Reviews, Weekly

Cudi Drops Passion, Pain & Demon Slayn’

Huge shout out to Kid Cudi for releasing a new album titled Passion, Pain & and Demon Slayin’, and admitting…

Huge shout out to Kid Cudi for releasing a new album titled Passion, Pain & and Demon Slayin’, and admitting to his struggles with addiction. Cudi dropped the 19 track album just after his release from rehab. The man had a lot to say and didn’t hold back. Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin’ hit home for the artist. Featuring Pharrell Williams, André 3000 (credited as André Benjamin), Travis Scott and Willow Smith, Cudi seeks redemption after the complete flop of his 2015 album A Speedin Bullet To Heaven.

But do not overlook Cudi’s latest album. The theme illustrates a tone that parallels his life which is split into four Acts. The intro track “Frequency” is fire. It sets the mood for the entire album. The production is nice and exhibits an emotional contrast which can be best heard in the track “Swim in the Light.” Complementing the essence of passion, Cudi opens up and comes to terms with his struggles.

Passion, Pain, & Demon Slayin’ is a great title for his sixth studio album. It defines his journey. The album shows he has a lot to get off his chest, which can be expected given his latest battles with depression and substance abuse. However, Cudi values the creative process and is has always produced an original sound.

Even though Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin’ is a lengthy project, Cudi’s talent shines through. Prominent piano and violin melodies are mixed with hard hitting drums that intensify tracks like “Rose Golden,” “By Design” and “Does It.” They could be easily considered among the top tracks of 2016.

Cudi has an assortment of well-known collaborations on this album. Producer Mike Will Made It adds a spacey ambiance, giving it a psychedelic groove within the likeness of that classic Cudi sound. It is evident after listening to Passion, Pain and Demon Slayin’ that Cudi has a renewed sense of self. Not only is this album loaded with hits, but it also symbolizes both anguish and agency at his most vulnerable.

It is relevant to point out that Cudi lays back on this album, taking an ear from the production team. However, most of the album features Cudi vocally with a few notable exceptions. Pharrell chimes in on two tracks, “Flight at First Sight/Advanced” and “Surfin.” Andre 3000 lays it down on “By Design” and “The Guide,” and Travis Scott on “Baptized in Fire. ” Willow Smith also performs a dope duet on “Rose Golden.” Of course, Cudi’s signature moaning and humming are present throughout the background throughout the entire album.

The subject matter is not only revealing but also assertive. For example, on the track “Does It,” Cudi takes an opposing position and calls out his critics, “doing music, TV, and music, sitting on the floors we ain’t heard of/And the media wanna act like I ain’t out here, I’m out here.” On his final track “Surfin’,” Cudi leaves us with an air of confidence. He expresses his commitment to being back on top of the game, “Ain’t ridin’ no waves/Too busy making my waves, baby.” Clearly, Cudi is making new strides and sending a message of personal empowerment.

The album’s biggest problem is its length which is 90 minutes long. Act 4 could easily be released as an EP. Cudi seems to have a hard time landing his plane. But all 19 tracks are dope and worth listening to. One thing for sure, Cudi sounds like himself again. The best thing about this album are the redeeming features both personally and artistically, making Passion, Pain and Demon Slayn’ an elaborate metaphor of his life, coming up in the game.

My name is David Morales. I have a background as a writer, blogger, drummer, and in human services. I love music and I love writing about it! I am passionate about helping others, learning and have a deep empathy for the creative process. You can check me out on twitter @dcypherstudios. I have no pets.
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Reviews, unsigned hype

Marcoof500 – “Marco The Merchant” #Review

From the onset of his debut project, 2018’s The Travels Of Marco, Marcoof500 — an entrepreneur in every sense of the…

From the onset of his debut project, 2018’s The Travels Of Marco, Marcoof500 — an entrepreneur in every sense of the word — the Virginia upstart has been feeding his extremely loyal cult following with a steady slew of releases. Since that initial warning shot, he dropped the 4-song Kitchen Chronicles EP, which featured (among other things) the song “10 O’Glock” — a record he’s chosen to make the cut for his latest LP, Marco The Merchant.

