Sean’s Detroit mixtape was certainly one of the more enjoyable projects in recent months, and that was always planned as a prelude to his second LP release, with Hall of Fame set to land on 18th December.
This, I’m a little undecided on. The island-inspired production is a nice shift from the norm for Sean, with the steel drums and general positivity of the production being a fun listen that would be nicely suited to the summer months, and the production doesn’t let down on the head-nodding bass either. However, the rapping isn’t quite Sean at his best, with the subject matter being a little uninspired and that results in slightly repetitive raps, though there are no complaints about his selection of flows and there are a couple of typically-witty punchlines thrown in for good measure. It’s an OK track that may catch a couple of plays, but doesn’t match up to some of the mixtape material, and I expect there’s better work to come.
Many enjoyed this collaboration between the MMG and G.O.O.D. rappers, taken from Meek’s Dreamchasers 2 mixtape of earlier this year, and it’s a decent choice for a buzz video before Meek drops off the Dreams and Nightmares album.
The production is intense and slightly dark with flicks of liveliness via the bell-like melody that consistently chimes throughout the track, and that relationship is capitalised on well with a dimly-lit environment boosted by bursts of fire. It’s far from a complicated, intricate video but it works closely enough with the audio to embellish its intensity and show off the energy of each artist, whilst giving them the now-expected opportunity to display their lavish goods. It’s not a video you’ll remember 2 months down the line and think ‘oh, I really want to rewatch that’, but it’s a decent refresh of the audio.
The next single from Cruel Summer finally drops in full ahead of that album release date in just 11 days.
It’s a great lineup that sets the expectation of getting something worthwhile, and that’s exactly what you get.
The beat straddles the line between mainstream appeal and hip-hop head-nodder beautifully, throwing a bassy electronic melody in with insanely addictive percussion. There’s plenty more going on, from grand vocal samples to additional intense blasts of percussion, making for a production that’s part funky, part nasty. Sean opens with the hook which is simple and undoubtedly has the potential to become rather anthemic, before stepping into a verse that adds more urgency to his usual laidback style and squares up nicely to the beat. Jay’s up next with an excellent contribution, his confidence oozing all over the track with a handful of diverse deliveries that demonstrate his sheer dominance of a microphone, and ‘Ye closes the game out with an extended performance that loses none of his energy and vibrancy, but does hang around a little too long. Probably my favourite track from the album so far, and the timing couldn’t be better. 18th September, mark the date.
One of the most anticipated releases in recent weeks, Big Sean drops off his first project since his mainstream breakout debut LP, Finally Famous.
We’ve caught three tracks from this so far, each with their own very different charms, displaying that Sean’s newly-gained popularity hasn’t affected his versatility or desire for hip-hop. The tracklist honestly reads like an album, with huge features in the shape of Kendrick Lamar, close friend Mike Posner, Chris Brown and fellow Detroit native Royce Da 5’9″ amongst several others, whilst Snoop Lion (Dogg), Common and Young Jeezy feature on their own interlude sections, each titled Story. That sort of detail is always appreciated on an album, let alone a mixtape, and I’m sure it’ll all contribute to what’s set up to be an excellent all-round project. Free grab available below.
He’s been very generous with the visuals this last week, and this is one last release from Detroit before it drops in a few hours.
There’s no doubt this is a significantly ‘harder’ slice of hip-hop than the previous releases, and it’s a demonstration of the versatility he possesses. The production has that Lex Luger/MMG stamp all over it courtesy of urgent synths, consistent percussion with plenty of bass, and a powerful step up for the hook that ups the energy of the track. Sean’s flows are as on point as ever, particularly in a short flurry toward the last third of the track, whilst his lyricism veers between his renown arrogance and wit to good effect.
Given the recent California forest fire, the video’s arsonist and anti-tree nature probably isn’t quite the most sensitive choice. Nonetheless, it’s an OK visual that doesn’t achieve a great deal, but plays off the production’s energy well enough.
Another short clip from Sean’s upcoming Detroit mixtape, which lands in just a few short days on 5th September.
The first release was an enjoyable effort with a throwback-style production, whilst this one is a little more contemporary, utilising Sean’s oft-favoured rapping-singing hybrid delivery for a positive and mainstream-friendly hook. The verses are all about Sean’s good living nowadays, though the video hints at considerably more introspection and focuses on Sean seemingly reflecting whilst he’s ‘taken to prison’. Whether it’s a metaphor or simply a story for the video (likely both) is up for debate, but it add a great deal of depth to what would otherwise be a track that’s a little thin on the ground. Let’s see how the full version turns out, and as it’s expected to boast a J. Cole feature, it may yet improve.
Sean’s gearing up to release his first project since last year’s Finally Famous album, the Detroit mixtape, and pre-empts that release with a video for one of the tracks from said tape.
