24K Magic Album Review

By Andrew Ho 

Almost two years after its release, Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic still remains an album I revisit time and time again. And this is coming from someone who has actively muted his music since the release of Doo-Wops & Hooligans, his first studio release. Nonetheless, I undoubtedly recognize that Mars is unique for a pop star: his ability to ‘remix’ once outdated hits and climb back onto the top of the billboard charts is bar none. Upon discovering 24K Magic, Mars’ eye catching cover shot immediately caught my attention. I thought I was looking at Big Daddy Kane or Heavy D’s comeback album — it seemed as if New Jack Swing is back in style again. Sitting confidently in his chino shorts and fancy white dress shoes, the style Mars rocks looks both in and out of style; an excellent precursor to the album, as 24K Magic is reminiscent of the late 80’s. Even his demeanour evokes a complexion of the 80’s, and I was convinced that this time, Mars’ glitz and glamour would unmistakably shine through 24K Magic – and you hear this right from the get go. Lush synths, full brass sections, and an impeccable level of detail can be heard from the first track to the last. Mars’ production team, the very same who’ve helped send him to stardom has been revamped and renamed to further materialize his concept into his work. The title track, 24K Magic, is a flamboyant mix of disco, funk, and even trap. Laced with chimes, synth worms, and the flexatone, the instrumentation of each track is inherently nostalgic. In fact, approximately 12 minutes into the album is where the meat of his work really starts to show and the 808s and analog synths start to come out. Versace on the Floor and Straight Up and Down captures the ambiance of a late night party, where the New Jack Swing groove bounces and forces one to dance, or at least to sway their hips. This is also where his style starts to become much more coherent, and the work starts to sound more timeless and less like the Top 40’s Bruno Mars. Albeit garnering negative response from critics, the overall presentation and execution of 24K Magic is nothing short of spectacular. Where Mars lacks in ‘hook writing’, he makes up for in his vision, concept, execution, consistency, and most importantly, the sheer effort he and his production crew has put into the work. And for having put out an anxiously short album, 24K Magic has still managed to earn the title of Album of the Year of 2018, ousting the works of other industry giants like Jay Z, Kendrick Lamar, and Lorde — a title well deserved.

Migos – Culture II Album Review

By: Brandon Ben

Culture II is the third album by rap trio Migos. This album is huge, with 24 tracks, and a huge runtime. Right off the bat, the list of collaborators is impressive including: Cardi B, Nicki Minaj, Big Sean, Drake, Travis Scott, 2 Chainz, 21 Savage, Gucci Mane, Ty Dolla Sign, Post Malone, Murda Beatz, Metro Boomin, Pharrell Williams and Kanye West. All of these giants are heavy hitters in the game. But, a 24-song album, are they crazy? We are in a single generation after all. To me, no, they’re not crazy. There is so much to explore on this record. And for those of you who are tired of this overdone trap style of rap music, remember, Migos really helped popularize it.

They seem to drift track to track with ease, and to me, this album sounds pretty diverse. Its quite refreshing to see something well produced in this style, and not just random tracks on soundcloud. Some of my favorite tracks include BBO (Bad Bitches Only) featuring 21 Savage, Walk It Talk It featuring Drake, and MotorSport featuring Nicki Minaj and Cardi B. Now notice I’m pointing out tracks featuring other artists, because, I don’t think I would only like to listen to Migos again and again for hours. That’s not to say the production isn’t on point. I pointed out that Kanye West and Pharrell are involved on this project, but as producers. Many people forget how talented Kanye is as a producer.

Obviously this album is way too long to go in-depth, so I’m just going to talk about MotorSport. The beat is sick, Migos is great, but Nicki and Cardi Steal the show. Their voices are really hardcore, and it really highlights how well female rappers are doing now, in a non-gimmicky sort of way. I really love their verses, and Migos seems to compliment them well.  So, there’s no doubt that Migos represents the “culture” whatever that may be. Maybe I wouldn’t be speaking so highly of this release if these features were not here, but, they are pretty great. So maybe Culture III will have 44 tracks? Why not check out at least the singles!