Forward by Ron Worthy
A few weeks back, I was honored to be asked to speak at my alma mater, Stanford University. The topic was the Unconventional Path and my talk centered around my life and career and any advice I could offer to the group of students, staff and faculty that had assembled. What struck me more than the idyllic campus, which had evolved nicely since I had last been on campus, was the quality of the students and the depth of their questions and insights. A few students stuck out more than others and I am super proud to now call several of them mentees. I have dedicated myself to this keen group of students and hope to remain a part of their lives going forward.
That said, I met one young lady in particular, Victoria Shantrell Asbury. She is full of energy and is just plain cool. She’s a sista’s sista and has a very strong presence. Look for big things from her in the future. I also met a cool cat named Alvin Addo, who has really done a wonderful job in bringing some great artists like E-40 to the Stanford campus. And then there was Jabari Nyomba AKA DJ Southern Comfort, who was identified as the hottest DJ on campus. Anyway, I asked each of them to write a review of Iamsu’s The Kilt Mixtape, which I had heard about through the grapevine.
I was curious how their impressions of this work would differ from my own and how they would react to it since the artist was from the area where they went to school and would spend some of the most important years of their lives. I, too, was young and in the Bay during the hey day Hammer, 2Pac, Digital Underground, Too Short, E-40 years. And now, with Hyphy music being a full fledged sub-genre, it only seemed fitting to have some youngins take a crack at a critique.
As such, I am going to publish, for the first time, 2 separate reviews of the same mixtape and let our worldwide soulhead audience decide which review they agree with the most. Enjoy!
IamSUmmer 2012 by Victoria Shantrell Asbury
Holding it down for the land of palm trees, scrapers, and bomb weed, Iamsu released his latest mixtape, Kilt, earlier this week. For those of you who are not familiar with the young Cali native, you might recognize him on E-40’s popular single, Function, which is currently playing on BET’s 106 & Park and on radio stations across the nation. And I’m sure that the response that this mixtape is sure to receive, will have him coming up strong on your radar this summer.
As a Southern Cali-Miami chick, I’m kinda feeling the album. What I like most about the project is it doesn’t sound hella Bay Area-ish. If I had to describe the mixtape succinctly, I’d use 5 S’s: Summer, Smooth, Smoker, Southern, Strip Club; only a handful of the 18 tracks don’t fit into this description.
This is the perfect, summer night, driving with your windows down, lightweight kinda faded album. It’s smooth without simping so you can listen to it with a car full of your homeboys; yet, the smoothness is also hella sexy which makes it perfect if you’re vibing with a female. If you’re in a more sociable mood, this album is a great soundtrack for swaying with a red cup in hand and throwing down some bones at a southern Cali house party. “Wake Up + 2 Milli” and “Cancelled Plans” are example of this versatility.
The southern influence is heard throughout the mixtape and pretty much married with the whole strip club vibe; the fact that most of the lyrics are talking about money, females, weed, and materialism, adds to the ratchetness. Starting with “Raven Simone,” and onto “Poppin’ Bands” and “Get Your Money Girl” I found myself forgetting that S stands for 2 Stanford degrees, not stripper. Don’t judge me. They got those sexy ratchet beats that make it a lil’ hard to not a) bend over and poke it out or b) want to slow grind on something. I’m just being honest.
But to balance out the ratchetness, Iamsu does provide the listeners with more introspective tracks like “As Far As It Goes” and “Made It.” And although the album isn’t Bay-centric, Iamsu does acknowledge his Bay roots with songs like “Mainey,” “Different,” and “Get It In.” I’m not really a fan of any of those cuts, however. I am also not a fan of “Slow Down” and “Function” which Iamsu is featured on. Keeping it southern, smooth, and ratchet is a formula that Iamsu may want to stick with.
