Review: Nikki Jean – Champagne Water

https://i0.wp.com/thumbs.hh.ulximg.com/public/img/song/500_1413964233_artworks_000094742631_1gtmb1_t500x500_11.jpg

Back in November of 2014, Nikki Jean released her free EP, Champagne Water, which was backed by the single “Champagne Waters,” which featured TDE soldier Ab-Soul. As this was my first introduction to Jean’s solo work, I didn’t know exactly what to expect. I knew this wouldn’t be the Nikki Jean I heard on 2008’s “Hip-Hop Saved My Life.” I somewhat expected to hear much more of the Nikki I heard on Ab-Soul’s “Worldrunners” last summer. That’s somewhat what I got.

You can tell from the jump that Nikki draws from many different musical influences to craft her sound as an artist. From jazz to hip-hop and everything in between, you never truly know which direction she will go stylistically. She spits upbeat bars on the Ab-Soul-assisted title track and evokes elements of her jazz influences on “Rivers.” Her delivery also takes many forms. From rapping to rambling to stream of consciousness singing, she approaches tracks creatively no matter the occasion.

I really enjoyed the subject matter of this project. On “Tommy’s Song (Hands Up),” she tackles the very important topic of police violence. The song tells the story of Tommy, a young black male that is shot by police. He is simply walking down the street with his hands in his pockets and headphones on, and is shot down by police. The track also makes note of the fact that many police officers see black males as intimidating, scary, and brutal. The title track, “Champagne Waters,” discusses the use of Jesus’ name and likeness in music and everyday life, which is something that the black community has debated for many years. The track also references Jesus turning water into wine in John 2: 9. On the closing track, “Cool On You,” she tearfully and triumphantly says goodbye to her current lover.

My only gripe with this project is its length. At six tracks, it’s over as soon as you put it on. And to make matters worse, “Intro” and “Worried (Interlude)” clock in at 1:39 and 2:11, respectively. As intros and interludes are usually short, I understand them being that length. However, both are tracks that could’ve easily been longer. With this change, the project would be just as good of a project, if not better. Regardless, this project was still great.

Standout tracks: “Hands Up,” “Champagne Waters,”

Overall: 9/10

-Cam (@Camstizzy)

REVIEW: "Would You Like A Tour?"

TheSource.com, The SourceIn support of his latest critically acclaimed platinum-selling album Nothing Was The Same, Toronto native and Young Money recording artist Drake paid a visit to the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento on Monday for the continuation of his concert tour, appropriately titled “Would You Like A Tour?”

The near-capacity arena became pitch black with the exception of the glare from the various cell phones and digital cameras, and thunderous shouting erupted throughout as fans knew the moment they had anxiously been waiting all night to experience was about to take place.

Microphone in hand, Drake appeared, illuminated by the red backdrop and video projector. Seemingly wanting to put an end to the crowd’s anticipation, Drake wasted no time as he promptly tore into the first song of his set, “Tuscan Leather,” one of the outstanding tracks on his album.

Much like his music videos and television performances, Drake’s stage presence is all over the place. Though his videos normally receive negative feedback, his chipper personality and antics seemed to mesh well in the concert setting.

There didn’t appear to be a single soul seated. Much of the energy Drake exuded in his performance flowed from him into the fans, especially when he dived into songs such as “Worst Behavior,” “The Motion,” “305 to My City,” among many other cuts from his album.

Toward the end of his set, he brought out Def Jam recording artist Jhené Aiko to assist him in finishing his performance for “Come Thru,” as well as their up tempo collaboration “From Time.” It was at that moment that the intensity in the arena amplified. The chemistry that these two shared onstage was almost overwhelming, and left audience members yearning for more.

Those who have yet to see Drake perform in concert are missing out. Though his name sometimes carries a negative connotation, the man knows how to move a crowd.

REVIEW: Jhené Aiko – "Sail Out"

It’s been a little over two years since the free-spirited singer-songwriter Jhené Aiko stole many of our hearts once more with her debut mixtape, sailing soul(s) and left her ‘soulmates’ yearning for more.

Since then, Aiko has sporadically released throwaways such as “2 Seconds” and “Beautiful Ruin” and has also been featured on projects from artists including Wale, Big Sean, Casey Veggies and Drake, etc. Still, the fans wanted more.

Having been hard at work putting the finishing touches on her upcoming debut album, Souled Out, Aiko decided to fulfill fans hunger by putting together an EP titled Sail Out, to hold her fans over until the official release of the album.

Originally slated for a Nov. 12 release, the Slauson Ave. beauty surprised us all when she released the project two days in advance. The seven-track EP, produced solely by The Fisticuffs, with the exception of “Comfort Inn Ending (Freestyle)” which was produced by No I.D., includes guest features from Vince Staples, Childish Gambino, Kendrick Lamar and Ab-Soul.

