From R&B Rapper to the 6 God

Drake is not considered the most hardcore rapper in the game, but multiple beefs, the weight of fame, and his Toronto roots has sparked a notable evolution in his style as his reign continues.

Initially making his breakthrough with his 2009 mixtape So Far Gone, Drake turned the heads of hip hop fans with his R&B-influenced sound and sentimental lyrical content atypical of the materialistic or violent themes common in rap music up to that point. He vowed to ignore diss tracks towards him and said in an interview with Rap Radar that making full blown R&B music for girls is “wavy,” disregarding any criticism of his music as being too emotional. Nevertheless, there’s been a notable shift in his persona into a cockier and aggressive attitude as he controls his status as the alpha male in hip hop today, dealing with beefs against rappers such as Pusha T, and bringing his hometown of Toronto into pop culture prominence.

The Transition

An early indicator of this transition would be the track “The Resistance” from his 2010 debut album Thank Me Later. He raps, “Maybe it was the fast pace switch up, or the two guns in my face during the stick up/ Maybe cause a girl I thought I trusted, was who set the whole sh*t up,” referencing a 2009 robbery in Toronto in which he was a victim of. This incident, which occurred during his rise to fame as an artist, is a harsh reminder of his vulnerability as a public figure and target in a city known as “the Screwface Capital” for its hostilities between artists.

Another early sign of this change would be on the Rick Ross collaboration “Stay Schemin”, in which he raps “It bothers me when the gods get to actin like like broads, guess every team doesn’t come complete with n*ggas like ours/ That’s why I see no need to compete with n*ggas like y’all, I just ask that when you see me you speak up, n*gga, that’s all.” The significance of this song is the fact that this is Drake’s first overt response to a diss, that being “Sweet” by rap legend Common. Drake’s blunt claim of softness from his rival exudes a disgust similar to that a kingpin would make towards his rivals in a war.

A significant track which almost single-handedly marks the full change is his 2013 track “ 6 AM In Toronto”, in which he raps “The part I love the most is they need me more than they hate me, so they never take shots I got everybody on safety/ I could load every gun with bullets that fire backwards, probably wouldn’t lose a single rapper/ n*ggas make threats can’t hear em over over the laughter, yeah that’s cause I’m headed to the bank, n*gga.” At this point, Drizzy is the king of the rap game with two #1 albums in Thank Me Later and 2011’s Take Care, so he relishes the opportunity to flex on his opposition. He also raps “Cause I show love never get the same outta n*ggas, guess it’s funny how money can make change outta n*ggas/ For real some nobody start feelin himself, a couple nobodies started killin themself/ A couple albums dropped those are still on the shelf, I bet them sh*ts would have popped if I was willing to help.” That nobody he’s referring to is alleged to be R&B singer The Weeknd, who collaborated with him on Take Care and declined a deal with his label OVO Sound. In an interview with Complex, Abel denies any beef, explaining, “The thing about Drake is I told him what my decisions were going to be. And he was down with it from the beginning.”

The 6 God

With the release of his project If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late in 2015, Drake adapted his sound to fit his throne. With dark and trap-influenced production by long-time producer Boi-1da and lyrics about having enemies and dying as a legend, it seems as if he’s not afraid to keep his foot on the rap games’ neck. On Know Yourself, he raps “Reps Up is in here/ Got P Reign and Chubby and TJ and Winnie and whoa.” At this point, Drake starts to openly rep his Toronto roots, including the norm of having a crew around like other rappers. In particular, he shouts out his longtime friend P. Reign and his group Reps Up. Reign has acknowledged the group’s upbringing in the ghettos of the city and past hardships such as drug dealing and gun possession.

In subsequent projects, Drake has continued to flex his affiliation with street-based figures, especially in times when he’s faced with serious hostility from other rappers. In Mob Ties off Scorpion, he raps “I f*ck with the mob and I got ties/ Knock you off to pay their tithes”, a reference to his associate and famed Houston rap mogul J. Prince whose story sounds like a mafia story within hip hop and interfered in the feud with Pusha T and Kanye West in 2018.

Another notable reference is in War on Dark Lane Demo Tapes with the line “Feds wanna tap up man and wire up man like Chubbs did Detail.” This is a nod to his bodyguard and Reps Up affiliate Chubbs, who got into an altercation and legal battle with producer Detail in 2014. 

