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The (W)rap Up - Week of August 28, 2012
Posted by Emanuel Wallace at Tuesday, September 4th, 2012 at 1:00PM :: Email this article :: Print this article

If you missed any of the new reviews this past week, including Prodigy's "HNIC 3" then do yourself a favor and check out this week's edition of the (W)rap Up!

[H.N.I.C. 3] Prodigy :: H.N.I.C. 3
Infamous Records/Red Music

Author: Pete T.

"The original "H.N.I.C." was the product of a nurturing environment. Released at the height of New York's rap dominance, a time when Gotham rappers dominated airwaves well beyond Hot 97's range and album sales enjoyed a pre-iTunes crest, it was quite indicative of the scene's marketability that a solo album from Mobb Deep, by no means a household name, could reach gold sales in a month. A year after 1999's "Murda Muzik" scaled the charts, Bandana P enlisted the support of an almost entirely Queensbridge-bred cast of MCs, solicited beats from the Alchemist, Rockwilder, Just Blaze, Ric Rude, Bink, and old pal Havoc, and enjoyed the fruits of the boroughs' widespread well-being with a commercial and critical success. On the classic Mobb Deep records, P endeared himself to untold millions with bleak street narratives that neither glorified nor condemned his wicked ways, balancing a keen, observant eye with inward-looking reflection to speculate as to what it might all mean. Young Prodigy stopped short of both celebration and despairing, and I can't help but feel that his older self struggles with the same conundrum, now the veteran of a rap game in which his artistic renderings of the lifestyle provided him a comfortable living but also exposed him as his personal life publicly deteriorated. Things looked bad when a vengeful Jay-Z projected a childhood ballet photo for a sold out Giants Stadium at 2001's Summer Jam, but that proved the tip of the iceberg as a struggling Mobb Deep signed for an ill-fated stint at G-Unit, the end of which roughly corresponded with a lengthy prison bid for the sickle-cell anemic. "

Brenton Brown :: The Brenton Brown Affair :: B. Brown Music/New World Music Group
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
[The Brenton Brown Affair] 
"There are several different versions of "The Brenton Brown Affair" floating around the internet right now, but for the purposes of this review we'll concentrate on the retail released version which is eight tracks long. If you download a bootleg or a mixtape version of B. Brown's release, your mileage may vary. One thing all copies seem to have in common though is a guest appearance by Emilio Rojas on "To the Top." The R.E.G.I.M.E. is responsible for all eight of Brenton Brown's tracks on this "Affair" and that's the reason there's a consistency to the music throughout. "Put it Down" has the sound of a knockoff DJ Khaled radio hit, with Young Joe playing the role of a Chris Brown or T-Pains singing the hook. "Owww" is your standard braggadocious "life ain't fair but it is for me" type track with a minimal beat and hook that can easily be remembered and imitated. "Double Dare" asks a daring serious of questions: "What if I'm the next Jigga? ... And what if I'm the next Biggie, will you stop me early?/Cause if that's your intention I will stop you niggaz firmly." Among the best of these is the bouncing "Quit Your Bullshitting" featuring Nick London and Benjamin Landsford. In terms of his technical execution there's nothing wrong with B. Brown - his diction is clear, his delivery is on time, and it comes across like he's a natural spitter who has been doing this for years. The backing music is well mixed with his rhymes, and although it often comes across as mimicking what has worked for other popular artists, that doesn't make any of it bad per se. "

Chubb Rock :: The One :: Select Records
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **

as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[The One]

"As recently as 2009, the venerable hip-hop artist could be heard "Bridging the Gap" between the Golden Era of rap and the Now Generation, but before then you could have been forgiven for asking "Whatever happened to Chubb Rock?" In fact you could even been forgiven for asking "Who IS Chubb Rock?" In a culture that celebrates its pioneers and prominent recording artists, the quiet and humble Chubb Rock is often overlooked, simply because he's not out there asking for it. He certainly deserves it though. Born in Kingston, Jamaica but Brooklyn by trade, the large in charge rapper who described himself as "6 foot 3, 260 and change" was collaborating with hip-hop producer and first cousin Hitman Howie Tee throughout the late 1980's on hits like "Ya Bad Chubbs" that were favorites anywhere hip-hop could be heard on radio or basic cable. It was 1991's "The One" though that really broke him out in a big way. "The Chubbster" showcased his nimble tongue, passionate flow, and ability to promote a positive mindset without coming off as cornball. Though it's less and less common for one producer to create an entire album for a rap star these days, there's no doubt that Chubb Rock only needed one FOR "The One." Much like his heavyset cousin, Howie Tee's contributions to hip-hop are often overlooked or disregarded, but his catalogue of work for Select Records defined not only that label but a whole generation of hip-hop. "Treat Em Right" bridged the gap between boom bap and new jack beautifully."

