Eminem :: Recovery
Shady Records/Aftermath Music
Author: Jesal 'Jay Soul' Padania"You can guarantee two things in the life: that Eminem just doesn't really do traditionally "classic" albums and he's never made a half-decent club record before, never will. Now that I have sufficiently dampened your expectations, what of "Recovery," his latest album and a real throw of the dice to get him a slice of this 2010 mindshare? There is good news, and bad news - and it is down to you, reading this little review, which is which. "Recovery" is one of the strangest albums I've encountered, and it is truly dependent on the listener. One individual might completely love it, another hate it - for pretty much the same reasons. Example: there is only one Dr. Dre record out of 17 numbers. Personally, I've barely heard anything great from Dre in the last 3/4 years (non-headphone related, this is), but others bemoan his slight input. Some are disgusted that he shares songs with Pink and Rihanna. Again, for me, Pink is, as a rule, annoying but she is barely distinguishable, and I think the Rihanna collaboration "Love the Way You Lie" is very well conceived/executed (it will help this album to sell millions). Someone else may have just stopped reading this review as a result. "http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2010_06F_eminemrecovery.htmlApplejaxx :: Jesus High :: Fadacy Music
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor
"Not being a church-goer, I'm much more impressed by artists who reference their religion in their art rather than make art specifically about their religion. What Applejaxx is doing here is basically preaching, which means listening to this is like sitting through a Sunday sermon, great if you are looking for affirmation of your faith, not so great if you aren't on board with that faith in the first place. A bigger problem is that the prosthelytizing negatively impacts the rhyming. There is so much focus on the message that the music suffers."http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2010_06_jesushigh.htmlArmy of the Pharaohs :: The Unholy Terror :: Babygrande Records
as reviewed by Pedro 'DJ Complejo' Hernandez "Army of Pharaohs is a group who is ripe for metaphors and comparisons, some more flattering than others. When I first heard the group on "Torture Papers" I came away very impressed and hyped about the lyrical barrage and intensity brought by the collective. Two albums later my views on the group have changed quite drastically. I don't find myself spinning "Torture Papers" much now, nor do I find much motivation to peep their new albums. The effect has worn off and I've become desensitized to the experience that is AOTP. They just don't hit as hard anymore, they don't appeal to me anymore, I am not impressed by their concept or execution. They are an army that does one thing and one thing only. The group hits you hard and they hit you over and over again, but there is no strategy or tact in their attacks."http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2010_06_unholyterror.htmlBlack Sheep :: From the Black Pool of Genius :: Bum Rush/Audible Treats
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon"In the "everything old is new again" world of today's pop culture, parody Run-D.M.C. shirts are a dime a dozen and one appearance of a song by Sir Mix-A-Lot, Salt-N-Pepa or House of Pain in a commercial can send the concurrent MP3 rocketing to the top of the bestsellers list. I expect a similar bump for Black Sheep's "The Choice Is Yours" at any point now given the viral spread of the Kia Soul commercial on the internet. Whether or not having hamsters dress like b-boy stereotypes and rap like Dres, D-R-E-S is insulting will of course be debated, but I did enjoy the "this or that" dichotomy where "this" was a nice whip and "that" was hamsters driving toasters and cardboard boxes. Will it sell cars? Hell if I know, but since you can see the Black Sheep logo on the hamsters' iPod, I'm 100% convinced retro MP3 downloads will skyrocket. "
http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2010_06_fromtheblackpool.htmlDillon Chase :: The Pursuit :: Kingdom City/Life-Line Worldwide
