B.o.B sounds aggrieved, and comes through with a lyrical output focused around governmental distrust, social commentary and so on; an ever-interesting set of topics that B.o.B lends a good level of emotion to for a sharp reminder of his capabilities.

The first verse focuses on politically-charged conspiracies, with Illuminati references, presidential views and a little more in a charged verse that sets the track off well. A quick switch occurs, with B.o.B intertwining comments on the hood with a couple of jabs on authority for the second verse, before heading back toward the conspiracy route more heavily for the closing verse, paying attention to more global and galactically-focused theories around hidden knowledge and such. For a conspiracy nerd like myself, this (alongside many Ab-Soul tracks) makes for a fun listen that are easy to enjoy- whether it’s the actual referencing of certain theories or simply the knowledge that even well-known folk think about this stuff, there’s a unique novelty about this sort of track, and hence it’ll get a few more plays in my library.

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Who Responded To Kendrick Lamar's Verse on Control?

Hip-hop woke up. After several months of relative stagnancy and few highlights in the mainstream scene (underground heads, put your picket signs away), Kendrick’s inflammatory verse on Big Sean’s Control not only got most music fans talking, but also provoked precisely the sort of response he would have wanted from his rapping peers.

Many responded via Twitter, video or other means, and though none of those who were namechecked have taken to the studio to put out a response, several others have taken up the baton and either delivered a worthwhile response or used the opportunity to get a little bit of media coverage. The latter statement isn’t meant disrespectfully either- hip-hop is about as prominent in ‘water cooler’ and social media discussions as it has been in a rather long time, and it’s a great chance for some acts to get their names out to a wider audience. It’s tough to be mad at that opportunism.

The dust is beginning to settle, and though there’s bound to be several other rappers who are preparing responses (Joe Budden for one), now seems a good time to offer a quick recap on those who’ve offered musical replies to Kendrick’s barbed bars. Head below for a collection of the releases thus far (in no order). → Continue Reading

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Hustle Gang-G.D.O.D. (Mixtape)

hustle gang
Get Dough or Die is the mantra coming out of T.I.’s Hustle Gang camp, with this 20-track effort being the first collective release he’s put together from his rather well-known stable of artists.

Iggy Azalea, B.o.B, Chip(munk), Travis $cott, Trae the Truth, Young Dro, and T.I. are the bedrock of the tape, with a couple of lesser known artists from the team also involved, in addition to features from French Montana, Meek Mill, Problem and several others. Essentially, it’s full to the brim with massive names in hip-hop, and that extends to a producer list that includes David Banner, Young Chop, Nard & B, whilst there are also several self-produced efforts from within the Hustle Gang camp. If Tip’s recent form is anything to go by, this should have at least a few gems on it, and you can grab the whole thing for nothing below.

Hustle Gang-G.D.O.D. (Get Dough or Die)

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T.I.-Memories Back Then ft. Kris Stephens, B.o.B and Kendrick Lamar (Video)

Some may remember this track from the tailend of last year, released as a cut from Tip’s Trouble Man album due to sample clearance issues. It’s now found a more permanent home on the upcoming Hustle Gang: G.D.O.D. (Get Dough or Die), a forthcoming release set to showcase T.I.’s Grand Hustle signees.

It was a fairly impressive listen on its initial release, and this retooled version of the audio only serves to enhance that. The essentials of the audio are in place, with Kris’ soft vocals and the relatively gentle production tempering the storytelling style of each MC’s work, whilst their verses are still lyrically commendable.

The video isn’t particularly complicated, and as far as mainstream acceptance goes, it should do well. Each rapper is set amongst open landscapes, enhancing the retrospective and thoughtful nature of their raps, whilst the flashback scenes play on the context of their lyricism well enough without being too obvious or attempting to add any additional layers. There isn’t much more going on, but it’s a solid accompaniment to an admirably introspective mainstream hip-hop effort, which is available on iTunes now (US only, expect the UK release in the coming days).

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Funkmaster Flex-Who You Mad At? Me or Yourself? (Mixtape)

56 tracks. Seriously.

Fair play to Funk Flex for this though, as the lineup is unbelievable and essentially a snapshot of mainstream hip-hop at this moment in time. Appearances include A$AP Rocky, Joey Bada$$, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Childish Gambino, Fabolous, Action Bronson, Slaughterhouse, Young Jeezy and many, many more; for a full list, check out the back artwork over at Funk’s place. Many of the tracks from this tape have leaked out individually in the last 24 hours too, and thankfully they’re tagless versions, with one notable example being the Joey Bada$$ effort on the mixtape. If you’re after any of the other individual tracks, I’m sure a quick Google search can help you there, otherwise grab the bumper project for free below.

