XXL's Scores

  • Music
For 324 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 68% higher than the average critic
  • 5% same as the average critic
  • 27% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 1.1 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Music review score: 73
Highest review score: 100 My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Lowest review score: 40 BAYTL
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 0 out of 324
324 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.
    • 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.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    That title is the rapper’s motto for the project and he accomplishes both. Not only does he strive to become a better, more diverse artist, he definitely prospers in more ways than one as he continues to make a name for himself as one of New York’s biggest talents.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    In stark contrast to less talented producers who enlist MCs for name recognition alone, Statik’s posse cuts are the product of thoughtful placement.
    • 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.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The rapper, producer and crooner pulls all the stops on The Chief, resulting in a first impression that is a memorable one.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Nothing is forced in his rhymes; his lyricism is so dense and acrobatic that his freestyle vibe is all the more impressive.
    • 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.
    • 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
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Aside from a few problematic miscues, the majority of Mr. Wonderful can be maneuvered without the skip button in tow.
    • 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.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    If their first album acted as the duo’s thesis statement, the two MCs laying out the blueprint to what they wanted to accomplish, then this second is a laser-focused execution of that idea, of never letting up and never sugar-coating their sound to fit into any particular lane. There won’t be another album that comes out this year that sounds anything like this one.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Coloring Book, replete with a spiritual aura and talk with the man above, is a heavy contender for the best project released this year because it goes against the grain while still building upon hip-hop’s foundation.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Atmosphere has never been afraid to bare everything, strip things down to their most honest form, and grow with their listeners. Southsiders is the next step in that lineage, and one that falls directly in line with their previous work.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    For all its dabbling in the black arts, Surf does have a few missteps, but they are ephemeral at best.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    No song strays too far from the narrative or the occupied soundspace, and with each passing breath, Isaiah Rashad becomes a viable threat to leave an indelible mark similar to the one’s left by the southern rap Gods he follows so devoutly.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Overall, Music For My Friends is another solid offering from Skyzoo that hip-hop purists will appreciate.
    • 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.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The Infamous Mobb Deep is a must-have in a true Mobb Deep fan’s collection. Crafting such a quality hip-hop album, two decades after your magnum opus, is a remarkable feat.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Regardless of whether or not the album will spawn a generation of imitators like his previous releases, Compton is a proper capstone to Dre’s legendary career.
    • 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.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Artistically, it’s a new and deeply concentrated side of the veteran MC we haven’t seen and, as a result, it comes off as one of his best albums yet.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Although it doesn’t pan out on every track, the cohesive work allows the listener to feel that they’ve plunged into the depths of Mick’s mind and come out with a soaked sense of clarity.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Seen It All: The Autobiography is a solid offering, and shows growth of Tha Snowman who is 10 years deep in the rap game.
    • 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.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Five albums in, Wale remains one of the more mercurial talents in rap, with SHINE serving as further evidence of his abilities as an MC and a reminder of his lyrical radiance.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Satellite Flight captures Cudi’s adventure back home to the moon and does it brilliantly.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    While the project has a few speed bumps, particularly the tracks with sung hooks that don’t seem to mesh much with the tense, dynamic raps Freeway delivers, Free Will is another solid entry into the consistent catalog of one of Philadelphia’s finest.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    3001: A Laced Odyssey is a perfect first step in a career that is still blooming.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Cellar Door comes off as a bit of an endurance test as result. That’s a knock against it, but a small [one] for what’s a brisk and enjoyable listen.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    A concept album with an equally heavy focus on musicianship and rhymes, undun fantastically transports into the tragic narrative.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Prima Donna doesn’t have one single track that carries the project and this is obviously done on purpose. It’s an effort better experienced as a whole rather than its parts.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Mastermind is a powerful album, an album with an identity, and one that has some solid songs and a handful of hits. Ross delivers just what he promised.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It’s not always focused, and it’s not always perfect, but that’s what real freedom feels like.
    • 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.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Overall, Take Care's sum is greater than its parts.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Despite the album’s loaded guest list, T.I. manages to squeeze in enough room to allow himself to shine and tells us why after nearly 15 years deep; he’s still a top-tier artist in the game.
    • 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.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    While Ludacris’ name may miss several Best Rapper Alive lists, he never fails to deliver on each album. If Ludaversal is a reminder that he hasn’t fallen off lyrically, the game should pay attention.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    ScHoolboy’s presence on Oxymoron is poised and confident.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Thug sounds the best he’s ever sounded, despite some of the songs begin fairly far removed from his proverbial comfort zone.
    • 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.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Despite the abundance of features (twelve), Snow's fourth studio album is indeed a win.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The fact that Freddie Gibbs created You Only Live 2wice as a concise, to-the-point body of work without fillers and ultimately for a greater purpose than just simply rapping makes it one of, if not the, strongest installment in his catalog thus far.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Under Pressure feels like a roadmap to the influences he states on the album--OutKast, A Tribe Called Quest, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Quentin Tarantino films.
