The Sacramento Sound-A Local Band Review: Face the Horizon and Occupy the Trees


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The Sacramento Sound-A Local Band Review
Face the Horizon and Occupy the Trees

Sacramento boasts of being the birthplace of greats like Deftones, Cake, and Tesla, to name a few. If I try hard enough I can actually picture them on the cluttered stages of small suburban venues, fighting to differentiate themselves from the unceasing shuffle of sound. I am more than excited to be a part of sharing the beginnings of what I hope are the next generation of greats, starting with two bands I have some serious admiration for.

Occupy the Trees: A fun loving Sacramento Alt-rock band with curious deviations into the world of ska with a dash of skate punk

Charlie Sand-vocals guitar
Parker Barnes-lead guitar
Chris London-Bass
Nathaniel Wilson-Drums

Occupy the Trees held an opening slot in a recent local showcase at the Boardwalk; tasked with setting the tone, Charlie Sand and the band did not disappoint. They took to the stage with a gusto born of genuine boyish enthusiasm and it didn’t take long for the energy to catch on. Lyrically the band delivers an entertaining and relatable slice-of-life story full of satirical anecdotes. Sand on lead vocals has a catchy, adaptable style complemented well by a solid walking bass line and whimsical guitar riffs. Favorites of the night were the songs Words Like Bullets and Sorry, the latter was a blast live as the whole band joined forces to get the audience to sing along. Their musical style ranges from an upbeat punk/ska hybrid reminiscent of Sublime to the fast-paced melodic sounds of the early 90’s. Check them out on sound cloud!

https://soundcloud.com/occupythetrees

Face the Horizon: All the things you like from a heavy-experimental sound and none of the things you don’t

Robert Lynn-Vocals
Hal Trevor Williams-Guitar
Keywan Ryland-Drums
Chris Crimson-Bass

Front man Robert is right at home on stage, his charisma and obvious enthusiasm translates to the role of an entertainer well. He’s something like a heavy metal MJ, the passion for his craft is evident in every exaggerated move. Big kudo’s to the nod they gave the late Chris Cornell, pulling off an exceptional cover of “Like a Stone”. Cornell’s renowned range is not an easy one to replicate, let alone pull off with a grit and passion worthy of the man’s legacy. From twangy guitar solos and perfectly timed drum fills to the funk-rock heartbeat of the bass, Face the Horizon succeeds in putting the elements of their music together in a way that complement not competes. All in all they have made my ‘must see’ list and I encourage you to check them out when given the chance, you won’t be sorry. Check out a Face the Horizon original, “Cutthroat” on YouTube!

https://youtu.be/7JTubi_mOVk

-DJ Chy

 

 

 

 

 

 

p.s.

The journey each of us takes with music is an intensely personal one, my hope for this series is not to take away from your journey but to share my own. I will work hard to cultivate objectivity in the hope that it lends creditability to my opinion. But it’s just an opinion.

 

Album Review: Satan’s graffiti or God’s art?


Black Lips’ new album is just like any other album they’ve released in the past 15 years, exciting and very different than any other release out there right now. In Satan’s graffiti or God’s art?, they’ve introduced a full time saxophonist Zumi Rosow, while two long-time members, Joe Bradley and Ian St. Pé, left the band. Black Lips’ sound has been altered since the original drummer and long time guitarist have left, but their reckless and eclectic sound has shown itself in this album as well.

Points are given to their attempt of making Satan’s graffiti or God’s art? a conceptual album, but it wasn’t quite executed in a creative and consistent way. Had there not been short interlude tracks that feel like filler songs and no sense of consistency, it would have definitely exceeded expectations. Even though it was produced by Sean Lennon and had background vocals from Yoko Ono, it felt like they were just hanging out; you couldn’t feel their presence throughout the album. Maybe they were just there as a big names to get people to listen to this release?

As a conceptual album, I didn’t feel the vibe of a overarching theme or influence. Most of the tracks had okay vocals, but nothing throughout the album excited me to be a repeat worthy album. I would give “Can’t Hold On” and “Crystal Night” a listen when you first dive into the album. They’re easy listening tracks that had a road-tripping kind of sound but have them in the background at a party as well.

