Friday, March 20, 2015

Songs of the Day

Four more tracks up for review today: "Momma," "Hood Politics," "How Much a Dolla Cost (ft James Fauntleroy & Ronald Isley)," and "Complexion (A Zulu Love) [ft Rapsody]."
Off the bat it's hard not to love the old school feel "Momma" has going on.  The groove has this relaxed feeling to it that makes you want to lay back and dream.  I love that on this track, Kendrick goes on about all of the things that he knows, that kind of cockiness that comes along with fame and being rewarded, simply to admit at the end of the second verse that he "doesn't know shit."  Takes a lot to admit when you're wrong, which I don't feel like is something many in hip hop are willing to admit these days.  Kendrick makes it so apparent that he's struggling between the life of famous Kendrick, and the at-home Kendrick, which I'm sure is something most in the public eye experience.  The pick up/groove switch at the end is dope, adds a new flavor to what was laid back.  Dig that it fades out at the end as well, not anything abrupt.  Diggin it, yes indeed.
"Hood Politics" starts out with a similar kind of chill groove "Momma" had (with a very distinct Thundercat on the bass), and then switches to a groove that has a bit more of a groove to it.  I love that Kendrick is able to switch up his flow depending on whatever the groove calls for, it shows such versatility and he kills it every time.  This track is probably the most similar to the feel on good kid, as it is so clearly about what the title says, "hood politics."  Going back to the hood and realizing that while so many things change, the core stays the same.  This track ends with a continuation of the line that's been weaving throughout the album, adding "but that didn't stop survivor's guilt/going back and forth trying to convince myself the stripes I earned/maybe how unstable my foundation was/but while my loved ones were fighting a continuous war in the city, I was entering a new one." Solid all the way around.
My friend Charley described "How Much a Dolla Cost" as having Radiohead chords, and that is so true, which is part of why this track is so dope.  It's got that dark/eerie/melancholy feel that so much of rap avoids.  Discussing financial troubles, the difficulty of coming up and having money and grappling with what that means for those that don't, this is another track where you can really hear the confliction in Kendrick's voice.  "My selfishness is what got me here" is such a real sentiment for those of us who are trying to come up - you have to have that kind of ego to get where you want to go, and for many it comes off as selfish, but how do you balance that?  Gotta love that Ronald Isley (lead singer and founding member of the Isley Brothers) is on this track, especially considering that Kendrick sampled them on the first single off the record, "i." So real, relatable, and dope.
Another clear Thundercat contribution to the record, "Complexion (A Zulu Love)" has his stamp all over it.  Gotta love Kendrick showin all the brown skin girls love, not enough songs about us multishade women.  The hook says "complexion don't mean a thing," while he acknowledges that there's beauty all around us. Also great to hear a female MC on the track, and Rapsody kills it.  Love her like "bein light don't make you smart, bein dark don't make you stupid," a mentality too many are infected by.  Embrace your beautiful colors, ladies, Kendrick certainly does!

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