If you missed any of the new reviews this past week including Faith Evans & The Notorious B.I.G.'s "The King & I" then do yourself a favor and check out this week's edition of the (W)rap Up!
Faith Evans & The Notorious B.I.G. :: The King & I
Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon
"After "Duets in 2005 and "Greatest Hits" in 2007, it seemed like we were finally done with posthumous releases featuring the late great Christopher Wallace better known as The Notorious B.I.G. slash Biggie Smalls. Not so. We still had the "Notorious" soundtrack coming in 2009. That's fair. If you're going to make a movie about the life and times of Mr. Wallace an album to go with it makes sense, and as I noted at the time it was in some respects "a better 'Greatest Hits' album than the actual one" released two years earlier. You could cynically call it a cash grab if you liked, but it was no more or less of one than anything else released since his death on March 9th, 1997. A little over 20 years after that date was burned into the memory of hip-hop heads (and made unforgettable by the countless rappers to reference it), Faith Evans and Rhino released "The King & I" on May 19th. While many in hip-hop accepted and understood the need for a soundtrack to go with a Biggie biopic, the reaction to this Evans album has been much more muted. The album did crack the Billboard Top 200 its first week out, but a paltry 9,000 units sold didn't exactly light the world on fire. There wasn't exactly a remarkable amount of promotion leading up to what could arguably be an "event" album given the historical timing, and although Evans and Wallace were estranged at the time of his passing, they were not in any way divorced. In fact if you saw the aforementioned biopic you saw their son together - one Christopher Jordan Wallace Jr. - portraying his father at a young age. To be honest watching the film it was kind of eerie how much like his "Big Poppa" the young man was. If ANYBODY in the music industry is entitled to make a posthumous Biggie album it's probably "Fay.""
Kool G Rap :: Return of the Don :: Full Mettle/Clockwork Music
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
"Respect for Kool G Rap is such in hip-hop that stories about him are apocryphal after over 30 years in the rap game. One such tale holds that Christopher Rios, the late great Big Pun, held him in such high esteem that he bowed down and kissed the ring on G Rap's hand when they met, a story G Rap later confirmed. Even if it was still out there in the unverified sphere that story would still come to mind when one sees that G Rap's new album is entitled "Return of the Don." That's the homage one would pay a "don," a title bestowed upon men of honor and seniority, an honorific befitting an elder statesman who has earned that level of admiration and loyalty. Nathaniel Wilson is just such a man both in and outside the confines of the music industry. Even though he tells the grittiest and grimiest of street poetry through his oratory, he does so as a skilled professional and conducts his business the same way. There's a reason you don't hear tales about G Rap being caught up in drama situations - he doesn't put himself on blast like that. As G would say himself he "keeps it 100" in all ways - musically and personally - so he gets respect as both a highly skilled lyricist and a wise business man that is a legend of the business. The title "don" should not be thrown around lightly, nor should any such honorific, but nothing in G Rap's life suggests it isn't befitting for him. Speaking of respect, hip-hop producer MoSS decided to do his own version of "kissing the ring" by producing all of G Rap's new album from start to finish. In modern day rap it's increasingly rare to have that kind of one-to-one relationship between artist and producer, when it's all about shopping for the hottest talent or biggest names who can pop off singles for you, but it bears repeating that G Rap is a respected veteran so he doesn't need to go out like that. People will come to him and say "I can make a hot beat for you to rap on" and he can simply pick and choose who to work with, and he obviously liked MoSS enough to trust him with the entirety of "Return of the Don." He wasn't wrong to do so."
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