State In The Real – Penn State Music Scene

Category - Mainstream Music

Album Review: A Great Big World When the Morning Comes

A Great Big World, the dynamic duo from New York, are back with a newer sound and some more upbeat music that more people can relate to. With When the Morning Comes A Great Big World seem to have found a stride that they were so close to hitting on their breakout album from two years ago. “Say Something” is a song that most people nowadays have probably heard, and its a great ballad. The song is what the group needed to show the talent that they have. The two singers are incredibly talented and their musicianship should never be doubted, but their first album seemed to lack some luster to make them stand out from the crowd. With their sophomore album they turned their sound to something more fun and exciting and one of the best songs on the album is something that is completely out of left field for the group.

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With When the Morning Comes A Great Big World seemed to have found the perfect combination of sad and happy for their songs. The best example of how their sound is developing is on the track “Hold Each Other” this upbeat song is A Great Big World at their best, but it also juxtaposes rap with the alternative music group in a way that seems so natural and fitting, where I have never heard of FUTURISTIC I have to say I am a fan of his sound. But I would love to see A Great Big World go further with this combination, working with some more alternative rappers like Lupe Fiasco or J. Cole could put together a sound that would be the next trend in music. I feel like they are on the verge of becoming a household name for most people, and not just because of one song, but because of their talent as a whole. The album is a fun record and just one that isn’t trying to take itself too seriously, it is an album that is a good solid pop album and one that most people can find at least one song that they enjoy.

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A Great Big World seem to have finally found the perfect place for them in music, but there are a few stumbles along the way, but I feel that A Great Big World are incredibly close to making it huge that they are still growing as a band and still trying to find their voice in the music world. Their ability to seamlessly combine rap and alternative music is something that I find very exciting about the band, but I would like them to team up with some more veteran rappers to more finely tune their sound.

Album Review: A Tribe Called Quest 25th Anniversary

 

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First off, let me make a few things clear, we here at State in the Real do not usually make a habit on covering reissues, but this one seemed to be a little too important to let go. 25 years ago, the sound of hip hop and rap changed. Three men from New York decided to change how people thought about hip hop and rap, this group, A Tribe Called Quest, consisting of Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Jarobi, and Ali Muhammad, these men were apart of the rap collective known as the Native Tongues. Where most rap was still in its infancy, A Tribe Called Quest, along with other Native Tongues members, push the boundaries of what it meant to be a rapper, it was no longer a lifestyle filled with violence and anger, like N.W.A. were providing. A Tribe Called Quest were rapping about social issues and more light hearted issues. Their sphere of influence basically knows no bounds. Pharrell, Questlove, J Cole, Kanye West all cite A Tribe Called Quest as their influence. Hell Questlove even got his name from the band. In their album People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm (moving forward we will call it PITPR). Their first studio album, and from the get go, one can see why they are such a special band. In 2013, the Tribe performed what Q-Tip referred to as their last show, but you can’t keep a Tribe down. Recently reuniting on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, the rap group reaffirmed why they are still needed in the rap world. In a time when trap music, hooks and rapper feuds are what is fueling the rap industry, we need songs that ask the simple questions like “Can I kick it?” or “Do I eat eggs?” to the latter the answer is “I don’t eat no ham n’ eggs, cuz they’re high in cholesterol” A Tribe Called Quest just reminds me of summer, and this album, among their best, is one of the most upbeat and happy albums. In the best way possible it embodies everything that is great about New York, think of it like the happy parts of a Spike Lee movie, you see the bright colors, and feel the warmth of the summer heat.dotherightthing_boogie


Now to get to the meat of this album, what does it sound like? At this point, if you have not heard it or have any interest in getting into a Tribe Called Quest, than I just do not think that Hip Hop is the genre for you. This is honestly one of the greatest hip hop album of all time, and the 25 years have done it very well. It does not seem dated, when I hear about  classic albums getting reissued I usually roll my eyes (Yes Bob Dylan and Led Zeppelin I’m looking at you) most reissues are just slightly cleaned up audio versions of classic albums with slightly more modern album covers. I do not usually fall for this trap in music, but for this what really caught my eye is the three remixes capping the album. These remixes come from the hands of Pharrell Williams and J. Cole. There is also a remix of “Footprints” featuring a new verse from Cee Lo Green, and this is Cee Lo at his best, like good old Gnarls Barkley Cee Lo. As for the Pharrell remix, it is sexy, like really makes you feel Q-Tips love for his “Bonita Applebum” Pharrell brings this love rap to the next level, like a Marvin Gaye level, and brings the seduction to the house. As for J. Cole’s remix of “Can I Kick It?” I would say that it is the weakest of all three remixes, but that is mostly because the other two are just so strong. Also it is worth noting that this is a remix and does not include verses from Cole. These remixes do make it worth the re-listen. The album is a classic, and the 25th anniversary shows why PITPR deserves the credit that it gets. It is a cleaner sound than 25 years ago, and the remixes are definitely worth checking out.

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A Tribe Called Quest comes back 25 years after their studio debut and remind us all they are the ones that had a hand in changing the sound of rap music. From Q-Tip to Phife Dawg to Jarobi to Mr. Muhammad, A Tribe Called Quest brings the fun back to rap, in a time when rap is becoming inundated with club bangers. This is music to walk around the block with your boom box. The remixes from some of the biggest names in hip hop make this reissue worth checking out. And as an added bonus here is the group reuniting to perform “Can I Kick It?”

Dive Into This Shark Week Playlist

But seriously. What are you doing? If you have yet to catch an episode of Shark Week on Discovery Channel, at least celebrate with a shark week inspired playlist. The new playlist, released by Columbia Records, includes a variety of songs like Pharrell’s new track “Freedom” and Calvin Harris & Big Sean’s hit “Open Wide.” The playlist is sure to have you jammin’ out on the beach like Katy Perry’s Left Shark, so take a listen for yourself.

