Friday June 22, 2018

The (W)rap Up for 2012 - May [2 of 2]
Posted by Emanuel Wallace at Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013 at 6:05PM :: Email this article :: Print this article

J.Carr :: The Need For Speed :: Its Nuthin' Productions
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[The Need For Speed]
"Here's a few random phrases from the press kit for "The Need For Speed" to kickstart your review reading experience: "underground Miami music scene," "this year's breakout rapper," "his popular Transformers based mixtape series," "reflect his hustle," "a representation of changing lane music." That's who J.Carr is, and while "The Need For Speed" might easily be confused for a similarly named video game on most Google searches, that won't stop him from taking his automotive theme "Full Throttle" on the album's first full track. Like his fellow "underground Miami music scene" rappers, J.Carr is brimming with confidence even though he admits he "has yet to see the charts." That's not going to stop him from making his "changing lane music" with 500 horsepower of attitude under the hood and in every song title. Even when his pedal to the metal attitude has his radiator reaching the "Boiling Point," he'll enlist a Marvin Gaye or Otis Redding soundalike to croon on his tune and cool things down: You might get the impression life's a bitch and then you die from a track like that, but most of the time the songs "reflect his hustle" and show he's already achieved the success he dreamed of. "

The Jet Age of Tomorrow :: Journey to the 5th Echelon :: Odd Future
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Journey to the 5th Echelon]

"Intentionally or not the Odd Future collective plan doesn't seem to be to "Kill Them All" but to outproduce them all. In the five years since they began their ascent to hip-hop stardom, they've spun off as many or more solo albums and side projects than the Wu-Tang Clan did in the same timespan. One of those many projects goes by the mysterious name of The Jet Age of Tomorrow - a collaboration between Odd Future's own Matt Martians and Atlanta producer Hal Williams. The story goes that Martians was producing more beats than OF's founder/leader Tyler, the Creator could use and that even though he liked them they didn't always fit his sound/style. It was only natural at that point for Martians to spin off a solo project. That doesn't explain the group's name though, because taken literally, it seems a bit absurd. After all we're already living in the jet age and have been for almost 75 years, dating back to the development of jet engines for aircraft use before World War II. If there was a "tomorrow" to the jet age that came decades ago when commercial air travel became affordable and accessible to the middle class, although with rising fuel prices and airline fees that trend seems to be inexorably reversing itself. By this point in recorded history that age seems almost antique, as we even had a short lived TV drama called "Pan Am" waxing nostalgic for airplane life in the 1960's."

Mac Mall :: The Rebellion Against All There Is :: Thizzlamic/Young Black Brotha
as reviewed by Matt Jost

[The Rebellion Against All There Is]"This one comes as a surprise. Just when I thought Mac Mall was content with being a Mac Dre disciple and observing the teachings of Thizzlam, he comes back with one of the most radical rap album titles of all time. Question is, does the content match the headline? The lead single and titular track suggested as much. To a fragile beat consisting of little more than sparse drums and faint synth flares, Mall spits incendiary lyrics in his characteristic sharp voice that carries indignation well. With "The Rebellion Against All There Is" Mac Mall doesn't break personal ground. On the contrary, with Khayree on the beat and Ray Luv featuring in the third verse, the song harkens back to his '90s material. Besides serving game and serving dames, Mall always had a social, even political streak. That doesn't change the fact that calling an album "The Rebellion Against All There Is" raises expectations that aren't met with a title track alone. He casts the first stone on the opening "Mac Manifesto," lashing out at mainstream rappers who are "quick to do they dance and show they teeth as we dyin' in the muthafuckin' streets." Wondering how "we go from 2Pac to this pussy-pop disco cornball crossover shit that they claim is hip-hop," Mall builds a momentum that is instantly undermined by the following tracks, "Dayz Like This" and "My Room," which both shoot game at an object of desire. Mac's pimp game may be sharp, but after such an introduction and under such a motto lyrics like "I keep a hardheaded hoe on a real short leash" and Khia samples result in one of the most absurd album sequencings in recent memory. "

