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Marcus Reviews Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1

20 Sep

Strange Fruition feat Casey Benjamin: After a poem by Ayesha; the album starts off with a thumping piano laden beat (reminiscent of Dr. Dre’s production) from longtime collaborator, Soundtrakk, where Lupe opens with the bar “Now I can’t pledge allegiance to your flag, cause I can’t find no reconciliation with your past/When there was nothing equal for my people in your math, you forced us in the ghetto and you took away our dads” which soundly sets the tone for an album that is supposed to deconstruct “The American Dream”. This track not only sets the tone but also serves as a lyrical warm up of sorts for Lupe as the witty wordplay that made him a mainstay in the “Best Living MC’s” conversation is on full display here. With a dope voicebox chorus from Casey Benjamin (from The Robert Glasper Experiment) as the cherry on top, Strange Fruition continues Lupe’s track record for strong opening tracks for his albums. (5/5)

ITAL (Roses): Backed by a triumphant horn heavy beat by 1500 or Nothin, Lupe encourages to the streets (most significantly the youth) to rise above the stereotypes that society has put upon them on this optimistic yet honest track. Lupe even busts out the distortion voice effect that he’s become fond of as of late for part of the chorus. This song would’ve been right at home on Lasers and I could definitely see it being a single in the future. (4.5/5)

Around My Way (Freedom Ain’t Free): The first single of the album that lead to an brief and unnecessary beef between Lupe & hip-hop legend Pete Rock over the T.R.O.Y. sample that takes up most of the beat. We’ve all heard this one by now so I don’t need to tell you what it’s about or explain it. It’s classic Lupe and still holds up well months after its release. (5/5)

Audubon Ballroom: On this appropriately named track; Lupe reawakens Chitown Guevara, whips out his marching boots and stands on his soapbox with his megaphone (the vocal distortion makes it’s return on the track which I’d like to think was intentional) as he continues the theme of two previous tracks and attempts to elevate the hood (most effectively in the uplifting third verse) while simultaneously revoking white people’s ability to say “Nigga” (Overachiever much?). Fatimes & Bullit supply Lupe with a suitably Cool & Dre-esque epic beat to properly get his revolution on without ever upstaging the MC. The chorus of this song is sure to ruffle plenty jimmies once the masses hear it and I’m sure that’s what Lupe wanted in the first place. Some men just want to watch the world burn. (4.5/5)

Bitch Bad: Now if you haven’t heard Around My Way, you’ve DEFINITELY heard this song by now due to both how relevant and controversial the subject matter is. It’s quite possibly Lupe’s most polarizing song as its garnered very strong positive and negative responses and led to Lupe being referred to as “too preachy” by the unwashed masses. Lupe said that he made this song with the intention of starting a conversation and he did that and then some. Mission accomplished Mr. Fiasco, Mission accomplished. (5/5)

Lamborghini Angels: On the third official single of the album, Lupe goes into full on storyteller mode as he tackles the heavy issues of Materialism, Racism, Women’s Independence, Child Molestation, War Crimes & Untrustworthy Politicians in the form of a 3 part story told from the perspective of 5 different characters over an uptempo and surprisingly danceable beat from Mr. Inkredible (which I definitely freestyled to lol) that samples a section of Lupe’s “Angels (Remix)” from the Enemy of the State mixtape. Lupe Fiasco has been known as a rapper whose songs you have to listen to multiple times to fully understand and this is no different as you won’t fully grasp the concept if you don’t listen closely which I found myself not doing a few times because I was too busy rocking to the beat. This is one of my personal favorite cuts from the album and a great example of balancing style and substance. (5/5)

Put Em Up: Every now and then Lupe will take a break from spreading the gospel and simply remind everyone who might’ve forgotten how ill he is on the mic and that’s exactly what he does on this track. Over a dirty 1500 or Nothin beat, Lupe gets his dragon breath on and precedes to defecate on 95% of the rap game simply because he can. The chorus is a bit weak but I overlook it because of I’m too busy trying to make my way through the Inception level lyrical mazes that Lupe conjured up here. Any claims that Lupe has fallen off lyrical should officially be deaded after this. (4.75/5)

Heart Donor feat Poo Bear: Lupe links up with frequent collaborator Poo Bear (formally known as MDMA who was formally known as Pooh Bear who was formally known as The Artist formally known as Prince) on this track where he compares himself to a heart donor because of how he puts his heart and soul into spreading knowledge & positivity to those who will listen. It’s a nice concept and all but I admittedly find this song to be extremely corny and not in the so corny its awesome kind of way like “Go Baby” or “I Don’t Wanna Care Right Now”. The frolic worthy fairy dust beat by The Runners doesn’t really help matters either. While it’s not a bad song, I consider it to be the first real misstep of the album. (3/5)

