Track(s) of the Day Tuesday: KYLE iSpy (feat. Lil Yachty), LIL UZI VERT “XO TOUR Llif3”, and KHALID Location

Last week we were unable to add another installment to the Track of the Day Tuesday segment, so this week we have three songs that you need to check out!  Also, for the first time in months, a Track of the Day Tuesday post will feature exclusively hip hop artists, so this is an extremely significant week for the segment! Of course, all of the tracks mentioned will be attached below so don’t forget to give them a listen!

The first song you need to listen to today is Kyle’s “iSpy”, which is a collaboration between Kyle himself and Lil Yachty.  Kyle is a rapper who I’ve followed on and off for the last few years and it’s nice to finally see him receive mainstream attention.  With the single “iSpy” recently going Platinum (Music Canada) and being a top 5 selling track on US charts, it’s clear that Yachty and Kyle were meant to work together in a very similar way to how D.R.A.M. and Yachty were also destined to make a hit song together as well.  The track starts out with a feel good dialogue between Kyle and Lil Yachty, as the entire music video features the two rappers as cartoon characters moving through different scenarios on a fictitious beach.  It only takes a few seconds of Lil Yachty acting for any viewer to realize that the Atlanta based rapper needs to have his own cartoon show.  His dialogue, interaction with Kyle, and humorous and light hearted acting skills clearly shows that Lil Yachty has a natural talent as a cartoon voice actor, and I personally think a show about the rapper himself would be an instant classic (especially after seeing the great reaction Adult Swim’s “Mike Tyson Mysteries” has had since it’s launch).  The two rappers work together really well in this opening dialogue, as it becomes a perfect transition into Kyle’s first verse when the song opens.  Overall, this isn’t the most sophisticated or meaningful song you’ll ever hear, but it is without a doubt an extremely fun song to listen to regularly.  Yachty and Kyle’s ability to make a happy, fun song that is addictive to say the least clearly showcases what these two artists are best at.  In fact, the two of them did so well with “iSpy” that I’ve come to the conclusion that D.R.A.M, Lil Yachty, and Kyle all have to write an album together.  Not only were the three of them destined to work together, but a full length album, or even a mixtape, from these prominent artists could possibly result in one of the best hip hop albums of the year.  Needless to say, this collaboration absolutely needs to happen.

Next up is Lil Uzi Vert’s “XO TOUR Llif3”.  Lil Uzi Vert is an artist that, up until the release of this single, I had mixed opinions on.  Some of his tracks are very catchy and feature a solid song structure, but his recently released commercially successful mixtapes, like “The Perfect LUV Tape” and “Lil Uzi Vert Vs. The World”, are projects that I can only listen to for 15-20 min before I start to get annoyed with Lil Uzi Vert’s signature sound.  Not to mention that there are even some tracks that I find to be just terrible overall.  However, “XO TOUR Llif3” is nothing like anything we’ve heard from Lil Uzi Vert so far.  For starters, he’s abandoned overusing the word “Yeah”, which is a promising sign.  Also, the beat, produced by TM88, is actually one that is somber and breaks away from his traditional upbeat, EDM inspired beats.  Lastly, and what I think is the most significant aspect of this new release from Lil Uzi Vert, the lyricism heard is actually very deep, personal, and above all well written.  The song basically depicts a past relationship Lil Uzi Vert was in, how it ended poorly, and how his dependency on narcotics greatly affected his life at the time.  The lyricism is specific enough that the listener can understand what the song is generally about, yet it is still vague, allowing interpretation of the lyrics to change per person and also exemplifying Lil Uzi Vert’s progress as a lyricist himself.  His use of primarily sung vocals allows the listener to actually hear the pain in Lil Uzi Vert’s voice through verses and choruses as he discusses this troubling time in his life, which is something fans of Lil Uzi Vert haven’t heard until now.  Personally, I really enjoy how Lil Uzi Vert wrote the chorus to “XO TOUR Llif3”.  Keeping the lyricism and perspective very vague has caused different interpretations of the meaning of the chorus to surface and it has personally left me anxious to hear the true meaning to the lines heard in the track.  This is without a doubt Lil Uzi Vert’s greatest song he has ever released and I hope he has more tracks similar to “XO TOUR Llif3” coming out soon.

