Thursday June 21, 2018

The (W)rap Up - Week of May 25, 2010
Posted by Emanuel Wallace at Tuesday, June 1st, 2010 at 12:00AM :: Email this article :: Print this article

 Reflection Eternal :: Revolutions Per Minute
Warner Bros. Records

Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon

"A decade ago Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek decided to take the world on a "Train of Thought." While the name Reflection Eternal already resonated through hip-hop thanks to the underground juggernaut that was Rawkus Records back then, releasing a full length album took it to a level even fans of Talib as a rapper or Hi-Tek as a producer couldn't possibly have imagined. Looking back on the review a decade later and a lot more jaded about the music industry, the enthusiasm shown for Talib Kweli's work seems almost TOO effusive - a level of praise that seems more personal than professional. And yet listening to "Revolutions Per Minute" I find myself falling into that same trap all over again, because as he has said so many times himself you can't spell "quality" without Kweli. Self-promotional as that punchline may be it rings true when listening to him rap over Hi-Tek beats. Quality. Quality in every beat. Quality in every rhyme. Quality in every topic and quality in the words of wisdom spoken ABOUT said topic. It stares you in the face regardless if you try to look away, and if you make eye contact for even a second you're transfixed by the beauty of what you now behold. Quality. "

various artists :: Midwest Block Starz :: Block Starz Music
as reviewed by Matt Jost

"One detail about these Midwest Block Starz that catches your eye when looking at the tracklist are derivative names: Fonz, Machine Gun Kelly, Slick Watts. The latter, crowned Best Midwest Artist at the 2009 Underground Music Awards and named after a '70s NBA player, sounds like a cross between Tech N9ne and Lil Wayne, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but without either rapper's intensity, he may just lack the characteristics that make Nina and Weezy the stars they are. Plus "Yada Yada Yada" creates a familiar conundrum when the rapper dismisses other rappers' chatter with his own. At least Slick Watts projects something to live up to: "I'm big ish talkin', I got big ish poppin' / Ohio don't make 'em like this real often." "

various artists :: Ragga Ragga Ragga 2010 :: Greensleeves Records
as reviewed by Pedro 'DJ Complejo' Hernandez

"To be honest, I went years buying the Ragga Ragga Ragga series without ever really researching what exactly differentiates Ragga from regular dancehall. All I knew was that Ragga CDs tended to have harder, more hip-hop oriented Dancehall tracks, while traditional dancehall albums mixed both modern and more conventional dancehall sounds. As Greensleeves hit us up with their latest Ragga Ragga Ragga CD I decided to do some wiki research and found out Raggamuffin (Ragga for short) music was the term used for dancehall with electronic music and chatting/rapping deejays. Ragga doesn't mirror hip-hop strictly on a musical level, as Ragga artists also tend to touch upon the same topics rap artists enjoy. Ragga Ragga Ragga 2010 is a prime example of the similarities. The CD is bursting with 18 hard core Ragga tracks that range from gangsta, conscious, to club songs. "

various artists :: Set Mi Free :: Greensleeves Records
as reviewed by Emanuel Wallace

"Judging by the "#90" affixed to this collection, it's easy to see Greensleeves has been doing their thing for quite sometime (unless they graduated from the "DJ Clue School of Album Numbering", which I know they haven't). In fact, both Greensleeves and VP Records have been churning out reggae for many, many decades. Previous releases in the "Greensleeves Rhythm Album" series include: "Sweat", "Inspector", "Ghetto Whiskey" and "Petty Thief", along with many others. This time around the riddim track is provided by Stephen "Di Genius" McGregor and producer Ricardo "Bibi" Gardener added his own touch to the individual songs. Over the course of the album's fifteen tracks, the features artists ride de riddim for what it's worth, with each performer putting their own twist on things. Some of the contributors include Elephant Man, Mavado, Jim Cro, Bramma and Mr. Vegas. "

Epsilon Project :: Audacity :: {self-released}
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor

"While "Audacity" starts with an Obama quote ("Tonight is a particular honor for me because, let's face it, my presence on this stage is pretty unlikely"), the DJ Vadim-produced "America" shows that the group hasn't been totally won over by Barack's "Audacity of Hope." "America" is a cynical, bitter song about corrupt politicians, greed, and how the pursuit of money takes precedence over everything else. They are a little more hopeful on the jazzy "In God We Trust," which musically references "The World Is Yours." The MCs take turns exploring religion, and the group uses their numbers as an advantage, with each MC giving their own point of view."

