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Monday April 21, 2014
RapReviews.com
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From the desk of Steve 'Flash' Juon:

Some of you who know me personally are now aware that we had a death in the family this week - and those of you who don't are hearing it for the first time. A few days ago when we first received the news it was not the right time or place to discuss it publicly, other than to say website updates would of course be delayed.

As the death occurred at a time when the server for this website had already been inaccessible for most of Monday, I was very much "behind the 8 ball" as they say. I was already a full day behind as it was, and then had to catch up while also dealing with this family tragedy.

Thankfully things have settled down at this point. A small private service has already been planned to allow the family to grieve, which also necessitates me taking more time away from the website. That's tomorrow though. I'll have a few articles and reviews up before the afternoon is over.

Next week we'll resume our regular update schedule. Thank you for your patience and understanding, and for those of you who already figured out what was going on, your kind words of support. Death is an inevitable part of the cycle of life, but it's how you live and what impact you made while here that matters, and I'm happy to say that "Grandma Punk" as she was known made an indelible impact on mine. She was everything I aspire to be - spirited, opinionated, humorous, and uncompromising in her views.
Audio: P.E.B. Rocks - "I'm Ready" (@HeatSquadMuzik)


Audio: P.E.B. Rocks - "I'm Ready"

Courtesy Boogie Brown.

Brand new track off of P.E.B. Rocks long awaited release "The Coming". Please take the time to Like/Listen/Share.

Video: LOEGz - "Billie Jean" (@LOEGz @AudibleTreats)


Video: LOEGz - "Billie Jean"

Courtesy Audible Treats.

In the new League Of Extraordinary Gz video for "Billie Jean," premiered by HipHopDX, we get to see young suburban kids dealing...dealing Kool-aid laced lemonade that is. Armed with super soakers, the young hustlers of the Kool-lemonade stand hit a rival girl stand with a drive by soaking, pedaling in hard on their BMX bikes. The visuals, acting as a euphemism, bring a funny, entertaining version of the real drug dealing that's out in the streets. "With the theme of the track centered around hustling and the video about a kid hustling through a lemonade stand, we wanted to create a bright colored summer setting to contrast the hard feel of the track."

The (W)rap Up - Week of April 8, 2014


If you missed any of the new reviews this past week including Moodie Black's "Nausea" then do yourself a favor and check out this week's edition of the (W)rap Up!

[Nausea] Moodie Black :: Nausea
Fake Four Inc.

Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon

"The term "post-noise rap pioneer" had no meaning for me before discovering Moodie Black. It seemed at first like one of those pretentious invented descriptions people slap on things in an attempt to sound cool and hip. You know the phrases: retro-futuristic, ultra modern, neo-classical, hybrid fusion. They're often either redundant or contradictory and devoid of any significance once stripped of their hyperbolic context. Whenever something is described as "post"-anything I always wonder what the "pre"-something was before it, and why the artist is so desperate to differentiate themselves from it. This Arizona group may be able to justify their description by the fact they're absolutely unlike almost anything else you can find in hip-hop today save perhaps Death Grips. Since this review has already put undue focus on invented descriptions I'd like to give you one of my own: "neo-punk acid rap." Let's put the focus squarely on the word ACID shall we? They sound like they've done a lot. This is the kind of rap music that Raoul Duke would listen to. This is what kids who grew up on the Beastie Boys, N.W.A and GangStarr turned into after too many nights playing with postage stamps not to be mailed and ink blotters that never wrote a letter. It's rap music that was poured into a paint can, shaken vigorously, and thrown at the wall by the handful until both art and insanity were on display. Something either went seriously wrong or seriously right for lead vocalist K. (C. Martinez) when he was left alone too long in the Arizona desert. "No one can die like we do" vows the frontman on the pulsing electronic background of "Mollyap," sounding like a Commodore 64 SID generating white noise and being fed through a series of amplifiers with increasingly frayed cords. This isn't just grimy hip-hop, it's dank and musky."

Actress :: Ghettoville :: Ninja Tune 
as reviewed Patrick Taylor

[Ghettoville]"Actress is the stage name of British producer Darren J. Cunningham, who has been performing under that moniker for the past six years. His three previous albums offered an art-damaged mash-up of ambient, dance, minimalism, and experimental music. Actress has called Ghettoville "the bleached out and black tinted conclusion of the Actress image," and it sounds like a funeral. The bubbly warmth that underpinned his earlier work is largely absent, replaced by bleak industrial soundscapes. Actress's music has always challenged listeners with its sparseness and occasional dissonant elements, but there was a warmth to his earlier albums that smoothed out the rougher edges. That warmth has been hammered out of Ghettoville. At times it seems as if Actress is daring listeners to try to make it until the end of the album. He starts things off with seven minutes of slow clanging ("Forgiven"), and then gives the listener five and a half minutes of static glitch ("Street Corp."). It's not until "Corner," the third song on the album, that anything like a beat appears, and it is slow and mournful. Where Actress's earlier work was grounded in throbbing pulses, Ghettoville is lethargic and murky, crawling along at a menacing pace. Not everything here is static, distortion and clanging. Much of the album features Actress doing what he does best: deconstructing standard electronic music templates, and creating music that is experimental yet recognizable. "Rims" is built around a sinister bassline and some clicks and whistles that's like two songbirds having a low-riding competition. "Gaze" is a house music song bleeding through the walls of an apartment. "Image" adds some clattering Detroit techno 808s into the mix. Actress is also pushing his sound forward, adding filtered vocals and offering fractured takes on hip-hop ("Rule") and R&B ("Rap"). These songs capture what makes Actress such a vital and important part of contemporary electronic music."


