Tag Archives: hip hop

Jay-Z’s New Album, ‘Magna Carta Holy Grail’

This summer has been an exciting for all of the hip hop world, but the album we all know would set the bar for summer releases, hit last week.  That album is Jay-Z’s latest effort, Magna Carta Holy Grail which was released via a Samsung app, a move that Jay-Z thought would re-write the rules in this new age of high-tech music. But one thing is the consistency of Jay-Z’s work. This album has some high points and some low points, but overall is a great listening experience.

One of the best parts of the album is the first track, “Holy Grail,” which is a mid-tempo track featuring Justin Timberlake who provides an awesome performance with the bravado needed to push the track. “Piccasso Baby” is the second track on the album, and this track is strange because I liked the live instrumentation, but could not stand what sounded like a dental drill. “Tom Ford” is a highlight on the album, as it definitely has a catchy beat.

“Crown” is one of the best hip-hop tracks that has been released in recent years, especially because it brings back something that has been missing in hip-hop, a good dis that effects more than just hip-hop culture. Not since the Ludacris Bill O’Rielly fued have I heard a dis so good then the one Jay-Z put on Scott Boras the infamous sports agent when he states, “Scott Boras, you over baby.” Obviously this is in reference to the next big project that Jay-Z has been working on, Roc-Nation Sports. The next track you should listen to is “Heaven” which is the best track on the album.

Magna Carta Holy Grail is a great album, I suggest you find a stream and check it out!


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Can Fall Out Boy Save Rock & Roll?

Save Rock & Roll is a very ambitious title for an album, and I’m not really  sure Fall Out Boy came close to doing that, but they did put together an interesting album with some great songs including a collaboration with Elton John  on the album’s title track. To me this album is more of a statement that says Fall Out Boy is back and is going to be bigger than ever, but at a cost.

The album starts out with a track called “The Pheonix” which starts off with an interesting orchestral part that was unexpected when first listening to the album. Patrick Stump’s vocals come in over the accompaniment, and then the chorus comes in and you really get an idea about the album. It’s all about big choruses. Next up is the album’s first single “My Songs Know What You Did in The Dark (Light Em’ Up)”  which is a very annoying song because of the mix. If the guitars were further up in the mix the song would have sounded a hell of a lot better, but the drums and sampling overpower the guitar.

The next track on the album is entitled “Alone Together.” I actually liked this song due to the arrangement, and songwriting. Musically it flows very well, but the lyrics are what bring the song above the level of a typical pop song. This song is followed by “Where Did The Party Go” which has an intro featuring the much improved bass playing of Pete Wentz. The track is very narrative when it comes to lyrics, and this story really carries the song, as there is nothing substantial music wise on this track.

One of my favorite tracks on the record is the song “Just One Yesterday” which features British songstress, Foxes. The song is very well written and is also arranged well. The song is also mixed well especially when Foxes and Stump are singing together. It’s a fantastic track that will definitely do well if it were to be released as a single. It is followed nicely by “The Might Fall” which features rapper, Big Sean. This song features a highly tampered with drum track, but also feature a great riff from Trohman, and it is the first time you hear Trohman’s guitar up in the mix.

The next track to take note of is the band’s collaboration with Courtney Love, “Rat A Tat” which starts off when Love says “It’s Courtney Bitch.” This track is an all-around fun track which mixes the bands old sound with their newer over-produced tone. Love’s rawness adds a lot to the track, but I definitely think its Wentz’s bass that drives the track.

My favorite track on the album is the last track, “Save Rock and Roll” which is a collaboration with the legendary, Elton John. This song blew me away, and is definitely the only song on the album that is going to matter five years from now. The band comes together perfectly on the track, and even the sampling works well, but what brings this track over the top are Elton John’s amazing vocals.

Will this album save Rock and Roll? The answer is no. But this is a good album featuring some excellent songs. If Fall Out Boy were to make an album that were to save Rock and Roll they’d definitely have to take a hint from Trohman and drummer Andy Hurley’s side project The Damned things and play some damn riffs.

-B. Harlow




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My Take on Brad Paisley’s “Accidentally Racist”

First of all I’d like to state that I feel music should have a message. I would also like to state that I like music that has a political message, but to me Brad Paisley’s “Accidentally Racist” ft. L.L. Cool J. makes a very akward statement. At first I thought this was comedy, but then I thought that it was probably a publicity stunt to promote Paisley’s new album, Wheelhouse which came out yesterday.