Although I’ve given Kilt mostly positive reviews, I must admit that lyrically, the album is average, if that; the production is what makes this mixtape. If you’re looking for a young Cali lyricist, stick with Kendrick Lamar. If you’re looking for a young Cali artist to provide you with the soundtrack for heading to the club this summer, Iamsu is your dude.
Track by Track Review:
1. “Intro”- A
Sets the smooth tone of the album. Content-wise, the intro connects to the end of the mixtape (not including the two features); however, the ambition theme of the intro gets lost throughout the album.
2. “Raven Simone” – B
Perfect example of that smooth, southern, smoker, strip club vibe. This is a song to smoke and ride slow to; either that or get a private dance, especially during the chorus. The artist featured on this track adds to the southern sound.
3. “Mainey” – C+
This is a song for the Bay Area. I’m not feeling it.
4. “Over”- B
This song is smooth and got that distinctive west coast sound. Iamsu tries to discuss some real shit on this track, rapping “This world is far from kind… they say it’s easy but they lied; we got nobody else.” This song is best listened to while riding solo dolo.
5. “Wake Up + 2 Milli”- A-
I’m giving this song an A- because I’m really feeling the instrumentals and the way that Iamsu flows on this track; the lyrics aren’t earth shattering but the sound is very polished. This song is smooth and kinda sexy. The sound is a mix between west coast, southern, and old school vibes, especially with the horns in the background. Play this joint at a house party, playing dominoes, sippin’ on grown folks drink, light weight faded.
6. “Clothes, Shows & Afros”- B
The instrumental on this track is smooth, with a grown and sexy vibe. I just wish the lyrics did the track justice. Don’t start drinking to this song; you want to already be feeling yourself to really appreciate the track.
7. “Poppin’ Bands”-B
Slow, erie, southern, strip club joint. Lyrics are subpar. The song needs to be remixed and get 2Chainz, Jeezy, Soulja Boy, and Travis Porter on this track.
8. “Different”- C
Another song for the Bay Area. Not feeling it. Lyricism isn’t Iamsu’s strong point and without a dope instrumental, it’s really difficult to listen to his tracks.
9. “Get It In” – C
Another Bay Area joint. Not feeling it. Could barely listen to the song in its entirety.
10. “Fly High” – C
This track is short and kinda like an interlude. It’s smooth but Iamsu attempts to sing on the track and he’s not a singer by far.
11. “Get Your Money Girl”- B
Smooth, southern, summer, strip club joint.! I have to fight my inner stripper (If I didn’t have 2 Stanford degrees.. ijs). The lyrics are weak but the instrumental is on point. Play this song towards the end of your function when the liquor has set in and you ready to slow winds and booties bouncing. I do wish they woulda let the beat ride out instead of screwing it for the last 40 seconds.
12. “Cancelled Plans”- B+
Another smooth, southern, summer, strip club joint. This song is coo to listen with a jump off in the car or while parking lot pimpin’ after the club. If you want to play this at your get together, you can play this track a couple times during the night; at the beginning to get it started, and again once everyone’s lit, feeling good, and plotting.
13. “As Far As it Goes”- B
This is a summer, solo dolo track. This song is best listened to at night when you’re by yourself and not in a hype mood. It’s slightly more introspective than his other tracks.
14. “Click Finna Blow”- B+
Feel good summer joint. Also good for those more mellow, solo nights.
15. “Made It”- A-
Iamsu lets us into life and mind on this one. It’s introspective and sincere. The sincerity has a significant impact on the quality of lyrics. This is one of the best songs on the mixtape, as far as flow and lyrics go.
16. “Rollin’ Up”- B-
Once again, Su is finding the missing S with sincerity on this track. When Iamsu isn’t talking about materialism, weed, and females, he’s able to show his talents as a rapper and not simply a good beat chooser.
17. “Slow Down”- C
Iamsu is featured on this Bay Area song by Clyde Carson. Not feeling it.
18. “Function”- C
Iamsu is featured on this Bay Area song by E-40.
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