Hello everyone! Hope you are all well and continuing to keep safe and healthy! I just wanted to make everyone aware that I have released an album review episode of the Music and Life Podcast. The album review is on US artist Rod Wave and his latest album “SoulFly”. The episode is exclusive to Spotify as it features some tracks from the album!
I really enjoyed listening and taking in this album. As mentioned on the episode, I talk about how Rod Wave is great at demonstrating his pain through his music. The album was emotional and raw but highlighted the beauty of expression in music.
Have a listen and let me know what you think! The episode is out now!
When you hear the word Ghetts in the UK, you automatically think of “Witty wordplays”, Grime Legend” or even “Storyteller”. All of these phrases are demonstrated to the highest degree on this third album.. If you are not a Grime lover or even aware of Ghetts’ music (Where have you been?) you can listen to this album and understand to a T who Ghetts is, what he stands for and how talented he is. Surprisingly despite his nearly 20-year career and with 3 studio albums, this is his first album released from a major label.
I am a Ghetts fan and have been for a while but I find with Ghetts, so much of his music and bars are overlooked due to the fact his talent is beyond many peoples understanding. In a recent interview, Ghetts stated that he had to learn how to make his music a bit more digestible to those who may not have understood before and it’s clear he put that into practice on this album. The evolution he has shown from a grime MC to a giant in the UK rap scene is incredible to witness.
When it comes to wordplay, Ghetts is without a doubt one of the best storytellers of our time. Every song he releases makes you think and want to know more. This album feels like an autobiography of his life as he reflects on his past, his present and his future. He reflects on his past via some mistakes, his successes and his growth. The maturity on this album is evident and is felt throughout. Here are some of the tracks that stood out to me;
‘Fine Wine’, the intro track of the album is the perfect startup and prep for the album. From the first line “Rudeboy, I’m the certiest“, you hear Ghetts making a mark and inserting his dominance. On this song, Ghetts speaks his truth and talks about the times he has struggled, where he came from and where he plans to be. He also admits that he is the best and a legend in the game. Quite rightly!
This leads perfectly into the next track ‘Mozambique’ featuring Jaykae and South African artist Moonchild Sanelly, where Ghetts samples himself with his previous song ‘Top 3 Selected’. I wasn’t a huge fan of the song when Ghetts released it before the album drop but the strings used on the album version of this song are sensational!!! The transition from the intro track to this song is also top tier. For me, Jaykae steals the show on this song, his verse is so smooth!
‘Fire and Brimstone‘ features a more mellow and calmed down Ghetts while maintaining his greaze. I liked the Dizzee Rascal samples featured too. The song touches on the realities of Ghetts’ life. Despite his success, he still faces regular troubles with the police and is constantly discriminated against due to the fact he is a black man.
If I was asked to play ONE song to explain Ghetts to someone that didn’t know him or his story, “Autobiography” would be the song from this album. Ghetts even slowed down his flow, still keeping it clear and precise. I recently listened in on a Ghetts interview about this album and he stated that with this song, he was trying to find different ways to say things about himself. After the decades Ghetts has been in the game, the fact it’s still interesting to hear someone’s life story is amazing. This is credit to Ghetts incredible storytelling ability.
‘Good Hearts‘ featuring Aida Lae is definitely one of my favourite tracks from the album. I was surprised at the change in pace for this track, being a Ghetts album but I loved how refreshing it felt. This song feels like an old school garage track, the kind of song you would have blazing from speakers in the blazing sun! This track also emphasises the versatility of Ghetts. His flow on this song is as flawless as the slowed paced song previously. I can’t wait for summer to really take advantage of this song! Nice to also point out there is a great message too “A good heart don’t come around often, if you’ve got one, then cherish that organ” FACTS!
The only word I can use to describe ‘Dead To Me‘ is POETIC. On this track Ghetts pours his heart out “Next time I see cupid cock back I’m shooting right back. Dat’s bang bang bang loves dead to me. Bang there’s no love left in me” indicating he’s been hurt in love (Something I’m sure we can all relate to). I love when rappers like Ghetts who are known for their greaze, power and fire provide us with songs that show their vulnerable side. In terms of storytelling, this is why Ghetts is one of the best. The imagery in this song is conveyed so well through Ghetts’ bars. This may be one of my favourite Ghetts songs in a while. I love how the beat also slows down during the verses when Ghetts gets deeper and picks up again for the chorus. It’s almost as if he uses the verses to reminisce and recount and the chorus to pick himself back up.
I was so surprised when I saw the tracklist for this album and saw that ‘10,000 Tears‘ featured Ed Sheeran. I know they have collaborated before on Ed’s No. 5 Collaborations Project but I wouldn’t have originally thought to put Ed on a Ghetts album. Unlike the last song, this track is more mellow and calm but I also want to note that Ghetts is actually singing on this song and it works!!! Yet again, another track on the album that demonstrates Ghetts’ versatility, loved his patois on this song. I really enjoyed Ed’s flow too, it was as if both of them switched up their usual styles and swapped it a bit. It’s also great to hear Ed on a song again! I can imagine this song being a chart hit and really hope they bring out visuals to this song!
‘Sonya’ featuring Emeli Sandé is another beautiful laid back song. The song samples Bone Thugs N-Harmony’s “Foe Tha Love of $” and Brian McKnight’s “Anytime”. On this track, Ghetts reflects on a lady named ‘Sonya’ with who he holds a strong bond as she held him down throughout his struggles. The story ends on a cliffhanger and Ghetts stated that there may possibly be a part 2 to follow the story. Emeli sounds sensational on this track unsurprisingly.
‘No Mercy‘ was already released and features Pa Salieu and Backroad Gee. I already was a fan of the song when it came out. Each featured artist carried their weight which is hard when you are on the song of a legend like Ghetts. The beat production is my favourite part of the song. It’s insanely catchy and a great greaze Ghetts song. Ghetts pointed out that this is one of the songs he created to provide a connection between his audience. The chorus would be great for him to perform at a live show.
‘Crud‘ featuring Giggs doesn’t even need too many words to describe it. All I will say is it is a blessing to hear two pioneers back to back on a track doing what they do best.
‘Little Bo Peep‘ featuring Dave, Hamzaa and Wretch 32 was the perfect track to round off the album. I liked the subdued sound of Ghetts, Hamzaa and Wretch leading into the lessons Dave starts to speak about. The song which is six minutes long serves as an overview of where Ghetts is now in terms of his life and career. The arrangement of the song is even more important as it seems like Dave’s verse is an answer to all of Ghetts’ questions in his verse and throughout the album as a whole. The song gives lullaby vibes while providing a strong ending to a journey of an album. Even with the ending of an album, he still maintains the high quality.
Overall, this album exhibits the growth and maturity of Ghetts. It almost feels like a rebirth of Ghetts and shows he has no desire to slow down anytime soon. For an artist to describe his life with nearly 20 years in music and still make it sound authentic and refreshing is a talent in itself. While some may argue that sometimes there may be a disconnect between his songs and people actually taking it in, this album eradicates all fears. In the words of Ghetts, he will convert all non-believers with this album. Ghetts always provides a new insight with his music and that’s what keeps it exciting and keeps him in the top tier of UK rap. This album is the perfect example of what an album should be.
I have personally had the album on repeat since its release and I truly believe it’s an album that will linger in our minds for a very very long time. The best albums always do.
I’ve always known that for artists, albums are their most prized possessions. The process of creating an album takes so much thought and precision, from the content, theme, all the way down to the track listing order. Sometimes I feel that some people forget the strength and courage it takes to release an album with songs that for the artists may be extremely personal and triggering.
This new Ariana album feels like we are sitting behind her during an intense therapy session. Throughout the album I felt like I could understand exactly how Ariana was feeling at the time of recording the songs featured. The whole album transitions perfectly into a body of work that she should certainly be proud of.
I wasn’t a huge fan of Ariana’s last album but this album really spoke to me. Here are some key tracks for me:
This is the intro track on the album which explains the shortness in length. I really enjoyed the backing instruments on this song, it feels like a build up for something bigger. The song is really just a message to the people that spend their times worrying about other people’s lives.
