ZAYN – Mind Of Mine: Album Review

One year ago Zayn Malik shocked the mainstream music world when he announced that he was leaving One Direction, a group which he had been a part of since their X Factor days in 2010. They were and still are the boyband of a generation but Zayn always seemed like he wanted more than what critics would call “cheesy music” so went his separate ways. Now, exactly 365 days after this drama, he releases his debut solo album which he has called ‘Mind Of Mine’, perhaps a jibe at the criticism One Direction received for not writing their own music. With the promise of an R&B sound and how he was heavily influenced by his childhood heroes Tupac and Biggie Smalls, music eagerly anticipated how this change of direction would suit Zayn.

MiNd Of MiNdd (Intro) – 6/10
Gentle taster for the album as it gradually beds you into the style of the album. Much like the 1975’s intros with that soulful style but not that much to it. Steady but not a lot more.

PILLOWTALK – 8.5/10
I really like this song. You really get a sense that this is a sign of the type of music Zayn dreamed of making, a more R&B style as opposed to the pop rhythm of One Direction. Aimed at current girlfriend and model Gigi Hadid, who features in the racy music video and the lyrics follow suit. Sexually driven as he sings about being in “bed all day” but I assume there hasn’t been much sleeping. Wide vocal range that we all wanted to hear from Zayn after appearing restricted by 1D but still nothing absolutely mesmerising. You can see why this track charted so well, a great lead single with heavy drum beats and a smooth R&B sound.

iT’s YoU – 6/10
Slower track, perhaps a deeper meaning to the lyrics than on PILLOWTALK but in a more loved involvement as opposed to sexualising his relationship. There is a lingering tone of his previous engagement to Little Mix’s Perrie Edwards here, mentioning that he won’t “cover the scars” that she may have left and will instead pour his feelings out onto this track. It’s an okay song but there’s not a lot going on and seems a bit like a poor man’s Bryson Tiller track or even a Frank Ocean but he’s nowhere near that level here. Great vocal on chorus though even if he lyrics are repetitive and dull.

BeFoUr- 5.5/10
Upbeat song with a more edgy side to Zayn that we were all expecting. The instrumental is rhythmic and catchy but goes bizarre in the chorus with this wavy tone that pierces the track and kind of draws the attention away from his vocal. Unfortunately in the chorus it is very same old with repetitive and hardly intriguing lyrics. The verses and bridges do provide good vocals though with a mysterious delve into his past and how it’s made him who he is. Other than the one high note he hits in the first bridge, the vocal is very mono tonal and struggles to impress.

sHe- 7/10
Modern R&B instrumental sound is unique and infectious, it takes over the track in the right way in the chorus as we hear a wide array of sounds which are always welcome and work wonders. The bridge is bizarre and distorts Zayn’s vocal to an electronica tone as he builds up to another smooth chorus. Lyrically speaking it’s not really that mind blowing as he continues in similar trends of precious songs, by repeating lyrics continually and forcing it upon us the way he breaks it down into chunks in the chorus does work well however and means that we can at least hear a slight variety. Seems to be saved a bit by the instrumental because without that the song isn’t that enjoyable.

dRuNk- 7/10
Much better on the vocal as he shows range in his tone and also doesn’t repeat himself AS MUCH as he does previously. Don’t get me wrong he still does it, in fact his repetition even spills onto the verse at the beginning but it’s a better lyric as a whole so it can be excused. A good song in which Zayn speaks of his future and how he will be “drunk all summer” with his partner Gigi Hadid. Another racy track with a strong undertone of sex so there’s no prizes for guessing what he’s been getting up to in this little break since leaving One Direction. Does drag a bit towards the end, much like Rihanna’s album he just loves to brag about all he sex he’s having.

INTERMISSION (ft. fLoWer) – 4/10
Very soft, sounds almost oriental in its style and wobbly vocal. Sung in a foreign language and just seems pointless to be honest. Really bizarre choice to put this in unless he’s attempting to show off his foreign heritage but even then he could have done that much better than he did here. Leaves you scratching your head and isn’t a good song whatsoever, intermission or not.

rEaR vIeW – 8/10
The electronic beat seems heavily influenced by early 90s Trance Music and works very effectively with Zayn’s vocal which is strong and has a distinct sound. The best aspect of this song is the brilliant consistency to change his vocal pace. There are times where he will be picking up speed in his lyrics and just as it is becoming a bit overwhelming he brings it straight back to earth with a soft high note. The chorus is catchy and shows Zayn’s compassionate side with all the things he has “heard about” as listed in throughout. Makes you forget the shambolics of the previous track in a hurry and makes the album as a whole seem stronger. Without doubt a highlight of the whole record.

