Danielle Bregoli of “Cash Me Outside” Fame Drops Debut LP Under Bhad Bhabie Moniker

Bhad Bhabie was sanitized, used to push records and provide a platform for other rappers to feature on, and was only let loose once to create one of the worst songs I’ve ever heard.

     Bhad Bhabie, AKA Danielle Bregoli is far better known as the star of the infamous “cash me outside” meme, which arose from her bizarre appearance on Dr. Phil. After short lived meme fame, however, she began to find success in the rap world, first as the center of a Kodak Black video before signing to Atlantic Records and releasing “Gucci Flip Flops,” the lead single from her debut record, which featured Lil Yachty.

   Her sound is almost exactly what one would expect form a fifteen year old girl obsessed with trap and mumble rap. Her flow is odd and somewhat unnatural, though it can also be fairly described as aggressive. Regardless, this album has a fascinating amount of money behind it, a reasonably star studded feature list, and an x-factor which comes from Bhad Bhabie’s internet fame, so let’s take a deeper look at 15.

   The first and most shocking realization that comes with this project is the competence with which it was executed. Tracks like “Geek’d” and “No More Love,” for example, sport beats which one could tentatively describe as slightly interesting. None of the beats are impressive, but more importantly, never once is this album so bad, from a technical standpoint, that it’s unlistenable. The performances, however, are more of a mixed bag.

   The features list on 15 is impressive for a debut project, but unfortunately, this doesn’t translate to a collection of solid verses. YG’s verse on “Juice,” is a good way to start the album, though he does outshine Bregoli quite noticeably. Ty Dolla $ign, as well, turns in a few respectable bars on “Trust Me,” again, outshining the track’s main artist. After this, however, the quality drops off steeply.

   Asian Doll’s work on “Affiliated,” is one of the most grating sounds I’ve ever heard, and aids this song in gaining recognition as a low point in the runtime, for which it faced stiff competition. City Girls’ work on “Yung and Bhad” is the most brutally flavorless section of the mercifully short song. The worst feature, however, not only lands on what I would tentatively call my favorite track, “Gucci Flip Flops,” but goes to a man who takes this title virtually every time he appears on a record, Lil Yachty. Incredibly, he’s the only person on this album who seems unable to outshine Bregoli, and instead sleep-talks his way through a short 8 bars with lyrics that range from wholly meaningless to just plain unrelated to the track in any way. We, of course, still have yet to discuss the vocals of Bhad Bhabie herself.

   It’s terrible. When she raps, like on “Count It,” or “Bout That,” she seems to be barely speaking English through the single least intimidating aggressive flow in hip-hop history. She also experiments with an auto crooning style of singing that seems to be influenced by the Illinois drill scene. When she does this on “No More Love,” for example, I somehow find myself wishing she’d just go back to rapping, as her singing voice is completely soulless and adds nothing to the track. Nearly every flow she uses can be very easily traced to the popular artist from whom she stole it, with The Migos’ triplet style being the most notable and prevalent.

   The lyrics are actually not horrible, though they were, as with the beats, surely handled by her label rather than Bregoli herself. The self titled intro or the lead single, “Hi Bich,” for example, are fairly well written, though any slightly interesting lyrics are lost in the weak delivery.

   The bulk of this album is inoffensive, somewhat competent, and overall, just average, bad trap music with a worse than usual lead artist. This all goes out the window, however, when it comes the worst song, not only on this album, but of this year, “Bhad Bhabie Story.” This song shouldn’t exist. This song can barely be called a song, and furthermore, I cannot fathom the existence of a person in the civilized world who could listen to “Bhad Bhabie Story,” and genuinely enjoy the experience. Over an abusive runtime of more than six minutes, Danielle Bregoli details the story of her rise from troubled tween to infamous meme to hip-hop superstardom. She does this through mostly spoken word, only rapping for the first minute or so, without breaking for a single chorus, hook, or any other form of respite from this onslaught of Bhabie’s faux-ghetto accent and brutally irritating storytelling. It’s an existentially horrific experience, and I don’t recommend it for the faint of heart.