Upon first hitting the play button, you are immediately met with a sense of euphoria as the rather enchanting lullaby-esque production quickly grasps hold of your attention and almost places you into a trance-like state.

You’ve been on my mind/I’ve been tryna let it go/I’ve been tryna find/Something as incredible/As you and I…” Aiko sings on the opening track, “The Vapors,” voice floating in unison with the tranquil beat.

Throughout the song, Aiko metaphorically compares the highs she experienced in a past relationship to the high she receives while engaging in vapor smoking. Chiming in at the 1:57 mark, Long Beach native and recording artist Vince Staples too finds himself reminiscing on the failed relationship.

With Aiko having already garnered favor as a free-spirited R&B artist, she brings to life that free-spirited nature on the Childish Gambino-assisted, “Bed Peace.”

Let’s get faded/Gotta call your job/Tell em you won’t make it/Ain’t nobody here/Baby let’s get wasted/We should just get naked…”

“Stay Ready (What A Life)” embodies production as engaging as “The Vapors” and the seemingly effortless way Aiko layers her angelic vocals over the beat surely adds to the captivation of the eardrums; not to mention the hazy flow Lamar provides us with.

Mid-tempo tracks such as “The Worst” additionally showcase the feisty singer we’ve come to know and love as she, like she’s done in past songs, gracefully tells off a former lover like only she can.

Please don’t take this personal/But you ain’t sh*t/And you weren’t special/’Til I made you so,” she declares.

Ouch much?

For Sail Out to have been her debut EP, Aiko certainly proved that she can carry her own weight, especially in the songwriting department. With Souled Out soon-to-be on the way, I’m quite anxious to see how she plans to outdo herself.

If you have not purchased Sail Out, do so here!

REVIEW: YEEZUS Tour Hits Oracle Arena

SheBreathesMusic.net, SheBreathesMusic, She Breathes MusicOracle Arena in Oakland, Calif. was a packed house last Wednesday as controversial, 21-time Grammy Award-winning recording artist Kanye West finally touched down to deliver a memorable experience. It was evident fans were nothing less than excited for what the night, West’s first solo tour since his 2008 “Glow in the Dark Tour, had in store for them. With it being my first time attending a Kanye West concert, it’s fair to say I was equally as excited.

It was just after eight when the lights went dim and out came Top Dawg Entertainment recording artist Kendrick Lamar, hip-hop’s undisputed heavyweight and the only opening act. Dressed in a black tee, black jeans and a black and white flannel hoodie, the 26-year-old emcee swaggered to and fro as fans enthusiastically chanted the lyrics to his opening song, “Money Trees,” in unison with him.

Though he stands at 5’6”, Lamar possesses the stage presence of someone twice his height. If he demanded you to put your hands up, you put your hands up. If he said to put your cell phones in the air, you had better believe cell phones were waved throughout the air. Never missing a beat, Lamar went on to perform cuts from his highly-acclaimed, platinum-selling second studio album good kid, m.A.A.d. city, such as “Swimming Pools (Drank),” “Backseat Freestyle,” “Poetic Justice,” “Compton,” “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst,” and more. As I’ve seen him do many times at previous concerts, Lamar ended his set with an intriguing song from his “Kendrick Lamar” EP titled “I Am.”

Anticipating a lengthy intermission since Kanye West has a bit of a reputation for arriving late, my counterpart and I cleared for the lobby to retrieve refreshments. Upon making our way back to our seats, we discovered that the stage producers had been moving quite quickly to set up ‘Mt. Yeezus,’ along with the accompanying backdrop. It wasn’t long before the lights went dim once more, causing concertgoers throughout the arena to whistle, stomp and chant with vehemence, “Yee-zus, Yee-zus, Yee-zus!”

Atop the ‘Mt. YEEZUS’ was a circular overhead screen with a moon backdrop that continuously flickered as the beat to his song, “On Sight,” dropped and West, casually as ever, began making his way to the front of the stage. Adorned with a gold chain around his neck, a loose-fitting black tee, baggy jeans and Nike Air Yeezy 2 Red Octobers, West wasted no time tearing into his set. Aside from “On Sight,” he performed various tracks from his heavily talked-about sixth studio album, “Yeezus,” such as “New Slaves,” “Black Skinhead,” “Send It Up,” and the ever-so controversial “I am a God.”

There were many times throughout his set where West threw himself onto the stage’s floor, all the while keeping the arena of thousands entertained. What specifically kept me intrigued, though, was the Maison Martin Margiela mask he sported while performing. During the second half of the concert, West broke into a rant where he expressed his thoughts on the media and how he believes that blogs, magazines and newspapers are out to make his fans hate him because of their negative portrayal of him.

