New Album Review

Album Review: Man On the Moon III: The Chosen by Kid Cudi

ALBUM: “Man On The Moon III: The Chosen by Kid Cudi”


LABEL: Republic Records

BEST TRACKS: “Tequila Shots,” “Dive,” “Heaven On Earth,” “Show Out,” “Solo Dolo, Pt. III”

FCC: Every Track

Since hitting the mainstream more than 10 years ago, Scott Mescudi has become something of a legend in the hip-hop scene. “Day ‘N’ Nite” was Kid Cudi’s first success and is still racking up streams to this day. That was in 2008, when he started the Man On The Moon trilogy.

12 years and several albums later, Kid Cudi has just released the finale to the Man On the Moon trilogy: The Chosen. It’s clear he’s still fighting the same demons he was on The End of Day, as the album is no stranger to themes of isolation, depression, and despair. Also like its predecessors, the final track “Lord I Know” serves as a triumphant denouement for our hero. After the intro track, “Tequila Shots” is the first taste of what the album has to offer, and its woozy synths and catchy chorus are the perfect appetizer. “Heaven On Earth” is the first act’s climax and finds Cudi in full Rager mode, backed by tinny synthesizers and a growline bassline.

Kid Cudi has always been renowned for his emotional vulnerability and willingness to wear his heart on his sleeve, not to mention his therapeutic singing voice. Man On The Moon III stays true to all of these accolades and gives us an updated insight into the mind of Kid Cudi. If you are a fan of hip-hop music, I recommend you give The Chosen a listen.

– DJ Mango


A DJ Mango Vinyl Update

Happy holidays WKNC! With the year winding down to a close, I thought I would take this time to give y’all an updated glimpse into the DJ Mango vinyl collection. Here are 9 more of my favorites!

Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) by Wu-Tang Clan: This 1993 classic changed the landscape of hip-hop forever. Wu-Tang Clan certainly wasn’t the first rap group, as they were preceded by acts like 2 Live Crew and N.W.A, but no one had ever done it like them before.

Choose Your Weapon by Hiatus Kaiyote: A mind-bending odyssey of future-soul, funk and R&B complete with textured synths, odd time signatures and virtuosic performances. Check out my full blog post on Hiatus Kaiyote.

Imperial by Denzel Curry: Denzel Curry’s debut studio albums proves why he is such a force of nature: dizzying flows, cold-blooded bars and unmatched energy. Not to mention that the album’s otherworldly, futuristic production is the perfect accompaniment to Denzel’s paradigm shifting take on SoundCloud rap.

Green Onions by Booker T. & The M.G.’s: In terms of instrumental music, “Green Onions” is one of my favorite songs ever, and the rest of the album has plenty to offer in terms of catchy soul and blues.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles: Sgt. Peppers is often overshadowed by Abbey Road and Revolver, but I think it is their best work. In my opinion, it is the most colorful, kaleidoscopic, and fun listening experience in the Beatles canon.

Kind of Blue by Miles Davis: The release of Kind of Blue was a watershed moment in jazz music. Often cited as the best jazz album of all time, its influence is evident in genres ranging from rock to hip-hop.

We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service by A Tribe Called Quest: ATCQ’s latest release is also their final, as it acts as a send-off for the late Phife Dawg. They proved that even after a nearly 20 year hiatus, they were still capable of crafting ear-grabbing jazz rap.

Illmatic by Nas: Another classic from the golden age of hip-hop, 1994’s Illmatic is arguably what put the East Coast on the map thanks to its grimy boom-bap production and Nas’ street disciple lyricism.

Black Messiah by D’Anglelo and the Vanguard: An excellent addition to D’angelo’s already impeccable discography, Black Messiah finds him pushing his R&B and neo-soul roots to the realms of funk and psych rock. Check out my full review.

