Resurgence from the Six

drake 1Fresh off his beef with Pusha T, Drake is back in the headlines and back on the charts after releasing “Scorpion”. 

Drake’s newest project brings us back to the delicate balance of high-powered lyricism and subtle rhythm that’s propelled him to the top of the game thus far. The two sided project includes Drake voicing his opinion on several topics that have been causing him internal distress. From the respect-demanding flow on “Nonstop”, to the familiar and intense bounce found on “Talk Up”, all the way to the admission of his fatherhood and all of the challenges associated with it on “March 14”. “Scorpion” is less ambitious and revolutionary than his previous work, though still extremely solid throughout. The 25 song, 90 minute long album is the longest of his studio albums displaying his one-of-a-kind versatility, and includes features and samples from some of hip-hops most recognizable voices including Nicki Minaj, Future, and a surprise feature by Michael Jackson. Rather than experimenting with new sounds and styles on “Scorpion”, new listeners and longtime supporters alike are provided with all the staples of Drake’s trademarked success. Scorpion is a measured response to the flurry of headlines Drake has found himself in over his year-long hiatus.

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“Scorpion” is in stark contrast with the way Drake and his team handled the Meek Mill beef just a few years ago. In 2015, Meek Mill took to twitter alleging that Drake did not write his own verse on “R.I.C.O.” which was featured on Meek’s album “Dreams Worth More Than Money”. The feud that ensued included a barrage of rebuttals by Drake cutting deep into the core of Meek’s image. This is how the majority of Drake fans expected him to return the shots fired by Pusha T on his newly released song “Infrared”. The way he handled his most recent feud with Pusha T, speaks to the maturity of the now 31-year-old rapper as he learns when to apply the pressure and when to keep quiet. Though Drake returned some of the shots fired by his seasoned adversary, the majority of the claims go unanswered including the issue of Drake and an alleged ghostwriter.

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Side A of “Scorpion” features Drake rapping over some signature, bass knocking beats, that can be played at parties. This side seems to be more of a response to the more pressing questions surrounding the hip-hop titan, and the direct attempts being made to bring him down. At this point in his career we’ve grown accustomed to Drake giving us quotable lyrics in his music and “Scorpion” is no different. Lyrics like “My Mount Rushmore is me with four different expressions” found on the albums intro “Survival”, along with “I only love my bed and my mama, I’m sorry” on the pre-released single “God’s Plan” seem to stick in our mind for one reason or another. Side A also appears to be Drake’s opinion on what he observes externally through his own eyes. On “Emotionless” Drake spits, “I wasn’t hiding my kid from the world I was hiding the world from my kid. From empty souls who just wake up and look to debate. Until you starin’ at your seed you could never relate.” This is one of many instances on “Scorpion” where Drake becomes more critical of society to which he owes his fortune. One of the most resonating lines comes from a sample off “In my Feelings” from the show “Atlanta” in which an actress attempts to attend a holiday party at Drake’s house in attempt to take a picture with him for her Instagram. Although from a television series, the line encompasses the shallowness Drake must experience on a daily basis. Although most of the songs on Side A have bounce and make us want to dance with our friends, Drake also mixed in an R&B vibe on some tracks as well. For example on “Emotionless” Drake sounds like he pours his heart out and just speaks straight from the soul over a smooth beat in the background, that also has some bounce. One memorable line from the track was, “There’s times when I wish I was where I was, Back when I used to wish I was here”. Here he is reflecting on how he wanted to be a star when he was younger and comparing it to now, where sometimes wishes he could go back to those simpler times. “Sandra’s Rose” is another track on Side A in which Drake crossed genres, and spit some bars over a softer beat. On the track he says “Backstabbed so many times I started walking backwards” which hints at him having potential trust issues with people in his life. A conclusion can be made that Drake dedicated Side A to those who love his “turn up” music, but he also managed to mix in some raw emotions, which was something he successfully pulled off with “Views” in 2016. His ability to successfully cross genres is something we can also see on Side B.

