Monday July 16, 2018

The (W)rap Up - Week of January 17, 2012
Posted by Emanuel Wallace at Tuesday, January 24th, 2012 at 12:00AM :: Email this article :: Print this article

If you missed any of the new reviews last week, including Gabriel Teodros' "Colored People's Time Machine" then be sure to check out this week's edition of the (W)rap Up.

[Colored People's Time Machine]
Gabriel Teodros :: Colored People's Time Machine
Fresh Chopped Beats

Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon

"Gabriel Teodros hails from the 98118, which his bio proudly proclaims is "the most ethnically diverse zip code in the country." That seems like unnecessary hyperbole given it has absolutely no bearing on whether or not he's a good lyricist or musician, but dutiful fact checker that I am, I decided to look it up anyway. There appears to be some census data that supports the claim, but the anecdotal accounts from Columbia City (annexed into the city of Seattle back in 1907) also suggests that urban gentrification is in full swing. This is due to the skyrocketing value of real estate in what is seen as a hip and trendy Seattle neighborhood that caters to the eco friendly - plenty of bike paths and easily available mass transit options. For what it's worth said same anecdotal evidence highly rates the diversity of ethnic restaurants and rates Rainier Avenue as a top tourist destination. It is in this environment that Teodros released the album "lovework" in 2007. DJ Complejo's review was generally positive, although it did subtly hint that Teodros was a bit of an activist, borderline to being a man out of time from a 1960's era of flower power, love and peace. Perhaps that's true. It may be that Teodros travelled here in his TARDIS style "Colored People's Time Machine," saw the grim negativity of the 21st century, and committed himself to making a difference with his positive vibes. "Time Machine" is a rap album most parents wouldn't need to worry about their children listening to - unless they're worried about the sorrows of the real world being too deep for a young mind."

Barbone :: One to Self :: Barbone
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
[One to Self] 
"Joining the long list of Australian rap artists looking to make a name for themselves internationally is 24-year old Melbourne native Barbone. He might be new to the list, but he's not new to rapping, having spit lyrics since he was a teenager back in the 2000's. He cites his inspirations as a who's who of 1990's hip-hop stars such as Onyx, Kool G. Rap, Ras Kass, and Big L. Perhaps one might be disappointed he's not citing fellow Australians as inspiration, but to be honest I wouldn't know which 1990's Aussie rappers to cite myself, as my collection of hip-hop records, discs and tapes was predominantly North American (U.S. and Canada) in those days. At least he's not citing anybody whack. Imagine how horrified we'd be if he was inspired by Vanilla Ice. "One to Self" is his latest evolution following a short stint in the rap group Reverse Psychology, during which time he toured and performed with notable Australian rappers like Fluent Form and Geko among others. The networking has clearly been to his benefit, because "One to Self" has production well matched to his lyrics, neither drowning him in melody or bass nor being so understated it would qualify as minimalistic. In other words, the beats strike a healthy balance, spread out over a half dozen different dudes. On "Big Nose Bandits" Mizaricuts By Dukets pounds the drumbeat as Barbone rails against pop rappers who "are as transparent as Helen Sharp."

Ciecmate :: Chess Sounds Volume 01 :: Broken Tooth/Obese Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Chess Sounds Volume 01]

"Australian hip-hopper Ciecmate has quietly been raising his profile as a full time producer and part time emcee over the past few years. With "Chess Sounds Volume 01" he's attempting to raise it even further, procuring a selection of talented rappers from both Australia and North America, then providing the audio backdrop for all of them to showcase their skills. He wastes no time on the above quoted opener "Cause and Effect" featuring Newsense, a conspiracy theorist tale of state-sponsored terrorism and New World Order harrowing enough to please even Immortal Technique. "All aboard for the war on terror, waterboarding [...] all in the name of the game of border protection." Things are rugged right from the jump. Ciecmate doesn't let up on the throttle much over the next 16 tracks, but the line-up changes from song to song along with the sonic landscape that he procures. Brad Strut gets a rock'n'roll injection on "I Need Change," Tame One gets cavernous booming beats for "Once Again It's On," and Kid Selzy gets a beat dirty and dusty enough for Killah Priest on "Trashem." The one thing you could argue they all have in common is that these are not sunny, cheerful pop tunes. In some ways they're a throwback to the 1990's era of underground rap songs on independent record labels, where each emcee seemed pressed to outgrimey the hot single of the man or woman who came before."

