Artist Spotlight: Maxo Kream

I’ve said this many times before, but hip hop is such an interesting genre for a multitude of reasons. One of the most interesting things about the genre is the distinct sounds and musical styles that come from different cities. You’ve got Chicago drill, Los Angeles west coast bounce, Bay Area hyphy, New York boom-bap, Atlanta trap, Houston trill, and many more different styles. Today’s post will focus on one of the brightest young rap stars in Houston, Maxo Kream

Rise in popularity  

Maxo Kream first jumped into the mainstream light in 2015 even though he’s been rapping since he was in high school. His first mixtape that garnered him more attention was #Maxo187. The tape was featured in numerous high-profile publications including XXL and more. That tape featured popular rappers Joey Bada$$, Fredo Santana, and more. The sound on the tape was very Houston-influenced, with deep basslines, chopped-and-screwed vocals, and violent street tales. 

Following #Maxo187, Kream released 2016’s Persona Tape and then his 2018 debut album Punken. The 2018 project was met with positive reviews for its high level storytelling and versatility. On the project, we saw Maxo continue to improve his rapping ability while continuing to try new sounds and beats to the delight of many fans.       

Why you should give him a chance 

If you are a fan of lyrical rap that tells great stories while also flowing over beats of all types, you’ll most likely enjoy Maxo Kream’s music. He takes all of those things into his craft along with constant evolution and incorporation of new elements. Kream also has nods to the city he came from, citing his city as a big influence on his musical style. He can also craft great hooks that are super catchy while also not being too repetitive or one dimensional. His voice is quite catchy and distinct compared to a lot of the rappers that sound similar to each other.

I can honestly say that Maxo Kream is up there near the top of the ranks of my favorite new artists. I love the way that he can tell such a compelling story while also making each song sound different from the last.  


Notable songs

When you have an artist as good as Maxo it can be difficult to choose his most notable songs. But without further adieu, here are the most notable songs from Maxo Kream’s discography thus far.    

“Astrodome” – Maxo Kream 

This track was one of the first of Maxo’s that I ever listened to. What draws me to this track is the chopped n screwed vocals, they just fit so perfectly. The feature from Sauce Twinz is so Houston and fits perfectly as well. This is a great track from the #Maxo187 project for sure. 

“Big Worm” Maxo Kream

Remember earlier how I mentioned those unorthodox beats that Maxo somehow sounds great over? Yeah, this is definitely one of those tracks. “Big Worm” is an essential track for any Maxo fan-to-be. His flow is impeccable and that beat though. Damn man, this is a dope track.

“Spike Lee” ft. Playboi Carti & Rich The Kid Maxo Kream 

This song right here is one of Maxo’s most popular, and for good reason. It features a young Playboi Carti and an amazingly catchy hook. The verses from everyone are great and the beat is a work of art. This should be an instant add to your playlist if you enjoy what you’ve heard from Kream thus far. 

Punken Maxo Kream

I’ll admit, I’m kind of cheating this section by including this link. But the whole Punken album is simply too good to not listen to. It is the best version of Maxo Kream that we’ve heard so far and it would be a shame if you didn’t experience that. It was one of the better hip hop releases of a strong 2018 and I would really recommend it. But if you don’t want to listen to the whole thing, my favorite tracks from the project are “Grannies”, “Beyonce (Interlude)”, “Love Drugs”, and “Roaches”

 

What’s next? 

2019 has been a pretty good year for Maxo Kream thus far, seeing as he’s released a few singles during the buildup to his latest album Brandon Banks. The singles that he’s released thus far this year include the excellent “Meet Again”, the hard-hitting “Still”, and “She Live” ft. Megan Thee Stallion. Brandon Banks is set to release on July 19th and I absolutely cannot wait. Check it out on your selected streaming service if you like what you’ve heard from Maxo

K-UTE Radio/University of Utah does not own any images contained in this piece. 

Ogden Twilight: Deerhunter & Washed Out

Summer Concerts

One of my favorite things about summertime is all of the amazing outdoor concerts. The music just hits different being outside. Standing in the grass, baking under the hot sun and hearing your favorite artists rock your socks off. If you didn’t already know, the Ogden Twilight Summer Concert Series is perhaps the best place in Utah to make your summer dreams a reality. They have shows almost every week and there is no place where you can see these caliber of bands for such an affordable price.

