POSTS BY: JOHN MATRAIA

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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 …

Ordinary – [Mak Bandz] [Smoola] ft. [Calboy]

By John Matraia // 16 Jul 2019

The recently signed Cincinnati duo, Mak Bandz and Smoola, are ready to make waves this year, and nothing proves that more than their new track “Ordinary”, featuring Calboy. The chemistry of everyone involved with this track is pretty great, as every verse on here screams this sentiment of self-worth and not prioritizing those who don’t realize your true value, which makes for a focused trap banger. Smoola’s hook here is everything one could ask for, and not only does it feature some nice vocal melodies, but it’s uplifting as well, encapsulating the overall message of the track within a few infectious lines. The skeletal trap production here works in their favor as well, allowing their honest and heartfelt lyricism, along with intoxicating flows, to be the forefront of the track.  The 1801 Records signees show off some serious potential on this new track, check out their new EP here, and check out the visuals, shot by Rock Davis, for “Ordinary” down below.

Subzilla 3 – [Sub9k]

By John Matraia // 16 Jul 2019

If Subzilla 3 tells us anything, it’s that Sub9k plays by his own rules, and nothing else, as I can’t say I’ve heard any project quite like it this year. Sub9k approaches every track on here differently, whether he gives us his signature in-your-face delivery on most tracks that is impossible to ignore, or presents his catchy vocal melodies on tracks like “Exotic” and “July”. The hard-nosed intro “4 Da Low” is a standout and great example of his blunt delivery of memorable one-liners housed within his attention-grabbing cadence that warrants repeated listens. One thing that is consistent throughout this project is its textured production, that can be best described as glitzy and atmospheric, but hard-hitting and aggressive at the same time. To be honest, I can’t say that I can exactly bob my head to all of these beats, but this off-kilter approach is actually what makes it a refreshing stand out to me.  Like I said, I haven’t heard anything in 2019 quite like the hostile yet cloudy approach that Sub9k takes on Subzilla 3, but in my opinion, it slaps. Check it out below and on all streaming services!

M’aider (Mayday) – [Ed Balloon]

By John Matraia // 11 Jul 2019

Just yesterday here on Lyrical Lemonade we premiered the new collaborative track between Ed Balloon, Open Mike Eagle, and They Hate Change in support of Ed’s upcoming record The Dubs, and I wanted to highlight another great single from it. “M’aider (Mayday)” is the closing track to the album, and it’s nice to know that the project will be ending on a high point. The song is a low-key but triumphant closer, featuring impressive progressions, along with some extraordinary vocal melodies. Thematically, the song is an ode to a loyal partner more than anything, and it starts out with some nostalgia-inducing guitar chords. Once the drums kick in, Ed bursts into his infectious hook, and along with this, there are some tasteful vocal effects scattered throughout the track, plus some alluring background vocals. This is shaping up to be a special project from Ed, get ready for the new record on July 19th by pre-ordering it here and checking out the visuals for “M’aider (Mayday)” below!

Premiere: Missed Call – [Ed Balloon] ft. [Open Mike Eagle] [They Hate Change]

By John Matraia // 10 Jul 2019

Photo Credit // Bank of NH Stage (Concord, NH) Deathbomb Arc’s very own Ed Balloon is about to pop off, and his brand new single “Missed Call”, released today, is proof. His new album The Dubs is set to drop next Friday, and today Ed dropped one of the best singles of the year, alongside none other than Open Mike Eagle and They Hate Change.   “Missed Call” is a generally atmospheric and somber offering, but alternates back and forth from peaceful to intense at the drop of a hat. It all begins with a profound verse from Open Mike Eagle backed by a synth, hi-hats, and some subtle drums. Ed Balloon belts out some heartfelt vocals following this, along with his infectious refrain that proclaims “pick up the phone” throughout the track. This catchy refrain is indicative of Ed’s ability to write thoughtful but equally enjoyable songs with replay value as he tends to do throughout his upcoming project. They Hate Change, a duo who dropped a solid EP a few months back, also courtesy of Deathbomb Arc, make a great contribution to the track. The duo trade off, delivering a couple of emotionally poignant and heartfelt verses that add …

Watch Freddie Gibbs & Madlib speak on “Bandana” with Peter Rosenberg on Hot 97

By John Matraia // 10 Jul 2019

Freddie Gibbs and Madlib are still fresh off the release of one of the best rap albums of the decade, Bandana, released late last month, which followed up the duo’s prior collaborative masterpiece, 2014’s Piñata. The interview begins with some back and forth between Freddie and Peter on the unfortunate situation Freddie dealt with overseas a few years back and how he overcame being accused of a crime he didn’t commit. He goes on to talk about how making Bandana was therapeutic for him, as he was overcoming his hardships throughout the process of making the album. After hearing the record a dozen or so times, it brought tears to my eyes knowing how emotional it was for Freddie to finally put out this body of work after everything he went through. Peter asks about how Freddie and Madlib met, and how Freddie has never spoken to Madlib on the phone, just electronically and in person. Then, out of nowhere, Madlib himself steps into the room, and solidifies this as a legendary interview, being that Madlib barely does this and is usually off the grid. Peter asks him how many radio interviews he has done over the past ten years, …

Flygod Is an Awesome God – [Westside Gunn]

By John Matraia // 7 Jul 2019

Griselda has been treating us well recently. Just last month, we were blessed with Benny the Butcher’s new project, The Plugs I Met, and this past Friday, my personal favorite Griselda member, Westside Gunn, released his highly anticipated record, Flygod Is an Awesome God. As expected, Flygod Is an Awsome God brings us beautiful production from a number of producers along with gritty and ruthless raps from Gunn, plus his iconic signature ad-libs and some (usually wrestling-related) skits. The contrast of Gunn’s unique delivery and raw lyricism with the luxurious production is what always brings me back to him, and this project did not disappoint in the slightest.  Not only do we get great features on here from the Griselda gang, but this project also features contributions from hip-hop legends like Raekwon, who delivers a sermon on the introduction, and Madlib, who produced the fittingly titled “Gunnlib”, making for the first collaboration between Gunn and the legendary producer. This track features jazzy production from Madlib along with an off-kilter vocal sample that seems it would be hard to rap over upon first hearing the beat. Gunn however, proves why he’s one of the best out, absolutely shredding the beat, making for …

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