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Friday October 31, 2014
Feature of the Week

[Run the Jewels 2] Don't cry.

Run the Jewels Review

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The (W)rap Up - Week of October 21, 2014

If you missed any of the new reviews this past week including T.I.'s "Paperwork" then do yourself a favor and check out this week's edition of the (W)rap Up!

[Paperwork] T.I. :: Paperwork
Grand Hustle/Columbia Records

Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon

"T.I. has ambitious plans for "Paperwork" - so grand that I admire his hustle but also so grandiose that I worry if it will all come to fruition. He talks about wanting to release "Paperwork" as a trilogy of albums 6-9 months apart, and how he wants to film a movie to illustrate the subject matter of the songs. The rapper who once aptly described himself as a "Trouble Man - always in trouble man" needs to stay free of legal and persnal drama for long enough to make that possible. There's no doubt his heart is in the right place and his intentions sincere - how many rappers do you know that stopped and took the time to stop a suicidal man from jumping off a building? (True story.) I just want Cliff to worry about himself though. If the "Trouble Man" could go on a five year run where he's trouble free, he'd not only achieve all of his personal dreams but be too large for VH1. His reality show would have to be on NBC or CBS. A typical T.I. album is loaded with singles ready to blow and "Paperwork" is no exception, the latest of which is the Tommy Brown produced "New National Anthem" with Skylar Grey crooning the hook. Obviously some of the sentiments are going to have to be cleaned up - like when he says "What the f#@% you know about being a black man in America?" He's clearly inspired by the shooting of Trayvon Martin though, and the song would be timely even if it had been recorded two years ago given the shooting of Michael Brown this summer shows that history seems (unfortunately) doomed to repeat itself. The song that generated the most buzz to date though is the DJ Mustard produced "No Mediocre" but for unintentional reasons - he became embroiled in a feud with Azealia Banks and his protege on the song Iggy Azalea became embroiled in a feud with Nicki Minaj. The latter two have stated that the media took their alleged beef out of context, but I haven't heard of Ms. Banks apologizing to Tip or vice versa. Regardless it's the kind of buzz that Mr. Harris can ACTUALLY use - it beats the kind he gets for being sent to jail on weapons charges or back to the pen again for violating his probation."

Akrobatik :: Built to Last :: Akrobatik MC
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Built to Last] The title of "Built to Last" is both an affirmation and a reminder of Boston-based emcee Akrobatik's presence in hip-hop. It's possible some people had forgotten about Ak, but six years is a fairly long time to go between albums, and that's how long it has been since "Absolute Value" dropped. That's not to say Ak hasn't been busy in the interim - he was lecturing on the college circuit, dropping singles, performing and dealing with some medical issues (more on that in a minute) but for some people if you don't have a new album in stores you haven't been doing anything. It's a fallacy of the music industry in general and fickle hip-hop blogs in particular - everyone is so focused on "the next big thing" it's easy to skip the little things that are just as important and more worthwhile. It's 2014 so even the term "in stores" needs redefinition, as these days a physical presence on a shelf seems unnecessary - occasionally even antiquated. Artists continue to embrace a direct-to-consumer model of marketing, bypassing the middle man and keeping more of the earnings from the hard work they put into their music in the process. "Built to Last" is built to succeed with this in mind, put out directly by Ak through his own Bandcamp imprint, making it easy for consumers to choose between a physical or a digital copy of his music. For a couple dollars more Ak will even personally autograph the CD before he drops it in the mail to you. If that's not your thing, or you just don't need a hard copy to hold in your hand, the entire album is available for $10. To promote the new album and to remind people that Akrobatik is still a factor in hip-hop, Ak dropped a "Built to Last" video with a post-apocalyptic feel. Zombies seem to be staggering toward or past Ak at every turn, and Ak scavenges for supplies in deserted homes and eerily vacant parking garages. "

MarQ Spekt and Blockhead :: JustPlayWitIt :: HiPNOTT Records
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor

[JustPlayWitIt]"MarQ Spekt's career spans decades. He started out as a battle rapper in Philadelphia in the 90s before being signed to Subverse Records in 2000. That label folded before he could release an album, but he did put out work with as part of the Broady Champs in 2005 and Invizzibl Men in 2008. In 2011 he put out "Machete Vision," entirely produced by Kno of the Cunninglynguists. His latest album, "JustPlayWitIt," is entirely produced by Blockhead, who has previously worked with Aesop Rock and Illogic. (For those not familiar with HiPNOTT Records, it is the label run by indie rap blog It is an interesting state of affairs when blogs are running labels.) Spekt's battle rap roots are all over this album. It's one big aural assault, with Spekt taking out anyone in his path, and especially other rappers. You wouldn't want to call Spekt a conscious rapper, but he does deserve credit for mixing in some genuine knowledge amongst his verbal beatdowns. A lot of "JustPlayWitIt" is boasting and smack-talking, but there are also some insightful rhymes. MarQ Spekt's aggression is balanced by Blockhead, who makes "JustPlayWitIt" the record it is. Blockhead has an ability to mix interesting and often melancholy music with hard-hitting beats. No matter if he's sampling mourning pianos, or sitars, or lumbering upright bass, he always lays fat beats underneath it. Most importantly, Blockhead adds color to Spekt's often monochrome delivery. Like Aesop Rock, Spekt is an intricate rapper with a flat delivery, which pairs excellently with Blockhead's melodic beats. I had a problem with Spekt's rhymes, and it is the same problem I have with all battle rappers: Fourteen tracks of someone calling people names is a lot to take, especially when they use the second-person "you" so often. It's hard not to take it personally when someone is saying they will destroy "you." I don't mean to come off as over-sensitive or whiney, but I don't like being yelled at, especially when I'm listening to music."

Saigon :: G.S.N.T.3. - The Troubled Times of Brian Carenard :: Squid Ink Squad Records
as reviewed by Matt Jost

[G.S.N.T.3.]"One of the main representatives of the 'mixtape rappers' era, Saigon had to wait an eternity to release his proper debut album. A little more over three years later he's already presenting the third installment of what now has to be called the "Greatest Story Never Told" series. Subtitled "The Troubled Times of Brian Carenard," it's the first one without the support of Suburban Noize Records. Nevertheless "the motherfucking saga continues," one might be tempted to quote N.W.A, were it not for Saigon's image consciousness. His story - or the story he'd like to tell - is essentially that of the bad guy gone good, so quoting the bigggest icons of gangster rap seems inappropriate. And yet N.W.A and their generation packed a lot of political dynamite into their music, and if Saigon has a problem with street orientated rap, he likely has today's unreflected glorification of the fast life in mind. He's on a mission and like any proselyte doesn't hesitate to let you know about his conversion "from gangster to good guy." Detractors are easily found and named (Jimmy Iovine apparently conclusively being identified as the industry fall guy). Just Blaze, while not actively involved in the production, encourages him in the album intro to stick to his vision, and Saigon complies instantly with "Come Alive," orchestrated by DJ Corbett as a typical contempo rap/pop combo. If this crosses over, it's a Trojan Horse rolling right into the courtyard of the record industry."

Smoke DZA & 183rd :: Ringside EP :: DatPiff
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Ringside EP] "Every now and then the RapReviews staff will debate the merits of what belongs in the Back to the Lab category. Though the ostensible purpose of its existence is to look back at albums that either (A.) got released before the site was founded or (B.) got overlooked due to the overwhelming flood of hip-hop releases, it also serves as a calendar line in the sand that generally extends 12-18 months back from the current date of a review's publication. We can't easily lump a review of something on the shelf for a year in with new albums that just hit retail, unless the album has somehow been updated or re-released in a new format. This happens occasionally with mixtapes, especially if they get an "official" release. That's not going to happen with the "Ringside EP." First and foremost the self-confessed pro wrestling fan DZA goes all out with the WWE (or WWE owned) samples on this five track DatPiff download. It's possible that the up-and-coming rapper could afford to pay the sample clearance fees - but would you really put down that kind of cheddar for just eleven minutes of music? That's the second reason this will never see an official release - it's a clear bit of time sensitive fandom that was intended to drop the same day as WrestleMania 29, though according to DP's own records it came out a day later. The real nail in the coffin of an official release (and this pun is definitely intended) is the opening track "The Streak.""

