POSTS BY: JOHN MATRAIA

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Jesus Forgive Me, I Am a Thot – [JPEGMAFIA]

By John Matraia // 13 Aug 2019

It’s officially JPEGMAFIA season. If you’ve been keeping tabs on the Baltimore-native recently, you would know he’s been teasing a “disappointment” for quite some time now, and quite the “disappointment” his new offering, titled “Jesus Forgive Me, I Am a Thot”, is. In all seriousness, the new track is phenomenal, which shouldn’t be a surprise at this point, considering that Peggy is one of the most creative and cutting-edge rap artists to rise out of the past decade. While the song will switch up on a dime, it’s his vocals that are providing the most variation, proving his versatility more than ever on a single track. The production becomes noisy when Peggy is screaming his heart out, and spacey when he belts out his sweet auto-tune vocals on the song’s refrain, which I personally can’t get out of my head: “you better count your blessings for REEEEAALLL.” What remains consistent at the core of this track is an off-kilter piano melody that serves as a foundation for the track. It’s pretty addictive and proves to be the only thing listeners can rely on being there for them throughout the track’s two and a half minutes, as warping synthesizers and heavy …

Location: State Of Mind – [Tha God Fahim]

By John Matraia // 5 Aug 2019

There’s nothing more important for a rap artist than having a strong cadence along with a distinct energy on the mic. I think that is forgotten sometimes, depending on who you’re talking to. Just because someone is lyrical and thoughtful, doesn’t make a song interesting, and personality and unique vocal presence will trump the former every time, at least as far as replay value goes. When it comes to Tha God Fahim, there’s no need to pick and choose between these two, because he seems to have the whole package. Not only is he a top-tier lyricist, but he also has a unique and potent delivery, and this deadly combination makes him one of the best rappers out right now. I’m reminded of every time I hear a verse of his, whether it’s on his own track, or he’s contributing to someone else’s. For example, one of my favorite verses of the year comes from Fahim on the track “Mozambique Drill”, from Mach-Hommy’s most recent release. Just recently, we were blessed with a new track from Fahim, and as expected, it’s another great release. The production on here, courtesy of none other than Earl Sweatshirt, screams New York. It’s jazzy and …

I Been Born Again – [BROCKHAMPTON]

By John Matraia // 1 Aug 2019

If there’s one thing we’ve learned about Brockhampton since they came on the scene, it’s that they can never be counted out. They work quietly, but when they distribute their art to the masses, it is an explosive phenomenon that turns all heads in their direction. Possibly dissatisfied with the reception of 2018’s Iridescence after unspeakably high expectations set by the group’s 2017 trilogy, the band clearly took a step back to switch it up and decide where they would go from here.  And switch it up they did, as their first 2019 single, “I Been Born Again”, from their upcoming album Ginger, takes a “less is more” approach. Not only is this song hookless, but the beat on here is very skeletal, relying on sparse synthesizers weaving in and out of a bouncy bassline and kick drums, along with some vocal samples scattered throughout the track.  As I said, this song doesn’t have the hook or refrain that is usually part of the Brockhampton formula, and this is actually refreshing to hear, especially considering the fact that the verses don’t disappoint. Joba’s pitched down verse meshes with the ethereal mood of the track, and Matt’s explosive verse to finish off …

Tuxedo III – [Tuxedo]

By John Matraia // 26 Jul 2019

To be honest, I’m not entirely sure how this new Tuxedo album ended up downloaded in my Apple Music library, but I’m quite happy it did. Upon pressing play on Tuxedo III, I was given the sudden urge to dance around my house for thirty-four minutes straight as this project played through. I was able to contain myself and take a seat for the remainder of my listening experience, but that doesn’t mean the consistency of the music showed mercy, and my steady head-bobbing that followed the album blasting out of my speaker is proof of this. Across eleven tracks, the group is able to deliver high-energy, funky love songs that are crisply produced and act as a breath of fresh air in today’s musical landscape. I wouldn’t say any of this is anything that hasn’t done before, but it’s nice to hear some synth-funk with great vocals and addicting refrains done well in 2019. I soon realized that Benny Sings was featured on this project, and how Tuxedo III ended up in my library started to become clearer, as Benny Sings is an artist I’m a huge fan of. Specifically, his project Art has stayed in my rotation to this day. …

