J. Cole – Crooked Smile (The Making Of)



“Crooked Smile” isn’t one of my favorites off of Born Sinner, but that’s okay.  It’s catchy as hell, and it’s only one part of a superb album.  Plus, the meaning behind it is meant to be positive; It would be unfair to say it doesn’t serve a purpose.  The radio hit relates to many people throughout the U.S., and the whole world in general.

In this short video, Jermaine explains the details behind what inspired the tune.  Whether it was random inspiration (meeting a girl he’d never seen, who eventually inspired the hook melody), or his own desire to succeed, you can tell he put everything into the lyrics he wrote.

LIFE & RHYMES: J. Cole – “Crooked Smile”



Tuesday Grooves

Sorry for the slightly late update, my friends. Mondays for me are quite busy these days.

Like it or not, Ronzo’s Word is back with another three grooves for you to vibe out to this week.

Kendrick Lamar – Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst

It’s been almost a year since Good Kid m.A.A.d City dropped, yet you still hear its singles all over the radio station (I heard “Swimming Pools (Drank)” last summer, and it still remains one of the top songs on the radio). Not only that, but if you’ve been around for the past year, Kendrick is everywhere. His guest verses are sprinkled everywhere, he’s been invited for guest appearances on television shows, and he seems to be performing at almost every music award show (If you saw the BET Awards recently, it seemed like Kendrick was out there every 20 minutes).

Can’t hate the man for blowing up though, K. Dot has been and always will be an incredibly deep lyricist. “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst” is no exception, involving some of the most meaningful lyrics on the entire album.

Each verse takes you deep inside the life of Kendrick Lamar. The first verse summarizes the main plot of the entire album, showing the raw emotion from a man stuck in a dangerous cycle. The fact that Kendrick saw his good friend’s brother killed right in front of him is incredibly shocking. Enough material to write an entire song about, even. Somehow, he finds a way to fit it into one meaningful verse, fulfilling the wishes of his deceased friend.

The second verse focuses on the mindset of a “girl damaged by the system”. Taking place over a phone call, the girl accuses Kendrick of damaging the name of her sister, the subject matter of a song from Section.80. He uses an incredible technique at the end of the verse;
He fades the vocals out, as if he was beginning to ignore her.

The rest of the song focuses on inner reflection, playing with the idea of accepting death. This leads to the second half of the track, “I’m Dying of Thirst”. The theme of holy water, and starting a new non-violent life is the focus of this part, stressing that they’re “tired of running”.

J. Cole – She Knows

On an album as good as Born Sinner, its hard to pick just one track that stands out from the rest. I believe that “She Knows” is a strong consideration for the choice, combining Cole’s melodic style with the deep emotion heard throughout the album. Girls seem to be one of J. Cole’s favorite topics to rap about, usually the basis for many of his radio hits. This track is different, however. Even though the subject matter is similar, the mood is much darker, focusing on the struggles of a relationship while being a star rapper.

Even though the track stays a bit dark throughout the whole thing, its still very radio-friendly. I wouldn’t be surprised if this song made it to the singles charts within the next couple months. That is what’s so great about it. J. Cole managed to fuse raw emotion and subject matter with pop sensibility. That is a win in all regards.

Mac Miller – Matches ft. Ab-Soul

All of these albums from June 18th (https://ronzopleaj.wordpress.com/2013/06/21/june-18th-the-conclusion/) have stayed in constant rotation, and for absolutely good reason. Watching Movies With the Sound Off was the album of the three most fit for party environments, besides the few tracks based around self-reflection and deep thought. Standing out from the rest, for me, was the track “Matches ft. Ab-Soul“. Mac Miller’s growing relationship with TDE is definitely turning out for the best. His nonsensical style works perfectly with the complexity of Ab-Soul’s rhyme schemes. The track isn’t exactly about much other than drinking, smoking, and general debauchery, but that’s all you need for a party song.

Featuring one of the best beats on the entire album, Mac and Soul go toe-to-toe lyrically, with each one outdoing the other in different ways. I hope to hear much more from these two together in the future, as well as other collaborations between Mac Miller and the rest of the TDE camp.

*“Geez ft. Schoolboy Q” is another dope collaboration between the two camps worth checking out


J. Cole – Let Nas Down (Remix) feat. Nas


When one reads a title like that, you have to ask the question: “How did this come to fruition? I thought Cole disappointed Nas. Now he’s on the song about that exact topic?”

The best part is, Nas completely kills this track. Dominating almost 3 minutes of track, he continues his revitalized performance on all music he touches in recent history. In the verse, he clearly shows that he is not disappointed in Cole.

“Now I’m playing Born Sinner loud, saw you live, rock the crowd
Like wow, you made your n***a Nas proud”

Maybe Cole jumped too quickly for this one, as there is clearly no problems between the two rappers. Fine with me, it’s always great to hear Nas come through and kill another track.

