Rocko – Gift of Gab 2

RoyalT Rating: 8 Crowns

GOG 2 cover

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Gift of Gab 2 seemingly emerged from nowhere because most major hip-hop websites anticipated Ignant or Seeing is Believing as Rocko’s next project. Nevertheless GOG2 dropped just in time to keep Rocko fans from assuming he took another lengthy hiatus, suspending their wishes for new music.

If you’re unfamiliar with his musical background, Rocko has a unique and identifiable style. Not only is his music filled with “integrity, ethics, morals, values, and principles” taught to him by “Da Streets,” but he has sentimental ideas on songs like “YU and I”, and insight that trap rappers typically wouldn’t show nor garner respect through. Rocko hardly ever deviates from topic, literally driving the point home until it’s exhausted– normally by using the the first half of his bars to establish repetition, emphasis and to create uniformity. It’s evident he “Prepared” for this project.

Rocko relays part of his preparation through  experimental concepts.  The countdown style hook of  “One Two” is understood, as in addition to– anything you can have, Rock has one too. “Slow Down” offsets the entire pace of the project. A slightly chopped-and-screwed voice doesn’t sound much different from normal, but offers very heartfelt lyrics.

“I’m too fast for the slowpokes/ Inspiration to the poor folks/ They live through me, they ride to me/ I love you, I hope you know what you are to me/My ar-tery-ty, blood I bleed, the air I breath/ I feed the streets, they help me eat.”

Great basslines flood the project. The captivating bass ripple of “Feels Good,” the eurogate based, spatial reverbs of “Stoooopid,” and the segmented chops of “Luv4 Life”  are sure to excite bass lovers.

Another strength of the opus is the proper use of features. An energized Gucci Mane brought the wild style, absent from Trap God 2on “You Can Tell,” and Lloyd brings the industry sound that could  elevate “ShiiKno” to a smash radio single.

Not all the features enhanced the project; Rick Ross offers some stale bars “U.O.E.N.O.” and Future sings a less than admirable hook. The chill vibe and idea of the song shows promise, but execution completely lacks.

Overall, Gift of Gab 2 is really solid. Elaborate metaphors, proper thematic scheming, booming beats and a unique style make this project worth a listen. There are a couple of mediocre songs like “Y” and “Imagine Dat,” but the overpowering strength of good songs greatly outweigh them.

Favorite tracks:

ShiiKno, Feels Good, You Can Tell

Least favorite tracks:

U.O.E.N.O. and Y

GOG 2 cover

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Meek Mill – Dreams and Nightmares

RoyalTy Rating: 6.5 Crowns

Dreams and Nightmares album artwork

Meek Mill’s Dreams and Nightmares album falls closer to a nightmare than a dream. Brief moments of ingenuity and conceptual strengths are heavily offset by lackluster efforts and predictable cadences.

The title track “Dreams and Nightmares” summarizes everything Meek discusses on records. He adequately displays how a young male from the hood has dreams fulfilled by rap successes before the track takes a drastic turn for the worse. Understandably so, Meek attempted to draw stark contrast between dreams and nightmares and sufficiently succeeds. “Dreams and Nighmares” fails after angelic piano keys transitions to a devilish bass drop, and Meek begins shouting at maximum vocal capacities. His voice is already borderline and increasing the volume is far too intense.

The paradoxical title of “In God We Trust” leads listeners to believe it will be structured after his “dream” theme, but he proceeds to paint more pictures of destruction.  It seems like Meek fell in love with the title and felt obligated to include it on the album. Once again, thematically, Meek missed the mark, but displays a vicious flow.

“So for 100 keys, think what my click will do/I’m talkin’ clappin toaster, bullets will hit your roof/They hit his body he went in shock, no Pikachu.”

Meek’s subject bank is painfully limited. He’s readily defined by monetary braggadocio statements, bad yellow chicks, drugs and a team of shooters ready to do dirt. There’s nothing more to his lyrics. Given that he raps to the same cadence on almost every song, any one of his verses can be substituted for another with no notable difference. It ruins the quality of songs like “Maybach Curtains” and “Lay Up,” whose star studded casts anchor the tracks.

