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The (W)rap Up - Week of August 31, 2010
Posted by Emanuel Wallace at Tuesday, September 7th, 2010 at 12:00AM :: Email this article :: Print this article

[Kill Devil Hills]Ill Bill & DJ Muggs :: Kill Devil Hills
Uncle Howie/Fat Beats Records

Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon

"Your favorite underground rapper's favorite underground rapper is probably Ill Bill. As William Braunstein nears the age of 40, some may say he missed his opportunity to become a superstar in hip-hop let alone a household name in the mainstream. Bill himself is undoubtedly fine with that. His career raps put the "rugged" in "ruggedly uncompromising," and his obsession with government conspiracy theories and the Illuminati aren't exactly marketable at the top of the Billboard charts. Something clearly gnaws at Bill though - album titles like "What's Wrong With Bill?" reflect his doubts and concerns. His woes are the curse of the indie rap star - a major figure in a minor market trying to survive off touring and album sales even while the stores like Fat Beats which once moved units for him are all going out of business. "

Bizzy Bone :: Crossroads 2010 :: Sumerian Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
[Crossroads 2010]

"It should be noted right at the start that "Crossroads 2010" may have the strangest Bone related cover art of all time. The album shows a figure (presumably McCane) reaching up toward a microphone bathed in heavenly light for salvation, standing at what are the crossroads of his life. UFO's float in the sky on either side on this heavenly instrument - we're talking Ed Wood sci-fi D-movie level UFO's. The ground around him is littered with broken skulls and empty liquor bottles (telling). On one side of the crossroads he stands at is Stonehenge, on the other side is the Sphinx and an Egyptian pyramid with its peak replaced by the Eye of Providence. The artwork's confusing miasma of symbolism is relevant for Bizzy Bone as it seems to reflect the equally confusing "Crossroads" song choices, as if the artist tried to work each and every title into the cover visually. Yes - there IS a song called "Stonehenge." McCane speaks of biblical prophecy and personal struggle in it"

Compton's Most Wanted :: Music to Driveby :: Epic Records/Sony Music
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
[Music to Driveby]

"Groups like Compton's Most Wanted obliged. While many other rappers who bragged about their gangster credentials or alleged Compton street addresses fell to the wayside, CMW's leader Aaron Tyler b/k/a MC Eiht was born and raised in Compton. Were he not a compelling and interesting rap artist that would've been meaningless, but as it turned out Eiht's voice resonated across the rap landscape. In fact Eiht's trademark "g'yeah," his emotional delivery and distinctive California drawl ("peel" sounds like "pill" and "bolder" sounds like "border") made him an instant fan favorite to the detriment of fellow group members like Boom Bam and MC Chill. When Chill got sent to prison in 1991, the group became a group in name only. Much like Boogie Down Productions in the 1990's, the name existed for marketing purposes, even though KRS-One was the only member of the group people recognized and the only one heard rapping on the albums. "

Dillinger :: CB200 + Bionic Dread :: Hip-O-Select/Island Def Jam
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor
[CB200 + Bionic Dread]

"Jamaican music has always been dominated by the dancehall.  They were controlled by the soundmen with the biggest, most powerful systems, many of whom became successful producers. They were ruled by selectors with the rarest 45s and their chatty deejays keeping the crowd pumped up. The key to the success of any any Jamaican sound system in the sixties and seventies was having the newest, rarest tracks. That often involved working with labels to get a steady stream of unmarked 45 containing exclusive songs. Soon the Jamaican engineers were experimenting with versioning songs, which began as simple instrumentals, and eventually became the weird and wonderful world of dub. These exclusive versions were a must for any successful sound system. "

Eloquor :: Charge :: Myspherical Entertainment/Obese Records
as reviewed by Pete T.

"With a heavy accent and versatile delivery, no one would mistake him for anything but an Australian, but his 2010 sophomore effort "Charge," distributed through celebrated Victoria-based label Obese Records, should appeal to listeners the world over. Undeniably hungry and impassioned on the mic, he enlists a roster of producers that will impress even those completely unfamiliar with Aussie hip hop including international favorites M-Phazes and Slimkat78 of the 1978ers. The beats are an immediate draw, with rich and appealing music throughout, in the words of the press release, "digging deep into the aural landscape of New York's hip hop roots." Exploring a range of tempos and moods, the sizable team of producers lends a consistent quality to Eloquor's tracks which results in some seriously dope songs. "

