"One can't help but feel that perhaps "Life Is Good" should have had a question mark placed on the end of that album title: the artwork says it all, with Nas looking pristine in the VIP section of a club, all alone, holding the only thing the Kelis left behind – part of her green wedding dress. Really, Mr Jones? Life is good? Well, an hour in the company of QB's finest demonstrates his willingness to back his proclamation up, as he proceeds to tell us: "I shouldn't even be smiling, I should be angry and depressed, I've been rich longer than I've been broke, I confess." It's a revealing line (taken from "Loco-Motive"), given that it mixes optimism with self-awareness, a lack of self-awareness with contradiction, and an unusual amount of ego – breaking the golden rule of writing, Nas uses "I" or "I've" five times in two lines. That's not unusual over the course of LIG, and it certainly hints at a genuinely personal album, the likes of which we've rarely seen from the legend, aside from the criminally underrated "God's Son" released a decade ago. Shrouded in mystery, he finally allows us a glimpse into his psyche, and as he says in the brilliantly titled "No Introduction" you should be prepared for a no holds barred fifteen rounds through the mind of a genius: he pretends to be civilized whilst secretly plotting a revolution; he reminisces on chilling in the Lex with Biggie; he wants us to love/hate/judge him; he sends this out to Kelis… Nas uses stark reality to craft his art, and that is the mark of a true artist. The feel of LIG is suitably epic, with moody, melodramatic instrumental scores giving a cinematic feel for the vast majority of the album. It draws you in, and the curse of poor beat-selection is almost made redundant, finally. A huge amount of credit must surely go to Salaam Remi and No I.D. Between them, they have a hand in eleven of the fourteen tracks on display (more of the bonus cuts later). Even tracks that you may be tempted to skip at times – such as "A Queens Story" – end up having incredible twists and variations (e.g. injections of chopping/Chopin) that suddenly make them essential once more."
various artists :: Hieroglyphics Imperium Summer 2012 Tour Mixtape :: Hiero Imperium as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
"To support of their 2012 summer tour, the Hieroglyphics Imperium has released a brand new mixtape compiling together the cream of the crop from their various recent releases, along with one new remix never heard of released before anywhere else. The pricing structure for this album is innovative and laudable, scaled up from free (for the album itself) in $5 increments. If you just want the music, click on the album cover and get you some, you're done. $5 will get you a pack of Hieroglyphics stickers along with the download. $10 gets you the stickers and an exclusive Hiero keychain. $20 is a hellafied value though - it gets you all of the above AND a t-shirt you can rock when they hit your town on tour (or any other time you want). Trust me, they appreciate it when you wear the merch at a show - it's nothing but love from the Hieroglyphic fam for knowing you appreciate them enough to cop and wear their gear. Since there's only one track completely exclusive to this release, it's worth speaking on that one for just a moment - the Souls of Mischief "Home Game" remix by Nima Fadavi. The original version is from 2009's slept on "Montezuma's Revenge" CD. Unfortunately for me at least that makes a remix problematic, because when I reviewed the album it wound up in the coveted category of The Nines, so to me any attempt to remix the songs here is like trying to add an extra brush stroke to "The Starry Night" by Van Gogh. At best it's laughable to think you can improve on near perfection, but what's worse is that you're going to ruin a priceless masterpiece. "
Gensu Dean :: Lo-Fi Fingahz Instrumentals :: Mello Music Group as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
"If you're searching through the review archives for our write up of the companion Gensu Dean's "Lo-Fi Fingahz" album, you're going to be mystified as to where it is. The answer quite simply is that it isn't there - the original slipped through the cracks amongst the dozens of albums we review each month. I'd be more upset by this faux pas were it not for the fact "Lo-Fi Fingahz" only came out five months ago. I'm not saying we still shouldn't cover it, or that we don't plan to do so, but at least it's not a classic from five years ago we totally overlooked. I need to qualify the use of the word "classic" though, because it's a word thrown around by the label when sending us this instrumental album, though in fairness other reviewers have lauded the album as being quite good. Having not heard the entirety of the rhymes on the original, it would not be fair for me to call it a "classic" myself. Listening to these instrumentals though, one can surmise that even a mediocre emcee would do alright to the boom bap found within, and a halfway good one would be lauded as superb."
