Saturday, August 25, 2012

"Busta Rhymes - Year of the Dragon" Review by Dom

Busta Rhymes. If you're into hip-hop at all you know this name. Known for his technical flow, speed and tongue-twisting verses. He's been around over 20 years first as a member of the Leaders of the New School, and in 1996 he released his debut solo album, The Coming. Since then he has released 7 albums, ranging from being held as classics to being disappointments and lackluster. In 2011 Busta was featured on a Chris Brown track, "Look at Me Now", this track put him back into the spotlight and he was instantly a hot rapper once again. Off of the tracks success Busta featured on tracks with artists ranging from Tech N9ne, Ashanti and Lil Wayne. In early 2012 it was announced that Busta had signed with Cash Money Records with the likes of Lil Wayne, Drake, Nicki Minaj and Tyga. Year of the Dragon was supposed to be his debut LP for the YMCMB crew, instead he released it for free causing some confusion over whether this project is a mixtape or an album, I'm treating it as an album.

1. I'm Talking to You - To me, this is an odd opening track, the little intro sets up for the song to be crazy and insane, then Busta comes on and spits rather boringly. I expected more from him on this track.

2. Til We Die (featuring Rick Ross and Trey Songz) - Busta's better on this one, unfortunately for him, Ross' can't hold his weight(no pun intended) against Busta and Songz' chorus leaves little to be desired, give me Busta's minute long verse and leave the rest out.

3. Do That Thing - Busta talks of "bringing the crown home" on this track but he's not doing anything special on the track, the chorus sucks, and his verses are alright, nothing too fast, nothing too technical, I could hear these verses from other guys besides Busta.

4. Make it Look Easy (featuring Gucci Mane) - The beginning of this song is going to induce headaches, the chorus is god awful, even though Busta's verses are actually on par for him the chorus makes this song hard to listen to, also Gucci Mane sucks, please stop rapping.

5. Pressure (featuring Lil Wayne) - Never did I think I'd look forward to a track with Wayne on it, I felt that maybe the YMCMB front-leader could make Busta bring his A-game on the track, I was right. This track was surprisingly good, Wayne wasn't too bad on his verse either, I'll take his verse on this over anything off of Tha Carter IV.

6. Love-Hate (featuring Robin Thicke) - What the hell was going through his mind when he recorded this? I get it's supposed to be his "soft, love" song but he can't pull it off. Not only is it not his lane, he can't do it right and Thicke sounds great on it but the chorus is just flat boring, leaving a boring track.

7. Grind Real Slow - I expected this track to be a slow one as well, it's starts with a slower beat but leads into a dance/club beat. Even though he's rapping over a slower beat he sounds good doing it, oddly enough the gripe I have with this track has to do with what preceded it. The track before was overall a love song, this song is all sex driven, it's an odd transition.

8. King Tut (featuring Reek da Villain and J-Doe) - This is the lead single off of the album, I can see why, it's hard, Busta sounds good, as do the features on the track, it's a good song but it doesn't represent the album too well, which is what a single's purpose should be.

9. Sound Boy (featuring Cam'Ron) - Busta uses autotune(pretty badly) in the chorus of this song, his verses fall flat on themselves and Cam'Ron doesn't add much to the track.

10. Doin' it Again (featuring Reek da Villain and Chanel) - This track is good, not much to say, Chanel sings a good chorus, Busta has a good verse, oddly enough Reek grabs my attention more than Busta does, maybe because it's a deep beat and Busta has a deep voice so when Reek's higher pitched voice comes through it sounds different.

11. Wine & Go Down (featuring Vybz Kartel) - This track has a hard beat that sounds pretty good especially with Busta going over it. Kartel sounds good, if you can say that first name I'll be impressed.

12. Movie (featuring J-Doe) - My god. If you thought YMCMB would have a bad effect on Busta's sound go listen to this chorus, cause this will validate your thoughts. It's just awful, this chorus sounds as whiny as Drake does, maybe that's YMCMBs thing, whiny ass dudes.

13. Crazy - Can this track please be actually crazy? While Busta doesn't go off like you'd expect him to, he does actually sound crazy in this going with a deep almost demonic sounding voice and his delivery on this track is spectacular, this is probably the best track on this album.

14. Bleed the Same Blood (featuring Maino and Anthony Hamilton) - Hamilton is one of my favorite R&B singers right now so I hope Busta utilizes him well. Well, he does, Maino's verse is first and it's not bad, like Reek it's nice to hear a higher pitched voice over such dark beats. Busta sounds like Busta on this one, that's not a bad thing. Hamilton is the strongest part of the song, his vocals during the chorus are phenomenal.

Overall: I guess my initial thought is, I expected more. I expected the production to be better especially coming from YMCMB, the production's not bad it's just not as good as it should be. I wish he had utilized Nicki Minaj on this album, I'm not a fan of her solo stuff but her features are usually pretty good, it would've been interesting to hear Busta go in and then hear Nicki go crazy too. I'll keep about half of the tracks from this album, if I had paid for this album I'd probably be more disappointed but being free it's worth checking out. Busta shows he can do slower tempo songs on this project, that being said it makes you miss the tracks he went insane on. In no way is the album a return to form, if anything it's a subtle transition into a more well-rounded rapper, in the long run this direction could work for Busta, but for now we have this album, his debut for YMCMB, and it's just okay.

