2014 FOREST HILLS DRIVE: A REVIEW

image

Welcome back.
We’re going to review this with the convo style that we used for NWTS but first of all we have to introduce the dude who will be writing this with us.
L (@Slklouis): so I’d like to introduce the beast from the west, the high priest of Dol Gudor, the one afro that rules them all, the weirdest person that isn’t me. Ladies and gentlemen, Ladi
THL (@the_Ladi): dude. What is all this nonsense? Anyway, we’re going to break this album and the 13 parts it bears to bits
S: you’re going to breaking it alone mahn. We grade over here
THL: sorry sir
S: I’ll also like to introduce the man who has been chosen to play the Black Panther, the man with the iron fists, this country’s greatest hidden weapon and an accomplished black belt in 76 of the 74 martial arts disciplines. Ladies and gentlemen, Jon P
J (@oluwajonpee): you talk too much. Let’s start this
Intro
J: A lot of people would overlook this track because it’s the “Intro” but if after you’ve listened to the album, you go back to listen to this intro, it makes a whole lot of sense.
THL: this song has Cole singing about freedom and the right to happiness
L: but that is just it. He is singing not rapping.
THL: but everyone can still relate to it tho cos he is talking about happiness
January 28th

J: this right here is dopeness.
L: I swear! Dude even compared himself to Rakim and Big Daddy Kane
THL: yeah, Cole is his own hype man. There is even a bar where he proclaims that he is Cole the god
J: Just the first verse alone killed it. And the ease with which he murdered it was just too good.
THL: his opening bar was the highlight for me as it set the tone for the rest of the track: “ FLOW BANANAS HERE, PEEL THIS BACK AND WHAT YOU’LL FIND IS YOUR HIGHNESS CAN PAINT A PICTURE THAT IS VIVID ENOUGH TO CURE BLINDNESS” .

Wet Dreamz

J: this is a side of Cole we’re getting used to now. It’s an honest painted picture of life growing up for him.
L: too honest tho. I really didn’t need to hear about his first time and how he was awesome
THL: Cos it brought back memories of how terrible your own first time was, right?
J:

image

L:

image

Anyway, the frank, honest and self-depreciating nature of this track is one of the major reasons why I’m a Cole fan. His ability to take hush-hush topics and make magic with them is impressive.
THL: this is prolly one of the funniest tracks on this album as it talks about crushes, teenage years and everything (preparation and all) that goes into making the first time perfect
J: If you have a vivid imagination this track could you remind you of something Slick Rick or Biz Markie would do.
L: more Slick Rick than Biz markie tho
J: definitely

03’ Adolescence
J: this is real!
THL: everyone knows Cole is a softie at heart
L: and in action too
THL: exactly. This track goes to show that as he raps about his shortcomings as a shy black kid, marijuana and trying to stay alive
L: Only problem is that unlike the previous track that sounds honest. This one sounds needy like he is pleading to be believed
J: nah. He actually sounds more honest here tho. It was only the flow that was different

A Tale of Two Citiez

THL: before anything, the hook here is just it and we just have him talking about the Hollywood dream and the lengths rapper go to to look fly.
J: I think it was easy for Cole to go in on this track because he didn’t produce it.
L: how does that help?
J: he had more time to focus on the lyrics (as opposed to both the beat and the lyrics as he normally would) So there’s just this almost sublime transition from verse to hook.
L: I actually don’t even know what he was talking about her but I know I enjoyed it and the major reason why I replay this is cos of the hook.
THL: RUN IT!

Fire Squad
J: lol this track is just a way of saying “Fuck It” pardon my Aramaic.
L:
image

Aramaic tho. This song was just his way of taking shots at…well…everyone. Although he didn’t directly name anyone, we know part of this was for Kendrick
J: Kendrick actually called him by his government name
THL: are we still on about that control verse
J: his government name
L: dude even called out white rappers just two tracks after sampling Eminem.
THL: this is some revolutionary shxt. Dude used the first verse, hook and part of the second verse to proclaim that he is king and then he just turned on all white rappers in the third verse by emphasizing that rap has black roots.

