The Boom Bap and Acid Rap 2016 Year End Awards, Pt. 5

DJ OF THE YEAR:

THE SHORTLIST:

  • DJ KHALED
  • DJ MUSTARD
  • DJ ESCO
  • DJ DRAMA

 

THE WINNER:

  • DJ KHALEDdj-k

It would only make sense, wouldn’t it? Mustard had his moment, but in the last year DJ Khaled has become a parody of himself. Going viral almost daily with his Snapchat escapades, including the birth of his child (while listening to his own music, of course), getting lost at sea on his jet ski (tail-end of last year, I know, but hilarious nonetheless) and of course the groundbreaking release of his ninth studio album, Major Key, which had a who’s who of hip-hop for a feature list. From Nas, Jay Z, Busta Rhymes and Fat Joe to Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Future and YG, Khaled got them all. Behind all the buffoonery, DJ Khaled is actually one of the best DJs in the world and should be respected musically. Laugh all you want, he’s doing the same. All the way to the bank.

PRODUCER OF THE YEAR:

THE SHORTLIST:

  • MIKE WILL MADE-IT
  • SOUNWAVE
  • METRO BOOMIN
  • MIKE DEAN

 

THE WINNER:

  • METRO BOOMINmetro

 

Young Metro has done the rounds. Active since 2010, he’s only gotten better and is still only 23. With producing credits for the likes of Kanye West, Future, Young Thug, Collegrove, The Weeknd, Drake and Gucci Mane as well a joint project with 21 Savage entitled Savage Mode, 2016 has been one hell of a year for Metro. He’ll tell you himself his best work is yet to come. And if he doesn’t trust you, stay well clear of Future.

 

Advertisements

The Boom Bap and Acid Rap 2016 Year End Awards, Pt 4

LYRICIST OF THE YEAR:

THE SHORTLIST:

  • J COLE – FOLDIN CLOTHES
  • CHANCE THE RAPPER – ULTRALIGHT BEAM
  • DANNY BROWN – DOWNWARD SPIRAL
  • KENDRICK LAMAR – THAT PART (BLACK HIPPY REMIX)
  • JAY Z – I GOT THE KEYS
  • JAY ELECTRONICA – HOW GREAT

 

THE WINNER:

kendrick-lamar

Even if Kendrick Lamar didn’t release untitled unmastered or any of his guest verses apart from the one on the Black Hippy remix of THat Part, we’d probably still be looking at him as lyricist of the year. Lamar’s dexterity with words has been common knowledge since his arrival on the scene, however he surprised even his most ardent fans with the complex rhyme patterns and content in that verse. To put it context, in just 24 bars, he fits 87 rhymes and they all make sense. He addresses the fact that despite the fact he was a straight-A student, he was still denied higher education because he was a black kid from the ghetto, among many other topics, including a callback to a Jay Z deep-cut we all forgot about. In about 45 seconds, Kendrick did what many rappers struggle to do in a lifetime – be real.

 

SIDENOTE:

The worst lyricist of the year is nearly impossible to crown so I decided to choose the worst lyric of the year instead. It could’ve easily gone to Drake for “Got so many chains, they call me Chaining Tatum (they do, they do)”. For a start, no they don’t. And also, wow, that is hilariously lazy. However this highly prestigious award goes to Kanye West. On The Life of Pablo, there are a few lines that could’ve taken it. The infamous Go-Pro lyric, the open fridge line, the bleached a****** line…But the winner has to be from Father Stretch My Hands Pt.1, when the GOOD Music mogul said “Now if I f*** this model/And she just bleached her a******/And I get bleach on my T-shirt/I’mma feel like an a******”. Just an ignorant and stupid line from an otherwise good song.

The Boom Bap and Acid Rap 2016 Year End Awards, Pt. 3

TRAP ARTIST OF THE YEAR:

THE SHORTLIST:

  • FUTURE
  • QUAVO
  • YOUNG THUG
  • GUCCI MANE
  • 21 SAVAGE
  • RAE SREMMURD
  • DESIIGNER
  • LIL YACHTY
  • LIL UZI VERT
  • TRAVIS SCOTT

THE WINNER:travis-scott

  • TRAVIS SCOTT

In what was by far the busiest category and one of the hardest to judge, ten of hip-hop’s biggest stars went head to head. 2016 introduced us to young upstarts like 21 Savage, Desiigner and Lil Yachty, saw the escalation to stardom accelerate for rappers like Young Thug and Migos’ Quavo, the confirmation of greatness for trap legends like Gucci Mane and Future. Despite all this, it was the year of a Texan by the name of Travis Scott. Top class features on the stellar DJ Khaled album alongside Lil Wayne and Young Thug’s JEFFERY mixtape put Travis Scott firmly in the public eye. However upon unleashing a fiery, atmospheric album in September, Travis cemented himself as a bona fide A-Lister in rap this year. Getting tier-one artists like The Weeknd, Andre 3000 and Kendrick Lamar on his sophomore album is an achievement in itself, but for the tracks themselves to be so infectious and compelling is a triumph for Scott. To show off the other contenders, a supersonic year was needed. Travis Scott had just that.

