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he Game’s endurance in Hip Hop is a feat in itself. Jayceon Taylor’s resilience has been on display through rap beefs and legal troubles as he’s compiled one of the strongest rap discographies of the 21st century. He claims his latest album, Born 2 Rap, is his last. The album requires from the listener the kind of fortitude Game is known for, as he recalls familiar themes over an exhausting 25 tracks. The result is an album that has its moments but is nevertheless a disconnected, gratuitous affair.
orn 2 Rap features many hallmarks of a Game album. He drops more names than a government witness, flexes like he’s at Anytime Fitness, and reps the west side like ‘Pac never died. In the past, Game has conceptualized his content to keep the familiar fresh. Yet, here, he adds little flair to his flex. “They don’t want no chronic smoke from me,” he blandly declares on “No Smoke.” He boasts without focus on “The Light” and goes through the motions on “Gold Daytonas.” The early songs range from mediocre to solid, but the first truly memorable cut doesn’t appear until eight tracks in, with “West Side.” Game’s voracious delivery over ghostly cries and stutter-step drums is a much-needed reminder of the man who once brought the west back to the forefront.
There are more gems like “West Side” where Game’s passion bleeds onto the track. The issue is they lay spread thin on an album that is saddled by filler like the mundane “Gangstas Make the Girls Go Wild.” “Welcome Home” provides a soulfully epic feel appropriate for a collaboration with the late Nipsey Hussle. Nip’s verse serves as a compelling coda to the cut and is the best feature on the album. Yet, even an engaging song like “Hug the Block,” which delves into the drama of Game’s family life, loses some of its luster at track 17 of the staggering 25. The closing “Roadside,” with its melancholy guitar strings and Game’s musings on mortality, is the album’s most impactful record. However, by the time Ed Sheeran’s heartfelt vocals close out Born 2 Rap, the album has long since worn out its welcome.
The project’s length could be forgiven had Game tied the records together with focus as he did on 1992. Yet, the closest the album gets to conceptual congruity are like-minded materialistic song titles like “Gold Daytonas,” “Five Hundred Dollar Candles,” and “Gucci Flip Flops.” However, Game is consistent in his reflective mood, which varies from surface reflections about how great The Documentary is to genuinely interesting tidbits about his past. “My life almost got cut short on the ‘Math/’Til Jigga told Dre “Hate It Or Love It” was a smash,” Game reveals on the title track.
The cut, backed by soulful cries and simple yet effective drums, is a reminder of what is so endearing about Jayceon Taylor in the first place. His love for Hip Hop, reverence to the past, and belief in himself bolster the cut with a sense of wistfulness befitting of a final album. Had more of the project emanated this feeling, and had Game cut the fat off the finished product, he may have produced a winner. As it stands, Born 2 Rap is a proclaimed swan song that feels more like a playlist. Let’s hope Jayceon has one more in him.
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he question that any artist would rightfully ponder when coming off of a project like Tana Talk 3 is “How do I follow that up?” For Benny The Butcher and the Griselda staff, their almost overwhelming consistency seems to alleviate any such pressure.
His latest project Plugs I Met is a concise (at seven-songs), yet meticulously crafted work of art that not only manages to further illustrate what a problem he is with the bars but — for longtime fans — delivers a guest list you’d expect for an artist affiliated with Shady.
With a soundscape crafted by frequent collaborators Daringer, DJ Shay, and Alchemist, Benny managed to get verses from Jadakiss, Black Thought, and Pusha T. Managed is the key because these verses absolutely deliver — Kiss and Pusha went the extra mile. None of them overpower or out rap the Buffalo wordsmith.
There is this strong sense of respect that Benny and his crew hold; they’ve really been through their bars. In a recent interview, he notes that the bulk of these features were set up via Instagram DM — and that he himself was genuinely humbled that they (particularly Pusha) was with it.
This almost endearing ignorance (whether it’s real or not) to his current status is actually a recurring theme in his rhymes across this project. “My bitch keep saying I’m famous, but it ain’t hit me, I’m too ghetto‘d out this Hollywood shit tricky,” he raps on The DJ Shay-produced “Crowns for Kings” alongside the GOAT Black Thought. A song sure to spark “Renegade” level arguments.
“5 to 50” sees him reiterating his “fresh out the gutter” aesthetic over an absolutely gorgeous, atmospheric banger The Alchemist — featuring India sharing memories of the cops banging in their door juxtaposed with a refreshing sense of calm as they’ve since been afforded a better life as a result of Benny’s success.
It’s this coming to terms with success as a man in his 30’s that has been there and done the things a lot of rappers claim to have done that seems to be the seasoning continuing to make everything Benny chefs up so appetizing.
At the end of the day, money can — and has — changed everything in many Hip Hop timelines. Any concern that a major label move may dilute the Griselda brand seems to be something that has long been dispelled. Much like his past projects, Plugs I Met, which also includes solid contributions from the almighty Conway The Machine and Benny’s BSF artist RJ Payne (on the Daringer and Beat Butcha-helmed “Dirty Harry”) is propelled by this infectious hunger that manages to stay intact.
When it comes to the question of how you follow up a project mentioned by many in the same sentence as the word classic, the answer ultimately appears to be, “like this.”
