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Wednesday April 23, 2014
Feature of the Week

[Keepers of the Lost Art] Sahdeeq injure your fleet.

Shabaam Sahdeeq Review

Latest News Headlines
The (W)rap Up - Week of April 15, 2014

[PTSD]Pharoahe Monch :: PTSD: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Author: Zach 'Goose' Gase


"Back in 1999 Pharoahe Monch released his solo debut album, "Internal Affairs" on Rawkus Records. At that time, Rawkus was producing a lot of high quality, underground hip hop including Company Flow, Mos Def, Talib Kweli and others. Fifteen years later, hip hop has changed quite a bit. There is much less division among the indie and mainstream crowds, the CD format is dying and Rawkus Records has folded. One thing that hasn't changed or diminished is Pharoahe Monch's rapping ability. Being arguably one of the most technically advanced rappers of all-time, Monch's output may be a little disappointing - only four solo albums. But with many of his peers seeing a sharp decline in the quality of their releases over the past couple of years, Monch is still on top of his game, with his latest LP "PTSD: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder" possibly being his best work to date. "PTSD" follows 2011's "W.A.R. (We Are Renegades)" and is Monch's most conceptually driven album to date. The semi-concept album tells the story of a veteran who has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and is trying to get his life back to normal. "PTSD" is an extremely focused effort and deals with some very heavy topics. "Damage" is the third and final chapter of Pharoahe's famous "Stray Bullet" series, where he raps from the perspective of a bullet (the other track being 2007's "When the Gun Draws")."Losing My Mind," which features an excellent chorus from Mr. Porter, he talks about mental health disorders: "My family customs are not accustomed to dealing with mental health, it was more or less an issue for white families with wealth." Much of the album is focused on mental health issues, but manages to never be too heavy handed. The two battle rap tracks, "Bad M.F." and "Rapid Eye Movement" (which features Black Thought) offer a nice balance to the more serious tracks and incorporate references to themes that tie the songs in with the rest of the album. While the production, which is mostly handled by long-time collaborator Lee Stone, is not going to blow anyone away, it nicely complements Pharoahe's multi-syllable rhyme schemes. "D.R.E.A.M.," which features Talib Kweli, has a nicely chopped soul sample that is uplifting and triumphant as the song's lyrical content."

Chuck Inglish :: Convertibles :: Sounds Like Fun/Federal Prism 
as reviewed Patrick Taylor

[Convertibles]"Chicago rapper/producer Chuck Inglish emerged seven years ago as half of the retro-leaning duo Cool Kids. Their signature sound was Inglish's stripped-down beats, with booming 808s and snare slaps that sounded like early Def Jam. The Cool Kids haven't done much as a duo since 2010's "Tacklebox," but both Inglish and Sir Michael Rocks have been busy making solo mixtapes and producing for other artists. The Cool Kids have another album on the horizon for 2014, but in the meantime Inglish has just released his first solo album, "Convertibles." Convertibles is Inglish's chance to show his diversity as a producer and a rapper. That diversity starts with his label. His Sounds Like Fun imprint is signed to Federal Prism, which is run by TV On the Radio's Dave Sitek. Cool Kids have always been on the fringes of mainstream hip-hop, and Inglish continues that trend by signing to an indie rock label. I won't lie: the best songs on "Convertibles" are the ones that hew closest to the sound that Inglish is known for. It's hard to go wrong with old-school trunk-rattlers, which Inglish proves time and time again. "Attitude" and "Swervin'" both have pulverizing bass, although Inglish does different things with both beats. "Swervin'" is in the vein of g-funk, with the hint of a piano and snapping snares. "Attitude" has a harder beat, but contrasts it with a sung hook by BJ the Chicago Kid. "Money Clip" is built around a driving beat with a few string and synth flourishes. The uptempo beat spurs Inglish to drop his usual laconic delivery for a more spirited flow. He's assisted on the track by Vic Mensa, Retch, Hassani Kwess, and Sulaiman. That's a lot of MCs for one track, and it gives it the feel of a posse cut. Most of the songs have at least one rapper and/or singer. Ab-Soul and Mac Miller offer stellar verses on "Came Thru/Easily." "Action Bronson" mixes his culinary and sexual metaphors on "Gametime." Sir Michael Rocks joins Inglish and Polyester the Saint on "Swervin'." These MCs all help offset Inglish's serviceable but not spectacular rapping. He's fine on the mic, but his rhymes have very little stakes. His label is rightly named: Inglish is all about having fun, and as a result his rhymes feel lightweight. He likes cars, he likes pretty girls, likes to have beer and weed with his friends, and doesn't like having his heart broken. To his credit he is less raunchy than many of his peers, and he gets some good wordplay in, but he rarely says anything of consequence."