Chicago – [Mr. Hudson] ft. [Vic Mensa]

By John Matraia // 25 Jul 2019

Chicago. Not only the birth-place of Lyrical Lemonade itself, but also the title of one of Mr. Hudson’s newest offerings featuring Vic Mensa that appears on his first project in a decade, When The Machine Stops. Mr. Hudson has worked quietly for the last decade or so. If you remember, some of his most notable work lies in his contributions to songs like Kanye West’s “Paranoid” and Jay-Z’s “Forever Young”. Since then, he’s played a pretty intricate role in the music industry, writing and producing for tons of notable musicians, and now in 2019, he’s delivered to us his first solo album in a decade. He recently joined Sway In The Morning for a memorable interview discussing this, and also showed off his budding personality while telling crazy stories, for example, when he recorded the “Forever Young” hook with Kanye in Hawaii and partied all night because of it, despite the fact that he had an early morning flight back home. Late June’s When The Machine Stops was produced and mixed almost entirely by Mr. Hudson on his laptop, which is what makes it such an impressive and inspiring project. Machine is a cloudy and introspective pop record that features a …

The Dubs – [Ed Balloon]

By John Matraia // 21 Jul 2019

Here on Lyrical Lemonade, we’ve already covered a couple of the singles in support of Ed Ballon’s brand new album The Dubs, and as of this past Friday, we can finally listen to the project in full!  Right from the get-go, on skeletally-produced, synth-heavy tracks like “Edges” and “Hero” featuring Illa J, Ed establishes himself as a compelling songwriter, getting introspective on most tracks, but also forcing listeners to get up and dance while singing along to his incredibly addicting hooks. Speaking of hooks, Ed seems to have them down to a science, as with every track on here, I find myself singing along at one point or another, and this balance that Ed creates is quite impressive. Vocally, Ed is all over the place in the best possible way, and the standout track “Du Rags In The Air” with Niu Raza, captures this perfectly. On the chorus, he’s nearly whispering, and on one of the verses, we hear him channeling his inner Young Thug for some deep, yelpy vocals, showing off Ed’s impressive range.  Ed and his band killed it on the production side as well, which only adds to the album’s greatness. While they are capable of making …

Maxo Kream: Unparalleled Integrity

By John Matraia // 19 Jul 2019

It’s 8:30 PM on Wednesday night, just two days before the release of Maxo Kream’s major-label debut, Brandon Banks. Piling into a dim, luxurious room at Manhattan’s 40/40 club, fans and peers alike await Kream’s arrival. Conversation is light, but the overarching meaning of the moment makes the air feel dense. Now years in the making, Maxo Kream’s slow-burning ascent is reaching a new apex, and this small room of listeners is fortunate enough to become witness just days before the album’s official release. A few moments later, a thunderous presence makes his way down the hallway. Turning left, he enters the room, 4 glossy chains on neck and followed by a posse of friends. It’s Maxo Kream, the man of the night. With each step, his presence grows stronger as the heads begin to turn toward his direction. Kream’s face lights up to see the welcoming crowd of listeners, but his eyes maintain a focused glare under the soft lights. The closer and closer he moves to the center of attention, the more the moment begins to set in. Here, just minutes away from clicking play on his long-awaited new album, time seems to slow down. The message becomes …

Watch Zane Lowe Interview Tyler, The Creator on Beats 1

By John Matraia // 18 Jul 2019

As his career has progressed, Tyler, The Creator has only become more and more serious as an artist, and with that, we’ve seen less and less interviews from him over the last couple of years, so it’s always a treat when we get to hear from him in this format. I wrote extensively about his #1 album IGOR, as I thought it was such a well-executed breakup album that cements Tyler as one of the best artists of our generation, so I was happy to see this new video interview out with Zane Lowe. Zane and Tyler talk for about an hour on a number of topics, but what stands out to me the most from watching this interview is the fact that Tyler has his sights set on even bigger and better feats. His new album landing at the number one spot is just one step in the process towards his overall goal as an artist. What that goal is, I don’t even think Tyler knows, but what he does know is that he’s playing the long game, and when all is said and done, based on his trajectory, and his values as an artist, he will be one …

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