This past week was one of the most anticipated shows of the season with co-headliners Deerhunter and Washed Out.

Deerhunter

The amphitheater was still filling up when Deerhunter took the stage. The band members came out one by one as the crowd started to perk up. The lead singer, Bradford Cox, was the last one to take the stage. He walked out with a Japanese style sun umbrella and snow goggles. They opened with “Death in Midsummer” from their 2019 release Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?. It was incredibly fitting as the crowd roasted in the 90 degree weather. Bradford thanked the crowd and then opened the next song with, “this one goes out to all the homosexuals in Ogden.”

Over the next hour, Deerhunter jammed out 10 songs primarily from their latest release and their 2010 album Halcyon Digest. Bradford said, “we are not here to impress you, we are just here to play our music”. I was still very impressed as the band zoned in together and just played the music. They were relaxed and comfortable on stage. They switched instruments. Brought out a sax for a song and a violin for another. They ended with a 10 minute long rendition of “He would have Laughed” that was absolutely spectacular. Deerhunter brought their A-game and started the show off strong.

Washed Out

By the time Washed Out came out, the place was packed. The sun had set, cooling down the air and pampering the crowd for a party. The 3 musicians played around with synths, electric drums, guitars and laptops, while an entire set of coordinated visuals danced on the screen behind them. Their set was well mixed with new and old songs including some old crowd favorites “Get Up” and “New Theory”. Ernest Greene kept the crowd entertained and the energy levels high throughout the show. The audience members jumped around and sang along, enjoying the music and atmosphere. Washed Out’s set was perfect for a summer concert. The kept it fun and upbeat, creating a perfect vibe for an awesome summer night.

Up Next

Ogden Twilight Summer Concert Series continues this week with The Flaming Lips and The Growlers coming to town on Thursday July 18th. Salt Lake’s Twilight Series also starts up this week with Hippie Sabotage on Saturday. So get your friends together and get ready for an amazing weekend of outdoor concerts!

The Hip Hop Drip Reviews: Bandana

June 28th marked the release of Bandana, the highly anticipated sequel to Freddie Gibbs and Madlib’s original collaborative project Piñata. Fans were elated when rumors began circulating about a follow up ‘MadGibbs’ collaboration, and as the singles started to drop, we knew exactly what we were in store for. This project possesses the same smooth elevator-style jazz samples characteristic of Madlib coupled with bars and storytelling from Gibbs that is on par with everything they have previously done together. As a whole, Bandana solidly delivers on what fans had been anxiously awaiting from the dynamic duo.

“Bandana presents an easy first listen with Piñata-esque samples for Gibbs to unleash on.”

If this is your first taste of a MadGibbs project, this album might seem a bit out of place in an industry that is dominated by the trap formula. However, I was happy to hear the same saucy samples, bars, and hard-hitting beats that made me such a fan of their first collaboration together. Bandana presents an easy first listen with Piñata-esque samples for Gibbs to unleash on.

Aside from the music, the album itself has natural flow from song to song, something that Madlib has always done beautifully in the past. He is a true genius when it comes to lining up a playlist as he often uses the juxtaposition of playful samples in transition to give his work the unique sound that has cemented him in hip hop history.

“A definite recommend for connoisseurs of hip hop”

After a few listens through Bandana there were admittedly a few songs that didn’t do it for me. Although, they were offset by some personal standout tracks. These tracks stood out to me because of the depth of their lyrics, like in the song “Practice”, where Gibbs laments on the guilt he feels toward the mother of his child. Another good example is his masterful flow on full display in the second verse of the song “Situations”.

I also really enjoyed Madlib’s use of the “minute-in beat switch” on this project. This is a formula that has worked out for Gibbs and Madlib in the past and they succeed in making it work again on a number of tracks throughout Bandana. Madlib’s production on the album in general is truly special. Songs like “Soul Right” and “Cataracts” leave you feeling high on life, and with a coveted Yassin Bey and Black Thought feature over a DOOM-style dark low piano sample, this album has numerous ‘playlist-worthy’ tracks.