Grieves :: Winter and the Wolves :: Rhymesayers Entertainment 
as reviewed Zach 'Goose' Gase

[Winter and the Wolves]"It's hard for me to discuss Grieves without also bringing up Macklemore. Yes, they're both white rappers from Seattle, who have pretty similar voices and deliveries. But the main reason I associate the two is because I was introduced to them at the same time on a CunninLynguists song that featured them and Geo (from Blue Scholars) back in 2009. Since then I've compared their career trajectories and have flip-flopped countless times when deciding whose music I like more. Towards the end of 2009, Grieves announced that he had signed with Rhymesayers Ent. His Rhymesayers output (a re-release of his second LP "88 Keys & Counting," "The Confessions of Mr. Modest EP" and "Together/Apart") has been consistently excellent. Even though "Winter and the Wolves," Grieves' first release in nearly three years, has a pretty similar vibe as his previous work, but overall it feels like a step down in quality from his previous work. One of the first things Grieves fans will notice about "Winter and the Wolves" is Budo's absence. (Budo is a producer/instrumentalist who has produced a lot of Grieves' previous work.) Grieves, who produced the entire album with help from B. Lewis, is a perfectly capable producer, but overall the beats on "Wolves" tend to either sound the same, or just flat out sound bland. Grieves sticks to his signature piano-driven sound, but most of the time, the production sounds like a "lite" version of "88 Keys & Counting." The driving keys of "Woah is Me" is a standout, but as the album progresses, songs like "How's it Gonna Go" and "Long One" start to get redundant. "Winter and the Wolves" is mostly carried by Grieves' strong writing and ability to craft catchy sing-song hooks. Opener "Rain Damage" and the lead single "Shreds" show his more aggressive style of rapping, but for the most part, he focuses on very person subject matter that usually revolves around failed relationships. "Whoa is Me" balances his humor and self-deprecation, and he tells stories about his past on "Like Child." Grieves' music has always been interesting to me because he's the type of rapper who bears it all, and it's usually something I relate to, which makes me want to replay certain songs over and over."

