Favorite Albums of 2017

No order, just a list…

• Jay-Z – 4:44
○ The album no one expected Jay-Z to record. Honest, personal, revealing, this is a long way from the ‘So Ghetto’ jigga. I’m older so I can appreciate this personal side. To be honest, we all should. Black excellence, excellence, family, loyalty, sexuality and parenthood, all in 10 songs over unorthodpx No I.D. production, what more could you ask for? This album is pushing the culture forward. Worth every penny.
§ Favorite Track: Legacy

• Oddisee – The IceBerg
○ If you knew Oddisee from 10 years ago, you knew of a producer/rapper with a whole different style. Sample based beats and rapidy rap. His style and transformed band is now much more polished. The iceberg is like a breath of fresh air, so different then today’s rap norms from the lyrics to production. Live, minimalistic instrumentation, blue collar progressive lyrics. Listening to this album triggers introspection, gratitude and hustle. This one got plenty of plays from me this year
§ Favorite Track: Built from Pictures

• Action Bronson – Blue Chips 7000
○ I’ve been on Bronson since Dr. Lector and he’s still as entertaining as can be while rapping better than your favorite rapper. Bronson reminds me to live life to the fullest and enjoy the quirky things, passions and desires that come with it. Most of all, be you and have fun. Blue Chips 7000 shows Bronson returning to mixtape form like fan like him. Though the official albums were good, the mixtapes are his classics. I can let this album go from top to bottom and most of the time, I’m starting it over again. This is the Bronson you want.
§ Favorite Track: La Luna

• Kendrick Lamar: DAMN Collector’s Edition
○ Who knew reversing the track order would make a big difference? For me, it made a noticable one. Flows much better and strangely ties the story together better. I have been listening to this much more than the original. Whatever version you listen to, Kendrick continues to dig into the DNA of culture, race, and generational differences. Another great body of work.
§ Favorite Track: FEAR/2nd part of DNA

• Big KRIT – 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time
○ I was personally excited when krit got off Def Jam as i knew we would get more of that mixtape KRIT that made. Like Bronson, the major label albums were ‘good’, not great like the mixtapes. KRIT came back to the roots plus grew as an artist as well. The production here is stepping outside the zone KRIT is usually in, adding acute live instrumentation all over the album. Lyrically he is sharp as ever. Great album.
§ Favorite Track: Price of Fame

• Rapsody – Laila’s Wisdom
○ The growth here is apparent, project by project she has been getting better at putting together complete pieces of work. laila’s Wisdom sewn together perfect and is the album that shows Rapsody from every angle possible and shares interesting concepts. Pure instrumentation and perfect features that mesh so well together and wordplay of course puts this album amongst my top 5. I haven’t felt like this about a full female MC project since Jean Grae and Eve back in the day.
§ Favorite Track: Black & Ugly

• Drake – More Life
Can’t say I expected this, I’m not a huge Drake fan but I did like some songs up to this point. I gave More Life a shot after hearing that two birds one stone track. Quite frankly, Drake delivers on this album. It’s some of his best music I’ve heard to date. Less singing more rapping which I prefer, slick wordplay and personal insight.
§ Favorite Track: Lose You

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Thoughts on XXTENTACION…

Songs like this got me warming up to XXtentacion’s music. Excellent tracks. This guy is much more talented than the media percieves him. He’s just attempting to get out of a personal trap. Haven’t we all experienced the same at some point? I have.

I Iike his singing more than the raps which are good but the singing brings out so much more emotions. Also puts him in a whole different genre. So far away from where we first heard of him. You can hear this guy’s pain in every word.

Check out the ’17 album. Worth a listen.

Gratitude

We all get caught up in our lives and think we were done wrong or should have more. I caught myself in the same predictament a couple days back and immediately had to catch myself and take a step back to analyze the big picture.

How could I over react, pout, argue over something so small – jeoprodizing all blessings given to this point? I’d be an idiot. That same thought made to reflect on all those blessings one by one. I have come a long way, with help of course. Don’t fuck it up.

Today, this track from Saba, specifically the chorus, came on in the shuffle and hit the core feeling of that realization. Recognize the progress in your personal journey and be grateful for it.

Dear Black Son

As this track plays, I look at my seed hoping that I can teach him to overcome the ills of this crazy world. Optimism.

You are not defined by anybody else’s crimes
You don’t need to answer for what happens in their minds
You are not confined by their imaginary lines
You don’t need permission to exist with the divine
In fact, you don’t need permission from no one including me
You need not do anything but be, just breathe
Whatever you dream let it mean you’re free

Foreclosures

There has been a track that has pushed me to keep a hawk eye on my finances, life and career. Foreclosures by Rick Ross. I have kept my finances in order but the sad realities mentioned made me go a bid deeper in the numbers and a little harder at work and side hustles. Months later, I’m operating a little different. I’ve literally ‘foreclosed on my past life’. Death row, fast life.

“The white man call us stupid niggas, we spend it all – nothing for our children”

Asking myself, what am i doing all of this for? Its not material things anymore, its much bigger. To give my family a better life now and later, when I’m gone. I’ve got a little success now, what am I going to do with this opportunity? Beat it into submission.  What’s really important to do today? this week? this month? What do I want to say 30 years from now when I look at my life, career and my family? I have no regrets. Answering such everyday changed my mindset.

‘Time to learn boy that cash rules, success is a precious jewel”

Perhaps ask yourself the same questions. We only have so much time on this earth so how are we going to use it? Hopefully on something we enjoy and have passion for. Its not all about the money but hey, we need some of it to live comfortably. Laser focused on taking care of your business and your family. Fuck everything else until that is complete.

Thanks Ross for the reminders.