If you missed any of the new reviews this past week including Prince Po & Oh No's "animal Serum" then do yourself a favor and check out this week's edition of the (W)rap Up!
Prince Po & Oh No :: Animal Serum
Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon
"Its been a minute since Prince Po dropped a full length album - 2007 in fact - when "Saga of the Simian Samurai" was released. That's not to say he's been inactive though. He dropped an EP, did cameo appearances, and he's been steady touring and performing as well. I can understand why Po would keep it on the humble and be quiet though - the fickle fans and foul music industry have done him no favors since Organized Konfusion broke up. One thing Prince Poetry has never been though is a "regular nigga" - he's been an exceptional emcee expertly expressing his emotions since his inception. Comparisons to former partner Pharoahe Monch have served him poorly, since Po is better than 9 out of 10 emcees in general, and Monch just happens to be the 10th. What Po has needed to step out of his more celebrated friend's shadow is the right producer and the right marketing, and "Animal Serum" already has one out of two locked thanks to Oh No. No's penchant for memorable instrumentals is only heightened when teamed with an advanced lyricist, as "Machine Rages" illustrates. The tension in the air on the instrumental is as palpable as the crashing hi-hat cymbals and ringing melody, with Po's voice itself providing the tempo as much as the track. It's a powder keg of a song with Oh No holding a whole book of matches, lighting them and flicking them at your ears. The whole album has that edge of your seat cinema feel, from the harrowing heartbeat of "Where U Eat," to a "Toxic" song that has NOTHING to do with Britney Spears and everything to do with Po's rapid fire medical flow. "Starflyer Milez" sounds like a chiptune on acid, filtered and pounded with bass until it was beaten into hip-hop submission for Po's self-described "licorice hot licks" and "ice cold bars." Tasty!"
KISH :: Order From Chaos :: A&M Records
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **
as reviewed by Matt Jost
"High up my personal playlist for 2013 you will find a Biz Markie cover from three veteran Toronto artists, "Vapors 2012" by Dan-e-o, Big Kish and Maestro Fresh Wes. The collaboration was also included in Dan-e-o's "Immortal" EP as "Worldwide Vapors," albeit not to the beat of the Biz original. It was over the familiar James Brown loop that I sort of discovered Kish, who sported a cool, confident flow from another time. Coincidentally I came upon his first album the other day, 1991's "Order From Chaos." His name stylized in capital letters, KISH had the good fortune of being produced by First Offence Productions, the same team who had orchestrated the success of Canadian breakthrough artist Maestro Fresh-Wes two years before. My hope of discovering a thoroughbred MC's slamming debut from the days of yore wasn't answered. The album's lead single was "I Rhyme the World in 80 Days," a novelty tune that finds itself in a no-man's land between dance, pop and rap. Despite female house vocals on the hook, it's not really hip-house, just a dancey affair suffering from a flat sound and a loose pace, lacking the clarity and precision of good dance music. Lyrically KISH takes the listener, as the wordplay of the title suggests, around the world in his rhymes. He finds romance in France and gets into it with the KGB as he invades the Soviet Union (virtually months before it ceased to exist) on a rap battling mission, before finally finding spiritual refuge in "the motherland." "Yo KISH, you went to Africa?" a voice interjects, to which he replies, "Nah - Japan." Indeed Andrew Kishino must have been one of the first North American rappers possessing Asian features, inherited from one side of the family tree. He pursues the theme in the track that immediately follows "I Rhyme the World in 80 Days," "Shogun.""
