Jul 5, 2018

The Ransom Report: Scorpion - @Drake (words by: Charles Ransom Polk)

Good evening (Even if it’s not evening where you are, I still bid you good evening), I’m Mr. Ransom, and welcome to “The Ransom Report: Drake’s Scorpion.” Thank you for reading. You have my gratitude. Before we get into it, I just want to take a moment and thank my brother Ramsey for giving me a shot to review the biggest, most highly anticipated album of the year. We have some big things ahead for the world, and this is just the jumpoff. I also would be remiss if I didn’t give the absolute biggest shoutout to the man with the cocaine biceps himself, Tony Starks aka Ghostface Killa. He provided me with the inspiration behind the format, prose, and vernacular in this review. You haven’t done one of your famous album reviews in a couple of years Starks, we need you to come back. I hope you approve of this. Peace to the Gods, bong-bong. Ok, that’s that, now let’s get to the proceedings.

Drake’s album and point in his career have reminded me of the movie Rocky III. If you’ve never seen it, I’ll sum it up: After Rocky started from the bottom (no pun intended) and grinded all the way to the top, he became champ. He was confident, comfortable in his position as top dog and in turn he got watered down. Basically he let the success blind him to the fact he wasn’t hungry anymore, and he wasn’t the same man who once drank 17 raw eggs and crushed up glass milkshakes a day and did 372 one-armed pushups every workout session. He lost the Eye of the Tiger. So Mr. T. comes along with his gold chains and feather earrings, hungry as a motherf****r. He was so hungry he was eating broken dreams for breakfast, anger for lunch and hate for dinner (with hostility for dessert). HUNGRY. Focused. Lang challenges Rocky and he takes the fight. Rock gets his a** handed to him and has to get the eye of the tiger back. He needs to dig deep, get focused to get his manhood and championship back. He does all of this, he gets his swagger back, he fights Mr. T. again and beats him. The moral of the story is, everyone takes a loss in life, you get knocked on your a**, the point is how you come back.

So in case you haven’t been paying attention in class, Drake is Rocky and Pusha T is Mr. T. The Story of Addidon is basically the first half of Rocky III, a clean knockout. Time for Drizzy take the loss, pick himself up off the canvas, embrace the situation, refocus and come back tougher than ever. Did drake do that? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Why? Because the problem is, success can be more dangerous than any drug. He’s high off success (don’t get me wrong, he completely earned his spot at the top: From So far Gone to IYRTITL, he put together a run of excellence that no one else in the music game can claim), and that can make you feel invincible. Well, NO ONE is invincible, NO ONE is untouchable, not even Drake. He took the first Loss of his career (Sorry Meek. Your mistake was you started a battle and weren’t fully prepared. You still had the hardest album of 2017 to me). Aubrey’s album is here. In light of the recent revelation that he’s kept a secret child hidden since last year, this is probably the most anticipated album of his career. For the first time in his musical life, the questions can’t just be minimized, whisked away, or shrugged off. Pusha showed that even the 6 God can bleed. The charming, affable crossover star isn’t so squeaky clean anymore. With that being said and the chips on the table, Drake gives us Scorpion; a double album to boot! But will it live up to the Herculaean hype?

DISCLAIMER: The opinions and thoughts expressed in this interview are my own, and don’t necessarily reflect WTM and their contributors. And for the record: I’ve always been a big Drake FAN, not a Drake STAN. You will see the difference demonstrated here. All you stan fans get ready to take your medicine. Consider the doctor officially IN. First things first, you’re not slick Drake with that bulls**t you wrote for you album description “oh Drake is this Drake is that” that shit worked for Eminem in 8 Mile trying to say all the negative s**t about yourself to minimize it, nice try buddy, all that stuff you wrote is all true. Oh and BTW Nelly was the first rapper to make the double album with one being more rap one being more smooth so you’re not doing anything new. F**k outta here. Ok let’s get this going.

Side A

Survival: If it’s one thing the Toronto artist does well, it’s a Drake intro. Real epic. Off the top he’s talking that cash s**t, that good old king s**t. Drake you’re cookies and creme stop it man. Not that you’re going to stop but sheesh man. Shocker: he’s still real narcissistic.

“My Mount Rushmore is just me with 4 different expressions”


Welp, he’s setting the stupid delusional bulls**t bar nice and high right away. Kudos to Drake for that. That being said, I wouldn’t have minded if it was longer, but it was stil good. Sounds like a sample: he’s always gotta have 40 do the intro. This time with No I.D., I’m liking the collaboration. “I had scuffles with bad boys that wasn’t pretending.” So I guess Puff really snuffed him huh? At least he's fessing up to it. The thing is Drake spent your whole career trying to be vulnerable then you turn around and make songs like this like he's untouchable. Make up your got damn mind. I like the song though. Not his best intro but not his worse, if that makes any sense.

