Shawn Mendes: A Review

Shawn Mendes: A Review

Introduction:

Shawn Mendes is one of the many burgeoning success stories that comes from internet content creation. The Canadian Mendes was discovered in 2013 when he began posting covers on the social networking app Vine. In 2014, he was signed to Island Records and released his EP The Shawn Mendes EP, followed in 2015 by his debut album Handwritten. Later that year he released a “revisited” edition of the album. In 2016, Mendes released his sophomore effort Illuminate. Both albums were certified platinum by the RIAA. His third, self-titled effort was released on May 28, 2018.

1. In My Blood

In the opening song, Mendes crafts a very emotional portrait of anxiety and self-doubt. The lyricism of the single is absolutely mesmerizing, coupled with his emotional performance and superb production, which utilizes pop drums and electric guitars in a melancholy anthem for the anxious. It’s a fantastic start for this pop effort.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

2. Nervous

The guitars are smooth and chill at the outset as Mendes’ relaxed vocals detail a story about attraction at first sight. His vocals are stellar. The organ-ridden production and flirtatious lyricism join together to create another spectacular single. It’s very catchy and well-written. It’s another perfect song on this record.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

3. Lost in Japan

The second single released is just so well-made. The groovy bass and gentle piano riffs couple together for a very smooth and exotic production. His vocals are smooth and flirtatious again. Shawn Mendes is such a powerful songwriter that can craft such catchy hooks, but also deliver emotional and human stories.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

4. Where Were You In The Morning?

The mix of electric and acoustic guitars is gorgeous and underscore Mendes’ vocals excellently. The songwriting is spot on once again. Mendes delivers another great song for, so far, an unbelievable record.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

5. Like To Be You (ft. Julia Michaels)

Shawn brings the wonderful Julia Michaels on this one. Mendes’ signature electric/acoustic blend is gorgeous, especially when his and Julia’s vocals merge over the top. The two singer/songwriters deliver a very beautiful vignette of star-crossed lovers. The two blend really well together. The songwriting is very sweet and emotional and matches the gentle and flowing production. The two deliver another perfect song for this outstanding record.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

6. Fallin’ All In You

His vocals are stellar yet again and the production underscores it nicely. It’s Mendes’ “Perfect”. The steady building drums and guitars carry Mendes’ emotional vocals in another solid entry for this incredible album. It’s another lovely vignette.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

7. Particular Taste

We finally get a faster, more upbeat tune from a normally very peppy Shawn Mendes. His lyricism is again great. The production incorporates whistles and slide guitars in unique ways to give this a really funky edge. It’s a great addition.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

8. Why

Over the halfway hump of the album, you begin listening for signs of fatigue or burnout, but nothing like that is exhibited. Mendes delivers another emotional ballad with a wonderful falsetto and trance-like production. His songwriting is sincere and well-crafted. He doesn’t waste his words and delivers another hit for the album. The only reason I scored it lower is because I probably won’t revisit this specific track often personally.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A

9. Because I Had You

I can think of only one other artist working today who can write and sing and produce songs of superior quality consistently on a record like this. The guitars and production are so smooth and sweet. His songwriting is just outstanding as he crafts an emotional farewell to someone special. This is a masterfully crafted song.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

10. Queen

The song has a real California vibe to it. The guitars and production is angrier and has a kinda summer sensibility to it. The angrier, scornful song is very different in a story sense from the rest of the record and it’s absolutely genius. Mendes delivers yet another excellent song for the record.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

11. Youth (ft. Khalid)

The third single is just outstanding. The smooth guitars and hopefully production is wonderful. The collaboration between Mendes and Khalid is a match made in the musical heavens. Singing about ambitions, the pair deliver great performances and a great song. It’s yet another perfect addition.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

12. Mutual

The acoustic ballad is lovely. The peppier song is no doubt a guaranteed hit. Mendes presents his signature vocals and couples it with catchy melodies and masterfully produced lines. It’s another perfect addition to the record.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

13. Perfectly Wrong

The slower piano ballad is a perfect showcase of Mendes’ falsetto and melancholy songwriting. The emotionally charged performance is electrifying, underscored by equally exhilarating production. It’s a perfect penultimate song that is truly special.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

14. When You’re Ready

The final song of the album has a Hawaiian sunset sort of vibe. It’s a sweet farewell that feels like a warm campfire the beach while the sun sets. It’s a genuine treat to the ears and gorgeous final song. It signals that Mendes has done something nye-impossible: he’s delivered a near-perfect album. The songwriting is superb and Mendes proves why he is and should be heralded as one of pop’s shining stars.

