Mixtape Review: Jaden Smith-The Cool Tape Vol. 2

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This is a story all about how

Jaden Smith attempted to turn the hip-hop world upside down.

And I’d like to take a minute,

just sit right there,

I’ll tell you how he became enlightened and became self aware.

 

I don’t think that was necessary, but I thought, there couldn’t be a better opportunity to utilize and modify that iconic theme song than for this review. When mentioning Jaden Smith, there is not a real discussion or debate but more of a loaded “yay” or “neigh.” As a character in pop culture, the general public seems to either tolerate him, or express concerns of his hyper-mature, bizarre, and sometimes even outrageous social media and public persona. Although it is somewhat justified in most cases, these people probably do not listen to his music or even know that he makes any at all. Yet, that’s not particularly their fault. He tends to be a very private person overall and that includes details of his music and visuals. So for those of you who are not informed, yes, Jaden Smith actually does make music. He doesn’t just sit around all day on Twitter and come up with his next quirky-nonsensical-transcendental tweet to post. Though the nation at large generally knows him for his roles alongside his famous father Will Smith in movies such as The Pursuit of Happiness, After Earth, and his solo role in the remake of The Karate Kid with Jackie Chan, he actually dropped his first mix tape The Cool Café: Cool Tape Vol. 1 in October of 2012. It certainly heralded mixed reviews and had the public divided on whether to take someone of his age seriously as a legitimate artist. He released the mixtape at the tender age of 14 (having recorded most of the tracks at 13) and it was mostly produced by members of his “crew” the MSFTS. It consisted of original tracks and some verses he did over tracks by Foster the People, Purity Ring, and SBTRKT. As he’s strived to be accepted by the hip-hop community (he claims on multiple tracks that the media will “never play me on the radio”) this new release will only aid his efforts further. A whole two years after Cool Tape Vol. 1 was released, The Cool Tape Vol. 2 has arrived. It is not only available as a free download from infamous mixtape hub DatPiff.com but also as an app called The Jaden Smith Experience for iPhone and Android devices. The app is basically just a stream of the songs that automatically play in order anytime you open it but, it was successful upon its initial release last week.

When actually listening to the mixtape, it is clear that he has not only improved as an artist, but that he has gained confidence in his work despite the “neigh Sayers.” This is evident almost immediately with the bombastic and hellish opening track “Fire.” In the verses, he discusses how these “jokers” doubted him and thought he had nothing left to say but they were obviously mistaken. His delivery as a rapper is more theatrical and charismatic than on his previous release and he comes off as if he has something to prove. In reality, one could say that he does. Yet, he continues to eradicate that problem with the next track “Keep Ya Love.” This song goes for a more “Common/Lupe Fiasco” approach with a laid back instrumental and chilled-out vocal delivery but lyrically still deals with “haters” and their doubting attitudes. Once he feels like he has made his standpoint on his oppressors known (for now) he moves on to a different vibe and subject matter with the new-school chill-hop track “Zoned.” This is the first, of many, tracks that features his sister Willow on vocals. The instrumental is one of the best of all the tracks. Its structure is whimsical and flexible and weaves in and out of sections that compliment Jaden’s flow and Willow’s great vocal work. The synths and beat are still in the chill-out vein, but the lush and repetitive vocal line sung by Willow still keep it interesting on repeated listens. This prepares the listener for the ambitious follow up track “Let It Breathe.” Clocking in at over 10 minutes, it’s an experimental track to say the least. Yet, it tells a great story and has Jaden showing what he can really do lyrically and performance wise. It’s character driven and eludes that the song is referring to one story about a singular individual. The synths project a depth that take the listener to an almost “underwater” environment and is filled with nuances that are exciting from start to finish. The second half of the song even has a monologue from Jaden and backround vocal scats from Willow. He gets even more artistic and poetic with the story toward the end of the track and refers to “being at heaven’s gate” trying to crowbar his way in and “feeling sorry” for himself, or as he puts it, “Catcher in the Rye-ing.” By the end of the track, he comes off as desperate to this mystery character and it keeps you guessing as to how things turned out. This dreamy vibe is instantly juxtaposed by the next track “Young & Reckless.” This track is a call to arms for all the “MSFT” youth to stand together and create art that will piss off dear old mom and dad. Jaden comes for blood lyrically and vocally with lines intended to leave a dent in the armor of his foes. The beat is one of the best he’s ever rapped on and it only fuels the urgency for acceptance. At one point, he even drops out the beat and instrumental to call out all the “rusty” MCs in the game. The last three tracks round out this mixtape nicely. “Electric” is one of the most fun and danceable tracks on the album with Willow on vocals once again. With bouncy synths and a playful beat, Jaden’s sense of flow shines in the mix. The next track “PCH” is basically a Willow solo track. It has an overall 80s New Wave vibe and it almost sounds like a track that you might hear on a Lorde record. Willow proves that she has vocal chops and charisma beyond her years and paints a picture of a night of suburban mischief and foolery. The closing track “Symba” shows Jaden’s new found love for eccentric vocals once again and even has a hilarious reference to one of his father’s most iconic films with the closing line “we da Men in Black.”