The nine-song affair is an exciting blend of stylistic elements with varying degrees of commercial viability and earworm appeal. “10 O’Glock” for example has this vintage No Limit appeal to it sonically, that grow on you with Marco’s bars and loud, but noteworthy adlibs like “fuck Trippie Redd,” or the “Left-right uppercut that ends the song off.”3

While he uses a familiar formula on a number of the songs — that still manage to work — like the piano-driven “500k,” it’s when he puts his marketability on display that you get a full spectrum of his vision. “Pesos” is a definite standout, with an instrumental that sounds ripe for a YG feature. It’s one of the sole records that you could easily hear at the club, or within a mix show format, with its repetitive chorus that you’ll find yourself singing throughout your daily moves.

Another surprisingly flame emoji record is “Designer,” which we found ourselves returning to throughout the past week. Over the blown out bass of the lo-fi banger, he finds his footing and keeps the flow steady, with a razor-sharp barrage of bars that is perfectly encased by the soundscape.

With his label 500entertainmentllc and a track record of having toured as far as Japan, he’s clearly defined his lane and is keeping his overall aesthetic on the right track. Even when his material works harder to merely fit in with the wave, it manages to swim with the best of them — but when he’s hot, he’s hot. His journey is exciting to witness, and by intertwining it into his music, he’s giving his music not just a personal touch, but an inspirational gloss for a generation of new listeners and artists looking to see who ultimately floats to the top.

Whether it’s on some smooth Valee-esque vibes, or if it’s on some darker street fare like “Will They?” there’s a sense of authenticity that shines through. Marcoof500 is that dude!

Take Marco The Merchant for a spin, below.

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Reviews, unsigned hype

“Play To Win” Is A Celebration Of Getting Over And Going For The W

A new EP that landed on our desk this week is Play To Win by Dre Steelo. Hailing from Michigan,…

A new EP that landed on our desk this week is Play To Win by Dre Steelo. Hailing from Michigan, Dre dives head first into a sea of familiar soundscapes but manages to distinguish himself sticking to not only a decree of keeping it real with those that matter most but also an endearing level motivation to rise above, layered over a humble base of blessings that he is more than aware of.

Sitting at 6 tracks, the album’s production is tightly curated, keeping the vibe consistent — but varied enough so that there isn’t time to get bored at all. The project starts off strong with the salute to his team “Don’t Matter” produced by Aham — who produced “I Can Tell” from his 2018 effort Over Tha Top. Here he drops introspective gems like he doesn’t have friends — but rather brothers — and a reminder that he’s from the (bottom) bottom. He follows up with the determination anthem, “Win.”

“I Know,” with its hard drums and dope muffled looped up sample has a more reflective aesthetic about it, as he gives everything he overcame before putting it all into the bars. “Let em knwo you human,” he says on the chorus, referencing the track’s slightly more personal touch.

The album project ends off with the massive “Miracles,” which caps off what stands as a strong collection of tracks to add to his already impressive catalog. Winning by adding personality and unique perspective to an already surfable wave, he manages to command attention without fading into the baseline. He has come a long way, and in many ways, Play To Win is a reflection of that, as he sorts out trust issues, comes to terms with truths, and does his best to get where he wants to ultimately be.

Check out Dre Steelo’s Play To Win, below.

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Main, Reviews

Eminem: Kamikaze- A Relapse of Epic Proportion

Poor Eminem. He’s damned if he do and damned if he don’t. His last album, 2017’s pop-heavy Revival, flopped by…

Poor Eminem. He’s damned if he do and damned if he don’t. His last album, 2017’s pop-heavy Revival, flopped by way of social media yet wasn’t a total disaster. It moved units and afforded him headlining spots on the summer festival circuit- but it didn’t give the fans what they needed. Or did it?

This conundrum surrounds Eminem’s career. When he’s on there’s only a handful of rappers alive who can compete with his pen and his fury. But when he bogs down projects with introspection- giving us a break from his hyper-aggro screaming at the mic- it feels like we’ve been cheated. Stans can’t deal with the sappy pop-crossovers, and today’s charts simply do not have space for good old-fashioned rap acrobatics. So what’s an aging top-five-dead-or-alive rapper to do?

Marshall Mathers unleashed Kamikaze as his response to the Twitter army (and critics) who condemned him- an unexpected and venomous (although carefully measured) surprise album packed with more syllables than a semester’s worth of English-as-a-second language classes. As we all secretly hoped for, rappers ain’t safe from Em’s verbal barrage of double and triple time bars on Kamikaze, and if you have time to unpack these 13 tracks you’ll find some genuine heat.