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Side B of Scorpion features a softer side of Drake, whom displays more rhythm and finesse. Similar to the engaging melodies found on Views, Side B initially comes off as the late night anthem for Summer 2018. However, with a deeper listen, the audience can expect Drake to address recent rumors with an unseen vulnerability as he dives deep into the many relationships that bring him happiness as well as stress. Tracks like “Finesse” and “Blue Tint” contain the type of sing-along content we’ve come accustomed to hearing out of the Canadian artist, and are likely to be echoed on the radio until he returns to the studio again. The project is ended by “March 14”, a five minute, in-depth, no doubt recently added track in which Drake discusses the birth of his first born child. As well as the emotional changes he has gone through that have taken place, since he discovered he was to be a father. Drake echoes the advice of his mother, whose frequent references have never seemed more significant then now, “Sandi used to tell me all it takes is one time and all it took was one time.” Drake appears to have come to terms with the impact his new child is going to have on his life as well as his image, but as usual, won’t let it stop him from being successful. An extremely powerful line from the song is when he says “I used to challenge my parents on every album now I’m embarrassed to tell them I ended up as a co-parent” Drake apparently is recognizing how difficult parenting is, which seems to have opened his eyes. Throughout his music career, Drake has never shied away from stepping into the R&B genre. Side B shows us how well Drake can handcraft an R&B track based on his own love encounters over the years. His R&B songs are known for creating a late night vibe that puts people into deep thought. However, Side B doesn’t strictly consist of R&B tracks. He mixed in a couple of catchy songs like “Blue Tint” which features Future, as well as “In My Feelings” which even seems to catch the ears of listeners who would prefer Side A. On “Blue Tint” Drake refers to a companion whom he claims to “have on ice” but says he’s “watched the ice get thin,” which makes for a catchy chorus. This gives us a direct glance into Drake’s love life and a possibly deteriorating relationship. Like “Blue Tint”, Drake used a beat with bounce in order to address his love life. In the song Drake is seeking reassurance from different women about their feelings towards him and wants them to “Say you’ll never ever leave from beside me.” Drake like any person just wants to be loved and wanted, but being a person of his status can certainly make it difficult to gage where people’s intentions lie.  By talking about love over hard beats like the one on “In My Feelings” and “Blue Tint” Drake is doing the same thing he did on “Sandra’s Rose” but in reverse. This time he used a beat with more bounce to it, but spoke about trust, loyalty and a reassurance of love. This is something I believe Drake is one of the best in the game at, which is why he wasn’t lying when on the project intro “Survival” he said “House on both coasts but I live on the Charts.”

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Drake didn’t take home any hardware at this year’s Billboard Music Awards in May, which he may be fine with considering he won 13 awards at the show last year, which was the most ever taken home by an artist for a year’s worth of work. Regardless of which side of the project you favor, its more than likely each side has some songs that people either enjoy or can relate to, regardless of genre. His two pre-releases for “Scorpion” (“God’s Plan” and “Nice for What”) are still in the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 songs. As the summer goes on I would not be surprised if a few more of the songs rose on up on the list, or if the album rose to the top of the Billboard 200 in the coming weeks. Drake is so popular at this point in his career that “More Life” which was released in March of 2017, is still at number 47 and rose from number 50 last week. Scorpion was officially certified as platinum on its release date which shows that everyone is always on the lookout for anything that Drake releases. The ease with which Drake can jump from genre to genre makes him a one of a kind artist, whom I think will be around for years to come. Due to the beef with Pusha T, Drake had some pressure on his with this album because everyone wanted to know how he would respond. The project gives off the impression that he has responded by keeping his nose to the pavement and continuing to hone his craft. I believe there are at least a couple of songs on the entire project that any music fan may enjoy, regardless of genre which is special. In my eyes this is a perfect album by Drake and easily his best piece of work, which is why I would give “Scorpion” 5 out of 5 tips of the cap.

-Isaiah Allen

       drake 5 out of 5             

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EVERYTHING IS LOVE… AND THIS ALBUM IS EVERYTHING

 jay and bee 5Jay Z and Beyoncé are two of the most powerful people in music, and they are even stronger as a team. So of course fans went crazy when it was announced that the two would be releasing a surprise joint album earlier this month.

