Beats carry the Swizz project from start to finish

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If producer albums were rated on the production alone, Swizz Beatz’ Poison would get a 5 out of 5. The producer combination of himself, AraabMUZIK, Gian Bravo and Bink!, not to mention co-EP J. Cole, crafted a series of beats that play well off of each other to seemingly produce separate elements of one cohesive vibe. The playlist goes from one neck breaker to the next and while each song has its own sound and feel, the transitions feel right.

Unfortunately, more elements go into producing a great album than the actual production, and the lyrical highs of this project make the lows jump out like a red stain on a crisp white tee. On its own, “Come Again” with UK’s Giggs is a fine track, but following the fire, Lil Wayne-assisted single, “Pistol On My Side (P.O.M.S.),” Giggs’ limitations as a rapper are exposed. It’s much more enjoyable hearing Weezy repeat “pistol on my side, trigger finger on the job” than it is to hear Giggs say “man” every line.

The same juxtaposition is presented when Jim Jones’ “Preach” attempts to follow “Something Dirty/Pic Got Us” with Jadakiss, Styles P and Kendrick Lamar. Swizz pulls prime Capo out of Jimmy on an enjoyable track, but classic Kiss and Ghost back-and-forth bars are unparalleled. Young Thug has to try, and ultimately fails, to follow consecutive tracks by Nas and Pusha T with “25 Soldiers.” The lyrical shortcomings aren’t knocks against any of those artists, as the aforementioned are all tough acts to follow for even some of the greatest rappers. It is, however, a knock against an otherwise solid body of work composed by Swizz.

Overall, Poison is an enjoyable listen and the highs are good enough to carry listeners through the duration of a short 10-track, 33-minute whirlwind. You might be too busy trying to process something from a previous track to even notice the sub-par lyrics and lazy hooks on a few songs. If not, the beats are also a nice distraction to keep your head nodding. And ultimately, that’s what you listen to a Swizz Beatz project for.

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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 the┬árelationship 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.