Wiz Khalifa‘s incessant weed-influenced ramble only becomes more tired in his new mixtape, Rolling Papers 2.Read More
In hip-hop, your influences are almost like your gods. They are the foundations of what came before you, and the reason that you can flourish in the industry today. Young Thug pays homage to his idols in his new mixtape, JEFFERY. Most tracks are named after someone he has idolized, making the album feel like a dedication record.
JEFFERY sees Young Thug tackling some of his most diverse work. All tracks (barring the conclusion track) is named after someone he has idolized or worked with: the album begins on 'Wyclef Jean', dedicated to the Haitian rapper (who actually has a feature later on the record), and channels Wyclef's reggae roots. The track is fun and features a lot of Caribbean elements. Wyclef Jean features later on the record on the album in 'Kanye West' (previously titled 'Elton John', 'Wet Wet', and 'Pop Man'), which feels like more of a glorified Kanye track than anything else. 'Guwop' praises the roots of trap music - another track shouting out the originator of a genre - being a praise of fellow rapper Gucci Mane. The track is a pretty chill one, if not a bit silly.
Young Thug sends some love to some of his peers, too. Despite his past beef with him, 'Future Swag' is dedicated to the man himself, Future. Despite how sick I am of Future being literally everywhere this year, this does sound like one of his better tracks. 'RiRi' is a nod to Rihanna, and is just about as annoying as 'Work' is - Thugga literally sounds like a seal throughout this track. A nod to producer Swizz Beats is found in the track named after him, but the track sees Young Thug singing and it just doesn't fit too well.
How could this album be complete without memes? There are a couple of songs dedicated to pop culture references, the first of which is 'Floyd Mayweather', the boxer who rose to fame in a major match earlier this year. It's hard to tell if this track is a slam at him or a celebration of him - the boxer is known to have been in cohorts with Young Thug in the past, almost signing to his record label. He didn't in the end, and the song is all about the living a life in luxury. Of course, the album has a shoutout to the current meme phenomenon 'Harambe', and while the title is relevant, the song doesn't really say much about the controversy of him in any form (gun control, animal rights, etc.) and is nearly downright annoying with all of the ad libs and raspy, yelled vocals. The instrumental is phenomenal, though.
There are some great instrumental moments on the record. 'Webbie' has a very dramatic and almost pretty soundscape, taking turns between pulsating synths and a ringing beat and a refined beat behind sweet piano. The final track 'Pick Up The Phone' with Quavo has the best relationship of instrumental and vocals on the record. The song is credited as being a collaboration between both Thugga and Travi$ Scott (he basically just does the ad libs - he has a verse on 'Floyd Mayweather' that will satisfy his fans more). The vocals and instrumental flow as a pair; the track has a punchy and almost aqueous synth that compliments the vocals almost perfectly. It becomes a grander, richer synth that follows a dark progression to end out the album on, almost abruptly. The ending could've been more fulfilling, but it's definitely suitable.
Young Thug may have his reputation in hip-hop, but he's well aware of what, and, more importantly, who brought him there. JEFFERY is a dedication album, a mixtape consisting of tracks named after his idols and peers. It also feels like it's his own personal statement, a mark that puts his name down in history. The mixtape's title was originally No, My Name Is Jeffery, as if to say that we should be looking at who he is, rather than his name. It's a humble album, perhaps not his best work, but certainly some of his most important.
Favorite Tracks: Pick Up The Phone, Wyclef Jean, Webbie
Least Favorite Track: RiRi
The new kid on the block Desiigner has slowly been making a name for himself, his hit 'Panda' giving him some success as well as featuring on Kanye's latest album. His latest contribution was on the 'Champions' single from G.O.O.D. Music. Now, he's finally offered up his first collection of material with his debut mixtape, New English. Listening to it will have you wishing we were back in the time where he was just a random feature.