– DJ Mango


Friday Favorites 12/18/20

  1. Show Out (feat. Skepta & Pop Smoke) by Kid Cudi: After 10 years, Kid Cudi has followed up MOTM II with the third installment, The Chosen. Keep your eyes peeled for my review of the new album!
  2. SLIME by Shygirl: UK artist Shygirl perfectly captures the grime of the nightclub with “SLIME.” Produced in part by SOPHIE, the track combines rumbling sub bass with futuristic synth effects and, of course, Shygirl’s primal vocals.
  3. Quiche by Chukwu: This cut by Chukwu features an eerie percussion loop and foreboding bass – the perfect foundation for his gruff delivery and cold-blooded bars.
  4. The Other Lover by Little Dragon and Moses Sumney: Moses teams up with Little Dragon to bring us “The Other Lover,” a meditation on love triangles complete with synth swells and horn lines.
  5. Watch Me (feat. Joey Bada$$) by Statik Selektah: Statik Selektah’s new album The Balancing Act is packed full of features from some of the biggest names in hip-hop like Nas, 2 Chainz and Killer Mike. A personal favorite is “Watch Me,” featuring Joey Bada$$.
  6. JOURNEY by Tobe Nwigwe: 2020 saw the release of Tobe Nwigwe’s THE PANDEMIC PROJECT. “JOURNEY,” with its gospel/hip-hop crossover appeal is a highlight for sure.
  7. What It Feels Like by Potatohead People: This track features a sticky guitar loop, horn sections and verses from T3, Illa J and Kapok.
  8. SUPER TUESDAY! by JPEGMAFIA: EP!, Peggy’s latest offering, is a collection of singles released throughout the year, with “SUPER TUESDAY!” being the latest. This one finds him rapping with a measured flow over a soulful string sample.

– DJ Mango


December 2020 Sample Platter

  1. Suzie Thundertussy by Junie Morrison: The Madlib-produced song “No More Parties in LA” heavily samples this song’s intro to create the backdrop for Kendrick and Kanye’s spectacular verses.
  2. What More Can I Say by The Notations: This song was looped by Knxwledge in the song “What More Can I Say” by NxWorries, where Anderson .Paak sings about his unfaithful disposition.
  3. Huit octobre 1971 by Cortex: Fans of MF DOOM will recognize the soaring vocals of this track from “One Beer,” a highlight on his MM…FOOD album.
  4. Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach: Busdriver’s “Imaginary Places” samples the flute motif from this Bach suite and speeds it up to a feverish pace, making for one of the most creative and unique samples in all of hip-hop.
  5. Love Theme from The Robe by Yusef Lateef: Nujabes’ brand of laid back, sample-driven beats were a predecessor to the lo-fi hip-hop genre. “Feather,” which samples “Love Theme from The Robe,” is a great example of this.
  6. Ten Et Tiwa by Alain Goraguer: Flying Lotus flipped this one into what we know as “Black Balloons Reprise” featuring Denzel Curry, which has a eerie flute lead and trunk-knocking drums.
  7. Why Not by Yoko Ono: JPEGMAFIA sampled the intro of this song to make the best for “3 Tearz,” a Danny Brown joint featuring Run the Jewels.
  8. In a Sentimental Mood by Duke Ellington: Mac Miller chopped up the main piano motif from this classic jazz standard to make “Diablo,” which is one of his best beats.

– DJ Mango


Concert Shoes

When people talk about their favorite concert experiences, they often recall the performances, the crowd, or the people they shared it with. But for me, one of the most important parts of the live music experience is one that I think most people overlook – the shoes you wear.

Grey suede Air Force 1 Mids, signed by Tierra Whack

First up we’ve got the grey suede Air Force 1 Mids that I purchased from Plato’s closet back in high school. They frankly aren’t the most stylish shoe, but what makes them special to me is the signature from none other than Tierra Whack. I had the privilege of seeing her live in September of 2019, when she performed at Memorial Hall in UNC Chapel Hill. When she came out the concert hall turned into a mosh pit, and everyone got out of their seats to join the party. I was surprised at how interactive she was with the crowd and as a result Tierra Whack is one of the most down to earth performers I have ever seen.

