Death of the Critic

Music with a Message

Written by: Tom Blaich

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If you read a lot of writing about music, you will start to notice a common criticism crop up over and over again: that the song or album is shallow. It is particularly relevant when that project has a message that it is trying to convey. So, what separates an album that communicates its message well versus one that is shallow, even if both of them are trying to deal with the same level of subject matter: racism, sexism, violence, or more.

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Everybody - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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I’ve always thought that
Logic had an incredible amount of talent in some aspects of his music. His technical ability is high, and his beats and production have always been top notch. But unfortunately, he has consistently been held back by his lyrics, and that is only emphasized in his newest release of Everybody. With this, his penultimate album, he is trying to become more conceptual, explore topics and areas that he thinks others have left ignored. It is an album about love and acceptance, about pride in oneself and in one’s people, about the way in which we all belong in this big world, and about the wrongs that we commit and how we shouldn’t.

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Expectations vs Reality

Written by: Tom Blaich

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In these times, sequels are the name of the game. Finding a franchise that can be used over and over again to draw people to stores and theaters. The same can be said of music alongside games and movies, as fans eagerly await the newest release by their favorite artist. The only difference is where the name recognition lies. For games it might be with a franchise or a studio, in movies with a lead actor or director, and in music it lies firmly with the artist.

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DAMN. - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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Kendrick Lamar is an artist that has always grown on me, and he has been remarkably consistent in putting out amazing records, even if it sometimes takes me a few listens to get into them. With this success has come a certain expectations, a bias towards greatness and groundbreaking tracks. His
B-sides collection was one of my favorite albums of last year. And I think that this expectation is somewhat unfair. DAMN is a great album, there are no doubts about that, but it isn’t of the same level as either To Pimp a Butterfly or Good Kid, M.A.A.D City. Would I think more highly of it if I didn’t have either of these albums to compare it to, or if it was from a different artist? Is it even fair to compare them to each other? It is hard to eliminate one’s biases in writing a(n) (inherently subjective) review, but at the very least we try to make it known.

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Memories... Do Not Open - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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My opinion on The Chainsmokers is well documented, but somehow I had hoped that their first real album could somehow be different, break new ground and make good music. To say that didn’t happen is an understatement. There is nothing new here, just more of the same beats, more of the same subjects. More of the same everything. I’m not mad. I’m disappointed.

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American Teen - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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For a first effort,
American Teen is undeniably impressive. It is a simple, soulful music built on repetition that catches your ear and makes you want to keep listening. But by virtue of this style, it is restricted in some way. It is not deep, but it means something to the 19 year old who made it. It is music about being an American Teen. Finding your place in life, exploring the world and experiencing all of its ups and downs that come with it. He compares it to a rollercoaster in “Coasts” and while the metaphor is apt, it’s far from original.

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DROGAS Light - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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Lupe Fiasco has had his ups and downs. He has made some amazing rap music, but he keeps trying to break into the mainstream, and it’s resulted in a watered down version of his work.
DROGAS Light takes a step forward for him, mixing subversive rhymes with mass appeal in a way that finally clicks. The first run of tracks is fantastic, and the album somehow darts from dark trap beats to Daft Punk style electronic beats and Gambino-esque flows to slickly produced top 40 style hits. There is something for everyone here, an incredible range of sounds and style crammed into one package as he tries out every conceivable option.

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The Gospel of Rap

Written by: Tom Blaich

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Hip-hop and religion are intrinsically linked. Far from the all-too-common perception of hip-hop as being tied purely into drugs and violence, hip-hop has acted as a reflection of the culture and artists that create it since the first time a track was spun in the Bronx in the 70’s. In the four decades since, woven throughout hip-hop are religious threads that are becoming more and more evident each day.
We wrote about it in our article on preconceptions against religious rap last year, but we did not examine the root of it, where this new trend came from.

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I Decided. - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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Big Sean had ambition with I Decided. While it does sound a lot like the Big Sean we are used to hearing, it had another layer that I’ve been wanting out of his music for a long while. He tries to grasp at something, but it is as effusive as his lyrics as it slips from between his fingers. It is an album that I’ve heard before, that we’ve all heard before. Just never out of Big Sean.

