Thagreymatter is your platform for new music, content and MORE. We are kicking off a new installment of playlists including songs and artists from all over. The first playlist is entitled MARCH MATTERS. Each month we will release a new playlist including ten songs we think you should be listening to. Music won’t be limited to just one genre and will come from artists from anywhere in the US. Take a listen and vibe..
When we think of the hip-hop kings of today we tend to list out obvious contenders such as Drake, J. Cole, and Kendrick Lamar. Some may even argue that Big Sean or Chance the Rapper may qualify but personally I’d like to throw Logic into the mix. I’ve followed the rapper since his Young Sinatra: Welcome to Forever mixtape and I recall being impressed with his flow and wordplay. But honestly speaking, I never thought I’d have such an interest in his music as I do now. And with his third commercial effort, Everybody, my interest has peaked to its highest level. However, I wonder is he deserving of a slot in hip-hop kingdom? What if Everybody is a work of majestic brilliance and nobody listens to it?
The album opens with “Hallelujah” as Toro Y Moi’s vocals glide along a string-piano combo with hints of an electric piano that will lift you into a heavenly aura. Logic fittingly approaches the record with saying, “Open your mind”, as he prepares the audience for a journey of spiritual confrontation, a search for racial identity, and social ignorance. These are themes that can be viewed as redundant in hip-hop but his unique approach keeps the ears alert and focused. “Everybody” follows with Logic building a parallel of his bi-racial struggles to the common man. Whether it is gender, sexual orientation, or race; he boils it down to the idea that as humans, we all bleed, that we all need love and that we all need something. That something is essential to the lives we all desire to live.
“Killing Spree” is the yang-like match to “Everybody”. Logic raps about how we ignore certain distinct needs. We’re so wrapped up in our phones, busy schedules, and our own issues that we forget that we need each other. These distractions or priorities tie our hands and keep us from reaching out and truly empathizing with one another. The song beautifully transitions into my favorite track “Take It Back”, where Logic dives deep into his struggles of being bi-racial as a kid which ultimately taught him to be slow to judge when it comes to people of different backgrounds. He then breaks into a very personal monologue about his absent and black father and a racist white mother who would voice her discouragement towards him. The amazing part is how he connects all of this to the first black man:
“Take it way way back to the first black man/Long ago before the white man could paint the black man with a gun in his hand”.
Then to the first white man:
“Take it way way back to the first white man/At the very moment when they looked around and said ‘f*ck it I’m a steal this land.”
In one statement he’s showing how the black man is portrayed negatively – like his father. And in the other, he’s stating how whites have stolen things from other cultures to maintain their supremacy – case in point, his mother. And even though he is the combination of both, he chooses to clean the slate. This song gets really deep, as it is well written and thought provoking.
“America” holds the album’s most memorable wuotes with, “George Bush don’t care about black people/2017 and Donald Trump is the sequel/So, shit, I say what Kanye won’t/Wake the fuck up and give the people what they want”. Logic follows his hip-hop predecessors by using Black Thought, Chuck D, and a very rare vocal cameo from NO I.D. as they verbally attack the current political climate of America. The beat is filled with urgency as the delivery of the lyrics and distorted vocals orchestrate a protest against the current presidential administration. Then the protests simmers down into what sounds like a J.Cole throw-away that perfectly adjusts for Logic’s infamous flow. He and Juicy J then trade bars mocking rappers with identity issues. I wish the song was a minute longer especially since their chemistry surprisingly worked well.
“Anziety” cradles you into a blissful daydream as Lucy Rose serenades you with her smooth angelic vocals. Then instantly, Logic explodes onto the scene, “I’m a get up in ya mind right now/Make you feel like die right now” just as strong as his anxiety attack back in 2015. The song’s warmth hug then immediate burst of heat brings us right into the night where Logic, unconsciously crashed into the ground and woke up in hospital bed feeling nothing but fear and helplessness. Logic orchestrates his most vivid piece on the album vocally, musically and lyrically. And then there is the album’s closer, which is also the album’s former title, “AfricAryaN”. The song delves into the album’s central theme of racial identity as he expresses himself being defensive on both sides of his cultures. He also vividly takes us into a different scope of his world where he’s witnessed domestic abuse, abandonment, and the need of love and affection by his parents. It rounds out a beautiful group of compositions that Logic himself should feel impressed with.
THE ROYAL NO’S
Even thought I think Logic has put together a slightly better album than Kendrick’s DAMN, it doesn’t mean he’s excluded from criticism. And if you know me, I find flaws in everything. On “Confess”, Logic takes us on a journey with a lost soul questioning God and the purpose of life as the devil lurks in search of him. It sounds like a good concept but the execution isn’t there. Maybe it’s the house music like instrumental or the odd gospel-like adlibs during his verses that doesn’t quite fit. Killer Mike then comes on and speaks from the perspective of the same character in Logic’s verses but the message in his monologue is much more profound. This turns into a developing theme throughout the album.
After the album’s intro, Atom and God (voiced by Big Von and Neil DeGrasse Tyson respectively) have a conversation where Atom appears dead and is in a waiting room with God as he overlooks the characters within Logic’s music. It’s a cool concept but the storyline lacks true meaning which you will hear as you play the album in its entirety. Then there are the next few tracks, “Mos Definitely”, “Black Spiderman”, and believe it or not “1-800-273-8255” that comes off as almost corny to me. Whether it is the chants of ‘black people’ or Damien Lemar Hudson’s, “black Spiderman”, these songs lack solid delivery. While I understand his aim to tackle issues surrounding black empowerment, racial stereotypes, and suicide, I believe he missed the mark.
