Rap and hip-hop fans have had quite a bit to be happy about this year. That is because over the course of the now fading year, a lot of notable entries have made their way to audiences within the genre. They have come from independent and well-known acts alike, too. From the familiar socio-politically charged content featured in Public Enemy’s new album What You Gonna Do When The Grid Goes Down, to the lighter yet still engaging content featured in Aesop Rock’s new album Spirit World Field Guide, to the unique hybrid jazz/hip-hop instrumental offering from Analog Players Society, Soundtrack For A Nonexistent Film, and more, this year’s field of new rap and hip-hop records has proven quite diverse and entertaining. Even Eminem released his own new album (albeit by surprise) in the form of Music to be Murdered By early this year. Between that record and so many others, this year’s field of new albums was full of interesting, impressive new albums, both mainstream and independent. Phil’s Picks has kept track of them once again this year and produced a list of the year’s best new product.
As with past years and each list, this collection features the Top 10 new titles in the category, as well as five honorable mentions, for a total of 15 titles. Here for your consideration is the Phil’s Picks 2020 Top 10 new Rap & Hip-Hop Albums.
PHIL’S PICKS 2020 TOP 10 NEW RAP & HIP-HOP ALBUMS
Public Enemy – What You Gonna Do When The Grid Goes Down?
Run The Jewels – RTJ4
RJD2 – The Fun Ones
Common – A Beautiful Revolution Pt. 1
Jamo Gang – Walking With Lions
Aesop Rock – Spirit World Field Guide
Eminem – Music to be Murdered By
Analog Players Society – Soundtrack for a Nonexistent Film
Atmosphere – The Day Before Halloween
GNL Zamba – The Spear
Denzel Curry – Unlocked
Prof – Powderhorn Suites
Busta Rhymes – Extinction Level Event 2
Aesop Rock – Music From The Game Freedom Finger
Black Eyed Peas – Translation
Next up from Phil’s Picks is a listing of the year’s top new jazz and blues albums. Stay tuned for that.
Hip-hop duo Atmosphere apparently is not the type of act that rests easily. Less than a year after the release of its then most recent album Whenever, the duo returned Friday with its second album so far this year, The Day Before Halloween. The 10-song record is an intriguing new offering from the duo – Slug and Ant. That is proven largely through its musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly. The record’s lyrical content, unlike its musical content, is more familiar and keep the album engaging and entertaining in its own right. It will be addressed a little later. The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album. All things considered, they make the record a presentation that hip-hop and rap fans will appreciate just as much as Atmosphere’s most devoted audiences.
Atmosphere’s new album The Day Before Halloween is a successful new offering from the veteran duo. It is a record that offers something quite interesting for audiences looking for something new and unique. That is proven in part through the record’s collective musical arrangements. The arrangements in question take the duo in a new, untried direction. This time out, Slug and Ant opt for a more synth-driven sound than the more familiar traditional hip-hop beats and musical aspects that they have so commonly used in the past. That the duo opted to take the risk and go in this direction was a brave move and is worthy of plenty of applause. Right from the album’s outset in ‘Where The Road Forks,’ audiences are transported back to the 80s with the keyboard-driven arrangement. What’s interesting here is that when the duo’s more familiar hip-hop influence is added to the mix, the balance of those two distinctly different sounds actually works in a weird way. Even in its follow-up ‘Space is Safe,’ that juxtaposition of styles is balanced equally well for yet another unique, engaging arrangement. As the album progresses, the use of the keyboards takes Atmosphere in a more modern direction, giving each arrangement a noticeably mainstream sound. That more mainstream sound that develops throughout the record gives the album an increased ability to hold its own against Atmosphere’s contemporaries. For all that the musical arrangements do for Atmosphere’s new album, they are just one part of what makes the album stand out. Its lyrical content adds more to its appeal.
