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Wednesday January 28, 2015
Feature of the Week

[B4.DA.$$] Not bad at all Joey!

Joey Bada$$ review

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The (W)rap Up - Week of January 20, 2015

If you missed any of the new reviews this past week including Lupe Fiasco's "Tetsuo & Youth" then do yourself a favor and check out this week's edition of the (W)rap Up!

[Tetsuo & Youth]Lupe Fiasco :: Tetsuo & Youth
1st & 15th/Atlantic Records

Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon

Lupe Fiasco says that "Tetsuo & Youth" was not directly named after Tetsuo Shima from "Akira," either the manga series or the anime movie based upon it. At the same time Mr. Jaco admits to "inspiration" from the character, adding that "Tetsuo sounds cool." Yes - it does - especially if you're the kind of person who has been watching anime for 20 years. The film version of Tetsuo's story is a little over 25 years old now, and frequently replays late at night on Cartoon Network. Even if you think anime is "that nerdy shit" you should give it a try. Nuclear war, biker gangs, psychic powers, and political intrigue make for a compelling tale. Lupe has always aspired to be a rapper with more than just a rap. He's the touchstone for a millennial generation that is inspired by the artists that came before them while simultaneously being disappointed by the lack of artistic progression that came after them. Even thoughhis ambition at times exceeds his reach, it is that very ambition that makes him a darling of both the critics and the disaffected. The latter group even threatened to crash Atlantic Records' website when "Tetsuo & Youth" missed its initial release date. Songs like the MoeZ'art produced "Prisoner 1 & 2" prove it was worth the wait. Not every album can be or SHOULD be called an epic, but much like the critically acclaimed "Akira" it would be a disservice to call "Tetsuo & Youth" anything less. It's practically a movie itself at 80 minutes in length, and if Atlantic seemed reluctant to release it, that's probably because obvious singles are not forthcoming. That's not surprising given Lupe has been at the forefront of knocking rap artists who "Dumb It Down" to get radio and video play, so he's not going to drop a club song with a ton of bounce or rap about life in the trap. It's not as though he doesn't have the life experience on the mean streets of Chicago to rap authentically about struggling in an environment of guns and violence, but he sees the music he creates as an opportunity to lift himself and his listeners above it. Perhaps that makes "Deliver" as fitting a choice for a single as any other track on the CD. Pizza becomes a metaphor for inequality, lack of opportunity, institutionalized and systemized racism, and why the word "trap" has any real meaning at all for rap - it's something you can't get out of."

E-40 :: Sharp on All 4 Corners: Corner 1/Corner 2 :: Heavy on the Grind Entertainment 
as reviewed by Matt Jost

[Sharp on All 4 Corners]"Lauryn Hill once calculated that "two MC's can't occupy the same space at the same time, it's against the laws of physics." But alas, rappers try to defy the laws of physics all the time. As soon as one has found a niche that proves successful, without fail others will try to force themselves into the same corner with the same sound, slang, wardrobe, visuals... Ms. Hill was obviously aware of the deviate nature of the music industry. Her argument was an artistic imperative directed at her peers, those blatantly foresaking their identity for success and those sincerely looking for a way to discover, express and preserve their identity. But is that even something you can learn, to be yourself - and, moreover, to make yourself interesting to others? There's a school of thinking very prevalent in rap music (and probably America as a whole) that argues that success is, to a large portion, due to things like work, money, connections, chance, etc. It's a percentage calculation that usually leaves only a small ratio for that which comes natural to somebody, the god-given, the talent. Rap is full of hard workers and big dreamers, and they are all welcome, but sometimes we seem to forget that every artist, entertainer and entrepreneur has to work with something, and if that something is very scarce, he's not going very far or going to last. E-40 would be the last to deny the importance of an unwavering work ethic and all the other ingredients for success, but he's also a textbook example of what having talent, charisma, an unmistakable identity can mean to a career in rap. In 40's case it means having been able to make rap his profession for 25 years. Even his most die-hard fans won't be able to tell apart every single segment of all the multi-volume projects since 2010's "Revenue Retrievin'" series. The first two volumes of "Sharp on All 4 Corners" (released individually and also combined into a digital-only 'Deluxe Edition') break the dozen-album barrier, and given the 4-corners theme, number 15 and 16 are likely just around the... corner. E-40 albums released between 2010 and 2015, that is."

