If I could pick one album that represents the importance of black history, I would pick Jay-z’s recent studio album 4.44. As many of you know.. Jay-z is a numbers guy. Therefore, it was only fitting that his 13th studio album is his most "unapologetically black" album. Hence,the 13th amendment which represents the abolishment of slavery… Think about it? This album touches on black stereotypes, racism, relationships and family life.The song “Family Feud” is a call to action against separation among the black community,and “Legacy” promotes black capitalism. In my opinion, this album is a musical pamphlet that encourages the black community to go against all stereotypes inflicted by “White America”. Not to mention,Jay-z is one of the top voices within the black community and you cannot talk about black history without mentioning Hip Hop’s influence.So, I leave you with one question. “What better than one billionaire? Two. Especially if they’re from the same hue as you”.
Black On Both Sides is the debut album by one of the greatest to ever do it, Mos Def aka Yasiin Bey. Although the album came out in ‘99 it wasn’t until college that I really took a deep dive into it. To me this album helped change the trajectory of hip hop. He didn’t talk about the typical things like money and girls the way his peers did. Mos used his voice to elevate, educate, and motivate. He focused on the conscious mind and encouraged people, especially black people, to know and understand their self-worth. The Fela Kuti sampled track “Fear Not of Men” delved into that specifically and as the opening track it set the entire backdrop of the album. He openly acknowledged God and faith in a way that we didn’t see too often in hip hop which I think is important to note. He also talked about hope and pushing through despite our circumstances. One of my absolute favs would have to be “Umi Says”I swear I’m going to get shine your light for the world to see tattooed somewhere one day (who’s coming?!). Such a simple line yet necessary. Bogged down by the world and our own inner demons sometimes that’s all you need to hear to reassure you and help you push through. “Rock N Roll” is an ode to important black figures in music who don’t get enough credit for being the pioneers of rock music. Honestly that’s the first time I ever heard of Chuck Berry which prompted me to do more research on the matter. Black On Both Sides is an album that will never get old. Even now when I listen back the takeaway is different each time. It’s crazy because even though nearly 20 years have passed since its release, it’s underlying messages still resonates with our community today. It says a lot about how far we’ve come and how much further we still have to go.
Solange’s 3rd album released in 2016 is a staple in my historic Black History albums. From the beginning to the end, Solange laid out perfectly in beautiful melodic tunes how it feels to live and exist in today’s world as a black person. Her song Weary illustrates the frustration of always having to explain your blackness and defend your place in the world. Don’t touch my Hair is every black woman’s anthem to all who like to reach out and touch our Crowns without permission. She gives us so much material to think about, cry over, and sing along to. She helps us embrace our anger and frustration by singing “You got the right to be mad” on her song Mad feat. Lil Wayne and vocals by Tweet. F.U.B.U. is a favorite of mine. Solange takes the widely know acronym and lets every black person in the world know “This shit is for us” reminding us all that we cannot be held down or stopped. A Seat At The table is not only music with a message, the jazzy funk and soul sounds are so easy to listen to. This album will always be in rotation whether it’s Black History Month or not.
To Pimp A Butterfly is the Harlem Renaissance meets the Black Panther Party with a splash of the modern Black Lives Matter movement all in one. Kendrick is masterful in his approach to storytelling as he takes us on a trip down memory lane discussing critical moments in Black History as well as issues that we were facing at the time such as racism and police brutality (which are still issues we face as a community today). The iconic album graphic of the "homies" drinking 40oz on the White House lawn over the body of a seemingly deceased judge is indicative of the times we were in. On one hand, it shows that we were no longer dependent upon the law to serve justice but one could also interpret it as an ode to 44, Barack Obama, and his Historic tenure as President of the United States. With hits such as "King Kunta" and "Alright", Kendrick solidified his place as the Black Superhero while successfully juggling his newfound celebrity status he earned from his 2012 classic Good Kid, M.A.A.D City. Not to mention his efforts earned him the Grammy for Best Rap album so it's safe to say his message was well received by the masses.
To be completely honest, I never listened to any of Meek's albums. I was not a fan of his. Of course I enjoyed his radio singles but not enough to listen to his albums. When Meek was released from prison earlier this year, I saw a different side of him. He became more conscious and self-aware. I knew his next album would be different. My predictions were accurate! On the first listen, I was impressed. Meek gave me a preview into his life. It was raw and vulnerable. He painted a picture of his 7 month prison stint while shedding light on a broken prison system. The album had plenty of features to satisfy anyone’s needs. Cardi’s feature was a pleasant surprise given her recent beef with Nicki. However she bodied her verse which over shadowed Meek . Yikes! The other features were mediocre in my opinion. However it was great to see the support he has from his peers. Can we also talk about the amount of samples used on this album?? ? Someone went a little “samples” crazy, and I loved it! A solid album. I will replay about 3-4 songs.
