Today We Rebel: A Review

Today We Rebel: A Review

Introduction:

KB started out as a local rapper with a couple of friends in Florida. The HGA movement grew to light the world of underground Christian rap on fire. In 2009, he was scouted by Lecrae and signed to Reach Records. In 2011, he released his EP 100. In 2013, he released his debut album Weight & Glory, which includes his notable single “Church Clap,” featuring Lecrae. In 2015, he released Tommorow We Live, which exploded on the rap charts. Now comes his latest effort: Today We Rebel. Seeing as I will be seeing KB and Trip Lee on their Hometeam Tour this Wednesday, I figured today would be a great time to review the latest effort from KB on this week’s #MusicMonday.

1. DNOU

KB Jumps right into his long awaited return with no hesitation. It’s a jam that has a really cool strings and organ sample. DNOU (Don’t Nobody Own Us) is a banger than gets the audience in the right mood to go on a new journey with KB. The third single from his third studio album talks about freedom and gets us reacquainted with him by showcasing his flow style, which has greatly improved, along with his wordplay.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A

2. Tempo

The first single for the album came out a full year before the album and it still kills. Starting out slow with an old folk style song sampled in the beginning, KB chucks a curveball by giving us an epic, ominous beat that he rides with precision and skill. It’s even better than the last track with a hook that boasts true talent. It’s truly an incredible rap display.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

3. Monster (feat. Aha Gazelle)

The second single is a brilliant track that is just pure fun and continues the pattern of incredible lyricism and rap power. Aha’s verse is great, with explosive lyricism. It’s my favorite song on the album so far. Every track just keeps getting better.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

4. Primetime (feat. Ty Brassel)

This one starts kind of weird but the beat is cool. Ty’s hook is different. KB’s verse is strong though, he slides right in and slingshots all around the track. He’s good, but the song as a whole is a step down from the first three tracks. The hook is reminiscent of Justin Timberlake’s SexyBack, but KB is able to transform it into a pretty good song.

Track Rating: 7/10

Grade: B+

5. Get Through (feat. Lecrae)

KB is not ashamed of his 116 clique brethren, in fact, he shows them off on his album, with three of the clique dropping in. The King of the Clique himself shows up on this one. Starting out slow, the vocals come in sleek and Gospel-esqe. Lecrae comes in and absolutely sets the tone. The beat warps to fit his flow pattern and hits the ground running. KB comes in and affirms the sheer prowess displayed by Lecrae earlier. It’s a beautiful one, with KB’s singing vocals being absolutely spectacular as the song wraps.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A

6. Art of Drifting

The track comes out very critical and aggressive as he stands accused of hating the church and not caring. This track is aggressive in its beat and production as he goes off on the idea of drifting away from God and in his relationship. This is the best production of any song on the album yet. He is painting the picture of a Christian artist who cheated on his wife. It’s an emotional song that is really beautiful and features incredible lyricism and storytelling from KB.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

7. Art of Hope

The song flows right in from the last and serves as the hopeful sequel to the last song. Really it’s just one long track that tells a great story. Where the last one ends with him standing in the ashes, this one builds and creates an intense sense of hope and uplifts the fallen. These two songs together paint the most remarkable story and creates a wonderful allegory for life that is impossible to listen to with dry eyes. KB and an uncredited woman sing “Be Thou My Vision” as the violins and choir carry us out of this emotional, two-song arc.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

8. Not Today Satan (feat. Andy Mineo)

The horn sample is absolutely epic and elevates the song. It serves as a triumphant epilogue to the emotional story we just heard. Utilizing the Magic & Bird style of rapping, KB creates a party that you must attend. Andy Mineo gets on the track as if he never left and kills it with every bar he spits. It’s an jovial tune that is positively spectacular.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

9. I Am Not the One

The barking piano and strings creates a suspenseful build into the song with an ominous tone. KB is really killing it, jumping in on the idea of racial bullying and stereotyping. He evokes what is essentially a reprise of Tempo through the production, but the song is different in subject matter. This track features some incredible displays of lyricism and wordplay. It’s an incredible track, with KB’s stellar vocals taking it home.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

