"Nappy Roots and Organized Noize were bound to hook up eventually. Now that Cee-Lo's a flamboyant pop star, Goodie Mob don't dance no mo', Bubba Sparxxx went the way of the rest of the Purple Ribbon All Stars, and OutKast is doing whatever it is they do, the Nappy boys are easily the next best thing as far as down-home, country-fried hip hop goes. Only a year removed from 2010's brilliant "The Pursuit of Nappyness," the Kentucky quintet is back with an eleven track LP produced entirely by the immortal Atlanta trio behind "Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik," "ATLiens," and "Soul Food." This overdue first intersection between the Nappy Roots and Dungeon Family universes features collaborations with Big Rube and Khujo Goodie, making it a landmark event for anyone who likes a little country twang in their rap. Listening to Nappy Roots rap is an experience not unlike a song by Levon Helm and The Band. It's easy to imagine a crew of grizzled men in overalls sitting around the campfire, going around the circle each weighing in on the topic of the day, and letting everyone get in his two cents before moving on to the next one. The MCs and their accounts aren't particularly distinct from each other, but this enhances the consistent, familial vibe they emanate with their thick, syrupy drawls. There's always a heavy dose of soul in Nappy's albums, and "The Pursuit of Nappyness" was among their finest yet, featuring mature, good-natured musings from a group who'd seen the top yet seemed comfortable with their independent status. "
Blastah Beatz :: Graduate Studies :: Ascetic Music as reviewed by Patrick Taylor
"In an interview with Champ Magazine, producer Blastah Beatz said he had an epiphany when he attended the 2008 One Stop Shop beat battle in in Phoenix, Arizona 2008. He had been working with a more commercial sound at that point, using house and trance music to make beats. After hearing what the other producers were doing at the beat battle, Blastah decided to focus on old school sampled boom-bap. Out went the Euro techno, and in its place came crates of vinyl and a sampler. That's a ballsy decision. Instead of pursing commercial, and thus monetary, success, Blastah decided to make beats that would pay respect to the art form he loves, and earn the respect of rappers he looked up to. The result paid off. "Graduate Studies" contains sixteen cuts he recorded with rappers from all over the U.S., representing New York, the South, the Midwest, and the West. Blastah may be inspired by 90s boom-bap, but his production doesn't sound creaky or dated. Most of his beats are dramatic and bombastic, not unlike a lot of the commercial rap production he was moving away from. The difference is the dramatic elements in Blastah's music come from samples, not synths, and he grounds his beats in chunky, hard-hitting drums. It's a sound I associate almost exclusively with New York City, so I was surprised to learn that Blastah hails from Portugal. "
"When it comes to the most underappreciated emcees in hip-hop over the past five years, a strong case can be made that Blu belongs near the top of the list. After collaborating with producer Exile to release the 2007 album "Below the Heavens," lauded for its introspective and well-crafted lyrics, Blu established himself as one of the most promising up-and-coming emcees in the game and was named to XXL's Freshman Class of 2009. Despite several subsequent mixtape and album releases, though, he has yet to achieve the mainstream success of his fellow "class mates" B.o.B., Kid Cudi, and Wale, instead opting to establish his niche as an underground alternative hip-hop artist. Of course, any true rap aficionado knows that popularity is not always correlated with skill, and those who have followed the Los Angeles native from the beginning are undoubtedly well aware of his prowess on the mic. "Open," though, represents a new chapter in the 28 year-old's short career, as Blu explores his versatility as an artist and takes a break from spitting rhymes to focus instead on producing. Right from the start, it's clear that the beats are the focal point of the album, as most hip-hop fans are unlikely to be familiar with any of the emcees artists that Blu hand-picks to lay the vocals atop his instrumentals."
"Houston rapper Slim Thug and his crew of Boss Hogg Outlawz have been repping Texas for over 10 years now, but rose to prominence around 2004-2005 when Thug's solo career skyrocketed off hits like "3 Kings" and "Like a Boss." The size and membership of the crew have changed over the years, but the 2011 roster according to the liner notes of "Serve & Collect III" is as follows: Slim Thug, Dre Day, Le$, Lil Ray, J-Dawg, Mug and Black. They've combined forces to drop 73 minutes of music on the E1 imprint, their first group album since "Serve & Collect II" back in 2008. Rather than try to understand what happened to BHO cohorts like Killa Kyleon and Chris Ward, it's probably best to put it the way writer DJ Complejo did some years back: "Slim Thug is and will always remain the leader and the best rapper out of all the Boss Hogg Outlawz. At the very least, the rest of the crew provides some variety." It should come as no surprise then on "Serve & Collect III" that hip-hop's #1 Thugga stars on 14 out of 16 tracks. It's tempting to say the 2 that he's not on are skippable, but that's not entirely true. "Roofless" has a pounding and synth-heavy Mr. Lee beat that carries the extensive variety of guests artists on a five minute+ posse cut nicely. While "Get It" is a nice mellow tune from RayFace, this one is less forgivable - it's WAY TOO LONG at over 7 minutes long."
