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The (W)rap Up - Week of November 13, 2012
Posted by Emanuel Wallace at Tuesday, November 20th, 2012 at 1:00PM :: Email this article :: Print this article

If you missed any of the new reviews this past week including Saigon's "The Greatest Story Never Told Chapter 2: Bread and Circuses" then do yourself a favor and check out this week's edition of the (W)rap Up!

[The Greatest Story Never Told Chapter 2: Bread and Circuses]Saigon :: The Greatest Story Never Told Chapter 2: Bread and Circuses
Suburban Noize Records

Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon

"If anybody knows the difference it's Brian Daniel Carenard (real) a/k/a Saigon (rap). The popular New York rapper doesn't need to make anything up when it comes to his life - in fact he never even considered a career in hip-hop until he was already doing a prison bid. After bubbling with independent releases and mixtapes for over a decade - during which time he appeared on Entourage, beefed with Prodigy, and got stabbed in the head with a wine bottle - his long-awaited retail album "The Greatest Story Never Told" finally came out in 2011. The potential for a letdown after a build-up for that long was tremendous, but if anything Mr. Carenard OVERDELIVERED on his Suburban Noize debut, creating a timeless album that will be studied and imitated for decades.The challenge for Saigon on "The Greatest Story Never Told Chapter 2: Bread and Circuses" is not that he has to live up to his reputation any more, because he's already proven all the hype about him was true. Now he faces the true career killer in the rap industry - being a victim of your own success. When you deliver a classic album, anything that follows it is judged in comparison to it. It's easy to call that an unfair standard, but when you're capable of greatness, it's not unrealistic to expect more of the same. The rapper in question should have the benefit of time and experience to grow and mature, and the reputation of being a lyrical maestro that should attract all of hip-hop's top producers to hook you up. The only impediment to success should in theory be your own effort put in - if you do everything you did before and work just as hard or a little bit harder, BANG you fired off another classic. In practice that doesn't happen for 99.9% of artists - rap or otherwise. Lasting 2-3 years on top is rare, and having a Nas type run is damn near impossible."

Apollo Brown & Guilty Simpson :: The Dice Game :: Mello Music Group
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor

[The Dice Game]"I probably shouldn't admit this, being a second-generation San Francisco Giants fan, but part of me was rooting for the Detroit Tigers during the World Series. San Francisco won two years ago, and I felt like Detroit needed the win more. Part of my divided loyalties is due to the fact that I have family in Michigan, but mostly it's because Detroit is producing some of the best rappers in the game. "The Dice Game" pairs Detroit beatmaker Apollo Brown with Detroit MC Guilty Simpson for sixteen tracks of grimey raps over dusty breaks. Apollo Brown has been busy since coming on the scene a few years ago. In the past three years he's released collaborations with Hassaan Mackey, Boog Brown, and OC. He's also released a remix album, produced an album with Journalist 103 as The Left, and put out several beat albums. All of these projects have gotten love from critics, and this site gave his collaboration with OC a perfect 10. Guilty Simpson is no slouch, either. He's released two solo albums, and an album with Sean Price and Black Milk on last year's excellent Random Axe project. Apollo Brown is one of the best producers doing classic sample-based hip-hop today. He manages to flip soul samples with boom-bap drums in a way that never sounds anachronistic or tired. Hip-hop traditionalists walk a fine line between respecting classic hip-hop and stagnating. Apollo Brown carries on the tradition of sample-based hip-hop without sounding like he's running out of ideas or merely imitating what came before. He's kind of like the Jack White of hip-hop, reinvigorating those old school sounds and carrying them into this century. Granted, none of the beats here are groundbreaking, but they all sound good."

Bru-Tang Clan (Akrobatik) :: Enter Tha 63 Chambahs :: {self-distributed)
as reviewed by Matt Jost

[Enter Tha 63 Chambahs] "That unfailing source of rap's lyrical findings, The Original Hip-Hop Lyrics Archive, is able to provide answers where the average rap listener is stumped. Like say you were wondering what rappers think of when they think of ice hockey - if they do at all. As far as names dropped go, Wayne Gretzky, the Great One, is by far the most frequently mentioned player in rap lyrics. But the fact that rappers have also referenced the likes of Steve Yzerman, Mario Lemieux, Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Eric Lindros, Richard Zednick and Chris Pronger hints at a familiarity with the game that may not be solely based on playing video games. The cool thing about 'rap metaphors' (an umbrella term for all sorts of analogies) is that they can establish a connection where there seemingly is none (much like samples musically). So you think rap and hockey have nothing in common? Common the rapper might have felt similarly when he quipped, "I stand out like a nigga on a hockey team," but he still connected them both with his analogy. 2Pac's Outlawz, while insisting on the rap = black, hockey = white distinction, drew an even closer comparison, repeatedly making the point that "the streets is black hockey." Meanwhile MC Serch used the motif to underline the fact that he wasn't black: "Got crazy game, so no one can stop me / But hey yo - I'm white, I guess my game is hockey." "

