Music Quickspins

Burna Boy – I Told Them…

The Nigerian singer’s latest effort is tried and true to his Afro-fusion style and the success it has brought him.

Burna Boy is a force to be reckoned with. Whether it be for a few hundred people at Montreal’s 212 nightclub or 60,000 fans at London Stadium, his hits “Last Last” and “Location” can gather every voice in the room, ringing out in unison like a celebratory chant. His latest album I Told Them… supports this reality: it is both an Afrobeats record full of charming melodies and a testament to the success he has achieved.

Lyrically, I Told Them… is exultant, backed by a sentiment of pride and fulfillment. In the opener and title track, Burna Boy reflects on the ambitions and aspirations he spoke about in the past, hopes which he has since fulfilled: “For some reason they didn’t believe it, so here we are,” he sings in the chorus of “I told them.” 

“Big 7,” another song on the album, is a description of the singer’s now lavish lifestyle. On the closing track “Thanks,” he prides himself on bringing forward Afro-fusion music and making his people proud. However, the track also reads as a backhanded compliment. Despite priding himself on his fans, he implies that they do not do good by him by criticizing him (especially in regards to controversy), asking: “Is this the [expletive] thanks I get?”

Burna Boy continues to prove himself as a master of hooks on this album. They are repetitive and memorable, thanks to his simple yet catchy flows. His vocal performances are smooth and syrupy, but he also excels at layering his own vocals and harmonizing, which gives his choruses a larger, anthemic feel.

Afro-fusion is evident on this album, with Burna Boy borrowing production elements from vintage hip-hop, 2000’s R&B, pop, traditional Afrobeats, and acoustic music. The opening and closing tracks both utilize congas and other percussion to create minimalist, soothing, rhythmic backdrops. 

“Normal” feels like a traditional Afrobeats instrumental revamped with hip-hop drums, and “Sittin’ On Top Of The World” is a vintage hip-hop beat backed by a sick groove and a Brandy sample. “City Boys” is another R&B sample flip which borrows its melody from Jeremih’s hit single “Birthday Sex.” “If I’m Lying” stands out due to its foundational guitar melody, one so soft and entrancing it brings The Weeknd’s 2011 track “Rolling Stone” to mind.

With the exception of fellow Nigerian singer Seyi Vibez, Burna Boy exclusively enlists rappers for the guest slots on the album. He reconnects with the UK rapper Dave on “Cheat on Me,” for the first time since “Location” in 2019. In this collaboration, however, Dave’s verse lacks the tight flow and lyrical substance of his own Afrobeats tracks (check out “System” featuring WizKid). 

Elsewhere, 21 Savage is a simple yet effective addition to “Sittin’ On Top Of The World,” and J. Cole’s speedy verse on “Thanks” includes clever one-liners and multisyllabic rhymes. Wu-Tang Clan members GZA and RZA also appear in some lyrical segments.

Overall, I Told Them… is further proof of Burna Boy’s merit. Between his fusion of genres, he can create hits from existing ones (as seen in “City Boys”) and seamlessly bridge Afrobeats and hip-hop together via production and guest appearances. The inclusion of “Talibans II” as a bonus track makes perfect sense: by adding his signature melodiousness to an already hypnotic track “Talibans” by Byron Messia, he gave the latter his first Hot 100 hit— which further proves Burna Boy as an Afrobeats heavyweight.

Trial Track: Normal

Score: 7/10


It’s ME, It’s WE, it’s TEMPEST

Rookie K-Pop group TEMPEST discusses their debut

A storm’s brewing at Yuehua Entertainment and K-Pop septet TEMPEST is here with “Bad News.”

TEMPEST debuted just a month ago with their first EP It’s ME, It’s WE, but they’re an experienced group of rookies. Leader LEW (21) and vocalist Hyeongseop (22) were contestants on season 2 of Produce 101 and later debuted as a duo in 2017 while independently making appearances on variety shows and as actors.  Hanbin (24) was the leader and founder of a viral dance team in his native Vietnam before becoming a contestant on I-LAND. Hwarang (20) was a contestant on Under Nineteen and a backup dancer for KARD. Main vocalist Hyuk (21), vocalist Eunchan (21) Taerae (19) complete the group. 