All in all, I didn’t love Satan’s graffiti or God’s art?. It feels like Black Lips need to evolve their sound and change it up a bit. A few songs are worth listening but definitely not my go-to for hot new albums of 2017.

 

 

All In My Mind And All Of The Time: Spoon – Hot Thoughts Review


There have been a number of popular indie rock bands that have been lovingly (or deridingly depending on who you talk to) labeled “dad rock” – a title given to older bands who put out a consistent stream of quality albums that are dependably good (nothing more and nothing less). While bands like Yo La Tengo and The National come to mind (the latter having a full Billboard article written about this distinction), no other band has been carrying this title quite like Austin-based indie rock band, Spoon. Spoon has been kicking for over two decades now, and while their discography hasn’t reinvented the indie rock wheel, all of their albums are still quality listens. With that being said, their new record, Hot Thoughts, is a surprising album. After a successful two decades worth of music, Spoon could have come out with an album like their acclaimed 2014 release They Want My Soul as a victory lap of sorts. However, Hot Thoughts sees the band with a newfound energy and an album that is their most playful, emotional, and experimental yet.

In terms of sound, Spoon has been known for some fantastic grooves (look no further than “Me and the Bean” from Girls Can Tell and “Eddie’s Ragga” from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga), but no groove in their discography has been as danceable as the one on the title track which starts off the record on a high note. The groove, the bells underlying the beat, and the layered sections of instrumentation (such as the violins near the end of the track) is like a kickstart to the heart and shows right away that the band isn’t set on making another conventional indie rock record. This newfound experimentation continues on album highlight “WhisperI’lllistentohearit” who’s first-half features a tasteful, low-key brooding that’s highly reminiscent of Spoon’s discordant “The Ghost of You Lingers.” Songs like “Do I Have to Talk You Into It” and “First Caress” both feature some enjoyable piano-laden rock along with interesting electronic elements that add another layer of variation and flourish to their tried-and-true formula. But none of the tracks here exemplify Spoon’s goal for experimentation as much as the songs “Pink Up” and “Us.” “Pink Up” is a moody slow-burn that features a prominent xylophone melody and flourishes of warped vocal samples from frontman Britt Daniels. On the weirder “Us,” the band sees fit to end the record with a four-minute instrumental jazz track which builds upon the xylophone motif from “Pink Up.” It’s something that you could hear as an interlude in an instrumental post-rock album, definitely not from a band like Spoon. It’s spacey, wild, moody, and gutsy. I was definitely put off at first listen, but subsequent playthroughs definitely helped solidify the song’s place in the track listing.

Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Spoon purists shouldn’t be put off by the new sounds of the record. There are definitely vintage-Spoon songs such as “First Caress” and Tear It Down.” “Can I Sit Next To You” is an energized Spoon track that sounds like they listened to Rolling Stone’s Some Girls (especially “Miss You”) before they hit the studio. If I had a major gripe with the album, I would highlight “Shotgun” as being a weak song in the track listing, especially since it feels awkward as a transition to the album’s closer. As far as vocal performance and lyrics go, Britt Daniels hasn’t sounds so spirited in years. Whereas frontmen like Matt Berninger from The National find ways to sing without putting too much strain in their voice after years of wear-and-tear, Britt Daniels’ voice is still as dynamic and pleasing as ever.

Spoon is a road-tested band that continues to show that they are capable of staying around for many years more. You would think a twenty-plus-year band would begin to sound drab, but Spoon, with every release, prove capable of putting out fantastic records that sound modern in any age and do so with extreme fervor. I would highly recommend this album to fans and novices alike.

Recommended Tracks: “Hot Thoughts,” “Can I Sit Next to You,” and “WhisperI’lllistentohearit”

Mastodon? Who are they? A hot loud rock band currently trending now!!


Mastodon just so happens to be one of the hottest rock bands right now! They are an American band that has been around since 1999. Mastodon is a quartet composed of four members: Brent Hinds, Brann Dailor, Bill Kelliher, and Troy Sanders. This band is from Atlanta, Georgia, and has been around since then, and continues to release new music. If I were to classify the genre of music that the band plays, I would say they are an Alternative Metal, Alternative/Indie Rock, and Heavy Metal. Many of you who have been listening to my show know that when I played Mastodon, I actually liked their music. One of the hottest albums that is out right now by Mastodon is Emperor of Sand which was released earlier this year. This album is by far one of the best albums that I have listened to, and have played since I became a fan of them. So, with that, I have really enjoyed listening to Mastodon. When I have listened to Mastodon, their music made me feel like that I wanted to listen to it more.