"It's startling to discover that over four years have passed since Grip Grand released "Brokelore" to such critical acclaim. My own (embarrassingly deficient) review of that album didn't do it justice: if I could hop back in the DeLorean, the focus would be more on WHY it was so good, plus an added boost to the score (up to a 9.5 or 10). It was an incredibly well-rounded album that connected on every level, and it is surely one of the great crimes within hip hop that such talented rappers/albums remain unheralded gems. His new album "ESAE (Everyone Sucks At Everything)" is a brief offering, more a collection of some road-tested songs over the last few years. Truly, it is EP length, with seven full songs and an instrumental. Yet, quality prevails. His lyricism consists of unstoppable flows, ingenious punchlines and deep humanity. There have been frequent comparisons to Kanye West over the years (early 'Ye, that is) and it's easy to see why. To be honest, that's a slight disservice to Grip, considering he is the more impressive MC in most ways. It's difficult to describe this as "underground hip hop" – it's more universal than that. He's also an accomplished producer, one with an ear for drums, melodies and terrific sequencing. ESAE, as ever, has the feel of an underdog – but one that could well and truly kick your ass lyrically at any point. "
Ill Al Skratch :: Creep Wit' Me :: Mercury Records ** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series ** as reviewed by Pete T.
"One surefire litmus test if probing '90s hip hop smarts is whether one knows that Ill Al Skratch is in fact not an individual, but rather a duo. While their name might inspire images of Chill Rob G's broke little brother, it was actually a combination of the two Brooklyn MCs' monikers, Big Ill and Al Skratch. After making modest waves with the single "Where My Homiez? (Come Around My Way)" in '94 they made perhaps their greatest contribution to the pop music canon by introducing the world to a certain Brian McKnight on the follow-up "I'll Take Her." Anchored by an orchestral street symphony and a PMD vocal sample, the young McKnight, later of "Back at One" fame, pleads his crude case ("If you don't want her, don't waste her time") between the rappers' hilariously raunchy verses. An auspicious beginning for an ambitious crooner it wasn't, but it is a classic East Coast single. Upon hearing Al Skratch's booming voice, one immediately formulates a strikingly accurate mental image of "the one with the voice that's raspy"—a dark chocolate brother who, unless you play ball for a living, is probably significantly bigger than you. On "I'll Take Her" he and his partner-in-rhyme position themselves as cockeyed opportunists, the type to "give your man a pound, then I'll ask you what's your name." It's a deeply humorous affair, however, with the less gruff but equally bombastic Big Ill trading lines with his compadre and Mr. McKnight providing a soulful if miles-over-the-top performance. "
"William Paul Mitchell b/k/a Large Professor has picked up his output level slightly in the last few years. We went 10 years from the break-up of his rap group 'til the release of his official solo debut "1st Class" and bootleg release of "The LP." We then went another half decade+ until he decided to drop an album wryly titled "Main Source," but since then he put out an official version of "The LP" and dropped this brand new album "Professor @ Large." By my math, since I'll count the official version of "The LP" as a new album, that's three releases from Extra P in the last five years. That's not what you'd call prolific for anybody OTHER the Professor, but given how reticent Mr. Mitchell is, that's as close to it for the P as we'll ever get. Paul is famous for different things depending on who you ask or what part of his career they're familiar with. He's definitely a wizard behind the boards, famous for his contributions to classic rap albums like "Let the Rhythm Hit 'Em" and "Illmatic." For some though his contributions as a lyricist in that same era loom even larger, famed for rap songs like "Just a Friendly Game of Baseball" and "Looking at the Front Door." In my mind I'd prefer to give him credit for both, but in truth his rapping took a backseat to production for so long that a cameo rap or a 12" single in the 1990's was a rare event. Even with the turn of the calendar to the 21st century and several solo albums under his belt, that's still a hard image for me to shake. "
"The opening and titular track of "Demons" left me puzzled for about 30 seconds. "Somebody made a mistake," said me to myself and I. "Either the record label sent me the wrong album, or I somehow used the wrong download link. This can't be right - it sounds like bluegrass country rock." A quick scan of the album's tracks showed that neither the label nor I were mistaken. Well known Canadian hip-hop artists like D-Sisive ("Another Day"), Fatty Jones ("Ready") and Rellik ("Step Into the Ring") appear throughout the credits. "Demons" is definitely the right album, although that just goes to show Plex is a little bit different from the average. A 15 year veteran who owns and operates his own independent label (New Leak Entertainment), he like fellow Toronto native Drake has made successful forays into acting and also has hosted an acclaimed radio broadcast called "The Plex Show" for over 2 years. Of course those are just the credentials in his bio - the music is what matters the most. The title track quoted above (which also features a cameo by B. Brown) proves Plex is a capable storyteller. He also self-produces, a familiar trademark of rappers who have a Northern Touch to their craft. When he does turn the reigns over to others, they turn in some impressive tracks. Rich Kidd's work on "Warriors" is reminiscent of DJ Premier - bubbling, symphonic and lush. Speaking of deejays, DJ Corbett's pop sensibility on "Ready" make his beat an ideal backdrop for a song by Tyga or Weezy."
