Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Top 10 things to look forward to in the Fall...

It's that time of the year again. End of August. Where yesterday feels like June, July seems like a blur, and September starts a new semester at school. Well, for most people. Unlike most of my peers I will not be heading to school this fall semester. I'll be going back in the spring and for the first time in 15 years I will not be a student come September. Although a break will be nice, it's still going to be quite empty. I thought of things that I could do to fill this void and to make me excited for the fall.

10. The Foliage

Yeah, I said it. Call me what you want, but is there anything more beautiful to look at than Eva Longoria? Well if there's anything close, then it's gotta be the foliage. The leaves fall and turn your lawn into a giant bowl of Reese's pieces. Then you go and rake them up and jump into the pile of leaves and have sticks poking you from every direction. Just some good old fashioned fun courtesy of mother nature herself. In all seriousness though, I really do love when this shit starts going down. Sometimes it reminds of the those things in the Comic section of the newspaper that when you start at it really close you see a picture. That's probably just me though cause that actually just sounds completely idiotic reading that back to myself. Why am I still talking about foliage? 

9. Sweatshirts and sweat pants make a comeback...
My favorite attire. Nothing better than when the weather starts to get that crisp chill in the air, and you break out your first sweats outfit. It's still too early to turn the heat on in the house, but cold enough to lounge around in a zip-up sweatshirt and you're favorite pair of Starter sweatpants. Yerp, I know I love it. 

8. Family Time

Summer time my life is always go, go, goooo that it seems like I'm never around my family. In and out of the house, crashing places when the night gets to wild. My house almost seems like a hotel that I check into once and a while. The fall gives me a chance to redeem myself though. Between Sundays being with my family all day for football, weeknights with nobody around and just chillin at home, and holidays. It's a nice change of pace and sets you up quite nicely to rage again come winter break. 

7. Visiting Friends at School

I know what you're thinking. "Doesn't this completely contradict #8?" Well, you're probably right. If you notice in #8 I didn't mention anything about Friday and Saturday. I mean, come on, gotta have some sort of recklessness going down in the fall. Nothing better than spontaneous trips to Uconn which happened twice last fall. Or house parties on the beach in Naragansett. A kegger here and there at JWU. You know, the other reason people go away to college. 

6. New Music

I'll give it to Summer 2011. It was a pretty ridiculous summer for hip hop. August has been quite insane in itself with the release of "Watch the Throne", "R.E.D. Album" and Wale's mixtape "11 one 11." The fall is shaping up to be quite the season to be jolly for music also though. With albums from Mary J and Young Jeezy on September 20th, J. Cole on September 27th, and Drake on October 4th. That's gonna be a SOLID 2-3 weeks of new music. Hopefully somehow, someway Kanye resurrects the G.O.O.D. Fridays. 

5. Halloween

Oh, Halloween. Where people tap into their inner creativity, imagination, and most importantly their inner slut. Where "Halloweekend" starts on Thursday and if Halloween happens to fall on a Tuesday, then that is where the weekend ends. Also, I must mention, it is highly frowned upon for a female costume to not have some sort of low-cutness or short skirt type ordeal going on. That's just messing with the festivities. Party poopers. 

4. Thanksgiving

Probably my favorite holiday of the year. Spending all day with my family and the unbelievable food that comes along with it is pretty hard to compete with. A Portuguese Thanksgiving is hard to top. Also, being a Cowboys fan I always have the pleasure of watching them play as well. This year is going to be better in particular for football now that the Lions actually have a decent team. Then again, it's the Lions so you never know. 

3. Watch the Throne tour

This had to expected. The album lived up to my expectations and I'm sure this tour will exceed them. If you've never been to a Jay-Z show then you just simply haven't lived. This will be my 6th time seeing him and besides the cameo from Kanye at last falls show I went to in Yankee Stadium, this will be my 1st for him. Can't wait to hear how some of these songs sound in concert, which songs they'll perform individually, if they'll crack into the vault and perform "Never Let Me Down" or "Diamonds Remix." One thing is for sure, the Roc will be in the building and so will I. 

2. MLB Playoffs
I've always been a huge fan of the MLB playoffs. Mostly when the Red Sox are involved. Last year they didn't make it and honestly I thought I wasn't going to be very interested. Then I got mono. So sitting on my couch for a month led me to watch every single MLB playoff game from first pitch to the final out. I'm glad I did. I actually watched Roy Halladay's perfect game in the hospital. This year we have a Red Sox team ready to kick some ass and I'm ready to relive the domination (except for the Cleveland series) of 2007. Are we in store for another Sox-Yanks ALCS? Who's going to be the surprise team this year? Does Brian Wilson's beard turn into a blackhole and suck everyone into it? We'll have to wait and see. 