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon "Hip-Hop's roots have spread so far and wide that even in a small town like Ada, Oklahoma (population under 20K as of the last census) a young man can grow up with aspirations of hip-hop stardom. Kingdom City Records representative Dillon Chase would be more than happy to put Ada on the map the same way that Nappy Roots blew up Bowling Green, Kentucky almost a decade ago. He's certainly got the legit credentials hip-hop's thugger-than-thou hardcore aficionados demand - two parents addicted to drugs, in trouble with the law from a young age, a reckless street life that nearly took him under before turning to his love of music to make rap records. He certainly presents that wildside of Ada on his album cover, mean mugging with only a pair of dogtags hanging from his neck, suggesting he's just as likely to punch you in the grill as make you punch your fist in the air at the club."http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2010_06_thepursuit.htmlCimer Amor :: Taking Nowhere, Somewhere :: Coalmine Records
as reviewed by Pete T. "Cimer Amor reminds me most of Marco Polo. His rugged beats are a bit nostalgic and despite their street-readiness are marked by clean orchestration and polish. His menacing, heavy beats are technically excellent, well balanced and hard-hitting with a familiar, distinctly East Coast style that would not sound out of place in Brooklyn, Queensbridge, or Boston. His rough percussion arrangements lend each of his tracks a grimy quality in spite of the fresh instrumentals, and he shows many gifts of a seasoned pro—the expertly-balanced fuzzy guitars of "I Hate," the Beatminerz-esque pipe kicks on "Cold Cold World," and the dark swirling violins of "Only the Best" that make clear why the members of A.O.T.P. have sought his services. "http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2010_06_takingnowhere.htmlDJ Spinna :: Underground Forever :: Octave/Ultra Vybe
as reviewed by Matt Jost "A renaissance man on the decks and the boards, with the Japanese release "Underground Forever" DJ Spinna returns to his professional roots, '90s underground East Coast hip-hop. Presenting 24 twelve-inch cuts in a continuous mix, he offers a look back on a time many people still remember fondly. As a member of the Jigmastas and Polyrhythm Addicts, Vince Williams participated actively in the scene, and so the mix contains several of Spinna's own productions, a handful even released on his label Beyond Real Recordings. Fittingly, there's the Jigmastas' "Beyond Real" to highlight his subtle drum programming and melodic, spheric bass. Songs like "Vibrate" by The Basement Khemist and IG Off & Hazadous' "This Ain't Livin'" feature Spinna's hypnotic butta beats."http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2010_06_spinnaforever.htmlJune Marx :: Body of God :: Holographic Pagoda Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon "One month after taking on the assignment to cover the latest Twin Perils release "Word Supremacy" myself, their label is back with a solo album from one half of the crew in the form of June Marx. It's actually coincidental given the Twin Perils review was a bit overdue and this album was undoubtedly being worked on in the lab that whole time, but nevertheless it's two albums in two months from Holographic Pagoda. On one hand that leaves me uniquely qualified to comment on the Marx solo being already familiar with his work, and on the other it makes me slightly concerned about what I'm in for on this disc. While his partner Lone Ninja was the less charismatic of the duo lyrically, Marx did his own damage as the album's producer, showing an inability to cut away his less interesting beats and leaving too much mediocrity to digest."http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2010_06_marxbodyofgod.htmlKutt Calhoun :: Raw and Un-Kutt :: Strange Music Inc.
as reviewed by Pedro 'DJ Complejo' Hernandez"Tech N9ne was heavily present on Kutt Calhoun's first two albums, some would say his presence was a bit much. Common complaints on "B.L.E.V.E." included the fact Kutt sounded like a Tech N9ne imitator and not his own man. "Feature Presentation" gave us an album that, for me, found the right balance. The Tech influence was there, but the album itself was a showcase of Kutt Calhoun's skills. "Raw and Unkutt" finds Calhoun further separating himself from the Tech N9ne influence with mixed results. The concept of the album is influenced by Tech N9ne's "KOD" and "Killer" as it is divided into sections. The intro lets us know Kutt Calhoun is experimenting with a new drug called "Raw and Un-Kutt" and this CD takes us on a trip through the Good, Bad, and Ugly side effects of the drug. The execution is not ideal as the Good and the Bad blend into each other, while the Ugly side is clearly the superior part of the album. The Good section gives us 7 party songs that range from the generic to the dope. "That's Kutt Calhoun" is a hard hitting party track that gets things started on the right foot."http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2010_06_rawandunkutt.htmlKendrick Lamar :: Kendrick Lamar EP :: TopDawg Ent.
