Friday, March 20, 2015


Hood Politics

How Much a Dolla Cost (ft James Fauntleroy & Ronald Isley)

Complexion (A Zulu Love) [ft Rapsody]

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!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

These Walls (ft Bilal, Anna Wise & Thundercat)


it's not on the interwebs :(


unfortunately, it's been pitched a little higher than on the record

For Sale (Interlude)

Songs of the Day

Today, we've got tracks 5-8 up for review today: "These Walls (ft Bilal, Anna Wise & Thundercat)," "u," "Alright," and "For Sale (Interlude)"
Another solid day of songs starts out with "These Walls." I love the ongoing line of "I remember you was conflicted, misusing your influence" as it contiues to build throughout the album.  It's such a self-reflection, you can really understand that this is a personal statement to and by Kendrick.  The groove on this track is one of the more mellow thus far, but still has that backbeat that keeps your head moving.  Anna Wise's voice adds such a smoothness to the hook, as does Bilal's (they blend so well together).  While it's not oh so subtle in its sexual content, it's not so brazen and in your face as so much rap these days - it's respectful and has deeper (no pun intended) meaning behind it.  Because, what if these walls could talk?  What stories would your inner workings tell you?  Sex can be so beautiful, but it can also have consequences, and that seems to be the battle that Kendrick seems to be envoking in this track.  I dig how the groove slows down towards the end with the sax, it's quite relaxing.  Such a solid number.
"u" is certainly one of these heavier hitters on this album, both in feel and context.  You can hear the struggle off the bat in the way Kendrick says "lovin you is complicated" (10 times, each time different).  A track about the conflicting feelings that come along with rising to fame/success, Kendrick really makes you feel it.  The feeling is made that much more prominent when the groove switches and Kendrick continues to rap in a pseudo wailing/crying tone.  The pain is so real, so difficult to ignore - how does one balance being the person from home and the person that fame has turned you into?  I mean, the guy is talking about being depressed, how many rappers are willing to be that vulnerable?? Turning to the bottle because you can't handle it, that's some real shit.  So heartfelt, it's hard not to connect to this song.
When it comes to bangers, "Alright" probably takes the cake on the record.  This track's been on repeat since day one for multiple reasons.  First of all, the beat is so fucking dope with the vocal (albeit tracked) samples, and the hook "nigga we gon' be alright" is just so damn catchy.  Also gotta love that sax in the background.  And Kendrick's flow, talking about self doubt but knowing you're gonna be alright, he's straight killin it.  "And we hate popo/when they kill us dead in the street fasho," a line that is far to prevelant in today's society.  I love that the line "what you want, you a house, you a car, forty acres and a mule" comes up frequently throughout the album - it hits home for so many, and it helps tie the whole thing together.  I have stank face through this whole damn song, it's too damn catchy!  Love love love love love.  It ends with the ongoing "I remember you was conflicted, misusing your influence/sometimes I did the same/abusing my power, full of resentment/resentment that turned into a deep depression/found myself screaming in a hotel room/I didn't want to self-destruct/the evils of Lucy were all around me, so I went running for answers" - so fucking heavy, Kendrick.
"For Sale (Interlude)" can certainly be considered a song in its own right.  I love the "what's wrong nigga, I thought you were keepin it gaaangsta" in the beginning, I'm sure that's something Kendrick has been conflicted with.  The beat has a trippy, underwater kind of thing going on that I dig.  He's going on about Lucy, which I can't tell is an actual female, or LSD.  I'm assuming the latter in the manner that he refers to her, particularly the "paper on top of paper" line.  Regardless, you can tell it's a confliction about whether or not he should go down a certain path, both a female and/or drugs could be applicable.  Kind of sounds like he's falling down the rabbit hole at the end, with the same recurring line with the addition of "so I went home" at the end.  Solid, oh so solid.

