"It would be the height of dishonesty if I didn't tell you from the jump that Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr. b/k/a Common is one of my favorite artists out of the last 30 years. He's on a short list of hip-hop artists I respect the most, not just for making timeless musical classics, but for espousing an artistic and spiritual philosophy I connect with on a deeply personal level. On a short list of the most important concerts I've ever been to, seeing Common perform at The Metro in Chicago is either #1 or #2. Whenever people make those "if you have to be stranded on a desert island" lists and only a few albums can make the cut, I always include "Resurrection" and "Finding Forever" usually isn't far behind. He's got a 20 year track record of hitting me in the soul with his lyrical flow, vocal tone, and impeccable musical acumen. And yet the truth is the very fact I'm a long time unapologetic fan of Common is why it didn't originally make sense for me to review "The Dreamer/The Believer." I know damn well that I'm biased about his music, though I think I've still been able to discern when Common albums aren't up to HIS standards (and "Electric Circus" immediately comes to mind). Nevertheless I put off reviewing this album for several weeks and solicited staffers for coverage, and was surprised that nobody took the offer. Perhaps nobody wanted to be in the position Jay Soul found himself in when he gave "Universal Mind Control" a harsh review. Some of the feedback was due to the unusual/experimental way he wrote it up, but even putting that aside it was hard to ignore a 4.5 for beats and 6.5 for rhymes."
"With "Down South Block Starz" the "Block Starz" series enters its fourth season. Like previous editions, the sampler offers a platform for lesser known regional artists. The promotion mentions two Block Starz alumni who since went on to bigger things - Wiz Khalifa and Machine Gun Kelly. Their status may therefore be subject to change, but right now the acts featured on "Down South Block Starz" can't bank on the name recognition that traditionally helps sell rap music. The only household name is Lil' Flip, who assists New Orleans duo Southern Dynasty on "Pop a Band." Another group to profit from H-Town expertise are Hazel Green, AL's Loced Out Entertainment, who team up with Swishahouse's Lil Young for "Blowing Swishas in Tha House," a smoked out session over a solid concoction of low and high strings. Coincidentally or not, the two songs mentioned are delivered with a certain aplomb. They give off an air of coolness whereas the rest of the offerings seem to be trying a little bit too hard. Representing Baton Rouge, LA, Delwin The Krazyman has a thing for flamboyant sparring partners (Ceddybu Da Rap Sumo, Lega-C) but both "Macho Man" and "Sex Fein" are the type of dopey, dumbed down fare that got southern rap a bad name. The stereotype is reinforced by Ariginal (Fort Lauderdale, FL) and his "Out here grindin'/'bout my money" platitudes on "See Ya Boy". He's a little more creative on "Swaginonamillion" but limits himself with that same ol' "Diamonds in my watch, girls on my jock / still posted with that white girl on the block" talk. "
"Hip-hop scenes outside of America seem to be more unified. This does not mean that international hip-hop scenes shadow their artists under one, distinct style; it means that all types of artists with different styles belong to the same movement. American record labels tend to target their product towards subgroups within a larger hip-hop audience, international labels and scenes create hip-hop in all shapes and forms for their smaller, hungrier audience. Take URBNET for example. URBNET is a record label that has a diverse range of Canada's finest hip-hop artists, from D-Sisive to DL Incognito to Arabesque, all with different ways of skinning a song and making it sound pretty. URBNET has been around for awhile, putting out albums and compilations to keep Canada's hip-hop scene running, and "URBNET Certified Vol. 1" is URBNET's sample platter of their 2012 releases. The compilation can swing from spoken word with avant-garde production to ghetto laments with a soulful backdrop in the blink of an eye. It's a true "sampler" in every sense of the word, with different tastes and methods used with each song. The end result can be off-putting to those who prefer a certain type of hip-hop, but more eclectic and open-minded fans can enjoy the refreshing pace in which the album switches stances. "
