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Full Albums:

  • Childish Gambino, Royalty
  • Driver Friendly, Bury a Dream and Chase the White Whale
  • Friendly Fires, Pala
  • Ice Cube, AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted
  • Lil B Tha Based God Based Jam1
  • Nine Inch Nails Year Zero2
  • Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, Mecca & the Soul Brother
  • Schoolboy Q, Habits and Contradictions
  • Tom Vek, Leisure Seizure
  • Wiz Khalifa, Kush & OJ3
  • Two Door Cinema Club, Beacon4
  • DJ Khaled, Kiss the Ring5
  • Iggy Pop, Lust for Life6
  • Oddisee, People Hear What They See7
  • Say Anything, Say Anything8
  • Clutch, Clutch and The Elephant Riders9
  • Black Sheep, A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing10
  • The Darkness, Hot Cakes11
  • The Heavy, The Glorious Dead12
  • Yeasayer, Fragrant World13
  • Miike Snow, Happy to You14
  • MNDR, Fade to Black15
  • Twin Shadow, Confess16
  • Fitz & the Tantrums, Picking’ up the Pieces17
  • Jimmy Cliff, Rebirth18
  • Son of Dave, Shake a Bone19
  • 2 Chainz Based on a T.R.U. Story20

Random Excellence:

  • Wale, “W.A.L.E.D.A.N.C.E.”
  • TV on the Radio, “Golden Age”
  • Them Crooked Vultures, “Elephants”
  • Taking Back Sunday, “Timberwolves at New Jersey”
  • Slim Thug, “Like a Boss”
  • Schoolboy, “There He Go”21
  • Saves the Day, “Holly Hox, Forget Me Nots”
  • Peter Tosh, “Stepping Razor”
  • Left Lane Cruiser, “Busket”
  • Kanye West, “Looking for Trouble,” “Monster” and “The Joy”
  • Interpol, “Obstacle 1”
  • The Hold Steady, “You Can Make Him Like You”
  • Fall Out Boy, “Hum Hallelujah”
  • The Afghan Whigs, “Uptown Again”
  • Action Bronson, “Dance Song”

Songs of the Weeks:

  • Nine Inch Nails, “Only” and “The Hand that Feeds”22
  • Soundgarden, “Black Rain”
  • Rage Against the Machine, “Bulls on Parade” and “People of the Sun”
  • Freddie Gibbs, “In the Projects”23
  • Empire of the Sun, “We Are the People”
  • Justice, “On’n’on”
  • Kool & the Gang, “Hollywood Swinging”24
  • Mary Jane Girls, “All Night Long”25
  • Next, “Too Close”26
  • Drake, “HYFR”27

Reviews:

1. I’ve never fully understood why “Too Long; Didn’t Read”s go at the end of long pieces considering how it’d make more sense give you a summary in case you see this and too many following paragraphs and decide all you want is a “TL;DR,” but here’s this album’s: Wackest. Fucking. Raps. Ever.

For everyone who wants more, let me explain some of the terrible. The hardest thing to deal with is that some of the beats are actually pretty good. Sure, the “Changes” by Tupac beat is a little old—though perfectly in place considering the theme, I guess—but it feels like a waste to listen to enjoyable beats with ridiculous and ridiculously terrible lyrics.

Let me run through some of his themes: Yessssssss. Swag. I fucked your bitch in the mouth. Swag. I fucked those bitches in the ass. Based God. I may not be your favorite rapper, but I’m your favorite rapper’s rapper.

The latter of which is really a bizarre idea. If no one likes you, then why do my favorite rappers like you? Is it supposed to be that if they love you and I love them, then I have to love you? But you already told me I don’t love you. So I’ll just stop there. I can’t believe I’m going to do this either, but here are some important words from a Lil Wayne song that completely apply: “His confidence is down, vocab and metaphors needs work, and he lacks respect for the game.”

Also, homeboy needs to learn how to fucking rap on beat.

2. I completely forgot how much the end of this album led directly into Ghosts, his instrumental affair. It probably didn’t occur to me because I spent so much of my time skipping over the last couple of songs to get back to all the lyrics.

3. You guys. This album makes Rolling Papers look like he changed his name Rick Ross or Based God just before recording his major label debut. It’s good to have this back in my life.

4. I kept hoping for something to leap out at me like that four-song chunk of catchiness on their debut album, but I felt like this was just alright.

