Tag Archives: MMG

Rockie Fresh – CBS

The underrated Chi-town talent comes back stuntin’..

Rockie Fresh is not only one of the most underrated in MMG, but in rap period. His previous efforts have cemented his position amongst fans as one of the best, even though they seemed to have been overlooked by the bigger platforms. With an array of quality visuals and features with the likes of Ed Sheeran and Chris Brown, he seems to have it tougher than so many others. Despite being on somewhat of a hiatus since being blessed with a child, he’s been hard at work, with Electric Highway 2 on the way. CBS (Came Back Stuntin’) is the first release from the project, and gives a good idea of what’s to come, as he not only picks up where he left from, but goes up a gear, as he brings the DeLorean back out, with his assertive delivery, letting you know he’s clearly not here to make up numbers, but stack them.

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Click artwork to listen on Spotify

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Wale – It’s Complicated EP

Wale has been victim to one of the biggest injustices in music last year, with the lack of support for what was one of the best albums released. Shine was almost completely overlooked, and though it did well, what appears to be a lack of support from the label meant there was some sort of disconnect and it did not receive the acknowledgement it deserved. Maybe that statement is a lil’ bit exaggerated, however, it was definitely one of the better projects released, and albeit tracks like Fashion Week (ft. G-Eazy) may have been ahead of their time, even the star-studded single featuring Major Lazer, WizKid & Dua Lipa, did not rule the summer as it should have. Since, after a short hiatus, the DC wordsmith has parted ways with Atlantic records, and a blessing in disguise as he shortly released this It’s Complicated EP

In an era where most projects tend to be over 15 tracks, Folarin proves his worth as an artist with substance, staying true to the EP format, with 4 tracks, and though the average listener may question that, it’s testament to the EP’s playback value. Starting with the title track, a classic Wale creation, fusing his signature spoken word, emphasising his poetic nature, as he opens up with a very realistic and current love story. “It’s complicated to find a lady in my generation…that’s not preoccupied with social clout, we almost fazing out from the high we get from love and conversation, to go on IG galavanting for likes and shit, Oh it’s complicated..”, he sets the tone from the get go, and as much as Wale may be praised for his dedications to women (such as Diary and Ice and Rain), the poetry of his lyricism is often overlooked, “Foundation on all my pillows, still your tender face is flawless when the sky kiss you..”, very few can paint these pictures and execute it with such coolness and machismo. The honesty in his music, much like his craft, is underrated, similar to how he is able to give you both sides, to where it’s not only relevant but relatable for so many in today’s times.

Already through one song, we’re given different dimensions, but it does not stop there, with the conceptual Black Bonnie, another ode to the yearning of a ride or die, the need of loyalty and compromise. Through my own understanding, the black woman has been one of the most oppressed, and what should not be ignored is Wale’s constant support of our queens (throughout his career), and this song effortlessly strengthens such notion, through the Bonnie & Clyde metaphor, he places her Godly intuition rightfully high, it’s a beautiful sentiment and something that he deserves more recognition for. Along with the addition of Jacquees’ (underrated) vocals, it truly amplifies the feeling and helps transcend the idea that is Black Bonnie. Now whether this EP is a translation of real life regarding someone in particular, or something he quests for, like his music..he is in search of substance, with the stronger essences of maturity and growth evident thus far. Some of the best artists are those who are transparent within their music, from the likes of Kanye West to Future, and Wale sits in the middle, as with (my initial favourite) Effortless, while the song itself is catchy and cool (with it’s Mary Jane Girls – All Night Long sample), it’s fairly truthful to where he’s at in life, as he quietly rebuilds, he touches on that, “I’ve been here..but I’ve been low key, can’t nobody say they’ve seen me around..”, distant from social media of late, it’s allowed him to live a bit more it seems, and he’s able to blend that into his music, even it’s laid-back feel really accentuates the content, and you just have to pay attention to garner glimpses of vulnerability as he drops his guard with this one, “I know I’m petty and immature..and I know, I’ve been hurt before..shouldn’t be the source of my cold heart, maybe shawty could be the first..to show me how to love on a level where effort isn’t work”. The way Effortless is catchy in sound, the final track of the EP has one of the catchier flows. A more retrospective offering, Let It Go really helps put into perspective not just himself but the journey of the project, from establishing, trying, maintaing to ending, characteristics and reactions of how he as a human with his strengths & flaws, handles such situations and what they come with. What at first was a dope four track EP, it’s really more of a creative insight and further justifies my previous point of transparency, “I’m heavily flawed, God designed me a little different, always at odds with my mind and heart”. Also, prior to that bar he states, “I’m ’bout to get signed the fourth time in a row”, which is interesting, as up and until him signing with Atlantic via MMG, that was considered his third, so possibly he is gearing up to take his EMB imprint to a new home or acquire distribution (said to be Empire records), which means more music for sure. Wether that may be the case or not, it’s evident with this EP that while love may be complicated, he is in full control and on course to gain the adoration that his artistry deserves.

