Writing has always been Paul’s passion. His ultimate dream is to become a best selling author but, that journey begins here! He also loves movies, music, and food (eating it more than cooking it!). He says he tends to gravitate towards action and some dramas but, can also really get into a psychological thriller. Being an open minded individual, he literally listens to ALL kinds of music, so he has favorite artists across multiple genres.
Each of today’s drops will be impactful in their own way. Let’s get into them.
Port of Miami 2 – Rick Ross
Ross has been doin it for years. Consistency is no issue for him and after a small hiatus he’s back with the sequel to his debut from 2006 – 13 years ago to the date. With features on practically every track some people have their doubts about if it will live up to it…only a listen will let us know for sure.
Hot Girl Summer – Megan Thee Stallion feat. Nicki Minaj & Ty Dolla Sign
This is the song we thought we might get and now it’s here. While some have called other tracks by Meg the “hot girl anthem” she has decided we will be getting an official one to end all debates. With a Nicki feature AND one from Ty Dolla Sign who has been killing all his features lately this one is sure not to be quickly forgotten.
Spilled Milk 1 – Bas
Dreamville said they were here to stay in 2019 and they meant it. Bas continues their reign with this short EP that features several of his labelmates.
Anything Can Happen – SAINt JHN ft. Meek Mill
Season Of The Witch (From The Motion Picture “Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark”) – Lana Del Rey
I’m sure we’re all going to see The Lion King today if we didn’t see it last night. Or- most definitely not seeing it. Either way, there’s multiple albums to listen no matter if you saw the movie or not so let’s get into them.
The Lion King: The Gift – Beyonce
We just found out this was coming this week and now it’s already here. Beyonce said she “wanted to make sure we found the best talent from Africa” and thus enlisted the hottest Afrobeat artists from there for this project It also features appearances from Jay – Z, Pharrell, Childish Gambino, Tierra Whack and even Blue Ivy herself. Let’s see if the full project is as amazing as the video for “Spirit” was.
The Lost Tapes II – Nas
Nas needs no introduction. This project has been delayed several times for several reasons but it’s here now.So I’ll let some of the producers on here draw you in: RZA, Swizz Beatz, Pharrell, Kanye West, No I.D., Pete Rock, The Alchemist, Statik Selektah and more. Mind you this is a compilation project and we can only guess when the tracks were recorded – unless someone tells us a story on how a song came to be. Some of you may be skeptical based on the only single from the project – “Jarreau of Rap (Skatt Attack)”. That’s completely understandable but still check out the project because it’s still Nas.
WILLOW – WILLOW
The tracklist for this album only has 8 songs on it making it clear Willow is going for quality over quantity. A majority of the tracks don’t even go over the three minute mark save for the closer which is just over five minutes. Willow has always been in her own lane and this project continues that path.
Warning Signs – Nyck Caution
If you’re still sleeping on Nyck Caution this is your wake up call. The Pro Era rapper has been putting in work for years and of course appeared on the Beast Coast supergroup album Escape From New York. This solo track shows he’s a force to be reckoned with all by himself and as far as the vocal sample goes…if you know you know.
“Someone who has the power to capture time. Photography is forever..for generations.” This is how Ryder describes what a photographer is to her. Atlanta based photographer, Ryder, is a unique and fresh creator behind the lens. With her film photography and perfect concert photos, Ryder’s lens is one that Atlanta knows very well.
Getting her start in 2014, Ryder picked up her own camera while she was a junior in high school. “That was the time I stated to do photography, I was inspired by Tumblr and just looking at other people’s photography but it was nothing serious. I didn’t start taking it seriously until I moved to Atlanta and that was in 2017.” As someone who loves movies, Ryder is most inspired by colors and emotions. “I would say colors inspire me, emotions inspire me and movies. I’m really big on movies. Especially 80s movies.”
“Photos can evoke emotions too. People live on forever in photographs. If someone took a photograph of me right now and I died tomorrow, I would still live on forever”, Ryder when asked more about photography’s impact. From history about photography she talked about how back in the day, it was difficult to film and photograph black people — especially in black and white. It was only when people wanted to photograph things like furniture and other objects that had color that lenses were created to capture darker shades/tones.