Bandana is a definite recommend for connoisseurs of hip hop, or if for any reason at all for the stories that Gibbs has to tell. Freddie delivers a raw street sermon with themes of past relationships, questionable love from the world, resilience, growth, and thankfulness that make this a classic Gangsta Gibbs project.

“Bandana is what it is”

I’ve talked a lot about how this album compares in a good way to previous projects, but now I want to take a look back at some of the noticeable weaknesses. My first concern was the apparent lack of featured artists. It’s not that Freddie Gibbs can’t hold down a whole project on his own, but to say that I wasn’t a little disappointed with the lack of featuring artists would be a lie. In particular, we are missing a cypher track on this project like there was on Piñata, and that was a bit of a let down.

Although I would consider this to be a very strong album cover to cover, there is a noticeable difference in the strength of the last half of the album versus the first 7 or 8 songs. If you are new to Gibbs and Madlib’s work together, then the last half of the album would be a good place to start, where some of Madlib’s less savory and more experimental tracks will not turn you away to begin with.

Bandana is what it is. The project is not chocked full of club bangers or tracks that are particularly suited for hitting the gym. Whether you consider that a weakness or not is not is obviously a matter of personal opinion. Regardless, Bandana is definitely worth a listen in my book and another entry into Gibbs’ impressive portfolio of projects.

“For fans, Bandana is an instant classic”

Freddie Gibbs has an incredibly impressive discography on his own that is 100% worth digging into, but working with Madlib on Piñata in 2015 ushered in a new era for Gibbs’ career and as an artist. Working with an OG like Madlib has seemingly allowed for him to let his potential as an artist run wild, having dropped numerous classic albums since then including Shadow of a Doubt, You Only Live 2wice, and Freddie. With that said, for fans Bandana is an instant classic that represents a continuation of the artistic journey and progression Gibbs is only in the midst of.

Hip Hop Drip Highlighted Tracks

“Soul Right”

“Situations”

“Practice”

Full length review

In addition to this written review, the Hip Hop Drip also recorded a full length podcast review. Click this link to listen to that!

 

K-UTE Radio/University of Utah does not own any of the images in this piece.

J. Cole’s Dreamville Records releases highly anticipated compilation album

Even if you are one of the more casual hip hop fans out there, you’ve most likely heard of J. Cole and his label Dreamville Records. The label was founded by Cole and Ibrahim Hamad in their native North Carolina. The label has many artists signed to it, including J.I.D, Bas, Cozz, Omen, Ari Lennox, and EarthGang. Dreamville also houses producers including Cam O’bi, Childish Major, Cedric Brown, and many more. 

  

Initial hype

The label had released previous compilations Revenge of the Dreamers and Revenge of the Dreamers II in 2014 and 2015 respectively. These projects here hailed as pretty good by fans, but they felt like something was missing. Many fans felt that Dreamville was missing out on a big opportunity by failing to use their many industry connections to get other artists to feature on the projects. But in early 2019, that seemed to change completely with the announcement of Revenge of the Dreamers III. It looked like Cole and the gang were serious about building a lot of hype and creating a great project.     

Artist invites

On January 6th, J. Cole went on Twitter and announced the project with a poster that looked like an invitation to some recording sessions. The dates for the sessions were January 6-16th and were held in Atlanta. These dates were chosen due to the tour schedules of Dreamville artists.

After Cole’s initial announcement on January 6th, many different artists began popping up on social media sites with their invitations to the recording sessions. There were over 100 artists and producers invited to the sessions including most notably 6lack, Akon, A Boogie wit da Hoodie, Big KRIT, Buddy, Currensy, Isaiah Rashad, Lil Baby, Meek Mill, Reason, Rick Ross, Saba, Ski Mask the Slump God, Smino, Syd, Tay Keith, and Vince Staples, among many more. 

The recording sessions came and went and it is said that there were actually over 300 invites in one studio with 142 songs recorded and almost 260GB worth of music. That is an absolutely insane amount of content and it really put fans on edge to hear the project when it was released.

