Single Review – Kendrick Lamar – HUMBLE.

Say what you like about Kendrick Lamar, but you can’t deny he’s made an impact. Just take a look at the speculative news stories, social media frenzy and comment section debates; right now when Kendrick says something, we all stop to listen. Now with a fourth studio album not far away, the anticipation one way or another is high. He has turned social commentary into an art form again or in other words reignited Rap and Hip Hop with the same energy it had decades ago. Why I keep saying this? That’s because he keeps delivering music with this in mind. ‘HUMBLE.’ like ‘The Heart Part 4’ takes on issues of image and greed in modern America like he took on his contemporaries and political scandal in the earlier single. This has caused well documented controversy with people equally supporting and opposing his lyrics related to photoshop and how people appear in the media. Musically, it is rather simple with plunging piano chords and steady clap beats. Both lyrically and musically, Kendrick Lamar in 2017 is a different prospect from Kendrick Lamar in 2014/15. To Pimp A Butterfly was an album that needed you to invest time into it (though it was well worth it) due its scale and variation for it was not simply a Rap or Hip Hop album. A future album is seemingly more direct, pointed and instantly effective and perhaps focused more on the core genre. As a totally different prospect, any future album along those lines could be get a huge response. 

Owen Riddle 

Single Review – Kendrick Lamar – The Heart Part 4

Kendrick Lamar is set to release another album (his fourth) this year and goes on to be a creative force, manufacturing an album’s worth of hard hitting, uncompromising yet musically fluid Rap and Hip Hop year after year. He has breathed new life into these genres as they grew stale with materialism and predictability as the last decade went on. His new single ‘The Heart Part 4’ still rings home those pin point social commentaries, but this single seems to have a greater personal dimension. He’s gone out of his way to make a point of some of his contemporaries and the most powerful person in the states in Donald Trump. Musically it has shades of the West Coast Rap of two decades with easy, softened beats and instrumentation, but in this case it is warped and hazy. This is played against a heavy, vibrating beat which whilst a little more typical of ‘Diss’ tracks, it does offer up a clear light and shade within the track with greater depth the end product. Lamar’s style is as slick and effortless as ever with any word rolled off with ease. This is certainly more abrasive and its personal in more ways that one, perhaps that makes people feel uncomfortable as a form of entertainment. The thing is with Lamar is that entertainment is a secondary aim. He has a message and whether it’s about the hollow nature of certain Rappers or the intense domestic and geo-political tensions surrounding his nation, you can guarantee Kendrick Lamar is rapping about it. Rapping about it with a style and sound that is easily accessible and more than an afterthought. That’s why he’s the best rapper in the world right now and why it doesn’t sound unusual to hear him say so.

Owen Riddle 

Kendrick Lamar – Untitled Unmastered Review

After accomplishing the feat of making a mark on the history of Rap music, Kendrick Lamar has gone on to advance the success he’s had in the last twelve months with a surprise album of demo and unfinished tracks from the recording sessions of the multi-Grammy award winning To Pimp A Butterfly. Indeed it was an album that should have won much more than did. Nevertheless, this eight track work of throwaway pieces has been assembled and published in a more coherent and inclusive fashion than The Life of Pablo. For those looking to make the comparison between Kendrick and Kanye, then this small, under the radar album is an example of Lamar’s ascendancy.

‘Untitled 3’ is a track that is a more rhythmic and a fusion of chamber Jazz and Soul. The music shifts and jolts smoothly and Lamar slots his cool, yet speedy delivery nicely into the chords around him. It is genuinely a catchy and effortless track with undeniable purpose behind the easy and soft edged setting. The lyrics further this feeling with their engaging and relevant content as he outlines the desires and attitudes of the multi-ethnic society in which he lives. With ‘Untitled 1’ this lyrical quality is fully unleashed in an unrestrained fashion as he speaks of abuse and class discrimination. Musically, the setting is a disjointed and distorted version of a typical Rap backing track and is symbolic of what Lamar is currently doing for the genre. ‘Untitled 4’ is a simple track with an acapella  opening. It has few additions to it other wise and it remains a subdued and rather dark affair with yet more politically provocative lyrics.

‘Untitled 8’ contains a sound that is perhaps most evocative of TPAB with it’s buoyant and slightly warped beats and easy backing vocals. The double tracked vocals lead to a greater casual feel to the song. ‘Untitled 6’ features Kendrick rapping with a more soft edged style within a smooth Jazz environment. Cee Lo Green joins the track’s vocals and this track has a raw and natural easiness to it. Such a style plays well to Lamar’s casual and flowing rapping style. The album on the whole demonstrates a different set of traits that Lamar possesses in that in an album that is more stripped down and under-produced, Lamar still shines on the track. In many ways this album more of a casual affair than his last album. The varying styles and tones are appreciated, even if there are some messy transitions due to the unfinished state of some of the tracks. Another prominent album nonetheless, despite it’s mismatched compilation.

