Sunday May 27, 2018

The (W)rap Up for 2012 - July [2 of 2]
Posted by Emanuel Wallace at Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013 at 7:05PM :: Email this article :: Print this article

Fat Boys :: Fat Boys :: Tin Pan Apple
as reviewed by Emanuel Wallace
[Pizza Box Set]
"Before Biggie, Rick Ross, Heavy D, Big Pun, Chubb Rock or any other chunky phenoms in hip-hop, there were the Fat Boys. If you wanted to look at the Brooklyn-bred trio as a husky man's version of Run- D.M.C., I'd wholeheartedly agree with you. While immortalized first by Chris Rock in the movie "Boomerang" and subsequently in a famous lyric by Jay-Z, the Fat Boys are largely overlooked in the pantheon of hip-hop legends. For anyone who might've missed it, the Fat Boys were the first to record beatboxing on wax, part of the first corporate-sponsored rap concert, had a appearance in "Krush Groove," garnered video rotation on MTV and were one of the first rap groups to tour in Europe. The story of The Disco 3's meteoric rise to stardom is an interesting one. Prince Markie Dee, Kool Rock Ski and Buff Love the Human Beatbox met during their childhood in the eastern section of Brooklyn. Inspired by "Rapper's Delight," the guys decided that they would form their own rap group. There were originally three other members in the crew and they billed themselves as The Hypnotize Five featuring DJ Doc Nice (aka Buff Love). The group would become the Disco 3 after it became evident that the other three weren't as dedicated to the mission at hand. The 3 began performing at talent shows in the area and soon enough, the 3 found themselves entering WBLS' Tin Pan Apple Dance & Rap Contest. " :: Starcrossed :: Galapagos4
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

"We last heard from Batsauce almost a year ago on the album "Bat Meets Blaine," but for those who missed the review or don't remember who he is, let me offer you this brief introduction. With no cape or cowl, Batsauce is the dark knight of hip-hop production, lacing Beantown emcees like Mr. Lif and Akrobatik with dope beats. Interesting given that he hails from Jacksonville, Florida. Actually he's worked with a lot of people ranging from Bahamadia to George Clinton, but as producers go he's generally one I associate with the East coast emcees, because that's where you generally find his name in the liner notes. For "Starcrossed" Batsauce has decided to venture out on his own, going down the instrumental album path that feels increasingly familiar these days. I find myself taking a moment in the middle of this review to ponder why we don't see instrumental albums from DJ Premier and Kanye West, and then it occurs to me that anything good enough for such an album would be good enough for a top emcee or more in your rare music industry win/win where they both bank bucks off the units sold. I considered leaving that out though because it would appear I'm slighting Batsauce by saying Jay-Z wouldn't want to rap over his tracks. " Lauren :: Respect the Fly Shit :: L.R.G./Greedhead
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor

[Respect the Fly Shit]
"Queens rapper Meyhem Lauren has been around since 2004. He's done a lot of work with J-Love, including a 2007 album "Acknowledge Greatness." He's part of the Outdoorsmen with Action Bronson and Jay Steele. A solo album is allegedly in the works, as well as several other mixtapes. In between working on those projects, he found time to record this album in a hotel room in Austin in two days during this year's South By Southwest festival. Meyhem Lauren is part of the new breed of underground New York rappers who are revitalizing hip-hop in the city where rap was born. He draws from classic 90s rappers like Ghostface Killah, but with a modern sensibility. He's accompanied on the mic by many of the other rappers helping to put NYC back on the map: Action Bronson, Heems, Sean Price, Smoke DZA, AG Da Coroner and Roc Marciano. He gets it started off right with "Fingerless Gloves. Over a menacing beat, he spits nonstop for two minutes. He starts off with "I ain't bringing shit back New York we never left/My flow is dangerous/Spit a banger that could sever flesh," and doesn't slow down until the 90 second mark. He gets romantic on "Let's Hold Hands," his first love song." Report (Eddie Logix & D. Allie) :: Summer School (The Remix Album) :: Progress Report Music
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Summer School (The Remix Album)]
"D. Allie and Eddie Logix are Progress Report, a Detroit underground collaboration of rapper and producer into one group, although it would be a mistake to say Eddie doesn't flex on the mic too. Now I must confess it feels a bit out of place to review this album, because although I'm familiar with D. Allie this is the first Progress Report album we've covered, AND it's a remix album to boot. I suspect I'd be better prepared had I heard the original versions of these songs, but I'll just have to roll with it. "Summer School (The Remix Album)" falls into that range of being too long to be called an EP, but feeling a little short for a full album, unless that album is "Dead Serious" by Das EFX. As for the producers providing remixes for the crew, it's a cornucopia of names that are undoubtedly friends with either or both members of PR: Mork Choklad, Doc Illingsworth, SKRAPZ, Semi-Tone and even British Knights - I can only assume no relation to the sneakers. There's an advantage to not having heard the originals after all - I can be completely objective about the work of these men."