Nas :: Illmatic XX :: Columbia Records 
as reviewed Grant Jones

[Illmatic XX]"I was seven years old when Columbia Records unleashed "Illmatic" in to the world, forever changing 'Best Rap Album' lists for millions of hip hop fans. Therefore this review is coming from a 'younger' perspective that has grown up knowing that just the word "Illmatic" brings forth such adjectives as 'legendary' and 'classic', and remains many hip hop fans' favourite ever album. I'm one of those that went backwards after hearing 2001's "Stillmatic" to explore earlier work from Nas and ultimately found his debut actually lived up to the endless hype that still surrounds it to this day. Along with A Tribe Called Quest's "The Low End Theory", it's an album I just can't get tired of. I wasn't the only one that caught "Illmatic" later than Columbia Records expected, as it eventually went platinum in 2001, seven years after release when Nas reminded everybody just how talented an emcee he is following Jay-Z's "one hot record every ten year average" statement. But twenty years on from this genre-defining record's release, does it still remain relevant in 2014 where the sound of hip hop has changed multiple times? Does it sound dated? Can it convince a new generation of rap fan that's fed hundreds of albums each year to spend their dollars on an album that's half as long as most full-lengths? Predictably, the answer is a resounding "Yes" - and one of Daniel Bryan magnitude. "Illmatic" is hip hop's top trump card. If you want to put a "Reasonable Doubt", "Ready To Die" or "Enter the Wu-Tang" up against it, you'll lose. "Illmatic" is superior simply because it is a flawless example of an emcee and a producer bringing their A-game constantly over the course of 9 tracks (ignoring the intro). There's no dreaded skits where you awkwardly sit there listening to Christopher Wallace being fellated, or having to hear a dodgy Scarface impersonation, or the initially funny yet inevitably (and ironically) annoying 'torture skit' from Meth and co. With "Illmatic" you received a snapshot of hip hop - it was a journey through New York's run-down neighbourhoods at the end of the crack epidemic. It was cinematic, driven by an unrivalled ability to narrate this environment to others from such a young mind that feels like it has already witnessed a lifetime of struggle. It just grabbed the listener and never let go. But it was also a part of hip hop's golden era, a time where the genre had moved on from the 1980s experiments with rock and roll and electronic sounds. Whereas revered New York albums such as "Paid In Full", "It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back" and "Criminal Minded" can now sound dated, 1994 can largely still be revisited without needing to have been there. That is thanks to a stellar and arguably unmatched line-up of now legendary production talent. Pete Rock, Q-Tip, DJ Premier and Large Professor reads off like a Mount Rushmore of beat-makers. Perhaps this is what makes "Illmatic" such a refined record - it also acts as a multi-coursed meal whereby the listener can sample the delicacies of a Pete Rock & CL Smooth track, then move straight into some Gang Starr, A Tribe Called Quest and some Main Source."

Editorial: Boondocks Season 4 - The Stone the Builder Refused

Editorial courtesy of Steve 'Flash' Juon:

Like many of you reading this editorial, I was initially excited by the announcement that The Boondocks was coming back for a fourth season. I was an avid reader of Aaron McGruder's witty, satirical, political and provocative cartoon from the 1990's until it ceased publication. Dating back to before it was even syndicated to newspapers nationally I'd go to Okayplayer to get my fix. McGruder figuratively and literally draws inspiration from the same extremes that make up the diaspora of hip-hop music and culture: Huey Freeman reflecting the political views of The Coup and Immortal Technique, while younger brother Riley has the thugged out tendencies of Jeezy and N.O.R.E.

[The Boondocks]The fun of course is that the cartoon strip reveals that the Freemans are not nearly this one-dimensional. Huey is more of a struggling young adult trying to find his way in the world than the political anarchist he believes himself to be, and Riley tries hard to hide that deep down he's sensitive and emotional - judging others on a scale of manhood he winds up falling short of if applied as rigorously to him.

The interactions with their Granddad and the suburban neighborhood they moved to is the premise that both defines the strip and creates the comedy that fueled its popularity and led to the television show for [adult swim] based on said same. None of this works without the driving creative force of McGruder behind it. There is often a very thin line between McGruder's own views and those of his creations, and when he stepped over it to criticize BET or whatever POTUS was in office at the time, strips didn't make it to syndication and episodes of the show wound up not airing. Far from hurting the popularity of The Boondocks, the censorship of controversial content helps fuel its cult status, and established McGruder as a pundit unafraid to piss off both the political left and right in equal measure.

