The Vision Is Blurry

Album Review: No Malice – Hear Ye Him

Hear Ye Him

As a member of The Clipse, No Malice (He was known as Malice or even Malicious back then) would rap alongside his younger brother Pusha T about sold cocaine and bodies slain. The change to No Malice came in 2012 and he announced that his solo album was coming. And here we are at this point. So after three albums (four if you count the shelved Exclusive Audio Footage), what do we expect from No Malice on his solo offering?

The albums starts with an interlude talking about illusions. There are six interludes in total that is preaching a brief message. On the Ab-Liva featured “Smoke & Mirrors”, No Malice raps about find a way from the evils of the drug game.

And I ain’t sellin’ my soul for no million
Cause that dead-end rap can’t even crack its glass ceiling
Why such blasphemy
And anger toward a God which none hath seen
Hmm, leads me to believe
That there’s a wee bit more to this Jesus thing

The production and cuts by Cam Calloway on “Blasphemy” are so old school and Fam-Lay provides the hook talking dope and chains. On the album’s title track, No Malice raps more about his past as he discusses ills as selling drugs to his older brother.

I should’ve been dead a long time ago
I offered it death in almost every line I wrote
Camouflaged it and act like I had offered hope
The gold chain was steady hanging, ni**as choked
My older brother was my hero till he started dope
Wish I could’ve stopped his very first line of coke
But, I don’t judge
We all got a guilty pleasure
And bless my mama heart, she still believe he getting better

On “Unforgettable”, No Malice speaks more of his past sins and tries to steer the listener in the opposite direction. “Bow Down No Mo” talks about living like devil while in the drug game.

Looking back, oh what a fool I was
Different chick every night, like it was humorous
It fueled my lust but now I hang my head in shame
They got the nerve to ask, did they really hustle caine
Yes indeed, them chickens really flew the coop
Crack the gong with them birds, cock a doodle doo
Them other dudes on the mic, ain’t telling you the truth
That’s why I been sick of rap, chicken noodle soup

Now what would this album be without a collaboration with younger brother Pusha T who shows up on “Shame The Devil”. Here Pusha T puts away the talk that they are done as a rap duo.

Gene found God, they thinking we at odds
Must ain’t know my father, he ain’t never spared a rod
Yuugh! It’s two sides to a card
Just opposite ends of two peas in a pod

Now if you thought that this album was going to go in the ways of typical Christian rap then that’s where you’re mistaken. No Malice still raps as he did with his brother Pusha T but he’s doing it with a different purpose. He’s telling the listeners his story and hoping that they see that they don’t have to follow in that same path. Hear Ye Him is an honest album that delivers on its message.

Oh so “Bad” the Tiara Thomas version won’t be on there. Got it.

Oh so “Bad” the Tiara Thomas version won’t be on there. Got it.

"Highly unstoppable, nothin’s un-coppable
Tito Santana matador ain’t equipped to stop the bull
Proud of product pulled over nigga not be scorned
Around here I am the goat like the Capricorn
New grove, still bitches don’t know this a flaw
Cause my hoes in the X like they model for cars
Here to change the whole game due to all the bull
Initial plays wasn’t cool so we audible
I’m Bald Bull to my Little Mack competition
You gon’ need a couple stars to get your first victor
Word picture, hurt niggaz, young verse killer
Fist pleaser, skirt lifter, young Dirk Diggler
Wahlberg +Shooter+, young flow fluid
And my brains travel like Yung Berg jewels"
Wale from ‘Tito Santana’

R&B and Rap/Hip-Hop Teen Acts of the 90′s.

Yesterday, I was watching VH1 Soul and they were airing Soul Story which featured videos from the 90′s. They aired Brandy’s ‘Best Friend’ and Monica’s ‘Before You Walk Out Of My Life’ videos, which led to a Twitter discussion about said teens acts. It was a bunch of them so I want to talk about them in this post. A walk down memory lane if you will.

1. Monica
Year Debuted: 1995
Standout Track: ‘Angel of Mine’ (from The Boy Is Mine)
Thoughts: She was my girlfriend, in my head of course. My best friend had her albums and I would play them when she wasn’t around. Great music.

2. Brandy
Year Debuted: 1994
Standout Track: ‘I’m Yours’ (from Brandy)
Thoughts: Another great teen singer who dropped some nice albums in the 90′s.