Adidas signed by JPEGMAFIA

Up next we’ve got my beaters, my babies, my everyday shoes – a pair of nondescript Adidas I got from Burlington Coat Factory for 25 dollars. These are my go-to concert shoes because I know whatever I wear will get stepped on. They’ve been to family events like Anderson .Paak and the TDE Championship Tour, to mosh pits at Denzel Curry and Wage War (shoutout to The Saw for taking me to my first metal show!) and even WKNC’s own Double Barrel Benefit. They became one-of-a-kind when they were signed by JPEGMAFIA, who I saw live in New York in Mary of 2019. These shoes have truly been everywhere. They were on my feet during some of the most memorable moments of my life, and though I will have to retire them soon, I will always cherish the memories they were a part of.

That’s it! Do you have a cherished pair of concert shoes?

– DJ Mango


DJ Mango’s Top 5 Albums of 2020

2020 was a year that had its ups and downs, musically and otherwise. Here are my 5 favorite albums to come out this year, in order:

5. græ by Moses Sumney

Album art for græ by Moses Sumney

Coming in at number 5 is græ by Moses Sumney, a two-part epic of an album that saw its full release in May of this year. If Aromanticism was any indication of what was to come from Moses, græ is a full realization of his talents. Over the span of twenty tracks the singer explores a wide array of topics, from love to identity to masculinity.

Favorite tracks: “Cut Me,” “In Bloom,” “Virile”

4. Circles by Mac Miller

Album art for Circles by Mac Miller

Up next is Circles by Mac Miller, a posthumous body of work released in January. Less than a month after the release of his previous album, Swimming, he was pronounced dead. From someone whose career ended at its height, Circles serves as a kindred spirit to Swimming and it is a testament to his incredible growth not only as an artist but as an individual.

Favorite tracks: “Good News,” “Everybody,” “Hand Me Downs”

3. Last Year Was Weird, Vol. 2 by Tkay Maidza

Album art for Last Year Was Weird, Vol. 2 by Tkay Maidza

At number 3 on this list is Tkay Maidza’s Last Year Was Weird, Vol. 2, released in August. This short but sweet album is a prime example of Tkay’s versatility as an artists, as she explores familiar yet uncharted territory in the realms of hardcore hiphop, alternative R&B and indie soul. Check out my review here!

Favorite tracks: “24k,” “Shook,” “Awake”

2. UNLOCKED by Denzel Curry and Kenny Beats

Album art for UNLOCKED by Denzel Curry and Kenny Beats

2020 has been so long that I almost forgot this EP dropped in February of this year, but I’m sure glad it did. As two of the most consistent artists in the game right now, a project from Denzel Curry and Kenny Beats is a match made in heaven for any hardcore hip-hop fan. Denzel’s frantic, wordplay-intensive rapping is the perfect fit for Kenny’s grimy, sample-laced production.

Favorite tracks: “DIET_,” “Take_it_Back_v2,” “So.Incredible.pkg”

1. Agüita by Gabriel Garzón-Montano

Album art for Agüita by Gabriel Garzón-Montano

Last but certainly not least, my favorite album to come out this year has got to be Agüita by Gabriel Garzón-Montano. The range that GGM displays here is something that is truly remarkable. From alternative R&B to indie soul to Latinx hip-hop, Gabriel Garzón-Montano does it all with his own unique flair. Check out my full review here!

Favorite tracks: “With a Smile,” “Muñeca,” “Bloom”

What are your favorite albums of 2020?

– DJ Mango


DJ Mango’s Top 10 Songs of 2020

It’s that time of year again! The days are getting shorter, hyperconsumerism is at a seasonal high, and Spotify has released its annual Spotify Wrapped – a look back at your streaming habits throughout the year. Here are the ten songs I listened most this year, in order. Be warned – the list is a little stacked.

10. Sugah Daddy by D’Angelo: From the catchy piano vamp to the bouncy horn sections and quirky vocal scatting, this song is sure to have your head bobbing – just as mine was all year.