How Dare You feat Bilal: I wouldn’t be a Lupe Fiasco album without song for the ladies now would it? Now to be perfectly honest judging from the track title and the Bilal feature I wasn’t expecting it to be this one (I thought it was gonna be Heart Donor) but low and behold here it is. Over a beat from Severe that’s extremely similar to “That’s That Shit” by Snoop Dogg (excuse me Snoop Lion) & R. Kelly, Lupe kicks his special brand of totally inoffensive and slightly cheesy women worship while Bilal berates the unnamed female for being so damn amazing. Yes it’s as corny as it sounds but I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt due to the subject matter unlike the previous track. The women folk will probably eat this one up but it’s not my thing. (3.25/5)

Battle Scars with Guy Sebastian: The fourth single of the album that was originally just a Lupe feature until he jacked it for his album and turned it into a duet is yet another song that most of us have probably heard by now so I don’t need to say much. This one has chart topping single written all over it but due to its’ genuine lyrics and universal subject matter it doesn’t feel like one that you have to “sell out” to make. I personally really like the song and while it’s been done before, appreciate how it compares emotional wounds to war wounds. Guy Sebastian can sing his ass off and I wouldn’t mind seeing them work together again as he’s the only singer that Lupe’s worked with so far that’s held a candle to Matthew Santos and all his glory. (5/5)

Brave Heart feat Poo Bear: After taking a brief detour over to his sensitive side, Lupe roars back in full on gladiator armor ready to overthrow an empire. Lupe hasn’t raged against the machine this hard since Words I Never Said and it’s nice to hear the fire back in his heart as he raps like a man possessed. Obviously looking to redeem themselves for their tomfoolery on Heart Donor, The Runners come back with a beat tailor made for the Coliseum (would also make a dope WWE/Boxing/UFC theme) and thanks to a war ready chant provided by Poo Bear (also seeking redemption) this song becomes Lupe’s equivalent to “The Spiteful Chant” by Kendrick Lamar (who I lowkey wish was on this song). (5/5)

Form Follows Function: Remember how I said Lupe got his dragonbreath on on “Put Em Up”? Well consider this a brigade of dragons conjuring up a goddamn flaming tornado of lyrical doom and double entendres. Over a slick jazz infused classic hip-hop beat by Infamous that was tailor made for this type of lyrical slaughter, Lupe proceeds to re-enforce his unf*ckwitableness (that’s a word now, don’t argue with it just accept it) in such a calm manner that it’s almost smug. I actually visually him smirking in the booth thinking about how rappers are gonna have re-evaluate their careers after he drops this on them. There’s no overarching thing here, just Lupe being rude to the less lyrically gifted. Don’t be a bully, Be A Star Lupe. (5/5)

Cold War feat Jane $$$: Lupe calls this “That Esco Music” in reference to Nas but this song is so Houston that you would’ve thought that Pimp C was gonna raise up from the dead just to jump on this. Lupe sounds like a Southern OG over this syrupy beat by 1500 or Nothin as he gets a bit personal rapping about the death of his brother and how cold it out there in the world when you’re alone. He also throws a clever nod to his Michael Young History character from his earlier mixtapes and first two albums. I’m not sure who Jane $$$ (there’s speculation that it’s either Sarah Green or Janelle Monae) but her chorus only adds to the overall feel of the song. This track MUST be listened to in a car with a great sound system, with your seat leaned back and one hand up on the wheel as you drive slow as hell gritting on everyone you pass (preferably in suburban neighborhoods). Thank me later. (5/5)

Unforgivable Youth feat Jason Evigan: Back in storyteller mode, Lupe drop 3 verses spanning thousands of years chronicling the rise and hypothetical fall of the United States of America as well as how we as a society grossly misuse our resources for selfish & often times destructive gain over rock infused King David beat. To cap it all of it ends with a twist that would make Pierre Boulle (The author of The Planet of the Apes) grin from ear to ear. The only thing keeping this song away from being perfect in my eyes is the underwhelming chorus from Jason Evigan who doesn’t have the vocal presence or power to really make it as impactful as it needed to be. If Chester Bennington, Matthew Santos or Guy Sebastian had been on the chorus then it would’ve pushed the track to another level. Nonetheless this is still a very strong track. (4.75/5)

Hood Now (Outro): On the album closer Lupe has some lighthearted fun as he satirically (and quite hilariously at times) talks about hood life, stereotypes & the members of the African-American community that have risen above them over the years while ending each bar with “It’s Hood Now!” (I guarantee people are going to be saying that by next month) over a breezy, Neptunes-esque beat by Poo Bear. It’s basically “All Black Everything” without the “What If?” scenarios. Lupe seems fully aware of how intense his subject matter can get sometimes throughout his albums so he always closes out things on a lighter note which is a smart move on his part to prevent listeners from walking into oncoming traffic due Lupe’s “This country is shit” raps. This is a cool track, full of quotables, that is guaranteed to leaving you smiling as The Great American Rap Album comes to a close.

