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01. Meek Mill- Traumatized
I’ve been listening to this song for months now and I just can’t get sick of it. This was my introduction to meek mill and what a first impression it was. I’ve always been a sucker for heartfelt music and from the get go the passion and emotion in his voice is so present. It’s obvious that every word spoken is directly from the heart. It’s a perfect mix of anger and sadness. The lack of drums thoughout the verses strips the beat right back so your forced to focus on the lyrics with a background of emotional riffs. Once the chorus hits the drums do to which also introduces the females vocals just to sprinkle some more emotion on the track. Meek mills voice filters through saying ‘you ripped my family apart and made my mumma cry so when I see you n**** it’s gon’ be a homicide’ He has a way of playing the good guy and villain at the same time and does so perfectly.
02. J. Cole- Runaway
Off the album Born Sinner – my favorite hip hop release of 2013 This song is among two others as one of my favorites of the record. The song starts with a Mike Epps sample that sets the tone of the concept from the jump. Once the sample is over cole wastes no time getting into things and spilling his guts on a chilled out beat that he himself produced. The lyrics are extremely thought provoking and relatable to most men. Admitting to flaws and weaknesses on a track is actually a strength in my eyes and something I look for in hip hop and he does this extremely well. Not only does he admit to his but he brings us in with him in a sort of story telling way. He flicks back and forth between talking about about himself in the story and then referring to ‘you’ which bridges the gap between him letting it out and including the listener. The chorus is my favorite part. Very simple and straight forward, sung by himself. Almost a haunting painful type of singing which blends perfectly with the rest of the song. My favorite line in the song is ‘Even in ya lowest days when ya no longer superman at least ya know ya got Lois lane’ just because I feel like it summarizes the whole track in one line. Perfect way to finish a verse!
The song starts with beautiful keys and the best singing I’ve ever heard Justin Timberlake do. He wastes no time captivating the listener! First impressions of the song are that he is talking of a female but upon listening closer you’ll discover he is referring to his love hate relationship with the entertainment industry. The way the start progresses then switches to a trap beat is surprising and shocking at first but definitely works. As the trap beat kicks in so does Jay-Z with his laid back simple flow and possible over use of the ‘uh’ but when you know the verse well and are vibing to it you can’t help but enjoy doing the ‘uhs’ with him haha. His first verse is complaining about the trails and tribulations that come with the territory but at the same time taking part of the blame ‘nobody to blame – Kurt Cobain – I did it to myself’. After his first verse of course the hook kicks back in but this time is sung over the trap style beat and still works as the riffs kick back in when JT does. In the second verse Jay-z admits that his problems are minuscule compared to what people are dealing with in his old environment and almost tells himself off for complaining saying ‘this is all you had to deal with? Deal with it, this ain’t work it’s light work’ and as if you thought JT couldn’t do any better the bridge is just as good if not better than the chorus. Another song I can’t seem to get sick of!
04. NAS- The World is an Addiction
Nas is easily one of my favorite rappers of all time and after a few sub par records (his Damien Marley collaborative effort not included) it was good to see him come back with ‘Life is Good’ and this specific track is my favorite off the album. Firstly, any track with Anthony Hamilton on the hook is a winner in my eyes. I’m a big fan of his voice and this beat along with Nas’ voice makes for a perfect blend and combination. As much as the riffs in this beat are powerful the drums are weak and simple but it works so well. Again, with the drums stripped right back you are forced to pay closer attention to what is being said and with this concept in particular I feel like that was a crucial move to make. This song wasn’t meant to be about the beat but about the lyrics. The concept alone is genius. By saying ‘The world is an addiction’ he actually refers to all the tempting things within the world we as people are known to become addicted to. The first verse touches on something he probably knows well and that’s being addicted to the rush of the street life. Almost like a ‘Thugs weaknesses’ while the second verse is more sporadic. Touching on things like sins within the church or ‘sick addictions’ if you will. ‘Pastors quote biblical chapters, psalms. All along he’s into bestiality porn. He Definitely holds no punches in bringing the dark reality of addiction to the forefront and I can’t help but love the rawness of it.