TEMPEST follows popular Yuehua Entertainment acts like UNIQ, WJSN, EVERGLOW, WOODZ, and YENA (Iz*One) with their dynamic title track “Bad News.” Co-written by LEW and Hwarang, this anthem is a perfect introduction to the members’ unique talents and charisma. LEW’s confidence, Hanbin’s sunny disposition and distinct voice , Hyeongseop’s passion, Hyuk’s golden vocals, Eunchan doe-eyed elegance, Hwarang’s charisma, and Taerae’s deep vocals all make for an impressive debut song. 

Through the magic of email, The Concordian interviewed the members of TEMPEST to talk about their debut. 

THE CONCORDIAN: Describe your feelings about debuting in one word.

HANBIN: Amazing.

HYEONGSEOP: Second chapter of my life.

HYUK: Bliss.

LEW: True beginning.


EUNCHAN: Growth.

TAERAE: Emotional.


TC: Who or what inspires you?

HYUK: Recently, we’ve been watching a lot of the senior artists perform whenever we’re on standby on music programs. I’ve been learning a lot and getting inspired by just watching their performances.


TC: LEW, how did you become the leader?

LEW: I naturally became the leader. I gained my know-how through my long trainee days which made me often lead the practice sessions. Also, the members were cooperative and treated me as a leader and I was able to learn and grow through the process.


TC: How did you build teamwork?

LEW: I think teamwork builds up naturally while spending time together. I think we create our own solidarity through active communication in the process.


TC: Hyeongseop and LEW, what did you learn from Hyeongseop x Euiwoong? Will the duo ever make a comeback?

HYEONGSEOP: We are currently focused on TEMPEST’s promotions for the time being, but it would be great to make a comeback as a duo should the opportunity arise. And no matter what form, we are still TEMPEST. During the promotion, I was able to learn my strengths, stage presence, and a lot more.

LEW: If given the opportunity, I think it would be possible as a unit group within TEMPEST. I think the promotion would be a gift for the fans who liked Hyeongseop x Euiwoong.


TC: Hanbin, how has it been adjusting to living in Korea and learning the language?

HANBIN: When I first came to Korea, it was difficult for me as it was my first time with everything. But now, I’m fully adapted to everything. The experience became easier, especially after joining this group. Thanks to my members, who are always by my side and thoughtful, I’m having way more fun with everything.


TC: Pre-debut you uploaded a few covers on YouTube, what song or artist would you like to cover next?

HWARANG: Before our debut, “Horangi” (Korean for tiger) was one of the choices for my stage name. In that sense, I would like to cover SuperM’s song “Tiger Inside”


TC: A lot of you participated in survival shows pre-debut, what was the biggest lesson from your experiences?

HANBIN: I think being on an idol survival-reality show is a valuable experience that trainees cannot easily experience. Through the experience, I learned to understand myself better and realize what I am capable of. As a result, I gained more confidence.

HYEONGSEOP: Enjoying is the best thing to do. It is best to enjoy it as you please since you started it because you liked it.

LEW: Opportunity comes to those who are ready and I should be grateful and humble every moment.

HWARANG: The memories and emotions that I felt on my first stage were just the beginning.


TC: How were the preparations for your debut, what was the biggest challenge?

EUNCHAN: Before our debut, I had a challenging time because I didn’t have faith in myself. But thanks to the support and advice from the people at our company and our members, I gradually gained faith in myself. I think I have improved a lot now and I’ll continue to believe in myself and work hard.


TC: LEW and Hwarang, what’s your songwriting process like?

LEW: We spent a lot of our time and effort participating in writing the lyrics. We prepared five to six verses each time and spent hours writing the lyrics when other members went home. I’m thrilled to see that our efforts have paid off.

HWARANG: While writing the lyrics, I think I drew a mental picture from the emotions and feelings I got from the song. I would make the basic sketches of the song in my head and then continue to develop the picture by filling it with colours through my lyrics.


TC: Are the other members interested in songwriting, composing, or production?