Funkmaster Flex-Who You Mad At? Me or Yourself?

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Mike WiLL Made It-Est. In 1989 2.5 (Mixtape)

Along with Hit-Boy, this guy’s been one of the legitimate breakout stars in the production world over the last 18 months, and here he collates some of his more well-known beats alongside some brand new original material for a massive 25-track free release.

The track’s he’s produced for others include names such as Rihanna, Future, Kelly Rowland and B.o.B, whilst his original additions to the tape benefit from some rather popular guests, including Young Jeezy, Chief Keef, Jim Jones and many more. Whether you’re a fan of his beat style or not, I’m sure there’ll be a few heavy-hitting party joints on this one to add to those new year playlists. Stream and download below at your leisure.

Mike WiLL Made It-Est. In 1989 2.5

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T.I.-Memories Back Then ft. Kendrick Lamar, B.O.B. and Kris Stephens

Unfortunately, this star-laden track isn’t going to find a home on T.I.’s Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head album, set for release tomorrow, but arguably it’s one that will increase the album’s buzz more than any track that’s preceded it. Apologies for the radio rip, but that’s all that’s doing the rounds at the moment.

The wistful, melodic hook work by Kris Stephens gives this a mainstream-friendly anchor point, whilst also enhancing the introspection of the individual rappers’ lyricism. Tip opens up with some reminiscing bars about a love interest in his past, packaged into a typically-slick flow that sets the track off well before B.o.B follows suit with his own sharp delivery. His verse focuses on a seemingly possessive old flame, and there’s a much more personal vibe about this one, particularly the pregnancy revelation. As is becoming customary with a K Dot feature, hip-hop’s golden boy is on last, and does a nice job with a slightly more bitter recollection of an ex-lady of interest, whilst also throwing a quick shot at Mitt Romney. It’s a nice bit of introspective hip-hop that’s softened by the hook, and hence makes for replayable listening.

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B.o.B-F*ck Em, We Ball (Mixtape)

There was a time when a B.o.B mixtape would have me climbing over my own mother (I expect a furious text shortly) to both listen to and post it. Now? I couldn’t care less. I saw this released a couple of days ago and genuinely had no sense of urgency about it, and I’m aware many others feel the exact same way.

So what happened? To put it simply, his album’s have been massive disappointments with few highlights. He’s a mainstream favourite and I’m sure he’ll continue to be one, but amongst the hip-hop community he’s very much becoming an afterthought due to some of his more pop-oriented content. With that said, the odd release here and there (I still listen to No Future now and again) has piqued interest, with the recurring theme in his better material has been his inclination to cut loose and let those fiery emotions go: the title and cover of this tape suggest he may just be ready to do that at length, and if he does I expect this to be a project of redemption.

B.o.B-Fuck Em We Ball

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Trae Tha Truth-Tha Blackprint (Mixtape)

Talk about label craziness. ABN representative and Grand Hustle-affiliated Trae Tha Truth drops a brand new tape for the hip-hop heads, hosted by Maybach Music Group’s DJ Scream. Any other labels want in here?

Clearly, everyone wants to be associated with Trae. It’s easy to spot why as his very unique delivery makes him instantly stand out from the crowd, and clearly Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, T.I., Young Jeezy, R. Kelly and many more agree given that they all makes appearances on the tape. Almost every track has a big name attached to it, and here’s to hoping Trae can hold his own and prove he belongs up with those names. Grab the enormous 20-track mixtape for free below.

Trae Tha Truth-Tha Blackprint

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B.o.B-Play the Guitar Video ft. Andre 3000

It’s surprising how apathetic I am to B.o.B’s output these days, and I know I’m not alone. He’s gone from being someone I couldn’t get enough of to just another act, mostly because his content is increasingly bland.

Being the diverse guy he is, blandness shouldn’t be an issue, especially on a track with such a title and huge feature guest. You’d be wrong. The production is frustrating, constantly threatening to kick into a higher gear and deliver something substantial but it consistently fails to deliver, instead throwing a few guitar licks onto a basic pop production. Some of B.o.B’s raps are solid and his flow is as tidy as ever, but does someone with a range of talents that includes chorus singing need to resort to a poor sampled hook like this? Andre’s feature is by far the highlight here, packing in a quickfire verse that goes some way to pulling this track back to some semblance of decency.

B.o.B’s malaise is a shame more than anything as you feel like he’s neither fully expressing himself or fulfilling his potential, and whether that’s because of label pressures or his own doing is unclear, but something definitely needs to change.

