Review: Big Sean – “I Decided”

Yassss!  So excited for Big Sean’s 4th studio album.  I had the opportunity to preview the album last night at his listening party in LA (thanks to Beats by Dre and DefJam).  And dang was it good.  We were encouraged to not post anything until the album officially came out, so thank goodness dropped the following day.  Everyone needs to hear this!

Okay, the review –

Intro | Nice little one minute intro to get this thing started.  It definitely sets the mood and gets the fans ready for what’s about to come.  The speaking also makes you question what this album will be about.

Light ft. Jeremih | And a beautiful transition right into the second track featuring the talented Jeremih.  Since we’re at the very beginning of the album, I’m a fan how this track focuses on Big Sean’s lyrics and voice.  There’s no music overpowering the two.  I like this approach for the album kickoff… you have to lead up to the bigger moments!  This track is almost like the Intro, Pt. 2.  I dig it.

Bounce Back | This song is fire!  Love that it’s at the top of the tracklist.  I woke up in beast mooooode.  You and I already know this song is amazing.  This is the Big Sean we all know and love.  You can bounce to it and rap along to it.  The ending of this song might be my favorite.  “Is you a real one?”  And the ending beat.  Dope.

No Favors ft. Eminem | The music on this.  Ultimate.  You can tell it’s leading up to something epic or someone epic aka Eminem.  The rap master himself.  In 8th grade I wrote a poem that I wanted to see Eminem in concert – have yet to do that.  Eminem’s voice has this boss sound to it.  Empowerment.  You can do anything.  Strong.  I’m typing this literally as I listen to the music.  And the creepy piano sounds make it that much more EPIC.  Yeah, we’ve all been waiting for this one.

Jump Out the Window | Wowwww.  This beat!!!  And the quick pause right before he goes into the lyrics.  “Your time was the only thing I wished was mine.”  What a lyric.  Definitely one of my favorites on this album.

Moves | I LOVE THIS SONG.  THE BEAT IS ULTIMATE.  While it’s one of the shorter tracks on the album coming in at 2:22min, it’s two minutes and 22 seconds of pure vibes.  Could I ask for anything more?  And if you haven’t seen the music video, watch it here.

Same Time, Pt. 1 (ft. TWENTY88) |  Another short track.  But I feel this is so because it’s listed as Pt. 1.  I don’t like assuming things, but I feel as if Pt. 2 may appear on either a Jhene Aiko project or on a second TWENTY88 project.  Wherever it appears next, I’m ready for it.  Their voices go together so well.  Magic.

Owe Me | “The smile on your face the only thing I can’t read.”  WOW.  This song keeps the vibe of the album going.  And Big Sean tells it like it is on this one.  I’m here for it.  And knowing that the next track is “Halfway Off the Balcony,” which we’ve already been blessed with, “Owe Me” is a great lead into it.  It’s a good transition, sound wise.

Halfway Off the Balcony | Out of “Bounce Back,” “Moves,” and this track – all songs he dropped before the album – this one is always stuck in my head.  So catchy.  In a good way!  “Chemistry means way more than anatomy.”  Hello.  Where are all these boys who think this way?  DM me if you know.

Voices In My Head / Stick To the Plan | I remember this song from the listening party.  Everyone was VIBING to it.  I love the switch up – the fact Metro Boomin produced this makes it even better.  And I like how “Metro Boomin want some more” doesn’t happen until the switch up.  And you’ll notice the tempo of the song picks up in “Stick To the Plan.”  Fire.  This song for me is motivation.  For what?  I don’t really know, but it just sounds like it.  And the ending… I hear you, Big Sean!

Sunday Morning Jetpack ft. The-Dream | Okay, this song is beautiful.  I first heard this when he premiered it on SNL a few Saturdays ago.  I’m glad he dropped this particular track by performing it live.  While all the songs are meaningful to Big Sean, I feel like this track is one of the more special ones, and you could tell that by watching him perform.  A rap song with real meaning – yes, please.

