The Reviews | Common – ‘Nobody’s Smiling’

“Now I know how my father felt, that dark day when he realized that
black power didn’t keep the lights on.”

Reviews Common Nobodys Smiling

A lot has changed in Chicago since Lonnie Lynn, Jr. asked us to borrow a dollar. Continue reading

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The Listening Magazine Presents #MonthlyMix: January 2014

Monthly Mix 14.01

The Listening Magazine is proud to drop the first edition of our monthly series titled Monthly Mix! The mix will consist of the hottest, most monumental tracks to be released over the past month. This month, the mix includes artists such as Drake, Beyonce, The Cool Kids, Broken Bells, and many more. Take a listen below and follow us on Soundcloud for more in the future!

The Rap Up: Week of January 17, 2014

Rap Up

This Week In Music:

Outkast performing over a decade ago. (Credit to

Outkast performing over a decade ago. (Credit to Joe Goldberg)

Just a week after being announced as the headliner of the 2014 Coachella Festival lineup, legendary hip hop group Outkast has announced an official comeback tour for the upcoming year. In honor of their first album, Southernplayalisticadillacmusik, reaching its 20 year anniversary, the Atlanta duo will embark on a tour of at least 40 festival shows throughout the year. This news is incredibly exciting for fans of the group, who have been anxiously awaiting new material and performances for over five years now. Fans should stay tuned to the official Outkast facebook, where the announcement was made, for future updates.

Juicy J on stage. (Credit to

Juicy J on stage. (Credit to Jay West)

In other news, rapper Juicy J (formerly of Memphis rap group Three 6 Mafia) awarded a $50,000 scholarship to one lucky female college student. Usually deemed as a good deed, the scholarship became the subject of controversy due to the award’s supposed requirements. Juicy J originally announced the scholarship back in the summer of 2013 as a scholarship for “twerking”, a dance that involves the explicit movement of the female body which has recently been brought to the mainstream by artists like Miley Cyrus. While fans have argued that Juicy J implied that the fund would go to the candidate who could twerk the best in a video that was sent to him, the rapper never officially listed twerking as a requirement needed to win the scholarship. The Listening Magazine congratulates the winner, Zaire Holmes, and acknowledges Juicy J for honoring his word.

Kanye West

Kanye West (Credit to Tyler Curtis)

Justin Beiber (Credit to

Justin Bieber

Finally, two of the biggest superstars in the music industry are in hot water with the police this week for separate incidents. First, rapper/producer Kanye West is under police investigation after reportedly being involved in an altercation with an 18-year-old. Taking place in a Beverly Hills chiropractor’s office, Kanye reportedly attacked the man after he called Kanye’s fiancée Kim Kardashian a “n****r lover”. In other news, pop sensation Justin Bieber came under the scope of Los Angeles police after being the suspect of the egging of a house neighboring his own. The 19-year-old superstar had his home searched following the incident, and one of Bieber’s friends was arrested for possession of cocaine which was found in his home. Details on both incidents are still being relayed to press sources, and will be interesting to hear about in the coming days.

The News:
Jhene Aiko announces May release date for Souled Out
Pharrell secures Oscar nomination for “Happy”
Mac Miller announces departure from Rostrum Records
Ciara and Future announce pregnancy
Drake releases new Saturday Night Live promotion videos
Rick Ross’ Mastermind receives new release date
Native Tongues TV series to feature Q-Tip, Jonah Hill, and Leonardo DiCaprio
Method Man reveals artwork for new mixtape titled The Meth Lab

The Tunes:
The Cool Kids – “Computer School” / “Chop” (ft. HBK Gang)
Shakira – “Can’t Remember To Forget You” (ft. Rihanna)
Isaiah Rashad – “RIP Kevin Miller”
Childish Gambino – “The Worst Guys” (ft. Chance The Rapper) [Video]
August Alsina – “Make It Home” (ft. Jeezy)
Ty Dolla $ign – “Paranoid” (Remix) (ft. Trey Songz, French Montana, & DJ Mustard)
Trae The Truth – “Wid It” (ft. Problem & Freddie Gibbs)
Danny Brown – “Side B (Dope Song)” [Video]
Mister Cee’s Aaliyah Birthday Tribute Mix
Kenneth Whalum – “Away” (ft. Big K.R.I.T.)
Marsha Ambrosius – “Dear Tremaine”

The Charts:
Hot 100: Pitbull – “Timber” (ft. Ke$ha)
Radio: Eminem – “The Monster” (ft. Rihanna)
Digital: Katy Perry – “Dark Horse” (ft. Juicy J)*
200: “Frozen” Soundtrack
R&B: Beyoncé – Beyoncé
Rap: Kid Ink – My Own Lane*
Rock: Lorde – Pure Heroine
Independent: Garth Brooks – Blame It On My Roots
*Indicates New Entry

The Bonus Tracks:
Nas, and Hip Hop, at… Harvard?!

