Vince Staples – Big Fish Theory

At this present moment, rap is composed of Kendrick Lamar, the typical trap that saturates the mainstream like Future and Migos,  and the budding underground scene like Xxxtentacion and Lil Pump. However, with his latest album Big Fish Theory, Vince Staples makes it impossible to put him in either category. He brings something entirely fresh and innovative to the table. The amount of experimentation on this album is at maximum level, and it maximizes how amazing the album is.

Vince Staples is a true lyricist with an off-base sound evident on previous projects. He’s put himself in the conversation of top new school rappers. However, he is still highly underrated since he is not as mainstream as phenomenal lyricists like Kendrick Lamar. Especially in the state that rap is in right now where its more about flow and how lit the track is, talented and forward-thinking artists like Vince unfortunately get overlooked by many. However, Big Fish Theory stands out from the noise.

The production on the album is the foundation of this album. It’s experimental, odd, stellar, and extremely vibey despite not being the typical beats you tend to hear. That’s why this record stands out big time. It sounds like nothing else—just Vince. Staples has collaborated with future-bass producer Flume on the latter’s own track “Smoke and Retribution”, and it seems to have inspired the whole sound of Big Fish Theory. Flume’s production is phenomenal and unusual, and it’s surprising to find that he actually only produced one track on it. Overall, the album is well-produced and abnormally experimental. Some compare it’s eccentricity to Yeezus by Kanye West (Vince’s “Homage” and Kanye’s “New Slaves” are roughly similar), and, though that may be the closest thing to it, Big Fish Theory is a different species.

This experimental sound allows for Vince’s lyricism to get highlighted and underlined. Vince is truly a genius with the pen, and he continues to weave rhymes, word play, and story together while maintaining enough flow to make it all work.

Vince only featured a few artists on this album, and it was the best artists he could possibly ask to feature. Kendrick Lamar and KUCKA lend their vocals to the Flume and SOPHIE-produced track “Yeah Right”. Ultimately this is the most unexpected dream team ever, and they coalesce to create the best song on the album (which needs a music video ASAP). Vince collaborated with Kilo Kish previously, and she can be found on multiple songs. Vince brought Damon Albarn from Gorillaz on “Love Can Be…” and A$AP Rocky on “SAMO”. Ty Dolla Sign murders the hook on “Rain Come Down”, which is the concluding track to the mind-blowing project.

Overall, Big Fish Theory is exceptional. Artists can get daunted by experimenting with different sounds, but Vince took the challenge and it paid off. Vince Staples was eccentric before, and now he’s reached a new level. And it is the best thing that could have happened. Big Fish Theory cements Vince’s name in the conversation for top 10 of new school rappers.

Top vybes: “Yeah Right”, “745”, “BagBak”, “Homage”

For those who vybe to: Earl Sweatshirt and A$AP Rocky

Calvin Harris, Pvris, The Plot In You

“Feels” – Calvin Harris

Calvin Harris will have the best album of the summer and the whole year—quote me. The evidence is in his singles off his upcoming release Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1, due June 23rd. The latest of these singles “Feels” continues in the same fashion as the other singles. Calvin Harris is combining fantastical collaborations with extra groovy funk-inspired EDM. “Feels” features Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry, and Big Sean, each artist adding an extra layer of artistry on this track. The production is phenomenal, truly mixing the funky vibes with modern anthems without being over-the-top. It’s impossible to miss how summery this and the other singles are which only hints more at the fact that Calvin Harris is taking over the summer. My favorite facet of “Feels” is that each artist adds a different flavor on top the stellar, slow-burning production.

“What’s Wrong” – Pvris

As if to prove that Pvris can do no wrong, they drop a new single titled “What’s Wrong”, and in fact there is nothing wrong with this song. Pvris does everything right on this track. To mix brooding lyrics with powerfully, subtle instrumentation for the result of an infectious alt-rock anthem is a showcase of outstanding musicianship. Lynn Gunn continues to deliver amazing vocals, and it is during the bridge where you can truly feel the riveting emotion that she brings. Pvris is a stand-out band for me because they don’t go overboard with their sound. They deliver darkly-tinged atmospheric tracks that don’t sacrifice infectiousness or simplicity. “What’s Wrong” is a testament to that and is further proof that Pvris will drop a phenomenal sophomore album due on August 4th.