Daytona is finally here (previously called King Push). It’s been 2 years and some change since his last album. He teased a few songs along the way with “Drug Dealers Anonymous” and “Circles”. Pusha T takes his time dropping albums but when he drops, the world anticipates. He originally had Pharrell from Neptune’s producing “King Push” (now Daytona). The best thing Pusha T did was signing with Kanye West. They compliment each other in ways people wouldn’t understand. This is the 1st of the seven track albums from Good Music. Let the games begins!
1. If You Know You Know: This track sets the tone of the album. The beat come in right around the 37 second mark. Gritty subliminal drug terminology mixed with electronic keyboards courtesy of Kanye. This song made me look forward to the rest of the album. CLR 5/5
2. The Games We Play: This song makes your face cringe. Reminds me of the old western movies when they are having a showdown and Pusha T doesn’t show any glimpse of slowing down. The references to hip-hop legends is genius. He shouts out NWA, Lox, Wu tang amongst others. “This is for my bodybuilding clients moving weight, just add water, stir it like a shake, Play amongst the stars like the roof in the Wraith. Get the table next to mine, make our bottle servers race” The Meek shout out was dope too. If you don’t know what I mean, meek has stars on the roof of his Wraith. CLR 5/5
3. Hard Piano: I expected a drug story or a bunch of references to cocaine. This is my least favorite song. I do not care for Rick Rosses verse. It seems very lazy and laid back. Pusha T was spitting jewels. The piano keys are the reason it called hard piano. The art talk is vivid. “Never trust a bitch who finds love in a camera. She will fuck you, then turn around and fuck a janitor, set the parameters. You either with the pro ballers or the amateurs. I won't let you ruin my dreams or Harvey Weinstein the kid, good morning, Matt Lauer, can I live?” Google these folks and you know why I put this particular bar here.CLR 3.8/5
4. Come Back Baby: Kanye a fool for this beat. That sample so soul foul. When it comes to sampling Kanye know what he is doing. Pusha T playing all over this shit. Adding the bass makes the production stand out. Pusha T raps like a true dope boy. “All my dope boys we like kinfolk Bmore burnt spoon, DC glass pipe, Va sent bales 'bout that trap life Blew through thousands we made millions Cocaine soldiers once civilians”. Exquisite bars. CLR 5/5
5. Santeria: Pusha T rapped possessed on this track. Santeria is a type of religious cult. His cadence fits like a match from heaven except he is rapping like he is from hell. He continues to attack the song when the beat switches up midway. “The Lord is my shepherd, I am not sheep, I am just a short stone's throw from the streets. I bring my offering, I will not preach, awaken my demons, you can hear that man screaming. I'm no different than the priest.” CLR 5/5
6. What Would Meek Do? I wish Pusha T verse was longer. I felt he teased us with this song. Meek Mill was supposed to be on the song. Its probably why his verse is short. Kanye was rapping like old Kanye. Heartless rap. “Angel on my shoulder, "What should we do?" (we do), Devil on the other, "What would Meek do? Pop a wheelie, tell the judge to Akinyele, middle fingers out the ghost, screamin' "Makaveli" (come with me) Hail Mary, the scale fairy, two sides to every coin so we bail ready (bail ready). CLR 4/5
7. Infrared: The infamous diss to Drake that has the internet buzzing. He raps passionate about how the game is fucked up and people praise fakeness compared to realness. Kanye did right with letting Pusha T voice succumb the beat. “It was written like Nas but it came from Quentin. At the mercy of a game where the culture's missing. When the CEO's blinded by the glow, it's different. Believe in myself and the Coles and Kendricks. Let the sock puppets play in their roles and gimmicks, shit. Remember Will Smith won the first Grammy? And they ain't even recognize Hov until "Annie". So I don't tap dance for the crackers and sing Mammy. Cause I'm posed to juggle these flows and nose candy (yugh). CLR 5/5
The album runs 21 mins long and Pusha T got his point across. Would I dub this a classic? I still debate with myself every day. It is truly a masterpiece. He got his point across damn near every song. The production is top notch. It reminded people why Kanye is a top producer in the rap game despite his views. Pusha T runs supreme on this album. He will drop whenever he wants. I just hope he continues to drop classy drug dealing tales. “Who else got the luxury to drop when he want 'cause nobody else can fuck with me? What a showoff” To drop when he want and people are still in awe….A showoff indeed.
DaBaby “BLAME IT ON BABY” Review
By Phillip Roberts
I’m just going to say it like it is. I am not a fan of the repetitive cadence, style, and flow every song the North Carolina brethren raps. Do not get me wrong, he can rap; but he raps the same way all the time. It’s basically the Peanuts Teacher “Wah Wa Wa Wah Wa” on every track on “BLAME IT ON BABY”. I would give ya’ll a breakdown song for song but it’s not even worth it. The best songs on the album is “CANT STOP and the album title “BLAME IT ON BABY”. Everything else is trash. The features are good in regards to mainstream. Future, Roddy Ricch, Megan Thee stallion, Quavo, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, and Ashanti are feature on the album. Whats crazy is all the features suck besides Ashanti. FIND MY WAY is a fake ass, generic ass Old Town Road. “ROCK STAR” sound like a Roddy Ricch song. What’s up with these two minute ass songs?
It’s quite obvious he has nothing else to talk about. He is definitely milking the industry and ya’ll just letting him. He dropped 3 albums within a year and a half span. He has a good work ethic but how hard is it to drop average to trash songs? One thing for sure is that he definitely stays on the radio and the media. I can’t hate him making money but I can sure hate him making shitty songs.
Albums is 2/10 #CorporateLike.