Motion Man :: Adult Situations
Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon
"Paul Laster is a man in motion. In fact he may actually be moving too fast for his hip-hop career. Despite his membership in the critically acclaimed group Masters of Illusion and a well regarded solo album where he did things his OWN way, "Pablito's Way," Motion Man doesn't seem to have achieved the notoriety of his oft-times collaborator Kool Keith. Previous writers have noted a great deal of similarity between the two, but the comparison falls apart given that Mr. Thornton is regarded as an eccentric hip-hop legend while Mr. Laster is barely regarded at all. That's unfortunate really - he may not have Keith's reputation nor Keith's almost incomprehensibly large catalogue of releases but the few he does are invariably high quality. Keith's flights of fancy lead him to artistic brilliance and failure in equal measure, while Motion Man keeps a tighter reign on his impulses and still manages to deliver creative solo CD's."
Berner :: Weekend at Bernie's :: Bern One Entertainment/City Hall Records
as reviewed by Matt Jost
"The cover for Berner's 2009 album vaguely re-enacts the poster as well with two exotic dancers supporting an apparently loaded Berner. Sounds like a fun weekend, with no dead bodies around at that. Much to my surprise, however, the music on "Bernie's" possesses a distinctly reflective note. The lyrics themselves don't support that notion at all. Bern raps about his drug dealing prowess and the cool things it got him. Lyrically it's a wholly nondescript affair consisting of a little bit of Pac and a whole lot of anonymous/average hustler rap. But there is something about Bernie that lends his tracks a thoughtful, wistful touch."
Camu Tao :: King of Hearts :: Fat Possum/Definitive Jux
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
"Now some wonks might say it's shamelessly macabre to cash in on a man who's not around to collect royalties any longer. The music industry has a long and storied history of dancing on people's graves though, and the only difference between the many posthumous releases is how tastefully they are done and how good the music is. The flip side of the macabre coin is that it might be even more disrespectful to do nothing and sit on an album Tao clearly intended to release. Imagine how empty most museums would be if we collectively decided it was shameful to enjoy the artwork of famous painters just because they're dead. In fact many of history's most famous artists were not celebrated for their creativity until long after their demise. "
DLabrie :: Mr. Netw3rk :: RonDavoux Records/Select-O-Hits
as reviewed by Susan 'susiQ' Kim
"At first glance, it's apparent that "Mr. Netw3rk" is a lengthy twenty-three track album, but a twenty-three track album full of what? The album's introduction poorly sets the tone for the rest of the album as D'Labrie talks, yes talks, over a simplistic synthesized beat and is soon followed by a skit with DJ Backside as she interviews him for her radio show. At this point, I'm not quite sure what I'm listening to because it might be a radio show or open mic session for all I know. Finally at track three the music commences. Heavily synthesized beats are once again incorporated as D'Labrie provides his own introduction about himself in "D'Labrie" and discusses his career as a rap artist."
Haz-Mat :: FiXin2cleanUP! :: Cream Factory Records
as reviewed by Daniel Oh
"I am a hometown boy. I was born and raised in Northern Cali and I make sure to put it on my back wherever I go. So naturally, when I see other hometown heroes hustlin', I follow them a little more religiously than I would others. For instance, I forget that I hate anything from Green Bay when it comes to Aaron Rodgers, who was raised in Chico and learned his craft at Cal. The thought that he could have been quarterbackin' in the red and gold of the 49ers gives me ulcers, but I digress. So when I listened to Haz-Mat's "FiXin2cleanUP!" I tried to lay away all of my hometown leanings and give you an objective review based on my knowledge of what makes a good album. Being completely honest, I would find a decent listen if you're a fan of the scene, but it's not the best introductory album if you know nothing about the Bay, especially its street music. "
Mac Truc :: II Be Heard :: Fly By Night Records
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor
"Mac's a grown man rapper, meaning he's above the simple boasting and posturing of younger rappers. He raps with a perspective that comes with living on this planet for a while. For example, while he's had more than his share of women issues, he discusses them in a much more thoughtful way than your average 19-year-old. He compares a relationship to a chronic disease on "Terminal Cancer," and on the spoken word piece "Ms. Mirage" talks about superficial women who just want a man with money. You can tell he's been through the wringer emotionally, but he doesn't resort to misogyny. He even celebrates women on "Queens," rapping, "First off, ladies I love you/I wish we all could meet so I could group hug you." He's joined on the mic by like-minded rappers TruBless, Asuzu the Zulu, Demarco, and Young Skillet."
