Cleanin’ Out My Closet (Eminem) – Analysis

 

In Eminem’s “Cleanin’ Out My Closet”, the rap artist exposes himself by addressing topics such as the protests against him, his fatherless childhood, and his damaged relationship with his mother.  The whole motivation of this song is revealed in the hook, and the line “I’m cleanin’ out my closet” actually has a deep double meaning.  The first is in reference to the common expression of having skeletons in your closet.  Eminem is no longer going to hold his tongue; he is bringing out all of his issues in this track.   The second meaning is that he is moving out of his mother’s life for good and leaving nothing behind because of the way she treated him.  Although he reveals some of the many horrible things she and others had done to him through his lifetime, nevertheless, Eminem swears he “never meant to hurt” her.

The structural strategy that Eminem takes is quite simple.  He uses different verses to address different scars and separates each with the now infamous hook.  The first he addresses is those who protested against him in 2001 for his hateful lyrics.  He says they are as sick as the one they are protesting against and that he will continue to “Give ’em hell long as [he’s] breathin’.”  In the second, he reveals he has nothing remotely kind to say about his father for abandoning him as an infant.  Eminem argues that even he tries his hardest as a father for his daughter’s sake.

The track builds to the third and final verse, where Eminem brings out possibly the biggest skeleton of them all, his mother.  It is now where he puts meaning behind the hook, which makes it so much more powerful once it comes around to conclude the song. One especially strong lyric worth pointing out is the line “…going through public housing systems / Victim of Münchausen’s Syndrome…”. Münchausen’s Syndrome is a mental disorder where a caregiver, usually a mother, harms their child or describes non-existent symptoms in order to get sympathy and attention.  Eminem’s mother made him believe his whole life he was sick, when it was her who was truly sick.  This line is another one of Eminem’s signature double entendres; Münchausen’s Syndrome sounds like “Much Housings Syndrome” implying that Eminem never stayed in one home as a child and was constantly moving from place to place for his mother to find a job. Moving a child often makes it very difficult for a child to make friends, which was inevitably the case for Eminem.

In my opinion, the strongest line in this song is one the combines all of his issues by saying “It’s my life, I’d like to welcome y’all to The Eminem Show” (41).  “Cleanin’ Out My Closet” was the 2nd single from his 4th studio album, The Eminem Show. The meaning behind it is that Eminem feels like his entire life has just become entertainment for his fans.  It is also morbidly ironic because he refers to all these issues including domestic abuse, abandonment, and murder as a show for the listeners’ entertainment.  No song of his drives this point more than “Cleanin’ Out My Closet”, where Eminem reveals all of his issues in three verses for all to hear.  This is Eminem’s personal exposé, and he is so effective that one would think that his closet is now clean of all skeletons.  Yet the four studio albums to ensue would argue otherwise.

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ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ (Joey Bada$$) Review

Thank God K-Dot delayed his album release a week later cause it would’ve completely overshadowed the fantastic and necessary sophomore album of the Tupac-esque rapper Joey Bada$$.  This album’s style really throws back to the golden-age of hip-hop and Joey Bada$$’s performance is a home run.  As an album there’s a lot that other rappers can learn a lot from this album:

  1. An album doesn’t need 20+ songs to be successful.  ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ contains 12 tracks and runs for just under 50 minutes.  To compare, the latest big rap release, More Life, is 22 tracks and 81 minutes.  Too many albums now find the need to fill up space with interludes and throwaway tracks.  Bada$$ keeps it simple, and while there’s less tracks, he bats 1.000 by having every song be great.
  2. Credit your features. It’s just courtesy.  All of the guests on this album make very notable contributions, and many I hadn’t heard of before.

The production work on this album was solid, there was nothing too far out there yet everything was still interesting. Yet, the biggest standout of the album was obviously the overarching political theme through it all.  I’m not gonna go into what he is saying in it, but commend him for delivering upon it strongly, keep it consistent through all 12 tracks, and really bringing it home in the outro.  You can tell it’s a topic that has personally affected him, and one that he is unadulteratedly adamant about.

