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Sixteen years ago on this day, the Wu-Tang Clan dropped it’s second album as a group, following the legendary “36 Chambers” LP. Forget a mixtape this week. I’ve put aside my usual assortment and dedicated this one to tracks only off Wu-Tang Forever. Here are my favorites.                     @codymarcroft

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mac miller singing

 

Say what you want about Mac Miller, but his boldness deserves props. Mac released a new track (and music video) today, and although he’s done it before, but it was still a surprise to see Mac singing. Don’t go back, you read that correctly. The jazzy track, titled “Objects in the Mirror” was produced by Pharrell and includes live instrumentation from The Internet. I’m not pushing Mac up on a hill with the Frank Sinatras, Dean Martins, Marvin Gayes and so-on, but I appreciated the new vibe from Miller. His voice isn’t cut out for singing at all, but I still enjoyed the song; strange paradox. I’ve always found respect for Mac Miller even when I’m not completely sold on his music.

 

 

“Objects in the Mirror” is one of the cuts off Mac’s upcoming album “Watching Movies with the Sound Off” which is set to drop on the highly anticipated 18th of June. Even with Quasimoto, J. Cole and Kanye also releasing albums on that same day, I have saved enough energy to also be excited about Mac’s project. Action Bronson, Tyler the Creator, Ab-Soul, and Schoolboy Q are all featured on the album. It should be interesting. Stay tuned in to 92tilinfinity because hip-hop has a busy month coming up.

@codymarcroft

 

 

Happy Memorial Day from yours truly. Shout out to all the soldiers who have perished while preserving our freedom here in America, and those who currently serve our country.

Lately I’ve been into Action Bronson. Dude is hilarious, personable, and chooses production/producers wisely. Not to mention, he can rap well.

This first one is probably my favorite rap video of the decade, at least. Also, love when Action raps over guitar loops. It seems to fit his voice and his aggressive, in-your-face delivery.

 

 

I love Action’s punch lines. He packs many of them in this 2 minute jam. The Sandusky line might’ve been a case of “too soon,” but what can you do, right? (“Foul living like Sandusky and Paterno”).

 

 

Action must has a weight lifting theme going on. Here’s his latest music video; this one for the single “Strictly 4 My Jeeps” which will appear on Action’s upcoming album, “Saab Stories” (love that album title). Yes, I will be reviewing that album.

 

 

Here’s another track off Action’s Mixtape collaboration with producer The Alchemist. This is another tape my buddy Rug_Lyfe got me into. He’s a big Alchemist fan, and I have become one as well. The man talking about Chandeliers at the end is a great touch…

 

 

Another awesome cut off “Rare Chandeliers”. Great opening lines from Action…

 

 

I love the bass line that runs underneath the beat. And the sampled hooks are groovy as it gets.

 

 

Couldn’t resist getting Roc Marciano in this week’s Mixtape Monday. He handles a feature in this one.

 

 

Him and Action tagteam the beat again…

 

 

Along with Action Bronson’s  rap catalog, he seems like a good dude. Apparently at a Coachella 4/20 show, he tossed 4oz of weed out to the crowd. 4oz. That’s a lot of money, and a lot of trouble he could potentially face.

But better than that is the fact that he went into the crowd and pushed a man in a wheelchair to the front of the crowd… Classy guy.

 

 

who then proceeded to crowdsurf…

 

snoop

I’m a fan of Snoop Dogg – from Doggystyle to collaborating with Wiz Khalifa to his smooth confidence on The Price Is Right, and other various appearances in pop culture: Starsky & Hutchthe Pepsi commercial and his reality show, Snoop Dogg’s Fatherhood. Well, maybe not the latter. For the most part, I’m down with Snoop Dogg. Dogg, not Lion.

Snoop felt the need to reinvent himself, but the product was poor. Snoop Lion’s debut album, Reincarnated had me scrambling to find all the gin and juice I could throw back just to make it out of track 3.

As if combining Reggae and pop music isn’t risky enough, it was worsened by the fact that Snoop, who has no business in Reggae, was behind all of it. It was the equivalent of that kid who wears the red, yellow, and green bracelet and Bob Marley t-shirt because he smokes a lot of pot. Great, Snoop hung out in Jamaica for some months, but that doesn’t qualify him to make a Reggae album. Reincarnated is gimmicky, the pop-influenced production is cheap, and the content is absurdly stereotypical – the result that Bunny Wailer had feared.

