Category Archives: Blog

My take on ‘Dark Lane Demo Tapes’

Drake dropped a ‘surprise’ mixtape full of what he calls “songs people have been asking for (some leaks and some joints from SoundCloud and some new vibes)”.

I would call myself a former Drake stan so I didn’t rush to listen to this. Still, some of Drake’s songs resonate with me – even if they’re nothing more than what we expect. That’s what I found with this mixtape. So, let’s get into it.

Thoughts track by track

Deep Pockets – I was not too impressed by this one and it hasn’t really grown on me. On my first listen I didn’t like it as the opening track. Just a whole lot of nothing going on.

When To Say When – I really liked this beat. I honestly feel like this song should’ve been the opening track. Some typical Drake “number” bars to start off. The Michael Jackson and Percocet lines surprised me.

Chicago Freestyle – Okay, so we’re into the singles section of the tape. I didn’t love this song when it first came out. It was released as a video, or at least that’s how I first listened to it and I just did not love the song as I watched the video.

But, listening to it on this mixtape, I warmed up to it. I like the hook by Gideon. And I’ve grown to like the Eminem shoutout with the Superman lyrics. This is good to vibe to, a plus song for me on this tape.

Not You Too – This one didn’t do much for me. The beat isn’t bad. You see the song features Chris Brown and you expect much more, but all he does is sing backup vocals, which is frustrating. We’re left with a typical Drake relationship song and I wasn’t really feeling it.

Toosie Slide – You know it, you’ve already heard it a million times. It’s a vibe; it’s catchy. That’s really it. “200 shooters on my brother’s block!”

Desires – One of my favorites right here. Incredibly catchy hook. The Future verse is perfect, if anything it could be longer. Future gets extra points in my book for the spirituality reference.

Both of Drake’s verses work for me. I especially liked how Drake worked the lean lines in the beginning of his first verse. And we get a classic Drake line: “how you going vegan but still beefing with me again?” The lead in to Time Flies is fantastic, making Desires and Time Flies the best part of this mixtape for me.

Time Flies – So we’re screaming “I’m outside in a AMG” all summer, huh? I liked the first two lines of Drake’s verse, but besides that, the hook is the whole song to me.

Landed – “Wrote this with the Cartier pen do it sound different?” To answer your question, Drake: not really.

D4L – Oh it’s Young Thug! I wish he would’ve had a verse instead of just the hook, adlibs and say “I eat calamari” but you take what you can get. I like Future here again, he adds a gritty element. Drake’s verse to me is a throwaway.

Side note: I LOVE Southside’s usual tag/effect – it’s one of my favorite producer tags.

Pain 1993 – First listen I was intrigued. The beat and Drake’s flow really set off the Playboi Carti vibes. Carti’s voice and delivery made me want to go back and listen again.

Losses – Just kind of a typical what I call one-two Drake song. It’s a very familiar tone and style. The typical, cheesy lines like “Like I’m tryna show the waves, this is no cap / You sold me up the river, but I rowed back / You put me on the road without a roadmap.” But this song is a pretty comfortable feel. It’s a decent cut.

From Florida With Love – “Plug!” that’s all I really have to say about this one. Probably not a bad one to have on shuffle or in the car.

Demons – I heard a snippet of this one the day this tape dropped and I was looking forward to hearing the full version. I like the grime influence. I don’t really feel any way about this one, though.

War – Another leak/release way before this tape dropped. I enjoy the vibe of this one. I’m glad it made it to the tape.

Final Thought

To me, there’s only a few good songs out of the 14 tracks. It is just a mixtape, so maybe that’s fine. But I don’t see Dark Lane Demo Tapes staying in my rotation.

Did you listen to this mixtape? Let me know what you thought of it! Thanks for reading.

An After Hours 'After Hours' Review

The Weeknd is back. After a couple days of letting “After Hours” sit there on Apple Music I gave it a listen – thanks to the couple of people who asked me if I listened to it. Here’s how I listened and what I thought.

How I Listened

Any time I listen to a new album for the first time it has to be straight through, front-to-back. And for ‘After Hours’, I made the effort to deep listen to the album after seeing this LA Times article. Essentially: sit there, do nothing except listen to the album in its entirety. So that’s what I did.

To listen, I waited until I got home from work, which was around midnight. I turned the lights off and laid in my bed, eyes closed. It worked pretty well for this album because of its dark, moody nature. I would encourage you to take the same deep listening approach of ‘do nothing, just listen’ the next time you listen to a new album.

Overview

It’s actually really good to hear Abel’s voice. His last release in 2018 feels really far away, so it’s glad to have him back.

Man, this album feels just perfect for right now: quarantine, all alone vibes, and it feels like it could be the soundtrack for a Batman movie.

Abel knows his strength and sticks to it: he’s gonna sing, he’s gonna talk about relationships and his vices and he’s gonna do a great job doing it.

The singles: ‘Heartless’ and ‘Blinding Lights’ (now both certified platinum) fit really well with the rest of the track list.

I liked the head bobbing moments for pacing of the album.

This is an enjoyable listen. I’ve been listening to it consistently this week after my first listen.

The Review

I really liked how the album opened up. ‘Alone Again’ set the stage for an hour-long trip of pure Weeknd. It was refreshing; sometimes you don’t always get a good intro track.

I felt like on ‘Hardest To Love’ we actually hear him sing for the first time. The vocals are stripped down which really brings the emotion across.