Two standout tracks are “DEVASTATED” and “BABYLON”.  “DEVASTATED”‘s hook is incredibly catchy, and the climactic passion found on the verses of “BABYLON”, Joey’s version of “Blacker the Berry”, make it my favorite track on the LP.

Overall, this is probably the best rap album of the year so far and really surprised me as to how Joey Bada$$ has now gone from good to great.  9.5/100a5608c99cd5209b622b9cc7d383b9c6.1000x1000x1

Top 7 Billboard Songs as of 7/23/16

Today I will review individually the first seven of the current (7/23/16) “Billboard Hot 100” starting with…

1. One Dance – Drake feat. Wizkid and KylaDrake-Views-promo-photo

Everybody knew this would be the song of the summer when Drake first released as a single before VIEWS.  It gets people to dance, sing, and grove along to the cross between afrobeat and R&B, which is all you want from music you play in many summer environments. Drake suavely sings through another rap which is a skill beautifully exploded in VIEWS.  The featured artists are actually what bring this song down.  Not to say that each of their respective performances weren’t fine, but the bridge to this song absolutely falls apart, and I blame poor production.  But on a more positive note on the production, the backing drums piano and pads are what make this song so groovy.  Especially the syncopated sixteenth piano chords…Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 3.57.47 PM

I would generously give this song 8.0/10 just cause it works perfectly for what it was meant to be, but still has some issues that needed to be resolved to be one of Drizzy’s best.

2. Can’t Stop The Feeling – Justin Timberlake

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You have no soul if listening to this song does not fill you with happiness. Plain and Simple.  Justin Timberlake made magic with this song, with the help of two phenomenal producers, Max Martin and Shellback.  Those two really made this song groove and especially showed off genius in the breakdown and outro.  By far the pop summer anthem this year and by far one of the best the genre has released this year.  Last note would have to be on JT’s vocals, because it would be a crime not to mention how he pours joy and life into an already vibrant song to bring it full circle into the masterpiece that it is.  Fully deserves to have peaked at #1.  10/10 simply because I cannot think of any negative criticism I can say about this piece.  Catchy, Lively, Brilliant.

3. Don’t Let Me Down – The Chainsmokers feat. Daya

t310435082-i1079537192_s400First off, this is definitely not The Beatles’ “Don’t Let Me Down”.  This is not a bad song but there’s really not much to it.  Lyrically, this song is simple and lazy (obviously this kind of music isn’t supposed to have great lyrics, but still).  The post chorus drop is ok.  I’m not gonna spend too much time going into it but mediocrity received too much praise this time around in my opinion.  5/10.

4. This Is What You Came For – Calvin Harris feat. Rihanna

Calvin-Harris-and-Rihanna-This-Is-What-You-Came-ForWhile the third collaboration between Calvin Harris and Rihanna is the worst of the three, it does not mean that this is anything less than a really good if not great song.  Calvin Harris is so skilled at what he does that he can easily make songs that would become other DJ’s greatest hits, but since it’s Calvin Harris you expect more.  On a more positive note, this is a pretty cool Dance/Electronic song that does what a “pretty cool Dance/Electronic song” should do. It is far better than the song above it, but I think “This Is What You Came For” is still climbing up the charts.

I would rate 7/10 because with all this talent I can’t tell what brought the song down…

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Oh. That makes sense.

5. Cheap Thrills – Sia feat. Sean Paul

Sia-Ft.-Sean-Paul-FRONT-COVERI think it’s got a good beat and you can dance to it” was the best compliment the director of the “Cheap Thrills”music video could come up with for the opening of the video.  Basically, they did my job for me.  The song itself is horrible, but I can’t imagine how much worse it would be without Sean Paul providing the only positive attribute of the song.  The Jamaican flavor he adds almost makes the song decent. Almost. Honestly this song really should have been scrapped in the writing process.  Overall, the decent backing beat and rhymes from Sean Paul are an attemptive coverup of another lazy pop song 4.5/10

6. Panda – Desiigner

pandaHope you killas understand me.” No, we really don’t…

This song is really hype.  Like super hype.  But in all honesty it’s a shame to rap music.  There is not a single lyric that has any wit, depth, or meaning behind it.  Desiigner has no skill at rapping (and a really dumb name). All the production team did to help this song is made it super lit, BUT THAT DOESN’T MAKE IT GOOD!

