February Albums of the Month

Sophia Ibrahim, Zach Isaacs, Alex Metzger, and Chau Nguyen

“QPac by Quando Rondo

Zach Isaacs

7.5/10

“QPac,” the debut album of Quando Rondo, a young rapper from Savannah, is instantly put to high standards and a lot of skepticism. Referencing one of the best rappers of all time (2Pac) in your first album is definitely a risk. The 18-song album has a lot of different cadences, feelings, and beats. “Blue Opps,” the first song on the album, brings an instant energy that is infectious. Rondo is a great example of today’s hip-hop—versatility in voice and flow. Some songs have the heavy hitting raspy voice Rondo is known for, and some hit vocals you may hear on an R&B song. With his light-hearted beats, but gritty feeling this album has great contrast. “QPac” has creativity, good guest verses, and a signature style that we can only hope to see in the future of the talented rapper’s future. Rondo does not seem to achieve the mainstream success matched to the likes of Roddy Ricch, Polo G, or NBA Youngboy have, and frankly doesn’t seem to want it. Having a good debut album is very hard to do and as long as Rondo sticks to his talents, he has a very bright career ahead of him.

“Father of All Motherf******” by Green Day

Alex Metzger

2/10

For a group who drew lyrical inspiration from excessive marijuana usage, masturbation out of boredom, and deteriorating mental health to create a scathingly political rock opera criticizing the Bush administration, it’s hard to say Green Day doesn’t have range. But in the past decade, their three previous records have struggled to find a sound that matures with their age, and so far nothing’s really stuck home. Their latest effort, the 26 minute “Father of All Motherf******” is no better, showing how far the greats can really fall.

The influx of Motown, Jazz, and Blues into pop-punk is a full departure from the traditional Green Day sound. From BJ Armstrong’s falsetto vocals, Tre Cool’s rhythmic grooves, Mike Dirnt’s flunkey bass lines, the whole album showcases poorly executed experimentation at it’s finest. I’m a big fan of the moody “Junkies on a High,” the speedy “Stab You in the Heart,” and the catchy hook from “Meet Me On The Roof,” but the appreciation stopped there. The god-awful songwriting detracts from any lyrical connection and despite a quick runtime, it felt like an hour. The title track sounded good on first listen but after a couple plays, I’m hitting skip when it comes around. The rhythm section is carried by Cool’s drumming, which might just be the only redeeming quality of this record for me. Even the signature Green Day palm-muted guitars can’t save Armstrong’s horrendous falsetto here.

“Father of All Motherf******” doesn’t ask much of your time and certainly not of your ears. I would have enjoyed Green Day at their poppiest if the whole record sounded like the closing song “Graffieta” but instead, FOAM bleeds genre’s and stylistic choices that rightfully died 30 years ago. It feels half-hearted in scope, a casserole of badly mixed ideas that needed another 30 minutes in the oven for it to be edible.

 

“Music to Be Murdered By” by Eminem

Chau Nguyen

7/10

Eminem has earned himself a coveted status of being one of the greatest rappers of the 21st century, reaching the pinnacle of his career in the 2010s. Since then, Eminem has been trying to do what every other great singer does when they sing themselves into a corner: recycle famous tunes and do collaborations. Regardless of his attempts to recreate himself musically, his 11th studio album is basically old wine in a new bottle. It has been seven years since Eminem’s last good album and the music just can’t get either better or worse.

Just as one would expect, Eminem is rapping about his angst again and he’s not holding back. All the old rivals are here: family members, haters, critics, and even his fans—you name it, he’s done it. Eminem has done well to please his core fans with catchy tunes and explicit lyrics, but not enough to persuade them that the great rapper is back. Once remembered for complex rhythm with a dark comedic tone, now the Slim Shady can only get angry and lashes out at the new generation of mumble rappers that fans sometimes forgot he has an unsettled dispute with.

It’s unfortunate that Eminem couldn’t escape the trap of a music industry based on fame and popularity. The current trend is to create a catchy hit, do a collaboration with some equally famous singers, and garner even more fame. There were too many featured artists on “Music To Be Murdered By,” and only a few actually work. Young M.A gave an underperformed verse, as in Unaccommodating “And no, ain’t nothing Sweetie, this is no Quavo.” Ed Sheeran continues to deliver another emotional chorus that  is totally out of place. The late Juice WRLD, however, saves the album with his melodic vocal and melancholic crooning in “Godzilla,” lifting the album to a higher rank than it might have been without him. 

It would be unfair to deny the few highlights that exemplifies Eminem’s skills with lyrical composition and their double-layered meanings. Single “Darkness” will surely become one of the top songs Eminem has ever written. Inspired by the tragic Las Vegas shooting in 2017, the rapper wrote sharp and brilliant lyrics about preparing for a live performance, only to reveal the twisted ending that he has embodied the mass murderer Stephen Paddock, and the “performance” is actually the shooting incident itself. Clearly Eminem has not lost his storytelling ability and narrative lyrics, he just needs a fresh mind to shine again.

 

“Funeral” by Lil Wayne

Sophia Ibrahim

8.5/10

When I first heard “Trust Nobody,” I was convinced some serious autotune was responsible for Lil Wayne’s strange pitch. Turns out it was Adam Levine. 

The record opens with “Funeral,” an eerie song surrounding gun violence in urban Black communities. The song kicks off with the line “Welcome to the funeral, yeah / Close casket as usual,” referencing how horrific deaths often have closed-casket funerals out of respect for the deceased. The song covers a funeral procession, with a particularly poignant line “Bullet holes came through the doors / I just crossed my heart, then I threw the rose.” This mellow yet anxious title track sets the tone for the album’s sound. 

Two other songs that stood out to me on the album were “Outta My Head” featuring XXXTENTACION and the aforementioned “Trust Nobody,” featuring Adam Levine. The former discusses religion, among other topics, and how a loss in Wayne’s inner direction leads to him being unable to “get the f*** out of [his] head.” Wayne’s struggle with mental health is a sentiment that can be shared with much of his audience, and a message that is prevalent throughout the album. The pre-chorus of “Trust Nobody” stood out to me. It’s a common Christian bedtime prayer for children; “If I die before I wake / I pray the Lord my soul to take.”

“Funeral” incorporates many of the realities of inner-city Black men, in a way that showcases these truths wholly and honestly. I commend Wayne for his eloquence, rhythm, and candidness in his new album “Funeral.”