Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Progression of a Young Artist

Drake - Take Care Review 

By Rampage

I remember the first time my cousin asked me if I have ever heard of Drake in the summer of 2009. “Is he a rapper?” I asked. “Yeah, he used to be on Degrassi but he’s really good at rapping and he’s signed with Lil Wayne” she told me. I was a little skeptical of a rapper with Degrassi roots but I let her show me a song off of her iPod and I believe it was “Best I Ever Had” (before it was the most overplayed song of the year) and my first thought was this sounds good, who’s the guy singing though? When she told me it was Drake who was also singing I didn’t believe her and it was something new to me that someone who could flow with the confidence of a rapper could pull back and also show his vocals for a hit song. A song that would get him the mainstream buzz he needed to be taken seriously in the rap community.

I listened to So Far Gone and thought it was a great mixtape for its unique R&B with its share of rap verses, and it broke new ground when the same song my cousin had showed me that summer was nominated for two Grammy’s and was #2 on the Billboard charts. A year later, after rolling with the Young Money camp and some features his debut album Thank Me Later was released with the world waiting to see if he could maintain that buzz with a studio album. What came out was a solid album with unique production, effective features, memorable verses, different sounds and a display of his vocal ability which makes for catchy melodies. To this day I will always remember my friend bumping “Miss Me” and “Show Me a Good Time” on our way to school and I can recite the flows word for word. And while the album did have some flaws with cohesiveness it made Drake a household name and showed that he wasn’t a one-hit wonder. 

Now take a look back on the year since then and Drake’s buzz has been relatively quiet, aside from DJ Khaled's "I'm on One" which was mainly successful because of Drake's hook, some unreleased material and a couple of guest verses. But with so many new artists this year and the weight of the sophomore jinx lingering, fans anxiously awaited his new album Take Care, which was released November 15th after many delays and I believe it was worth the wait. 

The album opens with a down-tempo piano, the same way Thank Me Later did with “Fireworks”, and is backed by soft vocals from popular Canadian singer Chantal Kreviazuk. The opening lines, “I think I killed everybody in the game last year man, fuck it I was on though” (Over My Dead Body) reaffirm his impact in the past year and the track is an ode to his recent success and his status in hip hop. 
The album surrounds an overall sorrowful tone but that comes from Drake's honesty in his mixed feelings about success and past relationships. For example, "Shot for Me" tells of Drake's influence on an ex-girlfriend and how she'll leaving him because "he's the man" and how she'll never find another person like him. Something all guys can relate to when a girl leaves you. 

While on the drunk dial anthem "Marvin's Room" Drake is the one getting wasted at a bar and trying to get a late night booty call from a girl who is already in a relationship. His justification is "I'm just sayin', you could do better."
The album's two singles "Headlines" and "Proud of You" showcase Drake's ability to write hooks that you can sing along to. Also see "Take Care" where Drake and Rihanna take turns crooning about letting go of the past.  

The album has the usual Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj and Rick Ross features but also showcases some new artists such as Kendrick Lamar, The Weeknd and lets rap recluse Andre 3000 drop in for a guest verse. Each feature adds to the template of Take Care in a way that gives the album replay value also largely attributed to the production which was mostly done by Noah "40" Shebib and one of the best beats of the year by Just Blaze.   
My favorite tracks would have to be, "Lord Knows" because of the mastered production from Just Blaze and Drake comfortably spitting some of the best rap lines I've ever heard from him. "The Real Her" contains Andre 3000 bodying Wayne and Drake on the song but that's probably why Drake sang the whole time. "Under ground Kings" has almost the amount of hype that "Lord Knows" does, with Drake rapping "I'm the greatest, man I said that before I knew I was."  
There are people who will forever say Drake is soft and sings too much but overall, the 18 tracks on Take Care have something for everybody. For hip hop heads like myself "Lord Knows" and "Under Ground Kings" have bars that are undeniable. It has radio friendly tracks (Take Care, Headlines) it has regretful relationship tracks (Shot for Me, Doing it Wrong) and songs about his success and growth (We'll Be Fine). Not only that, but the production, subject matter and musicality all coincide pretty well; something that was lacking in Thank Me Later.