Overall:

First off let me start by saying this album should be renamed Food & Liquor II: The Black Plight In America or Food & Liqour II: The Hood Is A Terrible Place or even Lasers 2: This Is What Should’ve Happened The First Time Atlantic Records, these (aside for the last one obviously) more accurately match the overarching message on this album than The Great American Rap Album. This album feels very “Pro-Black” (so much so that I bet the Deluxe Edition comes with a Black Power Fist hair pick, a black beret & a Black Panther sign-up sheet) and really speaks to the hood/breaks down society’s impact on the hood more than it does America’s problem as a whole. But then again Lupe could be trying to convey the message that the existence of hoods & projects is America’s biggest “f*ck up” if you will. Nevertheless, no matter how you interpret it’s overarching message, the fact remains that this is a great rap album and the album that Lupe fans have been waiting to hear from him since The Cool. Like the phoenix raising from the ashes, Lupe returns with a vengeance from the doldrums of the Lasers-era fully rejuvenated with a lot to say and more times than not it hits the mark. From Lasers up until now Lupe’s gained a valuable skill, the ability to rap over expensive mainstream sounding beats without sacrificing any of his lyrical content or “dumbing down” his message. This basically feels like the album that Lupe wished Lasers could’ve been as it features the best/most polished production that he’s ever worked with (The Cool is in second place) and at the same time he was able to say everything that he wanted to say with having to worry about being censored by Atlantic. It’s not without its’ hiccups and it does lose steam in the middle of the album, but it’s still a substantial upgrade from his last effort (if you wanna call it that). While it’s not as strong as a cohesive album as it’s predecessor or The Cool, it’s a large step in the right direction. Jolly good show Mr. Fiasco, jolly good show indeed.

Rating: 4.5/5

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PCP Episode 085: Lupe Fiasco

19 Sep

We have not had a full episode covering music in quite some time. We hope to address this by profiling one of the most controversial in the industry: Lupe Fiasco. We have not always been kind on the works of Mr. FNF, but we always respected if not nearly gushed all over the quality of the music he created. It’s a lot to cover hip-hopers as we anticipate Food & Liquor II. We cover his rise, previous works, highlights, lowlights and the future for rap’s ambassador to nerds.

Marcus Reviews Cruel Summer

15 Sep

To The World feat R. Kelly: We start out this highly anticipated album with R. Kelly singing like his life depended on his vocal performance for the first half of the track before Kanye comes in and delivers one of his better verses in recent memory (even switches up his flow and uses a rhyme scheme that I’ve never heard him use before). The people that have heard this track have been split on Kelly’s presence on the track but I for one actually really dug him on it and really felt like he matched the triumphant beat, produced by Hudson Mohawke & Ye, really well. Ye’s known for having great intro tracks to his albums and this one is no different. (4.5/5)

 

 Clique feat Jay-Z: Since this is one of the 4 singles off of the album released for mass consumption, by now a majority of you have already heard this but I’ll give my two cents anyway. From the get go we’re greeted by the extremely talented & criminally underrated, James Fauntleroy, who gets his Justin Vernon on and does a small but dope intro which sets the stage for Sean, Jay & Kanye to effectly “stunt on these niggas” if you will over Hit-Boy’s minimalistic groove. All of them come correct but if I had to say who stood out most it was definitely Kanye who mixes braggadocio & honest emotion like only he can in his second consecutive strong verse on the album. This track is a certifiable banger and is best heard in a car with good speakers, you’ll be feeling like a million dollars in a hoopty. (4/5)

 

Mercy: We’ve all heard it, it’s dope as hell and I still haven’t gotten tired of it. If it’s not the catchiest hook of 2012 then it’s definitely in the top 5. (4.25/5)

 

New God Flow feat Ghostface Killah: The 3rd single that was released off of the album but with last minute but welcomed addition for the album. We’ve all heard the original with Pusha T & Kanye rapping like men possessed over one of Kanye’s rawest beats in recent memory but then instead of the awkward outro on the original the beat changes The God MC, Ghostface Killah aka Mr. Tony Stark comes in and proceeds to body both Kanye & Pusha on the track! I, for one, have always loved it when Ye collabs with the Wu and I really hope they continue because they haven’t done a whack track together yet. Definitely in the top 3 tracks on the album. (5/5)


The Morning feat Raekwon: In my personal opinion this is the coldest track in the album and easily one of the illest hip-hop cuts to drop this year. Over a grimey, bass heavy instrumental by Kanye & !Illmind; Raekwon, Common, Pusha, Cyhi & even 2 Chainz spit flames cypher style with an equally grimey chorus that I believe is provided by D’Banj. This is my most replayed track on the album & the only real flaw is Ye’s half-assed verse at the end where he reuses some of his bars from New God Flow. If Big Sean & Kid Cudi would’ve hopped on it and Kanye would’ve brought a legit verse this could’ve been the posse cut of the album. Nonetheless this track is a heatrock. (4.75/5)

 

Cold: Ironically the next track after the coldest song on the album happens to literally be “Cold”. Once again this is a track that we’ve all heard and personally it’s a song that I’ve never really liked much. While I dig Kanye’s intensity & reckless abandon on the track, the bars are subpar and the beat is kind of annoying. It always felt like a bonus cut at best and so to see it on the album, especially when it’s supposed to be a group album, is upsetting to say the least. It’s the first completely skippable song on the album in my eyes. I’d probably still get hype if I heard it in a club though. (2.5/5)

