various artists :: Underground Hip-Hop Volume 5
Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon
"The fine people at URBNET Records have been putting out compendiums of "Underground Hip-Hop" since 2002. When we last looked at one such compilation Matt Jost had this to say: "All contributions here are somewhat on the same level in terms of quality. Once you've adjusted yourself to that level, there's little to criticize, which is certainly something the compilers can be proud of. The downside of this unison is that hardly a beat, hardly a verse stand out, whether on this sampler nor in the greater scheme of things." It's not as though Matt said the album was boring or unlistenable, but he may still have damned the very thing he set out to praise. Compilations are a tough sell even in the best of times, and the economic structure is much tougher now than it was then. For "Volume 5" to succeed it needs songs that REALLY stand out - hits even before the actual CD hits stores."
Brawdcast :: The Quest for Human Completion :: Psychonavigation Records
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor
"This is the second album from Orange County rapper Brawdcast, following his 2006 debut "Suburban Spokesman." He won "Best Hip Hip Artist" in the Orange County Music Awards in 2006, 2007, and 2008, which says at least something about his skills on the mic. "The Quest for Human Completion" is his second album, on UK label Psychonavigation Records. It's interesting that an obscure O.C. rapper got hooked up with an obscure Irish ambient electronica label, but there you have it. Brawdcast spits quick verses loaded with one-liners and focusing on positivity. As his debut album makes clear, he's suburban and proud, and doesn't pretend to be street. Instead, he raps about his search for spirituality and his relationship with God"http://rapreviews.com/archive/2010_04_questforhuman.htmlBully Blinders :: City of Dirt :: Home Records
as reviewed by Pedro 'DJ Complejo' Hernandez "Your guess is as good as mine as to the overarching philosophical and social theories espoused by Blinders. Outside of an obvious disdain for the hunting of elephants, or elephant/bear mutants, much of Talls' rap verses consist of abstract and esoteric phrases that are hard to decipher. "Aim Low Kid" presents a much clearer vision from the emcee as he expresses his displeasure with the current school system and parents. His perceived belief is that the current system leads to underachievement and lack of motivation in kids. "Continental Breakfast" is even more direct in its message as it is literally an ode to cereals and breakfast. While anthems dedicated to the ordinary have been successful before, Del's "If You Must" comes to mind, "Continental Breakfast" takes the concept to the extreme. "http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2010_04_cityofdirt.htmlMetawon :: Choplifter! :: Neferiu/Work Turkey Music
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon"John Bailey a/k/a Metawon is a well regarded producer throughout the Western provinces of Canada, who along with his Work Turkey Music partners Planit and Cadilakid recently packed up their burgeoning hip-hop operation and relocated from Calgary to Vancouver. For those not familiar with Canadian provinces, an analogous comparison would be if Cash Money Records packed up and moved from New Orleans to Houston. While they're still in the same geographical region, it's a whole new scene and a whole new vibe with different artists and it's own distinctive flavor and atmosphere. The challenge for Work Turkey in general and Metawon specifically is to make the most of this move and continue to create the quality music that made them regionally successful thus far. "http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2010_04_choplifter.htmlRaheem :: The Vigilante :: Rap-A-Lot Records/A&M Records
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **
as reviewed by Matt Jost "Interestingly, at the time "The Vigilante" was released, Rap-A-Lot Records was on the verge of partnering with a potent major, similarly to Cold Chillin' or Def Jam in New York. The label released four albums in 1988, the other three being the Ghetto Boys' "Making Trouble," Def IV's "Nice and Hard" and Royal Flush's "Uh Oh!" The latter two, both East Coast groups, were signed because A&M Records had offered Rap-A-Lot a package deal that included four artists and the upstart label at the time apparently wasn't able to provide four Houston rap acts. Then, according to the book 'Hip Hop in America: A Regional Guide,' in a curious twist of fate '17-year old Raheem got too drunk before a listening party and managed to blow the entire deal.' As annoying as that might have been back then, it seems to have motivated Rap-A-Lot to foster local artists and do business independently. "
http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/BTTL_raheemvigilante.htmlScarface :: The Diary :: Rap-A-Lot Records