Jam on left shark. Jam on.

Los 5 Has The Perfect Summer Jam

Los 5 has made it to the top without even being signed. This is a credit to their infectious sound. The Latino pop group, all born in Mexico/Argentina, began making their mark in the U.S. after releasing their single “Manaña.” If you haven’t caught Los 5’s music bumpin’ on SiriusXM yet, you have probably heard them playing live shows and opening up for large artists like Fifth Harmony. Their ear catching music and good looks are even gaining them serious fan girl attention, which is well deserved. “Manaña” is easily the top-pick jam that will be hitting all the summer playlists faster than you can say “Me encanta!

In a sure fire summer song, check out their latest single, “Manaña” from the Latin pop group. Also we put together a small summertime playlist to get you in the mood for lounging out by the pool sipping on refreshing beverages.

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Los 5 members

 

 

Album Review: At.Long.Last.A$AP

 

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At.Long.Last.A$AP is A$AP Rocky’s first album as an established rapper. In the obvious sense of that statement, the album is Rocky’s second major label LP, and first after a breakout 2013 that featuring a hugely successful album and a monster single. In another sense, this album serves as Rocky’s chance to prove that he’s not like other rappers classified under trap rap, a genre that’s hit or miss at best.

A$AP Rocky knows this, and addresses it through the first track of the album. On “Holy Ghost”, A$AP spits “Satan’s givin’ out deals, finna own these rappers, the game is full of slaves and they mostly rappers”, setting himself apart from the obvious materialism that’s associated with mainstream rap today. “Holy Ghost”, along with the next three tracks on the album, open the listener up to A$AP’s hazy, acid-soaked world; his rise to and subsequent embracement of newfound fame. “L$D”, an honest love song to a drug that heavily influenced the album, also acts as Rocky admitting his love for his new life without obnoxiously boastful lyrics.

Throughout the album, Rocky balances out this new life by addressing his past, an angle that’s becoming more and more common in hip-hop (most notably through Kendrick Lamar). The one-two-punch of “Max B” and “Pharsyde” slows the album down to a thoughtful pause as the listener wades through intense lyrics and live instrumentation. The latter, one of four tracks produced by hip-hop and rock genius Danger Mouse, features some of the album’s most intense imagery. Rocky raps “back in my younger days or razor blades with gangs who bang and never stood a chance” over an eerie beat like an aged war veteran, but as he states, “If you seen the s**t that I’d have seen in 26 years of livin’, that’s how many f**ks I’ve given”.

A.L.L.A does offer a few less-introspective and club-focused tracks. “Electric Body”, which features an intense Schoolboy Q verse, and “M’$” contrast the albums slower moments with faster and louder ones. But At.Long.Last.A$AP isn’t complete without a few missteps. A rare subpar Kanye verse on the Ye-produced “Jukebox Joints” ends a song with beautiful production and great A$AP verses on a less-exciting note. Weak tracks include “Everyday” and “Excuse Me”, which interrupt a couple of great track-runs.

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And of course, it’s hard to think about A$AP Rocky without taking a moment to consider the recent death of A$AP Mob founder, A$AP Yams. The final track of the album, “Back Home” features a postmortem Yams monologue that ends with a proud, yet slightly bittersweet “A$AP B***H!”. Both a fitting end to the album and a necessary final goodbye, Rocky honors Yams’ life without focusing too much on his death.

On this album, Rocky does exactly what he needs to in order to remain relevant: he distinguishes himself and his sound, uses heavier subject matter, and continues to work with and learn from a group of legendary features and producers. While it’s not perfect, At.Long.Last.A$AP proves that Rocky is one of the more interesting mainstream rappers today, and one who’s best years are hopefully ahead of him.

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Album Review: Suffer in Peace by Tyler Farr

1035x1035-UnknownTyler Farr debuted his new album, “Suffer in Peace,” this past week and it sits for anyone who’s had a broken heart. The title track, “Suffer and Peace” and “Withdrawals” are two other standout tracks.

Four of the eleven tracks on the album cover heartbreak. “A Guy Walks Into a Bar” is often just one of the heartbreak songs that appears frequently on the radio.

I’ve been told by many that I am one to choose sad, slow songs, but with summer approaching I’m not completely sure how an album like this will stick out.

Farr is a classically trained singer that shows off a high rock end most fans are not aware of. With country-pop songs often climbing the charts, Farr sticks out with his rough sound. He is often compared to other artists like Eric Church and Brantley Gilbert.

Not too surprisingly, “I Don’t Even Want This Beer” stumbles and staggers around in anguish and depression. It even makes reference to getting drunk on a Tuesday… “Here I am getting tore up on a Tuesday.” But in all, the song features lyrics that definitely hit a cord for any guy who’s ever screwed up.

“I wonder if she’s alone tonight
Thinkin’ ’bout all I didn’t do right
Or is she out on the town in my favorite dress
With some ol’ boy tryin’ his best
To get her buzzin’ just enough she might say yes”

However, he does take a break from the heartbreak tunes to a more playful sound with two of his tracks, “Better in Boots” and “Poor Boy.” The album definitely needed to take this shift to what would have been an emotional roller coaster of an album. “Poor Boy” tended to be my pick of songs to continue to listen too overall.

Two hard rock country anthems sit on each end of the album. “C.O.U.N.T.R.Y” is a rough tune and is set to a pace that is not seen again on the album. “Why We Live Here” pays tribute to the military, but not in outright blaring way that many country listeners are used to. Farr makes it clear that he is a strong supporter of the U.S. military, but many of the tracks also steer toward the edges of what people consider country these days. Overall all the songs, even the more upbeat ones, swing low and sharp.