THE GAME -1992/ REVIEW
Written by Bryan Leonard
Nintendo, Saturday morning cartoons & Michael Jordan were the typical favorite conversations of an adolescent growing up in 1992. For Jayceon Taylor, the “I wanna be like Mike Slogan” was deferred. For a young man growing up in Compton CA, these times proved that childhood was officially over. The Games 1992 album opens with a sample of Marvin Gaye’s -Inner City Blues. “Savage Lifestyle”, the descriptive unapologetic song’s is the opening to this 13 track modern masterpiece. One thing Game does masterfully on 1992 is stay in the pocket like a well-seasoned quarter back with the best offensive line, never leaving the concept of the album for cheap thrills. 1992 samples Ice T’s Colors, The D.O.C. Funky Enough as well as Wu-Tang & classic soul music. The beat selection’s, slowed down and sped up samples let you know from track one, this is going to be good!
With solid production by Bongo, Terrance Martin, as well as Cool & Dre, the album keeps it distinctive serious somber tone. One thing visible, & welcomed with open arms are the lack of featured guest. Game pushes himself to the lyrical distance as there are no features on 1992, except for the radio friendly -All eyes- which features R&B hook man Jeremih. The lack of talent is appreciated as Game albums usually pull rappers from every walk of life which takes away from the overall experience of listening to a solo artist.
From the start of the album we walk through Jayceon Taylors adolescent mind all the while being narrated by The Game. The song True colors is a graphic plea from a boy whose world & family is changing faster than he can adapt.- One night my pops came home off heroine/shit changed, I’m glad my momma didn’t marry him/molested my sister that night cause she was scared/I was too young to help her and my brothers wasn’t there/It was late night 2 am my mother at work/my sister came back up the stairs & it was blood on her shirt/blood on her face, bloods on her hands blood on her legs/turned on the light and everything was red I’m surrounded by colors.
The song Young N****s dives into another life lesson, losing a best friend. The Game masterfully tales the story of two best friends that lose each-other to opposing gangs. While you may not have lost a friend to gangs, the message is universal in leaving childhood friends behind. While the album is surrounded in controversy due to beef with Meek Mill, he only takes one or two bars to address it. The Documentary 2 was a valiant effort at outdoing the original Documentary but fell slightly short in its attempt. 1992 will stand the test of time due to its originality & detailed story telling. The game has already solidified his name among the greatest, and this album will surely make sure he stays there.
Written by Bryan Leonard
THE BIRTH OF A NATION: SOUNTRACK REVIEW.
Written by Bryan Leonard
A clap, a chant, followed by a thunderous drum roar that would evoke fear in the mightiest lion. What you are hearing is Go Tell EM, the opening track to The Birth of a Nation Soundtrack. TBOAN is the movie inspired by the actual events of Nat Turner. Due to schools typically limiting African American history to just the civil rights movement, or you’ve heard the name but forgot, here’s a quick history lesson. Nathaniel Turner was an enslaved black man who led a rebellion of slaves and free blacks in South Hampton county VA on August 21,1831. Over 50 whites were killed. He hid for two months until caught. Upon being caught he was tried, convicted, and hung, he was 31 years young.
In an era of police killing African Americans on video at alarming rates, in an era that has spawned a movement called Black Lives Matter, & in an era that some say, we’re tired of slave movies. Most notably radio host Charlemagne the God & rapper Snoop Dogg, comes a hip hop soundtrack the evokes the aggression of Malcolm X, the optimism of MLK & the spirit of 2016 black youth.
With a film of this magnitude, you’d assume that two of hip hop’s brightest stars would make an appearance. Wrong, afro centric rappers Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole are absent, but not missed. Instead we’re led by Meek Mill, Pusha T, 2 Chainz, Gucci Mane & Lil Wayne, just to name a few. Immediately you think, wait a min, the same man who made Trap God? Mixtapes literally composed of songs about murder, women and his days selling drugs in Atlanta is on a slave movie soundtrack.? YES! What TBOAN soundtrack generates are songs that reflect the feel of the movie in every way imaginable, but in the most modern way possible. Rapper 2 Chainz takes responsibility for one such song called Whip- &-A-Chain. Most would assume, whip, chain, slave movie of course, but the plot thickens. The double-entendre song plays off what rappers are known to rap about, cars & jewelry. In the underlying theme it tackles serious issues facing African Americans, like being pulled over. In the song he raps -Check the Rolex, you know it’s time for that/ broken tail light you could die for that/. While rapper The Game raps on Sins of Our Father -500 years later I’m in the club/ chain on my neck Harriet Tubman on the dub/ Ben Franklin on 100, Hamilton on the 10/ Even in death she’s still surrounded by white men/. The soundtrack is filled with gems such as Wale & Anthony Hamilton’s Live forever, & the piano driven song “Queen”, sung by r&b crooner Ne-Yo, who evokes a Michael Jackson-esque ballad. The music is direct in its effort to connect America’s racist past to the present.
Older black cinema spawned great soundtracks, something that is absent today. 8 Mile, Boys in the Hood, Colors, Cooley High and even Space Jam evoked conviction you could hear & feel. Soundtracks take you to your favorite scene, or re-connect you with a certain character over and over. If there is a downside to this masterpiece it’s Atlantic Records lack of promotion it has extended, or not extended to the project.TBOAN doesn’t have a single standalone song such as most recently Fast & Furious 7’s “See you again by rapper Wiz Khalifa. The soundtrack simply plays its part, & plays it well, right beside the film. We all know Thanksgiving is all about the turkey, but hey, don’t forget the mac & cheese
Styles King: 4PM In Los Angeles: Review
After you press play you hear a mid-tempo drum pattern creep along-side a simple, yet haunting bass line, then you realize, you’ve heard this instrumental before. What comes next is a low pitch- semi laid back voice uncommon to some, that voice belongs to Los Angeles rapper “Styles King”. The rising rapper holds hip hop giant Drake’s “4 pm in Calabasas” instrumental hostage for nearly 4 minutes on the track 4PM in Los Angeles. “Ya’ll shook up, I’m still on the cook up /Do it better by myself reflection competition” are the opening lines. Simple wording yet complicated rhyme schemes. Not necessarily going for easy rhyming words (cat-hat) he does this many times. “Try to keep up, ain’t even start to heat up/ but recognize top ramen when it’s in front of ya.” With enough double-entendres to make J. Cole smile, it’s rhyming & wordplay that give this song replay value.
4PM in Los Angeles allows the listener to ride shotgun down Pico Blvd, or maybe more so through the mind of Styles King who raps like a young man with the maturity of an elder. The beat selection is tailored like a wedding suit for his vocal tone and uninterrupted bar fest.
Styles King taking on a Drake beat reminds me of Rocky 1. Rocky was an unknown boxer who took his best shot against the heavy weight champion of the world Apollo Creed. The world didn’t know what to expect when the bell rang, but at the end of 15 rounds he earned the respect of his competitor, fans, and critics. If Styles King can display the same qualities shown on 4 PM in Los Angeles for an entire album, he’ll be in good shape to go the distance in the ring called Hip Hop.
Written by Bryan Leonard