Saturday, August 20, 2011

Murder to Excellence

Made in America (ft Frank Ocean)

Why I Love You (ft Mr. Hudson)

Songs of The Day

Murder in Excellence:  Ok, so I am consistently having the same problem with these beats.  They start off cool, and then they gotta add some shit to ruin it.  I think that applies to every song today.  I like the groove, the vocal sample is cool and adds a cool vibe to the tune.  But then the beat drops with the added piano and extra drums, and it just seems to cluttered.  Not to mention there are little samples that come in and out of the groove that just seem unnecessary.  Simplicity would have been much better with this one.  I do like the ending groove, but I almost would have preferred it had been its own song - it's addition to this song is just another unnecessary additive.  Groove issues aside, lyrically, this song has a great message - the black community should be focusing on enhancing their status in society rather than killing one another.  I can get down with that. 

Made in America (ft Frank Ocean):  This beat is corny.  I feel like I'm listening to John Hughes soundtrack or something (which is not totally a bad thing, because I do love my John Hughes).  It would have been better without the repeating single note and the piano that comes in.  SIMPLICITY PEOPLE.  Maybe corny isn't the right word..."boring" is probably a better fit.  I like that it's soft, but again, that single note is a little harsh against everything.  This is a good connection lyrically to the last song with the nice message of making it in America, but I don't think the beat does it justice.

Why I Love You (ft Mr. Hudson):  I actually like the hook to this one, which is sampled from Cassius' "I Love You So."  I dig the heaviness to it.  Too bad that doesn't last into the verses.  The way it's brought down is a little too much.  The groove in the verses is also very My Dark Twisted Fantasy, (especially when the strings come in at the end) and we've already been there, so...  I don't think Jay's flow really works with this beat, and it turns me off.  The bridge is weird, the rock guitar doesn't work with it.  It's an ok tune...

Friday, August 19, 2011

That's My Bitch

Welcome to the Jungle

who do you think you are? guns n roses?

Who Gon Stop Me

Songs of The Day

That's My Bitch:  I had faith in this song when it started, because the drum groove going has a nice old school feel to it, but that didn't last too long.  The synth sound that comes in ruins everything for me.  It just sounds corny.  Speaking of corny, the hook is whack.  Didn't think it was corny enough?  Well you're in luck, because the ending groove is also corny.  Good thing Jay and Yeezy have good flow on this one, 'cause that's the only thing they've got goin for them on this one. 

Welcome to the Jungle:  The beat on this one is okay.  I don't really like the added synth that comes in and out, but it's not terrible.  The groove doesn't really seem to fit with the sad context of the lyrics, so I'm a little thrown off.  Decent lyrics.  That same old-timey outro is back.  Why don't they make a beat out of this?

Who Gon Stop Me:  I kind of like the heavy dub feel to this groove, not half bad.  I do appreciate that they've incorporated different styles into their beats, nice to see people switch it up.  This definitely sounds like something people would be getting hype to in the club.  Why do they have to keep adding unnecessary parts that ruin the songs??  The second beat that comes in is way too different, it doesn't work with the initial beat.  Not to mention, the song is way too long.  Had potential... too bad.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Otis (ft Otis Redding)

so, so wonderful

Gotta Have It

sample used

New Day

sample used

Songs of The Day

Otis:  And we have reached the first single of the album.  I didn't like this the first time I heard it, thought it was overrated, but it's getting better with more listens.  I'm sure everyone knows that this samples Otis Redding's "Try a Little Tenderness," which is an excellent song.  Actually, it's excellence distracts me.  I find myself listening to Otis the whole time instead of Jay and Kanye.  I think they maybe should have cut his vocal sample out during the verses so that the guys could be more up front.  I think Kanye out-raps Jay on this one, his first verse is pretty great (for example, "luxury of rap, the hermes of verses" and "write my curses in cursive").  Jay's rhythm also doesn't seem as smooth as Kanye's.    I don't really get how the Otis sample fits contextually, seeing as the verses are just a big pissing contest, but I do appreciate the fact that they incorporated such a soulful song into a mainstream rap tune.  I hope that that will inspire its listeners to go check out who Otis is and the wonderful music he made.  But I must say, all I can think of when I hear this sample is...

Gotta Have It:  I like that "Otis" goes right into this track.  Another soul sample on this one with James Brown's "My Thang" - aight, aight, I can get down with that.  I would hope that all of Jay and Kanye's fans (and the rest of the world) listens to James Brown, but if they don't (psychos) I hope this will make them want to check him out.  I like the heaviness of this beat, it's pretty cool.  I like their flows on this one a lot, especially the kind of call-and-response thing they've got going on coming in with one liners on each others verses - makes it interesting.  Lyrically, this tune is pretty decent, not the best, but solid for a headbanger.  This might by my favorite so far...

New Day:  Ah yes, Nina Simone - what a lovely person to sample!  The beat to this is really chill, and the way they chop up Nina's "Feeling Good" sample is really cool and interesting.  I think the keys are a liiiittle too loud, but aside from that, this is a pretty solid beat.  I wish they wouldn't have added those stupid fake horns though, completely unnecessary.  I dig the message with this one - making a better life for your family, which is always a good thing.  I kind of feel like Jay falls in the background on this one, which is unfortunate, because his verse is pretty decent.  Dig the echo everything gets at the end, and that they really focus on the Nina sample.  The guitar added at the end doesn't work for me, should have kept it simple.  This also has the sample old-timey outro that "No Church in the Wild" had - I dig it.  Pretty solid tune.

