YG – “Still Brazy”
Coming off of “My Krazy Life” in 2014, YG crafted his most cohesive project yet with “Still Brazy,” a series of iconic West Coast sounds and Piru rhetoric that transports listeners to the streets of Bompton, California the minute they press play.
Stepping away from short tracks and simple subjects, YG tackles issues of social injustice and personal adversity with songs like “Who Shot Me?,” “Black & Browns” and “Police Get Away.”
“FDT,” one of the album’s latter tracks, is a blunt anti-Donald Trump song complete with emotional verses from both YG and fellow artist Nipsey Hussle expressing their modest opinions on the businessman-turned-politician.
Aside from the serious content, this album contains fun and hard-hitting bangers such as “Bool, Balm & Bollective,” “Still Brazy” and “Twist My FIngaz.” They all display a sort of positive camaraderie that can only be explained by a Blood like YG. In a league that’s currently dominated by trap stylings, this album stands on its own.
“Still Brazy,” “Bool, Balm & Bollective,” “Twist My FIngaz,” “I Got a Question”
“Gimmie Got Shot,” “My Perception,” “Skits”
8.5 out of 10.
ScHoolboy Q – “Blank Face LP”
Despite lacking the immaculate and socially conscious lyricism of his contemporaries, ScHoolboy Q captivated listeners with energy, pure grit and thunderous delivery in his breakout LP “Habits & Contradictions.” This strategy works again in “Blank Face LP.”
“Torch,” which features uncredited vocals from Anderson .Paak, sets the album’s hardcore tone with elements of rock in its lush guitar riffs and huge hard-hitting bass thumps while tracks like “Groovy Tony / Eddie Kane” introduce villainous sounds and off-kilter beats.
“Ride Out” with young California emcee Vince Staples may be one of the hardest bangers of 2016, with Q passionately delivering verses that discuss street violence and gang life. Meanwhile, “Neva CHange” and “Black THougHts” are two sonically distinct tracks that highlight the daily struggles black Americans face.
In the end, “Blank Face LP” is a gangster rap album with the same ambition of previous classics such as “Get Rich or Die Tryin’,” “The Documentary” and “Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101.”
“Groovy Tony / Eddie Kane,” “Ride Out,” “By Any Means,” “John Muir,” “Tookie Knows II,” “Neva Change”
“Big Body,” “Whateva U Want”
8.5 out of 10.
Chance the Rapper – “Coloring Book”
When I say “Coloring Book” is 2016’s “To Pimp a Butterfly,” I don’t mean both albums are the same. But there is a progressive essence that both Chance the Rapper and Kendrick Lamar put into their craft that ultimately make their projects two-of-a-kind. It is what Lamar does with the elements of jazz, funk and spoken word that Chance puts together through various styles of gospel. The end result are dense, complex songs that require multiple listens to fully grasp.
“Angels,” the first single to be released preaches that you can achieve the same status as Chance without having to sell your soul to obtain a record deal. Chance is quick to point out that he has been one of the few successful hitmakers to give back to the community.
On “Summer Friends,” we find Chance delivering double entendres as he plays with the title of the track to deliver a tragic message about growing up on the streets of South Side, Chicago. While this track may come off as one of the more touching moments on the album, we are given a glimpse into Chance’s bright mind.
While “Coloring Book” features excellent utilization from guest such as Jay Electronica, Jeremih, D.R.A.M and even Future to name a few, some on the other hand stick out like a sore thumb.From “Acid Rap” to “Surf” and now “Coloring Book,” Chance the Rapper has quickly given us a string of quality projects in such a short amount of time.
“Blessing,” “Blessings” (Reprised),” “No Problem,” “Summer Friends,” “Same Drugs,” “How Great,” “Juke Jam”
“Smoke Break,” “Finish Line”
8.5 out of 10.