“Lay UP” or “Maybach Curtains” could have easily replaced “Amen,” “Burn” and “Young & Getting’ It” as radio singles. The feature power of Nas, Wale, Trey Songz and John Legend easily overshadow Big Sean and Kirko Bangz given the song’s industry sound.

One underrated facet of Meek’ style rests in his storytelling ability. Regardless of point of view, Meeks knows how to phrase, and stage events in a climatic fashion. He allows listeners to visualize words. Meek continues to develop the success of his Dreamchasers “Tony Story” with the sequel “Tony Story, Pt. 2,” and relays parts of his own tribulations on “Traumatized.” He discusses personal pain and addresses the man that killed his father with eerie distaste.

“Hope you hear me, I’mma kill you n***a/To let you kno that I don’t feel you n***a/Yeah, you ripped my family apart and made my momma cry/So when I see you, n***a it’s gon’ be a homicide/Cuz I was only a toddler, you left me traumatized.”

Overall, Meek Mill’s project was less than admirable. Lack of versatility, incomplete theming, and a couple of poorly executed punchlines inhibits the maximum effect of his passion and energy. Ironically, his nightmare’s makes the album worth listening to, and his dreams weigh the project down with their ubiquitous placing. A listener can sleep on this Dreams and Nightmares project and not have missed much.

B.o.b – F*ck Em We Ball

RoyalTy Rating: 8 Crowns

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Undoubtedly, B.o.B is one of rap’s most versatile artists. He possesses capacity that transcends rap borders and delivers hits in multiple genres. His tolerable singing and ability to play guitar coupled with pop, industry appeal grants exploration of many musical avenues, yet F*ck Em We Ball caters directly to his rap fan base.

Apparently, B.o.B notices the current trends of rap. He hasn’t ratcheted down his energetic bars. Instead, he’s pared them with heavy, booming, rap-ready professional beats–a change that makes provisions for B.o.B to experiment. Super producers Mike Will, Sonny Digital and others help B.o.B evolve his sound. Metaphors, similes and smoothly transitioning punch lines solidify F*ck Em We Ball as it delivers exactly what fans anticipated.

B.o.B starts by paying homage to recently reelected Barack Obama, on the opening skit, before doing some campaigning of his own. “Champaign” aggressively asserts B.o.B’s new sound as he develops a metaphor comparing his rap grind to an election campaign while toying with the reference of presidential kush.

“Dynomite,” “Still In This Bitch” and “F*ck Em We Ball” continue establishing B.o.B’s newly incorporated facets. Fortunately, B.o.B hasn’t completely fallen into the allure of trap beats. He still incorporates eurogate laced, spatial sounding song qualities often associated with smoking on the project. “Be There” and “Roll One Up” have very chill vibes and show B.o.b’s range. He doesn’t always have to bombard listeners with “Beast Mode” like flows, and gives listeners music they can feel while he paints visual pictures. At times he seems less like a rapper and more like narrator relaying a sequence of events, especially on songs directed towards women like ”Greedy Love” and “Spend It.”

“Swagger on infinity/If you feelin it, get with it bitch/I’m doin that thing so diligent/I’ll go dumb on that pussy, make that clitoris go illiterate/How inconsiderate?” B.o.B threads a cleverly woven internal rhyme to close verse one before piano strokes introduce the hook on “Spend It.”

“Hell of a Night” might be the sleeper track of F*ck Em We Ball. It’s fusion of characteristics and extravagant production fulfills every requirement of a quality song. An  anthem style hook, uptemto bombastic party beat, a smooth flow make for a lethal combination. B.o.B playfully initiates the track with DJ scratching before he rocks the beat.

B.o.B creates a variety of music, but little caters to the club scene. “Best Friend” is a mediocre attempt. The components of success of are in place but weren’t packaged correctly as the hook lacks cohesion. It didn’t glue twerk music’s signature handclap to the dance motivated beat, but shows promise towards immediate improvement.