The lyrical content featured throughout The Day Before Halloween will connect with listeners just as much as the record’s new musical direction. That is evidenced to some extent late in the record’s run in ‘Stardust.’ This song comes across lyrically as a relatively simple song about a relationship that has gone bad. That is inferred as Slug notes, “I should have tried to be a better partner regardless/So why you wanna turn me back to Stardust” before whispering time and again, “broken heart.” He notes early on, “I should have listened to Clarence/How did we get so careless/ You should have listened to the old classics/Those freestyles was written on some stone tablets/I’m such a passive aggresivist…I’m so sensitive/She calling me a booty ho/And now I’m sleeping down at the studio.” Again, here is a seemingly familiar theme of someone looking back on a broken relationship. It’s just one way in which the album’s lyrical content shows its importance. ‘Where The Road Forks’ seems to deliver an equally accessible message.
In this case, the message comes across as encouraging listeners to live life the best they can even when things get tough. This is inferred as Slug notes, “I kinda wish I was in somebody else’s dream/I’m tryin’ ta fish for some faith/But this ain’t what it seems/I mean I mighta seen them clouds/Even felt some rain/My eyes are open like a window that’s surrounded by pain/I know sometimes I don’t’ articulate myself right/Maybe it coincides with how we hear ourselves right/I won’t tell you that you ‘sposed to fight, right/But I got that shelf life/If you wanna know what that Hell like.” He goes on to note in the song’s chorus that “If we gotta die tonight/I might take a couple extra breaths/Watch over those storm troopers who force you to use force/But you still trying to hold the tears/Poker face/Show no fear/Lost in space/Solar flare/Don’t really care/Coast is clear/I’m making motions/I hope it’s enough to get home/This lake is frozen..Only get what you can get/And try not to overextend.” Again, there is a lot of metaphorical language here. He even adds later that “you still gotta hold the torch.” Keeping that in mind with everything else, the song seems to deliver the noted message of keeping strength despite situations. If in fact what is interpreted here is fact, then this lyrical content is just as certain to connect with listeners as that featured in ‘Stardust.’ It is just one more way in which the album’s lyrical content proves its value. ‘The Future Was Disgusting’ is another way in which the record’s lyrical themes prove pivotal to its presentation.
The lyrical theme of ‘The Future Was Disgusting’ is important to note because it comes across as a very typical rap/hip-hop work. All of the trademarks are there. From the mention of smoking, to the sexual innuendo and even old school rap references, the song is loaded with lyrical content that will appeal to any rap/hip-hop purist. Between all of that and the more modern style hip-hop style musical arrangement, the song in whole becomes a song that will connect with audiences even more with listeners. When this is considered along with the other songs noted here and the lyrical content featured in the album’s other works, the whole of the album’s lyrical content leaves no doubt as to its importance. When this content is coupled with the album’s musical content, that even bigger whole adds that much more appeal to this presentation. Keeping all of that in mind, the album still has one more aspect to examine, its production.
The production of The Day Before Halloween is important because it shows how much time and effort was spent bringing everything together. The increased presence of the keyboards in this record could easily have overpowered the more traditional rap and hip-hop elements, but did not do so. Again, that is due to the production (and mixing). Every beat and every note combines so well throughout. The same can be said of the vocals added to the whole. The vocals are never overpowered, either. Keeping all of that in mind, the album’s production brings everything together and brings the album full circle. When all things are considered together, The Day Before Halloween proves to be a fresh new presentation from Atmosphere that is a welcome new musical treat from the veteran hip-hop/rap duo.
Atmosphere’s new album The Day Before Halloween is a record that audiences will appreciate on the day before Halloween and long after. That is proven in part through its musical arrangements, as is noted here. Its lyrical content adds to that appeal in its own way, too. The record’s production brings the whole thing full circle and completes the presentation. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of this album. All things considered, The Day Before Halloween proves itself a record that continues to show why Atmosphere is one of the most respected acts in the rap and hip-hop community today. The album is available now. More information on the album is available along with all of Atmosphere’s latest news at:
This year was a banner year for the worlds of rap and hip-hop. New albums from the likes of Common, Denzel Curry and Atmosphere helped make this year stand out along with new releases from the likes of DJ Shadow, Malibu Ken and Robert Glasper added even more punch to this year’s field of new rap and hip-hop albums, giving audiences plenty from which to choose.