[Straight, No Chaser]

"It's not just that Reks is pondering the problems and perils of life on "Sit/Think/Drink," it's that his impeccable flow is paired with the beautiful ivory melodies and softly strummed snares Statik selected, all with a cut and scratched hook of Common saying "I sit and think with a drink about how I'm gonna win." THIS is hip-hop. Whatever you're doing right now, if you haven't heard this song, scroll back up to the video and press play THEN continue this review. I implore you to not miss out on this song. Actually I implore you not to miss out on this album. "Straight, No Chaser" is 48 minutes of Reks that goes by too fast - and I'm not talking about the "Power Lines" featuring Ea$y Money seems to pick up tempo gradually from start to finish. It's probably my ears playing tricks on me though, or just the fact I get amped up listening. Guest appearances are kept to a minimum though, and only figure in where appropriate - such as Action Bronson on the buddy flick "Riggs & Murtaugh," Alias on "Sins" and Slaine on the title track. He's keeping things very East and very Boston, which is fine by me, because a Reks album wouldn't sound right any other way. " :: The Photo Album :: Wordwide Communication
as reviewed by Zach 'Goose' Gase

[The Photo Album]
"When Wordsworth came onto the scene back in the late 90s (appearing on tracks with Black Star and A Tribe Called Quest), his aggressive flow and rhyme scheme was among the sharpest in underground hip hop. It's 2012 and not much has changed for the veteran wordsmith. It's been eight years since his last solo opus, "Mirror Music" and the Brooklyn emcee is back again with "The Photo Album," which is packed with both heavy weight lyricism and touching personal stories. Wordsworth is lyrically as sharp as they come, and he has not lost a step since "Mirror Music." His aggressive flow and intricate rhyme schemes are apparent on tracks like opener, "Destiny." Hip hop heads will come for the wordplay, but the album also consists of some pretty deep and moving subject matter. On the Are produced "Coloring Book," Wordsworth uses brilliant imagery, describing the colors of his neighborhood. On "The Oldest" he talks about being the man of the house, after losing his father. Lyrically, you're going to have a hard time finding many albums that match "The Photo Album," verse for verse. But similarly to his debut, Wordsworth's shortcomings taint what would be a great album, making it only a good, albeit a very good album."

[God Forgives, I Don't]Rick Ross :: God Forgives, I Don't
Maybach Music/Def Jam

Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon"There's always been this attempt to divide "the real" from "the mainstream." What those two things are is a nebulous concept which invariably is in the eye of the beholder, which is why where possible I attempt to reject those paradigms. I've always believed that once you create something you intend to distribution to the masses, publishing it is in itself a definition. Put more plainly, the only difference between Aceyalone and Rick Ross is the number of units sold. The only "underground" artist in the modern era is one who records only for his/her own edification and never shares it with anyone. If you put it on YouTube or Bandcamp, you're not underground any more. You might be "independent," but you've been seen. Some rappers actually refuse to see "the light," literally beleving their music will be tainted by more people hearing it. Make art for yourself then. The only chance of being pure is to never publish it or sell it at all. Some heads enjoy being elite. They enjoy thinking they know something other people don't. They enjoy looking down their noses at what's "popular" and holding up their favorite rap artists as being more refined and pure than what's on your playlist. To a certain segment of the audience, it is beneath their dignity to listen to Rick Ross, Drake, Lil Wayne or Jay-Z solely and only based on the fact they are mainstream. You don't have to go to many rap concerts to see this in practice - a Brother Ali fan who snubs Busta Rhymes - and you if you have the temerity to like both. Rap criticism has helped create this atmosphere though because from websites to blogs to magazines we hold up X over Y and say "This is what you should be buying." And while there's value in praising what's good and dismissing what's not, ultimately those judgments should be only a guideline and not a roadmap to your personal taste."Ab-Soul :: Control System :: Top Dawg Entertainment
as reviewed by Zach 'Goose' Gase
[Control System]

