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Album Review: “Boarding House Reach” - Jack White

One of the most influential and most talented musicians and producers of the 21st century is back, and he’s proving that he still has it. Jack White, best known for his role in legendary Detroit garage rock and blues rock duo The White Stripes, and his creation of one of the most immediately recognizable guitar riffs in rock history (which has since become an anthem for sports fans everywhere) has returned with a new solo album. His third LP is a deliberate and noticeable step away from his previous two, and finds him in a zone of forward thinking and highly ambitious experimentation. 

For what is dubbed as a rock album, “Boarding House Reach” plunges into many different sounds, most notably hip hop. The album has constant influences from legends like Afrika Bambaataa, Public Enemy, and Rage Against the Machine, and features break beats that jump around and are jaunty as all hell. The album is a blend of all sorts of different genres, and the production somehow makes it mesh in a scattered but beautiful way. For the first time in his career, Jack White used Pro Tools, the digital audio workstation he once called “cheating”. This is the first clear difference, as the record sounds futuristic, rather than digging from the past, which he did (quite well too) on “Blunderbuss” and 2014′s “Lazaretto”. While “Blunderbuss” was a very mature record that introduced a dark and somber blues and folk sound to Jack’s repertoire, “Lazaretto” was a very inconsistent album with a number of very forgettable performances. With “Boarding House Reach”, Jack has brought out a wide assortment of influences and has stripped any barriers he once had. The frenetic energy, frenzied arrangements, and distorted guitars, organs, synths, and drum machine beats make this record one weird stew of sounds that even has a slightly psychedelic taste. 

The energy of this record is so off the wall, so chaotic, so dizzying, that it becomes an experience to listen to. The first track, “Connected By Love” proves to be a compelling rock ballad with buzzing synths to back it, and a impassioned vocal performance by White, who croons with a certain nervousness. As a single I wasn’t crazy about it, but in the context of this record, the track really comes to life. Even my favorite thing about this track, the wild and distorted organ and guitar solo on the second half of the track, plays so much more powerfully as an opener, and really helps this record take off. From there, we get a laid back and very somber blues tune titled “Why Walk A Dog?”, which has some very dark lyrical themes and hooks the listener with its rough and sinister synth tones, as well as a pronounced bassline and minimalist beat. We quickly shift from a slow sludge to a confident, funky, and Meters-style jumpy beat on the standout “Corporation”. This track has loads of swagger, from the bouncy synth leads, to the funk bass, to the well-mixed percussion, which all come together for an infectious rhythm. Jack shouts and wiles out on vocals, talking about his goal to start a corporation because “That’s how you get adulation”, and his plans to take it all the way to the top, with the recurring question, “Who’s with me?” It strikes me as a theme for his forward-thinking self-made label Third Man Records, as well as the theme for “Boarding House Reach” and the album’s forward-thinking sound. “Corporation” ends and after a short interlude and the incredibly odd “Hypermisophoniac”, we’re taken into the equally confident funk strut of “Ice Station Zebra”, which is too tightly packed a track to really explain. What is clear is that Jack channels his inner Beck on the track, spitting the lyrics in a rap and rollicking over some “Odelay”-era synth stabs, and makes some excellent statements about technology. Through it all, there is this undeniable energy and power that only Jack White can bring to the songs, and this couldn’t be more true than on the following track “Over and Over and Over”. This song is the definition of a badass garage rock banger, and Jack crafts yet another gut punching beat and immediately lovable guitar riff that is reminiscent of Rage Against the Machine. He even rewrites the rock playbook, playing hip hop DJ on his own album with the inclusion of drum machine and bongo grooves, throwing an assortment of different rhythmic surprises into the track to give it an old school hip hop quality to it. This track, as well as “Corporation” and “Ice Station Zebra” exhibit Jack challenging himself, pushing himself to new limits, and doing it with apparent ease. 