http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2014_04_ghettoville.html


Chance The Rapper :: 10 Day :: DatPiff 
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon


[10 Day]"Patrick was the first to bust open Chance The Rapper on RR, but the Chicago emcee's cherry to the mainstream was the "10 Day" mixtape. Widely available from your favorite no dollar download resources (though I personally prefer DatPiff), Chance apparently named the album after the fact he was serving a ten day suspension from Jones College Prep High School. Since Jones is a school known academic excellence and (as evidenced by the name) preparing its students for collegiate careers, it's likely that even a minor infraction would be taken seriously. I can only imagine that if he had been caught using the language he does on the album itself, he probably would have been expelled outright. Chance was obviously well connected even at this early point in his career in 2012. Chuck Inglish from The Cool Kids produced "U Got Me Fucked Up," giving away a beat dope enough to sell, although Chance no doubt gave him bars on a project right back quid pro quo. Asher Roth favorites Blended Babies laced the song "Family" featuring Sulaiman and Vic Mensa. The songs without any credits are just as enjoyable though, such as the unapologetic "Fuck You Tahm Bout" - so good in fact that Chance made a music video for it. Pretty ballsy decision to invest that kind of time and money in a song from an album that myth holds was recorded on a ten day suspension. That makes me think some of the story may be a bit exaggerated - this album sounds too clean and that video looks too serious for "10 Day" to just be a random way for Chance to fill time until he could Rodney Dangerfield his way back to school. "

http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/BTTL_chance10day.html

Gio :: Real :: Bandcamp 
as reviewed Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Real]"Giovanni 'Gio' Agosta is reputed to be the next thing in hip-hop from Australia, if not the next big thing regardless of country of origin. It's not easy to pick out that he's an Aussie on his album "Real" aside from his periodic use of the word "mate," which could just as easily make him British. He doesn't have the distinctive vocal inflection and vowel usage one associates with (or stereotypes of) a Southern hemisphere emcee. That may be because Gio considers his biggest musical inspirations to be Bob Dylan and Lil Wayne - it's hard to imagine you'd wind up rapping like Muph or Maundz if those were your influences. "I Feel Like" exemplifies just how eclectic Gio's rap style is. Thankfully his crystal clear diction doesn't have the muddy incomprehensibility of Dylan's delivery, but his singing swing probably has more in common with Bob than Dwayne. Producer Mark Belcastro walks the line between clean and dirty with the instruments in a pleasant manner that drifts along like AM radio hip-hop as Gio laconically raps "I'm just chillin' on the couch, got a doobie in my mouth/couple screws loose off in my head." He jumps into sing-song at the end of his first verse, then sings the chorus of his song, and Belcastro manipulates his vocals to make Gio his own high pitched background singer. The Dylan influence comes through - he sounds like a rapper from the 1960's who intentionally unplugged from society. Gio operates almost entirely solo save for the appearance of Jimmy Cupples on "Dear Bup," a song which gives me PM Dawn flashbacks (not in a bad way). Gio seems a rather carefree lad as he jumps back and forth between singing and rapping, goofing around with vocal distortion on "Drunk Playing With Automation," eschewing the praises of a sandwich on "Toasted Cheese" (U.S. readers would call it "Grilled Cheese") and his hardest song would have to be "Don't Go Nowhere" - and by hard I mean Pharcyde or Aceyalone."


http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2014_04_giovannireal.html


Kev Sez :: First Attempt at a Second Chance :: Kev Sez Publishing 
as reviewed Matt Jost


[First Attempt at a Second Chance]"Kev says things like "This is the solemn anniversary of depth-charged cranium angels holding their fingers inside of my grey matter" and "My bedroom ain't a homestead, it's a prison cell / Chalked lines counting times and memories of where I dwelled." If you paid attention, there's a spectrum to his set of expressions that ranges from abstract to concrete. Still there's a common thread to Kev Sez' lyrics as they settle within the diameter of figurative language and mental introspection. It's easy to see that the artist's first steps were made in the spoken word scene, but after a rather top-heavy start in the form of "Jupiter" his debut album "First Attempt at a Second Chance" quickly gets on the rap track with several solid song concepts. Despite its verbose title, "Thoughts of a Closet Existential Nihilist" is basically a drifter's diary, as Kev gets up, gets out and gets himself a pack of cigarettes, not without contemplating the futility of it all. Meanwhile Buffalo Black's production strolls along like some 1995 underground g-funk, adding a welcome dose of nonchalance to the nihilism. The song establishes drugs and death (plus rebirth) as two of the album's major themes, although they are more prevalent in the second half. "Kev's Dead" might be a key track to Kev's evolution as an artist (it sounds like an earlier recording), but on it he's a victim of his jokey undertone and hypertensive flow. Rap masters such as Scarface ("I'm Dead"), The Notorious B.I.G. ("Suicidal Thoughts") and Chino XL ("Rise") have envisioned their own death in a much more existential manner. To be fair, "Kev's Dead" mainly seems to signify a coming of age or a change of personality, and thus fits the overall theme the album title alludes to. "First Attempt at a Second Chance" is also the name of a sort of follow-up to "Kev's Dead." It's the release's most traditional hip-hop track, a smoothly swaying tune that sees Kev, assisted by Kristoff Krane, rise from the dead with a decidedly optimistic outlook. "Life Check (One Two, One Two)" could be a compelling finale, but it's one of those instances where Kev Sez' angle tilts towards corny and pretentious as he once more takes the listener through his entire lifetime from womb to tomb, drenched in religious and metaphorical imagery and finally framed with the well-known rap ritual known as mic-check. It's a bit too much."

