This was a big week for music. The week started off with The Grammys, which usually means a lack of music releases from the mainstream artists. This week was no exception. Record labels expect to sale a boatload of Grammy nominated albums and songs. All of the stores push all the Grammy mentioned albums to the front with a sales mark down and extra bonus songs.
We ended the week with a terrible football game that was supposed to be called the Super Bowl, but someone forgot to tell the Broncos to show up. The highlight was a great halftime show. The Red Hot Chili Peppers made a brief appearance and Bruno Mars gave an energetic performance that hopefully was viewed by the entire R&B/Soul/urban pop community. Good pop singers and R&B records have been scarce lately. I am hoping for a few classic albums this year.
Most of the releases this week were either independent or direct releases from artists for free download. With that said it was not a bad week. Here is the music I have to report that was released between the dates of January 25th -31st.
J.Cole & Dreamville – Revenge of The Dreamers
It’s about that time in J.Cole’s career where he has had enough success to go back to the hood and get all his homeboys. So like every rapper does at some point, J.Cole is co-signing on a crew of rappers that share similar styles. I found myself waiting for J.Coles verses and wishing he was the only on the project. The J. Cole tracks sounded like B-sides that didn’t make the album and I’m almost certain they were. The mixtape is mellow and has its positive moments but it’s not at all memorable. Next week I will have forgotten it ever came out.
Score – 5 of 10
J. Holliday – Guilty Conscience
I would like to give a round of applause to J. Holliday. It’s a good, solid and flawless effort that features soulful R&B songs with good lyrical content. I say good lyrics but really he spent the album staying true to the title. He tells stories of cheating on his girl, his girl cheating on him and fantasizing about cheating. Sounds like he had some infidelity issues he needed to get off his chest. Either way J. Holliday is a strong singing talent, with solid production and I strongly suggest this album.
Score – 8 of 10
Don Trip – Randy Savage
Don Trip made a lot of noise last year both as a solo artist and with his group Step Brother with another rapper making noise in the underground Starlito. He’s a unique rapper but not too far left to throw off the average hip-hop listener. Don Trip should be making the south proud with his efforts and I recommend this mixtape to all hip-hop fans. It’s a free download so you have nothing to lose.
Score – 8 of 10
Pastor Troy – Crown Royal 4
The Pastor is back to reclaim his spot in the pool pit. The forth installment of Crown Royal is long and almost feels like a double disk. The first half is Pastor Troy boasting about his accomplishments and OG status. He turns up and gives us dated crunk music literally. He actually even brings us features from The Eastside Boys, Ying Yang Twins and La Chant if that doesn’t explain my case. On the second half he tones down the production and begins to preach positive messages to the youth and conscious street stories. He even dedicates a letter in song form to the family of Trayvon Martin over his classic Visa Versa instrumental. To be honest, as a whole it’s not a bad mixtape.
Score – 6.5 of 10
Murs – Shut Your Trap (EP)
Murs was very quiet last year. I’m used to hearing several releases from him and his collaboration each year. Well glad to see he’s coming back for more this year. This EP is a classic Murs over production that’s more mainstream then we’re used to from him. He takes us on a ride in his Toyota Prius and also takes responsibility for Justin Beiber’s action claiming to be the voice in his head. Like I said classic Murs.
Score – 5 of 10
Algebra Blessett – Recovery
A very soulful release with well-rounded production. The Atlanta native has spent most of her career touring and singing background vocals for artist like Monica, Bilal and India Arie. With her sophomore solo release she proves she is deserving of the spotlight but still has a long way to go reach the exposure to impact the music industry in the way she deserves to be heard.
Score – 7 of 10
Dum Dum Girls – Too True
My outside pick comes from this alternative female band that has been constantly releasing good music since 2009. The latest is their traditional alternative go-go sound. It’s not hip-hop or R&B by far so if you take heave to my thoughts week by week know that I love all music and appreciate all art as a communication device for different regions and lifestyles to cross paths.
Score – 7 of 10
Chief Keef – Chiraq
If you’re a fan of Keef you know what your in for. He features appearances by Gucci Mane, Wiz Khalifa, Waka Flocka, Kanye West, Pusher T, Big Sean, B.O.B., Wale, Yo Gottii and Jada Kiss. In other words the industry rappers are showing up to show their support for the young Chi-town rapper. My honest opinion is I’m not sure what everybody sees in him, but his style is somewhat unique.
Score – 6 of 10
Papoose – Hoodie Season 2
The legendary New York battle MC is still at it. He represents his home and does his best to defend it along with the roots of hip-hop. Bar for bar he is still an elite wordsmith. Clever rhymes and witty punch lines is his forte and takes you back to a time when rappers all had to have skill to grip a mic. However I wonder how relevant he really is. He wastes a whole song to diss Trinidad James and it makes me question why. Not like Trinidad is the kind of rapper to make this an interesting competition. I would be interested to know If Trinidad cares and if he plans to respond. It’s a lose lose situation.
Score – 6 of 10
Spade-O – Unchained Hosted by DJ Drama
So who is Spade – O you may ask? And my answer would be you wouldn’t be missing anything if you never knew. There was a time when DJ Drama’s co-sign meant something. These days I think if you cut Drama a check it’s a done deal. The production is legit and Spade-O can ride a beat. His delivery is decent but his overall skill and word play is so average. He’s so average that it’s hard to listen to in its entirety. This is made apparent on the third track which features Maybach Music’s Meek Mills. Meek Mills kills the track. He opens it up and guts it. Tough act to follow, this just makes Spade-O sound like a charity case. Word to the wise: if you can’t at least spar with another artist don’t reach out for a feature. It just makes you look bad.
Score – 4 of 10
9th wonder stays busy producing and collaborating with artists from all walks of life in the underground. Parts of me wish he never left his group Little Brother. He has given us plenty of good music over the years, collaborating with everyone from Murs to David Banner to Jay-Z. On this one he receives features from Masta Killa, Talib Kweli and Terrace Martin just name a few. The point of this project is to promote his label Jamla, so expect to hear a lot of new talents over his classic sample heavy laid back sound.
Score – 7 of 10
Keep in mind I know I missed some new releases from week to week, but I’m only one man. I do my best to listen to as many new and notable releases each week. These were my thoughts on the past week. I hope it helps you find new music for your play list and keeps you current.
I look forward to next week as a lot of highly anticipated albums are on the way in February including School Boy Q and a duet album from Babyface and Toni Braxton.