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Tuesday March 31, 2015
Feature of the Week

[The Beast Is G-Unit] G-G-G-G-G-G-you-still-interested?

G-Unit Review

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Video: Grand Opus (@JocScholar @Centric510) - "The Key" @rRAPpromo

Video: Grand Opus (Joc Scholar & Centric) - "The Key"

RRP: Grand Opus, a Hip Hop duo consisting of Joc Scholar and Centric, just released the music video for their new single, "The Key." Check out the video.

The (W)rap Up - Week of March 24, 2015

If you missed any of the new reviews this past week including Cannibal Ox's "Blade of the Ronin" then do yourself a favor and check out this week's edition of the (W)rap Up!

[Blade of the Ronin]Cannibal Ox :: Blade of the Ronin
Iron Galaxy Clik/iHipHop Distribution

Author: Sy Shackleford

"Vast Aire and Vordul Mega, the Harlem hip-hop duo known as Cannibal Ox, dropped their debut album, "The Cold Vein", nearly 15 years ago. It was the first full-length album to be released on the now-defunct progressive NYC-based hip-hop label Definitive Jux. Produced entirely by Def Jux label-head, El-P, the album received near-unanimous critical praise. While both emcees rapped about life in New York City from a post-apocalyptic perspective, it was El-P's futuristic urban soundscapes that were a major aspect of the album's acclaim. Between then and now, Vast and Vordul have released uneven solo albums and lacked the chemistry of their debut. There had been talk of them prepping to release a sophomore album, but that window appeared to close upon the demise of Def Jux along with their relationship with El-P in 2009. In light of those events, "The Cold Vein" seemed destined to be their sole album, a critical darling with no proper follow-up in the same manner as J.D. Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye". Until now. From the sound and lyrical content, "Blade of the Ronin" has the influence of their debut. In fact, the opening track, "Cipher Unknown (Intro)" is reminiscent of "Iron Galaxy". With the majority of the album produced by Bill Cosmiq, they try to recapture and relive the success of their debut. Cosmiq's beat for the album's intro sounds like he's trying to mimic El-P, from the off-kilter synth percussion to the space-age aural mosaic. Because of this, there's a minor inconsistency to the album's overall sound. Like El-P, Bill Cosmiq produces and raps. Also, unlike their debut, the album includes several skits serving to tie some of the tracks together. Vast and Vordul connect seamlessly as though they haven't lost a beat during the 14-year interval. Their flows and poetic street talk haven't changed, but Vast still holds court as the more unique lyricist. He makes frequent references to "G.I. Joe" in the second track, "Opposite of Desolate", and retains his distinctive voice throughout. His wordplay gravitates to loose concepts comprised of his own esoteric interests. Mega follows a similar pattern, but he's more inclined to wax poetically. The album is also longer than their debut and contains a greater myriad of feature emcees. Cosmiq appears on several tracks, along with Space (who sounds like Vinnie Paz), Swave Sevah and Elohem Star."

Asphate :: Closed Doors to an Open Mind :: Galapagos4 
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Closed Doors to an Open Mind]"There are times when the world of underground hip-hop seems like a popular night club with a very stingy bouncer, arbitrarily deciding who gets in to appreciate the quality music hidden behind four soundproof walls. If you don't have on the right gear, use the right codewords, or have a copy of "Funcrusher Plus" swinging from your neck on a fat gold chain you can be kicked to the curb. It's not by accident - underground hip-hop fans can be purposefully insular out of a misplaced sense of loyalty to their favorite artists. The feeling is that too many people appreciating art will inherently change the artist, as they'll get a major label deal or a swollen ego (Kanye West) and suddenly the music suffers. The reality is that artists don't release their music into a vacuum, hoping to remain forever poor just to maintain an aesthetic of artist integrity for fans who praise your skills but don't step up to pay your bills. Every artist would like to move millions of units and not have to worry about how to pay the car note or the mortgage, but one of the few ways you can do it when you make rap that doesn't sound like Future or Rae Sremmurd is to be vertically integrated. It's possible to make a modest living in the underground if you own the entire process top to bottom - you make and sell the music yourself. It's also a lot more work though. Major record labels may take 90-99% of the profits, but they make it enticing by doing all the legwork of manufacturing, distribution and promotion for you (then taking all of it back out of your advance). If you think this sounds more like an editorial than an album review I apologize, but the point I'm trying to get across is simply this - Galapagos4 is underground hip-hop, vertically integrated since day one by Qwel since the Typical Cats first burst onto the scene in the early 2000's."