Malachi Grant :: Welcome 2 My World :: Mghas Music
as reviewed Steve 'Flash' Juon
"That's a relief. I thought for a second he was going to show me Waka Flocka Flame or MC AK. I kid. When you write all day long for a living, sometimes you have to stop and smell the roses, and make yourself laugh a little bit. Emcees understand this too - they are also writers for a living. That's why Malachi Grant is not afraid to take sly jabs at what dominates the airwaves in his press release, noting that his album swims in a sea full of "Bandz a Make Her Dance" and "Bitches in the Trap." Grant views himself as having a higher calling than these dumbed down raps - listing musical influences ranging from Big L to Biggie, from Rakim to Tupac. That's setting a high standard for a newcomer, but like they always say, if you don't shoot for the stars you're never going to become one yourself. Oh wait - that's what Mark David Chapman said. (Too soon? Nah. Its been almost 34 years now.) In the background you can hear "My Life" featuring Mike Milan. It's the second song on "Welcome 2 My World" and shows much more promise than most newcomers have after their intro. Judging by a lack of liner notes I have to believe this is self-produced, but if not throw a shout out to Grant's unnamed beat wizard. I don't use the word "wizard" lightly in this context - the beat is a pleasant mixture of gritty and head nodding while keeping a carefully measured balance with the lyrics. I don't know Milan any better than I do Grant before popping this CD in, but I'm not mad at him singing the hook. They're a good tandem on the track. Malachi gives up a little of his spotlight on three straight songs to another newcomer called Dunn Da God, so just when you think the God IS done, he's back for another one. That's alright because like Mike Milan before he's not taking Grant down a notch. He gets the solo shine back for "Flya Than," which is probably the closest thing to the people he was poking at in his one sheet. "
Rhyme Village :: Carcass in the Desert :: Western Manor
as reviewed Steve 'Flash' Juon
"Straight outta Lancaster! Crazy motherfucker named Cleen. From the gang called Rhyme Village, seen? Even though he's from a city where he feels hip-hop isn't taken seriously, Lancaster is one of the 30 biggest cities in Cali, which given the population makes it one of the 150 biggest in the U.S. It's not surprising that under such highly urbanized circumstances he'd find a crew of like-minded emcees, band together for a common cause, and put out an album together. They are China White, Joe Sharp, Whut IAM, Sa'eed and Just Kauz respectively. Cleen did a promotional video for the album talking about life in Lancaster, including some of the surprising restrictions on freedom of speech there. Individual credits are hard to find on "Carcass in the Desert," but if their promotional videos are any indication, it seems that Whut IAM is a DJ/emcee while China White is a producer/emcee. We already know that Cleen can rap as that's been well established in previous reviews, and his distinctive nasal tone can be easily picked out on most tracks. Authentic b-boy sentiments can be found on tracks like "Revenge of the Synth." You could get the wrong idea that they're a pistol packing posse from song titles like "Duck Hunt" and "Beautiful Day to Die," but the only thing they strive to kill is competition on the mic. The songs with the best production, like the old school throwback "RV Radio," and the smokers anthem "Hella High" can help them achieve those goals.
various artists :: Wild'N Out Compilation Vol. 1 :: Ncredible/RED Music
as reviewed Steve 'Flash' Juon
"Heads up - the "Wild'N Out Compilation" is EXCLUSIVE to Walmart. If you go to Amazon.com looking for it you're out of luck. Heads up part two - if you thought that an album could get around the censorship the related TV show received on MTV - forget about it. Walmart would not even stock it on their shelves if it carried an explicit rating or parental advisory sticker. Nick Cannon and his friends cursing is just too much for America's fragile youth to deal with. After thumbing through "Wild'N Out" though I can see why this was targeted at Walmart. In fact take a look for yourself. MTV's own market research shows their audience getting younger, so it's not surprising that they'd match this up with the purchasing power of Walmart's clean album buyers (fully ignoring the fact that Grand Theft Auto is one aisle over). If you're over 18 and you're in this for the hip-hop music that comes from Nick Cannon's brand of freestyle humor, the extras packaged with the CD won't be that extra. It's not likely you will make your own squads and play your own version of the show, nor will you be doing the crossword at the back, though you might linger on the picture of the Wild'N Out Girls and read some of their fun facts (measurements not included). Perhaps nothing illustrates the schizophrenic relationship between hip-hop's adult themes and MTV/Nick Cannon's demo better than the album's finale "Show Me Love," a Troy Ave updated 2014 version of 50 Cent's "In Da Club" complete with G-Unit's Tony Yayo."
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