Fat Joe :: The Darkside
Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon
"Where does Joey Crack stand in 2010? Hip-hop writers who have followed his whole career have come full circle so many times they may be a little nauseous by now. As a result it's not hard to be a little wary of "The Darkside" particularly when tucked ever so discretely into the cover art is the notice that this is "Volume 1," a fact not reflected on the album's spine or anywhere else. 40 may be the new 30, but if Mr. Cartagena wants to blow out the candles in August without getting cake on his face, this album needs to be relevant enough that anybody would honestly want "Volume 2." The fast fix for a slump in hip-hop has always been to bring in quality producers and big name guest stars. The lead single "(Ha Ha) Slow Down" puts the New York heavyweight over a Scoop DeVille track with harmonized vocals, "Big Beat" style drums and a strong enough bass kick to make it all stick while Young Jeezy joins in on the fun. "
various artists :: 15 Years of Duck Down Music :: Duck Down
as reviewed by Matt Jost
""15 Years of Duck Down Music" runs down the history of Duck Down chronologically, but the first two spots rightfully belong to the Brooklyn massive's Wreck material. The first time the world took notice of these Bucktown soldiers was with the Black Moon single "Who Got the Props." 5FT, Evil Dee and Buckshot certainly received plenty of props for this jazzy joint riding the wave of underaged hardcore rap. Smif-N-Wessun's "Sound Bwoy Bureill" already showed remarkable progress as far as originality goes, the track (like the album) to this day being one of the most natural symbioses of rap and reggae. By 1995 BCC - with the help of a group of affiliated producers gathered under the moniker Da Beatminerz - had found their sound, laid-back yet menacing raps over beats that were as dark as they were mellow. Their lyrical patterns became more complex, and on a whole their style just took off to another plane, best exemplified by the enigmatically titled "Leflaur Leflah Eshkoshka" by The Fab 5, a collaboration between groups Heltah Skeltah and Originoo Gunn Clappaz. The intro by Ruck had you repeating "eshkoshka" before you were able to wonder what it could possibly mean."
Big Haz :: Larger Than Life :: Big Haz Records
as reviewed by Pedro 'DJ Complejo' Hernandez
"Critics strive to give every artist a fair shake, but sometimes the artist's own misguided attempts at publicity preclude us from doing so. Take Big Haz, a Melbourne, Australia based rapper whose debut album features an impressive list of guest spots. Masta Ace, Elzhi, Chino XL, Triple Seis, King T, and Canibus are all featured on the album. That is a truly impressive line up for ANY rapper, let alone one who is 1000s of miles across the ocean. I was hyped already to check out the rapper/producer/label owner who had the resources/connects to put this album together. Unfortunately, Big Haz felt that wasn't enough and dedicates an entire paragraph of his press material to one song. "
Ceschi :: The One Man Band Broke Up :: Equinox Records
as reviewed by Emanuel Wallace
"It's been four years since Ceschi's last album, "They Hate Francisco False." It was a blend of indie folk and left-field hip-hop that was described as "an album even hardcore underground hip-hop fans may have trouble relating to." During his hiatus from recording, he spent a lot of time on the road in places like Canada, Europe and Japan, in addition to the U.S. with artists like Myka9, Awol One, Sole and Onry Ozzborn.After starting his own Fake Four Inc. label which is home to many of the aforementioned artists, Ceschi eventually got back to recording his most recent album with Equinox Records founder, DJ Scientist. Building on the mutual adoration of rare '60s and '70s psychedelic, progressive & folk rock and hip-hop from the '90s, the two came up with "The One Man Band Broke Up." Determined to create a melodic, dark and unabashedly progressive hip-hop concept album, Ceschi presents the story of the rise and fall of a musician haunted by the demons of his past. "
Coolzey :: The Honey :: Public School Records
as reviewed by Eric Sirota
