“The Life of Pablo” Has Been a Journey, But It’s Finally Here

Kanye West’s 7th studio album, “The Life of Pablo”, has to be one of the most confusing and most chaotic album releases that I’ve witnessed in my lifetime. First off, who is Pablo? Ye could makes references on the album to both Pablo Picasso and Pablo Escobar, so it could be either of those, or maybe even both. This title would technically be considered his fourth title if you include his 2015 announcement “So Help Me God”, followed by “SWISH”, and then “WAVES”. Besides the ambiguity of the name itself, this album has led us to confusion with release dates and track lists.

Originally, the album was set to release on February 11 at the the same time as his debut of Yeezy Season 3 at Madison Square Garden. The event was available for stream that allowed us to hear some of the songs for the first time ever. Even after the show, the album wasn’t available to the public because of last minute changes that had to be made. Because of the delay, Kanye decide to drop “30 Hours” that Friday.

Who was to blame for the delay?

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Kanye tweeted that Chance the Rapper insisted on putting “Waves” on the album, a song that he actually helped compose. He claimed “The world is a better place because of it”. Aside from this song alone, there were others that made it onto the album last minute. This was all happening last Saturday, the 13th. At this point the album is already 2 days late.

That night, with fans still waiting on the album, Kanye appeared on SNL, where he debuted a couple songs off the album. Accompanying him was Chance the Rapper, the Dream, Kirk Franklin, and Kelly Price. After his last performance, Kanye signaled to fans that his album was finally out with the words, “Kanye West dot com right now, Tidal Streaming right now”.

It was here.

This album has received a lot of hype because he was actually supposed to release the album last summer, but nothing ever happened. People didn’t know what to expect with this album, following his last album, “Yeezus”. Even the Kanye haters were eager to see what he had up his sleeve and if he could still bring the heat.

For anyone who is interested and wants to listen, you can stream it on Tidal, or you can wait a few more days when Kanye releases his downloadable, purchasable version.

 

JakÜbi – Warm Weather and Summer Vibes

We’ve been lucky that winter hit us late this year, but when the cold decided to hit, it hit us hard. I thought I’d try to let you guys get a taste of summer through giving you some music that reminds me of the warm weather. I first discovered Jakubi around this time last year and was hooked with their fresh vibe and unique flavor. Jakubi is a Melbourne Australia-based band that consists of 2 brothers, 2 cousins, and a friend that came together to make music that’s equally funky and soulful with a hip-hop flare. They haven’t released a lot of music and there are no rumors of them releasing any big projects any time soon, but it seems like their always on tour. Among the music they do have, I have yet to find any song that disappoints.

 

Check out “Couch Potato”, their latest single

 

Listen to their latest EP on Soundcloud

Wave of 2016: Hip-Hop’s Anticipated

Another year is ahead of us as we set high expectations for albums to come and artists to make it big. In 2015, there were some artists kept us on our toes in anticipation for them to release projects they never did while there were other artists such as Yung Thug, Torey Lanez, Bryson Tiller and Post Malone that seemed to make their way into the industry and gain popularity overnight. There is never a way to predict what the year will bring, but in a way, that’s the best part. While there are sure to be some great releases again in 2016, there are a few that you should look out for.

 

Frank Ocean

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Where you at Frank?

He has been MIA for a while now and many of us are waiting patiently for his return. “Channel Orange” was his latest album which was released all the way back in 2012. A lot of us were hoping to see something by last summer, but our high hopes saw no results. This year is going to be his year, and we expect to see great things.

 

Kanye West – Swish

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Kanye was another delayed album that we expected to see last year. This year is sure to bring another Yeezy season, not just for his shoes, but for some legendary tracks. It’s going to be hard to top a masterpiece like “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” which could have arguably been one of the top hip-hop albums of all time. Can he live up to the hype?

He’s also reviving GOOD Fridays where he releases new songs at the end of each week in anticipation for SWISH.