http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2014_04_firstattemptat.html

Mega Ran :: River City Random :: MegaRan Music 
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[River City Random]"River City Ransom falls into that category of "cult classic" Nintendo games that people remember more fondly long after is release than when it came out in the U.S. in 1990. I was neither internet savvy nor the fan of Japanese food and entertainment then that I am now, so I had no way of knowing it was a localized (i.e. converted to an American audience) version of a game called Downtown Nekketsu Story. Localization can be as simple as changing the text in the game from Japanese to English (adapting for cultural differences along the way) or as complex as completely redrawing the character sprites (Doki Doki Panic becoming Super Mario Bros. 2). River City Ransom had a little from both column A and column B, but to the young and impatient kid I was at the time those facts didn't even exist - nor did this game! I played it a couple of times while visiting friends, quickly concluded it was a bad knockoff of Double Dragon, and since the only Nintendo games I ever got to use were when I rented a console and titles it got NO PLAY. In the almost quarter century of time that has gone by I've developed a greater appreciation of what Ransom had to offer - first through emulation and then through retro game collecting. That being said it's still not one of my favorite titles. It's not one I go busting out when I turn on the Nintendo and flip through a pile of cartridges. I think this is one of the few major differences I have with my man Mega Ran. Most of the games he raps about or raps over I am equally affectionate about for one reason or another, but when it comes to River City Ransom we'll just have to agree to disagree. Actually it may be that even Ran found this project harder to get into than he first anticipated, as his album page on Bandcamp notes that he started work on it in 2009, and didn't actually finish it until 2012 because "things got a little crazy for me." Maybe he just didn't find it as inspiring as Mega Man games. I know I don't."


http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/BTTL_rivercityrandom.html


Sister Crayon :: Still||Cynic :: Fake Four Inc. 
as reviewed Steve 'Flash' Juon


[Still||Cynic]"I have nothing against this all female duo from NorCal (Sacramento to be precise) but their "indie rock" cred gives me cause to pause. Obviously given the name of the website we don't review a lot of rock music, pop music, country music, et cetera. We dabble occasionally into reggae, soul and R&B given their close proximity to hip-hop, but at the end of the day we are what we are. When I took the recommendation on Sister Crayon's "Still||Cynic" I was (feel free to laugh now) under the mistaken impression they were a new female rap duo I hadn't heard before. There is a bright side to this story though for me - "Still||Cynic" has a hip-hop component despite the group's decidedly non-rap origins. This album turns out to be a set of new looks for their 2013 "Cynic" EP, putting a new spin on old music in classic remixing style. In fact every single song on this 9 track release is a 'something' remix, and not surprisingly I'm drawn to the ones from the hip-hop names I already know. Long time Los Angeles producer/rapper Busdriver contributes the "Meager Leavings" revision and it rattles like a snake across my eardrums. Rhymesayers stars P.O.S. grace us with a "Cynic" remix, and immediately following that is a Sole and the Skyrider Band take on the track, with Sole even chipping in a rap verse."

http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2014_04_stillcynic.html

 [Nausea] Moodie Black :: Nausea
Fake Four Inc.

Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon

"The term "post-noise rap pioneer" had no meaning for me before discovering Moodie Black. It seemed at first like one of those pretentious invented descriptions people slap on things in an attempt to sound cool and hip. You know the phrases: retro-futuristic, ultra modern, neo-classical, hybrid fusion. They're often either redundant or contradictory and devoid of any significance once stripped of their hyperbolic context. Whenever something is described as "post"-anything I always wonder what the "pre"-something was before it, and why the artist is so desperate to differentiate themselves from it. This Arizona group may be able to justify their description by the fact they're absolutely unlike almost anything else you can find in hip-hop today save perhaps Death Grips. Since this review has already put undue focus on invented descriptions I'd like to give you one of my own: "neo-punk acid rap." Let's put the focus squarely on the word ACID shall we? They sound like they've done a lot. This is the kind of rap music that Raoul Duke would listen to. This is what kids who grew up on the Beastie Boys, N.W.A and GangStarr turned into after too many nights playing with postage stamps not to be mailed and ink blotters that never wrote a letter. It's rap music that was poured into a paint can, shaken vigorously, and thrown at the wall by the handful until both art and insanity were on display. Something either went seriously wrong or seriously right for lead vocalist K. (C. Martinez) when he was left alone too long in the Arizona desert. "No one can die like we do" vows the frontman on the pulsing electronic background of "Mollyap," sounding like a Commodore 64 SID generating white noise and being fed through a series of amplifiers with increasingly frayed cords. This isn't just grimy hip-hop, it's dank and musky."