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Return to the Sauce - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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Infected Mushroom is a staple in the psy-trance community, and with their latest effort, they take a different tactic to try to introduce people to the unique sound of the genre. This is one of my first experiences with the genre, and while I’m not quite sure what I expected, the strangely dark sound grew on me slowly. There are a few things that I appreciate about the album but, admittedly, my frame of reference is sadly lacking. For a first experience, you could do a whole hell of a lot worse and it piqued my interest in a way that I definitely didn’t expect.

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SweetSexySavage - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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After the success of her mixtape,
You Should Be Here, overnight R&B hit Kehlani is back with her debut studio album SweetSexySavage (all one word of course) which luckily fixes many of the problems that I had with the mixtape, and manages to deliver a solid, if unimpressive set of tracks. It is a pop/R&B album, heavy on the pop, and it does a good job at being easy to listen to, but it doesn’t go anywhere special or break any new ground while it does it. I hate to call something generic, but as I coasted through song after song, I couldn’t help but think that I had heard this all before.

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The Last Text - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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I am always baffled when so-called “social media stars” cross the boundary from weird videos to trying to make music. Much like any celebrity that tries their hand at making an album, it invariably turns out terribly. Jacob Sartorious, teen “heartthrob” and former Vine “star” (RIP Vine) is one of the more famous examples, and his latest outing,
The Last Text, takes on junior high romance like only a 14 year old, pre-pubescent celebrity can - poorly.

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Dim Mak Greatest Hits 2016: Remixes - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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I spent a long ten hours in a car this weekend, and due in part to my own self-loathing, I decided that I would use that time to listen to some of the worst albums that I have in a long time. First up was
Dim Mak Greatest Hits 2016: Remixes which probably should have alerted me with its album art. Much like a brightly-colored poisonous animal, the album cover here is a garish collected of outdated memes slapped over a rip-off of the already terrible The Life of Pablo cover. It is, honestly speaking, the worst piece of product related art that I’ve ever seen, and it feels like a bad photoshop that someone put together to be as shitty as possible, but some memo got lost along the way and it was actually used.

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Godfather - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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I’m rather new to grime, so it has been an interesting ride to strap myself into. Wiley brings a good set of bangers to the table, and the heavy, dark, and industrial beats help set an amazing tone that is carried through the majority of the album. There are a few really fantastic tracks here and I always like hearing a callout to Skepta, who introduced me to grime last fall.

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When Black is not Black Enough - Drake and Coding in Hip-Hop

Written by: Tom Blaich

There is a really big problem with gatekeeping in the hip-hop industry. We like to draw a sharp divide between “real” fans and most listeners, and that attitude frequently extends to the way we treat artists. This discussion is so often highly racially code. It is why Eminem is treated like a marvel, because he is the “one good white rapper.” There is a high barrier to entry to the industry and it is all about how “black” an artist can present themselves as.
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I See You - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich



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With
I See You, The XX takes a lot of the things that I really like about the music that they make, and strips out almost everything else. It is a sparse and spacey album where the sounds of silence say as much as every line or gently throbbing synth. It is a barren soundscape and it gives the trio room to express themselves. In a lot of ways it is everything I like about alternative pop, and lying back in the dark and letting the music flow was relaxing in the truest sense of the word.

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Run the Jewels 3 - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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It took me a long time to finally get into this album. On my first five or ten listens, I simply didn’t like it. It didn’t hit me in the same way as I wanted it to. It almost felt flat. This stands in stark contrast to
Run the Jewels 2, which hit me like a hip-hop locomotive from the very first line, “I’m gonna bang this bitch the fuck out.” It grabbed a hold of me and demanded my attention, holding my face to the road, and loving it. It was one of my favorite albums of 2014 and barring, “Love Again”, I loved every second.

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I Miss the Old Kanye

Written by: Tom Blaich

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2016 was a hell of a year for Kanye West. It seems that no matter what he says or does, he can’t stay out of the limelight. He has been put under a microscope that everyone is looking through in a way that few people ever are, and it has clearly taken its toll on him. Yet at the beginning of the year, it looked like things could finally be turning around for him.
The Life of Pablo (formerly WAVES) finally came out and it seemed like he had overcome the writer’s block that he had been struggling with for years. His collaborations were hot, and his work with Chance the Rapper helped make some of the best songs of the year.

