‘Dope’ is a curious mash-up of influences. The loping, double bass sample recalls Cypress Hill at their bonged-out best, while there’s a nice early Death Row feel to the menacing minor key chord stabs. Chuck in some escalating acid-tinged squelches and you’ve got a fairly tasty package. While Tyga’s lyrics – a relentless stream of data explaining just how amazing he is ¬– won’t win any prizes for originality, his tricksy delivery and capable flow easily take up the slack. In his 4,765th guest appearance this year, label boss Rick Ross provides some contrast with a more rugged verse of his own.
Despite the blinger-than-thou attitudes espoused in ‘Dope’, Tyga isn’t solely about the glitz. New album ‘Hotel California’ promises some soul-searching introspection amid the tales of booty and Bentleys.
“This album is very personal,” Tyga says. “It’s about my experience of being at a hotel and suddenly realizing how far I’ve come in my career. It’s also my desire to feel at home these days, since due to my success I mainly live life on the road. The only home I ever knew was California, so this album is about those dual feelings.”
Tyga has roped in an impressive list of producers for the new record, including DJ Mustard, Jess Jackson, David DA Doman and The Olympicks. He’s also recently announced that the next single to be taken from ‘Hotel California’ will be ‘For the Road’, a collaboration with his old mate Chris Brown. As long as Chris is involved, we’re sure it’ll be a massive hit.
The latest glimpse of his long-awaited new album ‘God Forgives, I Don’t…’, ‘Stay Schemin’ sees Rick Ross largely taking a back seat to his collaborators. Apart from the hook and a fairly languid first verse, Ross seems content to let Drake and French Montana take much of the limelight.
Maybe he’s just switching things up? Ross is normally the scene-stealer when he drops verses on tracks from artists like Kanye West and Lil’ Wayne, so it’s possible he just wants someone else to do the heavy lifting for a change. After the health scares he suffered last year, maybe he’s just taking it easy. Whatever the reason – and despite his smaller than usual lyrical contribution – ‘Stay Schemin’ is very much a Rick Ross joint.
It also gives us a better idea of what to expect from the forthcoming album. Originally slated for release in 2011, both Ross’s health issues and his desire to get it just right have seen it slip to sometime early this year. Like the man himself, you can expect ‘God Forgives, I Don’t…’ to be big, whenever if finally drops.
“This album is almost like a movie,” Ross told Billboard magazine. “I wanted [the title] to be something that was extremely emotional, to set up a real roller coaster ride as far as the music and thought process. It sounds like a term of retaliation, and with the picture that I’m painting, it felt perfect.”
The biggest boss in Hip-Hop has started 2012 ablaze with the release of a new mixtape – Rich Forever. Almost 20 tracks of new material featuring production from J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League to Lex Lugar and vocals from Diddy through to Nas. The first track to receive video treatment is ‘Stay Schemin’ which includes raps from Drake and French Montana. The melodic, slow moving track produced by The Beat Bully features a colourless hook sung by French Montana. The record seems accustomed to Drake with similar sounds and a format that wouldn’t feel out of place on his previous album ‘Take Care’. The Canadian excels on his verses while Rozay adds classic adlibs and the signature husky voice to the chorus. Years of mixtapes and spending time working on the underground scene, French Montana is starting to become a popular feature artist at the moment. Having released a mixtape in late 2011 with Waka Flocka, Montana is on his way to reaching the same commercial success as his peers.
Ross, who suffered two seizures in quick succession in October 2011, is working on his next album ‘God Forgives, I Don’t’. The album was set for a release in December last year but has been pushed back until early 2012. The ‘Rich Forever’ mixtape, serving as a warm up for fans, is following the similar strategy that Lil Wayne executed last year before his release of ‘Carter IV’ by reaching over half a million downloads already on Datpiff.com. The generosity of a free mixtape seems to work in favour of a forthcoming album in terms of publicity, in terms of quality however, we will have to see. Rich Forever is available to download for free here.
Outside of his music Ray J seems to have a lot going on. There’s the book he’s writing, the club he’s opening in Vegas and the reality TV show he’s developing. Maybe that’s why the follow up to his 2008 album ‘All I Feel’ has been such a long time coming.
He’s now promising to drop ‘Raydiation 2’ later this year, but in the meantime he’s warming things up with a raunchy celebration of the world’s the most suggestive fruit. ‘Bananas’ has a simple message: Ray J likes to get busy. He will sex you up in all kinds of different ways and, who knows; after you’ve heard this you might just be minded to let him. It’s a slinky slice of bump’n’grind that would undoubtedly sound great in the club. That said; you absolutely wouldn’t want to listen to it with your Gran.