It's time for another new edition of The Hip-Hop Shop. Episode #183 is The Return of Make It or Break It #3. Your host Steve 'Flash' Juon says you can send Twitter feedback to the handles listed below or to @RapReviews on this episode! 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 and follow us on Twitter so you never miss a new episode.
Kottonmouth Kings Release New Single "Mr.Cali Man" Featuring Saint Dog
With the impending release of their monumental thirteenth studio album, "Mile High", just around the corner on August 14th, the Kottonmouth Kings have released their new single "Mr. Cali Man" featuring Saint Dog and Ceekay Jones online at http://cbsloc.al/NE5fQL. The single marks the first time the Kings have recorded new material with Saint Dog, the original emcee who appeared on the group's debut album "Royal Highness", in over a decade. A video clip of Saint Dog at the Kottonmouth Kings compound talking about his involvement in "Mile High" can be seen online at http://bit.ly/Q68Ny6 .
"Mile High" is the Kottonmouth Kings on steroids with a twist of ecstasy and a pot brownie. "Mile High" has the Kings passing the mic around like the Harlem Globetrotters pass a basketball and spitting lyrical fire. To help "Mile High" truly take flight, the Kings were joined in the studio by some of the sickest emcees in the underground including Swollen Members, Jahred from (Hed)p.e., Mickey Avalon, and the demented duo Twiztid. To tie it all together the Kings created some mind altering X-Rated album artwork for that is only available for a limited time online at http://bit.ly/IX7NlM .
The Kottonmouth Kings will hit the road with horror master Prozak, underground heavyweight Big B, and country hip-hop misfits the Moonshine Bandits for The Mile High Tour beginning July 30th in Santa Cruz, CA.
KOTTONMOUTH KINGS TOUR DATES:
7/27 - Las Vegas, NV - Hard Rock Hotel - SRH Fest w/ Hedpe & Dilated Peoples 7/30 - Santa Cruz, CA - Catalyst Atrium 7/31 - Sacramento, CA - Ace of Spades 8/01 - Reno, NV - Knitting Factory 8/03 - Boulder, CO - Fox Theatre 8/05 - Fargo, ND - The Venue 8/06 - Des Moines, IA - People's Court 8/07 - Milwaukee, WI - The Rave 8/09 - Chicago, IL - The Bottom Lounge 8/10 Cave In Rock, IL Hog Rock (Gathering of Juggalos) 8/11 - Detroit, MI - Harpo's Concert Theatre 8/13 - Cleveland, OH - Peabody's 8/14 - Buffalo, NY - Infinity 8/15 - Allentown, PA - Crocodile Rock 8/17 - New York, NY - BB Kings Blues Club 8/18 - Boston, MA - Royale 8/19 - Springfield, VA - Empire 8/21 - Charlotte, NC - Amos Southend 8/22 - Orlando, FL - The Social 8/23 – Pensacola, FL – Vinyl Music Hall 8/24 - Houston, TX - Warehouse Live 8/26 - Dallas, TX - Granada Theater 8/28 - Albuquerque, NM - Sunshine Theater 8/29 - Flagstaff, AZ - The Orpheum 8/30 - Bakersfield, CA - B Ryders 8/31 - San Diego, CA - House of Blues 9/01 - Santa Ana, CA - The Observatory
Welcome to the new week everyone. This past weekend was Warped Tour weekend for me, and I had a blast! Not only did I see a ton of great bands, but I was able to witness some really good friends advance in their careers. Big ups to B-Listers Warren Britt, Sketch Tha Cataclysm, J Ross Parrelli, and and my buddy Ceschi, for killin it! You can see a photo gallery with 71 pics from the day in this week's update. This week's update also features a crazy interview with comedian Eric Andre that gets pretty explicit (definitely not for the timid!), and a fantastic feature on NYC musician Drop The Lime. My NYC Scene Report has unfortunate news regarding two important music venues, but also has good news about some great artists. This week's Vid Pick comes from BS, I have a great new edition of my ABX pdocast, and, of course, there's an all new Pop Shots to get your week started off right!