As the end of his set rolled around, West finally ripped into older songs that made many of those in attendance fans in the first place. The highlight of the night was when he brought out a makeshift Jesus Christ prior to performing his hit “Jesus Walks.” While many felt that he took it a bit too far, others appeared to be in awe. West made it clear that when he refers to himself as God, it is only because God lives within himself and all of us as well.

I only care about God and what he wants me to do,” he proclaimed.

Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif. was a packed house last Wednesday as controversial, 21-time Grammy Award-winning recording artist Kanye West finally touched down to deliver a memorable experience. It was evident fans were nothing less than excited for what the night, West’s first solo tour since his 2008 “Glow in the Dark Tour, had in store for them. With it being my first time attending a Kanye West concert, it’s fair to say I was equally as excited.
It was just after eight when the lights went dim and out came Top Dawg Entertainment recording artist Kendrick Lamar, hip-hop’s undisputed heavyweight and the only opening act. Dressed in a black tee, black jeans and a black and white flannel hoodie, the 26-year-old emcee swaggered to and fro as fans enthusiastically chanted the lyrics to his opening song, “Money Trees,” in unison with him.
Though he stands at 5’6”, Lamar possesses the stage presence of someone twice his height. If he demanded you to put your hands up, you put your hands up. If he said to put your cell phones in the air, you had better believe cell phones were waved throughout the air. Never missing a beat, Lamar went on to perform cuts from his highly-acclaimed, platinum-selling second studio album “good kid, m.A.A.d. city,” such as “Swimming Pools (Drank),” “Backseat Freestyle,” “Poetic Justice,” “Compton,” “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst,” and more. As I’ve seen him do many times at previous concerts, Lamar ended his set with an intriguing song from his “Kendrick Lamar” EP titled “I Am.”
Anticipating a lengthy intermission since Kanye West has a bit of a reputation for arriving late, my counterpart and I cleared for the lobby to retrieve refreshments. Upon making our way back to our seats, we discovered that the stage producers had been moving quite quickly to set up ‘Mt. Yeezus,’ along with the accompanying backdrop. It wasn’t long before the lights went dim once more, causing concertgoers throughout the arena to whistle, stomp and chant with vehemence, “Yee-zus, Yee-zus, Yee-zus!”
Atop the ‘Mt. YEEZUS’ was a circular overhead screen with a moon backdrop that continuously flickered as the beat to his song, “On Sight,” dropped and West, casually as ever, began making his way to the front of the stage. Adorned with a gold chain around his neck, a loose-fitting black tee, baggy jeans and Nike Air Yeezy 2 Red Octobers, West wasted no time tearing into his set. Aside from “On Sight,” he performed various tracks from his heavily talked-about sixth studio album, “Yeezus,” such as “New Slaves,” “Black Skinhead,” “Send It Up,” and the ever-so controversial “I am a God.”
There were many times throughout his set where West threw himself onto the stage’s floor, all the while keeping the arena of thousands entertained. What specifically kept me intrigued, though, was the Maison Martin Margiela mask he sported while performing. During the second half of the concert, West broke into a rant where he expressed his thoughts on the media and how he believes that blogs, magazines and newspapers are out to make his fans hate him because of their negative portrayal of him.
As the end of his set rolled around, West finally ripped into older songs that made many of those in attendance fans in the first place. The highlight of the night was when he brought out a makeshift Jesus Christ prior to performing his hit “Jesus Walks.” While many felt that he took it a bit too far, others appeared to be in awe. West made it clear that when he refers to himself as God, it is only because God lives within himself and all of us as well.
“I only care about God and what he wants me to do,” he proclaimed.
– See more at: http://www.arcurrent.com/arts-culture/2013/10/30/yeezus-tour-hits-oracle-arena/#sthash.jSx1ypAm.dpuf
Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif. was a packed house last Wednesday as controversial, 21-time Grammy Award-winning recording artist Kanye West finally touched down to deliver a memorable experience. It was evident fans were nothing less than excited for what the night, West’s first solo tour since his 2008 “Glow in the Dark Tour, had in store for them. With it being my first time attending a Kanye West concert, it’s fair to say I was equally as excited.
It was just after eight when the lights went dim and out came Top Dawg Entertainment recording artist Kendrick Lamar, hip-hop’s undisputed heavyweight and the only opening act. Dressed in a black tee, black jeans and a black and white flannel hoodie, the 26-year-old emcee swaggered to and fro as fans enthusiastically chanted the lyrics to his opening song, “Money Trees,” in unison with him.
Though he stands at 5’6”, Lamar possesses the stage presence of someone twice his height. If he demanded you to put your hands up, you put your hands up. If he said to put your cell phones in the air, you had better believe cell phones were waved throughout the air. Never missing a beat, Lamar went on to perform cuts from his highly-acclaimed, platinum-selling second studio album “good kid, m.A.A.d. city,” such as “Swimming Pools (Drank),” “Backseat Freestyle,” “Poetic Justice,” “Compton,” “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst,” and more. As I’ve seen him do many times at previous concerts, Lamar ended his set with an intriguing song from his “Kendrick Lamar” EP titled “I Am.”
Anticipating a lengthy intermission since Kanye West has a bit of a reputation for arriving late, my counterpart and I cleared for the lobby to retrieve refreshments. Upon making our way back to our seats, we discovered that the stage producers had been moving quite quickly to set up ‘Mt. Yeezus,’ along with the accompanying backdrop. It wasn’t long before the lights went dim once more, causing concertgoers throughout the arena to whistle, stomp and chant with vehemence, “Yee-zus, Yee-zus, Yee-zus!”
Atop the ‘Mt. YEEZUS’ was a circular overhead screen with a moon backdrop that continuously flickered as the beat to his song, “On Sight,” dropped and West, casually as ever, began making his way to the front of the stage. Adorned with a gold chain around his neck, a loose-fitting black tee, baggy jeans and Nike Air Yeezy 2 Red Octobers, West wasted no time tearing into his set. Aside from “On Sight,” he performed various tracks from his heavily talked-about sixth studio album, “Yeezus,” such as “New Slaves,” “Black Skinhead,” “Send It Up,” and the ever-so controversial “I am a God.”
There were many times throughout his set where West threw himself onto the stage’s floor, all the while keeping the arena of thousands entertained. What specifically kept me intrigued, though, was the Maison Martin Margiela mask he sported while performing. During the second half of the concert, West broke into a rant where he expressed his thoughts on the media and how he believes that blogs, magazines and newspapers are out to make his fans hate him because of their negative portrayal of him.
As the end of his set rolled around, West finally ripped into older songs that made many of those in attendance fans in the first place. The highlight of the night was when he brought out a makeshift Jesus Christ prior to performing his hit “Jesus Walks.” While many felt that he took it a bit too far, others appeared to be in awe. West made it clear that when he refers to himself as God, it is only because God lives within himself and all of us as well.
“I only care about God and what he wants me to do,” he proclaimed.
– See more at: http://www.arcurrent.com/arts-culture/2013/10/30/yeezus-tour-hits-oracle-arena/#sthash.jSx1ypAm.dpuf