 

Higher feat The-Dream, Ma$e & James Fauntleroy: Over a sinister Hit-Boy beat reminiscent of Jay-Z’s “Justify My Thug”, Push brings out the cocaine bars that he became famous for while Ma$e mumbles his way through a forgettable verse, The-Dream handles the chorus & James Fauntleroy comes in for the outro. This was a song that I didn’t vibe with much at first because I’m not really a fan of The-Dream’s voice & I frankly could’ve done without Ma$e being on the track but after a while the track grew on me. The beat, the outro & Pusha’s presence saved this track for me. I can’t help but feel as if this should’ve been saved for Pusha’s solo album though. (3.5/5)


Sin City feat Travi$ Scott & Malik Yusef: In a display of smart track placement, Higher seamlessly transitions into this next track as if they were two parts of one long song. Up-and-coming Rapper/Producer Travi$ Scott comes through and provides another fittingly sinister beat, that would’ve fit perfectly on MBDTF, as well as the solid first verse. Teyana Taylor lays down some nice vocals on the chorus of the song while longtime G.O.O.D. affiliate, Rapper/Poet Malik Yusef does some spoken word in between verse. Ultimately Cyhi The Prynce owns the track as he brings out his signature blend of wit & wordplay and drops one of the strongest verses of the album. While the spoken word sections are a tad bit corny to me, this is a solid track overall that really serves it’s purpose of showcasing a young newcomer & G.O.O.D.’s most underutilized rapper well. (3.75/5)

 

The One feat Marsha Ambrosius & James Fauntleroy: This track debuted months ago in the form of one of four snippets that were leaked from the Cruel Summer film that was made to accompany the album. Marsha Ambrosius opens the track with a rousing chorus as snare drums out of a college band drum line & epic synths explode in the background and turn this track into a militant war cry of sorts. Big Sean, 2 Chainz & Kanye drop some solid verses with a mixture of uplifting, braggadocious and at times funny (Kanye’s Scott Disick line made me chuckle) lyrics but it’s the beat & Marsha’s epic chorus that shine her. If I could compare this track to anything it’d be Lift Off from Watch The Throne except the verses on this weren’t utterly terrible. One of the stronger tracks of the album and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if it ended up being the next single. This is one for the stadiums. (3.75/5)

 

Creepers: Over a atmospheric beat by Dan Black, Cudi raps/rambles/mumbles about…well nothing at all. He just kind of goes off on this melodic rant about seemingly whatever comes to his mind in the moment. It’s really erractic, jarring & a tad bit uncomfortable to listen to (Though he does drop a hilarious line about his only wish would be to have more wishes). It’s grown on me a tad bit with multiple listen but it’s still an extremely strange song that really has no business being on this album because it’s totally out of place. If not for the beat this would be a total mess. (2/5)

 

Bliss: *Kat Williams voice* Now this song right here! THIS SONG RIGHT HERE NIGGA! This is that top down in the summer, driving down the coast type music. Over a sweeping synth heavy beat straight out of the early 80s (once again provided by Hudson Mohawke), Teyana Taylor & John Legend get their R&B on and bring some elegance to this album when it greatly needs it. There were moments where I kind of wished there was a rap verse on it but it does just fine on it’s own. John Legend was criminally underused on this album and this song almost makes up for his absence. Definitely in the top 3 strongest songs on the album. (5/5)


I Don’t Like (Remix) feat Chief Keef & Jadakiss: Another song that we’ve all heard but a song that has no business being on this album at all, let alone being the album closer. Now when this song was released for G.O.O.D. Friday I was fine with it. It’s a fun track and did a good job at building hype for the album but I always viewed as a giveaway and nothing more so it’s placement on the album puzzles & honestly frustrates me. By putting this song on the album it almost makes it feel a bit like a mixtape because it’s not like they were sampling the song, it’s a full out remix of a song that wasn’t even done by someone on the label. This is by far worst album closer that’s ever been on an album that Kanye’s been associated with. (2.5/5)

 

Overall/Closing Statements:

 

Cruel Summer is a frustrating album. Frustrating not because it’s bad, but because it should’ve been so much better than it actually turned out to be. While there were some moments of sheer brilliance on this album there were also moments that baffled me and left me wondering if they even tried. For every moment where this album rises to the occasion, there are others where it feels more like an expensive mixtape than a group album. The production is fantastic for the most part (which is to be expected at this point) but lyrically it’s hit & miss throughout and the album is severely lacking in subject matter, which for an group the caliber of GOOD Music, is kind of unacceptable. For a man who’s notorious for being a perfectionist, I’m honestly shocked at how Kanye let this album seem so thrown together for the most part. Also this album says it’s a GOOD Music album but aside from Big Sean, Pusha T & Kanye, all of the other members are either on one song or not on the album at all (where’s Mr. Hudson, Mos Def & Q-Tip in all of this?). Say what you will about Maybach Music Group but they know how to utilize all of their artists properly, which is a notion that GOOD seems to still be figuring out how to do. I’m not saying this to say that it’s a terrible album because it’s solid, but after all of the hype, speculation & mystery surrounding this highly anticipated project the payoff left me as a fan feeling jipped. I really wish I could give this album the benefit of the doubt but when I really think about it, I just can’t because at this point I expect the better from Kanye and his label mates (especially from Ye). The only thing truly cruel about this album is the bittersweet taste it leaves in your mouth. Nevertheless I’m sure that the masses will eat this album up when it drops but I for one will be sitting here waiting for Kanye’s 6th solo album so he can silence any doubts in my head about him getting a little too comfortable at the top.

