Saba – Bucket List

The growth of Chicago’s hip hop scene just won’t stop. It’s bigger now than it’s ever been thanks to an influx of incredibly talented, thoughtful, and cool artists. The latest Chicago rapper to make his voice heard this year is Saba, the 22 year-old face of the Pivot Gang. His new album Bucket List came out on October 27th and it’s good. Really good.

Saba started playing piano at 7 and started messing around with production software at 12. He graduated high school at 16 with a 3.9 and followed in his father’s footsteps as a musician (wikipedia.com). Luckily for him, he was able to ride the Acid Rap wave into relevance and through his relationships with other Chicago rappers (Chance, Noname, and Mick Jenkins, to name a few) he’s been able to break into the game with some really quality music. This latest tape is just another example of the authenticity that is so crucial to Saba’s, and Chicago’s, new sound. He’s real, he’s transparent, he’s positive. His message is beautiful and his lyricism only accentuates his points. His word play is impeccable and he switches up his flows effortlessly. I seriously can’t say enough about this guys ability to spit. He’s beginning to establish himself as a premier wordsmith in the industry and he has the opportunity to craft such astounding rhymes because of the subject matter he is taking on.

A theme of this new wave of Chicago rappers is to take on topics that haven’t been talked about much in hip hop over the last decade. Saba doesn’t drink or smoke, he’s never been a big partier, and he’s been able to stay out of gang violence for most of his life. Those are some of the big ideas that have been promoted in rap since the Lil Wayne era so Saba had to take inspiration from some different perspectives. Fame, family, Chicago, and the potential of our generation take the driver’s seat in Bucket List and Saba’s genuine optimism shines through these dialogues he opens up. It’s truly inspirational and what really draws me to Saba and his music.

I knew I would connect with this tape from the very first song. “In Loving Memory” sounds like a Social Experiment song and Saba wastes no time getting into his incredible rhymes. I could hear pieces of Chance, Noname, and Childish Gambino influences on this track and he sets the tone early with a dense verse and a really smooth singing performance. He finishes the track by giving us his bucket list which consists of “One, I wanna have a meal from in and out, coz I live nowhere near one. Two, I wanna go one on one against D. Rose. And three, I wanna *bleep* [sic] Kylie Jenner…” (genius.com). He’s funny, he’s enthusiastic, and he has a great new LP out. Saba most definitely has room to grow as an artist and a producer and this project has him moving in the right direction.

Score: 8.0

Mac Miller – The Divine Feminine

I have always loved Mac Miller’s music. From K.I.D.S. and Best Day Ever when all he wanted was to swag out, to the experimental days of Macadelic and Watching Movies with the Sound Off, he was a staple of my high school days. During my college career, he’s released three more projects. Faces, with its drug-induced lyrics and smooth production, is one of my favorite tapes of all time. Last year’s GO:OD AM, one of the best starting over albums in rap history, with so many references about addiction, over-dosing, and recovery, is enough to get anyone through their roughest days. His newest release, The Divine Feminine, has a completely different feel.

He’s completely focused in the album. One thing I’ve learned since really becoming a hip hop head is that it’s near impossible for an album to completely come together as one collective unit, unlike the prog rock that my dad grew me up on. This album comes together. It’s one of very few albums that I can listen to start to finish every single time. It’s a love album all the way through, however, Mac is still able to put his classic depressed twist on it. “The sun don’t shine when I’m alone,” is one of his opening lines of the album, setting the theme throughout. Most of the songs play off of the depression of not being with your significant other, the problems that occur when a relationship is purely physical, or the issues a guy has when he’s constantly messing his relationship up.

This album sounds a lot different that a lot of his other albums. It’s clear at this point that he’s not just a rapper, or a producer, or a singer, he’s just a great musician with a pure sense of sound. The production brings in soft, slow beats, jazzy beats filled with horns, and fun upbeat hooks that display his competence and that he can rap over any beat. Mac brings in a stacked grouped of artists featured on this album; Anderson .Paak and CeeLo Green put their unique voices on Dang! and We, respectively. Kendrick Lamar and Ty Dolla $ign both spit on their verses of the album, and he brings his new girlfriend Ariana Grande in for a verse on My Favorite Part.

The Divine Feminine shows a lot of growth from an artist who has put himself through a lot in recent years. If you have an hour to kill, or if you’re feeling a little down, this is definitely an album you need to check out. Thank you, Mac.

Mac Miller will be coming to SLC in November at the Saltair, you can purchase tickets here: http://smithstix.com/music/all-music/rap-hiphop/event/19011/mac-miler-nov-1

Open Mic: Dine Krew

Open Mic: Dine Krew

This week on the Open Mic, Stavo talks to local rap group Dine Krew’s Erasole James! give it a listen.

Review: The Life of Pablo by Kanye West

The Life of Pablo

Originally titled So Help Me God, then switched to SWISH, then changed to Waves, and then finally confirmed as The Life of Pablo, Kanye West’s seventh studio album serves as a hallmark for all his emotions and experiences throughout his career. Listening closely, one could recognize elements adopted from each one of his previous albums- the gospel sounds and rebellious nature from Late Registration and College Dropout, the prosperity from Graduation, the romantic and sexual sentiments from 808s & Heartbreak and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and the arrogance and aggression from Cruel Summer and Yeezus. What was extremely amusing was the hype and controversy surrounding the release of the album, as people did not know what the hell to expect but much was anticipated.