The risk with this kind of track is that it slips past ‘sexy’ and into ‘sleazy’, but Ray J keeps a playful tongue in his cheek to hold this threat at bay. He’s clearly having fun here, as evidenced by lines like “My sex is bananas and you like eating fruit.”
This remix of the Rico Love-produced track features a heavyweight addition in the form of Rick Ross. As if competing in some kind of hip-hop raunch-off, he pops up to deliver a final verse just as laden with innuendo those that precede it. This is the polar opposite of good clean fun and it’s all the better for it.
The second single released from DJ Khaled’s fifth album ‘I’m On One’ features close friends to Kahled; Drake, Rick Ross and Lil’ Wayne. The song showcases Khaled’s diverse production skills and is a far cry from his usual horn filled anthems. A filtered chorus sung softly over by Drake while his attacking lyrics focus on newcomers to the Hip-Hop game and their naivety of their careers. Not normally one to create sparks; it appears a few people have certainly made a negative impression on Drake. Ross speaks with recognisable lyrics at a slow tempo and with less attitude than normal and Young Money affiliate Weezy keeps it short and sweet with a husky, lazy vocal.
The track sounds like Khaled has been working with one of Drake’s producer’s ‘40’, as it could have easily fit on Drake’s first mixtape ‘So Far Gone’ heavily produced by 40 and filled with slow, harmonic and filtered sounds. The team featured on this track have all worked together in the past and their chemistry is a welcome one to fans. DJ Khaled’s latest album ‘We The Best Forever’ is expected, with much anticipation, this June with a huge array of featured artists.
Given that he seems so happy to put in guest appearances for other artists – Mike Posner, Jay Sean and Wyclef Jean to name but a few – it’s only natural that Lil Wayne should have no problem when it comes to recruiting artists for his own projects. On ‘John (If I Die Today)’, the second single from his soon to be released post incarceration album, he enlists old chum Rick Ross to the cause. As expected, Ross comes up with the goods in his usual gruff manner. ‘John’ follows the blistering ’6 Foot, 7 Foot’ and sticks to a more conventional script than its manic Harry Belafonte sampling predecessor. Wayne continues the trend of sounding a great deal more threatening on his own material than on his usually good-natured guest slots. He lays down a swaggering performance over a backing track based on booming 808′s and string samples lifted directly from Ross’ own hit, ‘I’m Not A Star’.
Rick Ross has high ambitions for his next album. Not content with delivering one of the biggest selling hip-hop records of last year, he’s stated his next full length will take things to “the next level”. In a recent interview with hip-hop bible The Source, Ross had this to say. “I’m looking to go to a place that will break some new territory and continue what I do. I may reach out to Lionel Richie for some sexy s**t!”
What the combination of Rick Ross’ hardcore gangster rhymes and Lionel’s smooth soul vibes would sound like is anyone’s guess. For now Ross fans can be content with his latest single, ‘Made Men’. The track sees RR once again collaborate with Canadian rapper Drake after the huge success of their former single, ‘Aston Martin Music’. The track sees both rappers go head to head name dropping and posturing over their huge wealth. Ross mentions his Bugatti coupe, which puts him at an advantage, until Drake namedrops his on/off flame, Rihanna. Needless to say, this puts Drake at pole position the bragging stakes.
‘Made Men’ is due for release next week on Def Jam
The only artist to claim two tracks in our countdown of the year, ‘Monster’ is another highlight from KanYe West’s staggering ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’. On this track Yeezy enlists the help of some of hip hop’s most powerful illuminate, with Jay-Z, Rick Ross and Nicki Minaj all contributing verses. Surprisingly Bon Iver also lends his vocal to the track; the unlikely pair became friends after West was introduced to the folk troubadour’s track ‘Woods’ by Ed Banger boss Pedro Winter. Despite the plethora of talent on display, the tracks finest moment belongs to Nicki Minaj. The fast rising female rapper’s schizophrenic bars completely steal the show; giving us enough reason to see past her lacklustre debut album ‘Pink Friday’ - let’s just hope KanYe is free to produce her follow up LP.
After West’s infamous stage invasion at the VMA’s, where he interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech, there was only one way KanYe could win back his credibility. Despite inspiring one of the most amusing blogs of the year, West simply had to deliver the goods in order to put the episode behind him. Thankfully his fifth album stands up as one of the strongest of 2010, topping polls from such tastemakers as Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, Spin, Stereogum and MTV. The video for the track is set to debut on Christmas day and certainly looks likely to live up to the ‘Monster’ title. Check out the ghoul filled preview above.