Can you believe Hybrid Theory came out 13 years ago?
LP’s decision to remix that entire album for the Reanimation project was an interesting one at the time that I slightly struggled with. The years have been kind though (puberty eventually passed), and some of its highlights have become top tier pieces in the Linkin Park back catalogue. The band are revisiting the concept with Recharged, an album of Living Things remixes- for fans who have strayed, it’s worth noting that Living Things was a huge improvement on its predecessor and half of the album before it too.
This effort is the remix album’s first single, and features hip-hop’s man-of-the-moment with a good contribution. The original track was a strong effort with powerful, rousing instrumentation, and here those guts are removed and replaced by a glitchy, electro-style backdrop that packs in plenty of energy of its own, though it does retain some of the melodies from the original as well as fragments of its pacing. Chester’s vocals initially don’t quite have the raw, primal effect over such a beat, but the inclusion of more edgy work for his final hook towards the end works well, whilst the production does certainly lend a hand to Pusha and Mike Shinoda’s rapped verses. A decent effort, and probably a good indicator of how that album will shape up in terms of sound.
Take Pusha’s gritty, aggressive sound and quite rightly, you wouldn’t think it a natural fit for Chase and Status’ electronic stylings (if you’re barely a casual fan of the latter, as I am). Here though, the duo show their versatility and adaptability as they take their powerful electro style and inject a gritty quality that suits Pusha down to the ground.
From the crunching bass through to the ominous, urgent melodies, it’s an intense production that captures a dark, industrial vibe that feels more suited to a drug-fuelled underground rave than your local nightclub. It’s a really harsh production, which in most circumstances would be a bit overwhelming for my tender ears (ignoring my heavy metal tendencies), but here is tempered by frequent ‘cool off’ periods, and believe it or not by Pusha’s snarling raps. He’s rarely known for easing a track off, but comparatively speaking his arrogant raps provide relative calm in a dynamic, high-octane environment, and hence show his own versatility alongside that of the producer duo.
It’s hard to tell whether this will translate well to clubs, but it’ll throttle your car speakers pretty well, which is more than good enough. C&S’ Brand New Machine album lands on 7th October.
It’s a G.O.O.D. Music affair with not only the rappers listed, but also with a production helmed by the ringleader himself, Kanye West. Pusha opts for another minimal artwork too, keeping the album branding nice and consistent with his previous single’s video and artwork; of course, it also works alongside Kanye’s own stripped-back approach to Yeezus, and it appears Pusha’s happy with the artistic direction.
That minimalism extends to the audio offering too. The production is built up of chunky bass, a light sprinkling of samples, and very little else; it’s the kind of gritty, uncomplicated production that suits Pusha’s rough style down to the ground, and he doesn’t disappoint. It’s funny to say, but his raps seem to perenially contain a threatening vibe- even when he’s not necessarily rapping in an aggressive manner, it’s hard to get his wide-eyed snarl out of your head, and credit to Push for being such an emotive performer. 2 Chainz’s upbeat, lively performance makes for a good change in momentum, and whilst Sean’s performance is typically witty, his laidback delivery doesn’t quite work with this beat. A good track nonetheless though, and another strong sign ahead of the My Name Is My Name LP.
The backlash when Luda ‘turned pop’ last year was pretty strong, and he’s back with this offering, compiling tracks he’s been releasing every Friday for the past few weeks with some new, unheard efforts.
He’s definitely cashed that Fast and Furious 6 money early here, as a raft of big names are out with assists. Features include Young Jeezy, Chris Brown, Meek Mill, Swizz Beatz, Pusha T, Mac Miller and French Montana; essentially, a who’s who of guest artists in hip-hop over the last 18 months. There are some strong names behind the board too, with recent Roc Nation signee DJ Mustard, Mike Will Made It and Bangladesh amongst the contributors, and the signs point towards a solid mainstream hip-hop release, and hopefully it’s one that comes without the dance-pop work he’d previously released.
The releases to date have been slightly hit and miss, but they seem to have found a pretty solid mainstream audience, which should stand The-Dream in good stead ahead of this LP’s release in a week’s time on 28th May.
In a rather confident move, he’s allowed the full project to be streamed today, which should help many fans make their purchase decisions ahead of time. The on-again-off-again Beyonce feature has seemingly made the cut, so apparently those sample issues were overcome; good news for many listeners I’m sure, and it’ll be interesting listening to have what should be a complementary set of vocals working alongside one another. I’m a big champion of Dream’s back catalogue (particularly his outstanding debut album), and despite my mixed opinions on the pre-releases singles, I hold hope that this will be another strong addition to his collection. Stream at his Vevo home below.