Okay, so what else is new with Mastodon? Not only do they have a new album out that was released this year, they also have been on tour doing concerts to their fans and those who have been listening to their songs. They happen to have a concert scheduled for May 2, 2017, in Silver Spring, MD.

My favorite song by Mastodon that I have played is “Show Yourself”. I like that song because of the excellent way they play the drums because it is easily noticeable that they play the drums in a way that people can hear them. It has an excellent guitar that I can also hear when I hear the drums.

I am surprised that Mastodon isn’t as loud as Slipknot. When I first heard of Mastodon, I did not know who they were until I started playing their music and researching about what band they are.

So, now do you have any questions about Mastodon? I think that may be enough since I have said some things about them earlier. I hope everyone has had a wonderful time reading and learning about Mastodon!

Tremaine Album Review


For this heavily anticipated new album Trey Songz comes back with a pretty solid album named Tremaine. Tremaine is an album Trey Songz wanted to show the listeners that he is still one of the best if not the best R&B artist in the game today. Trey Songz expressed in his interview with the Breakfast Club that he named his first track on his album named Playboy because of his current situation with women. He explained that being at the stature that he is in he feels that he can not trust a woman with his heart because, there is always more calling and does not fill the urge to be committed in one relationship.  The interview with the Breakfast Club he discussed his issues with Nicki Minaj and simply put he felt that it was weak on Nicki’s part to get at him for no reason over the allegations claimed in the Shether song. Once the interview was over the anticipation of this album has gone up. There are 15 total songs on this album. I will review the once that are highly recommended to check out and listen to on rotation.

#2 song- Come Over: This song is one of the best songs on this album that brings fans right in to show exactly why Trey Songz is one of the best in his group. A must download with great vibes, hooks, and chorus throughout the whole track.

#5 song- Playboy: A song with context and understanding where Trey Songz is coming from I feel that this song is a great song to listen to in certain moods. I enjoyed the sound the message of the song and Trey Songz delivered well on this track.

#6 song The Sheets…..Still: To me this best song on the album, with how great he switched up his flow and how smooth his voice changed talking about the experience with the woman in the song definitely makes this a favorite song on the album to me.

#10 song 1×1: This song instantly is a summer vibe song that could be a great radio song to play. Nice vibes and high upbeat rhythm to this track makes you want to vibe. Highly recommended song for those looking for a summer jam.

#12 song: What Are We Here For?: One of my favorite songs on the album that is an instant radio play. With the beat and rhythm this is a quality track that will be played a lot more in the summer.

Review Score: 7/10 Very solid album that will be played from time to time.

-DjLeodawnus

Joey Bada$$- All Amerikkkan Review


The heavily touted single Land of the Free from Brooklyn’s own Joey Bada$$ made the anticipation of his All Amerikkan album sky rocket in expectations. Coming to towards this album I knew that Joey Bada$$ is on of the most lyricist rappers in the game today. My expectations for this album before listening to it, was that it was going to have a political standpoint of how Joey sees the world within his eyes. Once listening to it couple times that is something was accomplished. With features of TDE’s own ScHoolboyQ, Styles P, J. Cole, Flatbush Zombie’s own Meechy Darko, Nyck Caution, Kirk Night, and Chronixx. I had an idea of what type of sound that Joey Bada$$ kinda like old school melodic deep lyrical type music. The songs that i really enjoyed and recommend on this album.

Land of the Free: A song that has a Biggie sample that I felt he used very well in what he feels the status of being a black person with a voice in society.

Rockabye Baby: My favorite song on the album that has a great sound rhythms and lyrics. ScHoolboy Q came in hard and had a great feature on this album that makes this song come together to be one of the best songs on the album.

Y U Don’t Love Me?: Most interesting and very insightful track from Joey. He puts this song as a message of being in a relationship with the country he lives in. Very good insightful track.