Inspire Me | This song was inspired by his mom.  During his listening party, she was not only there, but she was front and center when this track played.  She sat right next to her son with the biggest smile on her face.  It was really heartwarming to witness.  You definitely had a few “aww” moments in the crowd.

Sacrifices ft. Migos | Banger alert.  It’s pretty safe to say that any track with Migos featured on it is probably going to get you pumped up.  I’m sort of surprised this track is in between “Inspire Me” and “Bigger Than Me” – two songs that are more mellow and have a more serious meaning.  Not mad about it, but I feel like after hearing “Sacrifices,” I want the album to keep going with the fire.  On to the last track!

Bigger Than Me ft. The Flint Chozen Choir & Starrah | Okay, can we please acknowledge that Big Sean is always showing love and support for his home state that is Michigan?  I love it.  As an avid supporter of my hometown, I can relate to this and respect those who show constant love for and SUPPORT of where they came from.  What a beautiful way to end an album.  And a rap album of all things!

Overall Big Sean has grown so much as an artist over the past few years, and that is especially apparent on this album.  While I was selfishly hoping for an 18-track album, the above 14 songs satisfy my hunger for new music from the Detroit native.

So big props to Sean and his team on this one.  Go and support, yinz!  You can download on iTunes or stream on Apple Music.

Want to watch my review?  Check that here.

serge out!

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REVIEW: Travi$ Scott – “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight”

I know I haven’t reviewed Blonde yet or posted my recap of the VMAs, but this Travis Scott project is where it’s at right now.  Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight (BITTSM) is Travis’ second album, and it’s packed with 14 tracks of flames.  This is the album that if someone asked me what type of beats/sounds do I like, I would have them play this project… in its entirety.

If this is the first review from californyinz you’re reading, here’s what it entails:  me listening to the album as I write, my initial thoughts come out as word vomit, I make it readable, and publish for your enjoyment.  This one’s a little different though because I’ve already listened to BITTSM three or four times, whereas my other reviews are written during the first listen.  You can read a few of my initial thoughts when it dropped on Friday here.

Okay, let’s jump right into this –

the ends | When Travis hits those first lyrics, it sounds like to me it’s the beginning of a Travis Scott concert – what he would open with.  It’s dramatic, has the distinct Auto-Tune sound we all know Travis for… and with the lyric “if I make it out tonight, let’s make it a bad ass time” – that is definitely a line to kick off the night – whether it be at a concert, going out with your friends, the turn up, etc. Then at about a minute in we get the tone for the rest of the album.  And when that 1:10 mark hits – Travis is back with the beats.  Cue André 3000.  Like what.  Who was expecting that?  So epic.

way back | That James Harden shout out.  Another banger.  “It’s summertime why they tryin’ to throw shade?”  This is a summertime vibe song for sure.  Hanging with your friends at a house party… getting the night or party started.  Although it’s only the second song, I feel like on a lot of albums, artists switch up the vibe completely from the first song but ‘way back’ keeps it going from track one.  Also important to note:  During his .WAV radio episode on Friday he mentioned that a lot of his songs tend to have extra sounds at the end – like an extended two minutes and some people may not like that.  But he doesn’t care because that’s him.  He keeps a track going because it’s what he wants to hear.  To him he feels like that completes the song.  I feel this is the case on ‘way back.’  With about two minutes left, the song switches up where you could have probably ended it.  I am not one of those people  complaining – keep the beats coming.  You can hear that same theme (extension of a track) on the second half of his song ‘Pornography’ from his first album, Rodeo.  

coordinate | Okay, let’s talk about ‘coordinate’ and how when I heard it for the first time, I thought Future was about to jump on the track.  Disclaimer:  This is not a negative thing – just making a comparison, and I love how other artists inspire one another.  It has that same creep-up beat followed by some smooth vibes.  Future’s track obviously hits a little harder because duh it’s Future.  But I’m feeling ‘coordinate’ a lot.  I would listen to this one driving late night.