3. Aaliyah
Year Debuted: 1994
Standout Track: ‘I’m Down’ (from Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number)
Thoughts: She didn’t have anyone that fans could compare her to as Monica had with Brandy. Released two nice albums during the 90′s.

4. Immature
Year Debuted: 1992
Standout Track: ‘Lover’s Groove Remix’ (feat. Shyheim)
Thoughts: Although they were geared towards the ladies, that ‘Lover’s Groove Remix’ was cash shit.

5. Usher
Year Debuted: 1994
Standout Track: ‘One Day You’ll Be Mine’ (from My Way)
Thoughts: When Usher released his debut, self titled album back in ’94, he had production from Puff Daddy and the Hitmen, Al B Sure! and DeVante Swing. Dave Hollister and Darryl Pearson wrote some songs. It’s often forgotten by most but true fans remembers the ‘Can U Get Wit It‘ days.

6. Mýa
Year Debuted: 1998
Standout Track: ‘Baby It’s Yours’ (from Mýa)
Thoughts: Mýa was my other girlfriend as well. The ‘My First Night With You/Baby It’s Yours’ single will forever hold a special place in my heart. One day, I’ll tell that story.

7. Kriss Kross
Year Debuted: 1992
Standout Track: ‘Alright’ (feat. Super Cat)
Thoughts: When they came out with ‘Jump, Jump’ and wearing their clothes backwards, Kriss Kross had something aimed at the kids in the early 90′s.

8. Da Youngsta’s
Year Debuted: 1992
Standout Track: ‘Crewz Pop’ (feat. Treach)
Thoughts: Opposite of what Kriss Kross were for teens, Da Youngsta’s were from Philly and brought an harder, East Coast vibe to the rap masses.

9. Illegal
Year Debuted: 1993
Standout Track: ‘Head or Gut’
Thoughts: Jamal was from Philly and Malik was from SC. They got their rap name from Busta Rhymes and took shots at Kriss Kross and Da Youngsta’s on ‘Head or Gut’. Malik made appearances on Monica’s ‘Like This & Like That‘ as well as Snoop’s ‘Pump Pump

10. Hi-Five
Year Debuted: 1990
Standout Track: ‘The Way You Said Goodbye’
Thoughts: My best friend was a huge fan of them. I fucked with their ballads heavy especially ‘The Way You Said Goodbye’. Too bad that they didn’t get the shine that they deserved.

11. Another Bad Creation
Year Debuted: 1991
Standout Track: ‘Iesha’
Thoughts: I remember my mother buying this album for me back in the day. Boyz II Men did background vocals on ABC’s debut album. Was a cool album back then. They released a second album in 1993 but I never heard a single or seen a video for it.

Other notable teen acts:

The Boys: They came out in 1988 but they did have an impact on the young crowd. Hakim used to appear on the television show ‘Amen’. ‘Dial My Heart‘ was the song back in 1988. (Damn I sound old.)

Monteco: He had two singles out in 1995 (‘Is It Me’ feat. Immature and ‘Call It What You Want‘) Thought he would have made it since he was down with Immature but fizzed out after awhile.

Quindon: Another artist that was down with Immature. He had a few singles of his own (‘Dream About You’ and the Remix feat. Romeo and ‘It’s You On My Mind‘) We used to joke that he was screaming on his records all the time.

Mona Lisa: She would have been added to the girlfriend mix had she gotten more promotion from the label. She caught a buzz appearing on the Lil Kim track ‘It’s My Time To Shine‘ as well as The Lost Boyz featured ‘Can’t Be Wasting My Time‘.

Still Sleeping on J. Cole?

Niggaz Know

Hit the snooze button on your alarm clock or choke the rooster and wake the fuck up. I’ve been hearing these opinions for the past couple of years and I’m still trying to figure out what you crack fans want? It’s the same jive ass ‘boring, put me to sleep’ comments that make me question most opinions on music. Quick to big up these T-Pain wanna be auto-tune sounding robots but when someone comes along that is great with the craft, you coons don’t appreciate it.

“I make some thought provokin’ shit
Y’all question whether he fallin’ off” – Jay-Z

I could go on about his previous offerings (Friday Night Lights still fucking goes!!!!) but I’m going to talk about his latest track that he dropped from Born Sinner, ‘Niggaz Know’.

