If you missed any of the new reviews this past week including Run the Jewels' "Run the Jewels" then do yourself a favor and check out this week's edition of the (W)rap Up!
Run the Jewels :: Run the Jewels
Fool's Gold Records
Author: Patrick Taylor
"Killer Mike's El-P-produced "R.A.P. Music" was one of the last year's strongest albums, going neck-in-neck with El-P's own "Cancer 4 Cure." They brought out the best in one another: El-P's beats seemed to get Mike away from the Southern gangsta rap cliches he sometimes wallowed in, while Mike challenged El-P to move in a funkier direction, adding some swing to his often brutal beats. The two rappers toured together, and somewhere along the road decided to make an album together. "Run the Jewels" is the result. The fact that "Run the Jewels" exists is remarkable on several levels. For one thing, rap collabs are prone to never making it past the idea stage. Remember the Juelz Santana and Lil Wayne album? Or the Ghostface/DOOM album? Or "Madvilliany 2?" Then there is El-P's track record. In the two decades he's been rapping, El-P has released exactly four vocal albums: the first Company Flow record in 1996, "Fantastic Damage" in 2002, "I'll Sleep When You're Dead" in 2007, and "El-P: Cancer 4 Cure" in 2012. Granted, he's done a lot of instrumental albums and production, but when it comes to stepping up to the mic El Producto takes his sweet time. To go from an average of five years between albums to less than twelve months is pretty remarkable. That shortened time-frame shows in El-P's lyrics. He is one of the best lyricists in hip-hop, spinning intricate, complicated rhymes that play out more like short stories than rap songs. That El-P is not really present on "Run the Jewels." This isn't an album that he has obsessed over for years alone in his studio. This is a true collaboration, a project between two friends trading bars. The album has a loose feel, with most of the rhymes dedicated to shit-talking, like on the Big Boi assisted "Banana Clipper."
Cyrano Sinatra :: The Freedom Ain't Free :: Free At Last Music
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
"If you check his Twitter bio, Cyrano Sinatra hails from the city of HipHop, USA. Actually he hails from Greenville, North Carolina and was childhood friends with both Petey Pablo and Supastition if you take his bio at face value (and I have no reason not to). The defining moment in his life appears to have been his father's death in 2000, at which point he was "reborn" as Cy Yung with a pen in hand and plenty in his soul to write about. "Goldhearted" shows Cy has some serious beefs with AmeriKKKa, including a line which may not endear him to all: "See Barack Obama got white feet - so he might be really representing them and not me." OUCH. He's not the first politically motivated rapper to suggest Obama is part of the problem as opposed to the solution though, and with what Edward Snowden revealed about NSA surveillance, we should at least consider the possibility that we may be worse off now than we were under Dubya. Before I diverge too far down a political road though (registered independent and proud of it) I'm just saying that Cyrano isn't afraid to stir the pot, and I'm not mad at him for doing so. He also gets his digs on hip-hop though on "All About H.E.R.""
Dirty Dike :: Return of the Twat :: High Focus Records
as reviewed by Grant Jones
"Dirty Dike has been popular amongst the British Hip Hop scene over the last few years, and I was made aware of him thanks to his "Pork Pie" single in 2011. Not only was he a refreshingly immature personality, he got away with it thanks to some technically astute lyrics. "Return of the Twat" is actually Dike's third album, and he's not grown up one bit. The single "Return of the Twat" feels like some early Big L work, with internal rhyme schemes aplenty despite the childish and ultimately ignorant content. Of course, it sounds nothing like Big L, but the unabashed harshness in the language and delivery is reminiscent of the legendary Harlem rapper. The problem with this release is that it's let down by being too damn repetitive. Every track sees Dike boast about how dirty he is, how he inexplicably has a lot of sex and generally acts proud of being many parent's worst nightmare. "There He Goes" is one of the best beats I've heard all year and actually benefits from Dike's aggressive demeanour. Another track worth your time is "Catch Me If You…Nah", a short and pretty pointless story documenting Dike (presumably) escaping the police. The beat certainly isn't pointless, a jumpy, throwback Naive production that bangs harder than, well, a dirty you-know-what. And that's where the strength in "Return of the Twat" lies, the production. Even the magnum opus of the album, "Future Posse Cut One Thousand", a strong lineup of the cream of current UK Hip Hop, sees only Dr Syntax and Stig of the Dump provide any real creativity in their verses. "
effect & dang :: You Don't Love Me And I Don't Care :: Los Wunder Twins Del Record Label/Bandcamp
as reviewed by Jaroslav 'Czechone' Lavick
"Over the years Boston has produced some talented and, at times, under-appreciated hip hop artists. Most people who know a bit about underground hip hop would be familiar with names such as Ed O.G., Krumb Snatcha, Mr. Lif, Akrobatik, Termanology, REKS, 7L and Esoteric, and of course the late Guru. MC Effect and producer Dang don't share the same notoriety as those artists, but their album "You Don't Love Me And I Don't Care" is a big step in the right direction towards raising their status closer to those bigger names. In fact, they belong right next to those names based on the quality of this album. Effect has actually been around for a few years, having released a few solo albums/EPs, and also has a couple releases with veteran Bostonite D-Tension, under the guise "Los Wunder Twins Del Rap". Effect's last album, "Simply Dope", was also produced by Dang, and for this new album Dang's name is taken from the liner notes of the last album and put alongside Effect on the cover to represent them more as an official duo, and what an impressive duo they are. The album's name and cover suggest something you'd expect to find filed alongside Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance in your local record store (if your city still has one), but it's far removed from anything like that. Effect mentioned in an interview that the cover is actually a picture of his father looking badass when he was young, and the title is a reference to a sample on the album which Effect liked so much that he named the album after it. "
