Here we will discuss some tight albums that dropped in recent weeks which we might not have gotten a chance to review in full.
J Stone – The Definition of Sacrifice
Continuing his Definition series, All Money In member J Stone’s newest is a strong addition to his discography. Always improving and no longer coasting off features or his reputation as a friend of Nipsey Hussle’s, his songwriting always leaves you with some replayable, varied gangster music. He isn’t super technical, but he can tackle lots of West Coast sounds, talk about both emotional and tough shit, and construct fleshed out projects. The Definition of Sacrifice has one too many slow cuts, but plenty of infectious hooks and boss energy. Big name features such as Jadakiss, Styles P, and the late great Young Dolph round it out nicely.
El Camino – El Camino 3
El Camino is seemingly on a great run after a down year or two; Coming off the phenomenal, varied, and introspective Let There Be Light, he treats us to another self titled project. This one is a much more fun listen, loyal to the gritty East Coast revival sound many fans of his discover him through. Jay Worthy drops one of the best verses of his career, while A$AP Ant raises the stakes and 38 Spesh spits on a nice Harry Fraud beat. “Ghost Dini” is a standout for just how aggressive it is, while “Target” and “Soul Brother” are downtrodden victory laps. Camino seems to have not only returned to his peaks, but found his true voice as an artist and curator.
Duke Deuce – CRUNKSTAR
Duke Deuce is an amazingly fun artist as long as you don’t take him too seriously. Crunkstar takes the over the top energy and derivativeness of his past work, while fleshing it out into something more complete and interesting. You get plenty of the ridiculous club bangers he’s known for (notably “I Ain’t Worried Bout It” and “Money Bandana” with Babyface Ray and Doe Boy”), but he also experiments with autotune to shocking success. Glorilla’s feature ended up being a show stealer as well. He even takes the care to loosely tie it all together through skits that make Crunkstar feel like one big concert setlist, adding to the party persona. While Duke might have a pretty simple formula, this project takes it to its limits.
Yaya Bey – Remember Your North Star
Remember Your North Star feels like a breakthrough in many ways for singer Yaya Bey; Her previous work is strong, but this feels like a visionary step forward which will reach a broader audience and critics alike. Bleeding Jill Scott influence in her interpolation of slam poetry, skits, and a range of black genres, Bey gives the listener a hug in the form of an album. Structure is loose and ephemeral, but she is ever so sincere and relatable that you can’t help but keep coming back. She struck gold on Remember Your North Star, making it easily one of the best R&B albums of the year so far.
French Montana & Harry Fraud – Montega
French Montana has certainly seen ups and downs over the course of his prolific career, but his old affiliate, one of the absolute best producers out right now, is able to bring the best out of him on Montega. Harry Fraud comes through with what is simply his best produced project ever here, to the point that French is energized and doesn’t waste them (high praise to both points). He’s even able to get more obliquely emotional, reflecting on his come up, criticism, and losses (especially that of Chinx). Stellar features such as EST Gee, Rick Ross, Benny, and Quavo make for a really satisfying comeback from French.