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Friday March 27, 2015
Feature of the Week

[Blade of the Ronin] A samurai with no master.

Cannibal Ox Review

Latest News Headlines
Video: @Suga_Kayne8008 - "Homicidal Recital" (@rRAPpromo)

Video: SugaKayne - "Homicidal Recital"

RRP: The album features members from his s2 ENTertainment camp, along with some well known artists to be named later. The first single/video, "Homicidal Recital," (produced by AmpOnTheTrack) is a gritty, lyricism-heavy track. It's definitely put out first to make a statement. The video is directed by Yabui Ent.

Mixtape: @MarvelousMagNY - "Marvelous Magic Johnson"

Mixtape: Marvelous Mag - "Marvelous Magic Johnson"

Matt: Marvelous Magic Johnson features Marv’s #TheWinnersCrew members Hus Kingpin, SmooVth & Rozewood and honorary member Planet Asia.

Video: @INNOCENTFLOW13 @MUGGA_BOY @TekSmokeeLah "I Like Ya Style" (@coolfdbeats)

Video: Innocent? f/ Mugga Boy "I Like Ya Style" (prod. Cool FD)

CFB: This CoolFD produced song is from Innocent?'s double album Love It Or Hate It out now on all digital retailers. The video is directed by Tek of the legendary Smif n Wessun. Be sure to hit up itunes to get your copy of a classic hiphop banga!!

@Substizzle @OtherGuysMusic - "Late Pass" feat. @VonPea (@HiPNOTT)

Substantial & The Other Guys - "Late Pass" feat. Von Pea of Tanya Morgan

HiPNOTT: For the next single off Substantial and The Other Guys' new EP The Past..., Tanya Morgan's Von Pea returns a favor by hopping on "Late Pass". You may remember Substantial lended a verse recently on "Easy To Fall" off Von Pea and The Other Guys' To: You project. So if you liked that track, you'll love "Late Pass" as the two emcees go toe to toe over this killer production by The Other Guys.

The (W)rap Up - Week of March 17, 2015

If you missed any of the new reviews this past week including Kendrick Lamar's "To Pimp A Butterfly" then do yourself a favor and check out this week's edition of the (W)rap Up!

[To Pimp a Butterfly] Kendrick Lamar :: To Pimp a Butterfly
TDE/Aftermath/Interscope Records

Author: Jesal 'Jay Soul' Padania

"I realized something this morning when looking in the mirror, bleary-eyed: I'm not black! After listening to D'Angelo's "Black Messiah" I somewhat suspected it, but the biggest hypocrite of 2015's "To Pimp a Butterfly" confirmed it. Other surprises: not from Compton, never met a Blood or a Crip, liked Rae Sremmurd's "Unlock the Swag" (actually so did Kendrick Lamar)... Rest assured - his new album is full of far more meaningful revelations, and even if I'm not the intended audience, I get it. That's the beauty of music, and it's why art has historically trumped politics in changing hearts and minds. Absorbing "TPAB" is akin to a 79-minute crash course in Black Power, black music, #BlackTwitter - as the album cover hinted, all black everything. Pharrell called this "unapologetically black" and he couldn't have been more accurate. It's a Lamar love letter to past and future generations - and like all the best penned messages, it contains a myriad of emotions, truths and stories, all resting on top of Hope. It incorporates countless textures, constantly referencing artists like Lupe Fiasco, Outkast and Eminem, not to mention albums such as Common's "Like Water For Chocolate" and Nas' incendiary "Untitled". And that's completely ignoring the primary focus of West Coast artists and residents... This is Kendrick taking care of his neighbors. "TPAB" is such a deep album that neither this nor any other review will ever be able to adequately cover every aspect in detail - the best we can do is select the parts that spoke most clearly to us. Each song is double/triple-layered, whether musically, conceptually or lyrically. The butterfly analogy seems spurious until you reach a thrilling climax, and suddenly it all makes sense - and more so on each repeated spin. This is an album for lovers of the format, one that makes "good kid, m.A.A.d city" feel like a debut. It's defiantly West Coast, with that OTT Aftermath feel dovetailing brilliantly with Lamar's subtly sky-high ambitions. The feel is far less "To Kill A Mockingbird" than the title suggests; yet it feels similarly era-spanning. It's a tough trick to pull off, one that requires serious effort, thought and attention to detail. It seems like the heady cocktail of fame and success (GKMC) mixed with the "Control" backlash and poorly-judged beef (going at Drake) has prompted Lamar to dig deeper, face the insanity and focus."