Album Review: Wiz Khalifa – “Taylor Allderdice”

“When you talk about longevity, you can’t base that on one year, or six months, or eight months, or anything like that… I was speaking to anybody who’s riding with me for the long run, and who’s looking for the next thing for me to do”.
Wiz Khalifa on his comments in “Strictly For My Taylors

A quick flashback to last year would be indicative of Wiz Khalifa’s meteoric rise to stardom. At this time in 2011, Wiz had just released his major label debut Rolling Papers to lackluster reviews after experiencing his first mainstream success behind the hit record “Black And Yellow”.
Fast forward and TGOD supporters around the world rejoice as the 24 year-old Pittsburgh native is back on the scene with his newest project Taylor Allderdice. Named after Wiz’s high school alma mater, the project shows a return to the form he had prior to his Atlantic Records venture. During that span, Wiz enlisted a shortlist of producers and engineers (Sledgren, Cardo, Big Jerm, Johnny Juliano, I.D. Labs) to create synth-heavy, bass-blaring, listener-engaging instrumentals which were crafted specifically to fit his signature deliveries and lyrical content, the latter of which is centered on his heavy usage of marijuana and his party lifestyle. Taylor Allderdice sees Wiz bringing back a sound which fans have come to expect from him, and that’s definitely not a bad thing.
The qualities and characteristics of Taylor Allderdice are largely comparable to some of Wiz’s more recent works. For instance, the more aggressive atmosphere which Wiz attempted to achieve with Cabin Fever has a presence on Taylor Allderdice. With songs like “Taylor Gang” and “Homicide” being huge fan favorites last year, it’s good to see Wiz incorporating this sound into this new project with records like “Guilty Conscience”, “T.A.P.”, and “The Code”. Simultaneously, fans of Kush & Orange Juice will appreciate the cohesive sound of Taylor Allderdice. Whether it’s the flow-heavy rapping and melodic choruses which spawn memorable records, or if it’s the familiar production styles and thematic interludes which provide a packaging for those records, Taylor Allderdice sees Wiz and the gang perfectly meshing these essential song qualities in order to craft a project which is wholly enjoyable and plays like a soundtrack fitting of a stoner lifestyle (no Mac and Devin).
Taylor Allderdice has several standout tracks for the listeners to enjoy. The inaugural record “Amber Ice” is likely to be the smoothest opening to any of Wiz’s projects to date, while “Mary 3x” is more than serviceable as the “weed song” this time around. The beauty of Taylor Allderdice is that the project gets better after it reaches its midpoint. “Rowland” (track 10) features fellow emcee Smoke DZA and captures a vibe which is faintly reminiscent of Wiz’s How Fly days with Curren$y. “My Favorite Song” sees the Academy Award-winning Taylor Gang member Juicy J make his first of three straight appearances on the project. The song is produced by Rob Halladay (of Yung Berg “Sexy Lady” fame) and is slightly infectious to say the least. Next up, the SpaceGhostPurrp-produced “T.A.P.” slows the pace and brings a more bass-heavy production for Wiz and Juicy J to takeoff to. Finally, a Lex Luger production finds its home on the project as “The Code” lets the Taylor Gang (Wiz, Chevy Woods, Juicy J, & Lola Monroe) engage in a new-school posse cut. While the momentum gained by these four records is somewhat lost after the project fails to go out with a bang, Wiz’s effort is still commendable.
In summary, Wiz Khalifa fans will appreciate and enjoy Taylor Allderdice for the foreseeable future and add it to their collection of Pittsburgh-penned marijuana music. Hopefully, this project is foreshadowing of good things to come for Wiz and the Gang.

