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Friday November 21, 2014
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[Ruane Maurice] Dark and grimy!

Ruane Maurice review

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The (W)rap Up - Week of November 11, 2014

If you missed any of the new reviews this past week including Big K.R.I.T.'s "Cadillactica" or Sleaford Mods' "Divide and Exit" then do yourself a favor and check out this week's edition of the (W)rap Up!

[Cadillactica]Big K.R.I.T. :: Cadillactica
Cinematic/Def Jam

Author: Emanuel Wallace

"It's hard to believe that it's been over two years since Big K.R.I.T.'s major label debut album "Live From The Underground" was released, but it has been. The album received generally positive reviews but with the body of work that K.R.I.T. -- the album came off as a disappointment to some long-time K.R.I.T. fans and ultimately K.R.I.T. himself. On last year's "King Remembered In Time" project, K.R.I.T. took the brunt of the blame and even goes as far as to say that he failed his fans on "R.E.M.." In an interview with RESPECT magazine, he mentions not being fully ready to deal with the transition from the freedom of mixtapes to the more structured approach that comes with making retail albums. Sample clearance issues were a big part of the delay with "Live From The Underground" but this time around, "Cadillactica" reportedly only contains three samples. Determined to not repeat the same mistakes twice, K.R.I.T. has taken his time with the rollout of "Cadillactica." He's taken his show on the road on the heels of a strong lead single in "Pay Attention" which features Rico Wade and is produced by Jim Jonsin. In the past, K.R.I.T. says that his do-it-all approach to making music was out of necessity because he couldn't afford to buy beats or to have someone else come in and sing hooks. Now he's more willing to step outside of his comfort zone and collaborate with other producers like Raphael Saddiq, DJ Dahl and Terrace Martin. Featured artists on "Cadillactica" include the aforementioned Saddiq and Rico Love, along with E-40, Wiz Khalifa, Kenneth Wallum III, Mara Hruby, Bun B, Devin the Dude, Big Sant, ASAP Ferg, Jamie N Commons and Lupe Fiasco. On the outside, "Cadillactica" is a loose concept album. The planet Cadillactica is a place that represents his conscious mind. That includes all of his struggles, fears, passions, pain and so forth. So logically, the planet needs to be created. That's where the opening track "Kreation" comes into play. A female voice softly suggests, "Let's create." "Nah, not yet," K.R.I.T. responds. She insists that they do it now and he eventually gives in, under the condition that they take their time and be perfect -- and perhaps that's the narrative at work for this entire album as K.R.I.T. creates both his planet and life itself in the "perfect" opening track. Let's face it, sometimes being on this planet can be a drag anyway. Being able to escape it all and enjoy the freedom that comes with being lost in your own world, you might find "Life." It represents that small beacon of hope or an answer you may have been searching for."

Essa :: The Misadventures of a Middle Man :: First Word Records
as reviewed by Matt Jost

[The Misadventures of a Middle Man]"The thought may be hard to grasp but if we divvied up the archive (that's only, well, around 6000 reviews) into rappers playing some kind of role and rappers just being themselves, the latter would outnumber the former easily. Contrary to popular opinion, rap is the medium of the common, the regular, the average, the ordinary, the normal, the everyman. We'd have to factor quite a lot of ifs, buts and maybes into that equation, but if you know rap like we do, you can only agree. Before any spectacular image rappers try to project of themselves, their artistry is their mark of excellence. It's what catapults them from the silent majority we all belong to at most stages of our lives into the public eye as individuals with opinions and a story. Not each and every one of these rapping everymen and -women explicitly paints him- and herself as John and Jane Doe, but a considerable number of rap's most highly estimated artists argue from the heart of society. In a world where the exceptional, exaggerated and extreme get the most attention, a perspective that adheres to common sense and consensus can be peculiar in itself, yet there's also another crux of the representation of everyday routine and reality. Good rap is almost always personal, and when you really personalize something as vague as a statistic or a stereotype, things get mighty interesting. Essa's way of thinking and his worldview are balanced and logical, but behind them lies a major effort. This is not the kind of parrot rhyming we hear all too often from rappers who can't think for themselves. It's not abstract and aloof either, it's as thought-provoking as it is honest. The way he begins opener "A View From the Middle" in a serious but still conversational tone, talking about his parents' generation, and then slowly develops rhythm and rhyme while phrasing his artistic intent, gives you an idea of the things to come. The following "The Middle Man" fleshes out just how exactly Essa strikes his own personal balance. "