Lastly, I want to talk about another hip hop artist who I have found through Youtube.  Khalid is an El Paso based R&B/Hip Hop artist who recently made significant waves with his successful debut album “American Teen”.  The album is full of successful singles like “Saved” and “Coaster”, but the track you’ve probably heard by now is “Location”.  “Location” features a chill, full sounding beat that perfectly compliments Khalid’s phenomenal tone and singing.  I’m actually not too found of the lyricism heard on “Location”.  It’s not bad, but the verses could have definitely been rewritten to better explain the situation with the girl Khalid mentions throughout the song without being too straight forward.  However, this is definitely a minor suggestion as the lyrics are fine as the way they are now.  Khalid has a ton of potential and I would consider him and 6lack to be the future of modern R&B.  If you haven’t had a chance to listen to his tracks before, or if you’ve put off watching the “Location” music video after seeing it recommended on Youtube for awhile now, then you without a doubt need to give it a listen today.

Thanks again to everyone who has kept up to date with the Track of the Day Tuesday segment!  This segment is absolutely my favorite segment to write about for Erik’s Album Reviews and it’s great to see such a positive, continued response from viewers across the globe.  If you haven’t yet, check out some of our older Track of the Day Tuesday installments and let us know who you think should be featured on next week’s Track of the Day Tuesday post!

Breaking News: Young Thug Releases 2 New Music Videos and Releases “JEFFERY” On Vinyl

young-thug

One of my favorite rappers, Young Thug, has made some headlines in his most recent releases.  The Atlanta based rapper has released 2 new music videos in 2017 and his latest commercial mixtape, “JEFFERY”, is finally on vinyl!  The two music videos for the tracks “Wyclef Jean” and his latest single “Safe” have both become extremely successful video representations of these great Young Thug tracks, but both have made headlines for completely different reasons.

Back in January, the release of the “Wyclef Jean” music video instantly became a trending topic.  The song itself is fantastic, and “JEFFERY” is without a doubt my favorite mixtape in Thug’s discography, but how the video was filmed and the story behind it made this music video release so significant.  Throughout the entire video, the director, or as he describes it “co-director”, Ryan Staake, includes notes about how the video was filmed.  Apparently Young Thug had a ton of abstract and odd ideas for the music video, and some of these ideas did make it into the music video, but the major problem of the short film was that Young Thug never appeared in the music video.  Despite stating that he wanted to be in multiple shots and co-direct the entire video with Ryan, he arrived to the shoot hours late, even though he had been contacted by the film staff and his label, and he never once got out of his car.  However, even though Thug was extremely hard to work with, and essentially completely omitted from his own music video, the shots Ryan did get and his editing and commentary are extremely entertaining.  In fact, I guarantee that even if the music video was filmed as originally planned, I would still enjoy this version more.  It’s unfortunate that Young Thug was disrespectful to the people working on his own music video, but the final product from this unexpected turn of events has become truly iconic.

Young Thug’s latest music video, “Safe”, was released last Thursday, and unfortunately, it does not include a crazy back story like the one for “Wyclef Jean”.  The shots throughout the film are very simple and aren’t really anything too memorable, but what is prominent is the song itself.  “Safe” has yet to be released on any platform besides this music video on Youtube and serves as the first release of new music from Young Thug in 2017.  The song itself has easily become my favorite track from Young Thug.  The more material Thug releases, the more he truly discovers what his sound is.  His voice and delivery in his tracks continues to keep getting better and extremely unique and distinct.  Also, the quality of his beats continues to progress in a positive way, with each new release surpassing the other in quality of vocal performance and instrumental composition.  “Safe” features more of a laid back, near ambient, electronic beat that perfectly fits Young Thug style.  The captivating beat intertwines with Thug’s personal lyricism and delivery in a phenomenal way that I hope is present in the rest of Young Thug’s releases this year.