10. New Portrait

After a couple fast jams, it’s time to slow things down. It’s an incredibly introspective track that explores the politics surrounding Christianity and the racial politics surround it as well. It’s a really hopeful song that asks some hard hitting questions that are answered in some way. It’s a really pretty song, with gorgeous production.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

11. Bring You War

Opening with some of these most beautiful vocals I’ve ever heard in a rap song, the song is truly inspirational and hopeful, which comes from the Gospel and Pop Vocal inspirations. It’s a song that once more explores the ideas of race and religion and the interconnectedness of those two ideas. It’s gorgeous.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

12. Sing to You (feat. Casey J)

This is a really beautiful song about praising Jesus in the hard time. The vocals is really sweet and the production is gorgeous. It’s a really peppy song for the subject matter it covers. The vocals by Casey J are stellar and very complementary of KB’s. It’s a really nice song to build up to the finale.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A

13. Rebel Intro (feat. Sarah Reeves)

Besides sharing a name with the hit song from Lecrae’s 2008 Album Rebel, KB’s prefaces the finale with ominous keyboards and synthesizers. Sarah Reeves’s haunting vocals set up an exteremly chilling preface, which is serving as a rallying cry to rebel, which is fitting, considering the album is called Today We Rebel. After a haunting piece from Sarah Reeves, we transition over to the explosive finale.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

14. Rebel Rebel 88

KB’s explosive finale is the angry actions spurned from the haunting previous track. The track is explosive, but it lacks the pizzazz that was teased with the intro that prefaced it. His wordplay and verbal acrobatics are really stellar, but overall, it’s just a rather underwhelming end to what, thus far, has been an incredible effort from KB.

Track Rating: 7/10

Grade: B

Conclusion:

This album is quite possibly the best release from KB yet. Evoking every emotion from joy to depression to rage to fear to peace, and covers topics from race and religion to some of the hardest topics in the Christian faith. This is a much more free and lively album than some of the other rap releases this year. This is easily in my top three rap albums of the year and in my top ten albums of the year.

Album Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

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Places: A Review

Places: A Review

Introduction

First introduced to the world on the Broadway stage, Lea Michele became musical theatre royalty with her breakthrough turn in Spring Awakening in . She was introduced to wider audiences, myself included, for her performance as Rachel Berry in the hit TV drama Glee, in which she starred from its premier in 2009 until it ended in 2015. She also starred in the short lived Scream Queens TV show. While a successful actress in her own right, her voice has always been her biggest asset. Her debut album, Louder, was released in 2014. Now her sophomore effort, Places, is out and it’s time to hear her fantastic voice once more.

1. Love is Alive

Starting the album off with a piano driven ballad is a risky move for most pop albums, but for Lea Michele this is a natural love. Her vocals are the highlight of the record as she belts out a melancholy song about still loving after loss. The pianos and strings together create a beautiful song that tugs the heart strings. The drums coming in at the end is a huge assist for the build that is a nice touch. It’s a wonderful start for an album that’s sure to feature more vocals like this.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

2. Heavy Love

An immediate tone change comes with a more pop-y song that uses the strings and drums to create a song about wanting more love from a partner. While still written in a minor key, it’s more jovial than the previous inspiration. This sounds more traditionally pop but still differentiates itself enough from the rest of the pop songs to separate itself from the rest. It’s a solid track that features really solid vocals from Michele.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A-

3. Proud

Once again utilizing pianos for another ballad, Michele sounds more hopeful in her voice and the song’s message reflects that. Her vocals are put front and center in this piece. Using strings and drums again, the build comes purely from them. It has a sort of Madonna-esqe 80s sound. It’s a really nice track for an album that’s very centered on her vocals.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A

4. Believer

Immediately different from the start, a more themeatic piece emerges with synths and a chorus backing her inspirational vocals. This song blatantly separates itself by being noticeably more hopeful and inspirational, not just in lyrics or vocals, but in production. With vocals like Celeine Dion, Michele tames a track that is more pop and a more fun and hopeful song that the melancholy ones of previous. It’s her “Fight Song”.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A

5. Run to You

And now we return to the minor key pianos and morose, gray tones. The backing track may be gray, but her vocals are blue and her subject matter are a gentle purple. Telling a lover about her confidence and trust in them. Her vocals really shines through and are core-shaking. The piano and strings-based instrumental backing her reflects this really sweet love song. This song is the first of the album to feature some guitars; the electric guitars give it a rock feel and add some serious emotion to the song.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