Big K.R.I.T. Makes His Sacramento Debut at Harlow’s

Photo by DJ Iron Lung
 Meridian, Mississippi native Big K.R.I.T. made his debut in the city of trees this past Wednesday, May 29 as his highly anticipated eight date West Coast Tour made its round to its fifth stop at Harlow’s Nightclub and Restaurant in the heart of Downtown Sacramento. 
 The event, put on by Sean Healy Presents, brought together a diverse crowd of concertgoers from various age groups and ethnic backgrounds. From black, white, Spanish, Filipino and even Indian, the club was swimming in a multicultural sea of hip-hop lovers. 
 After having been waiting an hour – okay, I’m exaggerating a bit, it was really an approximate 15 minutes, one could tell that the what was once an exuberant crowd had gradually grown to become rather restless with the host’s failed attempts at keeping them entertained with his freebies, monotonous conversation and his multiple requests to “turn up.” Having sensed this, he eventually threw in the towel and retreated backstage and let DJ Wally Sparks, Big K.R.I.T.’s tour DJ, showcase his skills on the 1s and 2s. 

As the multi-colored strobe lights slowly began to dim, fans excitedly inched their way closer to the stage, smartphones and digital cameras held high. Thunderous clapping and screaming erupted throughout the entire club as K.R.I.T. finally emerged from backstage and promptly tore into his set. 
Occasionally glancing around, I couldn’t put off the fact that there didn’t seem to be a stiff body in the building. Vigorous cuts such as Talkin Bout Nothing, My Trunk, Glass House and Rotation, etc., quickly elevated the crowd’s energy to new levels as they savagely fed his own lyrics back to him while he swaggered from one end of the stage to another. 
 As if the crowd’s intensity couldn’t have been amplified even more, it strenuously shot through the roof once K.R.I.T. brought out Smoke DZA to join him for a few songs, and later, his ‘country cousin’ Big Sant
 The ambiance of the club softened altogether once K.R.I.T. broke into more sentimental songs such as REM and Hometown Hero. Swaying about and looking on in admiration, it was apparent that the fans appreciated his laid-back material just as much as his energy-boosting songs. 
 Judging from the countless number of broad smiles and jubilant facial expressions upon the end of the show, I can almost certainly say that many departed with a better understanding of just why the candied yams and collard greens-eating emcee is presently known as a King Remembered in Time.