Album Reviews

The legend of Gucci Mane continues with “Woptober”

[caption id="attachment_122550" align="alignnone" width="621"] Gucci Mane's "Woptober."[/caption] If you can tell the worth of an artist’s legacy by the amount of rappers who imitate their style, that bodes well for Gucci Mane, who's essentially the hip-hop "Encino Man." When Mane was sentenced to prison for three years, we saw the rise of rappers like Waka Flocka, Future, Lil Yachty, Young Thug and more -- all descendants of the Guwop lineage.

“Ruminations” mulls over the “real” Conor Oberst

[caption id="attachment_121668" align="aligncenter" width="384"] Conor Oberst's "Ruminations."[/caption] It’s time to get to know the real Conor Oberst. His new solo effort, “Ruminations,” due out October 14 via Nonesuch Records, is probably the most candid work he’s done since releasing Bright Eyes’ seminal album, “Lifted or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground.” What made Oberst so relatable back then is that his emotional outpourings were mostly inspired by the folly of youth.

Phantogram takes solace in sound on “Three”

[caption id="attachment_121528" align="alignnone" width="1424"] Phanogram's "Three." Image via Biz 3. [/caption] On “Three,” Phantogram’s Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter come across as that brooding teen couple you might find hanging around the record store late at night, dressed in all black, digging through crate after crate of dust-covered vinyl, trying to find another great album to fill their emotional void.

Mick Jenkins answers a higher calling on “The Healing Component”

Mick Jenkins dissects the meaning of living a love-filled life on his new project, “The Healing Component.” Love here is not just the connection between two people who are crazy enough to consider themselves soul-mates -- it’s the feeling that comes after long periods of struggle, the one we experience when we truly know ourselves and the radiance from a power higher than any we’ve ever known.

Mac Miller can’t quite find his lane on “The Divine Feminine”

Mac Miller experiences a bit of imposter syndrome on “The Divine Feminine,” his latest release about all things love. Sure, he’s proven his creative stamina in the rap game on previous projects that put him ahead of the rap fray, but we hear too much Chance The Rapper (“Soulmate,”), Kendrick Lamar, who crops up on “Stay” and the final performance of “God is Fair, Sexy Nasty.” Ty Dolla $ign brings home the point of finding strength in softness and the importance of balancing yin and yang on “Cinderella.” Mac Miller gets away with more than two cheesy metaphors here, but the production saves him, as it does on several other spots on the album. Sure, these songs are good with their layered production and Mac Miller’s textured voice, but the entire project lacks in originality.

Travis Scott curates a storytelling cypher on “Birds in the Trap”

Maya Angelou wrote “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” to heal the influences of her past through words and memory. Many in the African tradition of using folk-lore as a means of reflection call this “sankofa,” or the practice of “return and fetch it.” Just as Angelou chronicled her life of living with her grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas (though she was born in St.

On “Yesterday Is In Love With You,” Sunboy sets and rises anew

[soundcloud url="" params="auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true" width="100%" height="450" iframe="true" /] You should probably forget everything you know about Sunboy. Unless you're neck deep in Denver's local music scene, that won't be hard.

The Julie Ruin gets back in the game to “Hit Reset”

[caption id="attachment_119038" align="alignnone" width="640"] The Julie Ruin's "Hit Reset."[/caption] It’s good to have Kathleen Hanna back. Although it’s only been three years since this godmother of the riot grrrl movement released The Julie Ruin’s 2013 album “Run Fast,” it feels like forever ago.

Desiigner bites Future too hard on “New English”

[caption id="attachment_118443" align="aligncenter" width="580"] Desiigner's "New English."[/caption] What Desiigner is doing to Future is entirely unfair. When “Panda” dropped, many compared the Brooklyn native’s flow to Future’s syrup-drenched one, but with the release of Desiigner’s mixtape “New English,” it’s time for the comparisons to cease.

Discord dominates on Blood Orange’s excellent “Freetown Sound”

[caption id="attachment_118376" align="aligncenter" width="2480"] Blood Orange's "Freetown Sound"[/caption] Hip hop and R&B has grown increasingly self-conscious over the last few years. On “To Pimp A Butterfly,” Kendrick Lamar dropped fiery verses about oppression and his rise to fame in “King Kunta.” Beyoncé sang about the struggles of black women on “Lemonade.” Dev Hynes’ latest Blood Orange album, “Freetown Sound,” is no exception as it tackles blackness, sexuality, Christianity and his African roots.

The Avett Brothers leave folk roots behind in “True Sadness”

[caption id="attachment_118257" align="aligncenter" width="381"] Rick Rubin makes for another more-than-spit-polished Avett Brothers album. [/caption] The Avett Brothers have come a long way since their banjo-laden North Carolina bluegrass beginnings and their newest album, “True Sadness,” affirms that it’s unlikely they'll ever return to those roots.

Whitney looks back with “Light Upon the Lake”

[caption id="attachment_117580" align="aligncenter" width="382"] Whitney's "Light Upon the Lake"[/caption] It’s rare that a brand new band can create such a captivating debut, but Whitney has managed to do so with “Light Upon the Lake,” due out June 3 via Secretly Canadian.