Pharrell

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The ubiquity of rap singers over the past few years has changed how people see the Hip Hop genre. The era before this was one that vilified a kat for being in-tune with his emotions. Labelling it gay, soft, weirdo or butt-check music.

Andre 3000 was one of the first male rappers, who was comfortable in his own skin. His courage has influenced a generation of the rappers who can hold a note and spit some bars. Had Three Stacks not did what he did, I doubt we would have the same Chance The Rapper, GoldLink, Smino, Kyle or Aminé. All these boys are undeniably influenced by R&B, Neo Soul and have the make-up of a Hip Hop artist.

Buddy is no exception. The Los Angeles rapper released his debut album, Harlan & Alondra last month. Through the 12 tracks on the album, you get the life-story of the L. A artist. Given that he was singed under Pharrell’s company, i Am OTHER, for the longest of time I expected the album to be on point sonically. And so it was. Buddy’s singing is good on the ear and doesn’t come off as an obligatory effort. You can tell he started out as a singer, and then picked up the rapping along the way, because his singing stronger than his bars on some of the joints.

It’s songs like Speechless, which make me visualize artists in studio recording.  The track is sexy, smooth with a punch funk. Trouble On Central takes us to his neighbourhood in Compton, where he paints a picture of his troubled adolescence and hopes of moving out of the hood. While Shine is delightful blend of his raps and singing.

The flow on Shameless is a nod to the Migos. It was a genius idea to get Guapdad 4000 to spit his verse first on the song. Although he’s the featured artist, he sets the tone with his slick verse. Buddy’s verse, juxtaposed the recurring theme on Trouble On Central, highlights the progress he’s made in the last few years as an artist and a person. His EP with virtuoso producer and DJ Kaytranada, Ocean & Montana which came out a year ago, changed the trajectory of his career in a good way. It was through that EP, that I got introduced to Buddy. I don’t think he has particularly grown since the release of that project, as an artist, but Harlan & Alondra is a fuller body of work. You get more of who he is. His other work include 2015 mixtape Idle Time, and EP, Magnolia which came out last year.

Like his former boss Pharrell, Buddy has appreciation of different genres and other artists’ crafts. He’s features were very calculated and the song with Snoop Dogg, The Blue, gives Snoop liberty to be himself and add that to the song, which makes it doper. I never would’ve imaged Buddy working with A$AP Ferg, who spat one of the dopest verses on the whole album. I really hope to see the two performing this joint at one of the big award shows. The lyrics are heavy, but thankfully the beat is so sick, the shit doesn’t sound preachy.

Find Me 2 is a good song and as you might guess, there will be inevitable comparisons to Find Me which was on Ocean & Montana and the more upbeat first version has a special place in my heart. Like a teenage Bonginkosi, I’ll have to wait for the new version to grow on me, like pubic hair.

The album has definite replay value. Songs like Real Life S**t and Trippin’ give it legs to be in people’s faces and ears for a long time. It’s difficult getting an album with bad production and this album has good beats that capture the essence of the song. I’m excited for Buddy’s growth. I genuinely think more dopeness is gonna come from this kid as he grows as a lyricist and an overall artist

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Make up sex is awesome but does the same energy translate into good music?

Following Solange’s karate kid antics in the elevator in 2014, Beyoncé’s revelations on Lemonade and Jay-z’s explanations on 4:44, it would appear that the Carters have overcome whatever issues they had in their marriage. Predictably , they are not the type of people to let a good crisis resolution go to waste, thus they dropped a surprise album on June 16 in order to add a couple of zeros to their already overflowing bank accounts, cementing their position as king and queen of American urban music.

The album opens with a ballad-like slow jam titled Summer in which the Carters lyrically paint pictures of sex on the beach, or on a yacht, surrounded by crystal blue waters without a care in the world. Luxury and marital bliss is the stuff that a big girl’s dreams are made of and Beyoncé flawlessly delivers with her sensually subliminal lyrics; I want you to come inside right now…so you know just how I feel, with Jigga expressing teenage boy like excitement with his adlibs. The whole joint feels like a honeymoon anthem which is meant to convince the listener that everything is love. I thought the whole album was going to carry this mood but on the following three records in the project, the Carters make it clear that they are on another level when it comes to the cheddar cheese.  On the bouncy joint accurately named Boss, Jigger goes off on his haters, stating Niggers rather work for the man…than to work for me…just so they can pretend…they on my level…that shit is irking to me. Throughout the project the Carters make it clear that they are building a legacy for generations to come, which is a refreshing reprieve from the typical hedonistic tendencies of modern day Hip-hop.

The Pharell-produced Nice has to be my favourite joint on this project. It has a playful demeanour about it, with a funny moment in the song where Beyoncé gives Spotify the middle finger; Patiently waiting for my demise…cause my success can’t be quantified…if I gave two fucks about streaming numbers…when you pull up my name on Spotify…fuck you…fuck you…you cool…fuck you. I couldn’t stop chuckling by myself as I was walking to the shops to get some cigarettes.

Listening to the joint 713 it dawned on me that this might be the first time in Hip-hop history that we get husband and wife conversations on an entire Hip-hop influenced album. The Carters’ consistent Hip-hop references in the album feel organically refreshing, with Beyoncé pulling a young Snoop Dogg impression on 713I’m representing  for the hustlers all across the world…still dipping in my low lows girl…I put it down for the 713…and we still got love for the streets followed by a Jigger’s impression of Common I never knew a… love…love…love like this…got to be special for me to write this…queen…I don’t mean no disrespect -its disgustingly cute.

This is a strong project from the Carters, they manage to mix Hip-hop and R&B without sounding too pretentious, which was a pleasant surprise for me as someone who generally can’t tolerate sentimentality. There are no true radio bangers on this album, which is surprising considering the mainstream appeal of both artist. Perhaps the first single of the project, Apeshit might dominate the charts but I doubt it. The video drips with opulence but I think it will go over the heads of Trap-lords who are the main target of the song sonically. Niggers wanna see racks and Lambos, not the Carters mean mugging in front of the Mona Lisa because niggers don’t read. But regardless, Hovah and Queen B are gonna stay winning, best believe that.


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