Although he experiments rapping over heavy beats, he didn’t allow these endeavors to overload and sour F*ck Em We Ball. B.o.B ‘s intangibles keep his projects from sounding monotonous because he balances savage bars against vibe music.  It would have been nice to hear B.o.B. do a story track, as he’s done in the past, or show listeners diversity displayed on his album, but F*ck Em We Ball is defined by B.o.B’s progress. He’s no longer allowing pop beats to diminish the wordplay of entertaining bars.

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Wale – Folarin

RoyalTy Rating: 8 Crowns

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Rap’s relationship connoisseur, Wale, delivers a well-balanced opus with his Folarin mixtape. The project embodies a variety of productions that give different feels, ranging from soulful remedies to bass-booming club music. Unlike the rest of his posse, Wale has never been one to overload his music with bass, and asserts a formula similar to the construction of his past project: More About Nothing.

Essentially, Wale stays true to the identity he wishes to assert in rap. He hasn’t deviated from discussing encounters with women, the trials of relationships, and how relentless ambition brings success. He explains on “Change Up” that his lyrics haven’t changed, but the scope of his reach has. Wale also explains on “Chun Li” that other rappers haven’t paralleled his status because “ either n****s aren’t fly or they can’t rap.”

As usual, wordplay Wale manages to sneak in a couple of bass-booming industry hits, mostly cosigned by Atlanta natives. Travis Porter appears on “One Eyed Kitten” to provide their signature twerk feel; 2 Chainz delivers an energetically boastful flow on “GetMeDoe,” a call and response concert hyping anthem; and Trinidad Jame$ offers an “All Gold Everything” imitated verse that explains the meaning of “Flat Out.”

“Cool Off” serves as Wale’s platform to impart another relationship instructional detailing the heat of confrontation, while he relays toxic qualities to women in the song “Bad.”

Randomly placed soulful songs offer a change of pace. Brass instruments develop “Streetrunner’s” sound, and a jazzy saxophone structures the melody of “The Right One.”

Additionally, innovative concepts sneak into this body of work. Wale conveys a complete, extended metaphor on “Georgetown Press” comparing the defensive pressure of Georgetown University’s basketball team to the struggle of rising out of the trap. “School Daze” serves as another play on words as Wale relates nostalgic high school situations before chanting an ode to Ambition’s “Legendary.”

“Back to Ballin” is the most questionable song on the project. An appearance from French Montana serves more as a liability than an asset, as his redundant subject matter and choppy style sours the track. Adding that to Wale’s dumb downed delivery creates a bad combination, although it’s mildly catchy.

“Forward,” a cosigning intro paying homage to Wale’s successes, and addressing how much of Wale’s subject matter is overlooked,  sets the stage for Wale to display why it’s important to stay true to your values and not allow the industry to compromise style and individuality for hits. Although the project is solid, there’s something missing. The ”it” factor wasn’t present, even though its loaded with quality songs. Wale caters to fans who appreciate his music for different reasons. He offsets passionate lyrics that ladies love, with club hits that men respect.  His self-proclaimed “scholarship flow” is in full effect as the double M genius continues striving to produce deeper subject matter.

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CyHi The Prynce – Ivy League Kickback

RoyalTy Rating: 7 Crowns

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It’s hard to pinpoint why Cyhi hasn’t garnered much fame outside of Georgia. People respect his lyrics, but up to this point, he doesn’t have a smash radio single or a track that sets the club on fire. So, instead of placing his fate in the hands of radio personnel and DJ’s, Cyhi attempts to get his music directly into people’s home the by catering the Ivy League Kickback to laid back party atmospheres.

“Kick Back Music” initiates the festivity appropriately. The aura emitted from deep, nonchalant bass tones completely encompasses kickback vibes. Cyhi’s slew of if-then statements makes for an entertaining listen as he quickly relays some components of a kickback. The rest of the picture is further developed on “Kick Back,” where Cyhi addresses any questions. In summary, a kickback is music, mingling, alcohol and drugs.

“Mary Jane” serves as a personification of Cyhi’s relationship with marijuana. Personifying marijuana allows Cyhi to relay a few weed tales that reinforces his love of marijuana. After all, he’s apparently not “Far Removed” from trafficking grams in his trap “Round the Corner.”