Considering all the new albums with those noted genres, there was so much to do and hardly enough time to cove them all. That aside, even this realm was not ignored by Phil’s Picks. Here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks 2019 Top 10 New Rap & Hip-Hop albums. As with every other list produced this year, it features the Top 10 albums and five honorable mentions for a total of 15 titles. Without further ado, here is Phil’s Picks 2019 Top 10 New Rap & Hip-Hop albums.
The old year is almost over, and the new year is nearly here, but before the clock turns midnight, turning 219 to 2019, there’s still some work for Phil’s Picks to do. That work is some more year-ender list. The year’s top EPs have been noted already. Now, today it is on to the year’s top new Rap and Hip-Hop albums.
This has been an interesting year for the worlds of rap and hip-hop, with strong new offerings from the likes of Ice Cube, Evidence, Atmosphere and others. There have also been some positive surprises from the likes of Mourning (A) BLKstar, Black Eyed Peas (yes, Black Eyed Peas — the group, now a trio again thank goodness, returned to its old school roots on its new album) and Dr. Octagon.
From one to the next, the albums that have been offered rap and hip-hop fans this year has largely been strong. Keeping that in mind, forming this list was just as difficult as any before or after.
Topping this year’s list is Dilated Peoples emcee Evidence and his new album Weather or Not. The album, from start to finish is everything that hip-hop and rap purists will appreciate, but musically and lyrically. It is an old school presentation that is confident in both elements’ presentation.
Next up is fellow veteran emcee Eminem and his new album Kamikaze. This record is, in this critic’s view, some of his best work to date, hands down. The fire from his past albums is there, along with a certain maturity, too. that balance makes for a solid work from start to finish.
Third place belongs, on this list, to Black Eyed Peas’ new album Masters of the Sun: Vol. 1. As noted previously, this record takes the group, now a trio again, back to the sound that made it a hit during its underground days. At the same time, the pop sensibility that made the group a hit in the mainstream is there, too. Lyrically, the songs are their own stylistic rebirth for the group, too.
With 1st – 3rd noted, the rest of the list is fleshed out below. As always, 15 titles are listed, with the Top 10 being the best while the next five are honorable mentions. That is not to say that there is anything wrong with those albums. They are just worth noting. Now enough rambling. without any further ado, here is Phil’s PIcks 2018 Top 10 New Rap & Hip-Hop albums.
Music lovers of all kinds have seen so many great new records this year. From rock to country to jazz, blues and so many genres in-between the musical universe has spawned countless enjoyable records. One of the genres that Phil’s Picks hasn’t yet touched on this year is that of rap and hip-hop.
The rap and hip-hop community has collectively spawned just as many outstanding new albums as acts from every other genre across the musical universe. De La Soul returned this year with its new record And The Anonymous Nobody. DJ Shadow also returned with its own enjoyable album in the form of The Mountain Will Fall. If that isn’t enough for fans, Fort Knox Five also put out a new album in a 20-song remix album titled Pressurize The Cabin Re-Mixes. The record tops Phil’s Picks list of top new rap and hip-hop albums this year. It’s like having two remix albums in one yet is still its own brand new collection of songs.
There is just not enough space for it all, but this critic tried to present the most outstanding new albums deserving of credit even in this realm. Keeping this in mind, Phil’s Picks has picked out quite the field of new rap and hip-hop albums this year to pay attention to.
As a reminder, the list features the Phil’s Picks Top 10 new rap and hip-hop albums with five honorable mentions for a total of 15 new notable albums. Without any further ado, here for you is Phil’s Picks 2016 Top 10 New Rap and Hip-Hop Albums list.
