Reviews

Migos “Culture 2” Review

While the project is catchy at points, it inevitably feels rushed, and caves under its own weight.

There is no denying that Migos are one of the most influential rap groups of the past decade. Rolling Stone recently praised them as “the most influential group – in any genre – of the past few years,” and they have been called the next Beatles by scores of fans. In an interview with Montreality, Quavo called Culture II, the trio’s latest effort that dropped this past Friday, “a masterpiece,” saying “Hip-Hop has changed in a big way. We changed it.” Confidence aside, you can’t help but feel the supergroup has been trying to capitalize on their stardom a little too quickly.

Culture II comes just a year after its platinum, Grammy-nominated predecessor, which is a fast turn around for any record let alone a record with such clout surrounding it. The album’s first single, “MotorSport,” was released on October 27, with Offset proposing to Cardi B mere hours after its release during a show at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. The group then continued to fan the flames on their fluctuating beef with rapper Joe Budden not to mention Takeoff’s homophobic lyric on YFN Lucci’s song “Boss Life,” which has fans, and artists like Halsey, beginning to distance themselves from the group.  Amidst all this drama, Quavo and Travis Scott then dropped their highly-anticipated joint album Huncho and Jack out of thin air, an effort which HYPEBEAST called “monotonous.”

Unfortunately, the same critique can be made regarding Culture II.The 24-song LP does little to push the culture forward as they claimed it would. “She just bought a new ass, but got the same boobs,” Quavo mutters on “Walk It, Talk It” the Drake collaboration that’s a laid-back doppelgänger to “Look At My Dab.” “Open It Up” is a mere photocopy of Culture’s “Deadz,” and the Post Malone assisted “Notice Me” will confuse fans when the now-engaged Offset says “I clear my mind and I had a vision, and then I arrive with twenty-five bitches.” Migos’ recycled lyricism loses pieces of its authenticity on Culture II and will frustrate fans hoping to see the group explore new territories, and discuss new topics.

If you power through the marathon of an album, you’ll discover a few gems demonstrating the group’s tight-knit braggadocio. “Emoji A Chain,” and “Crown The King,” while each a minute too long, are both catchy, engaging tracks that sees the trio in their element, trading off verses and ad-libs as naturally as breathing. “Made Men” reminds fans of the clever lyrical prowess the group can muster when they rely on more than just their natural talent: “How did you come in the game? I came with the gang, of course, we get ya fired to flames, turn you to s’mores.” But then again, any metaphor seems better than “If you’ n**** want beef, treat it like Angus.”

 

The Migos want you to know they’re here to stay, and this massive work, while suffering spouts of mediocrity, will still hold them in the highest ranks of contemporary Hip-Hop culture. “They beg and plead for the culture,” Quavo sings on Culture II’s opener, which is true. Yet, he says it so often in the four-minute track that you can’t help but feel he’s slightly overcompensating. The promotion for this album was a whirlwind amidst the drama and attention that has surrounded the group in the last year, and those of us following it seem consumed with questions:

Are Cardi B and Offset actually getting married?

Have they been unfaithful to each other?

Is Takeoff homophobic?

Will this beef with Joe Budden ever be resolved?

Those hoping for answers will find none on Culture II, a missed opportunity for a trio that seems overly eager to embrace the attention that surrounds them. While the project is catchy at points, it inevitably feels rushed, and caves under its own weight.

Even still, brief glimmers of artistry do appear. “Stir Fry,” the funky Neptunes-styled track demonstrates the trio’s ability to transcend melodic trap when the circumstances are just right, and “Gang Gang” surprises listeners with its melancholy, offering the closest the group has come to personal introspection. “Would you love me if I ran away?” Takeoff sings, “I know you probably think I’m insane.” The moment is fleeting but briefly suggests the Migos understand the influence and responsibility that come with being icons. Even so, it’s clear the group sets the bar themselves, and that even if we want them to change, it will always be on their terms.

Must Read, New Music, Reviews

2nd Annual Milk and Cookies Music + Food Festival Re-Cap

This past weekend was definitely one for the books! The highly anticipated 2nd Annual Milk and Cookies Music + Food…

This past weekend was definitely one for the books! The highly anticipated 2nd Annual Milk and Cookies Music + Food Festival kicked off on April 7th at 787 Windsor in Atlanta. The event highlighted well-known locals along with some big names from the music industry. There were also tasty food and dessert trucks that served ticket holders all evening long.