Do you feel it’s something anyone can do? “Absolutely, everyone’s a photographer. Especially when it comes to smartphones nowadays, I feel like anyone can take a photo. I feel like what separates someone is their eye, their own vision. But, anyone can do it.”So what does the future hold for Ryder? What advice would she give the future generation? Her ultimate goal? “That one is to take photographs of our generation now so that future generations can see them and be inspired and see how lit we were. For the next generation, learn your camera and know your camera. Love yourself in advance and put the work in now. Do your research. It’s okay to be inspired by others but you shouldn’t copy them. You have to get your own.”
With her notable work with Cam Kirk Studios, Nike, and her Andy Warhol inspired project, Ryder is a force to be reckoned with. Her unique eye for art, how she studies her craft, and is able to capture her vision for us to see.
The promo run for Revenge of the Dreamers 3 was the most exciting one of the year so far. We saw a multitude of artists and producers post a simple picture with their name at the top and “Revenge” in a large font against a yellow background – this was their official invitation to be a part of the project. The album was recorded in 10 days from January 6 -16th which is a marathon no matter who’s involved in the process. We got a two pack of singles at the end of that month and then another two pack at the beginning of this month. The tracklist dropped on Thursday night July 4th and then July 5th at midnight…
The album dropped.
I hit up fellow Glosse Magazine Writer Lexiii Dee to discuss the project, our favorite tracks and how we felt about the concept behind it.
This conversation has been edited for clarity.
Paul: So, off rip, what would you say were your favorite aspects of the project?
Lexiii: My favorite aspects of this project as a whole was the fact that Cole went out of his way to allow many of these upcoming artists and producers from all over the U.S. to come to Atlanta to experience the sessions of creating and putting this album together; even if they didn’t make the project itself. You rarely hear about rappers in high positions in the game that go out of their way to let the next young artist/producer get their shine. It’s a rarity and of course we all know J. Cole is a good guy but it makes the level of respect for him go up even more. Even if a person for some reason doesn’t like him, they can’t deny this man his respect for helping the people around him. What about you? What was your favorite aspects of the project?
Paul: I’m 100% with you on that. That communal aspect was so beautiful to see in the documentary and it only enhanced the same feeling throughout the music of the album itself. Sticking with that topic, I liked how his goal was to highlight lesser known artists even though some names we all know were involved in one way or another too. It takes putting someone on to a whole new level. I also liked the promo run with everyone posting their invitation to social media. It was simple, straightforward and obviously very effective. BUT, in terms of the music itself I liked how there was a variety of styles, tones and moods throughout the album. Personally, I believe for any project if there isn’t some type of variety the label of “boring” or “redundant” will come up easily and frequently.
Lexiii: I definitely agree with you when it comes to the variety of the project. Each member of Dreamville bring their own unique style to the table, especially with the newer artists on the label being involved. It was also incredible seeing Cole switch up from his style that many of his fans love him for. Even before the project dropped and seeing the tracklist, it was interesting to see which artists were on there and how it would play out. Surprisingly, it was incredible and did not disappoint. It makes me happy just seeing hip hop artists that you would never in your life think that would hop on a track together actually make it happen.
Paul: Exactly. The contrast between his verse on “Sacrifices” which is the lane we expect him in with his verse on “Rembrandt” or “Under The Sun” just showcases his range. Not to mention the fact he’s on the latter with DaBaby which is something we thought we’d never see. Speaking of verses, what would you say are your top 3 favorite tracks right now? I know something like this can change easily so the emphasis is on right now lol.