Boy!!!!! Okay, so firstly when I heard this song and saw the title I didn’t put 2 and 2 together (not a pun). I fell in love with the beat and Ariana’s tone! As you get deeper into the song however, you slowly begin to realise the meaning of the song title and understand the link between that and the context of the song. This being the second song on the album, I got the impression Ariana was really not going to hold back on this album at all. She has always had songs that allude to sexual relationships or have sexual connotations however this is a very blatant reference. I do however love the fact she still manages to keep it classy. It’s hard to remember that Ariana is a grown 27 year old woman as some of us may still see her as a young teenage singer. I think the past few albums Ariana has put out, she has tried to prove to us that she is now a woman in her own right.
just like magic
WHAT IS IT WITH ARIANA AND THESE PERFECT BEATS!!!???? I almost want her to drop a 16 with some of these incredible beats she has! This song won me over from the first few seconds! This for me was such a positive song and you can tell that at this point in the album she was gaining her confidence again. The song alludes to the law of attraction with the idea that you get back what you put out.
Good karma, my aesthetic (Aesthetic), keep my conscience clear, that’s why I’m so magnetic. Just like magic (Yeah), I’m attractive (Oh yeah) I get everything I want ’cause I attract it (Oh)”
Law of Attraction.
This song is one of the reasons I feel like we were flies on the wall in her therapy sessions. This song feels like something you tell yourself when you are healing from a lot of trauma and heartbreak. It feels like this is faith talking and the hope that in future things will get better if you begin to think differently and approach life in a different way.
off the table Ft. The Weeknd
WOW. This song showcases Ariana’s vulnerability to another level. There are some songs that when you hear, even if you may not relate to what is going on, you somehow empathise with the artist and feel every emotion they are singing about. This song was one of those. The opening lines of the song; “Will I ever love the same way again?. Will I ever love somebody like the way I did you? are lines that every woman who has been badly heartbroken has said to themselves.
I’ve always wondered why people wish to find/chase the same feeling of love every time. I believe that love will always be relative to the person or circumstance. Sometimes I even think that is for the best. Ultimately chasing a previous kind of love is not giving your new situation the fresh chance it deserves. Love always evolves.
There is a theme of lack of faith in future happiness and lack of faith in love itself throughout the whole song. Ariana repeatedly sings throughout the song “Not yet healed already” emphasising the fact she is still raw from the heartbreak. The Weeknd sounds perfect on this song and his verse uses the role of a lover that is reassuring Ariana that he will wait until she is ready to let him in and trust in love again. The song for me is a representation of the whole theme of the album. Acknowledging where you are emotionally is part of the healing process. She understands there is long way to go but she has already made so much progress and is ready to get better.
It’s hard to believe that this is only the first collaboration between these two as the musical chemistry is beautiful. Ty’s harmonies with Ariana make this the kind of song you can close your eyes to and still feel everything and feel safe which coincides with the theme of the song. This song alludes to the idea that Ariana is willing to give love another go acknowledging her fears and hesitation to get hurt. Again, this is progress from her song ‘off the table” showing the growth.
Similar to the track ’34+35′, Ariana expresses exactly how she feels and articulates her sexual needs with her partner. I really like this sassy, confident side to Ariana.
This song towards the end of the album focusses on how Ariana is starting to believe in love again. In the first verse she sings “Nothin’ else, nothin’ more important, makes me wanna believe in love” and in the second she sings; “Never thought I’d believe in love again”. FINALLY she is beginning to believe again!!! *smiles*
This was the song that actually managed to break me! Hands down my favourite from the album. Ariana was spot on for putting this as the climax to the album. Even now, I cannot listen to this song without tearing up. This may be my favourite song from her period! The song focuses on how her lover sees her and Ariana wishes she could see herself in the same beautiful light he sees her. I feel this song is the result of all the trauma, tribulations, hurt and anguish Ariana has experienced. Sometimes when someone has gone through so much it takes a long time to accept someone else to fully love them.
On the second verse Ariana sings; “I’m getting used to receiving” implying she maybe was the one in relationships that always gave, something that has evidently contributed to her hurt. She also sings; “I’ma love you even though I’m scared. Learnin’ to be grateful for myself“, implying that she is going through the process of self love too. For me, this song is Ariana singing that she wants to get better and wants to finally let go of the hurt so she can finally be happy like she deserves to be. She is realising she needs to forgive herself and begin to love herself again in order to experience everything she wants to experience. Ultimately no matter how much someone loves you, you won’t be able to understand or accept it fully if you don’t have the same amount of self love. Such a beautiful song.
I know I haven’t talked much about Ariana’s vocals but that is simply because she is consistently flawless on this album as she is on every single piece of work she puts out.
Overall for me this album is what I would call a SOLID piece of work. Ariana touches on life, love, heartbreak, sex, happiness, sadness and self love to name a few. You get the sense that the next album Ariana puts out will be a completely different energy, a new awakening so to speak. I look forward to the positive changes that will be coming to her from this therapeutic album and I really hope she has managed to heal/find peace.
US artist Ty Dolla $ign is probably best known for enhancing many of the songs he features on. Personally, I’ve always preferred Ty Dolla features more that his personal projects and it’s clear this must be a common feeling for people which explains the name of this new album from him. You could even argue that it is almost a cheat code to have him on your track because with his smooth sound, you almost always know the song is going to be a smash hit! Despite all this, after seeing the tracklist for this album, I was still intrigued to hear how some of the songs would sound!
After playing the album back a few times in these past few days, I can honestly say I really enjoyed it! A lot of the songs on the album have replay value which in this day and age is quite rare. I feel Ty Dolla has the ability to put you at ease with his music regardless of the song context. Below are some of the songs that stood out to me:
Temptations Ft. Kid Cudi
OMG! I haven’t heard music from Kid Cudi in a very very long time!!! It feels good to hear him on a song! Kid Cudi and Ty Dolla have very similar sounds so they work well together on this one. From the lyrics in this song I get the impression that they are both singing about their women breaking up with them and leaving them. It seems that despite all the options they both now have access to, they are still missing their exes Hearing Kid Cudi made me reminisce to the old days when he was running the charts! I hope this is the beginning of more music from him!
Burna Boy Interlude
This interlude shocked me!!! I thought my shuffle had gone off into my Burna Boy playlist when I first heard this! I still don’t know the link between Burna Boy and Ty Dolla and have only heard them on a Kranium track together (Hotel). I guess it’s a nice surprise having him feature on the album somehow.
Tyrone 2021 Ft. Big Sean
Another smooth song on the album! This is the kind of the song that you will be bopping your head to! The slow pace suits Big Sean too! The song title is a reference to Erykah Badu’s 1997 song “Tyrone” where she talks about a good for nothing man. You can even hear Erykah’s voice throughout the song. Ty Dolla’s version is a flipped version of the original where he talks about a good for nothing woman. ‘Tyrone’ in this case is the one telling his friend to forget the woman who is doing nothing good for him. Big Sean. from his verse sounds like the poor man who is suffering.
Real Life Ft. Roddy Rich & Mustard
Ty Dolla, Roddy Rich and DJ Mustard on a song?? You just KNOW it’s going to be a hit! I love the consistency throughout this album, each song has its own vibe going on and despite the star studded features, the Ty Dolla’s sound is not compromised. The quote; “cops still killing n****s in real life” sounds smooth on the track until you actually realise the severity of that statement. Unfortunately I guess it is “real life” and will never be able to sound right on a song no matter how it’s dropped. Some light on this song was that Roddy and Ty both were able to recount some of their wins and joys which is beautiful to hear. I really enjoyed Ty Dolla’s harmonies on this song too, many times it felt like he was battling himself!
Nothing Like your Exes
This is one of the songs I’ve had on repeat since hearing the album! I genuinely don’t know any other artist with a sound like Ty Dolla. He will have you believing he is nothing like your exes with conviction after this song! I also really enjoyed how this song merged perfectly into the song below. In terms of the order of this album I really believe Ty got it spot on. I could listen to this album in the order he’s arranged it again.