   As a finished product, 15 is disappointingly predictable in every way. Very seldom is there an example so obvious of a large company, in this case Atlantic Records, attempting to capitalize on an aspect of youth culture which they don’t understand in the slightest. I would’ve actually enjoyed the record’s 40 or so minutes a bit more if Bregoli had been simply sent into a studio with full reign to create her own bizarre, meme-worthy, artistic vision. We could’ve got an album version of Tommy Wiseau’s The Room.

   Instead, Bhad Bhabie was sanitized, used to push records and provide a platform for other rappers to feature on, and was only let loose once to create one of the worst songs I’ve ever heard.



Eminem Returns with Fire for the First Time in Years

Marshal Mathers is writing recklessly once again, picking fights with anyone in sight, and that’s why Kamikaze is Eminem’s best album in over a decade.

     Eminem needs very little introduction to most, and he’s considered by many rap fans to be the greatest of all time, but if you’ve lived under a rock for twenty years or you’re under the age of 16, allow me to catch you up. Marshal Mathers burst on to the hip-hop scene in 1999 under the moniker of Eminem with his debut LP, The Slim Shady LP, and followed a year later with The Marshal Mathers LP. The former went quadruple platinum and the latter is one of the few records in rap history to go diamond, or 10x platinum. This was a certification he achieved again in 2002 with The Eminem Show. Over the next 15 years, he dropped five more projects to diminishing critical acclaim, but never failing to reach platinum sales.

   Eminem has been, historically, one of the most infamous and controversial artists in music history. Where hip-hop before him had been criticized for glorifying violence and misogyny, Mathers’ work, particularly his first two records, were jarringly brutal. Gleefully telling stories of domestic abuse, drug use, and even killing his wife in a track on each album, Eminem and his Slim Shady character blurred the lines between satire and genuine art and fearlessly tested listeners on the proposition that freedom of speech was of paramount importance. All the while, his rhyme schemes where impenetrably dense, his narrative abilities were like nothing the genre had ever heard, and his disses had the ability to stop blossoming careers in their tracks. His later work was far less impressive, and 2017’s Revival represented a low point in his legendary career, even commercially. But with the surprise release of Kamikaze, he seems to be back on track thanks to an almost unhealthy amount of bitterness and anger.

   There is a lot to unpack on this project, and the bulk of it is positive, so lets break with form and discuss the weaknesses first. Firstly, the closer, “Venom,” doesn’t fit in this track list at all, and should’ve been released as a separate single. The beats on this album range from easily ignored to atrocious and there isn’t a single piece of impressive production across the track list. The hooks and choruses are generally boring, though several of the tracks don’t even have these. These issues collide on “Good Guy,” which is easily the weakest song on the album.

   On the contrary, Em is in prime form on Kamikaze. Flow wise, he puts on a master class. Not only does he change schemes and rhythms constantly, but he’s able to bite flows from a number of popular modern artists and use their own flows to mock them. He does this a lot on the opener and best track, “The Ringer,” and on “Lucky You,” he follows Joyner Lucas’ feature and matches his flow almost identical with his own lyrics. This ability to write not only in his own voice but effectively in the voice of a plethora of other artists is rare and remarkable.

   Lyrically, this is one of Mathers’ best projects in the last decade. His storytelling is excellent on “Normal,” he’s characteristically clever on the title track, and he bears his heart effectively on “Stepping Stones.” There aren’t exactly any lyrical masterpieces here, but his writing is of a much higher level than the bulk of his more recent work.

   The features are quite impressive as well. Joyner Lucas gives a killer performance on “Lucky You,” and Royce Da 5’9” is, of course, fantastic on “Not Alike.” Justin Vernon’s vocals lay an interesting chorus on “Fall,” and Jessie Reyez is the highlight of the unique “Nice Guy,” and the only bright spot on “Good Guy.” Em treats these features maturely, giving each artist a chance to shine instead of using them for name recognition as he’s been known to do.

   Now we need to speak on the proverbial elephant in the room when it comes to Kamikaze: this album is absolutely stacked with disses against a veritable who’s who of the modern rap game. “The Ringer,” opens the album taking shots at Lil Pump, Lil Yachty, Joe Budden, Charlemagne Tha God, Donald Trump, Vince Staples, and a few more if you can believe it. He attacks Drake on “Lucky You,” and comes after Migos and the greater group of trap artists on “Greater.” This is, of course, the first three tracks of the album, but he doesn’t seem to ever get this out of his system. “Not Alike,” features a few brutal lines aimed at Machine Gun Kelly, who responded yesterday with a diss track of his own, and “Fall,” drops several extremely controversial bars against Tyler the Creator mocking, among other things, his sexual orientation. Beyond this, Em devotes quite a bit of time to responding to critics and reaction channels who responded negatively to last year’s release. This group, to some extent, actually included Brendon’s Beats!