John Graham :: Success in Retrograde EP :: Ego Free Music Group
as reviewed by Aaron Boyce

[Success in Retrograde EP] 
"John Graham is the most remarkably unremarkable name that I have come across in over fifteen years of listening to hip-hop. Rappers are generally known for coming up with some of the most outlandish monikers in the music industry so when an MC records under his birth name, it is surprisingly effective at grabbing your attention. It is not a coincidence that this fits nicely with the name and ethos of the label, Ego Free Music. Although Ego Free is still in its infancy, the vision is very mature and clear; to release positive and thought provoking music that distances itself from the more regular posturing usually associated with hip-hop. I would say for the most part of this seven songs deep introduction to John Graham that they achieve their aim. "The Ground Floor" serves as a great introduction to John Graham's flow which, at times, sounds a little like a socially aware Freeway. The way that he uses the small nuances in his voice, which often sounds like it's on the verge of breaking, to further add to the musical backdrop is certainly reminiscent of Philly's favourite bearded MC. The production of the seven tracks is handled by five different beatmakers who all bring their own individual sound to the table and Graham manages to ride all of the beats with the polish and style of an artist who has been honing his craft for the last fifteen years. "

Hir-O :: The Freakstrumental Joint :: BLAT! Pack
as reviewed by Matt Jost

[The Freakstrumental Joint] 
"As far as black music nomenclature goes, the freak sadly is a nearly extinct species. Things were different in the '70s and '80s. For Nile Rodgers and company, "Le Freak" was simply Chic. George Clinton crooned approvingly, "The girl is a freak, the girl never misses a beat." Sexual Harrassment cryptically (and maybe foresightedly) wished, "I need a freak to be my home computer set." And Rick James found himself nothing short of the "Super Freak." You know, the kind you don't take home to mother. But as the loudmouthed upstart called rap began to drown out soul, funk and disco, freaks became endangered. Whodini may have sensed the impending disappearance when they recorded the hip-hop classic "Freaks Come Out at Night," observing, "In the daytime the streets was clear / You couldn't find a good freak anywhere." Old souls like Too $hort ("Freaky Tales"), Digital Underground ("Freaks of the Industry"), Cee-Lo Green ("Closet Freak") or Devin the Dude ("Freak") still occasionally paid tribute to freakdom, while Adina Howard ("Freak Like Me") was the freak of the week for contemporary R&B (and Ghostface). And lest you forgot, Missy and Timbo made you "Get Ur Freak On" not that long ago. "

Maggz :: Soundscapes:Autumn Selection ::
as reviewed by Emanuel Wallace

[Soundscapes: Autumn Selection]
"So yeah, I'm a little late on this. But if you had the chance to read my
2011 Year In Review, I've been going through some sue me. Maggz is a native of Rochester, New York but he now makes his home in Columbus, Ohio. A versatile artist, Maggz can hold his own both behind the boards and on the microphone. I first became aware of his production on Zero Star's "Don't Look Now" and I took notice of his flow when I reviewed his "Maggnetic Opposites" last year, ironically during the fall. With this project, "Soundscapes: Autumn Selection," Maggz lets the music do the talking for him. As a matter of fact, the only speech we hear is a bit of a montage from an episode of "Space: Above and Beyond" as Captain Shane Vansen played by Kristen Cloke explains how she falls in love in our most colorful season. And thus begins "Autumn Mornings," the first of six instrumental tracks that draw inspiration from various elements of the autumn season. With titles like "Window Fog," "Late Sunrise," "Brown Leaves" and "Early Sunset," listeners are sure to get the feeling of the season."