St.Tropez
J: Let me stay out of this one, all the singing is just not it
L: I’m going to stay away too.
THL: this track has Cole rapping about his career and rising to fame in Hollywood. He even uses St. Tropez as a metaphor for fame and fortune.
L: isn’t he a rapper? Why is he rising in Hollywood?

G.O.M.D
J: the hook in this is pretty much all this track offers really.
L: I actually like this one o. it offers more than the hook cos there are some nasty bars scattered around here
J: speaking of NASty
L: don’t!
THL: the first verse is about Hollywood Cole’s lifestyle and the second verse is about love. That is all there is to it tho. The Hook is the highlight
L: but the song itself isn’t that bad
J: it isn’t bad at all. It is just that the main attraction is the hook.
L: I love how he says “this is the part that the thugs skip” just before he starts the second verse
THL: well, real nxggas don’t want to hear about love
L: how would you know?
J:
image

L: now we’re even

No Role Modelz
J: the beat on this just gets you trapped in the song and you just have to listen to everything Cole has to say. And he delivers the “gospel truth” on this “Don’t save her…”
L: I didn’t hear all that one abeg. If any hoes out there need saving, I’m outchea
THL: we don’t want no reality show ho. This is another funny track as he talks about Hollywood hoes (the unfaithful lot). I’m pretty sure there are subs to be caught here
L: lest we forget, the song started with Cole referring to the lack of a male role model in his life growing up. He then digresses and that is when the advert for the Don’t-Save-Hoes Party started.

Hello
J: yeah, moving on
THL: the beat is up tempo for some strange reason
L: forget the beat. He is singing again. I’ll be on the next song, let me know when you get there
THL: this track is about regret. That is the best I can do with this track. It is prolly about some girl he liked in the past.

Apparently
J: can someone please make the singing stop.
L: this one is actually better cos he is doing the sing-song-rap thing and it works here.
THL: this song has him talking about his mum and he won’t mind having more time to spend with her

Love Yourz

THL: this one is just too real yo.
J: the thought and message behind this is golden and the beat is just right for it.
L: this sounds like Cole from his Friday Night Lights days. He knows how to rap about other people’s problems like they’re actually is and he does this exceptionally well here
THL: this one is about happiness and contentment and how happiness is actually just contentment with what you have

Note to Self

J: this has to be the longest outro ever *Cole’s voice*
L: was that a reference to an old Cole song? I can sort of remember the line but can’t remember the song. All I can remember is that he says “I’m on one” after that line
J: POWER TRIP
L: oooh. Anyway, this really is the longest outro ever. 14 bloody minutes.
THL: yeah, it is just the credits

CONCLUSION
J: I pretty much eased out of the mood of the album. Like for the first six tracks were Cole was telling stories with nice wordplay and thoughts it felt like listening to some really old school type rap style and it was just plain dopeness. From then on I eased in and out of the album like I enjoyed No role modelz and love yourz and of course the hook on G.O.M.D but as good as they are, it just didn’t feel like those first six tracks. I do have to mention this though, Cole should really leave some of the beats and production to his producers. But regardless, this album is the shit.

THL: TO CONCLUDE, THE ALBUM HAD A LOT OF ‘BLACK POWER’ VIBE GOING, IT ALSO HAS A LOT OF VIVID PICTURES PAINTED BY Mr. COLE. IT IS A CLASSIC ALBUM , SIMPLE RHYMES , QUITE AUDIBLE WITH GREAT OVERALL CONTENT.THOUGH, THE STORIES `IN IT WERENT AS MUCH AS THE USUAL YOU’D EXPECT FROM J.COLE.HOPEFULLY YOU THE NEXT ONE WILL BE FILLED WITH THESE JUICY STORIES HIS FANS LOVE. OVERALL THE ALBUM IS JUST RIGHT (BY JUST RIGHT, I MEAN FUCKING AWESOOOOOME!!!). THANK YOU.
LADI OUT.

