Chali2na-Fish Outta Water (2009)

My Rating: 87% (A-)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: 70%

Average Rating: 79% (B)

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Get Focused
  2. International Feat. Beenie Man
  3. So Crazy
  4. Lock Shit Down Feat Talib Kweli
  5. Don’t Stop Feat. Anthony Hamilton
  6. Keep Goin’ Feat. Choklate
  7. Comin’ Thru
  8. F.O.W.
  9. Love’s Gonna Getcha
  10. Righteous Way
  11. When Will I See You Again Feat. Elizhi
  12. Guns Up Feat. Damian Marley & Stephen Marley
  13. Graff Time
  14. Controlled Coincidence Feat. Kanetic Source
  15. Be Be Feat. Ming Xia

Label:

Decon

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Wanting Chicago blues mixed with hip hop.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

This is an absolutely incredible album cover, one of my favourites.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

So badly.

Final Thoughts:

Chali2na’s voice should be used for narration as much as Morgan Freeman’s, seriously, it’s so bassy and smooth, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever heard. Fish Outta Water is great fun, the tracks are diverse but cohesive, the lyrics are witty and cautionary, and, unlike a lot of underground emcees production, Fish Outta Water’s production is A+. I wish Chali2na released more music because he is one of my favourite emcees, Fish Outta Water is more than likely the most impressive LP the rapper will release, any J5 fan should have this album in their collection.

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Zion I-True & Livin’ (2005)

My Rating: 78% (B)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 78% (B)

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. True
  2. Doing My Thing
  3. Bird’s Eye View
  4. The Bay
  5. Luv
  6. Soo Tall
  7. I Need M
  8. Rockin’
  9. Temperature (Feat. Talib Kweli)
  10. One Chance
  11. Amerika
  12. Poems 4 Post Modern Decay (Feat. Aesop Rock)
  13. Heads Up
  14. Next 2 U
  15. What U Hear (Feat. Del)
  16. Stranger In My Home (Feat. Gift Of Gab)
  17. Oh Lawd
  18. Livin’

Label:

LiveUp Records

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Wanting some uplifting melodic hip hop.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

It’s alright.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Yes!

Final Thoughts:

I love when albums catch me off guard, there’s little better when I have no expectations going into an album and it turns out to be a wonderful record. True & Livin’ did exactly that for me, I’ve always liked Zion I, but this album bumped them up a notch. It’s no wonder that their song Temperature broke into the mainstream, what with Talib lending some help and the fact that True & Livin’ was a solid offering as a whole for hip hop heads to delve into. With features to make you giddy, Zion I may never have or will be better than True & Livin’.

SBTRKT-SBTRKT (2011)

My Rating: 88% (A-)

Pitchfork Rating: 81%

Rolling Stone Rating: 70%

Metacritic Rating: 76%

Average Rating: 79% (B)

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Heatwave
  2. Hold On
  3. Wildfire Feat. Little Dragon
  4. Sanctuary
  5. Trials of the Past
  6. Right Thing to Do
  7. Something Goes Right
  8. Pharoahs
  9. Ready Set Loop
  10. Never Never
  11. Go Bang
  12. Living Like I Do (feat. Sampha)

Label:

Young Turks

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Wanting an electronic album with lots of singing.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

It’s creepy just like the music.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Oh for sure!

Final Thoughts:

This may sound weird, but this is as close to R&B as I’ll get. For the most part I find the singing in R&B a little boring, but with fun electronic music it accompanies the singing well. That’s not to say that SBTRKT is solely R&B, I’d say there’s a lot of down tempo, dance, and even hip hop influences on this self titled album. SBTRKT is the kind of band that Little Dragon fans would feel comfortable with (as they should, they feature them on this album). I was a huge fan of their song New Dorp. New York off their album Wonder Where We Land, so I’m excited to watch this band progress.