Muneshine :: There Is Only Today :: Droppin' Science Productions
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[There Is Only Today]
"In the beginning Muneshine made his name as a cross-border hip-hop producer, lacing American and Canadian talent alike with top quality beats. Eventually he flipped the script and dropped an album of original raps, relying on others like Illmind and Oddisee to provide the sonic landscape - with effective results on both counts. 2012's "There Is Only Today" is a return to that form, with the producer turned emcee relying on the beats of others to largely carry him forward, though he does sneak in a couple of his own here and there. One such track is a song where he shares billing with Canadian rap favorite D-Sisive. One of the beats really caught me out there though - Jeff Spec's production on "Home Sweet Home." The beat is dope, but I've heard it before and I know exactly where - Rasul Syed's "Hi" from the DJ Cosm "Time and Space" album. Given everybody involved is Canadian this is definitely more than a coincidence - either Jeff Spec produced the Syed track uncredited (and I was sure DJ Cosm produced his own album based on the press kit), or Mune liked the beat and decided he could flip it his own way with a few minor variations. Arguably a third possibility exists - they independently arrived at the same break and both decided to flip it in almost the same way - but to me that seems exceedingly unlikely. Whatever the reason I like the break so much that I'm going to give everyone involved a pass. Things are much more clear cut on the other 13 tracks though. M-Phazes flips the bopping and colorfully melodic "Do Me" with Dminor providing a lyrical assist - and trust me it's no Father MC track."

Sheena G :: The First Class :: SGM Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[The First Class]
"Looking for something different from the weekly regimen of albums I review, I was happy to take on Sheena G's "The First Class," as the one-sheet that came with it promised she was "a combination of Fusion Urbana, Reggaeton, and Hip Hop, all with a distinct Latin flavor." Her story was also different from the usual albums I cover - she has an El Savadoran mother and a German father, but still somehow wound up being born in Portland, Oregon. Even though she could have stayed in the United Stats as a result, her parents moved to El Salvador, not returning from Central America until she was 11 years old, at which point she was stricken by the rare and occasionally fatal autoimmune disorder known as Kawasaki disease. She survived the experience and vowed in her own words to "never give up on living life to the fullest." A self-made woman, Sheena actually doesn't need "The First Class" to be a success in the music world to be a success at life, as she's run everything from espresso stands to a chain of night clubs in her career. That makes it all the more interesting that she decided to pursue this life, and even more curious that a Portland based artist would seek out the help of Vallejo, California's own E-40 to get her start - they collaborated on a song called "Smell the Money." A mixtape soon followed, ultimately leading us to this album. And now for a revelation - despite the promises of the press kit that came with "The First Class," I can't say that the words "Hip Hop" really fit the "combination" they describe."

[R.A.P. Music]Killer Mike :: R.A.P. Music
Williams Street Records

Author: Patrick Taylor
Click here to find out more!
"Do I need to introduce the ATL's own Killer Mike? He's been putting out consistently good albums since 2003's "Monster." His last album, 2011's "Pl3dge," made at least one RapReviews year-end best-of list (and would have made mine if I had made time to listen to it last year). His music combines the hilariously crass rap that the Dirty South is known for with the kind of intelligent outrage that Ice Cube perfected twenty years ago. On his sixth album, he teams up with El-P, the New York producer/Def Jux founder/architect of many essential millennial underground hip-hop albums. This isn't exactly a partnership that was at all inevitable or predictable. Killer Mike is pretty damn Southern, not the kind of rapper you'd think to pair with El-Producto's dystopian industrial noise. Is the result going to be like chocolate and peanut butter or milk and grapefruit juice? All doubts are immediately set aside with "Big Beast," a punch in the face that opens the record. Over staccato blasts of noise. When the beat finally kicks in, it hits like a megaton bomb, full of rattling snares, synth whines, moans, and Middle Eastern flourishes. It sounds like Rick Rubin trying to do Southern hip-hop in 1986, all 808s and glorious noise. Bun B and T.I. are featured on the track, and it's one of T.I.'s strongest verses in years, bragging about being "Amerikkka's nightmare/trap nigga fantasy." It's one of the best songs of the year, three minutes and fifty-five seconds of fire. Mike takes it down a notch on "Untitled," setting up three of the main themes of the album: the idea that everyone is out to get him for spitting the truth, how the politics and policies of the past forty years have led to the current state of African-Americans, and the spiritual connection he has with rap music. "