Here’s an honest review of the song. It’s a flop. It’s a terrible attempt at a political song based on history. The lyrics of the song are tacky.  “To the man that waited on me at the Starbucks down on Main, I hope you understand / When I put on that t-shirt, the only thing I meant to say is I’m a Skynyrd fan.”  Come on Paisley. What is that? Pure shit. LL Cool J’s lyrics aren’t any better like when he says  “RIP Robert E. Lee but I’ve gotta thank Abraham Lincoln for freeing me, know what I mean.” Another verse that is all together strange.

All in all a weird song.

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A Closer Look At Tyler, The Creator’s New Album ‘Wolf’

Tyler, the Creator is one of the strangest artists one will ever encounter in the rap game. In fact you never know what is going to come out of the 22-year-old M.C.’s mouth, and this is why many people gravitate to the rapper. There is no exception to this rule when it comes to his third album, Wolf. Wolf is a strange collection of treats that was produced by Tyler, The Creator himself. The album also features guest spots from The Frank Ocean, Mike G, Domo Genesis, Left Brain, Hodgy Beats, Pharrell, Casey Veggies and Erykah Badu.

Wolf starts out innocently enough with the smoothish introduction to the title track, “WOLF,” but this smooth listening vibe gets turned over when the listener hears the word ‘Fuck.’ Tyler then goes into a verse, and we get to hear a little conversation between two of Tyler’s alter-ego’s, Sam and Wolf. This leads into the track “Jamba” which is an interesting track featuring Hodgy Beats. Next up is the track “Cowboy” which is one of my favorite tracks on the album because we hear Tyler’s dark and thematic lyrics throughout his narrative verses.

“Akward” is the fourth track on the album. This track has a definite 90’s hip hop feel that I really enjoyed.  “Domo23” is the next track, and this is another one of my favorite tracks on the album due to Tyler’s tight and rhythmic rhyme scheme. Tyler’s voice is angry, and in this track we get to hear about Tyler’s recurring topic of getting at a house. I also enjoyed Tyler’s diss about One Direction.

“Answer” is a strange track that I didn’t get, and I didn’t really know why it’s on the record. But then I heard Tyler’s verse, but then I learned that this is a song about Tyler’s  baggage with his father. The next track on the album is called “Slater” which features Frank Ocean who I’m not really a fan of, so obviously I started on the wrong foot with this song, but I realized I was right Frank Ocean’s part was just like an annoying voice over. The next track I really took note of was “Pigs” which I related to lyrically, sort of. Or at least till he talked about starting riots.

“Rusty” is another must listen to track on the record. The first verse which is provided by Domo Genisis is tight, and that is all we can ask. Right? Tyler then comes in with a verse that I loved because lyrically I could really relate to it.

Earlier I stated that Tyler, the Creator is one of the strangest artists one will ever encounter in the rap game, and that you never know what is going to come out of the 22-year-old M.C.’s mouth. Wolf continues this unpredictable nature in grand fashion. I definitely think you should check this album out!

-B. Harlow



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Country Fresh: Yelawolf Releases New Mix-Tape, ‘Trunk Muzik Returns’

Yelawolf, hit my radar about two years ago after he re-released the mix-tape Trunk Muzik 0-60 with a few additional tracks. I loved that EP and have played it over and over. The tunes on that EP are tight, and the grooves are infectious, and show the unique styling of the Gagsden, Alabama based rapper. Since the release of Trunk Muzik 0-60, Yelawolf has been keeping a busy schedule including recording a full length for a major label, promoting his music through live performances, and releasing another mix-tape this summer called Heart of Dixie. Last week Yelawolf kept his busy pace up by releasing a new mix-tape entitled Trunk Muzik Returns.

The mix-tape starts off with the track “Firestarter.” Just from the title you’d think this would be a fast track, but to my surprise it’s a slower song which is emphasized by the lyrics telling you to relax. Next up on the mix-tape is the track, “Way Out.” “Way Out” is a good track that starts off with a synth part that is followed by a verse by Yelawolf that has a very space like feel. Then the beat drops in and Yelawolf comes in with a verse that is tighter than the first verse.

“F.A.S.T. Ride” is the third song on the E.P., and is one of the tightest songs on the mix-tape. Yelawolf shows off his excellent flow on this song especially on the verses. This song is a real return for Yelawolf especially when it comes to the tight rhymes. “Box Chevy Part 4” is also another return to form for Yelawolf, as we know his favorite thing to do is riding around in his Chevy and rapping about his Chevy. Musically the track is different from anything I’ve heard anywhere, There’s a part that’s very trance like that I enjoyed. Yelawolf also shows his singing pipes off on this song, and he can sing.