wRoNg (ft. Kehlani) – 7/10
There is no doubt that due to recent events this track will gain widespread publicity. All the controversy surrounding Kehlani and her suicide attempt will result in people diving into her lyrics to discover deep meanings to the story. This, however, will have been recorded long before the alleged affair she was having on NBA basketball player Kyrie Irving so let’s just focus on the song as if nothing has happened. Once again sounds like something you would hear on an album from The Weeknd instrumentally with its faded and sensual tone but vocally Zayn doesn’t come close to him and seems to focus more on the beat than anything else. The song is saved by Kehlani actually as her feature is a smash hit with domineering lyricism and vocal ability. She completely outshines Zayn on this song and as a whole appears to suit the genre more. That doesn’t take anything away from the production which is solid and helps get the best out of his feature artist. The lyrics are sexually driven but also with a hint of anger and betrayal which compliment well.

fOoL fOr YoU – 6.5/10
Back to a slow tune as it’s just Zayn and a piano which really requires a powerful vocal to fully work and he duly delivers. One of the better vocal performances on the album as a whole as a calm and rhythmic drum beat eventually fades into the track. Lyrically solid as he sings about how madly in love he is with this girl and how it makes him do stupid things he wouldn’t usually do. Almost like he’s trapped in her spell and it changes his personality in order to suit her. Could be seen positively or negatively but I believe that it’s intention was to be a passionate love song in which he declares a burning love as opposed to frustration at her games. Despite the strong vocal showing the song as a whole seems quite bland and he limited instrumental aid really takes its toll.

BoRdErSz – 5.5/10
Very chilled out song with lyrics to match its soft approach. Not an awful lot going on in this track but this subtleness does have a purpose and allows for Zayn to show his varied vocal ability by maintaining an unusually high pitched tone throughout the song. You do get bored by the end, though and are almost willing it to end as this soft sound becomes increasingly morbid and unnecessary. Feels a lot longer than 4 minutes long which can’t be a good thing. It started well but you feel as though a new sound was needed to provide another angle for this song otherwise it would just fizzle out; which is exactly what it did.

tRuTh – 7.5/10
Sounds like a muffled version of an old school Radiohead guitar riff mashed up with a modern R&B soul beat and this combination is fantastic in my opinion as it appears risky but clicks fantastically. As the instrumental steps it up a level so do the lyrics and vocals as the pre-chorus builds and provides a mysterious and commanding performance from Zayn as he says he won’t “ask any questions” and just wants to “see the truth.” The chorus provides a quiet but strong vocal showing as he goes high and hits all the right notes but is quite repetitive, it’s a good job it’s short really. It’s another good song overall and hit all expectations of what we expected when Zayn was promoting this album as there is edginess mixed with sensuality in abundance.

lUcOzAdE – 4/10
Not a fan of the song name, not a great start really and makes it all seem like a bit of a joke song. The beat is funky but very overwhelming with such an irritating sound that just doesn’t go away. It draws all attention away from Zayn’s lyrics as he appears to be on the brink of shouting at some parts just to be heard. Surely he would have noticed this during the recording stage and edited any errors? You will do very well not to get frustrated at this song almost immediately let me put it that way. He’s tried too hard to make it sound like a Disclosure song or something of that ilk and it royally flops. To confirm, the song sure is a joke alright but not for the reasons we could be expecting with a song title like that.

TiO – 3/10
Much darker and heavier start to this song than on the last one, seems much more serious from the get go. Despite this edgy sound, it doesn’t shy away from the fact that this song is basically soft-core pornography with the filth coming out of once teen sensation Zayn’s mouth. “Take it off” repeated in the chorus while talking about being “pinned against the wall” means that his intentions are rather clear. The instrumental is nothing special either which makes this song just uninventive and pretty terrible personally. The teenage fandom will love it because it will give them an opportunity to fantasise but that’s about it.

BLUE – 4/10
‘Quick, let’s pretend my last song never happened by putting a cute love so after it.’ Seems like he tries to save his diabolical last performance by being a lot softer and more lovey as opposed to a borderline sex pest. I can’t understand a word he says on this song other than the occasional squeal of “I” and it’s all moany and sounds like heartache. It’s also earache to those listening by the way. This album has spiralled downwards so quickly after a fairly promising start. This is the sort of song only an obsessed and deluded fan would enjoy because there is literally no depth to it. The definition of an album filler.

BRIGHT – 5.5/10
After three of the worst songs in existence surely it can only get better from here? Well it does thankfully as you can sort of understand what he is singing (although it’s not easy) and the beat doesn’t seem forced to be a specific genre, it sounds natural and matches the vocal. The instrumental is still the highlight of this song and will be sure to make you sway along to its snappy and modern style but really it still doesn’t salvage the song from being nothing short of mediocre. I like the way it fades immediately to the next song though if that counts for anything?

LIKE I WOULD – 8.5/10
The second single released by Zayn, if you listen to the radio or keep up with new releases then you will have heard this song. After the release of this and ‘PILLOWTALK’ everyone was wondering if Zayn was going to do a Justin Bieber and transform into this popular figure all over music rather than just for female attention. A brilliant beat that would be a club banger anywhere and is actually quite similar to this modern Bieber style. I also like the arrogance of Zayn’s lyrics in this song as he reiterates that this girl has no better option than him; singing “he won’t love you like I would” in the chorus. The adequate breaks in the vocals during the drop of the beat is effective and matches the style of this particular genre by not allowing his voice to drown out the strong and catchy instrumentals. These are the songs you should be producing Zayn, not the trash before this.

