"Drake has ruined it a bit for Young Money. Before "Take Care" we were blissfully content with mindless fun, lots of puns about shit, being an alien and Birdman parachuting in. But after his second album, we want more from all of them - none of that "Tha Carter IV" shit, no. We demand proper sequencing, meaning, well-written songs, intelligent production - more than anything, we want to connect. With the artist, with the message. Of course, an innately different set of rules applies to Nicki Minaj, on her own sophomore outing, as every artist is different and her "five year plan" already seems vastly different from whatever Drizzy feels like conjuring up. But following "Take Care" it might have been fair to expect something more than "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded." The first clue is in that name - it is bewilderingly confusing, sounding more like a Deluxe Edition of her debut ("Pink Friday"). It is, however, her second full-length album. And the emphasis is firmly placed on "full-length" - PFRR (Deluxe) weighs in at a staggering 22 tracks, continuing the somewhat unfortunate trend of overly long albums from this particular label. Her leaner debut did the job admirably, even if it was "mindlessly entertaining" and filled with holes. You see, she released a Deluxe of that including "Superbass" which ended up giving her a genuine breakthrough moment (queue SuperBowl etc). So, it's only natural to expect Minaj to revisit that feel on her second outing. She declares herself "the female Weezy" (presumably they wear the same size jeggings) and deploys similar shock tactics as Carter, but more notably at times Lady Gaga (her Grammy performance certainly suggested that, even hiring the same choreographer). That performance divided opinion, as did her video for "Stupid Hoe" - the backlash presumably delayed the release of PFRR, and her mission to be big, bolder, larger than life and a creative tour de force seems to have been put on ice. Now, she just wants hits. "
"On Solid Ground" is the first album by San Francisco producer E-Train. Over eighteen tracks, he works with a variety of MCs and singers to create soulful independent hip-hop. As a producer, E-Train offers a contemporary take on Golden Age boom-bap. He works with an MPC and there are cuts and scratches from classic hip-hop tracks spliced throughout the album. E-Train works with MCs from both coasts, including some unknown rappers, some established underground rappers, and a few bonafide legends. In the latter category, Talib Kweli shares the mike with Phil The Agony on "Guess Again," and Keith Murray raps on "Talk Shit" with Burntmd. RapReview readers will also recognize Bay Area rapper Rasco calling out other rappers on "Endangered Species," and Akrobatik rapping about touring on "The Show. "3 Clicks" has organ stabs and funky drumming, with San Francisco rapper D. Mottola spitting rhymes worthy of the beat. Mottola shows up again on "Outrageous," accompanied by Pro and Virtu. The Aztext rap on "It's Goin' Down Gettin' Down," describing the grind of an indie rapper. E-Train also goes in a more soulful direction on some tracks. "Fyah Burn" features Holly Saucy singing and rapping over a mid-tempo beat. Gyrl Ab'Strakt raps over an R&B on "The Love Epidemic." Rubydell offers her vocals on the hook of "As You Loud As You Want," one of the stronger tracks on the disc. She handles all the vocals on the R&B closer "There Was a Time." "
"2011 was quite the year for Kansas City emcee Mac Lethal. He started by getting a couple million hits on YouTube videos like "Pale Kid Raps Faster!" "Pale kid raps EVEN FASTER!" and "Charlie Sheen Bi-Winning FAST RAP." These videos gave the rapper, formerly signed to Rhymesayers Entertainment, a lot of exposure, but it wasn't until he did one of his famous fast raps over Chris Brown's "Look at Me Now" while making pancakes that his fame really took off. The video in which Mac spits his effortless double time flow while making perfect golden brown flapjacks has now exceeded over 22 million views, and has helped him gain countless new fans. But also with these gimmicky videos, loyal fans who love Mac Lethal for his previous work such as "11:11," "Men Are From Mars, Porn Stars are from Earth" and his "Love Potion" mixtape series have questioned whether or not the veteran indie rapper has sold out. "Irish Goodbye," released on Mac Lethal's own label, Black Clover, notably has no guest appearances as well as none of his fast rapping that made him an Internet sensation. Instead his first album in over four year features a perfect balance of humor and seriousness, over production handled solely by Michael "Seven" Summers (Tech N9ne, XV). Seven combines dark synths with chopped up eerie vocal samples like on the aforementioned opening track and "Black Rainbow" which are the perfect backdrops to Mac Lethal's top notch story telling."