Yay for a good day of songs!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

No Church in the Wild (ft Frank Ocean)

Lift Off (ft Beyoncé)

Ni**as in Paris

Songs of The Day

No Church in the Wild (ft Frank Ocean):  This is an interesting tune to start on - it's much more subdued than I would have imagined from these two.  The muted guitar adds a grimey feel to the beat that I dig.  I wish the beat was a little more hard-hitting, especially in the chorus - it's all a little too mellow.  Frank is cool, but same with the beat, I think the hook is a little too mellow.  I'm not the biggest fan of the rhyme rhythm Jay and Kanye use -it seems a little too spacey.  That's not to say I don't think their flow is good, I just wish they contrasted the mellowness of the beat a little more.  Interesting that there's a little autotune section in this seeing as Jay wrote a song about the death of autotune...hmmm.  Nothing extraordinary lyrically so far.  Old-timey groove at the end is cool.  Decent tune.

Lift Off (ft Beyonce):  I'm not gonna lie, I am not a big fan of this beat.  It's kind of corny.  I like the drum beat, but the fake horns aren't doing anything for me.  No surprise Mrs. Carter is making an appearance on this album.  She sounds ok, but I think she sounds a little harsh against this beat.  Dear Kanye, STOP SINGING.  You'd think he would have learned his lesson with 808, but nooooo, he had to sing on Dark Twisted, and now he's gotta bring it over here.  YOU'RE NOT A GOOD SINGER!  As a singer, listening to him bugs me.  Autotune does nothing to help him (but autotune sucks anyway).  Jay's ok.  For a song about space, this beat doesn't sound very spacey.  This all seems a little disconnected.

Ni**as in Paris:  Starting a song with a Will Ferrell sample?  I can get down with that.  Funny that they would choose from Blades of Glory.  That may be the best part though.  The beat kind of sounds like a video game, and in a weird way.  I don't think it's bad, but it is kind of annoying.  In my notes, I wrote "this beat sounds like it belongs on the Jersey Shore" - yeah....  I like the breakdown much better, I just wish that they didn't put in that sample that makes it sound like there's something wrong with my speakers.  Also, fake chorus?  For a song talkin about how baller they are, you think they would have hired some real people.  Eh.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Album Factoids

Watch The Throne

Released: August 8, 2011
Genre: Rap
Label: Roc-A-Fella
Producers: Jay-Z, Kanye West, Swizz Beats, Q-Tip, The Neptunes, 88-Keys, Mike Dean, Don Jazzy, Jeff Bhasker, Hit-Boy, Kyambo Joshua, Sham "Sak Pase" Joseph, Anthony Kilhoffer, Ken Lewis, Gee Roberson, RZA, S1

Sean Carter, Kanye West

Week 46: Jay-Z & Kanye West

Oh buddy, time to review Watch the Throne.  There's been a lot of buzz going about this album since "H.A.M." (which for those of you who don't know, stands for hard as a motherfucker) and "Otis" were released, but then again, any collaboration with these two is sure to garner buzz.  Not gonna lie, haven't been impressed by either of those two songs, and even though a lot of people haven't said the best things about this album, I'm still gonna try it out.  This will be my first Jay-Z review, and my second Kanye (I reviewed My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy when it was released).  Hey, these are two rap moguls, I'm sure they got a lil some'in some'in up their sleeves.

This Week's Album...

yea, it's time.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Final Grade: B/B-

This is a pretty decent album.  Some solid soul revival going on here.  I'm a little confused as to my opinion of Aloe's voice.  It seems underdeveloped, which is understandable seeing that he was originally a rapper and not a singer (I think I may prefer him rapping).  "I Need a Dollar" was a great tune to open on, because Aloe's voice is right in pocket and gives you a great first impression of him.  Although, I don't think he always held up to that first song.  For example, I think "Take Me Back" is a really awesome song, but Aloe's voice doesn't sound supported or confident.  He's got a soulful grime to his voice, which is really nice, but depending on the range that he's singing it, that grime doesn't always come off as attractive.  I have a feeling that with work, his voice will strengthen and he will be a force to be record with, but right now, for me, it's not there yet.  Song wise, "Femme Fatale" was the only song I really didn't care for, and I thought that the last two tunes were kind of lackluster, but overall, pretty good album.  Looking forward to hearing how he develops.

You Make Me Smile

very sweet video

If I

Politician (Reprise)

Songs Of The Day

You Make Me Smile:  This is a pretty solid soul groove.  Very sweet, uplifting feel to it, which should be expected given the title of the tune.  Aloe sounds pretty good on this, sounds like he's comfortable with the range and topic of the song.  I like the horns paralleling the melody in the chorus - adds a nice emphasis.  The drum groove in the verses is pretty funky, much thanks to side stick for that one.  It sounds like it's about 30 seconds too long, but I'm not bored, so it's not much of an issue.

If I:  I'm not 100% sure of how I feel about this groove.  I like it for the most part - the waltz feel is cool, and it's got this dark feel to it that's intriguing.  I also really like the pizzicato strings - they add a nice texture.  I can't really get down with the drum sound though.  It doesn't really blend with the style of the rest of the tune.  The drum groove's also kind of lame. Then again, these obviously aren't real drums, so that could have something to do with it.  They stick out for me, which doesn't really allow me to get into the rest of the tune.  I like the B section, dig the echo effect on his voice, adds a cool feeling.  Some weird echoey organ sound comes in at the end - it's faint, but still unnecessary.  Cool a cappella ending, but I don't think it should have resolved to major.

Politician (Reprise):  So, I'm a little confused as to how this is a reprise seeing that there wasn't a first "Politician" on the album.  Anyway, kind of a weak way to end this.  It's all instrumental, which is totally cool, but this is kind of corny.  The horns have a fake sound to them (wouldn't be surprised if they are fake) and the rock guitar thing goin on just didn't work with the song or the context of the album.  Odd way to close.