A song like ‘Snowchild’ started off so promising. The beat made you feel like this was going to be a banger. And maybe my brother telling me he liked this one made me have high expectations, too! I’ve warmed up to this one the last couple of days. I ended up liking the rhyme scheme which brings me to another thought: the Weeknd knows what he’s doing with sharp, simple lyrics.

Like these from Snowchild: “Walking in the snow before I ever made my wrist freeze”; “Stack a couple M’s like I’m Shady”; “Got me moving dirty like I’m Swayze, All my diamonds dancing like I’m Swayze” – and from Scared To Live: “If I held you back, at least I held you close.”

‘Faith’ This was an eye-opener, a ‘sheesh!’ moment for me. I feel like he didn’t explicitly talk about drugs that much up to this point – maybe I wasn’t listening close enough. But lyrics like “But if I OD, I want you to OD right beside me” – that got my attention. So did the lyrics “I lost my religion, I’m losing my faith everyday.”

‘Blinding Lights’ brings us back to an up-tempo feel. I love the open of the track, I get the Batman vibes there, and I really like the 80s vibe. This has become one of my favorite songs on the album.

‘In Your Eyes’ keeps that 80s vibe going. This one is a bop.

The interlude ‘Repeat After Me’ comes at a good time: near the end, almost making making the listener refocus. It sounds really nice – according to Genius it’s produced by Kevin Parker. Makes sense.

‘Until I Bleed Out’ is a great final effort for the album. It puts the finishing touches on the album and the imagery in ‘I wanna cut you outta my dreams ’til I’m bleeding out’ is really something. And it’s kind of gross. About that…

Album Art/Visuals

I didn’t use the album art for this blog because it’s gross! It’s off-putting, and that might be part of why it is the album art but, man it’s hard to look at.

And if you happen to catch the ‘In Your Eyes’ video: that’s creepy and kind of gross too. I didn’t watch the full thing, I saw the Youtube comments.

In the end

This is an enjoyable album. It’s nice to hear from The Weeknd again with some more music that – calling on broken relationships and escapism – most people can relate to.

If you got this far, let me know what you thought of ‘After Hours’ here on the blog or social media! Thank you!

My trip to Kansas City

Recently I had the opportunity to visit Kansas City, Missouri for the day. I enjoyed my trip and wanted to share a few of the highlights.

First, the reason I was able to go is that my Mom is a flight attendant for Delta. Thanks Mom! She had told me I should fly more earlier this summer, so I looked at the Detroit Tigers’ schedule to see what teams they were playing on the road. When I figured out I didn’t have to work and the Tigers were playing a day game against the Royals in KC, I figured I should go.

I got into town a few hours before the game. I got settled in at my Airbnb and took a walk through the Waldo Neighborhood to grab some lunch quick at McLain’s. From there I got a ride to Kauffman Stadium.

The park is not downtown at all (the old Royals’ stadium was I guess) but it was about 20 minutes from where I was staying. It’s very much built on/at a stadium complex with Arrowhead Stadium located right next door. The K (as they call it) is an older park, being built in 1968. It’s a sprawling stadium but it seemed pretty intimate as I walked around.

I visited the Royals’ Hall of Fame in left field which was very cool. There was a lot of baseball and Royals’ memorabilia including the Royals’ World Series trophies which is exciting for a sports nerd like me. It was a great way to learn a little more about the franchise’s history.

IMG_2050.JPG

Looking out over the fountains from center field. 

The fountains are an obvious highlight of the park and walking around the outfield you get a sense of how big they are. According to the Royals, when the stadium opened the fountains at Kauffman were the largest privately owned fountains in the world.

The game wasn’t so great for the Tigers. Michael Fulmer pitched but did not have his best day. He gave up a few home runs and the Royals cruised to an easy win. It was still entertaining though!

After the game I figured out where I should eat. I tried to ask people I met and use apps like Yelp to find a good spot. I settled on Q39, a place that lauds its competition style barbecue. I know as a Michigander I might not be the most credible BBQ critic, but it was really good. I went for the burnt ends and brisket combo and it didn’t disappoint.

IMG_2070

My dinner at Q39. It was amazing. 

After dinner I headed to Boulevard Brewing Company’s Beer Hall which is located right next to their brewery. It was a very cool space with multiple levels, the first floor being a gift shop/store area and the second floor being the taproom. I grabbed a flight and a seat outside and enjoyed the atmosphere looking out at the city.

IMG_2077

My flight from Boulevard with downtown KC in the background.

Next, I walked over to the World War I Memorial. The memorial provides a great view of Kansas City as you can see from the featured picture at the top. I wish I would’ve had more time so I could’ve went to the museum but I’ll have to do that next time.

IMG_2086

The memorial monument.

Then I walked into town to a jazz bar for a cocktail and to enjoy the music. I never seek out live music but I figured I should since jazz is a Kansas City thing. The place seemed straight out of a scene from La-La Land and I really enjoyed the three piece band.

Last but not least I stopped in at Casual Animal Brewing Company for a last call beer. Shoutout to them, and thanks for the stickers guys!

Well, that’s about it for my trip to KC. In my opinion it felt like a nice Midwestern town. I would definitely go back to see another game (maybe the Chiefs this time) and check out the city some more.

If you like this kind of blog let me know! I plan on doing some more of these, if and when I take another trip. Thanks for reading.