"Just in time for the Halloween season, one-time Ice-T protege Everlast drops his latest solo album "Songs of the Ungrateful Living." Winged insects crawl across a meatless skull, which one can only assume is because the maggots got to it first. Piled up around it and underneath it on the album's cover are detritus like a used Bic lighter and what one can only surmise is an empty whiskey bottle. On the reverse side a group of weeds and flowers growing from a pile of pennies may be Erik Schrody's wry interpretation of the value of his career, though it's wry only because it's a gross underestimation. Besides his tenure in the largely defunct hip-hop group House of Pain, which created a party anthem which still causes people to "Jump Around" at events today, his rebirth as a gruff folk singer on "Whitey Ford Sings the Blues" showed previously unimagined talents and its success kept his career alive throughout the 21st century. His affiliation with the La Coka Nostra clique even revived interest from some hip-hop ears who had lost interest when he switched gears and started singing more than rapping. There's no doubt if Everlast piles his bones on a stack of career coinage the majority of them would be silver and gold. Now Everlast can't be said to be one of the ungrateful ones, as his singing career was kickstarted in the late 1990's when he suffered a nearly fatal heart attack."
In Good Company :: In Good Company :: Myspherical Ent./Obese Records as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
"We've got to be just about due for a new Australian hip-hop review, and as the leading proponent of the field among the RR crew, I'll take it upon myself to introduce you to "In Good Company." Their album is self-titled, which makes it damn near impossible to Google search for even if their name WASN'T a very commonly spoken phrase. As for finding their album at retail? Even though it's distributed by Obese Records, I couldn't get a single entry from Amazon. Thankfully I do have two weapons I can wield in this fight for more information - a one-sheet that talks about the three man crew and a Facebook page too. Here we go! The artists making up IGC are Syntax, Whisper and Breach. You may know the latter from the group A-Diction. All hail from the hip-hop mecca of Melbourne. This is their first album together, and came out just a few weeks ago on October 7th. Their official bio describes their assets on their first CD thusly: "Whisper's supreme production claiming the bulk of the album, his lyrical poignancy is resonant throughout, [while] Syntax with his venomous wit and fondness for sci-fi [and] Breach with his voice rich with stoic assurance and intelligence [are] an excellent example of complimentary skill." Complimentary skills can also be found from their guests though, as Ginger Van Es croons on the hook of their solid lead single "The Road," while Brooklyn indie rap fave Skyzoo guests on "Hold Your Applause." "
"Reggae lost one of its greats last year when Gregory Isaacs died of lung cancer. The Jamaican singer had been one of the most popular reggae artists of the 1980s, producing a string of hits over his thirty-year career. He had a voice as sweet as honey, and his natty dress style and smooth voice earned him the nickname the Cool Ruler. VP Records put out a tribute album to him earlier this year, and now follows with a two-disc and DVD retrospective which covers Isaacs' work from the seventies until 1990. The album is arranged chronologically. Disc one covers 1972-1978, and disc two covers 1978-1990. A few of the songs are put slightly out of order, but the result is a set that progresses naturally and allows you to adjust to the changing production styles over the years. Isaacs was most famous for his love songs, and there are many fine examples here. The album opens with one of his first hits, "My Only Lover." Production on the album spans early days of roots reggae to the digital revolution of the 80s. While nothing can compare to the analog warmth of the tracks on the first disc, Isaac's smooth voice makes a nice contrast to the digital production that started in the early 1980s. His biggest hit, "Night Nurse," is an irresistible pairing of Isaacs' lovelorn pleading over a slinky digital beat. He managed to repeat the trick with "Private Secretary," "Victim," and "Let Off Sup'm." The four songs from the end of the 80s that round out disc two are the weakest of the collection, with the increasingly cheesy production overshadowing Isaacs. "
Mad Skillz :: From Where??? :: Big Beat/Atlantic ** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series ** as reviewed by Matt Jost
"Don't mistake fashion sense, pricey jewelry, luxury cars or upscale locations for style in rap. A rapper who has style (and not just 'a style') in the artistic sense aims for refinement and sophistication. Rap with class doesn't have to mimick society's conventions about good taste in design, fashion, cooking, etc. It can be loud, rugged, nasty - but it has to have that flair that makes something tricky look effortless. Old school hip-hop had style in spades, up in the Bronx where the people were fresh. But Donnie Shaqwan Lewis wasn't from one of the five boroughs - he was from Richmond, Virginia. "From Where???" Skillz summed up the Big Apple's reaction to his provenance, similar to Maestro Fresh-Wes' "Naaah, Dis Kid Can't Be From Canada?!!" Like the Toronto MC, the 1994 Unsigned Hype alumni hooked up with exponents of the New York rap scene, most notably for the classic triumvirate "Extra Abstract Skillz" with Large Professor and Q-Tip. He had three Buckwild beats as well, but also made sure to consider Virginia production talent as embodied by Shawn J-Period. What's more, two credits go to a certain Jaydee, more widely known as influential Detroit hip-hop maestro J Dilla. His beats for "It's Goin' Down" and "The Jam" are standouts on a well produced album. "