Lexiii: In regard to you speaking on the contrast between his verses, I want to also bring attention to his flow on “Sunset.” He really got in his bag and showed us another side of him we have not seen before. Cole taking on a more gritty, trap sound made me realize this man can take on anything. Also, who would have thought Cole hopping on a track with Young Nudy would make so much sense. The top 3 tracks for me right now off ROTD 3 will definitely have to be “Sacrifices” , “Don’t Hit Me Right Now” , and “1993”, in that order. Upon the first listen of “Sacrifices”, it literally made me emotional. That track is a tear jerker for sure. Just hearing the way each artist were spitting showed just how deep the song was. Earthgang didn’t miss, Smino didn’t miss, Saba is always on his sh*t, and Cole, for a fact, made the song to me. “Don’t Hit Me Right Now” is more of those light tracks that still has a punch to it. The standout for me was ATL songstress Yung Baby Tate and how even though her part wasn’t that long, the way she floated on there caught my attention that, to me, brought the whole song together. “1993” was insane. With the way everyone was getting their verses off and Buddy interrupting and being Buddy, it was a smooth, chill yet funny track. I was annoyed with the interruption of Cole’s verse because he was about to really go off. What were your favorites off the project at the moment?
Paul: Jeez wow, how could I forget Sunset? Smh. “Sacrifices” is my number one for sure too. I felt the tears attempt to form when I listened to Cole’s verse today and that WWE to Boondocks bar was great wordplay packed perfectly between all the emotion on that one. Of course Smino and Saba held it down too – especially Saba. Johnny Venus’s flow was interesting sonically but I’m still debating if it takes me out of the mood of the song or not. “PTSD” is next because I love the stories they all told and this may be unrelated but I could see Joey (Bada$$) on it too. The piano is just smooth. Only thing that takes me out of it was Buddy’s outro but I can look past it. Costa Rica would have to be my #3 because I loved everyone’s flow on that one and I really like the instrumental on it. In fact, I’d say I liked ALL the instrumentals – everyone on production snapped. The unorthodox ones like “Down Bad” and “Wells Fargo” were fantastic.
Lexiii: “Costa Rica” was some HEAT! Honestly the singles they released were pretty good overall. I couldn’t get into the “Got Me” single for a minute though. It was something about the tempo that didn’t really do it for me. “LamboTruck” was hard as well. Reason and Cozz had very good chemistry on the record. Towards the end of the track, I loved how the two were switching off with the lyrics and added the part about robbing Cole and Top Dawg. You could tell that they were giving off bars but having a good time creating the music. Childish Major did his thing as well. Did you feel like he should have had a verse of his own or it was perfect the way it is?
Paul: Actually I don’t because as you said Reason and Cozz had perfect chemistry. With Cozz name dropping practically everyone on TDE and REASON’s verse basically starting like a conversation about Cozz then ending with one with him I feel like if anything had been added it would have just seemed out of place. That track and “1993” which you mentioned had that communal aspect we mentioned at the beginning front and center. However the concept of “1993” to was definitely a creative one and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see it done again with a different group of artists. But aside from all these great things, personally the project was not completely flawless for me. I saw you mentioned “Got Me” didn’t do it for you earlier and I wasn’t a fan of that one either. I also understand the concept of “Ladies, Ladies, Ladies” but I’ve never been a fan of songs like that.
Lexiii: I gave it about a 9/10 mostly based on the production end. Though the artists were a huge part of this as well, the instrumentation really did it for me. However, if I wasn’t viewing it from that perspective, I would give it a solid 8 just because I didn’t like about 3 or 4 records on there. Now let me ask you this, how did you feel about the decision of adding J. Cole’s single “Middle Child” on the project? Do you feel like it fit or should have been left for his own solo album?
Paul: Ah I knew that question would come up. So outside of the line “If it ain’t ’bout the squad, don’t give a fuck” and the bar “What good is the bread if my niggas is broke?/What good is first class if my niggas can’t sit?/ That’s my next mission, that’s why I can’t quit” “MIDDLE CHILD” just doesn’t fit the theme of the album. That single is literally about Cole’s place in the industry as an individual. BUT, because of his place he can do a song with Young Nudy as we mentioned or a song like Sacrifices and kill each one because of his place and ability to connect with multiple generations. But, also, it is the only solo track on the album and some may see it as selfish to only give the “face” of the label a place for a solo track – especially one that’s already gotten acclaim. Sorry if that wasn’t a real answer lol. I guess my conclusion is I can see why it would be there but I also see why it shouldn’t be.