Jamie Jermaine :: Body Language :: Jamie Jermaine
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Body Language]"Jamie Jermaine is reputed to be the hottest new thing out of Atlanta, "combining several elements of R&B and hip-hop" on his new EP "Body Language." Hmm. So that just tells me he's the latest Future or T-Pain. Slightly more informative is the fact that "Jelani Kwesi, Evil Needle & Israel Negasi lay down the production" - not that I know who any of them are - but at least they're names I can remember later if Jermaine really is all that. "Thug Passion" is produced by and features JeLa Soul, which I can only assume is Kwesi's hip-hop nom de plume. The song is fairly representative of what Jermaine has to offer. The sing-rap is pretty basic - "f#%! it let's jump out a window/slow motion to the tempo/stay smokin on that indo/doin dirty deeds with my kinfolk." I think Tupac Shakur might actually be rolling over in his grave, but if I had to hazard a guess, Jermaine is probably young enough that "All Eyez On Me" was before his time. The beat's good, and I like the way it's chopped up and slowed down for the last minute and a half - it's just that sharing a song name with 'Pac ain't a good fit. As I pore over this five track EP I'm trying to discern what's new, different or special about Jermaine. Production is really the best thing he's got going for him though. I like the crackling record sounds that Evil Needle factors into "Gleam," giving Jermaine a sound that's a little older and funkier than him. "Break Up to Make Up" combined the talents of both producers we've named so far, as they lay down the kind of quiet storm hip-hop funk that would be perfect for a collaboration between August Alsina and Mariah Carey."

MC Jin :: XIV:LIX :: The Great Company
as reviewed by Clara Wang

[XIV:LIX] There are albums you listen to because of how hard the beats go, or how clever the lyrics come at you. Some albums you play on repeat because the rapper allows true vulnerability in a way the audience can relate to, and "XIV:LIX" is the latter. MC Jin's comeback as a Christian rapper after 11 years is completely devoid of the bravado of youth. It is heavily steeped in the humbleness of a man who fought hard for respect as an Asian battle rapper in the game, and then lost a large chunk of it with the exploitative "Learn Chinese," as he addresses in one of the album's standout tracks, "Chinese New Year." We live in a society that likes to think most things are judged by merit, and Jin is an example that this isn't necessarily true. As an Asian artist, he broke through on 106 & Park and was the first Asian-American artist to be signed to a major label with Ruff Ryders, but he didn't blow up mainly because the industry wasn't ready for somebody like him yet. An entire generation of Asian-American hip-hop heads and aspiring artists ran home after school to watch 106 & Park and watch their sole representation in that field crush ching-chong jokes; Jin's core following, unlike his previous label deal, is ride-or-die. Knowing that his old fanbase will pretty much always be onboard, "XIV:LIX" brings a new faith-driven side that could appeal to Christian listeners and younger fans alike. Even though religion is the boner-kill of rap. MC Jin now makes it sexier and more appealing by bringing the wordplay of a battle rapper. In "Coming Up," he intros his come-up with a slick rendition of "The Fresh Prince," segueing into everything from his Asian parents' resistance in a play on words of "knock you out," (after all, how many immigrant kids haven't been smacked with a slipper?) to his early days as a battle rapper with something to prove. "

Omniscence :: The Raw Factor :: Bandcamp
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[The Raw Factor]"At first I thought the press release I got for "The Raw Factor" was a rib on me. Nearly 20 years ago when I was working in college radio I was mailed promo copies of Omniscence "Amazin'" on 12" vinyl and CD single. The song was pretty fly - no doubt - O was a punchline rapper who bragged "I'm gettin up in skins like Massengill/that's the deal/not the Guru, but I got +Mass Appeal+." I dug the song and the enclosed remix, where he dropped brand new lyrics on a brand new beat, even spelling his name backward at the end to show off how different it was from the original. "I ain't goin out like Eazy (E)" was his vow - Omniscence was poised to be a major factor in hip-hop from ninety-six 'til infinity. What happened? The scheduled album on EastWest/Elektra never materialized. I sat on my personal copy of the single all these years thinking something bad must have happened to O, but back in those days there weren't a hundred hip-hop gossip blogs up in everybody's business. In fact there wasn't even TMZ or Wikipedia back then - not that the latter would be helpful given their policy on "notability" - but anyway Omniscence and his album seemed to disappear without a trace. It turns out that nothing dramatic happened. Omniscence dutifully recorded the entire album and gave it to the label expecting them to put it out, and they sat on it... and sat on it a while longer... and then EastWest went through a series of acquisitions and mergers. It turns out O was nothing more than a victim of industry rule #4,080. Now classifying "The Raw Factor" is a bit of a problem, because if it had actually come out back in the 1990's when it was supposed to, this would be a Back to the Lab review. 18 years late or not though this is a NEW album, which until now was only held in partial incomplete bootlegs that got traded around between the heads and occasionally pressed up on vinyl - most (if not all) of which completely cut O out of the revenue he was rightfully due. Thankfully this version of "The Raw Factor" is official, straight from the man and from HIS man Henry, who are now releasing a copy that they blew the dust off via Bandcamp."

