The Return of G.O.O.D. Fridays: “G.O.O.D. Music’s Fab 5 Ranked”
You know, all controversy aside, never in Hip Hop History have we seen what Kanye West just accomplished in the span of 5 weeks. From May 25th 2018 to June 29th 2018, 5 albums were released each Friday, all of them basically produced by Kanye West (sans co-production). Each album sounds like it’s on a completely different planet from the other: From Pusha T’s drug dealer brilliance to Ye’s “box of chocolates” approach to KIDS SEE GHOSTS’s psychedelic vibes to Nas’s street poetry and Teyana Taylor’s sultry sounds. Kanye and crew laid out a blueprint to take over the Summer of 2018 and they should all be commended for their work. Here are their offerings ranked, from good to G.O.O.D.
5. Teyana Taylor, “K.T.S.E.”
Teyana Taylor is one of those people who just seems really good at anything she does. But if you’re not paying attention, you might’ve missed that the girl is an amazing singer as well. It had been 4 years since the release of her debut album, “VII,” after an even longer wait since her first buzz single, “Google Me,” release in 2008 under Pharrell’s Star Trak Entertainment. Fast forward to today and you have Teyana and Kanye in their Neo-soul bag on K.T.S.E. (Keep That Same Energy). Album highlight “Gonna Love Me” sounds like something Kanye woulda made for Brandy in his College Dropout days and Teyana breezes on the track. This is a soulful effort with with not many missteps (“WTP” sounds wild coming after a borderline gospel song to close the album), but there are more highs than lows. “A Rose In Harlem” is another highlight (with or without the Lauryn Hill sample, but that’s another story).
4. Kanye West, “ye”
2018’s biggest firestarter thus far, Mr. West, delivered his 8th solo LP on June 1st amidst a LOT of controversy. Fans seemed divided almost evenly on whether or not they would even give the project a spin after his now infamous TMZ incident (Kanye claims he actually re-did his whole entire album after that, and didn’t even have any lyrics for the album 8 days before its release). But for those that did listen, you heard Kanye open up in a space none of us have quite heard him in before. Before you even press play, the album cover reads “I hate being bi-polar, it’s awesome.” (Should’ve been the album title to me). With that reveal, Kanye seems to act that sentiment out in real time on “I Thought About Killing You”, where Kanye seems to struggle with letting his dark side get the best of him at times. The rest of the album sees Kanye talk about how his marriage was threatened by his recent actions and how his struggle to communicate fueled that on “Wouldn’t Leave” (“You want me workin on my messaging/When I’m thinking like George Jetson but sounding like George Jefferson”). By the time we get to album highlight “Ghost Town,” it feels like Kanye sees a breakthrough after spending a lot of the first half of the album shuffling around and trying to find his light. My knocks on the album would be occasional lyrical laziness (“I love your titties cuz they prove that I can focus on two things at once” is a funny bar, but c’mon.) and the sporadic nature of the album, The music is still good, but it seems to lack focus at times. But, knowing Ye and his declaration of bi-polarism being his super power, that’s by design.
3. KIDS SEE GHOSTS, “KIDS SEE GHOSTS”
If somebody would’ve told us in 2009 that Kanye West and Kid Cudi would link up to do an album together, there would’ve been a lot of jumping for joy, a lot of emotions, and a lot of platinum plaques. That absolutely sounded like something that was supposed to have BEEN happened, but the two haven’t always seen eye to eye over the years. That all changed on June 8th when the two trendsetters linked up to give us a project under their group name KIDS SEE GHOSTS. And the two blended their worlds together extremely well. Both artists seemed as invigorated as either have been in recent memory (Especially Kanye from a lyrical standpoint, in comparison to “ye”), with undeniable chemistry. The sound is experimental, moody and unique, especially on album highlight “Ghost Town, Pt. 2” which is as great as its predecessor. It feels like a rock song until Ty Dolla $ign floats from the sky and takes us to church (Seriously, put Ty Dolla $ign on everything). A great body of work from two artists who have made a living going left when everybody else goes right.
2. Nas, “NASIR”
Two years after DJ Khaled and Nas released “Nas Album Done,” Escobar Season finally returned. In what sounds like Kanye’s attempt at a 2018 “Hate Me Now,” Nas and Puff Daddy open the album with “Not For Radio” with a sneering sense of triumph. NASIR finds Nas in familiar territory topic wise, addressing police brutality on “Cops Shot The Kid” with Kanye on a fire Slick Rick sample, slick talk on the swaying “Bonjour” and life gems on “everything” where Nas spits “I’m buyin back the land owned by slave masters/Where my ancestors lived/Just to say a rapper made a change/The pants-sagger put plans in action/To lay claim, the Pan-African made it happen.” And on album highlight “Adam & Eve,” Nas just raps his ass off. The beat Kanye gave Nas for that one is one that you would only give Nas if you’re a Nas fan, and I mean that in the absolute best way possible. Nas dumbs out:
“What come first, peace or the paper?
Before I had a piece of paper, peace was in my favor
Before I sat to eat at the table, it had leeches and traitors
Cut the fat from the meat, extract the weak, bon appetit
No bacon, brothers is swine
It’s so hard to trust ’em ’cause my hustle is mine”
It’s even been theorized that each song on the album is based on one of the seven deadly sins, and Kanye kind of sparked that fire by randomly tweeting the definitions of the seven deadly sins days before the album’s release. Put nothing past a guy who’s ill enough to rap a story backwards on wax.
1. Pusha T, “DAYTONA”
Pusha T was first to bat in this sequence of G.O.O.D. Music releases, and in this case they saved the best for first. What Pusha and Kanye accomplished here is a perfect marriage of hard beats and hard rhymes. The two were at the top of their games on each side. These are the best beats Kanye has made in a long time and these are some of Pusha’s best verses on top of them. There’s no desire for Pusha to have a multi platinum hit on this album, not with bars like “Bricklayers in ball shorts, coaching from the side of the ball court/(If you know, you know) One stop like a Walmart, we got the tennis balls for the wrong sport,” which sounds like coded language to the average listener removed from the streets. Pusha and Ross float over the appropriately titled “Hard Piano,” “Infared” is filled with lyrical darts aimed at Young Money’s empire and the second verse in “Come Back Baby” could’ve been a Hip Hop Quotable in The Source:
“Who else got the luxury to drop when he want
‘Cause nobody else can fuck with me? What a show-off
Nigga, wrist for wrist—let’s have a glow-off
Fuck it, brick for brick—let’s have a blow-off
If we go by connections made
I can still climb ladders when complexions fade (EGHCK)
White on white, that’s the tester
Black on black, that’s the Tesla
See these diamonds in this watch face?
All that shit came from pressure
They don’t miss you ’till you gone with the wind
And they tired of dancin’ like a Ying Yang Twin
You can’t have the Yin without the Yang, my friend
Real niggas bring balance to the game I’m in (EGHCK!)
Can’t escape the scale if I tried, interstate trafficking’s alive Push”
Pusha said on album highlight, “The Games We Play:” “To all of my young niggas/I am your Ghost and your Rae/This is my Purple Tape, save up for Rainy Days.” This is the type of album that would make Ghost and Rae proud.