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Music To My Ears – Reviewing The Latest Albums

NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 25: Lil Wayne aka Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr. performs during Lil Weezyana at Champions Square on August 25, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images)

Never Stop Never Stopping

Tha Carter V – Lil Wayne

Lil Wayne’s extensive and legendary career is represented by his vast library of music and continuous involvement in features. But some of his greatest work appears on the Tha Carter albums. So, to say Tha Carter V has been hotly anticipated for nearly half a decade is kind of an understatement. And honestly, the wait was worth it.

Tha Carter V is his most creative and personal work to date. The album opens with an emotional bang as Wayne’s mother speaks to how proud she is of him, acting as a summary of Wayne’s career overall and how he might be nearing the end of it. This main theme plays out across the 23-track album, particularly in ‘Famous’, ‘Can’t Be Broken’ and ‘What About Me’. Simultaneously, Wayne keeps reminding us why he is so revered. ‘Uproar’, ‘Hittlas’ and ‘Dope N*****’ boasts monster beats, while ‘Mona Lisa’ culminates the clever lyricism that Wayne is known for – featuring his smooth flow and relentless bars.

Wayne goes strong with the collaborations on Tha Carter V, including the likes of Travis Scott, Nicki Minaj, Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg and many more. They lend their individual talents to their respective songs without detracting from the overall message of the album.

Paradoxically, the album has both a vintage and modern sensation to it, making it  Wayne’s most inspired and personal album to date. Tha Carter V simply showcases why Lil Wayne may be one of the best artists of all time. Even though he hints at an end to his career, hopefully Wayne continues to push the deadline further.

 

Listening Is Only Logical

YSIV – Logic

Logic has been in the rap game for over eight years, but he only broke into the mainstream sphere last year with his breakout hit, ‘1-800’. Boasting a colossal collection of mixtapes and studio albums, YSIV marks a final return to his Young Sinatra era. It was a shame it got overshadowed by Tha Carter V’s release because Logic’s is an inspirational, fun and deeply reflective album. Despite issues in overstaying its “follow your dreams” message, YSIV is still one of the best albums of the year.

As per usual, Logic opens with an extended track thanking his fans: echoing the humble persona reflected on social media and concerts. Despite donning ferocious flow, he never seemed to perfect his lyrics in previous projects. Dissimilar to artists like Eminem, there was always a certain lyrical bar he was unable to cross which prevented him from entering mainstream popularity.

However, YSIV shows how much Logic has evolved. ‘Everybody Dies’, ‘The Return’ and ‘One Day’ are all filled with lines and rhymes that culminate together with impact. While these tunes showcase his unique flow, ‘100 Miles’ and ‘Running’ put Logic’s full talents on display as you hear him trying to complete a verse at lighting speed. You can’t help subconsciously cheering him on. It’s fun and furious whilst acting as a representative introduction to the talents of the artist.

Aside from these harsh tracks, Logic allows you to breathe with smoother tunes like ‘Ordinary Day’ and ‘The Glorious Five’ again, showing how he has evolved into producing more complete albums.

‘Wu Tang Forever’ is the track everyone is talking about, bringing back the entire Wu Tang Clan into one song for the first time in years. It is probably the best song on the album, not only acting as a nostalgic call back to 1990s rap but, also developing Logic’s story and message as displayed in the album.

And that leads onto the one small issue with the album. While Logic has good intentions with his message of “doing what you love”, there never is more to it. Unlike his first studio album, Under Pressure, he does not tell multiple stories that eventually led to his rise. Several songs repeat the same message including ‘Last Call’, which is a distinctly repetitive track once heard multiple times. On the other hand, his songs have a lot more substance than most rappers and artists today, so it is not a major complaint.

Certainly, one of the best and most inspirational up-and-coming rappers today, Logic has unique talent that is showcased in YSIV. He is more mature in his lyricism, has better production values to develop his songs and discusses issues most listeners can relate to. If you want a rapper with material who is likely to become one of the best of all time, it is only logical to listen to the Brooklyn-born artist.

 

A Star Is Born This Way

A Star Is Born: Soundtrack – Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper

Not only is the remake of A Star Is Born a major personal victory for stars Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, but it is likely to sweep at the Oscars come February, especially in the music categories. If you thought your 2008/09 Gaga craze was a phase, you thought wrong. It’s back because this soundtrack is pleasant, powerful and poignant.

First track ‘Black Eyes’ identifies Cooper as a multi-talented artist. His country-singing voice has dynamic range allowing it to hit highs and lows with ease. Such skill is evident in ‘Maybe It’s Time’, and ‘Out of Time’.

But Gaga is the star on display. As the plot requires, her songs on the soundtrack vary in style, from country tunes like ‘Shallow’ and ‘Always Remember Us This Way’ to pop music, such as ‘Heal Me’ and ‘Hair Body Face’. Just like Ally in the movie, when she truly encapsulates her voice, those songs are the most powerful. From the goosebumps-inducing tune of ‘Shallow’ to the emotional simplicity of ‘Is That Alright?’ And finally, the incredible tribute of ‘I’ll Never Love Again’; these songs truly show why Gaga is one of the best of all time.

Despite being one of the best albums of the year, its presentation as a soundtrack is flawed. Individual tracks of lines from the movie are placed between the songs. While the purpose of these additions is to remind the listener where the tracks fit into the story, they can be distracting and unfortunately detract from the music. The individual songs are very well written because they themselves reflect key elements of the story, making the dialogue tracks unnecessary.

Despite this one gripe, the album is pretty much perfect. Cooper is unexpectedly talented as a country singer. However, the soundtrack belongs to Lady Gaga: this is some of her best work to date, further cementing her as one of the greatest singers of all time.

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