"Homeboy Sandman is a rapper from Queens, NYC. He has released two well-received solo albums, 2008's Actual Factual Pterodactyl" and 2010's "The Good Sun." This EP is notable for two reasons. For one thing, it is the first release by Homeboy on the West Coast label Stones Throw. Stones Throw has been releasing more and more non-hip-hop albums lately, so it's nice to see the label return to its roots, and add another MC to its roster. This EP is also one of the first releases that Stones Throw is offering as part of its subscription plan via Drip.fm. The idea is that you pay ten bucks a month and get digital copies of every new Stones Throw release. The first month's offerings were a instrumental version of MED's "Classic," the "Minimal Wave Tapes Volume ," which is a collection of electronic music, and the Homeboy Sandman EP. Drip.fm was started by the guys behind electronic label Ghostly International. It's an interesting concept, and worthwhile for fans of most of a label's output. Hopefully the concept bears fruit. Of course you can buy this on iTunes, Emusic, at Stones Throw's site, Amazon, or one of the few remaining record stores in the world. This being Stones Throw, the packaging is so pretty you may want to fork over an extra four bucks for the vinyl. "
Lyriciss :: The Balance: Money EP :: Lyriciss/DJ Booth as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
"How 'bout that? A rapper's name which also describes his occupation for a living. Lyriciss is a Washington, D.C. born and Maryland raised rapper who has quickly risen from obscurity thanks to a series of free EP releases being put out through DJ Booth. If you want to check out the first installment "Respect" put out last November feel free, but here we'll be focusing on the "Money" chapter which came out exactly a week ago on January 24th. The funky fresh flute samples of "Get It and Go" remind me of The Beatnuts for some reason, but production is handled by the aptly named Soulful! (The exclamation point is part of his name.) Scratches are handled by DJ I-Dee, which is a pretty big hook-up for someone relatively new on the scene. I have the feeling that's the first of many such collaborations to come though. There are eight songs on "The Balance: Money EP," but that's slightly deceptive given that it's actually four original songs with two different takes - a dirty and a radio clean version. Nevertheless Lyriciss is making the most of the opportunity and "killin niggaz like diabetes and cigarettes" on songs like "The Agena" produced by Grussle. It's hard to miss the Junior M.A.F.I.A. samples in the background here and there, but they are very secondary to the symphonic instruments and harmonized singers that Grussle sampled. "
"Indeed "Black Belt Theatre" is precisely as Planet Asia describes. Inspired by classic kung-fu and blaxploitation films, Asia's latest album is a 20 track odyssey of thick, dusty soul loops served with a side of brash, intelligent gangsterism. As his ultimate goal for this album was to make it feel like a movie, Asia recruited a lengthy list of guest stars to fill the various "roles." The guest list is as lengthy as it is diverse with Talib Kweli, Paul Wall, Raekwon, The Jacka, Mistah Fab, Ras Kass, Torae, and Fashawn being some of the names featured here. The result is an epic experience that is sure to please Planet Asia fans and gain him some new ones along the way. As seems to be the recurring theme for many underground lyricists like Planet Asia, production has always been the one weak point in Asia's catalog. Listeners were reminded of what Planet Asia can do over an album's worth of dope production with "Pain Language" and "Black Belt Theatre" is just as solid musically. Of the big name producers on here, both Khrysis and Oh No deliver as promised. "Lost and Found" (produced by Khrysis) is a sweet, soulful mix of stuttering drums and vocal samples. "No Apologies" (produced by Oh No) is short, but hits hard with a mellow combination of chopped vocals and horns. "Stay Ready" finds Oh No pumping more energy into a similar formula of chopped vocals and instruments."
"From rap music, to appearing in Chrysler ads, "The Price is Right" and "Starsky & Hutch," Snoop Dogg is the quintessential hip-hop icon and mogul. He's also made an equal amount of headlines for his status as hip-hop's marijuana ambassador, either through his songs or many brushes with the law. Fittingly, the D-oh-double-G has decided to follow in the footsteps of Method Man and Redman's "How High" and share a blunt with another weed connoisseur, Wiz Khalifa, as they both star in the upcoming film "Mac & Devin Go to High School." Released in December 2011, Snoop and Wiz are featured on every track of this record as they attempt to combine their creativity on the mic and produce a quality soundtrack for their film. As a duo, Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa sound like they have been rhyming together for years. From the start of the record, the chemistry between the rappers is apparent as they both give off a fresh energy that differs from their solo albums. A good example of this is the funky, atmospheric "You Can Put it in a Zag, I'mma Put it in a Blunt," where both emcees cleverly trade joint-influenced rhymes every four bars. "