    

Final project

Early in the week of July 1st J. Cole made another announcement, one that fans had really been waiting for. He announced the Revenge of the Dreamers III would be released on July 5th, 2019. This immediately raised the hype levels through the roof and kept fans on edge until the day it came out.

According to Dreamville, the final project contains 18 songs with 34 artists and 27 producers. That leaves over 100 songs that fans will not be able to hear for the time being.

Regardless, this project had an amazing rollout and recording process. It seems to be one of the most unique projects that I’ve come across thus far and I can’t wait to listen to it even more. 

Revenge of the Dreamers III is now available on music streaming platforms! Hit me up on my Instagram once you’ve listened and let me know what you think of the album.

K-UTE Radio/University of Utah does not own any of the images in this piece. 

Chance The Rapper finally releases old mixtapes on streaming services

June 28th was a great day in the hip hop world for many reasons. I mean it was a Friday after all, which is known as the best day of the week for new music releases (you can check out all of June 28th’s new releases here). But the biggest reason that it was great is because Chance The Rapper has finally released his beloved 10 Day and Acid Rap mixtapes to music streaming services. The only streaming platform these projects had been on before today was Soundcloud, simply because they contained a lot of unreleased samples. But that’s a thing of the past now for the most part, so let’s dig into the projects a bit. 

10 Day

10 Day was inspired by Bennett having to serve a 10 day suspension from high school for marijuana possession in 2011. It is a very special project for me and a lot of other Chance fans. It was our first exposure to Chance and made him really stand out among his young Chicago peers.

10 Day was his first official release under the Chance The Rapper name that we all know and love today. It gave us a sincere and honest look into the life of a young high school aged Chance Bennett. The project is absolutely full of amazing and heartfelt jams that you don’t hear that much these days… 

  

Essential 10 Day Tracks

which leads me to my next point: there are so many songs on this project that are essential for any Chance fan or person wanting to get into his music now that it’s more accessible. Here are my most essential 10 Day tracks that you need to check out:

Acid Rap

Oh man, this is where it really starts getting good. I will say this right now: Acid Rap is a top five mixtape of all time, no question about it. The love and passion that went into creating this project is palpable; it just evokes so many different feelings. 

Acid Rap was released on April 30th, 2013 to widespread critical acclaim. The project was inspired by Chance’s use of psychedelic drugs LSD and acid, even though it wasn’t the only reason the project was created in the first place. He has said that Acid Rap is more musically than story based compared to 10 Day, while also being cohesive in its own way. Most of the artists and producers on the project are based in Chicago, making for a bigger hometown feel.  

      

Essential Acid Rap Tracks

Honestly all of the tracks on this project are essential, but me saying that isn’t the purpose of this section. Here are some of the most essential tracks off Acid Rap, even though you wouldn’t be wrong to just listen to the whole thing:

Should I listen?

To put it bluntly: if you are a fan of modern hip hop even in the slightest, you need to listen to these projects. There are both amazing in their own way and deserve the respect of hip hop fans everywhere. I can’t put into words how excited I am to finally add these classic tracks to my playlists and bump them all summer!

K-UTE Radio/University of Utah does not own any images found in this piece.

“7” Review: Lil Nas X drops captivating debut project

If you’ve been anywhere near a radio for the past few months, you’ve most likely heard “Old Town Road” or its several remixes at least once. You may not know who Lil Nas X was before hearing the song, but honestly who did?

He got his first taste of fame on Twitter by running Nicki Minaj fan accounts and also creating Vines and TikTok videos. He released “Old Town Road” in late 2018 and it began picking up steam in early 2019. By April 2019, it had a remix with legendary country singer Billy Ray Cyrus and had broken Drake’s record of most streams in one week with over 140 million.

Once he began gaining social media followers like crazy, Nas began posting snippets of his new songs all over Instagram. This made fans want to hear what else he could do. Without further adieu, it’s time to see what Lil Nas X can bring to the table on his first official project.   

First impressions

  • The Good: On my first listen through this EP, I was actually surprised at how versatile Lil Nas was one most of the tracks. It makes for an interesting listen especially because I expected him to stick to the country rap fusion for the whole project honestly.  
  • The Bad: Even though I do think the songs were pretty good and different sounding, the lyrics were kind of bland. No songs really stood out from the others in terms of what they actually talked about.  