Lexiii: If we are looking at this from another viewpoint, maybe it was to help with the numbers. However, with the way they rolled out this album, it wasn’t needed. The promo itself already raised the anticipation. Personally, the track did not fit the project and should have not been apart but I see how you mentioned about Cole’s place in the industry and how he is able to connect with the generations and I agree. I wouldn’t say it seems selfish but I think it should have been left off. How did you feel about the duration of the project? Because I’ve been noticing many artists nowadays have been putting together projects that are usually less than 14 tracks long but not with this one. Do you feel like these newer artists have stepped away from projects that have longer tracklists like there were before earlier in time?
Paul: I feel newer artists in the public eye put out longer projects to help with streams and while it is a logical business move some people do not need projects longer than 14 tracks like you said. There’s going to be filler for sure for some of those artists. However, for this project specifically I feel like the one hour length is completely fine even though I think some tracks could be cut based on personal preference. 45 minutes to an hour is what I’ve personally come to expect so anything under that I’m somewhat surprised. Artists who make shorter albums generally believe in quality over quantity as we’ve seen this year. However, I believe I read they had over 50 tracks to choose from for this project? So the fact we got 18 as opposed to 25 shows just how hard the narrowing down process can truly be. I saw you gave the full thing an 8/10 earlier so I’ll follow and say I’m leaning towards a 7/10 myself. Definitely enjoyable but the standouts greatly overshadowed the ones that weren’t quite up to par.
Lexiii: Speaking of standouts, other than Cole, which artist on the project was the standout and who did you wish received more attention?
Paul: J.I.D as a standout easily and I feel Ari Lennox should have gotten more attention. I understand the overall sound of the album wasn’t her sound but for being on two songs and personally only liking one – not a good look for her being she’s been there since the second installment.
Lexiii: I completely agree with everything you said. J.I.D was literally in every single track and personally, I believe he is right under Cole in regard to the artists on the label. Not that the rest don’t, but he is hungry and really loves doing what he does and it shows. Another person that was a standout to me was Buddy. Other than what was on the documentary, Buddy was really on it when it came to the songs. His personality added so much to the tracks he was featured on, Ari definitely could have gotten more shine but with the direction of the project, I understand why she didn’t and it doesn’t take away from her at all. I wouldn’t say it isn’t a good look though because she did just release an album.
Paul: Right and I enjoyed the album. Guess I was just hoping to hear more and see her blend with different people. So…final thoughts on the whole album?
Lexiii: From seeing the way Revenge of the Dreamers has grown since it first became a thing is beautiful. Dreamville is not called Dreamville for no reason. It’s more than music. This group of individuals have worked hard to achieve their dreams and they are letting it be known that you too can accomplish anything you put your mind to. It’s inspiring and it pushes you to want to do better for yourself and those around you. Overall, the album was amazing and I am excited to see what else they have in store. Even though the summer isn’t over yet, this is definitely a Dreamville summer.
Paul: You’re exactly right. Not only do I have new artists to check out but, I know that they’re headed in the right direction and everyone will only go up from here. Thank you for talking about this album with me!
In middle school, I believed I wasn’t “allowed” to listen to any artists that were women because I was a boy. Yes, I know – VERY ignorant mindset. This changed in high school when SZA signed to TDE and I just thought her voice was dope af. I also loved Syd’s voice and felt The Internet was my own little secret band that none of my friends listened to – which they didn’t at the time. Anyway, the point is I got over myself and my toxic masculinity and just decided to enjoy the music because it was good music.
Why can’t some grown men do this when it comes to Megan Thee Stallion?
In 2019, it’s obvious women have made their presence known in rap. In a genre dominated by men, they have to work twice as hard and people make twice the assumptions about them too. Just like with the men, there are clear standouts and some are better than others and that’s the way it should be. Megan Thee Stallion fits both of these categories. She has a commanding presence about her and does this using a combination of her personality, looks and most importantly her skills on the mic. Like a lot of people (yes, I know some of y’all have been there since her very first tape) I first heard Ms. Stallion when her freestyle on the “Big Poppa” beat (Or, “Between The Sheets” whichever you prefer) went viral and I was very intrigued. I decided to wait for Fever to drop and was slightly disappointed as the songs outside of “Realer” and didn’t have the feel of that freestyle or others I had heard from her…then I listened to Tina Snow and officially became a Hot Boy.
