Peep This Joint: Royce Da 5’9” – The Allegory Album Review

After reflecting on his life in the highly introspective, soul-baring album, The Book of Ryan, in 2018, rap veteran Royce Da 5’9’’ focuses his newest effort, The Allegory, on looking outwards and providing philosophical commentary on society at large. 

In an interview with legendary Los Angeles radio host, Big Boy, Royce explained the origins of the album title, revealing it as a direct reference to Plato’s Allegory of the Cave.

“The album speaks a lot about perspective, I’m intrigued by perspective these days,” Royce said. “It’s amazing to me that two people could be looking at the same thing and seeing two totally different things, and each thing being their respective truth.”

With this project marking his eighth studio album, the Detroit emcee enlists a myriad of rappers to help push the album’s focus on perspective. The Allegory runs for a little over an hour with 22 tracks total of dense lyricism and philosophical messages meant to question the listener’s current perspective on reality.

In the rap game, Royce is best known as a top-tier lyricist and storyteller. But in this project, he switches things up by producing every track on the album. Considering that he has only recently started producing beats with his first credit on Eminem’s newest album, this is an ambitious feat that deserves its own applause.

The album opens up with the song, “Mr. Grace (Intro)” where a sample of a a father teaching his daughter financial literacy is played. Lines such as “If I gave you a million dollars right now, would you buy candy or a candy store? A candy store,” and “If I gave you something for 500, and you flip it to the next man for 2000, what is that called? Upselling” indicate Royce’s invitation to listeners to question their perspective on America’s lack of financial curriculum for its children.

He confirms this later on in his verse the repercussions of this lack of literacy rapping, “But this is America, where credit is for the privileged and profit is not my amenity.” In this line it’s clear to see that Royce is targeting the oppressors, namely rich white businessman who maintain the racist status quo of oppressing minorities.

A standout track of the album is the song, “Upside Down feat. Ashley Sorrell & Benny The Butcher.” As the fourth single of the album, Royce and rising New York rapper Benny The Butcher lay down a lyrically he avy tirade against the aforementioned oppressors. With Royce rapping, “White kids graduate to relationships with a ton of perks / Black kids, just aggravated and had to take a ton of Percs,” it’s clear to see the frustration he holds over the lack of equity in today’s status quo. Benny The Butcher voices similar frustrations rapping, “Young heathens clap tools over VVS jewels / White kids pull heaters at school, wanna CBS News.”

For a rapper with one of the most sharpest pens in the game, the production throughout the album never seems too boring or stale, despite the heavy reliance of sampling and boom-bap drums. The eclectic use of a wide range of samples such as Kool & the Gang’s funky hit, “Sunny Madness” in the song, “Dope Man” or the soulful crooning of The Linton’s “Lost Love” in “Overcomer” shows the hard work Royce put in before showcasing his work to the world. It ultimately pays off with an impressive production quality not typically found in rappers who decide to dip their toes into beat-making, especially one capable of such high caliber lyricism.

Overall, The Allegory proves that Royce’s pen is still sharp as ever and showcases his new production skills in this self-produced album. If you’re itching to hear some hard hitting bars that’ll have you reflecting on your own perspective, I suggest that you peep this joint out!

Rating: 8/10

Written by: Johann Oribello

New Music Friday with Mike – March 6

New Releases this “New Music Friday” come from Lauv, Katy Perry, Megan thee Stallion, Demi Lovato, and more.

It’s Friday, everybody, we did it. The weekend is finally here. I hope you all had a great work or school week. We had a lot of new music drop today. Because of that, this is going to be a special supersized edition of New Music Friday, so let’s get started.

Lauv – “~how i’m feeling~” (Album)

The long-awaited album from Lauv “~how i’m feeling~ is finally here, and I could not be more excited. The singer tweeted, “MY DEBUT ALBUM IS OUT NOW.” The album is about embracing every aspect of your personality. We are not defined by just one thing, that would make us dull. Every day we do not feel the same. Some days happy, sad, angry, more joyful than the previous day, etc. This album discusses tough issues that we all face head-on. 