HYUK: As the main vocalist, I help out with the details and vocalization when we practice the songs for our album. So, I would love to try composing or producing in the future.

HYEONGSEOP: I have a keen interest in writing lyrics and I’m quite emotional. So, people around me encourage me to write lyrics. I also read in my spare time to build the foundation for writing lyrics.


TC: What concept would you like to try in the future?

HYUK: I want to try various concepts that are new and fresh. For example, something like a vampire concept or a cyberpunk concept would be interesting.


TC: What’s your favourite song on the mini-album and why?

EUNCHAN: “Find Me.” I like it because I think it is a B-side track that shows TEMPEST’s powerful energy.

TAERAE: “Just a Little Bit.” I chose this song because I like songs with warm feelings.

HANBIN: “Bad At Love.” I have liked this song ever since I heard the demo version. It has a very cute and catchy melody. We had a good time practicing this song, and the lyrics and choreography are very cute as well.


TC: What are your goals for the rest of the year either as a group or personally?


Courtesy of Yuehua Entertainment


Music Quickspins

QUICKSPINS: 03 Greedo and Kenny Beats – Netflix & Deal

03 Greedo and Kenny Beats come together for a sticky collaborative album

Despite being in prison on gun and drug charges, 03 Greedo has found a way to release new music. Recorded with the ever-popular Kenny Beats before his indictment, Netflix & Deal shows exactly why Greedo was so highly touted in the West.

The Los Angeles rapper’s voice sounds nothing like his peers. It doesn’t scream radio airplay or crossover friendly, but the confidence mixed with the auto-tune makes Greedo stand out on Kenny’s production.

“Paid In Full” is just one example of the fiery chemistry the rapper and producer have on the album; Greedo sounds at home. This is especially true on “Brad Pitt” where the entire song references the actor and his various roles. It certainly makes for some of the most creative lyrical content this year.

Freddie Gibbs, Vince Staples, Maxo Kream, KEY!, OhGeesy (of Shoreline Mafia), and Buddy all make appearances in the album, and while some are more memorable than others, they don’t particularly distract from the obvious highlight that is Greedo himself.

Netflix & Deal’s brevity also plays a huge factor in how accessible and replayable it is. Towards the end, the album starts to sound redundant as it begins to sound redundant, but the relatively short runtime makes the entire thing palatable.

The chemistry Greedo displays with Kenny and the myriad of features on the album only proves how much of a travesty his imprisonment is. Free Greedo.



Trial Track: “Blue People”

Star Bar: 

“The curious case of Benjamin Button

My money get newer each time I get older

I got a chip on my shoulder

Ocean’s Eleven, MAC-11 make you play with your life

By the scene, let you die”

-Greedo on “Brad Pitt”

Music Quickspins

QUICKSPINS: Leonard Cohen – Thanks for the Dance

Three years after Cohen’s passing, his son Adam salvages the remains of the You Want it Darker sessions and delivers a worthwhile addition to the Cohen canon

Three years ago, 19 days prior to his passing, Leonard Cohen said goodbye to the world on what would be his final album, You Want It Darker. He was battling cancer when recording the LP and knew his time was limited. The album served as a dark, haunting and beautiful farewell from the prolific Montreal poet.

On Thanks for the Dance, Cohen’s son Adam has lovingly assembled the remains of the Darker sessions and crafted a worthwhile follow-up to his father’s final album. It might not be as focused or cohesive as its predecessor, but every song on this album feels complete and fully fleshed out. It’s clear that this isn’t some greedy estate or label looking to capitalize on Cohen’s passing – this is a son lovingly assembling the remnants of his father’s work to create one last album.

There are many standout moments on this album. Songs like “It’s Torn” and “The Goal” are Cohen’s gorgeous, ominous reflections on mortality. “The Night of Santiago” strongly displays his penchant for poetic storytelling, over lush, layered instrumentation. It’s moments like these that make this album feel like such a gift.

Thanks for the Dance is an excellently assembled posthumous release. You can sense the love and care that Adam put into gathering and completing his father’s final recordings for this project. While it lacks in some areas compared to Cohen’s previous release, it still houses some phenomenal moments and is a wonderful and worthwhile addition to the Cohen canon.


