Dom Kennedy – Yellow Album

Dom Kennedy embodies stylistic qualities often associated with West Coast rap, most notably, a nonchalant demeanor and flow pattern. Kennedy displays how he rose to prominence rapping in California with the Yellow Album.

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The Yellow Album’s overall sound takes root in west coast beats that promotes it’s listeners to bob their head to simple, yet composed basslines as a dulled snare maintains rhythm. Kennedy has found a niche in delivering lines, followed by a one second pause or “uh” before he delivers the next bar. Often times he repeats the line before progressing to his next rhyme. “So Elastic,” “Gold Alphinas,” “5.0/Conversations” and “P + H,” concisely summarize how Kennedy plans to assert his identity in the rap game.

Yet, the mixtape offers more than slow, relaxing tracks for cocktail sipping as you unwind and close the night of partying. His tracks “Girls on Stage,” “1:25,” and “PG Click” quickened tempos forced Kennedy to show more rap versatility. In comparison to other tracks, his style becomes more fluid and greatly

contrasts his signature, segmented bar after bar delivery. By matching the
Nevertheless, Kennedy speckles wit and clever lines sporadically throughout the Yellow Album. Some of his lines generate laughs or resonate for a few seconds as the elaborate metaphor registers and sinks in.pace of the beat Kennedy transitions smoothly from one line to the next without the aid of a pause or unnecessary adlib. Kennedy needs more tracks like this!

One of the most impressive facets of the mixtape actually rests in what’s absent. Normally rappers overload songs

with references of blasting guns, violence, and endless boastful lines asserting their superiority to assumed haters, but it seems like Kennedy refused to do so. Instead he simply depicts his life as something enjoyable as he reaps the spoils of approaching stardom in rap.

Overall, the Yellow Album’s uniqueness plays a key role generating a favorable review.  Although Kennedy opts
to rap with a pause after many of his lines and it sometimes comes across as elementary, stylistically he’s developing a lane that will make him readily identifiable on tracks. Additionally, the minimal amount of violent bars is something rap can really use. It’s refreshing to hear bars that neglect an over utilized component of rap.  Kennedy’s beat selection is equally impressive. His variety of beats tap into moods of excitement and relaxation, which makes his music more relatable.

*Originally posted:

Tabi Bonney – The Endless Summer

There are more things to love than hate about Tabi Bonney’s fourth, and most recent mixtape, The Endless Summer.

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Bonney gains instant momentum and credibility as a rapper by asserting a style that runs unparralled to any major artist. Instead of hopping on machine synthesized, trunk pounding bass lines, Bonney chooses more mellow and relaxing beats with genuine instrumentation from bass guitars and a variety of other instruments. This bodes well for the mixtape because his beat selections enhance the title of his work, The Endless Summer. Many of his songs have a Caribbean summer’s tropical, laid back and relaxing feel coupled with bars that bring endless heat.

Bonney’s style is what’s most impressive about the mixtape. Apart from the fact that he possesses a voice similar to old-school rapper Slick Rick, Bonney proceeds to narrate situations with thorough topical verses that consistently use both internal and end rhyme. Unlike many current rappers who recklessly oscillate between topics, Bonney sticks to the concept of each track by developing his analogies with diverse, witty wordplay in each verse. His songs “Senior Year,” “Hang Glide,” and “Parachute” provide excellent examples.

“I don’t need that attention/your girlfriend like no he didn’t/I don’t need no Martin Lawrence and Pamela rendition/but anyways we can kick it, just no real commitment/and I hope you’re in shape if you plan on goin’ the distance,” he flows in his track “Parachute.”

Yet, high praise sometimes warrants criticism. Bonney should work on different delivery methods. He has capacity to become more versatile with how he raps. His flow pattern could use more vocal variation, which would add character and individuality to his thematic tracks.

Overall, Tabi Bonney gains points for style, instrumentation, content, and bar structure. He loses points for conceptual redundancy, (tracks “Parachute” and “Hang Glide”) lack of flow variation, and the evident fact that he still has plenty of room to grow as an artist.

*Originally posted:

Childish Gambino – Royalty

If Childish Gambino seeks notoriety his most recent, 18-track mixtape titled Royalty will garner wanted attention.

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Childish Gambino’s relentless delivery has greatly improved from his style on Camp, his first independent studio albumreleased in November of 2011. Childish Gambino has slightly changed his style to incorporate more commercial hooks, but it’s for the better.

His song “Unnecessary” provides one of the best examples. Although its commercial and he uses money to express how he has acquired many things in life that are unnecessary, he has learned how to use rap’s most commercial facets to enhance his message instead of producing overall commercial tracks.

It doesn’t seem like Childish Gambino can be contained. Regardless of the topic, whether it’s life, money, women or success he possesses the intelligence and wordplay to make his lyrics resonate.  Every song on the mixtape has thorough, well written  bars.

Additionally his concepts force a little thought before the moment of realization descends, as is the case on the song “One Up.”  He talks about how many things he has in life are extra and compares it to gaining an extra life in a video game.

“We party until the sun up, you aint likin’ what we doin’… shut up, you aint likin’ what we doin’… shut up, we got that extra life n***a one up.”

“Real Estate” applies a similar concept as Childish Gambino applies a pun to the words real estate. Not only is it a reference to money he’s placed in the housing market, but it’s also a braggadocio statement that promotes Georgia as the realest state, and features Georgia native Alley Boy.

Childish Gambino also dabbles with a few samples on the tape. His song “Toxic,” produced Skywlkr, uses Brittney Spears song as the basis of a bass booming track where he displays a dangerously toxic flow. “Make it Go Right” also samples LL Cool J’s flow from “I Need Love” as Childish Gambino uses the first two bars as a platform to sage way through the rest of the song.

Ironically enough, Childish Gambino showed signs of separating from his Drake-like approach to music as an entertainer who sings and raps. The only song where Childish Gambino sings is “Shoulda Known.” It’s not exactly clear whether he is singing or softly reciting the hook.

The mixtape also offers a barrage of features. Some notables are Schoolboy Q, Nipsey Hussle and Ghostface Killah. Childish Gambino outshines all his features except rap veteran Bun-B on the song “R.I.P,” which experiments with studio effects that make the music sound like its shorting out. Almost every track on Royalty contained a feature. Childish Gambino may need to consider less features on the next time around because a few of them were weak.

Royalty ranks as one of the most complete mixtapes in 2012. Childish Gambino caters his flow to match each beat and proceeds to deliver surgically precise bars that are unmistakably clever and clear.

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