 

SIDENOTE:

While he didn’t do a whole lot this year, Rich Homie Quan didn’t have one of his better years. From his crew being involved in a North Carolina nightclub shooting, botching a classic Biggie verse on TV, getting dissed by Young Thug, being sued by his own label and delivering possibly the worst radio freestyle of all time on Westwood… The list goes on but let’s just say Quan took a lot of L’s this year.

The Boom Bap and Acid Rap 2016 Year End Awards, Pt. 2

GROUP OF THE YEAR:

THE SHORTLIST:

  • A TRIBE CALLED QUEST
  • MIGOS
  • COLLEGROVE
  • FLATBUSH ZOMBIES
  • A$AP MOB
  • RUN THE JEWELS
  • RAE SREMMURD

THE WINNER:atcq

 

  • A TRIBE CALLED QUEST

 

Who would’ve thought that in 2016 we’d be celebrating the return of everyone’s favourite 90’s rap group? It was made even less likely when the group’s lovable enigma, Phife Dawg passed away in March. Little did we know, Q-Tip and his merry men had been cooking up an album – We Got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service – during Phife’s final months. Despite this, a lot of reasonable doubt still hung over whether the group could come close to surpassing their previous classic five albums. However, upon release this doubt was blown out the water in typical Tribe style. Calling on frequent collaborators like Busta Rhymes and Consequence helped it retain its soulful authenticity, while Andre 3000, Talib Kweli, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar and more were called on to give the new album a fresher, modern feel. Overall, this group breathed some retro life into 2016 and let us reminisce a little about the Tribe’s glory days. Migos and Rae Sremmurd had their time in the spotlight, but will we look back in 20 years at their work as fondly? No. For that reason, this award goes to A Tribe Called Quest.

 

SIDENOTE:

The worst group of the year has to be the makeshift duo of Twenty88 (Big Sean and Jhene Aiko). After some decent singles together on Sean’s previous solo album and becoming a real-life item, ‘Twenty88’ decided to lazily create some carbon copies of those singles and make a whole album of them. Brilliant. Big Sean’s lethargic imagery weighs down the overall merit of the project, while Jhene Aiko’s talk-singing is fine on a song but grating on a whole album. The full on battle-of-the-sexes theme of the LP is weak and totally swallowed any musical chemistry they might’ve been building. I really didn’t like this.

Mixtape Review: Chance the Rapper

Coloring Book – Chance the Rapper (Independent) – May 2016

Chance took a major ‘chance’ here. His first solo effort since 2013’s classic mixtape Acid Rap (and one of my personal favourite projects of all time), Coloring Book is unlike anything that has ever been done in mainstream hip-hop. Proudly hailing from Chicago, the young MC shines a light on the rarely-seen positive side of the Windy City, while also wearing his faith in God on his sleeve for all to see.

The triumphant opening track, “All We Got” which features one of Chano’s idols in Kanye West manages to top their last collaboration on “Ultralight Beam” on The Life of Pablo. Religion is a key theme throughout this song and Chance’s lyrics, along with the choir and Kanye’s vocals on the hook give this song a very church-like feel right from the off.

The album then transitions into the glorious “No Problem”, where Chance proves himself to be music’s most successful free agent, flexing about how great it is to be independent. He calls on the Collegrove duo, Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz to help him out which is apt considering they have both had issues with labels in the past. Another of Chance’s idols, Lil Wayne delivers a buoyant line about freeing “Tha Carter”, which suggests he is fighting to give us his long-awaited twelfth studio album as soon as possible. The song’s hook, “You don’t want no problem with me”, is a threat to record executives who have actively attempted to hold Chance the Rapper’s movement down. His attitude, however, is defiant. He won’t be stopped.

Other superstar guest spots are given to the elusive Jay Electronica, who pops up on “How Great” with a characteristically brilliant verse, T-Pain, who does a sublime job of complimenting Chance’s bubbly singing voice on “Finish Line / Drown” alongside the iconic Kirk Franklin, Noname and Eryn Allen Kane and Justin Bieber who does lends a glowing chorus to the Chicagoan anthem “Juke Jam”.

As well as these big names, Chance allows several newer names to join the party like D.R.A.M., who gets a solo track with “D.R.A.M. Sings Special”, Lil Yachty, who is fresh off of a great mixtape of his own in Lil Boat and doesn’t disappoint on “Mixtape” featuring the always-polarising Young Thug who also delivers the goods.