Blueprint :: King No Crown :: Weightless Recordings 
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[King No Crown]"In advance you should be aware that this is album is not available at retail for AT LEAST another month, so it's possible the finished product may be completely different when it's in your hands. It's also possible that Blueprint is thoroughly satisfied with the album as it stands now, which is why everybody involved is happy to send out screener copies this far ahead of time. It may not change one bit between now and late April. I suspect it's the latter - especially given that "King No Crown" is self-produced and feels to me like a finished and polished product that's par for the course in his track record of high quality - and there's a fifteen+ year catalogue of music that backs that up. It's not accidental that Blueprint talks about evolving while other artists stayed the same - he's continued to reinvent himself with each release, constantly seeking self-improvement along with ever doper beats and rhymes to meet the demands of his fans. Blueprint's flow is very direct and precise, and much like the attention to detail he shows on his tracks, there's never a sound you hear that isn't exactly what he intended artistically. At times I've got to imagine his process is a bit maddening, especially when a lot of artists accidentally make hits with almost no effort, but he sums up his philosophy well on "Trump Tight" in a few words: "When it's done right, then they gotta listen." Over the course of an hour you get continual reminders of his thought process - as in the intro of "Nothing Like This" where dialogue snippets talk to use about the monotony of "doing the same shit over and over" - and then he proceeds to sing his way through the song to change the vibe up. If that wasn't enough of a shift he goes even further on "Not Afraid of the Dark," where he only occasionally interjects background vocals over the track - sort of like how a Notorious B.I.G. track would sound if it was only the beat and Sean Combs (but much better). There's no doubt that Blueprint has an agenda on "King No Crown," and you'll hear it on "They Like Power," but it's generally to challenge the status quo and/or complacency in the face of wrongs - whether locally, nationally or globally. "Hard to speak with honor when you all about a dollar." So he's not obsessed with materialism - and never has been - but there's no doubt that he'd like to sell more than a handful of copies of any book or album that he releases to sustain his artistic output and label imprint. "

Flip :: Reflections :: Ill Adrenaline Records 
as reviewed by Matt Jost

[Reflections]"Unless you had the annual budget of a small country, you could not divise a more easily international format than the album that combines European producers and American rappers. Ideally, you get an experienced beatmaker with a solid local standing and a hand-picked guest list of MC's with a global reputation, and together they communicate in the universal language of hip-hop across natural and man-made barriers, recording a powerful statement that resounds beyond the here and now. Although by now there must be over a hundred releases aiming for that ideal, I have yet to encounter it in real life. My hope is not to hear Kanye West or Jay-Z on such a record. As awesome as that would be, it wouldn't quite feel right. These collections of music are the result of personal relationships, the give-and-take and the family spirit of international independent hip-hop. Organic, autonomous music. And yet, in general releases like that are surrounded by an air of unfulfilled potential and promises. Flip has long been an agent on hip-hop's service, helping shape the Austrian scene since 1993 as one fifth of Texta, where he doubles as producer and MC. As chance has it, his work has already been acknowledged on these pages, on the occasion of his solo debut "Umberto Ghetto." Perhaps more interesting to non-German readers would have been his smart reinterpretations of rap classics with rapper Average, "Tuesday Classics." To add to his busy schedule, Flip is also a longtime concert promoter in his hometown of Linz, a capacity that is undoubtedly the source of many contacts, some of which he likely parlayed into this first international project, "Reflections." Despite the not unproblematic previous history of transatlantic collaborations, "Reflections" is caught up in the same dilemma as many of its predecessors. Flip is so well versed in the production styles favored by his brand of guests that he forgets to bring something new to the table."