Endemic :: Quarantine :: No Cure Records
as reviewed by Grant Jones
"UK Hip Hop has always been heavily influenced by the Golden-Era, New York boom bap sound. Whether it be Blade and Phi Life Cypher rapping with American accents or the gritty, scratch-infused production that still features predominately on key artists such as Jehst and Klashnekoff's records, it makes me proud to be a British hip hop fan. Whilst the mainstream are still milking the ‘throw a female vocalist on the hook and it's a hit' formula, the hip hop community itself still fully embraces that throwback sound, but always threw a British twist in to the equation. Endemic is a producer from Nottingham that has always had a healthy combination of both American and British in his beats. 2009's "Terminal Illness" was well-received by fans on both sides of the pond despite being nothing more than a bunch of hard raps and hard beats. But sometimes that's all you need with hip hop – as long as the rhymes are interesting enough and delivered with a technically refined manner, and the beat bangs, many rap fans are happy enough. The problem with a lot of producer-centric compilation records is that the strength of the album lays in the individual songs rather than the overall package. Statik Selektah, Pete Rock and numerous others have tried to craft records that showcase their talents, but usually end up being half good, half skippable. Fortunately, Endemic's prelude to the inevitable "Terminal Illness 2" consists of mostly strong examples of street rap."
Kyle Rapps :: SUB :: MishkaNYC
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
"First impressions of Kyle Rapps led listeners to believe he was on a mission to recapture the Boogie Down Productions sound of the late 1980's and early 1990's. Listening to "SUB" creates a new and entirely different impression. Rapps now sounds more like an avant garde experimental rapper from Los Angeles or Vancouver, even though he's a New Jerseyite who moved to Harlem. The suburbs are more than casually referenced throughout the album, which reflects both the album's title and Rapps' own upbringing. That may also account for the fact that while Rapps wants to be as grimy as his cohort Bronson, he doesn't have that street slanguage tinge to his delivery. It would be far worse to fake it if he doesn't have it, so the honestly stilted way he speaks is both endearing and occasionally a bit frustrating. Rapps certainly has the respect of his peers, as he gets a cameo from Murs on electro-technical "Architecture" and Spaceman on the whistling and hi-hat heavy "Coco Puffs." The thing that doesn't seem to click is Belief's backdrops. It's not that he lacks technical excellence in any aspect of his construction - the vocals are well mixed, the layering is clean, the beats are on time and the songs are perfectly polished - it's just that I don't like the technological sound. It sounds like hip-hop for robots to do the robot to. Even a song like "Partycrasher" that mellows out the digital edges still feels too synthetic."
Nems :: Fuck Your Love :: Creative Juices Music
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
"Nems will be the first to admit he's not the easiest rapper to love. In fact Nems revels in flipping people off, and not just on the cover of his latest album "Fuck Your Love." Despite the fact he raps like a living breathing version of Katie Kaboom, he's giving away "Fuck Your Love" for free as a download - an act of generosity. Despite that he's so mad at being underrated and underpaid he devotes an entire track called "No Talking" to bitching about "fuck boys." Nems is the textbook definition of homophobically incorrect. In the aforementioned song alone he freely drops slurs like "nigga you too bitch" and "I'm a vet homo" - and just when you think he's done he accuses "faggot niggaz" of "tasting every color of the rainbow." It tempts one to play armchair psychologist and try to make sense of his rage, but "pops died - mom at work - I had to raise myself" as heard on "Take It Away" probably sums up his issues best. In between the bursts of anger and rage there's skill to be found and beats that do a good job of supporting it. Joe Josh does 50% of the beats and deservedly so. The ambient echoing backdrop of "Deliverance" gives Nems room to breathe and makes his pain more personal."
Supastition :: The Blackboard EP :: Reform School Music/Bandcamp
as reviewed by Grant Jones
"Music lovers all over the world could argue indefinitely over whether the rap game needs Jay-Z in 2013, but his legendary status certainly helps keep hip hop in the limelight. Of course, this lyric was written over 12 years ago when Jigga was releasing critically acclaimed records that also sold like hot cakes. The reason I've referenced Mr Carter is because he semi-retired before it became fashionable. We've seen Eminem, Jin and countless others hang up their mics only to return a few years later. Supastition has recently done just that, having grown tired of "the game". Where Supastition differs is the fact that he was an indie rapper who had slowly been making waves in the underground through endless collaborations. Little Brother, Royce Da 5'9'', Apathy, there is no denying Supastition has worked with some talented artists, so it was strange to seem him change his name to Kam Moye about five years ago. His music became a little less rugged, but maintained a solid, authentic sound. It didn't change his fortunes, if anything it confused listeners. With "The Blackboard EP", Supastition seems to be dipping his toes back in before unleashing a genuine full-length (although including bonus tracks, this is ten tracks deep). For the most part, Supastition hasn't lost his flow or technique for rolling rhymes out over dope beats. If anything, he sounds hungrier – especially on "Daydream" where he insists that no matter how hard it is to be a successful rapper, it's a dream worth working for. "
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