If you missed any of the eleven new reviews this past week, including Celph Titled & Buckwild's "Nineteen Ninety More" then do yourself a favor and check out this week's edition of the (W)rap Up!
"With the 2010 release of "Nineteen Ninety Now", underground favourite Celph Titled and legendary beatmaker Buckwild teamed up to drop an album that had many hip-hop heads reminiscing on the mid-nineties 'golden era' of rap. Buckwild gave Celph license to root through his unreleased instrumentals and handpick those he wanted for his first true LP. Every kick, snare and sleigh bell that you heard had been put together over fifteen years ago when Buck was laying down now-famous beats for some of hip-hop's most revered names such as Organized Konfusion, R.A the Rugged Man, O.C., Big L and Tha Alkaholiks . It proved to be a pretty smart move as Buckwild's instrumentals suited Celph Titled's aggressive yet humorous tone down to the ground and the album was met with universal acclaim. Little over a year later and the duo have decided to unveil a few more cuts from these recording sessions as well as a bucketful of bonus beats and package it as "Nineteen Ninety More". This is a double disc set comprising four previously unreleased tracks, three that were only available on vinyl and a remix as well as these instrumentals on disc one and all of the instrumentals from "Nineteen Ninety Now" on disc two. The artists featured on the original album helped add to the overall feeling of nostalgia and there is more of the same here as nineties survivors Lord Digga, Kwest and the Cella Dwellas all come through to join Laws, Outerspace and Rise to add to the old meets new ethos." "Reviews are not an easy thing to write. I'm not complaining about my job, but I'm just attempting to provide some insight into the process to help explain why reviews turn out the way they do sometimes. No review is harder to write than a review for an album or artist you really love. It's a difficult task for many reasons. The first reason is that you feel very passionate about the music you're writing about so you have to be careful not to get too emotional about it. I've had my fair share of reviews that unfortunately end up sounding like Stanish fan letters or diary entries. The second reason is that you feel an intense pressure to write something great that will get others to peep the music themselves. The danger here is laying the hyperbole on too thick, building expectations that no album could deliver, or worst of all sounding like a cheesy press kit in the form of a review. Finally, there is the pressure to say something that hasn't been said before. In D-Sisive's case, the circumstances have converged to put me in quite a dilemma. After sleeping on D-Sisive despite two 9 out of 10 reviews from two different critics on this site, I finally peeped "Let the Children Die" and dropped my own 9 on that ass. Flash then dropped a 7.5 and 8.5 for "Vaudeville" and "Jonestown 2," further cementing D-Sisive's reputation as a quality emcee. All five of those reviews have run the gamut on what can be said about D-Sisive. They've explained all relevant facts of D-Sisive's life that a rap fan might need to know. " "Great music is therapy. At the end of a rough day at work, in the middle of a break up, in recovery from a hangover, the right song will frame the mind in a way that allows us to get through the sandpaper patches in our life. At the same token, therapy is an oft-cited reason for musicians and artists to lose themselves into their production. It's not hard to imagine artists using the studio as a vent for their feelings, or a resting place for the pressure on their chests. In the end, a great song should have taken the burdens of both artist and listener as it pulses through the earphones. Living Legend Eligh and Zion-I producer Amp Live come together to give us "Therapy at 3", a collaboration that takes its title from the free-flowing, therapeutic studio sessions that birthed this album. As a result "Therapy at 3" has a stream-of-consciousness structure, both lyrically and musically, that can make it hard to follow on the first listen. This isn't an album that you fall in love with instantly, it's an acquired taste that grows on you after a few spins. It also has to be taken into account that this is probably one of Eligh's most personal works, but that doesn't mean his thoughts and stories are naked in the music. Amp Live also reaches further into his experimental box of beats, spreading each song thick with electronic and synthetic tones, rarely thumping a simple 1-2 drumline, and running everything on an irregular cadence."