When he starts off the track saying ‘Armed and dangerous’, he’s paying homage to the late Christopher Wallace, pardon me ya’ll, the GREAT Christopher Wallace. He pays homage later on in the verse (‘Ain’t too much really change with us/Straight up weed, no angel dust/Label us notorious, that was 9-7′) as he talks that cash shit and real life shit throughout the first verse.

Hit hood hoes out in Baltimore
Pack the shows like wall to wall, my God
Five steps like Dru Hill
Came home from the first tour, with
Bad credit and a school bill
Middle finger to the bursar

Speaking of which, I was at that packed show, wall to wall in Baltimore.

Second verse, he addressed those of his peers that stole his flow. Came through the door like who y’all niggas?

Stole a nigga flow, I could sue y’all niggas
Better yet put a hot one through y’all niggas
Nah, let me stop frontin’ for y’all niggas but
Don’t let the college shit fool y’all niggas
Ain’t the hardest nigga in the land
But a grown ass man, and I will step to y’all niggas
Like what’s the problem?

Also in this verse, he talks that dirty macking talk that is accustomed to rap lyrics today.

Can’t afford a whip, but you buyin’ ass
This Fresh Prince nigga, I ain’t Jazz
Fucked yo bitch, nigga I ain’t ask
She pitched it to me like Sosa (Oh God)
What the fuck was I s’posed do?

What trips me out is that he talks about how much he spent for his brand new watch. (‘Thirty grand and that’s just for the wristwatch/Hate to brag but backpacking, that’s hip hop’)

So let’s recap the past few months:

1. He gave you a promotional like single that he knew would get people talking, in ‘Miss America‘.

2. He dropped the official album single, ‘Power Trip‘, that you folks are still listening and singing along to.

3. Truly Yours and Truly Yours 2 is holding fans over until June 18th.

4. ‘Niggaz Know’ is dope. Don’t debate me either.

5. And he’s on the cover of Billboard.

J. Cole Billboard cover

What more do you want? Born Sinner in stores June 18th.

Are You Still Mad At Kanye West?


Kanye has the world mad at him. Or maybe it’s blackcoon Negro Twitter and their high standards for certain mainstream artists. Well most of them have been mad at him since he dropped the classic 808s & Heartbreak (Fuck you, I love that album).

And what’s funny was that most of you pull out that album when you’re in your feelings. (Yeah I see you quoting ‘Love Lockdown’ or was that me?) But anyway, it seems as if the world expected Kanye to stick with the ‘I’m broke and struggling’ rhymes of College Dropout. If Kanye would have kept struggling on his early work, then we would never see the evolution of him as an artist.

Now this goes for anyone artist that we’re listening to: Would you rather them keep up with the times or stick with their outdated rhymes just to keep the fan in you happy?

I can’t wait to hear Yeezus. I’ll give it a fair listen but as an artist, Mr. West hasn’t disappointed me.

New Music: Freddie Mac (@imfreddiemac) x ‘Drinks Up’

As posted last week, Freddie Mac delivers his first offering, ‘Drinks Up’ from his upcoming mixtape Far From Average. Below, Mac gives a little insight into the track:

Finally, the first single from Far From Average is available for your listening pleasure. As stated before, ‘Drinks Up’ was produced by Cooarri LLC and mixed at IC Ent. I think this single portrays this generation we are living in. The trials we engage in, the obstacles we face, and the challenges that occur on a daily basis are all a part of life, but music is that one thing that lets us LIVE, care-free, for those three minutes. For those three minutes that you give me, I tried to not take them for granted, and give you something that would take you away from all the troubles you’re facing at the moment, and let you live like it’s the best time of your life. For those three minutes and twenty nine seconds. With ‘Drinks Up,’ I hope I am able to do that.

Listen to ‘Drinks Up’ here.

EP Review: J. Cole – Truly Yours

Truly Yours

While fans await the release of Born Sinner, the follow up his 2011 gold selling debut, Cole World: The Sideline Story, J. Cole released a 5 track EP titled Truly Yours.

“I appreciate you giving me the time I needed to grow, experiment, and find the direction for my 2nd album. And I have,” he wrote in the letter. “Along the way I’ve recorded at least 4 albums worth of material, lots of it being unfinished demo versions waiting to be polished up, some of them are great songs and important stories that just won’t make the album (either they don’t fit Sonically, don’t fit Theme, or there’s just not enough space).”