"It is a shame that hip-hop critics feel an almost uncontrollable urge to harp on the race and background of the artists they review, constantly obsessing over the apparent novelty of a rapper who doesn't fit the archetype they have formed in their heads. Apparently rappers don't come from small-town Iowa. Apparently they aren't white. I wonder if rappers stereotypically attend college like P. Diddy, Tupac, Wycleaf Jean, The Roots, Mr. Lif, Aesop Rock, and Ludacris. I wonder if they are typically Asian like Cool Calm Pete, whether they are typically former paralegals like El-P, or Somali like K'Naan or Canadian and half-Jewish like Drake or lesbian like Bitch and Animal. At this point, rap artists are so wonderfully diverse in all senses of the word that any critic who can't stop talking about how atypical it is that a rapper is (insert non-stereotypical quality here) must just not be listening much. "
DJ Shadow :: The DJ Shadow Remix Project :: Reconstruction Productions/DJShadow.com
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor
"Joshua Paul Davis a/k/a DJ Shadow is one of the most respected yet enigmatic producers in music today. I almost wrote "in all of hip-hop" but confining Shadow to hip-hop alone seems far too limiting. Regardless hip-hop listeners were probably the first to celebrate his work, branding "Entroducing..." a classic from the moment it was released. Shadow created an instrumental album constructed entirely from samples at a point when hip-hop sampling had been stifled in the 1990's by an onslaught of lawsuits and clearance fees. Some have argued that was for the best as some overused samples were stifling hip-hop creativity, but the chilling effect led many people to seek out or create their own music, leaving behind a format that should have been celebrated for revisiting, remixing and renewing pop culture for a new generation. Shadow's record epitomized all of the right reasons to sample, as he created a musical collage which was far greater in sound and scope than any single beat, noise or loop he could pluck out of the soundscape - making entirely original songs out of old ones. "
Dyme Def :: Sex Tape :: 800LB.
as reviewed by Pete T
"As you might guess, "Sex Tape" is all about sex. Crafting a 47-minute record about sex is no easy feat and requires a special artistry to execute successfully—Too Short, 2 Live Crew, DJ Quik, Bushwick Bill, and few others come to mind. These acts each incorporated a signature brand of humor and charisma in order to spin yarns of smooth seduction, raunchy sexcapades, and lavish bachelor pads that served to build their immense characters but mostly just entertain—because let's be honest, it is pretty hilarious to imagine a three-foot midget a la Bushwick Bill having a threesome in a hot tub, even if you wouldn't play such a record in front of your mother. Dyme Def fails to live up to such precedents, offering humorless references to their own potency without any of the silly stories and laughable experiences that should come with it. "Do Something" is an early example of the type of one-dimensional, pallid lyricism to be found throughout "Sex Tape""
Giano :: Beautiful World :: PNG Productionz
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor
"Giano is a rapper/producer out of Hampton, Virginia, who has been making music with his partner Prophetik for over a decade. The two started out as a regular hip hop act before dedicating their lives to Christ in the late 90s. This makes for music that is a notch above many Christian rappers, who get into music as a way to spread their beliefs, meaning the emphasis is on the message over the music. While Giano isn't lacking in the message department, his musical chops are far and above most of his Christian rap peers. Where a lot of Christian rappers emulate more mainstream or club-friendly rap, Giano makes Christian backpack rap. He's influenced by artists like Black Moon and the Wu-Tang, and has the appreciation for lyricism of a true hip hop head. He references Jay-Z and BDP, spitting lines like "My name is similar to D-O-to the G-M-A, and if it wasn't, I'd be on the GMA's." http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2010_07_gianobeautiful.htmlRick Ross :: Teflon Don :: Maybach Music/Slip-N-Slide/Def Jam