“Feel Nothing” – The Plot In You

The Plot In You dropped “Feel Nothing” to announce their signing with the stacked Fearless Records. Despite its title, this track makes you feel everything. From the despondently dark instruments to the emotional, gritty vocals, this track is extremely powerful. This band has been amazing for quite some time, especially after their last record Happiness in Self Destruction, but they continue to display maturity in growth, evident on “Feel Nothing”. It’s polished, mature, and extremely well-structured—ultimately allowing for this song to hit harder than ever. The way the softly crooned verse simmers slowly into the potent chorus is remarkable and unforgettable. One simply cannot listen this song and not feel anything. The Plot In You killed this track, and in turn fans will kill the replay button.

A$AP Mob, Terror Jr., Currents

“Wrong” – A$AP Mob

A$AP Mob dropped a music video for “Wrong”, which means that Cozy Tapes Vol. II is on its way. A$AP Mob had one of the best albums of 2016, so “Wrong” and “RAF”, the two singles they have dropped so far, have certainly gotten me hyped. “Wrong” in particular is features only A$AP Rocky and A$AP Ferg, but that does not take away from the track. In fact, those two are the best A$AP members and they prove it on this track that serves to be less hype and more chill. Rocky effortlessly croons a wavy hook that is easy to vybe with. It carries the song very well, and when Ferg echoes the end of the hook before his verses the song truly coalesces. Ferg kills his verses, discussing his thoughts about how his infidelity leaves his girl with deep scars. With lyrics that actually have an impressive message on top of a soothing beat, Rocky and Ferg deliver an amazing track that showcases their growth and maturity.

“Appreciation” – Terror Jr.

The mysterious and innovative pop trio Terror Jr. have knocked the ball out of the park on each of their three singles. Their most recent one “Appreciation” is phenomenal. The production is terrific as usual; Felix Snow can do no wrong. The track is a sweet treat with lead singer Lisa’s vocals as airy and gripping as ever. However, the track doesn’t stray to far from their hit single “Come First”. Yet I have no problem with it because I view this track as a continuation of “Come First”, but from the a different perspective. In “Come First”, Lisa reminds her lover that she deserves to be cherished above all; in “Appreciation”, she puts her lover first as a way of showing her appreciation. Infectious from start to end, I eagerly wait for Terror Jr. to stop teasing with the singles and drop their album Bop City 2: TerroRising, out June 16. And mark my words: Terror Jr. and their innovative, candy pop sound will get them on the minds and tongues of the masses.

“Withered” – Currents

This is first song I have ever heard from the metalcore band Currents, and it has made me a fan. “Withered” is a heavy-hitter from a band that is heavily reminiscent of Chelsea Grin. Yet they distance themselves from that band with their solid cleans. The fresh vocals complement the unclean vocals. The song structure is varied and keeps things interesting. The riffs, however, are what indubitably carry this song. From the riffs in the atmospheric verses to the sexy breakdowns (especially the djenty one a minute in), “Withered” is a great track that should give this band more attention. Moreover, they are signed to SharpTone Records, a label that has a ton of amazing bands, both new and old. Thus, being a part of SharpTone means that Currents is the real deal.

 

3 Albums I Slept On

There are some albums out there that take more than one or two listens in order for me to fully realize how glorious they truly are. At first, I’m extremely underwhelmed by the artist’s efforts to deliver a great album. I disregard the album for some time until I oddly decide to give it another chance. And that’s when it clicks. The album that I had written off as dull and disappointing has become an album that is remarkable in every facet. It is then that I find myself beating myself up over not noticing the record’s true beauty earlier. Here are a three albums I wholly regret sleeping on.

Sylvan Esso – What Now

With the three singles that this electropop duo released prior to their latest album “What Now”, I must admit I had high expectations coming into it. It was my mistake to expect every song to be as blissfully frenetic as “Kick Jump Twist” and as upbeat as “Radio”. It turned out that most of the album was quite passive and insipid on the first listen. So I quickly cast off the album, only listening to the handful of tracks that were worth playing over again. However, I felt guilty that I had given up on the album so soon. After a second listen, I found myself scooping my jaw up off the floor. The beauty of the album is found in its passive moments. They are perfectly crafted in a fresh way that makes you feel different when listening to it. Not each song is wild like “Kick Jump Twist” and that’s okay. It’s the idyllic moments on “Sound” and “Slack Jaw” that turn heads. It’s the softly rhythmic tracks like “Song” and “Die Young” that balance out the much more rapturous songs on the album. Balance turned out to be the key on this record. The calm tracks made the raucous tracks even more intense and vice versa. This gorgeous album by Sylvan Esso is an eye-opener from start to finish, and I regret rolling my eyes to it the first time around.

