XXL's Scores

  • Music
For 213 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 66% higher than the average critic
  • 5% same as the average critic
  • 29% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 0.3 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Music review score: 72
Highest review score: 100 Good Kid, M.A.A.D City
Lowest review score: 40 H.N.I.C., Pt. 3
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 0 out of 213
213 music reviews
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The end result is a body of work that pushes hip-hop in a bold new direction and puts Mr,. West back at the forefront of the culture once again.
    • XXL
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Life Is Good is arguably Nas's best album since Stillmatic.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Every record is both complexly arranged and sonically fitting, foregrounding Kendrick's vivid lyricism and amazing control of cadence. There's not a single loophole.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Luda may not have evened the playing field, but he certainly created an excellent musical forum for the sexes to air out their differences.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The tandem intuitively displays a concept--the grind, fame, and reconciliation--by evolving the lyrical content and changing the aural backdrops
    • 67 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    While Adventures of Bobby Ray is B.o.B’s story, the feeling he conjures makes it easy to relate. It’s safe to say this genre-blending debut is a step in the right direction for the young rap star.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    While the self-assured MC is certainly gifted on the microphone, his boasts get a boost from the beatsmith’s production on songs like “Nobody,” as he guns for rap’s No. 1 spot. Likewise, Juxx’s spirited effort on the uplifting “You Can’t Stop Me” complements Polo’s uptempo production perfectly. It’s that balance that ultimately helps The eXXecution go off without a hitch.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Both releases have their hits and misses, but overall the music remains balanced. Longtime E-40 fans will find more than a few songs to mob to, while the decidedly West Coast sound may alienate newer listeners.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    On Thank Me Later, he explores what it's like to have done that-to have become successful. Turns out, it's not exactly what he thought it would be. But it still sounds pretty damn remarkable.
    • XXL
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    While his rock-solid catalog should vanquish any doubt, the Bawse looks to cement his musical gangsta on his fourth Def Jam album.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The seasoned MC isn't exactly saying goodbye to rap. However, whenever he does decide to hang it up, Trill O.G. will surely go down as a testament to why Bun B is one of the trillest to ever do it.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The album still possesses enough of the classic Slug and Ant material that the underground has come to love that it will prove a welcome addition to their catalog.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Seven of the ten tracks are under 3 minutes long, leaving the listener wanting more. It's as if you've just begun to take off with the jets, but the pilot is forced to make a premature landing. Even so, CC delivers, it's quality outshining its quantity.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The album is the first test of Tech's ability to balance his new industry connections with the distinct style that his Technicians have become accustomed to over the years. Luckily, he reaches that marker without any real stumbles along the way.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    As is often the case with politically charged rap, the album at times comes off preachy, but it rarely oversteps the boundary.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Throughout the 11-track record, Em and Royce deliver exactly what their fans have been waiting for for a decade plus: lyrics to go.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Big Sean is justifiably basking in his moment on Finally Famous, oozing lyrically dexterous flamboyance over lighthearted production.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    This prolific rhymer has added yet another project to a continuously growing catalog, and it's one sure to please anyone who flies those Jets.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The project feels unified, and the three artists mesh well with one another throughout.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    When Fish Ride Bicycles is an energetic and fun summer album with lots of warm-weather references and car talk.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Though the content of We The Best Forever is what we've come to expect from a DJ Khaled offering-grandiose odes to the grind and getting yours-that he understands how to create those better than most is what makes a DJ Khaled track, and album, worthwhile.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Collectively, the project is incredibly ambitious, yet dexterous; West and his band of producers skillfully lay down a musical foundation that makes it easy to dance to and not be worn down by the, at times, didactic messages.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Section.80 proves is that its author's brain is neither lost nor useless, as he weaves together carefully constructed thoughts before spewing raps on each of the project's 16 tracks, ensuring nothing is disposable or without purpose.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The majority of Sorry 4 The Wait reinforces that he's still capable of doing this [dismantling aggressive beats with purpose and flair], even if it doesn't exactly live up to classic mixtapes in his catalog.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Reflecting the Top Dawg Ent. rapper's lyrics and tone, the album is unapologetic and rugged, but sounds anything but rough.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Maybe influenced by Marshall himself, Royce has learned to channel his loquacious voracity into a controlled rage, and the end result is perhaps his most complete body of work.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Even with some lack of vulnerability and risk, Tha Carter IV displays the nonsensical approach that fans have grown to love. Future and previous aside, Weezy's present is bright.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    A very strong debut album from J. Cole.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Undeniably, Charity Starts At Home reminds why the rapper has been a darling of the underground for years.