Screenshot of Tweet from Lauv announcing his new album is out.

Celebrating the album, Lauv will be going on tour. Unfortunately, he will not be stopping in San Diego, however, if you’re feeling adventurous and love his music and or this album. The nearest show would be in Los Angeles at The Greek Theatre. The first night on August 20 is already sold out, but a second night, on August 30, was added, and tickets can be purchased here and stream ~how i’m feeling~ on all streaming platforms.

Katy Perry – “Never Worn White”

Screenshot Tweet of @katyperry announcing the pregnancy.

Before I get into Katy Perry’s new song. We all need to take a moment and congratulate both her and fiancé Orlando Bloom, who will be becoming parents later this year. That’s right, Katy Perry is pregnant! The singer released her new music video for the song “Never Worn White.” At the beginning of the video, you see Katy placing her hand over what appears to be a baby bump. Fans flocked to social media to find out what this all meant and get confirmation. Katy tweeted on Wednesday, March 4, “omg so glad I don’t have to suck it in anymore.” And then, First thing on Thursday (March 5), the singer jumped on Instagram Live and confirmed that her baby bump is “only getting bigger.”

Screenshot of YouTube Music Video for Katy Perry’s “Never Worn White”

She continued and shared that “We’re excited and happy. It’s probably the longest secret I’ve ever had to keep, but I knew I would tell you in the best way. Which is through a piece of music, because that’s how we speak.” I agree with Katy, music is always the best way to get an announcement out in a fun way. Finally, the singer stated, “There’s a lot that will be happening this summer. Not only will I be giving birth, literally, but also figuratively…to something you guys have been waiting for.” This right here, yes, we are getting an album. The fifth album from the pop singer is coming soon and by the sounds of it, this summer. Katy informed fans that “Never Worn White” is “not the lead single for the album but is a good way to start out.” Looks like Katy is in for one busy summer and we are so happy for her and Orlando. Check out the music video for “Never Worn White” above and stream on all music services.

Megan Thee Stallion – “Suga” (album)

Megan Thee Stallion has officially dropped her debut album, Suga, and this is excellent news. For those of you who don’t know. Last week, the rapper’s label, 1501 Certified Entertainment, was preventing her from releasing any new music after she went to renegotiate her contract. Megan took to Instagram live to explain to fans what’s going on and her frustration. During the IG Live stream, she stated, “I was like 20, and I didn’t know everything that was in that contract. She continued to share, “So when I got with Rock Nation, I got management real management and real lawyers. They were like, ‘Do you know that this is in your contract?’ and I was like, ‘Oh damn, that’s crazy. No, I didn’t know.”

A judge in Texas granted Megan a temporary restraining order on Monday, March 2, 2020, against 1501 entertainment. Due to this temporary restraining order, this allowed Megan to release her album “Suga” today for all of us to enjoy. Former Major League Baseball player and 1501 Certified Entertainment leader Carl Crawford told Billboard the lawsuit is a “whole lie.” “Nothing is true that she said. Me being greedy and taking money from her, that’s crazy. I never tried to take nothing from her,” He went on to say, “The only thing we ever did was give, give, give. Now, she fell for the oldest trick in the industry: the conquer and divide theme.”

Tweet from @theestallion announcing SUGA album.

Megan is clearly moving on and focusing on the album release today and celebrating the new music with fans. She tweeted last night before the release, “I’m super excited for y’all to hear #SUGA” Same Megan, same. The album has some straight bops on there, so be sure to check out Suga on all streaming providers.