“Blessings” was premiered on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, where it was announced as Coloring Book’s third single. Here, he vows to keep preaching until he “fades away” and touches on how the birth of his daughter monumentally changed his life. He delivers a brilliant series of lines on this song:  “Jesus’ black life ain’t matter, I know I talked to his daddy/Said you the man of the house now, look out for your family/He has ordered my steps, gave me a sword with a crest/And gave Donnie a trumpet in case I get shortness of breath,” which are a tribute to the religious leitmotif on Coloring Book, suggesting that perhaps God sent him this message directly.

Chance takes a slightly different direction with “All Night”, which is a more commercial sounding song, however infectious without getting annoying (I can assure you this, I must have heard it hundreds of times now). The Knox Fortune-produced joint is lively, vivacious and has that endearing hook that will be stuck in your head forever.

Returning from a quick “Smoke Break” with Future, Chance begins to shut up shop on “Finish Line / Drown”. In the first half, he admits to a past addiction to Xanax and pushing his body to its limit. The second portion, however is an intensely spiritual contribution featuring female rapper Noname and gospel artist Kirk Franklin. Noname delivers a theistic spoken-word verse before Franklin tops it off with a prayer-like donation to the Book. The tape closes out with “Blessings (Reprise)” which brings everything full circle neatly with a Chance-led choir of Ty Dolla $ign, BJ the Chicago Kid, Anderson .Paak, Raury and Nico. Each of their unique voices blend together to create a gospel/hip-hop fusion that is undeniably striking.

Chance the Rapper seriously comes into his own on this mixtape. Songs like “Same Drugs”, “All We Got” and “No Problem” mean if Chance was to retire tomorrow, he would have a discography worthy of a rap icon. Artists like Kanye West and DMX may have laid the foundations for the introduction of religion into traditional hip-hop but no-one has ever done something so spiritual on such a high profile project. The ‘chance’ that I mentioned Chance took at the start of the review is that he put it all on the line despite the possibility that the worship would alienate fans looking for gangster talk and turn-up records. The chance paid off and Chance effortlessly floats from song to song, keeping the religion discrete enough so as not to put off the casual listener.

At the end of the day, Coloring Book is probably one of, if not the best project of the year. It loses none of its inventiveness and imagination after countless listens and goes against the grain in a satisfying way, all while whetting the appetites of Chance’s original fans.

 

#BBAR

Listen to the mixtape on all streaming platforms now!

Follow me on Twitter @boombapacidrap

Follow Chance on Twitter @chancetherapper

A Year To Remember’s Greatest Albums: Ty Dolla $ign

Free TC – Ty Dolla $ign (Taylor Gang, Pu$haz Ink, Atlantic) – November 2015

 

What is most amazing to me about this album is that Ty Dolla $ign has developed that Nate Dogg knack of sounding vocally incredible while never giving the impression he is trying too hard. This album names 24 different acts as features and never feels like it isn’t Ty’s album, which is perfectly captured on the first track “LA, basically an exclamatory show of pride for Ty’s hometown of Los Angeles, which features Kendrick Lamar, Brandy and James Fauntleroy. While Kendrick delivers a verse in which he pays tribute to the LA Lakers and 2Pac, both synonymous with West Coast life, Brandy’s bit-part shows she still has it 24 years after her solo debut and Cocaine 80s’ Grammy-winning singer James Fauntleroy does what you’d expect him to.

One of my biggest gripes with so many albums of this kind is that, too often, the singles on it feel separate from the movement of the album, however Free TC manages to blend the tracks together to create a sonically-pleasing album through Ty’s unassumingly great voice and the production from some of the game’s best such as Hit-Boy, DJ Mustard and Metro Boomin among others.

Another highlight of the album is the collaboration with Babyface called “Solid” which, to me, is undoubtedly one of the year’s best songs. In order to demonstrate how impressive it is for Ty to have Babyface on his album, you have to go through his eleven Grammy award winning career and look at the fact he has written for and worked with people like Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Beyoncé, the aforementioned Brandy and even Lil Wayne. The guitar-driven track is, in theory, pretty simple: wherever Ty Dolla $ign goes, women follow in their masses and he wants for very little, be it money, real friends or weed as he already has an abundance of said things. The actual song is infectiously catchy and since I heard it first, it has barely left my head.

The album grows naturally and feels very unforced. Ty and his team do a fantastic job of integrating A-List artists like Kanye West, R. Kelly and his label mate Wiz Khalifa without placing them on a pedestal and keeping Ty feeling like the main attraction the entire way through.

The hip-hop community looks forward to seeing if Ty Dolla $ign can keep his meteoric rise going. With a great feature on Kanye West’s “Real Friends” from The Life Of Pablo and two new songs out today, he is taking the right steps towards stardom.