9. Everybody by Mac Miller: This cover of Arthur Lee’s “Everybody’s Gotta Live,” with its group vocals and steady drums, is a perfect fit for Mac Miller. Like the rest of his posthumous album Circles, it is simultaneously melancholy and uplifting.

8. Agüita by Gabriel Garzón-Montano: GGM’s first official foray into Latinx hip-hop pays off with “Agüita,” a rapid-fire track that explores the different meanings of the word. Check out my review of Agüita here!

7. Plastic by Moses Sumney: From 2017’s Aromanticism comes the ethereal “Plastic,” a guitar-driven ballad that explores unrequited love and unrealistic expectations. The sparse instrumentation allows Moses’ fragile and angelic voice to take center stage.

6. Really Love – Live from Spotify NYC by D’Angelo: “Really Love” is possibly my favorite D’Angelo song. The Live from Spotify NYC performance is my favorite version thanks to the extended string intro and jam-session outro. Check out my thoughts on D’Angelo’s album Black Messiah right here!

5. Good News by Mac Miller: Gently plucked strings and understated drums serve as the backdrop as Mac explores how the people around him only want to hear “good news.”

4. Keep On Running by Gabriel Garzón-Montano: “Keep On Running” opens with two simple piano chords and builds with drums and bass, and before you know it the song is a full-fledged funk feature.

3. Crawl by Gabriel Garzón-Montano: “Crawl” makes codependency catchier than ever before, thanks to its bouncy bass and earworm of a chorus.

2. 6 8 by Gabriel Garzón-Montano: This song, which was sampled in “Jungle,” is a great example of the Drake Effect – that is, the tendency for artists to blow up after being featured on a Drake song. But regardless of its sample status, “6 8” remains a simple, yet beautifully crafted song.

1. Everything is Everything by Gabriel Garzón-Montano: Last but not least, my top streamed song of 2020 was Everything is Everything by Gabriel Garzón-Montano. I knew from the very first time I heard it that I would be hooked.  The syncopated vocal harmonies, unique percussion, and catchy melodies come together in a way that never fails to flood my brain with serotonin every time I hear it. I could go on for hours about how much this song means to me, but I won’t. But I could. You can read more about my thoughts on this song – and the rest of the EP – right here.

That’s the list! What were your top songs of 2020?

– DJ Mango


Beat Switches in Hip-hop

EDM music has the bass drop, heavy metal has the breakdown, and if there is an equivalent in hip-hop music it would be the beat switch. A good beat switch can take the listener by surprise and serve as a crucial turning point in a record. A bad one can be jarring, uninspired, or otherwise uninteresting. With that said, here is a short list of some of my favorite beat switches in hip-hop!

  1. NEVER by JID: Perhaps the most underrated song on this list, this beat switch finds JID shifting into his highest gear.
  2. Under Pressure by Logic: In this two-part epic, Logic explores not only pressure from the music industry, but from his family as well. These two aspects are delineated by the beat switch halfway through the song.
  3. Furthest Thing by Drake: Generally speaking, Drake has two sides – vulnerable and boastful. The beat switch on “Furthest Thing” showcases both of these, with Drake reflecting on his shortcomings in the first part and taking a victory lap in the second.
  4. XXX. FEAT. U2. by Kendrick Lamar: Kendrick is known for his ability to change tone at a moment’s notice, and this song is one of the best examples of that. He ends a frantic verse about gun violence by saying “Alright kids, we’re gonna talk about gun control.” The irony here is accentuated by the beat switch, where police sirens are traded for simple piano chords.
  5. This is America by Childish Gambino: In 2018, Bino broke the internet with his surprise single and music video for “This Is America.” The back and forth between a cheery chorus and bass-heavy verses symbolizes the duality of the Black experience in America, making for one of the most powerful beat switches ever.
  6. Sicko Mode by Travis Scott: The three-part structure of this song, with not one but two beat switches, has led some to call it “the Bohemian Rhapsody of our generation.” Such a comparison might offend old heads, but only time will tell if it will make the same impact that Queen’s song has.
  7. Nights by Frank Ocean: Last but certainly not least is one of the most transcendent beat switches my ears have ever heard. Not only does the beat switch on “Nights” mark the exact halfway point on Blonde, but it also marks a sonic and thematic shift from child-like naivety of the first half of the album to the contemplative and mature second half. Though not exactly a hip-hop song, it still has one of the best beat switches ever.

