The Temper Trap – Thick As Thieves
Four year years on from the commercial success of their self-titled sophomore album, The Temper Trap finally follow-up with Thick As Thieves, another pop-rock offering sure to please their adoring fan base.
I’ve always thought of The Temper Trap as the Australian Coldplay, and having listened to their third album a number of times, my opinion is only solidified. Like their London counterparts, The Temper Trap began life as indie darlings before quickly crossing over into the mainstream. Thick As Thieves sounds like a stadium rock album in the vein of Kings Of Leon’s Only By The Night and Coldplay’s own Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends. This isn’t a knock on The Trap, but a ringing endorsement of the band’s knack for writing catchy, cross-over hits that appeal to all demographics.
If you’ve heard the albums two singles, title track Thick As Thieves and Fall Together, you’ll be well aware The Trap have dumped the synths and reverted back to the guitar based sound of their tremendous debut Conditions. The production is tight and focused, with frontman Dougy Mandagi’s unique and rousing vocals commanding on Burn and the rollicking Riverina. In short, it’s everything you want from a Temper Trap album.
Verdict: Super effort from one of Australia’s best acts.
Kevin Gates – Murder For Hire 2
Kevin Gates’ second instalment of his Murder For Hire mixtape series comes off the back of his long awaited debut album Islah. Similar to the first tape, Murder For Hire 2 finds Gates waxing lyrical about life and his daily struggles over Southern trap beats provided by an assortment of under the radar producers.
Gates’ samples O.T. Genesis‘ hit single Cut It on opening track Fuck It, before broaching subjects ranging from religion (The Prayer), relationships (Believe In Me, Off Da Meter) and being an example to his fans (Great Example). The only feature verse comes from OG Boobie Black – also the only guest on the first tape – on the energetic Click House.
Listening to Gates is like going to confessional, and along with his southern drawl, are what make him such an enigma in the rap game. He’s never afraid to speak his mind or express his thoughts and feelings through his raps. I confess to having never used a stash house or been a player like Gates, but when he rhymes about looking out for his homies or trying to express his feelings to his girl, it’s relatable at a certain level, and that’s more than most hip-hop I listen to these day.
Verdict: Another solid release.
Young Chop – King Chop
Known more for producing Chief Keef hits I Don’t Like, Love Sosa and 3Hunna, Young Chop has slowly been forging his own path as a rapper with his label, Chop Squad Records. King Chop is the 23-year-old’s latest release and most solid album yet, with Chop handling not only the production, but vocal duties as well.
The mixtape is immersed in Chicago drill and trap sounds, with Chop rhyming about the gangster life and violence engulfing Chi-town on tracks Between The Lines and Old Hunntis New Hunts. My Jewellery, What You Need and the gritty Mo Money Mo Problems discuss Chop’s rich lifestyle and the problems money causes, with Chop flexing his lyrical skills. Chop recruits Keef and Riff Raff for Ring Ring Ring, featuring one of Raff’s best verses in years, while fellow Chicago rappers Vic Mensa and King100james discuss the gun problems of their home town on album closer Around My Way.
Verdict: If Chief Keef really has retired, this mixtape proves Young Chop is the heir to Chicago’s drill throne.
AD & Sorry Jaynari – By The Way
Compton rapper AD broke out last year with hit single Juice and follows up with new project By The Way. Teaming with producer Sorry Jaynari, who provides all the mixtape beats, By The Way is West Coast hip-hop at its finest.
The production is a mix between DJ Mustard’s ratchet sound, southern trap beats and classic 90s G-Funk era rap, with AD’s shout-rap delivery similar to Meek Mill’s, although much less annoying. While solo cuts Boom and Nothin Like You are a good representation of AD, it’s all about the features on this one. YG makes his presence felt on the heavy hitting Thug, Freddie Gibbs gets gangster on No Love and O.T. Genesis shows he’s no one-hit wonder on They Know. E-40 doesn’t disappoint either, with another premiere verse on Tap In, also featuring the Big Sean sounding Nef The Pharaoh. There’s even a posse remix of Juice featuring West Coast legend The Game, O.T. Genesis and a handful of Compton locals. AD shows enough promise on By The Way to make him one to watch for the future.
Verdict: West Coast rap is well and truly alive.