The wonderful flow of the album continues on the second side, which opens with the unsettling dystopian interlude “Everything You’ve Ever Learned” which I get immense joy listening to as it goes from a futuristic advertisement for “everything you’ve ever learned”, and builds into an angry and head-banging mosher with White shouting “shutup and learn!” It’s just an interlude and it is one of my favorite moments from the record. Following this is the playful and fun “Respect Commander”, which takes clear influence from old school hip hop legends like Afrika Bambaataa and features these 80′s synth hits that pop with the rapid ticking drum beat, then transitioning into a slow, heavy, psychedelic, and slightly sexy instrumental that sets a very dark scene for Jack’s vocals about respecting a woman and being at her command. Jack closes the track with a signature squealing guitar solo, giving a usual trope of his a new vibrant energy in a track that is very new to his musical palette. 

The fun doesn’t stop on the track “Get In The Mind Shaft”, which features some bubbly synths and warbled vocals that sound like something from The Flaming Lips’ “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots”. The album closes with two new instrumental directions on the country ballad “What’s Done Is Done”, which includes drum machines that surprisingly sound great with the vocal harmonies, acoustic guitar, and various keys, ranging from grand piano, to organ, to synths. The album then ends peacefully with “Humoresque”, a folk and jazz ballad that has a beautiful structure and piano outro. It brings the album to a full circle, as each track draws into the next, and the album’s highest highs come in the middle, with the beginning and the end taking it down a notch and showing the versatility and success of White’s experiment. “Boarding House Reach” is an album that many longtime fans might hate, and many critics might hate too, but to me, this album is a sign of the future of music. A dense blend of genres, influences and styles. If anyone was to put out a record like this, it would be Jack White, and for as big a Jack White fan as I am, this album significantly surpassed my expectations. He truly threw out the rule book, eliminated his limitations, and made one of the most forward-thinking and ambitious rock albums I’ve heard in a long time. Kudos, Jack. You really pulled it off.


Favorite Tracks: “Corporation”, “Over and Over and Over”, “Ice Station Zebra”, “Get In The Mind Shaft”, “Respect Commander”, “Connected By Love”, “What’s Done Is Done”, “Everything You’ve Ever Learned”

Double Review: Great releases from Car Seat Headrest and U.S. Girls

Car Seat Headrest - “Twin Fantasy”

The newest music from Will Toledo and company isn’t all that new–it’s a newly mastered, re-recorded and reworked version of his 2011 Bandcamp album “Twin Fantasy”, the record that essentially made him blow up on the internet and get a record deal from the legendary NY indie label Matador. After the critical acclaim of 2016’s “Teens of Denial”, which showed Will taking his music up a few notches and showing off many of his best tunes yet and landed on many a year-end list (including the #2 spot on mine), Matador essentially let Toledo do whatever he wanted with his project. Returning to his older material much like with his Matador debut “Teens of Style”, Toledo has completely updated this new version of his Bandcamp “masterpiece” that was once so raw and lo-fi that you could barely understand his vocals. This time around, the vocals are at the forefront, as Toledo shouts and wails with his signature crackling voice, and gives the ultimate “shy guy” album a fairly confident sound, especially on tracks like the monstrous 13-minute “Beach Life-In Death” (which is miles better than the original). The album’s beats are aggressive, the guitars are heavy and jagged, and the synths give this new recording some real dynamic layer. Highlights like the fun and energetic “Cute Thing”, hypnotic and psychedelic “High to Death”, and Strokes-esque “Bodys” feature some amazing jams and solos, and “Nervous Young Inhumans” and “My Boy” have a new energy and focus that mirrors that of many tracks off of “Teens of Denial”. The album as a whole is fantastic and a huge improvement on the original, not only in its experimentation with added outros to multiple tracks (bringing the album’s run time to a whopping 77 minutes), but its musical influences shine through and some of the tracks prove to be some of Will’s best recordings yet.