Maintaining the sonic genius inside him, Mr. West takes us to the extremes with his provocative yet pious messages. In the song “Ultralight Beam,” Kanye emphasizes, “I’m tryna keep my faith, we on an ultralight beam, we on an ultralight beam, this is a God dream, this is a God dream, this is everything, this is everything.” Reminiscent to his track “Jesus Walks” from The College Dropout in 2004, Yeezy asks God for guidance through the temptations that bound him. We all know Ye loves God, almost as much as he loves himself. Moreover, in “Father Stretch My Hands, Parts 1 and 2,” Kanye simply wants to “feel liberated” from the media and obsessions of the world. In addition, he reflects on his accomplishments and fame in the most egotistical way possible. He even has a song titled “I Love Kanye,” which highlights his personality over the years and how fans love Kanye “like Kanye loves Kanye.” On the song FACTS, he critically disses Nike and boasts about Yeezy, his clothing line of shoes under Adidas. Let’s not forget about Kanye’s undisrupted lust for the ladies, for he spills a little bit of his fantasy love life from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy on The Life of Pablo. In My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye basically foreshadows his marriage with Kim Kardashian on the song “Hell of a Night,” where he falls in love with and marries a pornstar. In The Life of Pablo, he tries to suppress his concupiscent enticements and remain loyal while being in such a relationship on the song “FML”. Kanye goes in hard with straight bars alongside Kendrick Lamar on the song “No More Parties in L.A.” There are several other awesome featured artists on this project such as Andre 3000, Frank Ocean, Chance The Rapper, Young Thug, Chris Brown, and Rihanna. The production is incredible as always, and he drowns listeners with deep emotional melodies on songs like “Wolves” and “Waves.” Depression, infatuations, narcissism, and strife are all real concerns articulated throughout this work of art.

Kanye compares himself to Pablo Escobar, the notorious Colombian drug lord, and Pablo Picasso, one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. Additionally, he is able to buy his way through the fashion industry and assert himself as an interesting, controversial figure in social media and the news. As I like to say, “Yeezy gon’ do what Yeezy wanna do.” A handful of people dislike Kanye for some of his behaviors, but one could appreciate Mr. West for staying true to who he is and straight up speaking his mind.

Mr. West says The Life of Pablo will never be on sale but can be streamed on the music service TIDAL.

Here are a few of the songs from Kanye West’s soundcloud:

https://soundcloud.com/kanyewest/facts-explicit

 

 

G-Eazy in SLC!

The man known as G-Eazy is currently moving up in the rap game in leaps and bounds. Almost as quick as his home basketball team the Golden State Warriors took over the NBA. Gerald Earl Gillum is a 26 year old rap artist coming out of Oakland, California. His first album had tremendous success peaking at number 3 on the US Billboard 200, and his latest album, When It’s Dark Out, has already hit number 5 on the same chart since it’s release date December 4th 2015.  To support his album’s release G-Eazy is hitting the road, and much to our delight he will be making a stop in Salt Lake City on January 9th at The Saltair.

Gerald is the Steph Curry of the hip hop world right now. He’s on fire. So much so that the show is entirely sold out already. Admittedly, the tickets have been on sale for a few weeks now, but nonetheless selling out The Saltair is not a small feat. Luckily for all the G-Eazy fans who procrastinated buying their tickets I have good news. There will be an after party at The Hotel Elevate, which is a 21+ club located in central Salt Lake City. G-Eazy himself will be hosting this party, so for those of you who are of age and either missed buying a ticket to the show, or just want some more Gerald for your night check the following link.

https://www.saltlakecityconcerts.net/eventx/g-eazy-official-afterparty/

G-Eazy has several songs on youtube in the million view range already, and countless in the hundred thousands. I’ve included a few songs for those of you who have not heard his music yet, and also anybody who just wants to hear some hot tunes.

 

 

 

D.GLOVE: MY GLASS CEILING

My first run through of D.Glove’s album, My Glass Ceiling definitely captured my attention. But not for the right reasons. This album has a lot of moments that seem like generic reiterations of popular music themes. The issue was lack of lyrical creativity.

In my least favorite chorus, D.Glove repeatedly says, “I just want to go down in history.” Not a bad thing as far as historical impact goes. Even though it is a positive desire his word choice loses creativity points.  Other notables include:

“I’m taking life day-by-day”
“Baby I would never ever go nowhere without you,
“When you’re not around me I always talk about you”
“My sunrise, My sunset, It’s one touch”
“It’s one breath, It’s our life, lets live it together”

This chorus feels slightly more thought out, and I have to give it praise. I would say D.Glove can improve his word choice.

The other major aspect of Hip-hop music, and music in general is the beats/production quality. Overall, D.Glove’s production quality was solidly satisfying. On-track, was number three titled, “Together.” The beat resembles an EDM song you’d hear at a rave. D.Glove combines Hip-hop and EDM by trying rap over the beat. For me, it missed the mark.

I noticed songs 4 and 5 have almost the exact same beat. Once again, I have to dock D.Glove for absence of ingenuity. His beats were all quality, but at times they didn’t mesh with the Rap.  These details didn’t jump out until the third playback, at which point I was hitting skip on almost every track.

D.Glove released his album My Glass Ceiling with the best intentions.  His themes and song concepts are all very positive, but something  miss-fired in the delivery.

It frustrated me to hear D.Glove’s basic and repetitive choruses, knowing he’s better. He gets props for crisp and clean production, but Beat flow and rapping didn’t work. I hear D.Glove’s potential, which is why I look forward to improvement.

Overall I’d give My Glass Ceiling by D.Glove, a stout 4/10