By Yourself Ft. Jhené Aiko & Mustard
I love this song!!!! Firstly we have to talk about the sample!!! This song samples Billie Piper’s 1998 song “G.h.e.t.t.o.u.t” which you can hear more in the beginning of the track and towards the end. Mustard does an excellent job of remixing the sample into a more modern Ty Dolla kind of sound! Now onto Jhené! Both her and Ty Dolla are kings and queens of blessing any track they feature on. We’ve heard them most recently on Big Sean’s song “Body Language” released from his most recent album (another hit!). The two are clearly experts in bringing out the best out of one another. One thing I’ve noticed recently about Jhené is that she has that independent woman vibe going on! Her verse on this song does a great job of conveying that too! My favourite verse on the song for sure!
Universe Ft. Kehlani
The content of this song is beautiful, such positive vibes. Ty Dolla touches on the good things happening in his life at the moment. He starts the song “The universe must want me to win. I’m happier than I’ve ever been, ever been, yeah…feeling this good should be a sin“. The tone seems to be motivated by love and a woman in his life. Kehlani’s verse emphasises his point by agreeing that the universe has sent an angel from above.
Lift Me Up Ft. Future & Young Thug
I can’t say I like the lyrics of this song too much as it’s basically bragging rights between all these men. I do however like the fusion of Young Thug, Future and Ty Dolla’s voice.
Slow It Down
This is one of those songs you can really feel the purpose of the track. I can see why Ty put this song towards the end of the album as it’s a more slowed down and raw feel. His lyrics leave little to the imagination but the stripped back feel of the song exposes it even more. The harmonies and backing vocals in the song are wonderful. A definite contender for my slow jams mix!
Your Turn Ft. Musiq Soulchild, Tish Hyman & 6LACK
Any song with 6lack or Musiq Soulchild featuring, just know you’ve won me over! Ty Dolla actually stated that his favourite lyric from this album is from this song; “Nobody is truly yours, it’s just your turn”. This partnered up with Musiq Soulchild’s verse where he claims he’s holding on because he’s fallen in love 3 times in his life and doesn’t know why. I somewhat agree with the statements in this song. Sometimes people like to believe that things are more complicated than they are when really it could just be fate or right place, right time.
It was actually genuinely quite hard to pinpoint only a few songs from the album that I enjoyed the most! The features on this album have really shown me that Ty Dolla is just as a good as a main artist as he is a featured artist. He really held his own on this album. The whole album was a vibe and it’s rare that an album this long in length maintains the high quality! Thoroughly enjoyed this piece of work! Check it out below!
The “African Giant” also known as Burna Boy, released his fifth studio album on Friday the 14th of August! The build-up to the album was quite small as we were only really given details towards the final week of promo. Burna Boy’s previous 2019 album “African Giant” was critically acclaimed and considered by most people (including me – https://musicandlifeblog.com/2019/08/19/album-review-why-i-think-burna-boy-african-giant-2019-is-a-work-of-art/ ) as his best album to date. With such high praise from an album, it was always going to be an almost impossible uphill task to live up to the same expectations. Due to this, I decided to try my best to listen to this new album with fresh ears, trying not to compare his previous genius album to it. Albums are always a reflection of where the artist is at that moment, no album is gonna be from the same frame of mind.
With the first few minutes of me digesting the album, I won’t lie, I had quite a few questions. Admittedly, from the first few listens I was a bit confused at the direction of the project. I gave it time and with further listens I began to genuinely enjoy a lot of the songs. I feel this album is an introduction of Burna Boy to the global audience. It feels that the title “Twice as Tall” is in reference to the magnitude of Burna’s rising success worldwide. A major and important fact people need to remember when listening to Burna Boy is that Burna’s music goes way beyond just beats and rhymes. His music clearly takes inspiration from politics, his spirituality, culture and activism. On this album, in particular, he takes inspiration from many other African countries. I think this is why Burna Boy never really loses his flavour in his songs regardless of what the tone of the song may be. This album is a continuation and sequel of his previous work. He never forgets his roots despite the unnecessary Diddy noises and clear American influence through features.
I would have preferred for him to be singing more in the Yoruba dialect or Igbo that he does so well (Similar to how he uses it in the song ‘Bebo‘) but I can see that in regards to a global stage, the more English the easier for others to digest.
I believe it is only fair to listen and take in this album as a solo project and not a comparison to his previous album.
It will be interesting to see how Burna Boy follows this project up and what direction he will now head into but I know that wherever he goes, Burna’s unique sound will never be far away.
Below are some of the key songs I took from the album:
Level Up (Twice As Tall) Ft. Youssou N’Dour
I really liked this intro track featuring the Senegalese singer. Straight in, Burna goes personal with his journey starting from the beginning of his career; “I remember when I couldn’t level up. I was trying, but I couldn’t level up. It was rough, you see“. The whole song focuses on the theme of never giving up and keeping the faith. It’s interesting that this is the intro track as usually people would end an album with this inspirational message proving that they are a product of keeping the faith. I really liked the vibe of this song, very laid back but motivational. It’s not surprising Diddy had a little speech on this song as after finding out he was part of the album process, this message is very on-brand with his motto, to also keep going. I personally didn’t think his input was necessary at all and is part of the new direction I was not a fan of on this album.
Way Too Big
I really liked this song and I think this was one of the songs from the album that I can see getting really good reception if played with a crowd. The song also works well with the title of the album, emphasising Burna’s journey to success. I always think when an artist is as big as Burna, they have the right to have a song with bragging rights at least. i can see crowds singing this song back to Burna at concerts or events. It also is a small reminder of Nigerian confidence and pride, to acknowledge that you are worth too much to lower your standards for anyone. This is definitely one of my favourites from the album.
I’ve previously spoken about my love for this song. This is without a doubt my favourite song on the album. We were treated to this song earlier on before the album release and I thought that this was a taster of the kind of direction Burna was going for on this album. Having heard all the songs, I now believe this song is a bit out of place with the rest of the songs. This song is pure Nigerian music. It has the inspired instruments, the tone, the beat, the feel and the language. It is impossible to listen to this song without finding yourself moving some part of your body somehow!
This is the love song for this album. The name of the song was originally in reference to the Nigerian singer Onyeka Onwenu. However, Burna Boy has said that the song is now more of a general song and can be in reference to all women. The song also references an Igbo highlife classic from Chief Stephen Osadebe titled “Osondi Owendi“. You can actually hear the similarities with the backing production of this track and the backing production of ‘Onyeka’. This is one of the many examples of how educated Burna Boy is with previous Nigerian music and how he uses it to inspire his music of today.
Naughty By Nature Ft. Naughty By Nature
Hmmmmmmmm. I don’t know where to begin with this song. To be honest when I first heard this song, I was shocked and almost offended. I think it was the complete change in pace and of how different this song was from Burna’s usual music. However, as I listened to the song more, I started to warm to it a lot more. The song reminds me of a previous song called ‘Ice Cream Man’ that Burna featured on one of his previous tapes. The song has an almost nursery rhyme theme to it. The part for me where I find is wrong is the feature from Naughty by Nature. I understand their talents separately as an established hip hop group but I really do not believe their sound goes well with the Burna sound on this song. It sounds like a very random match. If I could hear a version of this song without NbN I would definitely rate it higher. Have a listen to ‘Ice Cream Man‘ to see if you can hear the similarities.
No Fit Vex:
I really enjoyed the slowed-down pace on this track especially as it followed the very hype song “Comma”. The title of the song is pidgin for saying “No Hard Feelings”. The song is very positive and focuses on the fact that Burna Boy is just living his life and has no hard feelings for anyone.
Another emotional song from Burna Boy. With this song, he reflects on his success again but this time using Michael Jordan’s signature ’23’ number. He mentions in the introduction; “The music make me feel I be Jordan, now I understand why them say aiye gbon gan”, meaning that he understands why they say there’s enough space. Even though he is not a basketball player like Michael Jordan, he is experiencing what it’s like to also be at the top of his respective field, in this case music. The song almost sounds like we are hearing his personal thoughts of reflection as well as gratitude. This song will be so beautiful to hear with a live band stripped back.
Time Flies Ft. Sauti Sol
This song is the perfect follow up to ’23’ in terms of keeping a similar mood. It took me a few listens to pick up this song and I worry that this song could be overlooked. In terms of African music however, this song is a perfect example of the beauty of what the continent contains. The song features the Kenyan group Sauti Sol. It’s clear that Burna took a lot of joy dipping into so many African countries on this album, again exploring his global impact. The backing vocals and production of the song definitely explore the beauty of Kenyan music. In the chorus, “Siwezi wacha rhumba” is sung which is Swahili for “I’ll never stop partying” and I can see how that motto fits with the tone of the song. Burna Boy’s vocals on this song are so soothing, this is the kinf of song that makes you want to close your eyes and really take everything in.