Trial Track: “The Night of Santiago”

Star Bar:
“Come gather the pieces
All scattered and lost
The lie in what’s holy
The light in what’s not”
(Cohen on “It’s Torn”)

Music Quickspins

QUICKSPINS: The Game – Born 2 Rap

Compton rapper The Game returns with a star-studded collaboration

Compton rapper The Game hasn’t released a project in three years, but his new album is 25 songs long – enough content to satisfy his core fanbase after his absence.

Born 2 Rap is a perfect blend of the classic west-coast hip hop sound with a more laid back, jazz-influenced twist. The Game’s consistently well thought-out bars are an ideal addition to the diverse collection of truly musical production throughout the album.

A wide array of interesting features are also present throughout the project. The guest list includes Ed Sheeran, Miguel, 21 Savage, Travis Barker, Masego, Anderson .Paak, and D Smoke (winner of Rhythm & Flow Season 1), among many others. While The Game’s flow can get a little repetitive at times, the long list of collaborators helps to constantly evolve the album’s sound.

Overall, this is a great return to the game by the Compton MC. Let’s see if he’ll have more content for us soon, or if this is his latest message to the public before another lengthy hibernation in the Cali sun.


Trial Track: “One Life” ft. J. Stone and Masego

Star Bar:
“Guess who back in the buildin’, stackin’ them millions
Y’all wanted me to rap, I’m bringin’ back that feelin’
Bridge the gap between mumble rappers and killers
Bridge the gap between smokers and lean sippers”
(Game on “No Smoke” ft. Miguel & Travis Barker)


QUICKSPINS: Tory Lanez – Chixtape 5

With the fifth installment in his Chixtape series, Tory Lanez has refined his formula, and expounded upon it, bringing in a stacked list of features

Over the course of the decade, Tory Lanez has been carefully crafting a fan-favourite collection of R&B mixtapes with the Chixtape series. Sampling some of the genre’s biggest hits from the late 90s and early 2000s, Lanez has created a sound that seamlessly blends the new and the old. With the fifth installment, Lanez takes the formula that he’s familiarized fans with, and expounds on it.

On Chixtape 5, Lanez and producer Play Picasso have put a tremendous amount of care into updating these classics to fit contemporary R&B conventions, while maintaining what makes them classics. The instrumentals range from slightly enhanced versions of the originals to completely new songs based around the samples. This is the first installment to include the original artists on a majority of these tracks, and it helps to take the series to the next level.

For the most part, these featured artists enhance the songs they’re on, but they don’t all connect as they should. For example, Ludacris’ verse on “The Fargo Splash” is extremely underwhelming, and while it’s not enough to ruin the song, it could’ve been left off.

Overall, Lanez has delivered a nice ode to the classic R&B sound of the early 2000s. The production is consistently fantastic throughout, and while Lanez himself isn’t saying much of substance, his melodies and energetic presence make up for it. Chixtape 5 might not reinvent the wheel, but it builds on the foundation laid by its predecessors, taking the series to new heights.


Trial Track: “Jerry Sprunger”

Star Bar:

“I know dropout Rovers, pop out sofas

Was with me when I wasn’t eatin’, we would pop out Stouffer’s

You see, that’s why I’m still f***in’ with you

Head down, ten toes, still thuggin’ with you” (Lanez on “A Fool’s Tale (Running Back)”)

Music Quickspins

QUICKSPINS: Tinashe – Songs For You

Songs for You is Tinashe’s strongest work in three years

Following a lengthy period of silence and frustration from Tinashe, she divorced her label, RCA Records, after her last album, Joyride, received mixed reactions and poor album sales. The project wasn’t a failure, but it was definitely a step down from her Nightride mixtape that showed her talent in making alternative R&B.

Now with no leashes or boundaries, Tinashe has released Songs for You, her best work in three years. She seems at home, bouncing from sultry R&B, to club bangers, and even genre-bending tracks such as “Die a Little Bit.”