“Start a War” possibly is the best track. Fans grossly underrate Cyhi’s story rapping ability. His lyrics paint a panoramic view depicting how his friend was murdered for serving a dummy brick. Cyhi feels as if he could start a war while failing to cope with his loss.

Apart from trap tales, Cyhi hasn’t lost witty lines. “Big Head B*tches” is loaded with wordplay embedded in his reminder to all the boujee girls with overblown confidence.

“I told her I’d give her the world if she’d take off her clothes/So I went to Office Depot and bought that b*tch a globe.

The middle section of the Ivy League Kickback attempts to ratchet up the atmosphere before the rear end attempts to throttle down activity.

Granted the ratio of guys and girls is relatively balanced, every kickback has a song with potential to elevate kickbacks into a full blown party. “Whoa,” featuring a hook sampled from Big Sean’s verse on “Mercy,” serves as this song. Its healthy bass tone combined with lyrics that promote ass shaking just might cause a kickback to transform into a house party.

“Pillow Talking” and “Occupy Your Mind” slowly kills off commotion to signify an end of the kickback.

Although the vibe is adequately encompassed, the Ivy League Kickback doesn’t come without a few glaring faults. Cyhi’s experimental “I’m Catching Feelings” urgently needs a feature for the hook. Prefacing the song saying “I ain’t really no good singer” doesn’t excuse his lack of vocals and utter waste of a smooth beat.

“Sexy” is a wasteful filler song, a slightly remixed “A-Town” fails to enhance the opus, and

Cyhi should deviate the quirky tendency to structure cliché, elementary sounding songs as exhibited on “Favorite Things”.  Lastly, “We Drink, We Smoke” should have been omitted from the Ivy League Kickback because it appeared on his previous mixtape the Ivy League Club.

Overall, The Ivy League Kickback, is a solid project. It strengths outnumber it’s weaknesses and the kickback themed songs have plenty of replay value. It wouldn’t be surprising to hear one or two of these songs at your next kickback.

Favorite Tracks: Start a War, Whoa, Far Removed

Least Favorite Tracks” Sexy, I’m Catching Feelings

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Meek Mill – Dreams and Nightmares

Meek Mill – Dreams and Nightmares

royalT rating: 6.5 Crowns

click to listen or purchase

Meek Mill’s Dreams and Nightmares album falls closer to a nightmare than a dream. Brief moments of ingenuity and conceptual strengths are heavily offset by lackluster efforts and predictable cadences.

The title track “Dreams and Nightmares” summarizes everything Meek discusses on records. He adequately displays how a young male from the hood has dreams fulfilled by rap successes before the track takes a drastic turn for the worse. Understandably so, Meek attempted to draw stark contrast between dreams and nightmares and sufficiently succeeds. “Dreams and Nighmares” fails after angelic piano keys transitions to a devilish bass drop, and Meek begins shouting at maximum vocal capacities. His voice is already borderline and increasing the volume is far too intense.

The paradoxical title of “In God We Trust” leads listeners to believe it will be structured after his “dream” theme, but he proceeds to paint more pictures of destruction.  It seems like Meek fell in love with the title and felt obligated to include it on the album. Once again, thematically, Meek missed the mark, but displays a vicious flow.

“So for 100 keys, think what my click will do/ I’m talkin’ clappin toaster, bullets will hit ya roof/ They hit his body he went in shock, no Pikachu.”

Meek’s subject bank is painfully limited. He’s readily defined by monetary braggadocio statements, badd yellow chicks, drugs, and a team of shooters ready to do dirt. There’s nothing more to his lyrics. Given that he raps to the same cadence on almost every song, any one of his verses can be substituted for another with no notable difference. It ruins the quality of songs like “Maybach Curtains” and “Lay Up,” whose star studded casts anchor the tracks.

“Lay UP” or “Maybach Curtains” could have easily replaced “Amen,” “Burn” and “Young & Getting’ It” as radio singles. The feature power of Nas, Wale, Trey Songz and John Legend easily overshadow Big Sean and Kirko Bangz given the song’s industry sound.

