If you missed any of the new reviews this past week including Roga Raph's "Nostalgia" then do yourself a favor and check out this week's edition of the (W)rap Up!
Roga Raph :: Nostalgiks
Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon
It's fashionable to be out of step with the times now. One could argue this became the trend when baseball and football hats and jerseys with retired team colors and logos started to be marketed and sold to the masses, or when the boom in collecting vintage video games escalated in the last 10-15 years, or when Hollywood stars began wearing fashions from the last century on the red carpet. Whatever. It doesn't really matter who you give the credit to for making "retro" the hip new thing. Within that yearning for nostalgia formed a whole new subset of trendy art, music and entertainment created to make modern masterpieces with a vintage look and feel. Depending on how "hipster" the artist, the goal could be to simply create something that looks or feels like it came from the 1980's or 90's, or to be even more authentic and create it using the same tools that would have been cutting edge to artists back then. Instead of just imitating a SP-1200 or an Akai S950, why not USE those actual machines while recording? How far the artist takes that aesthetic is a matter of personal preference but arguably of budget. The further removed from those vintage tools we become the more valuable those tools become to both artists and collectors alike. That dynamic fuels my closer inspection of Roga Raph's "Nostalgiks," because even the press release describes it as having "an undeniable old school vibe," and the skits on the album sound like a cross between the voice on an iPhone and the woman who recorded the interludes on "Midnight Mauraders." Even Raph himself admits that "people will try to categorize me for having 90's influenced music," but it's hard not to get that impression from a piano heavy boom bap song like "Where Ya R," and even though Buckshot isn't credited for a cameo, you sure as hell get a Black Moon vibe from the chorus. That's not a bad thing by any means, but to have such a soundalike imitation of 1993 hip-hop makes me wonder -- is it emulated or recreated on the exact same equipment that Mr. Walt and DJ Evil See would have used back in the day?"
Devin The Dude :: Acoustic Levitation :: Coughee Brothaz Enterprise
as reviewed by Matt Jost
"Things never happen fast in Devin's world, but they happen with consistency. A few months before The Dude made his solo debut in 1998 he concluded an unprecedented run of supporting roles alongside the great Scarface by guesting on his "My Homies" compilation. On that occasion magazine The Source gave Devin his due recognition by declaring him 'the brightest second fiddle' of his time, 'rapping with a mesmerizing southern twang and lyrics that paradoxically mix lewd, crude, gentle and serene sensibilities.' "The Dude," his debut, brought this exact blend to perfection. Later records have a higher profile and his 1994 group venture with the Odd Squad is a cult classic in its own right, but for the essential Devin, you couldn't pick a better place than his first release, the one with him sitting on the shitter. Since then The Dude has soared to professional heights with Dr. Dre and De La Soul gigs, Dre, Premier and (of course) Mike Dean production, critical acclaim galore and a long list of guest appearances that affirms that Devin Copeland gets love practically everywhere. On "Acoustic Levitation," his 9th official album, Devin learns once more that this thing called love can be a fleeting phenomenon, particularly in one's personal life. "Can I" sees him shyly offering to be "the one" ("you're waiting for... you're saving it for") devoid of the usual confidence that she'll accept him as her knight in shining bling. "Are You Goin' My Way?" continues the careful L.L. Cool J approach as he offers a waiting bus passenger a ride. As The Nonce knew, "Bus Stops" is "Where the Honeys Is At," but before he can convince her to get in the car, the bus pulls up. While singers Tony Mac and Lisa Luv continue the convo, the very end of the song knocks our hero out of the skies when he realizes all the places the lady would like to be chauffered to."
G Herbo :: Welcome to Fazoland 1.5 :: Machine Entertainment Group
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
"The rise in popularity of G Herbo a/k/a Lil Herb coincides with the rise in popularity of Chicago drill music in general, put on the national map by artists like Chief Keef as well as his friend and comrade Lil Bibby. The shortsighted critics and naysayers have bemoaned the dark and heavy sound, mixed with unapologetically and proudly violent verses, while failing to give consideration to Chicago's impoverished neighborhoods and sky high homicide rates as context. Drill does not exist in a vacuum. It was and is the natural response to an oppressive and hostile environment. The heavy and oft-times morbid music is actually a sign of hope for Chicago youth. Drill shows that there's a way to put that pain to music, to turn it into art and to turn that art into a profit, and to use that profit to raise yourself and your friends up from the bottom to the top. Herbo's "Welcome to Fazoland 1.5" is not a long statement of that scene, but one might have guessed that from the decimal point in the title anyway. This album is very much a half step between projects, coming between the commercial release of the "Strictly 4 My Fans" mixtape and his OFFICIAL debut album "Humble Beast" later this year. That doesn't mean it's a less considered or produced project than either of those releases, even though you can digest this entire release in just over 20 minutes. It starts out strongly on the pounding "Missin 'Em All," which as you might suspect is a dedication to friends who are no longer here, yet some might miss him saying "as long as my little sister straight" in the middle of the first verse. Once again that's why I don't buy it when people dismiss drill as nihilistic and dangerous. Even amongst the love for his loves ones both here and departed, things still stay true to the heavy drill themes on tracks like "Dropout." Herb may catch you some of his naysayers off guard with the brag lines "Growing up got A's and B's in school, ain't have to drop out/I ain't want no 9 to 5 cause that's a copout" but I can always hear the thought that Herbo puts into his bars before he spits."
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