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **
as reviewed by Pete T. "If you lived through the mid-90s, chances are you know those words. Maybe it's because you were one of the million-plus Americans who bought Scarface's third album "The Diary" in the last two months alone of 1994. More likely, though, it's because you've seen Mike Judge's 1999 cult classic "Office Space," and more specifically the opening scene in which Michael Bolton, the white, nerdy, gangsta rap-loving Initech accountant, is stuck in morning traffic and rapping along to "No Tears" before promptly slamming down the car door locks at the sight of a black street vendor. "http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/BTTL_scarfacethediary.htmlSoul Mafia :: MK Ultra :: Tygereye Entertainment
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon "Soul Mafia's musical makeup is the very definition of eclectic. Their frontman is a saxophone player and guitarist turned rapper who looks like he'd be more comfortable fighting in the UFC Octagon, complete with shaved head and bicep tattoos. Their keyboard player is a classically trained pianist who is infatuated with vintage 1980's music. The drummer on the beat bangs all the way from Brooklyn but pounds the skins like a Seattle rocker, and their vocalist is a foster kid from Indianapolis. Thus you have the four man crew of GC, Prism, Lil Dee & Iam Beck, a group who are prepared to take the country by storm on "MK Ultra." "
http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2010_04_soulmafiaultra.htmlSwollen Members :: Greatest Hits: Ten Years of Turmoil :: Suburban Noize Records
as reviewed by Emanuel Wallace "This past November I wrote the review of Swollen Members' "Armed to the Teeth," and while it was my first exposure to the Canadian hip-hop collective, I found "ATTT" to be an interesting listen. Shortly after the review was published, I received an email from one of our readers with a totally different opinion of the album. He called it their "most disappointing album to date" and went on say that they "just sound like everyone else now". Perhaps it's only right that I get a more expansive look at the Members' catalog of music from 1999's "Balance" through last year's aforementioned "Armed to the Teeth". This greatest hits compilation, subtitled "Ten Years of Turmoil" also comes with a bonus DVD that features all of the group's videos and some behind the scenes footage."http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2010_04_tenyearsofturmoil.htmlTech N9ne :: The Lost Scripts of K.O.D. :: Strange Music
as reviewed by Pedro 'DJ Complejo' Hernandez"Given the usual creative process that goes into making the average rap album, a project like "The Lost Scripts of K.O.D." is quite rare. The average rapper records a TON of songs for any given album and chooses the ones he feels will sell best. That usually leaves them at least an album's worth of material to spread across numerous promotional mixtapes, iTunes bonus tracks, and the occasional bonus CD, soundtrack, or compilation. In fact, many times the best material is found in places other than the actual album. Tech N9ne is not your average rapper, especially not creatively. "http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2010_04_lostscriptsn9ne.htmlTurbulence :: Secret Society :: Long Range Distribution
as reviewed by Eric Sirota "Seriously. No more of this bullshit. It's terrible. Not every song is terrible. The looping of a reverb-laden clip from "Puff the Magic Dragon" on "Puff" is wellp-placed. "All I See" is a detailed and nuanced observation of urban blight, on which Sinsere comments that all he sees are "abandoned buildings and open fields," a particularly poignant glimmer of imagery. Several tracks, at least at points, appropriately toe the line between celebration and critique of the criminal lifestyle ("See where I'm from niggas grind from sun-up to sun-up/don't sleep/thinking that they might miss a come up . . . Education fading so they turn to the pyrex," from Pistol Atkins' "Where I'm From.") "http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2010_04_turbsecretsociety.htmlyU :: Before Taxes :: Mello Music Group
as reviewed by Pete T. "yU was already a veteran of the DMV (that's DC, Maryland, and Virginia) hip hop scene when he finally broke through last year as one-third of Diamond District with their acclaimed LP "In the Ruff," an album that blended the boom-bap sounds of classic East Coast rap with fresh production from celebrated Low Budget Collective producer Oddisee and the rhymes of rappers yU and X.O. Capitalizing off the group's success, yU returns with his solo debut "Before Taxes" in April 2010, employing the same promotion strategy as "In the Ruff," which was to circulate the album for free online to create buzz before its proper release. "http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2010_04_beforetaxes.html
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