Favorite Tracks: “Cute Thing”, “Bodys”, “Beach Life-In Death”, “Nervous Young Inhumans”, "High to Death", "Famous Prophets"

U.S. Girls - “In a Poem Unlimited”

Meg Remy’s newest installment under the U.S. Girls moniker is perhaps her greatest effort yet. It’s also her pop-iest, but that works to her advantage. “In a Poem Unlimited” is a strong delivery of what the indie pop solo act does best–write infectious songs with interesting lyrics and a synth pop edge. Her new album is nothing short of great, as Remy delivers solid song after solid song, flowing nicely with a signature style. The new album even dives into political pop, as she goes into some darker themes about the current state of our country on tracks like “M.A.H.” (Mad As Hell), where she reflects on the Obama administration. The album as a whole isn’t dense in lyrical matter without being incredibly fun and danceable. With the help of many guest songwriters, the tracks strike a balance between being thoughtful meditations, rageful expression, and sticky melodies. The synth leads are incredibly memorable on standouts like “Velvet 4 Sale”, “Poem”, and the impeccably groovy “Time”, which balances scattered free jazz saxophones with raw and fuzzy guitars over a driving beat to close the album on an all time high. Then there’s my personal favorite track, the single “Pearly Gates”, which sounds an awful lot like Nate Dogg and Warren G’s “Regulate”. There’s a change of mood all over the album, especially on tracks like the jazzy “Rage of Plastics”, string section-led “Rosebud”, and lo-fi electronics of “Incidental Boogie”, which find Meg and Co. going into new territory and pull it off with flying colors. Remy sings with incredible poise and passion, making these songs powerful and groovy at the same time, and making the album one of this year’s most consistently great pop records. I find myself returning to it quite often, and don’t see that halting anytime soon.


Favorite Tracks: “Pearly Gates”, “Rage of Plastics”, “Time”, “M.A.H”, "Incidental Boogie", "Velvet 4 Sale"

Album Review: "Little Dark Age" - MGMT

After five years of silence and speculation as to whether they would ever bounce back from the commercial disaster that was their last album, the NY indie rock/neo-psych pop duo of Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser, better known as MGMT, are back with their newest release “Little Dark Age”. Although the album has no clear theme running through its entirety, it has many songs that address the band’s half-decade hiatus and the current state of our world. In addition to this, the band has made a triumphant return to form, crafting some of their best songs ever and reminding us of the experimental and psych pop charm they were originally acclaimed for on their massive debut, 2007′s “Oracular Spectacular”. There might still not be a “hit” like “Electric Feel”, “Time To Pretend”, or “Kids” on the new album, but “Little Dark Age” will blow you away with its dark, eerie instrumental direction, off-kilter pop structures and 80′s synth pop worship. 

The band was under extreme pressure, not only from longtime fans, but their label Columbia (who knows why the major label didn’t drop them), to deliver a solid comeback album after an extremely underwhelming and under-written self-titled release back in 2013. Songs like “Alien Days”, “Your Life Is A Lie”, “Introspection” and “Mystery Disease” were standouts, but the album was difficult to get through as a whole and featured some fairly confusing and disappointing material. This comes from a longtime fan who made a concerted effort to get into their third studio album, but other than the previously named tracks, I didn’t care for it as a whole project at all. Many listeners saw the album as MGMT’s departure from relevance altogether, and even the band stated that the music “wasn’t for everyone” and that they were seemingly unable to write pop songs again. 