6. Heavenly

This R&B song is a really beautiful song about falling in love. The vocals are great and the acoustic guitars help the song along very nicely. It’s a pretty song that is amazing. Her vocals are wonderful and the lyricism is heavenly, pun intended.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A

7. Anything’s Possible

The vocals and pianos together are just the beginning to what is already a very different song. A more fast-paced hopeful song about starting over is what they produce. This energetic ballad about the future is pure bliss. It truly inspires and makes the soul soar. This a Lea Michele that is more similar to “Don’t Rain on My Parade” Rachel Berry. It’s inspirational and uplifting.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

8. Getaway Car

The song starts with her trademark piano ballad start. Painting a picture of youthful friendship and is, while nostalgic, is melancholy as well. It’s a story song that is really pretty and nice. It’s pretty barebones production-wise, but that’s the best type to highlight Michele’s powerhouse vocals.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A-

9. Sentimental Memories

A more openly sentimental song, opening with nicely produced pianos, Michele’s vocals create a neat love song that sounds more pop than the previous songs. It’s not quite “Believer” level peppy, however, as it’s quite morose and melancholy in every way. The drum builds and chorus are more pop, but it’s a beautiful song about loss and heartache.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A

10. Tornado

Opening with only vocals, the piano and strings follow closely behind her as she moves faster than she has in previous pieces. Her vocals are incredibly strong on this song and tops “Believer” as her anthem song. It’s truly her “Fight Song”. It’s an uplifting anthem about perseverance and persistence that transcends the album it’s on. It’s got the best vocals of the album on this record.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

11. Hey You

The finale of her album serves more as an epilogue to the emotional climax of “Tornado”. Written in a major key for once, it’s a beautiful song about reconnection that feels a lot happier and joyful than the darker, emotional journey we travel on with Lea Michele throughout the album. The pianos and acoustic guitars pair together for this song about moving on from a relationship that was special. It’s a really pretty song that evokes tears and sad emotions with Lea’s wonderful performance. It might just be my favorite song of the album.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

Conclusion:

Lea’s vocals are some of the best of all time. Her pop vocals are intense and stir the heart strings in a ways most pop stars cannot. Unlike most pop albums, Places tells a story in a very different way. It follows an emotional experience of going through a break up and loss and emerging again with strength and hope from a dark place. The stages of grief are evident in the project that really is unprecedented in modern pop music. If she doesn’t not receive a Grammy nomination (and win) for Best Pop Vocal Album, I will be sorely disappointed. It’s a wonderful piece of music and treasured gem in a year of competitive pop music.

Album Rating: 9/10

Grade: A

Evolve: A Review

Evolve: A Review

Introduction:

Imagine Dragons exploded on the scene with their masterpiece debut Night Visions in 2013, which earned them many nominations, including Record of the Year for “Radioactive”. Their 2015 return with Smoke + Mirrors went a little more under the radar than anticipated, but featured some gems. The Vegas-rock group returns now with their latest offering Evolve.

1. I Don’t Know Why

The synth pop sound evokes a response similar to 80s glam rock. Launching with a vocally incredible first song that has some very sleek production. The vocals and production are powerful, with some bold lyricism from the Vegas band. It’s a very strong start for an album that has a legacy to uphold for the rock band.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

2. Whatever It Takes

Speaking fast, they come back hip-hop infused song that is very melodic and continues the album’s pattern of slick production and strong vocals. The performance is incredible. Imagine Dragons delivers yet another wonderful record for the album.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

3. Believer

The most popular single from the album, “Beliver” is strong vocally and in production and performance. Lyrically, it’s the best of the record potentially; it’s an arena anthem that is the highlight of the album.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

4. Walking the Wire

The brighter pop sound to the song is really fitting after the intense performance of “Believer”. It’s relieving and gives a love song that has some wonderful guitar work and lyricism. The vocals are absolutely stellar. This might be my favorite song on the album. It’s an anthem that is unparalleled this year in the rock field.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