Real Life Ft. Stormzy
Burna Boy and Stormzy have already collaborated on the smash hit song “Own It” also featuring Ed Sheeran. I already knew that they potentially would make another great song but I did not expect the direction this song went in. I’m a Stormzy fan but I’m not so fond of his singing on songs, HOWEVER, this song put all my doubt to rest. Stormzy’s singing was the perfect component to this song. I had this song on repeat when I first heard it. This is another beautiful song and I loved the fact Stormzy was able to do something different on this record. They are both superstars in the music world for different reasons and this song is an example of how beautiful they can sound merged together.
Bank On It (Produced by JAE5)
What a track! As soon as I heard the drop I knew it was a JAE5 produced track. Burna and Jae have collaborated on quite a few tracks now and it is clear they always make hits. The song almost reminds me of one of their songs “Calm Down” in the sense of a similar drop. It is a great way to end the album as the song reflects on the fact that life is precious and that we are all human and will make mistakes in life. Despite anything and everything that may happen in this life though, Burna Boy wants to make it clear that he will continue being successful.
Overall, this is an album you really need to take in to understand Burna Boy’s new perspective. There is alot of gratitude, praise and success mentioned on this album and it is clear this is the journey of a huge star.
Hey everyone! Another week, another EP review! Today’s post is extra special as I collab with the hottest journalist on the scene ‘Shahna Says’! We were both excited for the launch of this tape so figured it would be the perfect time to collaborate together.
UK Drill rapper Unknown T blew onto the scene with his smash hit ‘Homerton B’ back in 2018. Instantly, his infamous deep voice and unique flow became a household name. It can definitely be argued that he was one of the most important figures that contributed to the recent success of the drill genre. There was a setback with a recent jail stint but luckily, he was able to overcome and has finally got the time to shine. Straight in at the deep end, Unknown T releases his debut mixtape ‘Rise Above Hate’ and it’s clear from this tape that he is here to stay. One thing you can be guaranteed with an Unknown T project is that you will get unlimited hits. Having released many freestyles in between it was clear that Unknown T was more than just a ‘Drill” rapper. (One of my favourite live lounges from him has to be the Busta Rhymes cover). He has proven himself to be an artist and more importantly a versatile one. For me, this was one of the reasons I highly anticipated this mixtape launch.
The tape starts off quite calmly as if Unknown T is preparing us for a big journey to come. Throughout the tape however, we are taken on a fun ride with all kinds of surprises along the way. Here are some of the tracks that we loved:
For me the intro track was just a preparation for what was to come. ‘Deh, Deh’ is really where it all begins. Unknown T’s signature emphasis on the pronunciation of words is so evident on this track too! In this song Unknown T reminds us that he raps about his personal experiences. The accompanying video is great too as we are able to witness Unknown T executing his signature dance moves!
M&L: I like the switch up from this song. The song starts off melodic with the voice of M Huncho along a trap type beat. The breakup allows us to have a bit of a break from the known greaze of Unknown T. It takes a talented artist to have songs with different sounds and still make it work. Unknown T is the king of this. When his verse comes in, it works so well without having to change the tone of the song. There are a few real messages I picked up in this song such as “It’s kinda sad that kids are killing kids” as M Huncho and Unknown T both touch on how the environment some kids are brought up is a key factor on how they turn out.
Shahna Says: Addicts’ with M Huncho has got to be one of my favourites and not because I’m an M Huncho super fan but because of the vibe they have together. We see Unknown T slow down his flow and sound a bit to compliment Huncho allowing him to take the first verse and chorus before we hear Unknown T. ‘I’m trapped in the ends with skengs, drug addicts and drillers, ballies and dingers’ lyrics like this give a nod to the artwork of the block of flats he grew up in and the whole projects theme. Other songs such as ‘Prison’ and ‘Fresh Home’ deal with the same openness with listeners appreciating the fact that he is out and all that he has been through.
Main Squeeze Ft. Young T & Bugsey
M&L: This song features the UK duo who have owned this quarantine period after the success of their song ‘Don’t Rush’. They provide their signature sound on this song and provide us with a memorable chorus and hook. This is not to take away the way Unknown T did his thing on his verse. His delivery and entrance on the song was just a prime example of how effortlessly talented he is. This song is also a great indication of how the UK scene is on top right now with both artists showcasing their individual talents in one track. It will be extremely hard to convince me that there is a genre Unknown T cannot make his own. I can see this being a commercial single.
Shahna Says: Main Squeeze’ has already hit the radio playlists, easily becoming the UK’s fave alongside his promo single ‘Deh Deh’. Main Squeeze is a girl song you could say and we hear Unknown T singing to a potential love interest and the placement of the song allows the listener to move away from the drill lyrics to a vibe that can be played while driving or in the club. Balance. Young T and Bugsey always bring their own vibe giving the song that afro swing feel. I look forward to a video for this one.
My thoughts on some other tracks I loved:
SS Interlude – This was a pleasant surprise on the tape. It’s clear that Unknown T enjoys switching up within his music. This may be a short track, but I feel he uses this interlude as a diary and a way to be vulnerable. He sings “Sometimes I struggle mentally”, a juxtapose from all the rough and tumble he is used to rapping about. It also seems like he is directing this at a love interest. I liked the change in pace at this point on the tape.
LV Ft. Young Adz – I really enjoyed this collaboration. Since the release, this is one of the songs I’ve had on repeat. I love the production on this song, it reminds me of the type of sound you would hear on a game.
Leave Dat Ft. AJ Tracey – I don’t know where I was when this song was originally released a year ago but wow! I’m not usually a fan of AJ Tracey’s style but I feel this is the sound for him. We are all used to hearing Grime AJ but maybe he should consider more drill. His rapping style compliments the fast pace of the drill beats so well. These two could easily make a joint tape! What a track! A year later or not!
M&L: The final track on this tape and wow what an outro! The stripped back production and slow pace prepares us for what feels like a heartfelt response from Unknown T. He uses the track to look back on how far he has come and how much of it has paid off. He also lets us know that he is not done yet; “I’m coming for the game, that’s my main ambition”; hinting that he is only beginning. This is exciting to hear as I truly believe Unknown T is one of the most talented artists in the UK right now. It’s clear that there are no limits to where his talent can go, and it is promising to hear that he is just getting started.
Shahna Says: The final song ‘Ambition’ feels very heartfelt and reminds me of other rappers such as Skrapz, Blade Brown, Asco and Nines when it comes to rapping about your previous life and what you’ve been through. The pain and drive is felt and heard in Unknown T’s voice as he explains he’s coming for the game that’s his main ambition. Touching on now being able to have designer clothes, dealing with relationships and his dream and vision overall. A perfect way to end the project.
Overall, this tape for me has been everything I expected and more. Unknown T constantly proves his talent and it is such a pleasure to hear his constant growth. I really hope there is more to hear from him in the future and it will be such a joy to see and hear how he expands his already growing fanbase.
Don’t forget to pop over to Shahna Says’ page to read more of her views on the project. The great thing about music is that it hits everyone differently! Hopefully this is the first of many more collabs with her!
It’s that time again when I discuss a throwback project and this time I wanted to focus on everybody’s favourite singer Beyoncé and her debut solo album ‘Dangerously In Love‘. This album, released on June the 20th 2003 was monumental for so many reasons; one of them being that this album propelled Beyoncé into even more superstardom and established her as a credible solo artist.
The album was released during a Destiny’s Child hiatus and brought into question whether this was going to be the album that made Beyoncé want to take solo music more seriously. It is absolutely crazy to me that this album was released when I was 10 years old, at an age where I couldn’t even understand and digest the lyrics to their true meaning properly and yet I still had it on repeat. For me, this was the album that solidified my love for Queen B.
‘Dangerously in Love’ takes on a very R&B vibe containing many ballads while also staying true to her signature sounds adding elements of hip hop too. The album has a star studded lineup of producers and featured artists. All of these ingredients mixed with the fresh desire and energy she demonstrates on this album makes it my all time favourite Beyoncé album.
