Thursday June 21, 2018

The (W)rap Up - Week of September 7, 2010
Posted by Emanuel Wallace at Tuesday, September 14th, 2010 at 12:00AM :: Email this article :: Print this article

[Invisible Man]Superstar Quamallah :: Invisible Man :: Brick Records
Author: Pete T.

"More than in any other genre, hip-hop artists are open and even proud to reference their influences on record. While alternative musicians across the disciplines have historically sought to recapture the sounds of yesteryear against the tides of chart-topping trends, few are candid about their sources even if their styles are clearly derivative. Where Nas and Cormega might sample and shout out MC Shan to their hearts' content, we're much less likely to hear Coldplay pen a song about how they listened to "The Joshua Tree" every day of junior year. Then again, there's a fine line between giving props and name-dropping in rap music (see Game, The), and many creators of "throwback rap" struggle to balance creativity with reheated-ness. "

The 20/20 Project :: Employees of the Year EP :: {self-released}
as reviewed by Emanuel Wallace
[Employees of the Year EP] "The 20/20 Project is a Canadian hip-hop group based out of Toronto and consists of three members: D-Squared and Idrees hold down the microphone, while DJ Unknown mans the turntables and takes care of the production. in fact, The 20/20 Project's existence basically begins with DJ Unknown. Both D-Squared and Idrees worked the Canadian underground scene, with D appearing on two Tru Paz albums, while Idrees released his own albums and mixtapes, developing a small-but-loyal fanbase in the process. While working on their own projects for digital singles and mixtapes, with the mutual aid of DJ Unknown's production, D-Squared and Idrees collaborated on each other's solo tracks and decided to take their chemistry to the next level by forming The 20/20 Project. The intent of this collaboration is to blend social commentary and conscious vibes with old school boom bap hip-hop. "

Flip :: Umberto Ghetto :: Tontraeger Records
as reviewed by Matt Jost 

[Umberto Ghetto]"Musically, Philipp Kroll is known for finely tuned, grounded tracks. The East Coast roots are obvious, and Flip doesn't hesitate to name-check three of his influences with the interlude "Large Diamond Rock." But like many other European producers, he has developed a style of his own, one that, compared to American trailblazers, focuses on details and attaining a harmonious ensemble (qualities that more recent productions from the aforementioned triumvirate often lack). At one point Flip claims to be Austria's 'Kanye West, Diamond, Madlib, Dre and Jay Dee,' and while those are several pairs of big shoes to fill even on a local level, his beats do exhibit a broad range of moods. Sampling "Ghetto: Misfortune's Wealth" isn't what you would call original in the hip-hop context, but the way he flips (no pun intended) the drum sequence at the very beginning of "U.M.B.E.R.T.O. G.H.E.T.T.O.," he will even have a crate connoisseur's attention. "

Geko :: Crate Cartel Radio :: Obese Distributed
as reviewed by Daniel Oh

[Crate Cartel Radio]"It's a very American sentiment to assume that we're the best at most everything, especially the things that were born and bred within our shores. We assume that we have the best baseball players, the best basketball, the best Air Force, the best automobiles, and of course, the best Hip-hop. It took awhile for us to lower our noses and look down at the international imitations flooding our markets to realize, just because it's not "Made in the USA" doesn't mean it's not good. Now, the MLB is flooded with Central American and Asian talent, international players are getting drafted higher and higher in the NBA, and you see Hondas and Toyotas running the highways rather than Fords and Chevys. Being an American, it took me awhile to warm up to Geko's CD, Crate Cartel Radio. I was shocked to hear an Australian accent open up the album, smashing and bellowing against my speakers to keep pace with the delayed boom-bap rhythm. "

Kano :: Method to the Maadness :: BPM Records
as reviewed by Jesal 'Jay Soul' Padania
[Method to the Maadness]"Kano's new album "Method to the Maadness" (that is the correct spelling FYI) has failed. Yep. Didn't even break the Top 40 in the first week. I take absolutely no pleasure in reporting that – however, it is no surprise to me. Kano is a talented lyricist, has impeccable breath control and delivery, a smooth, almost effortless voice, and has been dubbed everything from the UK's answer to Jay-Z, Nas and (by himself, albeit it cheekily) Big Daddy Kano. He did the circuits, had an all-star cast of producers, took over influential radio shows and created a big marketing push. Yet, his commercial failure was entirely down to three key aspects. Firstly, there are no true hit singles on the LP. You cannot, unless you are a global megastar, sell records and crack the charts unless you have hit singles that connect with the radio, TV or underground. Doesn't happen. Secondly, MTTM is eclectic, sounding oh so original, but it is blatantly derivative. He has clearly been listening to artists like M.I.A. and Lil Wayne, as their DNA is all over the LP. "

Mack 10 :: Mack 10 :: Priority Records
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **
as reviewed by Pete T.