Watsky-x Infinity (2016)

My Rating: 78% (B)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 78% (B)

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Tiny Glowing Screens, Pt. 3
  2. Talking to Myself
  3. Chemical Angel
  4. Little Slice
  5. Springtime in New York
  6. Pink Lemonade
  7. Don’t Be Nice
  8. Yes Britannia
  9. Love Letters
  10. Stick to Your Guns
  11. Brave New World
  12. Going Down
  13. Midnight Heart
  14. Conversations
  15. Knots
  16. Roses
  17. Theories
  18. (Bonus Track) Exquisite Corpse

Label:
Steel Wool Media, EMPIRE

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Wanting some fast hip-hop that sounds more like slam poetry.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

It’s super rad, I’m a big fan.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Yes!

Final Thoughts:

Watsky is such an interesting emcee, starting with a viral YouTube video “Pale Kid Raps Fast” and gaining notable success with his poetry, he still manages to be respected among the hip hop community. Seriously he’s featured both Gift of Gab and Dr. Dre and if those two rappers aren’t gods in their respective sub-genre’s I don’t know who is. Watsky is a punchline rapper, with a weird amount of substance, there are people doing music like him, but no one has pulled off both ridiculous lyrics with show stopping moments of vulnerability as well as Watsky has, x Infinity is one of his most interesting/well produced albums to date, and any hip-hop head should totally take the time to check out this project.

Elliott Smith-Figure 8 (2000)

My Rating: 88% (A-)

Pitchfork Rating: 69%

Rolling Stone Rating: 70%

Metacritic Rating: 81%

Average Rating: 77% (B)

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Son of Sam
  2. Somebody That I Used To Know
  3. Junk Bond Trader
  4. Everything Reminds Me of Her
  5. Everything Means Nothing to Me
  6. L.A.
  7. In The Lost And Found (Honky Bach)
  8. Stupidity Tries
  9. Easy Way Out
  10. Wouldn’t Mama Be Proud
  11. Color Bars
  12. Happiness
  13. Pretty Mary K
  14. I Better Be Quiet Now
  15. Can’t Make a Sound
  16. Bye

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Sad.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

It really fits the tone of the album.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Of course.

Final Thoughts:

A lot of fans really love to hate this album because he quote unquote sold out. I guess the full band really threw fans off, I personally like the bigger sound on Figure 8. Is it Elliott’s best? No, but it’s not bad by any stretch of the imagination. Whenever an artist changes sounds, even just slightly, it’s a risk and they’re bound to lose some of their fan-base over it. But this is not a sell out album. A sell out album is when an artist makes an album for radio play and gives the middle finger to their fans, and I don’t see Figure 8 that way. It’s more just an Elliott Smith album with a bigger sound, almost like a remix album, but is it selling out? No. Smith may have pissed fans off with Figure 8, but I like to think that he was just trying something new.

Action Bronson-Dr. Lecter (2011)

My Rating: 73% (B-)

Pitchfork Rating: 81%

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 77%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Moonstruck
  2. Barry Horowitz
  3. The Madness
  4. Larry Csonka
  5. Ronnie Coleman
  6. Bag Of Money (Feat. Meyhem Lauren)
  7. Brunch
  8. Shiraz
  9. Buddy Guy
  10. Jerk Chicken (Feat. Maffew Ragazino)
  11. Chuck Person (Feat. Meyhem Lauren, Shaz IllYork & AG da Coroner)
  12. Forbidden Fruit
  13. Suede (Feat. Meyhem Lauren, Shaz IllYork, Fonda & Machine)
  14. Get Off My P.P.
  15. Beautiful Music

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Cooking something new.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

So very ugly.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Yeah for the right price.

Final Thoughts:

It’s interesting seeing these new emcees come out that are so obviously influenced by various members of Wu-Tang, Bronson takes after Ghostface Killah, but he’s much more than a modern replicate, he’s a chef first and a rapper second. That’s right, most of his lyrics are laced with calories upon calories of food references, and it’s surprisingly a good fit. His lyrics are entertaining, if not a little much at times (very explicit content here), but he somehow still ends up being likeable at the end of the record. My big criticism of Dr. Lecter is the album name. Is it a concept? Is it an alias? We certainly don’t find out on the record. If you’re going to pick such a random name for an album then at least let your fans in on the joke and/or theme. But at the end of the day, Food+Hip Hop=Action Bronson and that’s an alright equation for me.

