Showing posts with label billy woods. Show all posts
Showing posts with label billy woods. Show all posts

Sunday, June 30, 2019

the top albums/songs of the midyear - 2019

So for one of the first times when I'm making this midyear retrospective, I have to introduce a major caveat: I'm putting together this list before listening to the long-awaited return collaboration between Freddie Gibbs and Madlib. Make no mistake, I want to hear it and it'll probably get a ton of praise from me given how much I loved Pinata, but it's also going to be a project I'll need time to process and I don't want to rush a review before the midyear and risk delays, so if you're wondering why that's not here, that's why.

But it's also important to highlight that even if that album is as amazing as I hope it'll be, it would face some stiff competition this year! I highlighted last year how even despite getting a pretty reasonable spread of albums it was easy to put things in position, and I wanted to say it'd be same here... until I truly took a look at how many truly stunning albums we've gotten in the first half of 2019! Country has delivered in spades, underground hip-hop is firing on all cylinders, I've got solid cuts from rock and punk and metal, and even pop and R&B have given me some choice cuts. As such, this is one of those years I've had to make some painful cut to whittle this list down to twelve albums and twenty-four songs outside those albums, and just like last year, I have to stress just because an album didn't make this midyear list is no guarantee it won't make the year-end, or that positions won't evolve or change. Also - and I feel this important to emphasize - if you're expecting to see some big name critical darlings here... well, suffice to say 2019 has been a year where I'm flying down a very different path than many mainstream critics, so if you're looking for certain albums... go check to see if I've reviewed them, that's all I'm saying.

And given that this is the sixth one of these lists I've assembled, I've got twelve albums, twenty four songs not otherwise on those albums, and let's start with...

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

video review: 'hiding places' by billy woods

Okay, here we go - and after the rough as HELL night I've had, I'm glad to be on schedule and working effectively.

Next up...hmm, this could be very interesting, so stay tuned!

album review: 'hiding places' by billy woods

So I'm going to do something a little different with this billy woods review in comparison with previous albums I've covered from either him or his group Armand Hammer, where for the most part I've given some high scores... and then a few months later by the end of the year I find that I just haven't revisited the albums in the same way.

And let me make this clear, this can happen with more hip-hop than I'd rather admit - it's lyrical, it's dense, it's fascinating stuff to talk about and review... and yet outside of rare cases, a lot of the songs don't wind up on my year-end lists or regular rotation in the same way outside of very specific moods. Now that's not to disparage its quality - as I implied, there'll be times that the only thing I'll want to hear is hyper-dense lyrical hip-hop and I'll have a ton of albums to pull into rotation, but billy woods said something in the lead-up to this project that caught my attention and surprised me: namely that sometimes, it's not that deep, and those who can't grasp it might not have the same life experiences. And that got me thinking, because there probably is an audience who can put on a billy woods album at any time and maybe I'm just not that, but it did make me consider that I might not want to overthink the newest project from billy woods, where he teamed up with producer Kenny Segal for twelve tracks where yes, I'm late to the punch again. And while woods is saying he's at his most direct here... well, I wasn't sure how much I bought that, but I didn't want to overthink the analysis with this one, so what did I find on Hiding Places?

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

video review: 'paraffin' by armand hammer

And here it is - yes, it took a little longer to get to this than I'd prefer, but that's why I'm going to be revamping my Patreon in the next few months, so stay tuned for that.

Next up... you know, it's been a while since I've covered some metal, let's do that!

album review: 'paraffin' by armand hammer

I'll admit to being surprised that we got a new Armand Hammer record in 2018. Not to imply the duo of billy woods and Elucid haven't been consistently churning out thorny, complicated projects throughout the 2010s, but 2017 was a busy year for billy woods both with a solo release and Armand Hammer's Rome, which I covered late in the year with Beezy430 over at Dead End Hip Hop. And while I definitely hold that Rome is not for everyone - the hooks are sparse, the rhymes are tangled, the conspiratorial vibe can make delving into the themes a tough sell - I still hold it's a great record.

But Paraffin looked to be a different animal. Where Rome was fragmented and apocalyptic, Paraffin looked to be digging deeper into weirder territory, exhuming the bones picked clean from the remnants of a society burned before, not so much a sequel but a deeper dive into similar ideas. So yeah, after relistening to Rome and reminding myself why it's a fantastic hip-hop record, I geared up for Paraffin - so what did we dig up this time?

Sunday, November 19, 2017

video review: 'ROME' by armand hammer (ft. beezy430 of dead end hip hop)

Well, this was a ton of fun, I'm glad this came through. 

But next up, I've got a few country reviews coming up, so stay tuned!

Monday, August 21, 2017

video review: 'known unknowns' by billy woods

So yeah, much later than I expected, but still worth talking about. Beyond that... well, I'm on vacation now, so let's bundle a couple reviews together for the next video, a few old and one new... stay tuned!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

album review: 'known unknowns' by billy woods

Well, it's about damn time I got to this, an artist I referenced in my last hip-hop review and who some have told me has dropped one of the stronger projects this year... and I have to say, it's taken me a while to really get to billy woods.

So, here's some context: he's a New York MC, he founded his own label Backwoodz Studioz, he's been putting out albums since the early-to-mid 2000s, but really started to hit a potent creative stride in the early 2010s, both on his own and as a member of the duo Armand Hammer with frequent collaborator Elucid - who I'll also probably end up covering at some point this year, given his critical acclaim. And that's important to note: if we're looking at New York hip-hop artists who are pushing and challenging the sound in the vein of what Def Jux did fifteen years ago, I'd definitely put Billy Woods on that list in a similar way I would Uncommon Nasa - the bars a little more direct here but no less thought-provoking, and often times over even more challenging production on records like History Will Absolve Me.

And yet, if I'm being brutally honest, I've struggled to completely embrace a billy woods project as a whole. Some of his songs can tilt around rap cliches, but a larger issue I found on his 2015 project Today, I Wrote Nothing was a certain scattershot nature of a lot of tracks, potent in snippets but nearly always leading to projects that felt too long and not quite coalescing as a whole, at least for me. Which was frustrating because between his blunt and curt style of delivery and some challenging and experimental production, this is the sort of rapper I'd love to wholeheartedly get behind, and with the continued stream of critical acclaim for his newest record Known Unknowns, I was hoping this could be the one to do it for me. So, what I did find?