Actress :: Ghettoville :: Ninja Tune 
as reviewed Patrick Taylor

[Ghettoville]"Actress is the stage name of British producer Darren J. Cunningham, who has been performing under that moniker for the past six years. His three previous albums offered an art-damaged mash-up of ambient, dance, minimalism, and experimental music. Actress has called Ghettoville "the bleached out and black tinted conclusion of the Actress image," and it sounds like a funeral. The bubbly warmth that underpinned his earlier work is largely absent, replaced by bleak industrial soundscapes. Actress's music has always challenged listeners with its sparseness and occasional dissonant elements, but there was a warmth to his earlier albums that smoothed out the rougher edges. That warmth has been hammered out of Ghettoville. At times it seems as if Actress is daring listeners to try to make it until the end of the album. He starts things off with seven minutes of slow clanging ("Forgiven"), and then gives the listener five and a half minutes of static glitch ("Street Corp."). It's not until "Corner," the third song on the album, that anything like a beat appears, and it is slow and mournful. Where Actress's earlier work was grounded in throbbing pulses, Ghettoville is lethargic and murky, crawling along at a menacing pace. Not everything here is static, distortion and clanging. Much of the album features Actress doing what he does best: deconstructing standard electronic music templates, and creating music that is experimental yet recognizable. "Rims" is built around a sinister bassline and some clicks and whistles that's like two songbirds having a low-riding competition. "Gaze" is a house music song bleeding through the walls of an apartment. "Image" adds some clattering Detroit techno 808s into the mix. Actress is also pushing his sound forward, adding filtered vocals and offering fractured takes on hip-hop ("Rule") and R&B ("Rap"). These songs capture what makes Actress such a vital and important part of contemporary electronic music."


http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2014_04_ghettoville.html


Chance The Rapper :: 10 Day :: DatPiff 
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon


[10 Day]"Patrick was the first to bust open Chance The Rapper on RR, but the Chicago emcee's cherry to the mainstream was the "10 Day" mixtape. Widely available from your favorite no dollar download resources (though I personally prefer DatPiff), Chance apparently named the album after the fact he was serving a ten day suspension from Jones College Prep High School. Since Jones is a school known academic excellence and (as evidenced by the name) preparing its students for collegiate careers, it's likely that even a minor infraction would be taken seriously. I can only imagine that if he had been caught using the language he does on the album itself, he probably would have been expelled outright. Chance was obviously well connected even at this early point in his career in 2012. Chuck Inglish from The Cool Kids produced "U Got Me Fucked Up," giving away a beat dope enough to sell, although Chance no doubt gave him bars on a project right back quid pro quo. Asher Roth favorites Blended Babies laced the song "Family" featuring Sulaiman and Vic Mensa. The songs without any credits are just as enjoyable though, such as the unapologetic "Fuck You Tahm Bout" - so good in fact that Chance made a music video for it. Pretty ballsy decision to invest that kind of time and money in a song from an album that myth holds was recorded on a ten day suspension. That makes me think some of the story may be a bit exaggerated - this album sounds too clean and that video looks too serious for "10 Day" to just be a random way for Chance to fill time until he could Rodney Dangerfield his way back to school. "

http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/BTTL_chance10day.html

Gio :: Real :: Bandcamp 
as reviewed Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Real]"Giovanni 'Gio' Agosta is reputed to be the next thing in hip-hop from Australia, if not the next big thing regardless of country of origin. It's not easy to pick out that he's an Aussie on his album "Real" aside from his periodic use of the word "mate," which could just as easily make him British. He doesn't have the distinctive vocal inflection and vowel usage one associates with (or stereotypes of) a Southern hemisphere emcee. That may be because Gio considers his biggest musical inspirations to be Bob Dylan and Lil Wayne - it's hard to imagine you'd wind up rapping like Muph or Maundz if those were your influences. "I Feel Like" exemplifies just how eclectic Gio's rap style is. Thankfully his crystal clear diction doesn't have the muddy incomprehensibility of Dylan's delivery, but his singing swing probably has more in common with Bob than Dwayne. Producer Mark Belcastro walks the line between clean and dirty with the instruments in a pleasant manner that drifts along like AM radio hip-hop as Gio laconically raps "I'm just chillin' on the couch, got a doobie in my mouth/couple screws loose off in my head." He jumps into sing-song at the end of his first verse, then sings the chorus of his song, and Belcastro manipulates his vocals to make Gio his own high pitched background singer. The Dylan influence comes through - he sounds like a rapper from the 1960's who intentionally unplugged from society. Gio operates almost entirely solo save for the appearance of Jimmy Cupples on "Dear Bup," a song which gives me PM Dawn flashbacks (not in a bad way). Gio seems a rather carefree lad as he jumps back and forth between singing and rapping, goofing around with vocal distortion on "Drunk Playing With Automation," eschewing the praises of a sandwich on "Toasted Cheese" (U.S. readers would call it "Grilled Cheese") and his hardest song would have to be "Don't Go Nowhere" - and by hard I mean Pharcyde or Aceyalone."


http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2014_04_giovannireal.html


Kev Sez :: First Attempt at a Second Chance :: Kev Sez Publishing 
as reviewed Matt Jost