The Let Go :: Morning Comes ::
as reviewed by Guido Stern
[Morning Comes]

"In the past several years, various artists from Seattle and the greater Pacific Northwest have popped up and skimmed the border between regional and national underground recognition—Blue Scholars, Common Market, Grayskul, to name just a few. Whereas less likely hip hop locales such as Minneapolis and North Carolina have proven formidable breeding grounds for talent in recent years, the inability of these artists to break through may be due to their lack of a distinct local sound. This is a potential constraint The Let Go might consider, as they prove perfectly serviceable emcees and producers on their latest LP, "Morning Comes," but not much else. As "conscious" backpack rapping goes, they're unable to compete with Blue Scholars or Common Market, and their second-gear frat rap, like most frat rap, only provides situational amusements. "

London Posse :: Best of London Posse: Gangster Chronicle :: Wordplay Records
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **
as reviewed by Matt Jost
[Gangster Chronicle]

"The Posse had debuted in 1987 with an eponymous single, followed up one year later with the classic "Money Mad," an alternate version of which opened the longplayer two years later. Up until that point, the domestic rap scene had been mostly aping American hip-hop. Bionic and Rodney provided a radical counterpoint, embracing their West Indian roots and British identity. There was a strong Jamaican influence in London Posse's vocals and beats. While Rodney P combined cockney and yardie in a more straightforward rap manner, Bionic toasted more distinctly inna ragga style.

By their own acknowledgment, at the time reggae and ragga were much more popular among black British youth than rap, which makes "Gangster Chronicle" more than just one of UK hip-hop's first full-lengths, but also an early serious attempt to adopt the artform to British conditions (a process that some would say has not been completed to this day)."

Darryl Moore :: Where I'm At :: SomeOthaShip Connect
as reviewed by Guido Stern

[Where I'm At]

"Where Stones Throw artists are generally blessed with the innovative, unorthodox production of artists like Madlib and J Dilla, the bulk of "Where I'm At" is handled by Moore, Ivan Johnson, and Derek "DOA" Allen, a former collaborator with Bobby Brown, Tyrese, and more recently, Brooke Hogan. Eek. As a result, the album's sound is much more homely, using live instruments and layered vocals that make sense beside its traditional lyrical content. When Moore isn't lovingly paying homage to his mother ("She's My Everything," "Soul Sista"), he's describing the awesomeness of family barbeques with noticeably redundant lyrics ("805 Sundaze," "Family Funday"). The crooner has a rich, choir-trained voice that easily translates the conviction of his lyrics to the listener. He's at his best on tracks like "DreamGirl" and "Fed Up," where he's given the freedom to change keys fluidly without losing the thread of the song. But too many tracks on "Where I'm At" are overlong, overstaying their own languorous goodwill and transforming themselves into background music"

The Nonce :: World Ultimate :: Wild West/American Recordings/Warner Bros.
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **
as reviewed by Pete T.

[World Ultimate]

"Part of "World Ultimate"'s charm certainly lies in its elusiveness, both on the part of the group and the album itself. Long out of print, it regularly commands stratospheric prices among collectors, but the duo proved equally fleeting. Their only subsequent release was a quiet EP in 1998, and two years later Yusef died at age 28 on Interstate 110 in L.A. Nouka can hardly be said to have carried on the torch; despite sporadic recording under a new moniker Sach, none of his solo LPs so much as found national distribution. It's always sad and mysterious when such an obviously talented group disappears without realizing their potential, but the Nonce's untold tale seems particularly unusual, marked by tragedy in addition to the all-too-familiar issues of label drama and creative differences. "

Sam Khan :: Only One Me :: {self-released}
as reviewed by Pedro 'DJ Complejo' Hernandez

[Only One Me]

"UK Hip-Hop is a fascinating case study in the culture. It both mimics and trails the American hip-hop movement. On the one hand, British emcees still build their reputation in fierce battles that are wildly popular amongst the youths. On the other hand, once an emcee blows they tend to mimic what's hot and popular rather than finding their own way. Sam Khan is no different. The man made his name in UK's battle circuit; overcoming stereotypes that fueled cheap ethnic punch lines from his opponents. He cashed in on his popularity online, dominating everything from twitter to youtube. His latest release is a free album, distributed online, and followed up with a single and video for a future album. Sadly, "Only One Me" is a misguided and bland effort that overshadows a clearly talented emcee."

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