The production, stemming from heavyweights like Hitmaka and Hit-Boy, is gleaming with personality, especially on the highlight “Hopscotch,” Tinashe’s most club-ready hit with an infectious hook and stylish flows spread across the track.

The hooks are also where Tinashe shines the most. “Story of Us,” “Die a Little Bit,” and “Feelings” all have sharply written hooks that are sure to be remembered and sung by fans at all of her future performances.

The collaborations also offer a nice touch, as Ms Banks, 6lack, and G-Eazy all offer something unique to their respective tracks. The few features are smart as it allows Tinashe to show off how much more versatile she has become in the past few years.

Songs for You is a strong return to form for Tinashe that might help her regain some traction in the mainstream. It’s a carefully-crafted album that ranks among 2019’s most consistent R&B releases.


Trial Track: “Hopscotch”

Star Bar:

”Wish you would say somethin’ to make me change my mind

Got me feelin’ like somebody else

I been so patient with you but you won’t act right

And I’m tired of sleepin’ by myself

What is we on? Somethin’ is wrong”

(Tinashe on “Touch & Go”)

Music Quickspins

QUICKSPINS: Hot Pink is hot fire

Hip pop is in good hands with Doja Cat’s latest album

Let’s face it: no one expected Doja Cat to explode into such virality after releasing her meme-hit “MOOO!” The song is hilarious and is the antithesis to the current pop formula. She clearly knows her audience is composed of Twitter users and avid meme lovers.

Hot Pink doesn’t stray far from her hip pop formula used on “MOOO!” or her Amala mixtape from 2018. Her wide range of voices is undoubtedly influenced by Nicki Minaj’s earliest works, but it doesn’t feel like a carbon copy. “Say So” could easily reach the Billboard pop charts while “Juicy” with Tyga is already a proven hit.

Doja’s rapping is also strong and her flows are consistently on point. However, where she succeeds in technical style, her content lacks. “Cyber Sex” is a weak intro to an otherwise strong album. “Rules” features a chorus with a line that sounds like it was written by a “Tumblr girl” in 2012 (“Play with my pussy but don’t play with my emotions”).

Still, these weak moments are few and far between as the songs succeed in every other aspect. They’re fun, sexy, and immensely replayable. Standout “Streets” features a lovely B2K sample while the bass-heavy instrumental is an automatic add to a late-night drive playlist.

If Doja Cat is the leader of the new hip pop wave, then the subgenre is in good hands. She knows how to make a hit and how to make an album full of bops that aren’t boring, corny, or watered-down radio songs.


Trial Track: “Streets”

Star Bar:
“Baby, we tried to fight it
We all been there some days
Thought I need something else
And acted like I was okay
We just had to work it out
And baby, I needed space” (Doja Cat on “Streets”)

Music Quickspins


On OOFIE, the eccentric New York MC is growing up and growing weary of his place in hip hop’s landscape

When we last heard from Wiki, it was on his 2017 studio debut No Mountains in Manhattan. A beautiful love letter to his hometown, filled with bouncy beats and playful punchlines. Though it’s only been two years, it feels like a lifetime. He has grown up and grown more fearful of failure and being replaced.

On OOFIE, Wiki is expressing feelings of fear and doubt that we’ve never heard so openly in his music before. It’s an honest depiction of a teenage hip hop prodigy hitting his mid-20s, afraid that he might have also hit his ceiling. A sentiment that’s present throughout the album, though it’s almost paradoxical as he’s sharper than ever.

The fun qualities in his voice and delivery are still present, but are refined, making his words seem punchier and more purposeful. His flows range from simple and effective to dense and multi-syllabic, and on top of these structural improvements, his writing has gotten much more personal and emotionally striking.

He is joined on a few songs by a fantastic crop of features, including Princess Nokia and Lansky Jones. While they all do a great job, they do momentarily take away from how personal the project feels. It’s like watching a movie scene where the protagonist is delivering an emotional speech, and a supporting cast member interrupts him with an extended, unrelated monologue.

Wiki’s music is aging gracefully, improving on his most lovable qualities and using them to deliver more mature content. Shedding his label as the wild, whimsical young wordsmith from Manhattan, he has grown into being a young elder statesman and a pillar in New York’s independent hip hop scene.