Jay Tee :: Vallejo Mentality :: 40 Ounce Records 
as reviewed by Matt Jost

[Vallejo Mentality]"Back in the day (like really back in the day, by internet standards) Jay Tee was one of the first established rappers with a solid online presence. His website was, named after his first project that was signed to Profile Records. One entry on the site was captioned 'Vallejo Ain't On The Map?' - presumably to answer assumptions that, rap-wise, Vallejo wasn't on the map. The page listed every single V-Town rap release (LP's and EP's) up until 2001 - close to 80. Individually E-40 and Mac Dre had the most (they'd likely still occupy the top slots today), but Jay Tee himself had been just as active with N2Deep and Latino Velvet. At the time he was on the verge of a solo career, which today is itself numerous albums deep. His latest is called "Vallejo Mentality," and the fact that James Trujillo, as a budding independent entreprenuer, saw the possibilites of presenting himself and his work online 15 years ago (when most major labels failed miserably) can readily be attributed to an attitude that can be summed up as the Vallejo mentality. Vallejo rappers have DIY in their DNA. What this means, among other things, is they were able to find an audience on their own. They didn't need someone to hold their hand, and the fact that you're not part of their audience may simply be due to the fact that you had no promotion machinery telling you to. For outsiders it's not always clear how this works, the local markets, the stylistic niches, the cult followings (without the constant confirmation of nationwide popularity), but if you're looking for longevity in rap, you'll likely find it under these circumstances. It follows from the above that there's a point where longevity creates a legacy of its own, where the evident hustle, no matter how local, makes such a strong statement that it can overrule criticism. These things alone speak volumes, the rapper can practically skip the details. That's what Jay Tee does on the opening title track of "Vallejo Mentality." He manages to record a song that says very little about that mentality but still embodies it. "

Joe Budden :: Some Love Lost :: Mood Muzik/E1 Music 
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Some Love Lost]"The title of the album is a direct heads up to what's up. "Some Love Lost" is clearly a sequel to 2013's "No Love Lost," and could even be seen as a response to the mixed reception his last album got, which is unusual compared to the majority of his catalogue to date. The response for Joe Budden was to get personal, which has always been his biggest strength, even as a member of the Slaughterhouse crew. With the soft and thoughtful piano backdrop of Karon Graham on the epic eight minute long "Only Human" featuring Emanny on the hook, Budden lays his entire soul bare on the track, leaving no stone unturned in his personal and professional failings. Getting snitched on by a loved one that had him "facing three felonies" is just one of many dramas you can find in the track, which at one point has him contemplating committing suicide to end all of the pain. You've got to be colder than ice to not feel a little ache of pain in your heart listening to Joe rap about his suffering. It's the emotional connection he makes that makes Budden a worthwhile rapper, no matter how many party raps or punchline snaps he can deliver through the course of his career. I suppose if you were going to compare Slaughterhouse to Wu-Tang Clan (not that anybody has before now, or that anybody necessarily even should) he'd be Ghostface Killah. He's that dude you know is tough as hell who can get away with being completely emotionally vulnerable whenever he feels like it and get a free pass for it. That's why even when he mimics the flow of the late great Christopher Wallace on "Alive," it's only going to be taken as a tribute to a man Budden clearly respects - and it's just a passing moment in an uplifting DJ Pain 1 track anyway. It's no coincidence that it follows "Only Human" - it brings you back from the brink."

King :: Throne Muzik: The Crown Era :: KING 
as reviewed by Clara Wang

[Throne Muzik: The Crown Era]"We've all been online shopping for a new coat or pair of pants. $20 for a peacoat? Hell yeah. Yet upon arrival, the stitches are coming apart, the shoulders don't fit, and the material is cheaper than a prostitute in Calcutta. The design looks good from a distance, but the cut is just not up to par. Cue the musical version of this. New York singer King's debut rap album, "Throne Muzik" is promisingly packaged, but doesn't live up to its claims of lyrical genius. However, the album itself isn't actually bad for his first venture into rap, and its pitfalls and stumbles can mostly be attributed to amateur rhyming. "Throne Muzik" can pretty much be divided into two types of tracks: The aggressive strip-club joints that has Betty Friedan rolling over in her grave, and Drake-worthy serenades to feminine sentiment and weed. When he's trying to sound hardcore, King often falls flat, but shows potential on the softer tracks like "Never Let Go" and "Blue Dreams."King puts himself on the platform of the "bringing real shit back" rapper with the opening track, "Collide & Conquer." He delivers lots of distorted royalty references that harken back to battle rap days, "All Hail, y'all rappers all frail," "Diamond chain mail, that perversion of Arthur" on dramatic bass drops and whistles. Similar to the Big Sean/Kendrick Lamar/Jay Electronica "Control" freestyle, King takes it old-school with the aggressive calling-everyone- out vibe "Crime type/I remind them of them grime nights/where we smack niggas for rep/now they doing it for vine likes." There are more misplaced allusions here than a 3rd grade English paper."