Unfortunately, if you really unpack these ferocious bars you’ll find a grumpy old man rapping for the simple sake of reminding us how technically skilled he truly is. The problem is we’ve known that for ages. Reverting back to early 2000’s Eminem complete with the use of “faggot”- his favorite homophobic slur on the otherwise bulletproof “Fall”- does little to contribute to his relevance in 2018.

There are a few maniac standouts on Kamikaze, songs that young rappers should study for the intricate art of word play and cadence (check “The Ringer”, and “Not Alike” featuring Royce Da 5’9). Yet, those lessons are harder to learn when it’s impossible for the listener to catch their breath. For most of the record, Em is in such rapid-fire mode that you absolutely have to run back verses and entire songs to truly digest his messages. Rap nerds and old heads will revel in the task, but is that what the game needs these days? I’d argue no

Kamikaze is a rare full-on barrage of supernatural MC’ing; but it comes and goes without much meaning when the target becomes Machine Gun Kelly-who tweeted about Eminem’s attractive daughter back in 2012. Is there really a hip-hop fan alive willing to side with MGK on this one? And if you’re looking for the most lukewarm, mediocre diss track (possibly ever recorded) check out MGK’s response, “Rap Devil”, a headscratcher that splits its time attempting to discredit Em while simultaneously praising his longevity and abilities. You either want the smoke or you don’t? Like it or not, the whole thing feels like a charade.

Eminem has always carried a chip on his shoulder. When the critics go low, he goes lower. While Kamikaze is far from a low point in what will be viewed someday as a catalog of studio hits and misses, it’s far from the return to form that it was intended to be. He might not be afraid to take a stand, but it’s become tiring trying to figure out exactly who Eminem is standing against.

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Reviews, unsigned hype

Soo Casa Drops His Self-Titled Debut Project

Hailing from — of all places, Burlington (Ontario) — rapper Soo Casa, so has appeared on the site in the…

Hailing from — of all places, Burlington (Ontario) — rapper Soo Casa, so has appeared on the site in the past, has finally gifted his growing fan base with a self-titled body of work. At a hefty 15 songs, which includes a few songs weève already worn out (but are revisiting), he manages to craft a complete picture of his artistic vision that loosies hinted at, but failed to encapsulate fully.

“Cldhnky,” a stylized form for cold honky, “Top Ramen,” and “Ksubi Slushie” had already been floating around and found their way into our listening sessions — as early as late last year. What we found interesting was how versatile of a picture it painted of the MC. While the latter two songs have these interwoven melodies and auto-tuned vocals, “Cldhnky” had this early 2000s vibe to it, that above everything, illustrate his ability to drop rhyme patterns.

“One Take” is another spot that sees him dropping fire rapid-fire flows without missing any pockets. There is also a whole ounce of self-aware humor injected, with over-the-top bars like: “I also rock Balenciagas, put my dick in your girl’s mouth and make her Lady Gaga.”

Songs like “Perc” and “Iactuallylikelilpump” are sonically sound, and reflective of his cohort, but do little to further his artistic vision. To be candid, we’re not 100% sure what his grand idea is, and the breadth of the songs are more or less focused regarding thematic direction, but it’s song structure and delivery that helps draw out his most potent moments.

“Guacamole” comes across as one the standouts on the tracklist, with a flame emoji instrumental and that Soo rides like a dirtbike down a Philly block. “Twice That” with Kid Frankie was another moment that suited him, with this bouncy West Coast vibe that needed to be MUCH longer than a minute and forty seconds. As well, “juicehouse” produced by Platinum producer CashMoneyAP (Migos, Young Boy Never Broke Again, SahBabii, etc.) is another moment worth a few spins.

 

It was also refreshing to see him step out of the lane a few times and try new things. “$wang” with its heavy R&B hook, and bouncy “grinding a shorty at a summer bashment” aura was a pleasant surprise. Would also be remiss not to bring up that sample flip on “Tokyo Plugin,” which was another example of his readjusting his style slightly with pleasant results.

 

Overall, the Slushie God managed to give a little more definition to his range and potential. With summer coming to a close, and as the fall sets in, it’ll be interesting to see what his next moves are and if he chooses to fully marry one of the many faces he’s shown on this LP.

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