Category Archives: Music

J. Cole’s “KOD” in Perspective

RithikDoddla, Staff Reporter

On April 20, popular rap artist J. Cole released surprise album “KOD.” Cole sets himself apart from other rappers because all of his albums are focused around one common theme and hold an insightful message. The public was expecting an album about J. Cole’s past like his previous two albums, but this time he went in a different direction. Cole stated that “KOD” is an acronym which represents three phrases: “Kids on Drugs,” “King Overdosed” and “Kill Our Demons.” Throughout the album his songs highlight the danger of using illicit drugs.

Though most of the songs did center around drug use, a few held a smaller message as well. For example, the song “ATM” is about how people today are materialistic and believe that earning money will buy them happiness. Throughout the song, Cole expresses that family and friends are what matter most in life.

Possibly the most interesting song in the album is “1985 – Intro to ‘The Fall Off.’” Here J. Cole talks about how all of the young artists today only rap about doing drugs and getting money. He tries to inspire them to grow and change their music to have an important message or else the public will get tired of the same music. He even uses himself as an example saying that he used to be one of them.

Cole has really established himself as one of the elite rappers today because he has that trait, which all of the greatest rappers have: a significant message. He raps not because of the fame, but to spread a message. He is one of the few artists who can actually inspire the listener to change and become a better person.


“Man of the Woods?” Stay in the Woods.

GraceSassaman, Staff Reporter

Justin Timberlake recently released an album for the first time in five years, entitled “Man of the Woods.” Fans have been patiently awaiting this release because of Timberlake’s fame for originality, shown by his earliest hits such as “Cry Me a River” and “Rock Your Body.” These have followed him throughout his career, allowing him to maintain a reputation of individuality.

His new album approaches music in a different way, as he segues from solely pop production and reverts back to his more Southern and natural roots. The album cover art is a graphic design edit of Timberlake wearing a jeans and flannel combo and segmented ripped picture of him in a classy black suit.

Timberlake didn’t sing the album all by himself, though; two of the featured songs, “Morning Light” and “Say Something” feature the pop singer Alicia Keys and country star Chris Stapleton, respectively. Another song, “Young Man,” features the cooing of his toddler, which has been a heart-warming hit among fans as Timberlake offers some fatherly advice and encouragement to his son and admires his wife’s ability to be a loving mother. So far, the biggest hit from the new album is titled “Filthy,” which incorporates his usual pop style.

However, not everyone is pleased with Timberlake’s release. Some claim that he’s overreaching to find a new style which is causing him to look like a poser. Tais Ferreira (SR) says, “This album sucks.” Perhaps Timberlake has maxed out in his success because his older releases were just too good!

Nadia Dowlatkhah (SR) joked, “Justin Timberlake has only been camping once.” Some fans think it’s cheesy for a multimillionaire superstar to claim an earthy lifestyle when he’s truly living lavishly. Others say that this album is another mindless release. Timberlake has been accused in the past of using others for individual profit, so there is a collection of people who are hesitant to nosedive into his work until his motives are fully understood.

Still, his songs are a hit among others. The feature “Flannel” is an acoustic hymn about his love for soft plaid shirts.

Ultimately, though, Timberlake’s release will be hugely successful and he will make millions off of it. Instead of producing his album with the electronic vision of pop music, Justin Timberlake’s album, “Man of the Woods” relies on the sounds and genres of funk, country, soul and even gospel.

Take a Chance with Lil Chano

FernandaMorote, Staff Reporter

Chance the Rapper: you probably didn’t even know this name last year. This rapper has seen an explosion in popularity since the release of his third mixtape, “Coloring Book.” Since music has always been an integral part of Chance’s life, he has always dreamt of winning a Grammy. Here’s the catch: Chance is a strong believer of free art and has never charged anyone for his music, releasing three completely free, streaming mixtapes. Until this year, it was impossible for any artist to win a Grammy without putting an album on the market for consumer purchase. On Feb. 12, 2017, Chancelor Bennett, a young man from 79th Street in the urban city of Chicago, smashed every expectation of the impossible.  