Vince Staples :: Hell Can Wait :: ARTium/Def Jam
as reviewed by Clara Wang

[Hell Can Wait] They say that you are a product of your environment. "Hell Can Wait" embodies this; Vince Staples' debut EP evokes a kid coming into his own, with the difficulties of the ghetto underlying the regular trappings of ho's and bankrolls. As a young man who grew up in the meccas of West Coast rap, his music harkens to socially-conscious thug themes reminiscent of Tupac and N.W.A. Here's a gangbanger who's been in the game a minute and fully realizes the damage he causes. The smooth production strikes a neat balance with Staples' cool delivery, over bare-bones West Coast beats and screeching sirens. It's more minimalistic than Staples' previous mixtapes, implying a serious tone. There's no comedy here - just a cold-blooded high school dropout. Even the EP's requisite "turn-up" single of "65 Hunnid" serves up a killer's viewpoint with its killer hook. Is he jumping aboard the protest following Ferguson regarding police brutality? Yes, "Hands Up," (produced by No I.D.) as a single does seem suspect to the trend. But there is more genuineness in the work when the EP is taken as a whole with Staples' persona as a "sensitive" gangster-rapper. He's simply noting the fear that people who dress a certain way and live in certain areas have for the police. The timing of the single, which dropped less than a month after the Ferguson shootings, is more a reaction to the event than following a fad. In fact, Staples scalds the thirsty hordes amassing Twitter fans off the heat of a tragic incident, with lines like, "This is all a part of Huey P and Bobby prediction, making profit off of violence they arousing attention."The repetition in "Blue Suede" reminds us of the monotonous grind of what a gangsta's life is really like - all that sacrifice when "all I wanted was that blue suede." Suddenly he's just the boy in Langston Hughes's story who turned to the fast life because there was no kind Mrs. Bates."

Ray West & O.C. :: Ray's Cafe :: Red Apples 45/Fat Beats
as reviewed by Matt Jost

[Ray's Cafe]"From emo to cloud rap, from drug to weirdo rap, a lot of more recent rap music has been about capturing moods, however vaguely or precisely. "Ray's Cafe" excels at mood-capturing. And although some would argue that it has little in common with contemporary sounds, it's actually a very modern approach to the kind of rap that refers to a time in the past. Producer Ray West has already been part of Diggin' In The Crates side projects like "LUV NY" and "Everything's Berri," and "Ray's Cafe" strengthens the D.I.T.C. affiliation by joining him with Omar Credle. The recently released deluxe CD edition essentially combines the original "Ray's Cafe" vinyl from January and the upcoming "Ray's Cafe - The Afterhours EP." O.C. plays the part of maître d', making the listener feel welcome at this virtual cafe - that could be situated in any major city but is of course particularly easily imaginable in New York. It's a sanctuary for kindred souls who enjoy a moderate amount of shots and smokes accompanied by charming companionship and good music. It's a scenery typically populated with blues and jazz musicians and an environment a rapper primarily has to prove himself in. There are a number of rappers who could emcee an evening of refined entertaiment or just an informal afterhours, although all need to bow before the late Guru, who hosted a total of four "Jazzmatazz" projects. But do not mistake "Ray's Cafe" for "Jazzmatazz." It's two guys creating the illusion of a band playing for a gathering of cool cats and hot foxes - canned applause included. At the same time O.C. does his best to establish the place as a metaphor for a universal refuge from the hustle and bustle of the streets where you can check your cares at the door. Sounds like an advertising slogan for any hip joint, but in O.C.'s words it becomes more."
Audio: Future Shock - "Secret Weapon" (@SportnLife206)

Audio: Future Shock - "Secret Weapon"

Sportn Life: Check out the most recent visuals from Future Shock.

Video: @PlanetAsia @Tzarizm - "Mystique" (@TrevorSeamon)

Video: Planet Asia & Tzarizm - "Mystique"

Score: Just in time for Halloween, check out the Varras Tower directed Vampire period piece, "Mystique" feat. Purple Kloud.

Audio: @PepLava @TajaiMassey "Monopoly Money" (@AudibleTreats)

Audio: Pep Love f/ Tajai - "Monopoly Money"

A.T.: They say money is the root of all evil, but is it the currency or the power we put into it? Pep Love and Tajai, members of the mighty Hieroglyphics crew, address this and more on "Monopoly Money," a loose single premiering via HipHopWired. Backed by an ominous psychedlic guitar riff and boom bap production from Unjust, Pep and Tajai team up to discuss society's fascination with wealth. "Currency don't worry me/ because i can't bring it with me when they bury me," raps Pep as he discusses the power of the dollar.

Audio: @ZionI - "Fresh" (@VibeSquaD Remix) @AudibleTreats

Audio: Zion I - "Fresh" (VibeSquaD Remix)

A.T.: Zion I are keeping busy. Premiered by EARMILK, they've released a VibeSquaD remix of "Fresh," a single from their Masters of Ceremony EP, which dropped earlier this year. EARMILK describes the track as "mellow and chill," adding that "it further highlights how vastly underrated Zion I is outside of the Bay, as his lyricism works perfect under the more funky, LA-type production."

