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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.

My name is J.D, the music fanatic, writer, blogger, and educator. I've been in love with hip hop since Bishop got too close to the ledge. If it moves me, I'll cover it. I've written an unpublished novel, created Shiny Glass Houses, and had my work featured on the Bloglin for Mishka NYC. I'm lurking in the shadows on twitter @ThexGlassxHouse. Read. Comment. Get money.
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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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“My Dear Melancholy” is Bone-Chillingly Beautiful

Judging from the dark subject matter that has typified Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye’s catalogue to date–which includes rampant drug abuse,…

Judging from the dark subject matter that has typified Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye’s catalogue to date–which includes rampant drug abuse, his struggles as a homeless young-adult, and suicidal thoughts–few could have guessed that it would be his short stint with a former Disney Channel star that would leave him at his lowest. The Starboy crooner leaves little to speculation on his latest commercial release, My Dear Melancholy, a succinct six-song EP inarguably based on the fallout after his recent fling with pop star Selena Gomez. 

While The Weeknd’s anguish seems genuine and makes you feel for the guy, it’s impossible to ignore the glaring irony in his recent complaints, one, given Gomez’ goody-two-shoes persona, and even more so given the overtly misogynistic lyrics that Tesfaye is so well known for. Here are a few in case you need a reminder (no pun intended):

From the track “Party Monster” off of Starboy: “Woke up by a girl I don’t even know her name.”

From the smash hit “The Hills” off of the 2015 release Beauty Behind the Madness: “I only call you when it’s half past five, the only time I’d ever call you mine.”

Later on the same track, “I just fucked two bitches ‘fore I saw you.” 

Lastly, on the track “Reminder,” also off of Starboy: “When I travel ’round the globe, make a couple mil’ a show, and I come back to my city, I fuck every girl I know.” 

With that being said, musically, My Dear Melancholy is bone-chillingly beautiful. The Weeknd returns to his dark and cavernous House of Balloons roots on the project while still maintaining his newfound pop sensibilities. Rattling bass, slow, driving percussion, and subtle, haunting synths and keys cproductions. The production on most of My Dear Melancholy leaves room for Tesfaye’s vocals to take the driver’s seat, unlike that of the brighter and grandiose Starboy. From a lyrical standpoint, the EP is peppered with moving, weighty bars:

Off of “Wasted Times:” “I don’t wanna wake up if you ain’t laying next to me.”

Off of “Call Out My Name,” the opener: “I almost cut a piece of myself for your life,” a reference to Gomez’ recent search for a kidney donor

Tesfaye saves the best for last, providing the most melodically beautiful and lyrically clever portion of the EP on the closing track “Privilege,” as he repeats in a despondent, Vocoder-enhanced tone: “I got two red pills, to take the blues away.”

It is hard to deny the allure of much of The Weeknd’s work, regardless of lyrical content, due to the singer’s angelic voice and cutting-edge production. On My Dear Melancholy, Tesfaye achieves success from both a melodic and lyrical standpoint, substituting (for the most part) tales of apathetic sexual encounters for raw, vulnerable descriptions of his recent struggle with heartbreak. The Weeknd has finally found the middle ground between his groundbreaking, alt-R&B House of Balloons project and the poppy, Funk-infused Starboy. Lastly, to those Weeknd Stans worried about the Toronto star returning to normalcy, the singer explains on “Privilege:” 

“And I’ma fuck the pain away, and I know I’ll be okay…But I’ma drink the pain away, I’ll be back to my old ways.” 

Not to worry people; the Abel we’ve come to know, and love isn’t going anywhere.

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Cardi B’s Debut Album “Invasion of Privacy” Is Out Now

It’s almost a week since Cardi B’s debut album, Invasion of Privacy dropped. Her fans, the Bardi Gang, are more than…

It’s almost a week since Cardi B’s debut album, Invasion of Privacy dropped. Her fans, the Bardi Gang, are more than pleased with the LP, which has aldo managed to make those who weren’t fans, into new ones..

“I like proving niggas wrong, I do what they say I can’t,” raps Cardi B on “I Like It”

I can’t think of an artist that has had as bomb a breakout year as Cardi B has. She gave us the summer 2017 hit, “Bodak Yellow,” and since then, she’s been on the Billboard charts back to back (to back). The last ten months have been especially great to her, let alone this week. After releasing Invasion of Privacy, Cardi revealed her pregnancy with rapper Offset on “Saturday Night Live”; also, she was the first person ever to co-host The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Invasion of Privacy is an upfront look into Cardi’s everyday life. She’s confident, vulnerable and full of witty remarks. Laced into 13 tracks, the newly minted Quality Control management signee made anthems for the rest of the year. “Get Up 10” sets the bar for what’s to come on the project. Inspired by Meek Mill’s “Dreams and Nightmares” intro, Cardi’s version is also broken into two parts about her ascension to the riches from the rags.

As well, the album includes “Bartier Cardi” with 21 savage, which recently earned platinum certification, and is still doing numbers.

 

Cardi B money moves on this album show her versatility. She dabbles into the trap sound with “Drip” featuring the Migos, shows her confidence and positive vibes on “Best Life” featuring Chance the Rapper, and gets very personal with “Be Careful,” a track addressing an unfaithful partner/boyfriend. Cardi is not the one to mess with!

Social media pundit-turned reality TV star-turned rapper is a way of saying that this girl from the Bronx, is made of grind and determination. You don’t have to like her music, the way she talks, or her persona, but you have to respect her hustle. She came from the bottom and executed her way to the top.

Listen to Cardi B’s debut album below.

<iframe src=”https://tools.applemusic.com/embed/v1/album/1368105671?country=ca&at=11l4Qg&ct=invasionofprivacy” height=”500px” width=”100%” frameborder=”0″></iframe>

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Scottie Jax Is Prepping Posthumous LP To Drop In 2100

This man is intent on leaving a legacy.

You may not have heard of rapper/producer Scottie Jax, but he’s been on and cracking for the better part of the last decade. His first solo mixtape Plan For Tomorrow (from 2009) was hosted by the illustrious DJ Lazy K and featured verses from some of the game’s most respected: French Montana, Max B, Styles P of the mighty D-Block, and the late Fatal Hussein of the Outlawz. He’s since released numerous projects, beats tapes, and — shit — even a videogame last year entitled Ohio Hustler.

But, Scotty is intent on leaving a legacy.

The largely self-produced artist has a new album in the works, entitled Future History; mysteriously (and cryptically), he refers to is as the “Scottie Jax album you will never hear.” He notes in his release details that it’s set to release in the year 2100. “I feel that it’s not about the person who leaves the legacy, but the legacy itself,” he writes. “I will no longer be living, so the least I can try to do is make the world a better place than it was when I was living on it.” There is no word on the platform he will choose for this LP — as there’s no telling if they will still be around. We can only hope he drops the LP long before that.

In the meantime (the very long meantime) you can check out a large portion of his catalog via Soundcloud.

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#AAHHTOP5WEEKLY Top 5, July 1

Peace Hip Hop nation, here is another installment of our ever popular #aahhtop5weekly series; a reoccurring showcase of dope videos...

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