After all, the band came to prominence in the late 2000′s off the back of monster singles “Time To Pretend”, “Electric Feel”, and “Kids”, all songs which mocked and took a tongue-in-cheek approach to writing pop songs. The band made music for fun, not even taking themselves seriously as artists. After the huge success of “Oracular Spectacular”, which is widely considered as one of the most important albums of the 2000′s and modern indie/alternative music, the band decided they weren’t satisfied sticking to a simple pop formula. Instead, they opted for 70′s inspired psychedelic rock in their sophomore odyssey, “Congratulations”, which still holds up as one of the most underrated rock albums of the century (in my humble opinion). It was an album that was incredibly experimental, vulnerable, and took listeners on quite the trip, especially on tracks like the 13 minute-long “Siberian Breaks” (as well as the 13 minute-long stand alone single “Metanoia”), and the dense and layered production from Sonic Boom on tracks like “Flash Delirium”, “It’s Working” and the album-closing title track. It was a sign of incredible growth and a giant step forward from the band’s debut, but understandably threw a curve-ball at fans of their big hit singles since the sophomore effort had not one in sight. From there, the band progressed into more weird and experimental territory, which went over very poorly with fans who’d loved “Congratulations”, on the release of their third LP. So the question everybody was wondering ahead of the rumored fourth album was, will MGMT come back to being the psych pop powerhouse they once were? 

The short answer is yes. The first track to tease the album was the title track, which pays homage to 80′s emo/synth pop groups like The Cure, both in its instrumentation and eerie sound, and its goth-inspired video. The track has a punchy beat, a killer vocal performance from VanWyngarden, and an extremely rubbery synth that bounces around the whole tune and sends the listener back to 1982 when The Human League and Devo were at the top of their game. This 80′s synth pop sound could be found throughout the whole album, especially on the following three promotional singles released. Andrew and Ben fire on all cylinders on the spacey and groovy acoustic rock tune “When You Die”, which amazes with its lush production from legendary neo-psych producer Dave Fridmann, as well as it’s biting lyrics like “I’m mean and I’m evil”, “Don’t call me nice”, and “Go f*** yourself”. It stands out as a classic MGMT track, one of the best tracks the band has ever released, and a reminder of the magic of their first two LPs, as well as an evolution from it that fits snugly into the album’s sinister vibe. 

Then there’s the album’s third single and album closer “Hand It Over”, which appears to be the band’s meditation on their struggle to maintain relevance. It’s a very polished track with various psychedelic embellishments, plenty of gorgeous, reverb-heavy backing vocals which all come together in a very calm and cool fashion to end the album. The last single, “Me and Michael”, is a playful and endearing track about friendship, that also has a very memorable synth lead and punchy beat that cuts right through the track, reminding me of a Prince instrumental. 

To be clear, these four singles made me jump out of my seat on first listen and celebrate the imminent comeback of one of my favorite bands ever. I was expecting the rest of the concise, 10-track record to deliver and it certainly did. 

The album kicks off with a driving groove and hilariously funny concept on the track “She Works Out Too Much”, which is essentially a song about a relationship that has come to a brutal end due to the male’s physical inactivity. The back of the mix features the voice of a workout tape instructor making many exercise references. The bass-line is all kinds of groovy and has a fast beat perfect for a workout, and the lyrics consist of many great lines, including “Welcome to the s***show, grab a comfortable seat”. It’s a perfect beginning to the record, and is kind of surreal to listen to, as the track begins with the workout instructor cheerfully exclaiming, “Get ready to have some fun!” It’s one of the brightest moments on this record, as well as the duo’s discography, and a wonderfully silly way to open the door to “Little Dark Age”.

Then there’s the track “TSLAMP” (Time Spent Looking At My Phone), which has some brutally accurate observations about modern day cell phone addiction, and also features instrumentation that is new to the band’s sound, and is pulled off very well. The chord progression is really quite beautiful and when the track hits the “chorus”, it’s a classic MGMT chorus with lovely orchestral keys bleeding through the mix, complementing the awesome groove. Then there’s an effect-heavy spanish guitar solo out of nowhere, and once again MGMT pack their synth pop tunes tight with detail and instrumental precision. This is a commonality over the entirety of the record–the band takes risks (and a few pointers from the Ariel Pink playbook) and tries out this dark synth pop vibe on their new album, and the execution is fantastic. This is seen on tracks like the psychedelic ballad “When You’re Small”. The song is very open and has room to breathe, unlike many of the tracks on the band’s last album. It’s stripped back, spacey, and features chilling tenor backing vocals that fit beautifully in the mix (once again, thank you Dave Fridmann). The guitars and drums sound crisp and clean, very much like “Congratulations”, and the songwriting mirrors that of “Oracular Spectacular”. Further, the album as a whole combines elements of what the band does best, and it shows how much work and dedication to the craft went into the making of the album. Even the less memorable tracks still sound like they belong on the record, and the flow and uniformity of the overall sound of “Little Dark Age” makes it an album worth returning to again and again, especially thanks to its four impeccable singles. 