PHIL’S PICKS 2016 TOP 10 NEW RAP & HIP-HOP ALBUMS
Fort Knox Five – Pressurize The Cabin Re-Mixes
Atmosphere – Fishing Blues
Will Magid – Alligator Spacewalk
De La Soul – And The Anonymous Nobody
Royce Da 5’9” – Layers
Mr. Lif – Don’t Look Down
A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It From Here…Thank You
DJ Shadow – The Mountain Will Fall
Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid
Common – Black America Again
Chance The Rapper – Coloring Book
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – This Unruly Mess I’ve Made
The Blaze ‘N’ Glory Festival is returning this summer. And in honor of the festival’s return Phil’s Picks is giving one person the chance to see the festival for free.
On Saturday, June 4th the Blaze ‘N’ Glory Festival will return for its second year. It will be held at the San Manuel Amphitheater Festival Grounds. The festival features some of the biggest names in hip-hop and rap today as well as some of the biggest names in the underground. This year’s festival features veteran rapper Nas as well as Atmosphere, Stephen “Ragga” Marley, and a number of others. In honor of the festival’s return Phil’s Picks is giving away to one lucky person a pair of VIP passes to the one-day festival. For those that might not already know, the VIP passes include:
VIP admission ticket to BLAZE N GLORY
— Designated Fast Pass Entry Lane into Venue
— BLAZE N GLORY VIP Commemorative Laminate
— Exclusive BLAZE N GLORY 2016 Poster
— Access into KUSH VIP Lounge, which includes:
— Complimentary select beer (21 & over while supplies last)
— Complimentary ROCKSTAR water in lounge (while supplies last)
— Complimentary snacks & candy in lounge (while supplies last)
— Complimentary games in lounge, including corn hole
— Private Restrooms in VIP Lounge
— Comfortable areas to sit and relax
— Dedicated Cash Bar in VIP Lounge
— Exclusive Food truck available for purchase in lounge
The VIP Package does NOT include access to the VIP Viewing Platform. That is included in the KUSH Early Bird VIP Packages. Early Bird VIP passes are retailing at $149 each. Prices for the VIP Packages will soon increase to $169 each. Thanks to Phil’s Picks one lucky person will be able to get a pair of these passes—that’s a total value of nearly $300 before tax and fees for Early Bird passes and nearly $340 for regular-priced VIP passes before tax and fees—for himself/herself and a friend or family member for free. It should be noted that these passes do not include the cost of airfare or lodging. Should the lucky winner be attending from out of state, said winner will have to handle travel and lodging costs himself/herself. These passes are only for VIP access to the festival. The passes will be given away on Friday, May 6th. Anyone interested in getting their name in for this drawing can enter their name NOW. All a person has to do in order to enter is reply to this article saying they want to be entered for a chance at these passes. Anyone interested in being entered in the drawing for these VIP passes to the Blaze ‘N’ Glory Festival can write on the Phil’s Picks Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/philspicks, noting that they want to be entered for a chance at them or just send a message at the Phil’s Picks Face book page saying they want to be entered. It’s that easy. Again, the winner of the passes will be announced on Friday, May 6th. More information on the Blaze ‘N’ Glory Festival is available online now at:
The Blaze ‘N’ Glory Festival is returning this summer.
The Blaze ‘N’ Glory Festival made its debut in 2015. And following the success of that first-ever festival, it will return this summer for its second year. It will be held on Saturday, June 4th, 2016 at the San Manuel Amphitheater Festival Grounds in San Bernardino, California. This year’s festival features a diverse mix of acts including but not limited to: Nas, Atmosphere, Stephen “Ragga” Marley, Black Salt Tone, and others. Along with the festival’s rich mix of acts there will also be over 100 lifestyle vendors, a midway, carnival rides, craft beer, food trucks, and much more.
