[MUSIC][REVIEW] MARTY G RAW -MARTY BALLER

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I found Marty in an odd way; I was on Instagram and Kanye’s latest Yeezy Season had just premiered. Under my ‘suggested’, I found a video of some guy looking goofy as he inched his way closer and closer to Kanye for a photo. It was pretty funny to me so I clicked a couple more links and found myself on his Spotify page while thinking about braids in the hip hop game.

I listened to the project a few times and found myself really liking it. It was a refreshing approach on the hip hop scene that I wasn’t getting with some of the newer artists I had found. As I always do – I started to dig. Couldn’t find too much more than speculation of Marty being Ferg’s brother and that he had been Ferg’s hypeman for some time. He appeared on Ferg’s project ALWAYS STRIVE AND PROSPER with Lil Uzi on this track.

 

On twitter he’s goofy in a fun way as he has Kanye-esque stream of consciousness tweets like this: Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 6.21.48 PM

Overall seems like he isn’t trying to ride the ASAP wave. Lets get into it.

RIP  – Prod by J Tell

Off the bat Marty has a nice flow. Beat selection is interesting. Vaguely middle eastern vibes and booming drums. Surprised he didn’t open the project with a trap beat since he’s so closely affiliated with the self proclaimed Trap Lord. Track definitely acts as an engaging and curiosity-piquing intro to the project.

Best part – he’s not boasting about fucking bitches or stunting. He’s talking about trying to make it in the game and how his old life is behind him.

Inferno – Prod by Lord Prynce

Spoke too soon on the trap beats but I ain’t mad. That first ‘skrrt’ really resonated with me. It was creepy sounding in a cool way due to the harmonies on it – sad that we didn’t hear more of them. His adlib game is strong; got some auto-tuned crooning in the back, some military stuff, and some good ol ‘skirrrrt’s. He introduces himself as part of the ASAP mob. The flow at some points is vaguely reminiscent of Travis’s flow on coordinate. Low key but I’m still engaged.

Best part – Adlibs. Duh.

Flex – Prod by Loot Franklin

Now this is a song about.. well flexing. Can’t say he didn’t tell us what we were getting into! In terms of style this definitely sounds like some classic ASAP shit. It’s energetic for sure and i think I hear a sample from Nelly in Dilemma going ‘oooh’. he really sounds like ferg on the last verse. If they’re brothers that explains it.

Best part – nice and energetic.

Everywhere We Go – Prod by Don Alfonso

Probably one of my favorites off the tape. The beat is really good, props to don alfonso. Flows are so good and he really shows he’s got bars. The hook is damn catchy too. I love that there isn’t an obscene amount of auto tune on the verses in an age where more projects have it rather than don’t. He really has a unique voice.

NYU – Prod By Staccs

this is my favorite track for sure. He’s just so versatile on the track. Beat selection is smart even though it’s not an especially intricate beat; his vocals just compliment it really well as the track is mostly 808s, drums, bells, and some ambient pads while his voice is higher and more melodic. feelin some bieber vibes here.

I liked the song so much I remixed it! After listening to my version so much this version seems really fast. Give it a listen:

Best part – I don’t know what to say.

Big Timers Feat. Asap Ferg – Prod. By Slade da monsta

Marty and ferg bro out on this track – it sounds like they might’ve had a good time but the track isn’t anything that stands out to me.

Rolly Two – Prod. By Ben Jayne

Not feeling this track either – sounds like a freestyle off the dome and I guess he says ‘I’m just trying to hit a 16 so I can hit the big screen’

Best part – the ‘bye byee!’ ad lib

Bag First – Prod. By Ben Jayne

This one is about the same as the last one but slightly better. It reminds me of a discount version of Shmurda’s Hot N*gga. Lyrically it’s better than Rolly Two but the beat isn’t of the same caliber as the rest of the project.

Ima Dog Feat. Asap Ferg x Migos – Prod. By Lord Prynce

Lighthearted and funny. Ferg’s on the track again with some great lines. We are graced with ATL’s finest, Migos.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Overall not bad. He made my list of people to watch as I think he could make a good project with his alternative angle and better beat selection. This project came off as a little bit juvenile but hey, it’s his first one! Always a lot more impressive when someone with access to high profile cosigns doesn’t drown their own project/get stuck in the shadow of their features. He’s been teasing some new music for a while and I hope he drops it soon!