Legendary: With having J. Cole on this song he fits very will with the sound and hook. Both J. Cole and Joey Bada$$ fit very well together and just feel good music that has a very good message in it.

Devastated: To me has the best rhythm sound that has a very good radio value. Joey made on of the best beat on this song that is instantly catchy and has a lot of replay value.

Temptations: A song with a heavy message that comes with a very good up tempo beat. Having insight of the media is hurting the cause and it was a plot to have all this outrage to push certain agendas.

Rating: 8/10 Very good album has a lot of replay value.

-DJLeodawnus

Follow Me Into Sweet Fields of Blue: a Tennis Review


Tennis came back last month with there latest album Yours, Conditionally. After a months out at sea, facing nature and the isolation of the vast ocean they’re back at it making dreamy surf pop.

The duo had worked together with Urban Outfitters as they tracked their adventures writing the album out on the high seas. The married couple of Alaina and Patrick Moore along with one other person took to the ocean on a sail boat. The couple have sailed before, often a method in their writing process. The album is the end result of love testing it’s limits against outside forces and inner struggles.

The duo can’t help but make me think back to Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham’s relationship. Although their love ended with a separation, it’s the brilliant way the two complimented each other that reminds me of the former. I’ve had the privilege of seeing Tennis live twice during their last tour and could feel the love between them from across the stage. It’s easy to see how much they support and encourage one another.

This album is a lot like their other albums, it’s warm and invokes that desire to head to the islands with your loved one. The songs feel like sunshine on your skin the very first day of spring. Alaina wrote this album as the result of her exploring and learning the limits of her love. As a wife, a lover, a partner and a friend she found herself challenging the roles she’s come into. Her marriage has taught her what it’s like to share a life with someone else yet still remain true to herself and be her own person. They’ve become a team but at the same time she understands how necessary it is to still be able to function on your own.

Ladies Don’t Play Guitar was their first release from the album. The song is her reflection on her experiences in the music industry and how being a female musician has affected her. She believes in feminism and how necessary it is for us to stand up for our beliefs and this song came at a time in her life where she’s felt the most empowered.

Other songs like Matrimony and My Emotions Are Blinding and 10 Minutes 10 Years display how her marriage has affected her life and their music. Matrimony was written as a reflection of the day they were married. Lines in the song were thoughts that crossed her mind that day. It’s personal and so incredibly sweet you can’t help but smile and wish you had been invited to their wedding.

Fields of Blue, personally my favorite off the album was inspired by the logbook or as Alaina put it, “her teenage diary”, of their days out on the choppy waters. Her findings came out sounding very stream of conscious and like that of the diary of young romantic. She became inspired by one entry in which she had written, “Follow me into sweet fields of blue”. One can’t help but yearn for their love and the sea all at once while listening to her dreamy, sentimental voice.

It’s refreshing to hear an album so consistent with its theme and quality. Often more and more artist feel like they’re trying to release singles rather than songs that flow together in an album. Yours, Conditionally takes us on a trip and leaves us wanting love and adventure out in open waters.

9 out of 10, oh what’s the use in resisting?

 

Demon Hunter “Outlive”


“Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.” – Dalai Lama XIV

For the band Demon Hunter, the above-mentioned quote defines the message behind their eighth studio album, “Outlive”.

In the three years between their last album, “Extremist”, and this release, the band has gone through their own set of trials and tribulations, yet through all that, the veteran Christian metal act came out of those tragedies an even stronger, tightly threaded unit. Nowhere does it show more than in the songwriting in the album.

Ryan Clark, the vocalist and founder of Demon Hunter, pours out his soul in the opening song, “Trying Times”, a song written about taking a stand and uncovering the truth behind our existence. The opening, which serves as a connecting gateway to “Jesus Wept”, shows the maturity the band has made with each passing album since their self-titled album in 2002.

Patrick Judge, who joined Demon Hunter as the lead guitarist back in 2008, was finally given a chance to contribute as a primary songwriter, and he made the best of it, contributing five songs to the record. If you’re a longtime fan of the band, you can tell the difference in songs like “Cold Blood”, “Cold Winter Sun”, and the single “Died In My Sleep”, where the guitar is among the most technical work in their entire catalog.