L: first off, why is your shxt in all caps? Is it ————–. Sorry, the second half of that sentence was removed for bearing too much of a semblance to shxt Ice Prince would say.
Anyway. This album. I actually love this one and while it blew my mind on some levels, it disappointed me in other areas. The singing, to start with, has to stop. The singing on his last album made more sense as he used it sparingly. Saving it for the creation of awesome hooks. The lack of features means that we got to hear Cole’s pure sound as it is now. He has matured in sound and style and has let go of some of the things that held him back before like trying to create radio-ready tracks although he still forces the feeling of nostalgia at times. While there are no truly atrocious tracks as even the ones with him singing have their own advantages, the overall feel of the album is that of a series of compelling and honest tales. Only problem being that if he keeps releasing stuff like this then he will keep creating new standards and I feel like you can only go so far before imploding.
So we’re going to give this an A-

BLOOD MOON: YEAR OF THE WOLF: ALBUM REVIEW

image

This is the review of the tenth studio album of the Game
Bigger than me
Angry, that is exactly what the Game is on this track as he goes on a tirade about the current hip hop scene while at the same time boasting about the people who he considers his mates and superiors. The line about the XXL freshmen was especially harsh.
F.U.N
The anger in the previous track spilled onto this one with Game calling out those he didn’t call on the previous track. Special shout out to G-Unit on this one. Lol. He even uses Eminem’s rage flow towards the end of the track to great effect with the chainsaw beat helping to drive his point home.
Really ft Yo Gotti, 2chainz, Soulja Boy, TI
DAYUM!
I thought Yo Gotti already murked this and then the Game just showed up and once he started with that slaughterhouse bar, I knew it was all over Jackie. That verse just spelled the end for Negroes. Y’all need to jam this song just for that verse as he starts with 5’9” and somehow ends with Rick Rubio. How? I know not.
Fxck your feelings ft Lil Wayne, Chris Brown
What is this crap? This is definitely not why Jesus Christ was born. In the Game’s hall of weak shxt, this has to be the weakest out there.
On one ft King Marie, Ty Dolla $ign
This song has a different tone from the ones before it. He doesn’t even sound pissed here. This might even be the romance track of the album. It’s just okay.
Married to the Game ft French Montana, DUBB, Sam Hook
This is a sweet jam and sounds more like stuff from the Jesus Piece album and not from this poser of an album. Montana was being shady with his verse but it was still chill as fxck tho.
The purge ft Stacy Barthe
This is the social commentary track. If you follow this dude on IG, you would have noticed that dude has taken a more mature tone and this track is just his way of saying stuff that the pictures he posts won’t show.
Trouble on my mind
The ideas, message and mood from the previous track are continued on this one with the primary focus here being the cop killings. Another track that hits the nail on the head.
Cellphone ft DUBB
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand we’re back to the WTF tracks. This one has the Game using Kendrick Lamar’s trademark helium voice technique. Just hearing that distracted me and prolly painted this song in a negative light for me.
Or wait. Maybe the track is actually just crap. Yeah, it is crap.
Best Head Ever ft Tyga, Eric Bellinger
Not the worst song ever about the best head ever. If this is all the “best head ever” inspired you to write then it prolly wasn’t the best head ever. Also, we’ve got T-Raw aka the sloth from Ice Age aka all tats and no skill aka Blac Chyna’s old ass wipe aka the Game’s bxtch aka run away from Lil Durk aka Bieber’s nutsack cleaner aka Tyga on this so you can only imagine the crap that came out of his mouth in the 25 or so seconds he was allowed to stand in front of the mic before he went back to carrying Chris Brown’s luggage for him.
Or Nah ft Too Short, Problem, AV, Eric Bellinger
I loved this song so much when the album first came out cos of Problem’s verse alone but now upon further examination, I’ve come to the conclusion that this song is actually that good. Despite the beat not being the best for the style of these rappers, they make the best of it with better sex rap than was on the previous record.
Take that ft Tyga,Pharaoh
Aaaaaaaaaaaand Tyra is back again. Join me as we ignore that verse.
Seems like the Game was just trying to showcase the singer’s skills. Dude’s voice is actually good but I feel like I came here for a rap album not this episode of The Hood’s next best singer.
Food for my stomach ft DUBB, Skeme
Next.
Hit Em Hard ft Bobby Shmurda, Freddie Gibbs, Skeme
This song right here is grimy as fxck with the beat and even the rage in the rappers’ voices. I’ve got to say tho that the chorus sounds like some Jasper Dolphin shxt (listem to “bitch suck dick” for reference). Skeme’s verse is the highlight here tho.
Black on Black ft Young Jeezy, Kevin Gates
This track has the Game once again adopting the flow of a featured artist on his own track and he gets murked as a result. Dude tried using the snowman’s flow and ended being the worst here with Mr i-eat-ass having the best verse here
CONCLUSION
Even though the Game’s style has matured along with the rapper, this record sees some steps back for him. He keeps trying to do what Biggie Smalls did in Notorious Thugs where he jacked the Bone thugs and Harmony and killed them with it. The Game has been trying this for years and while he is occasionally successful, he wasn’t at all here. Instead, he ended up looking like he was chasing trends and trying to please everyone. Ahmean, if this is what he could offer I’m worried about the DOCUMENTARY 2. Seriously worried. His lyricism is still what it was but there are too many filler tracks here and in the end it seems like he only had a few ideas and just decided to throw in mixtape quality stuff in here. The features were on point for the most part but those his tracks introducing his label mates were not needed. If he wanted to do that, he could have released a compilation album or something. Also, the Game needs Dr Dre back in his life stat!
I’m going to have to give this a C-