Kenny Shane :: Eastbound & Gawn :: Dedicated & Careless Music Group
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Eastbound & Gawn]"With apologies to Kenny Shane we're too late to do the obvious MLB tie-in - the World Series ended just under two weeks ago. Perhaps it's not so obvious though - some of our readers might not have a subscription to HBO. Hell I don't have a subscription to HBO, but that didn't stop me from getting up on Kenny Powers. The profanity-laced tirades of this fictional ex-MLB baseball player are the stuff that viral YouTube videos are made of. Before the show Danny McBride may have been best known for appearing in movies with Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow, but the actor/comedian made a name for himself with his hilariously egotistical washed up athlete alter ego on "Eastbound & Down." Even the books on tape version of his autobiography featured pronouncements like "So that is why I am better than everyone in the world. Kiss my ass and suck my d#%! - everyone." Unsurprisingly these comedic moments make perfect sampling material for a rapper showing off his cockiness. Kenny Shane took it even further by having Danny McBride's alter ego be HIS alter ego - going so far as to style the cover of his mixtape with the same baseball font as the TV show's logo, right down to parodying the downward sweep trailing the D. On the Fresco Stevens produced "Dedimication" he has his Kenny Powers in full effect, declaring that all of his doubters and haters make him better. "For those that do not believe/didn't believe, and do not believe it/even my mother, I love you/I love my non-believers." It's the same swagger you can hear on the Wonderlust produced "You Ain't Better," a song putting anyone who even dares to compare to Shane in their place. The rapper who was formerly known as Era has definitely found a niche with this new gimmick, and good production helps him get there. Of course given that this is a mixtape that Shane is also giving away online for free (though I appreciate he sent me a hard copy of the CD) not all of the beats are original. "All Night" is an incredibly fly song, but you have to give J Dilla and The Roots their props for that one."

[Divide and Exit] Sleaford Mods :: Divide and Exit
Harbinger Sound

Author: Patrick Taylor

"Sleaford Mods are not from Sleaford, not mods, and not a hip-hop group. They are generally classified as punk; I came across "Divide and Exit" after I heard several people call it the punk album of the year. All I could think of when I heard them, however, was that they were a rap group. Singer Jason Williamson speaks rhythmically over producer Andrew Fearn's beats. Sure, Williamson's heavily accented rants are more similar to Crass's Steve Ignorant than Lil Wayne, and Fearn's beats often feature guitar, bass, and drums. But they are beats, and Williamson's rants are not singing. They may not be classified as a hip-hop group, but it sounds a lot like rap music to me. In fact, it is one of the best pairings of punk and hip-hop since P.O.S.'s "Never Better." Semantics aside, "Divide and Exit" is a brutal but funny album. Williamson takes a cynical and caustic view of contemporary living. Every punk band since the Ramones has criticized the boring squares, but the fact that Williamson is in his forties gives his rants extra bite. It's one thing to skewer the middle-aged middle class when you are twenty years old and living under your parents' roof, but it is another thing altogether when a peer is doing it. On "You're Brave" he calls out a wealthy weekend warrior whose money hasn't managed to buy him taste or respect. On this song, as with most of the album, Williamson (or his character) is right there, doing drugs with the guy and sneering at him the whole time. A lot of the songs have a stream-of-consciousness feel to them. That, along with the incessant swearing and frequent drug and scatological references, make "Divide and Exit" feel like an Irvine Welsh book come to life. "
Video: @550madoff "DrugZ" (prod. Malik On Da Beat) @SilentDJ

Video: 550 - "DrugZ" (prod. Malik On Da Beat)

Silent: Madoff Records & 550 grind continues dropping the 3rd video off 550′s upcoming mix cd #STREETKINGZ.