Conclusion:

Shawn Mendes is the American version of Ed Sheeran, with just as much talent and charisma. The singer/songwriter deals in very emotional topics and shares a similar style to the British singer. Mendes even delivers an outstanding album, much like Sheeran did a year ago with Divide, that presents 14 vignettes that deal with love, rejection, desire, anxiety, ambition, attraction, and dislike. Mendes’ record is filled with emotion, colorful and distinct lyricism, smooth and indie-like production, and a true passion for the craft. Shawn Mendes is a shining star in pop music and has a very bright future ahead of him.

Album Rating: 9.7/10

Grade: A+

Advertisements

The Arrow: A Review

The Arrow: A Review

Introduction

Andy Mineo is one of the most successful rappers on Reach Records’ roster. He was active for ten years prior to signing with Reach however. He joined rap group Fat Camp after graduating college. The group and Andy were signed to Marshall Street Records after winning a song contest. They opened for acts such as Common and The Roots and released their album The Food, before Andy stepped away to join T.R.U.C.E. with Alex Medina. Andy’s departure led to the closure of Marshall Street Records. Andy toured with TRUCE and released his first mixtape Sin is Wack. While touring with Da’ TRUTH, he met Lecrae and was featured on his song “Background,” as well as Tedashii’s song “Reverse”. After his singing feature, he was sought after as a singer, causing him to split personas, using his real name for singing and C-Lite as his rap moniker. In 2010, Andy was signed to the label as a rapper and Andy dropped the C-Lite moniker. After being signed by Lecrae and company, Andy hit the ground running, releasing his mixtape Formerly Known. In 2011, Andy released his debut album Heroes For Sale. He followed that up with his EP Never Land in 2014, which features “You Can’t Stop Me,” which went gold. In 2015, Andy released his album Uncomfortable, produced by !llmind. He took 2016 off to reflect and work on new music. He filled the gap with Candy Rain, a single. In 2017, Andy formed a rap duo with friend Wordsplayed called Magic & Bird and the duo released their collaborative mixtape Magic & Bird the same year. Now, Andy finally returns with the music he’s been working on since 2016 with Chapter 1: The Arrow. Will the first chapter of his year long project live up to the hype? Find out here on this special edition of #MusicMonday.

1. I’ve Been…

The lyricism is solid and his production really solid. This intro is an honest and well made track. Andy explains to us that he’s been lost in a bad place. How’d he get there and what was it like? We’re about to find out.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A-

2. Clarity

Transitioning right into the next track, Andy keeps the lyricism at 100 and delivers his own “44 Bars” of truth and honesty. His vocals are solid and the production is really solid. This is a very personal project for the artist who has been missing for three years. The speed changes as Andy gets more and more into his head. He deconstructs his life and faith and rebuilds all in the course of 4 minutes. The spoken word samples are a perfect addition.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

3. Family Photo

The production is more laid back, but the honesty doesn’t change. The picture he paints of his wedding day and his family drama is absolutely captivating and heartbreaking. This is his therapy session and we’re all just listening in. This is an absolutely incredible song.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

4. Anxiety

This is one flowing story that is a sobering window into a man’s soul and mind. This transitional song perfectly captures what it’s like to try and make it through an anxiety attack. However, it’s not a track I’ll revisit often.

Track Rating: 7/10

Grade: B+

5. I Ain’t Done

This is the celebration song here! Andy produces a banger that is truly honest in its sentiments and completely uplifting. The song shows what’s it like to overcome anxiety and depression. It samples rock to make a truly courageous song about beating the demons. This is the best song off the album.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

6. …Lost

And now we return to the beginning. We’ve seen what Andy was going through the last two years and now he’s giving us the closing statements. He explains that he was lost and hit a rough patch but he’s back now. It’s a triumphant and gorgeous finale that really ties everything together. Andy’s talking at the end was amazing and completely concludes the first chapter on a huge, perfect note.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

Conclusion

Andy just told one of the best stories of the year in six songs. It’s very cinematic and personal. This is only the beginning to what he’s got planned for this year. Chapter 1 was a great start. I’m excited for the rest of them. Andy Mineo is back and he’s got more to say. I can’t wait for the rest. It’s very beautiful, personal, raw, emotional, and theatrical. This is Andy’s best EP and it’s shaping up to be a truly revolutionary set of music.