Black Thought is amazing as usual and Chuck D sounds just as great as he did in ’87. But I will admit Juicy J surprised me with his performance on “Ink Blot”. The one feature that raised a lot of questions is NO I.D. and how his ending plays out.
“Now send the blacks back to Africa/Build a wall for the Mexicans/Send the whites back to Europe/Give the land to the Native American/Take the skyscraper/Tear down the casino/Print your own paper/And bear down on the gringo.”
It lacks clarity on his perspective on a multitude of issues and leaves me wondering what the goal was overall. J.Cole appears at the very end of the album and even though his two-and-a-half minute verse is well-crafted, he isn’t spitting anything refreshing. His verse summarizes the album over a low quality recording and while it is a feature from J. Cole, it wasn’t entirely useful.
Logic has the skill set to compete with any and every rapper. His different bodies of work already topple the big fishes like Drake, Big Sean, or arguably J. Cole. But the issue that remains is how difficult it is to identify what makes Logic great. Kendrick is the versatile rapper with everlasting content. Drake is a consistent hit-maker. Cole is the introspective monk and Sean is the punch line dark horse – so where does that leave Logic? When I first listened to this album I instantly thought it was his best work yet. But I went back and listened to his first project Under Pressure. And I soon realized that Logic has the a keen ability to paint pictures that no other artist dares to. Whether his brush treads slowly over the canvas paying close attention to details, or his brush moves swiftly and glosses over the strokes others aim to correct; Logic delivers masterpieces deserving a seat in hip-hop royalty.
Cash Sinatra is back with something to keep your ears buzzin as summer begins to pick up. He shys away from dropping something new and chooses to freestyle over “Oochie Wally” by Nas and the Bravehearts which was released in 2000. The freestyle picks up quickly while the he matches the energy of the beat effortlessly. I liked his flow over the beat and his subtle punch lines that he delivers to keep you entertained. Short and sweet, and better yet, dope from beginning to end. Check it out.
After only being seconds into this video, I could tell that it has the potential to be utterly powerful. Unchained executes an eye opening visual for his latest song “Hurricanes”, that will keep your mind going and replaying the images displayed long after the video has ended. During the music video you get to see the artist struggle choosing between various doors of struggle and pain and he attempts to find his way. It is very symbolic and sets the tone for the rest of the video and the lyrics of the song. I appreciated how he kept featured artist E in a separate space, allowing his vocals to break up the song and ultimately the video. Check it out and comment below.
SoULFULL Sundays are back and in full effect with some new bars and sounds for the rap heads. Franklin native released his new single, “Come On” this past Sunday as he makes his way back onto the music scene as a solo artist. He’s had a busy year with two joint projects with artist Ty Jack and Karma respectively, but he’s back to putting out music and reminding his audience that he’s still evolving. Produced by J. Dilla, its slow and steady beat matches the manner of his come back as an individual artist. Take a listen and comment below.
Chaos usually erupts when multiple artists of different backgrounds appear on one track, but Fredfades has created something memorable on his latest single from his new LP entitled Warmth. The Norway artist fuses his music alongside featured artists Moruf, MoShadee and Ivan Ave on his intro song “Cold”. The beat is what catches my attention first, reminding me of something out of the 80s. Then each artist takes a turn on the track and flows right into the next with a subtle chorus serving as a bridge between the verses. The song is uniquely catchy and pulls the audience in enough to want to hear more, which is always the goal. Check out the single and full LP!
Therapy through a beat, isn’t that what music is anyway? Ayodale has mastered the ability to create music that feels like a therapeutic release. “HE-R.”, is no different and simply put, is one of my favorites from this artist. She simply talks over the beat and pulls you in as she discusses a woman in love and all that may come with it. Instead of writing about what she says exactly, I’ll leave the words up to her. Take a listen and comment below.
Simplicity is all that Joella DeVille needs when it comes to delivering great music and more importantly great visuals. Her latest music video for “Goodbye” proves that as you see a few glimpses of her alluring appearance in different locations, while adding a soft touch to her vocals on the song. This NJ native has spent many years mastering and curating a unique sound that sets her apart from other R&B singers. You’ll catch her singing in an elevator or directly into the camera, but it’s more like she is singing directly to you. This video differs from her last video for “Bigger and Better”, as it focuses more on her as an individual. It allows for you to hone in on the song itself and keep on track with the sound of her voice. Check it out below!
Some people feel that music is declining, with an emphasis on music videos and their increasing similarities. Music videos are supposed to play as the bridge between the song and the audience as it highlights the overall meaning and provides a visual for fans to hold on to. Georges provides an intriguing visual for his latest single, “All Night Long”. The song is very sensual, as the NJ based singer uses his lyrics to talk about the things he would do to a woman of interest. He uses the video to show just enough sexual attraction between him and the leading lady and model, Ciania Lexis, without allowing it to overpower the entire video. Directed by Will Drey, you will catch Georges performing some dance moves to his own sounds, with a team of dancers behind him as the video comes to a close. Check it out below and stay tuned for more music from him!
Artistry is more than just someone’s ability to create but also how they distribute the music to their audience. Dropping an album or a project has its pros and cons of course, but Queens rapper F.L.O.W. has decided to have some fun with new music he is releasing. He kicked off his #FlowFridays series last week with the first single, “Forenzo”, produced by Jiggy Hendrix. The beat is simple enough to allow his flow to illuminate, keeping you intrigued with his sound throughout the song. It’s catchy and of course has some bars to remind you that his rap ability never wavers. You can tell with this one, he’s just warming up. Check it out below and stay tuned for his next single that drops this Friday.