Scheme :: Life That I Chose :: Molemen Inc.
as reviewed by Daniel Oh

[Life That I Chose] 
"I had a hard time coming to a conclusion about this album. I wanted to like it, everything was there for me to like it, and I want to root for guys like Scheme. The production was well done, the lyrics aren't bad, the songs by themselves are entertaining, and maybe on another day I would love to endorse this album. Still, I have this feeling that I'll forget about this album once I'm done reviewing it. It's not out of any disrespect or insult to Scheme, it's just the way it is. If I look at it from a technical and musical standpoint, the album manages to hold up well. However, if I ask myself "Will I listen to any of these tracks once I send this review in?" The answer, while immersed in a murky cloud of doubt and double guesses, is a no. The album starts off with "Let it Burn". A-Slot, who handles the production for the entire EP, introduces the song with stripped down bass drums, and Scheme begins things by repeating that "this is for the kids!" The beat eventually drops, speeding up the tempo and adding a synth loop and high keys that puts some weight behind the sound. Scheme takes awhile to get warmed up, but he gets into that unconscious mode where his schemes and flow clicks into place. The one problem I have with his flow is that it's hard to understand it."

Yo Gotti :: January 10th (The Mixtape) :: Yo Gotti Music
as reviewed by Pedro 'DJ Complejo' Hernandez

[January 10th (The Mixtape)] 
"Simple title. Simple concept. Yo Gotti's latest mixtape veers from his every popular "Cocaine Music" concept for more than a few reasons. The very first is marketing. Name the mixtape after its release date and advertise both with one short phrase. The second reason is the fact this date holds some significance to the Memphis emcee. His major label "debut" dropped on January 10, 2012 and this mixtape was meant to both undercut and advertise "Live From The Kitchen." Like any rapper, Yo Gotti wants to sell records. Yet, with "Live From The Kitchen" Yo Gotti felt a little disrespected and for good reason. After being in limbo for over 5 years, Yo Gotti only learned of "Live From The Kitchen's" release date when someone told him the album was up for pre-order on iTunes. Ouch. Yo Gotti rightfully calls himself one of the most popular rappers on the mixtape circuit and is unhappy with the unceremonious manner his album has been treated. "January 10th" serves both as a way for Yo Gotti to vent and clear up a few issues and drop some tracks which were left off the retail version of his album. I've reduced mixtapes to a practical process. I listen. Repeat. Then throw out anything I don't see myself listening to again. "

yU :: The Earn :: Mello Music Group
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor

[The Earn]

"DC rapper yU (government name Michael Willingham Jr) first made his mark in 2009 as part of the Diamond District with Oddissee and XO. He released his first solo album in 2010, the excellent "Before Taxes." He dropped his follow-up, "The Earn," in the last weeks of 2011. As good as "Before Taxes" was, "The Earn" is an even stronger offering. "The Earn" is about earning money and respect. YU is all about earning money and respect rather than just taking it. He raps about making money honestly and legally, through hard work, skill, and talent. "They're going to give me what I'm worth, nothing less/I work hard, plus my word is bond" he raps on the title track. He calls himself the Humble King, and the tag fits. In both beats and rhymes, yU is subtle, understated, professional, and expert. He is a strong lyricist and rapper, peeling off complex lines effortlessly. He gives a masters class in how to write a rhyme on "First." Song after song offers insights and reflections that you rarely see in pop music.YU manages to make these observations without seeming cheesy or preachy. "Blind" talks about how we don't see the things in front of you; "I Believe" is about believing in yourself and something bigger than you; "Better Man" is about striving to be best you can be; "Delay" is about the need to slow down and not rush through life."

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