Trial Track: “Downfall”

Star Bar: 

“Who is he? Is that what they’ll say in the eulogy?

Will they say between you and me

He was an idol when he was in the right mood

When he wasn’t fucked up, when he wasn’t tight, woo” (Wiki on “Downfall”)



FKA twigs creates world-class pop music on MAGDALENE

MAGDALENE comes four years since twigs’ first full-length release, LP1. While LP1 introduced twigs as an innovative artist to follow, MAGDALENE cements her as one of the most creative voices of modern pop music.

As is evident from the record’s title, MAGDALENE is steeped in Christian references. The juxtaposition of religious symbolism and sexuality can often be used as a cheap ploy for subversiveness in pop songwriting. Yet, because twigs brings the Christian elements both into the lyrics (as on “Mary Magdalene”) and into the orchestration (as with the choral singing on “Thousand Eyes”), this combination makes complete sense.

Despite the R&B sensuality that flows through this record, it is also deeply pained. To say MAGDALENE is a breakup album might be a bit reductive. Yet, many of the tracks deal with twigs coming to terms with who she could be outside of a broken relationship.

MAGDALENE is a tortured, spiritual manifesto for pop music’s future, and you can expect to hear its influence in countless albums to come.


Trial Track: “Home With You”

Star Bar:
“I’m a fallen alien
I never thought that you would be the one to tie me down
But you did
In this age of Satan
I’m searching for a light to take me home and guide me out” (Twigs on “Fallen Alien”)


Jesus is King doesn’t deserve a crown

Despite Kanye West’s abysmal rapping, Jesus is King is still richly produced and somewhat enjoyable

Amidst a long-spanning controversy over his support of Donald Trump, bold wrongful claims about slavery being a choice, and simply releasing sub-par music (I’m looking at you “I Love It”), Kanye West is back with Jesus is King, an album born from West’s embrace of Christianity.

The album was originally intended to be released on Sept. 27, but was delayed indefinitely after it failed to show up on streaming services that day. No one was surprised, really; it is Kanye West we’re talking about here.

The project is another tonal shift for West. The Life of Pablo and Ye were his only albums to not sound like he was trying to change the soundscape of hip hop and music in general. He has definitely embraced Christianity before, like on “Jesus Walks” and “Ultralight Beam,” but West has never gone so far as to dedicate an entire album to it.

Through and through, Jesus is King is a gospel album. Beginning with the Sunday Service Choir-assisted “Every Hour,” West assures the listener that this was going to be a project dedicated to Christ.

Across the album, the instrumentals are what you’d expect from West. Heavy on the sampling, gorgeous melodies, and peculiar arrangements. This is especially true on standout “Selah” that features a powerful choir harmony singing “Hallelujah” at the instrumental peak of the track. This song also contains West’s best verses on the album. That being said, the verse isn’t exactly strong.

The track bleeds hypocrisy as he raps: “Love God and our neighbour, as written by Luke.” If West really wanted to love his neighbour, he should maybe consider not supporting Trump in favour of the Democratic nominees with actual good ideas (hey, Bernie).

“Follow God” is another strongly produced track that features a Pablo type beat and cadence, but is once again burdened by horrible lines— “I was looking at the gram and I don’t even like likes.”

Despite the continuous flaws in West’s lyricism, the album still remains somewhat gripping due to the powerful production and great guest performances, most notably Ty Dolla $ign on “Everything We Need.” The track was recycled from West’s unreleased Yandhi but they chose to remove XXXTentacion’s verse.

West is clearly inspired and he’s trying, but the album is hollow beyond its production. West’s rapping is as lazy as it’s ever been, and his plight of Christianity feels half-baked as if he created this album weeks before it was even announced.

Content aside, the mixing is another point in which the album falters. “Selah,” “Follow God,” and “Water,” among others, are noticeably poorly mixed. Whether or not this is by design is moot; the album doesn’t reach its potential because of this. It seems rushed.