through the late night | This track though has some serious inspirational vibes to it.  I’m not even talking about what it sounds like but more of who is on the track.  Kid Cudi, Travis’ role model and artist he looks up to, is on the track.  Fun fact:  Travis chose his last name of Scott because that is Kid Cudi’s real name – Scott Mescudi.  I learned that on the very first episode of .WAV radio.  And you have to love how Travis raps a few lines from one of Cudi’s biggest hits ‘Day N’ Night’.  Like you’re listening to this new song and those lyrics drop – I definitely did a double take/listen on that.  Inspo on top of inspo.

beibs in the trap | Opening this track is Nav, a Canadian singer, songwriter, and producer from Toronto.  This is the first time I’ve ever heard of him, but clearly I’m fond of rappers and singers from Toronto so looks like I’ll have to check his music out.  This song dips into the chill vibes, not mad about that.  It’s not one of my top tracks from the album but still good to vibe to.

sdp interlude | Want to talk about real chill vibes though?  This interlude is it, and I’m about it.  It’s like Travis is saying, “Okay, guys intermission.  I’ll be back for the rest of the turn up in two to three minutes.”

sweet sweet | And we back with the beats.  I would listen to this song while getting ready for the night.  He raps a few lines about how he managed to become pretty freaking successful despite all the hardships and obstacles along the way and while growing up.  And during Friday’s episode of .WAV radio, Trav stated this track was his favorite off the album.

outside | ft. 21 Savage.  Thiiiiiiis track right here.  Love how it begins.  You hear this at a club… then the DJ drops the beat… wowwww.  Then jumps in 21 Savage who adds a darker side to the track with his voice and lyrics.  This track is like don’t mess with me and my team.  Bye.

goosebumps | This song gives me goosebumps which is ironic because that’s what this song implies.  It’s Kendrick Lamar and Travis rapping about how their lover gives them goosebumps.  This song is unique to me because you don’t typically think of Travis Scott and a love song, if you will.  It’s about how a girl makes him feel when she’s around, when she’s not around, when he’s around other girls… lots of different scenarios.  But it’s really great, and the fact Kendrick is on this.  Wow.  Again, wasn’t expecting this feature, but it is much appreciated.

first take | Okay, again… with the surprise feature.  Were these features known or was I just not paying attention?  Bryson Tiller though?  “You think too much, we all know.”  I have been told that too many times *upside down smiley face emoji*.  Travis is getting emotional, and I like seeing that side of an artist especially an artist like Travis where you tend to think of his music as just turn-up and rage all night music.  Then about three minutes in, you hear the beautiful sounds that are of Bryson Tiller’s angelic voice.  Bryson was the perfect feature for this track since most of his own songs (Trapsoul) are a tad bit emotional, singing/rapping about lost love, current girls, etc.

pick up the phone | Yasssss.  I act like I haven’t played this song a million times before.  So glad it’s on the album, and it almost serves as a pick-me-up from the previous track.  And when I say pick-me-up, I’m not talking about the meaning of the song because it’s about a girl not picking up the phone, rather I’m talking about the beat.  Clearly you can tell I’m into beats.  We also have the other main man of trap, Mr. Young Thug, on the track so it’s a really great collab.

lose | This song opens with a semi-majestic sound.  It also reminds me of the Rick Ross ft. Big Sean and Kanye track, ‘Sanctified’ at about the 1:30 mark – like the super back and down beat; it’s like the faster version of what it sounds like on ‘lose.’  I feel boss listening to this one.  You’ll also pick up on some vocals from Cassie.

guidance | Okay, now this song reminds me of the Drake track featuring PartyNextDoor, ‘With You.’  It has that sort of island vibe Drake has been giving us.  I also love that Roy Woods is on ‘guidance.’  Another one associated with Drake.  I love it.  I want to listen to this on the beach.  This song portrays another unique sound Travis is able to create.

wonderful | I could not be happier that this song is closing out the album.  One of my favorite songs of 2015; I think this track dropped Christmas Eve last year.  It’s wonderful.  Travis is wonderful.  The Weeknd is wonderful.  The album is wonderful.  I don’t really have anything deep to say about this track – I just really like it.  It’s one of those songs I forget to play but when I hear it, I’m like waiiiiit a second… life giving.  Perfect ending to the album.

