2018 kicked off with some dope music from several of the industry’s stars, rising stars and best kept secrets. I’ve posted on twitter a little while back that I will be going back and reviewing albums that I missed this year. I have a lot of music to cover! I’ll be posting the projects in groups by the month they were released. I’ll be doing this for all albums through November. If people like the format I will close out the year this way and then resume with my normal posting style to kick off 2019. Aright…. let’s dive in to this because I have over 130 albums to look at by mid December and have so much to do outside of blogging. This is officially a challenge of Man vs Time. Esketittt!
JUSTINE SKYE – ULTRAVIOLET
Over the past few years we’ve seen an upward trend of new R&B female artists with many who have started to make their mark and solidify a solid fan base. Justine Skye was one of them but did not stick around. She released a few EPs that drew the comparison of her to Rihanna from many critics. After two EPs she kind of just fell off and became more known as Kylie Jenner’s BFF rather than an emerging R&B artist. It wasn’t till her third EP, ‘8 Ounces’ that it felt she was starting to find her way again and as promise a little more than a year later the R&B singer finally released her debut album ‘ULTRAVIOLET’.
Lets keep things short and sweet. Justine Skye is raw, unapologetic and most importantly, Skye is very talented. ‘ULTRAVIOLET’ is a fierce and explosive 10 track project that showcases her talents as she creates many enjoyable tracks that all could be possible radio hits. Lyrically I thought a lot of songs were so-so and did not stand out much. In a way this album sounds like rough version of Kehlani’s ‘Sweet Sexy Savage’ album. This wasn’t a bad effort by Ms. Skye but she should refocus and try to make that step to the next level that many believed she was once capable of!
Stream on Spotify:
Favorite Tracks: Goodlove & U Don’t Know
Migos – Culture II
Culture II! The sequel to the Migos very successful “Culture” album was literally the most anticipated project of 2018 back in the Summer of 2017 when they started teasing us of its release. ‘Culture II’ arrived almost a year to the day of the release of ‘Culture’. The Atlanta trio went all out and put together a 24 track album full of star studded collaborators. This cast includes Drake, Big Sean, Gucci Mane, Ty Dolla $ign, Nicki Minaj, Cardi B, Post Malone, 2 Chainz, Travis Scott and 21 Savage. Also on the production side, the talent is not lacking one bit! We were gifted with production done by Kanye West, Metro Boomin, Zaytoven, Mike Dean, Pharrell, 808 Mafia, Cardo, Cassius Jay, FKi, Murda Beatz, DJ Durel, C-Note and more. We even got Quavo tapping into his rapper/producer bag on the intro track. This project features 2017 Summer/end of the year bangers in “Motorsport,” “Stir Fry” and “Supastars.”
So overall Culture II was supposed to be a masterpiece according to the Atlanta trio. In an interview with Montreality back in September, the Migos stated “Culture 2 is a masterpiece man..We setting a trend, we started this whole lil wave, we started the whole genre, the whole flow, the whole melody. Ain’t nobody right now who can say they ain’t took our flow. We ain’t tripping, we never did trip. Hip-hop has changed in a big way, We changed it.”
So… I always keep it a stack with you all, so why lie now? Culture II is NOT A MASTERPIECE. Culture II IS NOT A GREAT ALBUM. BUT it’s not trash either. Yes I said it. Now let me briefly explain. It did not meet my expectations but overall it is a decent project. I didn’t have too many issues but I didn’t love it either. My first knock is that Culture II is too damn long. There were too many throw away to mediocre tracks on this sequel. Culture was 13 tracks and Culture II is 24 tracks. It’s clear to me that the label maybe demanded enough tracks to insure a #1 streaming debut. They wanted to repeat last years success so I don’t blame them but come on man. Getting 24 tracks after getting the Quality Control collaborative mixtape that had 30 tracks the month before was extremely overwhelming my goodness. This creates fatigue on the listeners and they won’t be receptive to the music as the artist intended for them too. Shit! To be honest, a part of me enjoyed the QC collaborative project over Culture II (sorry NOT sorry). I feel like they lost some of their special mystique on here. Maybe it’s just me.. This album also lacks organization. I believe if Culture II consisted of the 13-14 best tracks, we’d be having a totally different conversation. The production was overall solid and they did a great job picking the features as well but this was not a good follow up to ‘Culture’.