I’m enjoying this one a lot too. It’s got lashings of that 2008-9 Big Sean style thrown in with the new-found confidence and arrogance he’s developed since really blowing up: the combination works well, as the hunger remains in Sean’s raps, and they’re packaged up in a ball of self-assurance that suggests he’s more than comfortable where he’s at. Million $ Mano serves up an excellent production here, mirroring the style of raps by sampling vintage works and giving them a modern twist courtesy of some thumping percussion-it’s another good production from Mano, and he’s undoubtedly a name to watch out for.
The slow pace of the track creates a laidback vibe, and the video capitalises on that as Sean pretty much spends it lounging around his hotel room with some eye candy, interspersed with classic-style transitions to enhance that vintage vibe. It’s only a short one, but definitely gets the buzz going for that mixtape drop on 5th September.
I’m a few weeks late on this video dropping, but given that I’ve barely posted at all in the last four months I’m sure you’ll forgive me.
One thing I enjoy doing when making a trip to the other side of the Atlantic is listening to what’s playing on their radio stations, and this is a track that was under heavy rotation. After several listens and wondering who this mystery R&B singer was, I was shocked to be informed that it was in fact a Justin Bieber song! We don’t often post his stuff on this site, but if Big Sean can lend him some credibility and deliver a solid verse, then I can give him a chance too.
As for this song, it really does remind me of Justin Timberlake, in the same way he revamped his image after dropping My Love all those years ago, Bieber appears to be doing the exact same here (more of this please!). I dare you to listen to this song and not enjoy it, dare you.
G.O.O.D.’s captain Kanye West has just tweeted a few pictures of what’s assumed to be the artwork for the upcoming Cruel Summer album, set for a 4th September release.
It seems as though Tisci’s involved again with this one, with the borders bearing a heavy similarity to the Watch the Throne cover art, though the addition of a clearer centre point in the almost angelic figure marks an improvement over the WTT artwork.The aforementioned figure evokes a strange mix of emotions, with it suggesting innocence and purity when combined with the white/silver colouring, though there’s still something a little odd and almost ominous about it. I assume the latter would have come into Tisci’s thinking when designing this, due to both the name of the album and the slightly harder, more aggressive nature of the audio releases from the LP thus far. With little over a month to go, expect this to be the start of a ramp up in promotion, and hopefully that includes some new audio or video heading our way soon.
The BET Awards always provides some great performances, and this year the collective of Kanye West, Pusha T, Big Sean and 2 Chainz opened the show with their recent hit Mercy, Kanye’s oft-renamed Cold, and upcoming single New God Flow.
Lots of energy, minimal gloss and heaps of stage presence makes this a performance that’s worthy of closing any show, let alone opening one. Each rapper has a ton of on-stage charisma, and that shows in what are relatively simple settings: for a Kanye performance, all-white outfits, a little strobe lighting and a huge mock Lamborghini make for quite modest surroundings, and it’s the artists who really fill the gaps there. The performance ends with Kanye going acapella with a verse from New God Flow (set to be released this week), displaying a ton of passion and aggression in a verse that promises much for the song.
The lead single from G.O.O.D. Music’s first collective album Cruel Summer, and before watching this, re-acquaint yourself with YMCMB’s lead single from their group album. Managed to not gouge your eyes and ears out? You’re about to see what a proper collaborative video should be.
I quickly tired of this track, but the video has definitely put it back into my good graces. Boasting a monochrome pallet with a widescreen frame, the styling of the video certainly gets your attention from the off and creates a point of focus on the centre of the screen, which is fully capitalised on by charismatic work from all involved. The outfitting is both stylish and effective, as initially its difficult to distinguish each artist, before their individual verses and mannerisms kick in to set them all apart, with each artist really maximising their camera time with memorable performances. There’s a real sense of unity throughout, as Kanye regularly features alongside his proteges throughout their verses, whilst G.O.O.D. artists who aren’t on the track still appear, including Kid Cudi and Teyana Taylor.
It’s a cool yet aggressive-feeling clip that makes for an easy, interesting and likeable watch thanks to some good aesthetics and a superb roster of performers. Hip-hop fans will thoroughly enjoy this one for sure, and can grab it on iTunes right now.
This was originally expected to drop a couple of Fridays ago, but who am I to complain with that lineup?
I’m not familiar with the original but I don’t expect I’ll need to be having given this a go. Let’s get to the bad stuff first: Keef’s delivery is way too Soulja Boy for me to not skip his verse. The rest however is a pretty good listen from top to bottom, with a head-nodding, frighteningly hypnotising production that winds through the track excellently, and some very likeable verses from the big guest stars involved. Pusha opens with plenty of gusto and aggression (props for the Ric Flair reference), whilst Kanye follows with a verse that’s probably the best suited to the beat. Jada closes things off, but it’s the preceding verse that steals the show, as Sean utilises the production switch-up fantastically for the highlight verse, packing some clever lines into a delivery that’s much more passionate than his usual laidback fare. A decent track that’ll improve most car playlists for sure.