Many men have said they don’t like Meg because they don’t want to hear her rap about sex. But, what’s the difference between her doing it and literally any other male rapper doing it? It’s the same exchange just from the opposite perspective. This is especially interesting because Kevin F., who has been listening to Ms. Stallion for months was drawn to her for this same reason saying “There’s something engaging about hearing a woman own her sexuality and be as aggressive as men while still owning her femininity”. When Megan says things like “Imma need that head, give me neck like a vertebrae” and “Sitting on your bae face, I’m the ‘bae-by’ sitter” some men would rather say “I ain’t tryna hear all that bro” instead of just admitting these are simple but clever and fun bars. But if their favorite male rapper said “Got the moves like I’m Ryu/Yellow diamonds, Pikachu/When I switch my hair to blonde/I’m finna turn up like Goku” they’d be all over it. Too bad because Meg said that too.
“There’s something engaging about hearing a woman own her sexuality and be as aggressive as men while still owning her femininity”
Perhaps it’s because some men can’t handle that she is better than some of their favorite male artists bar for bar? As our very own CEO Amani put it “Imagine a new rapper coming in, rapping circles around current artists, using vulgar language, and looking amazing while doing it. No it’s not a typical male rapper, it’s Houston’s very own Megan Thee Stallion” There are multiple women that are rappers that are legendary as well as those who are popular or not popular now. However, unfortunately they are still overshadowed by men and treated unfairly behind the scenes too. It’s almost as if some people have regressed all the way back to elementary school and are saying “Girls can’t do that” Kevin alluded to this too saying “Some men want their women to be inferior to them and when a woman comes to them and shows up as their equal or maybe even superior to them they get intimidated” Megan is making her presence known among men and will continue to whether they listen to what she has to say or not. Writer Kennadi H. put it bluntly saying “I feel like anybody that has a negative opinion is a hater…” This is an excellent point too. Some men simply decide they do not like a woman because she is bringing change to something they thought “belonged” to them. If you don’t like her simply based on the fact she is a woman that raps you are 100% in the wrong. This mindset exists outside of the rap world too and can be attributed to movies, games and TV Shows that have had strong women taking over leads that were previously held by men.
“…she goes outside of the box people try to put female artists in. She speaks her mind, has an unapologetic attitude and an empowering amount of confidence! Not to mention her sex appeal…that’s on a whole different level.”
Outside of the haters, we fortunately have another segment of the male population with a much more favorable opinion of Megan and these are her Hot Boys. A “Hot Boy” is simply just the male counterpart of a Hot Girl. These men love and support her just as much as the women do. YouTuber and Hip Hop Critic Kenya P. believes the reason men feel this way is “…she goes outside of the box people try to put female artists in. She speaks her mind, has an unapologetic attitude and an empowering amount of confidence! Not to mention her sex appeal…that’s on a whole different level.” Meg’s technical ability as a rapper is what draws a lot of men in too. On the surface, she may sound like other popular female rappers but when it comes down to it – the bars are still there. And, she writes her verses herself. Also, as Kenya mentioned, men enjoy attractive women obviously but an attractive women doing something they already enjoy and doing it well? It’s a package deal. Meg’s confidence is what pulls me in personally which easily comes through in her flow and her bars. She says what she means and means what she says. Also, her punchlines are clever and sometimes even funny as she has referenced Spongebob and The Jackson Family in the same verse. Her production is always on point too as it compliments her energy and makes every word just stick. Not to mention she’s an anime fan and as of the day this was written her current favorite anime is JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure which happens to be one of my favorites too. So basically, I’m sold all the way on her. Hot Boys aren’t afraid to admit they love Ms. Stallion because they see nothing wrong with loving her. Can we 100% relate to everything she says? Of course not. But, can we with most rappers? No. Good music is meant to be enjoyed by anyone and everyone and that is exactly what Megan Thee Stallion creates.