   He seems aware of the overwhelming amount of attacks on this album as the two skits feature Marshal arguing with his producer as to whether he should take the time to respond to everyone who disliked his last release.

   This album, in the few days since its release, has been somewhat polarizing, but I tend to fall on a favorable reaction. Nearing 50 years old and decorated with every accolade a hip-hop artist could possibly be given, many assumed that we’d never hear the old Eminem again. The dirt poor kid from Detroit who rapped like an angry dog trapped in a corner, a skill he picked up from years spent as the only white kid in the battle rap scene, but Kamikaze may be the closest we could hope to come. What it lacks in radio hits it returns in spades with fire and passion.

   Marshal Mathers is writing recklessly once again, picking fights with anyone in sight, and that’s why Kamikaze is Eminem’s best album in over a decade.


Trippie Redd Debuts With Interesting but Directionless LP

Life’s a Trip is a debut full of interesting ideas, but drown out by pervasive trap drums and repetitive vocals.

     Trippie Red is singer and rapper who rose to fame in 2016 and 2017 with a string of relatively well received mixtapes and singles. He was named as a member of the 2018 XXL Freshman class and performed quite well in the promotion’s freestyles and cyphers. After a platinum single and a couple well publicized feuds with 6ix9ine and the late XXXTentacion, Trippie Red had reached a career peak in terms of relevance and exposure.

   His sound is generally characterized as a softer form of the recent Soundcloud scene, even incorporating guitars, pianos, and other rock elements into the overtly trap-inspired genre he frequents. He seems to be a part of the very small sliver of modern rap which has a public respect for the rock music that came, often, before the artists were even born. He’s built such a name and esthetic that, after seeing the fantastic album art and hearing the lead singer, I found my self quite excited for Trippie’s major label debut, Life’s a Trip. The album, for the most part, is what one would expect.

   The more organic instrumentation pallet is much appreciated here, as Trippie’s contemporaries seem to drop slogs of endless synth and trap drums. Instead, the opener, “Together,” and “Forever Ever,” feature catchy guitar hooks, while “Taking a Walk,” is lead by enjoyable organ work. This instrumentation and focus on more organic sounds pops all over the record, and is definitely the best quality of the entire project.

   Trippies vocals, especially when singing, are also quite impressive. His raw, energetic hook on the chorus of “Wish,” makes it one of the best tracks on the album, though I could certainly do without the Kurt Cobain line, and his performance on “Bird Shit,” is also quite impressive.

   These two good qualities combine for the best track on the album, “How You Feel,” which uses electric guitars as its primary melody, laid under an excellent, if a bit repetitive performance from Trippie Red on vocals. It’s catchy, fun, and above all, unique. This sound, however, doesn’t fill the entire album.

   “Dark Knight Dummo,” and “Shake It Up,” for example, are little more than generic trap bangers, and there is little in the way of impressive lyricism throughout. The latter half of the record, for that matter, drowns in overused trap drums and repetitive crooning from Redd.

   Overall, the record incorporates organic instrumentation, especially rock influences, in an excellent way. When the guitars and organs are allowed to lead the way, while being adorned with raw and impressive vocal work from Trippie Redd, this album is unique and impressive, but sadly, this isn’t the bulk of the album.

   Life’s a Trip is a debut full of interesting ideas, but drown out by pervasive trap drums, repetitive vocals, and weak lyricism.


HEAR LIFE’S A TRIP:                      https://open.spotify.com/album/214f4uAY0p2KgY7Fl4fBgk

Nicki Minaj’s Fourth Effort Ranges from Boring to Unbearable in 70 Minutes

Queen is yet another example a label turning what could be a mediocre and uneventful EP into an unbearable, bloated mess of an LP.

     Nicki Minaj is a rapper and Lil Wayne protege from Queens, NY. She’s well known for her elaborate music videos, overtly sexual lyricism, and her ability to meld more traditional New York style rap with the modern Atlanta and trap scenes.