That's why it was rather shocking to find out the fourth season of the TV show was proceeding without Aaron McGruder. To put it into perspective, imagine that De La Soul put out a brand new album - and only after buying it did you learn that Kelvin Mercer (Pos a/k/a Plug One), David Jolicoeur (Trugoy a/k/a Plug Two) and Vincent Mason (Maseo a/k/a Plug Three) are ALL not involved. You'd be pissed the f#%$ off RIGHT?! That's NOT De La Soul. They can call it De La Soul, they can market it as De La Soul, but in reality it's just three men who find themselves in the uncomfortable position of being paid to fill in a role the originators either CAN'T or WON'T willingly take part in any more. McGruder explains it this way:

[Granddad]"What has never been lost on me is the enormous responsibility that came with The Boondocks - particularly the television show and it's relatively young audience. It was important to offend, but equally important to offend for the right reasons. For three seasons I personally navigated this show through the minefields of controversy. It was not perfect. And it definitely was not quick. But it was always done with a keen sense of duty, history, culture, and love. Anything less would have been simply unacceptable. As for me, I'm finally putting a life of controversy and troublemaking behind me with my upcoming Adult Swim show, BLACK JESUS."

It seems that Aaron McGruder and Time Warner (the parent of Turner Broadcasting, in turn the parent of Cartoon Network, subsequently the broadcaster of [adult swim] on CN) have not completely parted ways if BLACK JESUS comes to fruition. The legitimacy of a fourth season of The Boondocks without Aaron McGruder as the creative force behind it though deserves more scrutiny than it has thus far received. I'd be in favor of not even calling it The Boondocks any more - at least the version of it that we see on TV. "The Adventures of Huey, Riley and Granddad" might be more fitting. What's deceptive to the TV viewer is that it doesn't seem to have really changed at all - the characters are still drawn the same way and the voice actors (Regina King and John Witherspoon) are the same. Other than people reading this editorial many viewers may never realize this is no longer Aaron McGruder's show.

Should you still watch and enjoy The Boondocks for its fourth (and perhaps mercifully) final season? That's not for me to say. I'd argue that you should buy books like "A Right to Be Hostile: The Boondocks Treasury," but I'm willing to suspect McGruder doesn't get his fair share of royalties from print compilations of his work either. Perhaps in the end he does benefit from season four though. Even if he's not writing it or creating it he still has to be paid a license FOR it - I hope. As I learned 15 or more years ago when I had a conversation with him, promises of payment from the purveyors of your product are only as reliable as the paper they're printed on. He was wiser than me back then and undoubtedly still is today. I can only hope that whatever the situation is that led to The Boondocks continuing on TV without him, he's comfortable with them taking his vision in a new direction - and I won't be surprised if he ends up lampooning it somewhere.
The Adam Bernard Experience #75 - Drowning in Dopeness

Adam: "Did I ever think this podcast would run for 75 episodes? Honestly, it didn't even cross my mind. When I start on something like this I just keep going. It's how I've had columns that have lasted three, four, even five years, without me noticing how much time has passed until I've decided it's time to move on to the next thing. The good news when it comes to this podcast is I'm nowhere near ready to move on from brining you the best in indie hip-hop every month (or so). This month I have a nice combination of new tracks, and some classics from old favorites, so kick back and enjoy! Follow me on Twitter at @AdamsWorldBlog or hit me up with feedback at" The Adam B Experience is 100% PODSAFE and FREE so tell your friends to download ABX right here at!

Download Here (right click to save)


* PremRock - Supreme
* C-Zar Van Gogh - That's Me In The Rental
* CookBook & Blue w/ Pigeon John - Popeye
* Bryant Dope - Worth
* Ankhle Conscious - Drownin
* Toussaint Morrison - Walk Thru The Wall
* Louis Logic - Chip Off The Old Blog
* Kev Sez - First Attempt at a Second Chance
* iLLspokinn w/ Annekei - Home
* Tah Phrum Duh Bush - Butterfly Vertigo
* Joey Batts - Grown Man Shakey
* Kalil Johnson w/ Top $ Raz - Dropkick

The Hip-Hop Shop #267 - R.I.P. Grandma Punk

It's time for another new edition of The Hip-Hop Shop. Episode #267 is the first show I've recorded for this site since Grandma Punk passed away. We've got new music from Mr. Miranda, AWKWORD, Pawz One and Skyzoo among others. Feel free to share this show and remember - you can follow us @RapReviews so you never miss a new show when it's released each Tuesday!