Audible Doctor :: Can't Keep the People Waiting :: AMD Music 
as reviewed by Grant Jones

[Can't Keep the People Waiting]"A doctor that doesn't keep his patients waiting? Now that's a policy I can get with, particularly in 2015 where us hip hop fans digest music at a rapid rate. EPs are becoming a frequent fixture in the release schedules, and it's only right the producers get involved. Audible Doctor has brought along some emcees to rhyme over his beats, and chances are if you recognise names like Guilty Simpson and Hassaan Mackey, you may have heard Audible Doctor's production before. What's notable about this release is it sees the Doctor prescribing some rhymes to his fans alongside the beats. Going toe-to-toe with somebody as vicious as Bumpy Knuckles on "The Beast" takes some balls, and while Audible Doctor isn't going to be cracking anybody's Top 5 Emcee list, he holds his own. If anything, this project isn't about emcees decimating dope beats, but complementing them. Whether it's Hassaan Mackey on "Chocolate Covered Liar" saving an incredibly sickly hook or the rarely heard Consequence on "No Future" boasting over a heavy production from the Doc. Arguably the highlight of this EP is Guilty Simpson's performance on "Leave Me Alone". Much like the underrated "Ode to the Ghetto" (overrated by us perhaps?) and the bombastic "Dice Game", Guilty sounds excellent over crashing soul loops and heavy drums. It's nothing more than a song about preferring to be left alone, something that Audible Doctor could just about pull off if he did decide to record a solo record."

Crown :: Pieces to the Puzzle :: Just Listen Records 
as reviewed by Matt Jost

[Pieces to the Puzzle]"Crown is one third of French production team Grim Reaperz. His solo showcase "Pieces to the Puzzle" has been steadily collecting dust on my shelf since its release one year ago, let's see if unfairly or not. The album opens with a feature from Philadelphia native Grand Agent, who has lived in Europe for an extended time, which we take as sufficient qualification to kick off the proceedings. The structure of the song isn't bad, especially with the deliberate hook, but Grand's performance is typically uneven when he begins with the statement "Canibus came in the game swingin' at a great / and line for line James Todd got ate / But career for career, it's nowhere near / Landslide - a man died in his rookie year / This is how you applaud objectively," but lacks the clarity of thought to continue the argument and instead gets sidetracked by "metrosexual non-intellectuals." Still Crown's combination of classic breakbeat drums and organs make "I Squeez" a worthy opener. After a promising vintage soul sample, "Here We Are" devolves into a basic headnodder. Soulstice ("A don among divas / Elephant in the room, gotta choose not to see us") and Main Flow try to stick out but the pedestrian pace of the beat holds them back. Any rap track named "The Message" has big shoes to fill, and Crown's own "Message" suffers from a typically random assortment of international rappers (PMD, Flynt, Akhenaton, Lil' Dap). German DJ Chinch 33 provides fitting vocal cuts, but all the expertise can't prevent the song from resembling some sentimental fare you've heard a thousand times over. More inspired is the following "Back in the Dayz" with a wistful sax and rappers from three different continents - Kouzumin from France, El Da Sensei from the States, Paloalto from South Korea - reminiscing on their formative years in hip-hop. Retrospective or not, this is hip-hop done the right way."

