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Justin Don: Going The Distance

Detroit rapper Justin Don is a surprisingly refreshing listen; the young artist doesn’t come from a background that you may…

Detroit rapper Justin Don is a surprisingly refreshing listen; the young artist doesn’t come from a background that you may associate with a particular sect of the the young crops of artists. Likewise, he doesn’t subscribe to any extreme isms or portray himself as a character trying to cash in on a fad. He is just a kid who likes making music — and his shit has some knock to it!

It’s not entirely clear when his full-length Will Of The D is set to hit the streets, but thus far he has a foursome of tracks available on all streaming networks that show what he’s capable of. His music accurately paints the portrait of a young man in between graduation and forever, finding his footing one milestone at a time. The vibe is a little of everything; there’s blends of pop, hip-hop, world sounds, and bouncy sound beds that would find themselves at home in just about any playlist of top 40 tracks.

“Waves,” which he notes in a Vlog will be given a visual treatment shortly, is the theme song of a summer smoke out with the team; to date, it’s easily his biggest — see best — song. “Distance” is a close second. “The more chains I have on, the less I feel like myself,” he croons, again adding to this idea that he isn’t trying to be something he isn’t. This particular song is also a testament to the work he intends to put into this game.

At it’s best, it’s just insanely smooth, and perfect for anything involving positive vibes, barbequing, and summer nights. At it’s worst, it’s similar to a lot of stuff currently out there and doesn’t honestly put him on a different plane. However, whether that’s what he ultimately wants to do isn’t transparent. At only four singles in, he’s well on his way — and has enough quality to build himself a solid foundation.

Here’s to going the distance!

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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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JC – “Bounce”

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Kettie Munroe Delivers An Eclectic Symphony On ‘Venus Fly Trap’

Kettie Munroe prides herself on her uniqueness; she opens her mouth and starts singing this great blend of genres that…

Kettie Munroe prides herself on her uniqueness; she opens her mouth and starts singing this great blend of genres that you may not immediately expect from just looking at her and the artwork of her EP, Venus Fly Trap. “I’m known for a lot of upbeat pop tunes yet a little trance and dark [sounds] as well,” she said in a recent interview with BostonVoyager. “I have a balance between the two genres … my songs never sound alike, and I’m well known to fuse different genres into one.”

The Boston-native couldn’t have contextualized her sound any more accurately. Across the short-yet-poignant six song tracklist, the pop-hop singer belts out a curiously eclectic mix of raw emotion and carefully curated beats that run the gambit from pop to radio-ready trap-infusion — like the Dyno produced “Misfit.” This was one of the standouts on the EP, along with the super fierce “Kids Play With Guns.” It was exciting to see that she had given the song a killer video treatment, laden with fresh colors, guns, and lots of attitude.

“Puppet” is another cool record, with an almost Lady Gaga vibe to it; all her songs seem to have a different feeling to them. The EP opener “Omen” sees her taking on this dominant role, reminiscent of the early work by Kelis with Star Trak/Pharrell.

The special sauce of Venus Fly Trap is the songwriting. She has this booming voice with a cadence that’s hard to explain with lyrics that have Adele-level depth, and an emotionally charged energy to them that create this hard to explain connection with her music. It’s top 40 — no argument — but it also has an undeniable amount of heart behind it.

By the time you get to the echo chants of “in love” at the tail end of the EP closer “Star On Earth” — amid the sound of crowds chanting — you can feel that there’s something special about Kettie. It’s that aura that afforded her the opportunity to perform at New York Fashion Week in the World Trade Center, and allowed her to attend the 60th annual GRAMMY Awards viewing party hosted in New York City. “The pop industry has a lot of standards so not fitting in with the rest can be difficult, yet there’s Nothing wrong with being different,” she says. We concur.

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