EP Rating: 9/10

Grade: A

GEMINI: A Review

GEMINI: A Review

Introduction

Macklemore debuted on the scene originally in 2000 as a solo act with his mixtape Open Your Eyes, followed by his debut album The Language of My World in 2005. In 2008, he entered rehab for alcoholism and released his final mixtape The Unplanned Mixtape in 2009. In 2009, he and his producer and friend Ryan Lewis formed the duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and released their EP The Vs. EP, followed by The Vs. Redux in 2010. The pair officially debuted in 2012 with The Heist, which featured hit singles “Thrift Shop,” “Can’t Hold Us,” and “Same Love,” and was nominated for five Grammys, including Song of the Year and Best New Artist, and won three. The pair followed up their hit debut with the single “Irish Celebration” in 2014 and their second album This Unruly Mess I’ve Made in 2016. Macklemore returned to his solo career in 2016, releasing his single “Drug Dealer”. Now, he’s released his first solo album in twelve years. Can the so-called “joke rapper” stand apart without Ryan Lewis officially credited as his partner?

1. Ain’t Gonna Die Tonight (ft. Eric Nally)

Eric Nally’s vocals are a great mix with the production. The lyricism is solid, taking shots at the immigrant debate as well as his hiatus. Macklemore’s performance is very fresh and new. It’s a bright song and a fun listen. It’s a very triumphant opening to what promises to be a very different Macklemore album.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

2. Glorious (ft. Skylar Grey)

This song continues the bright feeling while grounding it as classic Macklemore. It feels a lot like “Can’t Hold Us” and helps establish his talent. His performance is very strong and his lyricism is solid. Skylar’s vocals are a really nice fit with this piano-driven anthem. It really builds on the bright and triumphant feel of this album. It’s very fresh.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A

3. Marmalade (ft. Lil Yachty)

This song is the definition of sunshine on a summer day. The pianos are just so happy and the trap beat is groovy. Macklemore holds his own on this song. It’s lot a lyrical song, but the production is what shines. I do not like Lil Yachty. He does somewhat fit in on the track, but he’s still an unwelcome addition to what is otherwise a fun song.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A

4. Willy Wonka (ft. Offset)

Things take a turn with this one, deviating into a bass heavy beat. The lyricism and performance take a bit of a dive with this one. The beat is clearly to accommodate Offset, who’s name is fitting as the song offsets the tone and narrative being formed thus far. It’s meant to go hard, but it doesn’t event really do that. It’s the worst on the album so far.

Track Rating: 4/10

Grade: D

5. Intentions (ft. Dan Caplen)

This song couldn’t possible be worse than what came before. The tone returns to normal with this one. The electric guitars are really great. Macklemore goes back to the summer vibe the album has had thus far and manages to weave in a really honest list of desires that are really noble. Dan’s vocals are very complimentary and really good. The horns are so smooth. This song is really honest and well-made. The lyricism is very good, second only to the outstanding production.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A

6. Good Old Days (ft. Kesha)

Here’s the best song of 2018. The nostalgic look back at youth and high school is incredibly sobering and well-written. The lyricism and production go hand in hand in creating a very beautiful song that is sure to be chart-topper. Kesha’s vocals are incredible. Every vocal sample and piano key played is unbelievable. This is a spectacular song. The song also mentions Minnesota, it hits home.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

7. Levitate (ft. Otieno Terry)

The beat keeps that summer vibe while also merging with The Heist Macklemore. Otieno Terry brings a Bruno Mars vibe to the song and it fits the style of the album very well. Overall, the lyricism is disappointing coming of the genius of “Good Old Days” but it’s still fun. It works, but it’s not one I’ll revisit often.

Track Record: 7/10

Grade: B

8. Firebreather (ft. Reignwolf)

The guitars are awesome in this opening. This track is different and veers away from the summer vibe, but it works really well. The rock feel is really cool and reminds me of a 80s rock anthem, which Reignwolf’s vocals contribute too in large part. It’s got a very AC/DC and works better than expected. Macklemore uses this to flex his lyrical abilities and prove why he’s actually one of the best rappers working today. It’s his fight-out-of-the-corner song and man does it hit hard.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A

9. How to Play the Flute (ft. King Draino)

Of course there’s a flute sample. The joke in the beginning is kinda funny and the beat is very indicative of what Macklemore wants to be. The lyricism isn’t as strong as the last song and his performance is fine. He shares the stage with King Draino this time and he fits in well on the song. The song is really funny and isn’t to be taken too seriously. You should’ve got the hint from the sneeze samples. Macklemore is having fun, but it’s not one I’ll revisit.