Born son of a politician, Chancelor Bennett was expected to follow his father and was ridiculed when he proclaimed his dream of becoming a rapper. He released his first mixtape, “10 Day,” a year after he was suspended from high school for 10 days due to illegal possession of marijuana on campus. Even at 18 years old, Chance the Rapper used rap as an outlet to express emotion and to make statements instead of bragging and “stunting” like other rappers. This mixtape had local success and placed him in Complex magazine’s “10 New Chicago Rappers to Watch Out For.”

During the time between the release of his first and second mixtape, Chance featured in “They Don’t Like Me,” a track on Childish Gambino’s sixth mixtape and joined him on his 2012 tour where he gained more popularity. His second mixtape, Acid Rap, was critically acclaimed on Metacritic, and he gained even more popularity. His greatest jump in his fanbase; however, occurred upon the release of Chance’s third mixtape, “Coloring Book,” which features famous artists including Kanye West, Francis and the Lights, Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz and Justin Bieber.

It was this mixtape’s popularity, content and performance which earned Chance the Rapper three Grammys this year. His mixtape won the prize, “Best Rap Album,” a controversial topic he discusses at length in “Coloring Book.”

Now, Chance is beginning to enter the political world, working with Chicago Governor Bruce Rauner to provide funding to Chicago Public Schools (CPS). He, along with Alicia Keys, Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, Busta Rhymes, Pusha T, Common, Janelle Monáe, Ludacris, J. Cole, Wale and DJ Khaled, met with former President Barack Obama in April 2016  to discuss the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative, which has the purpose of “[connecting] young people to mentoring, support networks and the skills they need to find a good job or go to college and work their way into the middle class.”

Chance the Rapper’s fans admire him for his political efforts aside from his musical and lyrical genius, and they are looking forward to his many accomplishments to come.

Building Up For Bonnaroo


The season for music festivals is arriving. One of the biggest music festivals every year is the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. Since 2002, Great State Park in Tennessee has hosted this music festival with bands performing in genres ranging from Bluegrass to EDM and everything in between.  Big names like The Police, Radiohead, Paul McCartney, Red Hot Chili Peppers and many more make appearances every year. Headliners at Bonnaroo 2016 are yet to be specified but major names include: Pearl Jam, LCD Soundsystem, Dead and Company— the new collaboration featuring members of the Grateful Dead and John Mayer, Ween, M83, Tame Impala, HAIM, Vince Staples, Miguel, Father John Misty, Death Cab For Cutie, CHVRCHES and Tyler, the Creator. Many students at Chattahoochee High School are eager to attend the festival, but it is rather expensive.

Danielle St. Amand (SR) shares her plans for this summer: “Bonnaroo has a payment plan which requires you to pay money every month to pay for your ticket. So I’m going with some friends and we’re going to find creative ways to earn money for our trip.” Fortunately, since Bonnaroo tickets range from $350 – $700, there is a useful payment plan starting Apr. 1 which allows you to pay off your ticket over a span of three months or more. St. Amand plans to work and “set a separate account for Spring Break and Bonnaroo.” She also describes an additional form of paying for a ticket. She explains, “You can work at Bonnaroo and get a free ticket. It can be before the concert, during the concert or after the concert. It might be trash duty though, so I don’t know if that’s worth it.”

Last year, the headliners at Bonnaroo were Billy Joel, the Black Keys, Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar and Mumford and Sons. Natalie Sadler (SR), who attended last year’s music festival, went up to the Tennessee park with Hadley Voorhees (SR), in a decorated Bonnaroo-themed vehicle. She said her favorite performers at the festival were Mumford and Sons, along with twenty øne piløts and Florence and the Machine. Sadler doesn’t suggest the decorated car because of her experience with a suspicious police officer who stopped the two on their way to the festival. She compares the Bonnaroo atmosphere to being on a different planet: “You’re just surrounded by positivity. Everybody’s so nice there. You can talk to a complete stranger, and you’ll immediately become best friends.” Since it is a four-day music festival, many people camp out right there in the park. For camping, Sadler advises for those spending a lot of time in the park to use easy up tents and other things to block out the sun and to stay hydrated.

Bonnaroo is a memorable festival and will hopefully continue to uphold its reputation as one of the best concerts of the summer.