Lyrics/Flow

  • The Good: One of the things I appreciate most about this project is Lil Nas X’s voice. He has a great singing voice and a decent rapping flow from what I can tell. We didn’t get to see too much rapping from him but what we did see wasn’t bad at all. He has a lot of potential in that regard and it’ll be interesting to see where he goes with rap in the future.  
  • The Bad: As I said before, each song sounded different in terms of sonic elements but not much else. The lyrics were pretty lackluster and forgettable, with the exception of the hyped up “Panini” and “Rodeo”.  
  • Score: 6.8/10

Beats

  • The Good: Another good part about the project was honestly the beats. They were all pretty different and actually pleasing to the ears. Nas’ voice works pretty well on different production and I would encourage him to continue breaking new ground on his debut album. Producers on this EP include Take A Daytrip, Young Kio, Business Boi, and Boi-1da.
  • The Bad: I don’t have anything bad to say about the beats on this project. As I mentioned, Nas flows really well on all the tracks whether he’s singing or rapping. This was just a little taste of what we’ll see from him in the future, so hopefully he can still choose beats he sounds good over.
  • Score: 8.3/10

Replayability

  • The Good: Being that this project is an EP, it is quite easy to listen to all the way through. It is only 18 minutes over 7 tracks, so I would definitely suggest multiple listens in order to digest it fully. I’ll be revisiting this project in the future simply due to the fact that it has so many different sounds on it and it is so short.  
  • The Bad: As with many EPs, it just feels like a random collection of songs. Including “Old Town Road” twice really bloats the project a bit, but I can understand why he did it. I’m hoping he’ll go for more of a concept on his album, but we’ll see when that arrives.   
  • Score: 7.5/10

Standouts

  • Being that this EP is quite short and has a variety of different sounds, it was quite hard to choose songs that stand out from the rest. My personal favorite tracks on the EP were “Panini” and “Bring U Down” but I’d say to listen to the whole thing because it’s so short.  

Final thoughts

As with most music fans, I didn’t really take Lil Nas X very seriously after first hearing “Old Town Road”. I thought it was just another meme song that would be dead within a few weeks, just like all of the others before it. Obviously that didn’t happen and Nas is really out here with a number one Billboard hit that is about to tie the all time record for most weeks at the top.

Once Lil Nas X announced this EP, I was actually pretty excited to see what he could bring to the table. I heard the “Panini” and “Rodeo” snippets when he previewed them on Instagram and was impressed, but I didn’t hear any of his other snippets.

After listening to the full EP more than a few times, I can say that I’m impressed with what Lil Nas X has given us here. It isn’t perfect by any means, but it is a good start to a hopefully prosperous career for him. He showed us that he’s really with the multiple genre music creation and that it actually works for him. Lil Nas X isn’t just a meme and I think he’s here to stay, at least for a little bit. If you like what you heard from his EP, be on the lookout for his debut album coming soon.    

Final Score: 7.3/10    

K-UTE Radio/University of Utah does not own any of the images in this piece.

Opinion: YG is starting to fall off hard

Yeah, you read the title right. And before all of you YG fans get pissed at me and swear to never read my writing again, hear me out. As much as it pains me to say it, YG’s last two albums have not been up to par with what we’ve come to expect from him. He was once a rising young voice with two critically acclaimed and near-classic status albums but has shrunk down to making generic west coast bangers with no substance in less than a year. How did we get to this point?

2009-2016

As most everyone knows, YG broke out with his 2009 single “Toot It and Boot It” and signed with Def Jam Recordings. He released many mixtapes and then finally released his debut album My Krazy Life in early 2014. The album garnered critical acclaim from critics and fans alike for its narrative qualities, catchy lyrics, and tough beats. It is often called a modern west coast classic.

Following the success of My Krazy Life, YG began working on the follow-up album that would eventually be called Still Brazy. In the leadup to this album, he released “Twist My Fingaz”, “FDT”, and “Why You Always Hatin?”, which were all met with praise. Still Brazy was released in June 2016. The album was met with critical acclaim as well, giving YG two very well-received albums in a row. It seemed that he was on top of the world and could only go up from here.

