Sunday May 27, 2018

The (W)rap Up - Week of October 9, 2012
Posted by Emanuel Wallace at Tuesday, October 16th, 2012 at 1:00PM :: Email this article :: Print this article

If you missed any of the new reviews this past week including Death Grips' "No Love Deep Web" then do yourself a favor and check out this week's edition of the (W)rap Up!

[click the cover to see the art on their website] Death Grips :: No Love Deep Web
Third Worlds

Author: Patrick Taylor

"What the hell was Epic Records thinking when they signed Sacramento punk/noise/rap act Death Grips? They were probably thinking, "with a little finessing, we could make this appeal to the Warped Tour/Hot Topic crowd who would have been buying Limp Bizkit records ten years ago, AND appeal to hipsters who are exploring death metal and looking for rap music that is still threatening." They were probably thinking that given drummer/producer Zach Hill's long career in the music business, he would be a rational employee who understood the uncomfortable but necessary compromises that have to be made between artistic needs and business needs. Whatever Epic was thinking, whatever relationship they thought they had with Death Grips fell apart in a spectacular way last week. When Death Grips wanted to release a follow-up to their well-reviewed major debut "The Money Store" seven months after its release, Epic decided that maybe releasing two albums in one year wasn't the best strategy, and the new materials should be pushed back to 2014. Rather than merely take to Twitter to do some internet bitching, Death Grips released their album for free on their website. To pour salt in their label's wounds, they made the album cover a photo of an erect penis with the album title written on it with a Sharpie. "U.S law states you must be 18 years of age to view graphic sexual material," says a caption under the photo on their website. " We consider this art."That is the key to understanding Death Grips: they consider what they are doing art. It what makes their music more than just hardcore bro-rap, shouted rhymes over noisy beats. They are going for something more than simply making a soundtrack for bar fights and drug abuse. Listening to "No Love Deep Web," I can't help but wonder if maybe the record label had a point. Death Grips' music is always an all-out assault, with everything cranked up to eleven. Ride has two modes: yelling about sex, drugs, and mayhem, or rapping menacingly about sex, drugs, and mayhem. He's doing more of the latter on this album, but he sounds even more unhinged than on previous releases."
Audible Doctor :: I Think That... ::
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[I Think That...] You already know. At least I think you do. Don't you? Audible Doctor is type ill on the instrumental. The long-time affiliate of the Fat Beats formed fam called Brown Bag AllStars has spent the last two years simultaneously increasing his wallet AND his reputation as the go-to guy when you need a banger for your album. There may be more famous producers who demand a bigger check for their throaway loops, but when you call the Doctor to perform surgery, you're going to get twice as nice for half the price. Quiet as kept though Audible Doctor has been getting his Dr. Dre on though, and by that I mean he's stepping from behind the boards to take the mic and showcase his rhymes. "I Think That..." is him playing a larger role on his own beats, moreso than at any point previous, over a stellar but short 33 minute selection of beats. Though he does share the spotlight at times with dope artists like Chaundon on "Success (Part 1)" and Von Pea on "F.U.B.U." it's nice to hear him spitting for dolo on his on tracks on "Andy Kaufman." For those not old enough to get the references, look up the sitcom "Taxi" then look up the movie "Man on the Moon" and go from there. His point doesn't really need the cultural allusions though, because the beat is dope and flow is on point, putting across the fact that hip-hop has gone whack and needs to be brought back. That's a recurring theme throughout "I Think That..." found on songs like "Genuine" featuring Blacastan and hip-hop legend Wise Intelligent. There's a strong emphasis on bringing back a bygone era here, hip-hop songs which have a point and not just a good beat and a catchy hook. "

Background Noise Crew :: Everybody Does This Volume Two :: B.N.C.
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Everybody Does This Volume Two]"The premise of DJ Complejo's previous Background Noise review was that the Midwest is full of an underrated assortment of hip-hop talent. He even postulates that B.N.C. could be the Twin Cities equivalent of the Living Legends collective out in California - individually talented but highly praised for the group albums they release showing the depth of their musical and lyrical skills. One other comparison Pedro makes which the Background Noise Crew makes themselves - if you're a fan of Atmosphere you'll like their shit too. Listening to "Everybody Does This Volume Two," I can't dispute any of the theories put forth so far. For those who are meeting them for the first time though, the group's core six is Egypto Knuckles, Phingaz, T.Q.D., Analyrical, Status Reign and ToneKrusher Smith. They also have some groups WITHIN the group though,such as Green Sketch (T.Q.D. & Phingaz), ZOMBIExZOMBIE ( JL Magee & Legend Has It), Truebadours (Phingaz & Analyrical) and so on. This leads to a whole new theory Complejo didn't have a chance to postulate - Background Noise is the Midwestern version of Odd Future. They can endlessly spin out side projects with a rotating line-up of the group's core members as OF does, but the analogy ends there as B.N.C. doesn't have a TV show (yet) or an obsession with Jerry Sandusky (thanfkully). The hard copy version of "Everybody Does This Volume Two" lists which derivative of the collective performs each song on the back, which results in this being both a group album and a compilation. "