1/08

https://soundcloud.com/kanyewest/real-friends-no-more-parties-in-la-snipped

Chance the Rapper

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Chance already had one of the best albums of the year with his collaboration with Donny Trumpet and the Social Experiment on “Surf”. This wasn’t solely his album though; it was more of a collaboration album than anything. He’s been extremely busy this year and has already stated that he’s making his follow-up mixtape to “Acid Rap” that was released in 2013. He always collaborates with great artists that are sometimes unexpected, but he never disappoints. His left-field approach is what makes him so great in a lot of ways.

 

Drake – Views from the 6

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Rarely does Drake ever disappoint. In 2015, he had a great mixtape and released some other music that later made him a king of memes. He also “bodied” Meek Mill in a freestyle after Meek accused him of not writing his own material. Drake hasn’t given a release date for his ode to Toronto, but it’s safe to say it’s coming soon.

 

Pusha T

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Pusha T was recently deemed GOOD Music’s president and at the end of 2015, he released one of the hardest albums of the year. This album was just the first part of a full album that is to be released later in 2016. Pusha remains to be one of the best rappers in the game right now, and is sure to showcase more of it with his upcoming album.

Artists to Watch

Isaiah Rashad

Isaiah is one of the youngest artists signed with TDE. He might not be a big name artist yet, but he’s on a come up and is supposed to release another project to follow up his “Cilvia Demo” from 2014. TDE is no place for scrubs, so it’s likely that this album is going to hit.

As a whole, we should be seeing some other releases from TDE with artists including Schoolboy Q and SZA potentially.

Nelly is his newest release

 

Mick Jenkins

 Mick Jenkins, another Chicago native, has been popping up more and more now. He dropped an album in 2014, another in 2015, and just released a couple new songs a couple days ago so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a new project coming up soon.

 

Allan Kingdom

Allan caught a taste of mainstream recognition when he was featured on Kanye’s single “All Day”. He’s still pretty underground but he has a unique vocal approach and style to his music that I think people will catch on to.

 

Anderson Paak

Anderson is a drummer boy turned singer, with his early career starting in the church choir. He gains a lot of influence from soulful and R&B music, but he’s also incorporates rhythmic lyrics which in some ways makes people think of him as a rapper. There is no genre he specifically falls under, he’s just kind of doing what he wants.

 

Majid Jordan

One of the newest additions to the OVO crew is Majid Jordan, a producing and performing duo from Canada. We have yet to receive an official album, but have gotten blessed with some songs here and there. With an album in the works, we’re waiting to see what they come up with.

Mid-Day Cruise: 2015 Top 10 Albums

2015 has been an amazing year for music across all genres. Whether you’re into rock, pop, R&B, or hip-hop, there had to be an album that met or exceeded your expectations. With the slew of great music this year, it was extremely difficult to choose albums that I wanted to put in my top 10 list. There have been a few albums that I left out only because I made this list based on albums that I found myself listening to more so than the other releases this year.

10. The Weeknd – “Beaty Behind the Madness”

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Beauty Behind the Madness marks the Weeknd’s entrance into mainstream stardom with singles like “Can’t Feel my Face”, “The Hills”, and “Often”. When he released “Can’t Feel my Face”, he was delivering a new Weeknd ‘pop’ sound that gave a Michael Jackson feel, but still a sound that many of his fans weren’t used to hearing. This song, as well as many others off of the album, quickly topped the charts. Although this was mostly a solo album like many other Weeknd albums, he brought in other great artists such as Ed Sheeran, Lana Del Rey, and Labrinth. This album proved that the Weeknd has come a long way from his first album, “House of Balloons”, and is going to continue to be a major player in the game.

 

9. Goldlink – “After That We Didn’t Talk”

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This is Goldlink’s debut album, and although not a lot of people know who Goldlink is, it was an album that I was able to listen to again and again. He’s not your average hip-hip artist, as he rhymes over up-tempo house music with hip-hop influence, as he calls it “future bounce”. He’s been on tour with artists such as Mac Miller, SBTRKT, and Kaytranada. When legendary music visionary Rick Rubin heard Goldlink was working on this album, he decided to help guide him through the release of his first album in an attempt to mentor him. This isn’t a radio album, and Goldlink didn’t have any hit singles, but all in all, I liked the vibe on this album as a whole and am eager to see what else Goldlink comes up with in the future.