Each of their most recent projects discuss the ups and downs of their relationship from both of their point of views. Up until 2016 the two were every secretive about their private life until we started hearing that the two were having relationship issues. In 2016 Beyoncé released “Lemonade” which many felt was her statement album in which she expressed her raw emotions about her and Jay’s relationship. Last year Jay released what many viewed as a response to “Lemonade” titled “4:44” in which he gives his side of the story and shares his own thoughts and opinions. “Everything is Love” can be viewed as a trilogy in which the two come together as one to speak on the situations surrounding their marriage. The couple’s rekindled love is the theme of the album, and they both chose to address anyone who has shamed them while they dealt with their personal encounters. Their newfound sense of unity has allowed them to focus on creating music they know their fans will love.

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As Jay has grew wiser, he began to rap more about his everyday life occurrences, as well as his endeavors as a business man. For instance on “Everything is Love”, Jay has a verse on “APESH*T” highlighting how he rejected an offer to perform at halftime of the Super Bowl last year. He goes, “I said no to the Super Bowl, You need me I don’t need you, Every night we in the end zone, Tell the NFL we in stadiums too.” Jay is his own business man and he felt disrespected when the NFL tried to do him a solid by giving him such a large platform to perform on. These are new situations that Jay finds himself in as a wealthy business man, and has decided to give his fans his side of the story by intertwining his everyday life with his music. Nowadays we don’t see Jay getting into as many rap feuds, but we still get to listen to him speak the truth in a way that keeps us coming back for more. The status of his relationship is something that Jay has not really spoken publicly about through his music, so it was interesting to see how he and Beyoncé gave their fans some insight into their lives while still making a great album.Jay Z established himself in the rap game by laying down viscous rhymes on bass booming tracks that constantly, have topped the charts for almost two decades. Songs like “99 problems” and “Hard Knock Life” exemplify Jay’s unmatched lyrical talent. Although Jay’s old school aggressive rap style earned him lots of fame and money, he also has never shied away from rapping about his troubles in life. One thing that has remained consistent since the start of his career has been Jay’s ability to never back down from a challenge, or anyone who dares to challenge him on the mic. For example during his beef with Nas, Jay said that Nas had a “one hot album every ten year average” on a Hot 97 freestyle at the 2001 Summer Jam. The track called “Takeover”, later appeared on his 2001 album “The Blueprint”, and many viewed it as the “effective end” of Nas’s career atop the rap game. Even at the beginning of Jay’s career in the mid 1990’s, he was rapping about how mentally he’s “been many places” but he’s “Brooklyn’s own”. Which shows he came into the game unafraid to speak his mind on all subjects.  Along with paying homage to his hometown of Brooklyn, Jay has consistently rapped about his “rags to riches” life story and how he made it to the top all the way from the bottom.

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Beyoncé Knowles has long been referred to as the one of the queens of music for her consistent reign atop music charts of all kind for over 15 years. Her old school party anthems with Jay Z like “Crazy in Love” and “Upgrade U”, show us that Beyoncé has never hesitated to change lanes with her music. While her notorious love songs like “Irreplaceable” show us why Beyoncé is one of the best at tugging on our feelings, while getting across her own personal message. Beyoncé’s ability to succeed making both kinds of music is a big reason why she is one of the very best. Not to mention her outstanding performance ability witnessed during halftime of the 2013 Super Bowl, sold out concerts, and numerous music award shows. In her music we have heard Beyoncé sing about numerous topics ranging from love, to the power that women have in society. Her 2011 track “Run the World (Girls)” was specifically for females all across the world. The song consists of powerful lyrics inspiring girls to take charge. The lyrics “Who Run the World? Girls” are repeated throughout the song and Beyoncé even says that the song goes out to “All my girls that’s in the club rockin’ the latest”. Beyoncé has always done an exceptional job connecting with her fans and this is a prime example of it. One thing we haven’t heard Beyoncé sing about until recently is her love life with Jay Z. When Lemonade released in 2016, we saw an extremely emotional Beyoncé get specific about her and Jay’s relationship for the first time. Beyoncé used this album to voice her displeasure with Jay about his lack of commitment regarding their relationship. On the first track titled “Pray You Catch Me” she says “You can taste the dishonesty it’s all over your breath.” Even though she doesn’t mention Jay directly, many listeners can infer that he is whom she is speaking about. However, Beyoncé also used this album to express her continued love for Jay even though their relationship was in rocky waters at the time. On her Lemonade track “Hold Up” we hear Beyoncé continuously say “They don’t love you like I love you”. These two examples highlight the extreme emotions that was experiencing at the time and why the album is so moving.  The Beyoncé that we hear on “Everything is Love” is less vengeful and seems to be focused on the revival of her and Jay’s relationship, and the obstacles the two of them overcame.