The songwriting has also taken a more personal approach for the band, as well. While Demon Hunter has always been known for their uncompromising Christian faith, the band has also grown, welcoming five children into the fold between “Extremist” and this album. The songs “One Step Behind” and “The End” are examples of how parenthood has made an impact on the band and their families. Whereas the former was written as a message from a father to his daughter (Ryan’s daughter, Ryan), the latter speaks of the struggle of being a first-time parent and always being concerned over the smallest thing.

The band also recorded their longest song to date, “Slight the Odds,” which, according to Ryan, they didn’t know whether it would be the closing track on the album until the end. The song, which talks about how the odds are stacked against those who manage to keep their faith strong, is a perfect ending to what is otherwise a cathartic release.

Overall, “Outlive” is Demon Hunter’s most personal and strongest album to date. With no shortage of inspiration for the album, the band stuck true to their roots while enhancing their message of hope and faith. If you are a new listener to Demon Hunter and this is the first album you have heard, then welcome. If you’re a longtime follower, then you will be pleased with the growth that this record shows.

Tracks to listen to: Cold Winter Sun, Died In My Sleep, One Step Behind, Slight the Odds

Top 10 Hip Hop Albums of 2016


2016…what a year for music, what a year for Hip Hop. Last year writing this blog, I had trouble finiding 10 albums that I really enjoyed. This year I found myself having trouble narrowing it down to just 13 albums (13 albums because they are three ties). If you are a Hip Hop junkie like myself, you were smiling from ear to ear with your headphones in most of the year. This year brought listeners so much variety in Hip Hop. We saw veteran artists eveolve and change up their styles to create music we have never previously heard from them. We saw up and coming artists drop albums that put them on the industry’s map. We saw music touch on the social issues, feministic views and even the presidential election. From Kendrick Lamar to YG to Mac Miller to Isaiah Rashard and more, here are my rankings for the 10 best hip hop albums of 2016, and some honorable mentions that didn’t quite make the list.

Honorable Mentions:

 

“Awaken, My Love!” by Childish Gambino

Image result for awaken my love childish gambino In a year that seemed like everyone was trying a new style, Gambino continued the trend and brought a Disco type style to his latest album. It’s worth checking out.

 

 

 

Kairi Chanel by Dave East

Image result for kairi chanel dave east

Dave East really burst onto the underground scene this year. Coming out of Harlem, East has an east coast style similar to A$AP Rocky and Jim Jones but with his own twist. Keep an eye out for his name to blow up in the up and coming years.

 

 

 

Atrocity Exhibition by Danny Brown

Image result for atrocity exhibition

Danny Brown is sort of an acquired taste. It’s like a hybrid of trap music and early old school hip hop. I enjoyed the album nonetheless. Check out the song “Really Doe” that features Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, & Earl Sweatshirt.

 

 

 

Prima Donna by Vince Staples

Image result for prima donna vince staples

Vince Staples followed last year’s freshmen album with an EP this summer. I liked a handful of songs including “Smile” and “Loco” just to name a few. Solid project.

 

 

 

 

The Letter O by Dame D.O.L.L.A.

Image result for dame dolla the letter o

Dame D.O.L.L.A., also known as Damian Lillard when he is working his other job, dropped an album this October before the NBA season began. For a professional athlete, it’s a good first album. Looks like Lillard is a man of many talents.

 

 

 

Cozy Tapes, Vol 1: Friends by A$AP Mob

Image result for cozy tapes vol 1

A solid album that features all the members of the A$AP Mob. A$AP Yams, who passed away during the creation of the album, was the one who had the idea for the album. There’s a couple songs on the album that really slap, so be sure to turn the bass down so you don’t blow out your stock speakers.

 

 

 

1992 by The Game

Image result for 1992 the gameThe Game has been a busy man dropping 4 projects and a documentary on A&E in the past year. The Game samples plenty of old school rap beats while telling his life story during the year 1992, hence the title.