6/10

[MUSIC][REVIEW] BIRDTRAP SING MCKNIGHT – TRAVIS SCOTT

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I have mixed feeling about Travis Scott. I remember hearing him on Cruel Summer tracks like Sin City, where he has both a verse and production credit, and thinking ‘This guy sounds cool. I’d love to hear more.’ Fast forward to 2015 because I slept on Owl Pharaoh and Days Before Rodeo and I hear some tracks off of Rodeo.  I fell in love with that album – it’s still frequently in my rotation.

As I do with any new artist I like, I started to read whatever I could about Travis Scott to try and understand where his roots were planted and how they had grown ever since. His come up story was great; he put out the video for Lights (Love Sick) and had just landed when he saw he had texts from T.I.’s camp inviting him to the studio. He then signed as a producer for G.O.O.D. Music and claimed Kanye helped him release Owl Pharaoh. He claimed Kanye helped him make beats for the album which is entirely possible but also very unlikely as Kanye was doing the whole becoming a father thing back then along with prepping to release Yeezus. The world may never know for sure but Travis does have an alleged history of stealing other peoples’ work.

His go to ad libs aren’t even original: ‘Straight Up’ is something Future used first on a track called… well, Straight Up.  The other one is from Gucci; La Flame is one letter off from La Flare. You do the math.

One part of being a fan in this day and age is being able to separate the artist from the persona. i.e a Kanye figure. As long as our generation is okay with lyrically sparse club bangers that make us feel a certain way I guess the Travis Scott’s and Young Thug’s will continue to be successful. Let’s get onto the music.

the ends – Prod by Evian Christ, OZ, Vinylz, Daxz, and WondaGurl

Travis says his original intention was to have Andre 3000 narrate the album similar to how T.I. did for Rodeo but when Andre presented him with a verse he didn’t question anything.

Andre outshines Travis but what else do you expect when you put one of rap’s GOATs on your intro track? To be fair only one person has managed to stay in the spotlight on their own track rather than forfeit it to a featured Andre – Kanye. On 30 Hours Kanye only has Andre singing on the outro. If there was ever a verse recorded to be added onto the track the world may never know. As always, the beat selection is great but the lyrics are pretty shallow. For a verse where you claim ‘this might be the verse that make ’em drop me’ you better drop some real bombs. Alas, no bombs were dropped.

Best part – Andre’s verse

way back – Prod by Da Honorable C.N.O.T.E., Chahayed, Mike Dean, Rogét Chahayed, Cashmere Cat, and Hit-Boy

The transition from the end of the last track into the beginning of this one is pretty smooth. Props there for sure. This opens up with a warm and familiar voice – Kid Cudi! Cudi doesn’t add much more than ambient moans (which is okay) so instead we get Travis doing most of the work. The lyricism follows the last song in that Travis touches upon some cool descriptive imagery and possibly deep subject matter but he never pursues it. I don’t think I’ll need to point this out on the rest of the album but it is important to note that it’s part of Travis Scott as an artist.

We get a few ‘firsts’ on this track; a signature Travis beat change and a Mike Dean guitar solo.

Best part – Travis’s flow on the track and the beat change towards the end. Beat changes are a brilliant way to introduce otherwise unfinished ideas that may not contribute anything to an album on their own. Tacked onto the end of a song they feel much more natural.

 

coordinate – Prod by CuBeatz & TM88

A nice motivational intro from Blac Youngsta leads into a pretty chill beat that seems to sample Bossed Up by Juicy J and Wiz Khalifa heavily. Hmm. No beat jacking as TM88 produced the other track and is listed a producer here but still, -5 for lack of originality. Still can’t help but bob my head to the beat.

Fantano rags on travis for his mumble rap hook but I can’t front – it actually sounds good! Travis’s flow sounds very similar to Drake’s on Cameras

Best part – This video of Lebron jamming out to the song in his car.

through the late nite – Prod by CuBeatz and Cardo

Here it is boys and girls; the track featuring jedi master and young padawan. Can’t beat that classic Cudi moan.