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Beyoncé’s lyrics on “Everything is Love” show us that her and Jay are dedicated to rebuilding their marriage, and enjoying their riches together. While also, squashing anyone who tries to defy them or get in their way. On the last song called “LOVEHAPPY” the two take turns talking about their marriage and how it almost took a turn for the worst. Beyoncé chips in by saying “The ups and downs are worth it. Long way to go, but we’re working”. Even though their relationship hit a rough patch, Beyoncé is confirming that she and Jay are back on good terms and are working on their marriage. She follows it up by saying “This beach ain’t always been no paradise. But nightmares only last one night.” Hinting at the fact that even though she and Jay live lavish lifestyles, it hasn’t always been as great as it seems, which may be something we would’ve never imagined. However, Beyoncé’s presence on the album doesn’t just involve love. On the track called “HEARD ABOUT US”, Beyoncé has a verse where she mentions her and Jay’s trips to “Cuba then Aruba in the middle of the winter.” She and Jay Z obviously live comfortably, so it was cool to see Beyoncé focused on reaping their rewards and forgetting about the haters in their lives. She seems to remain in the same mindset when she says,“We laugh to the bank, but we ain’t no joke.” I thought Beyoncé and Jay did a great job showing how they are still living life on top, even with their small hiccup in the road.  It is clear that Jay Z and Beyoncé have left their differences in the past and are focused on creating a bright future for themselves, their children, and especially their friends. In fact, the duo go into great detail about their friends on their song ironically called “FRIENDS”. On the track we hear Beyoncé talk about how her friends “pull her up” and “never let her down”. While we hear Jay Z talk about other people being “fake close” and “switching sides like NBA teams after halftime. Here Jay is stressing how consistent he is amongst his friends and has always been loyal.  Beyoncé and Jay’s friends played a crucial role in supporting the two of them while they were ironing things out between them. “FRIENDS” can be seen as an act of gratitude to all of their friends to stood by their side during dark times.

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Beyoncé and Jay Z both played a unique role on this album, and both reminded of us of what got them to the top. On “APESH*T”, “713” and “NICE” we heard a little bit of Jay Z’s smooth rhyming that was similar to a lot of his old work. On “NICE”, the words “I can do anything” are repeated in the chorus, and Jay also goes on to say that he has “no fear of death”. This is a prime example of Jay Z throwing it back to fearless ’01 Jay, who didn’t back down from anything or anyone. But Jay also found a way to successfully insert himself into the slower songs that were dominated by Beyoncé. As for Beyoncé, she did her thing on the love based slow jams as we expected, but even rapped on “713”, “APESH*T” and “NICE” as well. Which is something she isn’t known for, but you couldn’t tell based on the way she was able to flow with the beat while rhyming as well . What made this album great is how well Beyoncé and Jay stuck to what they do best, while also crossing over into each other’s field. Their sense of togetherness on the album can also be translated to their newly committed love life. The album is currently number two on the Billboard 200 list of best albums, and it should be towards the top for a while. Jay Z and Beyoncé found a way to make a great album while also repairing their relationship and giving their fans what they want, which is why I would give “Everything is Love”4 out of 5 tips of the cap.

Isaiah Allen

jay and be 4 out of 5

New Kanye, Same Ye

Kanye West has been one of the most talked about and polarizing figures in the hip hop game for over two decades. His name was recently in the news for his comments made on an appearance on TMZ.

