A$AP Ferg – Always Strive And Prosper
On opening track Rebirth, A$AP Ferg boldly declares he’s moved on from his Trap Lord persona to become the Hood Pope, and it’s hard to disagree. Sophomore album Always Strive and Prosper is a more mature and experimental Ferg, with the Harlem rapper expanding his sonic sphere and taking his lyrical wordplay to another level.
Ferg’s musical experimentation doesn’t always work, as is the case with the Skrillex produced EDM thumper Hungry Ham, but when it does, the results are spectacular. Let It Go incorporates strings, a verse from Chuck D, narration from Mama Ferg and an acapella verse, World Is Mine finds Ferg and Big Sean trading verses about girl problems, and the piano laced Strive is a club hit in waiting that features a rare appearance from Missy Elliot in fine form.
That’s not to say it’s all new sounds, with the former Trap Lord keeping things aggressive with SchoolBoy Q on Let It Bang, Future on New Level and highlight Uzi Gang with newcomer Lil Uzi Vert and Marty Baller. At times the amount of guests is a little overwhelming (there is no need for Chris Brown to be on this album), with only four of the album’s tracks solo cuts, the best being closing number Grandma.
Verdict: A worthy follow-up to his debut with just a few too many features for my liking.
Rich The Kid – Trap Talk
The South, particularly Atlanta, is the centre of a new breed of rapper taking the Internet by storm. Fusing trap beats with a healthy amount of auto-tune and weird flows, the likes of Young Thug, Lil Uzi Vert and Lil Yachty have all begun to make their mark, with Rich The Kid the latest to join the party.
Originally born in New York, Kid grew up in Georgia with the southern sound plastered all over his latest mixtape Trap Talk. While enjoyable, there’s nothing new here. Kid talks about the usual rap cliches concerning women (Just Might, Running Threw), drugs (Trap House) and his ego (Trap Talk Outro) but it all sounds like familiar ground. That’s not to say it’s all bad. The aforementioned Trap Talk Outro features a classic Harry Fraud beat, Ty Dolla $ign pops up on 911 while the moody PARTYNEXTDOOR produced Routine Rogue is deluxe, but the bangers are few and far between.
Verdict: Worth a listen but nothing I haven’t heard done better.
Bankroll Mafia – Bankroll Mafia
Bankroll Mafia are the Atlanta hip-hop supergroup comprising T.I., Young Thug, Shad Da God, Peewee Roscoe, MPA Duke and London Jae. Formed last year, it looked unlikely the super six would release new material after Roscoe was sent to prison for shooting up Lil Wayne‘s tour bus, but the remaining five members have forged ahead with the release of their debut self-titled album.
While the album allows all six members (Roscoe manages to pop up on four tracks) to flex their talents, it’s T.I. and Young Thug who are the big draw cards. While both have different rap styles, together on wax they work well, with highlights including the anthemic Out My Face and the slow-drill of Cash. The group also expose many of the South’s rising talents, with Migos joining Shad Da God on Up One, 21 Savage helping out T.I., Thugger and MPA Duke on the misogynistic I Want Her, and my new favourite Lil Yachty fuelling his ego on album opener Hyenas.
Verdict: Solid effort that’s worth a listen just to hear T.I. spit fire after a few lacklustre solo albums.
B.o.B. – E.A.R.T.H. (Educational Avatar Reality Training Habitat)
When rapper B.o.B. took to Twitter early this year to claim the world was flat, he copped his fair share of flak, as you can imagine. Not only was he ridiculed on social media but he managed to get into a beef with famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. The two exchanged views over Twitter leading to B.o.B. dropping diss track Flat Line. Tyson enlisted his nephew Stephen Tyson to clap back with Flat-To-Fact and that’s the last we’ve heard from B.o.B. Until now.
E.A.R.T.H. (Educational Avatar Reality Training Habitat) is B.o.B.’s latest mixtape full of lyrical references to conspiracy theories, science, environmental issues, and of course, more reasons why the earth is flat. Album opener Under The Dome speaks on chemtrails, fluoride in the water supply, acid rain and the New World Order, while PoW-WoW samples President Obama talking about cloning and has B.o.B. asking “Show us your belly-button if you’re not a clone.” B.o.B. even finds time to clap back at scientists, particularly deGrasse Tyson on Fkn’ Science Bro, a track that questions people’s faith in science.
It might sound like B.o.B. is off the reservation, but since he dropped out of the commercial spotlight he’s music has often been influenced by his thoughts on science, politics and the environment, so this project isn’t that big of a surprise. If anything, it’s another solid tape from B.o.B. who’s criminally underrated.
Verdict: Get past some of the outrageous theories B.o.B. believes and this is an enjoyable listen.