Gonjasufi :: A Sufi and a Killer :: Warp Records
as reviewed by Eric Sirota

"That being said, whatever this album is, it's very very good. The strength of the record is the obvious chemistry between the Sufi MC and the Killer beatsmith. Gonjasufi's lo fidelity, high distortion half-melodic musings beautifully interweave themselves into Gaslamp's Far and Middle East-inspired static-laden backdrops. While the distortion of Gonja's voice is a bit too heavy on several tracks, such as "Kobwebz," "Stardustin'," and "DedNd," the LA duo's lo fi, internationalist aesthetic consistently creates a sense of intrigue and mystery (at the risk of sounding orientalist), which serves as a well-timed innovation to a West Coast indie rap scene so blessedly influenced by Mad Lib's trips to India. "

Kottonmouth Kings :: Long Live the Kings :: Suburban Noize Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

"The Kings are neither the first nor the last group in hip-hop to dedicate their careers to the medicinal benefits of marijuana, but other than Cypress Hill they are probably the most successful to do so. As such I would have been disappointed had the color scheme of their tenth album "Long Live the Kings" been anything other than a tribute to their hazy legacy to date. The artwork is purposefully black and green. The inlay artwork under the tray is a blunted parody of the "Clockwork Orange" poster. Lighters are flicked and bongs bubble in the background of songs. The track titles on this 20 song long album let you know exactly what you're in for. When you roll with the Kings you "Let the Indo Blow" until you experience "Reefer Madness," at which point you turn into "Party Monsters" and "Stomp" to the beat, because everything's "Great When You're High" - at least until the cops show up to take your stash and/or arrest your ass. "

Little Brother :: LeftBack :: Traffic Entertainment
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

"Little Brother is retiring? Say it ain't so Pooh, say it ain't so Tigallo. That's not the news hip-hop needs in 2010 - or for that matter EVER. Little Brother is that rap group you could always turn to when the radio mix was too banal, the music videos were too materialistic and the internet shows couldn't deliver you from the doldrums. From "The Listening" to "Getback," no matter how many years went between albums, every Little Brother release was a hip-hop treasure for the consumers. Their style and sound bridged the gap from the Native Tongue era to the modern day Carter era (Lil Wayne and Jay-Z) as perfectly as the two members complimented each other lyrically. Phonte plays the laid back intellectual who likes to have fun but takes his rhymes seriously, while Rapper Big Pooh is the down to earth North Cakalak' cat who quiet as kept drops gems and is underrated lyrically. If you needed a fix of funky, intelligent, provocative hip-hop LB could always oblige."

Tone Trezure :: My Destiny EP ::
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

"Tone Trezure stands both inside and outside of hip-hop, perfectly willing to be the square peg in the round hole or vice versa. She's not a rapper, she's not a singer, she's BOTH and you'll like it that way. One might immediately leap to Lauryn Hill for a comparison, but that would be unfair to both. Tone has a deeper voice than L-Boogie, ranging from T-Boz to Mary J. Blige in her delivery, capable of hitting a higher octave when needed but comfortable at lower ranges. She kicks it up a notch when singing her hooks on songs like the title track of "My Destiny," but the rap lyrics betray her naturally husky tone. As for her rap delivery, it falls somewhere between Bahamadia vocally and Jean Grae lyrically - not quite as dope as either one but certainly not an insult to either by comparison. "

Wally Boy Wonder :: Day of the Rising Tide :: Intolerance Records
as reviewed by Pete T.

"Just how bad is Wally Boy Wonder's sophomore effort "Day of the Rising Tide"? Let me see. Bad enough that I want a full refund despite the fact that the album was sent to me as promotional material free of charge. Bad enough that if I knew more about the legal process I might consider filing suit against Wally and his label for wages forgone and psychological damage incurred in the two hours I spent listening to it. Bad enough that I would refuse to even use it as a coaster because I have too much respect for my beverages. Let me back up a little. Wally Boy Wonder is a self-proclaimed renaissance man. The white guy from Akron, Ohio is a writer, director, and on at least two occasions, a rapper."

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