It seems I’m in the minority here, but I wasn’t overly enamoured with this track on its release. Many showered praise upon the production, and whilst it’s undoubtedly a style we’ve not heard Pusha on very often (and hence there’s a touch of novelty value), it’s minimal nature didn’t feel as though it played to Pusha’s strengths.
He’s charismatic on the mic and has great presence, but I’m sure most would agree he’s hardly going down as lyricist of the year. That’s not to say ‘complex lyrical rap’ is all that’s acceptable, but a low fat production of this ilk slightly exposes the repetitive nature of his work, and hence it was hard to commit to the track initially.
With that said, a combination of repeated plays and this video have thoroughly helped. The video’s as stripped back as the audio, with settings including a dark, overcast sky with a touch of post-apocalyptic feel, amongst other dimly-lit environments that contain Pusha T, and little else. They bring out a moody, atmospheric quality in the production, whilst his aggressive, emotive on-screen nature lends a hand in upping the lyrical intensity, and as odd as it is to say, his surliness helps to create a tight bond between the grittiness of the beat, the arrogant lyricism and the dark video. There’s a rawness that comes out in the clip that aids the appeal of the audio immeasurably, and this is a rare example of a video really elevating a track. Pusha’s My Name Is My Name album lands on 16th July.
It’s been a very, very long time in the making but Cassie finally comes through with a full-length project, her first since her 2006 debut album. Hard to believe given the steady stream of loose material that’s emerged from her camp in the interim period, but it’s good that in that time she’s evolved and refined her sound into the laidback electro R&B stylings that this mixtape is expected to be filled with.
Features are plentiful here, with appearances from Wiz Khalifa, Rick Ross, Meek Mill, Jeremih, Pusha T, Fabolous and more, whilst I’m sure the production credits (which aren’t listed) won’t be lacking either. Datpiff seem to be having problems, but expect the download to be available at the below link shortly.
Very excited to give Pusha’s latest project a listen, his first since 2011′s Fear of God I and II releases, and the final one before his debut album drops in March.
There’s plenty expected of Push on that upcoming LP, and there’s no doubt he’s carved out quite a place for himself in hip-hop as a solo artist over the last 2 years. Features on this tape include Wale, Rick Ross and the ubiquitous French Montana and Troy Ave, whilst the production lineup is rather tantalising, with names such as The Neptunes, Kanye West, B!nk, !llmind and more contributing their works. Lots to look forward to in the near future from Push, and it starts with that free grab below.
After various assaults, fights, arrests and whatever else, hip-hop’s resident lunatic is back with a brand new 17-track mixtape for his fans. I say fans, I wonder if there are any devout Gunplay followers out there? For me, he’s a bit of novelty and fun rather than anyone I ever take too seriously, but it does make you wonder what it is about him that his core fanbase are into, given his soaring popularity. Regardless, he’s sticking around and carries through his 2012 momentum with this early release.
Features on the MMG representative’s latest project include labelmates Rick Ross and Rockie Fresh, whilst outside contributions from A$AP Rocky, Pusha T, Trina and more complete the lineup here. There are a few recognisable titles in here too, with Clique and Hold Me Back being amongst the tracks remixed, alongside some new and original works. Free stream and download below.
A double whammy for you from Fabolous, with the official visuals being released mere hours after R-Les came through with his contribution to the track from Fab’s Soul Tape 2, which you can grab for free over here.
Big fan of the production, with the soul vocal sample complementing the thudding percussion and uplifting synth work well, the combination giving the beat a roundedness that makes this a great contender for a single. The style of production is a great fit for both artists, with Loso’s laidback delivery riding along smoothly on this, before Pusha’s more aggressive style offers a nice contrast to the former’s flows. The lyricism of both is focused around both their lavish lives and inherent ‘street ways’, facets which are both represented in the audio: luxurious vehicles, art collections and such sit alongside the less glamorous graffitied walls, though there’s clearly more emphasis on the richer elements of their lives throughout. It’s not a clip breaking any new ground, but it fits the audio well enough and that’s about all you can ask for from this sort of track.
Ryan Leslie’s focus on his rap work continues here with a verse tacked onto the front of this. A solid remix with a couple of OK lines, and whilst not hugely notable it’s a listenable nonetheless: Check that one out here.
One of the most buzzed-about film soundtracks in quite some time, RZA’s massive all-star lineup has really upped the hype for what actually looks to be a decent film regardless. We’ve caught various individual releases from this, including the throwback stylings of Kanye West’s White Dress and a punchy collaboration between Joell Ortiz, Pusha T and Raekwon, whilst many others have dripped out too.