G.O.O.D. Friday is back! The first single from the upcoming G.O.O.D. Music album, 3 of it’s heaviest hitters come together with 2 Chainz for an official teaser of what to expect from the hotly-anticipated project.
A more meaty, addictive production than Theraflu, this will undoubtedly get some heads nodding, with the heavy bass in particular ensuring speakers up and down the country will be rattled. Sean opens the rapping with a strong performance, his laidback style being an excellent fit for this slowed-down beat, whilst Pusha’s sharper, more aggressive verse contrasts with Sean’s well. The beat undergoes a makeover for Ye’s verse, with a strong electronic influence upping the tempo and raising the energy levels of the verse, before slowing back down for 2 Chainz’s contribution. The hook anchors the song well enough to add a solid structure to the track, and this is a decent all-rounder that sets up the album nicely. Stream the track here, or grab it on the US iTunes below.
We’re into our second week of what proved a popular new feature last week, and you’re in for another journey not too far down memory lane. I call it Recollection Avenue.
This genre-less weekly episodical seems like the perfect opportunity to mix things up, and whilst there’s still ‘normal’ stuff in there, feel free to indulge yourself with the two curveballs I’ve thrown in this week.
Last week you may recall Kid Cudi featuring heavily, and this week’s theme is…April 2009. I’ll be honest, it was more coincidental than anything.
After catching an unofficial leak a few days ago, Sean wisely decided to let loose of the final, mastered version from his upcoming FFOE (Finally Famous Over Everything) mixtape. Be warned: the reasoning for spelling ‘G’ phonetically is NOT explained.
Regardless of that ambiguity, it’s an enjoyable effort from the Detroit MC. The production is atmospheric and packed with lavish levels of bass, with an air of opulence that matches Sean’s subject matter. He tailors his delivery well too, as a more whispery style occassionally slips in alongside his regular laidback style, and as with every 2nd track that’s released into the hip-hop sphere these days, 2 Chainz is on the feature with a solid verse. Has a name change ever improved anyone’s career as rapidly as it has for 2 Chainz/Tity Boi? A nod-your-head, chillout effort that won’t spark any musical revolutions, but is an effective, enjoyable listen.
Luda returns to our screens with the visuals to his much talked about (somewhat delayed) response/diss to Big Sean and Drake questioning his use of the hashtag flow. It’s a good reminder of what Ludacris is actually capable of when he’s got some fire in the belly, I haven’t heard him this heated since he decided to Stomp on T.I.
The video itself is pretty decent, paying homage to The Fifth Element with the opening sequence – instead of war, the videos this benevolent woman sees are a collection of the biggest diss records of the last 20 years or so. If there was any doubt to Ludacris’ intentions with this song, there shouldn’t be after seeing this video; he feels pretty strongly about this! No idea why he’s waited a year to get this off his chest though.
A quiet week on the R&B/pop scene (or rather, the ‘worth checking out’ section), with no posts of note to catch up on aside from the album review of Drake’s Take Care.
Pretty much exclusively fresh, upcoming artists this week though regular readers will be familiar with almost all those involved. Click below for this week’s handcrafted, lovingly-selected musical provisions.
It’s still absolutely beyond me how The-Dream is still so horribly overlooked in the R&B genre, but as long as the good music keeps coming, us fans will more than cope. I recall reading he’s ‘retired’ the name The-Dream and will be going by Terius Nash now: confirmation required, but an unnecessary move in my opinion.
One of the more upbeat, club-oriented from his enjoyable 1977 (free) album, Dream displays his versatility by grabbing a relatively atmospheric, slowed-down production and injecting it with an intensity and energy courtesy of catchy vocals, flashes of scathing, personal lyricism and a strong guest spot from Sean, who seems to be racking up these great R&B feature verses. Watch your spot Fabolous.
The video is uncomplicated and fits the song well, fitting teasing scenes with the ladies alongside generic club visuals for a decent representation of all facets of the track. Grab the song on the free album here.
Not exactly one of my favourite tracks from Sean’s solid debut album, but certainly one I can understand the appeal for with an upbeat, addictive nature that will really appeal to the mainstream crowd.
Nicki’s a great choice (and coup) to feature here on the official remix, both from a musical and anatomical perspective, and fits with the fun, lighthearted nature of the track well. Her off-the-wall, exaggerated and nonsensical style works the production well enough, and will undoubtedly increase the popularity of the track, potentially landing Sean another big hit here. Sean’s parts are mostly the same as the original, and his laidback, dulcet style adds a welcome contrast to Minaj’s shrill tones, and he does a decent job in rounding off this likely club favourite. Whilst I’m not going to give it many plays, it’s one to grab for a bit of fun, and I’m sure most will struggle to resist it in a club.