[Mack 10]"Many are perplexed by Mack 10's stardom given his rather modest talent, yet fifteen years, ten albums, a label, numerous business ventures, a marriage to a TLC member, and more shitty acting roles than he's worth since his 1995 debut, it's clear that Mack 10 is a mainstay in the West Coast rap game. While his debut may have positioned him as just another of Ice Cube's protégés like The Lench Mob, K-Dee, and Kam before him, when it came time in 1996 for Cube to assemble the West Coast trio that would throw up the almighty "W" with one hand and a middle finger to the East with the other, it wasn't Snoop, Kurupt, or any of the aforementioned he selected to join him and WC as the Westside Connection super-triad—it was Mack 10. The rest, as they say, is history. "

Moon Blazers :: Above the Clouds :: Domination Recordings
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

 [Above the Clouds]"Occasionally an album intrigues me before I listen to a single note. The re-release of "Above the Clouds" by Moon Blazers was just such an album and there are four reasons responsible for it: (1.) The album's title references an all-time favorite hip-hop song of mine featuring Guru and Inspectah Deck, (2.) The name sounds like a sketch from Aqua Teen Hunger Force about pot smoking video game aliens, (3.) The digital album came to me courtesy of D.J. at Domination Recordings and (4.) I reviewed their last EP. You may have gleaned from previous reviews that Domination is one of those labels I have a tough time hating. Their intense focus on art over commerce often makes me wonder what keeps the light bill paid at their offices, yet when album after album of highly skilled "backpacker rap" in the best sense of the term is the result they tend to get an automatic spin over other free downloads that pile up."

TeV95 :: Crime Loops :: Majestik Creationz
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
[Crime Loops]"I'm willing to place a bet right now that if you the reader are in the same age bracket I am or older, the cover of TeV95's "Crime Loops" will evoke memories of a classic James Bond intro. The femme fatale seems to be fading into the background behind an ever growing fiery explosion, of the kind rarely found in nature but often reproduced by the special effects wizards of M5 Industries. The openings of the Sean Connery and Roger Moore era films featured many now unforgettable songs, with varied singers working in the movie's title and theme over epic musical backdrops, all while seductive female silhouettes gyrated on screen. To this day they still create the mood that you're in for a special treat - a spy novel thriller brought to life with a British operative "Licensed to Kill" who is not the least bit afraid to use deadly force. "

Ana Tijoux :: 1977 :: Nacional Records
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor

[1977]"This is the second solo album by French-Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux. She has been rapping since the late nineties, first as part of the group Makiza, and then on her own. She is on the same label as Manu Chao and the Nortec Collective, and shares their global Latin sound. In fact, I kept being reminded of Manu Chao's "Clandestino" as I was listening to "1977." Both albums mix latin sounds with hip hop and European folk music, creating a sound that is both unique and familiar. The title track starts off with an orchestral flourish, before going into a beat that mixes spoken-word samples, strings, and acoustic guitar. It's a very musical beat, referencing East Coast backpack rap but with a south of the border flair. Tijoux's rapping is smooth and melodic, peeling off verses with grace and ease. Non-English rap can be tricky, but Tijoux makes it sound natural. "

Timbuktu :: Stranger Danger :: URBNET Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Stranger Danger]"The only appropriate way I can think of to start this review is to explain the significance of the artist's name. I never like to assume any readers haven't studied the history of great African nations, cities and empires yet it's possible some who only recently started high school or college have yet to hit the chapter on Timbuktu in their studies. To be fair though a chapter simply isn't enough for this fabled city, and neither is this paragraph, so I encourage you to read further after this review and learn more. Nevertheless here's a VERY brief summary. Geographically the city lies within the land locked nation of Mali. Historically Timbuktu has been known for learning and scholarship, renowned for both secular learning and Islamic teaching, and since at least the 15th century had a large madrasah/university - now considered to be among the world's oldest."

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