XXL’s 2012 Freshmen Live Tour made its final stop at the Best Buy Theater in New York on Monday. Freshmen Future, Kid Ink, Danny Brown, French Montana, Macklemore, Machine Gun Kelly, Hopsin, Iggy Azalea and Roscoe Dash were joined by special guests Cipha Sounds, DJ Khaled, Red Cafe, Schoolboy Q and Tech N9ne. Photos by Bernard Smalls
Album: Day After Tomorrow
Label: E1Music/Atlantic Records
Maino continues to tell his story with his sophomore album Day After Tomorrow. Serving as a follow-up to his 2009 debut If Tomorrow Comes, which narrated his upbringing in Bed-Stuy to becoming a rapper, this new album is set in the present and represents the positive and negative balance that comes with fame. For better or for worse, this album manages to differentiate itself from his previous album and casts Maino in a new light, while preserving his spot as a NY radio staple.
On many of the 16 tracks Maino’s verses are accompanied by singers on the choruses giving them an R&B feel. He chose to use mostly in-house producers including Blast Off Productions who did four of the sixteen tracks. The album opens with “Never Gon’ Stop.” The track makes the theme of Maino’s contemplation of the two sides of fame clear with lines like “why I’m feeling like it was simpler when we was poor.” On “Need a Way Out,” produced by and featuring Mista Raja, Maino tells his story from three stages of his life starting with his childhood in a poor home, then his stint in prison in the early 90s, and eventually becoming a rapper in where he questions, “looking in the mirror I’m a rapper now/ what’s supposed to happen now?”
Based on his lyrics, Maino feels that he has made it in the game but is still not completely satisfied with his current life. His lyrics are real, but he could have done a better job of showing the contrast between his past and current status. It’s a concept album and he stays true to his theme, but it does get a little repetitive. He exhibits confidence on “Messiah” on which he discusses trying to save hip-hop. While I agree with his thoughts on the state of hip-hop such as “too many characters, the game is like a TV show/I can’t believe I see rappers wearing women clothes,” he didn’t prove to me that he’ll be the one to save it. On the title track, “Day After Tomorrow,” and “Glad to Be Alive,” Maino expresses his appreciation and thanks for the success he has seen but reminds us that there are two sides to that success, showing that things have changed with lines like “what happened to the old Maino? People say they miss him.” “Heaven for a G” stays in the same vein thematically, as the song is about doubt and worry of what the future may hold for the Brooklyn-bred rapper.
Maino is clearly a talented songwriter, and it seems like he is aiming for the certified Platinum success of “All The Above” with singles such as “Let It Fly” featuring Roscoe Dash and “That Could Be Us” featuring Robbie Nova which was released in the fall. “Let It Fly” has a similar beat to the Roscoe Dash assisted hit “No Hands.” “Unstoppable” and “Heart Stop” also seemed to be aimed at getting radio play. “Heart Stop” includes a chorus sung by a girl who sounds a lot like Rihanna. The Buckwild-produced “Nino Brown” and the previously released “Cream” featuring T.I. and Meek Mill which samples a Rick Ross lyric from “MC Hammer” contain some hot lines and quotables. T.I.’s verse has me looking forward to hearing more on his upcoming project Trouble Man, whereas Maino’s verse is the least memorable on the track.
The album as a whole may have benefited from a few more features from well-known artists and a little more diversity in subject matter, which says a lot for Maino. This is sort of a conundrum for Maino because his confidence is clear, but at times he appears overshadowed, as seen on “Cream” when he trades verses with T.I. and Meek. In terms of production, it is solid, but lacking diversity and basically what you would expect from a Maino album. Overall, The Day After Tomorrow is a worthy effort by Maino, but more than likely only the hit singles the project has spawned such as “Let It Fly” will be remembered by the general public and not the album as a whole.