 

Rating: 3.5/5

Marcus Reviews Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange

10 Jul

Start: Frank turns on his Playstation (The sound of the start up screen brings back fond memories), presses start on Street Fighter and our audio adventure begins!

Thinkin Bout You: By now we’ve all heard this song but for those that haven’t heard the album version yet it’s just the original version with some added vocals and instruments to round it all out. It’s still as great as it was the first time you heard it so I don’t need to really say much here. (5/5)

Fertilizer: The first interlude of the album features Frank singing a short but catchy little jingle about accepting someone’s bullshit if that’s all that they’ve got (even in a 30 second interlude his clever songwriting shines). I actually wouldn’t have minded hearing that as a full song because I know he would’ve made it truly interesting.

Sierra Leone : Over a filtered low-fi instrumental Frank tells a story of an experience with a girl named Sierra Leone while cleverly comparing her to the country in Africa that she was named after. It’s a short one (40 seconds less and it could be an interlude itself) but there’s something dream-like about this track that kept me coming back. (4/5)

Sweet Life: The third official track to be released off of Channel Orange is a jazzy little number about appreciating the more modest things in life. Singing “Why see the world, when you’ve got the beach?” Frank shows that he’s a man of simple tastes over the smooth Neptunes production. It may not be as lyrically adventurous as some of his other tracks but it’s the simplicity of it all that makes it all work so well. Definitely made me think of Maxwell when I heard it. (4.5/5)

Not Just Money: In the second interlude, two women talk about money not being the most important thing in life.

Super Rich Kids feat Earl Sweatshirt: Opening with piano strikes reminiscent of the Elton John classic “Bennie & the Jets”, Frank talks about his experience with a group of brash & spoiled rich kids with no supervision while crooning a little bit of “Real Love” by Mary J. Blige in the bridge for good measure. If you’d been to one of his concerts earlier this year or been on Youtube (like myself) then you’ve heard the live version of this track already but the album version features a short but effective verse from the elusive Earl Sweatshirt. Definitely one of the strongest tracks on the album and a personal favorite of mine. (5/5)

Pilot Jones: After a short spoken intro, Frank shows off his falsetto over a distorted beat that sounds like it’d be on Andre 3000’s The Love Below album as he chronicles his spontaneous relationship with a reckless older woman that he has irrationally fallen for. This track is yet another showcase of his creative and unorthodox that Frank is when it comes to storytelling. One of my favorite tracks on the album (4.5/5)

Crack Rock: Backed by an old school breakbeat-esque instrumental tells the tragic tale about a man who’s life fell apart after getting addicted to crack. It’s a pretty chill record overall but if I’m being honest it’s a bit weak compared to the other tracks on the album. (3.5/5)

Pyramids: Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard and played this track a ridiculous amount of times by now. This, to me, is Frank’s magnum opus. Starting off as a synth heavy jam telling the tale of the Egyptian princess herself and then eventually turning the song into a sensual slow jam about a stripper with clever allusions to the Egyptian lore with a John Mayer guitar solo to close it out, Pyramids is a truly epic track. If there was ever a song that showcases everything that’s special about Frank Ocean , this would be it. Arguably the best track to drop this year. (5/5)

Lost: “Girl you know your lost, lost in the heat of it all” Ocean sings as he as he divulges the details of his fling with a girl that takes them around the world making reckless decisions. It’s a solid track overall but there’s nothing that really makes it stand out, especially when it comes after a song like Pyramids. (3.5/5)

White feat John Mayer: This isn’t a longer version of the track of same name that was featured on the Odd Future Tape Vol 2, but is instead the third interlude featuring about 45 seconds of John Mayer strumming on the guitar.

