Astonish is a veteran hip-hop artist from the north side of Chicago. His fourth solo project, To Whom It May Concern, dropped in the fall of 2016.
To Whom It May Concern is a very dope album and very personal. While it is Astonish’s fourth solo project, it feels like his first. It is obvious that he took time with this project — that it is important to him. The entire project has the vibe of what I think most artists want for their first album. The project feels like Astonish dedicated his life to those twelve tracks and he’s introducing himself to the world — although he’s an established eight year veteran.
Astonish packed To Whom It May Concern full of so much raw emotion and passion. I don’t usually compare hip-hop artists but listening to this project reminded me of listening to Blu & Exile’s Below The Heavens because of the soulful beats along with a perfect blend of melody and hardcore rapping.
The choice of “Get Away” as the first video off the To Whom It May Concern wasn’t surprising because the song was also featured on Astonish’s 2015 project, The Who Tape. Even though it wasn’t surprising, it was definitely the right choice.
“Get Away” is a dope track and I wouldn’t be surprised if it guided Astonish into the direction of where To Whom It May Concern went. Throughout the project he seems to be battling with several emotions and looking for an escape or for some help. All of those feelings are also conveyed on “Get Away”.
As dope as “Get Away” is as a standalone track, the video somehow made it better. The plot of the video has Astonish in a situation where he can get him and his girl into a better life but his paranoia gives him the idea to assure his girl of safety and happiness in the event that the opportunity he took comes back to bite him in the ass — which it does.
As grim as it sounds, I think death was an underlying concept throughout To Whom It May Concern. The title itself sounds like how someone would start their suicide note. Death makes a real appearance on the project as Astonish’s late friend — JDott Trife — is featured on the track, “Ride“. I think the end of the “Get Away” video furthermore confirms my thoughts as while Astonish’s girl in the video “got away” to live a happy life while Astonish also “got away” in a more permanent way.
“Are you trying to wear that black dress to my address? I got a bed, no frame, just a mattress.”
Joey Purp is a Chicago rapper from the Savemoney crew (which includes Chance the Rapper, Vic Mensa, Towkio, and a host of other artists). Purp released his breakout project, iiiDrops, in May of 2016 and received much acclaim for the project.
“Girls @” is the first single off iiiDrops, it is a feel-good song — different sound from everything else on iiiDrops — and the video matches the vibe of the track. Joey, Chance, and friends seem to have had a great time shooting this video. I guess when Joey and Chance were asking “where the girls at?”, the question got answered because they have a large/diverse group of women in this video.
If you aren’t familiar with Joey Purp, I wouldn’t judge him off of this track.Even though I enjoy “Girls @”, it doesn’t showcase Purp’s talent. I believe Purp is the most lyrical rapper in the Savemoney crew, and that will become apparent if you listen to iiiDrops.
Jae Haze shows off his game-face in this visual for his single “Numbers” off of his upcoming project; No Idea. This track is packed full of punchlines and metaphors as Haze talks about how his hustle and hunger separates him from the competition.
Haze offers several clever basketball references on “Numbers” and as a visual aid to those references, Haze is shown rocking an impressive collection basketball jerseys in this video.
Those jerseys include: Fredro Starr’s jersey from Sunset Park, Will Smith’s high school jersey from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Jesus Shuttlesworth’s Lincoln High School jersey from He Got Game.
One of the many standout lines on the track is the opener: “I’m 23 in that Boston Garden, they can’t guard me”, so it was only right for Haze to pay homage to Jordan in this video. There is an autographed Michael Jordan Bulls jersey displayed as Haze raps the opening line and Haze can be seen wearing a 2003 Michael Jordan All-Star jersey.
Stay on the lookout for Jae Haze’s upcoming project; No Idea, set to drop in the fall of 2016.
If you are unfamiliar with Smino, I suggest you get your life in order. Besides his own projects (SICK SICK SICK EP and blkjuptr), Smino has really impressed with his guest appearances on his peers’ work. Smino’s most notable guest appearances were on Saba’s “World In My Hands” and Noname’s “Shadow Man”.
While being interviewed by Peter Rosenberg on Hot 97, Smino mentioned his verse on Noname’s “Shadow Man” is his favorite verse to-date because of the subject matter of the song. Smino went on to quote a line from his “Shadow Man” verse — coincidentally my favorite line from that verse: “Tippy toe on a tightrope. Leaning on green and it’s going to be a dice roll. I’m fiending for a feline who mindset’s like Afeni, I got Tupac’s for us. Gold on my gum-line, done got rich off my tongue.” That line is a perfect example of what Smino was referencing during the interview about him being just as much “ratchet” as he is “conscious”.
In the interview, Smino talked about social media (Twitter being his preference), his love for Chicago, and his musical influences (including music acts like: Dungeon Family, Ludacris, Nelly, and Kanye West.)
As the anticipation for Chance The Rapper’s third solo project release grows, he has continued to make noise. Whether it be from late-night talk shows, Saturday Night Live, beefing with Spike Lee, collaborating with Kanye West, or working with the Chicago White Sox — Chance is definitely making noise.