Kuniva :: A History of Violence :: Federation Records 
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[A History of Violence]"If you look at the nearly 20 year history of D12, Kuniva is the only member of the crew who has been there from inception to the present day. Bizarre and Eminem could share that status if they didn't each take a hiatus for a couple of years before rejoining. Kon Artis/Mr. Porter produced the track "Bane" for D12 on the "Shady XV" compilation, but has stated his intentions multiple times to focus on his career as a soloist and producer - with no animosity toward the crew. It's possible Bugz or Proof would have stayed down the entire time but due to their untimely deaths we will never know for sure. The only other member who has never left or taken time off is Swifty McVay, but he wasn't there at the inception - he joined after Bugz died. The point I'm trying to get across here is that for all intents and purposes Kuniva can be considered the elder statesman of the D12 crew. There have been short time members, part time members and even brand new members, but Kuniva has stayed down for D12 since day one - he's like Eddie and Alex to Van Halen. The irony is that he's not necessarily the first member you think of when you remember favorite verses or tracks. The aptly named Bizarre always pops to the forefront, Eminem usually has the funniest lines when he's participating, and Kuniva is the guy whose granny wanted to know why he was rapping with a honky. It's not that Kuniva was ever a bad rapper - he could turn in a solid verse - but in a crew of heavyweights his eight bars or so in a song was almost always overshadowed. It's also a little bit his own fault though that in the last 20 years he's only released one solo album/mixtape - "Retribution" in 2010. He doesn't come across like he has to be the star - just the glue that holds the other stars together. The half hour of "A History of Violence" is his chance to change that perception, but he's already giving up a third of the album to guest stars. "Michiganish" finds him sharing the mic with Jon Connor, Boldy James and Guilty Simpson, "Where I'm From" features Pablo Skywalkin, and "Where the Hoes At" features fellow D12 member Swifty McVay plus Money Making Adee. It's almost tragic that the album's closer "Shout Out" is where he delivers some of his best bars and gets the full focus."

royceBIRTH :: Caesar Is Home :: Box Project Records 
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Caesar Is Home]"There shouldn't be any reason for you to confuse royceBIRTH with Royce Da 5'9", but just in case you got it twisted the former is from Toronto and the latter is from Detroit. The former is a relative rookie in the rap game, while the latter has been an underground (and occasionally mainstream) rap favorite for the past 20 years. The former is self-produced and mastered, hustling every part of his presentation by himself, while the latter works with the hottest producers in hip-hop on a regular basis. It may seem an insurmountable climb for royceBIRTH to ever achieve the fame of the man a few inches short of six feet, but don't count royceBIRTH out so quickly. Going back as far as 2008 royce has successfully proved that he can crank out the jams for other artists, making him a producer in demand in his own right. The success of royce in 2015 revolved largely around whether or not he has shown growth as a lyricist since the release of "the REBIRTH," and "John Carlos" is reason to be optimistic. royce pairs his political polemic with pounding percussion worthy of Jay-Z's "99 Problems." If one was to say he was inspired by Rick Rubin as he "rocks to his own drums" it wouldn't be a bad choice of producer for him to emulate, nor would it reflect poorly on others to imitate him. He knows what he's about on jazzy mood pieces like "Hail Caesar (The King Must Die)," old school 1980's throwbacks like "#1 Soul Brother," and eerie whistling melodies like "Ownership."