Nonstop: This is the n***a that makes Blocboy JB’s beats. Would’ve been better if he used it and gave Drake the Look Alive beat. Oh well. I kept waiting for the beat to kick up a notch, but it never does. Not my favorite song. Drake talking out of both sides of his mouth as usual, he’s calling himself “king slime Drizzy”? Oh boy. And you “Hardly ever take offense” to shit? Oh word? That’s a bunch of peanut butter and jelly bulls**t and we all know it. Stop it. You have some of the thinnest skin in the galaxy and you’re the Prime Minister of Petty. BRUH did my ears deceive me? Did I just hear him say “Yea I’m light skinned, but I’m still a dark n***a/I’m a wig splitter” Homie WHOS WIG HAVE YOU EVER SPLIT?? I NEED ANSWERS. I WANT DATES AND TIMES AND WITNESSES. Of course you’re “dark,” we all saw the “Story of Addidon” Photos.“ He’s being Memphis Drake on this unsuccessfully. Does he claim Memphis yet? If he doesn’t guess it’s about to be added to the list. I like this s**t even though the beat sounds like the producer was making it and forgot to finish it and forgot about it and they called him the day it was due and he was like “Oh s**t it’s not done, eff it I’ll just send it” It wasn’t terrible to me.

Elevate: I like this beat. That buttersoft singing next to humble-brag rap will never not be a little awkward to me. If it’s one thing I can’t knock Mr. Aubrey for it’s the fact he took his whole crew with him and put them all on. Kinda like Lebron, they’re alike: both narcissistic sensitive passive aggressive superstars that took their crew with them. The difference is Lebron has more swag, where Drake's got the better head of hair. And then this happened.


So both he and Lebron are liabilities from 3. But yeah, I was kinda feeling the beat but not the song too much. Not his best but a not half-bad song. “Thank God for working harder than Satan” Amen Drake. God is good, all the time. Word life. Emotionless: I’m not gonna say much about this confession, if you even wanna call it that. But the very fact that he decided to name a track about something EXTREMELY emotional, Emotionless should tell you how out of touch Drake is. Digging the beat, who made it (*checks album credits*)? Ah No ID and 40 again, I like the Mariah Carey flip. He’s got a great ear for beats for the most part. Gotta admit. Drake loves these airy vocal samples with the hard kick and snares, It’s always worked for him (Pound Cake, The Ride, etc) there’s WAY too many stand-out lines on here to single out, but that “hiding the world from my kid” line has already been taken up as the official credo for deadbeat dads and f***boy fathers everywhere. So give yourself yet another pat on the back Drizzy. Also this s**t sounds real rushed, real topical. Like he literally recorded it dead last for the album. Not a good look. You had plenty of time to flesh this song out. This more than any other one on the whole album. This is a big deal, he needed to take more time on it instead of barely scratching the surface. Oh well. Guess we should all count ourselves lucky Lord Aubrey graced us with a song about the track at all huh? Smfh.
God’s Plan: I liked this song for about the first 11 times hearing it, then I was over it. Radio ran this s**t into the ground. As usual. All I'm going to say is don’t make videos helping other people like you’re a saint when you’ve seen your seed once since he was born. Also, don't try that “his mom won’t let me see him we’re beefing” you’re DRAKE dog. All you talk about all the live long day is how powerful and rich you are. There’s not a reason under God’s beautiful blue Heaven that would make me belive that you can’t see him. Get the f**k outta here with that bulls**t. Tell that to the Stans and d**k riders who will just blindly belive whatever s**t you’re shoveling. Not a bad beat and song though. I’m not even gonna front. In the video when that one kid’s mom was crying and then the kid was crying and then Drake was crying, that was some real sh*t. All jokes aside, I like that you did that for those people dog. Mixed mafia stand up. Now get the f**k outta here and go see your kid.

I’m Upset: I hated this song at first, but now I don’t mind it for some reason. Drake is on his tough mon ting here, but I have a question: you’re talking all that tough guy Teflon s**t one minute, and on this song you’re talking ‘bout you “got a lot of blood and it’s cold” but the song is called “I’m upset”? The f**k you upset about? That the world isn’t feeling the fact you handled the whole secret kid by an ex-porn star terribly? That people don’t buy your tough guy mafia don shtick? Golly the contradictory song titles are running rampant on this album so far. This is one of the worst songs he’s ever made but it’s catch to me for some reason, and he’s coming with the bars full of f*****y. “I can’t go 50/50 with no ho” but didn’t you......you know what? I’ll leave it alone. On to the next song.