5. A funny guy I respect and like a lot but haven’t had the chance to hang out with recently once told me you don’t get to make fun of things unless you understand them. We were talking about how badly he wanted to read Twilight. So that’s what happened here–this is my Twilight and I have to admit it left me feeling a little confused. If Khaled doesn’t produce all the beats, why does he have an album of his own? Is it just that he brings together a bunch of rappers and says some stupid tagline? Is this man really nothing more than a talent wrangler? And, holy shit, did J. Cole really produce one of the songs I actually enjoyed on this turd because maybe he should just stick to that.

Seriously, the only string connecting all the puzzle pieces seems to be a potentially developmentally challenged man saying things like “We the best!” and then, laughably, rapping at the end of the album. Let me start off with the bad, though. I think Lex Luger has destroyed a legitimate market for some really good rappers. The man made Wacka Flocka’s career on the dude’s first album, now all we ever hear is the same formula repeated by another producer who isn’t doing it as well. But it’s hard to tell, right? All you have to do is throw some of the deepest one- or two-note bass you can find down as a bass line, program a basic boom-bap drum beat, and maybe add a little organ up in a very high register so it’s barely noticeable. Call it a night, you’ve got yourself a hit. Which is the most prominent reason “Bitches & Bottles” is absolute garbage.

Another thing that frustrates me is Chris Brown. That man has made too many mistakes for his chorus on “Take it to the Head.” Maybe if he wasn’t such an insolent little shit every time he’s off the stage, I could let this slide. What I’m saying is that I’ll never get past his spousal abuse past, but for everyone who needs more reasons than that to dislike him, these are my reasons. He’s never been anything but a petulant child with the voice and subject material of a man. Give the chorus to Usher. Call up The-Dream. Shit, it’s about time rap discovered Mayer Hawthorne. Because fuck everything about Chris Brown until that child gains some maturity.

So now that that’s all out of the way, please go listen to “They Ready” and “Hip Hop.” My only hope for this album is that there are some kids out there who will listen to this album and decide to look up Scarface, Nas, Big K.R.I.T., Kendrick Lamar, DJ Premier and J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League. Sure, the flute thing isn’t doing my hopes any favors, but the fact that this stuff is on here really does give me some hope for the youth. Jesus, what am I, seventy? I’m just saying that these are two golden nuggets buried under a huge pile of dirt.

6. My goodness, I’ve heard “The Passenger” everywhere, but had no idea it was his. Similarly, I had always head that “Lust for Life” was about heroin, but on a couple of listens, I’m not really sure. And then that “Success” thing? It’s like just a bunch of icing on an already delicious cake.

7. Bless my stars. Put this guy in a studio with Pete Rock and you’ll have perfect albums for the rest of their careers.

8. I gotta say, I feel like Say Anything’s fallen way off. I don’t know if it’s because I’m not still in college or something, but I just didn’t have the same clinging, instant attachment to this album that I did to the first two. That said, there are still some excellent songs, just not as many as I was hoping for.

9. It’s like Mastodon’s vocalist, Led Zeppelin’s guitarist and Bootsy Collins had babies that recorded two awesome albums about space, robots, and rock and roll.

10. Potentially the greatest rap reviewer alive right now doesn’t even review music under his own name. He writes as if he was Ghostface Killah of the illustrious Wu-Tang Clan, and when he reviewed the syruppy rhyme sayer of the same fucking words, Rick Ross, he suggested listening to this instead. Whereas the 2000s were plagued by wankster rappers, these guys were hilarious prankster rappers. From running jokes or aggressive hits on hypermasculinity and thug themes in rap, they poked fun at rap while rapping extremely well. It’s as subversive as it is excellent, hilarious and insightful.

11. Despite what I just typed, Hawkins might be the funniest dude in music and it is such a relief to have this band back in the saddle. I was extremely worried when their first (excellent) album only seemed to have two hits and was followed by a pretty okay album. Also consider how their most popular hit (“Growing on Me”) was almost certainly about sexually transmitted diseases, despite sounding like it was about romance. The licks are back (double entendre!) and it is the greatest relief.

12. They might not ever rise to the heights of “How You Like Me Now?.” I mean, this is a solid album happily devoid of gypsy music (this time), but it still doesn’t hit the funky retro highs of the aforementioned excellence.

13. Same sort of thing: I kept listening, waiting for something like “O.N.E.,” but it just wasn’t coming. In fact, this was a rather difficult album for me to get through.