A very limited number of discounted “Early Bird” General Admission and VIP tickets will go on sale this Friday, February 19th at 1pm EST/10am PST. They can be purchased online via the festival’s official website at http://www.BlazeNGlory.com. Prices will increase after the “Early Bird” period ends. Details on camping will be announced soon. “Early Bird” General Admission tickets will go for $49 while Premium KUSH Pass Early Bird will run $169. VIP Lounge Early Bird passes will be $149. That is before fees for each admission.
The KUSH Early Bird package includes: 1 VIP admission ticket, designated fast pass entry lane into the venue, VIP laminate, exclusive Blaze ‘N’ Glory poster, access to a VIP viewing platform for the best concert experience at the festival, and access to the KUSH VIP Lounge. It includes: complimentary select beer, snacks, candy, and Rockstar water (while supplies last). It also includes: VIP cash bar, private restrooms, and large sitting areas.
The VIP package includes: 1 VIP admission ticket, designated fast pass entry lane, VIP laminate, Exclusive 2016 Blaze ‘N’ Glory poster, and access to the KUSH VIP Lounge. Unlike the KUSH VIP package, the VIP package does not include access to the VIP viewing platform.
The Blaze ‘N’ Glory Festival is produced by Synergy Global Entertainment and Live Nation. More information on ticketing, artist lineup and more for the Blaze ‘N’ Glory Festival is available online now at:
Underground hip-hop/rap duo Atmosphere—Anthony “Ant” Davis and Sean “Slug” Daley—released its latest full length album early last month. Southsiders, the duo’s seventh full length studio release, has been getting rave reviews since that time. And those positive reactions come with good reason as has already been shown through the first two singles from the album—‘Bitter’ and ‘Kanye West.’ The album’s second track, ‘Arthur’s Song’ is just as impressive an example of what makes Southsiders one of the year’s top rap albums. It’s also one more example of why despite being an underground act, Atmosphere continues to be just as good as the major name rap and hip-hop acts that dominate mainstream airwaves today.
Daley and Davis led off their latest album with the song ‘Bitter.’ The duo couldn’t have chosen a better first impression for its latest full length studio effort. While not necessarily a battle rap per se, it tackles the subject of a broken friendship, which is a common theme in rap and hip-hop. What sets this song apart from its mainstream counterparts is that Daley and Davis prove that a song with such a theme doesn’t have to involve foul-language and mentions of guns and drugs. The pair proves the subject can be tackled with a certain amount of class and still be infectious at the same time. As this critic pointed out previously about this single, what’s most interesting in the song is that Daley’s subject that is speaking isn’t even sure what has caused his former friend to become so hateful toward him. He writes in the song’s lead verse, “Everything used to be so good then/Now it seems like you’re mad at my footprints/I’m only tryin’ to scribble in the book, man.” There’s a lot of venom in this line. But it’s justified venom. Daley’s bite gets even sharper as that opening verse progresses. Case in point, Daley’s subject goes on to say to his former friend, “It’s not my fault you’re hurting/You must have a lot of free time/Otherwise, why you tryin’ to see mine/Strain ya neck/Let the blame project/Don’t give yourself the same respect/So independent but undependable/We’re all gettin’ old/So take a mental note/And stop being so covetous/The crime is the punishment/Now run and get a sliver of dignity/You ain’t gotta be a figure of misery/You don’t want to be a victim to victory/Listenin’ to a bittersweet symphony. His subject is telling that former friend, “Hey, We’re getting older. Stop being this way. You’re only hurting yourself! So grow up and stop being so immature!” This is one hundred percent relatable for any listener. Who out there hasn’t been in the situation of having a friend that turned on them and started hating them without any explanation whatsoever? That ability of the song to relate to its listeners makes it an instant hit and one of the album’s key moments. It becomes much clearer why this was chosen as the album’s first single.