1. NFL
Where the hell would we be right now if the lockout never ended? Imagine that? No football on Sundays? That's some bullshit. Not only that, but the way the NBA lockout is going, we would have been NBA and NFLless. Luckily, everything is golden in the No Fun League even though they continue to pussify it with all these fines. Either way, its a new year, everyone is undefeated, and even the Bengals have hope. Well for a couple weeks at least.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Watch the Throne Review

Remember back when Jay-Z did that collabo with R. Kelly? As a matter of fact, remember the TWO they did together? Or how about when Jigga did that mash up with Linkin Park? Clearly, Hov isn't afraid to put his genius to the test and push his ego to the side to share the spotlight with another artist on a full project. Well, what if the next artist he was to collab with on a full fledged album was none other than his protege Kanye West? Talk about an ego eheck. "Watch the Throne" started as a tweet from Mr. West himself saying him and Jay were gonna do a 5 track album. Being the huge fan that I am, I was ecstatic.
As time went on, the idea grew to the point where they were set to do a full album. Let the hype begin. I couldn't remember anticipating an album quite like that. The worst was how little we heard about it. Songs were coming out like "The Joy," "Thats my Bitch," and "H.A.M." and we weren't sure if those were songs from the album or what. There was no leak, no huge single, or any sort of advertisement. Yet they still break the record on iTunes for first week sales. Go figure.

1. No Church in the Wild (Feat. Frank Ocean) 

Let me start by saying I was extremely excited to see that Frank Ocean was going to be featured on two songs on the album. I've recently become a huge fan of his and was VERY impressed with his "nostalgia, ULTRA" mixtape which I highly recommend. But this song starts off with eery guitar riffs as Frank Ocean comes in and sets the tone right away. Jays verse is filled with religious, historical references comparing to drug dealing and his rap career. Fits the beat very well and does what Hova does best. "Hova flow the Holy Ghost, get the hell up out your seats. Preach." After another hook from Frank Ocean it cuts to a very high pitched, auto-tuned out, The Dream. Which is strange because he isn't mentioned as a feature on the song. Led many to believe that it was actually Kanye West doing the singing. Kanye's verse is probably what I consider his best lyrically on the album. A lot of times its Kanye's passion that captures the listeners attention, but him and Jay were very mellow on this track. Adds to the deep, dark feeling you get from it. 

2. Lift Off (Feat. Beyonce)

What a disappointment this was. Anytime I see "Featuring Beyonce" and Jay or Kanye is involved I get a little excited. But when ALL THREE of them are going to be on a track together? 6 to 12 intstantly. Not that Beyonce doesn't sound beautifully on the song, but I think Ye and Jigga spit a combined 10 bars. IF that. I still listen to it now because the album is still fresh, but as the months go on, I feel like this will be one that I skip. The only one that is. 

3. Ni**as In Paris

Let me go ahead and start the review of this song with a quote from my good friend Ramon Ugarte. "Dog the beat is just seducing my ears, idk how that makes sense but it is." This is probably the best beat on the album. It also has two Will Ferrell samples in here from "Blades of Glory" which adds a little humor to it as well. But this is a very braggadocious, swagged out, well produced piece of art these men put together. Numerous quotables highlighted by "What's 50 grand to a muhfucka like me, can you please remind me?" by Jigga and "Prince Williams ain't do it right if you ask me, cause if I was him I woulda married Kate and Ashley." by Yeezy. The beat has you head nodding all through it and even has you switch up your pace when the beat drops and Kanye reassures us that we are "Now watching the throne," and warns us "Don't let me get in my zone." We're glad you were in the zone gentleman. 

4. Otis (Feat. Otis Redding)

We've all had our share to digest this one now, considering it was the only song to come out before the album. I've loved it since it came out and still don't skip it on the album. Very unorthodox with the fact they had this be the "single" yet there was no catchy hook or any sort of sign of it being a club hit. The way they exchange verses and the fitting Otis Redding sample is beautiful though. "Sophisticated ignorance, write my curses in cursive." Yup, Yeezy taught me. 

5. Gotta Have It

If somebody told me the first line of this song (Lolololol to white America, assassinate my character.) and asked me who it was before I heard it, I would already know that it was Kanye.  But Jay's first two lines in the song? Double entendre's for days. Kanye sets him up with "I'ma need a day off, I think I'll call Ferris up." Jay hits us with "Bueller had a Mueller, but I switched it for a Miele, cause I'm richer, and prior to this shit was movin' freebase."  Another very braggadocious, upbeat, high energy type song thats, again, filled with quotables. Love this song, and its short but sweet. 

6. New Day

I was very excited to hear this song and see that it was produced by the RZA. Far from what I expected, but in no way is that a bad thing. For some reason I knew it was going to be a story telling song, but didn't expect how deep it was going to be. Kanye promising that is unborn son isn't going to be anything like him. "I will never let me son have an ego, he'll be nice to everyone wherever we go." He continues to make promises that he will avoid all the mistakes Mr. West himself made. Jay goes on to apologize to his unborn son about the years of paparazzi and the pressure he's going to have on him. Definitely the most personal song on the album. Thumbs up.