It is quite clear that we’ve come quite far from listening to Drake rapping about his favorite look on girls to keeping a pistol by his side for the opposition. We may still feel familiar with his sentimental side, but he reminds us he’s not someone to mess with.

Written By: Kristian Gonzales

Photo Source: Vibe




SZA’s Latest Song: Why It ‘Hit Different’

After three long years, the SZA single hiatus is finally over.

Despite dealing with label delays and vocal injuries, the platinum-selling R&B singer returns with her first release as a lead artist since 2017. Since dropping her critically-acclaimed debut album Ctrl, SZA has only appeared on 10 tracks– all as a featured artist. Fans have been patiently waiting for solo music and the time has finally come. “Hit Different” delivers a mellow, contemporary R&B sound coupled with SZA’s angelic cadence and Ty Dolla $ign’s melodic vocals.

The track features a chorus sung by Ty Dolla $ign, paired with the nostalgic production of The Neptunes. Pharrell Williams’ signature 4-count start can be heard at the beginning, while SZA and Ty Dolla $ign collaborate effortlessly throughout the rest of the record. The song is elegantly smooth and laid back, branching off of that similar sound that made Ctrl so unique. The singer begins with “I was into you from the beginning even if you wasn’t mine / Scared to admit my shortcomings led to overdraft in this affair, declining.” She continues on about her entanglement: “Can’t trust decision when you near me / Get myself caught in your crossfire.”

Photo Source: Vulture

SZA excels at conveying vulnerability through her music, with “Hit Different” being no different. Her verses are deep-cutting and raw, making you feel like she’s confiding in you. Her performance on this slow jam is nicely complimented by Ty Dolla $ign’s harmonies, making this the perfect comeback single to keep us fans at bay until her next release (at least for now). You can listen to the song and watch the official video here.

Written By: Nathalie Lum

Photo Sources: Entertainment Tonight Canada and Vulture

New Electronic Music Discoveries

Check out these tunes if you like electronic dance music.

In this blog, I’m going to highlight electronic music that has recently been released, as well as those that are soon to be. Mark your calendars and open your music libraries because you will definitely find some good music in here!

Upside down (feat. Grouplove) – Whethan, Grouplove

I love Whethan and I love his new song! It’s definitely a happy beat to listen to.

Get By – Medasin, Cautious Clay

This was the first single released from Medasin’s upcoming album. I really love the vibe of this song, and how Medasin and Cautious Clay combined their sounds into it.

“Es Isso” – Habstrakt, Asdek

If you like bass house, you’ll love Habstrakt’s new song! It definitely gets you hype.

Free Your Mind – Big Gigantic

I really love Big Gigantic’s new album! It is so pretty and highlights Big Gigantic completely. Definitely give it a listen!

“Every Color” (with Foster the People) – Louis the Child, Foster the People

I really liked this song. I like the collaboration between these two artists, because they fit together! Foster the People and future bass are an awesome combo.

“Never The Same” – STRFKR

This song is definitely a chill vibe. One of my new favorites.

“Ghosts” (feat. Hana) – Tchami, HANA and “Proud” (feat. Daecolm) – Tchami, Daecolm

Tchami is one of my all-time favorite house music artists. Both of these songs are so good and I’ve listened to them nonstop! Check these out if you love house music vibes.

RIPPLS – Medasin (album released March 6)

Medasin comes out with his new album RIPPLS on March 6! I read other people’s tweets reacting over his listening premiere and they have only good things to say about it. I am excited to see his creativity and soul projected in this album.

“The Difference” – Flume, Toro y Moi (song released March 11)

For those of you that don’t know, Flume is my absolute favorite electronic music artist. I am so excited to see what he has to show us with this new song — I heard it was drum and bass!

I hope some of these songs have expanded your music library! Check out these artists for some awesome new music.

Written by: Alexandra Gex

Welcome to Dreamland: COIN’s Third Album

Last month, Nashville-based indie pop band COIN finally released their long-awaited third album, Dreamland.

I spent my high school years driving around listening to COIN’s first two albums and I think it would be safe to say they are a big part of the soundtrack of my life. COIN is one of those bands I could listen to forever and not get tired of; I was ecstatic when they dropped Dreamland and this album does not disappoint.