The main note to take from this album is that it was the birth of a woman who was not afraid to demonstrate her independence, feminism, her confidence, vulnerability and drive. Beyoncé.
Below are some of my favourite songs from the album that I will never forget;
Crazy In Love Ft Jay-Z
Every artist has that single that catapults them into another realm and will always be the song associated with them. For Beyoncé, this is the song. It’s ironic because in the song itself, Jay Z actually raps “History in the making“, little did they know this song was going to be talked about for years to come. This number 1 song was released as the lead single for the album and the accompanying video became a worldwide phenomenon. The song is understandably about the feeling you get when you are truly madly crazily in love with somebody. It’s possible and likely that the song was in reference to her love for Jay Z. We were used to hearing Beyoncé belting out her love usually in a more softer way but her sound in this song is more of an out of control vibe. This is obviously a reflection of her love that she is trying to explain about. Throughout the song she sings “Your love’s got me looking so crazy right now” indicating that she is enraged with her love for him. One of my favourite lines in the song is when she sings : “If you ain’t there, ain’t nobody else to impress” referring to the fact that he is the only guy she is checking for…to the point she does not even want to get attention from any other guy. A classic song.
Beyoncé definitely explores her sexy side on this album and with this song in particular. This song has a very minimal sound however it allows us to appreciate Beyoncé’s impeccable vocals. The song uses Donna Summer’s “Love to Love you Baby” as a sample. The song also has an Arabian feel in terms of the production. I would say this is one of the must hear songs on the album as yet again it compliments Beyoncé’s amazing vocal range.
Baby Boy Ft. Sean Paul
When this song/album was released, Sean Paul was already well known and established in the game. Having released his critically acclaimed ‘Dutty Rock’ album the previous year. I love the fusion of R&B, Reggae and dancehall in the song coming from Sean. When she performs this song live she adds a sort of remix to the end of the song focussing on the dancehall element of the song which makes it even better. There is no surprise that this was another number 1 single from her and is still a hit in clubs today. I dare you not to dance listening to this song!
Me, Myself & I
Okay!!!!!!! Now this is the ultimate anthem most woman probably sing whenever they are going through a break up or having issues with their man. Beyoncé more than any other artists has the ability to create songs that somehow women as a whole always take in. This song is one of them. Aside from the fact the song is about heartbreak, I believe it is actually a very useful song and is more a lesson about self love and self worth. It teaches women to realise that they have to love themselves first and foremost. Despite the heartbreak she learns the valuable lesson that “I took a vow that from now on, I’m gonna be my own best friend, I know that I will never disappoint myself”. It’s the realisation that in life the only person anyone can really 100% trust and rely on is themselves. I would say this song is timeless because everyone could use this reminder.
This is another one my favourite songs from the album. CONSENT. The more I think about it, in the age of consent that we are in now, this song is extremely relevant. On the song Beyoncé sings about her hurt and frustration from a very disrespectful and impatient lover who wants to go somewhere way too fast. It’s only now I am older and wiser that I can really take in the lyrics of this song. I initially loved the song because it feels like Beyoncé still shocks you with the notes she was hitting in this song. I also love the storytelling element of this song especially in the beginning; “Slowly you walked over, I maintained my cool, you said hello to me”, when she paints a picture of how they met each-other. Now for me the key part of this song is when she sings;
You said I move too slow, I showed you to the door, you said you’d call me later…I said don’t call no more. It’s cool if you can’t wait for me…I’mglad you let me know, ’cause you show me your true face, baby…the first time I said no”
She details how he tried to pressure her showing his true colours. I also want to point out the strength she shows by standing up to this man. It’s crazy to think how ahead of time Beyoncé was with this song but also scary to think she was only 21/22 when this song was released.
That’s How You Like It Ft Jay-Z
This is the second featured track with Hov on the album. This is also one of my favourites on the album due to the easy going, playful theme I feel with this song. I like the interaction between the both of them on the song and the way she explains her love for him (again). Jay Z has a chance to stand up for himself on this song in response to the doubters they obviously faced as he raps; “I know you’ve heard I’m a gangsta, they say “Stay away from them gangstas”. During the time of this being released they were merely a rumour but its safe to say Hov pretty much confirms B is his women in all of the 3 features on this album!
Dangerously in Love
Possibly one of the most beautiful ballads on this album. This song is the definition of love, adoration and happiness. She stars the song with “Baby, I love you You are my life“, if that isn’t a strong statement…I don’t know what is. I feel this song is the softer version of ‘Crazy in Love’. When all the lust and honeymoon period of a relationship has died down, this song is the prime example of what true love is. It is calm, patient, soft, sexy, slow and understanding. One of her best songs in my opinion.
’03 Bonnie & Clyde Ft. Jay Z
This is the ultimate B & Hov record! This is the 3rd collaboration between the two of them on the album but was actually the first they released together. The song uses 2Pac’s original “Me and my Girlfriend” (even though he was actually referring to his gun) song and Hov & B provide their own spin. It’s ironic that it was 2Pac’s original song considering the affiliation Jay-Z had with Biggie, however luckily the beef was squashed after the passing of both Pac & Big. Another fun fact is that Kanye West produced the beat for the song. This was also the first song many of Jay-z’s peers realised he was in love with Beyoncé. The song is definitely the song that publicly confirmed both of each-others love for one another.
These are just my personal favourites from this classic and unforgettable album but feel free to listen back to the album below;
There are few artists that when they release an album you know that you are going to like 90%-100% of the tracks. For me, dvsn are artists that fit into that category. This being their third studio album released on the 17th of April 2020 called ‘A Muse in Her Feelings’. I was excited to listen knowing I would love majority of the songs and I have not been disappointed. The Canadian R&B duo comprises of a singer called Daniel Daley and an incredible producer that goes by the name of Nineteen85. dvsn are signed to Drake’s OVO label and specialise in slow paced r&b/alternative r&b music.
I have been a fan of dvsn after stumbling on their song “Hallucinations” taken from their first studio album ‘September 5th’. The feeling I got from listening to that song for the first time has not been able to be matched. Every single beat on that song hit me. Since then, I’ve been a proud and loud supporter. Nineteen85 for me is one of the best modern producers we have and his production on their songs for me is ALWAYS consistently exceptional. All of this compiled with Daniel’s sensual voice and high notes compliment the production. They are the perfect duo.
For me, it’s only been recently that producers have been appreciated like they should have been. When I listen to music, the first thing that personally grabs me is the production of the song, so why producers are sometimes forgotten baffles me. When it comes to R&B in particular, the best songs are the ones that enable you to feel the emotion being exuded through the singer, sometimes this is impossible without great production. Nineteen85 for me has the cheat code because there is not one badly produced dvsn song. It is very very clear that every song he produces is specifically crafted to fit the theme and it is clear that as a duo, dvsn compliment each-other. A duo with an exceptional producer and an amazing singer sounds like the recipe for success to me. I regularly talk about my love for producers on this blog and I really hope in the future more producers are able to be given their flowers.
In regard to the layout and order of ‘A Muse in her Feelings’, dvsn themselves have explained that the album is separated into 4 sections. The first section being; “In Your Feelings” for the songs 1-5. The second section being “Get Over It” for the songs 6-9. The third section being “3AM: After Ours” for the songs 10 to 14. Finally, the fourth and final section being “Falling in Love…Again” for the final two songs, 15 to 16. The songs under each category reflect the theme. I’ve talked about some key tracks below, have a read and enjoy!
Key Tracks for Me:
‘In Your Feelings’:
No Good – This is a great first track for this album. The song starts slow and minimal before the production comes into affect. In this song, it seems he is confused with his feelings and what he wants and is baring it all in the song. This fits in with the “In your Feelings” section as he is definitely feeling some kind of way.
Still Pray For You – This is by far one of my favourite songs on this album! I only wish it was a bit longer. The song almost feels like an interlude and feels like a direct message to someone in particular. He just wants her to know that he still prays for the special someone and he has not changed. I like the switch up in sound in the second part of the song too.