OK Go-Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky (2010)

My Rating: 92% (A)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: 67%

Average Rating: 77%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. WTF?
  2. This Too Shall Pass
  3. All Is Not Lost
  4. Needing/Getting
  5. Skyscrapers
  6. White Knuckles
  7. I Want You So Bad I Can’t Breathe
  8. End Love
  9. Before The Earth Was Round
  10. Last Leaf
  11. Back From Kathmandu
  12. While You Were Asleep
  13. In The Glass

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Looking for some glitsy fun indie rock.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Love the simplicity.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

For sure!

Final Thoughts:

I first heard of OK Go, like most people, through their song Here It Goes Again, I’ve been an avid fan ever since. Sure their stuff hasn’t been show-stopping, but they manage to pull off one thing a lot of artists have a very hard time doing: consistency. Every OK Go album I’ve listened to after their album Oh No has had at least a few solid tracks on it that I’m happy to have show up on my shuffle. Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky threw me off initially, I was used to the more Indie Rock sound from Oh No, so the pop/synth heavy album took me a bit to warm up to. It’s one of those albums that has became really familiar to me without ever wearing out its welcome. Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky is a solid addition to OK Go’s already impressive discography, any fan will be pleased with what they hear on this release.

Generationals-Actor-Caster (2011)

My Rating: 91% (A)

Pitchfork Rating: 66%

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 79%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Ten-Twenty-Ten
  2. I Promise
  3. Yours Forever
  4. You Say It Too
  5. Goose & Gander
  6. Dirty Mister Dirty
  7. Black And White
  8. Tell Me Now
  9. Greenleaf
  10. Please Be It
  11. U Say It 2

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Feeling down and need something to pick you up.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

It’s pretty simplistic, it’s not bad but not my favourite.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Yeah!

Final Thoughts:

Look, I’ll square with you, Generationals are not making music that is incredible, it’s not all too original or musically impressive, but damn it if it’s not catchy as all hell. Actor-Caster is such a great album to listen to while going for a walk on a hot sunny day, there’s little else I can picture while listening to the glittery tunes and I guess that’s why I love it so much, it’s simple and happy, and every once in awhile it’s nice to put on something that makes you happy without making you concentrate too much on the actual music itself. I’ve seen these guys live and it wasn’t great, honestly, but man, between headphones these guys are a lot of fun. Generationals aren’t shaking things up or making you stretch much musically, it’s a fun candy coated album for those days you just need something happy on.

King Krule-6 Feet Beneath The Moon (2013)

My Rating: 96% (A+)

Pitchfork Rating: 73%

Rolling Stone Rating: 70%

Metacritic Rating: 77%

Average Rating: 79%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Easy Easy
  2. Boarder Line
  3. Has This Hit?
  4. Foreign 2
  5. Ceiling
  6. Baby Blue
  7. Cementality
  8. A Lizard State
  9. Will I Come
  10. Ocean Bed
  11. Neptune Estate
  12. The Krockadile
  13. Out Getting Ribs
  14. Bathed In Grey

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Feeling introspective and need a background to figuring things out.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

It’s incredible, I love it.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

One of the first I owned on vinyl actually.

Final Thoughts:

King Krule was criminally underrated for a very long time, I say was because with his 2017 release The Ooz, his step into the spotlight became much more prominent. He’s one of those artists I don’t know how to explain to other people, relaxing at times, angry at times, jazzy and electronic, he’s an orgy of sounds and styles. Not only is he experimental when he needs to be, he can bring the house down (Baby Blue), can have a great sunny day stroll feel (Border Line), and a big band his-fit (A Lizard State). 6 Feet Beneath The Moon isn’t all things to all people, but to the few of us who it hit, it’s everything.

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