Faith Evans :: Incomparable :: Absolute/Prolific/BMG 
as reviewed by Grant Jones

[Incomparable]"It's probably not a good look to admit your crushes on a website that casts a critical eye over rap music, but in the early 2000s, there were two singers who got this scrawny white boy through puberty: Christina Milian and Faith Evans. While the former is an obvious answer (and she remains stunning), I always preferred Faith's music and the way she maintained a distinct combination of gospel, soul and Hip Hop on her albums. While I'm ruining my reputation, I'll admit that I enjoyed Bad Boy Records in the early 2000s, particularly their R&B releases. I couldn't care less for Ma$e, G. Dep or Diddy, but Mary J Blige's "Love & Life", 112's "Part III" and Faith Evans' "Faithfully" were fused with enough Hip Hop that I enjoyed them more than anything Bad Boy was releasing that WAS Hip Hop. Faith Evans' "Faithfully" in particular, was full of Hip Hop beats and was largely devoid of Diddy's irritating adlibs. Buckwild, Havoc, Battlecat and The Neptunes all contributed to "Faithfully" and while it remains very much an R&B record, it satisfied two audiences. Faith Evans has been releasing albums since her split from Bad Boy Records (in 2003) that have kept her loyal fanbase satisfied without ever reaching the heights of her early career (critically and commercially). Faith could quite happily retire and live off of the royalties that come in from "I'll Be Missing You", but her voice would be missed. Her latest release "Incomparable" is quite the statement, but is bolstered by some of the best tracks in Faith's career, thrown in with the usual odes to love and men. "Incomparable" is noticeably positive in its themes, often steering clear of the standard "I want a bad boy, Oh he cheated on me, again" nature of many female R&B albums."

Fly Commons :: Greyscale :: Fly Commons Music 
as reviewed by Clara Wang

[Greyscale]""Greyscale," a collection of collaborations and singles featuring G-Eazy, Jay Ant, Clyde Carson, Locksmith, Traxamillion, Erk Tha Jerk, Nio Tha Gift, and Moe Green, is as much a tribute to Fly Commons' production skills as it is a deliverer of lyrical illness. The album consists mostly of spacey, melodic intros and choruses to each song before the beat drops into the drum loop. At times the more upbeat choruses verge on cheesy, but in general it is well done. Erk Tha Jerk opens the album with "Art of War," dropping hard-hitting cliches. "Beast off the leash/riding with a piece cause niggas dying in the streets/I ain't trying to preach, trying to keep what I earned/be a lion to the sheep not ashes in the urn." True to the philosophical title, Erk Tha Jerk gets existential and this track is the most serious he gets on the album. He slides back into cash, money, bling, and bitches in "Elevators," also featuring Traxamillion, Nio Tha Gift, which begins with languid piano and xylophone lines that continue into the chorus. Nio Tha Gift makes several appearances, reminding us of why he hasn't really popped off yet despite being a veteran in the game. In the one-man track "No One Knows," Nio tries to convey a deeper message with his own tale of getting out of the ghetto. "Granny says you niggas need church/ young thug praying to a god he never seen work/staring at a step-pops who never seen work/broke but I ain't gon' lie nigga I seen worse," and doesn't do a bad job, although his rhyme schemes remain fairly simplistic. Nio has never found a real niche, being too basic for underground, yet too try-hard for the mainstream. He's not a horrible rapper, but as a solo act he doesn't quite stand out enough."

Sean C. Johnson :: Circa 1993 :: First Fruits Entertainment 
as reviewed by Sy Shackleford