Blatant pot references like songs titled “Smoke the Weed” and “Lighters Up” centralize marijuana in Reggae culture, which is inaccurate. Not to mention the dreadfully cliché album artwork. You wouldn’t find such literal references on any Toots and the Maytals album. Maybe 1 or 2 song titles throughout Bob Marley’s entire discography. He failed miserably at defending his ludicrous assertion that he is Bob Marley reincarnated.

 

 

 

Props to Snoop on getting Drake to rap about something besides women – credit where it’s due. On the song “No Guns Allowed” the two rap about the negativity of guns in society. It’s also nice to see his daughter singing with him. Regardless, it comes off as synthetic. I’m not pinning Snoop as a liar who doesn’t actually care about violence in society, but it seems that because it was a ‘Reggae’ album he felt the need to speak about peace.

 

 

I don’t think anyone is buying his act. That he is trying to find himself and explore the roots of reggae. Regardless of the Jamaican singers who were featured on the album, appearances from Miley Cyrus, Drake, and Chris Brown confirm that this was a reach for mainstream success.

This isn’t a case of a rapper trying to stretch out and explore his talents. Reincarnated came off as a washed up rapper trying to stay relevant. The problem is Snoop isn’t necessarily washed up. He may be bored with rap, but he is still a prominent pop-culture figure – one that I enjoy. He needs to stay in his lane. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying and appreciating the genre, but the album did no justice to Reggae music or Snoop’s career.

This week is for the Mary Jane fans. Here’s a list from my itunes library of the most appropriate hip-hop songs for smoking the ganj. Stoners: keep it safe, keep it real, and keep it lit. Enjoy.

If you haven’t heard it before, listen to this first on a sunny day. You’ll thank me later for the memory.

 

 

The background vocals and beat sell this track as a smoking song.

 

 

Everyone’s heard this classic…

 

 

 

Smooth groove from Schoolboy Q. “Just got 20 dollars, gettin’ blazed tonight.”

 

 

 

 

That SAMPLE!!

 

 

 

 

That bassline. Get ouuutta here…

 

 

Another P.U.T.S. classic…

 

 

 

 

 

@codymarcroft

Along the way I lost faith in Portland’s hip-hop. Too many people in my scene stumble off the beat and path of rapping for purpose, or making music because they love it. Instead, they get lost in the thought of fame, attention and money. You know, the stereotypical ‘bad rap’ evaluation: lazy rhymes where the only consistency seems to lie in the subjects: cars, bitches, and money. For most kids I’ve heard around the Portland area, it seems that hip-hop is more of a shortcut to fame than it is an art form.

Seamus Kilbride, AKA Kila, restored my faith. The 19-year old rapper, currently situated in the Bronx, released his debut Mixtape, 93 Til this past week. The sense throughout the 19 tracks is that Kila doesn’t care about the status – but rather he is rapping because….. he loves to rap. That’s refreshing.

93 Til is raw hip-hop; no gimmicks or catchy hooks. Kila speaks with passion, soul, and relief. With 19 tracks, it seems like the young MC has been working diligently while waiting for the right time to drop his content. 93 Til is the result of such patience. Instead of pumping out multiple, mediocre mixtapes, he waited until he mastered his delivery. By no means is it a perfect project, but it’s a strong debut.

Every song was packed with energy. Kila reeled off line after line. The rhymes seemed infinite. Kila used beats from 9th Wonder, Dilla, & Doom amongst other lesser-known producers. Nearly every track featured a different producer. Check out all the tracks I posted, then go download his tape if you like it. Kila – 93 Til – Mixtape Download

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My favorites that aren’t on here: “A Glimmer” & “Look of Love”. Go check ’em out.

@codymarcroft

j-cole-truly-yours-2

I’m a believer in J. Cole; always have been, always will be. Dude is real. Many people shared that sentiment until his album came out. Then came the notion that J. Cole was leaning towards the mainstream; trying to be Drake – something along those lines. But those lines don’t matter anymore because they have been erased. The best part: it only took six tracks to do so. That’s efficiency at its finest.

It’s not the next platinum record. It’s not going to top charts, but Truly Yours 2 is a mixtape that assures J. Cole fans that, at the core, he is the same person today as he was in The Come Up days: A genuine, honest rapper.

He didn’t flip the ‘haters’ off. Nor did he resort to Twitter to proclaim his dominance in hip-hop, or his ‘realness.’ He did what all hip-hop artists should do: He worked hard in the studio and created music – good music. J. Cole handled his doubters through his actions not his words (Coincidentally, the act of making music comes partially in the form of speaking. Interesting paradox there… Anyways…).