[Big Fun in the Big Town] Big Fun in the Big Town
Label: Five Day Weekend/VPRO Broadcasting

Author: Emanuel Wallace

"Global. International. Worldwide. All of these words have been used in reference to the the art form of hip-hop music. It was supposed to be nothing more than a mere passing noisy fad back in the 70s and early 80s, but now it's an instrumental tool that has become a major point of influence when it comes to fashion, politics and the world's economy as a whole. I'm not sure if Dutch filmmaker Bram Van Splunteren ever foresaw hip-hop getting to its current status in the world, but he saw something. After hearing The Beastie Boys' (RIP MCA) "She's On It," he was convinced that rap music was the "rock music of the future." In his native Amsterdam, amid resistance from many, he would scour the streets for imports of the latest and greatest in rap at the time to play on his radio show. This included Sugar Hill Records joints like "The Message" and "Rapper's Delight." He would also play jams from KRS-ONE and Schooly D. Splunteren's friends were less than impressed by the American rappers and their materialistic bravado calling it "guys boasting about themselves using stupid drum computers." Bram received the opportunity to help change that perception when Dutch station VPRO Television commissioned him to produce six music-based documentaries and gave him carte blanche as far as choosing the subjects. Naturally, hip-hop was his first choice and he decided to head to the place where everything started, New York City. Armed with a three-man crew and a list of contacts facilitated by Rush Artist Management & Def Jam's Director of Publicity, Bill Adler, Van Splunteren hit the ground running and shot the documentary over six days in the Fall of 1986. "


Leaders of the New School :: A Future Without a Past... :: Elektra Records
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **

as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[A Future Without a Past...]

"It's hard to go 'Back to the Lab' on "A Future Without a Past..." without the album affecting me personally, so for at least one paragraph I'm going to have to be frank with you the reader - this album is VERY meaningful to me. This album came out right in the middle of my time in high school, at a point of turbulence in my life where the only thing I was sure about was how much I loved hip-hop. Everything that Charlie Brown, Dinco D and Busta Rhymes had to say on "A Future Without a Past..." seemed to ideally reflect some aspect of my life. "Sobb Story" encapsulated my car woes as I tried to be cool with a hand-me-down hooptie for a ride. "Case of the P.T.A." spoke to my frustration with a hidebound school system that seemed like it was constantly out to get me. "Feminine Fatt" described the kind of girls I was most attracted to, and "Teachers Don't Teach Us Nonsense!!" perfectly summed up why high school seemed like a big waste of time - I couldn't wait to get the hell out of there.Twenty some years later, I look back on "A Future Without a Past..." and realize this album among others helped me hang on to what precious little sanity I had. Even if everything else seemed wrong, I could put my headphones on and pop in this album, and feel for a moment like things made sense again. The irony here is that Leaders of the New School (commonly then and henceforth now abbreviated to LONS) was a group doomed from the start. The exuberant personality of Busta Rhymes was evidence on track after track, and once the songs received video treatments, his larger than life persona only grew further. Even as things in my own life made more sense, for this Long Island group the "Future" was bleak. The success of the first album made them stick together long enough to record and release a second, by which point the rising stardom of Trevor Smith had irritated the other rappers to the point they had an embarrassing public fight on Yo! MTV Raps that is now an iconic moment in hip-hop history. "

Requiem :: Digital Blues :: Minimal Aesthetics
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Digital Blues]
"It's a genuine pleasure to hear from Requiem again, both figuratively and literally. Last time around on "Grassroots Anarchy" he was incredibly patient with us as we worked through technical difficulties getting his review done, showing a humility and humor that many far more veteran emcees wouldn't have in the same situation. Once we finally got down to brass tacks and took a look at the CD, it got a favorable 7.5 score overall, highlighted in particular by the strong hip-hop beats which are more and more the rule rather than the exception in Aussie rap albums. The biggest drawback to him becoming a crossover international success would unfortunately be the accent, which even for someone like me who follows entertainment in Britain and Australia regularly was pretty hard to understand. Let's start by throwing a shoutout to Beat Butcha, who has a marvelous ear for the quality rap music fans like to hear. The title track of "Digital Blues" is the kind of chunky music you could hear Lil' Fame and Billy Danze screaming "BROWNSVILLE" over at the top of their lungs, and DJ 2Buck's scratching is the perfect complement. "Worldwide" featuring Rival MC blends a haunting and echoing background voices with sped-up soul samples and a tight drum break. "'Til Death" makes me think of another East coast rap group, but this time I'm fooled into thinking of Vinnie Paz & Stoupe as DJ Kilo cuts it up. "

Pep Love :: Rigmarole :: Hieroglyphics Imperium
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor

"That exchange between young Scottish junkies in the 1994 film "Trainspotting" is one way to see aging artists. They all get old, and at a certain point they can't hack it anymore. Certainly, the world of hip-hop is full of legacy artists who have been offering diminishing returns with each successive album: Ice Cube, Ice-T, Public Enemy, even Rakim have all gone from making essential albums to putting out work that, while not bad, isn't that great either. The problem is, while it's easy for two 20-somethings to dismiss the output of anyone over thirty, it's an awfully shortsighted and lazy way to view the world. While a 40-year-old can't match the fire and passion of his or her 20-year-old self, they can bring a maturity and wisdom to their art that no young kid can match. 2012 Jay-Z might not have the bravado of 1998 Jay-Z, but with age has come a perspective that he never approached as a young kid fresh from the streets. Jay-Z in his twenties was confident because he was too dumb to know better; Jay-Z in his forties is confident because he knows so much. Which brings me to the latest album by Pep Love, aka Paolo Peacock, aka one-half of the Shamen, aka part of the Hieroglyphics crew, aka the guy who put out the excellent "Ascension" 11 years ago. Pep Love has matured since first coming on the scene in 1993 rapping alongside Casual. He's a spiritual dude who is a vegan and does motivational speaking gigs when he isn't rocking the mic. The question is, can this maturity translate into good hip-hop music?"

Roddy Rod :: Oakwood Grain II :: Nature Sounds
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Oakwood Grain II]
"If the name Roddy Rod rings a bell, you're either a long-time fan of The Price Is Right (though that would actually be Rod Roddy) or a long-time Maspyke listener. His best known successes as a producer have been with this underground Massachusetts hip-hop favorite, though quiet as kept he's also created beats for everybody from Q-Tip to Planet Asia. He might also be an ideal example of the "big in Japan" concept, where the previous volume of "Oakwood Grain" was available exclusively - until now that is. Buyers of the physical version of "Oakwood Grain II" are in for a special bonus, and that's a copy of "Oakwood Grain I" stuck inside one of the sleeves. At first it might seem like this would make a huge difference in writing this review, but having listened to both albums individually and collectively, I can say that it really doesn't thanks to this being a largely instrumental project. The key here is to experience Roddy Rod's production techniques. It's all about how he chops up samples, layers instrumentals, works in different percussive sounds and mixes down the whole thing to result in a harmonious melody. To keep things simple this review will comment only on the second disc. Experentially one could compare "Oakwood Grain II" favorably to the late great J Dilla's "Donuts," although the average length of instrumental would be a bit longer, and Rod does occasionally allow an emcee to bless the beat - though the frequency is few and far enough between we can easily name all of the examples here."

Rahim Samad :: Broken Barriers II :: VaultClassic Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Broken Barriers II]
"It was easier for Rahim Samad to find us than the other way around, as he first sent us an album for review in 2008. If you go to the VaultClassic website Jay Soul linked, it's gone. If you go to the Facebook site the "Broken Barriers II" press kit suggests is the new home VaultClassic Records, it has apparently either been removed or deleted. He also gets confused in Google searches for a "telecommunications religious authority" and doesn't list any albums for him more recent than 2004. The one and only place I guarantee you'll find him is on Twitter as @RahinSamad. Feel free to drop him a tweet and say this review is up. (You can also follow the site @RapReviews.) The host of this release is "Miami's mixtape champ DJ 2Nen." I confess to being entirely unfamiliar with this Floridian kingpin, but as noted we're not unfamiliar with Samad, as his last album got an 8 out of 10 from Jesal. That made me hopeful about this new release, especially given the title would lead one to believe Samad is the kind of emcee who wants to reinvent hip-hop instead of conforming to cliches. He's clearly serious about his craft and the culture as a whole, seeking to educate listeners with "Hip Hop 101" "

Sylk-E. Fyne :: Raw Sylk :: RCA/BMG
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **

as reviewed by Matt Jost

[Raw Sylk]
"She's rapped alongside 2Pac, Snoop Dogg, Eazy-E, Too $hort, E-40, Ras Kass, Suga Free, Bad Azz, Dru Down, Spice 1 and other West Coast luminaries. She had a single in the Billboard top ten. But with how many rap fans does the name Sylk-E. Fyne (spelling varies) actually ring a bell? Her latest random appearances were on Too $hort's "No Trespassing" album, back to back on "Boss" and "Hey," singing on both tracks and rapping on the former. Legend has it that Sylk-E. Fyne was part of a girl rap group named G.B.M. Eazy-E signed to Ruthless Records in the mid-1990s. While there were no official releases, a couple of bootlegged songs have surfaced over the years. In 1998, however, a notable cameo on her mentor's "Str8 Off Tha Streetz of Muthaphukkin Compton" already three years behind her and having graduated from college and given birth to a son, homegirl went solo on that ass. She did so with the help of original West Side Crip turned community activist Michael Concepcion, responsible for 1990's "We're All in the Same Gang" project. Production was handled in-house by the duo of Gerald 'Big Yam' Baillergeau and Victor 'Vino' Merritt, who therefore also have a gold plaque hanging on the wall for "Romeo and Juliet." Like other '90s rap hits, "Romeo and Juliet" samples from an '80s R&B hit, in this case RenÚ & Angela's "You Don't Have To Cry." In terms of its slower tempo, it's very much in tune with the West Coast sound of the mid-to-late '90s. Since Sylk is from South Central and her guest Tha Chill is from Compton (he used to be in fact in a group called Comptons Most Wanted), one might expect some Shakespearean set-up where lovers find each other across enemy turfs or something like that."
[Season One]Saukrates :: Season One
Frostbyte Media Inc.

Author: Matthew 'Matt G' Gutwillig"Though he may lack the international recognition of other Canadian emcees such as Drake, K'naan and Kardinal Offishall, Toronto artist Saukrates has proven to be one of the key hip-hop figures in the Great White North. Having been in the music industry for 18 years, Bigg Soxx has collaborated with Drake, Nelly Furtado, Method Man and Redman among others. He was also signed to Warner Bros. Records in 1996 and Def Jam in 2000, though he was dropped from both labels. After almost 13 years since his independent debut studio album "The Underground Tapes," Saukrates has finally come back with the April 2012 release of "Season One." The introspective material of "Season One" is the main reason Bigg Soxx stands out as an emcee and vocalist. "Before We Go" featuring Michelle Nyce contains a nice blend of orchestral and electronic sounds as the Toronto emcee reflects about his rocky relationship with a girl while he vows toward the end to make amends. As well, Saukrates' ability to seamlessly switch from rapping to singing at appropriate times during the tune is interesting. Similarly "Doorite" featuring Nickelus F and k-os is another solid track where the rapper reveals his past struggles where he misbehaved, yet his life experiences have made him more mature in the end. The standout tune on the record is the highly emotive "Sometimes" which contains effective buzzy keys and persistent drum line."

Atherton :: No Threat :: Vinyl Tap/Deep Thinka Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[No Threat]
"Four years ago when I first met Atherton, I knew less than I would have liked to about him, even though I'm a self-confessed fan of most things Canadian ranging from hockey to hip-hop. To be fair though it seems to be one of my foibles to be a "grass is greener on the other side" kind of guy, as I've long believed that Japanese animation is more intriguing than its American counterpart, and if you gave me a choice between a German beer and one from here there's a good chance I'd take the former first. The older I get the more I recognize this is a fairly common human failing - the desire to seek out that which is different from what we know, what we are, what we're accustomed to in daily life. It's easy to overrate something than what you know as better, just because the sheer difference is itself enjoyable. It's only through experience that you learn to appreciate the subtle differences. There's thousands of hours of anime out there, but some are clearly better to watch than others. There are hundreds of German beers, but some clearly exceed others in the quality of flavor or alcoholic potency when consumed. In that same fashion I've come to appreciate that although Atherton can be defined as "a Canadian rapper," that there's an incredibly deep and wide variation in what a rapper from Canada can be. A first time listener might simply be impressed that dopeness springs forth from his beats and rhymes, but upon deeper inspection and comparing him to his peers, it's clear that he's something special."

The Jet Age of Tomorrow :: Voyager :: Odd Future
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **

as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

"If you're going to journey to a far away destination like 5th Echelon, it probably helps if you have a spaceship that can carry you there. Even if that journey is a metaphorical travel to the inner recesses of your mind, to see what dark and strange thoughts you can find, you still need a way to take that trip. Judging by the music and lyrics of OFWGKTA they probably trip a lot, and The Jet Age of Tomorrow duo of Mart Martians and Hal Williams probably trip more than most. Jet Age is best served by the fact their first official album "Voyager" was released for free in 2010 through their Tumblr page for a variety of reasons. In their typically rude and in your face manner, Golf Wang describes this album as a "fucking album full of off-kilter and unorthodox sounds" and just to make sure they make up for a lack of lyrics on it swear a little more and call it "fucking instrumentals on some space type sci-fi shit." Well how a-fucking-bout that? The description is accurate though. If this was pressed up on a physical CD, record stores would have a hard time figuring out where to shelve it. It's not quite hip-hop, even though there's a hard slapping beat to the opener "Welcome Aboard Voyager." Eventually a flight attendant informs you that you're over 53,688 hours from getting back to Earth. That works out to 2,237 days or over six light years away. "

Kosha Dillz :: The Jet Lag EP ::
as reviewed by Mike Baber

[The Jet Lag EP]
"For casual hip-hop listeners, the name "Kosha Dillz" is unlikely to ring a bell. The Israeli-American emcee has remained an underground artist since breaking onto the New York freestyle battle scene as a teenager in 1999, and despite performing at South by Southwest in 2011, few outside the community of underground hip-hop fans are familiar with his body of work. Millions of Americans, though, myself being one of them, were unwittingly exposed to his music through the popular "Here We Go" Bud Light commercial, which features a portion of his song "Cellular Phone," after it aired during the 2012 Super Bowl. While the dog in the commercial steals the show, fetching beers for partygoers anytime someone shouts "Here We Go," I was nonetheless impressed that an underground artist was chosen for such a high-profile advertisement. I was even more intrigued after doing some background research and hearing RZA call him "one of the rawest Jewish kids I know" after the two collaborated on the track "Operator," with Kosha spitting alongside the legendary Kool G Rap. With my interest heightened, I dove into his latest release, "The Jet Lag EP," excited to hear what else he had in store. At only six tracks in length, "The Jet Lag EP" doesn't leave any room for filler material from Kosha Dillz. He makes the most out of the short time he has, though, aided by production from Nate G., who samples from the Black Keys, Wavves, and Unknown Mortal Orchestra, among others. "