It sounds like I hate this album but I don’t. It flat out just fell way short of my expectations. To end this review on a more positive note, the consensus from many was that they enjoyed this album a lot. It does have a handful of forgettable tracks but we are in a current state where the Migos are the “culture” and they are the dictators of it. Their next project will make up for this disappointment. But it looks like we’re getting individual projects first from each member of the Migos… Can these dudes just relax and let us digest the music? SHEESH!
Stream on Spotify:
Favorite Songs: Motorsport, BBO, Narcos and Stir Fry
Dave East – P2 (Album Review)
There are so many acts in today’s hip hop market. Harlem’s very own, Dave East, demands attention in this overcrowded market. ‘P2’ is the sequel to last year’s exquisite release, ‘Paranoia: A True Story’. On ‘P2’ the Nas co-sign carries on that New York rap tradition that true hip hop fans LOVE and WISH THERE WERE WAS MORE OF.
Immediately, Dave gives us an intro track that sets the tone of ‘P2’. “Talk Big” literally covered more ground than what many “rappers” 12 track mixtape would cover. This song has had ridiculous replay value for me and I’ve listened to it more and more as of late. Things do not slow down after this excellent first track as he reinforces his street persona on cuts like “Powder” and “I Can Not.” East also gets personal on “Corey” and on “I Found Keisha” he offers depth that you can really feel through a quite graphic story. It’s this kind of depth that is missing in a lot of artist music today.
The content on ‘P2’ was great and the production complimented Dave’s raps perfectly. There were a few tracks I wasn’t too crazy about such as “Thank You” and the super radio-reach “Woke Up” with Tory Lanez. I also was a little disappointed in the Lloyd Banks featured track “Violent.” All in all Dave East delivers once again with ‘P2’ and with back to back hard hitting mixtapes with Paranoia I and II, East commands way more attention. Stop faking “Hip Hop” fans.
Stream on Spotify:
Favorite Tracks: Talk to Big, Corey, I Can Not and I Found Keisha
Camila Cabello – Camila (Album Review)
Back in May of 2017 she announced her debut album title as being ‘The Hurting. The Healing. The Loving’. The purpose for that title according to Cabello was to tell “the story of my journey from darkness into light, from a time when I was lost to a time when I found myself again.” As we fast forward a few months later, a Latin-influenced pop tune Camila chose to release as a “promotional single” became an unexpected smash. “Havana” eventually spent five weeks at Number one before finally being toppled by Ed Sheeran “Shape Of You.” (If my memory serves me correct) On January 12th of this year Camila Cabello’s debut ‘Camila’ was released. As we all know breaking off from a successful musical group to push a solo career is NEVER easy, but few have benefited tremendously from it. As for the ex-Fifth Harmony star, she completely nails her debut solo album in a way many probably could not predict.
“Havana” was the lead single and it’s what built up the anticipation of Camila’s debut. The album doesn’t follow the original “darkness into light” theme nor keeps the romantic feels of “Havana.” There are plenty of edgier moments. On “Something’s Gotta Give,” a strikingly direct break-up song, Camila sings, “you’re good at making me feel small.” The piano stripped ballad that is “Consequences” is a deeply candid track that stands out as Camila tells a former partner “loving you was dumb and dark and cheap,” and says she “lost a little weight because I wasn’t eating”. Its a very deep and personal track and shows how far the singer has come since the Fifth Harmony hit, “Work From Home.”
On songs such as “All These Years” and “Real Friends” we get a very acoustic pop version of Camila that may remind us of some popular Ed Sherran tracks. Ed Sherran was also a contributor on this project. “She Loves Control” has Spanish guitars and sleek reggaetón beats, while “Inside Out” features steel drums and a mention of Cabello’s upbringing in “the south side of Miami.” This 10 track debut showcases Camila’s talents and versatility leaving us with the impression that she indeed can prosper as a solo artist. Phenomenal album.