   Minaj rose to fame with her triple platinum debut LP, Pink Friday in 2010. She followed this with Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded in 2012 and The Pinkprint in 2014. Each of these went double platinum and topped billboard charts, the former peaking at number one and the latter at number two. She’s amassed quite the following, despite generally mixed critical reception, and after a four year wait, those fans where excited to hear her newest project, Queen.

   Generally, there isn’t much to say about this album. Clocking in at over an hour, there is a shocking lack of diversity over the 19 tracks.

   Probably Queen’s best quality is it’s production. “Barbie Dreams,” features a very listenable, New York style beat as well as some of Nicki’s best rapping, and the opener and lead single, “Ganja Burns,” sees some interesting drum work and a well mixed vocal on the chorus. The bulk of these beats are almost indistinguishable from one another, but every once in a while, we’re thrown a nice surprise.

   The features list is surprisingly bare, though it is rather impressive. Eminem delivers one of his better verses in recent memory on “Majesty,” Ariana Grande’s performance is the highlight of “Bed.” Swae Lee adds quite a bit to “Chun Swae,” and The Weeknd’s vocals on “I Thought I Knew You,” though they are sparse, stand as probably the best feature on the project.

   On the other hand, Lil Wayne drops a shockingly forgettable verse on “Rich Sex,” and Future adds virtually nothing to “Sir,” though he does sound far more at home in the atmospheric beat than Minaj, who simply butchers the dreamy feel of the beat.

   On that note, Nicki Minaj’s staring role over the entire 19 tracks is virtually devoid of shinning moments. From her frustrating insistence on using strange, poorly developed accents on tracks like “Miami,” and the last verse of “Majesty,” on which she is terribly outshined by her featuring artists. “Rich Sex,” even ends with Nicki inextricably shrieking at full volume. She’s best when she taps into her East Coast background, but even then, her flow on “Barbie Dreams,” ruins an otherwise fine beat.

   Nearly all of the lyrics focus on Nicki’s sexuality, which is, of course, fair game for any artist, especially in rap music, but 70 minutes of Minaj reminding us that she’s great in bed but selective in terms of her partners reaches its sell by date before the halfway point.

   The issues with this album are plentiful, but the majority of them can be traced back to the length. I’ve been somewhat critical of the newest, Kanye-led practice of dropping “albums,” with runtimes in the 20-30 minute range, but I much prefer that over the route taken by artist like Drake and Nicki Minaj of dropping more than an hour of nearly identical music and letting the market decide on two or three hits.

   Queen is yet another example a label turning what could be a mediocre and uneventful EP into an unbearable, bloated mess of an LP.


HEAR QUEEN:                              https://open.spotify.com/album/2acDkDTWdNFie1HjcFa4Ny

Mac Miller’s “Swimming” May Be the Best Hip-Hop Project of the Year

Swimming was one of the most listenable releases of 2018, and could very well be the best rap album of the year!

     Mac Miller is an American rapper and songwriter based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He’s well known for his relaxed instrumentation, ironic aesthetic, and his seamless blend of sleepy and sharp flows.

   He made his name on the mixtape scene, having dropped 12 tapes between 2007 and 2015. He dropped his debut LP, Blue Slide Park in 2011 to a number one chart position and a gold sales certification, the only one of his projects to secure this accolade. He would drop one more album, Watching Movies with the Sound Turned Off, with the Rostrum label before debuting on Warner Bros in 2015 with GO:OD AM. Almost exactly a year later he would release The Devine Feminine, his last release until Swimming about a week ago. Each of his albums perform well critically if struggling a bit commercially, but he’s built quite the loyal fanbase and often tours quite successfully. Swimming is yet another entry to this very impressive young career.

   The record is built on several clear inspirations, perhaps the most prominent of which is golden age R&B. Tracks like “What’s the Use,” and the opener, “Come Back to Earth,” feature wonderfully nocturnal, synth-heavy instrumentals are perfect replicas of the pre-Motown wave of R&B and will have listeners dancing no matter where they are.

   Unlike early R&B, however, the instrumentation pallet is extremely wide. Tracks like “Ladders,” and “Jet Fuel,” utilize excellent brass sections to grant a sense of jazz swing, while “2009” begins with a sweeping and beautiful passage played by string quartet and piano. “Small Words,” even features John Mayer on guitar!

