Diplo, Invisible, Jaylib, Kanye West, Mad Rabbi, Main Flow,
Prince Po, SMP, Stikabryze, Tableturns Presents, Tame One, Wordsworth ::
The Singles File Volume 028

EDITOR'S NOTE: All of the reviews found in 'The Singles File' are being presented WITHOUT scores. You are left to interpret the dopeness/wackness of the single on the words of the writer alone. If you have any questions about this format, please e-mail the editor for more information.

Artist: Brandy f/ Kanye West
Title:  Talk About Our Love 12"
Label:  Atlantic Records
Writer: William Ketchum III

A few years ago, Brandy was on top of the entertainment world. She went from "Sitting in Her Room" as a youngster to creating a polished, unique sound with super-producer Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins, and establishing an acting career that included her own primetime sitcom (UPN's "Moesha") and a made-for-TV movie. It's been a while since she's been in the music scene though, filling time with more appearances on the silver screen and an MTV reality show about her pregnancy. With her new single "Talk About Our Love," Ms. Norwood reinvents herself with no other than hip-hop's producer of the moment, Kanye West. Kanye abandons his trademark sampling and creates a catchy, organic groove that's sure to fill dance floors coast to coast. The track's mellow piano keys and engaging horns perfectly compliment Brandy's smooth vocals, helping show her vocal and lyrical maturity. Kanye also contributes a verse, his signature one-two delivery giving the song a hip-hop twist. While this may not reflect the sound of her upcoming album, Afrodisiac, "Talk About Our Love" is sure to create a buzz.

Artist: Diplo
Title:  Diplo Rhythm 12"
Label:  Big Dada Recordings
Writer: Steve 'Flash' Juon

Once in a while I like a good Jamaican riddim up in my mix. Much less often than that, I can go for a fast-paced house or techno song designed to stir up a frenzy in the club. This "Diplo Rhythm" twelve inch seems to be the worst of both worlds. It starts out with an up-tempo electronic synth that sounds like tinny GameBoy music (the original thick as a brick model) and only proceeds to get worse from there. I'm told from the label that Vybz Cartel, Sandra Melody, and Pantera Os Dandhinos are featured on this single, but I could care less. In college this is the kind of music we would have gone behind the student radio station and whipped at a brick wall on purpose playing "destroy the vinyl" frisbee. Simply awful to me, but maybe techno or reggae fans would dig this - I suspect not though. These guys are trying too hard to be trendy and come off as suspect.

Artist: Invisible
Title:  Hot Summer Day b/w Around My Way 12"
Label:  Tableturns Music
Writer: Steve 'Flash' Juon

Coming completely by surprise like the Hollow Man, rapper Invisible hits harder than Ralph Ellison. On "Hot Summer Day" Inviz comes off with the mellow eloquence of GZA melded with the narrative abilities of Nas, as he breezes over a BT beat about the adventures of tapping skins and acquiring ganja. The flipside "Around My Way" is even more personal, as Inviz raps about his hood where "negative energy is exactly what's tempting me" and he struggles to raise his mental above it and "stay in control of my life." Thanks to a moody Lexbeats production punctuated with uplifting wind instruments, the sound is perfectly matched to Invisible's message. When the usual slate of hip-hop nonsense has you burnt out try getting Invisible, man. This twelve inch may be the year's sleeper hit.

Artist: Jaylib
Title:  McNasty Filth b/w Pillz 12"
Label:  Stones Throw Records
Writer: Steve 'Flash' Juon

Madlib is in mad hip-hop groups these days. Besides combining with MF Doom for the critically acclaimed Madvillain, he can also be found as one half of Jaylib meshing with former Slum Village rapper/producer Jay Dee. While neither can be accused of having the verbal dexterity of a top notch MC, Madlib knows enough about beats to make "McNasty Filth" featuring Frank-N-Dank a pulsating and pounding punch of hip-hop music. On the B-Side, J Dilla produces "Pillz" and as the song would imply it's a stumbling venture through a lack of sobriety that actually seems more suited for an MF Doom bonus track. This single is on the whole decent but doesn't scream "must have" to the degree Madvillain does. Still you gotta give it up to Madlib, one of the hardest working cats in the business today.

Artist: Mad Rabbi
Title:  Can't Complain b/w Repeat Offenders 12"
Label:  Topshelf Music
Writer: Steve 'Flash' Juon

Fusing the vocal tone of Akrobatik with the flow of J-Zone, the Mad Rabbi shows himself to be one of the strongest prospects out of North Carolina since Michael Jordan. Producer DJ Lurch is about par for the course with a loping hip-hop melody on "Can't Complain" that's a little light on bass, but the Rabbi is heavy with rhymes. "I'm only bones and flesh, but I keep it fresh/leavin MC's distressed wishin they were this blessed." Word to Channukah, the Rabbi is ready to have DJ's spinning vinyl like dreidels. All he needs is the right beat to blow.

Artist: Main Flow
Title:  She Likes Me b/w The Wire 12"
Label:  Brick Records
Writer: Steve 'Flash' Juon

Repping for the Boston based Brick Records, Main Flow is picking apart the beats like the haplessly lovestruck pick apart daisies. Does she like me, or does she like me not? Flow has the answer: "(She likes me) she just like designer things/(She likes me) she like you for your diamond rings." Flow is not about to get played by a chickenhead, and thanks to beats from Nace, Da Riffs, and Beyonder (on the "She Likes Me" remix) he'll be clocking cream in a fat whip while she's trying to get a bus pass. Don't sleep on "The Wire" either, it's straight underground shit.