The event started with ATL native, Dj Decoteau of Bae Worldwide; following Tim Gunter who both ripped the turntables as the venue began to fill up. Later, Summer Walker, the first female artist of LVRN, took to the stage to perform for her very first time. Energetic local talent Bosco, came out jumping as the crowd went wild. After her epic performance, I was able to steal a quick question from her. I asked how she’s feeling at this point in her music career. Bosco stated she’s feeling super inspired and excited for her career. She also talked to me about who in the music game influences her. It wasn’t a surprise when she dropped names such as Erykah Badu and Lauren Hill and of course loves her indie artists.

Sahbabii followed, tearing the stage down with their mega hit “Pull Up With Ah Stick” and “Purple Ape.” Their hype man brought out a life-size blunt that filled the sky with a purple haze that surely set the tone for the rest of the evening. When ATL native Xavier Omar hit the stage next, he started with a rendition of the infamous “Pokémon Go” track. He then brought out some major R&B vibes when he performed his hit “Blind Man” and his band was definitely one of a kind.

Around 7pm, the sun disappeared and chilling temperatures and rainfalls came as a surprise. However, none of that stopped the amazing Singer, Songwriter Alina Baraz when it was her time to shine. Her album The Color of You that debut just one day prior to the Milk and Cookies Music Festival was in perfect timing. She performed two songs from her album and some good throwbacks.

“I want my fans to know I love and thank them very much for all the support they have shown.”
—Alina Baraz

Hours before she took the stage, she held a private meet and greet with her fans that were in VIP. Right before her team shuffled her back to her trailer, I was able to grab a quick interview. I was curious where her inspiration came from for her new album; Baraz mentioned how she didn’t necessarily have a plan for the album, stating she would go into the studio and let her vibes do the writing. Her album is based off things that have happened from her past. I asked Baraz what is one thing she wants her fans to know; she said “I want my fans to know I love and thank them very much for all the support they have shown.”

The last to perform was none other than Tory Lanez. After just playing one song, his humble spirit wouldn’t allow him to continue performing on stage while the crowd stood in the rain. Lanez continued his set while jumping into the hands of his screaming fans and standing on speakers. He shut the stage down with songs from his 2nd album Memories Don’t Die which released March 2nd. He also reminisced with the crowd while performing hits “Luv” and “Say It.”

To go along with the great music vibes, there were mouth-watering treats and culture filled food trucks. The menus consisted of everything from funnel cakes and hibachi grills on wheels, to curry chicken and of course cookies and ice cream. There were also local graffiti artists in attendance that added their touch to the former steam-boiler manufacturing facility turned industrial art space which is now called 787 Windsor.

It’s safe to say that the 2nd Annual Milk and Cookies Music + Food Festival was a total hit! Despite the weather, everyone, including the artist truly enjoyed the entire event. I’m sure we’ll all be anticipating the 3rd year, as well.

Below, catch some shots of some of the artist who performed!

2nd Annual Milk and Cookies Music + Food Festival Re-Cap

2nd Annual Milk and Cookies Music + Food Festival Re-Cap

2nd Annual Milk and Cookies Music + Food Festival Re-Cap

2nd Annual Milk and Cookies Music + Food Festival Re-Cap

2nd Annual Milk and Cookies Music + Food Festival Re-Cap

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Main, Reviews

MoneyBagg Yo ”2Heartless” Review

The rapper’s latest project, fittingly titled 2Heartless, is clearly directed at those that want to see Moneybagg fall.

In a radio interview with The Breakfast Club last Monday, the menacing baritone Trap rapper Moneybagg Yo —whose garnered a national following since his Federal 3x mixtape debuted at #5 on the Billboard 200– told host Angela Yee, “when I was broke…it might sound crazy…but I kinda liked it better.” The Memphis-native is currently embroiled in disputes with rappers Ralo and YoungBoy Never Broke Again.

“Moneybagg Yo tried to pay a [club promoter] $7,500 to not let me [perform],” Ralo said in an interview with Vlad TV. “what kinda s*** is that?” The rapper recently released a diss track aimed towards Moneybagg titled “Trending.” While once on good terms, YoungBoy Never Broke Again also dismissed the rapper and claimed on Instagram that payment was never settled regarding a collaborative project released this past November. ”[Moneybagg Yo] was my brother now f*** ‘em,” YoungBoy said.

“When I was first coming up, I didn’t feel no love in the streets,” Moneybagg Yo told The Breakfast Club. “I’ve seen the game for how it really was, and how fake it is, and now…I’m just…I’m too heartless.”