   Mac’s performance on Swimming is likely his best yet, as his vocal fires on all cylinders. His his tone is almost drowsy, he drops latter syllables and rounds off the pronunciation of consonants, and yet his flow is quite sharp. “Hurt Feelings,” is a fantastic example of this.

   His rhyme schemes can’t be ignored either. “Wings,” which is possibly my favorite track on the whole album is an example of this, as his simplistic scheme in the first verse fits well with the slightly off-beat snare and the almost childish synth work which opens the track, but his flow tightens up quite a bit in the second half.

   Even his singing work is quite impressive, particularly in the layering, but also in his performance. His falsetto work on “Dunno,” for example, infinitely improves that song, and makes it one of the best on the project.

   There are certainly a few week spots on the album. “Conversations Pt. 1,” is quite drab and is probably the least creative track on the record. Beyond this, the bass has a bad tendency to drown out the interesting instrumentals, Miller’s lyrical abilities are severely hindered when his verses are too long and uninterrupted, and a few of the vocal melodies are a bit childish.

   None of this, however, could take away from this album’s most important highlight: it’s production.

   Whether its the excellent and abrupt beat change in “Self Care,” or fantastic outro on “Perfecto,” the production team never ceases to amaze. The bass line on “So it Goes,” perfectly captures the feel of an acoustic, upright bass, and the general chaos of dissonance and irreconcilable beats on “Wings” is captivating. All this without mentioning the vocal layering on “Dunno,” the shimmering buzzing in the background of “Hurt Feelings,” and the simple but effective stereo imaging on “Small Words.” Swimming is, genuinely, one of the best produced albums of the year.

   This album isn’t perfect, but its not all that far from it. Mac Miller seems to be on the pulse of a very special sound which is somewhat unique amongst the bulk of modern music, and he achieves this sound by allowing his aesthetic to bleed into every facet of what he’s doing while writing with tremendous honesty.

   Swimming was one of the most listenable releases of 2018, and could very well be the best rap album of the year!


HEAR SWIMMING: https://open.spotify.com/album/5wtE5aLX5r7jOosmPhJhhk

Travis Scott Drops Bloated Third Release, “ASTROWORLD” in Time for Lollapalooza Performance

     Travis Scott is rap/hip-hop artist based in Houston, Texas. He debuted in 2013 with his self-released mixtape, Owl Pharaoh, and followed up just a year later with Days Before Rodeo. Each of these performed fairly well, and landed him a major record deal with Epic Records, on which he released his first major label LP, and biggest hit to date, Rodeo.

   This debut was extremely successful, riding what was then a fairly fresh wave of R&B flavored trap music to a platinum certification and a slot on several “best albums of the year,” lists. His ability to meld catchy hooks with hard hitting bars set him apart from the a sea of repetitive rappers of the day, and his connections with people like Kanye West, Juicy J, and Metro Boomin among others allowed him to drop a feature heavy debut and insert himself into the work of these artists as well.

   From here, he dropped another platinum record in 2016’s Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight and a relatively successful collaborative project with Quavo in 2017 entitled Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho. The success and critical acclaim which Travis gained over his short career led him to headline this year’s Lollapalooza, and on the night of his performance, he dropped ASTROWORLD.

   The record itself is, honestly, is a bit underwhelming. There are plenty of interesting ideas at play here, but most of them quickly devolve into boring renditions of the same song. Take a track like “WAKE UP,” for example, which opens with an interesting acoustic guitar hook that’s quickly joined by predictable trap drums and sexually explicit lyricism. Another example of this comes on “NC-17,” which features an eerie, high-pitched hook which raises listeners hopes in the front of the mix for the first few bars, but is quickly buried by a textbook trap beat, and only slightly redeemed by a shockingly listenable 21 Savage feature.

   On the subject of features, this may be the one front which provides a bit of flare. Drake’s verse adds quite a bit early on to “SICKO MODE,” The Weeknd is a solid addition to “SKELETONS,” and “WAKE UP,” and Frank Ocean is, as one would expect, excellent on “CAROUSEL.” Juice Wrld and Shek Wes are also quite impressive on “No Bystanders,” which is likely the best track on the album.

