Wednesday May 23, 2018

The (W)rap Up - Week of March 16, 2010
Posted by Emanuel Wallace at Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010 at 12:00AM :: Email this article :: Print this article

Gorillaz :: Plastic Beach
Virgin/EMI Records

Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon

"The concept of virtual reality has become increasingly familiar to the average Joe in the last 20 years. Previous to that it was largely the domain of science fiction and Hollywood thrillers, made menacing by the likes of Jobe Smith in The Lawnmower Man or as familiar and friendly as a Star Trek holodeck. The emergence of the world wide web made the concept much more accessible to the layperson as the internet was no longer a text-only world, and one could not only conceive of but participate in realities that only existed electronically. The graphics have only become more realistic as hard drives and computing power grew exponentially, leading to interesting moral and philosophical debates about the nature of reality and what if any limits should be placed on role-playing games and simulations of real life. Increasingly the lines between what is real and what is computer fantasy have become, shall we say, BLURRED."
B. Dolan :: Fallen House Sunken City :: Strange Famous Records
as reviewed by Eric Sirota

"B. Dolan's Alias-produced "Fallen House, Sunken City" is a difficult album. Within the wonderful world of hip-hop criticism, this characterization is not necessarily an insult, and, coming from someonone as snobbish as myself, it is likely a compliment. I would describe some of my favorite rap albums as difficult. Saul Williams' self-titled is "difficult" because it is intellectually challenging. Clipse's "We Got It 4 Cheap, Vol. II" mixtape is “difficult” in its disturbing amorality. El-P's "Fantastic Damages" is a “difficult” listen because of its innovative, dissonant, and dense production style. Indeed, to call an album "difficult" is often to label that album "iconoclastic," "emotive," or "critical." But when I call "Fallen House" "difficult,” I mean, first and foremost, that it is exhausting."

B.o.B :: May 25th :: LRG
as reviewed by Guido Stern

"There's no hiding the influence of Andre 3000 on the precious 21-year old B.o.B aka Bobby Ray. Most obviously his moniker calls to mind OutKast's epic hodgepodge of funk, soul and gospel that some, Pitchfork in particular, argue is the pinnacle track of the last decade. Uh, a lot to live up to. Furthermore, B.o.B alternates between rapping, singing and producing, and on songs like 2008's single "I'll Be in the Sky," its obvious B.o.B is working with the blueprint set down by 3000's "The Love Below."

You can also hear traces of Devin the Dude and Kanye West in B.o.B's music, but he's the rare virtuoso who, at his best, is able to transcend pastiche and create a unique sound of his own. When XXL handed out its final grades for its much discussed Top 10 Freshmen of 2009, B.o.B beat out the likes of Kid CuDi, Wale, Mickey Factz and Blu—largely because he kept his mouth shut and continued to release good music, unaffected by the pressure to be more accessible (a trap both Kid CuDi and Wale fell into). "

Consequence :: Movies On Demand :: G.O.O.D. Music
as reviewed by Pedro 'DJ Complejo' Hernandez

"Consequence has come a long way in his career. I'm not even referring to his roots with the Native Tongues crew. A few months before he released his debut album on Kanye's G.O.O.D. Music, I stumbled upon a popular online hip-hop store that was running an embarrassing special. Free with any purchase were as many copies of Consequence's "Take ‘Em to the Cleaners" as you would like. Seriously. The site suggested you take more than one and give them out to friends if you wished. Obviously, this was a unique situation where oversupply and underwhelming demand lead to disastrous results, but it would still be the lowest of lows for any artist. Consequence was by no means bad, but he was up to that point a very average rapper who was perceived to be riding some ancient hype for his entire career. "Don't Quit Your Day Job" did wonders for his career. Even the naysayers had to give the man his props. "

DJ Khaled :: Victory :: E1 Music
as reviewed by Emanuel Wallace

"Back in the late 80's, a decision was made to lower the maximum number of rounds in a boxing match from 15 to 12. The major catalysts from this change was a concern that the longer fights were too long and findings that proved the most serious brain damage was caused in latter rounds of any given fight. Following a tragic contest in 1982 between Ray Mancini and Duk Koo Kim, which resulted in a 14th round TKO victory for Mancini and a head trauma-related death four days later for Kim, reform started to sweep over boxing's sanctioning organizations. At this point, you're probably wondering why in the hell I'm talking about boxing here on RapReviews. Well, this album has twelve tracks on it and it's titled "Victory". The temptation was too much for me to resist. "

