New EP From Dreamville’s EarthGang

Today, Dreamville’s EarthGang dropped the second installment in a three-part series of conceptually linked EPs leading up to the debut project, Mirrorland.

 

Last month, in celebration of Johnny Venus and Doctur Dot signing a record deal with J. Cole’s Dreamville Records, the Atlanta rap duo released Rags – EP.

 

Robots continues the trifecta, which is set to conclude with Royalty before the end of the year. Although both Rags and Robots each stand on their own as very solid pieces of work, Dot has assured fans that each chapter makes up part of a “deconstructed album.”

 

The lost art of creating musical narratives appeals to both Venus and Dot, the latter saying:

“What I’m interested to see is how many people play ’em all back to back and play the story through and see … Those kind of conversations are my favorite. Those are the people that pick out the details and interpret shit their own way. It’s my favorite part of doing this shit ‘cause I don’t never tell someone they’re wrong. I think that’s dope. I ain’t think about it that way. That’s my favorite part.”

 

In my opinion, EarthGang represents some of the best lyricism to come out of Atlanta since OutKast. I’m excited to see how the three EP’s tie into the story of Mirrorland.

 

Check out Robots – EP below and let me know what you think.

 

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T-Pain Announces New Album “Oblivion”

It’s been more than five years since the release of T-Pain’s last full-length album, Revolver, so the public is in need of some Pain. As a huge fan of the autotune legend, news of an upcoming project made my day.

 

Titled OBLiViON, the new album will be arriving on November 17th. T-Pain made this announcement in an Instagram post describing a conversation that supposedly happened between him and a passenger on a plane.

November 17th #OBLiViON #GoalLine feat. @blacyoungstafb out now. #officialmusicvideo soon come

A post shared by T-Pain (@tpain) on

Most of the details of the album have been kept under wraps but his two recent tracks, “F.B.G.M” featuring Young M.A. and “Goal Line” with Blac Youngsta will probably be included in the tracklist.

 

In the past, T-pain’s never failed to deliver some incredible radio hits but I’m excited to see the artistic direction he takes with OBLiViON. His acoustic appearance on NPR Tiny Desk Concert was wildly popular and became the most viewed episode of the series. The video was so successful that the artist returned a year later to deliver a 27-minute concert for NPR Front Row in the same style. In August of this year, Pain even announced an Acoustic tour.

Does this mean that OBLiViON will be less dependent on vocal effects or will he continue the tried-and-true formula that made him a star? I guess we’ll find out in September.

 

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Underdog Story: Tito Lopez

Tito Lopez is an incredibly gifted rapper from Mississippi. He began to really generate buzz in 2011 when this video of him freestyling for Dr. Dre emerged.

 

It was confirmed he was working with Dre and all signs pointed to Lopez becoming a big name in hip-hop. Tito’s 2012 mixtape, The Hunger Game, was astounding and in that same year, he released two singles “Mama Proud” and “The Blues” which were his first works to be sold on iTunes.

 

Representing “the underdog”, Tito Lopez told a highly relatable story that resonated with listeners. His music spread like a virus to anybody who was exposed to the catchy vocals and impressive flow. In 2013, Lopez released, Y.O.U, which was a breathtaking mixtape and truly deserved to be an album. I think the project would’ve made a proper debut to introduce him to mainstream media. However, it remained a mixtape.

 

Suddenly, like the lost city of Atlantis, Tito seemingly vanished! It was as if he decided to become a monk or maybe he was kidnapped or something. I tried to find new music from him but returned empty handed.

 

In 2016, after years with absolutely no Internet presence, Tito Lopez finally came out of hiding. In an interview with Inspire Magazine, Lopez gave an update about what he’s been up to (watch the video at the bottom).

 

Simply put, he had a lot of family issues to take care of so he had to put recording to the side for some time. I respect that and, as a fan, it’s the most satisfying and understandable explanation. He chose to leave Capitol Records and he’s now with his independent label, GPT, which was his original crew. He now raps under the name Tito Lo which feels like it was a long time coming if you listen to the song “Black Dude Spanish Name.”

 

Tito seems to be making music again and hopefully he continues to do so for a long time. Check out Lo’s latest mixtape, The Emmett Trill EP, which he released in 2015. I didn’t know about its existence until recently because he changed his penname.