05. Pusha T ft. Kendrick Lamar
The second this beat starts I get this feeling I used to get from hip hop and my face screws up. The drums aren’t hard as in banging but they still go hard in their own way and the general feel of the beat takes me back to some late 90’s feel. This song is so simple and affective. Two awesome verses on a knockin beat. Usually Kendrick kills everybody he jumps on a track with but I have a hard time choosing my favorite verse on this one. Pusha T definately brought his A game with lines like ‘crack the window in the kitchen let it ventilate coz I let it sizzle on the stove like a minute steak’ referring to the crack cocaine he would sell before being a successful rapper. Both verses seperated by a line cut/sample that I couldn’t really call a hook but it’s a perfect suit. Kendrick open his verse with ‘you want to see a dead body?’ But it’s his voice that grabs your attention straight away. As confronting as the lyrics are from both artists I guess it’s the harsh reality of the environment both have come from and I’m sure they capture that street/good vibe perfectly with this number! Also a lot of people don’t realize but die to the cocaine referances the title is actually ‘NOSEtalgia’
This is my favourite song at the moment. Perfect for a saturday or sunday morning cruise in the car! Such a positive happy vibe that your pretty much forced to groove to! The song starts with a marvin gaye sample and slowly progresses into a hip hop feel bringing in the drums and hook on which wale has had a singer lay a new and more modernised hook over the happy yet haunting back ground vocals of the great marvin gaye. ‘Love you then they hate you then they love you again, hate you then they love you then they hate you again lord!’ – Wale explains of the volatility our target audience can show the artist at times. Being a young man who has grown distant from a lot of my old mates due to their addictions and drug use the line I relate to most and get shivers pretty much every time I hear it is ‘I lost a lot of friends, and they ain’t even dead.’ – I’m not sure if this exactly what he means but when I hear it that’s how i make it relative to my situation and therefore can rap along with conviction.
07. Logic- Under Pressure
This has been getting a definite seeing to lately. Usually when I find a new artist their single isn’t my favorite track by them. If anything it’s the weakest. But not in this case. It has everything I look for in a hip hop track – edgey lyrics with clear vocals and a simple but catchy hook and of course a banging beat which changes up at least three times and I actually like all the changes that the beat makes! The hook sounds like an exert of something very significant and catchy from a verse.. Logic definitely won me over with this one!
08. Briggs- Bad Apples
This is probably my favourite Briggs track. Such a raw – taste of reality shoved in people’s faces. Full of facts and the harsh truth. The beat is a perfect backdrop for Briggs to cut to the bone and get to the point. Once the song is finished you can’t help but feel like he is a great role model and voice for his people. My favourite line in the song is easily ‘they don’t use em to pack shelves they use em to pack cells up in the system for’ they even crack 12′ straight forward but so graphic and thought provoking.
09. Kendrick Lamar- Celebration
This is my song I put on when I’m having a bad day or am sad or in a bad mood. It’s so uplifting and has such a great positive vibe that it turns my mood around almost instantaneously. Extremely happy groovy beat and the lyrics to match! This kind of song is rare in hip hop and so when I come across these kind if gems they get put away and kept for a rainy day. My favourite part of this song is the chorus. It’s just such an infectious melody that I actually end up despising it’s that catchy and gets that stuck in my head. Also the flows throughout the verses are so left field and different I can’t help but walk with a bop in my step no matter where I’m listening to it. Massive thumbs up to Kendrick for not applying the usual ‘rap template’ of the hardcore gangster image and just ‘having fun’ on a happy go lucky foundation of riffs and drums.
I’m actually not a massive fan of The Game as of lately. When he first came out he had me on board but slowly lost me over time. This is the kind of stuff i like him doing. I listen to songs like this and feel like someone with a platform or a voice is representing the people. The beat is made up of beautiful riffs and subtle almost ‘pretty’ drums are a prefect backdrop for the lyrics he drops on it. He touches on things like the Ferguson riots in which an African American man was the victim of police brutality. A friend put me onto Stacey Barthe a while ago so its good to see her breaking through from the shadows on a song like this and she plays a perfect role. her voice is haunting and stabbing throughout the verses then on the chorus she just repeatedly sings ‘were all dying, sometimes I wanna purge’ – I love that the pain in both their voices is matched perfectly – almost like although these issues don’t affect them PERSONALLY they still share the pain of the people that do. About Mike Brown he says – ‘I hope his Mummas tears is like acid to ya fuckin badges’ – I get shivers and my hairs stand up every time i hear that line.