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French Montana – MC4 Review

When Target mistakenly stocked the shelves with French Montana’s MC4 nearly two months ahead of its October 14, 2016 release date, the fourth installment of the Mac & Cheese series leaked faster than a 5-year-old at a haunted house, squashing any possibility of keeping it tightly under wraps. Unfortunately for Montana and camp, that’s often the nature of the beast.

As rumors swirl around the recent dispute between Joe Budden and Drake, MC4 couldn’t have surfaced at a better time. People naturally assumed the Drake-assisted “No Shopping,” was taking a stab at Budden, threatening to further widen the gap between the two rappers. “Pump pump pump it up/She got a good head on her/but I pump it up/I’m not a one-hit wonder/they know all my stuff,” Drake spits, which people thought alluded to Budden’s 2003 singular hit, “Pump It Up.” Apparently, that wasn’t the case. It was either a coincidence or aimed at someone else. Although it’s one of the strongest tracks on the album, overall, MC4stands as a decent follow-up to 2013’s Excuse My French, and just slightly better than his latest mixtape, Wave Gods.

The fact French Montana can rap “if the pussy good, hit it two times” over and over again in the most serious manner possible is a testament to his skills, or lack thereof, as a lyricist. In most modern day rap, lyrics often take a backseat while production rides shotgun. From “Everytime” featuring Jeezy and “Said N Done” featuring A$AP Rocky to “Lockjaw” featuring Kodak Black and “Two Times,” a general theme of hoes, pussy and money repeats itself to the point where it’s almost tough to stomach. After all, Hip Hop was never meant to be put on auto-pilot. Each element should be carefully crafted and given proper respect, including the art of rap, which often seems to elude Montana. It’s only when he has the help of other artists and producers does the song structuring appear at its strongest.

The album takes a somber turn with “Xplicit” featuring Miguel and only goes further into a dark abyss for the remaining three tracks. On the piano-heavy and introspective “Figure It Out,” featuring West and Nas, the trifecta inches closer to tackling some serious topics, with Montana reminiscing about what it was like growing up on welfare in the South Bronx. “Coming from the back block/posted like the backdrop/rags to the riches/got rich bought the ragtop,” he says, a line that sums up his path from a Moroccan immigrant to prominent rapper. The DJ Khaled-produced “Have Mercy” featuring Beanie Sigel, Jadakiss and Styles P, and the nearly 10-minute double track, “Max & Chinx/Paid For” bring the album down to a soft whisper with more predictable musings about sex, violence and money.

Beat-wise, “I’m Heated” and “Figure it Out” stand out as some of the best. Producer Earl & E borrows from A Tribe Called Quest’s “Scenario,” Biggie’s “Gimme the Loot” and Mary Rene’s “After Laughter (Comes Tears),” popularized by the Wu-Tang Clan, for “Said N Done,” hinting at the Golden Era’s influence and proving Montana might not be as clueless as initially thought when it comes to his predecessors.

While Montana by no means offers up any profound lyrical executions on MC4, he clearly has fun doing what he’s doing and is finally learning to master the role he’s developed for himself. Perhaps he never wanted to be taken seriously to begin with. Maybe fame, money and women is all he needed to feel whole, and he’s achieved that. He’s running in the same circles as some of the biggest rappers on the planet, and for Montana, that is presumably the pinnacle of success. While he will undoubtedly continue to take shots from countless Hip Hop purists for the music he makes and perhaps the Target leak will slightly affect MC4’snumbers, he’ll be too busy buying baby tigers, collecting checks and traveling the world on his private jet to care.

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Rae Sremmurd – Sremmlife 2 Review

Listen to the original Sremmlife again, it’s better than you think it is: those synths on the intro are crazy; “Up Like Trump?” is intoxicating; even “No Flex Zone” has aged well despite the overexposure. Hailing from Tupelo, Mississippi, the rap duo Rae Sremmurd, brothers Slim Jxmmi and Swae Lee (aged 21 and 22, respectively), took the radio by force in 2014 with deafening back to back hits – it was a genuine rags-to-riches tale penned by prolific Atlanta producer, Mike WiLL Made-It. In a year anchored by Kendrick Lamar’s introspective and politically charged turn on To Pimp a Butterfly, the brothers delivered a defiantly celebratory album packed with anthems. It was enough to place them at #3 on Complex’s “Best Albums of 2015” – a decision that sparked Ebro of Hot 97 to basically accuse the men of being frauds and not writing their own hits. A common string in the reception of their sophomore effort, Sremmlife 2, will understandably use this narrative to explain why Swae and Jxmmi have come back so much sharper this time around. But that’s misleading – they’ve always had the foundation for this growth.

Where the debut shouted it’s appeal in your face, the sequel presents a more restrained approach. The intro, “Start a Party,” for example, boasts a backdrop loud and busy enough to be a worthy opener for their forthcoming tour, but the verses are tightly-wound exercises in double time. Their previous futuristic takes on the standard strip club banger, à la “Throw Sum Mo,” have been upgraded to the one-two punch of the dizzying Juicy J-assisted “Shake it Fast” (boasting a verse from the trippy OG that manages to sneak in a line about a black card that would make Nelly proud) and the Lil Jon-featured “Set the Roof” (co-produced by DJ Mustard and Mike Will) — the latter somehow melding multiple regional influences together, playing like it’s the soundtrack to a house party thrown in Brooklyn by a Compton native — who grew up on Atlanta crunk. It’s still bold and hectic at all the right times, but there’s a lot more at play here.