Overall, I have to say I’d put this album in my top five albums that dropped this year so far.  It’s what I wanted from Travis.  Why do I like Travis so much?  This album explains that.  You have to remember that Travis stepped into the music scene as a producer – he was known for creating dope beats.  Then he turned into an artist.  And again, you should all know by now the beat of a song makes it for me so if you have an album of 14-beat heavy tracks mixed with trap sounds, rapping, and a hint of Kanye… you know I’m going to love it.

I even love how he left all the track titles lowercased.  It’s the little things.

That’s all, yinz – stay tuned for the next post, and have a ‘wonderful’ Labor Day!

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Review: Jaxon – ‘WILDWEST’

New artist + new series alert!  I am pretty excited to have my first

watch out WEDNESDAY 

post feature none other than the 21-year-old New Zealand artist, Jaxon.  In particular, this post will highlight his debut EP, WILDWEST which dropped last Friday, August 5.

Jaxon is a rock-leaning, soul, R&B singer, who was raised in Texas, with influences ranging from artists like Drake, Lenny Kravitz, Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, Guns N’ Roses, Miguel, and Ben Harper.  They have helped him personally grow as an artist and by listening to WILDWEST, you will definitely hear the above influences in his sound, specifically Drake, Lenny Kravitz, and Miguel.  Very, very dope AND extremely unique.  Major key.

Okay, time for the real deal.  I recommend you listen to the EP below and read my review of each track as you listen and would love to know what you think in the comments section at the bottom of this post.  Press play and hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

WILDWEST REVIEW

‘High Noon’ | This song just puts me in a good mood and when the chorus hits, all I want to do is rock out (Lenny Kravitz, check), and I’m typically not one to ‘rock out.’  This track will make you want to take a road trip up PCH to Malibu.  And honestly, any song about California I’m probably going to like.  I mean, I did move here from the East Coast, right?  His vocals are powerful at the end too – I dig it!

‘Smith & Wesson’ | Love the opening sound of this track.  I feel like now I should be in Malibu on the beach.  Summer vibes all the way.

‘Wild West’ | Now we’re at the track which shares the name of the EP.  Love the guitar on this one, and Jaxon’s vocals on this actually remind me of Miguel (check).  I could see it being on Miguel’s last album Wildheart.  Woah.  WILDWEST… Wildheart.  Amazing.

‘Red Velvet’ | Again, another track I want to rock out to.  PROPS to Jaxon for getting me to rock out.  Rare ting.  Love the overall beat and cadence.  His voice is as smooth as red velvet on this track.  And now I sort of want a piece of red velvet cake.  Moving on…

‘Hennessy ft. DYSN’ The opening of this track is unexpected from the rest of the songs, and I love it.  Okay, can we get a Bieber and Jaxon duet?  Serious.  I think that would be dope.  This is definitely an end-of-the-night song, and if you know me, you know I love music for ALL types of the day and night, so thank you, Jaxon, for giving me a new song to add to my chill vibes playlist :).

‘Black Gold’ | I immediately was drawn to this track just from the name of it.  Pittsburgh colors, ya dig!  Love when the song picks up at about 1:15.  This was a strong ending to the EP – well done.

Overall emotion… Drake feel (check).

Listening to the six tracks truly takes you on a journey from start to finish.  I think people will gravitate toward this project because it’s relatable – moving to a new city, dealing with modern day problems, and just going with and handling the flow of life.  And why will you gravitate toward Jaxon?  As an artist, his voice is melodic AF, he has vocals AND can play the guitar, and from what I hear, he’s a complete gem :).

Really looking forward to getting more music from Jaxon and seeing him grow as an artist.

Thanks for reading my first watch out WEDNESDAY, yinz!

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