Monks: Frank tells us of some of his sexual conquests with women while on tour, most noticeably an Indian girl with a British accent who’s in over her head, over a drum heavy funk groove. Another track that won’t really change your life but it’s catchy enough to not be considered filler. (3.75/5)

Bad Religion: After a couple of average tracks, Frank reminds us of his prowess with the pen as he tells a story of unrequited love in the form of a late night taxi cab confessional backed by a mournful orchestra. The truly interesting thing about the subject matter though is that it could either be about organized religion or a broken relationship, it’s all up to interpretation. It’s also on this track where he shows the first true signs of his bisexuality with the line “I can never make him love me” which is boldly sang several times in the chorus. It’s a controversial but nonetheless beautiful song and will definitely be one of the most buzz worthy tracks on the album. It’s a shame it’s so short. (4.75/5)

Pink Matter feat Andre 3000: Spacey background synths, a cinematic strings section, random chants and a lone guitar provide the backdrop for Ocean’s sultry vocals as he questions the meaning of life and spares with his “sensei” (I personally think he’s referring to God/”The Higher Power” here) in outer space. The song is already amazing on its own then the ever enigmatic Andre3000 shows up, drops one of the illest verses of the year so far, does a small vocal duet with Frank and closes the track out with another 8 bar verse. This song is right behind Pyramids as my favorite song on the album. (5/5)

Forrest Gump: The last track on the album also serves as its most controversial as Frank blatantly professes his love for the “Forrest Gump” over a southern-tinged instrumental. Once again the meaning of this song is completely left up to interpretation. It could be about him exploring his sexuality or it could be a concept song from the perspective of Forrest Gump’s love interest, Jenny. Nonetheless it’s a fun little track that closes out the album on a lighter note (albeit an eyebrow raising one). (4.5/5)

End: While a distorted version of Voodoo plays over a car radio, Frank and a female make out before she begins to tell him how special he is to which he seemingly shrugs off and goes back inside. Thus ending our adventure.

Overall:

Channel Orange one of those rare albums that comes along every once in a while that can truly be considered “special”. In a time where most R&B (and music in general for that matter) is beginning to retread the same tired topics and soundscapes, Frank Ocean’s debut album takes the norm and turns it on it’s ear. While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea and it’s bound to ruffle some feathers, one thing that Ocean succeeded in doing is make the first truly intriguing mainstream album in what seems like a long time. The music crosses several genres, Frank shows off impressive vocal range throughout, the song structures are unconventional & the lyrics are often times both thought provoking and heart-wrenching. Yes there are a couple of misfires (even the misfires are better than some artists better tracks) and the some of the song lengths leave a bit to be desired, but the good FAR outweighs the bad here. While artists like The Weeknd may have more expensive sounding production and more brash lyrical content, simply put no one is doing music like Frank Ocean right now. Frank doesn’t simply make songs he makes movies in audio form and you can’t help but get drawn into the journey that he takes you on. It’s honestly one of the few albums that I’ve ever heard that actually gets better with each listen. Time will tell if turns out to be a timeless album but one things for sure, Channel Orange may just be the best album to drop in 2012. Thank you Frank.

Lyrics: 5/5

Production: 4.75/5

Replay Value: 4.5/5

Rating: 4.75/5

PCP Overdose: Biff Hardpeck

12 Apr

After the success of last weeks Overdose episode, we’ve decided to to being it back. The title makes sense if you listen, but is funny regardless. This episode brings the return of Carrolbot (from HR?) to the crew. We discuss a lot here. The change in game difficulty over the years, argue whether games are art (some of our replies may surprise you), we define what a “backpacker” is, the “old people complaining about young music” story, music sampling, white liberal guilt, Game Change and so much more! So much more that we have to push back 069 another week. It’s turning into a running joke, we know, but it’s one we can all revel in. Join us as we play the “Which ___ Cast Member Are You?” game.

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Marcus Reviews WZRD by Kid Cudi and Dot da Genius

23 Feb

The Arrival: The album opens up with a very omnious and sparse instrumental featuring a simple guitar riff backed by some spacy synths, some 808s and a cinematic strings as it progresses on. It’s exactly the type of opener you’d expect out of Cudi and does a good job of setting the tone for the album. (No Rating)

 

High Off Life: Still riding the vibe of the opener, this track opens with an electric guitar and builds into a beat somewhat reminiscent of “We Will Rock You” as Cudi sings (with some slight vocoder-like altering) about being High Off Life. There’s nothing necessarily spectacular about this track but I wouldn’t say that it’s skip worthy either. I could definitely see this being a hit live. (3.5/5)

 

The Dream Time Machine: On this track Cudi croons over a spacey instrumental about how everything in his life seems like a dream now. If any OG Cudi fans were turned off by the rock vibe of the first track this will bring them right back in as it sounds like something off of the first Man on the Moon album. Very chill track that’s easy to vibe with. (4.5/5)

 

Love Hard: Switching back into rock mode, Cudi sings “If you love soft, then you’ve already lost/But if you love hard, then let down your guard and follow your heart” over a guitar riff that you could’ve heard in rock songs back in the 80s-90s. Half way though the song though it evolves into a euro-pop dance beat and then closes out the track by blending the two genres. Catchy track with some pretty dope production. I could see this working as a single. (3.5/5)

 

Live & Learn: Cudi encourages us to live our lives but to always learn from our mistakes over a lighthearted garage rock instrumental that I could definitely hear on an N.E.R.D. album. Towards the end of the the track, just like the song before it, it turns into a dubstep-esque jam to bring it all home. Yet another song that won’t change anyone’s life but catchy and easy to listen to nonetheless. (4/5)

