Drake :: Thank Me Later
Cash Money Records
Author: Jesal 'Jay Soul' Padania
"So to "Thank Me Later" – the confidently titled "debut" album from Canadian star in the making, Drake. The voices in my head whisper that he blatantly wasn't unsigned and "So Far Gone" was really just an elaborate marketing coup. He was already in bed with Cash Money and well on his way to making it. The uber-cynics would state that his lack of street-cred forced a complex bullshit back-story to be created, in order to distract everyone and let them focus on music. Either way, TML is a clear continuation from his first effort, and the first three songs are designed to lead you from that to this. (Before we get to the music, however, a small caveat: I couldn't give a flyer if Drake is black, white, mixed race, Christian, Jewish, Canadian, rich, poor, ghetto, suburban or – apparently worst of all – a former child TV star. He deserves to be judged by his musical contribution.) "
DJ Bless :: Summertime Madness :: Never So Deep Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
"So without further adieu it's time for the five track "Summertime Madness" EP, or if you prefer maxi-single, although there was a time when those two terms were almost interchangeable. There's enough variety on this release that I'd be willing to consider it an EP, though it would be on the shorter side of that already short format. The album purports to feature a variety of NSD affiliates - Donnie Darko, Hue Hef and Jim Snooka. Before getting in on the song I'd like to say something about rap names in 2010 - stop borrowing from pop culture and Hollywood movies already! "
The Dove Shack :: This Is the Shack :: G-Funk/Def Jam Records
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **
as reviewed by Pete T.
"An often cited example of Def Jam's inadequacies is the label's utter failure to successfully promote West Coast artists. Established and headquartered in New York, Def Jam has always been an East Coast brand, and throughout its history its most bankable stars have been from the five boroughs—household names such as LL Cool J, the Beastie Boys, Cam'Ron, Ja Rule, and Onyx. With the rise of young superstars such as Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and 2Pac in the mid-1990s, however, Def Jam watched the national spotlight shift to the West Coast and a new generation of gangsta rappers. While they may have been a little slow to the trigger initially, the label scored a surprise multi-platinum hit in 1994 with Warren G's "Regulate…G-Funk Era" and proceeded to move in on other respected acts from across California. What followed is still a matter of debate."
Flying Lotus :: Cosmogramma :: Warp Records
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor
"Within the first seconds of "Clock Catcher," the first song on "Cosmogramma," it's evident that beatmaker/composer/spaceman Flying Lotus (Stephen Ellison to his mom and dad) has left the boundaries of instrumental hip hop. The song sounds like Super Mario powering up while a Middle-Eastern orchestra tunes up in the background, all accompanied by harpist Rebekah Raff. It's trippy, it's disorienting, and it's amazing. If Ellison was referencing hip hop on his last album, 2008's "Los Angeles," he is using jazz as his blueprint on "Cosmogramma." That's not just because his cousin Ravi Coltrane plays sax on the album, or because he references Sun Ra on "Arkestry." "Cosmogramma" is full of an intricate, controlled chaos that reminds the listener of Charles Mingus's adventurous compositions like "Black Saint and the Sinner Lady."" http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2010_06_cosmogramma.htmlThe Herbaliser :: Herbal Tonic :: Ninja Tune
as reviewed by Pedro 'DJ Complejo' Hernandez "Being a fan of bay area gangsta rap in Texas, it wasn't easy trying to figure out when the latest indie release was dropping. I remember unsuccessfully trying to find a place to purchase Herm's albums in the late 1990s, only to be asked "Did you mean Herbaliser?" I did not mean Herbaliser and the resentment lead me to ignore the British production duo out of spite. Not until "Herbal Tonic," the group's greatest hits CD, can I say I am familiar with more than their name. Shame on me, really. It wasn't the duo's fault their British label had more internet presence than Herm's bay area outfit. Hindsight also tells me that those Herm CDs really weren't worth all that trouble. "http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2010_06_herbaltonic.htmlKristoff Krane :: Picking Flowers Next to Roadkill :: Kristoff Krane/Strange Matter
as reviewed by Pedro 'DJ Complejo' Hernandez"Music that veers towards the abstract and philosophical is difficult to create, let alone make relatable. Kristoff Krane does this well on the title track. I pulled a clear message of hope and optimism from the track, though the track was still open for other interpretations. Krane successfully replicates the same effect on the bulk of the album. "Brighter Side" could be interpreted as promoting optimism and individuality. It could equally be seen as a pessimistic criticism of societal norms. The duality exhibit by Krane on each track is the album's appeal. At its heart, it really does feel Krane set out to make an uplifting, thought provoking album. Yet, Krane's natural cynicism and skepticism still shine through enough to give the music a touch of reality and humanity. "http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2010_06_nexttoroadkill.htmlLil Jon :: Crunk Rock :: BME/Universal Republic Records