    • 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.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Undeniably, Charity Starts At Home reminds why the rapper has been a darling of the underground for years.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Overall, Stalley’s debut album is highly entertaining with a sound that is very refreshing in today’s rap scene.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Even without much mainstream appeal, K.R.I.T.’S relatability keeps it accessible, and ultimately, Cadillactica proves to be something the game barely knew it needed. Consider the gauntlet thrown.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    For all his subtle lyrical techniques, the Drake experience at full throttle is only achieved with the aid of his criminally underrated usual suspects; Noah “40” Shebib, PartyNextDoor and Boi-1da dominate the instrumental duties.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    You Disgust Me is another another project where the beatmakers show their knack for spitting gritty 16s and attemping to outdo each other on their head-nodding production. Once again, it works.
    • 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.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    From a glimpse of his rock star lifestyle to transparent parables of his quest for inner peace, Machine Gun Kelly crafts a well-rounded effort that is likely to raise his stock and push his name back into the conversation of respected rappers. Bloom is an effort that’s just short of a comeback, but is very much a step up for Cleveland’s finest.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Long.Live.A$AP has its moments as a cohesive album with top producers (Hit-Boy, Danger Mouse, Noah "40" Shebib) and frequent collaborators (Clams Casino) that offer choice beats.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Summer Knights is for the hip-hip heads and less for the kids that are Joey’s usual teenaged fanbase.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Carti’s efforts on this debut project are definitely well-absorbed and not taken for granted. While the majority of the mixtape isn’t anything radically different from the music he’s been making for the past three years, it’s a sign of consistency in sound.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Despite the numerous false starts for a release date, Hall Of Fame has finally arrived and it’s well worth the wait.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    T.L.O.P. does the perfect job of showcasing what makes Kanye brilliant--excellent production mixed with creative samples and his Quincy Jones-esque ability to get the best work out of some of music’s most talented artists. ’Ye’s rapping is good, filled with creative and honest lyrics, funny barbs, outright disses, his occasional take on pop culture and politics and the traditional Kanye bragging plus a few unnecessary lines that can make some listeners wonder he would even say them. But that’s ’Ye.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Culture is a tour de force of all that makes Migos great while showcasing all of the group’s strengths--the gift for catchy hooks and melodies, unique flows, incredible group chemistry and phenomenal one-liners.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    . On At.Long.Last.A$AP., he takes a creative risk and lets the fans reap the rewards.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Khaled sticks to what he knows best throughout this LP and that’s creating hits with ease. The 22 songs on Grateful aren’t anything out of the ordinary for Khaled or any of his featured guests but they remain hits nonetheless.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Pretty Girls Like Trap Music is an explosive collection of songs that showcases the colorful rhyme animal at the top of his game.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Of course, he isn’t breaking totally new ground but still manages to make Captain California one of his best projects to date. At no point on this 45-minute rap fest does Murs ever come across as unsure, unauthentic or unaware of who is he is as a rapper or man.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    He’s fully aware of who exactly he wants to be in hip-hop: a proud, raw, unapologetically Southern MC, something the game’s been missing. He really touches the country audience with the project, a genre hip-hop rarely reaches.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Lord Steppington has it’s fair share of bright moments and even stronger swaths of production.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    P.T.S.D. takes listeners on a worthwhile journey from confusion and loneliness to bitterness and triumph.
    • 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.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The 12-song album is impressive, boasting a litany of melodic street anthems and how-to pointers for the underdogs of the world.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The album isn’t necessarily a classic, or better than The Heist, but it does prove Macklemore is here to stay.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The album highlights everything we have come to love about Drake but in too much excess. Clocking in at just under an hour-and-a-half and spread across 20 different songs, Views renders itself too long.
    • 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.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    X
    X certainly proves that Chris Brown’s talent will forever shine through over whatever troubles come his way.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Skyzoo got himself a winner with this album.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    With honesty, fiery cadence and a flow more commonly heard on a shock jock or rock star, Haze holds nothing back. Free from features, the listener can fully follow along with Haze’s journey uninterrupted.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The album is a welcomed return for 50, who sounds like his hiatus didn’t affect his ability to create his signature street records.
    • 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.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Ab’s creative leaps are sometimes jarring at the onset, such as “Closure” featuring Jhené Aiko, a track that will be deeply unsettling to the National Association of Backpacker Excellence among others.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    With plenty of slick metaphors, complex wordplay and hard-hitting rhymes, Sigel comes out on top This Time.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The kind of God level rapping that Ab-Soul showcases on Do What Thou Wilt means this album will exist predominantly in the headphones of those shrewd enough to understand.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    PRhyme is the perfect alternative for listeners who are tired of juvenile lyriscim, mud sippers and unintelligible hooks.
    • 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.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Childish Gambino gets definite props for pushing the envelope and refusing to operate within any genre confinements on this refreshing 49-minute trip through the funkadelic 1970s. While these blurred lines make this album a little hard to follow, “Awaken, My Love!” proves his versatility as a rapper turning over a new leaf.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Taken on the whole, Camp is full of top-tier lyricism, honesty, uncertainty and triumph.
    • 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.