Serengeti :: Kenny Dennis III :: Joyful Noise 
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor

[Kenny Dennis III]"Kenny Dennis III" marks the third time that Serengeti's mustachioed character Kenny Dennis has been given his own project. He has a long and storied fictional history. He started out in Tha Grimm Teachaz alongside PMDF and DJ Koufie. They were signed to Jive, and were supposed to release their debut, "There's A Situation On the Homefront," before an altercation with Shaq at a live event caused their label to shelve the album. He's released an EP and a 2013 album, and has been featured on other Serengeti projects. "Kenny Dennis III" is a concept album with storyline about Kenny hooking up with his friend Ders (played by Anders Holm) to tour malls with a 90s high-energy hip-house group called Perfecto. The story is pure hip-hop Spinal Tap, the flailing has-been grinding through the most depressing tour imaginable while refusing to acknowledge that he isn't a superstar. He's also battling a pill addiction, egged on by his new friend Joji. As Kenny, Serengeti raps in a gruff "Joey from the old neighborhood" kind of voice about absurdities. "Hot dogs for lunch/Hot dogs for dinner/I don't eat breakfast/I am no beginner" he raps on album opener "No Beginner." There's a Madvillain vibe to the album, especially in the way that Odd Nosdam's dusty breaks compliment Kenny's bizarre rapping. I only knew Nosdam from his anticon. days, and I didn't expect such straighforward crate-digging from him. He samples old soul and surf rock, throwing in some of the art-damaged weirdness that anticon was best known for. Nosdam's beats ground the album, making it groove even when it devolves into nonsense."


Video: Wale, Desean Jackson & More at Trinidad James Release Party

Video: Wale, Desean Jackson & More at Trinidad James Release Party

L.G.: Trinidad Jame$ hosted a star studded Welcome to L.A. part​y​ in Hollywood celebrating the new release of his free project titled "No One Is Safe." James and friends partied it up with NFL star Desean Jackson, Maybach Music Group artist Wale, Miguel and more inside the sold out club; plus a live performance by Snootie Wild and the night's soundtrack provided by DJ Mark Da Spot.

His "No One Is Safe" (#NOIS)​ project has already garnered rav​e reviews a midst the blogosphere since its release on Jan. 20th. The Trinidadian born, Southern raised artist also unveiled his official art book dubbed "The Book of Jame$" featuring 46 pages of artistically dope photos shot by famed Photographer, Evan Ranft aka "5pc" in addition to motivational quotes from inspirational icons.
The Hip-Hop Shop #310 - From Toronto to Lex Ave

It's time for another new edition of The Hip-Hop Shop. Episode #310 takes you on a journey From Toronto to Lex Ave. Enjoy new tracks from Willy J Peso, Esohel, D.Focis and Jus Smith among others! Follow us @RapReviews so you never miss a new podsafe free show.

Download Here (right click to save)

Tracks featured this week:

* Willy J Peso - 401 E to Toronto
* Bad Seed f/ MIMS - Face Off
* Jaae Kash - Pressure
* Esohel - Highest Bid
* Nodis - Yammers
* D.Focis - My Spot
* Jus Smith - Cruisin Down Lex Ave
* Gliss f/ Ryda x IV - On the Highway

Editorial: Top Ten Hip-Hop Sports Videos

Editorial courtesy of Steve 'Flash' Juon.

[Shaquille O'Neal courtesy Wikimedia Commons]Don't have a Shaq Attack.

This week we're taking on the top ten hip-hop sports videos, which for the purpose of this list can either be ABOUT sports or feature an athlete FROM sports, who decided to dabble in the world of hip-hop music - at times with unintentionally hilarious consequences.

There's one four-time NBA champion basketball player who actually did it pretty well though, and seldom gets the credit for it - which is why for my purposes he gets to be #1 with a bullet here. The list of people who got to record a song with the late great Christopher Wallace before his demise is very small (and the list of posthumous remixes he had nothing to do with very long), but Shaquille O'Neal can count himself as one. Of course as you'll see from #2, basketball and hip-hop have always gone together well. Football and rap have a bit more awkward relationship.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Even though I consider the "Superbowl Shuffle" to be an all time classic, there are no copies of this video on YouTube that can be embedded/shared.

1.) Shaquille O'Neal f/ Notorious B.I.G. - "You Can't Stop the Reign"

2.) Kurtis Blow - "Basketball"

3.) Luke f/ Stuart Scott (R.I.P.) - "Raise the Roof"

4.) Wale - "Barry Sanders"

5.) Lil Dicky - "Sports"

6.) Ron Artest f/ Mike Jones - "Get Lo"

7.) Henry Bowers - "Swing Batter Batter Swing"

8.) Key & Peele - "East/West Bowl Rap"

9.) Ludacris - "The Madden 2000 Theme"

10.) Deion Sanders - "Must Be the Money"

Exclusive Premier: Coolzey w/ Soce & Schaffer the Darklord - Sleight of Hand

Exclusive Premier: Coolzey w/ Soce & Schaffer the Darklord - Sleight of Hand

Coolzey is back with a new song, and we have the exclusive first listen for you right here on RapReviews.