[First Attempt at a Second Chance]"Kev says things like "This is the solemn anniversary of depth-charged cranium angels holding their fingers inside of my grey matter" and "My bedroom ain't a homestead, it's a prison cell / Chalked lines counting times and memories of where I dwelled." If you paid attention, there's a spectrum to his set of expressions that ranges from abstract to concrete. Still there's a common thread to Kev Sez' lyrics as they settle within the diameter of figurative language and mental introspection. It's easy to see that the artist's first steps were made in the spoken word scene, but after a rather top-heavy start in the form of "Jupiter" his debut album "First Attempt at a Second Chance" quickly gets on the rap track with several solid song concepts. Despite its verbose title, "Thoughts of a Closet Existential Nihilist" is basically a drifter's diary, as Kev gets up, gets out and gets himself a pack of cigarettes, not without contemplating the futility of it all. Meanwhile Buffalo Black's production strolls along like some 1995 underground g-funk, adding a welcome dose of nonchalance to the nihilism. The song establishes drugs and death (plus rebirth) as two of the album's major themes, although they are more prevalent in the second half. "Kev's Dead" might be a key track to Kev's evolution as an artist (it sounds like an earlier recording), but on it he's a victim of his jokey undertone and hypertensive flow. Rap masters such as Scarface ("I'm Dead"), The Notorious B.I.G. ("Suicidal Thoughts") and Chino XL ("Rise") have envisioned their own death in a much more existential manner. To be fair, "Kev's Dead" mainly seems to signify a coming of age or a change of personality, and thus fits the overall theme the album title alludes to. "First Attempt at a Second Chance" is also the name of a sort of follow-up to "Kev's Dead." It's the release's most traditional hip-hop track, a smoothly swaying tune that sees Kev, assisted by Kristoff Krane, rise from the dead with a decidedly optimistic outlook. "Life Check (One Two, One Two)" could be a compelling finale, but it's one of those instances where Kev Sez' angle tilts towards corny and pretentious as he once more takes the listener through his entire lifetime from womb to tomb, drenched in religious and metaphorical imagery and finally framed with the well-known rap ritual known as mic-check. It's a bit too much."

http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2014_04_firstattemptat.html

Mega Ran :: River City Random :: MegaRan Music 
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[River City Random]"River City Ransom falls into that category of "cult classic" Nintendo games that people remember more fondly long after is release than when it came out in the U.S. in 1990. I was neither internet savvy nor the fan of Japanese food and entertainment then that I am now, so I had no way of knowing it was a localized (i.e. converted to an American audience) version of a game called Downtown Nekketsu Story. Localization can be as simple as changing the text in the game from Japanese to English (adapting for cultural differences along the way) or as complex as completely redrawing the character sprites (Doki Doki Panic becoming Super Mario Bros. 2). River City Ransom had a little from both column A and column B, but to the young and impatient kid I was at the time those facts didn't even exist - nor did this game! I played it a couple of times while visiting friends, quickly concluded it was a bad knockoff of Double Dragon, and since the only Nintendo games I ever got to use were when I rented a console and titles it got NO PLAY. In the almost quarter century of time that has gone by I've developed a greater appreciation of what Ransom had to offer - first through emulation and then through retro game collecting. That being said it's still not one of my favorite titles. It's not one I go busting out when I turn on the Nintendo and flip through a pile of cartridges. I think this is one of the few major differences I have with my man Mega Ran. Most of the games he raps about or raps over I am equally affectionate about for one reason or another, but when it comes to River City Ransom we'll just have to agree to disagree. Actually it may be that even Ran found this project harder to get into than he first anticipated, as his album page on Bandcamp notes that he started work on it in 2009, and didn't actually finish it until 2012 because "things got a little crazy for me." Maybe he just didn't find it as inspiring as Mega Man games. I know I don't."


http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/BTTL_rivercityrandom.html


Sister Crayon :: Still||Cynic :: Fake Four Inc. 
as reviewed Steve 'Flash' Juon


[Still||Cynic]"I have nothing against this all female duo from NorCal (Sacramento to be precise) but their "indie rock" cred gives me cause to pause. Obviously given the name of the website we don't review a lot of rock music, pop music, country music, et cetera. We dabble occasionally into reggae, soul and R&B given their close proximity to hip-hop, but at the end of the day we are what we are. When I took the recommendation on Sister Crayon's "Still||Cynic" I was (feel free to laugh now) under the mistaken impression they were a new female rap duo I hadn't heard before. There is a bright side to this story though for me - "Still||Cynic" has a hip-hop component despite the group's decidedly non-rap origins. This album turns out to be a set of new looks for their 2013 "Cynic" EP, putting a new spin on old music in classic remixing style. In fact every single song on this 9 track release is a 'something' remix, and not surprisingly I'm drawn to the ones from the hip-hop names I already know. Long time Los Angeles producer/rapper Busdriver contributes the "Meager Leavings" revision and it rattles like a snake across my eardrums. Rhymesayers stars P.O.S. grace us with a "Cynic" remix, and immediately following that is a Sole and the Skyrider Band take on the track, with Sole even chipping in a rap verse."

http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2014_04_stillcynic.html

 [Nausea] Moodie Black :: Nausea
Fake Four Inc.

Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon

"The term "post-noise rap pioneer" had no meaning for me before discovering Moodie Black. It seemed at first like one of those pretentious invented descriptions people slap on things in an attempt to sound cool and hip. You know the phrases: retro-futuristic, ultra modern, neo-classical, hybrid fusion. They're often either redundant or contradictory and devoid of any significance once stripped of their hyperbolic context. Whenever something is described as "post"-anything I always wonder what the "pre"-something was before it, and why the artist is so desperate to differentiate themselves from it. This Arizona group may be able to justify their description by the fact they're absolutely unlike almost anything else you can find in hip-hop today save perhaps Death Grips. Since this review has already put undue focus on invented descriptions I'd like to give you one of my own: "neo-punk acid rap." Let's put the focus squarely on the word ACID shall we? They sound like they've done a lot. This is the kind of rap music that Raoul Duke would listen to. This is what kids who grew up on the Beastie Boys, N.W.A and GangStarr turned into after too many nights playing with postage stamps not to be mailed and ink blotters that never wrote a letter. It's rap music that was poured into a paint can, shaken vigorously, and thrown at the wall by the handful until both art and insanity were on display. Something either went seriously wrong or seriously right for lead vocalist K. (C. Martinez) when he was left alone too long in the Arizona desert. "No one can die like we do" vows the frontman on the pulsing electronic background of "Mollyap," sounding like a Commodore 64 SID generating white noise and being fed through a series of amplifiers with increasingly frayed cords. This isn't just grimy hip-hop, it's dank and musky."

Actress :: Ghettoville :: Ninja Tune 
as reviewed Patrick Taylor

[Ghettoville]"Actress is the stage name of British producer Darren J. Cunningham, who has been performing under that moniker for the past six years. His three previous albums offered an art-damaged mash-up of ambient, dance, minimalism, and experimental music. Actress has called Ghettoville "the bleached out and black tinted conclusion of the Actress image," and it sounds like a funeral. The bubbly warmth that underpinned his earlier work is largely absent, replaced by bleak industrial soundscapes. Actress's music has always challenged listeners with its sparseness and occasional dissonant elements, but there was a warmth to his earlier albums that smoothed out the rougher edges. That warmth has been hammered out of Ghettoville. At times it seems as if Actress is daring listeners to try to make it until the end of the album. He starts things off with seven minutes of slow clanging ("Forgiven"), and then gives the listener five and a half minutes of static glitch ("Street Corp."). It's not until "Corner," the third song on the album, that anything like a beat appears, and it is slow and mournful. Where Actress's earlier work was grounded in throbbing pulses, Ghettoville is lethargic and murky, crawling along at a menacing pace. Not everything here is static, distortion and clanging. Much of the album features Actress doing what he does best: deconstructing standard electronic music templates, and creating music that is experimental yet recognizable. "Rims" is built around a sinister bassline and some clicks and whistles that's like two songbirds having a low-riding competition. "Gaze" is a house music song bleeding through the walls of an apartment. "Image" adds some clattering Detroit techno 808s into the mix. Actress is also pushing his sound forward, adding filtered vocals and offering fractured takes on hip-hop ("Rule") and R&B ("Rap"). These songs capture what makes Actress such a vital and important part of contemporary electronic music."


http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2014_04_ghettoville.html


Chance The Rapper :: 10 Day :: DatPiff 
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon


[10 Day]"Patrick was the first to bust open Chance The Rapper on RR, but the Chicago emcee's cherry to the mainstream was the "10 Day" mixtape. Widely available from your favorite no dollar download resources (though I personally prefer DatPiff), Chance apparently named the album after the fact he was serving a ten day suspension from Jones College Prep High School. Since Jones is a school known academic excellence and (as evidenced by the name) preparing its students for collegiate careers, it's likely that even a minor infraction would be taken seriously. I can only imagine that if he had been caught using the language he does on the album itself, he probably would have been expelled outright. Chance was obviously well connected even at this early point in his career in 2012. Chuck Inglish from The Cool Kids produced "U Got Me Fucked Up," giving away a beat dope enough to sell, although Chance no doubt gave him bars on a project right back quid pro quo. Asher Roth favorites Blended Babies laced the song "Family" featuring Sulaiman and Vic Mensa. The songs without any credits are just as enjoyable though, such as the unapologetic "Fuck You Tahm Bout" - so good in fact that Chance made a music video for it. Pretty ballsy decision to invest that kind of time and money in a song from an album that myth holds was recorded on a ten day suspension. That makes me think some of the story may be a bit exaggerated - this album sounds too clean and that video looks too serious for "10 Day" to just be a random way for Chance to fill time until he could Rodney Dangerfield his way back to school. "

http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/BTTL_chance10day.html

Gio :: Real :: Bandcamp 
as reviewed Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Real]"Giovanni 'Gio' Agosta is reputed to be the next thing in hip-hop from Australia, if not the next big thing regardless of country of origin. It's not easy to pick out that he's an Aussie on his album "Real" aside from his periodic use of the word "mate," which could just as easily make him British. He doesn't have the distinctive vocal inflection and vowel usage one associates with (or stereotypes of) a Southern hemisphere emcee. That may be because Gio considers his biggest musical inspirations to be Bob Dylan and Lil Wayne - it's hard to imagine you'd wind up rapping like Muph or Maundz if those were your influences. "I Feel Like" exemplifies just how eclectic Gio's rap style is. Thankfully his crystal clear diction doesn't have the muddy incomprehensibility of Dylan's delivery, but his singing swing probably has more in common with Bob than Dwayne. Producer Mark Belcastro walks the line between clean and dirty with the instruments in a pleasant manner that drifts along like AM radio hip-hop as Gio laconically raps "I'm just chillin' on the couch, got a doobie in my mouth/couple screws loose off in my head." He jumps into sing-song at the end of his first verse, then sings the chorus of his song, and Belcastro manipulates his vocals to make Gio his own high pitched background singer. The Dylan influence comes through - he sounds like a rapper from the 1960's who intentionally unplugged from society. Gio operates almost entirely solo save for the appearance of Jimmy Cupples on "Dear Bup," a song which gives me PM Dawn flashbacks (not in a bad way). Gio seems a rather carefree lad as he jumps back and forth between singing and rapping, goofing around with vocal distortion on "Drunk Playing With Automation," eschewing the praises of a sandwich on "Toasted Cheese" (U.S. readers would call it "Grilled Cheese") and his hardest song would have to be "Don't Go Nowhere" - and by hard I mean Pharcyde or Aceyalone."