Overall, Jaden proves that not only is he a capable MC, but that he’s grown exponentionally from his first release. He’s thrived with experimentation and although he may come off as “over confident” or boisterous, it is only due to his need to fulfill his desires of being respected in the hip-hop community. Though he has worked with Childish Gambino, Tyler the Creator is a friend, and Drake has stated that he is “super talented” he doesn’t want to stop there. He does name drop quite a few famous people on this mixtape as well such as his father, his mother, Jazzy Jeff, Urkel, and Johnny Depp. But, until the public actually listens to his music and at least attempts to comprehend or accept it, he will continue to push forward with what I’m sure will be surprising and unorthodox musical endeavors.

 

Overall rating:

♪♪♪1/2 out of 5

 

If you like Jaden Smith, you might like: Lupe Fiasco, Kid Cudi, Common, Childish Gambino, Drake

 

File Under; Chill-Hop, Hip-Hop, New School

Posted in Albums, Artists, Music, Reviews

Chance The Rapper & The Social Experiment pairs up with Donnie Trumpet and release “Sunday Candy”

Chance The Rapper has been collecting attention quicker than ever since he dropped his mix-tapes “10 Day” and “Acid Rap.” With his high energy stage presence and jazzy, quick raps, Chance has easily dominated the hip hop world. He is also part of an innovative music group called “The Social Experiment” which is composed of Chance himself as the rapper, Peter Cottontale as the music director and pianist, Nate Fox on keys, Greg Landfair Jr. on drums, Jeff Gitty on the guitar, and Donnie Trumpet on the trumpet and as backing vocals.

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As of late November, rumors have surfaced that The Social Experiment has been putting their final touches on a mix-tape titled Surf which is expected to release during the remaining days of 2014. The mix-tape is being led by Donnie Trumpet, also known as Nico Segal, who has helped produce songs such as “I Am Very Very Lonely” and “Home Studio” featuring Vic Mensa.

Listen to “Sunday Candy,” a song that will be featured in Surf, in the link below!

Posted in Artists, Bands, Coog Radio Updates, Music, New Releases

New Mixtape: Shady Classic

Eminem

Shady, Eminem alter ego never fails.

Shady, which has served as Eminem creative outlet, for years now, embodying a character who is not afraid to push boundaries as displayed in, the song  “3 a.m.”  Also not to mention that Shady unpredictable nature is just overall entertaining, even if at times boarder line psychotic, which in my opinion makes Eminem, Eminem. So it was only fitting Eminem released an unprompted mixtape, “Shady Classics,” in which allows you to bask in some of Shady’s greatest moments (Specifically 66 different times,because there is 66 songs). The mixtape by DJ Whoo Kid features sons such as, “Devils Night” (D12).Eminem also adds yet another person touch in, which he narrates over the tape, introducing each and every which makes it all the more better. It’s just a taste to help us remember why it is that we call Eminem the ‘Elvis of Hip- Hop’ and helping to build anticipation for his new album “Shady XV,”released November 24.

Posted in Artists, Coog Radio Updates, Music

Highlights from the 2014 American Music Awards

The 42nd American Music Awards at Los Angeles’ Nokia Theatre brought out some of the best, worst, and weirdest performances of the year — as well as the latest crop of teen pop, a few doses of punk attitude and even more reasons for us to love Taylor Swift. Many awards were given out to deserving and hard-working artists, but here are some of the best moments you missed from Monday night:

Taylor Swift Shows America Her Crazy and Makes History
Her newest single “Blank Space” came to life on the AMAs stage Monday, when Swift performed the song with great attention to every detail of the song’s lyrics. In addition to partially bringing the song’s video to life, she lit a rose on fire with her hand and used her power to blow a man off the stage (creating more fire). In the end, she opened a red door — with a claw-mark on it — to reveal the perfect mystery date who has no idea what he’s in for. Later on in the night, Swift became the first artist ever to receive the Dick Clark Award for Excellence, an honor bestowed upon her because of her record-breaking album sales and the intense bond she has with her fans. Presenter, Diana Ross called Swift “a true superstar” before presenting the “Shake It Off” singer with the inaugural award.
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Iggy Azalea Wins Her First Music Award
The Australian native won the two AMA for favorite rap/hip-hop album and best rap artist on Monday night. Azalea and her debut studio album The New Classic, beat industry veterans Eminem and Drake to take both hip-hop categories at the awards ceremony In a short but emotional speech, the 24-year-old artist said it was the first time in her life she had been awarded a prize. You go, girl!