One underrated facet of Meek’ style rests in his storytelling ability. Regardless of point of view, Meeks knows how to phrase, and stage events in a climatic fashion. He allows listeners to visualize words. Meek continues to develop the success of his Dreamchasers “Tony Story” with the sequel “Tony Story, Pt. 2”, and relays parts of his own tribulations on “Traumatized.” He discusses personal pain and addresses the man that killed his father with eerie distaste.

“Hope you hear me, I’mma kill you n***a/ to let you know that I don’t feel you n***a/ yeah, you ripped my family apart and made my momma cry/ so when I see you n***a it’s gon’ be a homicide/ Cuz I was only a toddler, you left me traumatized.”

Overall, Meek Mills project was less than admirable. Lack of versatility, incomplete theming, and a couple of poorly executed punchlines inhibits the maximum effect of his passion and energy. Ironically, his nightmare’s makes the album worth listening to, and his dreams weigh the project down with their ubiquitous placing. A listener can sleep on this Dreams and Nightmares project and not have missed much.

*Review also hosted at http://rapruler.com/

Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid m.A.A.d City

Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid m.A.A.d City

Royal T rating: 9.5 Crowns

Kendrick Lamar tackles many objectives simultaneously on Good Kid, m.A.A.d City (GKMC). The project lands just short of flawless as it narrates a story filled with religious undertones, social consciousness, and the everlasting dilemma of a good kid confined in a hectic atmosphere. It’s a true boy-to-man tale from an honest, unfiltered first person point of view that’s raw and unapologetic.

GKMC’s strength rests in K. Dot’s effortless storytelling ability. His topics appear limited to drugs and struggle but it’s necessary to properly display poverty. He goes back to the root of hip-hop by painting pictures people can relate to even if they weren’t raised in the hood. His words put you in the moment and invoke images similar to the movies Boyz N the Hood and Menace II Society. He opens up and makes himself completely vulnerable hoping to benefit others with enlightenment.

“The Art of Peer Pressure” is one of the songs that does this best. Kendrick explains how he and friends committed a home invasion and nearly caught his first legal offense. He also draws parallels that explicitly point to differences in character when he’s “with the homies,” whether it’s acting violently or doing drugs.

Not only was he telling stories in songs, but the skits at the end of each track reiterates what may be missed in lyrics. They add cinematic substance and capture scenarios that the lyrics can’t because of the role that others play. Skits are equally important as lyrics because their stream of consciousness solidifies GKMC’s orderless story.

Kendrick’s mom’s van

K. Dot excels with his ability to incorporate just enough commercial value to engage new fans on songs like “B***h, Don’t Kill My Vibe” and “Swimming Pools/ Drank,” but it’s his desire to be different that sets him apart. He chooses not to over-ball and questions the perpetuation of raps common themes on “Real.”

“Should I hate them for telling me ball out?/ Should I hate street credibility I’m talking bout/ Hating on money, power, respect and my will/ Or hate the fact that none of that s**t make me real?”

The last song is the only wild card because it doesn’t fit the album’s theme and draws an anticlimactic ending. Since the song is titled “Compton” he could have used that to further the metaphor of a mad city. “Backseat Freestyle” is marginal because its redundancy and shallow thought contradict K. Dot’s goal, yet it does add context to what one of his skits describes. Other than that the album is lyrically advanced and thematically cohesive. Even the album artwork enhances the story.

“Good Kid” and “m.A.A.d City’s” back to back juxtaposition works extremely well in tandem. The positive and hopeful message on “Good Kid” is completely undone by deathly chaos and K. Dots fluctuating mental stability prompted by Angeldust on “m.A.A.d City.” These songs accurately summarize GKMC’s objective and are appropriately titled.

K. Dot fights the trend of loading his album with bombastic beats. Instead, he chooses beats that mold to the vibe of a given story. Seamless production and studio effects add integrity to songs like the extended portion “Swimming Pools” and “m.A.A.d City.” The relaxed, passion infused aura sampled from Janet Jackson’s “Poetic Justice” also deserves honorable mention.

GKMC’s numerous strengths greatly outnumber the few weaknesses. Bars filled with balling and badd chicks quickly fade, but the value of quality storytelling doesn’t, and for that reason Kendrick Lamar’s debut album will be revered in the heart of many as a classic.

