If you missed any of the new reviews this past week including A Tribe Called Quest's "We Got It From Here" then do yourself a favor and check out this week's edition of the (W)rap Up!
Dabbla: Year of the Monkey
If you were to compare rap artists in the US and the UK in 2016, those whose music actually takes them somewhere, you'd notice major differences in how they exert their form of expression. The ratio of technically virtuous rappers seems to be significantly higher in the UK at the moment. Surely there are varying definitions of rap skills, but if we take one that is easy to comprehend, a feature that to laymen makes rapping seem difficult - keeping up a high tempo at a rhythmically steady pace -, there are really not that many North American rappers anymore who specialize in that.
Editorial: Is Nintendo Purposefully Causing Scalping?
What you see here is the NES Classic Edition, also known as the Nintendo Classic or "NES Mini" depending on who you are talking to. It's arguably the hottest toy/game of the Christmas shopping season, though I've also heard and read that Spin Master's Hatchimals could give it a run for the literal money in terms of how hard it is to find for your kids. Some might see this editorial as an opportunity to bemoan the capitalistic consumer driven culture we live in, and on the right day at the right time that might be true, but given consuming is almost inherently in our nature I'm not actually going there this time.
Steve 'Flash' Juon: The Hip-Hop Shop #403
It's time for another edition of The Hip-Hop Shop. Episode #403 is Time Out on Killin' the Game. Today you'll hear new material from Tamba Tongu, F.Y.I., Substance Abuse and more! Follow us @RapReviews so you never miss a new podsafe free show - like The Drunk Train from Adam Bernard.
Kano: Made in the Manor
Grime is original pirate material. (No direct relation to The Streets, but there are some overlaps.) Meaning grime, born and bred in East London, live & direct, quick & dirty, has come up through that lifeline for new exciting music emerging from London Town, pirate radio. Tying into that, one thing that grime shares with the British music scene in general is that it can be a very insider thing. There is so much to know and so much to learn that it's almost impossible to catch up once you're late to the party. And with such an initially insular phenomenon that at the moment goes through a resurgence of international dimensions with Kanye West co-signs and editorials attesting it political purpose (Complex: 'Is 2016 The Year Grime Becomes An Anarchist Genre?' The Guardian: 'Party Politics: Why Grime Defines The Sound Of Protest In 2016'), it's very easy to be unfashionably late to grime.
NxWorries: Yes Lawd!
NxWorries is a collaboration between rapper/singer Anderson.Paak and producer Knxwledge. Anderson.Paak started 2016 by releasing one of the best albums of the year ("Malibu"), and apparently he decided to close the year out by releasing an album that is almost as good. I've been a fan of Paak's since hearing him on Dr. Dre's "Compton." His combination of rapping, singing, and musical abilities, combined with his stage presence, makes him one of hip-hop's most promising new artists. Knxwledge, on the other hand, hasn't really won me over with any of his 80-odd beat tapes. On their own, I've found Knxwledge's beats to be too glitchy and ADD, never quite settling on a groove. In the hands of a skilled rapper, on the other hand, his beats open up, allowing room for the MC to do their thing. Knxwledge's "Momma" was a highlight on "To Pimp A Butterfly," and he finds an equally fruitful pairing with Anderson.Paak. He lays down track after track of soulful, stuttered beats for Paak to sing over.
Jesal Padania: Slick Rick Concert Review
He came (home). He saw. He conquered. Slick Rick returned to London (The Forum, Kentish Town) for the first time in forever, and was welcomed back to his birthplace by a raucous crowd on a wonderful night that celebrated UK hip history in a beautiful way. Truth be told, this was more of an extended "appearance" by Slick Rick, and viewed in isolation may well have been a disappointment if you were expecting something else. The reality is he doesn't have the back catalogue to support two hours, and so he was only on stage for approximately three quarters of an hour. You're talking about someone who hasn't released an album this century, and so incorporating his guest features on "Hip Hop Police" and "Auditorium" (one of my favorite songs ever) felt more of a necessity.
A Tribe Called Quest: We Got It From Here... Thank You 4 Your Service
It has taken a few weeks for me personally to digest and absorb this album. I had already made my peace with A Tribe Called Quest saying farewell with "The Love Movement" almost two decades ago. I think I personally enjoyed the album more than the contributor who wrote it up for us, but I can also relate to her feeling of bitterness that this "final collection" was far from the musical or creative pinnacle of their career. That was only the tip of the bitter iceberg though. Far deeper beneath the surface was personal animosity that came crashing through the 2011 hip-hop documentary from Michael Rapaport, which seemed to Titanic-ally sink any hope they could ever work together again on an album.
Videos: Ten A Tribe Called Quest Rap Videos (R.I.P. Phife)
The time has finally arrived. This week we're going to talk about "We Got It From Here... Thank You 4 Your Service" but before we do that it's worth taking a look back at the history that lead up to this point. For me hip-hop music and A Tribe Called Quest are essentially inseparable. After all Tribe was my first rap concert, and the progression they showed from one album to the next was incredible. Even though some people will swear by "People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm" and completely diss "The Love Movement," I took something away from each album that holds to my heart today, which is why you'll see all five of the original albums featured in the videos below.
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