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Despite a few redundant tracks and a lack of cohesion, Honkey Kong paints a good picture of the impressive output Apathy is capable of in 2011.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The Wonder Years will be remembered with great fondness.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The sonic mood of Ambition reflects its title and author and proves, on the whole, far warmer than his debut.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Overall, Take Care's sum is greater than its parts.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Although some of its strongest cuts already appeared on its predecessor ("My God," "Alone In Vegas," "I Still Wanna"), Pusha ultimately leaves anticipation for his official solo introduction.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Taken on the whole, Camp is full of top-tier lyricism, honesty, uncertainty and triumph.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The album is a standout effort that introduces the full-range of his talents as an MC with crafty songwriting abilities and deft ear for a sonic palette.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    A concept album with an equally heavy focus on musicianship and rhymes, undun fantastically transports into the tragic narrative.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Once they digest this one, fans will be eager for seconds.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Transformation suffers from a few forgettable beats, but not in a way that devalues the project. Add another four-star LP to Murs's solid catalogue.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Although the music is undeniably the most exciting part of the tape, A$AP does little to get in the way, oftentimes, enhancing the beats with his Bone Thugs-N-Harmony inspired flows.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Despite the abundance of features (twelve), Snow's fourth studio album is indeed a win.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The Dreamer/The Believer may be Com's most digestible LP to date.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Ultimately, lyrical dexterity and a versatile delivery prove to be ScHoolboy's biggest assets.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    With Rich Forever, Ross continues to cement his position as one of hip-hop's best artists.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Even with so many features, Tyga rarely lets the album get away from him, remaining in the driver's seat even when next to young stars and legends.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The multi-talented artist has indeed gotten better, steadily working towards perfecting his crafts.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Strange Clouds is a sophomore album that straddles genre lines but does so with an authenticity that many rappers testing the pop waters lack.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The compilation is short--12 tracks--but if fans are looking for relentless lyrics in their R.A.P. Music, this ATL MC remains a Killer on the mic.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    In his most recent solo endeavor, Control System, Soul craftily proves that he is indeed a potent weapon on a team full of heavy artillery.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    With Live from the Underground, through deeply authentic takes on his own life and surroundings, the 2011 XXL Freshman has found a way to create some of the most resonating, least selfish rap music around.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The rapper coolly exceeds expectations in his artistic self-awareness and this go-round shines like his diamond-studded Fozzy Bear chain.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Rugby Thompson, an album that not only strips him of an unfair "weed rapper" label, but is also probably the best rap album to come out of New York this year.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    With Self Made 2, MMG takes another step toward truly becoming untouchable.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    If Teflon Don was a buffet-style feast with deluxe entrées laid out for the listeners, God Forgives, I Don't is a full-course dinner that starts with a plate of bruschetta and ends with a zeppole.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It's an LP that accurately reflects 8 Ball's place as one of the finest elder statesmen of southern rap.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    With plenty of slick metaphors, complex wordplay and hard-hitting rhymes, Sigel comes out on top This Time.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    There's rarely a weak bar on welcome to: OUR HOUSE, though the verbal dexterity isn't quite as stunning as it was on their debut.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Kiss The Ring is brief and overrun with enough proven formulas and artists that the opportunity for a miss barely exists.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Though Keys to the Kuffs is no magnum opus, occupying a place just a notch under Take Me To Your Leader in terms of execution, it is an important step for the veteran.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    A healthy batch of impressive, often incredible music.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Jake One helms all 14 tracks, and the Seattle native's distinguished soul production provides the necessary thump throughout, proving that one-producer-one-MC formula works superbly for this juncture.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    He's not always as nuanced as he's shown the ability to be, and can indeed come off preachy, so those with already established ideologies may find aspects of this album off-putting.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The two feed off each other well, resulting in good music with a message, more often than not.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    [It's the] astute observations on the human condition and keen self-awareness that set this effort apart.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Though he may no longer be quite the underdog he once was, rapping like it--at least for no--still works
