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Royce Da 5’9” new album “The Allegory” is pretty dope. The 22 tracks (with 6 skits) looked a bit intimidating at first, yet only about 1 hour long. Allegory itself means a story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden moral or political meaning. The title seems fitting given the gems Royce and company chose to drop throughout. Here is my track-by-track review off my first spin:
1. Kid speaking intelligence from parent, quick overview of album by 5’9”
2. Speaking on aesthetics of the dope game, wake up about the game young men
3. Dope spitting session, showing he can keep up at anytime
4. Spoke on being dated, proceeded with a bunch of dated references, an extension of track 3 on a Robin Hood tip
5. Slow build, assumed ageless theme still going
6. Origins of “Ice Cream Man” song
7. Oswin Snapped, Wu vibes, speaking on how weird the culture is to theirs
8. Went unnoticed
9. Westside Gunn reminds me of Ghostface, gave Kash Doll props, spoke directly to Yelawolf
10. Kid speaking intelligence from parent
11. Cool track, transition was dope
12. Kind of obvious, started weird then grew on me, they went in on the track and got out
13. Racist man destroying what black man highly cherish
14. Whites compared to blacks, shines light on homophobia
15. Race influence on music as told by Eminem
16. Great points, sound kind of dull
17. Going home
18. Yet to hear a bad TIP feature
19. Speaks on generational progression
20. Got young cats to speak on politics
21. Street cats compared to industry cats, gave great industry cats shout-outs
22. Storytelling, about his father , decent ending
Everyone snap, which seems to be the aesthetics of the whole album. Get in and out. The whole album also spoke on multiple hidden black facts like Huey P. Newton and the Ice Cream Man song. Production was experimental and successful. Some slow building moments leading into some dope spitting. I am a light fan of 5’9”, I respect his artistry. The Allegory is a great display of skill to where his skills should be respected. I give it a 9/10 and what not…
Bridging the Gap in Hip-Hop
⁃ by Jonnie Hopkins
Hip-Hop is easily the most debated music genre in existence. Since the genre is constantly evolving, the fan base for it will always be divided. The main division can be found between the fans of old-school Hip-Hop, and the new wave of the genre. Many fans of the old Hip-Hop sound are quick to discredit what the new wave of the genre has to offer because of the multitude of trends that take place. In my opinion, the current state of Hip-Hop triumphs over previous generations (even though the older sound is my favorite). Before you are quick to consider this opinion as invalid, check out my reasons.
1. The Production
⁃ When you think of late 80’s and 90’s rap, the main element that resonated with listeners was lyricism and the one-dimensional boom-bap production, not that there is anything wrong with that. However, in today’s Hip-Hop, many artists tend to pay closer attention to the details behind the boards; which isn’t such a terrible thing. The production on your track can be just as important as the lyrics for depicting the mood, tone, imagery, etc. There are a great number of artists who come to mind when talking about production, but two artists in particular have taken the current wave of Hip Hop by storm with their ever-changing styles are Kanye West and Travis Scott. Both artists continue to top the charts with by focusing their attention on sound quality. Projects such as Travis Scott’s Astroworld, and Kanye West’s various works such as Jesus is King, Ye, and Kids See Ghosts demonstrated that production and sound quality play a pivotal role in today’s generation of Hip-Hop.
⁃ You look at other artists like Tyler, The Creator, J.Cole, and Kendrick Lamar who are chopping on their own records, and it makes you realize that the game has immensely evolved since the 90’s. Before Nas’ Illmatic, most rappers only had one producer (or DJ) mixing/mastering their albums. Now, if you take a scroll through the production credits on any album, you’ll notice a plethora of various producers on every track. In my opinion, this keeps content fresh and brings out the best sound and energy from artists.
2. Lyricism is Alive and Well
⁃ Contrary to popular belief, today’s generation of Hip-Hop artists are not just “mumble rappers.” Mumble rap is definitely something that exists, but if you look at some of the top selling artists, and the up and coming ones, the majority of them have substance in their lyrics. Kendrick Lamar is the prime example of this. Kendrick has been a figurehead in Hip-Hop since his classic album Good Kid M.A.A.D. city hit the streets. This album shook the game as Kendrick demonstrated that having booming production on the boards doesn’t mean you can’t have substance in your lyrics. Kendrick’s ability to tell stories, depict imagery, stick to a concept, and overall articulate his thoughts on wax has rubbed off on the genre, and we can see mainstream artists such as J.Cole, Drake, Meek Mill, Pusha T, and the late Nipsey Hussle reciprocate this attention to lyrics on their projects. Kendrick’s lyrics are so complex, in fact, that he was the first Hip-Hop artist ever to win a Pulitzer Prize with his 2017 album DAMN. This goes to show that yes, the new wave of Hip-Hop can favor sound over lyrics, but that does not mean that there aren’t artists who focus on their lyrics first and foremost. Which leads me to my next point.
