MUSIC

Is DaBaby His Own Worst Enemy?

With the more recent headlines surrounding the emcee, it's felt like DaBaby has finally done something he can't finagle out of.

DaBaby "Giving What It's Supposed To Give" music video

DaBaby has been difficult to absorb lately.

The Charlottesville emcee was an exciting burst of caffeine right out the gates. His energized flow, goofy sense of humor, and IDGAF rhetoric made him seem like a Roadrunner, always on the move and always outmaneuvering those whothink they'd finally outsmarted him.

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Music Features

Review: Yung Bleu's "Moon Boy" Showcases a Pop Star In The Making

On Moon Boy, Yung Bleu's debut album, the crooner attempts to balance his dueling personas and ultimately presents a radio-ready project ripe with agenda.

Yung Bleu "Moon Boy"

The infamous Drake co-sign.

It's long been seen as a coveted secret weapon, a guaranteed career kickstarter for any artist lucky enough to snag one. With that said, the Drake feature hasn't always translated into a guaranteed success story. The trajectories of ILoveMakonnen and BlocBoy JB are a testament to that. But a Drizzy verse has always translated into an opportunity for young artists to capitalize on budding attention rather than curate that attention on their own.

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As is the case every year, the BET awards brought with it a night full of glamor and amazing moments.

Sure, Jack Harlow's multiple noms last night was perplexing and maybe a bit problematic; but for the most part, the night consisted of jaw-dropping performances that put on for the culture in a big way. Megan Thee Stallion gave a magnetic performance of her new single, "Thot Shit," as well as a heartwarming shout out to her late mother. Jazmine Sullivan duetted alongside Maxine Waters and Ari Lennox before taking home the award for Best Album, and some of rap's biggest icons took the stage to pay homage to the late DMX — and then, of course, there was Lil Nas X. Here are a few of the great moments that made up last night's awards.

Tyler, The Creator Performs "Lumberjack"

Tyler, the Creator's theatrical production of "Lumberjack" from his latest album, Call Me If You Get Lost, was one of the night's most unique performances. Pulling up in the back of a Rolls Royce, Tyler faced a vicious windstorm on stage as he rapped. He attempts to check his mail and grips onto the mailbox for dear life as the wind picks up and blows away his valet and the foundation of his house. It was a dramatic two minutes, to say the least.

Cardi B Pregnancy Announcement

One of the biggest moments of the night came with some shocking news, as Cardi B unveiled to the world that she was pregnant with her second child. During the Migos performance of "Straightenin'" and "Type Shit," the audience went wild when Cardi B gracefully swaggered onstage. She didn't even acknowledge the moment; instead she just rapped away and conquered her verse, allowing her massive baby bump to speak for itself. Not to mention she did all this blinged out in a Dolce & Gabbana onesie.

Lil Nas X's Steamy Make Out Session

Who else would be better to close out Pride Month with a bang? 2021 has seen Lil Nas X push the envelope as far as possible, as he continues to piss off conservatives everywhere with his unabashed homoeroticism. On Sunday night's performance on the BET Awards stage, Lil Nas X did not hold back, per usual, concluding his Egyptian-themed rendition of "Montero" with a steamy kiss with one of his male backup dancers. It was a hot and playful moment that shook the audience to its core and warranted standing ovations from Pose's MJ Rodriguez and others. He even got some incredible support on Twitter. "Lil Nas X did that," wrote Diddy. "Be Fearless!"

Another "Leave The Door Open" Performance

We've all heard it a million times at this point, but once again Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak gave another amazing performance of the Silk Sonic hit "Leave the Door Open." As the song concluded, Paak asked a hyped audience if they wanted to hear a new song, but he quickly admitted he was joking. "We still in the Top 10, and until that change, we gonna do this again and again and again," he added. The pair would later take home the Best Group award, despite having only one song to their name.

Queen Latifah Getting The Lifetime Achievement Award

Queen Latifah was overcome with emotion on Sunday night as she was presented with BET's Lifetime Achievement Award. Introduced by MC Lyte, who referred to Latifah as "my sister in hip-hop but even more importantly, my sister in life," and added that Latifah is "a woman who has been creating magic for decades – an undeniable, unstoppable force of nature." From her moments on film to her iconic rap and producing career, Lyte called Latifah a creative "Swiss Army Knife." More shout-outs followed from Megan Thee Stallion, Jada Pinkett Smith, Mary J. Blige, Lil' Kim, and others before Latifah took the stage alongside her father.

"I am so extremely moved... I don't even know what to say," she said, choking up. She shouted out her late mother who passed in 2018, and showed the audience a picture of her, and she most importantly thanked her fans for supporting "every crazy-ass thing I've done over the years."

MUSIC

Review: Can "Culture III" Change the Culture Once Again?

Can the tide shift with the Migos sway as it did in 2017? It doesn't seem likely. Even flash-in-the-pan moments of excitement are drowned out by long stretches of monotony.

Culture III

When the original Culture was released back in 2017, the Atlanta area was already a bustling rap mecca, filled with so many rap migrants that Coach K, the head of the now unstoppable Quality Control Music, told The New York Times with all sincerity that there were "more transplants in the city of Atlanta than people from Atlanta."