8 Out of 10: This ain’t bad at all. This reminds me of some Thank Me Later era s**t. The bars aren’t too cotton candy soft s**t either. The outro was mad unnecessary bro but whatever. Here we go ”As luck would have it I’ve settled into my role as the good guy/I guess luck is on your side” Ayo my man, since when did the public view you as the bad guy?? Seriously you’ve been trying to paint the picture of yourself as the reluctant paranoid super villain/king since the Take Care era (which was your best work by the way). The problem is, the vision never did fit accurately. All in all a good song and verses though I’d replay this.

Mob Ties: I can't put my finger on what this beat reminds me of. It's like some late 90’s early 00’s keyboard beats. I like it though. This s**t doesn’t bother me, he’s on his mob boss: “I’ll get people to take you out” nonsense. You say you “hired some help to get rid of these n****s” does that mean you hired some ghostwriters to write some bars? I’m asking for a friend. “I’m not with that ra-ra I am a da-da.” That was suuuuuuuper basura. Like c'mon man. I still kinda like this song though. But the bulls**t piles up so fast on a Drake album you need wings to stay above it.

Can’t Take a Joke: This s**t is kinda whack. So far the production hasn’t been bad at all for the most part. A lot of these songs are short, almost like they’re not fully fleshed out songs. Some of these have gaps on the hooks. I wonder, did he throw this all together in a week like Kanye? The only artist to make a classic in 7 days was the Don Killumintati himself Tupac Shakur. Facts. But this song was good, I was kinda feeling it. But it was too short and felt like a random song that shouldn’t have made the cut. If it was on anyone else’s album that would be the consensus, but since it’s Drake people will revere it. Oh well (*shrugs shoulders*). Matter of fact I really like this song or maybe I’m trying to really like this song maybe it’s just a glitch in the got damn Matrix who knows.

Sandra’s Rose: I LOVE THIS BEAT. This the s**t I can feel. Who made this? Preemo? Ah mannn I’m not surprised. Hats off to DJ Premier man, one of the greatest producers of all time. This Reminds me of Weston Road Flows. Totally different beat, but the same real soulful feel. Drake is putting his all into the song for a change. A lot of the songs on here he sounds real lazy. That’s what success will do to some people. Success can be just as dangerous as any drug, to the wrong person it can rob you of your hunger. Got it, “Sandra’s rose” aka his mothers son, aka the rose that grew from concrete. Gottttttt it. Clever song title, awesome beat, Preemo is a savage and gold bars from drizzy the Drake cake man, nothing really bad to say about the song, Drake was talking some silly dilly s**t a couple of times but ima let it slide on the strength of this song being so hot.

Talk Up (Featuring JAY Z): AHHHHHHHH S**T now this s**t right here (*Katt Willams voice*)???? is THAT S**T. About damn time. This motherf****r is a banger. Now who in tarnation made this beat? (*checks album notes*) DJ PAUL???? You ugly sonofab***h, you MURKED this s**t. This makes me want to go see that little Asian gentleman down in Houston that makes the grills, what’s his name? Johnny something I think? Whatever the f**k his name is, or Paul Wall baby! I'll get an iced out grill, buy an old school Chevy that cost 5 grand, get rims that cost 25 grand and a giant subwoofer that cost 15 stacks and takes up the entire backseat and trunk. Then I'll go down south and become a promethazine/codeine conisour. DJ Paul with one arm made a hotter beat than other tracks on here with multiple producers and like 8 different sets of arms, for real for real. Big Shouts to DJ Paul, you did the diggity damn thing on this s**t. Matter of fact, while I’m on the subject of Three 6 Mafia, shout out to Crunchy Black, top 5 dancer in the music game all time. You don’t know who I’m talking about? go on YouTube and check the 3 6 Mafia Videos and you’ll see the man’s footwork on display.

Sidebar: Top 5 dancers all time 1)MJ, 2)James brown, 3)Usher, 4)Chris Brown and 5)Crunchy Black. Word. If you disagree your opinion is worthless and irrelevant.

Anyway, this beat is hard as all hell. Drake is talking that talk on this, and you know what? I’m not even mad at it. And here’s Mr. Beyonce Knowles-Carter on the track. Even though they had their pseudo-beef for years but I guess it got squashed. (*Shrugs*) I’m not gonna lie Hov sounds kinda sleepy as f**k on this track. Was he getting into character and had DJ Paul pass him the sizzurp before he got into the booth? His verse is good though by his late career standards. The line about Xxxtentacion and George Zimmerman is the truth though, I don't care what you say. If you disagree you gotta rethink that. Hot a*s song man. Not mad at it in the least. Play this song on some good speakers for maximum enjoyment.