MGMT made fans wait a long time for new music, but it sure was worth it. “Little Dark Age” makes the band’s comeback complete through stellar songwriting, groovy basslines, danceable beats, spacey instrumentation that is loaded with detail, and the incorporation of the band’s classic whimsical charm. 


Favorite Tracks: “When You Die”, “Little Dark Age”, “She Works Out Too Much”, “Hand It Over”, “TSLAMP”, “Me and Michael”, “When You’re Small”

Album Review: "Con Todo El Mundo" - Khruangbin

It’s 2018, and after a little patience through the first couple weeks of January, we’ve got what I believe is the first outstanding release of the new year. On their second full length album, Texas trio Khruangbin ups their game with a slightly different instrumental focus, this time with inspiration from Middle-Eastern funk, as well as their usual psychedelic and dub influences. The result is one of the best albums I might hear all year, and one of the most astounding psychedelic soul/funk albums I’ve ever come across.

The first great attribute of this album is its seamless flow. Khruangbin deliver a beautiful landscape with their strong globetrotting soul/funk sound and transport you to the setting of their sound with immediacy. This record is mostly instrumental or features tracks with non-lyrical vocals over the span of just 10 tracks and a 42 minute run time. There’s even a track on this album that goes over the common mispronunciation of the band’s name, which in Thai means “airplane”. The band certainly takes me on an airplane to a place of tons of watery rollicking guitar rhythms, punchy bass lines and tons of mixed percussion and soothing vocals to compliment the melody. “Con Todo El Mundo” is not just great to hear because it’s so damn amazing and a true breath of fresh air in the current state of soul/funk music, a genre that has become a crucial sound in current popular music, with everyone from Bruno Mars to JAY Z, to even Childish Gambino relying doing their take on a throwback sound to late 60′s and early to mid 70′s in their latest records.

In Khruangbin, we get a band that has been on the come up for a few years or so, debuting with 2015′s “The Universe Smiles Upon You” which contained some delightfully crafted psychedelic soul that had sounds of mid to late 60′s Asian pop. Tracks like “People Everywhere (Still Alive)”, “Two Fish and an Elephant”, and “White Gloves” made up three of my favorite songs of the year out of the growing genre that included bands like Chicano Batman (who brought them on some “Freedom Is Free” tour dates). Chicano Batman’s record brought this genre to a new high when it came out at the beginning of last year, so when I heard that new music from Khruangbin, I was very excited to see what they’d have in store. And let’s just get it out of the way that while “Freedom Is Free” was one of 2017′s lesser appreciated highlights, “Con Todo El Mundo” blows it out of the water with apparent ease. This album is stacked from front to back with joyful and laid back tunes that have tons of life to them. Each of the three band members brings their best and funkiest. It’s a major improvement from their debut, and makes me believe that they’re on the verge of receiving high praise and attention from this newest project. But I would be lying if I said I was surprised that the album is so extraordinary.