http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2011_12_therapyat3.htmlGoldini Bagwell :: Chainsmoke :: Sandpeople Music
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
"In one form or another the Sandpeople collective dates back to the mid-2000's. In that time they've changed their line-up several times, and much like the Wu-Tang Clan they've branched off solo projects from various group members over the last decade. The most famous of these spin-offs so far may be Debaser, the combination of Sapient on beats and Ethic on rhymes, but as a whole it's safe to say they've all been putting in work and releasing quality material. Gold a/k/a Goldini Bagwell is the latest member of the crew to drop his own joint, and if the Wu-Tang Clan analogy means anything, that would probably make him Raekwon or Ghostface. If you tried to make them completely analogous chronologically, he'd be Cappadonna or Killah Priest, but neither of these definitions fit Bag well. I'm settling for Ghost, because Rae is well known for his slanguistics, and Goldini doesn't seem to be out to reinvent the Urban Dictionary here. He's more of a storyteller, the type of rapper who wants to draw you in to the topics he's talking about, and that's definitely the Ghostface Killah M.O. He's also out for the betterment of hip-hop as a whole, opening "Let's Grow" with the words "It's that crabs in a barrel mentality that's gonna get you PINCHED, homey." A backdrop of jazzy piano music keeps the presentation moving and prevents Bagwell from becoming didactic or preachy. "
http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2011_12_goldinichainsmoke.htmlHeavy D & the Boyz :: Blue Funk :: MCA/Uptown Records
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
"This review comes exactly four weeks after the hip-hop world was shocked by the untimely passing of Dwight Arrington Myers. The talk show pundits and rap cynics have no doubt concluded this was a happy ending given that Heavy D's life did not end in a hailstorm of bullets. I've got news for those assholes - no, it's not. D's life and times spoke to the unlimited potential of hip-hop music and culture. He proved critics in and outside of the rap genre time after time. He proved you could be positive without being corny. He proved you could make dance music and still be respected by the hardcore. He proved that rappers could be actors and still get respect in the studio. He even proved that you could rock extra large clothes and still be a suave sex symbol, and did so long before Biggie Smalls came along and took ashy to classy. Heavy D was the kind of elder statesman that hip-hop needs to represent the best not just in himself but for all of us. We'll be feeling this one for years. As tough as it is to move on from his death, one of the ways that makes is easier for me to do so personally is to reminisce on his catalogue of music. In doing so I need to walk a careful line between articulating his talents and acting like this is a wake where we celebrate his life and times. For all that he accomplished in his heyday, Heavy D wasn't completely free from contemporary criticism. He managed to satisfy MOST of the hip-hop world with albums like "Living Large" and "Big Tyme," but after "Peaceful Journey" there were those who felt Dwight had taken being a crossover star a little too far."
http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/BTTL_heavydbluefunk.htmlJohn Sportin :: Sportin a Good Lifestyle :: Bandcamp.com
as reviewed by Mike Baber
"One of the biggest flaws often present in hip-hop albums from aspiring emcees is monotony. Many "up-and-coming" rappers simply do not have enough variety in their lyrics or instrumentals, sometimes to the point where it be can be difficult to distinguish certain tracks from one another, and the result is a one-dimensional album that gives the listener little reason to slog through every track. On the flip side, though, there are other albums which have no direction whatsoever, as the emcee fails to establish his niche and attempts, usually poorly, to fit in with a number of different styles. Both one of these shortcomings can severely hamper an album's replay value, and unfortunately, "Sportin a Good Lifestyle" falls prey to both. Aside from boasting of his prowess on the mic and his abilities as an emcee, John Sportin's lyrics rarely venture outside the typical materialistic topics such as women and money. While there are a handful of quality instrumentals, the production wavers between hardcore, gangster-rap tracks and softer, more R&B-influenced cuts, and it seems as if John Sportin is unable to decide which subgenre best showcases his lyricism. I'll admit, after the intro track, arguably the most polished instrumental on the album, I had high hopes for "Sportin a Good Lifestyle." Complete with sweeping orchestral strings, jazzy trumpets, and flowing grand piano keys atop a soft drum loop, "Introduction" has a uplifting vibe that is impossible to ignore. "
http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2011_12_sportingoodlifestyle.htmlMirandom (Mr. Miranda & Random) :: The Memorandum :: MegaRan Music
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
"If it seems like we're reviewing a Random project almost every week lately, don't get mad. It may not be very random statistically speaking, but it can't be helped given how prolific Random is, and how many projects he's putting out before the end of 2011. Now you could in theory be mad about it were he putting out whack material, but by joyful coincidence Ran is one of the best underground rappers going. The only caveat to that axiom, if indeed there is one, may be that it helps to be a gamer when listening to some of his albums. Though he's careful to avoid genre narrowing classifications like #nerdcore, he does intentionally or not cultivate a certain fanbase with albums inspired by Capcom & SquareSoft. For Random fans looking for him to pull the cord on the controller and the plug on the console, "The Memorandum" may be exactly what you're looking for. This time around the digitally animated concepts are kicked to the curb, and the focus us put on a partnership with Arizona's own Mr. Miranda, who is geographically close enough to where Ran lives now that the two bump heads on a regular basis. Now whether that's from being in similar cyphers or rocking the same local clubs, but "The Untold Story" paints a very different picture from either of those likely scenarios."