Cudi takes the cake here by singing the intro, hook, AND the first verse! Things get acceptably weird on this track as Cudi raps the chemical names for DMT and LSD. The track continues with both of these melody cowboys singing the hook together and Travis interpolating Day ‘N’ Nite. He keeps it plenty weird when he raps ‘Stroke my cactus’. Like father like son I guess.

Best part – Cudi and Scott just having fun with it.

 

biebs in the trap – Prod by NAV

I posted about this video earlier so I’m glad we get to revisit the actual song. This song is an ode to cocaine. Not too much deeper than that.

NAV is an up and coming Toronto based rapper/producer. He’s a little under the radar right now in terms of who he’s affiliated with but all that matters is he’s doing well. This track bangs and accentuates the styles of both artists.

Best part – The wacky line from Travis ‘Tryna’ text my accountant//Ain’t no service in the mountains.’ Is he hiking? or camping? Insider trading?? WHY ARE YOU IN THE MOUNTAINS?! (I know it’s probably about living in the hills)

sdp interlude – Prod by Ricci Riera

For a guy that says he rarely drinks or does drugs here we are with a song in which the only lyrics are ‘Smoke some, drink some, pop one.’ The beat is cool tho as it samples Washed Out’s You and I and interpolates Madonna’s Lucky Star. I think this track would do better as an interlude if it were a few songs deeper into the album.

sweet sweet – Prod by Mike Dean, WondaGurl, CuBeatz, and Murda

A song about Travis having girl problems and the girl in question has a drug problem? Really minimalistic beat here that sounds very Mike Dean influenced given the synths and the guitar outro. Following the interlude track this one feels sleepy.

 

outside – Prod by Travis Scott, Nisi, OZ, and Murda

Travis collabs with 21 Savage on this one about being one of the boys and causing trouble. The beat reminds me of Pick Up the Phone with the island-esque steel drums. 21’s verse is actually pretty good and fun. He even plugs himself with the ’10 bad bitches’ line. Nice to feel the album pace pick up a little bit.

 

goosebumps – Prod by Yung Exclusive, CuBeatz, and Cardo

Probably my favorite track off this album and we still have 5 more to go! The beat is dark and eerie – really feels like a classic Travis song. Once the drums come in the whole thing really bangs. Sliding 808’s in the background add to the ambience along with Travis’s ethereal chanting. But we can’t show any disrespek to the feature on here..

K-Dot comes in HOT. We get classic conscious Kendrick with the wordplay and multiple personalities/voices. Hearing him over trap beats is a rare treat as he’s taken a jazzier route lately.

best part – Kendrick’s verse easily. This live version he did is also definitely worth watching.

first take – Prod by Mel&Mus, Illa Jones, TEAUXNY, and Sy Ari da Kid

Gotta be honest I thought this was Chris Brown when I first heard it… This song serves as a great segue into Pick Up the Phone.

We get a cute ballad from Travis – seemingly the most emotion on a track this album besides the bromance track with Cudi. Pretty mature to say ‘Just let our love run it’s course’. Bryson Tiller’s voice adds a layer of buttery smoothness to this track as well.

Pick Up the Phone – Prod by Frank Dukes and Vinylz

Oddly enough this is the only song off the album with the title capitalized. Just an observation. Maybe something to do with Thugger.

This song bumps and was one of the leading singles for BITTSM. Steel drums on a trap beat seem to work here while Thugger, Travis, and Quavo trade verses about a girl who well, isn’t picking up the phone. The outro screams over-produced Mike Dean but it works in a weird way.

Some background on this track;
– it was featured on both Young Thug’s JEFFREY and Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight
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the name of the album apparently came from Quavo’s line ‘birds in the trap sing Brian McKnight’
– Travis put this up on his SC but was forced by his labels to take it down. Labels are evil.

lose – Prod by Mike Dean, Frank Dukes, Allen Ritter, and Vinylz

A pretty chill beat over which Cassie joins Travis as they sing about a luxurious lifestyle and insecurity about losing it all. The hook is about how Travis is steady with his crew but his girl’s not about it. There were some rumors about bad girl RiRi being on the track but being replaced after their romance fizzled out.

guidance – Prod by DF

..speaking of bad girl RiRi we get Travis’s attempt at a dancehall beat. It seems like once Drake did it everyone else had to? Or maybe this is him working through a possible Rihanna break up? Either way it’s not my favorite track but the melodies are good and it’s slightly catchy.

wonderful – Prod by T-Minus, Travis Scott, Boi-1da, and Mike Dean

Throwing this on the end of the album was the equivalent of writing the same paragraph twice on a school essay because you have to meet the minimum word count.

