybody tuned in to Beats 1 OVO Radio for the much anticipated drop of Drake’s More Life. There was a lot of buzz surrounding this project for several reasons. 2016’s release Views fell a little flat and for many More Life was looked at as an opportunity for redemption. More Life has been teased since October of 2016 and the release date changed constantly as Drake continued to put the project together. But through all of this, the most intriguing part of this project is that it was marketed and released as not an album or a mixtape, but as a playlist. As OVO Radio Episode 39 came to a close Saturday evening, we were again reminded that this playlist was brought to you by October Firm. The playlist then proceeded to drop on all major streaming services and the masses now had their latest Drake fix.
However you feel about Drake, it is undeniable that he is one of the most popular and influential artists out right now. For him to decide to create a project within a year of his last major album debut and then continue to differentiate it from an album or mixtape implies there is more to it than the surface. Drake has the power to influence the music industry in any major way that he wants. Could More Life be his eternal imprint on the music industry? The project itself isn’t outstanding. It is enjoyable, yet lengthy. It draws on a variety of influences and sounds. There is sentimental Drake, pop Drake, aggressive Drake, dancehall Drake and all the versions of Drake in between. There is an extremely heavy UK influence and interludes that Drake is completely excluded from. It has all the makings of an album, especially a Drake album, but it’s not and album. It’s a playlist. So why push this idea? What is Drake’s end game here?
As I tuned in Saturday I was really bent on capturing Drake’s vision. I listened to each song as it released and watched the world react via Twitter. I couldn’t tell if I was feeling the “playlist” vibe because Drake’s marketing had primed me to feel that way or if it was something I was truly resonating with. By the time the playlist had fully premiered, I was ready to run it all back. As I did, I still wasn’t quite getting it. Something was oddly familiar about the curation of it all, yet it didn’t really make perfect sense. The music didn’t necessarily flow in any certain way but it was grouped in a certain way. The songs seemed to be clustered together by similarities. All the Atlanta artists are featured back to back, songs about relationships are back to back, the aggressive songs are back to back, the dancehall songs are back to back. Then there are pieces that don’t really belong anywhere dotted between the groups. The sounds were all so different that it didn’t actually seem to be entirely cohesive. As I tried to put together what it meant to think of this collection of songs as a playlist, I eventually understood the familiarity I felt.
A few months ago, I was cleaning my closet out and I came across a box of mixed CD’s I had made as a teenager. Of course I had to revisit them and as I listened to these CD’s, the only thing they had in common was they were a diverse collection of the songs I was really in to at the time. While mostly hip-hop, they contained artists of all different subgenres and regions. I always had a few throwbacks tucked in there and then some miscellaneous songs that weren’t necessarily hip hop but what I wanted to listen to in my car. Each CD was a curation of what I was really feeling at the time, and even though I tried to make them have flow, the diversity was obvious. I would have a couple trap tracks, followed by some 90s throwbacks, then maybe a few top forty hits and then a couple more underground tracks all mushed together as organized as I could make it but really I know the only person it could possibly make sense to is me. Ultimately, a track made the cut if it was something I knew I wanted to listen to in the car. That was how I made my playlists. It was an organization of music that made sense to me and what I wanted to hear. It was personal.
Just as I spent hours putting the perfect playlist together before it became finalized onto a CD, Drake did this with More Life. This is about what Drake is into, in this moment. This is Drake at this point in his life. Instead of creating an album that has its own sound and influence, Drake took all his influences and created the playlist. It doesn’t have to make sense to us, because it makes sense to him. Drake created and assembled a playlist to share with his fans a piece of him.
But unlike my CD’s from 2007, we live in a world where an album doesn’t need to be important. We can create a million playlists a day if we would like. People at Spotify and Apple Music are paid to perfectly curate playlists for us for when we don’t have the time. The playlist is how we listen to music. I have playlists for every occasion, whether I am working, cleaning, pre-gaming, or driving. Playlists are an essential way for how we consume music in 2017. As an artist, Drake has a lot of potential to change how fans consume music. Drake is one of those artists that releases large quantities of music and so his fans are constantly being fed. It’s become a very common way for artists to release music. So by releasing his music as a playlist, he is feeding into exactly how his fans want to consume his product.
How can this change the music industry? Drake is opening the door to possibility. In 2016, we saw Kanye West disastrously release his anticipated album The Life of Pablo. The track list was changed right before fans eyes and months after the release Kanye even snuck an additional track onto the album. This was the first time fans really saw an album progress in real time. What is interesting is that nobody really seemed to understand how monumental that release could potentially be for music. Kanye West tweaked that album even after it was in the ears of consumers. Just like we as fans constantly reevaluate and change our favorite playlists as we discover or tire of songs, Kanye just changed his album as he felt necessary. What is stopping Drake from making this playlist a continuously working project? Drake has always been hell bent on perfection, but maybe an imperfect collection is what he could truly excel at. Drake has been on the cutting edge on how the internet has changed music consumption and this playlist has the potential to continue to evolve the industry. Drake at this moment has the potential to create the first constantly evolving collection of music by an artist. Playlists exist to give a us a collection of songs to listen to with all the choosing and skipping eliminated, but playlists are meant to be tweaked by our preferences. As our situations and tastes change, the playlist changes too. On OVO Radio Episode 40 Drake could update the playlist as a reflection of what he has been working on or what artists he affiliates with have been working on. It is very intimate, but intimacy is what fans want from artists. It doesn’t have to go on forever, but it would be an incredible concept to watch unfold.
Drake is the perfect artist to experiment with this type of music release method. He drops music consistently enough, constantly breaks streaming records, and has enough connections with other artists in the industry to keep the music interesting. Drake’s influence on hip-hop and pop music make him relevant enough to so many people that he could potentially influence a trend we could see other artists engage in. The mixtape had been such a powerful tool in hip hop and the playlist concept is just an extension of that. The music released is true to the artist and on the artists own terms. Fans feel more connected to the artist because it is more personal because of the curated aspect. So while Drake may not musically have created a classic project, Drake has the potential to change the industry through the power of the playlist. While this is all my own little conspiracy theory and a little bit of wishful thinking, I think that both Kanye and Drake have already given us the tools to shift how music is given to fans. Even if More Life doesn’t end up becoming an evolving musical collection, it has set the groundwork to allow it to happen in our future.