image

WAZUP GUY: A REVIEW

Here’s the debut album of the bahd guy, repping the label “bahd guyz”, Barrister Folarin a.k.a Falz The Bahd Guy.
Let me first of all give this notice; this album is 19 tracks long. And that’s really long. But thankfully, it doesn’t feel too long and I’ll explain why.
Falz is a rapper (just incase you didn’t know). But far from your regular naija rapper. His style is unique, first and only of it’s kind I’ve heard of in the rap game in naija. He fuses all sorts from afrobeat, to fuji to highlife not just on his beats but also in his flows. He could go from rapping like a razz guy to rapping like a polished gentleman, he’s that good. No wonder he calls himself a “Bahd Guy”.
Since this is a debut album, let’s get to know Falz as he introduces himself to us.
First of, let’s meet the playful side of Falz. On tracks like TOYIN TOMATO & MARRY ME (ft Poe and Yemi Alade), he addresses issues of the relationships, in the former, he talks about a fed up chick who just wants the finer things in life and not interested in the love of the relationship. And in the latter it’s more about a lady who just is just in dire need of a ring on her finger and he goes in on this from the ladies point of view which makes it more appealing . What makes these tracks fun is the approach he has to the issues, he’s just laid back and damn right straight with his flows on a some really cool afrobeats.
Like I said earlier, Falz is unique. On JESSSICA, he goes on this fuji vibe from singing to rapping and just really showing his skill and talent. This is one of the tracks that’s really enjoyable both in sound and lyrics.
There’s hardly any naija album these days without one or two love themed songs added to the mix. And despite Falz’ unique style, he also delivers a really dope and cheesy tune in RIGHT NOW (ft. Dipo). Don’t know who this Dipo guy is but his vocals were a nice touch (he sounds like Timi Dakolo). The second is OH GOD which is a less memorable offering on this album. (L: that track is the worst)
Falz being a barrister that he is talks about the situation of the society in two different ways. On SENATOR he addresses a “Mrs. Senator” and about all the lavish spending while on HOW FAR (ft. Sir Dauda) he takes it from the aspect of the questions people ask on why the society is still in the state it is.
Now let’s talk about Falz the rapper. If you’re judging or doubting his skills as a rapper because of the single HIGH CLASS which was a hit, you should really take time out to listen to this guy. WAZUP GUY, WAZUP GUY REMIX(ft. SDC, Phenom), O PARI (ft. Olamide) are three tracks that show how good this guy is. And because of the way he delivers his rhymes, he makes it sound fresh but razz (or is it razz but fresh) but still dope. There’s also SEE ME which feels like a warm-up to something but shows a little of what he’s capable of.
I do have to say that some of the sounds off this album are just “weird”. Like the way he mixes sounds to fuse with afrobeat and come off clean is tight. (shoutout to his producer). CURRENCY is an example of this cool fusion.
Falz sounds like a really relaxed person and tracks like 1,2,3 (ft. OYINKANSOLA) and COOL PARRY are really just laid back tunes with him dropping some nice lines.
In all, this is a good debut album. Though it hasn’t been a hit despite the good beats and very acceptable production with a unique rap delivery from Falz, it still is a good album. i guess why it isn’t a hit album is just because it’s a sound most people are not used to. The whole fusion thing is something that deosn’t really sell in the naija music market. But if Falz can play his cards right, he could carve a niche for himself with his unique style and with time grow his fan base. This album gets a B- from me.