Track Rating: 6/10

Grade: B-

10. Ten Million

In case you haven’t noticed, this is the first (and only) song where Mack doesn’t bring in any features. I don’t think that’s because he relies on other’s talent to sell songs; I think it’s because he knows how he wants things to sound and which people are the best to get to make it how he wants it to sound. This solo song is a jam and Mack shows that he can work on his own. His performance is really solid and his lyricism is good. The production isn’t anything special, but the focus is on Macklemore’s performance and he delivers. It’s a solid track and ranks in the top ten off this album. This would be really fun to see live.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A-

11. Over It (ft. Donna Missal)

Oh, I didn’t realize we had strayed away from the sunny day production. But while this keeps funky guitars, the strings and production create an intense, claustrophobic feeling. Macklemore’s performance is outstanding and he got a good Feature in Donna Missal. This song is outstanding, stuffed full of great production, fantastic performances, raw emotion, and strong lyricism. Every emotion that Mack wants you to feel lands like a bomb. This is a really strong album and is a truly remarkable song.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

12. Zara (ft. Abir)

We’re really back in the summer feel after that fake out and Mack really vibes in this groove. It’s a really groovy love song with strong production and lyricism. While this song is static in some aspects, it still fits in nicely. Macklemore’s newest album is really impressive thus far.

Track Rating: 7/10

Grade: A-

13. Corner Store (ft. Dave B & Travis Thompson)

The production is bright again and has a “Downtown” vibe to it. Dave B and Travis contribute solid vocals to this joint, while Mack surfs on the beach bop. It’s another strong entry on what’s been an unbelievable album.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A

14. Miracle (ft. Dan Caplen)

The production on this one is the definition of a summer evening. The acoustic guitars and the strings paint the picture of a sunset. Mack and Dan are a really strong duo. Dan’s vocals are insane and Mack’s vision are so complimentary. Another love story, this one is so beautiful. Mack’s storytelling is very vivid and clear. It’s another successful song for a near-perfect album.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A

15. Church (ft. Xperience)

The penultimate song of a stellar album, Ryan Lewis tackles a Sunday morning in summer as his next beat and nails it. Every song could be played in pure instrumental and tell the story Mack wants. His lyricism is really strong as he tackles fame and family head on as the topic for his next song. His daughter is a focal point for a few songs, but it’s this one that he helps us visualize his vision of fatherhood. It’s such a honest and beautiful song. Xperience’s vocals are a sweet fit with Ryan Lewis’s outstanding production.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A

16. Excavate (ft. Saint Claire)

The finale of Macklemore’s latest album decides to take a true cinematic feel. The choral and orchestral music blend into an extension of what the last song wanted. Mack decides to wrap this album up with a discussion of legacy and impact, as well as mortality. I’m not sure what Macklemore has been through recently, but he’s allowed it to help he craft a masterpiece of humanity. Saint Claire’s vocals are incredibly suiting. This finale is the most genuine, honest song I’ve heard in a long time, especially from the “joke rapper”. Very sweet ending.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

Conclusion:

Macklemore has returned in an incredible way. This album is absolutely splendid. Ryan Lewis’s production is outstanding and the man tells a story just within the music he’s composed. Ryan should score movies. Macklemore himself has upped his own game on a lyrical and performance level. He has tackled bigger issues and ideas than the surface level rap stuff, which he used to rap about in his previous albums. This album is one of the best I’ve ever heard and he deserves awards. It was a full emotional experience that focuses on bigger themes and ideas. Only two songs on this album feel out of place, but it doesn’t hurt the final product. This is a triumphant return for Macklemore, who has a bright future ahead of him if he continues making music like this.

Album Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

Movie Fights MasterList

Movie Fights MasterList

Singles

  • Champion: Cucumber (1-0)
  1. Ed Greer (3-0)
  2. Dan Murrell (3-1)*
  3. DJ Wooldridge (2-0)
  4. Marc Bernardin (1-1)
  5. Danielle Radford (1-1)
  6. Marc Andreyko (1-1)
  7. Jay Washington (1-1)
  8. Brianne Chandler (1-1)
  9. Scott Mantz (1-1)
  10. Mark Ellis (1-1)

Unranked:

  • Emma Fyffe (1-1)
  • Ify Nwadiwe (1-1)
  • Coy Jandreau (1-2)
  • Joe Starr (1-2)
  • Clarke Wolfe (1-0)
  • Roth Cornet (1-0)
  • Perri Nemiroff (1-0)
  • William Bibbiani (1-0)
  • Leonard Maltin (1-0)
  • Spencer Gilbert (1-3)**
  • Samm Levine (0-1)
  • Chunk (0-1)
  • Jacqueline Coley (0-1)
  • John Rocha (0-1)
  • Amy Dallen (0-1)
  • Wendy Lee Szanee (0-1)
  • Matt Key (0-1)
  • Alicia Malone (0-1)
  • Erika Ishii (0-1)
  • Tony Revolori (0-1)
  • Amy Cassandra Martinez (0-1)
  • Erika Ishii (0-1)
  • Josh Macuga (0-1)
  • JTE (0-1)
  • Stacy Howard (0-1)
  • Jenny Nicholson (0-1)
  • Rachel Cushing (0-1)
  • Riley Silverman (0-1)
  • Yael Tiegel (0-1)
  • Amy Nicholson (0-1)
  • Lon Harris (0-2)
  • Markeia McCarty (0-2)
  • Ken Napzok (0-2)
  • Mike Carlson (0-3)