Wait no longer for the rest, as you can stream and buy it right now. With the rest of the OST including the likes of The Black Keys, Wiz Khalifa, Idle Warship, Corinne Bailey Rae and of course the rest of the Wu-Tang Clan, there’s undoubtedly a great mix of genres here to suit all. Stream and purchase the entire thing right here, right now.
Pusha T springs right back into the game after Cruel Summer, preparing folk for that hotly-anticipated debut solo album that’s expected to drop in December. He’s put out plenty of good work in recent times, whether as part of a collaborative track or one of his own, and it’s certainly a good time for him to start properly breaking away for himself.
With that said, he’s not helped himself by featuring the mostly-talentless Future here. His hook is absolutely terrible, and can only be compared to a drunk, sleepy 2007 T-Pain, making his feature entirely pointless and to the detriment of the track. It’s a real shame as the production is pretty solid, throwing together pounding, bassy percussion with intense synths and lively work on the keys for a soundscape full of intensity and power, the type of beat Pusha thrives on. His raps are really likeable too, sticking to the pain theme well enough, whilst his natural aggressiveness capitalises on this beat to good effect. It’s just a shame the feature brings this down so much.
The extremely talented, and an OTU favourite, Colin Munroe brings us the visuals to an excellent collaboration with Pusha T, which is off his recent mixtape/album, #UnsungHero.
And that’s exactly what Colin Munroe is…somewhat frustratingly he’s not as well known as he should be by now, but I’m sure that’ll change in the not-to-distant future he carries on with this kind of form.
Taken from RZA’s upcoming The Man With The Iron Fists film, the release of the soundtrack’s tracklist was met with much excitement and praise. This was unquestionably one of the better-looking selections on paper, and it doesn’t disappoint.
The production is moody and with a creeping sense of suspense, and given that it’s all work inspired by/to be used in the film, it’s the type of beat that you can envision being set to, and improving, a dark nighttime scene. Pusha opens the raps with a steady pace, packing his relatively aggressive raps into a quiet intensity that makes for a nice change of style, before Raekwon’s gristly tones jump in for a set of drug raps that feel perfectly suited to this Wu-style beat. Joell’s on closing duty and alters his approach in a similar manner to Pusha, swapping his usual high-octane style for a more menacing, reserved delivery that doesn’t sacrifice any of his lyrical ability. Worth a listen for sure, and be sure to keep an eye out for the full OST on 23rd October.
It’s been a long time since we had a new project from Colin, and whilst he’s released small bits of material over the last couple of years, it’s great to have him back dropping off something full-length.
Arguably, he didn’t quite capitalise on his huge buzz back in 2009-10, but that doesn’t seem to have hindered his reputation within the industry; features on this include RZA, Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, Pusha T, Cassie and more. His relative inactivity has seemingly led to his sound being a little less unique, given the slew of eclectic artists who’ve broken out in recent years, but a quick listen to this tape shows that few have the same level of command over all of the genres he tries to cover. A man who has a great talent for melodies, here’s to hoping this tape revives his career, and that there’s more to come. Download and/or stream below.
Colin Munroe-Unsung Hero (click here to stream)
Quentin Tarantino presents The Man With The Iron Fists, an action-adventure inspired by kung-fu classics as interpreted by his longtime collaborators RZA and Eli Roth. Making his debut as a big-screen director, co-writer and leading man, RZA—alongside an exciting international cast led by Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu—tells the epic story of warriors, assassins and a lone outsider hero who all descend on one fabled village in China for a winner-takes-all battle for a fortune in gold. The film arrives on November 2, 2012.
I saw the trailer for this a little while back and frankly, it looks epic. Normally projects like this can be pretty shoddy, but RZA’s clearly surrounded himself with the right people and properly committed to this, and the sheer scale of the names involved in both the film and the soundtrack suggests he’ll pull this off with considerable success. The tracklist features a fantastic roster, including Kanye West, Pusha T and of course the Wu-Tang Clan; click below for the full list, where you can also grab a free download from the OST. → Continue Reading
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.
Dream and Pusha seem to have struck up a very effective working relationship, having released Exodus 23:1 and this effort in quick succession back in May. The response to this single from the R&B heads was good, and rightfully Dream’s picked it as his latest single from The Love IV: Diary of a Madman.