 

8. Jamie xx – “In Colour”

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Jamie Smith, aka. Jamie xx released “In Colour” earlier this year. This album consists of a lot of catchy and up-tempo house music. There are a lot of DJ’s out there and a lot of house music to choose from. What sets Jamie xx apart from the rest is his unique use of vocal samples from the past decades, the choppiness within songs that change the mood and direction, and interesting instrumentals. Unlike a lot of other DJ’s, not all of his music sounds the same. This album didn’t have too many features, but had Yung Thug on his track “I Know There’s Gonna be (Good Times)”, which was a risky move, but a great choice. Jamie is not a hip-hop producer and even with this rap feature, this was not a rap-sounding song. He seems to have a vision for his sound, and doesn’t let anything get in the way of it. It’s worth a listen if you haven’t heard it already.

 

7. Vince Staples – “Summertime ’06”

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If your favorite rapper had a favorite rapper, it’d probably be Vince Staples. This Long Beach, California native has a good sense of humor and knows his sports, which he expresses immensely on his Twitter page and various interviews. You could ask him his opinion on any subject, and he will give you his very blunt and straightforward opinion. Vince gives his listeners a look at the world through his own eyes. This debut album talks about Long Beach’s gang violence, police brutality, and drug presence. Vince has a lot to say, which is probably why “Summertime ‘06” was a 2-part album that consisted a total of 20 songs. With Vince’s powerful use of words and untouchable flow, I would easily consider him one of my top rappers. Because of Vince’s lack of sugar-coating anything, he’s also an artist that may not be for everybody.

 

6. Earl Sweatshirt – “I Don’t Like Sh*t, I Don’t Go Outside”

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I actually discovered Vince Staples through an interview with Earl Sweatshirt, as he claimed that Vince was the best rapper out there (in his opinion). Vince has been featured in a few of Earl’s songs including “Hive” off of Earl’s first album, “Doris”. Earl has been known for being somewhat of a dark and murky artist, and this album stays pretty consistent with that description. This album is a snapshot of Earl’s state of mind after a serious breakup in his life. Through his seclusion and depression, he made “I don’t Like Sh*t, I Don’t Go Outside”. The production on the album was done entirely by Earl, and all of the features were done in house and by close friends. What puts Earl at the top is his intricacy and poetic delivery. As dark as this album is, if you can understand where he’s coming from and actually listen to what he’s saying, it’s hard not to appreciate his skill.

 

5. Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment – “Surf”

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Chance the Rapper, Donnie Trumpet, and the Social Experiment come together to make the music they love. They are all friends from Chicago that play the music that they enjoy playing without trying to copy anyone else’s sound or conform to what’s popular in the industry. The best way that I can describe the overall sound of this album is that it reminds me of the background music to a Broadway play or musical. It’s heavy in brass and raw instrumentals but also carries the weight of some huge features such as J. Cole, Busta Rhymes, Eryka Badu, Big Sean, Janelle Monae, and a ton of others. If you love music and want to listen to some upbeat music that’s easy on the ears, I would definitely recommend this album.

 

4. Tame Impala – “Currents”

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I admit that before this album, I had no idea who Tame Impala was, but after listening to this album, I was immediately a fan. Kevin Parker delivers his version of psychedelic pop with a heavy use of synths. “The Less I Know the Better”, one of my favorite songs off of the album offers a disco vibe, which is cool since it’s not a sound that a lot of people have. The album itself is an array of different sounds and moods, making it fun to listen to.

 

3. A$AP Rocky – “At.Long.Last.A$AP.”

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This is probably some of his best work to date. A$AP started off as a Tumblr rapper and has come a long way since. He is very open and proud of the lifestyle that he lives whether it be expressed through his good fashion sense, or his drug use. He’s very open and doesn’t really care what people think. He’s become a major artist in the hip-hop world with his consistency of dropping good music to suit various moods for a variety of listeners. He recently went on tour with Tyler, the Creator, which has shown his evolution in his performance and style. Hopefully his next projects continue to progress.