"Ab-Soul has had quite a year. The previous rhyme is an excerpt from "The Book of Soul," which was dedicated to his long time girlfriend Alori Joh, whom committed suicide back in February. In March, he and his Black Hippy crew (which consists of Soul, Jay Rock, Schoolboy Q, and Kendrick Lamar) signed a deal with Aftermath/Interscope. And in May, Ab-Soul released his second independent album through Top Dawg Entertainment, "Control System." Ab-Soul is definitely the most unique emcee out of the Californian quartet, as his style is very lyrical and introspective. "Control System" has a very dark feel, thanks to in-house production provided by various members of the Digi+Phonics production crew. The Danny Brown assisted, "Terrorist Threats" is a very paranoid track where the two up-and-coming lyricists trade verses speaking on government conspiracy theories: "I seen images of Hitler in the picture when the Twin Towers dropped." Another one of the album's many gems is "Double Standards," in which Ab-Soul raps about the double standard of male/female relationships. "Control System" isn't an entirely bleak affair however. There are many less serious tracks that perfectly balance out the album and show that Ab-Soul, while not as versatile as say Kendrick, is a pretty well-balanced emcee. "Bohemian Grove" is a nice smooth party track, in which he displays his intricate lyricism over a pretty lighthearted track. "Lust Demons" is another example of Ab-Soul's versatility, as he can make a sexual song, which features Jay Rock and BJ the Chicago Kid's best Marvin Gaye impression (and frankly he nails it), while still being able to make a song as deep and analytical as "Double Standards." He holds his own against one of hip hop's brightest young stars in Kendrick Lamar on "Illuminate" and the drugged out "Mixed Emotions" is equally phenomenal."

A-Wax :: Everybody Loves Me Chapter 1 :: Illburn Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon[Everybody Loves Me Chapter 1]
"A-Wax has the California hard knock bio you've probably heard before, save for the fact he came from a neighborhood called Pittsburg that's nowhere near Pennsylvania. He did a few years bid in jail, spent his free time writing rhymes, and got out determined to hustle in the rap game legal. He sold albums hand to hand, out the trunk or at shows, and his role models were fellow Bay Area entrepeneurs like JT the Bigga Figga. After grinding for long enough, he graduated to the next level - getting signed to a distribution deal and getting "Everybody Loves Me Chapter 1" available at He's even got a catchy and colorful crossover song called "Willy Wonka." A-Wax obviously has good connects, because besides getting the sample from "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" cleared, he gets some candy sweet cameos on the album. French Montana and Styles P make appearances on "Fly Pelican," and Mistah FAB drops bars on one of the album's best songs - "Been Thru Everything." Other stand out songs on this 12 track release include the electro-futuristic "The Way I Hustle" featuring Luke Bingham (like a Future song, but good) and the Gotye sampling song (another hefty clearance I'm sure) of the same name "Somebody That I Used to Know." "

B-Pos :: Pos Tapes - The Album :: One League Entertainment
as reviewed by Matthew 'Matt G' Gutwillig

[Pos Tapes - The Album]
"Conscious rap has played an important element of hip-hop culture since the early 1980's. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five's "The Message" was the first conscious rap single to propel the genre into the radio waves and TV screens of mainstream America. "The Message" was able to accurately depict the bleak social conditions of poverty, violence and alienation experienced by many living in the ghetto. This track fundamentally shifted rap music from the hands of deejays who dominated the scene with their scratching and blending techniques to emcees with the ability to express their own rhymes creatively and report what was occurring in their respective communities. San Francisco based rap group, B-Pos (short for Be Positive), has contributed to conscious rap independently throughout the years with the release of several mixtapes and albums. The rap collective consists of emcees D-Wiz, Goodword and Khafre along with DJ Johnny Venetti. Their latest record, "Pos Tapes- The Album," is said to be a "best-of" compilation of their trilogy of mixtapes, "Pos Tapes Vol. 1-3," which were released over the past two years. As a group, B-Pos is able to carry on the tradition of golden era hip-hop at times with a decent combination of consciousness and ability to showcase their technical rhyming ability."