It’s an album that’s been in the works for quite some time now, and in truth this was the sort of single it needed. The track is a great blend of upbeat and smoothed-out, hitting that difficult middle ground that Dream seems to find so easily, and the overarching vibe of the song is one that emits plenty of cool. The vocals are as catchy and singalong as ever, praising Dream’s lady of choice, whilst Pusha’s verse is an excellent contribution with plenty of verve, and certainly enhances the track. The video is all kinds of illegal, with plenty of focus on drugs, guns and what I assume to be ill-gotten money, though the clip’s packed in a minimalistic styling that gives it a real slickness.
To my knowledge, this track isn’t available at the usual outlets yet but expect it to hit iTunes at some point soon.
Cruel Summer is coming, and ‘Ye takes to his official site to let loose of the hugely-anticipated second single from the album, performed a few days ago at the BET Awards.
Whilst Mercy was a track that had its likeability boosted by a good video, I don’t think this one will need that assist. There’s a powerful, triumphant vibe to this one, with a production that combines a positive, almost gospel-style melody on the keys with Kanye’s famed touch on percussion for a feelgood, hypnotising and head-nodding beat. Pusha and Kanye bring forth raps full of self-deification, a little aggression and a singalong hook that’ll rattle around your ears for hours, in a performance dripping in arrogance that makes for a decent listen. Pusha probably shades it for me, and not just for yet another Ric Flair reference (Woo! btw), though both artists handle the beat very well and its a strong hip-hop jam that will ramp up the buzz for that album. Could do without the chanting section at the end though.
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.
There’s no glitz, gloss or glamour in this one. Pusha rounds up some of his cronies for a gritty, stripped-back video set mostly in his, or someone else’s, hood.
Most hip-hop fans are now familiar with the thoroughly enjoyable audio, with some sharp raps from Pusha T and a strong hook from The-Dream, whilst the fallout from and response to the track have been well-documented. It’s probably a classic case of trying too hard to see something, but there seems to be one actor/character that bears quite the resemblance to the fellow who has taken most exception to the track, namely Lil’ Wayne.
Not a great deal more to say about this one. It’s a good visualisation of the relatively punchy audio and certainly drives home the message of the audio, without adding any unnecessary sheen on top. Look for this on the upcoming G.O.O.D. Music album, Cruel Summer.
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’ve seen many weekly series come and go here at OTU, but it’s been a while since we’ve launched a new one, which frankly isn’t in keeping with our ‘we do things differently’ mantra.
That would be the marketing spin on this. The truth is, the thought occurred to me that as modern-day music listeners, we consume so much music on a daily and weekly basis that there have become two clear pools of choice when picking something to listen to: either a classic, old-school track or something relatively new. “What’s wrong with that?”, I hear you cry. “The vast middle in between those two”, I reply.
There are countless songs that lie in that grey area of being a little old, but nowhere near aged enough to be considered ‘classic’, and often they get overlooked. Several tracks may have been ‘ahead of their time’, and you’ll find them an almost brand new listen in today’s climate, or it may simply be revisiting an excellent track to recrete that ‘first time’ feel once again. Welcome to your friendly reminder of tracks we may have once loved (or even completely ignored), and enjoy the fresh yet familiar feeling that accompanies each one.
A quick hit from Pusha T, as he spends just over a minute having a play with Common’s Sweet instrumental. Big fan of the original and the instrumental, and Pusha comes through with a very enjoyable set of bars, though it’s disappointing he didn’t go any longer on this. Naturally, many will be looking to see if Pusha’s fired any Drake shots as he has been perceived as doing so previously, and admittedly there are one or two interesting lines in this…or I’m just hoping too hard for the ignition of a rap war.
Pusha T comes through with some visuals from his freestyle of Future and Drake’s collabo. Usually a freestyle like this doesn’t lend to video form very well, especially as Pusha almost exclusively sits on a sofa for the duration, but he cleverly adds some stunning model to keep our eyes interested.
Heavily-delayed visuals for the debut single from John West. Given that the audio was released way back in March (and admittedly, I couldn’t believe it was that long ago!), it’s strange to see such a lag time in breaking the upcoming singer to a wider audience, but soul season is approaching, and it’s arguably a better move to unleash him now.
The Robin Thicke comparisons will continue with this minimal, casual yet rather suave video, with lots of nighttime scenery, dimmed lighting and a general laidback feel representing the song accurately. It’s not a revolutionary theme or style, but it’s increasingly rare to find easygoing, stylish themes like this amongst the growing trend for over-stimulating in music videos, and it makes for refreshing and relaxing viewing.
Congratulations to Pusha T too, who recently announced his official solo deal with Def Jam. Not wholly unexpected given his success in the last 12 months, and hopefully we’ll see him on more features of this ilk.