14. It’s almost like we all listened to their debut album too much and started to expect too much of them. Sure, they’re still have the ability to confuse the shit out of me with some interesting writing, but a lot of the creativity seems to be gone. The ability to turn the word “funeral” into the central part of a chorus just didn’t happen. They dropped the ball or the casket or something here.

15. I saw her perform once last summer. It was a private little affair so I didn’t have to worry about drunk assholes pushing me a lot until I got so frustrated that I hated everything. As I admired her dancing, singing, and synth programming skills, one of my friends mentioned she’d even lost some weight since he last saw her in concert. It seems like everything’s going her way. Whether writing or performing all of her own songs, she’s doing something right and singing the crap out of it.

16. This is a deceptively dark album. Hidden among same kind of delightful synthesizer MNDR is crafting lies some kind of predator. And all I want to do is listen more.

17. How in the blue blazes did this album escape my ears for two years? They could’ve recorded this in Motown in the fifties and not a single person would’ve complained. It reminds me of Mayer Hawethorne with an amazing female background vocalist. Obviously “MoneyGrabber” and “We Don’t Gotta Work it Out” are the highlights, but it’s tons of fun.

18. Reggae, ska and punk are intrinsically intertwined genres, so it’s somewhat less of a surprise that NOFX played all the music. I will say I zoned out a little during this one though because I’m not always the greatest reggae listener. I’ve been known to pass out during extended Bob Marley listening sessions. But I should also mention that The Harder They Come is incredible and he wrote the most important parts of it. So I’ll try to get some more sleep before the next go-round.

19. I can’t hear most of what he’s saying, but I can tell it’s bluesy as hell and really awesome because the music is awesome.

20. If I had to choose between going deaf or only being able to listen to this album for the rest of my life, I’d probably grab all the copies I could and throw myself off a cliff. My personal favorite fact about this man is that he recently changed his name from Tity Boi, a nickname his mom gave him because he loved sucking titties. But, c’mon, if he really loved them that much, you’d think he’d at least be able to spell them right. But he really does try to prove me wrong for this entire album. The only good thing about it is “Extremely Blessed” because The-Dream sings the crap out of it. In fact, they’re sort of the perfect couple for this considering the overlap in their material. Except, I guess, how The-Dream is actually talented.

21. I think I might never stop loving the lines, “But what I failed to understand/I’m the motherfucking man/Ran into him/he’s a fan/Goddamn.” Goddamn!

22. I completely forgot how much I love everything about “Only.” Even the music video is great. I especially love how it just falls apart lyrically, leaving us with just the essence at the end: “There is no you/there is only me/There is no fucking you/there is only me.” Reznor has an amazing ability to turn intense pain into something beautiful enough to grace the top of the Billboard charts.

23. To listen to this man build on Ice Cube’s legacy is just too much fun. And dangerous.

24. Oh, Ma$e. You bad, bad, bad, bad boy.

25. I’ve been playing a lot of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City since hooking up my PS2 to this here newfangled TV we have in the apartment. I go out of my way to not exit vehicles whenever this song is on.

26. Remember this song? Oh man, this was the first single I ever bought. It was a single CD with three songs on it. $4. It had this, the instrumental and a B-side. We’ve made so much progress! Now I can listen to it for free or just pay a dollar and not have to pretend to care about that other song, whatever it was.

27. Here’s some more Twilight shit. The stories are pretty depressing, but the rhyming is good, the chorus is good, and the beat, oh man, that beat is flippin’ great. I don’t care if it’s bad for me or if Drake is a crybaby, just keep playing this.

Comment:

I drafted all of this before my trip to Norway. I updated all my WordPress apps, synced the albums and songs so I would be free to editorialize. I was totally prepared.

So on the flight back I spent two hours typing reviews. I had to hand code the majority of this stuff because the apps don’t let you edit in WYSIWYG like on the web (which I did not have or was unwilling to pay for). I’m talking superscripts and italics for all the reviews. I was incredibly proud. My flight time had been well-spent to make up for watching, holy shit this is terrible, Battleship, Snow White and the Huntsman, and Prometheus. Yes, I’ll watch two dumb movies and a thought-provoking sci-fi joint, but I’ll also sure as shit use my brain to think serious thoughts about some music.

I landed, prepared to sync my updates, and watched my work disappear. WordPress overwrote all my progress with what I had just before I left.

I set this post aside. I needed some time before I wrote how I felt for a second time. My intentions were good, but WordPress really screwed us. I think I’ll be fine, but a little wary of their apps for a while.

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