Showing posts with label rae sremmurd. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rae sremmurd. Show all posts

Thursday, May 10, 2018

video review: 'SR3MM / swaecation / JXMTRO' by rae sremmurd

You know, I need to get back into the habit of using flames in my title cards for records this bad... but honestly, it's more that it improved and is just an overlong mess than anything else.

Anyway, next up is me tackling some much older business, so stay tuned!

album review: 'SR3MM / swaecation / JXMTRO' by rae sremmurd

I know what all of you want me to do in this review. You're all waiting for the seething anger, the extended rant on the vapid nonsense that this duo passes off as party bangers, how both of their previous records have been among some of the worst hip-hop to be released in the 2010s...

And yet I can't do it this time. Look, I don't regret anything I said for either SremmLife 1 or 2 - they're both bad records crippled by grating lead performances, awful lyrics, and production that wants to substitute overweight murky lumps courtesy of Mike Will Made It for anything fun or with significant force - I've got nothing against party bangers, but when you can't match even mid-tier crunk from the 2000s, you have serious problems! But then 'Black Beatles' - unquestionably the best song Rae Sremmurd ever made - became a #1 hit, and then I started hearing Swae Lee refine his cracking, nasal delivery into something a little smoother, and Slim Jxmmi add a little more structure to his bars, and I came to the realization that I may have actually been a shade too hard on SremmLife 2 - it's still pretty bad, but there were improvements there that deserved more attention.

So okay, maybe the follow-up could rise to being passable, I told myself, maybe these kids had something in them... and instead of doubling down on a tight record of bangers, they decided a good idea was a triple album! Now I've said in the past that even double albums can be a dicey proposition, but three records from this duo - one from them together, and one each from them solo, called Swaecation and Jxmtro respectively - is the sort of overstuffed choice where I can count the number of times it's worked in the history of recorded music - outside of live albums and greatest hits collections - on two hands! Seriously, we've got Joanna Newsom, Smashing Pumpkins, Kamasi Washington, maybe the Magnetic Fields or Swans or Prince - it screams of overplaying their hand or at the very least misunderstanding their appeal for Rae Sremmurd to try this. And yet my Patrons wanted to put me through this, so fine: what did we get on SR3MM?

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - may 5, 2018 (VIDEO)

Man, this week was rough, and from the looks of things is going to get even worse next week.

But on that topic...

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - may 5, 2018

I'm going to pose a question that's been on my mind ever since we started getting stream-trolling album bombs on the Hot 100 and one that became glaring with KOD by J. Cole: is anybody thinking about the long-term impacts of any of this? Sure, it's an indictment on streaming platforms who take label payola to dump entire records on their playlists, and an even more scathing indictment on the public who won't bother to build their own damn playlist or find new things, but really, who does this benefit long-term? Do you even remember anything from Logic's middling album bomb a few months back, or do you remember a single that's been properly promoted and managed, where precision growth can lead to even greater success. We'll get to more of this in our top ten, but if you want the most prescient example of how the album bomb might hurt an album's public lifespan long-term, look at Drake and More Life last year, and compare it to his current singles rollout in 2018.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - march 17, 2018 (VIDEO)

And here we go - took a lot of processing power to get it out the door, but it turned out pretty well as I still keep tweaking my camera.

Next up, looks like Young Fathers - stay tuned!

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - march 17, 2018 I said last week that most of my general predictions surrounding the week came true about the expected activity, and while I also did say that I expected Meghan Trainor to break through this week, I also made the statement that I didn't expect much else to happen. And boy, was I wrong in the worst possible way, as despite a few very select gems, XXXTENTACION and Chris Brown of all people showed up to remind me that the charts might just be at their most intolerable since 2016, and there's far from enough good songs to save them!

Monday, December 25, 2017

the top ten worst hit songs of 2017 (VIDEO)

It's here, it's already controversial, and apparently the damn video malfunctioned because after rendering the damn thing three times I can't catch a break. Ah well, best hits of 2017 is coming in a day or two, stay tuned!

the top ten worst hit songs of 2017

There have been years where writing this list is easy. Sometimes it's like 2015 or 2012, where the bad songs can't diminish otherwise diminish a strong or interesting year - or on the flip side we get years like 2016, where the avalanche of awful is so pronounced I almost have too much material, and while that list might be painful to revisit, sheer rage makes it all surge out.