SHE DONT LOVE ME – 5/10
Groovy guitar riff sound is too faint for my liking and I just feel like it doesn’t suit the whole structure of the song. Saying that, I don’t think Zayn actually knows himself what the intention of this song was because there are parts where it sounds slow and depressing but then it builds up and shows possibilities of being another dance track. Neither of those sounds have worked particularly well on the song and put together they make it even worse. The arrogance of Zayn in the last song worked as he was singing about the right things, here he just sounds like a bit of a egomaniac. “I think I know she don’t love me, that’s why I f*** her right” is a lyric that just seems delusional and this constant forcing of sex becomes a bit tragic towards the end. It’s almost as if he is desperate for everyone to know how sexually active he is and that doesn’t set the tone for a good album.

Overall: 6/10
A completely mixed bag. The success rate on the album isn’t really that great and it all seems a bit rushed as a project, a theory which is backed up by the release date being the one year anniversary of him leaving One Direction. There are three top draw songs on this album and two of them were lead singles which charted successfully, the rest are either okay and nothing more or are severe album fillers to get the numbers up. Zayn is new to the R&B scene but is going to have to come a long way to reach the heights of Frank Ocean, The Weeknd and even Justin Bieber in the future. Despite this I was expecting a lot worse and let me put it his way, it’s much more tolerable than One Direction’s music to me so that’s something going his way.

 

ANTI: Album Review

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You could argue that Rihanna, along with Beyonce, is the biggest female name in music at this moment in time due to her incredible diversity and her ability to transform style from one album to another. Back with her eighth studio album ‘ANTI’, Rihanna has arrived with a bang after her lead single from the album, ‘Work’ which featured Toronto’s own superpower Drake, went straight to number one all across the world and became a smash hit. Has her album followed suit and continued Rihanna’s brilliant track record? Let’s see.

Consideration (feat. SZA): 5.5/10
Stuttering beat with a vocal nothing short of bizarre from Rihanna as she changes style about 4 or 5 times in whole song while the beat remains constant and dreary. Lyrically preaches about wanting to be independent and a strong woman who doesn’t need to rely on a man. The feature of SZA works fairly well vocally with Rihanna but is far from memorable. As an introduction to an album it’s not the worst thing I’ve ever heard but it’s far from the best. Already a long way behind previous albums.

James Joint: 6.5/10
Softer voice in this song that really shows the quality she has. Sounds like the sort of modernised jazz twist expected from the end of a Tyler, The Creator song. I like the fact that it’s only 1 minute 10 seconds long because it works well as a transition track and an example of the varied style Rihanna can go into. Just okay, nothing more and nothing less.

Kiss It Better: 4.5/10
Sexually driven track about a relationship that keeps ending but they can’t stay away from each other. Just such a drag, one motive to this song and it is boring. The poor sampled guitar sound in the chorus is horrendously placed and is only masked partially by Rihanna’s vocal. We get it Rihanna, you have sex, move on. At least with other songs she has produced with this motive there has been a catchy and strong beat to it (Rude Boy, S&M) but this just descends into nothingness.

Work (feat. Drake): 9/10
This song went to number one for a reason. Infectious track with an amazing beat. Very difficult to understand what she sings, I don’t think even she knows at times but somehow it works. A proper Rihanna track that has become an overnight success. The attraction of having Drake on this song will always raise the standards and he duly delivers with a brilliant verse to demonstrate his varied rap to singing style. The pair’s voices compliment magnificently and it sparks yet more rumours about the relationship between them. Anyway, it’s a great song and will be on many people’s playlists, to say it’s comfortably the best song on the album would be an understatement.

Desperado: 5/10
Tries her hand at this Caribbean style vocal to represent her background but it just doesn’t work, an almost painful listen. Sometimes a simple beat similar to this can work on something like a hip hop track if the vocal is a fast paced, high quality flow but there just isn’t any example of this being the case.

Woo: 5.5/10
Beat that’s a bit all over the place and matches the autotuned vocal that is shown in the chorus. You can hear Future’s voice faintly in the background and his influence on the track hasn’t gone unnoticed with the heavy bass on a slower beat, almost a trademarked quality of Future’s music. The autotune and contortion of Rihanna’s voice makes the song as a whole sound like a terrible cover of an ‘808s and Heartbreaks’ song from Kanye’s album. Flop and the most exciting part of the song is Future saying ‘yeah’ a few times.

Needed Me: 6.5/10
Edgy side of Rihanna as she calls herself a “savage” and basically brags about how important she was in this relationship. The style is very reminiscent of The Weeknd and it is a good song by the standards of this album; but that’s hardly saying much. You do grow tired of it by the end as it sounds crazy with layers of Rihanna’s vocals going over the top of each other and it just sounds like noise.

Yeah, I Said It: 5.5/10
Soft, sensual, modern R&B track with a blunt but hardcore message of sex. Very descriptive in her lyrics and even sounds involved in what she sings about while performing it at times. Short and snappy song that’s to the point but a bit boring to be honest. As nice as it is to hear about Rihanna’s sex life, we kind of get the picture now there’s no need to keep bringing it up.