Opening with “Into My Arms”, Dreamland immediately makes itself known as a good classic indie-pop record, joining previous self-titled COIN and How Will You Know If You Never Try. Less ‘windows down summer indie’, the next tracks “I Want It All” and “Simple Romance” both give off a slightly different feeling than the rest of the album; with both being co-written/produced by Mark Foster of Foster The People, it makes sense.

“Crash My Car” is probably the most musically powerful song on the album, being born out of wanting a song louder than “Talk Too Much” (their most popular song). The story behind “Crash My Car” is a perfect example of the band’s impact, and also why I was so eager for this third album.

“The day after we played Music Midtown in Atlanta [in 2017], we played for like 15,000 people and we heard thousands scream “Talk Too Much.” I knew, the next day, we had to write a song louder than “Talk Too Much.” I was so inspired. We went to the studio, literally the next morning, and “Crash My Car” came out in probably three hours. But we didn’t have a story. There was a chorus, there was some lyrics… it didn’t really say much. Then in October [2017], a girl came to a show in Oxford, Mississippi. After the show, she stuck around to tell me that she got in a very bad car accident on the way to the show in Little Rock, Arkansas. Her car was literally totaled — completely totaled. She showed up, still. She drove her totaled car and made it to Oxford, Mississippi in the same day. I was like ‘Why would you do that, that’s so dangerous!’ and she [said] ‘I want to be here. More than I care about my car, more than I care about my possessions.’ It all clicked. That’s what this song means. It’s not about what you have, it’s who you’re with. “

COIN interviewed by Monica Sucic for WTBU

“Dreamland Sequence” is the first of two quasi-interludes on the album. Its dreamy sound definitely adds to the Dreamland experience, and provides a moment to just sit and think before going into “Cemetery.” In this track, COIN tells a story with the message that being “the richest man in the cemetery” is nothing compared to leading a life filled with love for those around you.

One of my favorite parts of Dreamland is the transition between some of the songs in the album. Lead singer Chase Lawrence likes the transitions between the last few songs, but I actually like the subtle transition between “Youuu” to “Valentine”. The fade-out/in musically connects the two songs, making room for a possible lyrical connection to be made. “You ever love something so much it hurts?” from the latter can enhance the entirety of “Youuu”, a proclamation that “it’s always been you” no matter who the narrator may love now. Still loving the past someone so much it hurts. “Youuu” is probably my favorite song on Dreamland, anyway. I’ve been waiting for this song since they added it to their live setlist a while back and the official released song is even better than I expected.

Next song “Nobody’s Baby” is also one of my favorites. This song encompasses my memories and feeling of driving around years ago better than any other. This is one that reminds me of how much I love COIN and why I still listen to them after years. “Never Change” also sounds a bit like past COIN to me for some reason. Both are highlights from Dreamland.

“Lately III” continues the tradition of “Lately” and “Lately II” from the past albums. Each “Lately” fits its respective album well, with this third installment sounding more dreamy, akin to “Dreamland Sequence”. “Lately III” also features the topic of sleeping in cars that has been crowned Dreamland’s most mentioned topic. The “Lately”s generally make my top songs and “III” is no exception. “Lately III” also begins the beautiful transitions of the last few songs.

“Babe Ruth” features one of my favorite lines from the album: “Oh baby, whatcha gonna do when the universe puts your hand in mine?”. Following “Babe Ruth” is the other dreamy interlude “Heaven Hearted”, which goes into closer “Let It All Out (10:05)”.

In contrast to the loud way power is harnessed in “Crash My Car”, “Let It All Out (10:05)” has the most power emotionally. If you’ve been a fan of COIN for some time, seeing that “10:05” in the title is already enough to know this song is going to be special.

“when you see 1005, it means everything will be ok”.

“1005” came to be a sign that you are right here in this moment, and it will be okay; paired with “let it all out” meaning that once you let go of something, you can realize that “none of this is permanent anyway.” “Let It All Out (10:05)” is a perfect ending for Dreamland, as it holds the best representation of who COIN is in a song.

Dreamland is yet another great album by COIN, and solidifies their spot as one of my favorite bands of all time. I’ve had this album on repeat since it came out and probably will for years to come.

Listen to Dreamland here.

Written by: Emerson Redding