[Circa 1993]"Gospel music has been getting itself infused with other genres of music for a long time now. On one hand, you've got Christian adult pop with Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant. On the R&B/soul tip, there's Mahalia Jackson and Kirk Franklin. Then it made its way into hip-hop, and it's within that context is where it becomes polarizing for some listeners and skeptics. In hip-hop, you can rap about anything. Praising the Lord, however, still seems off-limits. Despite the commentary we received ten years ago on this topic via "Jesus Walks" by Kanye West and the current success of artists such as Lecrae, combining gospel with rap retains a certain taboo, but without any blasphemy. Christian records in hip-hop are usually ignored, but not vilified. It's like saying "It's cool if you make an album that's all about weed. But a God-centric album? Eh... meh." Gospel rapper/singer Sean C. Johnson uses the year of 1993 as the framework his latest offering, "Circa 1993". During that year, Mr. Johnson underwent pivotal life events that compelled him to seek and live a Christian life. The Oklahoma native gives the listener a glimpse into his origin as a musical artist dedicated to Christian pursuits. But how does the music fare? For this listener, he's praising his God without coming off as preachy or sanctimonious. What the album boils down to is his struggle and the point at which faith found its way through. The music has a J-Dilla/Roots/Soulquarians-style of production in terms of having a smooth consistency throughout the album. There appears to be live music interspersed with sampled vinyl."

Shuko :: For the Love of It :: Peripherique Records 
as reviewed by Matt Jost

[For the Love of It]"Save for a certain crew that shall remain unnamed for once, Shuko is perhaps Germany's internationally busiest producer of the last decade, having done beats for a number of American acts ranging from Jedi Mind Tricks to Talib Kweli. Simultaneously he made a name for himself domestically, his clients including a number of notorious German street rap labels. While he has always been able to tailor his tracks towards the specific needs of MC's, his productions regularly let on that Shuko possesses a musician's ear, ever so often escaping the monotonous loop patterns and developing a live-band, even orchestral dynamic. Lately he's found artistic and commercial success with more family-friendly collaborators, particularly German pop rap giant Cro and Swiss soul singer Ira May. The title of his first proper solo album with vocalists, "For the Love of It," suggests that Shuko holds the project close to his heart. It's an international offering, and while it doesn't feature any German, it at least makes use of his French connections, featuring French parts on three different tracks. Like many hip-hop producers before him, Shuko gravitates to a past era of music. "For the Love of It" is essentially a soul record with rappers and singers. On opener "Allow Me" he tries his hands at a '70 sample others have handled before, but with his precise stop-and-go arrangement he turns it into a soul stormer all of its own. Rappers couldn't mess this one up even if they wanted to, but of course Pete Philly, Evidence and 20syl are all able to appreciate the uplifting instrumental."

Tree :: Trap Genius :: AudioMack 
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor

[Trap Genius]

"It answers the question most listeners were probably asking themselves: what the hell is Tree, who has made a name for himself with his soul trap music, doing making a trap album? After all, he had distinguished himself by making beats that weren't the standard trap hi-hats and synths. Why make an album of the very music he was supposed to be an alternative to? The good news is that Tree hasn't sold out or lost what made "Sunday School II" such a great album. "Trap Genius" is punctuated with clips of newscasters talking about Chicago's Southside, cops arresting young African-American men, and other documents of inner city life. Tree is still using his music to comment on the life of those living in crime-ridden neighborhoods whose life is a struggle to stay out of jail or a casket. Tree's lyrics have always had a trap element to them, so they pair nicely with the club-ready hi-hats and swelling synths on songs like "Red Yella" and "Trap Genius." Even more impressive are his collaborations with Blue Sky/Black Death, who do a dreamy interpolation of Tchaikovsky on "Hunnerds and Fifties." The mixtape doesn't have production credits, but it sounds like BS/BD were also involved in the similarly airy "New Or Leins and "Hold Up." Tree balances the enthusiastic raunchiness of trap with the gut-wrenching pain of soul music, often in the same track. "I grew up with gangsters/I don't know the prayer" he raps on "Don't Een Kare." On "Bring This Shit Up," he raps a list of things he doesn't want to talk about, starting with being descended from slaves to cooking crack in his kitchen. Tree raps about money, cars, women, and dealing drugs in a way that celebrates that lifestyle and acknowledges the human cost of it. There's desperation and pain underneath the bragging."

