Takeaways: J. Cole x Angie Martinez

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  • Angie Martinez has always possessed a conversational style of interviewing that allows her guests to feel comfortable and open up in ways you don’t always see them open up in other interviews. And while J. Cole is usually forthcoming, it’s really a work of art how Martinez shares her own experiences to carefully, yet effortlessly and almost imperceptibly peel back his layers to get him to spill some really insightful stuff.

 

  • Meditation & Prayer (4:15): These things are synonymous to Martinez, but Cole mentioned his need to do both, separately. In my experience, there’s no right or wrong way as long as you’re purging outside forces from your mind in the process. Cole said he meditates to deal with anxiety, but expressed his urge to do it more frequently, even in absence of anxiety. I don’t deal with much anxiety in my life, but I know people who do and thought this could be impactful for anyone looking for a way to cope. I meditate when I’m in desperate need of answers or direction in life. And like Cole, I don’t see it as the same as prayer, but they’re usually hand in hand. I can pray without meditating, but I usually don’t meditate without praying before or after.

 

  • Staying Present (6:42): Cole said meditation for him is a mechanism for staying present, which in my opinion, is one of the most important but most difficult things for us to do. Especially in this age of social media, with people rapidly spreading and digesting ideas, thoughts, expectations and fears, it’s hard to ground yourself to the now. Those outside forces are compounded with your own worries with bills, family, significant others, work, etc. Living in the moment is something I constantly try to remind myself to do.

 

  • Self Awareness/Improvement (15:36): Anyone close to me will tell you about the many self-improvement “tests” I regularly put myself through, whether temporarily or permanently. In stints, I’ve stopped smoking, drinking, eating pork, eating meat altogether, eating dairy products, going on social media, etc. I remove these things because I notice the adverse affects they have on me either physically or mentally, and I need a reprieve. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard other people express the same desires, but chalk up the causation to almost like an intrinsic trait that can’t be reversed – so they take a why-try attitude. I respect Cole’s willingness to attempt to understand and tackle those things. I can’t stress how hard it is to remove certain forces, especially when you’re the only one in your circle trying.

 

  • Power of Music (23:48): I won’t get long-winded here, but Cole tells a story of how one of his fans who was dealing with pain overcame a moment, and maybe a lifetime, of addiction after hearing his new album, KOD. It just goes to show how the right music at the right time can impact people.

 

  • kiLL edward (31:28): Cole talks about the origin of his alter-ego kiLL edward. He also goes into theΒ relationship he had with his stepfather, Edward, and how those types of relationships can impact a young child.

 

  • Album with Kendrick Lamar (40:47): It doesn’t sound like this is happening anytime soon, if at all.

 

  • Kanye West (43:48): Cole expresses his displeasure with Kanye for releasing evidence of a phone convo the two had during Kanye’s recent “free thought” campaign. He goes on to address the entire saga, including how his song “False Prophets” relates.

 

  • “1985” (1:09:25): On the song 1985, Cole addresses some of the new rappers that have taken shots at him recently. So, at this point in the interview he details his journey to find out where that negative energy was coming from, how his very thorough response was formulated, and his current feelings about some of those new rappers.

 

  • Philosophy (1:19:51): Coming off a spiel about capitalism that we’ve heard from Cole before, he goes into his belief that mankind is still in an infantile state (not excluding himself) and sometime in the future as we mature, the concept of celebrity will cease to exist.
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Vic Mensa’s “The Manuscript” blurs the direction of his future project

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From the onset of his first project since last year’s There’s Alot Going On, Vic Mensa makes it clear the growth he displayed in 2016 is here to stay. The Manuscript begins with Vic’s proclamation that the new him is permanent. “I’ve grown too much to ever be the old Vic/I’m new and improved, call me Vic 2.0,” is his response on “Almost There” to fans asking for the same artist from years’ past.

Vic conveys appreciativeness over feel-good piano keys, as if he’s sitting on something momentous and he knows it. Mr. Hudson’s assist on the intro hook helps to express a message that this project is merely an appetizer for something much larger, whether that’s the release of his debut solo album or the boost in status he expects said album to bring. The tracks following are presumably a preview.

“OMG” shows the growth Vic continues to make as he seamlessly interweaves social commentary into stanzas not necessarily geared towards changing the world. Featuring Pusha T and all his coke-rap glory, this song is an exercise in wordplay for Vic, who doesn’t sacrifice words or flow to elaborate on any one topic more than necessary. Still, he effectively forces you to acknowledge certain realities without killing the mood.

Vic goes on to show he continues to struggle with whatever drugs he failed to shrug off in the last year on “Rollin’ Like a Stoner.” He excuses his addiction as him being a rock star over a hook that flashes his ability to make cross-over turn-up anthems, even if the body of the song lacks substance. The synths and percussion make the song more infectious than it should be.

The Manuscript ends with “Rage,” which solidifies the project as a hodgepodge of sounds Vic is capable of executing reasonably good. This alternative-rock sounding outro provides the type of build-up Vic is used to from performing with his old Kids These Days band. He gets introspective on the song while also blurring the direction of his future project. One can gather from listening to The ManuscriptΒ that Vic Mensa will effectively lean towards the sound of any one of these tracks, but the chance remains that his next body of work will be as eclectic. The EP isn’t a bad listen, but that’s because it’s only four songs. Hopefully the full-length debut is more focused. Trying to cater to different tastes at once could leave Vic Mensa appealing to fewer people, not more.

Album Review: In My Feelings (Goin’ Thru It), Boosie Badazz

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In My Feelings (Goin’ Thru It), Boosie Badazz

Rating: 
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 –  Three Pointer (2.8/4)

1) The Rain – 
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Boosie opens the album ‘in his feelings,’ so to speak. He dives deep into his personal life, discussing things such as his health issues and dysfunctional relationships. Rapping over a backdrop of rain and thunderstorms, the content is what makes the song good.

2) Cancer – 
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Diving into the raw emotions one might have when first hearing that he/she has cancer, Boosie gives listeners his first-hand account. Song could have been mixed better, but has a melodic feel to it as Boosie asks God how he got cancer.

3) Stressing Me – 
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“I hope your new year’s resolution to stop stressing me.” Any man, or woman, can relate to the sentiments Boosie articulates in this song. He brings classic Boosie energy on this track. The hook leaves a little to be desired, but gets the point across effectively.

4) Warning Signs – 
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Building on the energy from the previous track, “Warning Signs” boasts what is probably the best beat on the album. With a hook that sounds Scarface/Tupac-influenced, Boosie remembers advice from his mom not to put his faith in man.

5) Bad Guy – 
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Boosie’s thoughts are understandable and make sense but weren’t well organized into great rap lyrics. The hook is the best thing about this song, and it isn’t even that good.

6) Call of Duty – 
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Boosie proclaims his call of duty but rambles a little too much over the track. Song has some high moments but not enough to be a three-pointer.

7) Smile to Keep from Crying – 
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The song starts slow but with piano keys playing in staccato, Boosie does a good job of eventually catching the beat in a more engaging way. After about a minute the song  picks up and ends on a high note.

8) Forgive Me Being Lost – 
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It shouldn’t be hard to forgive Boosie for being lost after he describes his circumstances in this introspective banger.

9) Roller Coaster Ride – 
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In his classic street-preaching style, Boosie stays with the “In My Feelings” theme of the album, without sounding too emo about it.

10) I Know They Gone Miss Me – n/a

Commend Boosie for understanding his importance to the people in his life. Many times people who live recklessly, don’t realize how much they mean to the people around them.