Lil Fame & Termanology :: Lil Fame & Termanology = Fizzyology :: Brick Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Lil Fame & Termanology = Fizzyology]"There's little doubt that M.O.P. is among hip-hop's most venerated hardrocks, a tandem of screaming Brownsville emcees matched only in NYC machismo by the earliest works of Onyx. While the greatest strength and subsequent biggest weakness of Onyx was that Sticky Fingaz always outshined his comrades, the M.O.P. team of Billy Danze and Lil Fame always seemed perfectly matched to each other in lyrical delivery and intensity. Though an infrequent song here or there would feature a cameo from only one of the two, it never felt quite right unless they both showed up to destroy a remix. Womack and Danzini seemed totally inseparable...... until now. When the idea of "Fizzyology" first started circulating online I was naturally intrigued, though of the two Termanology has much more of a track record of collaborative projects. In fact I can't think of a single "Fame + X = Group" other than "Fame + Danze = M.O.P." which just goes to show how odd "Fizzyology" can be at first. If you're a long time M.O.P. fan (and I am) you're used to Fame and Danze completing each other's lines, yelling out ad libs during each other's verses, punctuating each other's punchlines, and generally one-upping each other in verbally embodying testosterone. Termanology is not "soft" by any means, but you wouldn't be wrong for wondering how the relatively mellow rapper (at least by comparison) could match with Fizzy Womack. As it turns out though "From the Streets" proves that Termanology CAN be amped up to Fame's level - not to mention guest star Freeway!Of course it doesn't hurt that Statik Selektah produced a sweet track for all three to rap over, nor that DJ Premier laces the incredibly beautifully understated "Play Dirty" with Busta Rhymes and Styles P. The piano loop would sound awkward and wrong in anything other than a hip-hop context, but the minor keys mix with the banging bass and scratched in DMX drop "my hands stay dirty cause I play dirty" in the way only Primo can do to make your neck hair stand up."

Mad Dukez & Fresh Kils :: Monsters :: DeepThinka Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Monsters]"What do you get when one of Toronto's top producers links up with one of Buffalo's fastest rising emcees? You get MONSTERS of course. The five song "Monsters" EP is a prelude to a full length effort that Dukez and Kils are working on entitled "Gettin' Gatsby'd," a fact evidenced by the cinematic dialogue opening "Started Small." That album is described by the artists as "a conceptual album paying homage to the roaring twenties" but the key word here is "homage." I don't think any of the flappers of the 1920's danced to beats like these in speakeasies while drinking bathtub gin, and for that I'm glad, because Kils has been and CONTINUES to be on the cutting edge of production. The things he can do with a MPC live have to be seen to be believed, but to get down with "Started Small" all you have to do is listen.The EP itself seems more inspired by Halloween than 1920's socialites, not just because of the title but because the accompanying artwork has someone who looks like Andy Milonakis unleashing a blood-curdiling scream. Don't be scared homey. Dukez is a humble and thoughtful artist who lets his feelings be known on songs like "Maddist Anthem." Overcoming the doubters is a theme for Dukez as he found "a little resistance/as I started the imprint" but nonetheless was able to achieve his dreams. Kils merges boom bap with big bass bottom on tracks like "Stupid Hard," a song Dukez often uses to close out his live sets due to the energetic vibe. Dukez brings out his inner braggart over the boom and pound: "Money like Republicans/freer than a Democrat [...] I see pussy, youse a thundercat/Countin up the dollars, fillin up a duffel bag." It doesn't cut the razor's edge of hip-hop, but it's undeniably head-nodding. "

royceBIRTH :: the REBIRTH :: {self-distributed)
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor

[the REBIRTH] "Quick, name all the rapper/producers who are equally good at both. Having trouble coming up with any? Same here. Almost every rapper/producer is better at one craft than the other. Madlib and Dre are both brilliant producers and mediocre rappers. Black Milk is a better rapper than either of them, but his rhymes don't quite equal his beats. The RZA has always been one of the weakest MCs in the Wu: he's fine for a bar or two, but his solo albums prove that his greatest strength lies behind the boards (or maybe behind the camera). Even the late J Dilla, who has been canonized into the hip-hop pantheon, was never brilliant on the mic. So what does that leave us? El-P, Q-Tip, and maybe Kanye West as exceptions to the rule, and to be honest I've never been a fan of Kanye's rapping. The point is that you can be a great rapper or a great producer, but it is very rare that you are great at both.That's not stopping Toronto MC royceBIRTH from trying. "TheREBIRTH" is his debut album, 17 tracks of heartfelt rapping over his own production. Let's start with the positive: royceBIRTH is a solid producer. His beats are soulful and musical, and he gets some nice drum sounds. He seasons his beats with dashes of piano and acoustic guitars to create beats that are as soothing and uplifting as the lyrics royceBIRTH is putting across. The record sounds nice from start to finish. He says on his Bandcamp page that "This album is my journal." That speaks to the main problem with "theREBIRTH." The lyrics would be great as journal entries describing a highly personal and individual experience, but there isn't much that the listener can relate to. It's a guy describing his issues his struggles, with little effort to make it relatable to anyone else. "

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