In what has the makings of an anthem-like song for the city of Chicago, Chance makes the city the focal point of the “Angels” music video. The video depicts Chance as a superhero fresh-out-of-the-comics as he flew onto a Chicago ‘L’ train car. As Chance surfed the CTA train car, Saba (featured on the hook) and others had fun of their own inside the train.
The video has a powerful ending as a halo appears over the head of the little boy who stars in the video. “Angels” is song much about cleaning up the streets of Chicago and reminiscing on all of those who have lost their lives in the city. Showing Chance (a Chicago-native who continues to work to help the young people in the city) as a superhero but still showing this little boy with a halo is a powerful message. It takes more than one person to right the wrongs in Chicago.
Chance continues to go against the grain in hip-hop with his music, performances, visuals, and business ventures. To be a 22-year old independent rapper without a commercial album and to be making the moves he’s made, it is hard not to be impressed by Chance The Rapper.
“You know a lot!” – DJ Khaled
If you are unfamiliar with Nardwuar the Human Serviette, this is a great way to be introduced to him. Nardwuar is a different breed of interviewer, hailing from Vancouver.
“Catalog Alert” – DJ Khaled
Nardwuar’s research-game is crazy! He dives deep into his interviewee’s history to ask about things that are usually overlooked and ties them to the music. DJ Khaled wasn’t an exception.
Many people don’t take DJ Khaled seriously and/or question exactly what he does but he has definitely left his mark in hip-hop and he wasn’t an overnight success. Nardwuar dug deep into Khaled’s past showing how long of a grind and how much hard-work it took for Khaled to get where he is now. From sneaking mixtapes into customers’ shoeboxes when he worked at Champs to performing at SXSW alongside Nas.
“Biggest interview you ever did! Congrats, your price weNt up!” – DJ Khaled
Seven Grammy nominations in 2014 was just the icing on the cake for all that Kendrick Lamar had accomplished with the release of his debut commercial album — good kid, m.A.A.d city. The accomplishment of being nominated for seven Grammys was tainted when popular opinion suggested that Kendrick was robbed of Best New Artist and Best Rap Album awards in favor of Macklemore.
Fast forward to 2016, Kendrick is nominated for 11 Grammys (second most nominations for a single night behind Michael Jackson’s 12 nominations in 1984).
I have argued that good kid, m.A.A.d city is better than To Pimp A Butterfly but I will acknowledge that To Pimp A Butterfly has a stronger message and can be considered a more important work of art.
To promote the 2016 Grammy Awards ceremony, Kendrick took the spotlight off of himself to showcase the “mad city” that molded him — Compton.
Kendrick should win at least five Grammys out of his 11 nominations. Best Rap Song, Best Rap Performance, Best Music Video, and Song of the Year for “Alright.” Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. To Pimp A Butterfly could very well be Album of the Year as well.
James Corden is in an unfortunate place in late-night television by coming on at 11:37pm CT (following The Late Show with Stephen Colbert). Between the horrible time slot and being a new face to American viewers, Corden has struggled to gain much attention with his show. But his “carpool karaoke” series has been a hit! Corden has driven globally-popular musicians around to sing in the car with him, such as: Justin Bieber (twice), Jennifer Hudson, One Direction, Stevie Wonder, and more.
What I enjoyed most about his “carpool karaoke” episode with Adele was, of course, Adele rapping Nicki Minaj’s best verse ever — Minaj’s guesr verse on Kanye West’s “Monster.” But I also loved how comfortable Corden made Adele feel. I haven’t seen many Adele interviews but the few I have seen, she wasn’t nearly this relaxed and personable.
Killer Mike has proven to be a great MC. Mike has recently gained attention and acclaim from the success of the music he’s been making the last few years with El-P, a rapper/producer, beginning with Mike’s 2012 solo project — R.A.P. Music leading to the duo’s two collaborative albums under the Run The Jewels moniker (with a third on the way).
Mike has always been socially-conscious in his music and opinionated on the political process. And recently he has been given platforms like CNN to express his thoughts on injustices like Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen, being killed by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, MO.
The recent success and attention has given Mike more than just large platforms to express himself (through music and/or opinions) but he’s also been able to create platforms for himself. Mike interviewed presidential nominee, Senator Bernie Sanders in a six-part video series after endorsing Sanders at an Atlanta rally. Did I mention Mike interviewed Sanders in a barbershop, of which Mike owns a chain of?
After that slight rundown of everything Killer Mike, it’s safe to say Mike had a lot to talk about on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and Colbert probably had a lot to ask Mike about. In just under seven-minutes Mike and Colbert touched on everything from Mike’s barbershop franchise to Run The Jewels to his endorsement of Bernie Sanders and much more.
“2Pac was one of the biggest thugs I know and he always wore a seatbelt.” -Ice Cube
It’s kind of bittersweet to see the reunion of Kevin Hart, Conan O’Brien, and Ice Cube because that means Cube and Hart are back on a promotional tour for another movie. Ride Along 2 in theaters on January 15th 2016.
Last time Cube and Hart were on Conan, the three of them were driven around by a Lyft driver and it was hilarious. This time around the trio raised the stakes of comedy and reunited to be driven around a student driver — who happens to also be one of Conan’s employees. Hilarity ensues accompanied by weed, pinatas, Popeye’s chicken, and “O.P.P.“.
This YouTube clip will more-than-likely be funnier than Ride Along 2.