A Year to Remember’s Greatest Albums: Pusha T

Darkness Before Dawn: The Prelude – Pusha T (GOOD Music, Def Jam) – December 2015

Intended to serve as a prelude for the GOOD Music president’s third studio album, Darkness Before Dawn has set the bar excitingly high for the long-awaited King Push, due in spring of this year. For a start, the first single released in anticipation of the album, Untouchable heavily samples The Notorious B.I.G.’s iconic guest verse on Pudgee’s 1995 Think Big. In this verse, Biggie claims to be lyrically “untouchable, uncrushable”, which is clearly a recurring theme for Pusha on this project where he is consistently in a very self-appreciative mood.

The Metro Boomin-produced intro to the album sets the signature shady tone which Pusha T has utilised all through his solo career. Happily, this is followed up on in the majority of the next nine tracks.

One of my favourite tracks on the album is Crutches, Crosses, Caskets. A few curious lines (“Old n****s slapping young n****s, ha imagine that, where you from n****?”) on this song allude to the alleged Drake and Diddy altercation at a nightclub in December 2014. This is made more intriguing by the fact Diddy has production credit on this song. Pusha has cited this song as his favourite on the project, understandably.

Despite other masterful performances, the standout track must be M.P.A., an acronym for Money, Pussy, Alcohol, featuring his frequent collaborator and GOOD Music associate – check out New God Flow, Mercy, Runaway and So Appalled – Kanye West, A$AP Rocky and The-Dream. Sounding reminiscent of Blame Game by Kanye from his critically acclaimed (and one of my personal favourite) album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, M.P.A. has a star-filled feel about it that makes you sit up and take notice. And in the current era, a lot of hip-hop, although being good, doesn’t do this.

The Virginia-born and raised coke merchant continues to flow slickly over luxury beats crafted by top-tier producers such as Timbaland, Boi-1da, J Cole and Q-Tip. This album has a grandeur about it, polished to the point of excellence.

Pusha has a rare gift of being able to elaborate his grim images to the point where you finish listening to one of his projects and feel like a character from The Wire. The dictionary definition of ‘prelude’ is an event serving as an introduction to something more important. If that can’t sell Pusha T’s next album to you, nothing will.

#BBAR

2015: A Year to Remember

As I have been absent for over a week, I’ve decided this would be a good time to announce a new series of articles.

2015 was a fantastic year for hip-hop as a whole. We saw the emergence of Bryson Tiller and Goldlink. Future had his best year to date, as did Drake. We witnessed the seismic return of Dr. Dre with Compton. And Kendrick Lamar went from urban prodigy to the undisputed voice of the streets.

With so much exceptional music being released over the course of the year, it wouldn’t be right not to review any of it. For that reason, starting tonight, I hope to post at least one review per week for a good while.

Any criticisms, suggestions or requests can be submitted via Twitter @boombapacidrap. Any interaction is greatly appreciated.

#BBAR

How Hip-Hop Changed My Life: An Introduction

An Introduction to BBAR

 

After much deliberation, I have started a blog for a number of reasons, although mainly to relieve my Twitter followers from my constant outpour of nonsense and to put it into a more orderly form. I hope to update as regularly as possible, however with exams rapidly approaching, you may have to bear with me at times.

Basically, as soon as I heard hip-hop music, I fell in love with the upbeat feeling and the bright, in-your-face, cocky characters. Now, as I approach 18 years of age this year, I find myself getting hooked all over again with the braggadocios attitudes, unique culture and the lyricism in its rawest form. And for this reason, I feel a burning desire to publish my opinions and views so as to possibly inform, entertain and, almost definitely, let out some of my inner rap-nerd.

The first actual hip-hop album I owned was The Black Album by Jay-Z on CD. While I didn’t understand a lot of Jay’s metaphors or wordplay, something about his brash delivery connected with me. Upon hundreds of re-listens, it continues to be an album that shaped how I view music. For example, any hip-hop single that is hot at any given time, to me, is subconsciously compared to “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” or “99 Problems”, both perfect examples of producing a sound that not only captures the ‘pop’ audience’s ear but also manages to keep Jay-Z and hip-hop’s core fans satisfied.

From there I got to the murder-infused, dark bars of 50 Cent, to 2Pac who played a huge part in making it okay for a gangster to talk about his feelings and social issues, to the soul-sampling and self-evaluative Kanye West, to the paradoxical Brooklyn drawl of the Notorious B.I.G., all the way to the marijuana-loving thug that is Snoop Dogg. I was fascinated with all of these extremes and everything in between.

Fast forward to today and I feel, if possible, even more passionate about the art form that is rap. At this point in time, early February 2016, the hip-hop community is waiting with bated breath for Kanye West’s long-awaited follow up to his controversial 2013 album Yeezus, for Drake’s frantically anticipated Views from the 6 and for everything else that the world’s most multi-faceted and conflicting genre has to offer.

I, Peter Tomlinson, creator of Boom Bap and Acid Rap will keep you covered as far as possible.