Giano :: Upon Listening Vol. 1 :: PNG Productions 
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor

[Upon Listening Vol. 1]"Instrumental hip-hop is a tricky thing. Hip-hop production is meant to be in the background, providing space for an MC to rap. As such, hip-hop beats don't always work on their own. Other types of instrumental electronic music are much better at constructing songs that work without a lyricist, but they lack the head-nodding appeal of a hip-hop beat. Rapper/producer Giano's instrumental album "Upon Listening Vol. 1" solves this problem by making beats that are meant to be in the background. He provides ten tracks of downtempo instrumentals to help you chill out and get in a positive state of mind. Like any hip-hop producer worth his salt, Giano builds his beats on a foundation of hard drums. The kick and snares have a weight that is sometimes missing from electronic music, and his songs keep the cadence of hip-hop, even without the words. The songs alternate between relying on synthesizers and taking a funkier approach. "Ol' Skuhl," which borrows the intro from Biggie's "Things Done Changed," is full of reverbed guitars. "Startin' Something" is a bluesy workout that features a nice vocal sample. "Yo Bose, Ur Wrong" goes in a psychedelic direction, featuring samples looped backwards."

Ultra Magnus & DJ SLAM! :: The Raw :: Hand'Solo Records 
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[The Raw]"Within the first two minutes of listening to "The Raw," rapper Ultra Magnus is giving me flashbacks to early 1990's Jay-Z, the fast tongue flipping Jay-Z, and to follow up that DJ SLAM! starts sampling from and scratching Transformers dialogue from Scourge. Of course that was to be expected since Ultra Magnus is himself a reference to the robots in disguise, but still I had a good vibe that I was going to enjoy the flavors "The Raw" had to offer. The press release for "The Raw" was modest and self-deprecating by hip-hop's braggadocious standards, noting that they are only the latest DJ and "the 10,000th rapper this week (and from Canada no less)." That's one of the refreshing things about theCanadian rap scene though - it seems to be more permissive to have a sense of humor about your importance to the genre. In an era where even your run-of-the-mill GarageBand produced Bandcamp rap artist has to act like they're the greatest thing since poutine, out of some misplaced idea of self-preservation that you'll be eaten alive for not acting super cocky, it's nice to see this duo and many other North-of-the-border rappers are able to dial the bravado down a notch. Speaking of North-of-the-border, Ultra Magnus & DJ SLAM! are working with their friends on "The Raw," and the results is that names you'll know from similar releases show up on the tracks - like M.O. Littles on "Rock the Mic" and "ODB" orWordburglar on "Yogibear." The predictability of the samples on the song doesn't make it any less enjoyable - in fact it's precisely the opposite - you're rewarded for expecting Hanna Barbera inspired clips and rhymes on this track."

Walkingshoe :: The Future Will Kill You :: Cosmonostro 
as reviewed by Clara Wang

[The Future Will Kill You]"Walkingshoe's second EP "The Future Will Kill You" is best consumed sitting in a New-Age circle surrounded by a cloud of ambiguous smoke. Although I'm not too sure about the EP "exploring the nature of existence," as the website claims, the sheer ethereal prettiness of the production makes it worth the listen. A combination of floating chants, choppy beats, and smooth spitting, this EP would be a great soundtrack to a stage production of Dante's "Inferno," or a road trip to Reno. The album opens with "Nora," featuring yU, where Walkingshoe meets a mermaid underwater. This mermaid plays the role of Virgil and guides him through the journey of the next track, "Circled for me & Kelvin." In "Van Gogh," featuring Greg Grease, the confines of your mind are explored and the question is posed: "Are you living sublime or just wasting your time?" We descend into the depths of the album with chopped-up snares and choral harmonies in "Portions of God Twice," then are entrapped in a stream-of-consciousness in "Figments," featuring Frank Leone."