JG Tha Jugganaut :: The Jugganaut's Thoughts Vol. 1 : 792 :: {self-released}
as reviewed by Emanuel Wallace

"In 1989, The D.O.C. dropped an album called "No One Can Do It Better". Over the course of time, many people, including this reviewer, regard the album as one of the best albums of all time. On the album's eleventh song, "The Formula", D.O.C. breaks down rap into an acronym standing for "Rhythmic American Poetry". A more formal definition that I came across stated "A form of popular music developed especially in African-American urban communities and characterized by spoken or chanted rhyming lyrics with a strong rhythmic accompaniment." Interesting. Meet John Gibson. The former football player-turned-poet has lived everywhere from Akron, Ohio to Atlanta, Georgia, but he is currently based in Columbus. Grinding for many years on the spoken word circuit, he will be the first to say that he is not a rapper, but in that same breath he will proclaim that he will devour many of the cookie-cutter, assembly-line rappers of today."

J the S :: Wish You Were Here :: Hidden City Entertainment
as reviewed by Pete T.

"Following a series of mixtapes, his 2010 free "street album" "Wish You Were Here" arrives as a prelude to his upcoming debut "The Last Days." "Wish You Were Here" features fourteen new tracks with all original production and numerous collaborations.J the S sports an East Coast delivery and swagger, embodying his hunger on the impressive opener "Middle of the Storm" and the thought-provoking "Can We." Production comes from numerous producers, and the beats are consistently good. Although the music ranges from bouncy and horn-heavy to rumbling and street-ready, the arrangement and sound are strong throughout. The most notable contributor is acclaimed Australian beatsmith M-Phazes, who lends upbeat, energetic tracks for J the S to mold. "

Krayzie Bone :: Thug Mentality 1999 :: Ruthless/Mo Thugs/Relativity/Epic
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **
as reviewed by Pete T.

"Krayzie Bone had already explored the double-LP format with his group Bone Thugs-N-Harmony on 1997's successful "The Art of War," and two years later he returned with his first solo effort "Thug Mentality 1999." As you might expect, guests are quite frequent and range from bona fide superstars (Treach, 8Ball & MJG, Snoop Dogg, Kurupt, Fat Joe, Big Pun, Cuban Link, Mariah Carey, E-40, Gangsta Boo, The Marley Brothers, and the rest of BTNH) to his underwhelming protégés (Bam, Relay, Niko, Knieght Rieduz, K-Mont, Asu, GraveYard Shift, Up In Clouds, Thug Queen, Mo!Hart, and Felecia). At the time of "Thug Mentality 1999"'s release, Krayzie was hard at work establishing his ThugLine Records imprint, and many of the songs serve as introductions to his artists. The result is a sprawling and exhausting listen approaching 140 minutes with some quality music and some insignificant filler that has little business on an album, let alone a Krayzie Bone album. "

Kurupt :: Tha Streetz Iz a Mutha :: Antra/Artemis
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **
as reviewed by Pete T.

"Kurupt was a veteran of Long Beach's hip hop scene by 1999, a 26-year old who had already cemented a legacy for his contributions to the seminal albums "The Chronic" and "Doggystyle" and as one half of Tha Dogg Pound, whose 1995 debut "Dogg Food" served as a cornerstone of the Death Row discography and the larger g-funk movement. With Suge's label in his wake, he founded his own imprint through which to release his 1998 solo debut, the double-album "Kuruption!," with a disc each dedicated to his dual homes of Philadelphia and Long Beach. A year later "Tha Streetz Iz a Mutha" hit stores, and if the album cover portraying Kurupt sporting blue Chucks and a Dodgers cap wasn't an indication, it had both feet firmly planted in the West side despite a tracklist chock-full of star appearances from across the hip hop map. "

Lone Ninja :: Burnt Sector :: Holographic Pagoda Recordings
as reviewed by Louis 'Delicate Beats' Cloutier

"A strong Internet following is a strange phenomenon: persons can become famous in a field, yet be unknowns elsewhere. This can be said for underground Hip Hop champion MF Doom. After spending years reading about Hip Hop on my computer, it does seem to me that he is a "celebrity". Yet, I was very surprised when in 2004 he gained some actual mainstream fame for the critically acclaimed "Madvillainy".