Demi Lovato – “I Love Me”

It’s been three years since Demi Lovato album release of “Tell Me You Love Me,” and the singer is back with new music. I could not be happier because “I Love Me” is what everyone needs to hear right now. The upbeat track is about Demi’s mission towards self-love and self-acceptance. A lyric from the song says, “I’m a black belt when I’m beating up on myself, but I’m an expert at giving love to somebody else.” I feel seen. In the music video, which also dropped along with the song. We see Demi use her Mixed Martial Arts skills to fight herself in the music video. Why is she fighting herself? Well, you’ll have to check out the video for yourself. I can’t give you everything. One thing I will say is that Demi is moving on with her life and states that in the song with the lyric, “I’m a 10 outta 10, even when I forget it.”

Screenshot of Demi Lovato “I Love Me” music video on YouTube.

“I Love Me” is just a taste of what is to come for her seventh studio album, which is scheduled to drop later this year. Lovato told host Ellen DeGeneres that “There are songs that are ugly-honest and heavy and will make you cry and will take you there. But I’m so excited.” Demi also took to Instagram and shared a photo of getting her makeup done with the caption “#ILoveMe is OUT NOW!! I can’t put into words just yet what this past year for me has been…but this song focuses on a lot of what’s going on in my head. We have good days, and we have bad days. The best we can do is be the best version of ourselves and celebrate that with those closest to us, Wanted to also give a special shout out to all of my Lovatics for always being there for me. 2020 is OUT year!” I can’t wait for the new album. In the meantime, check out the video for “I Love Me” above and stream on Spotify, Apple Music, or YouTube.

More New Music from March 6

SUGAR Remix (feat. Dua Lipa, Ryan Beatty & Jon B) – BROCKHAMPTON

I’m Sorry – LIL UZI VERT

Young & Alive – Bazzi

Gaslighter – Dixie Chicks

The Book Of You & I – Alec Benjamin

The Steps – HAIM

Past life – Trevor Daniel

That’s your New Music Friday update for this week. What new music do you have on repeat this weekend? Let me know by hitting me up on social media, @mikestarkca on Twitter and Instagram.

Written By: Mike Stark

New Music Friday with Mike – February 28

New Releases this “New Music Friday” comes from Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, Jhene Aiko, and more.

Happy Friday, everybody! We’ve not only made it through another week but the end of the month. This is the last Friday in February! We had some excellent music released today and honestly the perfect way to close out February, so let’s dive in.

“The Other Side” (feat. SZA) – Justin Timberlake

Screenshot of tweet from @jtimberlake on twitter announcing new song “The Other Side”

On Wednesday, February 26, Justin Timberlake dropped not only a new song but a new music video for “The Other Side” which is the first single to be featured on the upcoming “Trolls World Tour” movie. Justin tweeted on February 26 “TURN THIS UP @sza” which was a small clip of the music video. The music video is giving me so many throwback vibes and I’m here for it. It pays tribute to Michael and Janet Jackson’s “Scream, Missy Elliot’s “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)) and TLC’s “No Scrubs” Check out the music video for “The Other Side” below, stream “The Other Side” on all streaming platforms, and check out “Trolls World Tour” in theatres on April 17, 2020.

Screenshot of YouTube Music Video for “The Other Side” feat SZA by Justin Timberlake

“Stupid Love” – Lady GaGa

Screenshot of Tweet from @ladygaga announcing the release of
“Stupid Love” song & music video

She’s back everyone and couldn’t be more excited. The singer tweeted “Stupid Love” new single & Music Video Out Now #StupidLove #ShotOniPhone”. The video shot entirely on an iPhone 11 Pro, similar to what Selena Gomez did her for her song “Lose You to Love Me” and “Look at her Now”.

GaGa’s music video is a futuristic type battle taking place in the desert with some power choreography. The music video opens with a message that reads “The world rots in conflict. May tribes battle for dominance. While the spiritual ones pray and sleep for peace, the Kindness punks fight for chromatica.”

My favorite lyric from “Stupid Love” is “Gotta quit this crying/Nobody’s gonna heal me if I don’t open the door.” No word yet on a new album, but could the new album be titled “Chromatica”? We’ll have to wait and see. Check out the music video for “Stupid Love” below and stream it on all streaming services.

Screenshot of Lady Gaga Music Video for “Stupid Love” from YouTube.