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Do What Thou Wilt. - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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It can be hard to take Ab-Soul seriously. For every deep line that he drops, there is one right next to it that leaves you scratching your head in confusion.
Do What Thou Wilt. is an impeccably produced set of tracks, but gets bogged down with too much filler and weird lines that distract you from the message that he is trying to spit. There are a few tracks I really love here, I just wish it had some semblance of focus, and someone there to rein in Soul where he started to get a little bit off of the wall.

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Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin' - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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It has been a while since Cudi stood triumphantly atop his mountain of music. Last year’s
Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven was disappointing to say the least, and Satelight Flight: The Journey to Mother Moon before that just didn’t reach as high as it should. With Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin’, Cudi has tried to recapture some of  of the magic of Man on the Moon 1 & 2, and while his throaty moans and oft-repeated hooks do conjure images of these two fantastic albums, they also highlight a lot of his weaknesses that still remain unaddressed.

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4 Your Eyez Only - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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J. Cole can be a bit of a polarizing figure. To some, he can do no wrong, and his success with
2014 Forest Hills Drive (he went double platinum with no features) cemented that in many people's minds. To others, he is the shining example of generic rap music that can be found everywhere. He's never been a “visionary” lyricist, but his production has always picked up the slack, with stellar offerings in both Born Sinner and 2014 Forest Hills Drive.

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Don't Call it a Christmas Album - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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I like dumb things.


The very concept of Christmas-themed raps is about as dumb as DMX rapping Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Don't Call it a Christmas Album is technically not a Christmas album, but I'm going to call it one anyway. It mixes festive, up-tempo beats with more traditional rap tracks in one of the weirder 11-song sets that I've listened to in a while. But, it is December and it is the perfect time to dig into the weird world of Christmas music that, by all rights, shouldn't be Christmas music that now litters the shelves.

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"Awaken, My Love!" - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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I'll be the first to admit that I am not the biggest fan of Donald Glover. He's "Childish baby, Mr. talk-about-his-dick-again,” and I felt like he floated a little too close to "meme rap" for my tastes. I've listened to all of his projects so far, and I've been waiting for it to click with me, where I would start to like it like everyone else appeared to, but it just never did. So when he announced that his newest project would be something different, I was ready. It has been a hell of a year for music creativity, and Glover has had a pretty great one too.
Because the Internet was certified as gold, he was cast in Spider-Man, hosting a giant listening festival, and releasing the show Atlanta, which has been fantastic. So my hopes were high for “Awaken, My Love!”

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Starboy - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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It is hard to capture lightning in a bottle. Even harder is to do it more than once. With Starboy, Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, aka The Weeknd, tried to follow up the smash success of last year's Beauty Behind the Madness, but amidst his ruminations on fame, sex, and drugs, he forgot what made the last project so great. Starboy is, at it's heart, stagnant; a too long collection of well-produced, pop/electrosoul tracks that fail to go anywhere new in their quest to make more chart topping hits. You can clearly see the Daft Punk influence, and the appearance by both Kendrick Lamar and Lana Del Rey stand out as highlights. The songs sound good, but they have lost some of that raw, emotional quality that felt so great, and instead take on a more manufactured feel that brings the album down.

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We got it from Here... Thank You 4 Your service - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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It can be really hard to talk about some albums. To get across exactly what is going on in the layers of music that the artist has built up. The better the album is, the more difficulty I have talking about them in a way that I feel does them justice. It would be the easiest review in the world to say that an album was trash, and convince you of it. But to say that an album is excellent? Amazing? It becomes increasingly difficult to make that point in a way that carries the full weight the album holds. I'll say this without reservations, We got it from Here... Thank You 4 Your service is hands down one of the best albums to come out this year, and if you care at all about hip-hop, you should listen to this album.

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Collage EP - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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Think for a moment about bologna sandwiches. I love a good bologna sandwich every now and then. Some Wonder Bread, a slice of Kraft American cheese, and some crappy bologna. They are cheap, technically tasty, and just generic enough to be good sometimes. You hand me a bologna sandwich and I’m generally a happy guy. You give me two of them, and I’ll probably be okay for a while. Give me five of them, and I’ll be like “Please stop with the bologna sandwiches, you’re ruining my life.”

The Chainsmokers like bologna sandwiches, which is appropriate because they are the Wonder Bread of EDM. They are pretty good at making them, and they want to make sure that everyone is eating them. And if they were a little more conscious of this fact, it would be fine. Instead they think that every sandwich they make is gilded, when in reality, they’re just shitty bologna sandwiches. Or in this case, some of the most formulaic EDM-lite that I’ve heard in a while.