http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2014_04_giovannireal.html


Kev Sez :: First Attempt at a Second Chance :: Kev Sez Publishing 
as reviewed Matt Jost


[First Attempt at a Second Chance]"Kev says things like "This is the solemn anniversary of depth-charged cranium angels holding their fingers inside of my grey matter" and "My bedroom ain't a homestead, it's a prison cell / Chalked lines counting times and memories of where I dwelled." If you paid attention, there's a spectrum to his set of expressions that ranges from abstract to concrete. Still there's a common thread to Kev Sez' lyrics as they settle within the diameter of figurative language and mental introspection. It's easy to see that the artist's first steps were made in the spoken word scene, but after a rather top-heavy start in the form of "Jupiter" his debut album "First Attempt at a Second Chance" quickly gets on the rap track with several solid song concepts. Despite its verbose title, "Thoughts of a Closet Existential Nihilist" is basically a drifter's diary, as Kev gets up, gets out and gets himself a pack of cigarettes, not without contemplating the futility of it all. Meanwhile Buffalo Black's production strolls along like some 1995 underground g-funk, adding a welcome dose of nonchalance to the nihilism. The song establishes drugs and death (plus rebirth) as two of the album's major themes, although they are more prevalent in the second half. "Kev's Dead" might be a key track to Kev's evolution as an artist (it sounds like an earlier recording), but on it he's a victim of his jokey undertone and hypertensive flow. Rap masters such as Scarface ("I'm Dead"), The Notorious B.I.G. ("Suicidal Thoughts") and Chino XL ("Rise") have envisioned their own death in a much more existential manner. To be fair, "Kev's Dead" mainly seems to signify a coming of age or a change of personality, and thus fits the overall theme the album title alludes to. "First Attempt at a Second Chance" is also the name of a sort of follow-up to "Kev's Dead." It's the release's most traditional hip-hop track, a smoothly swaying tune that sees Kev, assisted by Kristoff Krane, rise from the dead with a decidedly optimistic outlook. "Life Check (One Two, One Two)" could be a compelling finale, but it's one of those instances where Kev Sez' angle tilts towards corny and pretentious as he once more takes the listener through his entire lifetime from womb to tomb, drenched in religious and metaphorical imagery and finally framed with the well-known rap ritual known as mic-check. It's a bit too much."

http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2014_04_firstattemptat.html

Mega Ran :: River City Random :: MegaRan Music 
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[River City Random]"River City Ransom falls into that category of "cult classic" Nintendo games that people remember more fondly long after is release than when it came out in the U.S. in 1990. I was neither internet savvy nor the fan of Japanese food and entertainment then that I am now, so I had no way of knowing it was a localized (i.e. converted to an American audience) version of a game called Downtown Nekketsu Story. Localization can be as simple as changing the text in the game from Japanese to English (adapting for cultural differences along the way) or as complex as completely redrawing the character sprites (Doki Doki Panic becoming Super Mario Bros. 2). River City Ransom had a little from both column A and column B, but to the young and impatient kid I was at the time those facts didn't even exist - nor did this game! I played it a couple of times while visiting friends, quickly concluded it was a bad knockoff of Double Dragon, and since the only Nintendo games I ever got to use were when I rented a console and titles it got NO PLAY. In the almost quarter century of time that has gone by I've developed a greater appreciation of what Ransom had to offer - first through emulation and then through retro game collecting. That being said it's still not one of my favorite titles. It's not one I go busting out when I turn on the Nintendo and flip through a pile of cartridges. I think this is one of the few major differences I have with my man Mega Ran. Most of the games he raps about or raps over I am equally affectionate about for one reason or another, but when it comes to River City Ransom we'll just have to agree to disagree. Actually it may be that even Ran found this project harder to get into than he first anticipated, as his album page on Bandcamp notes that he started work on it in 2009, and didn't actually finish it until 2012 because "things got a little crazy for me." Maybe he just didn't find it as inspiring as Mega Man games. I know I don't."


http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/BTTL_rivercityrandom.html


Sister Crayon :: Still||Cynic :: Fake Four Inc. 
as reviewed Steve 'Flash' Juon


[Still||Cynic]"I have nothing against this all female duo from NorCal (Sacramento to be precise) but their "indie rock" cred gives me cause to pause. Obviously given the name of the website we don't review a lot of rock music, pop music, country music, et cetera. We dabble occasionally into reggae, soul and R&B given their close proximity to hip-hop, but at the end of the day we are what we are. When I took the recommendation on Sister Crayon's "Still||Cynic" I was (feel free to laugh now) under the mistaken impression they were a new female rap duo I hadn't heard before. There is a bright side to this story though for me - "Still||Cynic" has a hip-hop component despite the group's decidedly non-rap origins. This album turns out to be a set of new looks for their 2013 "Cynic" EP, putting a new spin on old music in classic remixing style. In fact every single song on this 9 track release is a 'something' remix, and not surprisingly I'm drawn to the ones from the hip-hop names I already know. Long time Los Angeles producer/rapper Busdriver contributes the "Meager Leavings" revision and it rattles like a snake across my eardrums. Rhymesayers stars P.O.S. grace us with a "Cynic" remix, and immediately following that is a Sole and the Skyrider Band take on the track, with Sole even chipping in a rap verse."

http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2014_04_stillcynic.html

 
Update on This Week's Delayed RapReviews.com Update


- from the desk of Steve 'Flash' Juon

Circumstances wildly beyond my control have forced the weekly RapReviews update to be postponed at least 24 hours.