Is There More?: I like this song. I like Drake’s lyrics on this. Nice to see his lyrics and content match the song title. “They say take the good with the bad I’ll take it without” here’s out of touch Drake again. Like dog, you’re not Jesus, Lazarus or John the Baptist, you’re a NORMAL PERSON for f***s sake. Everyone takes good and bad, stop it. Again, too much success, not staying grounded and having too many yes men around you will blind you and make you unrealistic. “As soon as the album drops I’m out of the deal” ........ somewhere Birdman's hands stopped rubbing together. Good song and lyrics. Can’t really hate. That much.

Side B


Peak: AH MAN, I LIKE THIS S**T SON. This sounds like something that would’ve been on So Far Gone/Thank Me Later. This is like some Shut it Down part 2 type s**t. Which is a HIGH compliment. This s**t is SUPER HOT. B side is off to a REAL solid start. Even the washed out reverb guitar at the end is real vintage Drake. Whoever made this beat got jiggy on this s**t. Question is, Who made this s**t? Did 40 make this s**t? Tell me 40 made this s**t. (*checks album notes*) OF COURSE 40 made this s**t. 40 you did your thug thizzle on it. you’re the man. This song is a certified PD. If you’re a guy reading this and you don’t know what a PD is, you’re a disgrace. But yea, this kinda reminds me of Cece’s Interlude. It’s got that vibe, need I say more? Straight fire.

Summer Games: Aaaaand just like that here comes the garbage truck backing up. This s**t is bad. I literally only listened to this song all the way through because I’m on the job doing this review, but that’s it. This beat sounds like they used one of the basic arpeggio sounds off Fruity Loops demo version and put some drums on it. That’s not to say you can’t make bangers off FL studio. 9th Wonder made Threats off FL studio, and that’s one of of the hottest Jay beats of all time to this day. So it can be done, but this isn’t one of those cases. I agree that as an artist you gotta experiment and progress, but not all experiments are successful ones. This sounds like Drake is trying to have a song played at Electric Daisy Carnival this year. Fail for this. That “breaking my heart” chopped part is painful to listen to. This didn’t have to make this album. Drake Stans will obviously rock this song but not I. Skip button with the quickness.

Jaded: Hot a** song, should’ve cut the last song and cut right to this. The Ty Dolla $ign vocals in the back work really well. Can’t really find much wrong with it. I f***s with it. Drake stays trying to hit up his exes in songs man, you’re a messy a** beige bastard, you know that Aubrey? Well who am I kidding? of course you know you are, you knocked up a chick you met twice who just happens to be an ex porn star/gold digger and you had a baby with her. You’re the Messiest muaf***a of all time. Another thing, BIGGEST shouts to Max B, the original wave master. Drake used the word “wavy” on this album a couple of times. So he should be cutting Biggavel a check. Shouts to Charlie Rambo, hold your head (pause) you’re coming home soon I hear. When Max touches back down it’s literally going to be a national holiday. Anyhoo good song overall, definitely high replay value if it wasn’t for that abomination right before It I would’ve said from Talk Up to Jaded the Toronto tearjerker would’ve been on a little winning streak for this stretch of the album. Ohhh well.

Nice For What: The other big Drake single. I love the Lauryn Hill sample, but I never loved the beat. Once again never feels like it never really drops. I felt like more could’ve been done with it. My sister lived in New Orleans for a few years and loves the city soo much. She told me it’s a real New Orleans bounce sounding beat and that’s how it supposed to sound, so ima leave it alone. Believe me, it’s f*****g FULL of quotables that you’ll see ratchet or wannabe ratchet chicks quoting on social media till the cows come home. If you like the song I’m not mad at you, it’s just not for me that’s all. To each their own.



Finesse: Another song that sounds like it’s a throwback, which is a really good thing. This is a real vibe out song. this is what you listen to when you drink, smoke, Knit a sweater or whatever you do to relax unwind and zone out . “I want my baby to have your eyes” well sir, does Adonis have Sophie’s eyes? Release the pics and let the world know! Another song chocked full of female quotables. I’m not mad at the song. People are saying there’s lines about the Hadid sister on here, but we’ll never know because drake is the Mike of subliminals. Jordan Jackson Tyson pick one. I like the song a lot though, it’s kinda short but that seems to be a trend here.

Ratchet Happy Birthday: This song is corny as f**k. Ok, if it’s one thing I can’t be mad at Drake at all for, it’s that he knows his audience. What did Funkmaster Flex say? “70 percent of your audience wears high heels”? I don't know if it’s that high, but it’s up there. He makes songs for women to apply to their life. He’s a genius in that regard. This song title will be the caption on scores of chicks’ social media posts on their birthdays for eons to come. He’s a smart guy. No one ever got rich being dumb. I like the sample but not the song, I’d even go as far as to say this is the weakest song on the album. Skip.