Miss Me? – This song was previously released before the album came out and if you haven’t rinsed it already, this would be in your top songs for sure. This song is for that person you miss and have trouble asking if they feel the same! haha! very appropriate for this quarantine period. I like Daniel’s lyrics “Soon as I get you out my system, girl, I relapse“, we have all probably been there at some point in our life. I can’t express any more how much Nineteen85’s production always compliments Daniel’s sound so well. In this song, Daniel’s melancholy’s sound is heightened towards the end with the outro.
‘Get Over It‘:
No Cryin Ft. Future – No surprise that the first song from this category features the King of toxic masculinity Future. This song was also released prior to the album release. This song definitely takes on a different mood as Future sings early on; “Ain’t no cryin’ in my Phantom, don’t get no tears on my seats“, showing that he is not showing any sympathy at all. My favourite part of the song however is after his verse when Daniel sings “Yeah, this year you gon’ be selfish” hitting an amazing high note reminding us how talented he really is!
Dangerous City Ft. Ty Dolla $ign & Buju Banton– On my first listen for this album, this was the song that grabbed me straight away. This is my favourite featured track on the album and the vibe coming this song is wonderful! Ty Dolla of course always brings heat when he appears on songs and Buju Banton provides us with a reggae/dancehall vibe that I didn’t even realise was missing! The way the beat changes to match Buju on this track is also genius. dvsn are the definition of TALENTED. In terms of musical production, this song is a clear example of how good these two are.
Outlandish – This songs sets us up for the song below but still is one of my faves, I like Daniel’s vocals on this one and the outro of the song.
‘3AM: After Ours”:
Keep It Going – This song starts with the ending of ‘Outlandish’ and takes a completely different sound from the previous songs. The song is a more upbeat vibe and my favourite lyrics in this would have to be “I can’t lose my mind tryna read somebody else’s“. It feels in this song it’s back to the frustration and confusion of feelings. The backing beat is repetitive but extremely catchy. This is probably the song you’d be dancing to.
Between Us Ft. Snoh Aalegra – Honourable mention for this song because it uses a sample of Usher’s 1997 classic song “Nice & Slow.”. As well as the sample, it also flips the chorus from dvsn’s precious 2019 song “In Between.”.
“Falling in Love…Again”
For Us – This is a beautiful ode. It feels like a climax to all the back and forth and numerous emotions throughout the beginning of the album. Daniel sings; “I don’t wanna waste a minute of my life without you in it”. It feels this song is the cement in realising how strong his love is for this woman. This song reminds me of an old school R&B song when they used to sing and profess their love and need for their women. Beautiful words in this song. Personally I feel this should have been the last song.
…Again Ft. Shantel May – This song should be appreciated for the production. You get an 80’s vibe with this one again showing the versatility that dvsn have. It’s nice to finalise the back and forth with a woman’s perspective too with Shantel’s vocals.
‘September 5th‘ may still be my favourite album from them (If you have never listened, please have a listen to that album) but make no mistake, this album is also a work of art. I cannot wait to see them appreciated more in the future for the talent they both are.
Have a listen to the album below, I hope you are all able to enjoy it as much as I did:
J Hus previously warned us “Don’t think I’m shy cos I’m quiet, I’m just plotting and plotting” from his song ‘Plottin’ released with his 2017 debut album ‘Common Sense’. Whilst we were given some featured verses from songs and an EP in between the first album and now, it’s pretty much been quiet from East London’s finest. It is no secret that in this break Hus has had his fair share of ups and downs, but one thing is for sure, this break has not affected his talent. This break has been a build up for his highly anticipated second album.
When it comes to second albums, personally I believe that for an artist, it’s usually one of the most important projects of their career. If they were lucky enough to have had a critically acclaimed debut album, it’s always hard releasing a second one without the pressure and people constantly comparing the two. If they didn’t do so well with the first, then they have even more to prove. It’s a catch 22. For Hus, it was the first dilemma; his first album “Common Sense” (2017) is a critically acclaimed album that has even been certified gold. The question from most people was “How was he going to top this?”. I think it is unfair to compare both albums, they are both very different, the first demonstrated the rawness and fire we know Hus embodies. It was a chance for the rest of the world to hear what he was about and for him to show how unique he was.
This second album demonstrates all the lessons learnt, all the pain felt, all the knowledge learnt, put into a body of work for us to soak up and digest. You get more of a sense of J Hus as a person in this album, we are shown his intelligence and what drives him more in this project. I would say one of the key words of this album would be ‘versatility’. It is extremely clear at this point that Hus has carved his own lane in the UK scene. It certainly feels like this young man we hear on his second album is a regenerated, reborn J Hus, ‘J Hus 2.0’ you could say. Hus reflects on his culture, surroundings, peers as well as his battles and challenges. He does all this in a mature way without compromising his unique sound or being afraid to experiment and flirt with different genres. It’s crazy to think that this music is coming from a 23 year old considering all he has experienced and the knowledge he shares. It feels as if this album is a documentation of the journey Hus has gone through to find himself.
It is worth giving honourable mentions to the producers on this album because the production on these songs is out of this world. We are used to J Hus merging with the genius that is JAE5 to produce regular hits, but it was very nice also hearing Hus with other talented producers TSB and IO. This album felt like a nice fusion of everyone’s best work.
J Hus is someone that constantly proves how talented he is and every single song on this album has a quotable line. Another unique thing about Hus is that sometimes it feels as if songs are ‘him featuring himself’ simply due to the fact he is that versatile. These are part of the reasons why I would say J Hus is my favourite UK artist. He is constantly pushing boundaries and expectations and it seems his talent has no expiry date. Regardless of what your taste is, there is no doubt that this album is a work of art. J Hus and his team seem to be deservedly hitting peaks some can only dream of. This is a prime example that talent and hard work always wins in the end.
Side Note: I can’t remember if the leak nonsense came out before the album title and album cover design but I love how “Piracy” in the title name was underlined. Intentional or not, I love the irony of the situation. A further point to add is that despite the few that tried to ruin it for the rest of us, it shows how loved J Hus is that his fans refused to listen to leaks and wanted to wait for the actual release date. It was certainly worth the wait.
Here are some key tracks for me;
Big Conspiracy Ft. iceè tgm- The first song and title track did a great job preparing us for the tone of the rest of the album. iceè tgm’s vocals on this are so soothing too.
Fight for Your Right – “How do you sleep at night when you don’t even fight for your life?”. This song is a food for thought.
Triumph – This is my second favourite song on the album. The percussion instruments and production (of course produced by the legend that is JAE5), the mixture of flow, the lyrics, everything works on this. This is the kind of song I would love to hear live.
Play Play Ft. Burna Boy – This is now the 3rd song these two have released together and yet again the pair prove they are unstoppable.
Cucumber – I’ve been singing “How you make being sexy look easy” since this dropped! I feel there should be a dance move for this song somehow. Such a banger!
Reckless – Finally the song has been released with the infamous lines; “Daily offender, crazy Eastender”. haha
No Denying – I love hearing Hus on a beat that isn’t his usual sound, this solidified the fact that he was versatile for me.
Must Be – 100% my favourite song on this album. This song is the definition of a work of art. For me this song reminds me of a modern version of highlife music. The combination of Hus and his witty wordplay, his changing flow and the instruments in the background proves to me that this is possibly one of his best songs as a whole to date. This song needs to be performed live with a live orchestra to give it the credit it deserves.
Love, Peace and Prosperity – I like how J Hus left his two big meaningful songs to the end of the album. He sings; “I live a street life and I sing a melody, they wan’ see me go mad and lose my sanity”. This kind of self awareness is further indication of his growth.
Deeper than Rap – This is a stripped-back song that bares all. The title of the song is fitting as Hus reflects on race, culture, colourism, religion, depression and the streets. For me this song proves the growth that J Hus has gone through and is a big food for thought for anyone listening. A beautiful way to end an incredible album.
Kano is back with another album! In terms of UK greats when it comes to grime, Kano is considered one of the best we have. Personally, Kano is one of my favourite MC’s, he has a unique personality he lets out with his raps that make some of his lyrics unforgettable. Kano has been consistent with his hits and for someone who has literally been around for most of my childhood, to continuously release high quality music is a talent in itself. His delivery is so clear cut and for me, his clarity is one of the best things about him. I’ve picked some songs from the album that really stood out to me. Overall, the album for me is one of the best to come out of the UK this year. The replay value on this album is definitely high and I’m so happy Kano is back showing us how great he is. Have a read below.