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Click artwork to listen on Apple music

 

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Wale – Fine Girl ft. Davido & Olamide

Folarin drops the visuals for one of the standouts (out of the many) off his recent album, Shine.

Having dropped videos for Running Back and Fashion Week, this is the next visual we have received after the J Balvin featured, Colombia Heights (Te Llamo), and whilst the video for the latter was more artistic in it’s approach and visual-feel, the video for Fine Girl like the song pays homage to the beautiful African muses it was inspired by.

Whilst many might credit Kendrick of late for putting the spotlight on the black woman, Wale has been praising the beauty of the nubian queens for some time now, even back to his (now) classic, Diary. In fact, most of his visuals, he has been positive with such notion. So it is no surprise, but really it just so happens that he has been able to create a song which embodies African rhythm, and can put together a video to glorify further. I’m not too impressed with the video but who cares when you have such an eclectic level of beauty on display, it does dispel those negative ideologies of Africa and their queens, that have plagued entertainment from well before our time. The song is still just as much of a banger as when it first grew on me throughout the early stages of listening to the album. I think we all are awaiting for something special for My Love (with a lyric video recently released), though it is disappointing, that is has not quite garnered the phenomenal numbers that it deserves.

There seems to be a recurring pattern for black artists and such sounds, as we’ve seen with Omarion, I for now am looking at it as more of a internal label relations issue than outright racism, though that would not be surprising, but again, more reason for me to dedicate my time in raising the awareness for quality music, and Wale is most definitely deserving of such praise.

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The Article About Nothing: Wale, the underrated

After news that his newly released album, Shine, which has not been so prominent within the realms of the internet, was projected to sell under 30,000 copies in it’s first week, in comparison to Kendrick’s 500,000, the term ‘flop’ began to surface.

Most recently, Joe Budden highlighted the lack of support Wale received (being a major recording artist), citing the disconnect of the radio hit as a factor, and with the release of this effort unlike that of his 2011, Ambition (arguably his biggest album). It featured the street anthem of the same name, a personal favourite, That Way, and the massive (Miguel featured) single Lotus Flower Bomb. His 2013 release Gifted had a similar aesthetic, boasting the hits LoveHate Thing, Bad (and the Remix ft. Rihanna). And then once again, his 2015 Seinfeld concept, The Album About Nothing, the third instalment to his Seinfeld-themed mixtapes, The Mixtape About Nothing (2008) and More About Nothing (2010), The Album About Nothing featured two giant singles, Matrimony featuring Usher, and (the Jeremih assisted) Body. The point being that Joe Budden might be onto something, as there has been a formula and roll out, for his albums, lead with a distinct radio hit. Shine for some reason goes against that, rather than the obvious single choices, they started with PYT, a song which I was listening to the other day, and wondering if it would have been even bigger if say Chris Brown was on the hook? and it felt like an assertive decision from Folarin to push forth with DJ Sam Sneak. It did good, well over 100million plays overall on all platforms, yet still feels like it had more potential. Even the second single, now relying on the feature somewhat, linking with Lil’ Wayne for Runnin’ Back. Definitely an underrated single, it just shows that for some reason, the hype or demand is not there the same way, the moment is coming and going without impacting the masses. I still can go back to his 2009 debut, Attention Deficit, and listen to tracks like Shades, Chillin’, Contemplate, Diary, Beautiful Bliss, or Prescription and be reminded of that time.

The album release was put forward, and the press runs ensue, which was great for me, I wanted to hear the album, but My PYT peaked about 6 to 7 months ago, and so unlike Kendrick’s release with the lyrical warning (which did get air time for the alleged Big Sean diss), but then he gave us Humble, and everyone got behind it, 100 million+ views in a month, then an impressive Coachella set, before the video for DNA, which has only pushed the run further. Yes I know, K Dot is technically a bigger artist than Wale, but here’s the thing, whilst physical sales may be low, Shine has done well on streaming services. Kendrick’s streams are a lot higher, but I tribute a lot of that to not only the sound, but the execution of the roll out.

Bringing me back to My PYT, and the time in which the album was released. The fact that Rozay’s album came before, though it helped the brand, I don’t think it helped Shine.

Wale has been overlooked throughout, from the fact that he had been uplifting the people musically from the get go, even Nike Boots was more for soul than the sole.

