Itzme Review: Common – Nobody’s Smiling

Nobody’s Smiling is Common’s comeback in an age where Chicago’s hip hop scene is incredibly active and furthermore has a negative image centered around violence. In this joint he grazes the topic of the suffering of Chicagoans due to crime, drugs, and violence. Such parts are the highlight of the album, in contrast to most of the rest of it.
“The Neighborhood”, “Kingdom”, “No Fear”, “Nobody’s Smiling” (the song), all embody the spirit of the album. They carry much of the weight of the album. These songs are stories or settings that give a vivid view of the street life in Chicago, and the real feelings of someone personally dealing with it. Lil Herb’s verse is the ideal representation. In the opening tracks he supercedes Common with so much heart, in a way that cannot be described. You’d have to hear his voice. Even beyond such delivery, lines like

I’ve been out there three days and I got shot at three times
Felt like every bullet hit me when they flew out each nine
I be happy when I wake up and I have a free mind

― “The Neighborhood” by Common

draw empathy from listeners.
The filler is hardly as impressive as a whole. There are decent moments, though, such as “Hustle Harder” which is the typical “yeah she’s the baddest chick” type of track. Common showcases a lot more flair and flow in that track than most of the rest of the album. The song as a whole (including Dreezy’s verse) has a sassy groove to it. The premise bears familiarity to fellow Chicagoan MC Tree’s song “Uh Million.” In the filler part of the album, Common also swings a decent braggadose with “Blak Majik” and “Speak My Piece”. The former features some aight melodic spitting from Jhene Aiko.
It only gets worse from there. The other unthemed moments are simply painful. “Diamonds” just seems to be put in to include a former labelmate. Sean’s chorus is light on the catchy, and heavy on the annoying with the wailing and cartoony yelps. The song as a whole just doesn’t earn its existence. Even Common’s bars come across as dull and uninspired, as forecasted by his opening line:

I wrote this on my born day, it was a warm day
― “Diamonds” by Common

They come across this way in a lot of parts throughout the album too, not just “Diamonds”. In “Rewind That” despite the emotional connection to the topic, he struggles with parts of his verses, sounding like an amateur.
A lot of the young rap features shined over the vet. As previously stated, Lil Herb did his thing with the delivery; Malik Yusef showed off killer wordplay with his spoken word; Vince Staples’ verse was rhythmically impressive. Non-coincidentally, these are among the best songs on the album and fit into the main idea behind Nobody’s Smiling. In interest of “quality control” one could say this album was better off as a 4-track EP that focused on the theme. The extra songs just weigh it down to mediocrity.
Nobody’s Smiling gives a slight breeze from its peak.
Favorites: “Kingdom” “The Neighborhood”
Terrible Songs: “Diamonds” “Diamonds” “Diamonds” and “Diamonds”

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Sir E.U – Nike Boy | Music Video

SO ICEY BOY
The “Nike Boy” music video is a conscious shaking bewildering piece that deserves the upmost merit. E.U and Unkle Luc create something that is characterized by E.U’s persona and mimics the aura of the song.
Madagascar coming soon.

Rickee Stylez – Prevail | Music Video

The “Prevail” music video is an eery introduction into the theme of the Houston artist’s upcoming release titled Nu Testament. The song, video, and ambiance it provides is as dark as the corruption it exposes.  Be enlightened.

Itzme Review: Tree – The @MCTREEG EP

As ya’ll should know, Tree had one of the top musical efforts of last year, and even earned a Frozen 10 award for his last tape Sunday School II. Very few artists are consistent nowadays, so I’m glad to see that Tree is one of those few. Scion A/V got hip and presented to everyone.. the @MCTREEG EP.

The great thing about this group of tracks is that it’s just so soulful. There’s an abundance of feeling in each song. The third song “Soultrappin’/I Believe” is reminiscent of some Ray Charles era stuff. You can’t teach this kind stuff.  And just as wonderful as that is Tree’s rhythm. Though this EP takes less of a rap direction, Tree still breaks it down with killer flows like the second verse of “Stay Away” for one example. Musical excellence.

Beyond that the songs really have powerful and personal messages. Tree really puts himself in these lyrics, it’s not no fabricated alpha-male garbage or anything else to put up a front. “Stay Away” is about him falling out of love with his ex and getting away from the trap life, “Uh Million” is an intricate admiration of a chick he’s messing with, “Like Whoa” is about someone he know being on a come-up, and how proud he is of him/her.

Beyond all that analytical stuff, the songs just sound dope. All of the beats beautiful. The only thing I’d take away from them is that some of them have peaking bass. All the songs are ridiculously catchy. You’ll find yourself reciting all the lyrics within a week tops.

Lennon’s verse is “Grace” is a great example of the catchiness. And although it doesn’t impress me, it’s hella hype. Taylor Outlaw is an incredibly rapper, anyone who hears her verse will immediately be typing her name up in Google. Her cadence and rap technique is super crisp, and her raps are passionate.

The @MCTREEG EP feels like an experiment with a new sound. Well now that we know it’s successful, it’s time for Tree to really show us what he can do.

It’s definitely winter.

Favorites: “God Like” “Like Whoa” “Soultrappin’/I Believe”

Killer Mike – Ghetto Gospel | Music Video

Here the sightwork for one of 2012’s finest. RAP Music was an incredible album, an apex of our time, and this is one of the best songs from it. Especially that third verse man,

 

The video is pretty much what you’d expect from the title, ghetto and church. You get to sit through a southern church service, some scrippas, couple of gangstas, a cemetery, and Mike maneuvering throughout.