Childish Gambino :: Sick Boi :: Childish Gambino
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **

as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Sick Boi]
"Even though Childish Gambino recently blew up with a major label album, the actor turned rapper had been dropping free mixtapes for years, dating back to "Sick Boi" in 2008. The thing is Donald Glover for whatever reason decided to literally be a SICK BOY on this first album, rapping the entire time like he had a bad cold, tissue stuffed up his nose or both. At the time I just couldn't take Gambino seriously, thinking he was mocking hip-hop and that he should probably not quit his day job as an actor and writer on NBC sitcoms. It was only on his later releases including "Camp" that I turned around on Gambino, and realized he actually takes his rapping seriously. Given that knowledge I decided "Sick Boi" is worth a second look. Having slept on the song the first time, I didn't pass on the dopeness of "Tru Dudes" on the second listen or any of the repeated ones since. A collaboration between mc chris and Gambino is like a nerd's hip-hop dream, but sadly it would only happen one more time on "Poindexter" before the two would part ways for unknown reasons. In fact the longer Gambino has been rapping the fewer collaborations he seems to do, which I find perplexing since they're some of the best tracks for him to cut loose and have fun. You can hear the same thing when he gets down with my man Chaz Kangas on "My Hoodie." "

Frank Ocean :: nostalgia, ULTRA :: Odd Future
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **

as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[nostalgia, ULTRA]
"No pun intended, but this is a bit of an odd album. This is the album that really blew Frank Ocean up in a big way. This is the album Jay-Z was listening to when he decided Ocean should sing hooks on "Watch the Throne." The story goes that Beyonce had a bootleg of it playing in the car, and Shawn was just amazed at how good of a crooner he was, and the rest is history. This is one of those apocryphal hip-hop stories that's so good I'm not even going to complain if it's not true, because like most stories that revolve around Odd Future members, the more unlikely they are the better. It's just as likely he was a ghostwriter for one of Beyonce's songs - but again, who cares? Frank went from "that singer from Odd Future" to "that dude on 'No Church in the Wild' I like." He really took off, to the point that "nostalgia, ULTRA" was supposed to get a major label re-release and wind up on store shelves nationwide. Unfortunately it never happened, and the reason why ISN'T a mystery. When he was just "that internet crooner" he and his producer pals freely sampled from various sources it would be cool for Ocean to sing over. He They didn't really go out of their way to hide this fact - the album is called "nostalgia" after all. He sings over Coldplay's song of the same name on "Strawberry Swing." He sings over Mr. Hudson's song of the same name on "There Will Be Tears." Those weren't even the ones that got him in trouble. "

Gee Dubs :: AM Shift :: Gifted Hoods
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[AM Shift]
"You can call it "New York to Cali" if you like, but it's more like Queens, NY rap artist Gee Dubs linking up with his favorite producer Mike Cali to release a new album called "AM Shift." Even that needs some clarification though, as Mike Chops produced 3 out of the 13 tracks on this album. SFAIK that's no relation to the ORIGINAL beat wunderkind Chops, but I think that's it as far as clarification goes. As long as we're giving out credits for this album though, Jay.W did the mastering and DJ Djaz provided all the scratches. Speaking of scratching, the album got off to a good note for me on the "Intro" by combining scratches of an alarm clock with KRS-One screaming "WAKE UP!" as he did on the song "Blackman In Effect" from "Edutainment." There aren't enough KRS-One samples in hip-hop these days. Gee has a nice delivery, lyrics that don't embarass me for listening to him speak, a flow that definitely shows some potential. Even though Gee hails from Queens, his vocal inflection reminds me more of Yonkers, being at times a dead ringer for either Styles P or Sheek Louch, and perhaps an amalgamation of the two. Songs breeze by very quickly, with all but one being under 4 minutes in length, and all but four being under 3:20. 2 of the 3 longest songs on the album "Anonymous" and "No Questions" feature his friends in the All City Crew, which explains how they were able to be stretched out."

Open Mike Eagle :: 4NML HSPTL :: Fake Four Inc.
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor

"L.A. rapper Open Mike Eagle first came on the scene in 2007 as part of Thirsty Fish with Dumfounded and Psychosiz. He came up through L.A.'s Project Blowed, and was also part of the Swim Team. He released his first solo record, the excellent "Unapologetic Art Rap," in 2010. On that album, he attempted to forge his own path in the hip-hop world with something he calls art rap. Art rap is a criticism of both the shallow, disposable mainstream hip-hop and ossified underground hip-hop that is so obsessed with the four elements that it can't evolve past 1995. He released another album in 2011, and has put out several EPs. "4NML HSPTL" is his third solo record. All of the production on the album is handled by Awkward. Even though he's from the U.K. his beats fit in with the glitchy aesthetic of L.A. producers like Shlohmo and Take. The beats are equal parts electro, IDM, and distorted electronica. It's miles away from the sample-based boom-bap that the underground reveres and the pop sheen of mainstream rap. One of the most haunting tracks is "HSPTL." Awkward lays down some lonely, mournful synths, and Mike raps about dealing with recovering from alcoholism. "

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