"Quakers are a 35-person hip-hop collective. Their core is made up of Fuzzface, 7-Stu-7, and Katalyst. You may recognize Fuzzface as Portishead's Geoff Barrow. 7-Stu-7 is Portishead's engineer, and Katalyst is an Australian producer who has worked with both Stu and Barrow. The three decided they wanted to make the kind of hip-hop record that they wanted to listen to. What they came up with is 41 tracks of grimey, funky hip-hop that constitutes one of the best underground rap albums of the year. Barrow first got involved with Stones Throw eight years ago when Madlib and J Dilla's Jaylib album came out. That being the case, it's not surprising that Dilla and Madlib's influence is all over this disc. Quakers flip dirty soul samples, create distorted electro funk, and generally offer a slightly twisted take on established hip-hop sounds. They keep most of the tracks under the two-minute mark, which gives the album a propuslive and unrelenting feel. It is track after track of MCs spitting fire over funky beats. The MCs are a combination of established Stones Throw artists, underground veterans, and relative unknowns. Aloe Blacc offers up some raps on "Sign Language," and Guilty Simpson does what he does best on "Fitta Happier," sharing verses with MED. "
Terrence F :: Enigma :: Bandcamp as reviewed by Matt Jost
"In rap music it's really just a hop, skip and a jump from conumdrum to commodity. It wasn't that long ago that the Odd Future kids were a highly mysterious entity, and look at 'em now, singing for Jay-Z and Kanye West, rapping with The Game and Pusha T, performing with The Roots and releasing old fashioned CD's. That is to say that if you rap and are still a mystery to most, it's probably because you're still undiscovered. Rapping is explaing yourself, and the more of it you do, the less mysterious you become - provided someone out there is listening. But it's also fair to note that some famous and long-serving rappers remain to a certain extent inscrutable. Unlikely candidates for philosphical ponderings, Three 6 Mafia maybe summed the latter fact up best with the title of their 2005 album, "Most Known Unkown." Whether a rapper manages to be known and unknown at the same time is not only down to personality, it's also a direct effect of the music he or she makes. A DOOM will inevitably be more elusive and enigmatic than a 50 Cent. That being said, I'm not a hundred percent sure that Terrence F refers to himself with the title of his free 2011 release. But "Enigma" packs enough features to make me wonder just in general. The SoCal representative has Bandcamp accounts under the monikers Terrence F and T Franklin. In the interest of proper branding, why not settle for Terrence Franklin? "
Keith Murray :: Enigma :: Jive Records ** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series ** as reviewed by Mike Baber
"Among casual hip-hop fans, Keith Murray often gets lost in the shuffle of the mid-90's New York hip-hop scene, stuck behind some of his more well-known collaborators such as Redman and EPMD. Those who are familiar with the Def Squad affiliate, though, know that Keith Murray has one of the most distinct and recognizable flows of the era, with his unrelenting, in-your-face delivery that grabs hold of the listener and makes it difficult to ignore his lyrical prowess. Although his 1994 debut "The Most Beautifullest Thing in This World" remains his most commercially successful work, perhaps his most slept on release is his sophomore album that dropped two years later. Indeed, "Enigma" seems to have slipped through the cracks on RapReviews, as well, and I felt it was appropriate to write a review and attempt to revive interest in this classic album. It's clear right off the bat that Keith Murray has something to prove on "Enigma," as he wastes no time attacking anyone who disses him or threatens his crew on "Call My Name." Over sinister piano keys, a hard-hitting drum loop, and a bassline that sends chills down the spine, Murray spits three menacing verses to match the gritty vibe of the beat, with lines such as "I think the devil's in this beat, fuckin' with my speech/ Makin' me do his dirty work, makin' niggas kill each other on the streets." "Manifique (Original Rules)" has a more laid-back feel, with jazzy synths setting the mood, but Murray doesn't stray far from his aggressive style of rhyming. "
On May 29th, Los Angeles native and Brick Squad Monopoly rapper YG Hootie is teaming up with Konvict Muzik's own west coast representative, Bay Area rapper A-Wax, and together, the pair will release their collaborative album, Interstate Trafficking, via BSM/Illburn Records. Earlier that same month, the two rappers will release a Trap-A-Holics mixtape, and today, A-Wax is giving fans a loosie solo track titled "#Rapperblood."
The track, produced by Nonstop The Hitman, is driven forward by slinky synths, 808 snares, and menacing low-end, and for his part, A-Wax compliments the beat with plenty of slick wordplay. Opening the track with the song's chorus, A-Wax raps, "What's up with these rappers, blood?/I'm not just some rapper, blood/ Looking at my Louis shoe, wipping off some rapper's blood," while later he spits equally entertaining bars like, "I fuck with the dealers/ Not so much the rappers/ Big old 18-wheeler/ Containing that package."
Audio: Chuuwee f/ Don Trip - "The Crown Don't Make You King" (Remix)
Courtesy Matt B.
Chuuwee’s Crown Me King will serve as the prelude to his long-awaited official solo-debut, Wild Style, which will be released on 5-29-2012 via Amalgam Digital. Whereas Chuuwee’s previous efforts were hybrid sub-genres he created such as “neo-boombap” (neo-soul meets boom-bap) or “hooliganarism” which Chuuwee describes as Treach of Naughty By Nature meets Wakka Flakka Flame, Wild Style can be summarized as pure 90s Hip Hop.