MF Doom is so influential that even though he has never experienced any substantial commercial success, he has artists following in his footsteps. Lone Ninja is a case in point. Everything about his new LP "Burnt Sector" is reminiscent of Metal Fingers. He wears a sinister costume on his promotional pictures. He delivers monotonous flows filled with cryptic lyrics in all of his songs. Everything from MF Doom's blueprint is covered. "

Lord Tariq & Peter Gunz :: Make it Reign :: Codeine/Columbia/Sony
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **
as reviewed by Matt Jost

"Some years ago, on the occasion of reviewing a mixtape by his partner's son, this site wondered, 'Why on earth did Tariq leave Money Bo$$ Playas for them?' - them being 'the short-lived duo Lord Tariq & Peter Gunz.' Like it or not, some rap acts just don't get off the ground, as promising as their first steps are (and the Money Boss Players material that could be heard on mid-'90s mixtapes sure as hell was promising). But the Soundview projects crew wasn't Lord Tariq's only outlet in the first half of the '90s. He had been a member of the Bounce Squad, appearing on Doo Wop mixtapes, and was in a group named Gunrunnerz(/s), who on their '95 EP "Life and Death" also included Peter Gunz, a Bronx representative himself. Shortly after Lord Tariq began to draw further attention to himself with guest appearances, most notably on Real Live's "Real Live Shit (Remix)," "

Nas :: Pre-Illmatic Mixtape ::
as reviewed by Jesal 'Jay Soul' Padania

"The Nas "Pre-Illmatic Mixtape" – well, that's what people have dubbed it, anyway... Others call it "The Demo" or "The Radio Rips." I just call it one of the most fascinating things I've ever heard. It "fell into my lap" about five or six years ago, now. I can't even remember how, to be honest, as it certainly wasn't recommended to me (I guess it was written – sorry). The premise: the collection of songs that Nas recorded BEFORE "Illmatic" was released. However, this has since evolved into "The Demo" that Nas sent around in order to get a deal (technically, this can't quite be true of every song, as we'll find out later). There are ten songs, mostly sounding as if ripped from cassette, with various quirks, kinks and cuts – so if you're expecting some sort of glistening modern day product, think again. This is RAW. Crucially, the content is much more relevant than the package and anyone that loves "Illmatic" but hasn't heard this, well your world is about to be rocked. "

Nneka :: The Uncomfortable Truth :: Yo Mama's Recording Company
as reviewed by Pedro 'DJ Complejo' Hernandez

"RapReviews is as straight to the point as website domain names go. We review rap. Rap reviews are found on the site. Labels and publicists still insist on pushing upon us other genres of music from time to time. For the most part, we are simply caught in the wide net casts by labels who will take publicity wherever they can find it. On occasion, we do receive an album that for one reason or another merits a bending of the rules. Nneka earns a pass for two reasons, she actually does rap on occasion and many of her musical backdrops are clearly grounded in hip-hop. Add to that the fact that her music is very good and she released a mixtape with the highly regarded DJ J. Period and it's clear she's earned enough stripes to get our attention. "

Z-Man :: Show Up, Shut Up, and Rap EP :: Machete Vox Records
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor

"Bay Area rapper Z-Man was the highlight of 2008's excellent "Sneak Preview" comp. At the time, I wrote that Z-Man's label, Machete Vox, was "what hip hop should sound like." Unfortunately, I had to wait over a year for the label to put out any new product. This 8-song free EP is Z-Man's first project since the compilation. Typical–everyone and their mother is dropping a mixtape a week, and the guy you actually want to hear is taking his own sweet time to release anything. At least it's worth the wait. Beats are handled by Boac and DNAE Beats, the team behind Machete Vox. They bring their signature sound: liberal doses of 80s 808s, a dash of hyphy's dancey energy, some Bay Area funk, and just a pinch of street rap grit. "Cupcaking" is prime Machete Vox, three minutes of banging hip hop with booming bass, clattering handclap beats, and 80s synths that sound like OMD's "If You Leave" getting a beatdown."

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