Audio: @NappyRoots - "40 Intro" (prod. @SMKA) @FishScales

Audio: Nappy Roots - "40 Intro" (prod. SMKA)

SMKA: Nappy Roots releases the 2nd record "40 Intro" (prod by SMKA) from their "Something's Gotta Give" Campaign. "40 Intro" was one of the first collaborations the Country Boys and SMKA worked on. The record is a soulful illustration of the many observations and interactions of todays world.

Video: @WillyJPeso - "Generation Lost"

Video: Willy J Peso - "Generation Lost"

MS MG: Detroit's Willy J Peso takes a break from releasing new music and re-visits his highly acclaimed mixtape "Euphoria" by recording a visual for 'Generation Lost' which takes a deeper look at issues that we face on a day to day basis. Using plenty of clips from the tragic incidents in Ferguson, MO to violence that Detroit residents face on a regular basis Willy J Peso makes it known that in 2014 we are a 'Generation Lost'.

Audio: C-Money f/ HBK Gang's Kool John - "Shut It Down" (@MrPlayThat @K00LJ0HN)

Audio: C-Money f/ HBK Gang's Kool John - "Shut It Down"

A.T.: When C-Money spits, "Fresh Prince, baby, just like Will," he couldn't be more correct. "Shut It Down" is the type of booming party jam that can be played at house parties from the Bay to Bel-Air and beyond. Not many rappers can make the type of hook that gets lodged in your cerebral for days to come. On "Shut It Down," C-Money accomplishes just that. "Shut It Down" is from C-Money's forthcoming Just 4 You EP, which will be released December 9th.

Video: @MarcoPoloBeats on "Just One Record #44" (@Effiscienz)

Video: Marco Polo on "Just One Record #44"

Effiscienz: In a little more than 10 years of career in the beatmaking, Marco Polo made a name in the world of boom bap hip-hop, we don't consider any more the number as beats which it signed on which puts of prestigious MC, of Masta Ace to Hannibal Stax including Pharoahe Monch, Rah Diggah, MC Eiht, Talib Kweli, The Doppelgangaz - the list is long!

Audio: Jeep Ward (@HALO203) Remix of Sublimation for Bike For Three! Remix Contest

Audio: Jeep Ward Remix of Sublimation for Bike For Three! Remix Contest

Jeep: It's a remix of Sublimation for the Bike For Three! remix contest. Here's the skinny!

Audio: Blasian Bee - "SMW" (@BlasiannBee)

Audio: Blasian Bee - "SMW"

BB: This is the first single off upcoming project #DOPETAPE which will be a 10 track project filled with quality/authentic music from a 19 Y.O artist.

Audio: @TheRealJuicyJ and @IAMSU! Join A-1 Super Group For The "Everywhere We Go" Remix (@JoeBayer)

Audio: Juicy J and IAMSU! Join A-1 Super Group For The "Everywhere We Go" Remix

Joe: The Atlanta-based duo A-1 Super Group premieres the remix to their club anthem "Everywhere We Go" featuring Juicy J & IAMSU via Complex. The official video for the original version with K Camp will be released in the next few weeks.

Video: @YoungDolph Talks Hustling at 16 & Working With @TheRealJuicyJ

Video: Young Dolph Talks Hustling at 16 & Working With Juicy J - In an exclusive interview with VladTV, Young Dolph shares stories from his childhood, hustling at a young age and working with Memphis legends like Juicy J. The South Memphis native talks about growing up in a poverty stricken area filled with crime and violence. While it was dangerous, the rapper explains a comradery among neighbors and his friends. He also says getting out of the hood was a big priority. Instead of focusing on school and being a teen, he decided to work on the streets to take care of his family

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Welcome to for the week of November 18th, 2014!! Please like us on Facebook and shop Amazon through RapReviews so we can bring you new material every week. This week we have ELEVEN new items for you! Check out Admiral Crumple's "Cryptkid," Donnie Propa & Scor-Zay-Zee's "Best of Scorzayzee Volume 1," an article on the ten rap songs with DOPE game samples coinciding with our interview with Random a/k/a Mega Ran, Kingpin's "The Initiative," Micall Parknsun's "I Should've Done This Time Ago," Ruane Maurice's "Ruane Maurice" (our featured review), Skrein's "The Eat Up," Verb T's "Verbs With a Vengeance," Emanuel Wallace's The (W)rap Up for November 11, 2014 and Jeep Ward's Subways & Sidewalks #24 w/ Uncommon Nasa.

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