That’s How You Feel: Eh, not that great. Another short a** song that sounds like it’s not fully finished. A couple of the songs on this B side could’ve been cut. I don’t hate the song but I wouldn’t have been mad if it didn’t make it. The Nicki vocal sample is ok, but she said one of her rules is she f**k her man’s friends if he’s acting up. Nicki, that means you’re a thot where I come from, but whatevs. Different strokes for different folks. Song is ehhhhhh not really anything to go crazy about though. Lukewarm a** Drake song.


Blue Tint: The beat is cool, and I like the Future vocals, but he definitely should’ve had a verse on here. That would’ve made this song way hotter. He even said “What a time to be alive” on the track. You all remember that project right? That Future album with some mediocre a** Drake features right? I figured you all did. Anyways, so why didn’t Future get a verse? The song has a nice bounce on it, but I was 50/50 on it. Is it just me or do a lot of these songs sound unnecessary? I don’t think it’s just me.

In My Feelings: Kind of an ok song. I’m ashamed to say kinda grew on me. I didn’t want to like it. Anyway, it's another song with the New Orleans bounce and flavor. I guess Drake is gonna add the crescent city to the list of places he reps. This song is super ehh. Weezy got some ad libs and vocals on it. Sounds like Mannie Fresh made the beat. Especially the part at the end, sounds like some vintage Guerrilla warfare Hot Boyz s**t, and you all know I’m all for that s**t. A bunch of these B side songs are not great and short, which is concerning because quality control on albums has always been one of Drake’s strong suits. Ever since Views it’s been slipping. My question is directed at 40. You’re the executive producer extraordinaire, you should’ve cut some of these joints man. I expect you to be the man to save Drake from himself. I blame you for this f*****g mess 40. I don't know what’s with the female ratchet dynamic duo on the song either, super random. That being said I’m kinda feeling this track.

It Don’t Matter to Me: So the night before the album dropped, the track list released and I immediately saw this. Now anyone who knows me knows I’m a HUGE MJ fan, and a historian of his career. That being said, I don’t hate the song. I’ve talked to come other MJ enthusiasts I respect, and the opinions have varied. No surprise 40 and Nineteen85 handle production on this. As usual, Drake is pulling all the resources from the OVO sweatshop on this (PartyNextDoor, Majid Jordan, DVSN). I wouldn’t have been mad to see Jordan Ulman handle production on this. Majid Jordan is the truth. Anyway I’m loving the 80’s vibe 40’s got going here. The percussion in the background kinda sounds like the percussion on Africa by Toto. If you don’t know that song, take a long walk off a short cliff. Your musical knowledge is a joke. Drake was careful not to curse or talk too greasy on this track. He respected the late, great GOAT. I really like how 40 made the beat around MJ’s vocals and didn’t speed up or slow down his vocals. How did they did they clear MJ vocals?? Paris Jackson is probably a fan. That’s another thing I can’t take away From Drake, his clout in the industry is longer than Trump’s ties. Mike’s vocals are so stunning and flawless, he doesn’t ride the beat, his voice glides over it. To be completely real his vocals turn this from an otherwise generic Drake ballad into a great song. I really liked it. Once again RIP to the greatest artist of all time. You already know this is getting replayed mad times.

After Dark (featuring Static Major & Ty Dolla $): This s**t sounds like It should’ve been on Tha Carter 3 or around then. That being said, I would’ve liked it more if Weezy F baby (please say the baby) had done this song back in the day. Doesn’t really work for Drake. I’m loving the Ty $ part, Matter of fact, if this was a Ty song I would’ve like it way more as well. Basically, I would’ve like this song more if it was ANYONE besides Drake. Also Static Major is on here, I’m not mad at that either. RIP Static Major but tbh this is another ehh song off the b side but I’m not too mad at it. Drake’s on his creep s**t here, you should’ve chilled with that creeping after dark s**t. Man, that’s how you got into this mess in the first place.

Final Fantasy: When I was first listening to this song I was about to skip this s**t then the bass kicked in and I was like HOLD up, this s**t is hard. I got all the way into it this. It's is hot as hell, but then it cuts short into a whole different song. More of a singing Drake song, which I’m not mad at, but the overall trend yet again is that these songs are short or sound half don.e This one in particular he just combines two songs to make them one. I’m sure disciples of the church of latter day Drake’s will say this is the bridge or reprise of breakdown but na man, can’t get that. This isn’t the 20/20 experience, you can’t fool me. Don’t get me wrong the second part is super hot too, but it needed to be a song on its own. Just like the first part both songs would’ve been wayyyy better as full songs in their own right. He should’ve cut that summer games trash or ratchet birthday s**t or a couple of others on here and put two full songs on there. But hey it’s Drake’s world and we’re just living it right? Riiiiiiight.