I could've done without "Make You Proud" and "HYFR" but Drake has progressed and it is something the fans, myself included, have been waiting for.  So as Drake raps on "Crew Love," "really I think I like who I'm becoming" I think the world would agree they do too.  

*Bonus Tracks: 
-The Motto  
-Hate Sleeping Alone

My Rating:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Happy Birthday to a Hip Hop Legend No Longer With Us

Happy Birthday to Christopher Rios, better known as Big Punisher (Big Pun), who would have been 40 today if not for a fatal heart attack caused by his morbid obesity. I apologize for my first two posts dealing with deaths in hip hop, but just like Heavy D's recent death that is now shaking the hip hop community, something beautiful can be found in these losses. Big Pun is in my opinion the best hispanic rapper to ever grace his voice on a beat. Capital Punishment is one of my favorite albums based on it's lyrical value alone, and his second album Yeeeah Baby,  released shortly after his death, did not disappoint.

"I shatter dreams/
like Jordan, assault and batter your team/
your squadron will be barred from rap like Adam and Eve at the garden." - "Dream Shatterer"

Pun was known for his lightning quick delivery and breath control (all the more amazing taking into account his obesity) as well as his multisyllablic rhyme schemes and street braggadocio which he delivered pound for pound. (no pun intended) (haha. big pun)

Pun also had a connection with the ladies which I will never understand. A story told by Prodigy of Mobb Deep comes to mind. Long story short Pun walked into a hotel room with a young lady and five minutes later she ran out screaming, "He tried to get on top!!!" Yes 500 pounds of puerto rican is a lot to love but with lyrics like, "I ain't a playa, I just fuck a lot/jump on top of my dick, and work them hips until I bust a shot" (I'm Not A Player) it's easy to see that he did not let his size affect his mack daddy abilities.

Big Pun's debut album Capital Punishment was nominated for best rap album at the 1999 Grammy Awards but in a major upset lost to Jay-Z's Vol. 2...Hard Knock Life. Big Pun fought a very open battle with obesity in the early 90s and on February 7th, 2000 he died of respiratory failure.

"My word is bond, long as I'm alive, ima put it on" -"You Came Up"

With all the arguments I hear about the best rappers to bless the mic I always hear the same names Biggie, 2pac, Eminem, etc.. It's a shame more people don't realize the quality of music that Pun put out in his career and his big personality which matched his big heart. Your legacy will live on through your music and that's the greatest gift you could've given us. R.I.P.

Peace, love and hip hop


"Still Not a Player"

This song brought him into the mainstream light and showed the world he wasn't
 just another rapper.

"Twinz (98 Deep Cover)" (feat. Fat Joe) 

90's street anthem. With help from Fat joe and their verses playing off each other this song is revolutionary.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Hip Hop Loses Yet Another Legend

After the sudden deaths of Amy Whinehouse and Nate Dogg the music industry suffers another tragic loss. Heavy D, leader of hip hop group Heavy D and the Boyz has died today at the age of 44. He has been making music since his debut album Living Large and has not stopped being in the spotlight since. His most recent performance was on the 2011 BET Hip Hop Awards (scary timing). While hip hop loses another star it will certainly not forget it's heaviest one. R.I.P.

His last interview:

Old school hip hop at it's finest:

So...Where Do I Start?

So if you would have told me that I should make a blog a couple of years ago I probably would've given u a weird look and said for what? Blogs are for self-centered ass holes who think people give a shit about what flavor ice cream they ate last night while watching some gay lifetime movie. But in retrospect I realize we're in a new age of networking. It's probably the same reason people go on myspace, facebook and twitter, because all the kids are doing it. So my purpose with this blog is simply to express my opinions and hopefully educate the reader to make their own opinions. I will criticize music and movies and any other pop culture news that I can. This blog will be a journal for my personal life and experiences and hopefully the least the reader can get is a laugh or two at the stupid shit that happens in the world. This is just the beginning. -Rampage 

P.S. I won't be posting any of my music on this site because this blog is strictly for critical and observational purposes if you are interested you can follow the links below.!/pages/Rampage/121557261245030

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