Overall, I score it 2.5/10 and wish that it never came into existence.  At least it’s on its way down the charts.

7. Needed Me – Rihanna

Rihanna-Needed-Me-2016I now understand all the hype that was around ANTI.

real quick wanna wrap up this post but this song is killer.  Lyrics and vocal performance make Rihanna deserve two tracks in the top seven.

untitled unmastered. (Kendrick Lamar) Review

Kendrick Lamar surprised us all with an 8 tracked compilation album, and all we could shout was “Pimp Pimp Hooray!”.  The title itself is a message that Kendrick has the industry in the palm of his hand so much so that he doesn’t have to put any effort into an album and it will still be incredible, and he’s absolutely correct. Coming off of an insanely successful Grammy night, Kendrick has made sure to not let his fame even dip.  Right off the bat Kendrick begins to hit us with great lyrics and messages, because he is such a masterful poet.  “For the first track on Kendrick’s untitled unmastered, he uses biblical metaphors to criticize the wholly secular beliefs of modern America. He’s undermining the governmental institutions that America currently worships, pointing out the rapture that’s taking place in the world now.” (genius.com)  Another powerful message coming from this album is “the head is the answer”, Kendrick’s firm assurance that knowledge is the key.  Musically, this album is a stroke genius, thanks to another great collaboration between Kendrick Lamar and Terrace Martin.  Exemplified in the various jazz solos or the funky, James Brown-esque “untitled 08” the production was next level quality.  Quite probably too experimental for general hip hop fans, but just too good to not appreciate as a musician.  As always, Kendrick’s performance himself was dramatic and powerful, displaying many different emotions and characters.  The true masterpiece in this is the eight minute long, three part “untitled 07”.  The first part is Kendrick coming off of his Grammy success and describing the sensation.  It was produced by five year old Egypt Dean… FIVE YEAR OLD EGYPT DEAN! This kid is making gold with Kendrick at age five; I cannot wait to see him at age 25. (although there is no real proof that the child actually produced this)

Overall this was an extremely enjoyable album with outstanding production and expected Kendrick messages that ended too soon: 9/10

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Work (Rihanna feat. Drake) – Single Review

This song is not good.  It’s not Rihanna’s fault; her voice sounds great. It’s not Drake’s fault; his verse has that signature smooth rapping style we’ve come to love. It’s the writing.  It sounds like the song was written in under ten minutes, and it should have honestly just been tossed.  The repetitive “work, work, work, work, work, work” grows annoying quickly. Rihanna has made amazing collabs with Drake and other rappers, but this song isn’t near that standard.  We should just pretend it didn’t come out I guess…

Score: 3.8/10

 

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Traveller (Chris Stapleton) Review

For quite sometime, my country music policy has always been that I dislike all country music, except Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson.  Now, I have a new standard: I dislike all country music, except Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, and Chris Stapleton.  Do not misinterpret this; Stapleton has no where near the two prior artists, but i can actually tolerate him, which means a lot if I say it about a country music star.  While his song writing skills are rather polished, its the amount of passion Stapleton pours into his vocals that makes his debut, multi grammy nominated, Traveller so enjoyable.  There are flaws in this album, which is forgivable since its his first. The first being, which is a curse with most country music, the same few themes run common throughout every single song.  Alcohol, heartbreak, and depression, which are three similar themes already, make this album grow stale before it is finished being played.  But before this is noticed, Chris Stapleton packs some nice tunes within the first couple tracks of the album, including the title track.  There are a few minute errors musically (if you’re very picky), one being the insanely long repetitive outro on “Outlaw State of Mind”.  Overall, I score it with a 7.5 out of 10, for Stapleton’s great pipes, and occasional gems in the lyrics.