Stream on Spotify:
Favorite Tracks: She Loves Control, Havana & Real Friends
DOMO GENESIS – AREN’T YOU GLAD YOU’RE U
Odd Future’s Domo Genesis returns with his 6th mixtape to follow up last years ‘Red Corolla’. This time around, Domo recruits Evidence of Dilated Peoples to produce it in its entirety. The opening track “Me vs. Me” vents about internal conflict over a jazzy yet gloomy instrumental. It defiantly was an interesting choice for an intro track because the next song “Shaq Carries Kobe” featuring Phonte takes a jab at all the fake people in the industry and the world in general over a mellow Evidence beat. As we approach the core of ‘AREN’T YOU GLAD YOU’RE U’, we get tracks such as “Free Kirk” which talks about going from a hustler to a rapper with the instrumental pretty much including an ongoing thunderstorm through it to possibly add to the rappers presentation of the transition between the two. “BBB” gives us confrontation and “Sing Me a Song” presents insight and ambitious lyrics over a smooth beat. Both “Brake” and “Fuck a Co-Sign” are short in length and I enjoyed these tracks solely for the production. The mixtape closer, “Hood Famous,” touches base on living by your limits accompanied with a beautiful piano on the production. This mixtape is only 20 minutes long but it was pretty enjoyable. It wasn’t “Red Corolla” but that’s okay! The production was solid and it’s always good to hear Domo rap and get his sh*t off!
Stream on Soundcloud:
Favorite Tracks: “Me vs. Me” and “Shaq Carries Kobe”
SiR – November
TDE’s roster continues to grow! Top Dawg Entertainment is not a label just for rappers. They’ve come to embrace all kinds of artists. TDE’s roster consists of the top MC right now that is Kendrick Lamar. TDE also is the home of super talents such as Jay Rock, ScHoolboy Q, Isiah Rishad, SZA and Ab-Soul. SZA who falls in the realm of R&B, with the addition of Inglewood’s finest, SiR, they’re diving deeper into R&B. SiR has brought his smooth and sultry brand of the genre into the mix with the execution of his debut album, ‘November’.
‘November’ is full of emotional confusion on majority of the 11 tracks. A project full of amazing vocals supported by laid-back rhythms, ‘November’ is a roller coaster of heartfelt confessions and romantic musings of someone who’s experienced a deep heartbreak but at the same time, an intoxicating love. SiR pines for his mystery woman’s affection on “War.” On the previous track he dismisses her clingy ways on “Never Home” and then on “Better” he wants her back. These tracks play in the order of “Never Home,” “War,” and “Better.” I personally thought this was the perfect organization to display what it’s like being in an intense relationship of the one SiR presents to us. I know I’ve been there before.
I was a fan of ScHoolboy Q’s contributions to lead single “Something Foreign” even though it was track that seemed misplaced a bit but still fit in with the albums concept I suppose. Tracks such as “D’Evils,” “Something New,” featuring British vocalist Etta Bond, and “Dreaming Of Me,” I enjoyed on pure strength of the near-flawless production work. Since we’re talking production now, “Dreaming Of Me,” produced by H-Money, cleverly samples Dr. Dre’s 1999 hit “Xplosive” in a new surprisingly pleasant manner. The album closes with “Summer In November” which I think was the perfect way to conclude and wrap up the album’s concept.
November has many producers but is able to remain sonically cohesive. To couple the amazing production job with SiR’s undeniable talent this makes for an amazing debut that will be in consideration for one of this year’s best releases. (Ain’t that right Shawn?!)
Stream on Spotify:
Favorite Tracks: D’Evils, Never Home, War, Better, That’s Alright and Dreaming of Me
So hopefully I covered the MAJOR releases in January. If I missed anything leave a comment or hit me up on Twitter @SuaveMontana. Also I have a poll up! Vote on what project you thought was the best!
Another poll is up too which is super important to me… Would you all prefer I post the remaining albums in this monthly format (Something new I’m trying) or just do individual post and spit ’em out as I complete them?