Same Ol’ Mistakes: 4/10
It would be very easy to forget this is even a song, literally nothing happens in this song until about 4 minutes in when she goes off with the fairies a bit in a trippy bridge. Rihanna’s vocal is in the background and sounds like it’s miles away. It’s clear she has tried to incorporate this distance between listener and her voice with the distance that it felt like she had in a previous relationship but that’s not really helped create a good song. It’s actually made the song much worse than it could have been. 6 minutes of this? Really? I would much rather have 6 minutes of ‘Work’ and none of this.

Never Ending: 7.5/10
Much more natural and real sound to Rihanna in this song and I really like that. As this change comes so does a much better song as a result. Lyrically it becomes relatable as she discusses and pours out her heart over a lost love that she drifted away from. The effects this has on her is apparent with lyrics such as “it’s pulling me apart this time” and it is the sort of quality expected from a Rihanna song, not the drivel we hear before this. This is a good song I’m enjoying listening to it.

Love On The Brain: 6.5/10
Soulful style as she hits the high notes on a smooth beat. Reminds me of this reintroduced genre of soul, brought back into the normality by singers such as Paloma Faith and Emeli Sande, even Paolo Nutini too. This American twist on the song does work however and her vocal range is fantastic. Far from earth shattering but still strong nonetheless.

Higher: 6/10
Strained but natural vocal and shows the real passion needed in this song. A bit short but any longer might have taken the spark out of it. I feel like it needed to be short and concise to get the message across. It’s an okay song with a lot of pain and heartache involved but it’s not really that great and is slightly boring.

Close To You: 5.5/10
All of these slower songs sound identical which is a shame because in the past Rihanna has been able to produce fresh slower music that was memorable and unique. She is lucky that she has a great voice to go alongside the piano and that can partially distract you from the sheer boredom this song creates. It’s better than the edgy sound on this album but still not the standard an artist of Rihanna’s stature should be hitting.

Overall: 5/10
An experiment that’s gone horribly wrong. Reminds me of the sort of risk Kid Cudi took with ‘Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven’ as he tried to branch away and make something fresh and original. Like Cudi, Rihanna has flopped on this album and dented her normally fantastic discography with this album. It was a real test of my patience and endurance to sit through this album, I almost have up on it about 3 times. The slower songs towards the end are a tiny saving grace but even they aren’t great. I was quite excited about this album because I enjoyed her previous work, but this? You’re better than this, Rihanna.

Death Of A Bachelor: Album Review

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Back with their fifth studio album, American pop punk band ‘Panic! At The Disco’ have kept in trends of the revivals of similar bands from their era such as Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance. The thing that sets this album apart from traditional ‘Panic!’ work is that there is only one original band member left, frontman Brendon Urie; who is renowned for his diverse and extravagant vocal range. It has been a highly anticipated album to see the direction in which Urie would go, especially considering the band’s ability to add variety and make no album sound the same.

Victorious- 7.5/10

Cheerleader style chant at the start, suits the song title. Strained vocal by Brendon Urie in the verse and chorus. Limited lyrics in the chorus but the change in chords and style creates an alternate sound to that of the verse and it works well. Lyrically speaking, the song appears to be describing a party by “living like a washed up celebrity.” Don’t like the cheerleader chant of being “victorious” and it brings the song as a whole down, other than that a very solid start to the album.

Dont Threaten Me With A Good Time- 6.5/10

Softer track on the verse with the renowned variety of Urie’s voice on show for all. Stark contrast to the chorus as the lyrics also imply a lift in mood and style. “Champagne, cocaine, gasoline, and most things inbetween” demonstrates this as he states how heavy the party is going to be. Very similar to their debut album with the guitar riff reminiscent of a western soundtrack. Catchy hook on the chorus but as a whole it’s just a bit average.

Hallelujah- 6/10
The start sounds like a perfect song for an advert for Las Vegas. Song sparks into life with chorus that repeats ‘hallelujah’ within the quite bland lines. Does have a nice intention of enjoying the moment and telling everyone, even the “sinners” to embrace. The verses are a bit more negative however and bring up being lonely and having nobody who cares for you; which is a nice use of irony by Urie. Not a huge fan of this song to be honest, a bit dull.

Emperor’s New Clothes- 9.5/10
YES. I’m in love with this song. It’s passion beyond normality as he sings like a sadistic man in the verse before unleashing pure energy and screaming all over the place. The work of a crazed maniac but the end result is genius. “Taking back the crown” continues to be sung in the chorus implying he is back to be where he rightfully belongs at the top of that particular genre. It’s hard to disagree with him when he releases songs like this. As the song title suggests, calling himself an ‘Emperor’, Brendon Urie announces that with the revival of punk rock in music, there won’t be anyone better than him, as far as he is concerned anyway; I admire the guy’s confidence I really do and he back it up. The only thing I could complain about is that it isn’t that long, I wanted more.

