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The (W)rap Up - Week of December 15, 2009
Posted by Emanuel Wallace at Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009 at 12:00AM :: Email this article :: Print this article

Timbaland :: Timbaland Presents Shock Value II
Blackground Records/Interscope
Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon

"There are only a few producers out there in rap who can get away with putting their name on an album and be a bigger star than anyone rapping on their tracks. There are even fewer who can crossover from hardcore hip-hop heads to become a mainstream household name. There's only ONE who has scored chart-topping hits for Bubba Sparxxx, Justin Timberlake and Missy Elliott while still managing to get away with freestyling on their songs"

Blee :: The Black Lion Chronicles Chapter 2: Respect Your Legacy :: Cross Seas Entertainment
as reviewed by Emanuel Wallace

"The press release included with this album addressed my initial question of "Who the hell is Blee?" As it turns out, Blee is actually an acronym for Black Lion of Eternal Excellence. The name was bestowed upon him by his father and it has stuck with him. He's lived in a few places that range from the Caribbean to Canada to the UK, and as a result, Blee's music is a mixture of Caribbean swagger, the passion of the American hustle, and a slight touch of the British die-hard attitude...or at least that's what the press kit says."

Chokeules :: Hypergraphia :: Dehsloot Productions/Backburner Recordings
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

"Ladle Rat Rotten Hoot? Dehs loot eht, n the tool shed. Confuzzled? No probalo. Like Chokules I'm playing games with the printed word. Hypergraphia can be writing sentences that can be read as palindromes, or converting words into phonetic similars, such as Ladle Rat Rotten Hoot sounding like "Little Red Riding Hood" with an accent if you read it out loud. It also doesn't have to be anything of these things - it can simply be an obsession with writing. Chokeules claims to suffer from this syndrome on this full length LP, but it's far from a debut musically. Perform Chokules has, Aceyalone with, Lootpack with, the Dude Devin with, the Sensei El with, Canada and stages United States on. This album shows Chokeules is experienced in hip-hop and ready to play word games with the listeners worldwide on a 14 song CD."

Kam Moye :: Splitting Image :: MYX Music Label
as reviewed by Eric Sirota

"Still, like 25th Hour, the work is first and foremost about the struggles of its protagonist. KM discusses himself with a well-rounded honesty nearly without parallel. On "Give Out, Give In," over a lonely, minimalist jazz-beat, the MC finds a remarkable middle ground between emo and uplifting in an authentic and vulnerable discussion of his "ten year bout" with depression. Concededly, our b-boy speaks well of himself a great deal, but instead of engaging in bland self-aggrandizement, he portrays himself as an adult who has been battling with himself for years and is finally winning. Lines like "I feel reborn like a Christian basking in holy water/I feel reformed like a prisoner free holding his daughter," speak to a genuine and gradually developed self-esteem, not an over-compensating machismo."

Kottonmouth Kings :: Hidden Stash 420 :: Suburban Noize Records
as reviewed by Emanuel Wallace

"For over ten years, the Kottonmouth Kings have been ignored by most mainstream media outlets while continuing to release album after album. In the process, their fan base has continued to flourish and grow, much like the pot and mushrooms they openly indulging in. A common belief is that marijuana usage expands the mind and allows for more creativity. With the Kings, I'll take that as the truth due to the fact that it has been quite a while since the Kings released an album that didn't have at least twenty tracks on it. Just a year after the release of "The Green Album", the Kings return with the fourth installment of their popular "Hidden Stash" compilations. This particular joint (pun intended) consists of forty tracks, split between two discs, and features guest appearances from the likes of Tech N9ne, X-Clan and Potluck."

The Leathers :: The Leathers :: Easy Tiger Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

"Having first been introduced to Atherton almost a year ago to the date of this review, I was pleasantly surprised to learn of his new group The Leathers. While Ath is certainly dope enough to hold down any project on the solo tip, collaboration is definitely where it's at in 2009, so I can't fault him linking up with a like-minded artist named PBRAIN to drop a group album. Their self-titled debut is described as an EP, but at ten songs long it's a little more than what I usually think of as an extended play - yet simultaneously a little less than what I think of as a long player. Perhaps that just goes to show how outdated these terms are as vinyl holdovers in a largely digital age, even though neither this reviewer nor either of the artists on it would knock the value of wax to hip-hop."

Nomak :: Calm :: Huge Soul Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

"Let it be said that Nomak's "Calm" was a fine choice to represent for the Japanese hip-hop sound. Unfortunately I can't give you much in the way of biographical info about this producer - he's got a MySpace page with no bio and a personal website with a bio painted in kanji that I can't even cut and paste to translate. My apologies to the artist and/or his fans. So instead of telling you what I can't, here's what I can say about Nomak - "Calm" is a very fitting name for this beautiful album. If you can picture yourself at a hanami (cherry blossom) festival, enjoying the tranquil beauty of nature and taking in the mono no aware of it all (the ephemeral and transcendent nature of life) all while listening to shakuhachi set to a smooth hip-hop beat, then you've got the very essence of Nomak down before even listening to "Calm.""

Snoop Dogg :: Malice N Wonderland :: Priority/Capitol Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

"The 2-1-3's own "Top Dogg" of hip-hop is virtually synonymous with hip-hop at this point. He's fought the law AND won, he's got more platinum on his walls than Paul Wall has in his mouth and he's loved everywhere from the East coast to the Dirty South. At this point Snoop Dogg has only one enemy who can disrupt his career - himself. His iconic status and name recognition could carry even a mediocre album to the kind of sales most artists dream about, so if Calvin Broadus just said "fuck it" and phoned it in with no enthusiasm he'd still win anyway. Artists who reach that level have to carefully check themselves to make sure they're peaking creatively and still staying relevant to their loyal audience who has been down since day one."

Thundamentals :: Sleeping On Your Style :: Obese Records
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor

"Steve 'Flash' Juon made a pretty convincing argument for Aussie hip-hop while reviewing Illy, and I've reviewed a handful of Aussie hip hop albums myself, so I won't spend too much time defending the genre. From the few acts I've encountered on Obese Records, namely Drapht, I know that they specialize in more positive, conscious hip hop. Thundamentals fit that category. Comprised of DJ Morgs, Tommy Fiasko, Jeswon, and Tuka, the group's eponymous EP was named "Best EP of the 2008" by After listening to their debut LP, "Sleeping On Your Style," it's not hard to see what people got excited about."

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