Gucci Mane – Trap God

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Given how frequently Gucci Mane’s name has appeared in hip-hop headlines recently, there’s no surprise that a project followed. What better way to promote Trap God than to revive an infamous beef with Young Jeezy and subsequently release a diss track titled “Truth?”

Ironically enough, “Truth” doesn’t appear on Trap God. Nevertheless, Gucci generously loads his most recent opus with 20 tracks. Gucci rose to fame by flooding the streets with an abundance of music, and this mixtape appears to be no different. The majority of the tracks will be forgotten by time his next project releases because most tracks were less than memorable. Apart from beat selections, there aren’t many reasons to praise the self-proclaimed Trap God.

One high point of the mixtape comes from a song where Gucci collaborates with Rick Ross, who also has openly beefed with Young Jeezy, titled “Head Shots.” The track has a catch hook, and the appearance from industry heavyweight Rick Ross adds magnitude and almost solidifies it’s potential as message to further the  Young Jeezy beef.

Trap God is defined more by beats than by lyrics. Songs like “Act Up” and “Never See” have no place on this project because the project’s title leaves no room for their existence. Their overall commercial sound directly contrast what trap music is regardless of Gucci’s verses.

The efforts of songs like “F*ck the World,” “Servin” and “Suckaz,” which were genuinely nice tracks, were offset by subpar efforts on songs like “Rolly Up” and “Gas and Mud.”

“Rolly Up” lands as a failed attempt to establish a connection between street life and prestigious possessions. The connection falls ridiculously short and attempts to take opinion and assert it as a widely believed notion.

“A dope boy watch is a Rolex/ Every dope boy dream to have a Rolex/ Everybody in the hood want a Rolex/ You better keep your pistol with ya Rolex.”

Another fault of Trap God materializes in feature selection. Appearances from Waka Flocka are expected, but Gucci showed minimal effort, failing to extend to rappers apart from those on his Bricksquad label. Trap God serves as Young Scooter’s, Gucci Mane’s latest acquisitions, temporary platform to showcase rap as he appeared on 6 tracks.

Trap God’s makeup is slightly puzzling. Many of the first 10 tracks barely classify as trap music, while most songs after “Servin” (track 11) are actual trap songs. From a thematic standpoint, Gucci dropped the ball and failed to generate relevant trap music. Most of this was filler music, but given Gucci’s history, Trap God’s might signify the coming of a more serious project in the near future.

 

*Review also hosted at http://rapruler.com/

Kirko Bangz – Procrastination Kills 4 (PK4)

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Procrastination Kills 4 (PK4) lands as a project slightly better than mediocre. Kirko adequately illustrates his major strengths, songs of pain and others with exceptional hooks, while simultaneously showing that limited concepts and delivery bobbles need a little improvement.

Kirko’s strongest suit derives from painting pictures of pain and narrating tales of transforming tragedy to triumph. There’s something about his struggle that allows him to captivate listeners even when they don’t relate to his struggles. The effect of “Use to Be” is one of the most impactful tracks. The story of Kirko’s aunt filling the role of his mother and best friend, before being murdered by her husband, provides glimpses into his trialing childhood.

“Have a auntie like your mom and she was your best friend/ She helped you get your first car, helped you furnish ya crib/ Get ya girlfriend a job, helped yal through s**t/ Dress your sister up for prom, helped you manage ya chips/ And you turn around and lose her in the same damn year.”

“Vent,” “On My Own” and “Help Me Out” further Kirko’s message and portraits of pain.

Another major strength of PK4 rests in musical versatility. Far too many rappers rely on bass-overloaded beats to fight half their battle of acquiring fans. It’s obvious that Kirko understands the importance of appealing beats because his previous singles – “What Yo Name Iz” and “Drank in my Cup” – garnered most of their attention from their bombastic bass lines and catchy hooks. On this project, Kirko doesn’t allow that same pattern to restrict or define his identity.

PK4’s song order works as a huge asset. Instead of placing the biggest hits within the first seven songs in typical fashion, Kirko groups the songs by type, which allows for smoother transitions. Bombastic hits come first followed by songs catered to sex and strippers. He then proceeds with narratives of struggle, heartache and pain, before ultimately finishing with a selection of smoother tunes that ride.

