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Mixtape Review: Logic – Bobby Tarantino II

Logic has become a superstar in the two years since his last mixtape, and he wants to celebrate. I think you should join him.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Bruce Wayne and Batman. Logic and Bobby Tarantino. To establish an alter ego is no easy task, and the Maryland rapper has done just that with Bobby Tarantino II. The (somewhat) surprise mixtape is the sequel to the well-received project Logic dropped in the summer of 2016, which gave rise to fan favorites such as “Flexicution” and “The Jam.” This time around, Logic did not feel compelled to drag out the hype; he dropped the three singles, which we recently discussed on the site, over the course of a week.

 
In some respects, the new effort is similar to its predecessor: a tight tracklist, an abundance of bangers, and a self-congratulatory sentiment. Whereas Everybody gave us the super deep, this right here is just the jam. However, despite the isolationist spirit expressed throughout the 12 tracks (‘I don’t trust nobody/Put my homies on the payroll’), Bobby Tarantino II is more collaborative than the original. On “Indica Badu,” laidback yet anthemic, Logic and Wiz Khalifa share their love for pot over a gorgeous instrumental and an Erykah Badu sample. Wiz kills it on his guest verse and Logic kicks it up to a rare falsetto on the hook. 2 Chainz comes through with a verse on “State of Emergency,” a hook-less track with production from DJ Khalil, Tariq Beats, and Vontae Thomas. The synth-heavy instrumental is alien, unsettling, and mesmerizing. “Wassup” features long-time friend Big Sean; although it bangs, it feels a bit monotonous after ten tracks with similar lyrical content.

 
Critics have long claimed that Logic borrows too much from his contemporaries, and there is no doubt that these accusations will emerge on the internet this week. The pre-chorus on “BoomTrap Protocol,” a densely layered and beautifully assembled track, screams Travis Scott. I have no idea who 6ix sampled on this song, but it sounds dope. The Rodeo rapper and producer clearly influenced “Wizard of Oz” as well. Don’t get me wrong – this track bumps. However, one cannot ignore the melodic use of autotune and Scott’s signature ‘yeah! yeah!’ ad-lib. Finally, as much as I dig it, the beat on “Yuck” immediately brings to mind Drake’s “10 Bands.”

 
Perhaps the most admirable characteristic of Bobby Tarantino II is the sonic diversity. “Midnight,” a two-part track courtesy of 6ix and Frank Dukes, is uncharted territory for Logic. The first half is a melodic ode to Logic’s resistance of the club lifestyle in which so many of his contemporaries indulge. After the beat switch, Logic puts together another super sticky hook and drops a killer verse dense with clever similes. Then, on “Warm It Up,” he does a complete 180 and throws it back to the sound of his Young Sinatra days. Co-written by Nas, this braggadocious track rides a strong old-school vibe and a banger of a drum beat. It’s a dynamic cut: Logic goes hard on the verses and dials it way back on the hook. “Contra,” despite the trendier beat, brings a similar sentiment. The pre-chorus is catchy as hell and Logic pushes the envelope on the verses with some impressive rhyme schemes.

 
The introductory skit featuring Rick and Morty establishes a distinction between “album Logic” and “mixtape Logic.” I tend to agree. If you’re looking for the introspective, vulnerable, and critical tone of Everybody, this is not the mixtape for you. And that’s okay. Logic has previously stated that he drops these tapes to hold his fans over until the next album. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a fun, sonically diverse project full of banger beats and braggadocious bars, you’re going to enjoy Bobby Tarantino II. Logic has become a superstar in the two years since his last mixtape, and he wants to celebrate. I think you should join him.

I am an economics student at The University of Massachusetts Amherst. Beyond my studies, I work as a DJ at the university radio station: 91.1 FM WMUA Amherst. Back in July, a good friend of mine launched a political debate website called The Dialectic, where I currently work as a staff writer and the Editor-In-Chief. I love all genres of music - everything from hip-hop to post-rock to hardcore punk. Aspiring writer. Avid reader. Coffee addict.
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Logic – “Contra”

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“Ye” Fails To Reintroduce Mr. West

At times, Kanye West’s polarizing media posturing is his strongest attribute. We can’t wait for the next idiotic gem to…

At times, Kanye West’s polarizing media posturing is his strongest attribute. We can’t wait for the next idiotic gem to rattle between his ears and tumble from his lips. That noise is great content; filling blog pages and gossip sites, sparking debate across social media and music platforms. But after a casual listen to Ye, his newest disaster, does his brand of pigeonholed creativity matter anymore?

This perpetual media circus is where Kanye operates best. He’s a freewheeling spirit; a madman at the boards, a producer with infinite vision and a MC with a caustic tongue. He’s a master at manipulating a turn of phrase while simultaneously dumping the world upside down-remember when he flippantly suggested that slavery was a choice? This sort of buffoonery is exactly what West has spoon-fed the public for the past few years; and still the world anticipates his every chess move with a panicked FOMO that only Kanye can induce.

West has mastered the art of celebrity, where nothing is sacred or left to our imagination. He lays low only long enough to manifest his next move. The past few months have been no exception. He’s been holed up in Wyoming and Utah crafting a series of projects aimed for release this month. Among them is a collaborative record with Kid Cudi, Ye,  Pusha-T’s Daytona, and an as-yet-untitled record from Nas. Kanye is apparently producing seven songs for each project, digging for samples through some 2,000 vinyl records he purchased and shipped out west.

