Hey peeps, I am knee deep in finals right now. Well it’s only Monday and I only have two left so more like ankle deep I suppose…BUT THE POINT IS, during this time of extreme stress I still felt the need to deliver to my audience even under duress. I do this partly because I need a creative outlet or else all of my free time would be spent drinking my own tears,
and partly because I love you guys so much that I couldn’t possibly let you endure a Monday without a mixtape review. However since it is finals week and I should probably spend as much time as possible studying (…or napping…it’s whatever…), I’m going to forgo my usual flowery artist intro and dive straight into my review of The Neighbourhood’s Black & White mixtape.
Hot off of the success of their debut album and the killer single Sweater Weather, The Neighbourhood dropped the most fire mixtape a band has ever released. Actually, to my knowledge it’s the only mixtape that a band has ever released. And it’s important to note that Black & White (named after the band’s aesthetic) is a mixtape. It’s not an EP (which I’ve previously pointed out is basically the non hip-hop equivalent of a mixtape), but an honest to Zeus mixtape, complete with DJ/Producers (specifically DJ Drama and DJ Don Canon), interludes (like four), and guest verses from rappers. Though the band rose to prominence by way of alternative (some would say indie) rock, it is very clear with this mixtape that they are not at all unfamiliar with elements of hip hop.
Thematically speaking, this tape doesn’t venture much. In fact, the 18 tracks can really be split into a two categories: feelings towards/ adjusting to newfound fame, or girl problems ( being cheated on, not being able to walk way when you know you should, being the sidepiece to a girl already in a relationship etc.) This lack of thematic variation isn’t a weakness however. All of the songs were written honestly and from a place of intense emotion and the quality of the music really reflects that. On top of being able to tell that Jesse ( the lead singer and main songwriter ) is earnest in his emoting, the listener can relate to some of the feelings and vibes that the songs stem from. Mood wise this tape is reflective of its title and artwork. Songs either paint a canvas completely dark or wipe it completely clean. A good number of the songs on this mixtape have a dark or ominous tone to them, and while the one’s that don’t aren’t necessarily happy sounding, they do lack that sinister creeping feeling.
If I had to find a fault with this mixtape it would have to be the features. Some of them were really good, and put me on to new rappers that I’d never heard of before like Danny Seth or Raury. Some made use of rappers that I already liked like Danny Brown (they have a thing for Danny’s I guess?) or Casey Veggies, and in the case of one song the verse from the guest (Dej Loaf) made me change my mind on her completely (I used to be iffy on her but after her verse on Givin’ N Takin’ I fux wit her). However other guests are so lackluster with their rhymes (looking at you French Montana and G-Eazy) that, to me, it brings the quality of the songs down. But even that I’m begrudgingly willing to look past, what really got me is a verse from YG on Dangerous in which he tells his side girl that they have to part ways after he was found out by his girlfriend. He proceeds to tell the other woman “I gotta stay away from you cause your pussy too dangerous”
In hindsight I’m not bugged by this line that much, and I even sort of see that he meant she’s such a good lay that it’s difficult for him to give her up and be faithful. But I feel like he’s talented enough to say that in a better way.
Overall I think this mixtape is definitely a project worth your time. It’s something that fans of the band, and fans of hip-hop can love equally and it’s very jammable. Especially if you don’t have a great deal of ire for French Montana and G-Eazy like I do. Go Check it out.
Overall rating: 7/10 It would have scored higher, but they forced me to listen to freaking G-Eazy
Standout Tracks: U&I, 1 Of Those Weeks, TRL, H8M4CH1NE feat. Danny Brown (its wavy as hell)
Remember dudes and dudettes, you can decide what album/mixtape/collection of songs I review next. All you have to do is comment telling me the name and the artist! It can be in any language and any genre, it just has to be easy to find!
There’s Some Flava For Your Ear