Download Here (right click to save)

Tracks featured this week:

* Mr. Miranda f/ DJ J20, Huni - Strong or the Weak
* MaRLo - Angels Pt. II
* AWKWORD - Brighter
* Black One - Bulletproof
* Shawn Archer - She Gotta
* Marvelous Mag f/ Skyzoo - Still Alive
* Pawz One f/ Corbin Jackson, SK - Don't Believe It
* Qualmes - Left Well Alone
* Jamall Bufford - Travel Light (Instrumental)

Audio: Stori x Kiesza - "Hideaway (Remix)" @STORImusic

Audio: Stori x Kiesza - "Hideaway (Remix)"

Courtesy Mercy G.

Stori found time to drop some new music as she works on her Motown Records debut releasing later this year. The hit record "Hideaway" by Canadian artist Kiesza became a personal favorite of Stori's that she decided to splash some of her own vocals to the popular song. The upbeat track is something different from the Singer/Rapper but proves to showcase her versatility.

Video: @DaRealCanibus on Marty McKay Collabo & Fait Accompli

Video: Canibus on Marty McKay Collabo & Fait Accompli

Courtesy Jennifer.

Sin's Disciple was also featured on Delusions of Adequacy - they called it a "masterful modern take on the seven deadly sins. An album which aims to engage with its listener on a deep level in hopes to create a truly interactive experience. We must applaud McKay for a job well done."

Audio: Koss & A.G. - "Get It Baby" (@DeejayKoss)

Audio: Koss & A.G. - "Get It Baby"

Courtesy Dimitri.

Koss & A.G. - Get It Baby
2nd sample from the "Natural High" EP!

NO MONEY: Brand New Single from @PartTimeCooks

NO MONEY: Brand New Single from Part Time Cooks

Courtesy PTC.

Part Time Cooks brings you another banger off the soon to be released titled Midnight snack. This song is called No Money and is produced by Thovo Beats. Thank you once again for your support.

PR: New Release from Solidarity Records (@Solidarity415)

PR: New Release from Solidarity Records

Courtesy SR.

"SOUNDWAVE SANCTUARY" Instrumental album - Name your own price or FREE DOWNLOAD! CLICK HERE!

Audio: ILLPO - Let's Talk (Produced by D.R.U.G.S. Beats)

Audio: ILLPO - Let's Talk (Produced by D.R.U.G.S. Beats)

Courtesy RealRapz.

North Carolina group ILLPO & Producer D.R.U.G.S. Beats are gearing up to release their joint album Dopamine on Memorial Day (May 26th). Here’s a new record from them titled “Let’s Talk”. This was recorded during the Dopamine sessions but didn’t make the cut for the album. This is just a taste of what’s to come.

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Welcome to for the week of April 22nd, 2014!! Please like us on Facebook and shop Amazon through RapReviews so we can bring you new material every week. Since last week's update ran late consider this a compendium of two weeks worth of material in one shot: Adam Bernard's The Adam B Experience #75, Blanco, The Jacka & Messy Marv's "One Hunnid," Chuck Inglish's "Convertibles," Grieves' "Winter and the Wolves," the "Hi Grade Ganja Anthems Volume 4" compilation, Jeep Ward's Subways & Sidewalks #21, Steve 'Flash' Juon's HHS #266 and Steve 'Flash' Juon: The Hip-Hop Shop #267 plus a Boondocks Season 4 editorial, MF Grimm's "Good Morning Vietnam EP," Nas' "Illmatic XX," Pharoahe Monch's "PTSD," Shabaam Sahdeeq's "Keepers of the Lost Art" (our featured review) and Emanuel Wallace's The (W)rap Up for April 15, 2014!

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