various artists :: Mello Music Group: Persona :: Mello Music Group 
as reviewed by Zach 'Goose' Gase

[Persona]"Since 2009, Mello Music Group has been one of the premier record labels in underground hip-hop. Most years they kick off their list of releases with a compilation, which serves as a preview of what fans can expect from the label. This year's release is "Persona," which is one of Mello's best compilations to date. With highly anticipated albums from Oddissee, Rapper Big Pooh & Apollo Brown and Red Pill in the works, "Persona" is a great sample of things to come from the indie rap powerhouse. "Persona" is Mello's most focused compilation to date, as many of the tracks feature a political tone. Open Mike Eagle, whose "Dark Comedy" album was one of the best of 2014, is one of most valuable players on "Persona." His two tracks, "Celebrity Reduction Prayer" and "Dark Comedy Late Show" are a continuation of "Dark Comedy." Both songs are very political and showcase Open Mike Eagle's nihilistic wit and humor. One-third of Ugly Heroes, Red Pill, who is going to be a rookie of the year contender, also has a pair of excellent tracks. He trades verses with Oh No on "The Run," which shows the Michigan rapper's more energetic side. Red Pill's "Darlin'" is produced by Blockhead and is one of the best tracks on "Persona." Mello veterans Oddisee and Apollo Brown once again spearhead the record with a few standout cuts each. Oddisee produces three tracks and raps on two. "Persona" features both members of the defunct Little Bother on two separate tracks. Oddisee pairs up with Phonte on "Requiem" to start the compilation on an extremely high note. And Apollo Brown teases his upcoming EP with Rapper Big Pooh with the excellent, penultimate track "No Future." Pooh also hops on a track with Quelle Chris and Oh No called "You First." Brown also laces stand out tracks such as "Troubles" with Masta Ace (how have these two guys not done an album yet?) and "PNT" with Ras Kass."

Editorial: Rewind - Fifteen Important Rap Videos From 1991

Editorial courtesy of Steve 'Flash' Juon.

[Public Enemy courtesy Wikimedia]It was another tumultuous year politically around the world. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in India. Boris Yeltsin became the first democratically elected President of Russia. Operation Desert Storm liberated Kuwait. A South African referendum brings an official end to Apartheid. Lech Walesa was elected President of Poland. The Rodney King police beating shocks people around the world. Albums like "Apocalypse '91" and "Death Certificate" reflected the anger and distrust that urban communities felt toward the police both before and after King's beating.

Deja vu anyone?

The video for Public Enemy's "Can't Truss It" struck a nerve for many people. For me it was a whole new respective on employment at a time when I was just breaking into the working world as a teenager, with the video drawing a direct analogy between slavery and wage slavery - the conditions of the field and the factory and even the "bosses" being exactly the same. It was also the first time rap music managed to offend my father, as he yelled at me to "turn that s#%! OFF" after I watched a Public Enemy tape with the video on it. A powerful, pivotal moment in my life for so many reasons.

I still have that tape 20+ years later, and for that reason among many others, it's my #1 video of 1991.

1.) Public Enemy - "Can't Truss It"

2.) Geto Boys - "Mind Playing Tricks On Me"

3.) A Tribe Called Quest - "Scenario"

4.) Black Sheep - "The Choice Is Yours"

5.) Ice Cube - "Steady Mobbin'"

6.) Ice-T - "New Jack Hustler"

7.) DJ Quik - "Tonite"

8.) Gang Starr - "Just to Get a Rep"

9.) 2Pac - "If My Homie Calls"

10.) Naughty By Nature - "Uptown Anthem"

11.) DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince - "Summertime"

12.) Ed O.G. & Da Bulldogs (Edo.G) - "I Got to Have It"

13.) Del Tha Dunkee Homosapien - "Mistadobalina"

14.) MC Breed & DFC - "Ain't No Future in Yo' Frontin'"

15.) Nikki D - "Daddy's Little Girl"

The Hip-Hop Shop #319 - E Is For the Elements

It's time for another new edition of The Hip-Hop Shop. We're calling Episode #319 E Is For the Elements! Enjoy the new tracks by Element Rhymes, eMeX, Emmitt James and Saga among others! Follow us @RapReviews so you never miss a new podsafe free show.