March 11: Drake Intros and outros have always been real strongpoints of his albums. The baby was born in October, so maybe this is the date he got the paternity results. Just guessing. Alright so here it is. For all the tough love I’ve given Drake on this, I’m honestly loving this song. The fact that he handled the whole situation horrendously doesn’t change the fact that he’s a human being. He’s imperfect. He makes mistakes. From all his lyrics he would have you believe otherwise, but it’s the facts of life. It’s his child, and it was his choice how to handle the whole situation. Regardless of if it was a good or bad choice, it was HIS choice. It’s so easy to judge for the outside looking in. It took him 25 tracks but he’s finally opening up. This is the essence of what made Drake so marketable in the first place. That's his ability to bare his soul and feelings. He’s become more and more out of touch with that as time has gone on, but that can happen. People change, and not always for the better. However it’s rough to judge him being in such a high position financially and otherwise. Under such scrutiny and being in the public eye every second. The sad thing is as a fellow mixed kid who grew up with an African American father and a Caucasian mother who divorced, I kinda feel for him at times. It’s tough to find your way in the world that’s black or white and you’re both. Regardless of the s**t I’ve talked about you Drake it’s always mixed mafia for life. I was really feeling this song, and the lyrics. And the concept. And the beat. My only gripe (and this is nit picking) is that it was only one verse. It should’ve been longer, but maybe that’s all he needed to get s**t off his chest to his satisfaction. That faux gospel 90s singing breakdown at the end I could’ve done without for sure. You’re singing about you’re all alone? That’s by your own design buddy, and you’re changing from a boy to a man? You’re 30+ you’re changing NOW? Jeez man you really know how to f**k up a good thing. I was singing your praises finally and you go and do this f*****g s**t. Oh well, but again short but great song. Another worthy addition to his stellar intro/outro catalog he started on So Far Gone. This song just overtook Look What You’ve Done as the most personal he’s ever made. He closed the show on a good track. Short, but good.

And there you have it. 25 tracks from wheelchair Jimmy, it was a long one. A marathon of a listen, not a sprint. So what did I think: It was very well produced, the production sounded expensive on this one. Very immersive, very lush, expansive. He’s always had a golden ear for beats, but that I attribute more to 40 than to Aubrey. So 40, Another well executive produced album. Please make more beats on the next one. Your lack of production on here was noticeable. The overall sound of the album was really good, so high marks there. As far as writing goes, Drake has always had a habit for delivering some head shaking bars and cringe-worthy punchlines, and there are certainly no shortage of both on this album. The few times when he drops that nonsense Teflon don persona and actually acts “human” (Sandra’s Rose, March 14th, Is There More-sorry but Emotionless sounds rushed and saccharine) is when he shows his true talents as a songwriter. The problem is this: this album could’ve been a magnum opus, a Take Care 2, a follow-up to the REAL magnum opus of his career to this point. He could’ve broken new ground, taken his music to yet another level. He could’ve used this moment post-Pusha T loss to really refocus and turn in his best work. This was the perfect opportunity to really, REALLY open up to the world, more then he ever has in his discography. But instead, for most of this album, he pretty much sticks to the script he’s been on most of his career. He fails to even go into any real detail about his son, save one single verse on March 14th, and a couple of random half-hearted lines on Emotionless and scattered elsewhere.

Presented with a golden to opportunity to truly bear his soul, he opts to wow us with expensive production and all-too familiar subject matter. It would seem the more successful he’s become, the more isolated and insulated from reality he gets. The one burning question now is, how many times can you say the same things differently? I believe Drake has finally reached a plateau. When there are no more genres to conquer, no more records to break, no more peaks left to climb, what do you do? This is the crossroads Drake finds himself at currently. Only time will tell how he handles this, and what road he decides to take. The sound and style that made Drake arguably the biggest name in the music world is finally beginning to wear thin. Nothing lasts forever, and Nothing Was the Same. Still, despite the lows there were still the highs that remind you when Drake is hitting on all cylinders, he’s without equal in the rap game. Now that he’s a father, I’m hoping the monumental change in his life this will cause his music to change and evolve as well. I suppose the next chapter in his career can be summed up with one of his song titles. Is there more? Time will reveal.

Album Grade: 6.7/10

Jun 26, 2018

#ASideBSidePodcast Episode 11: @TragedyMonroeRN Interview

If you can make it past our narration of Pokemon and mutual lust of Jamie Lee Curtis there's a really cool interview afterward. I'd like to introduce you guys to Tragedy Monroe.