Devlin :: Watchtower EP :: Island Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Watchtower EP]"Devlin is a relatively young man not just in the British rap scene but in life in general. "It's funny how time flies, I'm 22 now in 2012/with the Olympics here on our doorstep, it's time to welcome the world." Apparently that line on "London City, Pt. 2" was recorded before he turned 23 on May 7th, but either way he's the new blood in a place that has an old hip-hop culture, far older than most Yanks are aware of. For those of you on the other side of the Pond, I'm telling you what you already know, but as this is part of our UK month I feel it's important to address the know-nots who may not understand that Devlin grew up immersed in this culture. It's only natural that he grew up wanting to be a hip-hop superstar too. As we've established that Devlin is the newest addition to a scroll that has been getting longer for some time now, you may better understand where I'm going from that I was at the very least SURPRISED that he and British singing sensation Ed Sheeran, a boy who is two years younger than him, would choose to cover "All Along the Watchtower" by Bob Dylan. This song is not only older than I am, it's older than their combined ages TOGETHER. It came out on Dylan's album "John Wesley Harding" way way back in 1967. If I had to imagine a scenario for what and why they would have been inspired by this song, the only one I can come up with off the top of my head is the Watchmen film that came out in 2009, in which a Hendrix cover plays a featured role. Cultural gaps aside, I can't fault their take on the song, which draws inspiration from both Dylan's original version and the Hendrix cover. Besides Sheeran doing a good job of revisiting the original sung lines, Devlin's rap about trying to "make sense of all the madness/in a world full of money, full of tears, full of war" certainly reflects the turbulent political environment and "flower power" of the era the original hails from."

DJ Fricktion :: The #Burban Mixtape :: Bandcamp
as reviewed by Matt Jost

[#Burban Mixtape] "Almost exactly ten years ago I faced the challenge of covering a release called " Presents No Looking Back" for RapReviews. With a little help from our editor-in-chief I voiced my uneasiness about ethnical categories within hip-hop. I'm far from color-blind myself and wrestle with these issues probably more than the average rap listener, but at the end of the day I'm convinced that hip-hop has to be a level playing field where, I know you heard this before, it ain't where you're from, it's where you're at. From the perspective of the people who were involved in (while the website is defunct, the banner is still present on various social media platforms) and in the compilation, Asian American hip-hop artists might still be in need of a support system. They would probably see it as a validation if they learned of "The #Burban Mixtape," a showcase of British Asian rappers and singers. Ironically when it comes to demographics the US and UK have different understandings of the adjective Asian. Correlating with where the majority of Asian immigrants come from, Asian Americans are usually of Korean, Japanese, Filipino and Chinese descent, while British Asians are mainly from India and Pakistan. What this suggests is that "The #Burban Mixtape" will be a largely internal affair. 'Burban' is a relatively new tag, a composite of 'brown' and 'urban,' designating hip-hop and R&B made by British Asian artists. It aims to replace the term 'urban desi' with the object of creating a musical identity outside of the South Asian/subcontinental ('desi') market. Going from one ethnic label to another seems like jumping out of the frying pan into the fire but some kind of typification is inevitable when forging a movement."