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HERE - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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Positivity can be easily forgotten. When things are looking down, we need a different message. And the last few months have been very negative. Hate is always just round the corner for all of us. And it is here where
HERE shines. It is, essentially, a conversation about identity and self in the new America. About figuring out who you are, your anger, your insecurities, your hopes, and your fears, and thinking about how you are now. How you are stronger and more beautiful for the presence of all of your flaws. “Stretch marks are your beauty scars.” It is a different kind of positive message than the sickly sweet bubblegum pop that we have too much of. “When a girl can’t be herself no more / I just wanna cry, cry for the world.”

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Bucket List Project - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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Saba is an interesting artist. Mired in the thick of Chicago rap, yet relatively unknown for his solo efforts. His 2014 debut mixtape ComfortZone was a quiet and meandering exploration of what life is like for a young black person. And since I reviewed it back in April, it has grown on me a lot. A fantastic way to wind down after a long day of something harder. So I knew I had to listen to Bucket List Project.

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DC4 - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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It has been a long year for Meek Mill since he dropped his last project,
Dreams Worth More Than Money. He became the whipping boy of the entire rap world after his beef with Drake, and he’s picked more than a few fights since then. He took shots at The Game, 50 Cent, and Joe Budden and came out the other side looking more than a little worse for wear. So with DC4, the fourth in his Dreamcatchers series, fans were eager to see what would happen next. And I was pleasantly surprised to see him dropping the beefs and focusing more on his music, delivering a solid mixtape/EP/album chock full of his trademark intensity and showing off some of his lyrical talent that people forget about when they think of Meek Mill.

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Lady Wood - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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Sex and drugs are a fact of life for Tove Lo. Ones that she won’t lie about. You can fault her for many things, but her honesty is not one of them. And in
Lady wood, she carries this candor over a haze of smooth pop beats. She owns everything about herself, every flaw and imperfection, which brings an interesting side to pop that we don’t normally get to see. Her imperfections are real and she is very imperfect, as compared to a lot of the more plastic imperfections of many pop stars. She’s messed up, but stronger for it. Lady Wood is about owning the sex and drugs lifestyle that she has found herself living, with a candor that would make the vanilla pop of Taylor Swift blush.

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Two Vines - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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With the release of their third studio album, outside of the box electro music duo Empire of the Sun, sought to capture the beauty and tranquility of nature with a breath of Hawaii infused into their synths. They make an admirable effort at making a summer’s afternoon condensed into an album. Warm and soft in its electro/EDM beats, the music sounds almost breathy over the lyrics of Luke and Nate. Ephemeral and floaty, it carries along softly even when it picks up the pace in some tracks.

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Hibachi for Lunch - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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The artist formerly known as Titi Boo works pretty damn hard. Hibachi for Lunch comes off of a long year of releases and features, from this spring’s Collegrove in March, to Felt Like Cappin’ and Daniel Son, Necklace Don in January and August, with dozens of features sprinkled in between. It is not a stretch to call himont of the hardest working artists in rap. Hibachi for Lunch is the latest in his long line of mixtapes, and brings a rough but laid back set of tracks to your ears that is gone almost as soon as it starts. Clocking in at only 22 minutes long, this bite-sized EP is shorter than an episode of The Simpson and a hell of a lot more fun. It uses every minute wisely, with no space for filler, and just focusing on the music.

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Broken Hearts and Bankrolls - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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I try to listen to artists that I am not familiar with for this site. There is something about finding someone new that can be a uniquely pleasurable experience. You get to hear sounds from all over the country and world, with drastically different styles and compositions, connected together with some common threads. And it keeps you from having to read the same review that you can find on any other review website in the world. As you can imagine, this quest to find artists that I like can be a bit of a crap shoot. Sometimes you find someone great (Mick Jenkins’ The Healing Component is an excellent recent example), but sometimes you find someone bad (I’m talking about you Futuristic). And then there are artists like IshDARR, who lie somewhere in the middle.