The rapper’s latest project, fittingly titled 2Heartless, is clearly directed at those that want to see Moneybagg fall. “They try their best to provoke me, the killer want to be relevant,” Moneybagg growls on the opening bars of “Black Heart,” a minute-long opener that addresses the attempt on his life at a New Jersey rest stop this past August. The following track, “Bigg Stacks,” demonstrates a fluid Moneybagg in his element regardless of all that’s transpired against him this past year. While the theme of the track centers around the rappers lavishes, Moneybagg still sprinkles in verses aimed at his haters in New Jersey, “They want my spot and don’t deserve it, can’t forget that. Who you hittin’ at? How you miss that?”

While those sifting through the 18-track project for Trap anthems will find plenty of offerings —most notably “Black Feet,” a BlocBoy JB assisted track that finds both artists in top form— Moneybagg’s heavy heart consumes the majority of the project.

On “Fed Babies,” a track assumed to be aimed at YoungBoy Never Broke Again, Moneybagg raps: “How you cross me? We come out the mud…can’t believe it came to this here. I really thought s*** was sincere.” While the dark maroon middle fingers that pop from the album cover paint him as emotionally detached from the feuds that have consumed his career, he presents a deep vulnerability that Yo Gotti — another Memphis-born Trap rapper who signed him to his CMB label this past October — would be proud of.

“Lift me up and hold me down more, if love ain’t here then what you around for?” Moneybagg sings to a fleeting lover on “Ion Get You.” On “Scars” the rapper sings, “If you take away all this fame, all this status, all my name…Strip the diamonds out these chains, I wonder who gon’ remain.” Moneybagg Yo is a rapper that wears his heart on his sleeve, and his latest project exudes the anxiety that consumes Moneybagg as he comes to term with mortality. Tracks like “Secrets” and “Walker Holmes” paint a portrait of a man consumed by regret. “They said it was love, I couldn’t see it. I was too blinded by the hatred,” Moneybagg sings on the later regarding a falling out with a friend.

He preaches about his need for partnership so often throughout the project that when he dismisses love and affection— such as on the cringe-worthy “Perfect Bitch,” where the star raps about his desire for polygamous relationships— it comes off as disingenuine, as if he’s trying to fit an archetype rather than be himself. Artists before Moneybagg have discussed the troubles with being famous, but 2Heartless, which was released on Valentine’s Day, seems like a melodramatic call for help more than the definitive statement Moneybagg intended it be.

“Kevin Gates told me to stay focused, don’t get out your element,” the star raps on “Black Heart.” At 26, Moneybagg Yo is overwhelmed by all that fame has brought, and his need for self-growth echo a relatable conflict. How do I grow as a person when every action is under a microscope, and how do I not end up alone?

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Editorial, Main, Reviews

Rising In The East: A Conversation With New Hampshire’s JZAC

Social media has become our inevitable life line. From fashion, to media arts, and of course music, the Internet truly…

Social media has become our inevitable life line. From fashion, to media arts, and of course music, the Internet truly is the wave for discovering and breaking the best trends and talent in the world.

Whether on Twitter, Facebook, or IG, the social media platforms we check on the daily are our new MTV, they’re the Video Music Box (look it up) for this generation. And that’s dope since I’m constantly in search of new music.

Enter JZAC, a New Hampshire spitter brought to doorstep via Instagram. He and his crew remade the “smoking cypher” from That 70’s Show, and absolutely killed it. I dug deeper, and was moved by his ability to flow effortlessly over any beat. Fluent cool is something you have or you don’t, you be the judge.

JZAC gave us a few minutes to discuss his influences, Soundcloud’s dominance, and what’s next for the bubbling MC.

You’re from NH, right outside Boston, right? Has the Boston Hip Hop scene influenced your choices?

I am from New Hampshire, I was actually born in Boston but I spent the majority of my life in New Hampshire. To be honest the Boston hip hop scene hasn’t really influenced my choices, I grew up on the internet so I listened to music from all over the place. They do have a new wave of artists really coming up and making some noise in the music industry right now though, which is always dope to see.

It seems that you’re a student of the culture. It feel like your verses are puzzles, and it all fits well. How important are bars nowadays? It seems like energy has sort of taken over for craftsmanship.

I still think the bars are really important. The way I look at it is the majority of the music that will last and have true longevity always comes from artists with bars. I think it goes a lot deeper than that too, but I think if you really bring quality music to the table it will get appreciated. With that being said I also do like the “energy” wave of a lot of the young guys coming out. It may not always be as deep or lyrical, but it’s fun and it makes you feel good. I love partying to that type of stuff. I think balance is key.

What are your thoughts on SoundCloud potentially going away, or on Chance “saving” it?

