“Issa Album” sounds too familiar. It’s disappointing to listen to a record that can’t separate itself from the herds of new rappers. Then again, who knows. The volume of trap artists could potentially be important in helping rap evolve its sound.
Perhaps it would be too harsh to say that this album is a waste of time, but I cannot say that it was time well spent in good faith. “Issa Album” is something of a Future knock off. To be just another mumble rapper riding off Future’s coattail’s is inconsequential, but to borrow his signature auto-tune effect and to hold some of the same producers in common (Metro Boomin) makes this album a Future clone. Based off his own heated reaction to other rappers using stage names like his own, one would think 21 Savage has a commitment to originality, unfortunately he seems to be a relentless hypocrite.
This album lacks any truly interesting qualities. Neither the lyrics nor the production are anything to fuss about. Sure, there are several cool beats, such as “7 Minute Freestyle”, but they lack dynamics. In other words, you won’t find any slick beat changes like the ones Kendrick Lamar often pulls off. The lyrics scarcely leave the subjects of wealth, fame, cars, and trapping. They’re boring. When 21 Savage does switch things up just a bit on tracks like “Face Time” and “Special”, he goes uncharacteristically soft and talks about feelings and girl problems the way a bad Drake song might. In fact, his vocal style intentionally emulates that of Drake on those two tracks. Not for a single moment does this feel like an intelligent album, and this is largely the fault of the ceaseless hype track. The “skrrt”’s and the “21 21 21 21”’s get annoying very quickly, although I’m hesitant to say that they take away from the album. Without the excessive hype, 21’s rapping would be as awkward as a sit-com without a laugh track.
A track by track analysis of this album would not be useful to anyone. “Issa Album” is too consistent all the way through for such, and that trait is certainly a liability given its length. Had 21 Savage kept it a track or two shorter it would have felt less of a chore to listen through. The time could have been cut down by trimming the repetitive hooks in songs like “Bank Account” and limiting Metro’s unnecessary watermarks. Frankly, there are too many skilled hip-hop artists to listen to unexceptional stuff like this.
Album Review by Zach Norton, July 2017
PZA, the prominent vaporwave/trapwave artist, has officially become the first artist to be featured at least twice on the “Track of the Day Tuesday” segment. This might be due in part to the fact that PZA has an immense discography, but it is mostly because PZA is one of the greatest producers in vaporwave and “American Rituals” is one of his best releases to date. Being released on New Years Day of 2016, “American Rituals” is a project by PZA that combines the use of plunderphonics, his signature EDM/trap inspired synths and beats, and chopped and altered samples of modern pop music classics. Taking samples from artists like Drake, Justin Bieber, and Lana Del Rey, PZA puts his own twist on these famous songs, and in return, creates one of the greatest vaporwave projects I’ve ever heard. This style of songwriting is slightly different from PZA’s usual sound, but the experimentation results in one of his best releases that has the potential to be an Album of the Year contender.
The entire album is phenomenal in my opinion, but if there is one track you have to listen to, it is “BEAUT1FUL”. “BEAUT1FUL”, which samples Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful”, is probably the best track you will hear on “American Rituals”. By altering the various Lana samples and adding reverb filled synths and instrumental fills, PZA is able to turn this fantastic pop song into a dreamy, captivating vaporwave song. If you like any form of vaporwave or Lana Del Rey’s music you need to listen to this song, which is attached below. Unfortunately, the only stream of the track I could find was the stream of “American Rituals” on PZA’s bandcamp page. “BEAUT1FUL”, along with the rest of “American Rituals”, is attached below. I highly suggest listening to the entire project, but if you just want to hear “BEAUT1FUL”, then skip to track 5 and enjoy the stellar PZA track. I will also attach the link to PZA’s bandcamp page as well for those who would like to check out more releases from the vaporwave artist. Only a few of his releases are posted there, but it is a great place to start for those who are not familiar with his work. We often post about electronic music and vaporwave in particular on Erik’s Album Reviews, so if you are a fan of these genres make sure to visit often for more electronic music news and content!
PZA’s Bandcamp page:
“American Rituals” (“BEAUT1FUL” is track 5):
Last week saw an extreme lack of content, and as a result, the week of 10/23-10/29 was the first week without a “The Thursday Ten” post since the segment was first announced. However, we are back this week with the latest “The Thursday Ten”. For those of you who read the last installment to the segment, you will remember that the ratings for the 10 records mentioned all received scores within the range of 7/10-9/10. Even though these ratings are a representation of my honest opinion of the albums, I understand that the ratings from the previous post might seem inflated, and that an average reader might think that almost every album receives around an 8/10. In order to disprove this assumption, I decided to rate some albums that were released this year that I was not very fond of, in order to show a more broad spectrum of where certain records may fall on the rating system for “The Thursday Ten”. The rules for giving these ratings have not changed and each album mentioned can be listened to on any major streaming service, and I highly encourage you to give them a listen! Also, the previous “The Thursday Ten” is posted below and of course, if you disagree with any rating or want to submit a record to be rated, let us know in the comments or shot us an email! Here is this week’s “The Thursday Ten”:
- Periphery – Periphery III: Select Difficulty: 8/10
- D.R.A.M. – Big Baby D.R.A.M.: 5/10
- The Word Alive – Dark Matter: 5/10
- Chelsea Grin – Self Inflicted: 5/10
- River Oaks – River Oaks – EP: 6/10
- Desiigner – New English: 7/10
- I Prevail – Lifelines: 7/10
- AlunaGeorge – I Remember: 4/10
- Jimmy Eat World – Integrity Blues: 6/10
- Drake (singles) – Fake Love: 6/10 – Sneakin’ (feat. 21 Savage): 7/10
The previous “The Thursday Ten”:
Last week I previewed this new segment where I listen to each of the ten albums listed 1-2 times through and give them a quick, numerical rating out of 10. The ratings are always a whole number rating that do not include any other description besides the rating I have given them. If you would like to have an album receive a more in depth review, or think an album should have a different rating, let us know in the comments or contact us! Here is this week’s “The Thursday Ten”:
- Opeth – Sorceress: 5/10
- KILL SURF CITY – Wreckage: 8/10
- Between The Buried And Me – Coma Ecliptic: 7/10
- Good Tiger – A Head Full Of Moonlight: 8/10
- Cruel Hand – Your World Won’t Listen: 8/10
- Fit For An Autopsy – Absolute Hope Absolute Hell: 8/10
- I See Stars – Treehouse: 4/10
- Drake – Views: 5/10
- Pouya – Underground Underdog: 8/10
- Erra – Drift: 8/10
Like I’ve mentioned before, there are too many releases to have links to every single record discussed, but if you would like to check out any of the releases mentioned, they are all available on most of the most prominent music streaming sites! Also check out last week’s “The Thursday Ten” below and check in next week to see who we give ratings to next!