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B.o.B ft. T.I. & Young Jeezy - Strange Clouds Remix [Video]

I wasn’t particularly enamoured with the original version of this track when it first dropped, but the addition of Young Jeezy has certainly made me pay attention. Production wise it’s almost tailor-made for Jeezy, who has been in a rich vein of form as of late, whilst the visuals themselves make this video a decent watch.

I can’t say I’m that excited about B.o.B’s next album (given the pop-styled nature of his last effort), but if he returns to his more innovative style of his early career then it should get some positive shine.

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B.o.B-E.P.I.C. (Every Play Is Crucial) Mixtape

Brand new 15-track mixtape from B.o.B, with the build to his upcoming sophomore album, Strange Clouds, now gathering pace. Undoubtedly, his reputation and popularity have soared over the last 12-18 months since his debut album, and I’m sure this will be warmly recieved by many as a result.

That upturn in fortunes for B.o.B manifests itself with a fantastic roster of producers and featured guests, with Eminem, T.I., Mos Def and Jim Jonsin all making appearances on the mixtape. His previous mixtape was released almost exactly a year ago and certainly had its moments, and hence I’m sure there will be some good highlights on this one too. Free grab below.

B.o.B-E.P.I.C. (Every Play Is Crucial)

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B.o.B-Welcome To The Jungle Remix

Borrowing the somewhat lacklustre Swizz Beatz production from Jay-Z and Kanye West’s Watch The Throne, Bobby continues his recent return to active releases with this relatively enjoyable remix.

It may seem a big statement, but B.o.B feels a much better fit for this production, getting his flow tailored just right for the beat and whilst his lyrics aren’t going to overwhelm anyone with any complex wordplay, they’re solid enough. Generally a smoother, more bearable listen than the original and worth a couple of listens for sure, though it’s unlikely to dominate anyone’s playlists beyond that.

B.o.B-Welcome To The Jungle Remix

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B.o.B. ft. Playboy Tre and Meek Mill-EPIC

My opinion on B.o.B. spans both extremes. Sometimes he will blow my socks off, then he releases something which frustrates the hell out of me because of his unrealised potential. This, it has to be said, falls somewhere in between. The beat itself takes inspiration from numerous directions, ranging from that dramatic crunk music to 1980′s video gaming. I’m not ashamed to claim I am unfamiliar with either of the features, but all involved here seem to do a reasonable job. It’ll get lost in my shuffle but it’s more one for the B.o.B. fans out there. Get below.

B.o.B. ft Playboy Tre and Meek Mill-EPIC 

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DJ Holiday, Wale, Big Sean and B.o.B-First Class

Set to be on DJ Holiday’s upcoming We Workin EP, the three former XXL freshman lace the project with a big collabo here. There’s also a fourth unlisted artist on the hook (unless that’s DJ Holiday?), filling up that roster even more!

Unfortunately, the lineup promises more than it can deliver. The production is stuck in a difficult middle ground of being mellow but with sharp, piercing percussion, affecting the tempo and hence interfering with the relaxing vibes. The track is saved somewhat by Big Sean and B.o.B’s verses, as they both certainly come through with enjoyable work, with B.o.B’s stepped flow in particular being a highlight.

DJ Holiday-First Class ft. Wale, Big Sean and B.o.B

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YC, Young Jeezy, Wiz Khalifa, Waka Flocka Flame, CyHi Da Prynce, Bun B, B.o.B, Yo Gotti, Wale, Cory Gunz, Dose, Cory Mo, Nelly, Twista, Big Sean, Trae Tha Truth and Ace Hood-Racks Remix

Couple of days off on this, but with 15 rappers on one song, I think you’ll probably let it slide. For those that aren’t familiar with Racks, it’s essentially one of those infectious mainstream hip-hop tracks that comes out of nowhere and takes on a life of its own, helped in part by various rappers jumping on the beat (don’t worry, I’ve labelled them in order for you!).

14 of them join YC here, some having released remixes prior to this official all-star compliation, with most being very well known names. It’s hard to pick a winning verse from the bunch, though B.o.B, Trae Tha Truth and Nelly (surprisingly) made enjoyable contributions.

YC-Racks Remix ft. Young Jeezy, Wiz Khalifa, Waka Flocka Flame, CyHi Da Prynce, Bun B, B.o.B, Yo Gotti, Wale, Cory Gunz, Dose, Cory Mo, Nelly, Twista, Big Sean, Trae Tha Truth and Ace Hood

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R&B Fridays: Episode 101

Not to be confused with George Orwell’s somewhat more macabre view of the number 101, we roll on past the magical 100 with this week’s episode. Be sure to catch up with my top 30 from episodes 1-100 if you haven’t already.