⁃ Versatility in today’s Hip-Hop is what makes it the most popular genre in the U.S. With a variety of never-ending sounds in today’s game, I would place my bet that you could make a Hip-Hop fan out of just about anyone. Looking back on the roots of Hip-Hop, it has always been a genre that could fuze itself with any other music genre, such as rock, jazz, alternative, and even country. This is extremely prevalent in today’s game. You look at artists like Chance the Rapper, Earl Sweatshirt, YBN Cordae, and Anderson .Paak who are capable of combining soul, jazz, and your traditional Hip-Hop production on one track; then you look at artists like Drake and Travis Scott who embed infectious melodies all over booming 808’s, while still spitting clever bars, and it shows just how versatile today’s artists are. In fact, Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” over the summer is a testament to all of this. Him absolutely destroying the charts with the fusion of Rap and Country demonstrates that Hip-Hop today is essentially a combination of every music genre. In fact, many artists are criticized for blending their sound with Pop because of this strict “no softies” rule in Hip-Hop. But if you ask me, guys like Post Malone, Tyler The Creator, and Childish Gambino, have some of the most well-crafted projects of the decade despite many doubting that they are even considered Hip-Hop artists. Understanding that the culture of Hip-Hop goes beyond just rapping is the first step in appreciating the most versatile music genre ever.
4. The Potential in Young Artists
⁃ In my previous points, I tried to stick to only talking about mainstream artists in Hip-Hop to beat the stereotype that mainstream Hip-Hop is a “problem.” However, the younger, up-and-coming artists are something we should be extremely excited about. Young talents who have yet to drop a debut album like YBN Cordae should get the lyricist-heads foaming at the lips. Other artists like Polo G, Roddy Ricch, and Joyner Lucas have been creating huge waves for the younger wave of Hip-Hop, and each of the aforementioned artists have immensely different styles. Other young artists that have solidified themselves in the game such as Denzel Curry, Vince Staples, and Joey Bada$$ are all household names to be excited about as well. These artists have all dropped an awesome project or two, and still have the potential to grow and develop their sound even further.
5. LEGENDS STILL RELEASE MUSIC
⁃ Although these artists are passed their prime, let’s not pretend like many of the legends that established the classic Hip-Hop sound don’t release music. In the past two years, Jay Z has released two fantastic projects, Nas dropped a dope album last year with Kanye chopping the boards, and Eminem has released two, albeit subpar, albums in the past year. The underground is still cooking as well. One of my favorite projects of 2018 was Czarface Meets Metal Face, which was a collaboration album consisting of Czarface(Group that Wu-Tang’s Inspectah Deck is affiliated with) and the legendary MF DOOM. Speaking of Wu-Tang, back in 2017 they even released the highly anticipated The Saga Continues. The Game is set to release his final album pretty soon too. So, to say that legends are still around is an understatement, because they are still involved and making great music, even if it isn’t charting.
The current state of Hip-Hop is far from stagnant. Being that it is the most popular genre of music in the United States, it is constantly changing and evolving. The sound of Hip-Hop has drastically changed since the days of its rise on the scene back in the 80’s and 90’s. But has it changed for the better? That’s for you, as the listener, to decide, and that’s for music appreciates to respect.
If you’re a fan of the older sound, that niche is still there for you, and no one is going to tell you that it’s wrong to listen to that sub genre of rap! However, as Hip-Hop fans we need to find common ground and at least take the time to appreciate what the new wave has to offer. The game is ever expanding, and if you haven’t found a sound in today’s Hip-Hop that you like yet, odds are you will eventually.
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On top of this, Reginald is also an professional actor. He recently played "T-Y" in the motion picture Common Creed". Currently, Reginald is working on some original singles and a compilation album "Gangland 2".
Lil Wayne Mahogany off the new album "Funeral"
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