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1992 - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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1992 was a hell of a year, and rapper The Game remembers it well. Embers of unrest were fanned by the savage beating of Rodney King by four police office, and the entire city of Los Angeles burst into violence after their acquittal. It was like a bonfire erupting. Six days. One billion in damages. 55 dead. 2000 wounded. The National Guard, Army, and Marines had to be deployed to finally quell the riots. It wasn’t a pretty time and it did a huge amount of damage to relations between the people and the police. It’s remembered every day in communities across the country. The Game watched looting and violence as he stood in the rift between red and blue, Crip and Blood, vying for control.

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Sit Still, Look Pretty - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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Saccharine sweet bubblegum pop. Daya’s album is nothing you haven’t heard before if you’ve turned on a radio in the last ten years. Yet at the same time that she exists firmly within the realm of generic pop music, the relentlessly positive anthems hit good notes to make some good, if forgettable pop songs. I couldn’t help but find myself singing along, even if the lyrics were a bit cheesy.

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Kairi Chanel - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich


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Dave East wants you to pay attention to him. His debut album Kairi Chanel, named after his newborn daughter, seeks to establish his place in the pantheon of popular rappers. He goes hard in the tried and true style of New York rappers and wants you to know how real he is. He isn’t some faker bragging about imaginary accomplishments, or a studio pusher. He weaves bars through tales of dealing drugs, easy women, and the rough life of a true New York hustler. A subdued beat thumps along in the background. It doesn’t overpower his voice, but it proves a suitable backdrop to let his bars shine through as his gruff voice weaves a tale of violence across the Big Apple.

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The Healing Component - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich


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Love is a powerful force. Tackling it is a difficult proposition, but that does not stop Mick Jenkins from trying to talk about what makes love, how we love, and why we should love in his debut album
The Healing Component. For a first venture, it is an ambitious one, as he delivers a high concept album on how love has the ability to drastically effect a life. To him, love is The Healing Component, and through an application of loving each other, and a fair amount marijuana, he thinks we can all become better people. He builds this idea through conversations broken up and peppered throughout the album in which we learn more about his idea of love and his experiences with it as a young woman interviews him. “Have you ever loved someone differently?” she asks, calling up vivid memories from him, and from the listener as they work their way through what love really is.

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blond - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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It’s been years since
Channel Orange, and fans everywhere have been eagerly awaiting the next project from Frank Ocean. Perhaps a little too fervently. But in the last few years, the world has changed. Music has changed. And I don’t know if any of us quite expected what we got. Blonde is simultaneously somber and rich, a eulogy for the childhood of his past. Ocean is growing up, coming to accept himself for who he is. It is melancholic and drawn out, forming only one part of an experience toiled over for years. There’s Blonde, a free magazine, and the visual album Endless that all come together as a part of his grand vision of who Frank Ocean is today.

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As Seen on the Internet - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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Futuristic is back for his sixth studio album. Chock full of corny, meme-rap lines on top of generic beats, it fails to impress in almost any way. It feels like a Soundcloud album that was accidentally released for purchase. And if you could not already tell, I did not like it.

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Prima Donna - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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I’m an unapologetic fan of Vince Staples.
Summertime ’06 was my album of the year last year, edging out some really fantastic offerings to take my top spot. It carried with it a huge amount of raw emotional power that hit me like a punch in the gut, and still does, every time I listen to it. I’ve been eagerly awaiting his next project ever since. Prima Donna was not exactly what I expected. Short, strange, powerful, and so very Vince Staples, the album does a good job at giving you a hint of the new direction that he is taking himself in.

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Jeffrey - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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I feel like I have had to offer a disclaimer when recommending Young thug to people over the last few months. Giving caveats to how much I liked
Slime Season 3. Only listen to this if you are in the mood for club tracks. Not for easy listening. And more of these same excuses to one of my favorite albums of the first half of the year. With the release of Jeffrey, Thugger seems to have matured. So I can finally say, without reservations, that you should listen to this album. He has dialed back the brash intensity for something far more personal, without loosing the energy and bombastic flair that makes Young Thug so much fun to listen to.

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SremmLife 2 - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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As a follow-up to their 2015 album
SremmLife, rap duo Rae Sremmurd make a conscious effort to shirk people’s expectations with SremmLife 2, delivering an album that manages to exist in two spaces. Both as a sequel that builds off of what came before it to create more earworm club rap songs and as a new album that builds distinctive sounds that manage to be totally different than their previous style. It’s almost experimental in that way, while being loud, fun, more than a little stupid, wrapped up in a playful package. It’s not a complex album by any means, but it remains fresh throughout the time that you are listening to it.