One Sixth :: Electronic Mail :: Pang Productions/Obese Records
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor

[Electronic Mail] 
"No one can accuse Australian rapper One Sixth of lacking ambition. He decided to make his debut a concept album about digital communication. All of the lyrics and song titles tie into the theme, especially around how much miscommunication there is. He's not taking the easy road out lyrically, either. He only lightly touches on the standard rap subjects of sex, partying, and being the best rapper around. He spends most of the album delving into the many tragic stories in the world ("SMS") and getting romantic. Yes, that's right, a rapper who is not Drake getting romantic. Even more surprising, he makes it work. "Crossed Wires" has a mellow beat that sounds like a reworking of Lil Kim's "Crush On You," only without the vulgarity. Where most rappers come off as arrogant when dealing with the ladies, One Sixth admits to being dumbstruck by a woman. Candice Monique makes an appearance as the woman in question, and her verses contain a sweetness you don't often hear in a rap song. Even more unusual for a rap song, it's about finding love, not lust. "Crossed Wires" is followed by "The Night Market," in which One Sixth cautions about the steep price you pay in order to be with some of the women you meet at bars. "Think of You" is another love song, with One Sixth rapping "I'm sure there is a supreme being sitting in his seat beaming with pride the night he made you." It's not all wine and candlelights, though. He teams up with Mantra and Mandz to get raunchy on "Sick." "SMS (Six Million Stories)" is about a woman in an abusive relationship with her cancer-ridden baby daddy, and approaches "Precious" levels of misery. "

Plural Clarity :: Clearly, There's a Problem Here... :: Plural Clarity
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor

[Clearly, There's a Problem Here...] 
"In the 1980s, Daniel Johnston, a musician from Austin, Texas, made a series of homemade recordings that became cult favorites among indie rockers. Nirvana's Kurt Cobain was photographed in a Daniel Johnston shirt, and everyone from TV on the Radio to the Flaming Lips have covered Johnston's music. Johnston's recordings are amateurish, done direct to tape and made with a cheap guitar and cheap keyboard. What his fans responded to wasn't the production quality, but rather the honesty and pure emotion that Johnston managed get across despite his rudimentary production values. I kept thinking of Daniel Johnston as I listened to Plural Clarity's sophomore release, "'Clearly, There's A Problem Here...'" From the hand-drawn album artwork to the dodgy production values, this looks and feels like outsider art. And in a way it is; Plural Clarity has been operating outside the mainstream record industry for his entire fifteen year career. He released two albums on the now-defunct Life For The Better records. He lived in Lancaster, California before relocating to Lithonia, Georgia, both suburbs far outside a major music city. The music he makes is outside of mainstream hip-hop too, focusing on sincerity and earnestness over swagger. "

Rapsody :: The Idea of Beautiful :: Jamla Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[The Idea of Beautiful] 
"The signs that Rapsody has been annointed "next to blow" are everywhere that you look. She's the first female artist signed to 9th Wonder's imprint Jamla Records, and at least half of the tracks on "The Idea of Beautiful" are produced by him. Given he's one of the most important hip-hop producers of the last 15 years, endorsements like that come along once in a blue moon. Their own press release goes even further though, dubbing her as the PROTEGE of 9th, meaning for better or worse she represents her mentor in every way. Phrases like "impeccable craftsmanship" and "one of the most promising artists today" are thrown around willy-nilly to the point even the most open-minded of readers would start to raise a Dwayne Johnson-esque eyebrow at the hyperbole within. Thankfully any fears that the case for her place in hip-hop have been overstated are quickly put aside once "The Idea of Beautiful" gets played. Vocally she's a successor to Lauryn Hill, or is perhaps what Hill would be today if she hadn't won all those Grammy Awards and seemingly flipped her lid. It's not just that she has an eerily similar vocal tone and delivery to Ms. Hill, it's the intellect behind the words that makes her the 2012 version of L-Boogie. It is therefore entirely apropo that she lyrically references a woman who is clearly both mentor and inspiration on the 9th Wonder produced "Believe Me." "

Touch & The Dirty Sample :: The Fly :: Neferiu Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[The Fly] 
"Neferiu Records makes no bones about the fact they're underground. In fact every page of their website has a lush green carpet of grass sitting on about an inch of topsoil, with all of the actual content you read underneath it. To the unitiated it's just a funky design element, but to those in the know the subtext of the image is a visual reminder of their core values. It's both aesthetically pleasing and a tad intimidating. It's an unsubtle reminder that while their website is a public presentation for all, the music they produce goes deeper than an audience weaned on pop radio rap may be prepared for. "The Fly" is a collaboration between renowned Canadian rapper Touch and in-house Neferiu producer The Dirty Sample. Speaking of a lack of subtlety, if you guessed there would be Jeff Goldblum samples on this album, you judged correctly. Like Seth Brundle himself you could split this matter at a molecular level, with a proton of praise for choosing a sci-fi subject that could lure in skeptics, or a neutron of negativity for being so obvious and not going a direction that befits their underground values. Since this is clearly a case of the quantum effect where the value can only be known by the one observing it at the moment it's observed, I choose to view this as "the cat is alive" and praise them for at least making the attempt to reach a broader audience. "

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