"Before jumping into the deep end of the pool on this album, it probably helps to know that Prometheus Brown is also (and arguably better) known as Geologic from the acclaimed Blue Scholars crew out of Seattle, WA fame. Bambu also hails from a recognized hip-hop group, he of Native Guns fame (their name an admitted parody of the Native Tongues) from Watts. Both rappers are known for being politically active in their respective communities, with both Bambu and Geologic credited for speaking out about Filipino issues while crafting dope hip-hop tracks. Bambu in particular is recognized for using Taglish in his raps, a mixture of both English and Tagalog, the latter being a widely spoken language in the Philippines. Few popular rappers in the U.S. can say the same, with apl.de.ap of the Black Eyed Peas being a big exception. Despite their being outspoken and politically active, Prometheus Brown and Bambu are not without an impish and playful sense of humor in their raps. They salute their heritage and wink at Jay-Z at the same time by declaring "All brown, ah-ah-all brown everything" on "National Treasure." They also show the kind of baldfaced affection for a fly and famous actress not seen since Slug & MURS created odes to Rosie Perez and other fly honeyhips on their collabo albums. "Rashida Jones" was a good choice - she's definitely a looker who stands out whether on small screens like The Office, or Hollywood film screens like The Social Network."
"Detroit duo the Regiment has steadily been building their brand since debuting back in 2007 with "The Come Up," and their third album, 2011's "The Panic Button," arrives on Kevin Nottingham's HiPNOTT Records. On the heels of 2009's "A New Beginning," which drew attention largely due to the single "Old School Vibe," a monster of a track produced by fellow Motown native Apollo Brown, they've returned with a seventeen track LP featuring production from Apollo Brown and Kev Brown as well as Soulution, Newstalgia, Beat Butcha, Beatnick Dee, and Soulgate with guests from Boog Brown, Substantial, and Finale. Going from relative unknowns to collaborating with some of the Midwest's leading figures is no small feat, and "The Panic Button" looks to further the rise of IseQold and O.S.I. Unfortunately, "The Panic Button" will probably be remembered as a step backward for the duo. Don't get me wrong - this is a great sounding album. The producers assembled provide the MCs with over an hour's worth of music that alone should place the Regiment among Detroit's forerunners. Like the Left's "Gas Mask" and Daily Bread's self-titled LP, both Apollo Brown-produced projects from last year, "The Panic Button" features a smart balance of sweet, soulfully nostalgic numbers and thundering street anthems. The slower tracks feature brilliantly sentimental instrumentals lending nods to Detroit's classic soul roots, while the upbeat songs are loaded with lively basslines and sub-pounding percussion. "
"Z-Ro opens his latest record "Meth" by stating, "That's right nigga - changed my name to Rother Vandross - fuck you old punk ass nigga, nigga!" Excusing his crudeness, it's an apt alter ego for the Mo City Don, who is as recognizable for his deep, smooth crooning as for his gritty hustling sagas. Coming on the heels of "Crack," "Cocaine," and "Heroin," "Meth" is another Rap-A-Lot LP from the H-Town vet, and while listeners will find the subject matter familiar, it features the best production, melodies, and arrangements found on a Z-Ro album in recent memory. Some of the brilliance of "Meth" must be attributed to Beanz N Kornbread, the production duo behind most of the album's most irresistible tracks. "Never Had Love" is anchored by a rigid, twangy guitar line, layered with menacing horns and a thumping bassline. The Slim Thug collabo "H-Town Kinda Day" is a piece of soulful, laidback genius, with a smoothly whirring synth and sultry guitar reminiscent of an Isley Brothers track. They also lace the bright "Southern Girl," a funky, upbeat winner, as well as the standout "Happy Alone," another manifesto of solidarity from Ro. While fans will recognize it as a song from the blueprint of "1 Deep" and "Do Bad on My Own," the somber production and contagious hook make this one memorable. "We Ride" is another simple, relaxing anthem, and they also shine on "Razor Blade." Their approach isn't particularly ambitious, but the duo is responsible for the album's most infectious music. "
It's time for another new edition of The Hip-Hop Shop. Episode #146 is the Post Halloween Candy Hangover Show. You've filled your belly with sweets, your stomach aches, but we've got some aural treats to make it all better. Enjoy the delicious flavors of A.Dd+, Darkitect, Vicious Cycle and Has-Lo among others. (Doesn't Darkitect sound like a chocolate bar? It does to me.) 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.