What do you think? What are your favorite beat switches?

– DJ Mango


Monday Favorites

Hey everone! Here is a batch of songs that I have been rocking with lately:

  1. Amber by Unusual Demont: As winter approaches and the sun fades away, “Amber” by Unusual Demont, with its laid-back instrumentation and organic vocals, will bring you back to those endless summer nights.
  2. Move On by canvisluv and S9ACECAT: canvisluv, an up-and-coming artist from Ohio, just released Patience: Summer Never Came Demos Check it out here!
  3. Help by Aaron Taylor: From 2016’s Better Days comes “Help” by Aaron Taylor, a D’Angelo-esque head-bobber complete with vocal harmonies, strings, and walking basslines.
  4. Don’t Waste My Time by SAULT: “Don’t Waste My Time” is a song whose name says it all, and it does so with an incredible drum and bass groove.
  5. Infunami by Steve Lacy: The Lo-Fis is Steve Lacy’s new album, and it is composed of SoundCloud Leaks and unreleased demos from his time in high school. “Infunami” calls back to the days of “C U Girl” and “Some” with its guitar chord progression and Garageband-like simplicity.
  6. Check Me Out by Rico Nasty: “Check Me Out” is fresh off of Rico Nasty’s new album Nightmare Vacation. Its eerie piano loop perfectly complements her dynamic voice, which alternates between screaming and whispering.
  7. Pressure In My Palms (feat. slowthai & Vince Staples) by Aminé: This track marks Aminé’s first collaboration with Vince Staples and second collaboration with slowthai.
  8. Peppers and Onions by Tierra Whack: This new track from miss Whack explores introspective themes of self-acceptance and feeling stuck, all while retaining the catchiness all of her songs possess.

– DJ Mango


November 2020 Sample Platter

Welcome to November’s edition of Sample Platter, where I shed light on the samples in some of hip-hop’s best beats! This month we’ve got the following songs:

  1. Experience by Daedalus: Fans of Madvillain will recognize this accordion sample from MF DOOM and Madlib’s “Accordion.” Livin’ off borrowed time, the clock ticks faster…
  2. I Put a Spell On You by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins: Not only has this song been covered by the likes of Nina Simone, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Marilyn Manson, but its brass stabs also appear as a sample in Biggie’s “Kick in the Door.”
  3. Nature Boy by The Singers Unlimited: Acapella group The Singers Unlimited have proved to be a gold mine for producers such as J Dilla, Nujabes and many more. This track was sampled by Flying Lotus on his 2007 track “Massage Situation.”
  4. Ready or Not Here I Come “Can’t Hide from Love) by The Delfonics: This classic was sampled by Fugees, Missy Elliot and Three 6 Mafia. My favorite flip is Missy’s “Sock it 2 Me” in which producer Timbaland layers hard-hitting drums over the sample’s descending brass motif.
  5. Mariya by the Family Circle: The vocal harmonies in the beginning of this song can also be found in J. Cole’s “Wet Dreamz.”
  6. Liberty by Amnesty: Kanye West has appeared on every edition of the Sample Platter, and that’s because he (and his team) have a great ear for samples. Here, Amnesty’s “Liberty” was chopped up for Ye’s famous “poopity-scoop” verse on “Lift Yourself.”
  7. Silver Soul by Beach House: DJ Dahi took the intro of this song, reversed it, added drums and 808s and sent it to Kendrick Lamar. The result is the song we know as “Money Trees” – one of my favorite hip-hop instrumentals ever.
  8. Goin’ Down by Ol’ Dirty Bastard: Who would’ve thought to turn ODB’s guttural screams into a beat? None other than hip-hop anti-hero JPEGMAFIA, who did just that with his song “Real N—.”

– DJ Mango