2017 has not been that year, and it's a little tough to explain why. You could make a comparison to 2014 in how so much of this year defaulted towards average instead of a more pronounced brand of awful - I'm certainly not as angry towards this list as I've been in previous years - but the truly excellent hits were much stronger in 2017. What I think has befuddled some critics is how pop was effectively overtaken by the hip-hop and R&B aesthetic on the Hot 100 - it might have become more pronounced in 2013 but in 2017 the takeover was complete, and if you weren't paying more attention to streaming instead of radio, you were going to be left behind. And thus in 2017 the truly bad songs are a bit of a mix of the pop songs tumbling towards the monogenre and the lazy, bargain-barrel dumpster fire that is the dregs of trap. And again, to establish the rules the songs had to debut on the year-end Hot 100 list for 2017, and purely boring doesn't just cut it for me. Given how much of this I've covered on Billboard BREAKDOWN, I've long been numbed to the endless swirl of interchangeable trap bangers and their brand of disposable mediocrity. If you want to land on this list, you need to really irritate me or piss me off, so let's get going with some Dishonourable Mentions!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - august 26, 2017 (VIDEO)

So yeah, pretty lousy week, but it was a pretty easy one to put together, so I guess I'll take it?

Anyway, time to take care of some old business - stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - august 26, 2017

Man, I'm happy this is a more reasonable week on the Hot 100 here, given how crazy my schedule is right now. And when I say reasonable, I mean that very little actually seemed to make big moves, we have a modest list of expected new arrivals, and while there is some action in the top 10 worth talking about, we're at the point where things are on the cusp of really breaking open.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - january 7, 2017

This was the sort of week I didn't expect - on the one hand it's the aftermath of J. Cole's big debut so inevitably there was going to be a pretty major course correction... but that wasn't the only thing that happened, because Christmas music came back in force to compete with a pileup of hip-hop that I don't think anyone was asking for. And yet that's not the biggest story of this week... because we have a new #1.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - october 1, 2016 (VIDEO)

Well, this happened. Overall, not a great week by any stretch, but it's also more indicative of transition, so you never know what's going to come through next.

In the mean time, I've got a Devin Townsend record to talk about, followed by Against Me!, Preoccupations, In The Woods..., AlunaGeorge, and so many more (seriously, SO MANY MORE) - stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - october 1, 2016

So we live in uncertain times. The economy seems shaky, the effects of climate change are becoming more prevalent, the United States is on the precipice thanks to a bullshit horserace media narrative that's eons more dishonest than anything Hillary Clinton has said and about on par with the lies the Trump family spews daily, and now Brad and Angelina are splitting up. Now thankfully, I live in Canada, where things are a fair bit more stable all around, but that doesn't mean this instability isn't impacting the Hot 100 - albeit probably less driven by the election and more because we're now transitioning into the fall months and this happens nearly every year.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - september 3, 2016 (VIDEO) (VACATION REVIEW!)

Whew, this was an interesting little thing to film/edit on vacation. Overall, pretty damn pleased how it turned out, especially with how many takes we got to put it all together.

Next up, let's knock off that Cody Johnson review before we get into the rest of the week, shall we...

Monday, August 15, 2016

video review: 'sremmlife 2' by rae sremmurd

This review has already gotten more hits than the past three reviews I've posted combined - and will probably go on to get even more, because apparently people like it when I get pissed. Well, except the comments section which have devolved into something of a shit-show, but that was to be expected.