J. Cole is calling Born Sinner ‘his best work yet’ and he said that the album’s single will be released shortly. But getting back to Truly Yours, this seems a little dark from previous offerings. “Can I Holla At Ya” shows J. Cole rhyming over Lauryn Hill’s “To Zion” beat as he addresses three people from his past. “Crunch Time” which is my favorite of the five tracks shows Cole painting a tale of struggling to make it in this world as he states that ‘the only worse than death is a regret filled coffin’.”Rise Above”, Cole talks raps about two women: One is a single mother whose baby father cheating and she’s about to settle things in her way. The other is a teacher who decidedly turns to drinking and partying as a means of dealing with the negatives of her job. “Tears For ODB” tackles parental drug use and the obstacles of trying to make it in this cruel world. Before Nas flipped this track, Cole tackled “Stay (2009)” and speaks on court dates, loyalty from your significant other and getting out on your own to see the world.

This EP was a nice listen in my book as J. Cole still shows that despite push backs, he can deliver solid music. Other music fans give him a hard time because he’s not as commercial as his counterparts but it’s great to hear music that honest and true to your soul.

"don’t call it a mixtape. it’s not. it’s not a preview of the album either. woke up today and wanted to share these" - J. Cole

Album Review: Joe Budden – No Love Lost

No Love Lost

Joe Budden is one that isn’t afraid to hide his emotions. Whether it’s mixtapes, twitter rants, or LAHHNY, he will express himself with no hesitation. On his latest album release, No Love Lost, this is no different. After releasing the November 2012 mixtape, A Loose Quarter, fans wondered how the album would pan out.

NNL debut single was the Lil Wayne and Tank featured “She Don’t Put It Down” where Joey and Weezy talk about how they are still sexing their ex because she puts it down how they like it. The Remix of this track features Twista and Fabolous, in addition to Tank. The uptempo, party type song are few and they occur at the beginning of the album. Joe celebrates the life that he enjoys living on “Top Of The World”. I really didn’t care for the Wiz Khalifa and French Montana assisted “N.B.A. (Never Broke Again)”, but I’m sure that will get a few spins in the club.

When the Emanny featured “You And I” comes on, that’s when the mood of the album changes. Here, Joe talks about finding love and the chances that we take with it:

We’re both broken pieces, both been hurt and shit
Both took a chance on each other and it was worth the risk
She low maintenance but she deserves a grip
Give her the best of me cause she endured the worst of it
She been through so much, still she carry on
So if she comes with baggage it’s a carry-on

Joell Ortiz and Crooked I talk about their bones in the closet along with Joey on “Skeletons”. Crooked I and Joey both dig deep inside their closets:

“It started as a kid at my school desk
Aced every quiz but I wanted to pass the cool test
Ain’t nothing cool about school shopping at the thrift store
And living in an abandoned station wagon cause you was piss poor
So I started stealing all of the clothes that the other kids wore
That’s when the skeletons moved into my mind on the sixth floor” – Crooked I

“We could talk about pain 24/7 dog, that’s my department
Intercity blues cruise and I’m blasting that Marvin
Skeletons ain’t in my closet, that’s my apartment
And they like to hide behind thousand dollar fabrics and garments
It’s all bleak to me
Tell my Pop I ain’t bothered when he don’t speak to me, I love you but it’s weak to me
On one hand life is short and there’s no excuse to do it
But you was missing half my life dog, I’m kind of used to it” – Joe Budden

The SLV (Joe and Emanny) track “Tell Him Something” sounds a little bit more polished now that it’s being featured on NLL. Joe is creeping with a woman that already has a man and he’s telling her that she needs to let her dude know what’s going on between them:

“Can say we never kissed, those were just pecks
Tell him put your phone down, that was just a text
Or, tell him you cherish our bond on the weekly
Or how you jump in my arms when you see me
Tell him I threw on the charm it was easy
It’s to the point now where your mom wanna meet me”

Production on NNL fit Joe’s formula for beat selection. Cardiak, T-Minus, Frequency, 8Bars and DarkKnight all make solid production contributions to the album. If you’ve heard Joe’s music before, then you are used to how things flow on the album. If you’re a new listener, be prepared to be taken on a wave of emotions.


Jay-Z, photographed for Interview magazine by Craig McDean in 2010.


Jay-Z, photographed for Interview magazine by Craig McDean in 2010.