 

Brake: This track leaked a while ago to mixed reviews from critics and Cudi fans alike (I wasn’t really feeling it myself) but after hearing it again it’s kind of grown on me. For those that haven’t heard it, Cudi and Dot Da Genius get their Psychedelic Rock this one. Cudi slurs melodically over a distorted and trippy psych-rock instrumental (I could definitely hear Sleigh Bells doing a song like this) stating that even if he has no direction he won’t “break”. It’s one of the few songs on the album that you’ll either really like or hate. I for one have grown to like it. (3.5/5)

 

Teleport 2 Me, Jamie: I’ve been a fan of this one ever since the snippet came out months ago. Over a low-key electro-rock instrumental (sampling “Under Your Spell” by Desire from the Drive Soundtrack) Cudi sings about how he longs for the presence of his girlfriend and how he wishes that she could just teleport to him. Along with The Dream Time Machine, This is the only other track on the album that is reminiscent of Cudi’s previous work on the MotM albums and it’s probably also the most radio ready song on the album (thus the reason why it’s the first single). (4.5/5)

 

Where Did You Sleep Last Night?: On what’s probably the biggest deviation from Cudi’s normal style, he tells the story of an enigmatic woman that he had a romantic fling with that may or may not have killer her husband and disappeared over a country rock style instrumental. This is definitely bound to be one of the more polarizing tracks on the album. I myself quite like it and respect Cudi for doing something so different. Good music to drive to. (4/5)

 

Efflictim: With nothing but an acoustic guitar and a piano serving as a backdrop, Cudi asks his girl the famous attention seeking question, “What you would do if you found out that I was dead”, and then revisits the previously touched upon anecdote about how life’s too short to not make things right. There’s nothing really wrong with this song but it’s definitely a filler song. (3/5)

 

Dr. Pill: Cudi takes his second crack at psychedelia, but this time with a bit of a metal edge, as sings about not feeling like himself and pleads to “Dr. Pill” to make him feel better. In my opinion this is the weakest track on the album in terms of subject matter and production. Not really a fan. (2.5/5)

 

Upper Room: On the album closer Cudi gets a little philosophical as he sings about his belief in God (thus the “Upper Room”) having a destiny for all of us but most people are too pussy to pursue their own backed by a fitting instrumental complete with flighty synths and strings. Like Cudi’s previous albums even though they’re some darkness throughout, we end on a high note with a little hope in our hearts. Solid track that I’m sure will inspire some people to get out there and pursue their dreams. (4/5)

 

Closing Thoughts:

Going into this album alot of Kid Cudi fans had some heavy doubts and worried that this album would turn out to be yet another rapper’s failed attempt at doing another genre. While my doubts weren’t as strong as others might’ve been they were still there nonetheless, but after listening to the album a couple of times through I can honestly say that it turned out to be alot better than I thought it would be. Unlike fellow rapper turned “rocker”, Lil Wayne, Cudi actually seems like he has a genuine appreciation for the genre and took some time to study it’s various styles. With that being said this is far from a GREAT album. Where this album truly suffers to me is in the songwriting. Most of the lyrics are very amateur and weak and if it weren’t for Cudi’s penchant for melody they would’ve mostly likely completely fallen flat. What this album lacks in subject matter though it more than makes up for in production. You can tell that Dot Da Genius and Cudi took their time out to make sure this album sounded they way they wanted it to and it really shows because they sound like a well oiled machine. It’s the musical backing that really makes Cudi’s vocals work on the album. While this will most likely never end up on anyone’s “Top 100 Best Rock Albums of All Time” list, it’s a pretty well made album and could serve as a solid entry into the rock genre if Cudi decided to go full time with it. If anything Cudi deserves some respect for actually taking time out and making this ambitious project work. Kudos to you Mr. Mescudi, kudos to you.

Lyrics: 2.75/5

Production: 4.5/5

Overall: 3.5/5

PCP’s Weekly Dose: Grammys

21 Feb

We’re back this week in our usual rambling format for your listening pleasure. We wanted to keep things loose to keep things off the top of the head, but that didn’t work out too well as we eventually focused on the Adele Grammy Awards including the butt-hurt over Best New Artist,  who that random Paul McCartney guy is and that there Chris Brown kid. We round out the discussion with much more, but the principle amount of this episode revolves around the musical showcase. Be sure to check back in soon for 065: Seth MacFarlane

PCP Episode 061: Best of 2011 Avery Awards

26 Jan

At long last, we present to you the 2nd annual PCP: Best of the Year Awards. Also known as the Averys. Prepare to be ticked off as we run down the best in movies, video games, anime/manga, TV, comics and music that came out in 2011. Some are mired in controversy and others are plain obvious here. But that’s not the point. These awards are all about you guys telling us how wrong we are for the decisions that were made and that’s what we’re looking forward to reading from you all at home. Categories will be trickling out slowly.

