Quick N’ Lazy Hip-Hop Reviews: Big Boi, Brockhampton, 2 Chainz, & Young Thug

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(Epic/Sony Records)

Boomiverse – Big Boi

Big Boi, one-half of the mighty Outkast, was once a considered a top tier emcee, but his latest album Boomiverse proves that is no longer true. While his flow is consistent, many of his verses are incredibly boring and lack any real focus sounding more like a freestyle than a written. The only truly great track is “Kill Jill” which features a phenomenal opening verse from Killer Mike plus a Hatsune Miku sample laced into the instrumental.

Unfortunately, the rest of the album sounds nothing like “Kill Jill” focusing on a more pop-oriented sound with cringe-worthy choruses and some terrible experimentation in blending genres. “Chocolate” is either about Big Boi’s literal love for chocolate or a possible metaphor for women. Either way, this song is terrible and has one of the most obnoxious hooks of recent memory. The other candidate for worst track is the sexually-driven “Freakanomics.” The instrumental can only be described as electro-polka and yes, it is as bad as you would expect.

To say this album is a disappointment is an understatement. With five years between this and his last solo album plus his boasting about between tied for greatest rapper alive with his partner Andre 3000, one would think this album would at least deliver on the emceeing. Unfortunately, Big Boi struggles to delivers a quality verse and ends up sullying his once untouchable reputation.

Grade: D

Recommended Tracks:
“Kill Jill”
“In the South”
“Made Man”

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(BROCKHAMPTON Records)

Saturation – Brockhampton

Brockhampton, billed as “the internet’s first boyband,” is an eclectic hip-hop outfit who formed over a Kanye West forum and now all live together creating music. The exact number of members is something of a mystery, but that doesn’t matter because their debut album Saturation is one of the most amazing things to come out this year.

What makes it so appealing is the sheer variety displayed. Each member has their own unique style and their approach even changes between tracks.  “STAR” has the group dropping pop-culture-heavy bars whereas “FAKE” has everyone’s pitch heavily shifted—think Quasimoto—and criticizing censorship in mainstream media. This leads into the album’s main themes of self-expression and acceptance of everyone.

The latter half of the album features far less emceeing and draws heavily from the sound Kanye created on 808s & Heartbreak—also known as the most influential album of this century. While Yeezy may have created the style, Brockhampton breathes new life into it with tracks like “Trip,” “Milk,” “Swim,” and “Cash.” These tracks paint each member as an outcast of society with the group being what unifies them all and gives their life purpose.

Saturation is a fluid and cohesive amalgamation of every sound relevant today which is about as hip-hop as it gets. Hopefully the group further fleshes out their sound because this was a fantastic introduction.

Grade: A

Recommended Tracks:
“Star”
“Bump”
“Milk”
“Swim”

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(Universal Music Group)

Pretty Girls Like Trap Music – 2 Chainz

Pretty Girls Like Trap Music is 2 Chainz’s fourth studio album and his most mature project to date—though not sure how mature someone who used to go by Tity Boi can be. 2 Chainz taking his craft more seriously is not necessarily a good thing because his comical persona has always been part of his appeal. But he makes up for the lack of laughs by dropping a bounty of memorable tracks with no real duds in sight. As expected, he spits many forced rhymes and cringe-worthy punchlines, but they are easily forgivable.

For a mainstream trap project, the production here is surprisingly experimental and varied. Mike Will Made It breaks out the xylophone on “Poor Fool,” Buddah Bless drops his spin on the ever-so-trendy flute beat on “Big Amount,” and Pharrell works his regular magic on “Bailan.” The only ear sore instrumental is crafted by K Swisha on “Blue Cheese.” It is this impenetrable wall of static that lacks any real range to be interesting.

For the features, 2 Chainz recruited the usual suspects you would expect on a commercial project like this. For the most part everyone holds their own, but Gucci Mane, Quavo, and Nicki Minaj are a little underwhelming. Travis Scott and Swae Lee both lace their respective tracks with ear worm hooks while vocals from Ty Dolla $ign, Trey Songz, and Jhene Aiko mesh perfectly on “It’s A Vibe.” Though the standout feature is Drake on the braggadocio “Big Amount,” which is basically a dick measuring contest between Drizzy and Tity Boi.

Overall, this album was much better than originally anticipated and is a sign of more good things to come. Hopefully 2 Chainz brings this same quality to his verses on Cruel Winter whenever that ends up dropping.

Grade: B

Recommended Tracks:
“Riverdale Rd”
“Big Amount”
“Rolls Royce Bitch”
“Trap Check”
“OG Kush Diet”
“Burglar Bars”

Most Memorable Line: “Used to drive a Porsche ‘til I found out it was made by Volkswagen”

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(Atlantic Records)

Beautiful Thugger Girls – Young Thug

Beautiful Thugger Girls is the latest project from hip-hop’s most controversial star Young Thug. While he has released numerous commercial mixtapes this is billed as his first studio album, but the difference between the two at this point is negligible. While Thugger has displayed his melodic crooning on past projects, this album is primarily focused on his singing. His innovative, left-field flows are missed here, but his ability to use his voice as an instrument effortless carries this project to the finish.

Even though Thugger delivers some memorable lines here, the actual substance of his lyrics is less essential than the texture his vocals provide. For example, on “Tomorrow Til Infinity,” Thugger’s haunting delivery overshadows some really stupid lines: “I got rainbow diamonds on like Mike ‘n’ Ikes.’ But there are times where his lyrics are so ridiculous that they are hard to ignore, like on the overly-raunchy “Do U Love Me.”

The tail end of the album does have a few dull tracks, but overall this is an enjoyable listen. But what would have made this album better is if Thugger balanced his crooning with some emceeing to add variety, keeping things interesting. If you didn’t like Thugger before, this album is not going to change your mind and may even make you despise him more. If you are a fan though, you will surely enjoy it but probably not as much as Jeffery or Slime Season 3.

Grade: B-

Recommended Tracks:
“Family Don’t Matter”
“Tomorrow Til Infinity”
“Relationship”

(Feature Image: BROCKHAMPTON Records)

 

 

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