Short recap from the last week: Raheem DeVaughn follows up his enjoyable Jackin’ 4 Beats mixtape with a sequel, Beyonce returned with her latest high-octane video, and a (highly-praised) remix of Mike Posner’s Falling.
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Lupe Fiasco-Who Are You Now ft. B.o.B

Lupe Fiasco let loose a free song earlier on Twitter today (a sign of the world coming to the end!?) featuring B.o.B. He also revealed this to be a leftover track from Lasers that he didn’t end up finishing. I have absolutely no idea why, as this is better than almost everything on the finished version of Lasers. A pulsating beat, followed by a decent chorus and some fun raps from both Lupe and B.o.B, both of whom flow to the track superbly. It’s not even overly a conscious record, and sounds fittingly like the type of song Atlantic Records would have wanted on the album.

According to Lupe, this was meant to be a peace offering (or a STFU) to those who think he doesn’t put out free music or cares about his fans: instead, it raises more questions and confusion over the direction he took with Lasers. To add some salt to the wounds, Lupe had planned to put Cee-Lo or Janelle Monáe on the third verse of this rather good track. Lupe Fiasco – Who Are You Now ft. B.o.B

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B.o.B-No Future (Tyler Of Odd Future Diss?)

It’s crazy how quickly the Odd Future hype-train has gained momentum, they’ve become somewhat of a phenomenon. Tyler from Odd Future in particular has been causing waves all over the industry with him speaking his mind no matter how controversial. It was only a matter of time before he genuinely offended someone.

Though B.o.B mentions no names in this scathing track, it’s not reaching too far to imagine this to be directed at Odd Future…especially if you recall the line Tyler directed at B.o.B in his recent Yonkers track (go listen to that track to hear the line, as it’s far to venomous for myself to repeat here!).

I must admit I do love it when Bobby Ray goes in on a track.

B.o.B – No future

Click here to see Tyler’s reaction to this song.

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B.o.B-Dr. Aden Video

Very underappreciated track from B.o.B, from his No Genre mixtape. Many feel Bob ‘sold out’ with his tracks (despite praising them on release, and only panning them after they caught on), and it was this very mixtape that showed beyond doubt that he hasn’t totally turned pop, and can still get it done on the mic.

The track is a somewhat dark storytelling effort, with some incredibly poignant and rather controversial lyricism at times. Particularly, the (ever popular) accusation that AIDS was spread to ‘control populations’ gives this track a frightening realism that makes for gripping listening.

The video is enjoyable too, expanding on the Dr. Aden story and having a sinister undertone that adds even more depth and credence to the audio. Certainly worth a look.

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Eminem and B.o.B-Things Get Worse

Very interesting track here from the vaults. I couldn’t tell you why/how this emergd, but it’s not too difficult to guess when it was recorded, as Eminem seems to switch between the controversial accent used on Relapse and his ‘regular’ style, suggesting this was probably recorded in between Relapse and Recovery.

Regardless of questionable accents, the lyricism here is a throwback to a more old-school Eminem, bringing that edgy and controversial lyrical style that wasn’t too prevalent on Recovery. It makes for a nice throwback in that sense, though the lack of his angry, driven flows from those early 00′s to match the lyricism makes it feel a little diluted. B.o.B comes through with a decent verse of his own, and with a simple, uninterfering production holding things together, this makes for a fairly enjoyable listen. It’s not classic material by any means, but is a relatively enjoyable mini-throwback to Eminem’s earlier days. Maybe I’m just hankering a little too much for that 1998-2001 Eminem…

(Edit: Link re-upped) Eminem-Things Get Worse ft. B.o.B

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Game Changers Part 3-Lupe Fiasco, Estelle, B.o.B & Janelle Monae

These Game Changer videos are seriously becoming music highlights of my week. The last two episodes were extremely captivating, and both offered insights into different aspects of each artist’s personalities.

This week’s delves into self-esteem, misconceptions of success/confidence, and even more. It ends on a very inspirational note too, and surely offers a lot of hope to artists who are coming up right now through many of the same struggles these shining lights have faced.

Sadly, this seems to be the last ‘episode’ of this particular series, but hopefully we’ll get another roundtable with some different artists soon, as this was a genuinely enlightening mini-series that probably got more good PR for Atlantic than anything else they’ve ever done!