This was really new and interesting when it first came out but since it’s been nearly a year I don’t see the relevance of adding it as the bookend on this project. The weekend’s part was originally just Travis on an old soundcloud version but it looks like he wanted to add just one more feature. Not a very strong ending for me.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I like Travis Scott, the artist. Rodeo was great but I think that Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight trails behind it. Yes there are A-list features all up and down the album but I failed to see any risks taken or and paths paved further. Travis played this project relatively safe and it seemed to come off as a continuation of the same sound found on Rodeo, which is fine, but at a lesser quality. Hell, you could tell me that some of these tracks were B-sides to singles from Rodeo and I would believe you.

I can’t say that this wasn’t a fun project that tied together a lot of great and seemingly relevant artists because it was and it did. Although I haven’t seen him live myself I’ve heard that he is quite the performer. I just want Travis to make something past Rodeo. Maybe something darker, grittier? Maybe something with deeper lyrics? Guess we will wait to hear what’s next from La Flame.

6.5/10

[MUSIC][REVIEW] NOCTURNAL – ROY WOODS

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I didn’t know much about Roy Woods until just recently. I’ll admit it. A good friend turned me onto this (yes, you, Neelesh) and said ‘who better than the genius behind The Neel Show?!

I must also admit I listen to things at least 4 times before I form any opinions. Below is my review of Roy Woods’ new EP Nocturnal and please feel free to disagree and maybe even teach me something new. Life wins when you stop learning.

Magic

He starts the song chanting about his new crew and his old crew, OVO and UTU. I had to look up what UTU was too.

Right off the bat we have a very OVO track. Someone’s crooning. There’s a light, airy, atmospheric pad accompanied by some percussion and booming 808s. Safe to say that the Toronto sound is a very real thing you can hear all around the music scene these days. But where does this track go? Nowhere really.

He croons about making it from nothing and how he has now ‘made it’. Making it can be a really cool thing. There’s always a good story to be told and I personally fall in love with those stories that detail the process.. but this track was lackluster. It’s almost as if he meant for it be very catchy but it just wasn’t no matter how many times he told us ‘I be doing me on the daily’. His voice is nice but the lyricism is very weak. I don’t get mad that he made it but I’m just disappointed because I really don’t know the work he put in because he never mentions it.

Best part – Him primally growling towards the end of the track. That’s the only part that felt real.

Four Seasons

Another song about how he has made it and is providing for his family. The acoustic guitar trap beat is cool but since it’s lacking in the melody department it forces Woods to get more sing songy like his label mate Aubrey. He drops some names on this one(PARTYNEXTDOOR) and raps a little bit too. Finally some substance! Maybe the track title alludes to the life of being on the road and bouncing from one hotel to the next?

Best part – The beat and the open ended realization ‘man this life aint no vacation’

Chili Peppers

Woods gets Majid Jordan on the track and to be honest it is very hard to tell who is singing when. According to rapgenius they sing together intermittently on the track.

At least the hook on here is redeeming but with all the RHCP references a guitar track or some real bass would’ve been great and a good play on word that I could actually appreciate. I’m sure John Frusciante would’ve played a dope solo over the top of this. He’s already doing electro music anyway.

Best part – The hook ain’t too bad. Majid Jordan helps this track a lot.

Involved – 

Not much on this one. The beat is kinda boring. It’s as if these were beats inspired by Drake or incomplete ideas he passed on because the beats themselves don’t carry much melody. By doing that they force Woods to come up with the melodies but he just doesn’t. Makes me appreciate Drake throwing 5425 catchy melodies on each song he does even if he doesn’t write them himself. Could also do without the weird outro of his voice pitched up.

Best part – I guess him making some uber reference that precedes the track with Madeintyo is kind of cool?

Instinct

Again very hard to hear the feature on this track but at least MadeinTYO has his own verse and his sounds fits with Roy Woods’. The hook is pretty lame and not very creative.