Death Of A Bachelor- 8.5/10
What a difference one song makes. Much slower pace with a modern twist on a 1950s style Jazz sound. The use of saxophones faintly throughout the song works brilliantly as it provides a mellow and modest mix with Urie’s vocal range, which once again is top draw. Speaking of Brendon Urie, he lyrically matches the style of the instrumental, using terminology of that time period and linking it to a love song in which he describes finding love worth it “at the expense of the death of a bachelor.” Not quite sure what’s going on with the bridge of the song, which I sounds a little bit like the noise made when you died on an old school Mario game. Other than that, it’s good. Really good. His best vocal performance of this album easily, arguably of his career.

Crazy=Genius- 8.5/10
Keeps this element of swing in this song as the horns remain and he sings with a stuttered tones which changes pace often. You could picture him singing this song walking down the street in a top hat and tweed suit while snapping his fingers. I love the transition into the chorus as it turns into more of a classic punk rock sound that Panic! are known for. The lyrics are also fantastic and full of attitude. “If Crazy equals genius, then I’m a f***ing arsonist, a rocket scientist” shows his arrogant side along with a small element of comedy. This repeated lyric of setting yourself on fire but never burning is a metaphor describing how hot his music is and how current and relevant the band continue to be. Upbeat, cool, and cheeky. Just a great song.

LA Devotee- 9/10
He’s done it again. Another blinding song that works magnificently with the diverse sounds produced all over this album. Sounds incredibly similar to the sort of music Panic! produced in their debut album and fans will really enjoy that nostalgia trip. “Sun sets on the evil eye” is a great lyric used in the chorus to keep this positivity involved and teach people to show off their good side more than their evil side. The idea of being “just another LA Devotee” is used to show a girl who is obsessed with the lavish lifestyle Los Angeles has to offer. However, the twist on this song suggests that the word “Devotee” is used in slight to criticise those who choose to infatuate themselves with LA, basically referring to them as stale and that they lack depth. This is very clever and an interesting concept to an already fantastic song.

Golden Days- 7/10
Contrast of soft, whispering vocal in pre-chorus and the punk style guitar riff works really well and ensures listeners that this song is going to have a particular style. This style is shown off to full effect in the chorus itself as Urie raises the tone of his voice and creates a sound like that of a Good Charlotte or Blink-182 hit in their prime. The repetition of “golden days” does get very boring and by the end of it you’re glad the song is over really. Old school fans will like this but it won’t attract any new fans any time soon. Massive step down from previous tracks on the album.

The Good, The Bad and The Dirty- 6.5/10
The lyrics in this song describe how Brendon has been perceived throughout his music career. It’s used as an inspirational message to his fans to fight what they believe in and never give up on their end goals. This is evident in the chorus by the fight connotations, implying that “you better throw the first punch and make it a good one”. Not a lot to this song instrumentally really but I think that was intentional as the subliminal message of the lyrics is more important. An okay track with a decent message for fans to follow but I’m quite glad it isn’t very long because you tire of it very quickly.

House of Memories- 5.5/10
Variation of pitch and tone on his vocals is an effective tool. It’s massively required because there is really nothing to this track, it all seems identical from start to finish apart from the occasional tone change. Lyrically discusses the idea of fantasy and mystery in an attempt to remind himself of his youth and that make believe world children tend to live in. Saying him and this girl built a “house of memories” together and he wants to have a place in her metaphorical house which is actually her mind and memory. Probably the worst song on the album for me but that’s mainly because it doesn’t alter from verse to chorus and I have no idea why because the verse chords are boring as it is.

Impossible Year- 7.5/10 (the placement of this song gets a 500/10 though)
Soft piano and Brendon’s vocal to end the album. With this slow song comes very depressing lyrics and a strong use of every GCSE English students’ favourite term, pathetic fallacy. As everything gets worse in life, the weather follows this trend and gets worse. Just pours his heart out over the piano and shows off every inch of his vocal ability. Fantastic vocally and I like how he compliments just a soft piano instrumental but all seems a bit soul destroying considering the general positivity of the rest of the album. But, the reason he has done this is for one reason and it’s the reasoning of a genius. The whole album portrays the often disputed case of mystery and fantasy. For the most part this fantasy world works brilliantly for Urie as he lives positively and creates uplifting songs. What he realises is that this is real life, not a fantasy. As this realisation sinks in the concept of this song comes into fruition and a revelation that the world isn’t actually that great a place dawns. Masterful ending when seen like that.