2017-Present

2018 arrived with YG releasing his third studio album Stay Dangerous. The album was met with generally positive reviews from critics, but many fans considered it a drop down in quality from his previous two efforts. Reasons for dislike included meaningless lyrics and songs that didn’t really fill a purpose. 9 months after the release of Stay Dangerous, YG released his latest album 4Real 4Real. The album was supported by the singles “Stop Snitchin” and “Go Loko”.

But how is he falling off?

I honestly can’t believe that the guy who made “Meet The Flockers”, “Sorry Momma”, “Who Shot Me?”, and “FDT” is the same guy who made “Handgun” and “Stop Snitchin”. It’s such a crazy drop off in quality to me.    

If you have yet to listen to My Krazy Life and Still Brazy, please do so ASAP. They are certified classic west coast albums and some of YG’s best work yet. Once you listen to those albums, check out a few tracks from Stay Dangerous and 4Real 4Real. You will see the stark contrast between the first two and two most recent albums in his discography.

My Krazy Life and Still Brazy gave us a version of YG that was on a mission to prove that he belongs. His next two albums give off cocky vibes seem to show that YG thinks that he’s made it and there is nothing left to prove. I’m not even trying to say that Stay Dangerous and 4Real 4Real are super bad albums, because they aren’t. They just made me think that YG has become super lazy with what he deems worthy to put out.

What’s your point?

It was so cool to me listening to My Krazy Life for the first time and feeling like I was actually in the hood with YG doing the things that he did. I also loved the politically-charged nature of Still Brazy and the amount of passion that he put into that album. The problem now is that YG seems to think that he can just pump out album after album until he gets bored and decides to retire. He doesn’t seem to understand that most fans would rather wait a couple years between releases if it means something truly special is on the way.

Honestly, I can proudly say that I own both My Krazy Life and Still Brazy in physical format as well as some of his merchandise from a show I went to in the past. But I sincerely think that YG needs to reevaluate where he wants to head in the future and what kind of legacy he wants to leave behind, because his latest music isn’t doing it for me and a lot of other fans.  

K-UTE Radio/University of Utah does not own any of the images in this piece.

K-UTE meets the U of U student entrepreneur behind @StreetTeamCycling

During my days working as a sacrificial lamb for the downtown Salt Lake City location of Jimmy John’s, I was exposed to a large and vibrant community of people that make a living on their bikes! I recently got to sit down with an old Jimmy co-worker for a live interview on kuteradio.org to hear what the gang has been up to and about their newest business venture!

@StreetTeamCycling is a brand new cycling centered subscription service hatched from the young minds of student-entrepreneurs at the University of Utah. Meet @ChefColeSendsIt and @NateeHoward; experts in Jimmy John’s bike delivery, seniors in the School of Design at the U of U, and founders of Street Team Cycling!

You can credit the team’s humble passion for riding as the inspiration behind Street Team Cycling. Anybody that rides a lot or works from their bike is in a constant fight against the elements and entropy. Although quite less expensive than a car, bikes are not at all cheap. Trying to keep your bike in top shape while working from it can be a drain on your pocket. And as many other entrepreneurs got their start, Cole and Nate identified a problem and set out for a solution.

How does it work?

The love child, now known as the “Street Team”, is a monthly subscription care package service made by fellow bike workers and tailored especially to bike couriers, delivery cyclists, or any other down right bike fanatics. For a charge of $35, Street Team Cycling sends you a monthly care package stocked with over $50 of quality bike gear. This subscription service provides avid cyclists access to a selection of brand new accessories, tools, and components each month to help keep their rides fresh and clean.

Never worry about getting the same thing twice as care packages change monthly and are updated with the seasons. This past winter, the Street Team partnered up with bike company Musgard to provide care package subscribers with easy-to-attach fenders to help keep them dry! Special thanks to other partners: Irwin Cycling, Marque Cycling, and Hifi Components for providing the quality merchandise behind this brand new service made by cyclists, especially for cyclists.

Follow this link to listen to the full interview and learn more about Cole, the visionary behind Street Team Cycling! Connect with the guys from the team on Instagram @StreetTeamCycling and join the wave that is sweeping the streets of the nation!