Finally, the extremely successful commercial mixtape, “JEFFERY”, is now available on vinyl for this first time ever!  Before this release, only “Barter 6”, Thug’s 2015 mixtape, was the only release of his available on vinyl.  “JEFFERY” has been pressed on standard vinyl, which can be purchased below, and on a Blue/White Marbled variant that appears to be completely sold out at the moment.  If you collect vinyl as avidly as I do, “JEFFERY” is a record you absolutely have to pick up.  Being one of the best Rap releases of 2016, “JEFFERY” is a must have for any fan of modern trap music.  Copies are already selling fast so pick up a copy now!

http://www.urbanoutfitters.com/urban/catalog/productdetail.jsp?id=42090118&category=A-VINYL-ALL

When “Safe” is released on other platforms we’ll be sure to be the first ones to let you know!  Also, stay tuned for any other release Young Thug has in store for 2017.  We also have more reviews of recently released hip hop projects that are due out this week and next so don’t forget to check back in to see what albums and mixtapes we review next!

500 Word Review: Travis Scott “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight”

birds-in-the-trap

Earlier this year, innovative trap artist, Travis Scott, released his sophomore full length album, “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight”.  Following his 2015 debut studio album, “Rodeo”, which is probably one of my favorite rap albums of all time and without a doubt a masterpiece, “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight” faced both high anticipation and standards before its release a few months ago.  Personally, I found the release to be significantly different from “Rodeo”, but also very good in its own way.  There were only a few moments that I was not too fond of, but whenever I came across a brief section that was sub par, it was quickly followed by amazing sections that continue to solidify Travis Scott’s greatness.  Before hearing “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight”, my favorite Travis Scott tracks were “Antidote” and “I Can Tell”, so going into the sophomore record I was hoping to hear tracks similar to the sound and song structure heard on these songs.

As I hoped, “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight” featured a lot of tracks that sounded like “Antidote” and “I Can Tell”, and even at some points, sounded like “90210”.  The hazy, mesmerizing trap sound that Travis is known for, and the sound that is also heard on the “Rodeo” songs previously mentioned, are also heard on “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight”, and in the process it helps create some phenomenal tracks.  The only problem is that every song features this sound and there is hardly any diversity in this aspect of this project.  Don’t get me wrong though, I really enjoyed “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight”, and this specific style of Travis Scott’s songwriting, but it’s the only prominent aspect of Travis Scott’s unique song structure that is exemplified on this new album.  This is a little disappointing because the diversity of “Rodeo” made it the masterpiece that it is today.  “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight” is still ridiculously impressive, but the lack of diversity makes it slightly worse than “Rodeo”.  However, the expansion of this hazy sound heard on “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight” is still very interesting because its essentially Travis exploring and experimenting with this hazy, eerie, reverb and auto-tune filled sound that makes “Birds” one of the best trap releases you’ll ever hear!  In fact, “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight” features my favorite song Travis has ever written.  “Coordinate”, the third track on the sophomore full length album, has easily become my favorite Travis Scott track, surpassing the stellar track, “Antidote”.  “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight” is definitely not a bad album, and this further development of hazy and ominous trap music is something I have really enjoyed, but a little more diversity in sound could have made this project become yet another ground breaking album by Travis Scott.

It’s impossible to deny that Travis was able to have an extremely impressive list of artists record guest vocals for this project, Whether or not you like the differences between “Birds” and “Rodeo”.  Fantastic features from artists like Andre 3000, Kid Cudi, Kendrick Lamar, Bryson Tiller, Young Thug, and the Weeknd heard on “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight” make songs like “The Ends”, “Through the Late Night”, and “Goosebumps” staples for Travis’s discography.  As if this list of genre leading artists wasn’t enough, “Birds” also features legendary producer Mike Dean, who helped record the record alongside Travis.  These notable features are great additions to Travis’s sound, and I hope that an immense amount of iconic features becomes a constant for all Travis Scott albums.