5. Rise Up

Coming out with horns and guitars, this one sounds like it was a song forgotten to be put on the Night Visions album. It’s incredible vocally and has some incredible production. This is another arena rocker that is sure to get audiences head-bobbing. It’s a colorful song that fits the colorful theme of the album.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

6. I’ll Make It Up To You

An album that’s been just incredible so far, this next record continues it by giving a softer, gentler song that doesn’t let up on the talent. It kind of similar production-wise to “Everything You Are” by Ed Sheeran and that’s a good thing. It’s another hit for a stellar album. It’s apology song that just succeeds on all cylinders.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

7. Yesterday

Taking cues from Gospel music, they deliver another bright and poppy hit that fits right in with this stellar project. This happy toast to the past and the future is masterfully produced and expertly performed. While this is the worst song of the album, that isn’t saying it’s bad; on an album of incredible records, this one earns its spot, it’s just not my favorite of the record purely for some decisions made in its arrangement.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A

8. Mouth of the River

Feeling rather tribal, this track is very deserving of its spot and absolutely fits in. The lyricism is brilliant on this track, with, once again, expert producing and masterful performance, it’s another gem on an album that’s guarenteed a Grammy nomination.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

9. Thunder

A pop studded track, it’s another wonderful single about making a comeback, directly or indirectly stating that they know Smoke + Mirrors wasn’t as good as Night Visions, but they’re making up for it with this record. And boy do they ever. The production is wonderful and the vocals fit great. It’s another great track.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

10. Start Over

Another bright, poppy masterwork, “Start Over” is the “It’s Time” of Evolve. It’s has some tropical dance infused into its production that works incredibly well. It’s another wonderful single. Serving as a great climax for the album, “Start Over” is the perfect song to send us to the end with.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

11. Dancing in the Dark

The finale of the album is a truly perfect fit that wraps up another fantastic album. With some wonderful dance infusion, the vocals are stylized very nicely to fit the production. Ending with a slower piece, it’s a nice, fitting end for what might just be the album of the year.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A

Conclusion:

Imagine Dragons have returned and they have created a true masterpiece album. It’s a perfect blending of genres from rock to pop to dance to gospel. It’s a neat perfect album. The production is all around very impressive and the vocal performances are breathtaking.

Album Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

We Belong: A Review

We Belong: A Review

Introduction:

GAWVI was first introduced to me as the producer for many of the songs from Reach Records artists. When the label made the announcement that they were signing the producer as a dance artist, I was perplexed. His 2016 EPs Lost in Hue and Holding Hue didn’t impress me. Now comes his first feature album We Belong.

1. Rock N Roll (ft. ELHAE)

The critical look at Hollywood is actually really infectious with some really solid dance vocals. It has some paranoid illuminati themes in the song’s lyrics which make for an intense and interesting listen. Bringing on rapper ELHAE, the hip-hop infused dance groove is really solid. It took me by surprise and I’m intrigued to hear the rest of this project.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A

2. God Speed (ft. Andy Mineo and KB)

Featuring two of Reach’s top rappers, this electronic track infused with hip-hop flavors is an absolute banger. Andy and KB murder the track and absolutely jam out. You can hear the smiles on their face. It’s a catchy track that’s super fun and infectious.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

3. Like We Belong

This track had some real Zedd vibes. With colorful pop sounds, the EDM song features GAWVI’s vocals and he has a really good voice for dance music. It’s a catchy tune that feels every exotic. It has some Earth, Wind, and Fire vibes vocally; very similarly to “September” vocally.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A

4. Show Me

Utilizing Spanish guitars and brass instruments, this tune has an exotic style and soothing sensibility. The electro pop creates a really smooth and fun jam. GAWVI’s vocals are really stellar. The lyrics are solid too. GAWVI’s production is just incredible.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

5. Never Fails

Using horns and a funky bass line, this song distinguishes itself by infusing an 80s glam rock vibe into a summer pop song a la Drake or Jason Derulo. The horns and bass really elevate the song’s really funky style. It’s reminiscent of “Uptown Funk” and “Want To Want Me”.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

6. Giana

This gentler, sweeter song starts very synthy, ultilizing trap beats. The love song for his wife is where his vocals shine the best on this project. This is the best written song on the album. It’s a really pretty and sweet song that grooves.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