7. That's My Bitch

This threw me off just a bit. Back when Kanye was doing the G.O.O.D. Fridays, and in midst of all the Watch the Throne talk, this song was released by Kanye. I even remember hearing it on the radio for like 2 weeks. Then inexplicably it disappeared. I continued listening to it though cause I love the song. Has a very old school vibe and a solid verse from both of them. They didn't change much from the leaked version which I was also glad about. They made it a tad bit shorter and Jay switched up a couple of the names he drops, but thats about it. Overall, and again, I listen to this one all the way through.

8. Welcome to the Jungle

The ending of "That's my Bitch" leads into this track very well. The beat is crazy and Swizzy does a great job with the production, but I have one problem with it. Why does Swizz Beats always find it necessary to be in the songs he produces? We could have done without his annoying ad libs and "Goddammit!" Like really? The song is dominated by Hov, with only a few lines from Kanye. No chorus in this song which is a good thing. I wasn't ready to hear another Swizz Beats chorus and woulda enjoyed this song a lot more if he decided to stay outta the booth. Regardless the song is a banger and Jay rips it up. 

9. Who Gon Stop Me?

What do you get when you mix hip hop with some dubstep? Well, you get Who Gon Stop Me. This song is craaaaazy. First time I heard this, the beat dropped and I was like wait, what? I still kinda cringe every time I hear Kanye say "This is something like the holocaust, millions of our people lost." No, Kanye. This is actually not a thing like the holocaust. Jay-Z dominates this song, but the parts that Kanye does rap are great. With lines like "I heard you fucked the doorman, well thats cool I fucked the waitress," and "I heard Kanye was racist, but thats only on one basis, I only like green faces." The Throne continue to assure us that we are not as rich as them, but unlike a few other reviews I read, it doesn't bother me. That's their life so they rap about it. Jay-Z's verse at the end is one that I still find myself listening to closely to pick up on anything that I missed. That's God body flow right there. 

10. Murder to Excellence

This song is literally two songs in one. There's the first part which is "Murder" and then the beat switches and it turns to "Excellence." Murder was produced by Swizz Beats and I'm glad to say we didn't hear him vocally on this song. I really like how they switched it up and even the whole tone of the song changes, but yet you're still aware of the "Murder" part being in their past. This song reminds us that regardless of what they are doing today, they still both came from a shaky background that could have led them in a completely different direction. We're glad that it didn't. 

11. Made in America (Feat. Frank Ocean)

From what I hear, this song and "No Church in the Wild" were actually supposed to be on "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy," but Kanye changed his mind. The parts that Frank Ocean sings on these two songs were also originally sung by Mr. West himself. Luckily for us he changed his mind when he decided to add Jigga to the song and have Frank Ocean sing the choruses instead. A very easy going song that touches on family and Jay-Z's days of cooking crack in his grandmas kitchen. I found it funny how Kanye mentions that he'll get a request from someone to make a beat, but he'll end up keeping it for himself or giving it to his big brother Shawn Carter. A slower song, but on an album where there are very few of them I wasn't mad at it. 

12. Why I Love you (Feat. Mr. Hudson)

Another solid feature from Mr. Hudson. With another heart warming song similar to "Forever Young" he adds a solid feel of love and nostalgia with the hook. You almost forget Kanye is in this song, because all he does is go back and forth with Jay for a few lines. Love Jay's 2nd verse though. Goes into old school Hov mode with some fast rapping, while assuring us that we ripped out his heart and stepped on it. A great way to end the album (besides the bonus songs)

13. Illest MothaF**ka Alive

I think this is my favorite song on the album. It has a stadium feel to it and when I close my eyes I picture being in the crowd at the "Watch the Throne" tour. Some great word play from Kanye. "You in line behind currency, yeah you AFTER money." And Hov comparing himself to Jordan and Bill Russell in the same verse? Yeah, this song is swagged out. Not only does he do that, BUT he also drops a Chappelle's Show reference, "Fuck your awards like Eddy Murphy's couch." HAHA! 

15. Primetime

This is one of those under the radar songs. I really like the beat and how it allows them to each have their respective flows evident. Hov calling himself a "40 year old phenom" is also quite hysterical. Lyrically I think these dudes are both on point and it's quite a relief to hear this song after "H.A.M." because they go back into lyricism. A solid bonus song, and I actually wouldn't have minded if they replaced this song on the album with "Lift Off." 

The Verdict

I left out my reviews of "HAM" and "The Joy" because those songs have been out so long lol. Overall, I was so prepared for this album to be over-hyped that I didn't set any sort of Reasonable Doubt/College Dropout type expectations. With that being said I absolutely love the album. The production was top-notch and although Jay-Z did standout lyrically, there wasn't any song where I felt Kanye was COMPLETELY overshadowed. The songs that Hov did destroy, you heard very little of Kanye anyway haha. I give it a solid 9 out of 10. Given the circumstances of where hip hop is today, you gotta respect that these dudes put a lot of time and effort into this and even avoided it leaking. Now we look forward to their future solo work. It's the Roc.