The album’s second single, ‘Kanye West’ was just as wise a choice as ‘Bitter’ to represent Southsiders. Much has been said of this single and how it is meant to represent the relationship between fellow rapper Kanye West and his relationship with Kim Kardashian. The song’s lyrics definitely leave one to wonder about that. Daley writes in the song’s opening verse, “She said she wanted somebody she could take care of/And right then is when we paired up/Pull a chair up and make a space for yourself/You should taste what I felt/It’s probable/That those on the bottom/Gonna hold you accountable/It’s lonely at the top/And it’s also hostile/Everybody got their own course full of obstacles/Don’t let your heart grow cold like a popsicle/She said she wanted someone to treat her as an equal/And right then we started speeding toward Reno/Burnin’ rubber in the burgundy Reagle/Fly like a dove/Then dive like an eagle/I’m a seventy-duce/That year was a classic/Buzz got loose/And we here tryin’ to catch it/She said she was unimpressed/That’s when I stood up and did the Kanye West.” Listeners and audiences in general can come to their own conclusions about the real meaning behind these words when they compare them to the song’s companion video, which can be viewed online now at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3JrDVPsVbVA. Regardless of the song’s lyrical topic, listeners can all agree that it’s one more good representation of what can be expected from this album.
Both ‘Kanye West’ and ‘Bitter’ are impressive representations of what listeners can expect from Daley and Davis from Southsiders. ‘Arthur’s Song,’ the album’s second track is just as impressive as those songs, despite not being one of the album’s singles. Daley raps against an old school style beat here, “Sippin’ on that brown stuff/Got ya feelin’ like you found love/Or maybe it was just luck/Honestly it’s probably none of the above/Train tracks underneath the faceless moon/The payback’s gonna want a statement soon/Been a few years since the last cigarette/But if you put your finger inside/The flask’s still wet/Stick with the fool like s&*% to the wool/Gotta get some tools to try to fix these jewels/Cause we don’t need to hear you sing how spend your time as kingpin/Mad at everything, huh.” Daley keeps on this lyrical introspection through the rest of the song. Perhaps the most powerful statement of the song comes late in its near three and a half-minute run time as Daley writes, “We face pain with pain/Everybody’s the same/When you’re caught in the rain/I guess that’s why I write about it/It helps me wrap my head around it/No matter what the world’s trying to from you/No matter what the world’s trying to make you prove/No matter what the world’s trying to say to you/You gotta write your way through.” It’s a powerful statement. He’s expressing how writing has gotten him through some really tough times. Yet again, it’s not one of those mainstream songs loaded down with foul language. There’s no talk of guns, drugs, etc. He even responds to those songs, saying, “We don’t need to hear you sing how you spend your time as kingpin/Mad at everything.” He’s saying he’s writing about reality but in doing so, it makes him stronger. He’s not writing just to write. It serves a real purpose. And that purpose makes it one more excellent example of why Southsiders is one of the best rap and hip-hop albums of the year. It also proves why Atmosphere continues to be just as good as any rap and hip-hop act dominating mainstream airwaves today.
Indie hip-hop duo Atmosphere—Sean “Slug” Daley and Anthony “Ant” Davis—recently released the second single from the group’s upcoming album Southsiders. The single, ‘Kanye West’ is a solid follow-up to the album’s lead single ‘Bitter.’ Daley writes in the song’s opening verse, “She said she wanted somebody she could take care of/And right then is when we paired up/Pull a chair up and make a space for yourself/You should taste what I felt/It’s probable/That those on the bottom/Gonna hold you accountable/It’s lonely at the top/And it’s also hostile/Everybody got their own course full of obstacles/Don’t let your heart grow cold like a popsicle/She said she wanted someone to treat her as an equal/And right then we started speeding toward Reno/Burnin’ rubber in the burgundy Reagle/Fly like a dove/Then dive like an eagle/I’m a seventy-duce/That year was a classic/Buzz got loose/And we here tryin’ to catch it/She said she was unimpressed/That’s when I stood up and did the Kanye West.” The very first thing that listeners will notice in this song is the length of the verse. The song’s other verse is just as long. That’s not a bad thing, either. As a matter of fact, it’s a good thing. That’s because it’s so unlike most mainstream rap and hip-hop songs stylistically speaking. Instead of just writing a radio friendly rap song, Daley and Davis have crafted a piece in this song that paints a vivid musical story.
