February 21, 2018

Kendrick Lamar - DAMN. (April 14, 2017)

On November 28, 2017, Kendrick Duckworth woke up to seven Grammy nominations, which isn’t a bad way to meet the day, even if the Grammys are horseshit. Especially when producer 9th Wonder is a part of the nominating committee, and his artist Rapsody, who I don’t have any issues with, somehow ends up with two nominations herself, even though she received zero radio airplay and no buzz on the Interweb for her album, but A Tribe Called Quest gets absolutely nothing for their farewell album, released during the eligibility period, even though they were asked to perform at the ceremony the year prior. I’m getting off track: I’ll start over again. But talk among yourselves regarding the Rapsody stuff.

February 20, 2018

The Brothers Thornton: Pusha T - King Push - Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude (December 18, 2015) + My Gut Reaction: No Malice - Let The Dead Bury The Dead (August 18, 2017)

Terrence “Pusha T” Thornton has been threatening to release an album entitled King Push ever since his debut solo full-length, My Name Is My Name, hit store and digital shelves in 2013. The first song on My Name Is My Name is even called “King Push”. Clearly this is a title he’s been in love with for a long time. But it seems that title may not like him back, since I’m writing these words five years later and there still hasn’t been any movement on the Pusha front. One would think that being named president of G.O.O.D. Music would give him the confidence he needs to push his own project to the forefront, but allegedly King Push is supposed to be produced in its entirety by label founder Kanye West, and between the two of them, every song on King Push has been scrapped in favor of something “better”, so I wouldn’t expect something from the man anytime soon.

Which is just as well: Pusha T has a bunch of EDM and dubstep club joints to guest-rap on.

February 19, 2018

Timbaland & Magoo - Under Construction Part II (November 18, 2003)

Especially observant readers will recall that Missy Elliott released an album entitled Under Construction in 2002. This is because I wrote about it just yesterday, you dorks. One year later, a sequel was released, conveniently entitled Under Construction Part II: this will be the subject of today’s post. This continuation is notable for its creative direction, one which just wouldn’t fly with any major studio: Under Construction Part II reduces the protagonist’s role to that of a mere cameo, while the focus shifts to two different characters, one of whom was in the background of nearly every scene in Under Construction, while the other is a brand new entrant to the series, and the narrative chooses to follow this pair instead.

Which means Under Construction Part II should be considered more of a spinoff, not a direct sequel. But Timbaland likes to court possible lawsuits from consumer advocacy groups for false advertising: given how loosey-goosey he is with clearing his samples, it’s not like he doesn’t have several lawyers on retainer.

February 18, 2018

Missy Elliott - Under Construction (November 12, 2002)

It’s been three fucking years since Missy “I Dropped the ‘Misdemeanor’ As It Wasn’t On-Brand Anymore” Elliott made her surprise appearance during Katy Perry’s halftime show at Super Bowl XLIX. At the time, you two likely saw one of two types of responses to her performance: “Holy shit, we need a new Missy Elliott album ASAP” (which was my reaction), or “Who is this?” (the more popular take, sadly). One thing you didn’t see is anyone claiming that she sucked: everyone likes at least three Missy Elliott songs, even if you’re too young to know who Missy Elliott is.

Sadly, the waves of press her cameo initiated didn’t translate into a new album, although it wasn't because of a lack of trying: Melissa dropped a handful of singles and cameo appearances. So we sit here, three years later, wondering just what went wrong. But we already know the answer: the musical landscape is far different today than it was back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, back when Missy and her partner-in-crime, producer Timbaland, changed the way radio sounded multiple times during the height of their respective careers. Regardless of how you personally feel about Missy and Timbaland as artists, you have to admit that is quite the feat: you can’t do what Missy and Timbo did multiple times and still have it be considered accidental.

February 17, 2018

My Gut Reaction: Earl Sweatshirt - I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside: An Album by Earl Sweatshirt (March 23, 2015)

So did Thebe “Earl Sweatshirt” Kgositsile bail from Tyler, the Creator’s Odd Future movement or what? At the time of the release of the guy’s second full-length album, I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside: An Album by Earl Sweatshirt, it sure seemed that way: upon its surprise announcement in March of 2015, many fans noted a significant lack of involvement from most of Earl’s Odd Future crew, a collective of rappers, producers, and singer-slash-rapper Frank Ocean from California that banded together in the face of the music industry and caused them to blink first. There’s never been a real answer given, but I don’t think it should matter: if we’re going to run with the “Odd Future is the new Wu-Tang Clan” comparison that everyone insists on using, that would make Tyler the leader, the RZA of the situation, and at this point in the careers of his charges, he was a lot more hands-off, so it makes sense that Earl Sweatshirt would venture out on his own without the safety net.

February 16, 2018

De La Soul - Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump (August 8, 2000)

Four years after the release of their fourth full-length album, Stakes Is High, the rap trio De La Soul, made up of Posdnuos, Dave, and Maseo, announced an ambitious follow-up project to be distributed by their label, Tommy Boy Records. It was to be a trilogy entitled Art Official Intelligence, and all three discs were to be released separately, but within the span of a year. Both De La and Tommy Boy were all-in on the concept: the group talked it up in the press, while the label even made plans to distribute a box-set version of the first entry in the series, Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump, with two additional, empty slots for fans to collect every disc into.

I’m writing this intro in 2018, and to date, part three still hasn’t seen a release of any sort, De La Soul is no longer signed to Tommy Boy Records, and Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump is generally considered to be a low point in the group’s career. This doesn’t mean it’ll never happen, of course, but it’s been eighteen goddamn years: at this point I fully expect for Pos, Dave, and Maseo to turn in the finale to whatever label they’re currently signed to, stare into the heavens with smiles on their faces, and quietly pass away, their souls finally freed from serving their sentence on Earth.

February 15, 2018

A Tribe Called Quest - We Got It From Here... Thank You 4 Your Service (November 11, 2016)

On November 13, 2015, A Tribe Called Quest performed on television for the first time in many years. Although the crew had gotten together for a handful of stage shows to help support Kanye West's Yeezus tour a couple of years prior, their appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon wasn't considered to be anything resembling a reunion, as producer-slash-rapper Q-Tip was busy with his solo career, as was rapper Phife Dawg, producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and rapper-slash-chef Jarobi White.

Tribe’s performance aired the same evening as the attacks in Paris, France, where three suicide bombings killed one hundred and thirty people and injured over four hundred more. Taking this as a sign that the future isn’t promised for anyone, A Tribe Called Quest quietly reunited for real, and even decided to record an album in secret.

Unfortunately, Phife Dawg passed away from complications due to diabetes four months later.