image

BLACC HOLLYWOOD: A REVIEW

image

Here’s the latest offering from hip-hop’s number one stoner making waves at the moment (yes I know this review is way past it’s due date, but chill, you’re still going to read this, Yes? I thought so) Mr. Wiz Khalifa. Now let’s get to it.
This album begins with a scene painted with words about “blacc Hollywood” and on the same track, Wiz goes on to talk about the kinda “bitches” you’d find in this city of showbiz. Though it offers some truths, it however doesn’t offer any intriguing or well thought scenarios to engage you to an appreciable level. And this shows on a few more tracks on this album like ASS DROP and RAW. But it’s definitely what you’ll expect from Wiz, I mean he was still married to Miss “Twerk Dat” Amber Rose, so it’s totally permissible. And there is a bit of that whole effect of a married Wiz rapping like on the track PROMISES it’s really one for the ladies. It has him singing, rapping and just feeling a bit “romantic” and it lasts long enough to be remembered on this album.
Wiz being the stoner that he is would be obligated to songs about weed (yes I know I’m stating the obvious) and he does deliver that with his own specially branded joint KK (khalifa Kush). One this track has to offer in particular is a short verse from Juicy J. It also has feels like a moment where a huge amount of kush is being consumed at a time. Compared to SO HIGH which is a so much calmer side to blowing kush, the type of waking up in the morning and getting yourself to the level that makes you happy and staying at that level through the day. It has so much appeal and reaches to a level that borders on just plain awesome. And also there’s STAYIN OUT ALL NIGHT which is such a great vibe (I jam this song on my phone a regular) cos it feels right even though it doesn’t teach anything but hold up, it’s Wiz we’re talking about here.
It’s easy to get lost with Wiz at times, with his playful side and all that smoke in his system. But, it shouldn’t be taken from him that he can still bring it. STILL DOWN has Wiz spitting some of his real real with fellow Taylor-Gang mates Chevy Woods and Ty Dolla $ign. It’s a laid back tune with a nice hook but feels gangster, the kind of tune that makes you want to chill with your crew. Now, put that up with the collaboration with Nicki Minaj where Wiz talks about the haters basically. And he isn’t aggressive about it, he just speaks his mind, he living his life and having a good time. These two tunes stand out for me just because of how laid back they are and are definitely good choices for this album.
Regardless of the hit single WE DEM BOYZ which was a real hit, the memorable tracks for me on this album are definitely HOUSE ON THE HILLS and NO GAIN. These tracks offer real perspective in the life of Wiz. In these two moments, you don’t see much of the ‘stoner’ but more of the person that is Wiz and you connect with it and get to appreciate him a bit more.
In all this LP passes on some levels but fails on some levels. It doesn’t feel like a perfectly rolled joint, it feels a bit too regular, too predictable at times and too easy in a way. In some way, Wiz should have pushed himself some more and not just settle for an album that feels kinda lazy. Except for a few stand out tracks which aren’t so stand out, this LP sounds average and gets a C- from me.
image