If you dig any of these features please feel free to forward this email to a friend. I'd really appreciate it. Thanks, and enjoy!
Welcome to your weekly dose of pop world musings. Covering all things pop culture, this week Pop Shots is hitting you with thoughts on everything from Pitbull’s upcoming Alaskan getaway, to Justin Bieber’s claim that he’s become a man, to some dance steps from Korea that we all need to learn, and since it’s Pop Shots you know everything is seasoned with a little bit of attitude. Read all the shots at: AdamsWorldBlog.com
Eric Andre on YouTube Comments, Coffee, & Butt Sex
Comedian Eric Andre is having a bad day. He can’t find his bike, he left his credit card at a bar last night, and his calls keep dropping while he’s on the subway. All of that’s OK, though, because he’s having a truly amazing year. His mock talk show, The Eric Andre Show, is one of Adult Swim’s biggest hits, he has a role on the ABC sitcom Don’t Trust The B---- in Apt. 23, and he’s been hitting the road doing national comedy tours.
On this rare day when very little seemed to be going his way, I caught up with Andre and witnessed him shrug his bad day off shoulders and embrace the positivity of his year. During our interview Andre discussed how much hard work, and stomach bile, it’s taken for him to get where he is today, why he never books comedians for his show, and his feelings on everything from YouTube comments, to coffee, to butt sex. Andre also told a story about a fan encounter that was beyond creepy.
NYC Scene Report - The Bowery, Anna Rose, Jim Wolf, Headsnack, & More
In this edition of the NYC scene report we have news on the closing of two legendary Lower East Side venues, a brand new video from vocally powerful rocker Anna Rose, something strange, weird, and romantic from singer/songwriter Jim Wolf, Headsnack's ode to the great big mall in the sky, and the welcome return of Sixpence None The Richer. Read the full column at: 101Distribution.com
Drop The Lime - Style Clasher
The music of Brooklyn, NY, musician Drop The Lime can be tough to describe. It incorporates elements of EDM, rock, and country, and even has a few other things thrown in for good measure.
"Why limit yourself to one genre," Drop The Lime questions. "This is more fun and I get less bored if I can dabble in everything."
Drop The Lime, whose name is derived from a grandmother's superstition that pouring a lime over a wound would break a curse, has been dabbling in everything musically his entire life...
It’s a fact that doctors recommend listening to at least one ABX podcast per month to get the right amount of great hip-hop in your life OK, so maybe they’re not medical doctors, but Dr. Dre, Dr. Octagon, and at least a few employees at Dr. Jay’s would recommend it. This month I have 12 new songs, including the ABX podcast debuts of Klokwize and Millionaires. In total, it’s nearly an hour of music and madness (I create a Southern hip-hop chorus mid-show, for no good reason) to get you through a hot summer day. Enjoy!
Cavalier - Activated FANOMM (Chew Fu, J-Cast & Substantial) - Sweet Dreams Millionaires - Boss Bitch Bubble Geese - Sunkist! Roc Doogie - Doro Jonny October - Little Joe Cartwright CookBook - WhatIGottaDo?!? Klokwize - Boogyman Blues Coole High - Speedknots Illus - Sacrifice YC The Cynic - Free Fall Del The Funky Homosapien w/ Parallel Thought - Different Guidelines
As always, thanks for reading and have a fantastic week.
http://VladTV.com - The Atlanta rapper speaks on his current relationship with G-Unit despite not still being signed to the label, and reveals that he still hangs out with Tony Yayo and is cool with 50 Cent. Scrappy also detailed his relationship with Lil Jon, who was the first artist to discover him in the early 2000's, and talks about a show they recently played at together.