Even with the attempt to pair it with a short film, aptly titled Jesus is King, his message only becomes more muddled. The movie doesn’t add anything to the narrative. Its empty, albeit well-shot visuals, make for a pleasant viewing experience, but nothing actually happens. There are a few close-ups of the choir, one continuous shot of West holding his newborn son, Psalm, and a few other unmemorable moments.

The film only becomes somewhat interesting towards the end as West sings a softer, modified version of his 808s & Heartbreak stunner, “Street Lights.”

Simply put, Jesus is King is too uninteresting to merit multiple listens. It sounds nice, but the ideas aren’t fleshed out enough. Sure, we know West is a born-again Christian now, but what of it?

Following Ye, he needed something more substantive to truly paint a clearer portrait of a man affected by bipolar disorder. Instead of explaining to us where he is mentally, he resorts to underwhelming bars about Christianity that make Donald Trump Jr. happy.

Still, the album has enjoyable moments, if you can tune out whatever the hell West is saying. There are some high points on it that are unfortunately too few and far between to make this project a contender for the year’s best.

Jesus is King is at its strongest when West barely even appears. “Use This Gospel” is masterfully produced, featuring rich keys and melodies from West as he sings the short but sweet hook. Also assisted by a Clipse reunion, Pusha T and No Malice return with killer verses that outshine anything West had done on any of the previous tracks.

“Closed on Sunday” has a gorgeous string leading into it that’s unfortunately marred by a horrid bar about Chick-Fil-A. “Hands On” features a lovely refrain by Fred Hammond backed by a skeletal, chilling instrumental.

Jesus is King is, unfortunately, the weakest entry in West’s discography, but it still isn’t a failure.

It’s simply insubstantial and it would’ve benefited from a few extra tracks and fleshing out the shorter tracks. It would have also been more entertaining if West wasn’t so obnoxious in his rapping. How does someone go from claiming he is a god to following God? If only West rapped more insightfully about his transition to Christianity.

Album rating:


Trial Track: “Use This Gospel”

Star Bar: “A lot of damaged souls, I done damaged those

And in my arrogance, took a camera pose

Caught with a trunk of Barry Manilows

They sing a different tune when the slammer close”

  • (No Malice on “Use This Gospel”)

Film rating:



QUICKSPINS: D Smoke – Inglewood High

Netflix’s Rhythm + Flow winner shows immense potential on debut

In October, Netflix aired the first season of its new hip hop talent show, Rhythm + Flow, judged by T.I., Cardi B and Chance the Rapper. The trio stopped in various U.S. cities in search of the genre’s next big star. After 10 episodes, Inglewood, California native D Smoke emerged the victor. On Inglewood High, he proves exactly why he was chosen.

D Smoke has delivered an EP filled with mature, introspective songwriting over soulful, jazz-infused instrumentals. He uses the project’s short run time to paint a picture of what life is like in Inglewood, through various perspectives.
The album opens with the tone-setting titular track “Inglewood High”, a short, one-verse introduction that tells Smoke’s story – that of a young man who avoided gang life by pursuing a teaching position at his local high school.

Following the introduction are “On Paper” and “Lil Red,” tracks from the perspective of two of his troubled students. These tracks highlight both Smoke’s storytelling ability and his ability to effortlessly rap in both English and Spanish, even constructing verses that use both languages.

While D Smoke’s immense talent is apparent, his cadence and flow are sometimes too similar to some of his peers – namely Kendrick Lamar. For example, his second verse on “On Paper” could easily be mistaken for an unlisted feature from Lamar.
Overall, this is an extremely impressive first outing. Smoke’s poetic lyricism perfectly pairs with a great selection of smooth jazzy instrumentals. He shows a maturity that is uncommon for a debut project.

If this is just the start, we have a lot to look forward to from D Smoke.


Trial Track: Ain’t You

Star Bar:
“Seven Gang was the clique; it wasn’t no Blood or no Crip
Was more like fraternity ties mixed with bare knuckles and clips
My big homie saw something in me, said f**k hitting licks and pistols
Your test scores gon’ hit the lick with pencils, teaching credentials.”
(D Smoke on “Inglewood High”)

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