This most recent version of Kanye is the one we cannot stop talking about. These days we’re constantly confronted by Kanye the enigma- the uncanny fool who can’t dislodge his foot from his mouth- until he releases new music. His art has a timely way of silencing the shit talking; of zeroing the critics back to his inevitable genius — which brings us up to speed in 2018.

Kanye’s production on Daytona will be ranked as some of the year’s best. On the flip side, his newest offering — the slim and trim Ye — is an unbalanced and easily forgotten mess. At a running time of twenty-three minutes it’s chaotic and disconnected, attempting to borrow the best working bits of The Life Of Pablo and Yeezus while ignoring any of the soulful introspection and self-depreciation that made us fall in love with the Old Kanye ages ago.

Take the album opener, “I Thought About Killing You”, for exactly what it is and you won’t be let down. West, the egomaniac, nervously vents about his punishing mental illness and nagging insecurities while never allowing the listener a second to process or feel what he’s living through. The song serves as a false entrance to a world that’s as contrived as the album cover, and hardly as deep as the internet will lead you to believe. Is Kanye really the poster boy that mental health is looking for? He certainly wants you to believe so.

For the album’s actual release, West invited hundreds of “influencers” to Wyoming for a listening party- the industry’s equivalent to a real time gallery walk. Kanye took his show on the road, and in the meantime alienated himself further from the culture he’s spent years crafting and molding into something people once truly believed in. Rather than hitting any impactfulmark by relocating his camp to The Equality State, he created an even larger gap between us and them.

Ye can’t help but put a serious divide between Kanye and his fans. There are moments that work, like the beautifully crafted “Ghost Town”, featuring a rejuvenated Kid Cudi and an incredible hook courtesy of 070 Shake (a star in the making), and the bouncy and biting “All Mine”, which contains plenty of chuckle-worthy bars like “I love your titties because they prove I can focus on two things at once”. But those moments of silly bliss are buried beneath cringe-induced, head scratching blunders which normally aren’t the defining moments of any Yeezy album.

By the time you get to the albums final three minutes, where Kanye recognizes his role as a father to little girls on “Violent Crimes”, you desperately want to believe in Ye, but the damage is done. Kanye West doesn’t want to get out of his own way, andhe might be too far gone trying to create, recreate, and monetize his Calabasas world to make something we can honestly believe in as common folks in 2018.

Kanye’s fall from grace is a marvel; complete with a public breakdown in 2016, a few hobo-chic fashion interludes, and a baffling reemergence into our consciousness with a pledging of love for Donald Trump. It’s without a doubt one of the strangest stories in all of popular culture. The problem is, Ye fails to captivate us as a re-introduction to Kanye West and this new chapter in his saga. It’s lackluster at best, which is a bar that’s far too low for one of hip-hop’s true trend setters.

Ye comes and goes without a single memorable moment. It’s all smoke and mirrors. Instead of debating the quality of the final product like we have so many times with Kanye releases in the past, we’re left with a mediocre soundtrack and the hollow images of famous people in Wyoming dancing around a bonfire.

 

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REVIEW: A$AP Rocky’s “TESTING”

Lifelong rapper, artist, and fashion mogul A$AP Rocky has at long last delivered his third album: TESTING. The project was…

Lifelong rapper, artist, and fashion mogul A$AP Rocky has at long last delivered his third album: TESTING. The project was quickly overshadowed by Pusha T’s synchronized drop that sparked beef with Drake, but still maintained relevancy with mixed reactions from fans and reviewers.

The project opens with an uncharacteristic bang on “Distorted Records,” and then settles in with a feature heavy remix of “A$AP Forever.” The next three tracks feel like a return to his previous album with trademark Rocky flows that lead into an interesting acoustic track featuring Kodak Black through a prison phone. The rest of the album seems to find its own voice and ends on a strong note with Flacko and Frank Ocean rapping over a distorted Lauryn Hill sample. Most had a positive reaction to Testing but some people claimed it was overhyped and even disappointing.

At first listen Testing is honestly hard to get through; it’s a dense project. This may have caused some people to write it off as lacking much progression from his prior work. But Testing is only dense because it’s Rocky’s most mature project to date. At 29 it seems as if the rap legend has finally honed in on his “too cool for you” style without even having any super notable lyrics. Flacko nails his verses on more experimental songs with consistency and swagger in place of lyricism. On tracks like “Brotha Man” and “Purity,” Rocky can be heard spitting/singing with the help of notoriously experimental artists Frank Ocean and Dean Blunt, but reels listeners back in with slaps like “Praise the Lord” and “OG Beeper.” The intro song to the album, “Distorted,” doesn’t seem to fit the project or introduce its vibe too well, but as a stand alone song it’s pretty decent.

And despite the awkward first track, once you’re a few songs deep the album does become cohesive. Rocky makes sure to pay his tribute to Bone Thugs and Three Six Mafia by blending in some chopped and screwed instrumentals, and somehow complements them with acoustic guitar and singing. It was this combo that really made Testing distinct from his previous work.

Overall, compared to Rocky’s electric, Ciroc infused debut album LONG LIVE A$AP, this project is more like a fine wine. I predict Testing will age better than his first two records because it’s scattered with gems that will easily skip your radar in the first few listens.

My favorite songs from the project are: “Praise The Lord (Da Shine),” “Brotha Man,” and “Purity.”

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HSVN – Changes (LP)

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