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Bay Area Review: Lil B’s “Young Niggaz”

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Lil B

Lil B’s odd journey from parody figure to Hip Hop influencer hasn’t stopped him from becoming one of the most versatile artists in the industry. To be frank, everyone loves him. If you love traditional rap, chances are you find Lil B funny enough to justify checking out his music on occasion. If you love listening to experimental rap, you love Lil B for his constant forays into odd musical territories. The point is, there’s something for everyone when checking out his extensive catalog. With this in mind, it makes it hard to recommend listening to one his latest releases, “Young N*ggaz.”

To be fair, we did just say that he always experiments. But to be honest, he took a long time off from rapping relevancy, only to reappear recently for the release of his Black Ken mixtape. Maybe he retooled his approach recently to focus on a more traditional demographic. Maybe he wanted to go after a classic Bay Area hyphy sound. Whatever the case, “Young N*ggaz” suffers from it.

It’s not necessarily the overly hyphy production or the subpar mixing of the beat and vocals that make it a mess, more so the quality of the verse from Lil B combined with, well, everything else. It sounds like a joke, and that’s even low by Lil B’s standards. The track relies on the nostalgia produced by the hyphy sound to carry the listener to the end. The problem with that is that the production is yawn-inducing so the nostalgia lasts for all of ten seconds before you realize that the track is pretty bad.

The only saving grace in the song is a verse from fellow Californian YG who brings a phoned-in but quality verse. But then again, every YG verse is fire. Could this be on the lower end? Does YG sound bored here? These type of questions pop up as the song goes along. Imagine listening to it multiple times for a review. Yeah, it’s that bad.

Hopefully, Lil B can recapture the creative spark that he had for years when he ran the backend of the rap game with his original sound and message. As a Lil B fan, I can only return to some of his best work and reminisce on the golden days. If “Young Niggaz” is an indicator of the direction that he will push his sound, it looks like his best days are behind him.

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Review: Tee Grizzley’s “Grizzley Gang” is a resounding statement of superiority

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“Hov told me quit puttin’ that money to my ear/ I gotta get used to this shit, I’m just now gettin’ here” opens up Tee Grizzley’s long and intense verse on “Grizzley Gang.” It shows his youthful view of the game; yes he likes money phones but he is just now getting here. We can’t judge him for these actions, but we can judge him for his rhymes. And that’s what makes Grizzley Gang a resounding triumph – it’s an exercise in expressing supremacy in a game full of fakes. It’s my favorite of Grizzley’s growing catalog of bangers because of the raw veracity of its lyrics.

The Bay Area of California is the antithesis of Detroit. Both areas provide drastically different sounds; Detroit’s dragging, pounding beats contrast with the light-hearted, swift nature of the Bay Area’s notable sound. Helluva, one of Detroit’s most notable producers, has managed to bridge the connection between both cultures with a sound that’s both derivative of their individual styles yet wholly original at the same time. This new sound provides the backdrop for Grizzley to smash through any semblance of  rapping restraint, roaring mightily.

The one, extended verse that we get is nearly legendary. Grizzley’s the king of no chorus verses and he makes it clear here that there’s no one around that can top him. By the end of the relatively short release, we’re eager for more.

Grizzley once again lets us know that he’s superior in every way to the scores of artists who attempt a similar style that he exhibits. It’ll surely hold the world over until the release Tee Grizzley and Lil Durk’s collaborative mixtape that comes out on December 8.

Check out “Grizzley Gang” below:

 

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Review: “Cold Summer” by Jeezy ft. Tee Grizzley

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Street rappers make the best music, DJ Drama said it best. The language he used may have been more colorful, but in the end, the fact remains true that rappers who come from the struggle often times make the best music available. This effect doubles when two of those artists come together for the same track. Jeezy’s “Cold Summer” featuring Tee Grizzley is an indicator of that: two wordsmiths from two very different areas use an angry beat to describe a similar street experience that transcends their locations.

Jeezy’s continued relevance is something that many artists of his age bracket often struggle with. He manages to stay on the tip of peoples’ tongues because he’s able to compete at the lyrical level of the younger generation without coming off as corny or out of place. His street panache makes him a logical pairing for Tee Grizzley who’s youthful appearance and strong rap style are somewhat resemblant of a younger Jeezy’s own career beginnings.

The beat that they choose seems dipped in Detroit’s harsh style of bass-heavy production but laced with Atlanta’s melodic trappings, ever so lightly. Over the combined production, Jeezy and Grizzley spit some serious bars. Grizzley brings it back to Detroit with “I’m from Detroit, baby that’s a wild city/Hop on to that block party give the crowd 50” painting a harsh picture of the city’s street life. Over the course of just over three minutes, both street rappers paint vivid pictures of their lives now and the lives that they lived that made them the powerhouse lyricists they are today.

All in all, it’s a solid track that’s sure to be a single from Jeezy’s upcoming album. Check it out below:

 

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Review: “Made It Now” by Cuban Doll

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Cuban Doll

Listening to Cuban Doll’s “Made It Now” created one of the most interesting reviewing experiences I’ve had in my life. Over the course of repeated listens, I’ve changed my opinion about the song three times now – make that four. It’s an intriguing listen that isn’t immediately digestible, but through examination of what it entails, and the characterization of Cuban Doll, it turns into a solid listen that hints at growth for the future.

You know Cuban Doll – we all do. She’s the rapper/model with that femme fatale smile and street gravitas to match,. She’s also a rapper’s rapper, whatever that means. We coined the term out of sheer emotion. She can rap her ass of without any stylistic gimmicks or claims to fame. People like to knock female rappers for being only good as other female rappers but that’s not true in the slightest. Cuban Doll, in particular, can go bar for bar with some of Detroit’s best. With the proper time and training, she’ll improve and could perhaps compete for Nicki Minaj’s spot. But right now, she’s working hard and enjoying her newfound success, evident in “Made It Now.”

The track itself, after repeated listens, sounds to be very polarizing. On one hand, it’s a fast-paced entry of Narcissistic notation that borders on annoying, while on the other, it’s a song that oozes rightfully-earned self-confidence amidst a frantic backdrop of hectic production. On the first couple of listens, the former opinion was one that I held. After having time to sit with the track, I believe I now fall in the secondary category.

For starters, the subject matter isn’t anything new to rap music – it’s about her self-confidence in the rap game now that she’s “made it” – but here it comes across as initially arrogant. She says everything matter-of-factly and to the untrained ear it can be annoying. But when taking into account how old she is, the success she’s seen, and the work that she’s put in, the raps sound better and are more digestible. It also makes the character that she portrays on the song, one that’s started trends that these rappers are following, easier to understand and root for.

Production on the track is also on the lackluster side, being pretty bare bones but serviceable. Cuban Doll brings some of her best bars to date on this track. But as usual with her, it’s not so much what she says, but how she says it. Her killer delivery sells the raps at a level that may not have worked if someone with lesser talent attempted the same thing.

In the end…it works. It takes some time to get acclimated to Doll’s character and stylistic choices but once that’s finished the track takes on a new light. While it’s not the best track to come out this year, it’s still a solid listen that deserves a chance to be heard. See what Cuban Doll has to say about the new things in her life and the trends she started.

Check out “Made It Now” below.

 

 

 

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