Pros:
+Serves as a nice rebound from Rolling Papers
+Returns to the use of in-house producers/engineers, with efficient use of outside production
+Further demonstrates Wiz’s ability to craft cohesive projects
+ “Mary 3x”, “Rowland”, “T.A.P.”, “The Code”

Lows:
Closes out with lackluster, filler-quality songs
Shows a lack of growth in terms of subject matter; no expansion or evolution
“Brainstorm”, “Number 16”, “Blindfolds”

Listening Rating:
3.9/5, BA[S]ICs
STRONG

The Rap Up: January 20, 2012

This week in music:
If you visited sites such as Wikipedia or Google on Wednesday, you noticed the protests of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). The proposed act (which was scheduled to be voted upon next week) would essentially give the U.S. Attorney General the power to cut ad dollars and search engine indexing while censoring the internet tremendously in the process. Seeing as the internet is a huge part of the music industry today, it is imperative that we are all knowledgeable on the subject and fight to protect our first amendment right to freedom of speech. The protest was tremendously successful, as it seemingly swayed many House voters into opposition of the bill and postponed the voting process.
Legendary songstress Etta James passed away Friday morning at the age of 73. The sultry blues vocalist died of complications due to leukemia, which she was diagnosed with in 2010. Known most for her song “At Last”, she will be remembered along with the countless others who we have lost recently. Kings Of Leon drummer Nathan Followill commented, “RIP Etta James, one of the greatest voices of all time,” a sentiment we can all agree with. James was survived by her husband and two sons, who were at her bedside when she passed.
The Paid Dues Independent Hip Hop Festival announced its lineup of artists for 2012 on Thursday. Hosted by LA artist MURS, the seventh annual Paid Dues festival will take place on April 7th at the NOS Events Center in San Bernardino, CA. The show will be headlined by the legendary group Wu-Tang Clan, who will be joined by other teeming groups such as Odd Future, Living Legends, Hieroglyphics, and Dipset. Also among the fray are Kendrick Lamar and DJ Quik. This year’s show is stacked and should live up to the quality we have come to expect from the festival.

News:
Brandy and Monica announce the release date of their new duet “It All Belongs To Me”
The Mars Volta announces new album, Nocturniquet, to be released March 27th
Odd Future announces March 20th release date for debut album
Barack Obama shouts out Janelle Monae during speech; calls her “incredibly talented”
Kid Cudi and Dot Da Genius push back WZRD album to February 28th

Releases:
Santigold drops “Big Mouth”, lead single from her Master Of My Make Believer album
Estelle releases a video for “Thank You”, a single from her forthcoming All Of Me album
Dizzee Rascal reissues his 2003 Mercury Prize award-winning debut Boy In Da Corner
De La Soul returns without Maseo to release new music as duo First Serve
Compton emcee Schoolboy Q releases his debut album Habits & Contradictions
K’Naan enlists Nas‘ help for the lead single from his More Beautiful Than Silence EP
Big K.R.I.T. drops a collaboration with 8Ball & MJG; gives release date for 4evaNaDay
Theophilus London drops “Last Night (LVRS Anthem)”, single for Lovers Holiday II
North Carolina female emcee Rapsody releases “ABC” music video

Vignettes: Favorite Acts Of 2011

As we look back on the controversy-riddled year that was 2011, there is one thing we should all be able to agree on: it was a great year for music. Fans have been given an astounding amount of good music from the year’s outset, and that fact is sure to put a smile on the face of any listener. With that being said, we would like to give our two cents on our favorite acts of a year which has seen talented artists such as Frank Ocean, Childish Gambino, and Adele make huge waves in the industry. Here are The Listening Magazine’s favorite acts of the year.

As is to be expected, Kanye West has been a huge force in music in the past year. West released My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy to critical acclaim in late 2010. As is the case with most fourth quarter releases, Dark Twisted Fantasy’s true value was recognized in the year following its release. The levels of quality and replayability remain high for the album, and the sound influenced a large amount of subsequent projects. Also, West’s collaboration with hip hop mogul Jay-Z entitled Watch The Throne has made a tremendous impact on music this year. While the project is not a grand opus for either artist, Watch The Throne is an enjoyable, adventurous album which provides touches of socioeconomic commentary while simultaneously bringing the essential element of fun back to rapping. Hell, whenever you can perform a song nine times in a row at a sold outStaplesCenter and have fans going crazy each time, you’re doing something right.