7. The Sickness (ft. Jordan Powers)

This poetic song about mental illness, depression, and human imperfection is a really pretty song that takes full advantage of it’s electro pop feel. The production is incredible and the vocals are stellar.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

8. Closer (ft. Robbie Lee and Julissa Leilani)

The vocals are great and the synth pop style that feels like a nice nostalgic throwback to 2012, this track sounds great. The truly jamming dance beat is infectious with wonderful vocals.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

9. Steady (ft. Zach Norman)

A slower song that’s heavily backed by synthetic piano, Zach Norman shines vocally on this track. With the exotic samples thrown in, GAWVI succeeds with another electro pop gem. Where lyrically it’s flat, GAWVI redeems the track with exuberant production.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A

10. En La Calle

Having previously dabbled in Latin Pop sounds in previous tracks of the album, GAWVI dives in fully. Infusing Latin Pop with reggae, the song features drops that remind me of the likes of Skrillex and Avicii. It’s a wonderful jam.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

11. Feel It (ft. Jocelyn Bowman)

This track is perfect for the club scene. It’s a perfect marriage of infectious beats and dance vocals that are unprecedented. This is a club song if I’ve ever heard one.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

12. Cumbia (ft. Wordsplayed)

Having already featuring one half of Magic & Bird with Andy Mineo, bringing in Wordsplayed makes sense. Bringing back the Latin Pop sound once again with the best use of it yet, it’s an infectious, rubbery Latin rap beat that is truly alive. Wordsplayed owns the track precision and a sense of fun that can be heared throughout the song. This is the best of the Latin Pop-style songs GAWVI has made.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

13. Something Bout U (ft. Ja-Wan)

Using his synth piano skills once again, GAWVI introduces snaps into the beat mix and works really well. With some really pretty dance vocals, the track is really gentle. Overall, this might be the weakest of the album, but that’s not an insult. This song is a perfect fit into the album.

Track Rating: 8/10

14. Hold On (ft. Sydney Wilson)

The finale of the album is one that is truly breathtaking. The vocals alone are the best of this album. The production is a slow build and truly, while not being the biggest flex of GAWVI’s album, but it serves its purpose well and the true meat of the song comes from the vocals.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

Conclusion:

Where the album lacks in songwriting quality, it makes up for in exquisite production. GAWVI has handcrafted a secret masterpiece of dance music. GAWVI is the CCM equivalent of Zedd, a master producer with some vocal talent and an incredible ear for selecting features. It’s a truly masterfully produced album that deserves a Grammy nomination for Best Dance Album at the very least.

Album Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

Perception: A Review

Perception: A Review

Introduction:

A rapper that many have started putting on the same level as Eminem, NF has been grinding and climbing the charts. His newest album hit #1 not just on the iTunes Rap Album Charts, but #1 on the iTunes Album Charts period. His level of acclaim from all audiences is something not often seen from Christian artists. NF started becoming a blip on the radar with his 2014 EP NF. It wasn’t until 2015 with his first feature album, Mansion, that he became a name in rap music. 2016’s Therapy Session elevated him up the charts and created a large fan-base for him. Satiating our appetites with his Warm Up single that same year, now he brings the main course with his third studio album: Perception.

1. Intro III

As with the last two albums, this one starts with another intro. The opening to this album is very theatrical and sounds like a conversation between himself and his head. It’s very intense and scary track that proves NF is the new Eminem. With call backs to Mansion and Therapy Session. The opening of this album takes the character of Fear from “Mansion” and brings him back to bury him. This song is an incredible performance from NF that sets the tone of Perception by wrapping up loose ends from the last albums. This is the darkest intro yet!

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

2. Outcast

With a theatrical opening that fits the theme, this  track works like Mansion and Therapy Session’s title tracks, setting the tone of the album. It’s a lyrical acrobatic song that works well. Talking about being the odd one out from the rest of the rappers, NF really establishes that he’s the best rapper of the decade. This is a more unhinged NF that makes for some very entertaining and real music. This track is a weak follow up to “Intro III,” but it makes sense why it’s placed second. It’s a serviceable song with expert lyricism and a good performance. The sounds of lock and keys open and close the film.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A

3. 10 Feet Down (ft. Ruelle)