 

 

 

 

Now onto the Albums that made the cut…

10. Life of Pablo by Kanye West

Image result for the life of pabloKanye West dropped one of the bigger albums of the beginning of the year on Valentine’s Day in February. For me, I will always be a bigger fan of early Kanye albums such as College Dropout and Late Registration but I was pretty pleased with this album. I liked it a lot better than his previous album, Yeezus. Kanye had plenty of great features on the album as well such as Chicago native Chance the Rapper, Kid Cudi, Chris Brown, Rihanna, Frank Ocean and more. The ‘Pablo’ Kanye is referring to in his album’s title is a combination of Pablo Picasso and Pablo Escobar, a mix of artistic masterpiece and the movement of product (his album) Kanye says. Recommended Tracks: “Real Friends”, “Famous”, “No More Parties in LA”, and “Ultralight Beam.”

9. Untitled Unmastered by Kendrick Lamar/ Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight by Travis Scott

Image result for untitled unmastered

Image result for birds in the trap sing mcknight

Our first tie. It was hard to choose between the two but I wanted both of these on the final list. Kendrick Lamar surprised fans by dropping Untitled Unmastered roughly a year after the release of To Pimp a Butterfly. Just like TPAB, Kendrick continues his jazzy, funk influenced hip hop style as he stated most of the songs on this album were unfinished demos that did not make the cut for TPAB. Recommended Tracks: “Untitled 08”, “Untitled 03”, and “Untitled 06.” I have never been a huge fan of Travis Scott and his previous projects but his most recent album changed my opinon on him. I could not even finish listening to his previous album, Rodeo, all the way through. But Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight was a really good album. This album was on constant repeat in my headphones during the month of September. Travis had a lot of good features on the album too like Kendrick Lamar, Andre 3000, The Weekend, Kid Cudi and more. I highly recommend you take a listen. Recommended Tracks: “goosebumps”, “wonderful”, “sweet sweet”, and “through the late night.”

8. Thirst 48, Pt. II by Boogie/ The Divine Feminine by Mac Miller

Image result for thirst 48 pt 2Image result for the divine feminine mac miller                                      Another tie as you must tell by now im not the most decisive blogger. But if you have not heard of Boogie yet, your are missing out. Another Compton rapper, whose young and has the potential to blow up in his own way, similar to YG, The Game, Problem and others from the city. In his mixtape, Boogie touches on plenty of current social issues that are prevelant in conversations around the country today. Keep an eye out for the up an coming rapper to blow up in the next couple of years. Recommended Tracks: “N**a Needs”, “Won’t be the Same”, “Two Days”, and “Slide on U.” Just like Travis Scott, I have never been the biggest fan of Mac Miller and his previous albums, but Mac incorporated a whole new style with this album. Slow jazzy beats with a gospel-rap type style similar to Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book but with more romantic lyrics, hence the title. I have to give credit to KSSU for bringing this album to me as I was the DJ at the station in charge of writing a review for the album. I probably would not have thought to listen to this album on my own because of my previous disinterest with Mac Miller’s earlier music. Good production, clever style, and strong features such as Kendrick Lamar, Arianna Grande , Anderson Paak and CeeLo Green. Definitely an album worth buying. Recommended Tracks: “God is Fair, Sexy Nasty”, “My Favorite Part”, “Dang” and “Stay.”

7. Bobby Tarantino by Logic

Image result for bobby tarantino album cover After dropping The Incredible True Story last fall, Logic dropped a mixtape during the summer of 2016, a surprise meant for his true fans he said on social media. With his freshmen and sophmore albums, Logic has climbed up the ranks as one of the best lyricists in the hip hop industry. Logic has announced he is already working on his next album and this mixtape was just a “filler” for his fans to pass the time while the wait. Despite this being only a mixtape, it was still one of the better projects of 2016. I enjoyed the “A Word from our Sponsor” skit, a continuation of the ongoing skits with Marty Randolph. This mixtape was a solid listen for Logic fans like myself as we await Logic’s junior album. Recommended Tracks: “Deeper Than Money”, “Super Mario World”, and “Flexicution.”

6. Still Brazy by YG

Image result for still brazyThe third Compton rapper to make this year’s list is YG with his album Still Brazy. This was one of the bigger albums of the year as far as the media coverage it got in part to the subject of YG’s songs on the album and the relevance it had in society, the presidential election and more. “FDT”, a song bashing candidate Donald Trump, seemed to be the anthem of the summer for most Hip Hop fans. The rest of YG’s album is beautifully constructed with a combination of beats that range from  modern to old school gangsta rap. For an artist who is typically considered underground and does not receive much radio play, this album was a breakthrough for YG to the mainstream airwaves. If you are fan of gangsta rap, I highly recommend this album. Recommended Tracks: “FDT”, “She Wish She Was”, “Don’t Come to LA”, and “Still Brazy.”