*First Champion **Second Champion

*Note – All records were reset November 2017 when the show was rebooted, but Murrell is still considered the original champion, as Gilbert won the belt in July 2017, prior to the reboot, but still considered canon.

Hosts:

  • Hal Rudnick – Primary
  • Doug Benson
  • Roxy Striar – TV Fights
  • Mat Black – Gamer Fights
  • Sasha Perl-Raver – Guest
  • Grae Drake – Guest

Fact Checkers:

  • Dan Murrell – Primary
  • Lon Harris
  • Joe Starr
  • Ken Napzok – TV Fights Guest
  • Kristian Harloff – Collider Guest
  • Nikole Z – Gamer Fights Guest
  • Jen Yamato – WIF Guest

Voice of the People:

  • Danielle Radford – Primary
  • Roth Cornet
  • Wendy Lee Szanee – Collider Guest
  • Billy Patterson – TV Fights Guest
  • Spencer Gilbert – Gamer Fights Guest

Time Out for Sports V: Free Agent Frenzy

Time Out for Sports V: Free Agent Frenzy

There has been a ton of huge NFL moves that have been made recently so I’ve taken it upon myself to give my analysis and breakdown eight of the massive free agent swaps.

1. The Green Bay Packers Shuffle

The first Super Bowl winners have been shuffling their cards after being dealt a terrible hand last season, finishing without all-star QB Aaron Rodgers and a record of 7-9. The Packers made a surprising trade with the Cleveland Browns, swapping their cornerback Damarious Randall for Cleveland’s breakout QB DeShone Kizer. Kizer will present a more competent backup (and potential future franchise starter) to replace the ill-fated Brett Hundley, who started ten games last season. Additionally, the Packers announced today that star wide receiver Jordy Nelson had been cut from the team, before swiftly announcing the acquisition of Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham, which should give Rodgers a much needed, large target.

2. The Legion of Boom No More

The Seattle Seahawks have completely fallen apart. Star cornerback Richard Sherman signed with the regenerated San Francisco 49ers. Michael Bennett moved to Philadelphia to become an Eagle. And now, Jimmy Graham has made the transition to Green Bay. What’s next for the Seattle Seahawks now that the dream team has disbanded? Only time will tell, but things do not bode well for the former Super Bowl champions.

3. Remember the Titans

The Tennessee Titans stunned the world by not only clinching a wild card spot last season, but upset the favorited Kansas City Chiefs. While they could not overcome the dynasty Patriots in the divisional round, they did, however, steal one. New England ‘s Super Bowl savior cornerback Malcom Butler signed with the Tennessee Titans a deal worth $61 million. Will this bring Tennessee back to the Super Bowl? Probably not, but a playoff appearance could be on the cards for this team.

4. Jets Making a Comeback?

The New York Jets’ biggest move was signing Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson for $15 million, but they made two big moves at QB this offseason. While the fan backlash over signing Josh McCown is justified, it’s the other QB selection that intrigues me. While McCown may start, the Jets also signed Minnesota Vikings playmaker Teddy Bridgewater. The veteran QB suffered a sizable injury back in 2016 that removed him from the team’s immediate future. Now because of another major move I will talk about in a minute, Teddy is available to have a future again in this league and I think his best shot of that is in New York.

5. Cardinals’ New QB

Speaking of Vikings’ quarterbacks, Sam Bradford made the move to Arizona today, signing a deal worth $20 million. The Cardinals do need a QB and Sam is solid enough to fit the bill, despite him starting two games last season in Minnesota. However, veteran RB Adrian Peterson just left the team, so the Cardinals may not be in the best shape offensively.

6. Cleveland Browns: AFC Champions?

After going 0-16 last season, the Browns have been beefing up their squad so far this offseason. The aforementioned trade for Demarious Thomas and a three year deal with Bengals DE Chris Smith has given the team a much needed shot in the arm on defense. The team also signed Steelers OT Chris Hubbard to a five year, $37.5 million deal, which is an incredible move for a team many considered dead. Other notable acquisitions include Bills QB Tyrod Taylor and Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry, who are undeniably huge picks for an already impressive offense. With the top pick and a slew of solid choices, the Browns are in a good position to turn the ship around and make it to the playoffs for the first time since 2002.