as reviewed by Emanuel Wallace "Yeaaaaaah! Following a short intro, "Crunk Rock" kicks off with "Throw It Up Part 2 (Remix)" which features Pastor Troy and Waka Flocka Flame, and the Soulja Boy-featuring "G Walk". These songs seem to fit right in along the lines of what I've come to expect from a Lil Jon album: deep bass, hand claps, lots of adlibs, etc. I was thrown for a bit of a loop on the Drumma Boy-produced "On De Grind". It features appearances from Stephen & Damian Marley and a toned-down (as toned-down as possible, rather) version of Lil Jon that dares to be...lyrical"http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2010_06_crunkrock.html
Mopacino :: The Underground King :: Associate Productions
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor"For the most part, it's standard hip hop about driving fast in cars, getting high, getting drunk in clubs, and being a badass. Mopacino is a big, mean-looking dude, so I'm not questioning his badassness, but it's not that interesting to hear him rap about. His delivery doesn't always help. He has a slow, lazy flow, as if his vocals were being screwed and chopped or he had chugged a whole gallon of syrup. More often than not he sounds bored, as if he couldn't be bothered to bring any enthusiasm to his delivery, or any more creativity to his rhymes beyond "I'm the shit/and the toilet's broken." "http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2010_06_theundergroundking.htmlPugs Atomz & Grant Parks :: Kinda Like a Rapper :: Coalmine Music/Fat Beats
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon"Resilient Windy City native Pugs Atomz is back again - back from a recent European tour with DJ Vadim and back in record stores with a brand new LP entitled "Kinda Like a Rapper." The title is a curiosity we'll address in a minute but even more curious is the fact this time Pugs Atomz has a partner in crime by the name of Grant Parks. Parks doesn't have his partner's reputation as an up and coming rap spitter but he does have a who's who list of rappers he's produced beat for - A.G., Grand Puba, KRS-One, Sadat X and Twista among others. Working with one producer often adds a quality and consistency to albums, along with allowing an emcee to focus on his writtens instead of where the next beat is coming from, so in theory this move can only make Pugs even better. "http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2010_06_kindalikearapper.htmlRhymefest :: El Che :: Allido/Sony Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon "If you were getting the impression there's a high level of testosterone to "El Che" you're not mistaken. Rhymefest trains like a UFC fighter on the plucky strings of "One Arm Push Up," noting he came from a "little crib, one room" but came so far through hard work he's got "one life limitless, one chance, gimme this." The single syllable flow of "Last Night" punctuates some very Kanye-esque samples as Che tries to put a night of debauchery together like a puzzle with a whole bunch of pieces missing. "Don't mix Red Bull wit'cho pills, you'll be seein purple trails/like mixing Henny and gin, you won't remember a thing." Always good advice. One might suspect "How High" is more of the same, but it's actually the verbal and musical high of recording with Little Brother and Darien Brockington on a track that reverberates with guitar rock and horny horn soul. "http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2010_06_rhymefestche.html
Kevin Rudolf :: To the Sky :: Cash Money/Universal Republic Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
"It's not just that a greater percentage of his new album features rap guest stars - last time 28% counting an iTunes bonus track, and this time 45% even before any iTunes extras are available. The promo copy on my desk now includes the hit single "I Made It (Cash Money Heroes)" featuring Birdman, Jay Sean and Lil Wayne along with "You Make the Rain Fall" featuring Flo Rida, "Spit in Your Face" with Wayne and two tracks featuring Three 6 Mafia. It's on the latter songs that Rudolf's transformation is evident - while he's still a singer through and through he's borrowed successfully from the swagger of his labelmates and developed a harder attitude and sound."
Z-Ro :: Look What You Did to Me :: Fisherboy Records
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **
as reviewed by Pete T.
"Although the latter could certainly be cited as a mere chronological extension of the former, Houston's Z-Ro seems to have the best of both worlds, fitting seamlessly into both categories. Often likened to Scarface for his haunting narratives, inimitable soul, and glimpses of a conscience beneath his stone-cold demeanor, he is himself a disciple of the late DJ Screw and puts on for the extended Screwed Up Click as loudly and proudly as any. Z-Ro has a massive discography, and the lack of literature on it can make it almost impossible to distinguish between albums, mixtapes, compilations, and unauthorized releases—picking up a random Z-Ro record can be a perplexing experience because you never know what you're going to get."
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