5. The Sun’s Tirade by Isaiah Rashad

Image result for the suns tirade

As I mentioned earlier in the blog, there was a couple artists this year that really burst on to the scene. Isaiah Rashad was one of them. As a member of TDE, Isaiah sort of gets overshadowed by the other artists who are signed the the label. But with this album, Isaiah makes a strong case that his name belongs amongst the other TDE heavyweights. Coming from Tennessee, Isaiah Rashad bring his own southern, jazzy rap style in this album. He has a few members of TDE featured on the album such as SZA, Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock and non TDE artists like SiR and Zacari. A strong freshmen album by Isaiah and I expect nothing less from him in the upcoming future. I luckliy have the chance to see him perform live when he comes to Sacramento on his tour in March, so I will be counting down the days to that. Recommended Track: “T**y and Dolla”, “Wat’s Wrong”, “Free Lunch”, and “Stuck in the Mud.”

4. 4 Your Eyez Only by J Cole

Image result for 4 your eyez only album coverVery late into the year, J Cole decides to bless us with another album, the first since 2014 Forest Hills Drive. Cole was clever too and dropped it on the same date, December 9th, as the day he dropped 2014 FHD. This album and another actually delayed my process in finishing this blog as I had to listen to this a couple times through before I could properly critique it. A lot of fans on social media are quick to say they did not like the album and some even go as far to say that they hated it. I completely disagree. Sure, it might not be as strong of an album as 2014 FHD, but this is still a top 5 album of the year nonetheless. The storytelling J Cole displays in this album is truly amazing. Listen to the lyrics, especially the final track on the song “4 Your Eyez Only” and you will be blown away. I’m a little dissapointed that his single “False Prophets” did not make the final tracklist but it still is a great album that did not quite crack the top 3 on my list. Recommended Tracks: “4 Your Eyez Only”, “Deja Vu”, “Ville Mentality”,  and “Neighbors.”

3. Blank Face LP by ScHoolboy Q/ We Got it from here…Thank You for your Service by A Tribe Called Quest

Image result for Blank face lp

Image result for we got it from here thank you for your service album cover

 

Another tie but its the last one I promise. Lets first start with ScHoolboy’s album, Blank Face LP. Want to know what its like growing up in South Central LA 21st century? Look no further than this album. His first studio album since Oxymoron, which dropped in the spring of 2014, ScHoolboy had fans waiting a long time for this one. Q wanted to show he’s capable of doing it on his own amongst the TDE heavyweights and did so successfully as he did not have a single Black Hippy member featured on the album. He still had a handful of big features including E-40, Vince Staples, Kanye West, Tha Dogg Pound, and Jadakiss to name a few. ScHoolboy Q also had a three part short film he released weeks before his album that were beautifully produced and acted as teasers to some of his album’s songs. Overall, one of my favorite albums of all time. Recommended Tracks: “Dope Dealer”, “Big Body”, “By Any Means”, and “John Muir.” Next album, I have to start off by saying RIP Phife Dawg who passed away earlier this year in March during the production of ATCQ’s album. You can’t find a better farewell album this year, and arguably one of the best of all time from a music group. Listening to this album will take you back to the 90’s and to one of the prime eras for Hip Hop music. They even had features like Busta Rhymes, Andre 3000, and Talib Kweli, guys who started their careers during that era. But they also included young rappers of the new school era with guys like Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West and Anderson Paak to give the album a solid mix of both. The albm was too good to not put in my top 3, thus the explanation for the tie. Recommended Tracks: “Conrad Tokyo”, “The Space Program”, “The Donald”, and “Black Spasmodic.”

