Review: Ab Soul — These Days

Music, Newness, Review

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Where Control System made connection with those who listen to music with their heads, it seems as though These Days was made with the soul part of Soul. With all the weariness from  Control System lovers talking about “off singing” or “softer topics”, number 15 (the last song) is strong enough to carry the rest (as if it needed it). That track is ‘W.R.O.H’ feat JMSN— a 23min song featuring a hidden  a cappella which vibes out on some very conscious topics.

Pitchfork wrote:

“Ab-Soul, it was recently revealed, was never signed to Interscope. It’s a poignant revelation, one casting Ab as the last-picked kid in gym class. In the meantime, Isaiah Rashad may have eaten his lunch. But These Days…, which finally sees release this week, doesn’t seem to mind. “

To me, the ‘doesn’t seem to mind part’ is the makings of a ‘dad’ position. Someone confident, solid and strong; someone who doesn’t mind who in his family gets more, because it’s all one in the same at dinner time.

Perhaps Soul knew, when he spat“If I ain’t better than Kendrick then nobody is then”, people would try say Kendrick featured on the better song on the album.

 People have also said Kendrick has the best album on TDE and These Days is full of “trap shit”.

So there’s two scenarios:

  • Ab Soul is making ignant music (REALLY?!!)…(Like actually, you gonna entertain that thought after Control System)…..(Really??)…ok sure.

  • Or they don’t like the commercial sound of it but erm, Good Kid, M.A.A.D City was that, wasn’t it?

Anyway.

More and more lately the topics third eye, pineal glands and dimethyltryptamine are creeping into verses.  It is certainly not something new for Ab Soul (just peep the tattoos in Closure).  Last but not least, the Black Hippy legend says on Just Have Fun, “I write with a ghost”. Which to me, is the thirdeye consciousness that I can trust because it’s the same thing anyone coming with soul says.

It’s good to hear more and more of SZA too.

 

Review: Pusha T — My Name Is My Name

Music, Newness, Review

Pusha-T-Album

By Michael Androutsos

“This the heart of the muthafuckin city. Act like y’all ain’t have the muthafuckin Clipse album. Act like y’all ain’t based your whole shit your whole lifestyle off this nigga Pusha T. Everything is Pusha T. Pyrex vision, that’s Pusha T. Fear of God, that’s Pusha T. This nigga the heart of the muthafuckin culture, for the culture vultures.”

Those are the words of the infamous Kanye West, who is Pusha T’s label owner and friend, at the official listening party to Pusha’s debut album My Name Is My Name, and truthfully I have no problem agreeing with Mr West on this one. Pusha has an overwhelming sense of control with everything he does — it is no different on this tape.

Since the Clipse became dormant and Pusha continuously appeared as a feature on GOOD Music records whilst Malice found God and became No Malice, I have been waiting for this moment. This album is one of those pieces of work that you fiend for as soon as you hear about it, in fact I placed a Pusha T solo album up there on my wish list alongside an Andre 3000 solo album, that’s how much this album means to me and whilst Pusha is not a lyricist, nor an icon like Jay-Z, it is incredible how from the moment you press play on the Clipse albums you fall in love with his almost anti-charisma like, cold flows.

The tape starts off with the Kanye produced track King Push, and from go, you get the message. “Cos I’m King Push, this King Push, I rap niggas bout trap niggas I don’t sing hooks” is one of the most authoritative sentences I have heard in a song. That is one of the reoccurring themes throughout the album, every song is authoritative, every song makes you believe; in every song you think you are listening to the King even when he is doubting himself.

Next we have my personal favourite Numbers on the Boards, and as soon as that bass line hits, you find your head nodding addictively. It is one of those songs that make you feel like you are the shit; no matter when or where you listen to it. Those indescribable sounds that take the place of what would be a usual snare are a testament to the brilliance that this album attempted to harness but can only put a finger on. To use a football reference, Lionel Messi is the benchmark on brilliance and this album is Cristiano Ronaldo, who is no doubt an incredible talent but can never quite reach the levels of Lionel Messi.

Features are aplenty on this tape and Pusha has utilised each one brilliantly. All the way from a dark and addictive Chris Brown hook to a typical ignorant 2 Chainz verse, none of the features take anything away from their respective songs. Even Rick Ross seems sentimental on Hold On, and this is from a dude who rapped about spiking a chick’s drink, taking her home and “enjoying that.” This brings me to my favourite feature on the tape and no prizes for guessing who it is… Kendrick Lamar. I have been a Kendrick fan for several years now and the dude continues to put bars on bars on bars. It is insane how he has so many different flows and voices in his locker and the way he compliments Pusha on Nosetalgia is perfect.

As well as authority, the other reoccurring theme of the tape is selling dope. If you know the Clipse’s music and if you know who Pusha T is then this is expected but it is one of the tracks where he takes a break from this topic that interested me. The Kelly Rowland assisted Let Me Love You, has Pusha T sounding like a Fabulous/Ma$e hybrid and this song wouldn’t be out-of-place in the charts of the early 2000s. I have a feeling the radio might eat it up. It is the complete opposite of the dark and emotional 40 Acres, which has The Dream singing “I’d rather die, then go home”, yet I enjoyed them both and neither seems out of place on this album.

All in all, from the production to the features to the fact that there is now finally a Pusha T solo album, I was left satisfied and the only complaint I could have is that there are only 12 tracks and whilst it isn’t a bad tape in any way or form, I still had higher hopes for a Pusha album and hopefully in his next one he finally reaches the levels he set for himself. With that being said, if you had the Clipse albums or if you are a fan of the culture then you absolutely need to check this one out.

Editorial: Who’s In Control?