* A.Dd+ - Genocide * Nick Nemesis - Get Up * Has-Lo - Never Was Yours * hasHBrown - The Death Penalty * Darkitect f/ Kid Colt & Lethal Junkie - Life's Like Dice * Vicious Cycle - Made to Love * T.iM.E. - Breatkthrough (Beat Ventriloquists Remix)
Hailing from the streets of Richmond, VA., P.R.E.M.E. began to follow hiphop at a very early age. Inspired by his older brother, who was a local legend on the music scene, he took his skills seriously. Recording tracks every chance he gets, P.R.E.M.E. not only wants his gift recognized by his hometown, but the world.
After gaining exposure, he almost signed a deal with 20ent/Universal Records with help from Avery Evans, but he refused due to contract disagreements. NOW with a large of determination and an unique unmatched flow, P.R.E.M.E. continues his long journey show and prove that he is a more than formidable force in hiphop.
Uncommon Presents "Save the Horn" for East African Famine Relief
Courtesy Uncommon Records.
Uncommon Records humbly presents our 2nd "Pop Up Album", Save the Horn. All proceeds from Save the Horn will be donated to Charity:Water which builds water wells in the 3rd world. They are currently raising funds to finance a drilling rig that can dig multiple wells in the country of Ethiopia. All of the dollars donated to Charity:Water are verified to be going toward specific wells via Google Maps and photos that are directly associated with the dollars. Even their overhead comes through a separate income source.
Save the Horn will only be available for one month (10/28-11/28), we will then donate all funds raised from the sale of the album and it will never be available again. This creates a rare piece of music in the digital format. The album contains 16 songs for only a $5 donation, although we would encourage you to donate more if you can. Let's tell you about the album:
Save the Horn features music from Uncommon's roster like Acid Reign, Adam Warlock, Atari Blitzkrieg, Pruven, Short Fuze, Taiyamo Denku, Masai Bey, DCK VNNGT along with collaborations with fellow Progressive Hip-Hoppers like JunClassic, Billy Woods, Megabusive, Aeon Grey, Passive65ive, Carl Kavorkian, Zesto and more. The list of producers banding together is also impressive including Nasa, Agartha Audio, IV the Polymath, Black Tokyo, Waatu, Bond and others.
The opportunity to present staunchly Progressive Hip-Hop like this in a joint effort to raise money for a worthy cause is an honor. We were able to make a difference with Japan Earthquake Relief earlier this year with a similar project, now we need to send the same love to Africa. Thanks to everyone that takes part, and enjoy the tunes!!!
The Next installment from Crazy Al Cayne's Sugar Cayne Experiment Vol#1 featuring DMV area MC, Napoleon Da Legend.
Elixir: In this age of economic uncertainty, war, violence, greed, corruption, swag, big money rap, hoe rap, and general anxiety, Napoleon Da legend and Sugar Cayne concocted an Elixir to absorb in your system to help break up some of societies ailments.
First Dirt releases the official music video for "Ima Monster" featuring TASK1NE off of A.R.A.B.'s sophomore album The Trojan Horse. Download "Ima Monster" and other songs from The Trojan Horse at arab.bandcamp.com.
The idea of the video was developed towards a Halloween scary movie theme. The scene consists of A.R.A.B. (Timothy Rhyme) preying on a young female victim (Marcia Anne Rosales) and seducing her into coming back to his house for a drink. After spiking her drink, he drags her into the garage where he and TASK proceed to torture her.
Chance has now released the final version of his latest single "Vera Wang". For those scouring the internet, a previous version was released in the summer, not to be confused with this version of the track. It is the first official single off his upcoming album Made in Yonkers, distributed by Empire Distribution. Vinny Bucks joins Chance once again by producing a fly track that simply rides as Chance delivers his high-time lyrics.