The band previewed this album to listeners back in 2017 with the single “Maria Tambien”, and later in early 2018 with the single “Friday Morning”, which closes the record. The first saw the band coming into their own with what I believe to be their best track yet with its funky bass and keys, and toe-tapping beat and inspired guitar lines. The band gets mellow on the latter, in a stunning way. The swaying rhythms and psychedelic guitar is the true highlight here, but there is even more to this track in the back of the mix, with a very faint acoustic guitar and and shimmering tones. It makes me imagine being on a beach in the hot morning sun. The beat switch ups are also a nice touch, and the non-lyrical vocals that take the track out (and eventually the album), are soothing. It’s another one of Khruangbin’s best recordings to date. So it’s safe to say I was expecting more of this great chemistry at work on the full album.

I was right. This album starts off very unsuspectingly with “Como Me Quieres”, a slow burner with great playing from all three members, setting the tone for the sound of the album in the best way possible. It sounds like something that might be sampled in hip hop, especially with its minimalist but groovy beat. Tracks like “Lady and Man” and “August 10″ lock into a unquestionably killer groove, the former with sharp guitar and percussion hits to keep momentum on the similarly easy-going tempo, and the latter with some of the best percussion on the album. The bass-playing on these tracks, along with the whole album, draws comparison to that off of one of my favorite dub/trip-hop albums of all time, “The Richest Man In Babylon” by Thievery Corporation. It’s locked in with a nostalgic groove, and has a palpable swagger to it.

This record offers more than just Middle-Eastern funk bangers. Within the band’s arsenal of talents, they have perfected their craft of slow jams, especially on tracks like “Como Te Quiero” and “A Hymn”, both of which offer a haziness that no one in the psychedelic soul genre does quite as well. These two tracks are great as individual tracks, and also as album tracks, thanks to their placement in the album flow, letting the record breathe and take on multiple moods in a very smooth and uniform way. Perhaps there were more tracks than what was put in the final track-list, because every track sounds extremely complete and polished.

On the outro of a similarly laidback standout, “Shades of Man”, a faint voice explains the pronunciation of the band name before kicking into the album’s experiment in disco funk, “Evan Finds the Third Room”. This track is beyond fantastic, and the trio’s remarkable chemistry shines brightest on tracks like this one. The fun and funky tune ends with the sound of a hotline options menu. The band’s charm and personality come through a bit through this little skit-like venture, as well as the ad-libs and studio sounds all over this record that add to its intimate feel.

The album concludes with “Rules” and “Friday Morning”, which is even more enjoyable in the context of the album’s track-list. “Rules” goes straight into its following track, but not before making a final upbeat and groovy statement before “Friday Morning” closes the album on a slow dancing note.

The only concern some may have with this album is its uniformity and similar beats, but the beats don’t hurt the album in the slightest, instead lending comparisons to beats from The Meters and other classic soul/funk groups. If anything, the grooves solely make the album hard not to want to listen to all the way through, and its momentum and utter consistency in high quality make it an early favorite album of 2018. Khruangbin bring many of their best songs yet, and play with more confidence and poise on “Con Todo El Mundo” than their debut by a great margin. It’s the sure sign of a band that knew what they were capable of, and simply went out and did it with everything they had. The wait may have been a bit long, but it was certainly worth it, and I will be revisiting this album frequently for some time to come. Very proud of this band for making a timeless album that makes me know they’ll be sticking around and possibly getting loads of acclaim.


Favorite Tracks: Maria Tambien, Evan Finds the Third Room, Friday Morning, Como Me Quieres, Rules, Lady and Man, Como Te Quiero, August 10

2018: Year of the Sequels?

So far we’ve gotten very few big albums from big names this year, but there’s been one recurring theme going on with highly anticipated albums from these artists: they’re sequels? 

The first indicator of this trend was when the Migos announced the upcoming release of the follow-up to 2017′s “Culture”, which was their biggest album to date and a statement about the direction of rap music in the mainstream. They announced that the album would be called “Culture II”, and unsurprisingly, the album was somewhat of a flop compared to the first installment which boasted huge singles like “Bad and Bougie”, “T-Shirt”, and “Slippery”. The second album was the beginning of a trend, as just this Friday marked the surprise release of two sequel albums that were slated to be highly anticipated releases from two artists whose relevance would be teetering if they didn’t deliver an immediate album. 