“Hustle” is the next track and it features Texas’ finest rapper, Paul Wall. Wall starts the song, and gives the listener a good verse, but then Yelawolf comes in and delivers his signature fast paced southern rhymes. “Catfish Billy” is the next track on the mix-tape, and it’s an odd track that starts with a conversation, but then it tells the story of Catfish Billy one of Yelawolf’s aliases. The next song that really caught my attention was called “Fame,” and it has a very slow and etheral feel at the beginning, but Yelawolf then comes in with a verse that brings the song up a notch. “Tenesse Love” finishes off the mix-tape, and is another one of my favorite tracks. Yelawolf’s narrative voice is very strong on this very mellow track. Yelawolf shows his singing voice off on this track too, and it sounds awesome especially mixed with the very country influenced pedal steel guitar.

I loved Radioactive, but I have to say that I am even more impressed with this mix-tape. Check it out, I don’t think you’ll be sorry, especially if you’re a hip-hop fan. And it’s free so what can you loose?

-B. Harlow

Download and/or listen to Trunk Muzik Returns  HERE


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Macklemore & Ryan Lewis: Hip-Hop’s Dynamic Duo

Who exactly are Macklemore and Ryan Lewis? Well for starters, they’re one of the fastest growing musical collaborations in the business, and have one of the most popular hip-hop tracks of last year. Macklemore (Ben Haggerty) has been independently producing music since 2000 where he gained a large online fan base -like so many other unsigned hip-hop artists of recent memory. Ryan Lewis came into the picture shortly after 2005’s Language of My World had been released. The two formed a collaboration in 2008 where Macklemore raps, and Lewis conceives the instrumentals, album covers, and directs the music videos.

But why the sudden success? How did they go from their independent roots to international fame seemingly overnight? Quite frankly, the intensely popular single “Thrift Shop” is what brought them to stardom. With the single’s catchy beat, amusing lyrics, and zany hook, it managed to sell over 2.2 million copies. The single topped out at the number 1 spot of the Billboard Hot 100 list, and was soon followed by the duo’s debut studio album The Heist, which claimed possession of the US Itunes number 1 album slot just a few short hours after it’s release. The album focuses on a variety of things such as political issues, personal problems, and the duo’s journey to the fame they have now. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis really hit the nail on the head with this debut album. However, without the hugely successful “Thrift Shop” to pave the way, their sudden rise to fame would have gone a lot slower. I see a very bright future for the two as one of the next big hip-hop artists.

-P. Lyons



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Yelawolf Preps New Free Album and Releases New Track, “Way Out”

Yelawolf is by far one of the best rappers in the game right now and has the work ethic to show he’s worth all the attention. Yesterday, Yelawolf release a new track that will be featured on his upcoming Free Album, Trunk Muzik Returns. The song is called “Way Out” and it has all the key features of a Yelawolf song especially when it comes to Alabama, Chevys, and Jim Beam.

“Way Out” is a good track theat starts off with a synth part that is followed by a verse by Yelawolf that has a very space like feel. Then the beat comes in and Yelawolf comes in with a verse that is tighter then the first verse. Then the chorus comes in, and this is not a sing a long chorus like “Lets Roll,” but something off Heart of Dixie.

Be sure to check out “Way Out” and download Trunk Muzik Returns when it is released on March 14th.

-B. Harlow


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Yelawolf and Travis Barker’s Monster of a Collaboration, ‘Psycho White’

If you were to get a copy of Travis Barkey and Yelawolf’s new EP that comes out today, you’d understand how the pair got the title of the EP, Psycho White. From that moment you put on the record on you understand why Newport said that the EP was “Man, that’s some psycho white boy shit.” Psycho White, is an odd mix of music, but to the seasoned hip hop listener you’ll see that the combination works.

Psycho White starts off with the track “Push ‘Em.”  Push ‘Em’” is a good track, to keep up with Barker’s fast paced rhythms, Yelawolf lays down a tight performance, and spits with authority on subjects including cars, boozing, and raging. The song also features appearances from Skinhead Rob and Tim Armstrong. Tim Armstrong also makes an appearance on the second track, which also happens to be my favorite on the EP, “6 Feet Undergound.” This track is a great song that starts off with a creepy hook, but what makes the song is Yelawolf’s great reggae inspired verses. It seems as if though Yelawolf is trying to move into other areas, and by doing this shows us his vast influences. The next track on Psycho White is the track, “Funky Shit.” Now this song sounds like it could have been off Yelawolf’s Trunk Muzik. It has that dirty southern feel that Yelawolf is famous for. Barker’s drums mix well with the slow electronic beat.