Artist: Prince Po
Title:  Hold Dat 12"
Label:  Lex Records
Writer: Steve 'Flash' Juon

If you only know Prince Po as one-half of the rap supergroup Organized Konfusion, you're in for a surprise - not necessarily a good one. "Hold Dat" screams club music on the A-Side, minus the thumping bass that would get one's feet moving at said club. It's up-tempo, electronic, and Po is not dropping any gems lyrically in it. The B-Side is better thanks to a more Wu-Tang style production, but there's no change to the banal lyricism whatsoever. Jemini and Rell are guest rappers on the track, but they don't contribute anything of value and take up valuable time Prince Po could have used to save this song from it's terrible tendencies. Royce Da 5'9" managed to salvage his hip-hop crediblity after rapping with Willa Ford though, and it's not likely you can write off Po on the flow yet. Sad as it is to say though, this song really makes you wonder why he attempted a cheap crossover move in an already overcrowded market of bland hip-pop music. P. Diddy he ain't.

Artist: Single Minded Pros
Title:  SMP Session 3 12"
Label:  EV Productions
Writer: Steve 'Flash' Juon

Putting the name Kool G. Rap on the cover of a 12" is usually reason enough to copy it, but the Single Minded Pros are determined to prove the axiom wrong. The legend seems to be going through the motions on "You Know I'm Wit' It" with female cohort Ma Barker, who is so bland she couldn't even hold Jean Grae's bra strap. The B-Side bails this one out from mediocrity as Earatik Statik gets down with Pace Won over the punchy drunken horns of "Feels So Good." When the top billed star phones it in though, DJ's have to seriously question shelling out $6.99 and up for the vinyl - this one's worth it as a free promo only.

Artist: Stikabryze
Title:  Clothes Off b/w Off the Vine 12"
Label:  N-D-SKYZ Records
Writer: Tom Doggett

Formulaic rhymes and chanted choruses make up this single one to avoid. The song "Clothes Off" from Stikabryze is far too standard. A synthesized beat is catchy at first, but comes off as gimmicky more than anything else. The lyrics don't stray far from what the title suggests, and occasionally they go for shocks with graphic sex rhymes and R. Kelly references. Occasionally a gem is dropped, but both songs are dull. As evidenced especially by the b-side "Off the Vine," this crew boasts competent rappers, but the production won't get butts moving in the clubs.

Artist: Tableturns Presents
Title:  Hip Hop on Wax Remix 12"
Label:  Tableturns Music
Writer: Steve 'Flash' Juon

Large Professor and Akinyele on the rhymes. Dr. Butcher and Rob Swift on the beats, with the latter doing scratches. That's hot, but flip script and it gets even hotter. The "Hip Hop on Wax" remix is a guaranteed head-nodding rap song that features two distinct styles blended into one fat joint. Extra P kicks the breezy first verse and transitioning on the second into a much darker sounding song where Aknel takes over like a Grand Theft Auto 3 car-jacking. On the flipside Invisible flips the script on "Hang Wit' Us" over a BT beat, where the banging and deep-bottomed piano chords may make Akinyele wish he could trade up. Complete with radio edits and instrumentals the "Tableturns Presents" twelve inch makes a very strong statement for label that even with grizzled veterans of the rap game they're STILL on some next shit.

Artist: Tame One
Title:  Da Muzik b/w Let's Get Fucked Up 12"
Label:  Ahead Recordings
Writer: Matt Jost

Remember Tame One? If you do, you either remember the train-bombing, weed-smoking New Jersey representative who was in the Artifacts, or the punchline-slinging, battle-rapping lyrical heavyweight who hangs out with strange folks like Cage (they currently star as the Leak Bros. on "Water World"). Or you remember both, and in that case you know that the Notty-Headed Terror is not one to be standing still while rap music passes him by. If this single is any indication, his forthcoming solo "Spazmatic" will present us with yet another Tame One. When Tame first tried to establish himself as a soloist at the turn of the millennium, the hypnotic electronica of "Crazee" seemed like a one time experiment. Now that the duo of Xing N Fox handle all of the production on "Spazmatic", you better prepare for some next shit. "Da Muzik" and "Let's Get Fucked Up" both are dicey excursions into experimentia, the former a tongue-twisting tour de force over a collage of dance music debris, the latter a clever combination of intoxicating references and battle rhymes over an ear-splitting beat.

Artist: Wordsworth
Title:  Gotta Pay b/w Trust 12"
Label:  Halftooth Records
Writer: William Ketchum III

Wordsworth should've blown up by now: having earned an underground reputation that includes working with the likes of Black Star and Q-Tip, and exposing his name to more mainstream listeners with MTV's defunct Lyricist Lounge Show, it seems that all that's missing from his resume is a solo album. If this new single "Gotta Pay" is any indication, Words' solo debut seems promising. Over a haunting beat by Oddisee, Words shows that he hasn't lost his syncopated, science teacher delivery and clever punchlines with bars like "life, no interludes, seconds of sleep/but I don't, I refuse, I'll give rest when deceased/if I wrote for you, think how much better you'd be/now you only write, when it's fan letters to me." The B-Side of the single keeps the heat coming. On "Trust," Dox 1's melancholy track provides the perfect forum for Words to go into introspective mode, regretfully reflecting on how he's treated women in his past. Ending the song with a heartfelt verse to his daughter (whose voice is heard right before the track), Words' ability to wear his heart on his sleeve while still painting vivid imagery shows his versatility. This single should build up even more anticipation for his album "Mirror Music."

Originally posted: August 17, 2004
source: www.RapReviews.com