 

Overall- 7.5/10

This is probably up there with debut album ‘A Fear You Can’t Sweat’ as far as quality goes. Shows once again the variety of Panic! and that they can continue to surprised fans with a new reinvented sound every single album while remaining true to that punk rock genre they started in. The middle section of the album saves what can only be described as an OK beginning and end. Four top quality songs that are all purposely placed together to bring the mood of the album up as a whole. The theme of a fantasy and make believe world is very good and positive but becomes 100x better when the last song dips back into the quite glum concept of reality. Good work, Brendon.

untitled unmastered: Album Review

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Kendrick Lamar. Perhaps the most dominating, awe-inspiring rapper of this generation. Cultural issues are prodded and poked by the Compton rapper who has learnt from mentor Dr Dre and moved on to become a global superstar. His three previous projects have all broken barriers and challenged perception so when this was initially released completely out of the blue, we were all sprung into action. However, we have found out that this release is a B-sides album that we assume have been left behind from recent album ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ but Kendrick didn’t want to abolish them altogether. For this reason alone you cannot expect different directions for Kendrick to go into as he is still releasing music from his current phase. All this album will achieve is tiding the fans’ appetite until seeing the brand new side K-Dot will lean towards.

untitled 01 08.19.2014.- 7/10
Very sensual start to the track with what appears to be a Barry White impersonator reciting the acts during sex. Completely pointless in my eyes and a pain to listen to, almost cringeworthy. The fade into Kendrick’s rapid paced vocal saves the song as he brings up issues from all over the world, terrorism, wars, racism and even paedophilia. Seems very preachy as he mentions that someone told him “to use my vocals to save mankind” and that’s what he tries here by challenging current life issues. As always a fantastic performance vocally by Kendrick with magnificent flow but I just think he was a bit too wild, could have honed in on just the one topic and expanded rather than be this god like figure.

untitled 02 06.23.2014.- 9/10
Smooth transition into this track. The contorted style to horns and his own vocal is uncannily similar to ‘u’ from his To Pimp A Butterfly album and was perhaps an alternative track to it. “Get God on the phone” showing his power in the current industry and how he has reached a supreme level, causing him to be on friendly terms and a similar pedestal to God himself. Cuts out from the high pitched almost painful vocal as he provides a Good Kid, M.A.A.D City style rap with a fast paced mono-tonal flow. Mentions Macklemore’s Grammy win saying he can “do what he want” claiming to have moved on from any beef those two initially had. Seems a bit irrelevant in the grand scheme of things and I think he is just trying to show himself off as more successful than Macklemore. Despite this, it’s like two songs mixed into one with sounds from both albums. I love this song and the variation it provides.

untitled 03 05.28.2013.- 7/10
Upbeat and groovy style to the beat on this track. Backing vocal of female voice asking Kendrick questions about different races and what they say about a certain issue. Brings up the money driven white man that is destroying music, suggesting people continue to try and buy him out and make him sell his soul. Sends a great musical message and should inspire people to do music for the right reasons. Preaches in all the right areas but just seems to lack cutting edge. Not surprised it didn’t make the final cut.

untitled 04 08.14.2014.- 6/10
Again questions certain cultures along with the way the government rule the country. As the backing vocal sings you can hear Kendrick whispering telling her what to mention, almost to try and stay out of the limelight and get someone else to preach his issues. Very odd and mysterious track with a wide assortment of noise throughout. Seems more of a filler track and a message rather than a song but flows into next track well. A bit pointless and practically nothing to it. Not enjoyable but passable because it sends a message within the lyrics.

untitled 05 09.21.2014.- 7/10
A smooth jazz style placed on a typical Kendrick beat is formed to follow on from the previous song. Typical TPAB saxophone mixed in with a soulful female vocal and jazz/hip-hop beat. Takes a while before we hear Kendrick and he explodes into the track and doesn’t hold back on the aggression. Talks about his change in style as he “used to go to church” but due to his teenage years, as demonstrated in GKMC, violence has taken over. One hard verse before the feature provides his say, not a lot to it. Kendrick then returns for the end of the song and flows with three other rappers who go back and forth with him until the end of the track. Does seem a bit lethargic as a whole towards the end and let’s the track down in my opinion because it is good until then.

untitled 06 06.30.2014.- 7.5/10
Another smooth jazz style that is similar to some tracks on GKMC. Cee-Lo Green compliments this smooth and crisp instrumental perfectly and provides a smattering of soul. Kendrick’s second verse shows off his mother’s influence on him and how she would talk to him positively to help him get to where he is now. He appears very thankful for this and many neutrals will appreciate Kendrick never neglecting his family and paying homage to them in this way. A side to Kendrick we don’t usually see and I like the way it works as it shows he is more open with his audience nowadays.

untitled 07 2014 – 2016- 8/10
“Pimp Pimp, Hooray” repeated at the start, almost to show everyone’s reaction to his shock album release. “Love won’t get you high like this, Fame won’t get you high like this” followed by “levitate” being repeated in a chorus style which we don’t really see from this album naturally. Strong beat that suits the vocal which sends messages of drug use and it’s positives rather then negatives. Halfway through a complete change of scenery as a natural and simple beat is created and Kendrick tells his story once again. Sounds like poetry with every single thing he says in his music and it’s no different here. Ad Lib at the end shows style of Kendrick while he’s in the studio and what goes through his mind while recording. Can create rhythm from absolutely nothing. Nice change to hear ad lib from him but at the same time appears to drag a bit unnecessarily. First part of this song is golden, second part is good and the ad lib is close to being frustrating.

untitled 08 09.06.2014.- 8.5/10
Masterful production and a beat that will be sure to get stuck in your head. Can you believe a 5 year old helped produce this song? Classic Kendrick and I’m surprised he could find a place on any alum for this song. Seems like a b-side of ‘i’ but missed the final cut. Nicely added chorus which is a welcome break between verses as Kendrick’s pace is as quick as ever. One of the best songs on the album and a refreshing, upbeat end to the album as a whole.