Union Blak :: Street English :: Effiscienz
as reviewed by Grant Jones

[Street English]"Kimba and Sir Williams follow last year's "Union Blak Friday" with another smooth, scratch-heavy album that proudly claims to follow the legacy left by groups such as Gang Starr and De La Soul. Those are big shoes to fill, so it's no surprise that "Street English" never quite reaches those levels of classic Hip Hop. If you hadn't guessed by the name of the group (or this album), Union Blak have a British influence, namely Sir Williams, while emcee Kimba is American. Despite the name, Union Blak don't sound British at all, aligning themselves with the French record label Effiscienz, known for pushing American rappers Dirt Platoon and Fel Sweetenberg. The songs "Street English" and "The Truth" sound like Gang Starr's work on "The Ownerz" and while it is far from original material, it's done well. Kimba's monotone flow isn't quite as captivating as Guru however, often relying on the slick sample-led instrumentals to keep the listener interested. Considering the scratched hooks are some of the best moments here, it's quite jarring to hear female vocalist Candice on songs "Our Time" and "Quarrels". Just as "Mega Philosophy" from Cormega threw in singing that didn't sound a natural fit, Union Blak's least effective tracks suffer the same fate. Kimba sounds eerily close to Common on "Chasing the Wind", and it ends up being the best song on the album because he displays more emotion than he does elsewhere. Thanks to Sir Williams' beat especially, it's a highlight that stands out amongst the final four tracks, which save the album from being as boring as it could have been. Granted, many of these beats are dope when coupled with the scratches, but Kimba's rhymes are largely bland and would suit an emcee with a bit more fire in their belly."
Album: DoomMagic - MagiCXbeats & MF Doom (@LamontMagic)

Album: DoomMagic - MagiCXbeats & MF Doom

Courtesy L.T.

DoomMagic - MagiCXbeats & MF Doom

Audio: Decap - "SXSW" (@DecapMusic)

Audio: Decap - "SXSW" (@DecapMusic)

Decap: "I had such a freakin BLAST at SXSW this year I went ahead and released a new instrumental to keep the positivity flowing. Step into my world."

Video: @PartTimeCooks - "Loser"

Video: Part Time Cooks - "Loser"

PTC: “Loser” is the first visual offering from Seoul super-group Part Time Cook’s upcoming debut LP, The Baker’s Dozen. If this heartfelt track is any indication as to what PTC has been cooking up all winter, we have A LOT to be excited about in terms of new releases this summer. Produced by MJ Nichols, “Loser” is a continuation of the smoothed out tracks heard on the groups first EP Midnight Snack, but shows great maturation in MC’s Black Moss and Saul Goode’s lyrical content and technique.

Video: MP & Vokab Strength In Numbers Performance @ Dante's: Seattle, WA

Video: MP & Vokab Strength In Numbers Performance @ Dante's: Seattle, WA

VHH: MP & Vokab hail from the Seattle area and keep it authentic with the northwest sound. Vokab is a known performer and battler participating in many battle leagues such as King of The Dot, Grindtime and Ground Zero and has traveled and performed all over the US.

Video: @NelloLuchi f/ Bronzon - "Come On"

Video: Nello Luchi f/ Bronzon - "Come On"

Maria: In preparation for her upcoming project, slated for a Spring 2015 release, Nello Luchi releases the visuals for her new single, "Come On."

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Welcome to for the week of March 24th, 2015!! Please like us on Facebook and shop Amazon through RapReviews so we can bring you new material every week. This week we have TWELVE new items for you to enjoy: Asphate's "Closed Doors to an Open Mind," Blueprint's "King No Crown," Cannibal Ox's "Blade of the Ronin" (our featured review), Flip's "Reflections," Giano's "Upon Listening Vol. 1," Illus w/ Roxxxteady's "Say Less" VIDEO PREMIER, the "Mello Music Group: Persona" compilation, Steve 'Flash' Juon's Fifteen Important Rap Videos From 1990 and The Hip-Hop Shop #318, Ultra Magnus & DJ SLAM!'s "The Raw," Walkingshoe's "The Future Will Kill You" and Emanuel Wallace's The (W)rap Up for Mar. 17, 2015!

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