Download Here (right click to save)

Tracks featured this week:

* Element Rhymes - What Happened to the Love?
* eMeX - Gettin' By
* Emmitt James - Coming Back
* Taelor Gray f/ Tragic Hero - Doing It Well
* Saga - The Strong
* Cruddy Money - Do It
* Lantz - Hawaiian Dreams
* Dynas x Tony Galvin - What Up

Video: Nonchalant Ace & Carey Fountain - "Do Diss" (@dorememovement)

Video: Nonchalant Ace & Carey Fountain - "Do Diss"

DoReMe: Carey Fountain & Nonchalant Ace bring a gritty, lo-fi aesthetic to their visuals for "Do Diss". The video gives a glimpse into the unique culture of Northern VA alongside this hard-hitting track.

Audio: Cruddy @MoneyEuro - "Do It"

Audio: Cruddy Money - "Do It"

DMV: Cruddy Money (@MoneyEuro) is back with another track, "Do It". He has been consistently putting out quality music, and his latest release doesn't disappoint. The track is dope and something anyone can turn up to.

Video: 360 x Chris Cheney - "Early Warning (Acoustic)" @3ree6ixty

Video: 360 x Chris Cheney - "Early Warning (Acoustic)"

360: Hours after touching down from LA, The Living End's Chris Cheney joined 60 in the studio for their first ever live acoustic performance of "Early Warning".

Video: Young.B Mr.901 - "S#%! Real" (@YoungBMr901)

Video: Young.B Mr.901 - "S#%! Real"

RRP: Young.B Mr.901 just released his new video, "S#%! Real." The track is from his upcoming project, The Illustration, which is coming soon.

Audio: @TheRealRampage (Flipmode Squad) - "Gimme The Night"

Audio: Rampage (Flipmode Squad) - "Gimme The Night"

DLPR: On Wednesday, April 1st, Flipmode Squad 1st Lieutenant Rampage will be releasing his highly anticipated mixtape 'Remington Steele'.

Audio: @Ericdprince - "Road to Redemption"

Audio: Ericdprince - "Road to Redemption"

ED: My name is Ericdprince, amateur boxer and rapper from the South-side of Columbus, GA. My most recent release, "Road to Redemption," is available for stream & free download via Soundcloud.

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Welcome to for the week of March 31st, 2015!! Please like us on Facebook and shop Amazon through RapReviews so we can bring you new material every week. This week we have TWELVE new items for you to enjoy: Chrome & Illinspired's "The All C n I," DJ Scientist & Fulgeance's "The Soviet Tape," Earl Sweatshirt's "I Don't Like S#%!, I Don't Go Outside," Eshon Burgundy's "The Fear of God," G-Unit's "The Beast Is G-Unit," Mike Jordan's A Few Words From Prof. Mike Jordan, Steve 'Flash' Juon's The Hip-Hop Shop #319 and Fifteen Important Rap Videos From 1991, Sadat X's "Never Left," Sareem Poems & Ess Be's "Beautiful Noise," Varsay's "The Grand Flipp EP" and Emanuel Wallace's The (W)rap Up for Mar. 24, 2015!

Be sure to check the RapReviews newsfeed for the latest news and updates. Subscribe to the newsfeed via your browser for articles like Video: D-Shep - "Public Announcement". also recommends the latest The WrestleMania 31 Post-Show from the AngryMarks Podcast Network. We appreciate your support and welcome any feedback you have. Thanks for visiting!!

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