http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2011_12_thememorandum.htmlNocturnals :: To Be Continued :: nocturnalsmusic.com
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor
"Nocturnals are producer Lucca and MC Rota. Rota and Lucca started performing as the Scribblers, then changed their name to the Nocturnals for their 2010 debut album "Next Time It's Personal." This is their full-length follow-up. There are a few changes to their sound. They've upgraded their equipment, which means the album sounds better than their last effort. Rota is also going more nasal with his delivery, embracing the fact that he is a white dude whose day job is being a lawyer. There's nothing worse than middle-class white kids acting hard, and Rota thankfully avoids trying to get his DMX on. A resource for learning more about music is accredited online colleges. Rota is an MC in the tradition of Aesop Rock, El-P, and the anticon crew. His rhymes are neurotic, cerebral, and spit rapid-fire. He doesn't rap about cars, clubs, dealing drugs, shooting people, or any of the other standard hip-hop topics. Instead his rhymes deal with dysfunctional relationships, gentrification, the scary state of the world, and, uh, jews and gay babies, according to the track list."
http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2011_12_nocturnalsbecontinued.htmlSadistik & Kristoff Krane :: Prey for Paralysis :: Crushkill Recordings
as reviewed by Pedro 'DJ Complejo' Hernandez
"Sadistik and Kristoff Kane are no strangers to RapReviews as both have had solo and group albums reviewed on this site, with mixed, but generally good reviews for both. After touring extensively this past summer, the duo realized that they had the chemistry to do an album together and "Prey for Paralysis" is the result. Sadistik was previously described on this site as mix of Slug and a slightly more cynical Eminem with a depressive and contemplative energy. This is quite the contrast to my exposure to Kristoff Krane as I found his last album to contain relatable music with a positive outlook. Curiously, Kristoff Krane eschews any positivity on this collaborative effort and instead matches Sadistik with a darker, apocalyptic outlook on life. With both rappers on the same page and with producer Graham O'Brien providing a bleak, industrial musical backdrop, "Prey for Paralysis" is every bit the perfect storm of pessimistic energy one would expect. An album this dark and depressing runs the risk of wearing thin on almost every listener, but Sadistik and Krane avoid this issue by limiting the album to 10 tracks. With the album condensed in that manner, the album avoids becoming an overbearing downer. On those ten tracks, the duo remains surprisingly engaging and versatile. "Pyramid Song" sets the tone for the album as Sadistik and Krane trade verses contemplating the point of life, but providing little in the form of hope or optimism."
"This is the 45th installment of VP Records long-running "Strictly The Best" series, which collect the biggets current reggae hits into one package. "Volume 45" concentrates on dancehall artists, which might make it the more obvious pick for hip-hop fans. The first half of the disc all follows the same template: electric piano, synthesizers, and an Auto-Tuned DJ sing/chatting in an impenetrable patois. It was hard for me to tell the difference between Vybz Kartel, Mavado, Beenie Man, Popcaan, DeMarco, and Chipmunk. Things pick up with Wayne Marshall's ridiculous "Swaggin WTF!! (Too Bad For You)," a song as nuts as its title. Things get harder and grittier from that song on. Tony Matterhorn's "Dancehall Duppy" actually makes fun of the singers on the first half of the album, and the fact that they all sound the same. Twin of Twins sounds exactly like a dancehall Lil Wayne on "Cigarette Murder," complete with gravelly voice and out-there rhymes. Bounty Killers "Ready Fi Dem" provides more hits to the solar plexus with the combination of pounding beat and gruff rhymes. It's balanced out by Chino's "God Nah Sleep (A Rise and Fall Story)," which brings some sanity and reflection to the proceedings. "
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