7. Revenge of the Denver Broncos

After failing to find any valid follow-up to the Peyton Manning era Broncos, Denver has finally locked down breakout sensation Case Keenum to a $74 million deal. Case is largest profile QB to play for the Broncos since the short-lived Tim Tebow era. Can Case lead the Broncos back to the playoffs? Potentially, but, once again, only time will tell if Case was a one-seasons wonder or the real deal.

8. Minnesota Vikings: Super Bowl Champions?

The Minnesota Vikings were easily one of the strongest teams in the league last season, finishing 13-3 under the leadership of backup QB Case Keenum and pulled of a Minneapolis Miracle to get to NFC championship game, where the fell to the Philadelphia Eagles. Now with one of the top defenses in the league, spearheaded by a squad including Defensive End Everson Griffen, Linebacker Anthony Barr, Defensive End Brian Robison, Tackle Linval Joseph, and Cornerback Xavier Rhodes, as well as boasting an impressive offensive crew of Wide Receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Theilen, as well as Running Backs Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray, and all-star Tight End Kyle Rudolph. Now, the already impressive team have filled their only hole in signing Quarterback Kirk Cousins in a monumental deal worth $84 million. Do the Vikings have a shot at winning the Super Bowl? It appears so. It’s still very early in the year, but on paper, these trades seem to be massive ones to watch out for.

Bobby Tarantino II: A Review

Bobby Tarantino II: A Review

Introduction

Logic is one of the top rappers in the industry right now. Exploding onto the scene with 2014’s Under Pressure, he solidified his success with 2015’s The Incredible True Story and his smash success mixtape: 2016’s Bobby Tarantino, as well as 2017’s Everybody. The prolific storytelling rapper now releases his second commercial mixtape Bobby Tarantino II. Does it live up to previous work? We explore this on this week’s edition of #MusicMonday.

1. Grandpa’s Space Ship

This skit features cartoon stars Rick and Morty discussing whether Logic’s albums or mixtapes are better. It’s a really funny, culturally relevant way to open up what promises to be a really fun mixtape. The Logic canon is officially changed up to include his mixtapes as apart of the same universe as his other stuff. It confirms how smart and meta Logic is when it comes to his storytelling.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A

2. Overnight

Logic’s second single from the mixtape features a nice blend of vocals and rap performance. While his lyricism is decent, the song shine vocally and on the production side. While his theme comes across clear, showing that fame and success doesn’t happen overnight, the song itself isn’t his strongest work.

Track Rating: 7/10

Grade: B

3. Contra

Logic’s lyricism is stronger this time around. The production and hook is strong. Logic gets rather personal, telling about how he fought to get here and how hard life was before this. It’s a solid jam. It’s not some huge mind-blowing song. It’s just fun.

Track Rating: 7/10

Grade: B

4. BoomTrap Protocol

The production on this one is amazing. Logic hits hard with his lyricism and flows very naturally on the track. His vocals are very smooth. The hook is great. While it’s played as a love song, it feels really groovy and smooth. It’s my favorite so far. Track Rating: 8/10Grade: A-

5. Yuck

The opening is very comedic; the lawyer is a nice touch to launch. Logic is allowed to have one song about flexing and money and this is his. It’s really fun and hype. The production is always really solid on Logic albums, and this song confirms that. His lines hit hard and his lyricism is surprisingly really strong for a money song. Actually ending the song with an Elton John voicemail was perfect.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A

6. Indica Badu (ft. Wiz Khalifa)

The production on this song is fantastic. The groovy and smooth song is so chill and fun to groove to. Logic’s performance on this one is absolutely top-notch. Yes, the song is about being high. It’s really fun and the vocals are great. It actually tells a cool short story about smoking with friends. Wiz Khalifa is actually a great addition to the track and he kills his featured performance. This is a great song. Logic is self-aware with his ending and it is again another solid button for his song.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

7. Midnight

The last song flows right into this one seamlessly. Logic’s vocals are great out the gate. It’s another really chill and groovy song. His lyricism is solid, but it’s his performance that stands out. It’s another great song. It captures Logic at a club at midnight, but the production is what truly paints the picture of it being midnight. The beat even switches speeds a bit and still flawlessly works, symbolizing a transition into morning as Logic really comes alive. It’s another great one.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

