Saturday Standouts: New Rick Ross/Andre 3000, 50 Cent/Dr. Dre/Alicia Keys, Wiz Khalifa/Game

Posted by on July 28, 2012

It’s been a big week for hip-hop, with Nas’ authentic and lyrical Life is Good taking the top spot on the charts, and a number of big-name collaborations dropping (a majority of which happen to be leaks from God Forgives, I Don’t). We’ve already taken a look at his underwhelming trade-off with Dr. Dre and Jay-Z (“3 Kings”), and now with a handful of rapper-assisted tracks leaking (featuring the likes of Andre 3000, Drake and Wale) I’m becoming more skeptical of his upcoming effort. I think that too many times artists rely upon features to provide sales and generate interest, when much of the time all it does is disguise the fact that a rapper can’t keep a listener’s interest over the course of a full LP. Other times, the featured artists’ contributions can become the highlights—which is certainly true in regards to Andre 3000’s work on “Sixteen.” Here’s a look at some of the week’s most compelling collabs:

Rick Ross — Sixteen (feat. Andre 3000)

This track is definitely the best thing I’ve heard from God Forgives, I Don’t thus far, and it’s not because of Rozay. Over some extremely soulful, saxophone-induced J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League production, Rawse bellows about how “sixteen [bars] ain’t enough” before dropping an elongated verse that certainly could’ve been shortened. Then Andre steps into the light with a plethora of flows and multisyllabic lines, and that crisp form of storytelling that is so illustrated and idiosyncratic that it’s just mesmerizing. Here’s one standout for Ross’ project.

50 Cent — New Day (feat. Dr. Dre & Alicia Keys)

For so much star-power, it’s a shame that this track never really manages to grab me. The whole track just bleeds a genericness that it never steps beyond, from Dre and 50’s stagnant verses to the Alicia-crooned chorus that really isn’t saying anything (“Party people say, party people say ‘ayyyy’/It’s a new day.” It’s the kind of pop songwriting that makes me cringe—that which strives to make people think they’re listening to something meaningful, keeping the shallowness of the message directly equivalent to that of the listener. This one’s a big flop from my end, as is everything I’ve seen from 50 and Dre lately.

Wiz Khalifa — Far From Coach (feat. Game & Stat Quo)

I used to be a huge Game fan back in his G-Unit/Aftermath days, and though I’ve stayed in touch with his music I haven’t found anything as gripping or interesting in his recent work. But for his verse on the new single from Wiz’s upcoming work O.N.I.F.C., Game is back to his energetic, rhyme-heavy flow that always leaves a great West Coast tint on the track. He steals the show here, especially compared with an average chorus and Wiz verse, and a poor assist from Stat Quo (the former Shady signee) that struggles to keep the vibe up. Overall, though, this is a feel-good track that I’ll be bumping as proof that Game is back on his game.




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