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon "If there's one thing success attracts it's haters, and William Leonard Roberts the Second has had more than his fair share. You know him better as the self-proclaimed "Teflon Don" of Florida hip-hop, the one and only Rick Ross - well perhaps not the ONLY Rick Ross. Like so many other rappers Roberts' nom de plume is based on an infamous drug kingpin, and by all accounts 'Freeway' Ricky Ross was highly successful at his trade long before the future rapper had finished the first grade. Even when Ross was incarcerated and his empire fell, the legend of his fame and fortune lived on, and the aspiring rapper Roberts emulated his success with tales of his own lavish lifestyle. His raspy vocal tone, cinematic lyrics and above average delivery along with well placed connections to DJ Khaled and Trick Daddy quickly propelled the modern day Ross to superstar status on albums like "Port of Miami" and "Trilla.""http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2010_07_teflondon.htmlSlum Village :: Villa Manifesto :: Ne'Astra Music/E1 Entertainment
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon"Who is Slum Village in 2010? It's not a question one asks lightly given two-thirds of the group as it was formed in the 1990's is no longer with us in the physical essence. J Dilla passed on in 2006 and Baatin left his body behind in 2009, leaving T3 the only true and living members of the original crew. Open and shut case - there's no group any more - T3 is just using the name since he's the last survivor but it's a solo release. Well, no. As other writers have noted on this website, the lineup of SV was fairly fluid well before two of the founders met an untimely demise. Elzhi was brought into the group in 2002 when Dilla left to pursue a solo career, while Baatin was an on-and-off member throughout the last decade due to mental health problems. While only one-third of the original lineup is still alive, Elzhi has enough tenure with SV to credibly release an album together under the name should they so choose - and they have. "http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2010_07_villamanifesto.htmlTech N9ne :: The Gates Mixed Plate :: Strange Music
as reviewed by Pedro 'DJ Complejo' Hernandez "Tech N9ne is back with his third "Collabos" release. The concept is simple, Tech N9ne drops an album that is very heavy on features to keep fans happy. The over abundance of guests saves the man from wearing himself thin or becoming redundant and gives him a chance to showcase some of his Strange Music roster. It's also a convenient way to release songs that might not have necessarily fit on a particular album. The "Collabos" albums don't really have a unifying theme and "The Gates Mixed Plate" is no different. Overall, the album has a party and street vibe and is a sharp departure from the darkness on "K.O.D." This change comes as no surprise as Tech N9ne made it clear he was heading in a new direction after "K.O.D." The album works quite well and assures fans Tech N9ne remains dope no matter what topics he tackles. "http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2010_07_gatesmixedplate.htmlFoesum :: Perfection :: Penalty/Tommy Boy/Perfection
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **
as reviewed by Pete T. "Long Beach outfit Foesum traces their roots back to a DJ crew formed in the mid '80s while members MNMsta and DJ Glaze were in high school, calling themselves Perfection, a title that would also be selected for Foesum's debut LP. Bouncing around the vibrant LBC scene with a few different lineups in the years that followed, they became active producers and rappers, maintaining close ties with many of their neighbors who would soon hit the big time. Cutting tracks with Domino, Twinz, and even Snoop Dogg, the original Foesum lineup took shape featuring producer and rapper DJ Glaze and rappers T-Dubb, MNMsta, and Wayniac, who splintered to form Twinz with his brother Trip Locc, signing with Def Jam as Warren G's understudies after appearing on his "Regulate...G-Funk Era."""http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/BTTL_foesumperfection.htmlJayo Felony :: Take a Ride :: Jam Master Jay/Def Jam
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **
as reviewed by Pete T. "As quick as many West Coast purists are to dismiss Def Jam's futile efforts to promote their West Coast roster in the mid-90s, it's hard to dispute the quality of the acts they signed. Looking to supplement their largely New York-based artists with equally potent California rhymers, they inked established regional vets from across the state, including such beloved but largely forgotten names as Oakland's Richie Rich; Long Beach's Warren G, Twinz, Domino, and the Dove Shack; WC, South Central Cartel, and BG Knocc Out & Dresta from Los Angeles; and San Diego's own Jayo Felony. "http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/BTTL_jayotakearide.html
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