as reviewed by Daniel Oh
"Let's play some word association. When I say "Compton," most people will respond with: "Gangs," "NWA," "Dr. Dre." Some of the younger hip-hop fans may even throw out "The Game." Now, going by what most people think, Compton is synonymous with gangsta rap and gangsta livin'. So when I say that my first review for RapReviews covers a young Compton cat named Kendrick Lamar, your mind might wander to blunts, beyatches, sippin' 40s, poppin gats, and repping yo' set. Well, Kendrick Lamar loves the blunts, 40s and bitches, but his EP is about as gangsta as Kid Cudi's argyle sweater. It's not a bad thing, and it's really apparent that Kendrick Lamar is trying very hard to push music in his own image, absent of any pigeonhole or box that critics (like myself, with word association) try to put him in. He is definitely not a cut-and-dried, paint-by-numbers Compton rapper that recycles the same talk about peelin' caps, Kendrick Lamar is out to make his own unique footprint in the long history of Compton hip-hop. "
http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2010_06_kendricklamarEP.htmlNappy Roots :: The Pursuit of Nappyness :: Nappy Roots Entertainment Group
as reviewed by Pete T."While no longer a chart-topping entity, Nappy Roots continues to provide the kind of hearty Kentucky funk that made them famous, yet they've matured in the process. Over bright piano and xylophone-based production by Cloud9, the verses of the strong opener "Welcome to the Show" advocate persistence and prayer, but eventually border on self-parody as a dramatized fan tells them, "Dude, you guys are phenomenal dude. I promise, I mean, my sister loves you guys. I joined this frat because of you guys! Fuckin' awesome, man. Nappy fuckin' Roots…" This track finds the boys in top form, exuding encouraging and uplifting sentiments, yet also humorously acknowledging their recent gigs touring frat houses at southern universities. For the most part, "The Pursuit of Nappyness" is business as usual on the mic, finding the MCs extolling their lifestyle with charming flair and humility, such as on "The People," an emotional dedication to loved ones, and "All 4 You," a heartfelt thanks to listeners. "http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2010_06_pursuitnappyness.htmlPlies :: Goon Affiliated :: Big Gates/Slip-N-Slide/Atlantic Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon "He's as loud as he is proud. He's Florida to the death but loves his "goons" even more, proudly bragging that he singlehandedly added the term to the hip-hop lexicon. The term predates rap usage by at least 90 years though, having become slang for a muscular (and usually dimwitted) gun for hire, backing up any criminal enterprise that pays enough for his/her services. The negative connotation is the same reason some hockey players are called goons - it's assumed they are on the ice for the purpose of beating up other players rather than their skill at passing or scoring. Plies defines his goons the same way - they're loud, they're strong, and they hit real hard. These are positive traits when you come from the world Plies does, where the strong do battle with the strong, and the more goons you have on your team the more likely you are to survive (nevermind the innocent bystanders and casualties) in battle. "http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2010_06_goonaffiliated.htmlThe Roots :: How I Got Over :: Def Jam Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon "To my wonderment and surprise though, The Roots came back. I was stunned to learn that they would be the in house band for "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon," the new show that would debut once Conan O'Brien left his own late night talk show to take over vaunted TV program "The Tonight Show." Well we all know how that worked out for O'Brien in the end, but none of that dustup ever affected Jimmy Fallon's slot or The Roots welcome presence on talk show TV. It was a surprisingly natural fit that really shouldn't have been that surprising given that The Roots have always relied on live music and their live band to create jams, taking an idea Stetsasonic once championed to the furthest extent possible it could be taken. Given the group can freestyle songs, cover other hip-hop artists and make new shit up at the drop of a dime in concert, how hard could it be to do the same for a studio audience every night? In fact it's the most enviable of all gigs any band could ever have - guaranteed dates, a new crowd every night, a steady source of income and instead of going on tour the whole world comes to your door. The comfort and security of this environment turned out to be artistically inspiring for the legendary Roots crew, and "How I Got Over" is the result of finding their love all over again. PHILLY IS BACK BABY."
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