He's a Trenton by way of Asbury Park rapper and been around for awhile. We chop it up about his new single Alive as well as his upcoming album. We touched base on Kanye West, the Pusha T Drake beef, and how he adjusts to a new generation listening to music. He even talked to us about his involvement in the Cold Summer Web Series, his father's music, and how his daughter listens to his music. Check it out after the break.

The music in this episode is Alive by Tragedy Monroe.

Jun 25, 2018

Review: EVERYTHING IS LOVE - The Carters (words by @RamseySaidWHAT)

A few months back I almost dropped a piece covering Beyoncé's spectacular Coachella set. I still may release that in a different format someday. To take an excerpt from that piece, I'll make an analogy. Beyoncé is to Lebron as MJ is to MJ. I'll explain that later. For now we have a review to do. It's funny I've never reviewed anything by Beyoncé. Partially fear of the hive, partially because I didn't want to compete with every other site EVER and their reviews. THE CARTERS presents EVERYTHING IS LOVE, let's get to it.

The project opens up with SUMMER. I want you to imagine you're at the beach listening to this. Close your eyes. Let Bey serenade in your headphones. This is their love song to each other. Jay pulls up smoothly with a story of a summer night with his family. Don't stay in this fantasy too long because APES**T sounds dramatically different. I recently listened to the Migos demo of this. I've said it before and time and time again I always remind people: "Adaptation is the key to longevity." Their ability to adapt to today's trap sound will always keep them in conversation. Not my favorite in the world but this will ring in car speakers all summer. It is what it is. Besides Jay has been doing well on trap beats for awhile now (example: La Familia, I Got the Keys with Future). Also, these guys really rented out the Louvre to shoot this video.


The tenor melodies and harmonies are fire on BOSS. This track is what I call real music. Beyoncé floats here. They start with the chorus, then add a brass section, then add piano. Then take a section away bar by bar. This is excellent. This is when the real shit talking begins. Subliminals enter the playing field here. Get used to it too, it's gonna happen throughout.

"Till them invoices separate the men from the boys. over here we measure success by how many people successful next to you."

Afterward Beyoncé follows up with some black excellence of her own. whips for everyone, generations full of brown Forbes listers, you know the usual.

NICE is a Neptunes beat if I ever heard one. Before the first lyric is sung this production screams Pharell. If you're wondering why Lemonade isn't anywhere but tidal this should clear things up for you. Not for nothing Pharell is the only person in the music industry that can't sing and it's okay for him to falsetto over anything he wants. He's the only pass. Just think of his voice as another instrument. It's also nice to have this feature without it being listed. Makes for a nice surprise. 713 is very obviously an ode to Houston without googling the area code. In fact we get the low down on how the power couple really got to meet, how he almost lost her, and how he went full Melo mode to get her back (more on that later).

I think FRIENDS is the best track on the project. It had the most subliminals and lines to be read through. I think the only way to get a friend is by being one. This song reinforces that lesson. This beat and 808 kick is too tough. Queen B's autotune makes this car speaker certified. This has to sound crazy live.

Only Beyoncé and Jay Z can find a way to flex on a song clearing the air on some things. HEARD ABOUT US has instagram captions for days. So famous I don't wear a suit to court. Cuba and Aruba in the winter. I can't lie I'm pretty jealous of those kind of problems.

BLACK EFFECT begins with words of wisdom from an older woman before an R&B sample blends through. Then a punchy kick drum rings your headphones. This is my favorite hook on the project. If Black Excellence was a song this is it. The project closes out with LOVEHAPPY. It's flat out beautiful. This is the most hip hop beat here. "I had to move the whole family west but its whatever. in a glass house still throwing stones, Hova Beyzus, watch the throne." I seen a bunch of Kanye to Kim "get the nudes" memes probably stemmed from this line. Their chemistry to turn the first verse into a conversation where they upstage each other was clever. Hov even took a bar from the Common classic H.E.R "Y'all know how I met her, we broke up and got back together." Great mood to close out a project. Sometimes you can tell when Bey is really into what she's singing and she gets into this growling voice. I love it.