Following on from the earlier release of Big Sean’s latest video for the superb Marvin & Chardonnay, visuals surface from Sean’s recent stop-off at Westwood’s hideout.
A triple dose of Maybach Music-related productions make up Westwood’s beat selections, as Meek Mill and Rick Ross’ extremely popular Tupac Back and I’m A Boss appear alongside Lil’ Wayne and Ross’ anthemic hit John. The latter production is one I do enjoy, and though I’m not so keen on the other two, Sean really makes them work here with some superb freestyle work from start to finish, switching up his flows multiple times and really exuding comfortability and confidence each time.
I’ve tried to hate Roscoe Dash, the man musically stands for everything I’m against, but I just can’t, his hooks are too damn catchy. With that said, here are the much-anticipated visuals for Big Sean’s collaboration with the aforementioned artist and Kanye West.
Big Sean’s album was a pretty decent effort, if a little mainstream, with this track summing up the vibe of the album. Hype Williams directs this video, so you know exactly what to expect as he pulls out the same tricks for nearly every damn video he makes, and does the same again here.
As for the track itself, it didn’t immediately hit me when I first heard it on the album, but it certainly grew on me. If you haven’t already, check out Big Sean’s debut album for yourself right now.
Two more from that upcoming mixtape, and I’m enjoying both. dotdotdot brings another mellow production, with heavy horns that ooze a vintage charm, and alongside live drums anchor the track superbly. The vocal filter on the raps of each artist further enhances the retro vibe, giving it that ‘old time radio’ vibe, and both the verses and hook generally blend very nicely with the easygoing production.
Proceed comes through very differently, but will likely be the majority’s favourite track from the trio thus far. A more modern, upbeat production, the synths burst into life from the off and are met by a smooth drum loop to combine into a beat that would have slid in nicely on either Wiz or Sean’s recent albums. The raps certainly suggest comfortability too, with a vigour evident in each verse that makes for refreshing listening after the raft of laidback tracks we’ve had from the triumverate. Enjoying Sean’s verse in particular (again), with a more personal touch giving it a more distinguishable quality. Both very likeable efforts, and certainly worth a listen. Curren$y, Wiz Khalifa & Big Sean-Proceed Curren$y, Wiz Khalifa & Big Sean-dotdotdot
They say good things come in threes, and over the last three days we’ve now had three tracks (click here for one, here for the other) from three talented rappers. There are always question marks when collaborative projects or ‘supergroups’ are formed (see Child Rebel Soldier), but the rate at which these guys are churning out material suggests this one may just stick and deliver the project they recently promised.
Another relaxed, lazy day sort of track from the trio, with an easygoing percussion accompanied by soft melodies that work well as part of this ‘stoner anthem’. Lyrically, the title rightfully suggests its nothing surprising or particularly unique, though it makes for easy listening and compliments should be reserved once again for Big Sean who attacks the beat with a slightly better flow than the others.
Two releases in two days from this young trio, with today’s effort coming with more information on the planned destination for the tracks: a collaborative mixtape from the trio. Very excited at that announcement, and with the quality of O.T.T.R. and now Flowers, hopes are certainly high.
Flowers boasts another laidback production, though with less of the vintage aspect of the previous track, instead offering a more traditional hip-hop flavour with hard-hitting percussion and softer samples. The result is a stronger focus on the vocal work, and whilst each rapper coming through with solid verses, Big Sean stands out here with a good verse that foregoes his more relaxed delivery for a more exaggerated vocal style. The smoothed-out hook closes this one off nicely, and this is again very solid material that will undoubtedly build expectations for the trio’s mixtape.
Three of hip-hop’s fastest rising stars come together for an interesting collaboration that doesn’t quite have a formal home yet, but is certainly worth a listen.
The track kicks off with some laidback percussion hits with a lounge music feel, and builds into a hypnotising, jazz-sampling production: there’s a heavy retro vibe coarsing through this, with real charm to be found in its evocation of a film noir vibe. The verses slide in with the production nicely, with each rapper’s relaxed, easygoing deliveries being a suitable fit for this production. In truth, I’ve partly ignored the verses on my first few listens as I’ve been thoroughly mesmerised by this production, so forgive me if I’ve been somewhat disrespectful of the raps here!
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.
Being on time is the new being late. Or something like that. Gone with a slightly different approach for this week’s episode, as I sympathise with the mainstream folk who come looking for some party/chart tracks, and leave empty handed. I’ve chucked in a few artists/tracks I don’t particularly like, but will certainly go down well with the mainstreamers, and of course there’s still a healthy dose of music that’s actually good too.