Thursday June 21, 2018

The (W)rap Up - Week of March 7, 2017
Posted by Emanuel Wallace at Tuesday, March 14th, 2017 at 1:30PM :: Email this article :: Print this article

If you missed any of the new reviews this past week including Future's 'Future' then do yourself a favor and check out this week's edition of the (W)rap Up!

[Future] Future :: Future
A1/Freebandz/Epic Records

Author: Michael G. Barilleaux

"There was once a time where Atlanta rapper Future reigned supreme in hip hop. With a slew of mixtapes such as "Monster" and "56 Nights" and the number one album "DS2" all released in the same relatively short timeframe, Future was king of the rap castle. This success was not only shown in sales stats and concert attendance but, much more tellingly, it was documented by the obvious influence Future had on many of his younger fellow Atlanta emcees. It would seem that Future may be gearing up for a similar takeover now, with this LP, "Future", and one that followed it just a week later, "HNDRXX," out and buzzing around the hip hop scene. If he does reach the success he found in 2015, however, it will come as a bit of a surprise and as relatively undeserving considering the lack of quality that makes up "Future". The brutally honest fact about this album is that with the exception of "Mask Off" it never even commands or warrants more than distant background listen. "Mask Off" presents Future rapping slightly less aimlessly than usual over a rather delightful woodwind-filled beat (courtesy of Metro Boomin) while telling of his journey from nothing to something. While this is not done in a particularly compelling fashion in terms of lyrics, it is a fairly enjoyable listen. The troubles with this album, however, are repeated time and time again on track after track. This is all very well captured on "Draco", a track that brags of drugs, chains and stealing your girl in the blandest way possible. And the chorus of the song is climaxed by the repeating of the line, "You ain't never get your b---h back." Yes, that may have some significance in the form of a shot at Scottie Pippen or someone else in Future's viewfinder but honestly, does anyone care?"

Berner :: Packs :: Bern One Entertainment 
as reviewed by Matt Jost

[Packs]"So this Berner guy -- he has this gimmick. The world of narcotics inspires his discography. His album name generator is set to 'Album Titles That Make You Come Across Like A Drug Lord. Creativity Level: Basic.' Now we would be remiss to not mention that Berner is also, in not fully transparent ways, involved in the lucrative business of medical marijuana. What is established is that he has experience in the growing and selling and particularly the marketing of cannabis and related products (including, ultimately, his music). So when he baptizes his projects "Hempire," "Urban Farmer" or "Harvest Season," there's no denying a real-life relevance where Berner's music reconciles his bohemian (rapper) with his bourgeois side (one-time farmer/pharmacist, lately more universally hemp entrepreneur and emissary). What then are we to make of the following titles: "Border Wars," "The White Album," "BLOW," "Traffic," "Drugstore Cowboy"? They insinuate that Berner aims higher in the the drug trade than having stakes in a couple of dispensaries, being partially responsible for popularizing the dominant Girl Scout Cookies strain and running the complimentary Cookies clothing line. To assume that Berner has ever been heavy in that other game would of course be totally surreal. He appears to run a fully legal business to great success and has no reason to mess with hard drugs. Remember, we're in the wonderland of rap where you can be whatever you want to be. Berner simply knows how to brand himself, and if he desires to extend his image beyond weed rapper, he's free to do so. ("I went from coke money to hoe money, grow money to show money to Hemp2o money," he boasts at one point.) "Prohibition" (another album title) is a reality in both fields (with interesting historical nuances), and while a "Drought Season" (yet another title) doesn't necessarily mean the same thing in the cocaine and in the cannabis business, it plays a role in both. These "Packs" then may contain any kind of contraband, it doesn't really matter, Berner has been your pusher in various constellations and collaborations for the last decade. Though this one is a solo album from a rap artist who just as much likes to share the billing, notably with bigger names like The Jacka or B-Real. "Packs" benefits from Berner's competent musical taste and his numerous connections, resulting in another individually solid entry in the San Francisco representative's discography."

NAV :: NAV :: XO Records 
as reviewed by Michael G. Barilleaux

[NAV]"Toronto rapper NAV has been buzzing a bit lately. Complex called him 'mysterious'. Infamous singer The Weeknd has blessed him with a feature on this new self-titled project. Hot New Hip Hop's user and editor ratings of his new track "Lonely" were both labeled "VERY HOTTTTT". But now the album has dropped and the results are in: "NAV" is quite possibly the most boring, uninspired project hip hop has given us so far this year. NAV has made most of his waves through Soundcloud releases and numerous features on OVO Sound Radio. Seemingly backed by Drake and The Weeknd (both of whom he clearly draws a great deal of influence from), NAV certainly has a platform from which to break through but unfortunately he just plain and simply lacks the talent. This self-titled project is essentially one track after another of sing-rap redundancies featuring bland lyrics, recycled flows and an all-around overused song formula. A great example of such lyrics comes from "Lonely" when NAV proclaims. He eventually follows it up with a hook of him telling this girl he can make her not lonely... five times in a row. We see a similar knack for lyrical monotony on "My Mind." This project is more or less one big song about taking prescription drugs and enjoying women, but in a way that is supposed to somehow come off as elusive and attractive when in reality it contains only a small assortment of boring flows and failing attempts at melody."

The Underachievers :: Indigoism :: RPM MSC 
as reviewed by Michael G. Barilleaux

[Indigoism] "The Underachievers are often defined by the release of "Indigoism". The reason for this is that despite the often impressive nature of their more recent work, each project following "Indigoism" seems to build off it but with only a fraction of its success. Plain and simply, the formula for "Indigoism" is otherworldly and extremely effective in that regard. The lyrical dexterity of this duo, composed of AK and Issa Gold, coupled with the LSD-infused instrumentals make "Indigoism" a release to remember. The Underachievers weren't the first rappers to speak on "third eyes" or the altered consciousness of psychedelic drug exploration. On "Indigoism", however, they are some of the best to do it yet. The reason for this is that they do not simply talk of these themes, they create a sonic atmosphere based on them that resembles the feeling of a nearly indescribable out-of-body experience. While AK and Gold spit with spiraling, flat out aggressive flows over tracks like "New New York." They also casually talk of "spiritual tactics" and unlocking their "mind's gate" while backed by a dripping beat of zoned-out drums and bluesy guitars on "Gold Soul Theory." The most encapsulating moment of the tape, however, comes during the back to back tracks of "Herb Shuttles" and "T.A.D.E.D." Both of these tracks approach drugged out thinking in different ways: "Herb Shuttles" comes through with down-right nasty flows from both emcees while backed by a heavily atmospheric, gloomy beat while "T.A.D.E.D." brings a sense of enlightenment with a booming bass and lines like, "Faith could seem a real make believe/I co-create my dreams into reality."

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