 

2. Drake – “If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late”

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Drake has stated that this project was a mixtape and not an actual album release, but the general public continues to think otherwise. Drake insists that his fourth album is still on its’ way. Either way, he continues to kill the rap game with songs that you can’t help but sing along to. I personally wouldn’t consider this project an album simply because there is no real theme and each song seems to have its’ own purpose. Theme or not, this album has received a bunch of positive reviews and reached number 1 on the Billboard 200 list, selling over 495,000 copies in the first 3 days.

 

1. Kendrick Lamar – “To Pimp a Butterfly”

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“To Pimp a Butterfly” is an album that’s going to force you to think. Kendrick doesn’t rap over beats; he raps over carefully constructed instrumentals whether they be sampled from old jazz songs or curated right in the studio. On top of these instrumentals, he delivers his message that inspires civil rights, or expresses the struggles of fame and depression. Kendrick draws a lot of his inspiration from 2Pac and the album itself is actually addressing 2Pac directly as all of these stories seem to be told to 2Pac himself. Kendrick is critical to hip-hop as not only having respectable and powerful music, but also having such a diverse use of musical choice that helps the listener live through and experience each song as he addresses a lot of relevant issues in America and the world as a whole. This is a legendary album.

That concludes this post from Mid-day cruise and maybe the last on for the year. Thank you for reading, and if you want to stay updated on more posts from me, like my page on.

Mid-day Cruise: Study Playlist

I hope you guys had an awesome thanksgiving. It’s good to take a break from school and go back home to visit family and friends. Our first day back to class is in the books and now it’s time to get back on the grind. These next couple of weeks are going to be crazy, especially with finals coming up.

If you’re not studying already, you probably should be. I know for me, it’s impossible to sit down and study with so many distractions. I’ll spend 10 minutes studying, 20 minutes on YouTube, and 20 minutes on my phone; just to start the process again.

To help you guys stay focused, I put together a playlist to help “the struggle” feel less real. I’m giving you guys gold, so if you’ve liked any of my other blogs, I’m sure you’ll like this list.

Good grades for days.

Hope you dig it.

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Chance the Rapper: Stays Winning and Continues to Inspire

Chance the Rapper’s “Family Matters Tour” is coming to a close after a stream of 30 shows (so far) with sellout crowds reaching over 3,000 people. These crowds are not only including your every day fans, but fans ranging from Jay Z and Beyoncé, to Usher. Chance has gained a following of big name artists as he continues to shake up the hip hop industry.  With only a few shows left, the tour has proved its’ success.

Other than being a successful rapper, Chance has done a lot for Chicago, his native city. As Chance’s influence in the industry and social media continues to grow, he has committed to using it for the good of his home town. As Chicago has become infamous for the violence between those that live there, Chance has been doing his best in order to curb this violence and keep Chicago’s youth out of trouble.

 

What has Chance the Rapper done?

Open Mike was an opportunity for kids to get inspired and showcase their talent. As long as you are in high school, have a valid ID, and have something to say, you’d be welcomed to come. Chance hosted and founded Open Mike in collaboration with the Harold Washington Library Center.

He helped initiate a free music festival this past June that was oriented primarily for teens, which brought a crowd of over 3,300. Not very many  big name rappers offer free shows. The only one that I can think of off the top of my head is J. Cole, but he charged a dollar for his “Dollar and a Dream” shows.

This past summer, in order to provide a more educational opportunity for kids, Chance offered his time to be a tour guide for the Chicago Park District day campers at the Field Museum, the Shedd Aquarium, and the Aldler Planetarium.

A few weeks ago, he was featured on a segment with Stephen Colbert to debut his song “Angels”, along with Saba, another Chicago rapper.

It’s also been announced that he will be preforming on Saturday Night Live next month on December 12th.

All of these accomplishments were from this year alone and because of this, at the age of 22, Chance has been named “Chicagoan of the Year”, a title well-deserved.

This is a huge accomplishment, and not one that too many names in hip-hop can say that they’ve accomplished. Chance isn’t signed to any record labels, and has been able to get to where he’s at with the help of family and a team of close friends that have worked hard to make their dream of making the music they love a reality.