Best part – The MadeinTYO verse.

Love You

Kinda lame track about a girl he wants to love. He asks obscene/cringy questions like this poetic excerpt:

Naked
Does he make love while you’re naked?
Do you never let him taste it?
Does he fuck you like he loves you?
Treat you good like a man should
Does he bathe in the shower for you?
Does he do the things that I do?
Does he tell you that I want you?

Maybe a love song should you know.. say endearing things on it? Start with you’re pretty maybe?

Dangerous

I hate to say this but I’m really glad we are on the last track. This one isn’t so bad. He has a nice flow throughout the track. There isn’t too much going on to take away but there also isn’t much going on to plant this one in my brain similar to a One Dance or Not Nice. Lyrics are entry level at best. Musically I’m bored, man. This whole song is a glorified Gmajor triad that he tip toes cautiously around and doesn’t veer too off from. A vocal run would’ve been great

FINAL THOUGHTS

This guy isn’t bad. He’s obviously good enough to get 40 and Drake’s attention. Maybe he will be one of those quantity over quality artists that we seem to be getting a lot of these days. Maybe he didn’t want too much help from his label founders. Maybe he thought this really sounded good. Maybe he’s young and he’s going to grow into something much more artistic later on. Hopefully that one is it.

This reminded me a lot of the PND3 album we got. Less hype but about the same lack of creativity. I’ll end this with a tennis reference cause why not: He swung for the ball and made contact but didn’t follow through with his swing resulting in a ball that just barely cleared the net.

3/10

[MUSIC][REVIEW] The Sun’s Tirade – Isaiah Rashad

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Almost 3 years after his last project Cilvia Demo, Isaiah Rashad is back with the highly anticipated sequel The Sun’s Tirade.

where u at? 

The album starts with a skit; a phone call from TDE co-leader, Dave Free. He goes on about not having Isaiah’s work yet and pokes fun at Rashad not caring about getting his project out. Most likely a fabricated voicemail, Rashad uses the call to explain the delay and tone of the album – finding himself after battling depression, anxiety, and heavy drug abuse.

4r Da SquawProduced by FrancisGotHeat. (I got some good stuff on Francis later. He’s come a loooong way too!)

Off the bat I love this beat. Nice and laid back. Perfect for Zay’s style and a great track to start off the album. In the song Zay finds reassurance in his life choices and seems pretty optimistic.

The hook reveals a lot about Zay; he has a son and having his son has helped him sober up to life in general and his life isn’t so bad as long as he can make ends meet. Early in his career he was homeless and travelled from one place to another based off of where he could record.

The worst part about this song is the stretch to make ‘can’t’ and ‘want’ rhyme but oh well. You do what you gotta do.

Video here.

Free Lunch – Produced by Cam O’bi. Another great beat for Zay. Continues on the really chill and relaxing vibe. That bass line is phenomenal. Lyrically this song is kinda all over the place but in a good way.

Zay admitted to making the hook first and wanting to use the word ‘scrub’ a lot. The song works as he bounces around repping his family and friends. We get a taste of his past through these short anecdotal verses.

Rope // rosegold – Produced by The Antydote & J.LBS.

The bass lines do it again. Got some funky vocal effects going here that make this track feel a little bit spacey and disorienting. There’s a lot of internal dialogue happening on this track – Zay talks about connecting with his dad for the first time since his father left Zay as a child. The rope metaphor here is getting enough rope to pull yourself out of a shit situation or to just give up and take yourself out of the misery. rosegold is about the other side where you have things to temporarily fill the void and keep you distracted.

Wat’s Wrong – Produced by D. Sanders & Al B Smoov. 

Some quality rapping on this track. Not sure who recorded their verse first but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some back and forth until the two felt okay with their verse in comparison to the others. The flows are crazy and Kendrick goes innn. You know that thing that they say when you surround yourself with people better than you to bring yourself up to their level? There’s some of that going on here.

Park – Produced by D. Sanders & Park Ave. 

Zay has fun on this fun and stunts a little bit while still staying true to some of his core values. He knew he would make it, he goes for the feelings rather than the thirst, and he’s better than his competition because he’s willing to grind for it and he has quality over quantity. Refreshing take on your typical boast track.