The song is titled "Slight of Hand," and on it he's joined by Soce the Elemental Wizard, Schaffer the Darklord, and Schaffer's sidekick, magician Nelson Lugo.

Soce says of the teaming of emcees, "Coolzey and Schaffer are such hot artists. It was a pleasure and an honor to spit with them about one of my favorite subjects – magic! They bring out a whole new fierce, competitive side in me, and I loved having Coolzey slay a whole round of my beats on this EP."

The EP is Coolzey and Soce's upcoming collaborative effort, Coolsay, which from now until its release date of February 3rd can be pre-ordered on bandcamp for $7. Fans who pre-order will get not only the EP, but also a sixth bonus track, which will be unavailable after February 3rd, and a digital lyric book and zine.

Coolzey says of the EP, "Our collaboration, 'Graduation Day,' from Coolzey and the Search for the Hip Hop Hearts, is the most popular jam from that album. I get more requests to perform it at shows than any other song in my catalogue. I wanted to try to capture the same juxtaposition of slapstick comedy and serious tragedy in my lyrics that moved me in Soce's work, while still retaining my voice."

He adds, "I also am a strong supporter of Soce being an unapologetically openly gay rapper in the homophobic hip hop world. I support gay rights and feel that the gay community is still not anywhere near as accepted as they should be in the present day. I was even kicking around the idea of titling the album Support Gay Rights or Die, just to get it into people's faces, but I felt that it would have been misleading to the content, and we settled for the more inviting Coolsay."

Check out "Slight of Hand," and enjoy some hip-hop magic!

Audio: @JonathanEmile - "Heaven Help Dem" (@DunnDealPR)

Audio: Jonathan Emile - "Heaven Help Dem"

Dunn: Emile was in the hospital fighting cancer when he created his philosophy of "MindPeaceLove", which he named his independent record label after. He appeared on the Grammy long-list in the ‘Rap Album of The Year’ category and ‘Jazz Album of The Year’ category as a member of the Franco Proietti Morph-Tet. Proietti also performs alto saxophone on "Heaven Help Dem".

Video: @KapKallous @Caskey407 "I Don't Mind" (@x144 @seandammit)

Video: Kap Kallous f/ Caskey YMCMB - "I Don't Mind"

TCE: Kap Kallous teamed up with Caskey ( Cash Money Records / YMCMB ) for the “I Don’t Mind” music video. Goldie & Jade Lawhon providing the chorus. The David Grants produced track was featured on Kap Kallous’ “Gradeur” album, released in 2014.

Audio: @JaaeKash - "Pressure"

Audio: Jaae Kash - "Pressure"

JK: Are you going through something right now and you feel like so much pressure has been applied that you don't see a way out? Let's get motivated together! Check out my new release entitled "Pressure", produced, mixed and mastered by me.

Audio: Blame One - "All of Me" (prod. Jbleds) @J57

Audio: Blame One - "All of Me" (prod. Jbleds)

J57: Blame is set to release an album produced by Exile and an album produced by J57 in 2015. Here's a new loosie track (prod. by Jbleds) to help celebrate this announcement!

Video: KatiaH - "Getting C.A. (Intermission)" @J57

Video: KatiaH - "Getting C.A. (Intermission)"

J57: wanted to send over Brown Bag affiliate; KatiaH's new video, from his upcoming mixtape titled "The MixKatape." (I did a beat on there/I rap on it/I'm overseeing the project, etc/it's more of an album than a mixtape, really hah.)

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Welcome to for the week of January 27th, 2015!! Please like us on Facebook and shop Amazon through RapReviews so we can bring you new material every week. This week we've got TEN new items for you! Check out Adam Bernard's Joey Batts interview, Body Count's "Manslaughter," an editorial on the Top Ten Hip-Hop Sports Videos, Coolzey's "Sleight of Hand" - an RR EXCLUSIVE premier, Joey Bada$$' "B4.DA.$$" (our featured review), Kenn Starr's "Square One," Steve 'Flash' Juon's The Hip-Hop Shop #310, Trinidad James' "The Wake Up EP" and the Trinidad James Release Party, and Emanuel Wallace's The (W)rap Up for January 20, 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: Mad Dukez - "At the Top". also recommends the AMP w/ Shane Strickland from the AngryMarks Podcast Network. We appreciate your support and welcome any feedback you have. Thanks for visiting!!

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