Occasionally when I get materials for review in an incredibly small mailer, the record label or distributor stick in what I like to call “spacers” for shipping purposes. As cheap as it is to press up thousands of discs and put them in cardboard sleeves, you have to imagine throwing one or two in to make a package air-tight is cheaper than buying padded envelopes not to mention convenient as all hell. It almost never matters what the “spacer” is when you pull it out, because it was simply there to prevent the more valuable CD’s in gem cases from getting broken or scratched up in transit. Spacers can be just about anything – a single from an artist the label released years ago, a weird Japanese pop sensation unlikely to get U.S. rotation, or a sampler of projects in the works that may or may not ever get released to retail. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it can fill a few centimeter gap before the package gets sealed up and sent off to a reviewer like yours truly.
9 times out of 10 these “spacers” end up in a stack that I occasionally winnow out by giving them away to anyone interested, or in absolute desperation end up throwing away since nobody wants it (an awful “Schnuffle Bunny” single comes to mind). The “Koch Records September 2008 New Release Sampler” caught my eye though as a spacer that actually did MORE than just fill up space. Holy crap, this album actually proposes to introduce me to new shit Koch is releasing next month AHEAD OF TIME – spacers are often if not normally months to years BEHIND the times. The tracklisting on the cardboard sleeve was even more helpful because it actually has proposed street dates for all of the artists featured within. Like a wrestling card these dates are definitely “subject to change” without any advance warning, but for what it’s worth I’m going to present the hip-hop found within in the same chronological order that Koch Records did.
First up is a new song that features DJ Khaled as a guest but which appears to be produced by Cool & Dre (they are mentioned on the song). It’s from a brand new rap group called K.A.R., who are being presented and promoted by the tag team of Fat Joe & Pistol Pete. The raps of the members are braggadocious and largely generic, bragging about “getting guap’ and wearing more rocks than Mr. T.” I always thought Mr. T was known for wearing gold chains not diamond ones but hey whatever. Snoop Dogg’s new crew Dub Union seems to have more potential than Fat Joe’s, as the group is a Cali collaboration between Damani from Inglewood, Bad Lucc from Watts, and Soopafly from Long Beach. “Westurn Union” has a swangin’ gangsta vibe, smooth background vocals and a guest appearance by Daz Dillinger to make the California love complete. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for this promo on September 2nd. The third hip-hop inclusion street dating on the same date is a new Boss Hogg Outlawz project presented by Slim Thug, who is also the biggest star of “Keep it Playa” other than Ray J. I do enjoy the track but it almost seems too smooth for the “baws of the nawf” to flow on, and can hardly be considered an acceptable substitute for Thug’s EXTREMELY OVERDUE sophomore album.
Streeting on September 16th is DJ Khaled’s new album “We Global,” and by now you’ve undoubtedly heard the lead single “Out Here Grindin” included on this sampler. Other than being radio edited this appears to be the same version that I purchased from iTunes, which does NOT feature Lil Wayne. I’m aware that there is a version with a verse from him, but to date I have not figured out whether this was a cut and paste, or whether Wayne’s verse comes from an early version and he was cut off the track when the price for his guest rap got too high (when you sell two million copies of an album in a slumping economy, you can charge damn near what you want for sixteen bars). Khaled proves yet again that he is the master of producing posse tracks, even if he feels the reason to insert himself into each one to shout about how great he is. The song is a hit regardless and Khaled’s probably going to sell well when the album drops, although I expect him to live up to the standards set here and on “We the Best.”
Last but not least streeting on September 30th are new releases by Trick Trick and Dem Franchize Boyz. The former was panned by contributor Tom Doggett two years ago in a review of “The People Vs.” while the latter has been panned by this site at nearly every turn (well we can’t help it – their shit is fucking terrible). I will say that Trick Trick’s “Let it Fly” shows some potential though, thanks to a crunked out beat that’s either by Lil Jon or a very good imitator of his style and a guest appearance by Ice Cube. “Every hood’s the same, up in Detroit/I’m with Trick Trick, smoked about 3 joints.” Okay, cool. To DFB’s credit too they’ve done about everything they could to make me like their first single “Turn Heads.” The beat’s got just enough whip appeal that I wouldn’t be ashamed to let it bump, but then again beats are all that DFB has ever really had going for them. To go the extra length they brought in Lloyd to sing the song’s hook – a wise choice. Even though the lyrics are still largely inane, it’s far easier to overlook them thanks to a dope beat and fly hook.
On the whole the “Koch Records September 2008 New Release Sampler” is a mixed bag for hip-hop heads. I can honestly say I’m looking forward to Dub Union, Boss Hogg Outlaws and DJ Khaled, mildly curious about Trick Trick and Dem Franchize Boyz, and almost completely uninterested in K.A.R. Since these are all coming up in September unless the street dates change you can look forward to reviews of each one here on RapReviews.com, although when the packages come in the mail I may once again find myself winnowing out the spacers. I may end up considering K.A.R.’s album a spacer whether it was intended as such or not – they just didn’t show me much here. Hell Melissa Greene’s “Next Step” was more interesting as the album’s finale and it’s not hip-hop at all, it’s some Katy Perry style bubblegum pop rock. What can you do though, other than wait for the NEXT spacer to show up in the mailbox.