And to continue that streak, Young The Giant is coming up next, so stay tuned!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

album review: 'sremmlife 2' by rae sremmurd

There's a lot that needs to be unpacked before I even start this review - and no, not just because I'm almost certain some of you will have seen what I said about Rae Sremmurd over eighteen months ago when I covered their debut album. To put it mildly, I wasn't kind to it - to put it bluntly, it was easily one of the worst records I had the misfortune of covering in 2015, a badly written, shoddily performed, disastrously produced slog that I disliked more with every listen - and that included going back to relisten to it for this review. But like with most atrocious music that gets popular, I had a lot more contempt for the attitudes surrounding the album and the critical pass it got, which has cascaded down further to the mostly lousy state of mainstream hip-hop in 2016, where lyrics have even been further marginalized in favour of bass-heavy clunkers and MCs who have nowhere near the charisma or flows to save them. Sure, Sremmlife was intended as dumb, over-the-top party music and was only intended to be judged on that standard - but on that standard it was bad dumb party music, with clunky flows, ugly tones, and some truly atrocious lyrics, none of which was given the tempo and impact to match its inspiration, either from trap or the equally stupid crunk music of the mid-2000s, which at least had energy and impact to match its mindless hedonism.

And yet, eighteen months later going into the sequel Sremmlife 2, I found myself unable to get all that angry or worked up about it. I think a fair bit of my anger was fueled by the fact that the mainstream and critical press had given Rae Sremmurd a pass, but it didn't look like that was happening for the follow-up. Despite some guest stars like Gucci Mane, Juicy J, up-and-coming and all around awful MC Kodak Black, and even Lil Jon of all people, none of their singles had cracked the Billboard Hot 100, and the album had been delayed to mid-August. And I have to admit, I was curious why: perhaps the waning star power of Mike Will Made It as a producer had further marginalized the group; perhaps hip-hop had moved so quickly to the next 'turnt up' rapper that Rae Sremmurd's emptiness had been prophetic... or perhaps we had another real turd coming and everyone was looking to clear out of the blast radius. Well, that wasn't going to stop me, so against all of my better judgement I checked out Sremmlife 2 - is it at least better than the first one?

Well yeah, it's 'better', I guess, in that 'tedious, incompetent, and occasionally unlistenable' is a step up from 'all-around atrocious', but none of that means I want to recommend this record, or will in any way get behind some of the more ridiculous critical appraisals of this record. And like with the last review, I'm going to try and frame this as a rebuttal to many of the people who are giving it a pass. Because again, I can't really get that angry at two kids who are trying to make fun music for dubious definitions of music or fun - but I can get a little pissed at the critics who are trying to defend this by saying how 'innovations in character, texture, and presentation are just as important as those in lyrical dexterity and punchlines' and 'maligning Rae Sremmurd for prioritizing the extra-lyrical portions of the genre reveals only how nostalgia leaves unfillable holes in people's hearts, and taste'. To put it another way, if you expect basic competency in structuring bars or content, you're a nostalgia-blinded hater without taste who can't appreciate the stylistic flourishes of Rae Sremmurd.

So for the purposes of this review, let's first establish that I'm not expecting depth in terms of lyrical content. This isn't Kendrick Lamar or Aesop Rock or Death Grips or Doomtree or Run The Jewels, and even while all of these artists have delivered hard-hitting bangers than can match content with experiments in style and delivery which proves you can have both and this is a non-excuse, let's only consider this record by terms of MCs who are looking to play to the more ignorant, nu-crunk side, who really have been around since the dawn of the genre. Even by that standard, I'm not impressed by these guys - there may have been a lot of terrible crunk back in the mid-2000s, but when it worked there was commanding presence in the vocals that let the MCs drive the beats. It's very telling that when both Juicy J and Lil Jon show up on this record they immediately attract more attention because there's enough bass in their voices to match the production, whereas Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi just don't have the same weight, no matter how much pitch correction is used. At their worst, their cackling nasal sneer doesn't even have the pretensions to melody that gave Young Thug the pass he barely deserved - hell, right from the very first track 'Start A Party' both of their voices keep cracking audibly and I'm supposed to like this, especially as they talk about drugging my girlfriend with lean? And it completely undercuts their party anthems for me as they squeal through the tracks - there's no punch to 'Shake It Fast' until Juicy J shows up and is pretty damn disgusting, or to 'Set The Roof', which only puts Lil Jon on the hook and then compresses his vocals - you know, because we want to hear more Rae Sremmurd! Probably the worst example is 'Over Here', where even by interjecting a pitch-shifted voice they can't give the sleazy elongation of syllables and outright sloppiness compelling - and on that note, one of the big vocal shifts on this record is Swae Lee piling on the autotune to croon his way through 'Look Alive', 'Came A Long Way', and 'Take It Or Leave It', with it being at its 'best' on the brighter 'Just Like Us' and at its absolute worst on 'Swang', where he goes into his gutless upper range and it sounds atrocious. And that's when they care at all, as we also have songs like 'By Chance' where it's clear everyone phoned it in that day..