Wesley's Theory (ft George Clinton & Thundercat)

For Free (Interlude)

King Kunta

Institutionalized (ft Bilal, Anna Wise, & Snoop Dogg)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Songs of the Day

First four tracks up for review today: "Wesley's Theory (ft George Clinton & Thundercat)," "For Free (Interlude)," "King Kunta," "Institutionalized (ft Bilal, Anna Wise & Snoop Dogg)."
"Wesley's Theory" is the definition of a solid opener.  The gradual fade in on the "every nigga is a star" (praise) intro sets everything up perfectly.  The groove that drops for the track is all kinds of funky, and how appropriate when you have the master of funk himself, George Clinton, on the track! How dope is that though, how many rappers are having George Clinton on their song, versus just sampling him??  Love it.  Thundercat is straight killin on the bass (surprise, surprise), really bringing the funk alive on this.  Kendrick comes out swinging on this, I can't wait to give this record a listen while looking at the lyrics.  I get distracted by how sick his flow is that it takes a couple of listens for me to really absorb the lyrics.  So, so solid.
Ok, so first we got a good taste a funk, and now this dude drops some straight JAZZ on us with "For Free (Interlude)!"  I love the spoken word element to this track, it solidifies that Kendrick is more than just a rapper, he's a poet.  Love how he says "this dick ain't freeeee," such great emphasis on the pimping of artists for their artistry.  Not to mention the players are going in in the back, making Kendrick's words that much more prominent.  Yes, Kendrick, yaaaaaaaas!
Keeping the funk alive with "King Kunta," and I'm lovin it.  This whole album keeps your head boppin the entire time, and it's such a great feeling.  This groove has that I'm-walking-down-the-street-and-I-know-I'm-the-shit kinda feel to it, that good stankiness! "Bitch, where were you when I was walkin? Now I run the game, got the whole world talkin" - tell em, Kendrick!  He really is running the game though, and rightfully so when he's putting out bangers like this!  I want the funk, Kendrick, I want it.
Kendrick keeps the flow going right along with "Institutionalized," there's no stopping it.  It's a little bit of a more relaxed groove, but it still gets your head moving.  And what a great cast of features on this one!  Bilal, Anna Wise (hey girrrrrl), AND Snoop - hell yes!  "Shit don't change until you get up and wash yo ass, nigga," you better sing it, Bilal!  There's so much musicality to this track, and it makes you pay attention.  That and how obviously concious Kendrick is make for a really great track.  "Remember stealin from the rich and givin back to the poor? Well that's me at these awards."  You certainly do, Kendrick, you certainly do.

Album Factoids

To Pimp a Butterfly

Released: March 16, 2015
Genre: Rap, Hip-Hop
Label: Top Dawg, Interscope
Producers: Dr. Dre, Anthony "Top Dawg" Tiffith, Flying Lotus, Pharrell Williams, Thundercat, Boi-1da, Dave Free, Itzik Bensoli, KOZ, Knxwledge, Larrance Dopson, LoveDragon, Rahki, Ronald "Flippa" Colson, Sounwave, Tae Beast, Taz Arnold, Terrace Martin, Tommy Black, Willie B, Whoarei

*again, can't post a Kendrick picture on my ipad :(


So, after week 99 (Beck), I was waiting to choose the perfect final album, and boom, Kendrick drops his 2nd studio record just in time!  I wish it hadn't been leaked and subsequently released early, becuase now I have to blog on the road, but whatever, he's worth it.  good kid, m.A.A.d city is not only one of my favorite rap/hip-hop albums, but it's one of my favorite albums PERIOD, so I have been anticipating the follow up like crazy since then.  Normally, I don't listen to the records before I review them, but I definitely had to break the rules for this one (also, there was no social media in Shanghai, so I couldn't blog about it anyway).  Couldn't have asked for a better way to end this blog.

*also, I usually post the "this week's album..." first, but I'm on my ipad and this format won't let me upload the album cover.  womp womp.