In conclusion, I give Travis Scott’s “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight” an 8.5/10.  Every song may sound similar to one another, but this constant sound and style in songwriting is phenomenal.  Travis’s ability to take his signature sound heard on some of the most prominent tracks on “Rodeo” and fully experimented with it for “Birds” is something I found extremely interesting.  I highly encourage everyone to listen to this and if you have already gave the project a listen, I definitely suggest that you revisit it, especially since it took me a few listens to truly appreciate this latest project from Travis Scott.  Below I’ve attached the full stream of Travis’s latest album.  According to some of his recent tweets, his third album, “AstroWorld”, is still scheduled for a 2017 release date, and once more information is released about the upcoming record, we’ll be sure to let you know!  2016 was our first year in business and it was a very successful year for us at Erik’s Album Reviews!  Due to the hard work of our staff and the constant support from our readers, we were able to see widespread viewership in 39 countries over 6 different continents!  We are extremely thankful for this success and we can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store for us!  Be sure to check back in for more music reviews, content, and of course, our Albums of the Year list, which is due out very soon!

 

Track of the Day Tuesday: PZA “BEAUT1FUL”

american-rituals

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:

https://pza420.bandcamp.com/

“American Rituals” (“BEAUT1FUL” is track 5):

The Thursday Ten: 11/24/16

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After missing last week we are now back with the next installment to “The Thursday Ten”!  Like usual, the rules for “The Thursday Ten” haven’t changed and we encourage you to check out every album listed below on any of the major music streaming services.  Let us know what you think of the ratings, which albums we should do next, and don’t forget to read previous “The Thursday Tens”, like the most recent one attached below!  Here is this week’s “The Thursday Ten”:

  1. Hail The Sun – Culture Scars: 8/10
  2. Stolas – Allomaternal: 8/10
  3. The Devil Wears Prada – Transit Blues: 7/10
  4. Gallant – Ology: 9/10
  5. Sianvar – Stay Lost: 8/10
  6. Memphis May Fire – This Light I Hold: 6/10
  7. Fire From The Gods – Narrative: 7/10
  8. twenty one pilots – Heathens *single/not an album*: 5/10
  9. Rob $tone – Chill Bill *single/not an album*: 9/10
  10. Leon Bridges – Coming Home: 8/10

The previous “The Thursday Ten”:

https://eriksalbumreviews.wordpress.com/2016/11/11/the-thursday-ten-111016/

Track(s) of the Day Tuesday: GALLANT Weight In Gold and ROB $TONE Chill Bill

As we mentioned before, last week was extremely hectic for the writers at Erik’s Album Reviews, so we were unable to create new installments for our weekly segments, like Track of the Day Tuesday.  So, like we’ve done before for weeks when we were unable to post a track of the day, we have TWO tracks for this week that you should listen to!  These tracks are Gallant’s “Weight In Gold” and Rob $tone’s “Chill Bill”.  Both of these songs I actually found through commercials and I have since become a fan of these artists!

Rob $tone is an up-and-coming rap artist who released his widely successful single, “Chill Bill”, earlier this year.  The track has been featured on Spotify commercials and features one of the catchiest hooks you will hear in all of 2016.  The track has solid flow and a well put together trap beat, however the most memorable part of this song is the whistling lead part, which serves as the melody to the addictive chorus.  It is impossible to listen to the chorus once and not want to play it again and whistle the melody yourself.  The only problem I have with the song is that I think the whistling melody is over used.  If it was prominent in the verse as well, I believe that the impact the melody would have on the chorus would be even greater than it is now.  This track, however, is still an amazing start for Rob $tone and I look forward to hearing what he chooses to release next!

Gallant’s “Weight In Gold” is the other track you must listen to today.  After hearing his best selling single on a Red Bull commercial I absolutely had to check out the full song.  Gallant is a modern day R&B artist with an absolutely stunning vocal range.  Gallant’s music also incorporates a lot of electronic influence and even some sections in “Weight In Gold” feature EDM like sections.  “Weight In Gold” is an instant classic and an all around well written, extremely impressive song.  “Ology”, Gallant’s debut album, is phenomenal as well and will definitely be an album of the year contender.

I’ve posted links to both songs below for you to check out!  I also attached Gallant’s live performance on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon.  If his live performance doesn’t convince you of his unfathomable talent and musical ability, then I don’t know what will.  Both of these artists will be house hold names in the next few years and I can’t wait to see what they do with their careers next!

Rob $tone “Chill Bill”:

Gallant “Weight In Gold”:

Gallant “Weight In Gold” Live: