Tuesday June 19, 2018

The (W)rap Up for 2012 - April [1 of 2]
Posted by Emanuel Wallace at Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013 at 5:30PM :: Email this article :: Print this article

[Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded]Nicki Minaj :: Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded
Cash Money Records

Author: Jesal 'Jay Soul' Padania

"Drake has ruined it a bit for Young Money. Before "Take Care" we were blissfully content with mindless fun, lots of puns about shit, being an alien and Birdman parachuting in. But after his second album, we want more from all of them - none of that "Tha Carter IV" shit, no. We demand proper sequencing, meaning, well-written songs, intelligent production - more than anything, we want to connect. With the artist, with the message. Of course, an innately different set of rules applies to Nicki Minaj, on her own sophomore outing, as every artist is different and her "five year plan" already seems vastly different from whatever Drizzy feels like conjuring up. But following "Take Care" it might have been fair to expect something more than "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded." The first clue is in that name - it is bewilderingly confusing, sounding more like a Deluxe Edition of her debut ("Pink Friday"). It is, however, her second full-length album. And the emphasis is firmly placed on "full-length" - PFRR (Deluxe) weighs in at a staggering 22 tracks, continuing the somewhat unfortunate trend of overly long albums from this particular label. Her leaner debut did the job admirably, even if it was "mindlessly entertaining" and filled with holes. You see, she released a Deluxe of that including "Superbass" which ended up giving her a genuine breakthrough moment (queue SuperBowl etc). So, it's only natural to expect Minaj to revisit that feel on her second outing. She declares herself "the female Weezy" (presumably they wear the same size jeggings) and deploys similar shock tactics as Carter, but more notably at times Lady Gaga (her Grammy performance certainly suggested that, even hiring the same choreographer). That performance divided opinion, as did her video for "Stupid Hoe" - the backlash presumably delayed the release of PFRR, and her mission to be big, bolder, larger than life and a creative tour de force seems to have been put on ice. Now, she just wants hits. "


E-Train :: On Solid Ground :: Elevated Press Records
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor

[On Solid Ground]
"On Solid Ground" is the first album by San Francisco producer E-Train. Over eighteen tracks, he works with a variety of MCs and singers to create soulful independent hip-hop. As a producer, E-Train offers a contemporary take on Golden Age boom-bap. He works with an MPC and there are cuts and scratches from classic hip-hop tracks spliced throughout the album. E-Train works with MCs from both coasts, including some unknown rappers, some established underground rappers, and a few bonafide legends. In the latter category, Talib Kweli shares the mike with Phil The Agony on "Guess Again," and Keith Murray raps on "Talk Shit" with Burntmd. RapReview readers will also recognize Bay Area rapper Rasco calling out other rappers on "Endangered Species," and Akrobatik rapping about touring on "The Show. "3 Clicks" has organ stabs and funky drumming, with San Francisco rapper D. Mottola spitting rhymes worthy of the beat. Mottola shows up again on "Outrageous," accompanied by Pro and Virtu. The Aztext rap on "It's Goin' Down Gettin' Down," describing the grind of an indie rapper. E-Train also goes in a more soulful direction on some tracks. "Fyah Burn" features Holly Saucy singing and rapping over a mid-tempo beat. Gyrl Ab'Strakt raps over an R&B on "The Love Epidemic." Rubydell offers her vocals on the hook of "As You Loud As You Want," one of the stronger tracks on the disc. She handles all the vocals on the R&B closer "There Was a Time." "


Mac Lethal :: Irish Goodbye :: Black Clover Records
as reviewed by Zach 'Goose' Gase

[Irish Goodbye]
"2011 was quite the year for Kansas City emcee Mac Lethal. He started by getting a couple million hits on YouTube videos like "Pale Kid Raps Faster!" "Pale kid raps EVEN FASTER!" and "Charlie Sheen Bi-Winning FAST RAP." These videos gave the rapper, formerly signed to Rhymesayers Entertainment, a lot of exposure, but it wasn't until he did one of his famous fast raps over Chris Brown's "Look at Me Now" while making pancakes that his fame really took off. The video in which Mac spits his effortless double time flow while making perfect golden brown flapjacks has now exceeded over 22 million views, and has helped him gain countless new fans. But also with these gimmicky videos, loyal fans who love Mac Lethal for his previous work such as "11:11," "Men Are From Mars, Porn Stars are from Earth" and his "Love Potion" mixtape series have questioned whether or not the veteran indie rapper has sold out. "Irish Goodbye," released on Mac Lethal's own label, Black Clover, notably has no guest appearances as well as none of his fast rapping that made him an Internet sensation. Instead his first album in over four year features a perfect balance of humor and seriousness, over production handled solely by Michael "Seven" Summers (Tech N9ne, XV). Seven combines dark synths with chopped up eerie vocal samples like on the aforementioned opening track and "Black Rainbow" which are the perfect backdrops to Mac Lethal's top notch story telling."


Quakers :: Quakers :: Stones Throw Records
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor

"Quakers are a 35-person hip-hop collective. Their core is made up of Fuzzface, 7-Stu-7, and Katalyst. You may recognize Fuzzface as Portishead's Geoff Barrow. 7-Stu-7 is Portishead's engineer, and Katalyst is an Australian producer who has worked with both Stu and Barrow. The three decided they wanted to make the kind of hip-hop record that they wanted to listen to. What they came up with is 41 tracks of grimey, funky hip-hop that constitutes one of the best underground rap albums of the year. Barrow first got involved with Stones Throw eight years ago when Madlib and J Dilla's Jaylib album came out. That being the case, it's not surprising that Dilla and Madlib's influence is all over this disc. Quakers flip dirty soul samples, create distorted electro funk, and generally offer a slightly twisted take on established hip-hop sounds. They keep most of the tracks under the two-minute mark, which gives the album a propuslive and unrelenting feel. It is track after track of MCs spitting fire over funky beats. The MCs are a combination of established Stones Throw artists, underground veterans, and relative unknowns. Aloe Blacc offers up some raps on "Sign Language," and Guilty Simpson does what he does best on "Fitta Happier," sharing verses with MED. "


Terrence F :: Enigma :: Bandcamp
as reviewed by Matt Jost

"In rap music it's really just a hop, skip and a jump from conumdrum to commodity. It wasn't that long ago that the Odd Future kids were a highly mysterious entity, and look at 'em now, singing for Jay-Z and Kanye West, rapping with The Game and Pusha T, performing with The Roots and releasing old fashioned CD's. That is to say that if you rap and are still a mystery to most, it's probably because you're still undiscovered. Rapping is explaing yourself, and the more of it you do, the less mysterious you become - provided someone out there is listening. But it's also fair to note that some famous and long-serving rappers remain to a certain extent inscrutable. Unlikely candidates for philosphical ponderings, Three 6 Mafia maybe summed the latter fact up best with the title of their 2005 album, "Most Known Unkown." Whether a rapper manages to be known and unknown at the same time is not only down to personality, it's also a direct effect of the music he or she makes. A DOOM will inevitably be more elusive and enigmatic than a 50 Cent. That being said, I'm not a hundred percent sure that Terrence F refers to himself with the title of his free 2011 release. But "Enigma" packs enough features to make me wonder just in general. The SoCal representative has Bandcamp accounts under the monikers Terrence F and T Franklin. In the interest of proper branding, why not settle for Terrence Franklin? "


Keith Murray :: Enigma :: Jive Records
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **

as reviewed by Mike Baber

"Among casual hip-hop fans, Keith Murray often gets lost in the shuffle of the mid-90's New York hip-hop scene, stuck behind some of his more well-known collaborators such as Redman and EPMD. Those who are familiar with the Def Squad affiliate, though, know that Keith Murray has one of the most distinct and recognizable flows of the era, with his unrelenting, in-your-face delivery that grabs hold of the listener and makes it difficult to ignore his lyrical prowess. Although his 1994 debut "The Most Beautifullest Thing in This World" remains his most commercially successful work, perhaps his most slept on release is his sophomore album that dropped two years later. Indeed, "Enigma" seems to have slipped through the cracks on RapReviews, as well, and I felt it was appropriate to write a review and attempt to revive interest in this classic album. It's clear right off the bat that Keith Murray has something to prove on "Enigma," as he wastes no time attacking anyone who disses him or threatens his crew on "Call My Name." Over sinister piano keys, a hard-hitting drum loop, and a bassline that sends chills down the spine, Murray spits three menacing verses to match the gritty vibe of the beat, with lines such as "I think the devil's in this beat, fuckin' with my speech/ Makin' me do his dirty work, makin' niggas kill each other on the streets." "Manifique (Original Rules)" has a more laid-back feel, with jazzy synths setting the mood, but Murray doesn't stray far from his aggressive style of rhyming. "


[The OF Tape Vol. 2]Odd Future :: The OF Tape Vol. 2
Odd Future/RED Distribution

Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon

"Tyler, the Creator and his large rap collective known as Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (or simply Odd Future for short) seem to have virtually taken over the hip-hop landscape in the last twelve months. This has caused confusion, consternation or admiration depending on what part of the hip-hop audience you consider yourself in. A lot of the older rap generation who never caught on to the social media phenomenon did not see Odd Future coming, as they developed their fanbase almost entirely outside the traditional print, radio and video outlets that made new rap stars in the past. They're also more well known for collaborating with each other than with long-established rap stars, so outside of their frontman Tyler chances are you've never heard a cameo on an album that would introduce you to them. What really seems to bother some people though is their lyrics - at times purposefully and artfully designed to be as offensive, bizarre and disgusting as possible. To be honest I'm not sure why that should be such a big deal to anybody who has been listening to hip-hop for more than ten years. I don't find Odd Future's to be any more crass than 2 Live Crew, any more explicit than N.W.A., or any more horrific than Gravediggaz. All of these artists caused similar amounts of concern from pundits who decried the decaying moral fiber of society, in disbelief that anybody could find such things (gasp) ENTERTAINING. "


Animal Nation :: The Basement Tapes Vol. 1 :: URBNET Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon[The Basement Tapes Vol. 1]
"You could call it a modern day "Jimmy" update, even though it has the sound and feel it could come from 1988. That's not necessarily typical of Animal Nation though, as "Wooden Roller Coaster" is a strange yet enjoyable hybrid of Gym Class Heroes and B.o.B ("I need a wish right now.") The "Party Animals Reprise" sounds like it wants to be a country banjo jam, which makes me wonder what the ORIGINAL was like before it got reprised. The cutting and scratching is pretty nice. They also eschew convention on an admittedly "strange journey" they call "The Lasagne Song," which cuts a rug over a big band swing song style, which is definitely not the average hip-hop track you'll ever hear. This EP blows by kind of quickly at just over 23 minutes, but that may be in part because it totally blew my expectations away. It's so easy for so many artists to claim they're doing original hip-hop and yet be the same old shit lyrically and musically that everyone else is, but I actually get the feeling Tall Man and Armadillo Slim lived up to their hyperbole by the end of "The Basement Tapes Vol. 1." "


E-40 :: The Block Brochure: Welcome to the Soil 1 :: Heavy on the Grind/EMI Music
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[The Block Brochure: Welcome to the Soil 1]

""Inconceivable!" Yes, I hear Wallace Shawn in my head when I type that, but it's the only way I can react to E-40 dropping THREE albums at once. It's not as though 40 hasn't earned the right to. Earl Stevens is a 20+ year veteran of the hip-hop business who dropped his first EP in 1990, who subsequently made a splash in 1993 when Jive picked up his Sick Wid It label for distribution and made "Federal" available nationally. Ever since then hip-hop fans worldwide have gravitated toward his unique vocal tone, trendsetting slang, booming beats and Vallejo, California pride. So if he wants to drop three albums on the same day, sure! After all he dropped a double album all the way back in '98, and released the first two volumes of a four CD "Revenue Retrievin'" set on the same day in 2010. This is three albums though, all in one day, all at one time. "Inconceivable!" Supporters of E-40's hustle and grind don't come much bigger than me, but 60 songs worth of music (if you include bonus tracks) is just too much for me to deal with in one week, let alone one sitting. Therefore I'm going to tackle this the only way I can - one album per week - as though E-40 had released each of them separately over an extended span. We open the series with "The Block Brochure: Welcome to the Soil 1." Actually by the time we get to the second and third volumes, there really won't be any point to the subtitles - unlike "Revenue Retrievin'" it doesn't change from one release to the next."


Game :: California Republic Mixtape :: {internet}
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[California Republic Mixtape]
"Sooner or later the "music store" as we all knew it growing up is going to be obsolete. I'm not saying this as conjecture or speculation; I'm going on the record as saying it WILL happen sooner than later. I can personally attest to the fact that half of the albums I buy these days are downloads, another 30% are free download's like Game's new "California Republic Mixtape," and maybe 20% at most are physical compact discs. Even two years ago the ratio of physical to digital would have been 50/50, and five years ago it would have been 80/20. I still like the oversized cover art and needle driven analog sound of vinyl, but compact discs now seem like an unnecessary intermediary step between me and my MP3 player that takes up storage space. I bring this up largely because the audio input jack in my whip and albums like "California Republic" are largely what bring me to this conclusion. A CD player in the ride is still nice occasionally, but the proliferation of free downloadable mixtapes has all but made the idea of buying hard copies from a street vendor or retail store extinct. Even rappers who started their careers long before the digital revolution took over have caught on. They know you can have a hundred or more albums on your MP3 player, and it takes up less space in your ride than just a couple of CD releases do - and you can't put a CD in your pocket either (not without breaking it anyway) when you get out said vehicle. "


GT :: Windows to My Soul :: DatPiff.com
as reviewed by Zach 'Goose' Gase

[Windows to My Soul]
"Recently Gift of Gab (of Blackalicious) released a song title "Wack But Good People." On the track, the Oakland emcee raps about one of the most awkward situations in hip hop: how do you tell your friend to hang up the mic? As a writer, it's never fun to critique someone who is passionate about what they do, but it's a part of the job. While I don't know rapper GT personally, on his new album "Windows to My Soul" it is fairly clear that this is the type of dude Gift of Gab was talking about. GT bears all on this record, and he often raps about being a proud religious father and husband. But he just simply is not a good rapper. Lyrically he is competent enough, and it seems like his heart is in the right place when making songs about his personal life. But as far as skill and techniques go, GT is severely lacking any sense of microphone presence; it almost sounds like he's recording his verses in the basement while sitting down at his computer desk trying not to project his voice too loud. His flow is monotonous and unimaginative except on "Stampede," where he fails miserably at a double time flow. GT's rapping is fairly bad, but unfortunately it still manages to be "Windows to My Soul's" saving grace. The production on this record is unforgivably bad. Nydy NewSense did all ten of the album's soulless, anemic beats, and they all sound extremely amateurish. "


KB Jones :: Finer Things :: KB Jones Music
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Finer Things]
"The one thing KB Jones profile doesn't tell me before reviewing his album is how he got there from his real name being Daniel Munoz. Wouldn't D-Money have been the logical moniker? Or maybe Dan Da Monster? There's got to be a good story behind the choice. Unfortunately that info doesn't seem to be on his official website either. What I can tell you for sure though is that KB started out as one member in a band called The Spoken Truth, and that when he went solo he released a free album called "The Honey on the Side." It's still available BTW, so if you want to hear a little of his music while you're reading the review, go ahead and click the link (it will open in a separate window). The first single off "Finer Things" is the provocatively titled "Fuck the Bullshit". As hip-hop tirades against mainstream mediocrity go, it's one of the better I've heard in a while, and KB Jones certainly delivers it with enough emotional intensity to have credibility. Even though he clearly resents the comparisons to Asher Roth, I can +almost+ see it. He's not as into frat boy topics or humorous punchlines as DJ Green Lantern's favorite rapper, but there's more than an iota of similarity in terms of their vocal tone. "


M-Phazes :: Phazed Out :: Coalmine Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Phazed Out]
"Hot hip-hop import producer M-Phazes has long been associated with the Obese Records imprint, but you'll hear his beats banging behind top rap acts on a dozen different labels. The latest to join that growing list is Coalmine Records, who commissioned the maestro to make musical magic by remixing some of the top singles that have dropped from their roster. He's not alone in this endeavor though. Enter DJ Rhettmatic, renowned turntablist from the World Famous Beat Junkies. With M-Phazes revisiting old tracks to give them his new spin while Rhettmatic makes like Blendtec on the mix putting it all together, the result is a compilation all involved call "Phazed Out." After a two minute "M-troduction" featuring M-Phazes affiliate Emilio Rojas, things take a turn for the worse on a revisit of "The Raw" featuring Saigon, Bekay and Inspectah Deck. It probably doesn't help matters that I'm a fan of the grimy piano laced production of the original Street Orchestra track way back in 2007, but the Shade 45 deejay rewind and repeat of the Saigon phrase "On the average night, I'm likely to stab a fag with a knife" strikes me as an incredibly poor choice. As one line in an otherwise dope song it slides by, but put focus on it and an emcee I otherwise have high regard for come off like a hateful bigot. "


Vic Freeze x Madd Caesar :: Oakland, Ohio :: Bandcamp.com
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor

[Oakland, Ohio]
"Let's take a moment to celebrate technology. Thirty years ago, when the early hip-hop records were being made, artists had to scrape together enough money to rent a studio. Beats were programmed on clunky drum machines. Early samples were made by literally looping reel-to-reel tapes or constantly cutting between two records. Once you got your song recorded you had to find someone to physically press the album, which cost money, and then find someone to sell it. Labels would do this for you, but a lot of early hip-hop was DIY, sold out of record stores, barbershops, at swap meets, or from the trunk of a car. The whole process was tied to physicality. You had to physically be together in the studio to collaborate, and listeners needed to find a physical copy of your music in order to hear it. Fast forward to 2012. You can set up a decent home studio without having to spend a fortune. There are programs like Frooty Loops and Pro Tools that let bedroom producers do things that Grandmaster Flash and Eric B. could only dream of. A 17-year-old kid can become a famous producer by emailing his beats to rappers all over the world. People in completely different parts of the country can record an album together and release it themselves on Bandcamp. Anyone anywhere in the world with a computer and decent internet connection (which admittedly leaves out 70% of the population) can stream the music or download it. "


[Pluto]Future :: Pluto
A1/Free Bandz/Epic Records

Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon

"One thing can be said for certain about "Pluto" - it's the most anticipated album coming out on April 17th, 2012. It's conceivable that it's the most anticipated hip-hop album for the whole month of April. And given that the release date was postponed for several months, I'll even concede that "Pluto" is among the most anticipated records of the year so far. Future is definitely that guy right now when it comes to crossing over from the underground to the mainstream. The Decatur rapper and Dungeon Family affiliate has found that right mix of what's in right now for his hit songs, like the K.E. On the Track produced "Magic," which only got bigger when T.I. appeared on the remix. That version is on this new CD. So what's the secret to Future's success? It can in large part be attributed to his flow, which I will divide like a pie into four slices. 25% is his sing-song delivery, which falls somewhere between monotonous and hypnotizing. 25% is the use of AutoTune to manipulate his vocals, turning him into a cross between T-Pain and Gucci Mane. 25% is the fact he's very well connected in the game. He's got Drake on the Will-A-Fool produced "Tony Montana," Snoop Dogg on the Jon Boi produced "Homicide" and Juicy J on the DJ Spinz produced "I'm Trippin'" and R. Kelly on the DJ Pharris & John Blu produced "Parachute" just to name a few."


Busy Signal :: Reggae Music Again :: VP Records
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor[Reggae Music Again]
"Jamaican dancehall artist Busy Signal (known to his mother as Reanno Gordon) has gone through some stylistic experimentation since coming on the scene in 2003. His first single, "Step Out," was hardcore dancehall complete with gunshots. On his 2009 album "D.O.B." he went soft rock, covering the Commodores' "Night Shift" and Phil Collins' "One More Night." Last year he went country with a cover of Kenny Rogers' "The Gambler." For his latest album, "Reggae Music Again," he's (mostly) ditching the Auto-Tune and synthesizers and going roots. The album opens with the roots track "Run Weh." The sweet backup vocals and grooving riddim mask dark lyrics about driving the wicked out. "When the city vampires and the zombies them rise/Still he fi go hide from Jah-Jah's sunlight," he sings, and I can't figure out if he's talking about the second coming or a zombie apocolypse. "Modern Day Slavery" and "Kingston Town" both have a wicked dub riddim and explore the darker side of life in paradise. The title track sounds like vintage Gregory Isaacs, with Busy Signal getting nostalgic about the golden age of reggae. Ironically, his image of "happiness on every face/peace and love for every race" doesn't accurately describe the reggae music of bygone days. Jamaica has always struggled with poverty and political oppression, and the music has always reflected that, albeit in a much less raunchy and nihilistic way than a lot of today's music."


E-40 :: The Block Brochure: Welcome to the Soil 2 :: Heavy on the Grind/EMI Music
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[The Block Brochure: Welcome to the Soil 2]
"Picking up where we left off last week on the first chapter of "Block Brochure," we're back one mo' gen to bring you a review of "Welcome to the Soul 2." Coincidentally, just like the opening of this trilogy, Earl Stevens is dropping street knowledge on the very first track. "I'm Laced" would on casual observation be a braggadocious track, and if all you wrote down was the hook, you'd draw the same conclusion - 40 is a California heavyweight. It doesn't matter if Earl has ever held a Harvard degree when he's already got a ghetto Ph.D, and he's not selfish about his street smarts. You don't have to be in search of an education when you ride through "The Soil" though, because there's plenty of entertainment in the pages of his lesson book. The pounding beat of the aptly named Chris 'THX' Goodman makes "On the Case" a dramatic win - and it even has some solid economic advice for tough times. Speaking of entertainment, I might be the only reviewer left in the world who hasn't shit on T-Pain yet, and I'm not about to on "Tryna Get It" either. As an added bonus, he produced the beat. As an even MORE added bonus, he and Twista try to one up each other on quick flipping their raps. "The Other Day Go" is a throwback to 1990's Cali hardcore with rhymes by Celly Cel and Spice 1, and the Trend produced "Function" is all the way new school with YG, IAmSu and Problem. ech N9ne fans are going to be happy with the second edition of the trilogy, as he shows up twice on "Scorpio" and "Zombie." For the most part though, Earl is still keeping his guest appearances hella local, which is thematically fine and not ear displeasing in any way. "


Giano :: B Sides and Remixes Volume 2 :: PNG Records
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor

[B Sides and Remixes Volume 2]

"Giano is a Virginia rapper who has been spitting righteous rhymes for over a decade. This album collects remixes from his 2009 album "Beautiful World" as well as some tracks that didn't make it on that album. Giano is both a devout Christian and a devout hip-hop head, and he straddles the line between the two in his music. It's not totally accurate or fair to classify his music as Christian rap. True, he does have several songs that directly address his faith, but the majority of the music on "B Sides" deals with how his faith informs his worldview. Giano doesn't assume he has all the answers. His faith seems pose as many questions as answers.

Giano is a talented rapper. He's been compared to Lupe Fiasco and Talib Kweli because of his intricate rhymes. The diverse production is handled by Giano, Symbolyc One, Sinuous, The Cratez, Ben B, and Major. "Salute" and "In Hindsight" are ambient rock similar to the xx; "Fantastic" is club rap complete with snapping snares and whistling synths; "Faux Interlude" is backpack rap with thwapping drums and horn stabs. The remix of "Society Conscience" adds strings and piano to the mix. "We Need"and "Prelude to A Love Song" go the R&B route, and "Spirit Vs. Flesh" mix of live instruments is reminiscent of the Roots. Giano is accompanied on the mic by Sivion, Sinuous, BenEvol and Eric Cross. BenEvol and Eric Cross offer pretty straightforward Christian rap on "No More," while Sivion and Sinuous hold their own with Giano on "Spirit Vs. Flesh" and "Prelude to A Love Song."


Mickey Avalon :: Loaded :: Suburban Noize Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

"I want to throw out a shout to Mickey Avalon right at the start for doing an interview for RapReviews with Adam B. He could just as easily have told us where to go given this site absolutely SAVAGED his self-titled debut. Now I'm not telling you to read our last review - that's up to you - but when Arthur Gailes described him as having only "the slightest hint of personality" and "among the worst production ever put on record" his hip-hop career was to me an open and shut case. It was the fact he was open-minded enough to talk to us after such a scathing critique that in turn made me open-minded enough to give his new album a spin. Other factors working in his favor: 1.) five years is a long enough time for even someone wretched to become a decent artist and 2.) SubNoize probably wouldn't sign someone to a deal they think would put out an unlistenable album. Let's start with the first single off "Loaded" then entitled "More Junk." Now the snarky among the readership might find this lyricism unimpressive, and I'm not here to impress upon you that Avalon has suddenly turned into Shakespeare. What I do find though is that the press release for his album was entirely accurate about this song - it has both "sleek electro-synth beats" and "playfully spit" rhymes. This is not the music of a revolution, and Avalon is certainly not part of the 99%. The theme of "Loaded" is the 1%. I'm not sure if Avalon was living this lifestyle before he became (in)famous, but I'd bet that an Interscope contract and touring with the likes of Red Hot Chili Peppers led to songs like "Drugs." "


Mike G :: ALI :: Odd Future
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **

as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

"While reviewing "The OF Tape Vol. 2," one of the members who immediately caught my ear was Mike G. His role in the Odd Future crew isn't as prominent as founder Tyler, the Creator or his long time running mate Hodgy Beats, which may be a reflection of the fact he was "a fan who was invited to join the group" - or so says Wikipedia. I tend to not trust anything written there further than the next edit, which is always one iota of one mouse click away. It IS true though that when you listen to the original "Odd Future" tape he's not in the mix, and that since 2009 when he joined he's gradually been featured more and more. The first step in that process was the "ALI" album produced by Syd tha Kid, which until recently was still available from Odd Future's tumblr. Since MegaUpload got shut down though, you'll have to look elsewhere around the internet to find it. The first thing to know about "ALI" is that cameo appearances are all Odd Future. Tyler, the Creator appears on "Timeless," one of this short album's most interesting songs. The background music, much like the crew themselves, is a little unconventional and weird. It's built over a loop of birds chirping somewhere in nature, and the drumbeat sounds like someone tapping silverware on pots and pans. The synthesizer sounds Sydney provides hold this eclectic mix together, and Mike G shows off his lyrical writing ability, which even at this prototype stage of his career shows a more focused thought pattern than some of his Golf Wang compadres. "


[Attractive Sin]
Del the Funky Homosapien & Parallel Thought :: Attractive Sin
Parallel Thought Ltd./Hieroglyphics

Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon

"If I could get away with a two sentence review, this would be the first one. The other one would be "This is a brilliant album - go out and buy it when it drops on June 19th." No? That won't cut it? Well fuck it then. Let me start out by pointing out this is the lineal successor to the "Parallel Uni-Verses" album from 2009, although this time Del is not collaborating with Tame One. That's not due to any animosity or ill will that I'm aware of, but if you can attribute it to anything it's that both artists have multiple irons in the fire right now. Del could even wind up dropping a sequel to "Deltron 3030" album before this one sees an official release. The album I have now sounds done though, and there aren't even any "for promotional use only" drops on it. (Please don't ask me to rip you a copy though; it's watermarked, and I wouldn't anyway.) "Attractive Sin" is billed by the one-sheet that came with the promo as "legendary West Coast style" meets "Parallel Thought's East Coast production." That's accurate, but grossly understates the credentials of both artists involved. P Thought is fairly slept on in the industry today - he may not have the big name of Statik Selektah, Alchemist or Primo, but he's laced beats for some of the most lyrically adept cats in the game. That includes the aforementioned Tame, MF DOOM and C-Rayz Walz just to name a few. And as the producer of record for "Parallel Uni-Verses," it should already be clear what he's capable of even if you don't know his name - his beats would get 4 out of 5 mics in The Source (even back when that hailed a hip-hop classic). "