2. Do What Thou Wilt by Ab-Soul

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In my opinion and the opinion’s of a couple others in my circle of friends, Ab-Soul won December 9th over J Cole. Still have not heard word if Ab-Soul released his album on the same day to make a statement, but in the heavyweight battle Soul being the underdog, I have to give Soul the belt. Ab-Soul is one of the most clever when it comes to play on words in his rhymes but this album took a little different twist that Ab-Soul’s past albums. Feminism was the main topic of a lot of his songs, which isn’t necesarily the case when it comes to the current Hip Hop industry. Ab-Soul said in an interview the weekend after his album dropped that “we have to respect the ladies more” which is something I can definitely stand behind. Dark but enlightening, is the best way to describe Soul’s style and he continues that with this album. Recommended Tracks: “Threatening Nature, “Beat the Case”, “The Law”, & “Huey Knew THEN”.

1. Coloring Book by Chance the Rapper

Image result for coloring book chance the rapperDrum roll please….and the best Hip Hop album of 2016 goes to Coloring Book by Chance the Rapper. I could go on and on about how great this album was but I’ll try to keep it short and sweet. As I mentioned earlier, in  year where artists came with different styles, no style changed up more than Chance the Rapper’s. Chance has grown and evolved into one of the top tier rappers in the industry and this album solidified his spot even higher on the list. The album can be similar to gospel rap as Chance talks about how he found god in his life and evolved as a person from it. Listen to Acid Rap, one of his early mixtapes, and then listen to this album. You will be surprised to know that is the same Chance the Rapper on both albums. The proudction, that artwork, the lyrics, the meanings of his song, everything about this album was great. I was fortunate enough to see Chance in concert on his tour this fall when he performed at UC Davis. My favorite album of the year and will be one of my favorite of all time. Recommended Tracks: “No Problem”, “Angels”, “All We Got” and “Smoke Break.”

Thanking A Tribe Called Quest…


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A Tribe Called Quest is known for being both legendary and innovative for their epic contributions in hip-hop. Since releasing their last album 18 years ago, many fans feared that the group would refrain from ever releasing new music. This seemed especially true with the unfortunate passing of Tribe’s master rapper and co-founder, Phife Dawg, in March. New music from ATCQ seemed highly unlikely then, until the recent release of their sixth and final album, We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service. The album not only reminds listeners of their classic 90s style, but also reinvigorates the group’s collection of work without using nostalgia as a crutch. There are tons of songs on this album worth listening but I have picked the moments that have most impacted my experience the most with this new ATCQ body of work.

The album starts eerily with, “The Space Program”. This recalls back to the essential beginnings of Tribe. The song is organized and arranged specifically to flow and blend the past of jazz with the intergalactic noises of the future. Jarobi rhymes “We takin’ off to Mars, got the space vessels overflowin’/What, you think they want us there? All us ****** not goin’”. Though the lyrics concern traveling to space and landing on Mars, the song is about the future of hip-hop and staying relevant while from an older generation of this genre. Tribe is stating that although they are not based in the new generation of hip-hop, they encourage the future of the genre and are reminding all listeners of their style and skills as artists.

Along the journey listeners are given powerful messages. On “We the People…,” Q-Tip’s hook specifically calls out the political ridiculousness of Donald Trump while also predicting a false vision of a Clinton victory this recent election. The most impressive collaboration from Tribe is their partnership with Jack White and Elton John for “Solid Wall of Sound,” while “Ego” serves as a both vulnerable and passionate confession.

“Dis Generation” uses a sample of Musical Youth’s “Pass the Dutchie”. The most exceptional moment in the song is when Q-Tip refers to Joey Bada$$, Earl Sweatshirt, Kendrick Lamar, and J. Cole as “gatekeepers of flow/They are extensions of instinctual soul.” Tribe continues throughout the album projecting wise messages in a form similar to Yoda projecting wisdom to young Jedi.

“The Donald,” is a homage to Phife Dawg and how he will not be forgotten, while also stamping the late MC’s strong influences and contributions to the album.

We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service serves as another A Tribe Called Quest album that has gone right. This is not an album that demands closure or legacy. The work actually seems as though, in a perfect world, the group will band back together and Phife Dawg will magically come back to life and continue working on another album and eventually go on tour. However most times music lovers cannot get what they want, and this may be one of those times where we have to be okay and accept that this is a magnificent and epic ending to the group’s extensive line of work. I mean we could not expect Jarobi and Q-Tip to continue without Phife Dawg. So for now, and for always we will have to accept this beautiful last gift and thank them for their service…