The Good, The Average & The Ugly (9/9-9/16)

Every Tuesday, I'll be reviewing what I thought was good, average and bad from the week in music. This week, we'll be taking a look at releases from Chicago prodigy Noname, Atlanta R&B native 6LACK, and a star-studded single from Gucci Mane, Bruno Mars and Kodak Black.

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THE GOOD


Noname -Room 25


On September 14th of this past week, Rolling Stone's Brendan Klinkenberg exclaimed in bold fashion that "Noname is one of the best rappers alive". He didn't just bury this proclamation deep in the write-up either, he made it the title of the article. Such a claim required some serious investigation by myself, and upon searching through Noname's brief discography, I discovered that she released her second studio album, Room 25, on Friday, September 14th. After listening to the album in its entirety, I undoubtedly sided with Klinkenberg.


Noname is one of the best rappers alive.


A native of the Bronzeville neighborhood of south side Chicago, Fatimah Nyeema Warner is quietly delivering some of the most well formulated, articulate, complex bars that the rap game has seen in a very, very long time. The followup to her widely acclaimed debut solo album Telefone, Room 25 is a deeply personal, airtight homage to her upbringing. If a comparison had to be made, I'd say that Noname's newest project is the softer, lighter Good Kid, MAAD City, as Noname addresses a day or two in the life of a conflicted south side teen in beautiful fashion. In a year where production and instrumentation has ruled the rap world, Noname is a breath of fresh air to any lyric nut, and for that matter any fan of the genre. Take this genius bar for example;


Maybe I'm a hypocrite, maybe I'm hypochondriac

I'm struggling to simmer down, maybe I'm an insomni-black

Bad sleep triggered by bad government

Write a think piece in the rap song, the new age covenant

If you think I'm cooking crackin, pass me the oven mitts


In this bar, among many others, Noname does what few rappers attempt, let alone accomplish; she blends societal issues with interpersonal experience.


So, is Noname the female Kendrick Lamar? Maybe. Does she get the credit she deserves? Absolutely not.


Ladies and gentleman, this is rap. Sure, the shallow mumble rap that floods the airwaves shares the same title from as far as genre is concerned, and don't get me wrong, I love that crap just as much as the next listener. But as long as rappers like Noname are making music, it's truly difficult to pin every respective rap artist under the same umbrella.


Whether you like it or not, Noname's Room 25 is a fantastic testament to what rap music can be.


But honestly, how could you not like it?


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THE AVERAGE


6LACK - East Atlanta Love Letter


Let's see, what can be said about 6LACK that isn't in the realm of mediocrity?

Thinking, thinking, thinking...


I got nothing.


Wait a second though, this isn't to undermine the fact that I think 6LACK is a solid R&B artist, as I really do, but in a genre where artists like Frank Ocean, Daniel Caesar, SZA and Beyonce run the genre like Golden State as of recent, 6LACK has no choice but to warm the bench.


East Atlanta Love Letter is certainly an improvement from the Atlanta artist's previous, less ambitious project, FREE 6LACK, but not by much. The albums bright spots come in its features, as 6LACK gives us guest appearances from industry heavyweights Future, J. Cole, Offset and Khalid. Sadly, the rich lineup on East Atlanta Love Letter fails to save 6LACK from an ultimately so-so album. The features are quite strong, which unfortunately throws 6LACK out of frame of the projects best songs.


Another highlight of the album is 6LACK's ability to easily convey a singular, broadened message throughout. East Atlanta Love Letter, contrary to the names blatant suggestion, isn't exactly meant as a form of homage to his hometown, but rather a slow, painful decay of love in its nebulous form.


Much like the albums theme, however, 6LACK's second studio album is anything but memorable, and on this nearly unavoidable path, 6LACK will decay along with his discography.


Usually I'd offer optimism in cases like this, but this isn't rap, this is R&B, the music worlds most inclusive, unconquerable genre. Much like the Golden State Warriors, R&B has a starting 5, and cracking into that starting lineup is nothing short of borderline impossible, especially at this rate.


So 6LACK, as much as I hate saying it, embrace your job as the 12th man on the team. Swaggy P, as much as we love him, will never take the 3 spot from Kevin Durant. Truthfully, there's really not much you can do.


Maybe the day will come where 6LACK will push into that elite group.


Maybe, just maybe.


But probably not.


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THE UGLY


Gucci Mane, Bruno Mars & Kodak Black - "Wake Up In The Sky"



You ever heard phrase "Strength in Numbers"?


That does not apply here.


Seriously though, who thought it was a good idea to toss these three on a song together? I could understand Gucci Mane and Kodak Black, in fact, that duo has been done before (see "Vibin In This Bih"), but Bruno Mars?


This track without Bruno Mars probably would've landed in the average category for me, but the addition of the Grammy thief makes for a cringe-worthy combination. Don't get it twisted, Bruno Mars is great at what he does, but this trio is as good of a combination as chocolate and Ritalin.


Sometimes things like this work out, but in this case, the song flops (not on the charts of course). The low point of the song is Bruno Mar's unbearable chorus, where he belts out his lines in a borderline whiney manner. On a Bruno-exclusive song, this would probably work, but take Gucci and Kodak's verses into account and you have a train wreck; a bad idea gone, well, bad.


Each rappers respective verses expectedly have no validity, which in truth is what makes each of them great, but even without Bruno's horrid chorus they still don't really work. This fault is mainly a product of lazy production.


There's really not much else I have to say about this record. It's a sloppy, under thought cash grab that will without doubt do numbers, regardless of quality.


The track, in essence, goes against the grain of what each artist is known for.


Gucci, it's the state versus Radric Davis, not Radric Davis versus Radric Davis


Kodak, they don't like to see you winnin', but you can't win if you're beating yourself


And Bruno, well, just give your grammy to DAMN. or 4:44 if you know what's good for you.


That is all.


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- Carter Ferryman -





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