    • 62 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    By using his seasoned ear and stuffed phonebook, Dram has fed his base with what is indeed Quality Street Music.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Dreams and Nightmares doesn't break new grounds in hip-hop, however it does serve as a respectable release from the rapper who's on the verge of universal acceptance-a road similarly traveled by his cohorts Rick Ross and Wale.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    These verses could've fit on any of his past records or mixtapes. But the production on Mic Tyson ties them together nicely.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Truly, a thrilling upgrade of signature East Coast delivery in the new age and one of the best albums of the year to date.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Saigon's second LP offers a sizable amount of diversity over fitting instrumentals, exhibiting how much he has evolved as a rapper by personifying his bars to reflect his music and his life.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Skyzoo got himself a winner with this album.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The Solution finds Buckshot doing a better job than in his past two at-bats to keep up with the super producer, and he does so by using his relaxed spitting as an anchor.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Like a fine wine and all that jazz, they have grown into a formidable group, and MHz Legacy proves that.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    With his latest effort, Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors, the 37-year-old Dungeon Family elite again tackles fresh sonic landscapes while remaining nimble with verbal wizardry.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It's packed with the right ingredients for yet another solid appraisal from both fans and critics.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The project is one of his best thus far by virtue of him composing an album in which listeners can empathize with how he views religion ("Hallelujah"), the club ("Ball"), women ("Guns and Roses," "Can You Learn," and "Crusin'") and so forth.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Long.Live.A$AP has its moments as a cohesive album with top producers (Hit-Boy, Danger Mouse, Noah "40" Shebib) and frequent collaborators (Clams Casino) that offer choice beats.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The album probably has more features than any other Budden project, but it’s not overbearing. Also, Joe does not move away aimlessly from what he is good at and what he enjoys.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Throughout, 7L can only be described as a “Rock Beast,” as he brings a consistency and ferociousness to the Czarface sound that comes off best in the track of the same name.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Ultimately, 12 Reasons to Die is a pitch-perfect pairing of Adrian Younge’s soulful production and Ghostface’s invigorated rhymes.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    With the exception of a few fillers, Legends Never Die is a truly compelling entry in the two-decade discography of R.A. the Rugged Man.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Ultimately, Acid Rap’s biggest victory is living up to it’s own hype and Chance’s careful packaging of his artistry.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    With Yeezus clocking in at a short 40 minutes, Kanye achieves his goal of creating a stripped-down, minimalist project; there’s nothing extra or out of place here. More importantly, Kanye makes it abundantly clear that he’s still got a lot to say, and a lot of new ways to say it.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Mac Miller’s sophomore effort is a surprising and focused album from an artist fed up with his public perception. He does enough here to prove his point.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Matching his lyrical abilities with polished production and radio-ready hooks, The Gifted sees Wale inching towards hip-hop’s upper echelon, while still exhibiting the hunger of a young MC on the rise.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    He may be coming to grips with the fact that there are limits to what you can do at the top, as his clash with Billboard regarding his Samsung deal showed, but that doesn’t stop him--lyrically, promotionally, or otherwise--from trying to push the boundaries out a little further.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Summer Knights is for the hip-hip heads and less for the kids that are Joey’s usual teenaged fanbase.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Fraud’s production matches his laconic delivery in a way that other producers’ work just hasn’t. This makes Saaab Stories a much more cohesive mixtape than it would have been otherwise.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Whether Tech wants the bigger fame or not is unclear, but it’s safe to say the growth he displays here is one step nearer. He’s strange, he’s provocative, but the lesser shock value on this album marks it as his true debut to a larger audience.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It’s not always focused, and it’s not always perfect, but that’s what real freedom feels like.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Despite the numerous false starts for a release date, Hall Of Fame has finally arrived and it’s well worth the wait.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Stay Trippy is a record that knows to stay within the lane that it’s carved for itself. Big-budget stripper rap has rarely sounded so fresh.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    With the themes, moods and issues displayed here, Drizzy has shared another moment of his life, and now the only thing left to prove is if his crossover powers can last him a decade from now.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Old
    Brown displays real bravery in his willingness to merge the sacred with the profane, the independent with the arena-ready, the old with the new.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Pusha T accomplishes a lot here, crafting a record that is big in concept but is still rooted in the longstanding hip-hop tradition that lyricism is king.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The emotion and power is not missing from MMLP2--but you’re getting one with more perspective, a version which has seen 13 more years and has a different outlook on some of the same topics that he first visited in 2000.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Knock Madness is indeed a stepping stone album, one that can only produce even better music in the future.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Because The Internet shows off his full array of talent (writer, musician, comedian) and makes him stand out from the rest.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    7 Days of Funk is a fun and refreshing experience--one of Snoop’s most enjoyable projects since Tha Blue Carpet Treatment. George Clinton would be proud of this fresh take on funk music.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Marciano adroitly finesses Marci Beaucoup, with the sort of smug, witty, stream of conscious brilliance that is one of his more endearing attributes on the mic. Couple that with his own tremendous production, and the bevy of talented guest-spots on here, and Marci Beaucoup is the perfect gift for any hi-hop connoisseur.