Oh No :: Ohnomite :: Brick Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

"What do you get when you combine Michael Jackson with Rudy Ray Moore? "Ohnomite." I know that doesn't sound right, but you have to consider that there's more than one Michael Jackson, and this one is better known as Oxnard, California's own "Oh No." I suppose whether or not you're hyped about the end result at this point is strictly based on whether you're familiar with the Dolemite legacy of comedy albums and blaxploitation movies. If you're not, let's talk about the guest stars that Oh No roped into this album instead. Roc C and Chino XL both star on "Time." Green Eyed Bandit slash Funklord Erick Sermon drops in on "Runnin' The Show." You can hear Sticky Fingaz on "Whoop Ass," Termanology on "Sound Off," Damani on "Let's Roll," Rapper Big Pooh and Phil Da Agony on "You Don't Know Me" and Phife Dawg on "Dues N Don'ts." Is that not enough for you? Then peep this: MF DOOM is on "3 Dollars." Oh No has long been one of the best rated producers in reviews on this website, so if you even have the least inkling of how funky giving Oh No "unlimited access" to the archives of Rudy Ray Moore would be, I think you realize how enjoyable it would be to let him loop these beats and cherry pick his favorite emcees to flow over them."

Wordburglar :: 3rdburglar :: URBNET Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

"It's possible that in 2012 being a punchline rapper has become passÚ, but Wordburglar proves on "So Much Time" that he never got the memo, proudly proclaiming "I rap for people who really love rapping/heard so much crap that they stop and say 'WHAT'S THAT?'" Both things encapsulate Matt Tomer's reaction to him in 2006. In short Tomer appreciated that Word was "lighthearted enough to avoid stagnancy" yet simultaneously disappointed Word felt "being silly [was] an adequate excuse for dropping wack rhymes." Since I own a copy of the album he covered, I feel both statements were accurate, but they also define Wordburglar as he was six years ago. Perhaps Wordburglar has evolved. As it turns out SOME of this criticism of Word is still fair in 2012. There's no question he's still a lighthearted, comical dude who believes in punchlines first in his rhymes. There are times you might even think he's only writing to amuse himself, but that's not necessarily bad. The late Mitch Herberg built his entire shtick around writing down anything he thought of that seemed funny, and as it turned out most of the time when he told other people they found it amusing too. By the "3rd" go around though, Word has delved even deeper into another thing Tomer mentioned that may or may not have been complimentary - nerdy topics."

Zomby :: Dedication :: 4AD
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor

"The line between instrumental hip-hop and other types of electronic music gets hazier every day. Producers like Clams Casino and AarabMuzik make hip-hop beats that draw from ambient and electronic music. On the other end of the spectrum are albums like British electronic producer Zomby's latest, "Dedication." It is classified as dubsteb, but it sounds an awful lot like hip-hop. The album opens up with "Witch Hunt." With its skittering hi-hats and gunshots, it sounds like Southern street rap. "Alothea" has icy synths and the pulsing beat of downtempo dance music, but it has a bounce that you could imagine A$AP Rocky rapping over. "Vortex" has a nice grimey feel, and the gunshots, hi-hats, and snapping snares return in "Things Fall Apart." Even some of the more straightforward electronic songs, like the sinister and stripped down "Riding With Death," throw in what sounds like Lil Wayne saying "Yeah!" Not all of the album could be mistaken for hip-hop. "Natalia's Song," a collaboration with Brazillian producer Reark, has a hiccuping beat, female vocals, and swelllng synths. "Vanquish" is a straight ambient piece; "Lucifer" sounds like 90s rave music; "Black Orchid" is a 90-second keyboard solo punctuated with video game sound effects. "

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