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Encore - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich


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Listening to DJ Snake’s smash hit collaboration with Lil John “Turn Down for What”, gives you a certain expectation for his music and about
Encore, his debut album that just came out. Something big, flashy, bombastic, and more than a little stupid. Full of pulse-racing EDM tracks that will worm their way into your brain and leave you jumping for more. What we got was ok at best, with a few tracks that will sit with me for all of the wrong reasons.

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D.T.S.N.T - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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After hearing the beat on Drake’s “Weston Road Flows” and finding out that the young artist who had created it was putting out their debut E.P, I knew that I had to give it a listen. Hearing it was familiar. The sound reminded me of the Drake track, but also of so many more that came before it. Smoky vocals and a muted beat carry through the album, with a few hints of something unique that manage to surface around the edges. Heavily inspired by recent trends in electronic music, the R&B infused beats ultimately fail to stand out as anything more than a novelty.

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Religious Rap

Written by: Tom Blaich

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Coloring Book, the newest “mixtape” from artist Chance the Rapper, highlights many interesting things about the rap music industry. It’s a mixtape with timed exclusivity on Apple Music, a free album that might put him in the running for album of the year, and exists as a heavily gospel influenced album in a realm where self-described “Christian music” is looked down upon. But by circumventing that label and refusing to categorize his album in that way, Chance has delivered a musical bombshell that has fans asking what they are really listening to.

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Major Key - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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Ever since DJ Khaled's ridiculous snap trend earlier this year, the term "Major Key" has become almost an internet meme. He's taken social media by storm and he is not afraid to let you know. He pulled all of his amazing array of strings to assemble an impressive rogues gallery of some of the biggest names in the business to drop rhymes over his production.

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Bobby Tarantino - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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Seemingly out of nowhere, Logic dropped a mixtape on us. While he is still working on his next studio album, which he is now referring to as a concept album, this stealth mixtape should hopefully keep fans sated for a while. Clocking in at only 11 tracks including its intro and an interlude. It is short, sweet, and to the point. All things that I love in an album.

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Coolaid - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

Cover art for Snoop Dogg's Coolaid


A new Snoop Dogg album isn't exactly an uncommon occurrence. As his 14th studio album over the years of the Dogg's rapping career, Coolaid sits at the front of a very long line of music, spanning the history of rap music. And while it is distinctively Snoop, with breezy, marijuana-infused rhymes, it still manages to be shockingly different, joining the Doggfather's style with more contemporary, trap-influenced beats.

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Uncomfortable - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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The label “Christian rapper” carries with it a negative connotation in the rap community. It’s one of the reasons that Andy Mineo chooses to reject it. He wants his lyrics to reach all audiences, not just a Christian one. And coming into his second studio album
Uncomfortable, Mineo looks to shake up the dynamic he has created in his last two albums, Heroes for Sale and Never Land.

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untitled unmastered - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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It’s always a good day when a new album drops. It’s a great day when one drops unexpectedly. And following the early release of
To Pimp A Butterfly last year, Kendrick Lamar continues to surprise with a new album that came out of nowhere and landed in our laps. It’s a good day.

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This Unruly Mess I've Made - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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Sometimes, you can tell a lot about an album before you even start listening to it.
This Unruly Mess I’ve Made, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ sophomore album instantly conjures up an image of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, but that image only lasts as long as it takes to hit play on the first song. As “Light Tunnels” begins, a familiar feeling washes over us. Macklemore is back, with the characteristic production of Lewis by his side.

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The Life of Pablo - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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I never thought that I would say that Kanye West was anything less than the most confident person in the room. No matter what room it was. Or how big it is. While we do get a feeling of insecurity in his music, as he tackles a feeling of not belonging where he is, it is more of a sense that no one will accept him for how great he is, as opposed to him not being great.

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The Incredible True Story - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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Logic’s second studio album shouldn’t sound unfamiliar to fans, or really to anyone who has listened to him before. If anything, he has become more comfortable with his sound, like Drake trying to rap Kendrick Lamar. He still has the technical chops that we’ve seen before, but in this album he is allowed to expand upon them a little more, showing off his speed and production several times throughout the album, which is made more impressive by the fact that he always remains intelligible. His annunciation is great, which is a problem with many speed rappers.