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Game Changers Part 2-Lupe Fiasco, Estelle, B.o.B & Janelle Monae

I really enjoyed part 1 of the Game Changers series, offering us an insight into the minds and motivations of four globally successful, and critically-acclaimed artists. Definitely worth a watch.

Part 2 continues in the same vein, offering a further look into the ways in which they feel they’ve changed the ‘game’, with each artist giving very different accounts: from Estelle’s more descriptive process to B.o.B philosophical musings, this roundtable discussion is a very refreshing watch that really fleshes out the ‘characters’ we see on TV or hear on iTunes. Another good video, and hopefully there are more of these to come!

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B.o.B, Bruno Mars & Janelle Monáe-Grammy Awards Performance [Video]

3 of the most diverse and talented acts around the music scene at this moment in time (2 of whom feature in this video) combine to give us a truly sensational performance.

First off, we have B.o.B combing with both Janelle (backing vocals) and Bruno (keyboard) to give an enchanting rendition of Nothin’ On You. Bobby Ray then jumps onto the keyboard as Mars, whose vocals are once again utterly superb, breaks out into an amazing 50′s inspired performance of Grenade (grab the latest remix here). We then get treated to Janelle Monáe singing her brilliant single, Cold War, as B.o.B gets on the guitar and Bruno smashes it on the drums.

Somehow, both Bobby Ray and Janelle Monáe managed to walk away from the Grammys with nothing, though Bruno Mars managed to pick up the Best Male Pop Vocal Performance award. Props to Ajay for spotting Bruno’s talent way back in November ’09

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Game Changers Part 1-Lupe Fiasco, Estelle, B.o.B & Janelle Monae

Atlantic Records present a very interesting roundtable discussion series, kicking with four of their most prominent artists. I’ve definitely got appreciation for all of them too (albeit to varying degrees), and it’s a fantastic insight into the motivations, artistic directions and individuality of each of the artists.

It’s so rare to find such detailed, honest discussion, and it certainly results in an eye-opening look at the power of the industry, the drive it takes to follow your own directions and a whole lot more. In particular, Janelle Monae comes across incredibly well, articulating her studied and measured approach superbly and really embellishing her artistic integrity.

Normally I don’t have the patience for these long videos, but I can’t recommend this one enough. You’ll definitely be left wanting part 2!

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Mick Boogie and Terry Urban-Award Tour

A fun, remixed uptempo happy good time consisting of the best remixes and rarites of this years Grammy nominees. Featuring remixed music by everyone from Lady Gaga, La Roux and Rihanna to Kanye West, Vampire Weekend and Florence & The Machine, there’s something for everybody for sure.

Looks very interesting to say the least, and the duo of Boogie and Urban never fail to deliver when it comes to these original projects. There are some serious names on this one, and the tracklist will defnitely whet your appetite. Click below for the download, and even further below for the tracklist.

Mick Boogie and Terry Urban-Award Tour
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R&B Fridays: Episode 85

To me, any time between midnight and 4am counts as the ‘night before’, so by my reckoning this is still a Friday night and hence on time. Don’t question it, just embrace it.

Short recap this week, with just the three noteworthy and relevant posts from the R&B/pop world: Tinie Tempah and Ellie Goulding’s collaboration got some visuals, a pretty interesting electro remix of Diddy-Dirty Money’s I Hate That You Love Me was liberated, and finally Musiq Soulchild came through with one of the better tracks of January, with his first single from his upcoming sixth album.

Formalities are now dealt with, commence your clicking as of right…now.

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R&B Fridays: Episode 84

No recap this week thanks to a temperamental hard drive, but R&B Fridays actually makes it out on a Friday for the second consecutive week, which is a pretty big victory.

Lots of remixes and rappers popping up this week, with some huge names coming through with some very unexpected pop and R&B remixes. More than enough original material too though, making this a very diverse episode that’ll satisfy the vast majority of you grubby little folk.

Click on and let me be the Snoop to your Cameron, though R&B/pop probably isn’t the same as marijuana…probably.
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J. Cole and B.o.B-Pass Me By

Originally dropped a few months back as Problems, the track resurfaces with B.o.B providing a harmonic hook to accompany J. Cole’s intricate and introspective lyricism.

Big fan of this track, as the playful production makes for a slightly different style we’re used to from Cole, and hence adds a nice bit of diversity to his catalogue. Bobby and Cole seem to have a good chemistry together (first noted in the superb Gladiators), and that’s carried over here as they mesh together nicely. I expect Cole tracks will already be very familiar with the earlier version of the track, be sure to click below and grab what I assume is the final version.

J. Cole-Pass Me By ft. B.o.B

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