Another Friday and another batch of new music has arrived. Tonight we have a great mix of genres and moods so let’s not waste any time.
Indigo – Chris Brown
This project has 32 tracks and 16 features. Whew. If you love Chris I’m sure you’re overjoyed or pleasantly overwhelmed. I’m sure there’s a Song of the Summer contender on here but personally I won’t be listening to find out.
CASE STUDY 01 – Daniel Caesar
This project was a surprise release with most of us not finding out about it until Thursday afternoon. Daniel has already taken his place among the next generation of R&B artists and he looks to continue his success with this project. With features from Pharrell, Brandy and John Mayer this one will truly be something special.
Bandanna – Freddie Gibbs x Madlib
The last collab project from these two was on everyone’s AOTY list in 2014 and may very well be one of the few releases of this decade to actually deserve the “classic” classification. They’re looking to continue the legacy with this project. With features from Black Thought, Pusha T, Yasiin Bey and Black Thought you already know this one is straight hip hop. And with Madlib on production you know the samples will be wonderfully perfect.
Perfect 10 – Mustard
Once you’re done head nodding and making the stank face while listening to Bandanna you can slide over to Perfect 10 to get your fix of fun tracks. We already Mustard’s production style but he seems to have improved on his formulaic approach and done some new and creative things too. The clear standouts on this one would have to be “Surface” which features Ty Dolla $ign and Ella Mai, “Woah Woah’ with Young Thug and Gunna and of course “Perfect 10” which features Nipsey Hussle. A$AP Rocky and Ferg, Playboi Carti, Young Thug, Meek Mill and more also appear on the project.
Three Point Stance – Juicy J feat. City Girls and Megan Thee Stallion
This song sounds exactly how you’d imagine it would sound. However, Juicy J does hit us with the whispering technique on the hook which was unexpected. Megan and Yung Miami drop a verse about their most powerful asset and Juicy J shares his appreciation for this asset. I don’t see one available right now but a clean version of this song would be absolutely hilarious because…
In the music world there are singers. There are also rappers. There are also songwriters. Sometimes these positions overlap.
They are not required to.
In the past few months, the conversation of ghostwriting has come back to the forefront again. Some feel it should never occur in the world of rap and I disagree with this. Songs are made to be enjoyed by the listener one way or the other. This enjoyment does not always have to produce happiness but can even be sad or another non positive emotion. Regardless sometimes an artist may need help conveying these emotions. This is when the songwriter comes in. The songwriter knows what words and arrangements touch people and they may be cliche but they still work. The more accessible the song is the more successful it will be. And, the success of the song is at the forefront of some artist’s minds while others could care less about it.
The dividing line for me personally when it comes to ghostwriting is the type of song that is being written and the persona of the artist. For the sake of this conversation we will stick with rap for now and take a classic song like Wu-Tang Clan’s “Protect Ya Neck”. Debates on who had the best verse on this song are still had today. This song flows perfectly and combines hype and bars effortlessly. Based on the Wu’s reputation and image we expect each verse to have been written by each member and each member only. And they all were. But what if it was revealed that this wasn’t the case? Would our perception of the legendary group change? Of course. This is because when it comes to them we expect them to write their own verses based on who they are. And, this is a verse driven song – not a hook driven one. Sure, you’ll rap along if you know it but the average listener can not get up and dance to it. This was not the song’s intention – it wasn’t written to be accessible by the average listener.
Now let’s look at an oldish Kanye West (STAY WITH ME) song “All Day”. This song has three audible voices on it – plus the whistling of Paul McCartney. It also has 21 credited songwriters. Why? Because this is what Kanye does. We affectionately call him a “coraller” or “maestro” as he knows how to bring the right people together for a song and of course a full album. We expect multiple people to be involved when it comes to his work. He believes in giving credit where credit is due and even you make a small writing suggestion or are the original artist of the sample on a song – you’ll be credited as a songwriter. Songs like “Monster” and “All Of The Lights” have multiple writers (obviously) and are fantastic songs. They’re easy to sing along with and are accessible by the average listener. Songs like “Jesus Walks” and “Flashing Lights” have only one additional credited writer each and while carrying a message with them, still are accessible by the average listener. All four of these songs have a completely different tone to them, are excellent overall and in my opinion – timeless. This just shows how sometimes having multiple writers can enhance a song or sometimes multiple ones aren’t needed.
