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Bar Exam: Midterms (Second Quarter Recap)

July 6, 2018

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Bar Exam: Midterms (Second Quarter Recap)

A Recap Of All Bar Exam Reviews 2nd Quarter 2018

This second set of three months in 2018 has been arguably one of the most exciting in hip-hop’s recent memory. Mainstream rap has had a similar run, but it seems like every CHH release I reviewed this quarter was exceptional. Below is a summary of each project from April to June that has been reviewed so far, as well as some noteworthy “awards” from the second quarter. Enjoy!

April

Above The Bar:
Andy Mineo – 1:The Arrow EP : “If Andy Mineo’s music has felt safe and in a box for you in the past, that’s not what you’ll experience here. I heard someone who is not only speaking on faith and doubt with depth, but someone who is trying on a new voice and new sound. It’s refreshing to know that someone with Andy’s track record is embarking on a journey such as this.”

At The Bar:

Mogli The Iceburg – Sad People Make Dope Music : “…As far as hip-hop goes I would’ve liked for the sound from track to track to be more varied. Mogli definitely has a style he likes to bring, and is supremely adept at articulating his own personal experiences.”

Below The Bar:
Joe Johnson – Grace And Fire  : “One thing that was glaringly evident about “Grace And Fire” is that Joe’s got a spectacular musical taste. Something I’d like to encourage him on though is to work on his pen game. Whether it’s just studying other rappers, or getting more bars under his belt, he’s gotta step up the writing in order to match the masterful production he’s attracted to.”

May

Above The Bar:
Bizzle – Light Work EP : “I’d say there’s something for everyone on this EP. Beginning with some straight up bars at the top, moving to some modern sounding vibes in the middle, and ending up with more bars and a Gospel message, this is a well crafted project.”

Jackie Hill-Perry – Crescendo : “Hip-hop needs bars, and we’re getting our fill here. Everything on this album is above the bar. The creative direction, the music, the writing and the performance from the emcee will not only leave you awestruck, but will challenge you to better yourself in light of who God is.”

Guvna B – Hands Are Made For Working : “This was a terrific listen. Guvna B is firing on all cylinders here, and touches on some deep topics. It’s a worshipful album, it’s honest and heartfelt, and has some bangers on it as well.”

WhatupRG – Pleasant Hill  : “We’ve known RG for awhile as an artist who can bring nice hooks, and his guest features are usually off the chain. “Pleasant Hill” proves WhatupRG to be a complete artist.”

Dru Bex – In God’s Good Time  : “I’m not sure I could point out my favorite track. There’s so much versatility present on this one album, and every beat is different from the others. This was an outstanding sonic experience … one of the best of the year.”

At The Bar:
C-Micah – Reverence  : “C-Micah is heavily under-appreciated. His lyrical content, flows, production is all above the bar. Through the years he’s been able to surround himself with top-notch artistry and bring other less-known artists along. He’s always an enjoyable listen, and is intentional about staying Gospel-centric in his music. “Reverence” is no different.”

Andre Balboa – Preaching To The Choir  : “Every performance from Andre is chill and laid back. His inflections are in the right places and he’s a natural at the flow and writing. There was a lot of great stuff unpacked in these bars and the music paired with it was all well done.”

Below The Bar: N/A

June

Above The Bar:
Steven Malcolm – Second City Part 2  : “Steven’s not here to just play music, he’s here to minister to people who need to hear about Jesus.”

nobigdyl. – Solar : “nobigdyl. was absolutely masterful on this project. The pacing is terrific, the concepts that he tackles are accessible, and musically it all soars above the bar.”

Sareem Poems & Ess Be – Mind Over Matter : “I enjoy intentionality not only in writing but in musicality and creative direction, and this album has it all.”

Sevin – Rather Die Than Deny : “He’s been bar for bar one of the best for years, and he’s only getting better.”

Nomis – Rhodes to Rome : “Nomis is not only a gifted talent, but he’s an artist you should trust.”

At The Bar: N/A

Below The Bar:
Lecrae & Zaytoven – Let The Trap Say Amen  : “I applaud Lecrae for what he did. It was a challenging creative decision, but outside of that I don’t find a lot here to return to. If there’s cohesion it’s because most of it sounds the same.”

A Few Fun “Awards”

Best Projects: 2nd Quarter 2018
A+ On The Bar Exam
Jackie Hill-Perry – Crescendo
Guvna B – Hands Are Made For Working
Dru Bex – In God’s Good Time

Best Bars: 2nd Quarter 2018
Packed tight with lyricism
Jackie Hill-Perry – Crescendo
Sevin – Savage Feat. K. Allico, Datin and Gemstones
Nomis – Rhodes To Rome

Best Produced Tracks: 2nd Quarter 2018
Bangin’ beats
Andy Mineo – I Ain’t Done
Dru Bex – Number
Nomis – Siren Song

Best Opening Tracks: 2nd Quarter 2018
Coming out swinging
Bizzle – Way Up
Guvna B – Carry On
Dru Bex – Lessons In Time

-Luc
reviews@newh2o.com

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