Video here.

Bday – Produced by Ktoven & Deacon Blue

Really mellow and soft spoken track. references to his drinking habit and how you have a choice between gangbanging and a ‘shot at the moon’. Not my favorite.

Silkk da Shocka – Produced by Steve Lacy

Syd da Kid and Isaiah sing together over another mellow beat about loooove. The track moves from Zay knowing he’s got love from his girl to him talking about how making it is strenuous on their relationship. He takes the hook the first time and presents it as him knowing he has the love but after the second verse the hook becomes something different; it’s now about his insecurity in knowing that his girl still loves him with everything going on.

Really nice smooth track that ends with another phone skit from Dave saying Isaiah is scatterbrained.

Tity and Dolla – Produced by Props & Crooklin

The track picks up the pace and mood of the album from the past few tracks. I like how the track double times and the beat switches around a lot. Lets everyone spit and flow on the track. Some Outkast references here too. Jay Rock and Hugh Augustine add their stories to the track and ultimately everyone agrees that they are on the up and up.

Stuck in the Mud – Produced by Crooklin & D.Sanders

SZA is back for the collab. This tracks about being ‘stuck in the mud’ which could be a metaphor for Zay’s past drug habit. I highly doubt its about his car getting stuck in the mud. Lots of references to bud and booze. Chill and vulnerable kinda track.

..then there’s a second track inside this one. Seems to be from the perspective of an Isaiah that’s succumb to his demons. Again you have the vocals slightly distorted to symbolize the grittier drugged out Isaiah. Interesting to think about whether this was recorded while under the influence or after the whole ordeal to mimic how he would act under the influence.

A lot – Produced by Pluss & Mike Will

Unusual collab with Zay rapping over a trap beat from Mike Will but it works out. He raps in a slightly distorted mumble about his wants and needs; women and cars. In short, life is good but it could be better and flashier.

AA – Produced by DZ Onlybeats & D. Sanders

Zay sounds kinda like future on this one. In the hook he’s talking to his girl about how he can’t really remember how he ended up at her place. He’s gotta cup of lean like Gucci and he’s burnt out from all the drugs. The track title also gives away that most of this was the lead up to him getting help. AA = Alcoholics Anonymous duh.

Dressed Like Rappers – Produced by D. K. the Punisher

Google did not help me figure out whatever that pitched down vocal sample is so if you found out let me know. Zays rapping over the beat that makes my head bop about being in control of his life and not being ashamed of loving it. Then he goes and admits all of his troubles i.e depression.

The line that really sticks out is ‘little boys dressed like rappers, can that road make them daddies?’ as in these young guys are hitting the scene and blowing up but does it ever help them find the maturity needed to be a father?

Hilarious outro by Schoolboy Q about him realizing how old (or young) Zay is.

Don’t Matter – Produced by Carter Lang & The Antydote

Really upbeat track – makes it feel like Zay is aware that he’s on the road to recovery. He uses religious metaphors and sexual details to create a stark contrast on this track.

Brenda – Produced by Chris Calor

A song dedicated to his grams. This tracks relatable cause he’s talking about working a shitty job that pays $10 and change and just living and being in the grind of it all. Super smooth track. One of my top 5.

By George (Outro) – Produced by Jowin

Your usual slow jam by Zaywop. The droning bass under the drums really just makes this track vibe for me. He reminisces about when he used to procrastinate a lot and how he feels nostalgic. He’s just feeling himself on this one and it comes off as warm and authentic.

Find a Topic (homies begged) – Produced by J. LBS & Free P

The bonus track! When I first heard it I thought I was hearing Free Lunch again and had to check. This song is also in my top 5. I’m a sucker for the basslines. Important to note that after Dave said on the skit ‘find a topic’ Zay raps about money being his favorite topic.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Really solid project. Very glad to see that Isaiah is not the runt of the TDE litter here and even better to know that he’s only gonna get better since he’s recovering from his past. I’d give this an 8/10. None of the features seemed out of place. The beat selection is great – he definitely knows his own sound. His rapping is really good – he’s honed his flow and navigates around beats effortlessly. Sometimes he can spit really rhythmically and sometimes he can singsong rap. Looking forward to what’s next, Isaiah.