To be frank The Carters were talking greasy throughout the project. Beyoncé the emcee made an appearance with the singer and autotune crooner. I think these guys are the only ones who could do well with a surprise release. I had a complaint about them doing another tour without new material since their therapeutic revisit of darker times in 4:44 and Lemonade respectively. In fact they made some references, double and triple entendres the way only Hov and Bey can. You can tell this project was put together fairly recently regarding subject matter and such. I was pleased to see Jersey based Nija Charles had writing credits on a few songs on this project. try not to compare this to Twenty88 or any other collabs to this point. Short albums is the new trend that I foresaw on 5 Reasons Your Album Flopped. I enjoyed it thoroughly and I think it'll be in rotation all summer. It doesn't sound like what we would have thought a Jay-Z and Beyoncé album would ten years ago. Still this is an amazing piece. I wish they would have kept Shining on tuck this whole time because that would have been a wonderful lead single for this, but DJ Khaled. Anyways, EVERYTHING IS LOVE is everywhere now and by now I'm sure you've listened. Let's see how it stands the test of time.

Jun 12, 2018

Review: Circle of Life - @24kjae__

I'm a big fan of coming of age films. 500 Days of Summer, Moonrise Kingdom, The Breakfast Club, Boyz In The Hood, Good Will Hunting, shoot even Superbad make my top ten list. Atop of that list is probably Lion King. Ironically enough, the story Jon Crawford takes us on today is named after such, Circle of Life. It's a really easy listen if you love a good story. Jon Crawford comes to bat with original cadences and song themes. You can just tell that they serve as a kind of blueprint on Circle of Life.

Let's get to it. I think the real meat and potatoes of this project starts at track three through seven. Feelings kicks off that stretch. Minimalist percussion blares through your headphones. I can't figure out what the distorted and possibly reversed loop is that serves as the melody. Jon explains in this track how it's difficult for him to open up to the people in his life because people assume they know everything with the little bit we show. No hook just venting. I think that is a recurring theme throughout this project. That is my favorite kind of rap. No gimmick, no super produced beat, just space to vent and be heard.

Daddy's Little Girl is obviously an ode to his daughter. She's young and may not understand where he's at in his life. It's a letter she's probably meant to read later on in life. He hopes she understands why he made the decisions he made and how painful it is for him to miss part of her childhood while chasing his dreams. He wants that to be inspiration for her. He talks about his upbringing in his family with his own father and how they felt about him becoming a 17 year old father.

River Road (played in the Party Michael Interview) is the deepest dive into Crawford's life on this album. Upbringing, the neighborhood, his life in the system. If he didn't do that with the bars he sure did with a monologue at the end of the track. If you listen to nothing else and want to know what Circle of Life is about you have to listen to River Road. Who, But Me? follows up next. To keep it funky I've never heard a P. Soul beat I didn't like. He's probably my favorite indie producer out. He's responsible for a few of my favorites by a lot of Jersey and New York acts. We finally get a hook for the first time in a while.

"Who gon' put my n*ggas on, who but me? Who gon' take care of the Fam man who but me?"

Track seven is 3 AM in Camden. The visual and lead single was placed perfectly for the album. Track sequence on Circle of Life is on point. In fact let's fast forward to how he ended the project. Patience and Take a Chance are different than the rest of the project. I think for the most part this entire project was introspective. These two songs are messages outward this time. It's really inspiring music to continue on, trust your journey, and not be afraid to follow your dreams.

I really enjoy the honesty in Circle of Life. I don't know if it's because I too am a Scorpio or a fellow twenty something year old black man figuring it out. Although I don't share the same upbringing and haven't become a parent yet I empathize with Crawford's hunger. It's hard knowing you're great and you're really just waiting on people to see. It's a breath of fresh air into today's music mainstream or local. He said as much in the project and I agree, I'm not that impressed with music nowadays. Crawford has an absurd upside of talent. Music hasn't been about talent for a long time. The stars just have to align and I pray they do. If ever there was an artist I thought deserved to blow up it's Jon Crawford. At minimum find solace knowing Circle of Life is timeless music. If not timeless to the general public, timeless within your own household. I know people are quick to call something a classic and I won't speak too soon. What I will say is if things don't click they way they should, one day Gabriella will listen to this and know her father loves her. You can stream Circle of Life LP on your favorite streaming service by clicking this link. I've also embedded it below for your consumption. In Due Time is dropping July 30th and you can also look out for Wish Me Well, dropping on his birthday in the fall. I need y'all to feel this.

Jun 8, 2018

Listen: Hallelujah (Prayers) - @24kjae__



Before I could even get a review out of Circle of Life, Jon Crawford is back with a brand new single.

Hallelujah (Prayers) seems to be the new single of a new EP, In Due Time dropping later this summer. I really like the string loop and hi-hat combo on this beat. Crawford continues a signature story with a conversation with God about what his new intentions are for the rap game. To be frank, I wouldn't want to be in this guy's way. I don't know what it is about these lead singles and intros but this is super grandioso and sets a serious tone. Circle of Life review drops this Tuesday but in the meantime listen to Hallelujah (Prayers) after the break.