Top Vybes: “Sound”, “Die Young”, “Kick Jump Twist”, “Slack Jaw”

Vybes like: Chairlift, Little Dragon

Architects – All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us

The metalcore giants Architects dropped an album that honestly was quite disappointing at first. Each song blended together, sounding like mere imitations of both each other and the previous album. Each followed practically the same formula: spacey atmospherics followed by Sam Carter firing off a few memorable lines before screaming his signature “Blegh!” to usher in the same rapid riff tweaked only slightly. This is what put me off. I found it unoriginal and lazy on the bands part. However, after a second listen, I found myself enjoying this album more than ever. All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us is in no way revolutionary. It’s not Architects adding radical elements to their music. It’s Architects refining their sound and creating an album that is memorable in its intricate details found both in its soft and heavy moments. It is a very cohesive album that really comes to life if you let it.

Top Vybes: “Nihilist”, “Gone With The Wind”, “Phantom Fear”, “Gravity”

Vybes like: Northlane, While She Sleeps

Madeintyo – Thank You, Mr. Tokyo

I gave this album a chance after hearing Madeintyo’s “Uber Everywhere” practically everywhere. It was a breakthrough hit for the young rapper, and I was curious to see how he would follow it up. When I listened to it, it just never caught my attention. I knew tracks like “Skateboard P” and “Mr. Tokyo” were phenomenal, but apart from those two I was left scratching my head. It turned out that all I needed was another couple listens before it grew on me. Each song was great, from the production to his flow. Yea, he may sound the same on every track, but so does Future and he’s one of the top artists in the game as of now. The lighthearted, playful sound of Madeintyo is novel and original in the trap/hip-hop scene. The way he crafts catchy songs on top of K. Swisha’s phenomenal production is infectious and capable of getting anyone singing along.

Top Vybes: “Mr. Tokyo”, “Gucci Polo”, “Skateboard P”, “Untitled”

Vybes like: Ugly God, Nebu Kiniza

Vince Staples, Sworn In, Mura Masa

“Big Fish” – Vince Staples

From production to the lyrics, Vince Staples is reasserting himself into the discussions on the best new school rappers. With “Big Fish” as his second single off the upcoming album Big Fish Theory, Vince demonstrates slick flow that he effortlessly meanders through. He displays his exceptional lyricism that groups him with highly-esteemed artists like Kendrick Lamara and Earl Sweatshirt. The production on the track does not smack you in the face with lots of bells and whistles, but through its sleek subtlety it perfectly accompanies Vince Staple’s smooth rapping.

“Make It Hurt” – Sworn In

As if Sworn In couldn’t get anymore raw and gritty in terms of lyrics, vocals, and instrumentation, they really button-smash the unbridled aggression that they have become known for. Yet they deliver above and beyond with a chorus that is as catchy as it is unsettling. The disjointed instrumentation keeps it heavy and raw. In fact, most of the song is jumbled and would seem as if a flight of ideas from the band. However, the abrupt nature of the different sections of the song adds an extra punch to a song that is both disquieting and head-turning.

“All Around The World” – Mura Masa ft. Desiigner

I had to double-take when I saw that Mura Masa, an artist I adore, had a track with Desiigner, an artist I could care less about. However, the collaboration gets a shocking thumbs-up. Both artists triumph on the track. Mura Masa kills it on the production, crafting a wavy, flute-filled trap song. My fear was that Mura Masa would produce a track that Desiigner would come up flat on, yet Desiigner delivers a catchy hook and does a sufficient job on the verses. And thanks to his clear enunciation on this track, I can definitely see people singing the whole song at the top of their lungs this summer.