This sounds more like the NF we know and he comes out hard. He slays the track 100%. It’s a great showcase of his lyrical and rapping prowess. The vocals from Ruelle are great too. The production is right in NF’s wheelhouse.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A

4. Green Lights

The second single off the record is a great exhibition of NF’s speed and lyrical agility. He absolutely destroys the track and it’s beautiful.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

5. Dreams

We switch up to a slower pace that’s really nice. His vocals are beautiful and the production is rich and toned; a wonderful song about his depression and a remorseful examination of his life.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

6. Let You Down

The pace picks up slightly from the last track in the third single from the album. It’s a beautiful song about letting down his parents and their opinions of him. The vocals are absolutely rich and his lyricism is tragically honest. It’s a wonderful song.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

7. Destiny

Starting a cappella with a rhythmic monologue from NF, he comes back with another insane performance that fits right into the theme of the album. Playing on the idea of destiny, NF talks about how he was destined for this. He truly differentiates himself from the rest of the rappers. While the previous albums drew comparisons to Eminem just for his lyricism, he embraces that fully in his performance, which evokes Slim Shady himself.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A

8. My Life

The production is really solid already. It’s a more laid back NF than the last track, but he stills rides the beat with great vocals. It’s a very honest look at his private life with his friends and telling his critics that he doesn’t live for them. His hook is also extremely catchy.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

9. You’re Special

Slowing things down again, we get a love song for a special girl like we did on Therapy Session. This one isn’t quite as great, in fact it’s a little flat. The sentiment is sweet, but, while his attempts are admirable, this one falls a bit flat and, like the last one, he’s not great at love songs.

Track Rating: 7/10

Grade: B+

10. If You Want Love

We get a display of NF’s vocals on a track that features electric guitars and drums to create a blues/alternative rock feel that is very beautiful. It’s a great track about giving love to everyone. He doesn’t really rap on this track, but it’s regardless a gorgeous song.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

11. Remember This

This track starts slow buts suddenly just the ground running. NF drops truth bombs everywhere and absolutely goes off. The hook features beautiful vocals and does a great job of addressing the idea of “you’ll understand when you’re older” and still not understanding when you’re old. This might be the best song on the album.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

12. Know

Taking ques from “I Just Wanna Know,” he comes back with a lyrical ferocity unparalleled by any rapper since Eminem himself. With wordplay that his only matched by his “Motivated” record form Mansion. The hook of this song exemplifies his intensity as well.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

13. Lie

Another emotional track, NF really goes in on a breakup song that is really different from everything else on the album and in rap music in general. His vocals are spot on perfect. It’s a more reserved take on a breakup.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

14. 3 A.M.

Opening again with vocals, NF hits us with another breakup song. It’s an angrier, less reserved take on the song we just heard. It’s still a retread nonetheless, so it loses a few points for that. It’s a good song, however.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A

15. One Hundred

This one is a slow build but NF gets pretty heated in this second to last track. He’s got some really good lyricism and puts out another nice performance. It’s the one flex song that he deserves and allows himself to have.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A

16. Outro

The first single from the record is how we cap off the record. He goes in with some seriously powerful speed and lyricism that is just breathtaking. It’s reminiscent of Eminem, who he happens to take shots at this go around. It’s the perfect closer to end the album with.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

Conclusion:

NF is a rapper that is unparalleled in this game. His lyricism and sheer skill is unstoppable and unmatched. This record is just the next step in his evolution. It’s a great record from start to finish and should most definitely get some Grammy nominations.

Album Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

Tell Me You Love Me: A Review

Tell Me You Love Me: A Review

Introduction

Demi Lovato is one of my favorite pop stars ever.  Starting out in the Disney bubble with Sonny With a Chance and Camp Rock, she released two teen pop albums while being a TV darling: 2008’s Don’t Forget (a solid debut) and Here We Go Again (a flat follow-up). Once she broke out on her own, she started producing some really strong efforts. 2011’s Unbroken is a strong album with some very strong singles. 2013’s Demi is an incredible powerhouse album is amazing songs. Her return with 2015’s Confident was underwhelming in comparison but still strong. She released her single Body Say in 2016, which signaled a new, more adult Demi. She followed that up with her 2017 single Sorry Not Sorry which appears on her sixth studio album.