Various Artists :: Ragga Ragga Ragga 2012 :: VP Records
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor

[Ragga Ragga Ragga 2012]
"As any North American who has ever smoked a joint or gone to high school or college knows, 420 is code for smoking pot. It's origins are hazy and unclear, not suprising since it came from a bunch of stoners. Some people claim it is for police code for marijuana posession, but it isn't. Supposedly it comes from a group of San Rafael High kids who used to meet to get stoned at 4:20pm every day, which is just as likely an explanation as any other. Whatever the origins, 4:20 PM on April 20th is basically stoner's St. Patrick Day. This past Friday afternoon marked the twentieth day of the fourth month, and tens of thousands of young people flocked to San Francisco's Haight Ashbury to hang out on Hippie Hill, spark a bowl, and enjoy getting nicely toasted with a group of like-minded pot enthusiasts. There are many songs about getting high, and the latest "Ragga Ragga Ragga" compilation has one of the best ones. British dancehall artist Gappy Ranks celebrates the sweet leaf on "Da Herbs Deh." Producer Derrick "Wundah" Cyrus takes the concept of "less is more" to the extreme, fashioning a beat out of some snare hits interspersed with a few tom hits and handclaps. Over this skeletal framework Ranks supplies the melody with his sing/chant as he kills the beat extolling the many wonders of the herb. It's ragga stripped down to its most essential elements, with lyrics that would make any stoner proud. "

Dewey Binns X medafORACLE :: Hotel Nompton :: Bandcamp
as reviewed by Matt Jost

[Hotel Nompton]
""Make room!" Tha Alkaholiks brazenly demanded on their 1993 debut single. medafORACLE and Dewey Binns need some room as well, but as the opener of their freEP "Hotel Nompton," "Room to Rock" indicates, they will absolutely settle for a hotel room. The five tracks were recorded in a hotel in Norman, OK over just a weekend. What business did they have there, you ask? Since Norman is the home of the University of Oklahoma, there's some probability they were there to entertain the college crowd. On "Room to Rock" we catch ORACLE right after the show pushing CDs and longing for "a room with a lotta room cause I need to stretch out / and it'll be a couple of days before I check out." Meanwhile Binns is still alert enough to take precautions for life on the road. After three tracks it seems that Dewey Binns and medafORACLE have worn the 'hotel' concept out. On "Robert Downey Jr." they seek inspiration from one of Hollywood's bad boys while "Street Conscious" looks at the urban hustle and bustle through the musical lens of soul."


D-Tension :: Wack Music For Dope People :: CommonWealth Records
as reviewed by Aaron Boyce

[Wack Music For Dope People]
"When I was compiling my 2011 round-up in December I found it a lot more difficult narrowing my initial list of twenty or so albums down to the required ten that I viewed as the best releases of the past twelve months. Names were added and then crossed out and then added again before I finally settled on the ten that I felt best reflected my year in hip-hop. Some of these albums found their place due to the MC's spitting pure fire (Apathy, Random Axe) while others had a whole LP's worth of beats that knocked hard (Doppelgangaz, Mister Jason). However the first album that I scribbled down on my list made it for an entirely different reason. Entertainment. As a producer, D-Tension should need no introduction. A well-known and respected name behind the boards in the indie rap scene, Mr Perez has served up his own unique brand of heat for a seemingly endless list of underground favourites. Slug, Esoteric, Termanology, Apathy, Vinnie Paz, Thirstin Howl III, Mr Lif, Encore and Akrobatik are among the 'dope people' that have showcased their talents over D-Tension's own special brand of 'wack music'. While D has never been frightened to pick up the microphone and craft a few songs of his own, a twenty track album where guest lyricists are kept to a bare minimum is quite a difficult project to undertake and execute. "


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