Nine :: Quinine :: Smoke On Records
as reviewed by Matt Jost
"What does Nine want this time? He is less outspoken about his specific goals, but he insists that we "call it a comeback." He seems both realistic about the rap game and convinced of his place in it (which of course is a potential paradox). He is "the truest" and "one of the fewest," coming to take "the crown back to the BX borough." He suggets, "Take a minute to listen, you'll see Nine is flawless" because he is, by his own account, "as raw as raw gets, verses to the chorus." "I'm built for this game, I don't feel no guilt and no shame," he declares in "Bionic." There are a few hints at the very beginning of the album on "What's Done Is Done" that the timeout he took removed him from "the lifestyle of a rap star" ("You seen that nigga's video? I ain't have that car / I ain't get that far"). But the vast majority of the lyrics are meant to reassure us and Nine of his potential."
Plan B :: The Defamation of Strickland Banks :: Phantasm Imports
as reviewed by Jesal 'Jay Soul' Padania
"Having listened to the album extensively, it is most certainly impressive in numerous ways. There is excellent and soulful (meant in the old-school way) singing; plenty of Mark Ronson-esque throwback production; melodies aplenty; hit singles; a concept that actually makes a bit of sense… In fact, it is such a rich 50 minutes that I could almost keep going for another 10,000 words. But the main points to consider are the most subtle and obvious influences. For example, the whole "Ronson sound" which, unfortunately, means that Plan B either sounds like he is 3 years too late, or he has been directly influenced. Either way, he doesn't come off too well. Add to that the lack of variation – one man's consistency is another man's flatness – as everything sounds very similar from song to song. The first half of the album works remarkably well; the second, not so much."
various artists :: Reggae Gold 2010 :: VP Records
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor
"This compilation offers up 18 of some of the bigger reggae hits of the past year, providing an overview of the contemporary reggae scene. I listen to a lot of old reggae, but I'm not as familiar with the current scene, so this compilation was an education for me. I was struck by the influence of contemporary R&B on reggae. Many of the singers' voices are robotically tweaked with Auto-Tune, and the some of the sounds and production techniques are borrowed from American urban music, albeit with a skanking twist. It makes sense, because early reggae was heavily also influenced by American R&B (the sweet falsetto of many reggae singers is partially a result of the success of Curtis Mayfield's group the Impressions in sixties Jamaica)."
Skip-Dawg :: Trust Me, I'm a Rapper :: Skip-Dawg.com
as reviewed by Guido Stern
"Farther down the press kit, we learn that Skip-Dawg has three prior albums, graduated from Princeton, and is described as a cross between rapper T.I. and Justin Timberlake. Who exactly describes him as this pop superstar hybrid is never disclosed, but there's a line in the second verse of Jay-Z's "The Takeover" that feels especially pertinent. Of course, Skip-Dawg himself is probably not responsible for such laughable hyperbole, and these are unfair expectations to throw upon a guy who is already handicapped with the presumptions that come with looking like a white-collar Asher Roth. "
Styles P :: The Ghost Dub-Dime Mixtape :: E1 Entertainment
as reviewed by Emanuel Wallace
"For over a decade, we've all come to know Styles P by a multitude of names: Paniro, S.P., The Ghost, Holiday Styles and so forth. Back in June we were introduced to David Styles the author as S.P. released a novel entitled "Invincible." In addition to the book, there was also a soundtrack of the same name. Prior to its release, Styles dropped "The Ghost Dub-Dime Mixtape," which was the follow up to "The Green Ghost Project." When asked why he decided to make a second unofficial album instead of proper follow up to 2007's "Super Gangster Extraordinary Gentleman," Styles explained that he wasn't in a "worldwide" mood and just wanted to keep it street. In fact, in the mixtape's opening moments, he appoints himself as the representative of the poor and the voiceless. Production is provided by the likes of Street Radio, Ceasar Productions and Don Joe."
Tha Dogg Pound :: Dogg Food :: Death Row/Interscope
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **
as reviewed by Pete T.
"Tha Dogg Pound's sound is reminiscent of Dre's—the deep, rumbling bass, soul sampling, cheap, whiny synthesizers, frequent guest appearances, and shrieking vocals from female R&B singers Michel'le and Nancy Fletcher—but it's the differences that make their sound most appealing. Even at a young age, Daz Dillinger was a phenomenal producer in his own right, and one who molded the label and the larger West Coast's signature sound in the years that followed. His tracks tend to be bouncier and generally sunnier than Dre's, embodying a trademark gangsta-boogie flavor that he would expand upon for the next decade, and his rigid, funky drum patterns and sparkly piano keys are also quite distinctive. On the mic, he sports an impenetrable delivery and commanding presence, especially next to his more technical and lyrical counterpart. The young Kurupt is a slick gangster capable of bending syllables into complex rhyme schemes like a seasoned pro with a nimble, versatile flow, tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, and sheen that would lead to his becoming one of California's most celebrated MCs by the late '90s."
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