Lana Del Rey: Honeymoon


     After her successful “Endless Summer” tour sparked by her third studio album “Ultraviolence,” the fairly recent trip hop artist Lana Del Rey hit the recording studio a fourth time to release her newest contribution to this surprisingly popular psychedelic pop genre. “Honeymoon” was released Sept. 18, 2015 among other albums by the Front Bottoms and Mac Miller.

     I had a bad first impression going into the album because of the single “Honeymoon.” It just seemed too depressingly nostalgic and slow. I needed more beat. I know some of you could just listen to Lana read a few selections from a dictionary, but I, a less die-hard fan, need something to bob my head to. Then I came upon “High By the Beach” and loved it. It’s slightly less upbeat than I hoped, but it’s Lana, and I honestly didn’t expect anything more than what I got.

     Like every good album, “Honeymoon” has its highs and lows; however, the quality never wavers. The album starts off with the self-titled song in which her ethereal voice is slowly introduced playing over a soft orchestra. The beginning of the album has a very “trippy California hipster” vibe. Lana references pink flamingos in “Music To Watch Boys To,” and David Bowie’s famous lyrics in “Space Oddity.” These allusions all add to the previously described vibe. Then the album hits one of its highest points in the “High By the Beach” where the drum machine makes a highly anticipated guest appearance. After this song, the drums stay and the rest of the album is head-bobbing material. “Freak” and “Art Deco” are less upbeat than “High By the Beach,” but they’re fast enough to keep the listener awake.

     She flipped the switch and tried something new with “Burnt Norton.” I’d never heard spoken word as a track on any album by any artist. So I was shocked when she read a poem for the eighth track on “Honeymoon.” She reads T.S. Eliot’s modernist poem “Burnt Norton,” but I’m not really sure of the significance of it. However, the lines she shares about time and eternity really fit in with the mood of the melancholy album. “Salvatore” and “The Blackest Day” both describe the desperation of both unrequited and undesired love by showing off her amazing vocal range. In “24”, this young artist tests the limits of her range and impresses the audience with a voice crack near the end, which was perfectly suited for the moment. For the last song on the album, Lana gets rid of the drums again and slows it down in “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.” It is a slightly abrupt ending, but it leaves the listener wanting more and almost hints at a theme for her next album.

     So the overview: All the songs on “Honeymoon” are good except “Honeymoon” itself. It’s captivating, but it takes effort to see its worth. The album should have been named something else like “Don’t Worry It Gets Better After the First One.” But now that I have been engaged in the album in its entirety, it’s incredibly soothing and I crave it when I’m not listening. Congratulations to Lana for releasing yet another incredible album which is sure to be a hit among her fans and will definitely help her gain more. Hopefully we’ll see her performing the new songs in Atlanta soon.

The Age of the Producer

DallasShook – Editor in Chief
NeelSwamy – Features Editor

It doesn’t matter what genre of music you listen to, there is always someone behind the sounds you love. Someone other than the name you see in bright lights, someone deserving much more credit than they actually receive. These people, the producers, are especially prevalent in the hip-hop and pop genres, where individual artists reign, rather than groups or bands. These producers have recently started making their names more well-known, becoming the artist rather than the background name: it’s about time.

Producers have recently begun the tradition of “tagging” their beats, something almost all hip-hop listeners recognize, but aren’t aware of. “Tagging” a beat means that the producer puts a short audio clip, or “tag,” into their beat, most frequently before the artist comes in so that listeners can recognize who produced it. For example, one of the top new producers in hip-hop, London on da Track, has a simple – but extremely catchy – tag that states “We Got London on da Track” before the beat drops. Other extremely popular tags are “Metro Boomwin want some more,” which belongs to Atlanta’s 21-year-old super-producer Metro Boomin and “Mike Will Made It” by one of the world’s biggest producers, Mike Will Made It. Some tags are less obvious than simply saying the producer’s name with a catchy voice. DJ Spinz has a tag that sounds like a young child saying “Ay-Ohhh” before he comes in, something many people don’t recognize to be a tag. Even less obvious, Atlanta’s superstar producer Lex Luger uses a tag that can easily be mistaken for a transition in the beat, but it’s exclusive to him.