#1. Our server was inaccessible for a large part of the day yesterday due to a router (QC.CA) going down. We could not upload reviews, post articles, or even take down pre-written articles that were scheduled to go live and had not yet been filled in.

#2. There's been a death in the family that took place yesterday which we received a call about overnight. The circumstances have needless to say changed my entire work schedule for today, which was already a day behind due to the RR server not being available due to the down router.

We should have an update available on Wednesday, but if it's not to the standards of usual weeks, I hope you'll forgive the limited size and scope due to the unforeseen circumstances listed above. Provided there are no more service outages and no more family emergencies we should be back to a more normal sized update next Tuesday. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
The Hip-Hop Shop #266 Celebrates Hip-Hop Instrumentals




It's time for another new edition of The Hip-Hop Shop. Episode #266 is a special episode dedicated to dope hip-hop instrumentals. Enjoy instrumentals produced by Takz, Small Professor, Fresh Kils and Slot-A among others! Feel free to share this show and remember - you can follow us @RapReviews so you never miss a new show when it's released each Tuesday.

Download Here (right click to save)

Tracks featured this week:

* Jamall Bufford - Victim of a Modern Age
(producer: SK)
* Mega Ran and Mister Wilson - Blur Bomber
(producer: Takz)
* Small Professor - Late Night Cinnamon
(producer: Small Professor)
* Daryl Donald - Planets
(producer: Daryl Donald)
* CuzOH Black - Out to Win
(producer: Radio Maschine)
* Jamall Bufford - Living Room Flo
(producer: Slot-A)
* The Extremities - Morning After
(producers: Fresh Kils & Uncle Fester)
* Mega Ran - Threshold (Randombeats Remix)
(producer: Random)
* Small Professor - Over (& Over)
(producer: Small Professor)
* Teekay - Psychology (Chill Mix)
(producer: Teekay)

Audio: @ProbCause - "Chicago Style" (@AudibleTreats)


Audio: ProbCause - "Chicago Style"

Courtesy Audible Treats.

ProbCause is currently on tour with electro-pop group Cherub, as they recently performed for a sold-out crowd at New York City's Music Hall of Williamsburg. The tour continues, traveling through Southern cities and states before coming to a close in Baton Rouge on May 3.

Video: Hip-Hop Artist @KiddWes Releases "Pause" off Debut Album "Young World" (@BallinPR)


Video: Hip-Hop Artist Kidd Wes Releases "Pause" off Debut Album "Young World"

Courtesy Ballin PR.

Florida based emcee Kidd Wes is releasing the visuals for the first single "Pause," off his debut album, Young World (May 13, 2014). "Pause” is a hip-hop cut where Wes notifies listeners of the difference between himself and all the other run-of-the-mill rappers.

DJ Premier Launches New Website & Track With Lady Of Rage (@REALDJPREMIER @THEOFFICIALRAGE)


DJ Premier Launches New Website & New Track With Lady Of Rage

Courtesy Matt B.

With his newly launched website, www.PremierWuzhere.com, DJ Premier is planting his flag in the digital world with an all in one-stop shop dedicated to hip-hop, art, culture and life; curated by the one and only DJ Premier. The just revealed destination portal is all things Primo and will also include gear, hats, clothes, merchandise and even original illustrations.

Also, DJ Premier has exclusively teamed up with Serato to release a new vinyl project, which will include four-new tracks; consisting of two new instrumental tracks and tracks that also feature NYG’z and the track included here “Chemical Burn” f/ Lady Of Rage; you can cop the vinyl project today starting at 8pm (EST) at www.PremierWuzhere.com and at Serato.

Video: Verbal Kent "Body The Beat" (prod. @Khrysis) @Big_VK1


Video: Verbal Kent "Body The Beat" (prod. Khrysis)

Courtesy Matt B.

'Sound Of The Weapon' from Verbal Kent
Produced by Khrysis Is Now Available


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Welcome to RapReviews.com for the week of April 15th, 2014!! Please like us on Facebook and shop Amazon through RapReviews so we can bring you new material every week. This week we have the following new items for you: Chuck Inglish's "Convertibles," Grieves' "Winter and the Wolves," Jeep Ward's Subways & Sidewalks #21, Steve 'Flash' Juon's The Hip-Hop Shop #266, and an update on this week's delay, Nas' "Illmatic XX," Pharoahe Monch's "PTSD: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder" (our featured review) and Emanuel Wallace's The (W)rap Up for April 8, 2014!

Be sure to check the RapReviews newsfeed for the latest news and updates. Subscribe to the newsfeed via your browser to for daily updates. RapReviews.com also recommends the The Undisputed Wrestling Show from the AngryMarks Podcast Network. We appreciate your support and welcome any feedback you have. Thanks for visiting RapReviews.com!!


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