 

Kendrick Lamar – Untitled Unmastered = 8.5/10

 

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Single Review – No More Parties in L.A feat. Kendrick Lamar

Another instalment from Kanye West’s long awaited release of SWISH features an equally anticipated collaboration between West and Kendrick Lamar; now the new standard for Rap and Hip Hop with To Pimp a Butterfly last year. The track plays off the more casual style of Lamar against the louder, shouting style of West. Musically it is more evocative of West’s earlier work and that of Lamar last year with the use of smooth Jazz and Soul. Lyrically it deals with West’s disillusionment of the celebrity lifestyle of Los Angeles and the attitudes of other Rap stars in general. These are set against his own biographical accounts of the very celebrity lifestyle he complains about. It is an interesting paradox and is a solid addition to what will be an interesting album to say the least.

 

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Musicandotherthingz.com Best Album of 2015

Here are the list of twelve nominees for Best Album

 

3. Grimes – Art Angels (12%)

Grimes offered up the most comprehensive Pop album of 2015 with Art Angles in November. Everything from Taiwanese Rap to sweeping String Orchestra’s got a mention and everything in between. It had periods of sweet Pop bliss entwined with dark and mysterious depths for the album has a beautiful complexity to it in the battle of supremacy between the light hearted music and conflicted lyrics. Again she “sounded a bit like everything you’ve ever heard whilst sounding like nothing you’ve ever heard.” That is the constantly shifting enigma that is Grimes.

 

2. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly (16%)

This album was one of the most important in 2015 for it had the most important message of a nation in conflict with it’s fellow citizens. In no way was this encapsulated better than with To Pimp A Butterfly. Beyond the vital lyrical content and the more engaging delivery was the array of music on show. From Jazz to Hip Hop, Funk to Rock, it was an album of varied nature that kept you on your toes. It was often the case that the album would take you by surprise with a sudden turn or with the seamless transitions from one sound to another. Is it any wonder that the Album has received six Grammy nominations and Kendrick a further five for external work? Add to that a MOBO award nomination and surely some more accolades to come for Kendrick.

 

  1. Tame Impala – Currents (42%)

 

With what is none other than an absolute landslide, Tame Impala have produced the best album of 2015 with Currents according to the voters for Musicandotherthingz.com. Down from the shift in Philosophy from the band to the reliably fulfilling production from Kevin Parker, it was an album that showcased Dance, Disco, R&B, Electronica, Funk, Space Rock and Pop amongst other things. Around this was Parker’s self analysing lyrics and the emotion behind each one. On top of this was the vocal development from Parker in expanding his vocal range and utilising it on certain tracks to smooth out the song. With ‘Past Life’ he merged his vocals into the music for a wondrous wave of sound. ‘The Less I Know The Better’ was Funk remade for 2015 and ‘Let it Happen’ was Electro/Dance fantasia. With just as many technical awards as well as headline awards, this demonstrates that Currents was an excellent all round package.

Musicandotherthingz.com Best Song-writing of 2015

Here is a list of the ten nominees for best song-writing of 2015.

 

3. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit (18%)

With her dry wit and her ability to translate a story into a song with tracks such as ‘Depreston’ and ‘Elevator Operator’ to name just two examples, Courtney has shown how good a songwriter she is. She can also craft songs overflowing with lyrical content and delivered with the intensity of ‘Pedestrian at Best’. It was her song-writing that was the undoubted strength behind her debut album and albums to come.

 

2. Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear (20%)

Joshua Tillman is a wonderful enigma and it is gloriously demonstrated in his song-writing. He was able to fit a satire of an entire nation into a simple piano ballad with ‘Bored in the USA’ and made it beautifully tragic at the same time. In his second album as Father John Misty, he has conveyed Comedy, Tragedy, Love and sly Political Commentary amongst other things. He could seemingly take any topic and make it his own.

 

  1. Kendrick Lamar with Thundercat and Terrace Martin – To Pimp A Butterfly (

If you need to find out about the state of America and Modern Rap Music in 2015 then simply listen To Pimp A Butterfly for it will tell you all you need to know. Kendrick has brought Rap back to the sharp end of relevance and meaning and his tracks ooze Justifiable anger, frustration, observations, but also hope and respect. He includes self reflection, Racist Attitudes in America and the Motives of many of his fellow Rappers and Hip Hop artists. This album says so much simultaneously in a brutally honest and truthful fashion. Thundercat and Terrace Martin deserve an honourable mention for assisting Lamar more frequently than others too, but Kendrick Lamar has reinvigorated himself and an entire genre here.