 

Watch the 3-part interview with Inspire below

 

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“West 1996, Pt. 2” Album Review

Debut project from Dreamville’s Lute

The newest addition to J. Cole’s Dreamville Records, Lute, released his debut album today and all I can say is… Wow…

 

West 1996, Pt. 2 is truly a masterpiece.

 

Lute wears his heart on his sleeve, lyrically painting a perfect self-portrait. From his past, to his present, to his future, Lute takes the listener on a journey deep into his life. Other than the obvious struggle to make it in the rap game, Lute talks about how his career affected his friendships and his family life.

 

Excluding the songs “Birds & Bees” & “Ford’s Prayer”, the majority of the album makes you feel as if you’re being directly spoken to. As a result, you walk away from the album feeling like you really know him. This is a hard task to accomplish and takes a talented storyteller to pull off.

 

West 1996, Pt.2 isn’t geared towards the average listener, however. I don’t see any of these songs being played on the radio or in the club. Hopefully, this won’t prevent Lute from reaching the critical acclaim he deserves with this project.

 

 Check out West 1996, Pt. 2 below and let me know what you think.

 

If you haven’t heard his first mixtape, West 1996, click here to listen.

 

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New Single From Dreamville’s Lute

Lute is releasing his debut album, West 1996 pt. 2, tomorrow and he’s sure to make waves with this project. In anticipation of the album, Lute dropped off another single today. “Premonition” features Cam O’bi and fellow Dreamville labelmates, Earthgang.

 

Last week, Lute released a short documentary, Still Slummin, which details his come-up and gives a bit of a backstory to the artist. I highly recommend checking that out before listening to his new album.

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Are you as excited for West 1996 pt. 2 as I am?

 

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New Dizzy Wright Music Video

Courtesy of the upcoming movie, Flatliners, hip-hop fans were treated to an awesome music video from Dizzy Wright. It’s always a pleasure to hear new tracks from one of the most consistently impressive lyricists in the game. I might even see the movie in theaters  out of gratitude. Thank you, Flatliners.

 

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“Laila’s Wisdom” Album Review

About a year ago, Rapsody announced she’d signed with Roc Nation. Now, her debut album is finally here… And I have a lot to say about it.

 

Laila’s Wisdom consists of 14 tracks, which is a perfect length in my opinion. The long list of featured artists includes BJ the Chicago Kid, Kendrick Lamar, Black Thought, Busta Rhymes and Terrace Martin, as well as Anderson .Paak, who appears three times across the LP.

At first listen, it didn’t click with me. I initially thought the samples were distracting and I found the abrupt musical shifts confusing. The second time I listened to Laila’s Wisdom, I began to understand what Rapsody was creating with this project.

 

Much like Kendrick’s To Pimp a Butterfly, she crafted an album that feels alive. The unpredictable nature of the songs takes you on an emotional journey and the lyrics tell a vivid story. At first, I thought the songs seemed cluttered. However, after I began to see the bigger picture I realized it was a melting pot of black music, free jazz, soul, and spoken-word storytelling. It’s meant to take the listener outside of the designated comfort zone to introduce new, provocative ideas.

 

According to DJ Booth:

Beginning to end, the music found on Laila’s Wisdom is alive. Each record has the racing pulse of a healthy heart. It’s like viewing a canvas covered in color, not a single spot left without a shade of blue, yellow, pink, and green. There’s always a sound to latch upon―rather a drum, a note, a melody, or a bar that will pull you in.

If Rapsody’s pen is more like a dagger, these are the kind of raps that puncture. Every way an emcee should display their prowess is showcased. Punchlines, metaphors, stories—it’s all here. There are no unnecessary strains, no forced attempts, Rapsody is engrossing without complexity. Her perspective is the world through the lens of a modern black woman; “Chrome” or the infectiously bouncy ode to self “Sassy” feel like songs only Rapsody could make. It’s the way she’s able to tackle topics of social media, police brutality, Southern life, love, and blackness with such a refreshing point-of-view. I wouldn’t consider Laila’s Wisdom the woman’s version of TPAB, but it’s one of the purist panoramas of an ’80s-born black woman’s world in this modern age.

 

Laila’s Wisdom is a beautiful ode to Rapsody’s paternal grandmother, Laila. Rapsody writes: “Laila said to show people love while you still can. Older one’s wisdom has never failed me.”

 

DJ Booth refers to the album as “the black soul sister that hip-hop has been missing.” I couldn’t agree more.

 

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