And nowhere is that more apparent than the content, where apparently I'm supposed to give these guys a pass because of their style and enthusiasm. Well, since the latter is considerably damped compared to the first SremmLife, and the former makes me think we could weaponize these vocals against ISIS, the content is open season! Let's start by saying that these guys can barely stay on topic or message - if they're not throwing out some of the most bewilderingly awful punchlines between dropping rhymes, rhyming words with themselves, or dropping the mix out to disregard the flow entirely, they sure as hell aren't bothering with making sense. Again, right on the first song we have Swae Lee saying the girls he screws - which again includes your chick - are dying, and that's the sort of thing for which you'd ask an explanation! Go to the next track and Slim Jxmmi is talking about big diamonds in his mouth as he burps, which is such a non sequiteur that it immediately renders everything on the song irrelevant - including Kodak Black's verse, but we were doing that already. Or then on 'Look Alive', where Swae Lee is taking his girl shopping before breakfast, which I do not understand, and that he's going to rock her 'like a baby', which is all sorts of creepy! 

Now I could go on here listing the myriad awful lines... so I will, because on 'Black Beatles', Rae Sremmurd and Gucci Mane try to compare themselves to the Beatles and 'living like a geezer' - because the Beatles are old, get it? Then there's 'Shake It Fast', where Swae Lee says he's afraid of pot and drops a 'new phone who dis', all the while Juicy J tries to pay for strippers by swiping his card in her ass while he assures her the cameras are off - why don't I remotely believe you? Then there's 'Set The Roof' where during the prechorus they show exasperation the waiter screwed up their order three times only for the final line of 'now let's fill up her head and see if she chokes'. Oh yeah, the casual disregard for women of all types runs rampant here and even by hip-hop standards it's pretty pathetic, between the 'My X' reprise of 'Now That I Know' where he already has a side bitch ready to replace her to the girls he's stretching out, front and back, on 'Do Yoga'. But if we're looking for two songs to capture this record's content in a nutshell, they're 'Over Here' - with the failed Charlie Sheen punchline from Slim Jxmmi to the bungled Superman reference from Swae Lee, it's clear they roughly have an idea what they want to say, but not only is there zero subtext beyond mindless hedonism, the text barely even connects! That's why I find all of the claims of greater emotional depth on this record completely bogus, because if you're relying on barely connected subtext when the text doesn't even work, you've got no legs to stand on. Want more proof? The other song is 'Came A Long Way', which if I'm being charitable seems to be showing them wanting recognition for their come-up - but the problem is that the actual text doesn't tell any of that story, just all the more bragging about sex, drugs, and money that without even distinctive brand names becomes unbelievably tedious!