The world of ghostwriting is a tricky place. When we found out Joey Bada$$ had writing credits on “rockstar” and Lil Yachty had writing credits on “Act Up” in which he said “I wrote the whole song, except J.T.’s last verse” our minds were blown. Did that stop us from enjoying the songs? Of course not. An artist can have ghostwriters however if they say they wrote the song by themselves then that becomes an issue. Or, if the artist has ZERO writing credits on the song then that is an issue as well. Artists like Drake who are huge are likely to have ghost writers based on the fact that their music is supposed to be successful and accessible. We should not condemn them for this. Artists whose careers are based around their verses as opposed to their song’s accessibility are likely to have no ghostwriters and likely only bring other writers in for hooks. Having ghostwriters is not a bad thing – it just depends on how you use them.
Whew this is probably the heaviest Friday so far this year. Ross is back, Lil Nas X has dropped his first EP and Nicki is back too. And that’s only a small sample of what we have. Let’s get into it.
Lords of Flatbush 3 – The Underachievers
Continuing the theme of the series LOF3 is a series of aggressive bangers with fast flows and clever wordplay. The hooks stand out and the short length makes sure the job gets done without overstaying its welcome. Production comes strictly from YDNA making this one a easy gym playlist entry.
7 EP – Lil Nas X
This is arguably the most anticipated release of the day but without a doubt the most promoted. Through snippets, memes, fan interaction and tweets that went on for weeks, Lil Nas X insured everyone knew this EP was dropping. The product itself isn’t for everyone but definitely is in a lane on it’s own with multiple style influences floating throughout the project. He’s made it clear he doesn’t want to sound like anyone else and yet is trying to find what his sound is at the same time.
The Plugs I Met – Benny The Butcher
This one is for the people who want hard bars and beats that are just as hard. And I don’t mean hype I mean hard. This is head nods and stank face reactions to bars type music right here. Benny alreadys snaps on every track and with features like Jadakiss, Pusha T and Black Thought you already know how good this one is.
Megatron – Nicki Minaj
Nicki sticks to her guns and dropped the single and the video at the same time for this one. While it does have a decent bounce the autotune and hook push me away from it personally. I’m sure the Nicki stans will love it though.
Act A Fool feat. Wale – Rick Ross
Ross is back in full effect. This one carries an interesting yet fun hook and Ross flows like only he can. Wale offers a solid verse with some flow switches that are complimented excellently by a few ad libs from Ross. And at this point it’s safe to say he’ll never retire the Maybach Music tag…and I have no problem with that.
Like a majority of things on Netflix, I found out about When They See Us via Twitter. Many people were discussing how well made it was, how much they hated Linda Fairstein and how it is only one of many situations that series how flawed our justice system is. There were also a large majority of people sharing how they would not be watching due to already being exasperated with the amount of stories plaguing our community daily. With all that being said, When They See Us is extremely effective at depicting the facts about the entire ordeal both inside and outside the courtroom and causes the viewer to never forget the names of the Central Park Five.
Beginning the same way any well done period piece does, When They See Us drops us in late 80s and early 90s New York with the sounds and looks of the time. Eric B and Rakim and Public Enemy blasted as we see the boys out like they would be any other time. These few minutes are the most lighthearted of the series and show how their innocence was stripped away from them. As I watched and heard the sirens my heart literally sped up as I knew what was going to happen but I didn’t want it to. This was one of the many moments where the actors shined. The anguish, fear and sadness they expressed with their faces and voices were gut wrenching as a night that was seemingly normal took the worst possible turn. And the interrogation scenes including the scenes where they were told what to say…if you can watch them more than once more power to you.