I think SoundCloud will stick around for a while. Regardless, it’s already lost a lot of popularity due to people switching over to streaming services. It definitely has a special place in my heart, and helped my music reach millions of people but I like streaming services a lot. It helps independent artists like me get paid and make a living off of music. I like Chance trying to help the situation; you can tell he’s a genuine dude.

Your phone is at 1%, and you can only download 3 songs. Who/what’s getting picked?

Oh man that’s a tough question. It all depends on what mood I’m in, so that question can vary heavily. 3 songs that pop in my head right now though would be Jay Z “Lost Ones”, Drake “Do Not Disturb”, and Billy Joel “Big Shot”.

How important is a label in 2017?

They’re important for certain artists. Some artists can really thrive off of having a label while other artists have horror stories. It’s important to learn how to maneuver on your own and create some buzz independently. That’s what labels want to see in 2017, they don’t want to spend the money and do the work. I love that the artist has the choice in 2017. You can be an extremely successful independent artist if you have the right team of people around you, which wasn’t a thing 10-15 years ago. You don’t have to rely on anyone anymore.

What’s the future look like for you? Plans to record, or tour?

There’s a lot of stuff in the works. I’ll be releasing a new body of work before the end of the year, but I don’t want to give too much info about that just yet. No tours yet, but I’m working on hitting different major cities and performing for fans who have been waiting to see me. I’m really excited for what the future has in store!


Huge shoutout to JZAC for taking the time to speak with us. His unique take on Hip Hop is a breath of fresh air. It feels like we’re taking a slow turn back towards lyricism, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Support JZAC by hitting up his social media feeds. Salute!

http://www.facebook.com/JZACMUSIC
http://www.instagram.com/jzacmusic
Snapchat: jzacmusic

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Main, Reviews

Vince Staples: Big Fish, Little Pond

Summertime ’06 was Vince Staples’ bleak, first-person take on his cold and caustic West Coast home base. Overseen by No…

Summertime ’06 was Vince Staples’ bleak, first-person take on his cold and caustic West Coast home base. Overseen by No I.D., the project was among the best that year. Fast forward two years to Staples’ recent pre-release media rounds and you’d catch him stepping out as a vocal member of the Hip Hop community, unafraid to discuss race, politics and everything between. Armed with wit and the occasional profound declaration, this side of Vince felt slightly out of place when viewed next to his often introverted catalog. Big Fish Theory shoots to kill that noise with and incredible range and flair aimed directly at the world at large.

Big Fish Theory is Vince’s stream of consciousness record where he recognizes the ills of celebrity and the ironic culture associated with it. His brain seems three steps ahead of his tongue, while the pulse of the record is three steps ahead of that. It’s not EDM, and it’s not grime, yet it perfectly encapsulates the frenetic energy of Hip Hop in 2017; which is a natural extension of our post-Obama toxic political and social landscape.

Peep the nervousness of the opener, “Crabs In A Bucket,” a track that defies the categorical norms of traditional West Coast Hip Hop. It’s frantic by design and sets the table for a record packed with songs that would settle nicely in the club or the street. “Big Fish” follows suit and manages to channel the party and bullshit vibe that Kanye narrowly missed throughout The Life Of Pablo. Staples stays winning on these hybrids because he’s able to deliver exceptionally fluent bars over fractured, pulsing beats, which feel immediately uncomfortable for anyone with a “traditional ear” for Hip Hop.

It would be impossible to dismiss this record as Staples’ attempt at a pop crossover. Amid the heavy bass and seemingly light moments, there’s a force clearly weighing the MC down. He faces expectations and perceptions head on during “Homage,” where he raps, “If you knew better you’d do better, but then you would know why the world on my penis, please do not treat me like I’m not a genius, I’m runnin’ on empty, the new River Phoenix.”

The album’s most adventurous few moments are found in its conclusion. “Rain Come Down,” is a casually stunning glimpse at the next wave of left coast rap. The song is as close to a trademark as we’ve heard from Staples. Here, his detail-oriented street observations are paired with a sleazy Ty Dolla $ign hook, and precise production provided by Zach Sekoff. The track’s woozy, club-heavy low-end conflicts with some of Staples’ most poignant boasts.

Big Fish Theory is look at the future. With a sound like this, that future could be now or still five years away. At face value, this is a left-of-the-dial project tackling false idols and the perpetual hubris of rap giants. When magnified, there’s room to unpack it and digest it as a definitive moment of Staples’ creative expression and veiled social commentary that you can still shake your ass to. Let it rain.

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Rising In The East: A Conversation With New Hampshire’s JZAC

Social media has become our inevitable life line. From fashion, to media arts, and of course music, the Internet truly...

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