THE CHAIRMAN: ALBUM REVIEW

The long awaited album is finally here and although we’re prolly the last to review this, we’ll do it anyway. This album, and I say this based on the track titles, is apparently supposed to be a concept album about Mr. Abaga’s rise to the top but while the track title reflect the journey, the songs themselves do not. It seems like M spent more time on the track titles and music production than the lyrics themselves. This is not to say that the album is crap (Nigerians will listen to anything with a groovy beat and the production here is top notch) as this is one of the best Nigerian albums since JagzNation 1. M uses that rap style of his that is super hard to copy. Some copy it and end up with afro-dancehall-pop while others just end up with some comedic shxt a la Vic O and Darlington. The production on this album means that even tracks with sub-par bars, features or choruses end up sounding better than they actually are. i shall now do a quick analysis of the album.
1.  Nobody: MI always has the best and most imaginative skits and this one right here is no exception
2.  Monkey: this one is full of quotables. Most of them being 2014’s funniest memes
3.  Rich: M’s flow in the verse before last and what he actually says in the last verse are worth the price of admittance. The chorus also isn’t bad at all.
4. Mine: watch these two try hard as fxck to recreate the magic from their first song together. People who listen to music through their anus should like this one.
5.  Bullion Van: I can’t even handle the beat here nor do I know how to analyse it. It obviously serves the purpose it was created for cos this one is a…. you know what? I actually can’t put my finger on what I like about this one but I feel like this is what Yahoo Boys jam before going to spend 8 figures in the club.
6.  Bad Belle: The best song on the album thus far with M not even trying too hard to impress over jazzy trumpets and a trap-like tune.
7.  Shekpe: this is the song with the divisive chorus. It’s either you find it funny and like it or you think it is some ratchet shxt pandering to the South West (wait. Which non igbo songs don’t pander to the SW?) And you hate it as a result. Ahmean, I’ve not heard anyone complain about the bars, just the chorus.
8.  Brother: the track I wanted to hear based on the title alone and it was actually worth it. This is a heartfelt tribute to Jagz and his brother from another mother Ice Prince. Quick question tho. Who are the fake friends surrounding Ice Prince that MI was talking about?

image

Can I get some more sugar in my tea please?
9.  The Middle: this track tho. I thought I would like it but I gave up when Olamide dropped that bar about animals and museums.
image