Producers are slowly becoming as iconic as the rappers they produce for, thanks to listeners recognizing them by their catchy tags. These tags have slowly grabbed the attention of even the least-attentive listeners, and people have slowly started to listen to music for the skilled producers as well as the rappers. There used to be a time where producers were the sideshow and they stayed behind-the-scenes, but recently the spotlight has been shining their way. For example, at Travi$ Scott’s last concert, producer Metro Boomin was featured as the opening act to the concert, rather than another rapper. The men that have historically played behind-the-scenes roles are now stepping in front of the spotlight. They are now recognized in public. The age of the producer is upon us.

Music Reviews: The Great, The Good and the Bad


DallasShook – Editor in Chief
PaulBurke – Sports Editor

September has been one of the biggest months in recent memory for hip-hop. Two of the top rappers in the genre surprised their fans with a collaborative “mixtape” (although something that costs money should not be labeled as a mixtape by any means). One of the top young artists in the genre released his first official album, and a receding rapper saved his career with one of his best efforts yet. The future of rap may be heavily influenced by this eventful month. While this month produced mainly amazing music, there were certainly winners and losers of the month.

The Great: Mac Miller – “GO:OD AM”

Mac Miller went into album hibernation for over a year, and made his fans wait for what he had in store. “Worth the wait” is an understatement. “GO:OD AM,” his latest studio album, excelled in every aspect. His single “100 Grandkids,” released weeks before his album officially dropped, has one of the smoothest, most pleasantly surprising beat switch-ups in hip hop today. The complex beat, combined with his edgy, hard hitting rap style, was just a preview of what the album had in store. The album was laced with such a wide variety of hip hop genres from “ROS,” his hip hop ballad discussing love and compassion, to “Brand Name” attacking social issues such as the importance of brands in our society. Awakening from his struggles with addiction and withdrawals, Mac Miller’s “The Weekend” reminds us that with every day the sun comes up and we go on. “GO:OD AM” might not be a perfect album, but it is a nice breath of fresh air, and a work of art coming from the young and talented Mac Miller.

                The Good: Travis Scott – “Rodeo”

“Rodeo” is perhaps the most important release to the future of the rap genre, as Travi$ Scott has the biggest potential out of any rapper that released a tape this month. The Kanye-mentored, Houston native had been making waves throughout music for the past two years, but this release was the first official album from the Grand Hustle/G.O.O.D. Music signee. “Days Before Rodeo,” the lead-up mixtape Scott dropped last year, is perhaps the greatest mixtape I have ever heard. The only downside to Scott’s debut album is that his other efforts had been so stunningly amazing, that the expectations were set too high for the 23-year-old. If it weren’t for expectations, and opinions were solely molded by the music itself, Scott easily would’ve claimed the top spot for the month, but sadly that is not how the music industry works. The album’s most popular single, “Antidote,” is the perfect example of the versatility Travis Scott can bring to any song. Singing an unbelievably catchy melody for the majority of the song, Scott switches up the last minute and attacks the beat with one of his hardest verses on the album. Other standouts are “Oh My Dis Side” – perhaps the best top-to-bottom song on the album, “Impossible” – a psychedelic, eerie singing-based song – and “Apple Pie” – an upbeat song Scott uses to address his mother and his rise to fame. While the album could’ve been much better given Scott’s limitless talent, it is a certain guarantee that Travis Scott is a name to watch for the years to come.

                The Bad: Drake & Future – “What A Time to Be Alive”

Do not believe the hype. This “mixtape” from the two biggest rappers in the world took only six days to make – and it shows. Before I discuss the actual quality of the music, let’s start off by making it clear the entire point of a mixtape is that it’s free. This is one of the oldest traditions in hip-hop, and once again Drake stomps all over it in his all-too-familiar sell-out fashion. Now, as far as the actual music itself, the standouts are “Scholarships,Diamonds Dancing” andJumpman.” The tape disappoints mainly because these two artists are capable of so much more: the choruses come across as cheap and quickly made and the lyrics come across as shallow. Upon first listen, the collaboration seems legendary, but the album fades upon multiple listens. If the two artists had taken perhaps even one month longer, the tape could’ve been one of the best in recent memory. That being said, Drake will certainly redeem himself with his next album, “Views from the 6,” which was (very subtly) delayed from Sept 25 to a late 2015/early 2016 release.