1. Sorry Not Sorry

This is one of my favorite songs of the year. It’s a great revenge song with some excellent production and wonderful lyricism from Demi. Her vocal prowess is demonstrated so well. It’s a great song.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

2. Tell Me You Love Me

The title track of the album is very synthy with some 80s pop vibes. It’s got some Adele vibes to it. It’s a pretty love song that has nice 80s groove to it some Gospel influences. It’s very catchy and pretty. The production is very solid.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A

3. Sexy Dirty Love

The song opens with a boom bap feel. It had a great summer feel to it. Demi really proves she’s one of the top pop queens of all time. Her vocals are solid and the production is bombastic and fun. It’s a sleek song, production wise. Her vocals are great.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A

4. You Don’t Do It For Me Anymore

It has a very strings-heavy, R&B vibe with some gorgeous vocals and an Adele feel. It’s a really tragically harsh song, but it’s brutally honest and it knows it. Lyrically, it’s lacking a bit. Vocally it’s one of her strongest songs yet. The production is really solid.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A

5. Daddy Issues

Starting out with a synthetic woodwind section that’s really neat. The production is really good on this song. The lyrics are mediocre, but the vocals again are stellar. This is the weakest track on the album so far.

Track Rating: 7/10

Grade: B+

6. Ruin The Friendship

The beat is really solid. As stated previously, the production and vocals are great. The lyricism is good on this track though. The horns are smooth and a beautiful touch that creates a very rich sound. It’s has a real gentle vibe to it.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A

7. Only Forever

Distorted pianos open up this one. Enter the bass and the lyrics. Just from the opening tone, I get the sense that it’s a sad song. It’s a song about waiting that’s got some sweet production, but fails a bit in the lyrics department. Her vocals sound good. It’s alright, it’s not the worst Demi song, but it’s not the best.

Track Rating: 7/10

Grade: B

8. Lonely (ft. Lil Wayne)

Opening with gentle piano and smooth vocal riffs, this one sounds like it’s going to be a sad song. It’s already a hit in the lyricism department. Her vocals are gorgeous. The production is very solid on this one. It’s a bittersweet song with some incredible vocals. It becomes an angry song once we get to the chorus, but the song is still morose and sad. It’s a very emotionally layered song with complexities not often seen in pop songs. It’s a great song, until Lil Wayne shows up. He drags the song down with his auto tune dribble and mumble “rap” that is pointless and really terrible. Lil Wayne needs to retire, and should’ve left this song alone. It’s perfect without him.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A-

9. Cry Baby

The guitars ring in an ominous tone, which is quelled by an R&B song with Smokey vocals and production. I’m already hooked. Her vocals are incredible and the production is incredible. The lyricism is pretty solid with some good rhymes.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

10. Games

The production is incredible and launches with some really great vocals right out the gate. The lyricism is strong this round too. It’s a really annoyed and cautionary song that lands strongly. The vocals are really the highlight of the song.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

11. Concentrate

With some really rich guitars, Demi showcases her vocal talents again with this song. The production is good and the lyricism is very adult and compelling. It’s a very provocative song that has some 70s elements to it.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

12. Hitchhiker

The bass and guitars paint a country/folk inspired song that has some pretty vocals and feels very tonality similar to “Concentrate” but without the very intense lyricism. It’s a sweet and pretty song that is genuinely romantic.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A

13. Instruction (ft. Jax Jones and Stefflon Don)

The Latin Pop vibe is infectious. Demi’s vocals are amazing in the dance song that is 100% guaranteed to get you up and move. This is a wonderful party track.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

14. Sorry Not Sorry – Acoustic

The acoustic version just highlight Demi’s stellar vocals and serves a perfect reprise to bookend and her stellar album.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A

15. No Promises – Acoustic (ft. Cheat Codes)

The acoustic version of the hit dance song of the summer is a beautiful recording that highlights both Demi’s vocals and Cheat Codes’. It’s a beautiful finale to an incredible album.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

Conclusion

Demi is still my favorite of her albums, but this is a powerhouse of pop vocals and sleek production and lyricism. This a very new, adult Demi and she’s a killer. It’s a bold collection of very good pop songs with great production. She really is the modern Queen of Pop.

Album Rating: 8/10

Grade: A