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To Pimp A Butterfly (Kendrick Lamar) Review

After the wild success of his autobiographical epic good kid, m.a.a.d city, Kendrick Lamar had big expectations to fill with his next album.  He completely succeeded the prior album.  To Pimp a Butterfly is truly a rap masterpiece, taking Kendrick past the limit and allowing him to preach through his rhymes like never before.  I’ll admit, this album is by no means perfection.  In fact, it takes a while for the wheels to start turning and for Kendrick to actually begin dropping what i have been so praising of.  But once it starts, a fury of deep metaphorical messages is unleashed and the genius of Kendrick Lamar explodes onto the later half of the LP.  The only fault I find with this album is that it was a little too musically experimental.  It seems like he’s trying to take the musicality of Hendrix and Lennon into Hip Hop, but it doesn’t work.  Honestly, there are one or two songs that I believe would have served the album better had they been omitted.  That being said, some of Kendrick’s greatest messages can be found once this album gets rolling.  There’s a few songs that I have to spend a little time discussing individually….

“U” proves a stark contrast to the uplifting “I”.  Genius.com says “Kendrick peers deep into the dark caverns of his heart to expose the negative thoughts that plague his mind, at point referring to himself as ‘a f****** failure’.”

“Alright” is a hopeful testimony that God has a plan for Kendrick through all his troubles with “Lucy” (Lucifer/Satan) and other enemies. It also showcases how Kendrick can collaborate greatly with music genius Pharell Williams and is deserving of its multiple Grammy nominations.

“How Much a Dollar Cost” showcases Kendrick’s fantastic skill at storytelling. “He tells the story of a man (who he thinks is a crack addict) asking for 10 Rand (apprrox $1 USD). Initially Kendrick says no and feels resentment as the man who continues to berate him. After asking if he’d read Exodus 14, Kendrick begins to feel guilty and sympathetic towards the man. His selfishness, towards which he attributes his success, eventually comes out most in his interactions with the homeless man. At that point, the man reveals himself to be God – his selfishness and unwillingness to give the homeless man a dollar has cost him his place in Heaven. This revelation harks back to the parable of “The Sheep and the Goat.” Kendrick then repents in the outro, asking God for forgiveness. It’s only now he’s free of Lucy & Uncle Sam – he had to be humbled to be humble. Pointing out that the figurative value of a dollar is far higher than the literal value of a dollar.” (Genius.com)

“The Blacker The Berry”, probably the most impactful track on the album, criticizes the hypocrisy of the fact that he wept for Trayvon Martin, yet he is responsible for the death of a black man.

The positive anthem “I” is absolutely deserving of its two Grammy awards because it is a greatly uplifting song, with an extremely funking backing track, and in it, Kendrick Lamar finds a whole new meaning and pride to the “N-word”.  He jubilantly proves his delight in himself in the extremely catchy hook.

The conversation between Kendrick and Tupac at the end of the final song “Mortal Man” is extremely powerful.  The two poets discuss a poem Kendrick wrote, but then go into deeper discussion about the future of the nation, black culture, fame, and lastly a metaphor describing Kendrick’s life. After Kendrick reads a second poem, and asks for Tupac’s thoughts, it is silent. “At the end, Kendrick calls out to Pac, but he’s not there anymore. He’s left us. He’s left us to find our own answers. We can’t look to the past for everything. We have to be the ones we’ve been waiting for.” (amillionotherstraws)

Although some weak tracks bring this album down, the multiple masterpieces that would’ve made this album an eleven, raise this album to score a 9/10.  Kendrick’s messages are stronger than ever before, and teach a lot to those who listen closely.

“Hip Hip now is all about Money, Bitch and Fame….. After this album i gotta say Kendrick Lamar saved Hip Hop” (RVMIE)