8. Warm It Up (ft. Young Sinatra)

Bringing in his original persona, Logic steps up to knock another groovy beat out of the park. It’s more upbeat this time around and Logic flows easily. His performance is great again. Logic proves why he’s one of the top ones in the game here when he decides to play both Logic and Young Sinatra on one piece about evolving in the music industry. Trap vs Rap is showcased here and he proves how he is a master of both.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

9. Wizard of Oz

Logic switches things up for this one. Here comes the “Flexecution” of this album. Using the metaphor of the Wizard running Oz, he delivers a lyrical powerhouse. His vocals are fantastic on this one too. This is the best song so far. Logic owns this track hardcore.Track Rating: 9/10Grade: A+

10. State of Emergency (ft. 2 Chainz)

The production is intense this one around. 2 Chainz goes first and he actually changes up his flow to fit this and is pretty good. Logic dribbles across the choppy production. His lyricism is strong this one too. He misuses the premise however, rather than address serious issues with this beat and theme, but he still creates a fun song that packs some punches.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A-

11. Wassup (ft. Big Sean)

Big Sean, another one of the top modern rappers, gets to play on this bop too. The production leaves a little to be desired, but Big Sean delivers an incredible performance and fits this beat like a glove. Big Sean is the best feature of the album. Logic himself delivers a great performance to match the magic Big Sean performed. This The Flash meeting Green Lantern captured in one awesome track. It’s a fun song with two amazing performances.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

12. Everyday (ft. Marshmello)

The third single from the project is a powerhouse track. This is an all-time great one for Logic, who delivers a great performance, both vocally and lyrically. The hook is pure Logic and is killer. He rides the beat like a bike and takes it to the Tour de France. This is the best of the album.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

13. 44 More

The finale of the mixtape is also the first single. A direct sequel to 44 Bars from the last mixtape, Logic proceeds to update on life in a more upbeat manner than last time as he rides 44 More. While it’s still a chill beat, Logic manages to be honest while delivering a bop. Logic delivers a powerhouse performance, however it’s not a finale song and thus leaves things on an underwhelming note.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A-

Conclusion:

Logic is one of the best and he proves that whether he’s delivering a story-filled album or a fun mixtape, he delivers. He’s one of the best of all time and this mixtape ranks as one his best albums. Filled with great production and performances, this may be in the top three for him.

Album Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

Shoot For Teams: Behind The Music

Shoot For Teams: Behind The Music

This article is co-authored by Carlos Williams, Mike Myslinski, and Steven Widman.

Introduction:

It started out as an idea. We had all known each other for a while. Carlos and I met back in 2012 when he did a show at The Rock. I met Myz when he asked Los and I to open for him at The Ember in 2013. I met Steven when we both found out we liked Andy Mineo in choir class and went to his St. Paul concert in 2016. After C-Los finished produced Steven’s mixtape in November, he had the idea of the four of us coming together to do a single (which would later become “Tuesday”) and that expanded into forming a group and making an album. After three months of recording, writing, mixing, and getting the project mastered and marketed, The Forks released our debut album Shoot For Teams on February 16, 2018. We’ve been blessed with this opportunity and we felt it would be a fun experience to write a commentary piece about the album. Without further ado, The Forks presents…

Shoot For Teams: Behind The Music

1. In The Presence (ft. MyzBeatz & C-Los)

This song was written to be hype for getting into God’s presence! Time with Him is essential and irreplaceable in the life of a follower. Living water will flow through us and effect others; we engage when we spend time with Him. We have Him leading from our quiet place together. That’s what this song is about! – M

This song evolved from an idea from another song. “Coram Deo” is the key phrase in this one. It simply means “to be in the presence of God.” Myz and I wanted to communicate the importance of being in God’s presence. For me, my decisions should flow from that place. Favorite Line: “You’ll never be in His presence if you just come for presents, but if came to feel his presence, you might get a present.” If you anticipate God’s presence and not just the benefits it brings, you get all those things. But we worship God, because He’s God. – C

2. The G.O.A.T. (Ft. SW & 2K)

I think this song was just for fun, just to get into the studio and show what God has given us and knowing that we do it all through him. Nothing that I have is from my own power or my own strength. – S

Steven and I each took a song to come with conceptually. Steven took the other song, and I came up with this one. From the moment we heard Los’s beat, I was hooked. It was big and bold and fast and I knew we needed to write material to match that. And then the idea came: if our God is for us, than who can stop us. We took that premise and built the concept of the God of All Time. Steven and I each wrote our verses and would meet once a week to touch base, and then break off and keep improving, which is resulted in an escalation of us wanting to bring our best and the best out of each other. I’m very honored by and proud of this song. – K