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Slime Season 3 - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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The opinion on Young Thug is divided. He’s not an intellectual rapper, and some hold him in contempt for his sometimes confusing style of rapping, alongside his party anthems. While at the same time, others praise him for putting out fun songs that bump and rock and beat their way through your ears. But you get the impression that Young Thug doesn’t really care about his detractors, as he announced the release date of this album at SXSW in a literal eulogy, as men carried a coffin through the streets emblazoned with the albums name and YSL, the name of his clothing line. This is the final official release after hundreds of his songs were released online, as he reproduced and remade some into the last two Slime Season albums.

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Logic Presents "The Incredible World Tour"

Written by: Tom Blaich

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Saturday evening, Wabash College was visited by a pair of artists, Andy Mineo and Logic, two names probably not mentioned often in the same sentence. Mineo, a Christian rapper out of New York opened the evening, and Logic, who released his second studio album The Incredible True Story in November, closed the show. Labeling the evening as a part of Logic’s “Incredible World Tour”, they aimed to create a party atmosphere in the small gymnasium in the small, 900 student, all male campus in Crawfordsville, Indiana.

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ComfortZone - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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In 2014, Tahj Chandler, better known by his stage name of Saba, released his sophomore effort entitled ComfortZone. He first came to my attention through a feature on Acid Rap, which released the same year, on the song “Everybody’s Something”. He stood alongside Chance and BJ the Chicago Kid with a production by DJ Ozone. I’m an unapologetic fan of Chance, and when I saw that this guy had made a mixtape I figured that I would give it a listen.

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Acid Rap - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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“Here’s a tab of acid for your ear.”


Chancellor Bennett’s second mixtape,
Acid Rap, looked to follow the success of the first, 10 Day, by going so far outside of the mold for what a mixtape should be. It’s so different from 10 Day, and other projects out of Chicago like ComfortZone or Innatape. Taking us through the experience of living in Chicago, Chance the Rapper weaves raps about drugs, violence, love, and family together in one of the more sonically diverse mixtapes that you can get your hands on.

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3001: A Laced Odyssey - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich


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If I had a single criticism about the two previous Flatbush Zombies mixtapes, D.R.U.G.S and BetterOffDEAD, it would be that both albums had felt unfocused. Each of these projects had some amazing tracks that really stood out, but there had been so much other fluff present that really ended up diluting the experience. In making 3001: A Laced Odyssey, Flatbush sought to fix this shortcoming through the combined efforts of Meechy Darko, Erick Arc Elliot, and Zombie Juice.

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LGBTQ Hip Hop: The Tantalizing Problem of Labeling

Written by: Tom Blaich

Historically speaking, rap music has always been a way for a marginalized group to express themselves creatively. And in the recent years of civil rights questions surrounding the GSM (Gender and Sexual Minority) community, we can see a surge in the number of rappers that identify in that way trying to take their feelings and reflect them onto the world through their music. Rappers like Zebra Katz, Contessa “Cunt Mafia” Stutto, Angel Haze, Big Dipper, Cakes da Killa, House of Ladosha, and others are leading the so-called “homo hop” or “queer rap” movement into the 21st century. But there are problems that are associated with taking this talented group and applying this label to them. Read More…
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Sunday Candy: A Short Film - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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I’m a huge fan of Chance the Rapper. His mixtape
Acid Rap will always hold a special place in my heart. So last year when he announced his project with The Social Experiment, I was a little bit excited, to say the least. And then this song came out, and something just clicked. “Sunday Candy” is just delightful to listen to. Chance’s voice blazes through a feel good song with a wonderful backup from the talented Social Experiment.

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Ramblings on Criticism

Written by: Tom Blaich

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Recently an interesting thought came to mind. I’m a critic, for better or for worse, and it makes me think about the media that I consume in an interesting way. I can’t help myself but look for symbolism and deeper meanings within work, and there is something amazing about discussing them with my friends.

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To Pimp A Butterfly - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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Kendrick Lamar is a powerhouse of West-coast rap, and his new album,
To Pimp a Butterfly, just reinforces this idea even more. After Good Kid M.A.A.D City, fireball debut in 2012, fans were left wondering, could Lamar top this effort, and after three years of waiting, that question can be answered.

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