A modern-day pioneer for the kick game, you were not checking for foamposites ’til him, even the shoes that followed, he was a big influence. All this is great, but is his name bigger than his artistry?! Has his personality transcended the music, to where, people feel they can speak on him as if he is not one of the most talented poets of his generation?! Is MMG no longer the force it was?! Or are people just not ready for Go-Go music?!

I once thought that it was because his vocals were not as clear as they used to be, but feels more like most media are too busy sucking up to those at the top, to actually pay attention.

Shine will definitely garner more listens over time, just not at the same rapid rate as the more popular names. I was disappointed to see the image of someone not of the culture, accusing Wale of capitalising on the current caribbean trend, for his WizKid, Dua Lipa and Major Lazer collab. Sounds more like Wale once again, pushing the culture forward.

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Wale, who recently became a father, he’s obviously sharing his time, and so maybe the process of it all suffered a bit, but regardless..he’s blessed, and that’s present in the music. As we have seen with Drake’s Views, and Kendrick Lamar’s TPAB, great projects, but still received criticism, leading to More Life, and DAMN. Similarly I hope Wale follows suit with his next project.

I believe in the album, it’s a quality project (might be up there as one of his best), and it will grow on you, so I realise, in reality, Wale’s discography is ahead of it’s time. As a fan, I do believe that him as a person has a part to play with things. He’s a real one. Generally, in working environments, university and so forth, some of us at times struggle with the lack of sincerity, the flakiness, leeching and so forth, for someone who wears their heart on their sleeve, not only do they tend to be introvert or anti-social, but it intimidates and only encourages the fakes to segregate further. You know the saying, “people fear what they do not understand”. 

Remaining positive either way, as the music is undeniable. I am definitely looking forward to more new visuals. I’m unaware of the budget etc, My Love obviously, deserves something special, but to be honest, each song could benefit with a video. Fine Girl has so much potential too, it just shows you the spectrum that the album is.

Big up Wale on a solid body of work, I’m definitely enjoying listening to it.

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“I’m afraid of myself more than anyone else, I’m still lookin’ in the mirror when in need of some help” – Rockie Fresh

One of Rick Ross’ later signings, he (and the likes of Tracy T) may have found themselves in the shadow of the MMG starting line-up, however, for those paying attention, they would come across versatile bodies of work. One thing that has stood out, is his consistency. He has delivered a variety of new age classics, leading up to his most recent project, a clever concept, The Night I Went To, which was a combination of his trilogy of the same name, with the three editions being, Los Angeles, New York, and his hometown Chicago. Complete with quality visuals, he shows no signs of stopping, as he drops this introspective cut.

Pray 4 Me, is a good example of how Rockie can take his inner thoughts and emotion and effortlessly express them with essences of poetry. Production by one of the most talented up and coming producers, Bizness Boi, providing Rockie Fresh with the soulful canvas to lyrically paint pictures. He begins with a very sincere and personal note, “I’m afraid of myself more than anyone else, I’m still lookin’ in the mirror when in need of some help”, something not everyone shares so boldly. Beautiful music, the song has an uplifting tone to it, as he touches on different topics, even something everyone can relate with, “Lookin’ at these n**gaz like why we can’t stay friends, I pray Meek Mill and Drake work again..Amen”, referencing to their previous hit, Amen.

Despite his success thus far, he is still having to try harder, and that’s evident in his music, and is proving to assist him in creating even better music, and visuals to match. Whilst many may be sleeping on him, he most certainly has a core support in his corner championing him, as he progresses on his path for greatness. He is working on the follow up project, the sequel to his popular Electric Highway. As one of the most underrated rappers, I’m intrigued to hear the direction of Rockie Fresh’s sound, as he continues to elevate.

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“I’ve been boxing with my demons, ’til my knuckles turn purple..” – Gunplay

Don Logan returns with the sequal to his introspective classic Bible On The Dash

Part 2 might not be as impactful as the original, but it definitely has the same feel and authenticity, as the underrated wordsmith vents out with a slight growl, painting a picture with a similar emphasis to DMX. (If they ever do a Hip-Hop Honours for X, they gotta have Gunplay perform Slippin’).

It frustrates me as a fan, that Gunplay has not been able to deliver with the same consistency, and cement his presence. This track really provides some hope though, as the multilayered rapper reintroduces himself to audiences who might not have been paying attention as much. With this track, he (open as always) pours on his battle with mental health, friends locked up and substance abuse, but it’s not a lost fight, as he speaks, “I need some Percocets, no I need some self-control”. As outcasted as he seems to become, he sits in a unique space between the likes of Gucci Mane and Joe Budden. Despite his versatility, the dark music definitely helps shed light on the realities, and thus make him an important part of the spectrum.

With a new appreciation for lyricism in motion, it’s a good time for Jupiter Jack to return, either way I’m certainly hoping for a follow up to Living Legend.

 

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