“Whistle Dixie” is the second video single off the EP, and this song is by far the second best on the collection. It features a whistled part that is looped throughout the song, but what I enjoyed the most is the odd production techniques that make it sound as if Yelawolf and Barker’s drums were all the way back in the mix. The final track on the EP is called “Directors Cut,” and this is a great conclusions, and shows Yelawolfs excellent storytelling abilities in his lyrics.

If you like Hip-Hop and Rap that is unconventional then Psycho White   is perfect for you. Go check out this awesome collaboration between Yelawolf and Travis Barker.

-B. Harlow


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Gambino Is A Mastermind: Rapper Childish Gambino Hits UCONN 10/25/12

I had never heard of the rapper Childish Gambino up until about two months ago. But, after hearing only a few songs, I could tell he was more talented than your average rapper. As I listened to his album, Camp in closer detail, I also came to notice that he wasn’t just talented in his rapping style but also in his lyrics. Childish Gambino, also known as Donald Glover, is a writer, comedian and actor in addition to being a rapper. He has appeared on and written for shows such as 30 Rock, Community, and Parks and Recreation. Evidently, Donald Glover has some pretty impressive writing skills. His rhymes are so unbelievably clever and it’s almost impossible to not be jealous of this quadruple threat.

At the University of Connecticut, the concert committee on campus, SUBOG, announced in late September that the performer for the fall concert would be Childish Gambino. Every single floor seat for the concert sold out in under 3 hours. I was so unbelievably excited to see him live after hearing how incredible he is in person. It is safe to say that Childish Gambino did not disappoint.

A rapper named XV started the show off and really got the entire crowd hyped up. He engaged the audience immediately and interacted with everyone during each song. XV definitely had a lot of stage presence and was rather reminiscent of Kid Cudi at times with his quirky beats and unconventional writing style. I highly recommend checking out his newest EP called Awesome EP!, which features Pusha- T on the title track.

As soon as XV left the stage, everyone started chanting, “GAM-BI-NO!”. Then, the lights dimmed and the crowd went absolutely insane. Gambino took center stage surrounded by his band. I have been to many rap concerts before. Most recently was the “Watch the Throne” tour with Kanye West and Jay-Z, but I had never seen a band play with a rapper before. Gambino’s band consisted of a drummer, violinist, pianist, guitarist, and a very skilled bassist. This element truly brought a unique feel to his set. Childish Gambino rapped his most famous songs including “Bonfire,” “Fire Fly,” “You See Me,” “Heartbeat,” and “Freaks and Geeks” to name a few. He also played a handful of new songs that everyone went crazy for. Childish Gambino is a performer and an incredible one at that. My personal favorite part of the show was when he went a cappella and started freestyling. I would definitely recommend checking out all of Childish Gambino’s albums, EPs, and mix-tapes  including his album Camp and his latest mix-tape, Royalty.

Brilliant and talented rappers are hard to come by nowadays, but Childish Gambino is definitely only going to start receiving more recognition and acclaim as his fan base expands. No one quite says it better than Gambino himself in “Bonfire” when he asks the age-old question: “Why does every black actor gotta rap some?” to which he responds, “I don’t know, all I know is I’m the best one.” Childish Gambino is the shit. No humblebrag.

-B. Greenberg

Becca Greenberg is a freshman at the University of Connecticut studying Human Rights and Political Science. She is an actress and singer/songwriter from New York City. She is a big country music fan but loves rap, classic rock, and indie.

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Yelawolf and Travis Barker Release “Push ‘Em”

If you’ve kept your eyes on this site you can tell that one of our favorite rappers is Gadsden, Alabama’s, Yelawolf. Yelawolf is also growing into one of the most popular rappers in the music business expanding into clothing, skateboarding, and even doing promotions for his favorite auto company, Chevy. But let’s get back to his latest musical endeavor, an EP that is collaboration between  Yelawolf and Blink-182 drummer, Travis Barker entitled Psycho White. The EP is set for release November 13th, and will feature five new tracks including the track, “Hard White”

“Push ‘Em’” is a good track, but if you were expecting a hybrid of Yelawolf’s dirty southern rhymes and Blink-182’s feel good pop punk, then this is not the track for you. If you were expecting something like, “Let’s Go” of off Barker’s solo album, Give the Drummer Some, you would be a lot closer because this song is rhythmically intense. To keep up with Barker’s fast paced rhythms  Yelawolf lays down a tight performance and spits with authority on subjects including cars, boozing, and raging. The song also features appearances from Skinhead Rob and Tim Armstrong.

Be sure to check out Psycho White because I’m sure it won’t be like anything you’ve heard before.

-B. Harlow

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