10.  Enemies: this is another jam I love. The line about people recording what you’re saying had me conducting security checks for like a day until I remembered that I wasn’t famous enough to be bothered. Another gem that M dropped has to be the bar about Judas
In every 12, there’s one Judas
For every 2pac, you’ve got shooters
For every Caesar, there’s one brutus
Where ever food at, you’ve got looters
11. Millionaira champagne: this song has what I consider to be Ice’s best verse (bar N word) in a long long time with that dope ass “16 bars “ ending. The beat sef was sick with Sarkodie’s line about being a charley’s (Charlie’s) angel serving as his own highlight. M, on the other hand, was just okay.
12.  Always Love:  based purely on Seyi Shay’s vocal performance, this should count as the best song on the album but M’s attempt to sing and the less-than-impressive verse just robbed it of all that.
13.  Wheelbarrow: the best way to describe this is to say that it works. One would expect the fake patois to hurt the ears but it actually works here because the beat is the MVP on this track.
14.  Yours: another track  I love cos this one says thank you to the fans although with the way he kept on saying that his fans are responsible for all his wealth, I just kept wondering why no fan has actually stepped to him to collect his share of M’s wealth.
15. Beg: quick question. Why don’t the people at Choc City want to let Loose loose? LK has some mean bars FFS even though he uses only the nice ones here on this mandatory sex track which does not even serve its purpose. I’ve never gotten a de-erection so fast.
16.  Human Being: 3 greats on one track and the result totally shows just that. The theme of this track is the vulnerability of people under the spotlight and how they’re really like the rest of us despite the packaging.
17.  The End: this oritsefemi dude is on a roll and even though he is not the star of this one, he almost steals the show as M thanks God for all that he just thanked the fans for in track 14.
This album shows that MI knows how to please his fans as this one contains what are now MI staples: hilarious skits, the sex track (Beg), the fan appreciation track (Yours), the God appreciation track (The End/Chairman), the Choc Boy track (Brother) except it is about the others and not with the others this time around, the clear-the-air track (human being) and the love songs (mine, always love). This is a formula that he has stayed with over the course of his career and there is really no reason to change it if everyone keeps liking it but stuff like that plus the fact that there is a feature on every track means that instead of listening to a king at his greatest, we are listening to a Local Government Chairman at his weakest point covering himself with features so that we never actually see the true him. Not once do we see the MI that almost wrecked the 4 horsemen. Instead we get the gala selling and jingle singing MI. this album has M pandering to the loud park speakers rather than the deep listeners who are looking for shxt that will make them throw their headphones across the room. It is for this reason that this album cannot be reviewed as just a rap album (if it is even that). Despite all this, the sequencing and positioning of the tracks is admirable and should be seen as a manual on how to do shxt right. It is sad tho to see lyricsm go to waste just so someone can sell beats. I think I’ll just stop here and give this a B-
image

NOBODY’S SMILING: A REVIEW

image

So here’s the tenth album from G.O.O.D Music rapper and legend in the game, Common. Let’s first take out a few seconds to thank G.O.O.D Music for giving us another album from another one of their prolific rappers because most labels are not doing this right now the way they’re doing it. (Thank you G.O.O.D Music).
Now that that is out of the way let’s get to this.
Common sets off this album with a Curtis Myafield sample where he features Cocaine 80s and an up and coming rapper Lil Herb on a track called THE NEIGHBOURHOOD. This track sets the tone for what to expect from this album. an album that addresses something close to Common’s heart, his city, Chicago.
There are some tracks off this album that I kinda had to question. DIAMONDS which features Big Sean who delivers a hook that offers the track as a more commercial single. And SPEAK MY PIECE which is a B.I.G sample of B.I.G’s “hypnotize” that doesn’t come off sleek even though this has a nice bell ringing beat with the drums and some wavy in and out scratching synths.
The vocal deliveries on this album from Jhene Aiko on BLAK MAJIK and that of Elijah Blake on REAL are really on the money. Like on Blak Majik you have a locomotive sounding tune with Jhene just almost blending with the sound all too well and giving Common the room to do his thing and when Jhene finally came on it was right. The arrangement on this was just alright. But it doesn’t stand shoulder to shoulder with Real. The soulful tune to this is the sound. Elijah’s contribution on this was the icing on the cake.
So there are two tracks with some really hard beats that should be mentioned. HUSTLE HARDER and NOBODY’S SMILING (the lead single for the album). Hustle harder features Snoh Aalegra and Dreezy. It’s a hard track even though it’s something that relates easily with the ladies “she hustle harder than a nigga”.
This album features a good offering from young talent and this young man Vince Staples is packing some heat. KINGDOM has a processional marching tune to it with vocals from a choir (or it sounds like a choir). The notable thing about this track is Vince Staples. His verse made this track that even much better than it already was. He almost eclipses Common on this and that’s something if I might mention.
The album comes to a close with REWIND THAT where he Common flashes back to how it all started and all that.
Truth is, this is a really good album for Common to add to his music shelf of work he has put out. Even though it’s just 10 tracks long except you have the deluxe edition with has three bonus tracks which are really good namely; OUT ON BOND which features Vince Staples, 7 DEADLY SINS and YOUNG HEARTS RUN FREE which if added as regular tracks to the album would have made for a more wholesome experience of the idea Common was trying to push on this album. Grade on this, a resounding B.

image