The group’s often frat boy-ish writing is still present to some extent, but it’s been refined. Jxmmi can be argued to be bar-for-bar the better rapper, but Swae is a master at finessing empty platitudes. The older brother is no less crass, but his menace is more upfront and less coying, stealing the show with his bravado on “Real Chill” (featuring the currently incarcerated Kodak Black), and with his insecurity-riddled love letter on “Now That I Know.” Swae has his fair share of standouts as well: he surgically cuts through the frantic intro and equally energetic “Shake it Fast,” plays with the bonus cut “Swang” like it’s puddy in his hands, and even gets introspective on “Came a Long Way” (“what a journey, all that broke shit don’t concern me”).

Swae Lee’s ear for familiar yet slightly exotic melodies is usually what has him in the driver’s seat, despite his sometimes flat singing (“Now That I Know”). He knows when to play with his cadence (“Real Chill,” “Look Alive”) and his tone (“By Chance,” “Do Yoga”), and his approach has become more measured, as heard on the hook of the transcendent dance number “Black Beatles.” Another DJ Mustard and Mike Will collab, this highlight has an ethereal aura that sounds seductively welcoming. Effervescent ad libs chime in as Swae mimes a perfect Gucci flow before diving into a muted falsetto, making way for ATL legend himself to euro steps past a hater like Rondo. Jxmmi rounds off the last verse with an impassioned speech, boasting “15 hundred on my feet, I’m tryna kill these haters.” “Look Alive,” one of the singles, and “Take It or Leave It,” also comfortably fit in this newfound retro-pop atmosphere.

Sremmlife 2 is worthwhile (and much needed) bid for album of the summer. It’s top heavy, “By Chance,” “Look Alive,” and “Black Beatles” feeling a lot like one of the best three song stretches of the year, but Swae brings a promising sense of experimentation to the entire project (rightfully confident after his credits on Beyonce’s “Formation”). Jxmmi brings an air of assertiveness to the affair, usually playing expertly off his brother, occasionally taking the backseat when the younger rockstar decides to do something weird like “Just Like Us” (imagine the already saccharine overtones of “This Could Be Us” pushed to a Lil Yachty level of intolerable). These two, along with Mike WiLL, take a proven formula no one would’ve minded experiencing again and push it into unexplored territory, all on their own accord. And that’s worth celebrating.

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Young Thug’s Mixtape Is Called “No, My Name Is Jeffery” After All & It’s Here Now

Young Thug’s Jeffery mixtape is here it all its glory except it is called No, My Name Is Jeffery.

The Atlanta rapper didn’t end up changing his name for the 10-track mixtape, just made the title reflective of his given name.

Jeffery was originally slated to drop August 16 on Thugger’s birthday, but it’s here now.

 

 

Young Thug has dropped the cover art and tracklist for his Jeffery mixtape.

Yes, he is wearing a dress on the cover art, which is shot by Garfield Larmond.

The project is made up of 10 tracks and has features from Gucci Mane, Wyclef Jean and Migos members Quavo and Offset.

Production comes from TM88, Wheezy, Billboard Hitmakers and Cassius Jay.

Stay tuned for the stream to drop at midnight EST.

See Young Thug’s Jeffery mixtape cover art and tracklist below.

Young Thug aka No My Name Is Jeffery "Jeffery" Mixtape cover art
  1. Wyclef Jean prod. by TM88 and Supah Mario
  2. Floyd Mayweather f. Gucci Mane and Gunna prod. by Jeffery, Wheezy, TM88, Billboard Hitmakers and Goose
  3. Swizz Beatz prod. by Wheezy
  4. Future Swag prod. by TM88
  5. RiRi prod. by Wheezy
  6. Guwop f. Quavo, Offset and Young Scooter prod. by Wheezy, Cassius Jay and TM88
  7. Harambe prod. by Billboard Hitmakers
  8. Webbie f. Duke prod. by Billboard Hitmakers
  9. Popman (Wet Wet) f. Wyclef Jean prod. by Wheezy and Cassius Jay
  10. BONUS: Pick Up the Phone f. Travis Scott and Quavo prod. by Allen Ritter, Vinylz, Frank Dukes, Maneesh Bidaye, Mick Schultz and Mike Dean
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Ty Dolla $ign Shares “Campaign” Release Date, Cover Art & Tracklist

Ty Dolla $ign is seeking to further his political influence with his latest project, Campaignwhich is set for a September 23 release date, according to the iTunes pre-order page that is now available.

Campaign’s tracklist was also unveiled, which shows 16 songs. Ty Dolla $ign has already made a splash with the title track featuring Future. Ty’s big brother, TC, whose story of wrongful imprisonment was the inspiration for the singer/songwriter/producer’s debut album, is also to have a guest appearance on Campaign from the single “No Justice.”

Ty told HipHopDX that The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan is going to appear onCampaign doing spoken word. He explained how his trip to the DNC encouraged him to keep using his platform to raise awareness for social injustice.

“It just made me want to go harder with spitting this real shit,” the “Blase” rapper said. “Like my song ‘No Justice.’ Being a vessel for God to spread the word. Letting people know the world is real and there are some real issues that shouldn’t be issues in 2016. We all have Instagram and Snapchat and Twitter and we all know that a simple idiotic thing like racism is the lamest shit in life. For this shit to be still happening today bugs me. There is no more slavery and gay people can get married. There shouldn’t be any fucking racism period. We’re all good. Love is love.”

Check out Ty Dolla $ign’s Campaign tracklist and cover art below.

  1. $Intro
  2. $
  3. Campaign (feat. Future)
  4. $$$ (Where)
  5. 3 Wayz
  6. Juice
  7. Zaddy
  8. Hello
  9. R&B
  10. Stealing
  11. Clean
  12. My Song
  13. Pu$$y
  14. No Justice (feat. Big TC)
  15. Watching
  16. Campaign (feat. Future) [Charlie Heat Remix]