Movies

Best Comedy: The Muppets, Hangover II, Bridesmaids, Cedar Rapids, Super, A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas

Best Drama: Drive, Warrior, 50/50, Midnight in Paris, Limitless, Ides of March

Best Action: Harry Potter 8, Fast 5, Battle: Los Angeles, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Hanna, Attack the Block

Best Animated Movie: Rango, Rio, Adventures of Tin Tin, Kung Fu Panda 2, Winnie the Pooh, Puss in Boots

Best Comic Book Movie: Thor, Captain America, X-Men: First Class, Green Hornet

Video Games

Best Console: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Wii, 3DS, PSP, PC

Best New IP: Bulletstorm, LA Noire, Shadows of the Damned, Catherine, Dead Island, Rage

Best Shooter: Gears of War 3, Battlefield 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Resistance 3, Killzone 3, Portal 2

Best RPG: Disgaea 4, Skyward Sword, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Dragon Age 2, Pokemon: Black & White

Best Action/Adventure: Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, Dead Space 2, Batman Arkham City III, Saint’s Row the Third, Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One, inFamous 2

Best Studio: Ubisoft, Rocksteady, BioWare, Sucker Punch, Grasshopper Manufacture, Rockstar

Anime and Manga

Best Shonen: Naruto, The Breaker, One Piece, Medaka Box, Kenichi, Bloody Monday

Best Alternative: Sun Ken Rock, Gantz, Deadman Wonderland, Wolf Guy, Zetman, I Am Hero

Best Manga Adaptation: Bakuman, Beezlebub, Mirai Nikki, Blue Exorcist, Deadman Wonderland, Usagi Drops

Best 12 Episode Anime: Baka to test, Mayoi Chiki, Ano Hana, Infinite Stratos, Kore Wa Zombie Desu Ka, Stein’s Gate

Best Ongoing Anime: Guilty Crown, Fate Zero, Persona 4, Tiger & Bunny, Marvel Anime, Penguin Drop

Television

Best Cancelled/Ended Show: Smallville, Star Gate, The Hard Times of RJ Burger, Entourage, Lights Out

Best New Show: Being Human, Alphas, Death Valley, Awkward, New Girl, Hell on Wheels

Best  Returning Show: Breaking Bad, Supernatural, Psych, Community, Justified, Vampire Diaries

Best Animated Show: Young Justice, Regular Show, Adventure Time, Avengers, South Park, Archer

Best Premium Program: Game of Thrones, Spartacus, How to Make it in America, Boardwalk Empire, MisFits

Comic Books

Best Marvel Book: Thunderbolts, X-Force, Journey Into Mystery, Avengers Academy, Future Foundation, Iron Man

Best DC Book: Justice League, Wonder Woman, Batman, Animal Man, Swamp Thing, Aquaman

Best Event: Flashpoint, Fear Itself, Spider Island, Death Of Spiderman, New 52, Artifacts

Best Independent Book: Chew, Invincible, American Vampire, The Unwritten, Scalped, Morning Glories

Best Writer: Scott Snyder, Jason Aaron, Jeff Parker, Geoff Johns, Jonathan Hickman, Nick Spencer

Best Artist: Ivan Reis, Jimmy Cheung, Humberto Ramos, Francis Manapul, Rafael Albuquerque, Stuart Immomen

Music

Best Album: Camp by Childish Gambino, Section 80 by Kendrick Lamar, Take Care by Drake, Goblin by Tyler the Creator, Bon Iver by Bon Iver, Mylo Xylo by Coldplay

Best Artist: Kanye & Jay-Z, Coldplay, Lady Gaga, Drake, Childish Gambino, Adele

Best Song: Niggas In Paris by Kanye & Jay-Z, Rolling In The Deep by Adele, Yonkers by Tyler the Creator, Novacane by Frank Ocean, Marvin’s Room by Drake, Heartbeat by Chidish Gambino, Paradise by Coldplay, Fuck Your Ethnicity by Kendrick Lamar

Best Music Video: Our Deal by Best Coast, Otis by Kanye & Jay-Z, Words I Never Said by Lupe Fiasco, All Of The Lights by Kanye, Bonfire by Childish Gambino, Iron by Woodkid

Best Soundtrack: Drive, Attack The Block, Saints Row the 3rd, Fight Night Champion, Hanna, The Muppets

PCP’s Weekly Dose: Ramble II

24 Jan

You didn’t think we’d vanish off the face of the web only to return for 30 minutes and disappear again, did you? We care about you all far too much for that. We continue the rambling session that we started before and let the stream of consciousness continue to flow. What pops in our collective noodles? Well, we get a bit topic and discuss SOPA/PIPA/ACTA, Red Tails, rap beefs, Daft Punk, Lupe Fiasco’s Friend of the People and the ongoing award season.

PCP’s Weekly Dose: Ramble

23 Jan

We’re slipping, we know! We’re sorry for all the hold-ups, but we try to make up for it by going off the cuff here and just talk about everything that comes to mind. What does that entail? Dragon Age II, game and movie endings, the “Sh** __ People Say” glut, parents listening to your music and Thor typing in all caps.