Video: Kilz - "Conceited" (@uhhuhLUKE_O & Pyrex Pre$$) @AudibleTreats

Video: Kilz - "Conceited" (ft. Luke-O & Pyrex Pre$$)

A.T.: Following the release of his Krak Kilz mixtape, southwest PA producer/rapper Kilz shares the project's first visual, "Conceited," premiered by AllHipHop. With a verse packaged between his Moola Gang Ca$h Cow$ conglomerates Luke-O and Pyrex Pre$$, the up-n-coming artist spits braggadocio bars that live up to the song's title, as the trio take viewers on a tour of Fayette County.

Press Release: 7 Years of Fool's Gold (@FoolsGoldRecs)

Press Release: 7 Years of Fool's Gold

Biz 3: Year after year, Brooklyn's own Fool's Gold Records puts their midas touch on releases, merch and beyond. Whether it's connecting the dots between the hip-hop experiments of Danny Brown and the disco funk of Duck Sauce, introducing new talent with free BitTorrent bundles, or slanging limited-edition apparel and collabs with visual artists from their Williamsburg storefront, the label founded by DJs A-Trak and Nick Catchdubs continues to expand their vision for a thoroughly modern indie label. Yet if there's one thing that FG still knows better than anything else, it's how to throw a party...

Fool's Gold celebrates seven years of label-dom at Webster Hall on Thursday, November 6th, headlined by a very rare NYC performance from Master P, himself no stranger to indie empire building... and all things gold! The No Limit general will be performing alongside Rowdy Rebel of GS9 / Shmurda fame, the legend Just Blaze, new NY party starters Fame School, hometown club kings Brenmar and Nick Catchdubs, and FG's latest beat genius Shash'U, str8 outta Montreal. Don't miss out.

Tickets + info:


Master P
Rowdy Rebel
Just Blaze
Fame School
Nick Catchdubs


Webster Hall
125 E. 11th St, NYC
10pm / 19+
Audio: Tell Dem Remix - Grimace Love Ft. Younique, Serocee, Wio-K. Negus, Degazity, Demolition Man & Tasha Rozez

Audio: Tell Dem Remix - Grimace Love Ft. Younique, Serocee, Wio-K. Negus, Degazity, Demolition Man & Tasha Rozez

Whole Wheat: Grimace Love drops TELL DEM AGAIN, the official remix for his BIG end of summer tune TELL DEM. The remix features an all-star cast of reggae artists and Toronto emcees making this remix HUGE and even bigger than the original!!! TELL DEM AGAIN (Tell Dem Remix) features Scarborough vet Wio-K and draft pick Degazity again, plus several local and international reggae artists such as UK hip hop/rockaz artist Serocee and legendary UK jungle/reggae artist Demolition Man. Plus from T Dot, dancehall sensation Negus, foundation roots singer Younique and the female sound clash killer Tasha Rozez.

@PRDean: @ApolloBrown & @RasKass "Blasphemy" LP

PR Dean: Apollo Brown & Ras Kass "Blasphemy" LP

Apollo Brown & Ras Kass "Blasphemy” (Album) | Plus New Single "How to Kill GOD"

Apollo Brown & Ras Kass Listening Party Oct. 27th In NYC
Audio: @TragicHeroMusic - "It's Real" (@sohhPR)

Audio: Tragic Hero - "It's Real"

SOHH: Tragic Hero supplies another head nodding track filled with insightful social commentary. With recent features on chart topping album release like Swoope's "Sinema" and Canon's "Loose Canon Vol. 2", Tragic Hero has been gearing up for his upcoming release and tour (The Resistance Tour). Leading up to the tour, Tragic Hero will be releasing new material for a series he calls #InTheMeanTime. These tracks will be available for free download.

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Welcome to for the week of October 28th, 2014!! Please like us on Facebook and shop Amazon through RapReviews so we can bring you new material every week. This week we have TEN new items for you! Check out Black Milk's "If There's a Hell Below," Blu's "Good to Be Home," an editorial on Charles Barkley, Steve 'Flash' Juon's The Hip-Hop Shop #297, Liotta's "Rap Music Heaven Is An Emcee's Hell," Logic's "Under Pressure," Rapsody's "The Beauty and the Beast," The Regiment x Random's "A Gamer's Anthem," Run the Jewels' "Run the Jewels 2" (our featured review) amd Emanuel Wallace's The (W)rap Up for October 21, 2014.

Be sure to check the RapReviews newsfeed for the latest news and updates. Subscribe to the newsfeed via your browser for daily updates like Cornell's Adler Hip-Hop Archive. also recommends The SmackDown RunDown from the AngryMarks Podcast Network. We appreciate your support and welcome any feedback you have. Thanks for visiting!!

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