Pacewon & Mr. Green :: The Only Number That Matters Is Won :: Raw Poetix Records
as reviewed by Matt Jost

[The Only Number That Matters Is Won] "When they first got together for "The Only Color That Matters Is Green," Pacewon & Mr. Green landed on a deserted spot on the map that isn't crowded just yet but whose population increases every year. There's a renaissance of dusty loops, dirty drums and passionate raps in process. The connections are loose, but acts like Action Bronson, Roc Marciano, Torae, Diamond District, Random Axe, Bekay, Celph Titled, etc. all feel an obligation towards ancient East Coast rap tradition. The duo's astonishing '08 effort was uneven at times but had many moments of musical grace and lyrical maturity that make it stand out to this day. Pacewon, speaking his clout since 1996 when he was part of the Fugees' "The Score" cast, managed what few of his peers have - to incorporate the wisdom that comes with age into rap music that makes noise like in the days of old. It was, if this reviewer had any say in it, one of very few modern day East Coast releases that could hope to become a hip-hop classic. Four years later they return with "The Only Number That Matters Is Won," a title that suggests nothing less than a complimentary piece to "The Only Color That Matters Is Green." Compared to his days with the Outsidaz, Pacewon has simplified his lyrical approach significantly, to a point where simple borders on simplistic. There's something endearing about how he imagines himself into different movie roles on "Big Screen," but he fails to add another, more adult layer to it. He remains the kid daydreaming about being up there on the big screen. Likewise he can't back up "Something to Say" (notably a duet with none other than Masta Ace), one of whose statements reads: "Like Ellen DeGeneres you fags are funny." And that's coming from a rapper praising himself as a breath of "Fresh Air" only a few tracks later. "

Raxstar :: Late on Time :: {self-distributed}
as reviewed by Matt Jost

[Late on Time] "With a moniker straight out of the rap name generator, Raxstar has some convincing rapping to do. But what's first on your agenda these days when you want to research a fresh face? You hit up YouTube. The UK MC has a number of impressive videos to his name. "Name on the Poster," "The Other Man" and "Jaaneman" are all songs that in my opinion belong on an official album, sonically appealing, lyrically engaging, just well produced and visualized rap music with a chance to chart. None of them appear on "Late on Time," though, which is, you guessed it, one of those mixtapes that signalize the artist is waiting on standby. On the opening title track he doesn't lament his situation but rather looks forward, assuring himself that he "still got love for the music." With lyrics like "You can't stop a star from shinin' / or the sun from risin' / Everybody's gonna get a chance to blow up, you just gotta have the right song and timin'," "Late on Time" delivers the simplistic pep talk today's up-and-coming rappers like to give themselves. And of course once is not enough, so we get the same message in "Journey" and the more forceful version of it in "Hold Your Mouth." Perhaps aware of some juvenile tendencies in his attitude, Raxstar interprets Busta Rhymes' "New York Shit" as "Grown Man Shit," not exactly a new statement either. Further borrowed beats include Kanye West's "Runaway" and Rick Ross' "Aston Martin Music," two occasions where Raxstar comes across as being really inspired by the music, not merely on the pursuit of popular beats. Joined by RKZ, he represents "Asians in Luton" with flexible flows and ends the official part of "Late on Time" with a markedly higher level of introspection and inspiration over Common's "BE" closer "It's Your World." Notable are Raxstar's rap versions of Mike Posner's "Cooler Than Me" and Martin Solveig's "Hello," making them both his own with detailed and witty writing."

Roots Manuva :: Brand New Second Hand :: Big Dada Records
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor

[Brand New Second Hand]"There are almost a million British Jamaicans living in the UK, many of whom either came over or are the children of people who came over in the 1950s when the UK encouraged Jamaican immigration to shore up their post-war labor shortage. Those immigrants brought their music with them, filling South London with bass booming out of sound systems. Roots Manuva was born Rodney Hylton Smith in South London, the son of a Jamaican Pentecostal preacher. He grew up surrounded by reggae music, and its influence has stayed with him. Roots Manuva's flow combines elements of both hip-hop and reggae. His British accent has a faint Jamaican lilt, and his rapping contains some of melodic barking of a dancehall DJ. He also inherited some of his father's oratory skills, which come across in the self-confident righteousness of his rhymes. He spends some time on hedonism, but also gets into deeper subject matter. Reviews at the time of the album's release praised "Brand New Second Hand" for its conscious lyrics. While it is true that the lyrics are conscious, they don't come off like the same oasis of thoughtfulness in a desert of materialism and artificiality that they must have thirteen years ago. Not that there aren't just as many hip-hop songs about partying and bullshit in 2012 as there were in 1999, but there is also more counterprogramming available for those who like substance with their beats. I listened to this album several times before began to hone in on what Roots Manuva was saying and not just how he was saying it. The man has a nice flow, and he could make the phone book sound interesting. His thick accent and liberal use of British and Jamaican slang didn't help in my Yankee comprehension of the lyrics, either. Roots Manuva also doesn't hit the listener over the head with the message, either. He weaves it into his rhymes in a way that is organic and unobtrusive."

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