Review: Leaving / Left Has Wool See Reaching New Heights

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Note: My music reviews will always be “late.” It is my belief that albums should be listened to in different moods, settings, and after extended breaks, all while conditioning yourself to accept what you were given as opposed to what you wanted. Only then can you give a legitimate and honest critique of the material.

Since its inception in 2014, the Wool See project–spearheaded by Sandpeople’s own IAME–has been an interesting thing to behold. With total disregard of expectations, and complete abandonment of traditional song structure, the records released under the Wool See brand became increasingly more dense and complex; something that reached an inevitable tipping point on 2015’s LifeAlert. Like To Pimp A Butterfly and Compton earlier that year, I found there was just too much to process and consider if I were to review it in a traditional manner, so I left well enough alone and enjoyed the record in silence. Continue reading

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Review: Grieves Is Running Wild With No Clear Destination

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Note: My music reviews will always be “late.” It is my belief that albums should be listened to in different moods, settings, and after extended breaks, all while conditioning yourself to accept what you were given as opposed to what you wanted. Only then can you give a legitimate and honest critique of the material.

At the end of the day, regardless of how much music you consume, and independent of how obsessed you are with discovering new music, there will always be a handful of artists and bands that speak to the soul of who you are, and you will always remember how and when you were introduced to their music. Grieves is one of those artists for me. After being exposed to “Light Speed” in early 2011 prior to the release of his third studio album, Together/Apart, there was something about his aesthetic that resonated hard with my angsty 18 year-old self–an appeal that never quite dissipated over the years. Continue reading

Review: Ethereal Sees Illmac and Goldini Bagwell At the Top of Their Game

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Note: My music reviews will always be “late.” It is my belief that albums should be listened to in different moods, settings, and after extended breaks, all while conditioning yourself to accept what you were given as opposed to what you wanted. Only then can you give a legitimate and honest critique of the material.

In 2016, Illmac (formerly known as Illmaculte) released his Still Standing album. After I sat with it for a time, and eventually reviewed it, I was curious to see where he would go from there. Because with Still Standing, Illmac’s music received a major facelift, with the Portland emcee toying more with melody and atmosphere, as opposed to the in-your-face lyricism that had previously controlled majority of his output. It was an interesting change of pace, but one I felt needed some fine-tuning. Fast-forward a year later and the battle rap veteran hooked up with fellow Sandpeople alumnus Goldini Bagwell, and with production from Smoke M2D6, the two released one of the strongest records in the Sandpeople canon. Continue reading

Review: 21 Savage Is Full of Surprises On Issa Album

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Note: My music reviews will always be “late.” It is my belief that albums should be listened to in different moods, settings, and after extended breaks, all while conditioning yourself to accept what you were given as opposed to what you wanted. Only then can you give a legitimate and honest critique of the material.

As Trap music and Soundcloud rap continue to flood the Hip Hop scene, the argument between Old Heads and new listeners persists regarding what one can and should consider “Real Hip Hop,” a phrase that I’ve personally lost connection with as I’ve started making an effort to analyze and understand contemporary artists in the scene. If you would have asked me a year ago what I thought of 21 Savage, I probably would have told you I considered him another “Mumble Rapper” (a term I don’t use as an insult) and that I didn’t see the appeal. But following the release of Issa Album, the Atlanta rapper’s debut, something changed. As I sat with this album, as I digested it, I legitimately started to enjoy myself. Continue reading

Review: Big Fish Theory Is a Half Measure For Vince Staples

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Note: My music reviews will always be “late.” It is my belief that albums should be listened to in different moods, settings, and after extended breaks, all while conditioning yourself to accept what you were given as opposed to what you wanted. Only then can you give a legitimate and honest critique of the material.

With the current wave of mainstream Hip Hop, it can become easy for listeners to get a little jaded, especially if their primary means of music discovery comes from radio or curated playlists. Because like the Bling-era in the 2000s, contemporary Trap music is ruling the airwaves, and it’s reached the point where the sound has become a little sterile and drained of any previous complexities. Amidst this group of artists riding trends, you have others pushing boundaries, as well as others embracing throwbacks, and then you have someone like Vince Staples who, in the middle of 2017, dropped the quirky Big Fish Theory. Continue reading

Review: Humanz Is the Gorillaz Album Most Lacking In Humanity

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Note: My music reviews will always be “late.” It is my belief that albums should be listened to in different moods, settings, and after extended breaks, all while conditioning yourself to accept what you were given as opposed to what you wanted. Only then can you give a legitimate and honest critique of the material.

When Gorillaz began prepping the release of Humanz last year, there was an undeniable cause for celebration. After all, it had been seven years since Plastic Beach and The Fall were released, and after such a long hiatus, I think many were starting to wonder whether a new Gorillaz record would ever see the light of day. There were brief flashes that gave us hope, such as 2012’s “DoYaThang,” but there was never anything substantial, and it didn’t help there was reported tension between Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett, which made the possibility of a future project seem even less likely. Continue reading

Review: Sadistik’s Altars Is a Dark Exploration of Blasphemy

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Note: My music reviews will always be “late.” It is my belief that albums should be listened to in different moods, settings, and after extended breaks, all while conditioning yourself to accept what you were given as opposed to what you wanted. Only then can you give a legitimate and honest critique of the material.

As I began doing the prep-work for this review, I kept trying to hone-in on an adjective or theme I could use to summarize Altars, the latest record from Sadistik, and the more I thought about it, the more perplexed I became, because Altars, like the artist who created it, is complex. Like all good albums, this one is layered, it’s unpredictable, and at times, it can be abrasive or even shocking. Still, it never feels gratuitous, nor does Sadistik’s lyrical musings on religion feel like they’re meant to offend. Instead, without any condescension, Cody Foster is simply trying to untangle the web of societal norms until he comes to a conclusion that feels rational to him as a human being. Continue reading