Why It’s Good That Kendrick Lamar Didn’t Drop Another Album

Kendrick Lamar silences the game with his latest release DAMN., which arrived on Friday. However, there was a theory that a second album would come out on Easter Sunday. The double album theory seemed plausible, backed by some believable evidences found in the lyrics throughout DAMN. and “The Heart Pt. IV”. Yet when midnight Easter Sunday came, no new album came. Even during/after Kendrick’s Coachella performance, there was no new album dropped. Thus the double album theory fell short, despite how delectable it sounded. Yet I don’t find that as a bad thing. In fact, I think it’s good that Kendrick didn’t drop another album.

If he had dropped another album on Easter Sunday, I believe it would have diminished the attention DAMN. deserves. DAMN. is a phenomenal album, one that is unforgettable and with lasting quality (click the read more tag/scroll to bottom for album review). From its overall theme to the individual aspects, DAMN. stands out against the backdrop of what’s been flooding the rap game. The album is different from untitled unmastered, To Pimp A Butterfly, good kid, m.A.A.d city, and his other previous works. This difference, however, should be expected and cherished, due to how Kendrick always switches things up from project to project. Yet this difference would be minimized if he had dropped another album. We would quickly shift our attention from DAMN. to the other album, not allowing DAMN. to truly enrapture us.

Moreover, if he dropped another album, it would cause an instant comparison between the two projects. Now Kendrick is a phenomenal artist, but even for him it would be challenging to drop two masterpieces within the same weekend. We would instantly compare the two albums, and most of us would prefer one or the other, forgetting about the one we deem as inferior. This is evident in Future’s two albums that he released back to back earlier in the year. Only a week separated the albums, but that’s all it took for people to pick and choose their favorite between the two. Now of course there are some who love both of FUTURE and HNDRXX, but there’s a lot of those who gravitate to one or the other. This allows for one of the projects to be either forgotten or overlooked.

Lastly, Kendrick doesn’t need to drop two albums in three days to solidify his spot in at least the top 10 of all time. Personally I believe Kendrick to the be the GOAT. His lyricism, storytelling, influence, and importance is just too outstanding. So Kendrick doesn’t need to drop two albums to be considered amazing. Consider how Tom Brady is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. Whether you like him or not, he’s amazing. Yet with this past Super Bowl against the Falcons, a victory would not have been necessary to label him as one of the greats. He has 4 Super Bowl victories out of 6 attempts,  has been a key part of the most successful NFL franchise of this century, and continues to play at a high caliber level throughout the years, constantly bringing his team to the playoffs. He was one of the greats before the Super Bowl against the Falcons. The tremendous comeback against the Falcons is proof. The same thing applies to Kendrick Lamar. Good kid, m.A.A.d city and To Pimp A Butterfly are surefire classics and his other projects are amazing also. DAMN. is another masterpiece that further propels Kendrick into GOAT status or at least just increased stardom. Releasing another project wouldn’t have been necessary. Kendrick doesn’t have to try extra hard to prove to the rest that he’s one of the greatest of all time. He already is one of the greatest of all time.

Continue reading “Why It’s Good That Kendrick Lamar Didn’t Drop Another Album”

Why Do People Care About Drake Stealing X’s Flow?

A lot of opinions are flung around with little thought when it comes to issues, especially on social media. One recent issue that has a lot of people heated in the comments and abroad is how Drake seemingly stole Xxxtentacion’s flow. It’s up to the individual to situate yourself on one side of the fence: either on Drake’s side or X’s side. It’s this antagonistic division that is pitting one fan against another, but I would venture to say that this doesn’t have to be so. It may seem like your only option is to defend Drake or X, but their is another side that one can subscribe to. It is built upon the acceptance of the fact that Drake stole X’s flow and the admittance that it’s not X’s flow to begin with, which coupled together would show why this “beef” between both parties and their fans is inconsequential.

Drake’s hot track “KMT” off of More Life is certainly a copy of Xxxtentacion’s “Look At Me!”. You have to be deaf or in adamant denial if you don’t agree. However, the amount of attention this is getting seems to be excessive. Flow refers to the style of delivery that a rapper possesses. Many experiment with different types of flows while others focus on the flows that they are comfortable with. The flow in question is the 7 syllable per bar delivery that X employs on his popular track. Drake uses the same flow on “KMT” on top of production that is similar to “Look At Me!”, but at a slightly slower pace. So it’s no question that Drake took X’s flow.

But what makes it X’s flow?

Continue reading “Why Do People Care About Drake Stealing X’s Flow?”