But I'm probably missing the point here, right? As long as the beats and melodies are good with solid production, nobody is going to care about anything these guys say? Well, I could refer you to the list of MCs who have great, hard-hitting production and something to say again, but that's missing the point that a lot of the production here just isn't very interesting, or go in directions that don't help the vibe. A prime example is 'Set The Roof' - forget the compression on his vocals, the most hard-hitting beat you could get to back up Lil Jon is a collaboration between Mike Will Made It and DJ Mustard, something that might have been interesting in early 2014 and already sounds stale and completely lacking in muscle? And that's before we get into production that's trying to sound way too creepy for its own good with blended theremins and chilly synths against your standard trap snares, like 'Real Chill' or 'Set The Roof', or the half-assembled walls of synth on 'Take It Or Leave It', or that hideous blended tone on 'Do Yoga'. I'd say this record tries for a little more grit like on 'Start A Party' or 'Over Here', but then whatever synth you get is either one-note or clashes terribly with the uglier vibe - and again, I don't know why you want that on party songs! Now to the production's credit, there are a few beats that did come together: 'Look Alive' actually sounds pretty lush before that too-thin synth dropped on the hook, and both 'Shake It Fast' and 'Now That I Know' could have actually connected if the keyboards weren't chopped to ribbons and barely on-key. Hell, I actually really liked the pseudo-darkwave vibe of the low roil on 'Black Beatles' - the production probably stands out the most, even if Mike Will Made It felt the need to add audio watermarks to the beginning and end of the track, or the pretty synth line that led to a more tropical vibe on 'Just Like Us', which was more in a major key and actually fit with the content better. And even though the blurry pianos driving 'Came A Long Way' sounded like they were imported from an alternative metal ballad in 2002, they fit the melancholy of the content and actually worked for me!

But folks... okay, let me let you all in on a little secret: while there will be people who will genuinely like this music and make excuses to the end of the world about the delivery and content - and keep in mind if it's your thing, i don't agree but I do get it - a fair number of people giving stuff like this and its descendants infecting mainstream radio a pass are doing it because they're terrified of being branded as 'out-of-touch' or 'irrelevant'. They make excuses to high heavens in order to justify issues that if the artist was less popular they'd delight in exposing - and I don't have these concerns, because this is garbage. Horribly written, terribly performed, and with production that only connects to a larger 'turn up' vibe in fragments, I can only hope that the rest of the public follows with current patterns and continues to aggressively ignore it. But otherwise, it's a solid 2/10 and no way in the Nine Hells can I recommend this. Folks, hip-hop might not be having a good year overall, but when you have Flatbush Zombies, Denzel Curry, SchoolBoy Q, DJ Khaled, YG, even Drake and Gucci Mane dropping better party jams, there's no excuse for this.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

the top ten worst hit songs of 2015 (VIDEO)

Well, it's finally here, the video so many of you have been wanting for so long. Once again, thanks for your patience - because man, this is a doozy. Stay tuned for the Best Hits of the year in a few days, but until then, have a Happy Holidays!

the top ten worst hit songs of 2015

There are a lot of critics - myself included - who will say that 2015 was a better year for the Hot 100 than previous years. While there were a fair amount of bad songs, they don't quite dip into the seething rage that sparks when you have songs implicitly endorsing date rape like in 2013, or watching two of my favourite genres spiral into inane, offensive nonsense like in 2014. And sure, some of that did continue into 2015, it was largely overshadowed by the good songs being better and the bad songs not quite having the same staying power or cultural presence, with a few unfortunate exceptions that we will be discussing.

So let's re-establish the rules: the songs need to have debuted on the Billboard Year End Hot 100 this year, and just being obscenely boring doesn't cut it. So if you were expecting Rachel Platten's 'Fight Song' or 'Somebody' by Natalie La Rose on this list, it's not going to happen. And one other thing: just because I might have had a passionate reaction to the song on Billboard BREAKDOWN is no guarantee that the song might land on this list. As much as 'Coco' by O.T. Genasis is ridiculously incompetent, it's too stupidly earnest to be hateable so much as it is hilarious. This list is for songs that make my stomach churn, the tracks I avoid with all costs, the compositions where you wonder who in the Nine Hells greenlit for public consumption.

Of course, for some tracks you can see what they were going for, so let's start with our Dishonourable Mentions!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - october 3, 2015 (VIDEO)

And this week happened. Whew, it took way too long to get this out, and considering how insane my schedule is this week, I'm lucky I got this out at all.

Next up... I really want to cover that Ought record, but waiting in the wings we've got Fetty Wap, Silversun Pickups, Kurt Vile, CHRVCHES, Julia Holter, The Underachievers, and that's not even counting Destroyer and Scarface (the former of whom I'm ready to cover and the latter I'm way behind in my backlog listen-through)... hold on tight, folks, this might be getting crazy.