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review

The long awaited seventh entry in the Star Wars Saga is absolutely fantastic!  J. J. Abrams created a masterpiece that stands second as a Star Wars film only to the great Empire Strikes Back.  The world Abrams created strongly attributed to its being more like the original trilogy than the prequel trilogy.  Two characters that completely grabbed my attention was Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren and Daisy Ridley’s Rey.  Kylo Ren was an extremely complex villain who showed obvious internal conflict between the pulls of the light and dark side of the force, and he goes past the point of no return in an extremely intense scene. I won’t discuss that any further because i wouldn’t want to spoil anything.  Rey was seemingly the main character and exhibited complexity as she learned to wield the force. One more notable quality of the new characters was the great chemistry between Finn and Poe Dameron.  The characters from the original trilogy blended perfectly with the new characters and did not feel forced in (pun intended) for nostalgic purposes.  One complaint some may have was its extreme similarity plot-wise to A New Hope, but I thought that further proved Abram’s ingenuity and used a template to making a great Star Wars movie that works.  With great characters and an extremely well written plot, I would give Star Wars: The Force Awakens a 10/10.  I cannot wait until Episode VIII comes out!

**There’s a lot more i could say on how great this film is, but i wanted to keep this review spoiler-free.

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Ready, Steady, Go! (Drake Bell) Review

Ready, Steady, Go! Review:

The third studio album by Drake Bell does not live up to his prior two, but is nonetheless a quality album proving that he can still make good music, just not write too much.  Being weighed down by a ratio of 9 covers to 3 originals, the lack of Bell’s quality writing brings it down, but Bell’s excellent vocal performance through the album makes up for it. Bell has definetely matured in his musicianship adding a lot of interesting elements (with the help of Stray Cat’s Brian Setzer) to give a 1950s feel to a lot of the album’s songs. This album actually had more covers than I first thought it did, because he makes them very much his own (like “Bull” and “I Won’t Stand In Your Way”).  The addition of an alternate version of “Makes Me Happy” really wasn’t necessary, but i guess it was a cheap trick to add another Drake Bell original into the album.  The greatest gem of the album was by far Bell’s original “Give Me A Little More Time”.  This ballad proves not only that Bell can still write great music, but that he has matured in his writing style, immensely! Overall, I’d give this album a 7.5/10 because of Drake Bell’s strong vocal performance along with interesting covers of old pieces.

Ready,_Steady,_Go!

What a Time To Be Alive (Drake & Future) Review

What a Time To Be Alive Review:

Ultimately, “What a Time” is nothing compared to anything else Drake has made this year. Hotline Bling, Back to Back, Charged Up, and previous album IYRTITL are on a whole nother level above this. I believe there are two reasons for this. One, no disrespect, but Future kind of sucks. His sound is the main thing that brings down his quality. You can’t really understand him, and there’s no passion. The second reason is probably the fact that Drake might be burned out. He’s come out with so much this year that I think it’s become an issue of quality vs quantity. Don’t get me wrong, I love how much he’s been making just as much as the next Drake fan, but I think he put everything he had left into hotline bling. There are a few gems in the mixtape though, the biggest being the closing number, “30 for 30 freestyle”. This is the only song Drake does by himself and was to me an apology for the ten songs I had to listen to before this. If the others were like this, it would’ve been as good as IYRTITL. Good songs were also “live from the gutter” and “scholarships”. The rest is very sloppy and was lazily made. Especially “plastic bag”, “I’m the plug”, and “changing locations”. That is not what Drake songs should be like. Overall, I’d give it a 5/10 simply bc I really liked 3/11 of the songs but there were some golden moments from Drake in some of the other tracks.

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AN UPDATE TO WATTBA REVIEW (7/14/16): After 10 months of allowing this mixtape to settle, there’s certain qualities I have learned to respect from it.  The first of which being hype a listener for get from jamming to the anthems “Big Rings” and (the wildly successful) “Jumpman”.  Drake overtime now (which I hope to discuss more in a VIEWS review) has grown a Jekyll and Hyde complex as an artist where you can like Drake the singer and/or you can like Drake the rapper.  This mixtape absolutely screams Drake the rapper which I have grown to like more and more, although I admittedly do prefer Drake the singer.  Also, FUTURE ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT SUCK! He just sucks in this :/. Probably because this is not his style and Drake and him have zero blend so once you start digging Drake’s raps, Future comes in and wrecks what was being felt.  Future is phenomenal on EVOL and DS2 because he’s in his element with his producers and his lyrical themes that make Future work so well.

Now I probably would consider upping the rating of this album to a 6/10, but not without hesitation…