Overall: 7/10

It is a pleasure to hear any music from Kendrick Lamar of course it is and these songs are far from a disaster, but you can’t help but feel a bit stuck in a loop with this album. We’ve all heard To Pimp A Butterfly and we don’t want to hear more and more of the same songs. The only reason I’m talking down on this album is because by Kendrick’s exceedingly high standards, this isn’t ideal. There are good songs but no new sound, though I suppose you can blame that on it being a b-side album. It’ll do for now but Kendrick will have to mix it up like he has always done to achieve even more greatness down the line; although I’m sure he will so I’m still a huge fan.

This Unruly Mess I’ve Made: Album Review

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Riddled with controversy, a white rapper trying to make it in a predominantly black industry, Ben Haggerty or Macklemore as he’s more commonly known is back with the highly anticipated follow up album to Grammy winning debut ‘The Heist’. His success was far from immediate and it took until the music video for smash hit ‘Thrift Shop’ was released for Macklemore to be recognised across the music industry which is bizarre given that the song had already been out for a couple of months before this. After this success appeared came perhaps the most shocking Grammy win anyone had ever seen, as Macklemore and his protégé Ryan Lewis beat Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar to the Best Rap Album award in 2014. This sparked major controversy and even came as a shock to Macklemore himself, as he admitted that Kendrick should have won. This modesty was admired by some but seen as a publicity stunt by others, either way it got people talking and made Macklemore & Ryan Lewis credible musicians that couldn’t be ignored. So can the pair replicate the monumental success of ‘The Heist’ with their latest project ‘This Unruly Mess I’ve Made’? Let’s find out.

Light Tunnels (feat Mike Slap)- 9.5/10
Passionate lyrics with a message of fame and the issue of remaining relevant. Very catchy chorus with connotations of success being the “light tunnel” that everybody can see, only issue being that only certain people make it. Outrage at the media in the second verse, blaming them for extravagant fashion and insecurities. Name drops Kanye West, Britney Spears and Madonna within this seeming rant. Third verse about his Grammy that caused major controversy and how he felt so out of place. Recites a speech and thanks everyone. Accusing award ceremonies of being glitz and glamour, “forgot what this art’s for.” Claims that the award was one of the worst things to happen to him, seems very depressed towards the end when discussing it, calling it an “unruly mess” that he made (album title). As far as I’m concerned it’s a fantastic introduction to the album, ticking all the boxes necessary of a song like this.

Downtown (feat Melle Mel, Grandmaster Caz, Kool Moe Dee & Eric Nally)- 9/10
As cool and groovy as it gets. Tells a great and comical story about mopeds within the song with an infectious beat behind it. Yet more name dropping with Birdman and DJ Khaled, saying they’ve all got Bugatti’s while he’s buying mopeds. Another brilliant chorus that is very difficult to resist. If you’re looking for meaningful and emotional lyrics then steer clear of this song because it’s borderline comedy, but as far as catchy and upbeat songs go, it’s as good as it gets.

Brad Pitt’s Cousin (feat XP)- 6/10
Name dropping. wow. Again, really? Stark contrast to Downtown in that these comical lyrics really don’t work, talking about his pure fame and how people “go to the barber shop and ask for the Macklemore haircut” which just isn’t true. Very egotistical but backs up his talk with a good flow, despite the horrendous lyrics. HE MENTIONS DEEZ NUTS SO THE SONG BECOMES A PURE FARCE INSTANTLY.

Buckshot (feat KRS-One & DJ Premier)- 5.5/10
Used to work in Subway apparently. Says he has always dreamed of being a successful rapper but after those lines the verse becomes silly again. Feels like he’s filling gaps with these lyrics so says literally anything. Second verse is better but still not amazing and the chorus is hardly something worth shouting about. Feature verse is good, definitely the best on the track and puts Macklemore to shame but that wasn’t really difficult. It saves this song from being an absolute flop but it’s still a poor track.

Growing Up (feat Ed Sheeran)- 8.5/10
Complete change of scenery for Macklemore, softer side to him where he questions real life issues. A real frailty to him here as he questions his importance on this earth and how much he wants to be a dad. Also shows his desperation to see his unborn daughter more as she grows up but wants to have a career to be proud of. First verse is about having a daughter and the second verse is advice for a son. Tells his son to study David Bowie and Tupac, perhaps wants him to take up music. “You’re only young once my loved one this is your chance.” Ed Sheeran returns from his hiatus of music to appear on the chorus of this song and he doesn’t disappoint. Fantastic vocal with meaningful and relatable lyrics of growing up and learning from mistakes. Great track and a pleasant surprise to see this side of Macklemore.