"Speech Debelle's early career was in many ways the ideal example of being undone by your own success. Her debut album "Speech Therapy" won the coveted Mercury Music Prize as the best album in the UK in 2009. Not just the best rap album mind you - the best album in ANY genre. This created unbelievably high expectations that her album would be an instantaneous mainstream success and go platinum - neither of which occurred. I don't think that means the journalists, writers and musicians who voted for the Mercury Prize got it wrong; if anything it was proof they got it RIGHT. Her album was not an easily digestible puff of commercial fluff that dissolved the moment it was tasted aurally, and as such not the easiest to sell to a pop music audience. Debelle hasn't toned her words down on "Freedom of Speech" at all. She's actually turned things up a notch or two. The song "Blaze Up a Fire" is a response to the London riots of August 2011, drawing a general comparison to the political upheaval found in Arab countries. Speech is joined by Realism and Roots Manuva on the track, but her quiet vocals are heard the loudest. In many ways she strikes me as a British Bahamadia - easy to underestimate because she speaks softly even though she carries a VERY big stick. Of course it's easy to make a point but much harder to make one people want to listen to, which was why her first album was a tough sell. I think this time around people will find that her mixture of beats and rhymes is on point. "
"Minnesota born and raised T.Q.D has been active as a rap artist since the late 1990's, but started to make noise as a soloist in the 2000's with albums like "Not Yet" and "Clench, Grit, Breathe." If nothing else you can say that he's resilient and determined to succeed. Early RR reviews were somewhat harsh, yet arguably fair, in their assessment of his talent and abilities. Susan 'susiQ' Kim noted his debut showed plenty of potential yet observed "his lyricism is short of substance and cadence." Pedro Hernandez gave solid marks for production, but noted that "the album is one big muddled mess when it comes to focus and lyrics." If criticism can serve to make an artist evaluate and improve their output, it's fair to say our writers gave T.Q.D one to grow on and then some. "Taketh Away" suggests to me that he took away some good advice from this and other reviews. Songs like "Insomnia" don't seem muddled or unfocused - he's got a very good handle on the things which cause sleepless nights. Salt Lake City's own Vividend produced the track, and both the beats and rhymes are harrowing. You get the sense a long night of tossing on the pillow was the perfect inspiration. Despite being 11 tracks in length, "Taketh Away" flies by fairly fast, clocking in at just one second over 32 minutes. This is another factoid that suggests T.Q.D took the idea of being "focused" to heart- he's not wasting any time on expressing what he needs to say with his rhymes."
It's time for another new edition of The Hip-Hop Shop. Episode #159 is called Cocky Hayters Get Done, since that title manages to reference three of this week's seven songs in one shot. You can look forward to brand new tracks from DJ Paul, SL Jones, Nametag and Lyriciss just to name a few. Thanks for listening and remember to share the show with a friend and tell them to check it out every Tuesday on RapReviews.com! Don't forget to subscribe to our RSS newsfeed so you never miss a new episode.
* Constant Deviants - Hayter * Nametag - Feelin Good, Feelin Great * SL Jones - Gas Station * D Strong f/ Aarophat, Mecca, Wildelux - Snakes and Gators * DJ Paul - Cocky * Trafek & V!rtu - Done * Lyriciss f/ DJ I-Dee - Get It and Go
MP3: M-Dot x Mr. Malchau x Nutso- "You Ain't Ready" (Prod. By Midiflash)
Courtesy Chris Figueroa.
Munich Production team 'Midiflash' drop their 2nd single off Pleased to Beat You. The high energy track has vocals provided by M-Dot (Boston), Mr. Malchau (Denmark) & Nutso (Queens). DJ LP2 brings the scratches. Enjoy!
Steel City's J-Haze is pleased to present the laid back Neo Soo Wavy produced "Dream", which features VA's Skillz...so check it out like this and then like that. If you like what you hear, stay tuned for J-Haze's fortforthcoming mixtape My Land, presented by Showoff Gang & Shadyville and hosted by That Damn Toucan, DJ Junior & DJ Grady.
PR: MGK Lands Official WrestleMania XXVIII Theme Song
Courtesy Greg Miller.
February 2012 - Los Angeles, CA - World Wrestling Entertainment (aka WWE) has awarded MGK's "Invincible" as main event wrestler John Cena's theme song at pop-extravaganza Wrestlemania XXVIII taking place April 1, 2012 at the Sun Life Stadium in Miami, FL. "Invincible" is running in WWE Wrestlemania XXVIII promotional advertisements and will serve as John Cena's song of the evening when he enters the ring for the main bout.
"The reaction to 'Invincible' has been amazing. First, Verizon picked it to run in their campaign and now it's an official Wrestlemania song. It's crazy," states MGK. "John Cena and myself are both underdogs and the song is about struggle, I think it's so cool they chose it."