   The early half of the record, as a whole, can get one’s hopes up as “STARGAZING,” serves as a fun intro, and the dreaminess of “STOP TRYING TO BE GOD,” will leave an earworm in listeners minds for the rest of the day. Unfortunately, this doesn’t last for too long.

   The bulk of this project is a bit of a slog, not only due to the rather unjustified 60 minute runtime, but because so many of these songs are so similar. The final handful of tracks genuinely bleed into one another with such a lack of uniqueness that I would have difficulty pointing out one or a few worst offenders by name. Suffice it to say, that the record is extremely bloated, which is certainly its fatal flaw.

   ASTROWORLD may serve some, less picky listeners well, particularly if one is searching for a relatively enjoyable wallpaper for a late night drive, but if this record is gifted one’s full attention, it will likely leave listeners bored and checking their watch. There are virtually no egregious missteps, but even fewer high points.


HEAR ASTROWORLD: https://open.spotify.com/album/41GuZcammIkupMPKH2OJ6I

G Herbo Strikes Again With Powerful Sixth Release

     G Herbo is a Chicago based, drill rapper whose hard hitting flow and impressive lyrical abilities have allowed him to rise to the top of a dilapidated sub-genre as the only significant mainstream export from the Chicago drill-rap scene since the likes of Chief Keef and Lil Durk in the early 2010’s. His discography includes four excellent mixtapes and a solid studio LP, all of which precede this, his sixth release.

   Swervo may seem to be, at first glance, just a collection of fourteen trap-bangers, some better than others, featuring a few of the better known, young trap stars of the past few years, but upon a closer listen one will notice that Herbo’s newest record, a collaboration with producer Southside, is one of the most diverse and unique albums that the genre has to offer.

   The bangers are far from missing, however, as tracks like “That’s How I Grew Up,” and “Bonjour,” very much follow this mold, checking off the list of heavy bass, trap-drums, repetitive choruses, and braggadocios lyricism. Further, the title track and the opener, “Some Nights,” borrow a few of these tropes as well, with the latter featuring one of the hardest verses I’ve heard in a very long time.

   Southside’s production is also tip-top throughout, his famous work ethic leading to an extremely competent and consistent product. Tracks like “Huh,” and “Focused” benefit from Southside’s work tremendously with very unique and thoughtful beats setting their foundations.

   Feature wise, this album is much better than one may have expected. Their are only four features on the project, and each of them really make the track their own and stand out well. 21 Savage gives, perhaps, his first ever good performance, while Juice WRLD creates an almost Post Malone-esque, auto-croon banger that is one of my favorite tracks on the whole project. Chief Keef’s contribution is all but negligible, but his presence on the album grants more name recognition and gravitas. The only truly bad feature comes from Young Thug on “100 Sticks,” where he seemed to decide that he should just make odd, dog-like noises in the background throughout the entire song.

   This brings us, naturally, to the weak spots on Swervo, and there are a few. “Tweakin,” and “Pac n Dre,” focus, almost exclusively, on acts of oral sex and thus grow tiring very quickly. In addition, the “Who Run It” remix serves as a terrible finish to an otherwise admirable record. Then, there’s the use of the classic, drill-rap trope of multiple voices talking all at once, a style which I never cared for, and which certainly doesn’t help establish a more solid tone on this album.

   But any issue there is to be taken with Swervo will be blasted away with G Herbo’s incredible performance on this album. His lyricism is tight, his flow is brutal, his hooks are singable, and he’s somehow able to perfectly capture the aesthetic of the drill-rap scene, long after its sell by date.

   He shines especially bright on “Letter,” in which he makes a list of very candid and vulnerable wishes to be a better man for his forthcoming child. He speaks to the horrible violence and dangerous world he grew up in, and his desire to protect his child from the same fate, all while writing smoothly and naturally.

   All in all, Swervo is an impressive project, and will likely lead Herbo further down his path to mainstream acclaim. The bangers are exciting, the heartfelt moments are surprising, and everything in between is performed with heart. With the relative death of the Chicago trap scene, which produced gems like Signed to the Streets 2 and Cursed With a Blessing, it is refreshing to hear that the style may not have breathed its final breath.

   The album is by no means perfect, but it is certainly worth a listen for rap fans, if for no other reason than to keep up with one of the hottest acts coming out of the underground today.