3. Let Me Go (ft. C-Los & MyzBeatz)

I’d just got back from Guam. I spent a few months out there for work, and I had a pretty nice vibe out there while I was making music. The song itself sounds like you’re on the beach or poolside hanging out! But truth be told, I had a moment where God just started speaking to me through the hook I wrote for the song. I think we all have a moment in life where you question God and whether or not he cares for me, because a lot of the things that were going on in the world around me, happening to people who looked like me. I’m also always thinking about making sure my family is being taken care of to the best of my abilities and how I can insure their future. God told me not to worry about it. So I’m trying to do that! – C

This track is about the battle of mind games and defeating doubt. Instead of letting the enemy defeat us in our mind, we need to remember the truth in Christ and His promises for us about who we are! It’s a real battle at times, but He never let’s us go. – M

4. Nomads (ft. SW, 2K & MyzBeatz)

Nomads was more of an encouragement song for our fellow brothers and sisters who are sharing the Gospel and sometimes may be unmotivated to do so, or sometimes have a hard time sharing. We’re just giving some encouragement for that. – S

Myz, Steven, and I were brainstorming over at Myz’s apartment and he had the idea of it sounding like being in a desert and the idea of wandering like the Israelites. We each came to that with a different perspective. I came with the viewpoint of modern day Christians feeling like they’re wandering and lost because of ridicule or discouragement that they might be feeling for their faith. My favorite part of this song is absolutely Myz’s vocals when he sings “This for the Nomads/Never going back.” – K

This song is about continuing to share Jesus even though it is difficult at times. We can feel like wanderers or drifters in our lives and feel like we are the only ones carrying out the faith! But Moses and other biblical characters were faithful. This track is built to encourage those to keep sharing their faith no matter how many rejections you’ve faced or how difficult it can be. – M

5. Stuck in a Trap (ft. SW & C-Los)

Stuck in a Trap was just a message that I wanted to share. I’ve had a few people in life that aren’t saved that have told me that they feel too tainted for God’s love and God’s grace, and it’s something that hurts to hear. But also, Jesus can give them the hope of what the Gospel actually says about this situation. With this song, even in the process, there was a time where I was going through a difficult time with my own walk and I listened to this song and it actually spoke to me in that time. I truly hope and pray this song changes somebody’s way of thinking. God will do the work. – S

I’m starting to like trap music. Not the lyrics that most rappers rap over it, but the style of hip-hop itself. I think SW and I did an exceptional job of making sure there was substance in our lyrics for this one. This may be the more important message I want people to hear from this album. Falling into temptation often seems like repeatedly falling into a trap. It’s a lot harder to see God in dark places, but He is in fact there and ready to pull you out of the trap you can’t seem to break free of. – C

6. Step Yo Game Up (ft. SW & 2K)

“Step Yo Game Up” was more of a competitive song as well as a message of what I’ve been seeing lately as far as people worshipping things that are worthless. But there’s definitely a competitive aspect that says “I have this God-given talent, and I have what it takes to be good at this.” I just need to prove it, and I do it through music. – S

Steven took point on this one. We approached it as a sort of sequel to his song “The Reason” from his Reminiscent mixtape. I always thought of it being like us saying “look what God has given us and what we can do through him”. It’s also us talking about the idea of false idols and that we need to step our game up in recognizing them and helping others find the truth. – K

7. Tuesday

When Los brought up the idea of doing a song with all four of us, I was excited. It was going to be a cypher of sorts, a way to get in and out fast and show off skills. So I approached the first verse of Tuesday as an opportunity to introduced myself and the group at the end of the album and I wrote just that, an introduction for the finale. – K

“Tuesday” was just a blessing to be a part of. It was originally C-Los and Myz’s song, but they allowed us to be on it. I just wanted to contribute the best I could! The message was just more of a “don’t sleep on ‘The Forks’ crew because we have God-given talent and we’re gonna use it for Him.” – S

This track is just fun and rapping for Jesus. Before SFT, Carlos and I did most of our studio time on Tuesday nights as we worked on music! This is a banner to come together as a group and competitively slay this beat with one another. – M

When we were recording Myz’s mixtape, Phenom4Eons, a lot of times, Tuesday was the only day of the week that he could come over to record. So when we did get together, we had to make the most of it, getting as many quality recordings for as many songs as we could. As believers, we are instructed to give our best at everything we do. For us and the process of creating music, that was a Tuesday. – C

 

Shoot For Teams is available on all digital stores and streamers or right here. You can also find The Forks on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @TheForksRap.