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Selena Gomez Sings Her Heart Out
Selena took the stage and performed her hit new single “The Heart Wants What It Wants” for the first time and absolutely blew me away. During the bridge of the song angel wings popped up on the screen behind Selena which couldn’t have been more perfect for her beautiful performance. However, the real tearjerker came at the very end of the performance when her own eyes started welling up from the raw emotion she put into her performance, which caused everyone in the audience to share some waterworks. This was without a doubt Selena’s best performance yet, and definitely her darkest.

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Lorde and her Eccentric Dance Moves
One of the only performers who didn’t shake their booty on stage was Lorde. Instead, she performed a ferocious, and somewhat frightening, version of her song “Yellow Flicker Beat” which appears on the latest installment of “The Hunger Games” soundtrack. After starting her song in the dark, viewers soon found themselves trapped in a cell-like room with Lorde as she frantically thrashed around. If we didn’t that was enough, she ended things by angrily smearing her lipstick across her cheek.
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Nicki Minaj, Jessie J and Ariana Grande Perform with a Bang
The trio of Jesse, Ariana and Nicki brought a diva-filled, gold-studded, and vocally flawless performance to the Nokia stage. From Jessie J strutting through the crowd to Grande digging in and moving her hips around the stage, and then Minaj came onstage firing, pushing this over the top with her known cadence. Jessie J (a truly underrated artist) brought out her best vocals with the song’s climax line, ‘you need a good girl to blow your mind’. But honestly, this one stood out thanks to the combined efforts of all three women and their powerhouse vocals.

2014 American Music Awards - Roaming Show

Iggy and J.Lo Close Out the Show with Some Booty
When I saw that these two women would be performing together, I prayed that Iggy would be able to keep up with Miss Jenny From the Block. While Lopez certainly played nice with Iggy, it was clear that this was her performance. When she and Azalea did share the stage, it was still clear who was in charge. Then, just to further cement her status, Lopez closed the show solo, strutting and shaking her way across the stage before backing it up into Pitbull to send the show home.

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The 2014 AMAs did not disappoint and these moments will continue to be talked about for a little while to come. Congratulations to all the award winners from the night!

Posted in Artists, Bands, Coog Radio Updates, Music, Staff Picks

*SPOILER* American Music Awards Winners!

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If you didn’t have time to watch the American Music Awards on the 23rd, this a brief summary of all the artists that won.

In order, here are the winners and their awards:

Fav Rock/ Pop Band, Duo, or Group: One Direction

Rock/ Hip-Hop Album: Iggy Azalea “The New Classic”

– Fun Fact: This was Iggy’s first award EVER. She later won her second award ever tonight.

Fav Latin Artist: Enrique Iglesias

Pop/ Rock Male Artist: Sam Smith

– Fun Fact: Sam Smith had a heartfelt moment as he accepted this award, stating “Last year I wrote an album about being lonely, now I couldn’t feel further from lonely. Thank you so much.”

Country Male Artist: Luke Bryan

Pop/ Rock Album: One Direction’s “Midnight Memories”

Pop/Rock Female: Katy Perry

Alternative Rock: Imagine Dragons

New Artist of the Year: Five Seconds of Summer

Favorite Rap/ Hip-Hop Artist: Iggy Azalea

Dick Clark Award of Excellence: Taylor Swift

Country Album: Brantley Gilbert’s “Just As I Am”

Artist of the Year: One Direction

– Fun Fact: This was One Direction’s fifth AMA and second of the night.

Hopefully some of your faves took home the AMA trophy!

Posted in Artists, Bands, Coog Radio Updates, Music

Northlane debut new single “Rot”

Australian metalcore band Northlane released their highly anticipated single “Rot” this past Friday. Not only is this their first single since their 2013 release “Singularity”, but it is the first to feature new vocalist, Marcus Bridge. Back in September, former vocalist Adrian Fitipaldes announced his departure, citing severe issues with his vocal chords. After announcing this devastating news, they announced that they were accepting auditions. Hundreds of people around the world submitted auditions, and Bridge was the perfect fit in Northlane’s eyes. You can check out his audition here (trust me, it is worth checking out). You can also see Northlane open for the almighty August Burns Red at House of Blues on February 26th (you can buy tickets here).

 

Posted in Coog Radio Updates

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