Houston, Kirko’s birthplace, flies under the radar for the majority of PK4 before its musical influences break through. It’s not until the last three tracks – especially “Lettin Them Know” featuring Paul Wall and “Laid Back” – where slower, riding beats or chopped and screwed hooks materialize.

Yet, Kirko demonstrates weakness. “Nasty N***a” could have been left off PK4 altogether. It doesn’t do much to improve the project, and the presentation of the song comes off a bit weak.

“Stop B*****n” follows suit. The song wasn’t well planned.  Kirko removed intensity from his voice, but the instrumentation of Drake’s interlude of “Good One’s Go” didn’t mesh with Kirko’s intended theme. Kirko has to consider his delivery prior to choosing beats. Sure, it’s supposed to be an emotional song where he airs out complaints, but his brash delivery was harsher than what the instrumentation could support, resulting in a clash.

Limited topics also work against Kirko. Every rapper has a comfort zone of subjects in which they operate, but Kirko’s potential promises better works in the near future.

Overall, Procrastination Kills 4’s semisolid effort serves as a promising platform for 23-year-old Kirko Bangz. His weaknesses are easily addressable. After a little maturation as a rapper and improved subject matter, Kirko’s potential could give birth to a consistent hit maker.

7.0/10

*Review also hosted at http://www.pefferreviews.com/ and http://rapruler.com/

Lil Wayne – Dedication 4

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If Lil Wayne’s Dedication 4 serves as a parting gift to fans, some will love it, others will hate it. Instead of lacing his 15-track mixtape with commercial bars that have flooded the radio in recent months, Wayne attempts to go back to the essence of what arguably made him the greatest rapper alive. Whether he succeeded or not will be the topic of discussion in many hip-hop forums and conversations.

There’s no secret to Wayne’s blueprinting, preparation and structuring of Dedication 4. He aims to recapture the conceptual, lyrical beast displayed on the previous Dedications while showing rappers that their beats “aren’t safe,” as quoted on the Drought 3, and it definitely doesn’t hurt to have rap’s most popular mixtape endorser DJ Drama stamping the project.

Wayne never recaptures conceptual depths that appeared on his previous Dedication projects, and his style most resembles what No Ceilings offered. Yet, the Dedication 4 has its strong points: Catchy one liners flood each track, the features actually improve songs (J.Cole, Nicki Minaj, Young Jeezy, etc.), the beat selection is immaculate because it pulls from rap’s best and hottest bass lines, and Wayne actually caters his delivery pattern to mirror the original artist’s style on each beat.

“Same Damn Tune,” delivered over Future’s “Same Damn Time,” exhibits how Wayne structures his flow like each song’s original format. He matches patterns and places rhymes that end with similar syllables in memorable spots. In essence, he mimics the original version and adds a twist to it.  It’s safe to say that Wayne went harder than the majority of the original artists, and that’s something to appreciate because he chose songs like: “Burn” and “Amen” by Meek Mill, and “Cashin’ Out” by Cash Out.

Also in “Same Damn Tune” Wayne addresses the comments he made in his interview with DJ Drama.

“Rap is taking a backseat to skating,” said Wayne prior to the mixtape’s release. On the actual project he follows with this response:

“Im skatin’ and rappin’ at the same damn time/ I said I might retire, but yal know I be high.”

Weezy is setting the stage for a situation that mirrors Jay-Z’s. Instead of completely breaking ties with rap and retiring outright, Wayne has left the door open for reappearances. He wants to spend more time venturing down other avenues like his Trukfit clothing line. In the meantime, he should have spent more time preparing for a potential exit that would leave fans wanting more.

The Dedication 4 fell short of what fans expected, and his topics became redundant prematurely. Delivering tons of punch lines and excessively advertising for Trukfit are the only things Wayne accomplished. The Dedication 4 shows a lack of thought, and effort. It appears that Wayne never sought to raise the bar, and failed to display any versatility. Each song has the same format. Has Wayne really sold out and become a punch line rapper? This project suggests that just may be the case.

7.0/10

*Review also hosted at http://www.pefferreviews.com/ and http://rapruler.com/