Rating: 5/10

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Quick Reviews II: The Metal Edition by Dom

So I know I've been gone a bit so I thought I'd do some quick reviews to just get some stuff out there. These are going to be all metal albums from 2012 that I have not reviewed yet. Here are 6 of the biggest metal releases of 2012.

Starting with Testament's 10th album to date, there's not much to say besides that this album is truly great. A step up from The Formation of Damnation this album is thrashy, with flashes of mid-tempo and even a slow song. This is one of the best thrash records I've heard in a while. 9/10

Now, I've never been the biggest JFAC fan but a lot of people were loving this so I gave it a shot. At first I liked it a lot, in the months it's lost what it had, I don't know how but I don't enjoy really at all anymore, it doesn't do a lot for me anymore. 4/10

Shadows Fall's newest album, I'm a big fan of the band, seem them live, met them, overall I love the band. This album is a step up from 2009's Retribution which I enjoyed, this album is more of a straightforward, balls-out, metal album. 8.5/10

Kreator. If you're a death/thrash metal fan, you know this name, if you don't, you're not a real fan. I had never given them a huge chance, I've listened to the classic Pleasure to Kill and liked it but never any other albums. This dropped and I thought I'd give it a shot. I like this album a lot, it's not perfect, it's got some cheesiness and some corny/cliche lyrics but overall it's a pretty solid release. 7/10

Again, if you are a thrash fan, you know Overkill. You know what you're gonna get with an Overkill album, while not as predictable as Megadeth or Slayer, with Overkill you know you're gonna get a balls to the wall thrash album. I love the previous album Ironbound and this one might be even better, this album is a thrashterpiece, go pick this up. 9/10

Baroness' Yellow & Green, another band I've never really listened to until this album came out. I like this album a lot, they've got a sludgy element that reminds you of Mastodon, whom they are compared to all too often. But this album is a good album, I haven't enjoyed a sludge metal album as much since High on Fire's Snakes for the Divine. 8/10

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

"Frank Ocean - channel ORANGE" Review by Dom

Frank Ocean is a California R&B singer who is a member of the OFWGKTA collective group. Frank Ocean always stood out from the other members because he was a singer not a rapper, and his lyrics also strayed away from the horrorcore flag the group had been put under. Ocean released his debut mixtape Nostalgia, Ultra in 2011, the mixtape was met with critical acclaim. Sine then Ocean has become one of the biggest stars in R&B, working with Jay-Z and Kanye West on their album Watch the Throne to working with Pharrell, rap heavyweight Nas and working with the members of Odd Future as well. Here in 2012, Ocean has released his debut album channel ORANGE a week after publicly stating that he was once in love with a man.

1. Start - A 45 second intro track that sets up the second track.

2. Thinkin' Bout You - The first track released from the album and it is nothing short of spectacular. Frank shows his voice off right off the bat and it sounds so good.

3. Fertilizer - A 40 second interlude.

4. Sierra Leone - A nice slower song recounting Frank's lust for a girl during his teenage years.

5. Sweet Life - I'm not sure why but I am not a big fan of this song, it doesn't hold my attention, Frank sounds great but it's a song I can't get into.

6. Not Just Money - Another minute long interlude talking of how money doesn't mean happiness.

7. Super Rich Kids (featuring Earl Sweatshirt) - A 5 minute song featuring Earl Sweatshirt slowly rapping over the same beat. This song is a huge standout, using humor to make fun of rich kids, it's fantastic.

8. Pilot Jones - This track is another one that doesn't hold my attention, as always Frank sounds amazing.

9. Crack Rock - A great song about crack addiction, broken homes and crime. You can hear the emotion is Frank's voice on this track.

10. Pyramids - This song is a 10 minute epic story that is not only a pleasurable listen but is musically complex while still sounding simple enough to the listener's ear. I never thought I'd like a 10 minute long R&B song but Frank Ocean proved me wrong.

11. Lost - This is one of my favorite tracks on this album, the chorus is infectious with Ocean showing his low-scale vocals along with his higher vocals and it sounds phenomenal.

12. White (featuring John Mayer) - An interlude featuring a sweet solo played by John Mayer, it's a nice break from the last 25 minutes of R&B.

13. Monks - This track is an R&B/funk music fusion and it works with Frank's vocals, it's not a standout but it's a good song.

14. Bad Religion - A song about struggles with religion and love, and Frank sings it with such conviction that you feel for him.

15. Pink Matter (featuring Andre 3000) - I was skeptical about this song because honestly I thought Andre would outshine Frank like Andre always does when he has a guest verse. Frank holds his own against him and doesn't let him steal the show and the song benefits from it and is fantastic.

16. Forrest Gump - Another one of my favorite from this album, it hooked me in in the first 15 seconds. One is forced to wonder if this song is sung from the perspective of Jennie from the movie or if it has to do with Frank's love of another man. Regardless, the song is fantastic.

17. End/Golden Girl (featuring Tyler, the Creator) - You only get "Golden Girl" if you buy the physical cd and it's completely worth it especially hearing a surprising verse from Tyler, the Creator. It's a fantastic way to end the album.

Overall - Coming off of a critically acclaimed mixtape and high profile features this album had a lot to live up to. Frank pulled it off in spectacular style. channel ORANGE is one of my favorite albums of 2012, I return to it almost every day/night to listen to.

Rating - 9/10