“Happiness Over Everything” (feat. Miguel & Future) – Jhené Aiko

Screenshot of Jhené Aiko “Happiness Over Everything (H.O.E) Music Video

Jhené Aiko came in full force this new music Friday. Jhené announced a new song, new album, and tour. The new song “Happiness Over Everything (H.O.E.)” features Miguel and Future and is about meeting someone, clicking with them, and letting your guard down to inform them of your intentions. The new album, “Chilombo,” will have features from Swae Lee, Nas, Big Sean, and more.

The tour titled “The Magic Hour Tour” with Queen Naija & Ann Marie will kick off in Boston on May 1 and wrap up on June 27 at the Saint Kitts festival. Unfortunately, Jhené will not be making a stop in San Diego. The nearest show would be in Los Angeles at The Greek Theatre, June 1.

Ticket sales for the L.A. show begin Friday, March 6 at 10 AM here. Check out the video for “Happiness Over Everything H.O.E.” above, stream the song on all streaming services, and check out the full tour date list below.

Screenshot of Tour Schedule from Jhené Aiko Instagram @jheneaiko

More New Music from February 28

Live Off My Closet” (feat. Future) – Lil Baby

not ur friend” – Jeremy Zucker

Rojo” – J. Balvin

God Whispered Your Name” – Keith Urban

Where Am I At” – MAX

Locket” – Lila Drew

Baby Girl” – Bryce Vine

That’s your New Music Friday update for the week. What music new music do you have on repeat Weekend? Let me know by checking in on social media, @mikestarkca on Twitter and Instagram.

Written by: Mike Stark

Peep This Joint: Dave East – Survival Album Review

The buzz around Harlem rapper Dave East is larger than ever with the release of his debut album, Survival executively produced by the legend Nas himself. 

The album recently dropped on November 8th and features a star-studded cast of guest appearances such as Nas, Rick Ross, Teyana Taylor and Ty Dolla Sign. With a total of 20 songs that run for a little over an hour, it’s clear to see that East came prepared to tell his story to the masses.

He holds respect in the rap game as he has released numerous mixtapes and is adept at collaborating with both veteran guests such as Nas and Cam’ron as well as younger emcees like Gunna and A-Boogie. Over time he refined his signature gritty New York sound and it reflects with how polished Survival sounds. Since the release of his first mixtape in 2010, his debut album clearly portrays a seasoned rapper comfortable in his element as he gives listeners a glimpse into different parts of his life. 

A standout track from the album is the song, “On My Way 2 School” where he invites listeners to be in his shoes as he retells harsh experiences walking to school. East vividly paints how violent and dangerous the journey was just to go to school in a rough neighborhood: 

“On my way to school (On my way) / 

Nike’s and Adidas on my way to school (Either or) / 

You ever seen a homicide on your way to school? (Boom!) / 

You never seen your homie Mama cry on your way to school (Never).” 

Another standout song is “Mama I Made It” which is a love letter to the woman who raised him. The track exudes a classic ‘90s feel as East boasts his admiration for his mother. Reminiscing on the past when his mom slapped him when he “used to try to cuss” to brighter days today where “she aint never gotta worry ’bout no rent,” it’s clear to see the love. Having a song dedicated to your mother on an album is always a respectable and welcomed move and Dave East clearly outdid himself on this one.

The Harlem rapper revealed in an interview with legendary west coast radio host Big Boy that he listened to all of his favorite rappers’ first albums to prepare his mindset for his own.

“I went and played 50’s Get Rich or Die Tryin’. Snoop’s Doggystyle, Nas and Illmatic,” East said. “I played everybody’s first album just to see what their energy was at. Like ‘What time was you on when you knew this was your debut to the world?’.”

Overall the decision proved to be a wise move as his debut album is a shining example of his lyrical gift and vivid storytelling. This album is definitely one of the most solid albums released so far this year and is a must-listen. 

Go peep this joint right now!

Rating: 9/10

Written by: Johann Oribello