If you missed any of the new reviews this past week including Drake's "More Life" then do yourself a favor and check out this week's edition of the (W)rap Up!
Drake :: More Life
OVO/Young Money/Cash Money/Republic Records
Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon
"When you make the kind of money Aubrey Drake Graham b/k/a Drake makes, you also get to make up your own reality. That's why Drake has described "More Life" not as an album but as "a playlist between albums." That's fine to say if you want to Mr. Graham but "More Life" is still being sold like an album and still has singles being released off of it like an album. The first single off his "playlist" last October was the Vinylz & Frank Dukes produced "Fake Love," which seemed to be Drake's wholesale rejection of his mainstream popularity via the form of a pop single. In hip-hop that level of contradiction is usually reserved for Kanye West, but as noted we're dealing with a Drake who is creating and living in his own reality. That's not necessarily wrong though. If you succeed at the high levels that Drake and Kanye have, you really are surrounded by "Fake Love" at every turn, with even those who seem like your closest friends only using you to achieve success too. Some might say that being out of touch with reality is a bad thing, but maybe it's a healthy defense mechanism when you're not sure who you can trust. Because Drake is only listening to the voices in his own head, there's a certain artistic freedom that goes along with trusting only himself, meaning that he can choose to sing even if fans think he should rap or vice versa. He doesn't have to answer to anyone for a song like the Rogues produced "Passionfruit" -- he does what he wants. "Doing what he wants" also means that Drake has put this album all over the internet, which means you can just stream it for free on Soundcloud or Spotify if you like. He's also decided to take a very Carribean slant on this album, so you'll notice a repeated refrain through of "And more chune for your headtop/so watch how you speak on my name, you know?" The cameos also reflect this style. Giggs hails from the UK but was raised by his Jamaican mother and it shows in his two appearances on "No Long Talk" and "KMT." The same goes for Jorja Smith and his Jamaica by Waisall, England roots on "Get It Together" which is immediately followed by the tropical sounds of "Madiba Riddim" -- a track which once again finds Drake questioning the nature of his reality. "I can not tell who is my friend" mourns Mr. Graham to the uptempo riddim of the track."
Bloody Monk Consortium :: Fully Automated Kill Unlimited :: Johnny 23 Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
"One way or another it always falls to me to review the latest project from the Bloody Monk Consortium. At their very best they are average to slightly above, but I can't honestly tell you that they're someone I'm checking for or eagerly anticipating to hear from each time they drop a new project. I generally listen to a B.M.C. album, write up my thoughts about it for you the readers, then promptly forget it exists and move on to more bumpworthy material. Even at their best they fail to strike a chord with me and capture my attention to the point I feel compelled to listen to the album more than once. They're the rap act whose song you wouldn't hit fast forward to skip over on a mixtape, but you wouldn't go Amazon to buy it digitally or run to the store to cop their CD. Actually real talk I've never seen a Bloody Monk Consortium album in stores anywhere. I've got the physical ones they have sent me over the years so I do know they press them up, but I don't think they have the distribution connections to get retail shelf space at Best Buy or Target. If you still have an independent record store in your town though they might have it -- but your best bet would be to cop it online and have it mailed to you. As I wrote the opening paragraph it suddenly dawned on me that I know why I always review the Bloody Monk Consortium -- they're TRYING. They don't have the biggest name in the game, the best distribution for their albums, the reputation that puts them among rap's elite, but they just never stop hustling or trying. Hustle respects hustle because an independent website like ours is in the exact same situation - we're just out there trying every day and hoping that we earn a little bit of your time and possible repeat business down the line. As I listen to "Morty's Death Wish" off "Fully Automated Kill Unlimited" I can say they've got at least one song that achieved that goal, because they looped the ominous "genocide run" music from the Hotlands in the video game Undertale. There's probably 1% of their audience that would have picked up on that jack, but I'm that one, and if the album was public on Bandcamp I'd share the clip of it with you. Right now all I can give you is the "album sampler.""
Red Pill & Ill Poetic :: Instinctive Drowning (Instrumentals) :: Mello Music Group
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
"Here we have an interesting situation on multiple fronts. The first item on the agenda is that I somehow wound up with a promo copy of Red Pill & Ill Poetic's "Instinctive Drowning" but not the rap album itself -- I received an instrumental copy of the project. The second item is that it appears this was available via Red Pill's page on Bandcamp for a time, you can find Google links to it if you search, but when you follow them you hit a dead end because this release has been DE-LISTED. Therefore I'm put in the situation of sharing clips with this review of the original songs and not of their instrumental version just so you can hear what I'm talking about. Furthermore in some respects I'm unintentionally promoting something you can't even buy right now. All I can tell you is that I'm taking what I've got in front of me and making the best of the situation I've got. It's actually not such a bad spot to be in. Red Pill is an incredibly talented cat, in or outside of his Ugly Heroes supergroup, and Ill Poetic is a double threat with both rhymes and beats. In this case he's providing the latter, which makes him the focus of this review, while most coverage of Red Pill focuses on his intellectual melancholy as an emcee. Obviously you're going to pick up on his skills as an emcee if you play these clips, but on this review riding through the world of beats, rhymes and life it's all about the beats baby. And oh what beats they are. "Gin & Tonic" opens with warbling and woozy instruments, blending and bleeding into echoing drums and a wailing trumpet, sounding like all the best parts of what "acid jazz" used to mean on me with the emphasis on "jazz." I'm not prone to drinking gin and tonic very often -- in fact I don't even have either of the required ingredients in my home -- but from experience I've learned that the two are completely intolerable on their own yet somehow magically delicious and intoxicating when combined. That would be a terrible metaphor for the partnership between Red Pill and Ill Poetic as they're both great on their own, yet undoubtedly they too are more than the sum of their parts when combined. I can honestly say the instrumental stands up on its own though. It actually makes me want to have a drink and sink into the musical vibes as my brain disconnects from higher thoughts."
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