Thank you for liberating this remix so quickly, Cole. This one was dope.


The Crystal Ball – 2013

2013...what's in store?

Today’s been a good start to the weekend so far, but any weekend would be good when it starts off with going to the all-you-can-eat pizza buffet by where I live. Got a good little food coma going on about now.

But anyway, today I’m going to give you guys a look into some things I’m excited for in 2013. A lot of interesting things have come already, and it’s only been a month. Let’s hope it continues that trend:

1. Sophomore albums from Big Sean and J. Cole

As proven by how popular Guap has been, Hall of Fame should be a really exciting release from Big Sean. The project has mostly been kept under wraps, but that comes as no surprise knowing how Kanye operates. The album has been steadily building hype for a March release, as his lead single has been getting extremely heavy radio rotation. 2012 was a fantastic year for Big Sean, it will be interesting to see if he can continue the momentum (especially after how successful Finally Famous was).

J. Cole became a major success with the release of Cole World, after years and years of consistent grinding and being low profile. 2013 will be an important year for Cole, as he has been pretty dormant for the majority of 2012. Aside from a couple feature verses, a couple songs, and some teasers for Born Sinner, seems like the main focus has still been on Cole World. Which is fine, but it will be exciting to see his sophomore effort, as well as this elusive collaboration project with Kendrick Lamar that’s been in the works.

Should be a good year for both of these artists.

2. The Return of Kid Cudi
Indicud should be dope

After a long and strange absence from rap music, it’s nice to know that Kid Cudi is finally releasing his third studio album. Let’s hope it stays away from the depressing vibes that Man on the Moon II tended to have. It sounds like Kid Cudi realizes this as well, as he tweeted:

“The overall tone of Indicud is positive and confident,”

He’s also claimed that it’s “his version” of Chronic 2001. Honestly a pretty bold claim, since Chronic 2001 is one of the most prolific albums of all time. If it’s anything like Man on the Moon: The End of Day, honestly it may have a chance.

3. Gotta Love Collabs
dope collabs

The past couple years have sure been high in high profile collaborations. From Eminem and Royce Da 5’9″, to Jay-Z and Kanye West. Not to mention a bunch of other planned collaborations that still have not been confirmed or talked about much since (Rick Ross and Drake, Currensy and Wiz Khalifa, and I hate to say it, but Outkast as well). Talk about a J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar collaboration has been circling the internet for a litle over a year now, constantly being pushed back as time goes on. Reasons for being pushed back have been because of Good Kid M.a.a.D City, as well as more recently, Born Sinner. Will this ever come out? It’s gotta be the most anticipated thing in 2013, personally. We’ll see how it plays out.

Some other collaborations that look promising includes Big K.R.I.T. and Yelawolf’s Country Cousins. With a still unknown release date, this project is also still up in the air. The combination of these two lyricists should be interesting, especially because hearing Yelawolf over K.R.I.T.’s southern beats might lead to incredible music. Being that they’re both southern artists, the flavor produced from the sounds on this should be pretty tasty.

Also, The Man & The Martian by B.O.B. and T.I. should be pretty interesting as well.

4. Emergence of A$AP Rocky and Joey Bada$$

Ironic that both of their names have dollar signs in them.

A$AP Rocky has had the most fantastic year so far, in this young 2013. Even though his album Long. Live. ASAP. leaked almost a month before it dropped, it still managed to sell over 200,000 copies and top the Billboard charts. Not only has he been getting attention for his album, his lead single Fuckin Problem, featuring major appearances from 2 Chainz, Drake, and Kendrick Lamar, has gone insanely viral. Nowadays, seems like the local 97.9 plays it nonstop. It will be interesting to see where A$AP goes from here.

Another up and comer from the New York area is an MC named Joey Bada$$. Recently releasing a track produced by DJ Premier, Joey has been gaining popularity. Starting off as a regional success (on an underground level), he has gone far and beyond that. Landing himself on tours with Juicy J and Mac Miller, as well as giving a performance for the aforementioned A$AP on 1 Train, has really boosted him for future success. 1999 was originally what got him known, but hopefully we’ll see his debut come sooner than later.

5. Maybe a Little Less 2 Chainz
This guy is everywhere

Don’t get me wrong, I like 2 Chainz just as much as the next rap fan (from what I’ve heard, this is in range from total hatred to adoring). Is it too much to ask, though, for 2013 to be a little less 2 Chainz dominant? Let’s hear someone else take a run for top spot. Radio rotation is filled with his singles, and his goofy lyrics seem to be over everyone’s hooks lately.

You gotta respect the man’s grind for writing so many verses, and appearing on every household name rapper’s tracks from Drake to Game. Not to mention, he has talent to make incredibly catchy hooks. Tracks such as No Lie feat. Drake are proof of how big 2 Chainz features can make a song. Oh, did I mention he’s on Kanye’s team too?

I’m sure we’ll be seeing plenty more of him.