Editorial, Music, News

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Last week Kendrick Lamar managed to out-shine Big Sean on his new song ‘Control’. His voice melts into the second verse and then goes in on the beat. Building up aggression, passion and career threats directed at some of his best track features to date, including Drake, J. Cole, Pusha-T, Jay Z and A$AP Rocky. As a result of claiming to own New York or lines like taking your audience and murdering n****’ s he’s thrown a bomb on a sleepy Hip Hop world and provoked responses from rappers Joel Ortiz, or Papoose who said in a XXL interview:

“Even if I wasn’t from New York, I would respect that enough to not say that I was the King of a place that I’m not even from.” Papoose said, “I had to just represent for my city. It was defending my city where I was born and raised, blood sweat and tears. I felt like, all y’all media outlets and award shows and different platforms, y’all make these dudes feel like they’re greater than what they are, and it ultimately leads to a situation like this, where they feel like they can just disrespect everybody like that.” —Pappoose

Papoose certainly makes a very fair point about a false sense of security, the media and who’s ‘in’ at the time. It has been a minute since Kendrick Lamar dropped good kid, m.A.A.d city. In that time A$AP Rocky and his mob have played New Zealand and their show quality wise, gave Kendrick’s show a run for its money. I was beginning to wonder what Kendrick was up to. The last I really paid attention to him, he was being labelled the next Pac.

However, with the hip hop masterpieces assigned to his name so far: Overly Dedicated, The Kendrick Lamar EP, Section.80 and Good Kid I had enough faith that he wasn’t sleeping. There was no way it was possible.

Then, last week, Big Sean dropped a track ‘Control’. But in one verse Kendrick made the track his and set the Hip Hop world alight. Many responses in the way of tweets or tracks followed. A Tweet from Ice T read:

“I love how ONE verse woke hip hop THE FUCK UP. It’s been a long time since people talked about ANYTHING someone said in their rhyme.”

And:

“I’m sure there’s gonna be a lot of replies and diss tracks. Don’t trip it’s just Hip Hop.”

Within the week rappers Joel Ortiz, B.O.B, Lupe Fiasco, Joe Budden and more have taken to Big Sean’s beat and remixed a message to Kendrick that all pretty much said, ‘watch it mate’. None of the verses however, can hold a candle to the shadow of Kendrick’s one; so we’re back at the question: What is Kendrick up to?

Anyone that doesn’t recognize how the man went from a small lull (possibly due to playing summer festivals in the States) to having people he’s pissed off put his name on their track titles need only to wake up. Certainly, getting people going was one of his intentions in the song. For as long as Hip Hop has been, there’s been a competitive nature to it. And Kendrick’s no stranger to confrontation. Whether it’s his peers, family or rivals. What I’m more concerned with above Kendrick claiming New York is, how-come the rappers he called out on the verses have remained dead quiet? Called out rhymers who are notorious for rap beef, Drake or J.Cole haven’t said a thing. Not just that, Kendrick calls out Big Sean and Jay Electron who feature before and after him on Control. To those really hating on K.Dot – anything unjustifiable and unintended for fans to hear wouldn’t have made it past mixing and mastering. Have you thought about that?

Last time I checked, the person in first place stands in the centre on the winner’s podium.

Not only did Kendrick kick Big Sean’s ass on his own song with technique alone, he’s got people up in arms so much, they’re starting a conversation within the culture.

When he was compared to Tupac he told Vice Magazine:

“I’m a student of the game. I look to some of my favourite rappers; like Eminem, he’s probably one of the best lyricists of all time. Then you got Jay Z who has a real conversational type of way of flowing, Nas is the storyteller and Pac’s got aggression.”

Granted, the Control verse was aggressive and controversial. But I don’t think any of it has been miscalculated especially by someone who’s family are gangstas and have made sure Kendrick kept his nose clean. Someone strong enough to stand up and say, ‘you ain’t gotta get drunk to have fun,’ when everyone else is, gets my respect and attention.

“My sound is from me practicing all these flows and all the different styles I can put into my own niche. Whether I like it or not my voice is already distinctive as hell, so I stand out on the track anyway. You can hear my voice before you hear anything else. I’m blessed for that.”

On the Heart Part. 3 recorded amidst pressures of being ‘Pac reincarnated’ he raps, ‘I need to separate myself to stand out/ I need to find a better way to take your fans now/ I need to kill you motherfuckers dead/ three hollow tips at your head/ I be damned if the chopper jam now.’

On the Heart Part.1 he rapped, ‘I believe it’s one God, it’s one love/ And I believe if I fly we all doves’.

I don’t believe the fame from good kid, m.A.A.d city would have transformed him into an asshole as so many people seem to have concluded. As Hip Hop just turned 40 it’s given it’s patrons opportunities to have easier access to riches and success; but it’s the kind that doesn’t fulfill the soul. It’s brought industry contracts and networks. Pre-bought cars and houses with infinity pools and flat screens — achieved with no talent required. The further Hip Hop succeeds the more shit it collects, just like anything else in life.

Kendrick’s point of view is refreshing and healthy. Sometimes the truth hurts. And even if he isn’t the king of New York, he still has you thinking about it.

Check out ‘Control’ HERE

By Thandi Ntshinga and Aleyna Martinez

Hang Out: Kendrick Lamar at SXSW On GooglePlay

Interview

GoogePlay innovates interviews. Check out Kendrick Lamar of GooglePlay hanging out with fans from all over the world and.

Kendrick Lamar- “Truthfully man it’s like almost inevitable [entertainers being role models] to say that you’re not, you get a kid in the ghetto and he know that you come from that same place but you’re on TV you’re a role model whether you like it or not, just off the fact that the kid is wowed that you’re on TV by you being on TV. So you can’t say you’re not a role model …that’s something all entertainers have got to accept at the end of the day.”