The 2011 MTV break-though artist of the year has been incredibly busy playing shows across the country and gearing up for his ground-breaking 2012 Hostile Takeover tour (kicking off March 22 in Kansas City, MO) that will set the record for longest consecutive tour run in rap history, hitting 90 different cities in the span of 99 days. After the Hostile Takeover tour, MGK will continue on the road with the Van's Warped Tour this summer that will coincide with the release of his debut album, Lace Up on EST 19XX/Bad Boy/Interscope Records.
PR: TheNewContent Debuts as Roku's First Hip Hop Channel
Courtesy Nicole R.
(ATLANTA, GA – February 2012) Watch exclusive independent Hip Hop television programming from the comfort of home as TheNewContent debuts as Roku's first and only Hip Hop channel.
Roku users simply add TheNewContent channel at no cost to your account, www.rokuguide.com/channels/thenewcontent to choose from more than 100 current episodes. TheNewContent is committed to bringing viewers exclusive indie Hip Hop coverage broadcasted in HD that can’t be found anywhere else including music videos, interviews, live events and eventually feature films and full length documentaries.
TheNewContent also hosts private listening sessions with Hip Hop recording artists such as Sha Stimuli and Grammy award-winning producer Focus. Fans can interact with TheNewContent through Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to receive invitations to attend the invite-only events. Those that can't attend or want to relive the experience can watch the exclusive footage on the channel in addition to TheNewContent's entire library including episodes from Comcast’s canceled award-winning mini documentary series The Stand by the producers of TheNewContent.
TheNewContent has been a spotlighted music app on Google TV and is also the platform's first and only app dedicated to indie Hip Hop. Download the app from the music section of the Google TV app gallery, www.google.com/tv/spotlight-gallery.html. TheNewContent will be offered on all other set-top boxes shortly. Viewers without Roku or a Smart TV can watch TheNewContent online in the Google Chrome browser at www.adrise.com/thenewcontent .
TheNewContent has and will continue to feature an original weekly segment of independent Hip Hop content on Joost.com as well as on the free Joost app for iPhones, iPads and iPods. However, new episodes of TheNewContent air on the app first, every Monday. In 2011, TheNewContent had the second most watched video on the Joost network. The channel has aired nearly 150 episodes, had over 100,000 views multiple months in 2011 and is a constant featured music channel. TheNewContent programming is regularly featured on “Joost’s Picks,” which are select videos that stand out on the entire network.
In Decemeber, SL Jones released Flight Risk, his second full mixtape and third project of 2011, and while the Little Rock native has already announced a forthcoming EP with DJ Burn One, he's preceding that release with a string of Flight Risk visuals, the first of which is for the tape's lead single, "Actin' Bad."
The song is a lyrical display of sorts, with SL flipping patterns and wordplay throughout, and the video, shot and directed by Red Audio, offers a straightforward but compelling visual that puts the track's energy at the forefront and matches Jones' brashly defiant tone. A mix of lively performance shots - some accompanied by a scantily clad co-star trying her hardest to steal away the spotlight - and clips of SL in a stunning old-school Chevy Impala, the viewer is placed front and center as SL cruises through the town. "I wanted to let the fans feel like they were riding shotgun with me," explains SL, "bending corners through the neighborhood, chopping it up."
SomeOthaShip Announces Georgia Anne Muldrow & Madlib Single "Seeds" To Be Released On Clear 7" Vinyl on Valentine's Day
Courtesy Audible Treats.
(Brooklyn, NY – February 2012) Following a strong reception for the title track single "Seeds" that was recently leaked, SomeOthaShip Connect is proud to announce that the song will be available for purchase as a special limited edition clear vinyl 7", distributed through Fat Beats on February 14th, 2012.
The b-side includes another song off the album entitled "Husfriend (Prod. By Madlib)," an ode to the beauty of committing to another soul, just in time for Valentine's Day. The digital version of both tracks will also be available on iTunes and other digital retailers February 14th. The full album, Seeds, which is entirely produced by Madlib, will be available on March 27th via her and life partner Dudley Perkin's record label, SomeOthaShip.
Seeds has been produced in its entirety by hip-hop mainstay Madlib, and marks the first project Georgia Anne Muldrow where she concentrated solely on her lyrics and vocals, while leaving the production to someone outside her close camp. Georgia describes the recording process as being "a very different experience... But I'm very proud of the hut we built and am excited about the release." Seeds is presented by SomeOthaShip Connect, the label Muldrow started with husband and fellow musician Dudley Perkins aka Declaime.