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But it seems that Kanye has gotten his focus back on his music which is what he does best. Kanye’s old music was known for its rhymes as well as its flow. Lines like “I’m just sayin how I feel man, I ain’t one of the Cosby’s, I ain’t go to Hillman” from his 2007 track “Can’t Tell Me Nothin”, show Kanye’s exceptional ability to get across a message, while making it flow and rhyme as well. His 2007 “Graduation” album is my favorite album of his because you can tell that he was focused solely on making great music people can turn up to. I also believe “Graduation” is the greatest example of how well Kanye makes his rhymes flow with his beats. As an athlete in high school, I always made sure that “Stronger” was blaring in my ears before a game with Kanye reminding me that what doesn’t kill me “can only make me stronger”. However as Kanye has grown older, he has started to focus more the meaning of his lyrics and the messages he puts out to the world through his music, which can be heard in his latest album.

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Kanye West, Graduation. Featuring songs Champion, Stronger, Good Life and Homecoming

Kanye’s eighth and most recent solo album titled “ye” is laced with his unique positions on a variety of topics. Kanye used this album to display his talent as a lyricist while speaking his mind about his trials and tribulations in life.  In the past, we have grown accustomed to Kanye making music that we can turn up to or listen to at a party. However, most of “ye” consists of Kanye rapping over smooth tones and beats, while discussing issues close to his heart, like his family and coping with mental illness.

The track titled “No Mistakes” can be seen as a direct omen to his wife Kim Kardashian. The words “Make no mistake, girl, I still love you” are repeated numerous times which is something we haven’t really seen from Kanye before. Kanye has turned into a so-called “family man” right before our eyes which is a direct result of him growing older and getting wiser.  His Bi-Polar disorder and mental health as a whole was a huge theme throughout this album, which is something we may not have expected from the old Kanye either. Songs like “Yikes” and “All Mine” stood out to me because they take me back to the days of the old Kanye when songs like “Jesus Walks” and “Gold Digger” were blasting through our speakers. While songs like “Wouldn’t Leave” and “Ghost Town” are a better representation of the “New Kanye”.  This album showed me that Kanye still has a part of the “Old Kanye” inside of him, but that his mindset is completely different. He is still unafraid to speak his mind and say what he wants, but the content of his message has completely changed. Now Kanye is unafraid to speak his mind about the situations he has been in and what means the most to him. His mental health is something that he has shied away from talking about but finally realized that it’s okay to do so while making great music.

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When Kanye made his controversial comments in May, he lost a lot of credibility amongst his fans, some of whom vowed to never listen to his music again. But I’m not sure it’s something Kanye thinks about much. On his first track titled “I Thought About Killing You” he says “I love myself way more than I love you” than follows it up with “See, if I was trying to relate it to more people I’d probably say I’m struggling with loving myself”. This proves Kanye no longer cares much about being relatable, but about speaking the straight truth about his life struggles. The song title alone might be enough to turn some people off, but the fact that it is the first song on the album proves Kanye is past the days of seeking acceptance. Although Kanye might not care much about his public perception, his latest album shows that he still cares about putting out great music. While in addition being unafraid to talk about his personal battles in life. People should see this album as Kanye showing us who he really is, and recognize that his music comes from the heart. I believe his transparency throughout “ye” will help him gain some credibility back amongst his fans. This is a complete turnaround from the old Kanye that only focused on making hit records while doing and saying what he wanted.

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Kanye seems like the type who is always thinking in the future and focused on setting new trends, so I doubt that we will ever see the same Kanye we saw in the late 2000’s. I think we should expect a lot of Kanye’s future releases to resemble “ye” and be filled with softer beats and transparent lyrics. However, I wouldn’t doubt if he continues to remind us of the old Kanye with a track or two here and there. (Like “Yikes”) I believe his most recent album shows how versatile Kanye is as an artist, and how he can successfully still catch our ears while doing it in his own way. The album has been wildly successful as all seven songs found their way into Billboard Hot 100’s Top 40 songs in the first week. Kanye’s album also sits at number one on the Billboard Hot 200 chart. has Kanye’s latest album is a testament to his musical genius and even though it may be different from what we’ve come to expect from him, he still successfully found a way to remind us he’s one of the greatest of his generation. For that reason, I would give “ye”4 out of 5 tips of the cap.

                                                                                                                            -Isaiah Allen

digmi .