Free Years Later:
The first track on the album is called “Free Years Later” and what an intro it is. The song gives us an insight on how Kano has felt in his life and how he has dealt with his success. He uses a lot of juxta positioning; “Waking from dreams, chasing my fears” and hints to the struggle he may have faced being successful; “Success brings more stress”. Another topic Kano talks about in this song is the effects of racism among black people. Kano even makes a mention to British rapper Stormzy in the second verse; “Babylon boy, look how they raided Stormzy”, referring to the time the British Police raided Stormzy’s house. Kano makes it known that even though some black artists have escaped their hardships and tough upbringings, they are still the topic of discrimination and racism. For me one of the standout lines in this song is when Kano says, “Lethal laughing to the Coutts account, now you approve of Pow”. It’s only now that Lethal B is making enough money to open a prestigious account that some people are starting to take him seriously. This is the idea that Black people must work twice as hard just to be treated like anyone else. Kano ends the verse with; “What D Double did for me, I just do for the youts” demonstrating the passing of the baton that is very evident in music. Kano is paying respect and homage to those before him and is aware that he has to carry on the torch for those after him.
Good Youtes Walk Amongst Evil
From the first few second of this song I could hear the grime straight away. The grime beat is crazy on this song and the pace matched Kano perfectly!!! On the chorus he says “Work so hard, we’re dying for a living for clothes and the cars” and that couldn’t be a realer statement. I feel this song relates to life. Everyone is just going along with the flow. For me the beat is what sells this record.
This was one of the songs Kano had previously released as a single. The video is so creative too. Kano also takes on a softer approach as he sings a bit of the verses in this song. In this song, he explains to people the consequences of living in the “hood”. The interlude of the 999 call breaks up the song and makes it more real. For me I fee it is a direct example of life. When you think everything is going smoothly, something can just throw you off. In the hood, Kano is trying to show that life is not straight forward and nothing is safe. After this break, Kano begins to rap about the success from making it out of the hood, he mentions his friends and some well known fellow rappers; “Ghetts ain’t looked back since we blessed them stages”. I like the rawness of this track and it’s one of those songs you can vibe to as it’s slower paced. Kano gets out his message very clearly and you are almost reminded of the hardships he has had to face earlier on in his life.
Can’t Hold We Down Ft. Popcaan
This song brings out Kano’s Caribbean side out and I like that. I personally liked this song as it was a little different feel to the usual Kano song while still keeping his uniqueness. For me the line “All black Range Rover, all black women, I bet the Daily Mail wan’ photoshop a spliff in” made me laugh. This is a reference to the fact stereotypically Black stars are usually portrayed negatively in the UK newspaper publication especially in the Daily Mail online. Popcaan offers a nice relief and a dancehall sound to this song which is refreshing. Kano references his rapper friends again showing the genuine friendship they all have which goes deeper than music. I particularly like the outro as Popcaan and Kano vibes off eachother. Kano is so good at going back and forth with other artists as we see him regularly do with Ghetts and Giggs. Kano raps; “Fly guys summer (Hey) sent the kids out the ends (Hey, hey), but you can’t take the ends out the kid” reminding us that he remembers where he comes from and will always rep. I will definitely be replaying this song.
Got My Brandy, Got My Beats Ft. Lil Silva
This is the most emotional song on the album and I like the fact it’s towards the end. This song is definitely a love/heartbreak song. I get the impression it’s the facing of reality when you’re no longer with someone and trying to adjust with them not being in you’re life anymore. The beat on this song is minimalistic but somehow you can feel the exact pain and passion exuding from the lyrics. One of the lyrics that stand out for me; “So many lessons in love can’t be taught without the breaking of hearts“. For me this means that sometimes you have to suffer or go through pain in order to learn the most important lessons. Kano does sing “Don’t be sad for me, still got my brandy and my beats“, I like vulnerability of these lines. Kano is able to fine solace in the simplest pleasures despite all his wealth and freedom.
Class of Deja Ft. D Double E & Ghetts
Another song from the album that bad been previously been released as a single. This song is literally a combination of some of the UK’s BEST grime MC’S. This is one of those songs that would be amazing to watch live. The song reminds me of the old battle raps/cyphers people used to do. The wordplay in this song from the MC’S is incredible, there are too many bars to even pin point.
Another one of my favourite songs on the album and the perfect outro to a wonderful and memorable album. The song for me is aimed at everyone. It’s aimed at the ignorant people that believe that some Black men enjoy crime; “If you think niggas just love these drugs and crime“. It is also aimed at those black men that are getting money to never forget to give back; “Get your paper but you don’t get complacent, If we don’t hold each other down, we won’t make it”. This serves as a reminder that we are all in this together.
I’m sure I’ve expressed before how much I love Rick Ross. He is without a doubt one of my favourite rappers currently. For me, Ross has the unique ability to provide us with a song that will have you thinking about so much. His flow and ability to get across his meanings remind me of Biggie, who is my ultimate favourite rapper. I always look forward to his albums because they always display the versatility of Rick Ross via his ability to spit bars on so many different kinds of beats. This album did not disappoint. Here are my opinions on some of the songs from the album.
Act a Fool Ft. Wale
This song was previously released before the album dropped and I still really like it. As an intro to the album the first line doesn’t get better; “It’s a beautiful day to get some money“, think that line sums up Rick Ross as a whole being the boss he is. I’m a fan of Wale and his wordplay is always spot on. Wale and Ross always work well together. Have a read of my previous review on this song here; https://musicandlifeblog.com/2019/07/13/new-music-saturday-what-ive-been-listening-to-this-week/
Nobody’s FavouriteFt. Gunplay
‘GREAZE’. That is the word I would use to describe this song. As soon as the beat drops you know what time it is. Gunplay adds another form of aggression which I like. I don’t think there would have been anyone else that could have done the song justice more than him. The title of the song is quite interesting as Rick Riss claims that despite his success and talent, he is not usually considered people’s favourite in terms of rappers. Ross explores a truth here in the fact he has always been consistent. While some rappers may disappear and re appear regularly or have good times and bad times, Rick Ross has been consistent with his success. I hope that people start to appreciate Rick Ross a lot more. A lot of the reasons Nipsey Hussle is loved is due to the fact he always teaches us about ownership, giving back to your people, multiplying your money with businesses. All of these things Rick Ross has been doing too.
Rick Ross Boss Lyric;
“My new house is on the river so I had to buy a boat, better yet, it’s called a yacht”
Summer Reign Ft. Summer Walker
A very big contrast to the previous song. This is a slowed down song for Ross which we know he can do so well. Summer Walker’s line “All I ask is that you hold it down for me ’cause you told me you would be my everything” echoes throughout the song. This is the versatility of Rick Ross and one of the unique things about him. He can go from sounding like a boss and someone not to be messed with from one track to this softer side displayed in this track.
Bogus Charms Ft. Meek Mill
If I heard the instrumental to this song without knowing who was on the song, the first featured artist that would come into my head would have been Meek Mill! In the song they talk about the downsides to fame and success and nobody explains pain more than Meek Mill. A line that sticks out for me from Ross is; “Half my team illiterate, I know it sound pathetic But we can each get a brick that’s on a line of credit“. The sad reality that due to some of their environments, many are not even educated. Meek Mill comes in saying; “Uh, I only remember nights that was post-traumatic So I’m never actin’ bougie like I was supposed to have it” meaning he is always thankful for what he has now. He knows and has lived through the struggle to get to his position now. Meek and Rick Ross always have great songs together and knowing the great relationship they have aside from music is great to know. Rick Ross is the king of showing us his flashy lifestyle but he never hides the struggle that comes with it. He paints a very realistic picture through his rapping, another reason I really like his music.
Rich Nigga Lifestyle Ft. Nipsey Hussle & Teyana Taylor
This is the last feature Rick Ross has with the late great Nipsey Hussle. Following on from the theme of the previous track Rick Ross says; “I’m just here to keep it real‚ not make you feel worse” reminding us what he is trying to do. In Nipsey’s verse he talks about the rise in Hip-Hop music and “How many niggas on your payroll?” meaning how many of your own people are you putting on. Nipsey was always consistent with the messages in his raps and it’s still a tragedy that we won’t get to hear from him again. Teyana Taylor provides a nice tone to the song too. Have a listen below;
Born to Kill Ft. Jeezy
The beat on this song is wonderful! Not much more to say on this one so have a listen below.