2016 hasn't seen such a blatant ripoff yet. New English sounds exactly like content from Future, who I've come to be sick of lately with his monotonous flow, which Desiigner copies to a science. It goes as far as the beats and production style of the track, everything sounds like Future. Right after the Disney scene sounding 'Intro' comes 'Caliber', which honestly had me check if there was a Future feature on it. But no, it's just Desiigner copying flow and style. Even the atmospheric beat and sharp hi hats come straight from him. The track ends abruptly too, oddly going from the rolling verse into the piano intro of the next track. The ad libs found throughout this track, as well as 'Panda' which closes the tape ruin both tracks too. When listening through the first time, I didn't even register the run from 'Shooters' to 'interlude 1', and when I tuned back in on 'Talk Regardless', it sounded exactly the same as the rest of the album has. Funny enough, that's what happens when I listen to Future, too.
There are few moments where Desiigner steps out of the Future flow. 'Make It Out' has a different style of rap, but while it doesn't take from Future, it steals from Tyler, The Creator instead. The only interesting track on the entire record is 'Da Days', a surprisingly complex song with different sections and an appropriate instrumental. Milly.CTD starts the track off sounding dejected, with a spidery piano sounding behind his verse. The song builds up until about half way through, where a new beat and synth kick in. The Future flow returns but it seems to fit with this track, the urgency and haunting nature of the beat making it work.
Desiigner hasn't found his own style he's comfortable with yet. Perhaps he was worried his flow wouldn't work well on his first release, and tried to emulate someone else's style to justify his lack of confidence. Whatever the case, New English can't be chocked up to anything more than a ripoff. Will he find his own space before his next release? We can only hope.
Favorite Track: Da Day
Least Favorite Tracks: pretty much everything else (Jet, Shooters, Monstas & Villains)
Rating: 52 / 100
Bringing you the soundtrack for stoners everywhere this year is Wiz Khalifa, offering up Khalifa. Wiz brings his signature trap rap game to the table, continuing to appeal to only stoners and those who think doing drugs make them cool. It’s an album that has little to offer to consumers outside of it’s intended audience but does have some small moments.
The greater majority of the album has little to offer instrumental. Most of it is trap beats on top of repetitive synth lines. There are some surprising moments on the album that over some variety, though. ‘Elevated’ - the only standout track on the album - has a great instrumental featuring a piano/synth line on top of an atmospheric bass synth, with a wonderful piano outro to top off the song. ‘Call Waiting’ also has a notable instrumental, featuring use of brass and being particularly jazzy. ‘iSay’, which features Juicy J., ruined by the lyrics, would be another great track with it’s driving piano instrumental. Much of the album just gets repetitive and stays relative to a formula of simple beats and minimalist noises that don’t offer any color to spice up the tracks.
Lyrically, it’s exactly what you’d expect from Wiz Khalifa. Besides exceptions in ‘Elevated’ and ‘Zoney’, while they do share similar themes with the rest of the songs, actually makes good use of the lyrics, the album is almost completely about getting high or being drunk. The lead single, ‘Bake Sale’ with Travis Scott and ‘Lit’ with Ty Dolla $ign are probably the lyrical low points on the record, literally offering nothing of worth besides the sentiment of weed. There really isn’t much to say lyrically about the album... ‘Elevated’ has some substance, but overall the album doesn’t have great lyrics at all. ‘Zoney’ features his son Sebastian on it, making the ending a pretty cute moment, but that doesn’t save the entire tracks from what it is - another average song on the album.
Wiz Khalifa brought little to the table with Khalifa, though if you’re looking for a record to put on whilst getting high, this might be just the album to party to. Other than the pop appeal and angst magnets, Khalifa is a flop. If you don’t fall under its demographic, there’s little chance you’ll enjoy it. There’s nothing worth focusing on - the instrumentals are repetitive and the lyrics sloppy and lack any meaning. Perhaps for his next record, reducing the amount of drugs in the studio may help the quality. Maybe.
Favorite Tracks: Elevated
Least Favorite Tracks: Lit, Make A Play, Most Of Us