I don’t understand why anyone would dislike J. Cole as a hip-hop artist. To each his own, but what’s not to like? Cole is versatile. Rapping or producing, Cole has proven to thrive. He’ll even sing a hook if he finds it appropriate. He’s no Marvin Gaye, but his hooks are sufficient. His catalog runs deep, and Truly Yours 2 is a solid addition to the list.

J. Cole opens the EP with soulful samples. He handled half of the production on the EP. The first soulful loop came from the phenomenal Lauryn Hill, off her track “Nothing Even Matters”. And he weaves homage to her into his first verse when he raps,

 

“This sample was yellin’ “loop me!”, Ms. Hill please don’t sue me.”

 

And in the hook when he sings,

 

“I think I need to let it go/

‘Cause Nothing Even Matters.”

 

Also, what I love about this opening track is J. Cole quickly addresses comparisons to drake when he raps,

 

“Cause I ain’t one of these rappers out here frontin’ like he got it, n***a/

I ain’t f***in’ got it n***a/

Throwing thousands in the strip club with Drizzy/

Difference is I’m throwing four, he’s throwing fifty.”

 

His realistic mindset brings him down to earth. It’s refreshing to see someone who remains level headed, rather than jumping on the defensive in attempt to dispel critics. Cole knows he hasn’t reached Drake’s status, and his ability to admit it reveals his humble side. Overall, the song is stripped down to J. Cole speaking his mind. Nothing fancy, just some smooth bars, homages, and clever references over solid production.

 

 

Cole keeps the soul rolling with a sample of The Manhattans. Then he picks up the pace with a funky beat in the track “Chris Tucker”. He increases the aggression in his delivery on that track with a bragadocious tone.

Cole keeps a fast pace with the track “Head Bussa,” and proves that he is still an strong lyricist. He plays on an old expression:

 

“She told me, boy you want your cake and eat it too?

I said it’s cake, that’s what you’re supposed to do.”

 

Wordplay and pop culture references? Check:

 

“They killed Saddam, now I wonder who’s sane/

How you balance being Batman, Bruce Wayne?”

 

 

It’s not too difficult to keep a listener engaged for six songs, but it still takes effort nonetheless. Cole did a good job of varying the pace. The soulful opening, upbeat middle tracks, and then slowing it back down a bit for “3 Wishes” keeps the listeners on their toes.

“3 Wishes” has a nice bass line running underneath the beat, with an occasional videogame sound effect trickling down over some looped keys. This is the only track where Cole did not handle production.

 

 

And just as you think the tempo will stay down, Cole brings it back up for the last song. He wraps up the mixtape with a track in which he co-produced, sang the hook on, and rapped on. J. Cole, A.K.A. Mr. Versatility, A.K.A. Yours Truly.

 

Mac Miller released the 2nd single yesterday off his upcoming album Watching Movies with the Sound Off. The new cut is called “Watching Movies” and is produced by Mac under the pseudonym Larry Fisherman. “S.D.S.” is better because of the production (Flying Lotus vs. Larry Fisherman? No-brainer). This song is alright. I’m not really a fan. However, I’m anxious for this album to drop because Pharrell produces a track on it, and Action Bronson and Tyler the Creator come on as guests. Can’t wait.

 

cudidone

Kid Cudi had another chance to revive his career. After listening to his third and final studio album under GOOD Music my feeling that it would fall short has been reassured. Cudi slipped further into irrelevance, as he pumped out another flat album with a couple of decent individual tracks at best.

Cudi set the bar high with the immediate success that Man on the Moon I brought, and each release since has contributed to a slow decline. Man on the Moon II was a solid album, but not superb. Next came WZRD, which garnered great first week numbers, but once people actually listened the album, it flopped. Now we have Indicud, the latest installment in a series of disappointing Cudi records.

The album opens with a typical, cheesy, industrial-sounding instrumental. It is supposed to signify just as the title states: “The Resurrection of Scott Mescudi” but in reality exposes him as a mediocre producer.

 

 

In the past Cudi’s moany vocals were beneficial, and his content reached his listeners. However, since losing the lonely stoner persona, Cudi has seemed to lose touch with his audience. Evidence of this is noticeable in his second track, “Unfuckwittable,” where he is trying too hard to bring that back.

 

“ Keep on searching for love /

Who else is incomplete?”

 

It may be one line, but it tells a lot. Solitude is a theme in Cudi’s earlier work, and it’s clear he’s trying to revert back to it. Cudi’s backtrack to his earlier success is also noticeable in his references to his desire to smoke weed again, which he declared he was quitting a couple of years ago. He raps in the hook:

 

“I need smoke /

I need to smoke /

Who gon’ hold me down now /

I wanna get high y’all /

I wanna get high y’all /

Need it, need it to get by y’all /

Can you get me high u’all?”