Speaking of writing a musical story, the video for ‘Kanye West’ can be viewed online now at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3JrDVPsVbVA. The companion video, which presents an older Asian man and a younger black woman, is quite the effective companion to the song. The meaning behind the visuals has been hotly debated. Some have gone so far as to say that the elderly man is supposed to represent Kanye West and his waning relevance. Others have made reference to North West, the daughter of West and his wife. Regardless of whether there’s any credence to these theories, the video for the song brings the song full circle. Just as the song will keep audiences listening, so will the companion video. The two together make ‘Kanye West” one more contender from Atmosphere to be one of the year’s best new singles.
Minneapolis, MN based hip-hop duo Atmosphere will release its latest album Southsiders through Rhymesayers Records Tuesday, May 6th. In anticipation of the album’s release, the duo (MC Sean “Slug” Daley and producer Anthony “Ant” Davis) has released the album’s debut single ‘Bitter.’ The single is a great first impression for anyone that is new to the duo’s music.
‘Bitter’ is a great first impression for audiences that might be new to the music of Atmosphere first and foremost because it is clean. What’s more, it’s not about drugs and alcohol and doesn’t objectify women. Yet it still has some serious bite. That is something that is rare in today’s rap and hip-hop industry. So any radio programmers that might have this single but have yet to check it out should take this into account and give it a chance. What’s more, the song could be argued to be a battle rap of sorts. As the song’s title hints, it is about a friendship that has become broken between two individuals. What’s most interesting in the song is that Daley’s subject that is speaking isn’t even sure what has caused his former friend to become so hateful toward him. He writes in the song’s lead verse, “Everything used to be so good then/Now it seems like you’re mad at my footprints/I’m only tryin’ to scribble in the book, man.” There’s a lot of venom in this line. But it’s justified venom. Daley’s bite gets even sharper as that opening verse progresses.
As the opening verse progresses, listeners hear Daley’s attitude blatantly change. It changes from a point of confusion over the situation to more of a confident, defensive attitude. He doesn’t allow his subject (himself?) to remain the victim. His subject becomes more empowered, telling his former friend, “It’s not my fault you’re hurting/You must have a lot of free time/Otherwise, why you tryin’ to see mine/Strain ya neck/Let the blame project/Don’t give yourself the same respect/So independent but undependable/We’re all gettin’ old/So take a mental note/And stop being so covetous/The crime is the punishment/Now run and get a sliver of dignity/You ain’t gotta be a figure of misery/You don’t want to be a victim to victory/Listenin’ to a bittersweet symphony. His subject is telling that former friend, “Hey, We’re getting older. Stop being this way. You’re only hurting yourself! So grow up and stop being so immature!” This is one hundred percent relatable for any listener. Who out there hasn’t been in the situation of having a friend that turned on them and started hating them without any explanation whatsoever? That ability of the song to relate to its listeners is the starting point of what makes the song an excellent first choice for Atmosphere’s upcoming album. Just as important to the song is its musical side.
The musical side of ‘Bitter’ makes the song an excellent opener for Southsiders because of how well it complements the song’s biting lyrics. The keyboard line is the starting point of what makes the song’s musical side work. The keyboard line is an arpeggio of sorts. The arpeggio is in a minor key. That minor key adds a certain emotion to the lyrics in itself. The equally strong bass line makes for an excellent counterpoint to the keyboard part. The bass line uses more notes than the keyboard part. But looking at the song from the vantage point of composition, the solid four-count of the bass line’s whole notes actually accents the eighth notes of the keyboard line. The specific notes of the bass line counter the keyboard line perfectly, too making the two feel even more like one whole. Add in a chorus comprised solely of low voices at the song’s end, and the song as a whole ends up sticking in listeners’ ears and minds just as easily as anything that is on mainstream hip-hop radio today.