I Still Pray Ft. YFN Lucci & Ball Greezy
I really like the vibe I get from this track. This song is quite personal as it starts off with a reporter referring to the time Rick Ross was hospitalised. We see a more vulnerable side to Rick Ross as he starts off the track by saying; “Wake up out a coma, frozen in the moment you could have the biggest clique, but you gon’ die a loner“, the reality that everyone dies alone. Regardless of whether you are the most popular or if you have the most things, you die alone. The near death experience seems to have been a wake up call for Ross; “I’ll give you back the money just to get my health“. I think this song is just a reminder of how the most important thing to have in life has nothing to do with wealth or chains or cars or anything materialistic. The most important thing in life is to have good health.
Running the Streets Ft. Denzel Curry & A Boogie wit da Hoodie
I think this is my favourite song on the album at the moment. I recommend that when listening to this song, you have it connected to speakers with an excellent base to really appreciate the beat. The song refers to the idea that these men are in charge of their local hoods. In the song they are talking to their women in question letting them know that they have to understand their lifestyle. The idea that they won’t be coming home as they have work to do. Prior to the song I had not heard much from Denzel Curry but I am interested in hearing more from him. His verse in this song was my favourite. His flow and wordplay was so exciting to hear. Denzel even makes a random reference; “Like Stanley Yelnats, he caps, his head red” referring to the main character in the film ‘Holes’. What a random reference that fits so well. He was definitely the standout on this song!
Rick Ross Boss Line:
“Went from sleepin’ on the floor to pissin’ Moët“
This is pure Rick Ross. No features, just Ross slaying a beat as usual.
Maybach Music VI Ft. John Legend & Lil Wayne
This isn’t my favourite song in the numerous Maybach Music songs but I do however like the Lil Wayne feature. We don’t hear much from him so it was nice to hear a little verse.
I’ve been a fan of Burna Boy from his earlier days and the days when Afrobeats wasn’t as mainstream as it is today. As a Nigerian myself, I have grown up listening to Afrobeats and Burna Boy in particular. From early, Burna Boy has always had a unique sound and despite his now worldwide success, he has stuck true to it. His debut album L.I.F.E released in 2013 has some of my favourites from him; “Abeg, abeg (Remix)”, “Yawa Dey”, “Tonight”, “Like to Party” and “Smooth Smailing”. Most of these songs propelled Burna into the limelight but nothing has provided him with as much as his song “Yé” released from his 3rd studio album.
I was excited for the release of ‘African Giant’ because I have always enjoyed Burna’s musical projects as a whole. His talent is always displayed in big bodies of work. On first listen admittedly the album did not stick out to me as quickly as his other albums did. However, after taking it in for a few days after and now weeks, I can honestly say this is his best album. For me, for a fourth album from someone who was already great, to top his previous is a big big statement. In this album, you can hear his growth as an artist but also his improvement. His last album could be considered to be a mixture of all sounds but this is 100% an African album. From the beats, instruments and sounds, I felt like I was in Nigeria listening to this.
Another point to add is that this is more than just a music album. The album contains history and facts about Nigeria and Africa.
Whilst there are some American features, never did I forget I was listening to a Burna Boy project. Every song on this album has a different vibe and different feeling associated with it. Everytime you listen, a different song will stick out to you. To be able to do that with an album of 19 songs is somewhat incredible! I will talk about some of my absolute favourites from the album…
A great intro to the album in my opinion. Burna Boy always has stand out lyrics in his songs and this song is no different. The song is an anthem for any African that has a dream for his people. It is the perfect taster for what is to come.
Stand out Line
“Because God no go give you more than you can handle”
Wetin Man Go Do
The title of this song is Pidgin English for “What will a man do”. In the song, Burna explores the idea of a man living in an African economy and the struggles he may face. The song has a very strong African feel to it. The last verse for me is sad as its obvious the man is helpless. Burna sings “Man go fight for money, man go fight for woman, man go fight for business, man go fight for nonsense (wetin man go do)…body don dey tire”. All of the struggling the man has to do is non stop. A sad reality for some people in African countries.
Stand out Line
“God I dey serve e…no go let my blessings to pass me”
Gum Body Ft. Jorja Smith
This is one of my favourite songs on the album. Similarly to his previous album, Burna Boy uses an English feature to help him on the song. Personally I’m not usually a fan of Jorja’s voice or music but the partnership with Burna in this song is perfect. The title of the song is a term used to describe wanting to be around someone. Jorja’s voice in her verse is sensational and plays on the theme of the song where they both sing “Why did I drink this Hennessy? as her voice sounds as it would, of someone who is a bit faded. I loved Jorja’s harmonies in Burna Boy’s verses, the blending of their voices without Burna Boy having to compromise his sound shows us how talented yet again he is. I have had this song on repeat since first hearing it.
Stand out Line
“Why did I drink this Hennessy?”
Killin Dem Ft. Zlatan
This is already one of the standout songs of the album and it’s not surprising. The song is performed so well by Burna Boy everytime he does a show. Zlatan’s verse in this is very underrated. His tongue twisting lyrics spoken in Yoruba with a fast flow are a joy to listen to. The dance moves associated with this song are great too.
Stand out Line
“We making money rush rush like indomie indomieee” and all of Zlatan’s verse!
Have a listen to the song and watch the video;
This song is definitely one of my ultimate favourites from the album. I love the flow and switch up Burna has in this song. His flow changes as he sings “Girl I’ve been scheming, plotting, planning…fuck a plan A, move to plan B” and switches up again after that verse. We hear singing Burna and rapping Burna in this song and it works well.
Secret Ft. Jeremih & Serani
This is the first song on the album featuring an American artist. Jeremih however adapts his voice to Serani and Burna meaning the whole sound isn’t compromised. I like this song because of that reason. The only issue I have with it is that sometimes the song can sound a bit whiny. Burna Boy’s voice does break up the high singing but sometimes I feel Serani and Jeremih were too much together on the song. Have a listen below;
Another Story Ft. M.anifest
Burna takes us on a history lesson on the colonialism of Nigeria in the first few seconds. In the song Burna Boy explains how the politicians in Nigeria are stealing from the country since Nigeria’s independence in 29160 and not doing anything to help like they should. Ghanian artist M.anifest’s verse is also similar as he talks about the fact he travels out of his country sometimes; “Sometimes I for dey move away, maybe a month, same shit, Ghana – Naija, man tire”. He is saying that even in his country he has the same issues. Similarly to “Wetin Man Go Do”, Burna is highlighting the worrying parts and unfortunate realties faced in Nigeria and many African countries.
Stand out Line
“Same shit, Ghana – Naija, man tire”
I like the softness of this song, Burna slows down the pace with this one and provides the album with a romantic side. He sings in the third verse “24/7 you been sitting on my mind, Baby you wey I think about like all day” emphasising the fact she is all he is thinking about”. The song gives the impression that Burna Boy wants to keep this relationship on the down low though. Further on in the verse he sings; “Loving the vibe that’s between me and you, baby don go telling no body”. He makes the affair sound as if it is sacred when really he just doesn’t want to get caught.
This song reminds me of J Hus’ song “Spirit” with the idea that Burna is reminiscing on his childhood and the idea that his mental strength can never be taken away. Burna reminisces; “I remember when I used to hustle in the flats and the neighbors then had no love for me” probably exploring how he has risen from struggling conditions to the star he is now. The song is very positive as he basically implies that people can do many things to bring him down, but they can never take his “destiny”. This has a similar feel in J Hus’ spirit when he sings “Even when we never had a penny, yeah we always had spirit”. In the second verse of the song you can hear Burna Boy’s British accent a bit more reminding us of where he grew up but also making us realise how personal this track is. I feel Burna has done well on this album to show us where and what he has come from but also proving that this has shaped who he is today. They can take everything I have, they can take my life, they can’t touch my destiny
Stand Out Line
“They can take everything I have, they can take my life, they can’t touch my destiny”
Show & Tell Ft. Future
This was a song I really took in more with later listens. Future is usually really good on features and he did not disappoint on this track. For me it was enjoyable to hear the back and forth between both artists.