As busy as Chance is with touring, he is still able to make music. A few days ago, he actually released a song with his brother, Taylor Bennett, called “Broad Shoulders”. Being brothers, this is actually the first song that they’ve done together. It’s a good song with great vibes. Check it out:

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Sango’s “Da Rocinha 3”: Where Brazilian Funk and Contemporary Hip-Hop Collide

Image via Soulection
Image via Soulection

Before this week, I didn’t even know who Sango was, but after his release of “Da Rocinha 3”, I realized this is a guy that shouldn’t be overlooked. This EP was dropped November 10th, and although I’m not huge into DJ’s or the electronic world, this guy is a new breed and I was hooked from the start. At 22, Sango brings his own flare to the world of DJ-ing. “Da Rocinha 3” is part of a 3 EP series that was introduced in 2012. This EP brings influences from classic Brazilian funk with the incorporation of raw percussion such as the congas, and combines it with hip-hop, molding a very unique sound that one might think would clash, but it doesn’t. Rocinha itself is a slum in Rio de Janeiro, giving it a negative connotation to some. “Da Rocinha 3 is about keeping the funk carioca roots true and paying homage to the ones that helped start it. I want to respect and show Rocinha in a positive light while staying true to my sound”, says Sango on his Facebook page when he debuted the release on Monday.

If you dig deeper into his arsenal of music, you’ll find that a lot of the lyrics and features are in a different language. Anything that I’ve heard sounded like it was Portuguese, but language barrier aside, it’s still some great ear candy.

I wanted to share a couple of songs that I liked from this newest release. If any of you like what you hear, you should check him out because he’s coming to Chicago later this month.

Agorinha is actually the first song I heard by him.

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Mid-day Cruise: The Beginning

Hi everybody, my name is Mickey, and starting today, I will be writing a weekly blog for UIC radio.

The purpose of my blog, “Mid-day Cruise”, is to inform you guys on music that I feel is relevant in the industry and thought was worth sharing. I’m influenced primarily by hip-hop but will post about other genres, topics in pop-culture/music news, and maybe throw some Yeezy in every once in a while. I’m constantly coming across new music, so I might share something that’s not necessarily new, but new to me.

Shout out to those who turn up in their car to their favorite songs not caring who’s watching you at the stop light. Even though I live in the city, I still drive a lot and riding in the car or hanging out with friends are the times when I find myself discovering the best music or getting reminded of the throwbacks that I haven’t heard in forever. Midnight Cruise is meant to introduce you to the summer jams, the party bangers, the late night “I don’t want to go to bed yet”, the throwbacks, and the thinking about your ex type of music. I’m literally all over the place.

Enough of the intro; now it’s time to actually get into the blog. Even though October is over, I wanted to kick off this blog with a few awesome album drops for the month, along with some of my favorite songs off of them.

Kyle – Smyle

Kyle is one of my favorite new artists. He has a vibrant way of presenting himself and his music to his listeners. “Life isn’t as bad as it may sometime seem”, as he stated in an interview with hiphopdx. Smyle brings freshness and positivity, while displaying a message that encourages people to do things that make them happy. Kyle is very not a traditional hip-hop artist and encourages people to smile through negativity.

This is his second album after his first album release, “Beautiful Loser”, in 2013. Check out a couple of my favorites off of the album.

“Remember Me” features Chicago native, Chance the Rapper. This isn’t the first song that they’ve done together, but it’s a great collab.

Raury – All We Need

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Another great album from the month is an up and coming Atlanta artist named Raury. It’s really hard to classify him as being an artist of any genre. He’s invented his own style by incorporating hip-hop and folk (hippie rap). It’s a weird mix, but it seems like the best way for me to describe it. He’s a young creative that is still trying to find his genius.

Just like Kanye’s rendition of “listen to the kids bro”, Raury speaks on youth empowerment and allowing the youth to express themselves through their music and other media. The youth has a lot to say and there is a lot of talent in the industry and he wants to pave the way for new artists to make the music they want to make. A lot of artists make music they think people want to hear instead of making the music they truly believe in. They focus on the money more than the purpose.

If you haven’t heard his album yet, I highly encourage you to check it out. It’s different, but still dope.

Trap Tears – Raury

Forbidden Knowledge – Raury ft. Big Krit

Thank you guys for reading as this wraps up my first blog. I’ll be back next week to drop some more knowledge. Like my page if you want to stay updated on future posts.