First, Logic surprised fans with the new mixtape, “Bobby Tarantino II”, which was being teased with the flaming hot single “44 More”, a follow up to the “44 Bars” from the first mixtape under the alter ego. I firmly believe that both tracks are the two best tracks Logic has ever put to recording, but sadly the rest of the album pales in comparison. It features a pretty fun and light album intro featuring the voice of “Rick and Morty” creator Justin Roiland, who voices the cartoon’s protagonists deciding what to listen to while en route to a planet. This is a nice little nod to the television show, which Logic had a cameo in during an episode of the latest season. It takes us out of the album and into a different universe, but then we go right into the first track and mediocre single “Overnight”, which leaves much to be desired. So does the rest of the tracklist, with a few exceptions like the bouncy “Warm It Up” (featuring Logic’s other alter ego Young Sinatra), which alternates from boom bap beat to trap beat (it’s pretty clear which part hits harder). Another notable track is the smooth and atmospheric “Indica Badu”, which features a very laid-back beat reminiscent of the track’s title inspiration, Erykah Badu. The flows are classic Logic, it doesn’t feel like one of his typical Kendrick Lamar carbon copies, and he’s holding his own without trying to do something flashy. Tracks like these are evidence of Logic at the top of his game. Nevertheless, this mixtape is not without its many flaws. 

“Contra” feels like Logic’s “King Kunta”, except he isn’t anywhere near Kendrick’s level of fame or level of rapping, especially on the cut itself. In addition, tracks like “State of Emergency” featuring 2 Chainz, “Wassup” with Big Sean, “Midnight”, and “Wizard of Oz” strike me as forgettable filler, and songs that really only appeal to die-hard fans. I will applaud the guests on this album for being pretty solid, but then again, I only look forward to them because of Logic’s inability to keep me captivated throughout a whole project. And then right before the closing “44 More”, we get the barely listenable “Everyday” featuring Marshmello. This track is all kinds of bad, and Logic’s singing on this track is as weak as I’ve ever heard. It’s the second example this year of a sequel being far less interesting and powerful than the first part of its series. 

The second sequel this week was Lil Yachty’s “Lil Boat 2″, which was an even more predictable sequel album after the hour-long dumpster fire that was Yachty’s last project, “Teenage Emotions”. To build hype, Yachty would take the name of his debut mixtape, which still proves to be his most charming and commercially successful project. This is still the case after the release of “Lil Boat 2″, which is just as forgettable as “Teenage Emotions”, but with more listenable material. The first thing that took me out of the record is that the introduction doesn’t come anywhere close to matching the charm that was the dual-identity Yachty on “Lil Boat”. Follow-up “BOOM!” is an okay starter for this album, but from this point on, the beats get more saturated, more predictable and less interesting, and by the end of the album I haven’t taken much away from it at all. The one highlight from this album that hopefully more fans will gravitate towards is the track “COUNT ME IN”, which is a testament to why Yachty is such a hit in the first place. He holds it down on the track about his come up and his freedom to live life wildly because of his newfound fortune. It puts his rise to teenage rap fame into perspective, and is one of the better tracks off of the album. “666” is a lukewarm closer, leaving this project with much to be desired. 

As much as it hurts to point it out, these releases are examples of an artist naming their project after their most successful to date, and not reaching the same heights. I see this as a simple cash grab by these artists. In an attempt to stay afloat and make money of the title of the original project, they release a sequel to create hype and sway listeners. They rush the albums, simply try to get music out, and stay on hip hop listeners’ radars while they’re waiting for other highly anticipated releases from big names like Drake, A$AP Rocky, Kanye West, Chance the Rapper, Travis Scott, and even newer names like Cardi B and Post Malone. I think we can all tell that these sequels are deeply flawed and several steps below their parent albums. Hopefully these artists take note and polish their projects before releasing them.