Kevin (feat. Leon Bridges)- 8/10
Raps about the joy of life and how precious it is. Refers to a friend of his who died at 21 years old, calling it too soon and that “nobody is going to cure this pain.” Soulful chorus with next to no music and all emphasis on the vocal of Leon Bridges which is brilliant. Change in tone for second verse as he preaches about the dangers of drugs and how they take too many lives away. States about an emotional issue going deeper than what a doctor can cure, showing the true effects drugs have on people.

St Ides- 7/10
Laid back style as Macklemore appears to take more of a back seat as he raps about all that’s going on around him. Proclaiming his love for his city and that he would never leave no matter how “over populated” it got. Not really a memorable track but worthy of being on the album definitely and has some meaning behind it.

Need to Know (feat Chance The Rapper)- 7.5/10
Shoots at the current generation and how society has destroyed people. Talks about instagramming Jordan trainers and taking drugs rather than actually going out and wanting to achieve in life. Chance the Rapper’s feature is soulful but not what we are used to from him. As his name says, Chance the Rapper should be a rapper but his vocal on this track is a singing style on the chorus. Name drops “Yeezy” again before quickly stating that white people overuse the n word and that “white girls” call him it at his shows. Seems very preachy but does send out a very positive message that is refreshing and will go down well. Good track but wanted a bit more from Chance.

Dance Off (feat Idris Elba & Anderson .Paak)- 7/10
Starts as it means to go on. Afrobeat style that is without doubt the work of actor turned DJ Idris Elba. Silly sex oriented lyrics again but you feel that they weren’t the primary intention of this song. Heavy beat that would go down a hit in a club. As the song title suggests, they want to create an atmosphere for dancing and that’s exactly what is achieved. Can’t really say a lot about this track other than it’s enjoyable to an extent and would go down a treat on a night out.

Let’s Eat (feat XP)- 6.5/10
Body shames himself? Name drops Hugh Jackman, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon (it’s getting boring and annoying now). Praises the food he eats and how much he enjoys it but also mentions that it’s the reason he isn’t as fit as he would like. “My girl got a body like a bottle of Coke, me? I’ve got a body like a bottle of nope”. Steady piano instrumental in the background compliments the vocal well. Comical lyrics that will make you laugh at times but seems a bit strange for a Grammy winner to rap lyrics like that?

Bolo Tie (feat YG)- 6.5/10

Lyrics that go from relevant to completely meaningless in a matter of moments. Aggressive tone to his rap shows a frustration at people who don’t rate him. Feature of YG is strong and mixes well with Macklemore’s vocal. As well as this YG brings up the issue of him being shot, claiming people only showed him attention for views online. Okay but nothing more really.

The Train (feat Carla Morrison)- 7/10

Foreign feature by Carla Morrison which translates to “other city, other life” epitomises the motive behind this song as Macklemore uses many different connotations of trains and incorporates his idea on life within it. Calls life a journey and that he doesn’t want to get off. Also links being in a tunnel so not having signal to feeling alone and having nobody to turn to. Quite an emotional song but I don’t see it as a major track from this album. Certainly has its place in the track list, however.

White Privilege II (feat Jamila Woods)- 9.5/10

8 minutes and 46 seconds of preaching about being white and how it’s affected him in the industry, people telling him he doesn’t understand racism but can’t sit back and watch it happen. First verse is a vicious attack at the police and their reputation for shooting innocent black males. The mentioning of the #BlackLivesMatter campaign will be sure to go down well but there is a hint of tongue in cheek in its delivery. Second verse is in reference to him being white and being in the hip hop industry, “You’re Miley, you’re Elvis, you’re Ifgy Azalea.” Third verse is calmer with a mellow piano in the background and told in the perspective of a mother who is happy with the message Macklemore sends. Mentioning of the song ‘One Love’ from the debut album and it’s positivity towards the LGBT community to demonstrate the positive approach to all communities that we very rarely see in hip hop. Fourth verse preaches about the poor state of America with its racism. There are so many memorable and incredibly moving lyrics within this song that so many people can learn from. “We take all we want from black culture, but will we show up for black lives?” “White supremacy is my lineage” just to name a few. This truly magnificent and moving song is made even better by the sound bites of interviews during the Black Lives Matter campaign, again questioning the legitimacy of the police force and begging for racism to become a thing of the past. A soulful feature by Jamila Woods at the end puts the icing on top of the cake for this memorable song that will cause shock waves all over America.

Overall- 7.5/10

Had so much promise, started absolutely incredibly with opening two tracks that are some of the best of the year but after that it faded massively. A few highlights to this album beyond those opening two, Growing Up, Kevin and Need To Know are good songs with very good features, perhaps why those songs are so strong? Comical, sometimes ludicrous lyrics but that’s to be expected by Macklemore. Seems a lot more honest than The Heist as he recognises his new found fame and uses that to preach and send positive messages to people who look up to him. The name dropping in every song does become a bit petty and irritating however. Towards he end it did feel as though I was forcing myself to listen to it as opposed to enjoy it, probably why he put White Privilege II at the end in an attempt to end on a high.