Mississippiemcee Big K.R.I.T. has proven that 2010 was no fluke. Following his rise to fame last year (which included the release of a critically acclaimed free album and a contract with Def Jam), K.R.I.T. went on to do more great things in 2011. He began the year by being named one of the freshmen of the year by XXL Magazine, a title which is coveted heavily by up and coming rap artists. He went on to release Return Of 4Eva, another free album to follow up his 2010 effort K.R.I.T. Wuz Here. Return Of 4Eva was arguably met with more acclaim than Wuz Here, ending up on the year-end lists of several notable publications. If 2011 was any indication, K.R.I.T. will continue to make outstanding music for many years to come, shattering southern rap stereotypes in the process.

K.R.I.T.’s fellow XXL freshman class member Kendrick Lamar is the voice of Generation Y. The Compton, California emcee released one of the best albums of the year this summer in Section 80, a project which speaks heavily on many of the socioeconomic issues plaguing those of use growing up in the internet age. Beyond his astounding lyrical abilities, what makes Kendrick special is his message. Section 80 has a highly political context, and tells stories which resonate with listeners from all walks of life. This makes Kendrick’s music relatable to a very wide audience, which will hopefully allow his message to spread even further in years to come.

2011 is also the year we fell in love with J*DaVeY, a Los Angeles music duo consisting of vocalist Jack Davey and producer Brook D’Leau. While the tandem has not had a large amount of mainstream success, they have a highly supportive fan base which has grown substantially in 2011. After being unable to release a project in 2010, the duo released the Evil Christian Cop: The Great Mistapes EP in early 2011 to much critical acclaim. The EP showed a distinct growth in the genre-bending sound of the group, and sparked a summer tour which included bookings around the country and internationally. Tapping into the strength which is their dynamic live performances, the pair used this tour to promote their long-awaited debut studio album New Designer Drug. The oft-delayed album was finally released in November to largely favorable reviews. With the monkey finally off of their backs, it will be interesting to see what the future holds for J*DaVeY.

Another act which was a highlight of the summer is rock band Elevator Fight. The band is based inPhiladelphia and is led by vocalist Zoë Kravitz, daughter of Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet. The group consists of Kravitz and band mates Joe Baldacci (drums), Dominic Angelella (guitar), Khari Mateen (guitar), Nick Bockrath (guitar), and Rick Friedrich (keys). They have been together since 2009, releasing songs here and there and performing at several notable festivals such as The Roots Picnic and South By Southwest. The group’s sound is lo-fi and psychedelic, and while they have yet to release an actual project, the live shows serve as a tremendously energetic showcase for the music. From first hand experience, it is very captivating to see the small songstress tossing back beer as she leads the group in a raging performance. That moment grabs a hold of you effortlessly.

Detroitemcee Danny Brown is another up-and-coming artist who has made great strides in 2011. After signing to label Fool’s Gold, Brown dropped one of the best releases of the year with his free album XXX. In commemoration of turning 30 years old, the project showcases Brown’s free-flowing lyricism and eccentric delivery. Everything about his style is highly unique and original, which gives him huge potential for success in the industry. Brown is also associated with producers (the most notable being Black Milk, with whom he released an EP this year) that provide back drops which fit his style perfectly. Brown has traveled a rough path for numerous years, and it is satisfying to see his recent success in the music business.

Last, but certainly not least, The Weeknd has crash landed onto the scene and made a huge impact on the industry. Singer Abel Tesfaye released a trilogy of free albums (House Of Balloons, Thursday, and Echoes Of Silence) that have made his rise to stardom one of the fastest in recent memory. Tesfaye, along with producers Doc McKinney and Illangelo, has created a distinctly lush and atmospheric sound that is influencing the R&B genre before our eyes. The strong songwriting, atmospheric soundscapes, and detailed story arcs give The Weeknd the total package and provide an excellent experience for listeners. It seems as though Tesfaye is poised for tremendous success in the near future, with plans to re-release the “Balloon Trilogy” in a re-mastered retail form during the coming year.

We at The Listening Magazine have thoroughly enjoyed the music brought to us during the year 2011, and are extremely excited for what 2012 has to offer. We will surely be listening…