But Atlanta's cultural staying power was solidified by Culture, and the city became publicly recognized as a "center of gravity" in hip-hop. The city's ominous musical palette became the blueprint for trap music as a whole moving forward, and every rapper to emerge after Culture's release bit off the Migos triplet-laced flow. The mimicry got so bad that Snoop Dogg chimed in at one point to clown and condemn it.

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MUSIC

This Haunts Me: When Punk Went Crunk

To reflect back on this shudder-inducing album is to discover a laundry list of issues, the most prominent issue being that most of the covers on this compilation aren't even Crunk music.

Punk Goes Crunk

It was fun to be a scene kid in 2008.

It kinda felt like music of all sorts was thriving nationwide. Bands like Say Anything and My Chemical Romance had been household names for a few years now; and Shinedown, Buckcherry, and Staind were all sharing radio time with Natasha Bedingfield and Lil Wayne. Anything seemed possible, and the Punk Goes… compilation series was a testament to that.

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MUSIC

Review: "The Voice of The Heroes" Demonstrates Why Collab Albums Don't Work Anymore

Lil Baby and Durk's lively bouts of lyricism are enmeshed between hollow flexes and a bloated track list.

The Voice of the Heroes

In hip-hop in particular, it seems hard for a collaborative effort to truly satisfy the ravenous appetites of its fans.

Young Thug and Chris Brown's joint effort Slime & B was one of the most forgettable releases of 2020, with "Go Crazy's" radio success hinging on a viral dance challenge that barely gained traction. Another surprise collab release from Future and Lil Uzi Vert that same year sounded rushed and tedious and barely turned heads, which was surprising considering the latter was still ripe off his success of Eternal Atake.

From Metro Boomin's joint work with Big Sean and 21 Savage to every DJ Khaled record and the monumental letdown of albums like Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho and Everything Is Love, collab albums since 2011's Watch The Throne's have more often than not hinged their success on the PR power of its stars more than the substance of its records. Albums get sold, social media stirs for a moment, but records like Wrld on Drugs eventually wind up in the discount bin at Wal-Mart. Remember when T-Pain and Lil Wayne made a mixtape together called T-Wayne? Me neither.

So where does The Voice of the Heroes fall? It's unclear. Lil Baby and Lil Durk's buttery flows blend together nicely and tracks like "Man of My Word" offer energized exchanges that feel like a super-charged battery. Both rappers are known for their vulnerable penmanship, and the emcees sprinkle moments of candid reflections across the album's bloated 18 tracks. Lil Durk's powerful eye for detail radiates on "Still Hood," where he describes bathing in a bucket, sharing a room with a junkie after his uncle got cancer, and how he used to sleep in strangers bathrooms on a duct-taped air mattress while listening to his aunt have sex next door. It's these haunting details that make Durk such a force on the mic, and when mixed with Lil Baby's penchant for social justice and self-motivation, they should create tracks that are powerful and rich with detail.

Lil Baby & Lil Durk - Voice of the Heroes (Official Video) www.youtube.com

But the truth is that these lively bouts of lyricism are enmeshed between so many hollow flexes ("I'm rich as fuck I can do what I wanna / came over sober she left here a stoner") and lines written solely to fill up space("check my net worth, hundred-fifty cash on the pay worth / Google better change my net worth") that it becomes harder and harder to pick out the gems as the project goes on.

"I done had to stand in front of the judge, and tell her I'm a user," Lil Baby raps on "Please," but the tragic sentiment of that statement is quickly buried underneath his follow-up anecdote about how Lil Baby and his money are married and "fuck off as a couple."

The impressive trickle of guest features, strangely, doesn't remedy the album's monotonous bouts. Travis Scott's last-minute verse on "Hats Off" feels scattered and ends so abruptly that it sounds like it had been solely scraped together to appease Travis fans. Meek Mill's choice to substitute his candid sincerity for braggadocious flexes on "Still Runnin" feels like a missed opportunity when the former could have truly elevated the track into something meaningful, and Rod Wave's brief appearance on "Rich Off Pain" doesn't boost the track in the ways one would hope and becomes quickly overshadowed by Durk noting that he'd use a butter knife to break into his aunt's room to steal money.

The only worthwhile appearance is Young Thug, who sounds vibrant and like he's having the time of his life on "Up the Side." The production itself doesn't pull any punches, either. The regular heavy hitters make their appearances (London on da Track, FOREVEROLLING, Murda Beatz) but offer up the same handful of oily bass-driven trap instrumentals that are well within all of their comfort zones.

At times Lil Baby and Lil Durk blend together with powerful empathy, but these moments come watered down by the project's weak flexes and gimmicky spectacles (Durk's veiled threat of violence against Quando Rondo on "Still Runnin" is already gaining traction on the blogs). Then there are moments that feel barely strung together at all, with songs like "Okay" and "That's Facts" feeling copied and pasted together by two artists just trying to cram another album into their busy schedule.

It all together makes those fleeting moments of vulnerability feel heartbreaking because they serve as brief glimpses into what this album could have been had it been given the proper care and attention. But I suppose that's the overall tragedy of collaborative albums, in general. When one passes by without leaving a mark, it feels like you missed the spotting of a shooting star, or worse yet like you had your wish granted and it just didn't change much of anything.

The Voice of the Heroes