The courtroom scenes did two things: They showed how frightened the parents of the boys were and they showed how the lack of evidence should made this case open and shut. Seeing the lawyers go back and forth with their points was very well done, especially when the people went to the witness stand. The scenes of the boys seeing/calling their families while in jail provided a small sense of happiness. They kept the conversation simple by asking them what they were eating and how they were doing. Seeing the boys smile was a great feeling too. In a creative sense the way the time progression was shown for Raymond as his brother went from a newborn baby to a toddler to a young boy was interesting as it was heartbreaking to see how many years had gone by.
Seeing the boys all grown up and trying to re-enter society was yet another harsh reality of situations that happen every day. Raymond saw no other option other than dealing after being laid off from the one job that actually accepted him. Antron also picked up a job however the woman in his life referred to him as an “inmate” during a argument. All five men suffered from the situations of their past and those around them who continued to hang it above their heads.
All of this ceased when they were exonerated.
At the closing moments of the series we are told what all five men are doing today. This was the perfect way to end the series by not only showing the real people behind the story but also what they did – and are doing – to advance the community. Just this past week they were awarded the Roger Baldwin Courage Award which was presented to them by Michael B. Jordan. This is just one of many occasions to come that the men will be honored for their bravery as more and more people are touched by their story. While they will always be defined by their past, they are also taking steps to help shape the future for the better too, in hopes of preventing another horrific situation like this from happening again.
Where Are They Now?
Raymond Santana Jr. – Raymond used his portion of the settlement money to start his own clothing line called Park Madison NYC. The name comes from his hometown. Currently available are men’s and women’s shirts with a list of the names of all the Central Park Five members. A portion of the proceeds from these sales will go to the Innocence Project which helps those who have been wrongly convicted. There is also a shirt with Raymond’s mugshot on it which he says represents “the ups and downs, the road I traveled , to become the man that I am today.”
Yusef Salaam – Yuseff has become a published author of poetry as well as a public speaker on the subjects of “mass incarceration, police brutality and misconduct, false confessions” and multiple others. He is both an educator and advocator for these policies traveling all over the country to spread the message. He has led workshops and more on these topics and also received the Lifetime Achievement Award from President Barack Obama in 2016.
Korey Wise – Korey established the Korey Wise Innocence Project in 2015 at Colorado Law School. This project analyzes legal cases for wrongful conviction. Korey visits the school regularly.
Kevin Richardson – Kevin has also become an advocate for criminal justice reform and was honored with his high school diploma in 2017 by the Bronx Prep Academy. He currently lives in New Jersey with his wife and two daughters.
Antron McCray – Antron lives with his wife and six children in Georgia. He has preffered to stay out of the spotlight outside of a couple of interviews as he is still dealing with the mental effects of the past.
When They See Us was an exceptionally informative and emotional story. It may be hard to get through but it is worth it because we should be thankful we are aware of the story and it’s not being hidden from history like countless others.
Once again we have a laundry list of releases. However this time around the amount of singles dominates. I can’t get to everything but I can get to the ones you should prioritize.
ZUU – Denzel Curry
Following 2018’s TA13OO which was many people’s AOTY, Curry is already back with another full project. While the last was highly conceptual this one takes Curry back to his Carol City roots. With all featured artists hailing from his home state of Florida, this one is all about Curry paying homage in his own way. Curry has always been one to be versatile so expect gym tracks, smooth tracks and everything in between.
Broke Leg – Tory Lanez feat. Quavo and Tyga
Tory said this would be the Summer Anthem. Personally I believe we as the listeners should bestow the title annually as opposed to the artists telling us. Do you agree with his bold statement?
Crop Circles – Jon Bellion
The rapper who is a producer and vice versa is a deadly combination. When they put an immense effort into both they’re practically unstoppable. Jon fits this bill perfectly and his behind the scenes videos show how creative he is behind the boards as well as the mic. This one puts that on full display.
Press – Cardi B
The snippet of Cardi playing this one in the studio has been all over our TLs and now the full song is here. Let’s hope it doesn’t suffer from The ZeZe Effect.*
* The ZeZe effect is when a snippet for a song gets everyone hype and then when the song drops we realize we enjoy the snippet more than the full song.