 

It seems more like a subtle way for Cudi to accept that his stoner charm was the trait that won his audience in the late 2000s. It comes off as a desperate attempt to relate to his listeners like he was once able to. In Indicud, his marijuana references seem synthetic after distancing himself from the drug. Quitting may have helped him personally, and that is always most important. But career-wise, it was a bad move. Part of his success rode on his marijuana use – high school kids were a large percentage of his fan base, and more importantly that’s the character he came into the game with as a solo artist. After his declaration of independence from weed, he began to fall off the map while other artists were coming up and stealing the spotlight.

But that is sort of nit-picking. A major contributing factor to Cudi’s downfall and the disappointment of Indicud is his diminished production line-up. Having a variety of producers (Emile, Plain Pat, Kanye West, No I.D., Dot Da Genius, Free School & Ratatat, among others) made for amazing music early in his career. Part of the reason is because the influence was diverse, and inspiration bounced between the multiple people working on the album. On his newest work, Cudi – a decent producer at best – produced every beat, resulting in repetition that made it hard for me to get through the entire album.

For instance, the mid-album instrumental track “New York City Rage Fest.” There was nothing to it. A couple of claps over some keys looped for about a minute without much else. Then fifty-five seconds of some added sounds that pushed the tempo up, but didn’t really contribute to the album. There were no vocal samples, and nothing musically compelling. It didn’t pull me in, and neither did the opening instrumental “The Resurrection of Scott Mescudi.”

 

 

And since I brought it back up, he practically recycled that beat for the song, “Red Eye.” The two beats have a very similar industrial sound. Again, Cudi handling the production by himself was a mistake. There was too much repetition.

 

 

Thank the rap lords for RZA, because he saved the day by speaking on “Beez.” He killed that beat – which had that industrial sound again. Mix it up! Talk about beating a dead horse.

 

 

While his cult fan base may still exist, it’s a small army. Moreover, he’s losing soldiers with every record he puts out. Cudi seems intent on making music despite his popularity. To each his own, I guess. Just don’t expect anyone to buy it.

Loving the bass to begin this song; great way to start off this week’s Mixtape Monday. Casey Veggies is a solid rapper who has worked with Mac Miller and was a former member of Odd Future. This track dropped last week. Not his best, but still a solid cut.

 

 

Never really got into French Montana, but I’m a fan of this song. Sometimes the dubstep influenced beats compliment vocals, and I give it the nod here. The vocal samples are easy on the ears.

 

 

Favorite new track right here. Joey Bada$$ and Action Bronson. Jazz beat. I love pianos in hip-hop. Sidenote: I get really hyped whenever Action Bronson starts rapping. I’ve become a huge fan ever since seeing the video for “The Symbol.” Shit had me laughing.

 

 

It seems like Hova has been putting out music left and right lately. Recently, he vented his frustrations with the media over his trip to Cuba, and now a cut off the Great Gatsby soundtrack comes out. This one dropped last week as well. Jay attacks the beat; he ‘goes in’ so to speak, but I personally am not a fan of this one. But I do this for you guys (and girls), So I’m posting it for you to form your own opinion. Enjoy..?

 

 

OAKLAND STAND UPPPPP! The Hieroglyphics are BACK! This track, “Gun Fever” comes, “In the midst of a nationwide highly controversial debate about gun control,” As stated in the Youtube video’s description. This is what I love about the old school groups – whenever the speak, it’s worth listening to. Yes, I’m being that ‘golden age kid’ again. Can’t help it. And the scratches help bring that old school, street rap style apparent. This single will be on the group’s new album The Kitchen. Keep an eye out for it.

 

 

This next track proves the point I made above. Watch the first 20 seconds and you can already tell. This one features two more 90s rappers: RA & Talib Kweli. Up and coming producer, Mr. Green, put down a mouth watering beat, then The Rugged Man and Kweli spilled some nasty verses over it. More piano fingers in this one. And the hard scratches certify it an underground vibe. It’s been out a week and I’ve already repeated this one 27 times. I tally it on Itunes, no shame.

 

 

YO! That’s a rap. I have a gang of reviews coming out soon. I’m in the process of reviewing Ghostface Killah, Snoop Lion, & J. Cole’s new projects. My review for Indicud drops tomorrow. So stop by, spend some time with 92 ’til Infinity. Share your thoughts.