As they say in the islands, “you have to give Jack his jacket” which translates to give credit where credit is due. Meek Mill...this album…he did that! Being one of the many Drake fans that ragged on him during their infamous feud (Alexa…play Loyalty by Kendrick Lamar), I have to applaud Meek on this release. He’s had a hell of a year and I’m glad that he didn’t shy away from talking about it on this album. The record plays out like an open book. Meek discusses his trials and tribulations with the broken prison system, failed relationships, and the journey to finding oneself after repeatedly being knocked down. “How many times you send me to jail to know that I won’t fail?” To me that line isn’t just Meek speaking about his personal experience, but more so what it means to be black in America. I also liked the carefully crafted use of samples throughout the project. Hip hop is known for recreating fresh new sounds out of old school jams so it was good to see the production done in this way. Even though the project is jam packed with features, it didn’t take away from Meek’s message. In fact, I think it shows how much support he has from his peers and how he fares against the competition. Overall, solid project.
Meek Mill clearly had A LOT to get off of his chest and did a great job laying out everything he needed to say in this album. Songs like Trauma and Oodles of Noodles babies talk about the hardships of growing up in the Philly streets and how the "justice" system is rigged for a lot of disenfranchised people of color. Both are very strong songs and solidify Meek as someone to stand with in the fight for social justice toward black men.. Also the sample choices on this album are top notch (Notorious B.I.G. , Beyonce, Mother's finest, etc.) I really enjoyed that the Intro song samples "In the Air tonight" by Phil Collins which shows Meek's (or the producer's) wide range of musical tastes. I think it takes a creative mind to use a non hip hop song (Phil Collins especially) and translate it into a gritty hip hop/rap sample. Also is the song collab w/ Cardi B a not-so-subtle dig at Meek's ex girlfriend?? Not sure, but it's a good one. Overall, Meek used this album to be very transparent about his recent struggles and his recent wins, not just the fun part of fame. I hope to hear more rap from other artists that follows suit.
"Hold up wait a minute..... Yall thought I was finished?"..... that infamous line is from the last song of the Philly born rapper that I can recall playing more than once. And it is very coincidental that the line holds true given the tumultuous last 2 years he's had between jail time, a major L he suffered at the hands of Mr. OVO and his public split with former girlfriend Nikki Minaj. I don't think anyone thought that he could recover from those setbacks but with his latest album Championships, he definitely silenced all of his critics. This album delivers a raw and unfiltered look into his recent trials and tribulations which is a nice touch for those of us who appreciate transparency in music. He also displays an ability to switch up his flow in some songs which has always been a knock against him and the "loud/yelling" approach he normally uses. The album also boasts great samples (Biggie, Beyonce, and Phil Knight) and its clear that he has the respect and support of his peers with features such as HOV, Cardi B (which was most likely a slight to Nikki) and even Drake who he was able to mend his longtime beef with. Overall, I think it's a solid album and worth the recent buzz that is surrounding it.
Aye... Mr.Carter.. Where have you been??? lol I have been patiently waiting for another installment of Tha Carter..Wayne has finally answered my question! After listening, for a week straight I have came to conclusion that this album is truly for his fans. He took me back to the early 00"s where rappers had more finesse. Each track showcased his witty bars with a smooth delivery. I loved hearing the Swizz Beatz produced track "Uproar". It showcases "Mixtape Weezy" which I love. Overall I think the album is solid and it paid homage to reason why Weezy is at the top of his class. Initially I was expecting more upbeat tracks but I think he gave listeners a sample of his versatility on this project. As a music lover, I can appreciate that. Does this album have replay value... The jury is still out.. However I did download a couple songs that are currently on rotation..
Tha Carter V is a solid album. He sounds like old Wayne from the early 2000s so I think his core fan base will either love it or hate it. Some may prefer that sound while others may have wanted to see some growth in his artistry. I didn't really have any expectations, I was just glad to see that he was releasing a new project. "Uproar" had me harlem shaking left and right and I know I'm always giving her shit, but I did like Nicki's vocals on "Dark Side of The Moon". A lot of fillers sprinkled here and there -- I would've been good with a cool 15 tracks vs. the 23 that we got. We all know he kind of birthed the yatchys and uzi's of the world with the "lil" tag name, face tattoos, and colored dreads so his influence is definitely present in the new age rappers even though they might not connect with this album.
It’s been 7 years since Wayne’s last album and 23 songs was appropriate, considering the time fans have been waiting for this album. The songs with features are stand out songs for me especially Mona Lisa feat. Kendrick Lamar. The storytelling is fantastic throughout the album as Wayne speaks on so many topics such as his legal issues with Cash money, being famous for most of his life, and doubts toward his comeback. Some of the songs feel a bit dated but still fit within the context of his return to music. I also enjoyed the involvement of his family in this album as his daughter Reginae, his mom Jacida, and his son’s mother Nivea are all featured. Overall, A solid album and i’m excited to hear what else Lil Wayne has in store musically.
The Carter V is the latest edition to Lil Wayne's musical resume and as his previous releases has taught us, he never disappoints. There has been speculation of whether or not he can live up to they hype. Question answered, he did. From the collaborations with heavy hitters such as Travis Scott and Kendrick Lamar, to the production from the likes of Swizz Beats, Metro Boomin, DJ Mustard and Mannie Fresh, the album is multifaceted and has a variety of sounds (which ultimately appeals to different audiences). What I particularly liked about the album was Wayne's lyrical content which is a major factor in how I evaluate an artist and their album. His bars and punch lines were smooth, catchy and calculated which is what originally propelled him to the pinnacles of Hip Hop royalty and what resonated with his core fans who have been loyal to him all these years even in his absence.