Sunday June 17, 2018

The (W)rap Up - Week of October 19, 2010
Posted by Emanuel Wallace at Tuesday, October 26th, 2010 at 12:00AM :: Email this article :: Print this article

"The end is coming. Not the end of time, not even the end of the world some people believe is prophesied for 2012. The end of the ALPHABET is coming. Oakland, California duo Zion I may be last on your iPod list, but they've earned enough five star ratings since the late 1990's to still be near the top of any playlist. Classic albums like "Mind Over Matter" and "Heroes in the City of Dope" established Zumbi (formerly Zion) and AmpLive as a formidable rapper and producer team. The lyrical flows invented represented a political and socially conscious awareness without being preachy or heavy handed, and Amp's beats broke from the traditional West coast tendencies to either have hella thump or G-Funk. To call the instrumentals minimalistic would be too simplistic. They're beat heavy to be sure but Amp ensures they ooze with tons of soul thanks to the playful samples, hooks, horns and non-traditional percussive notes. The sound of a Zion I album is always distinctive. "

3Bubble :: The Fresh Entrepreneur :: Chek Records
as reviewed by Joe Howard
[The Fresh Entrepreneur] 
"Before I begin critiquing the musical aspects of this album, I would like to put out a disclaimer. Firstly, I have never previously heard any music by 3Bubble, nor have I ever been aware of him or the record label that's distributing this album. All I have at my disposal to provide any background information about 3Bubble is a typed letter from his manager to our webmaster, referring to 3Bubble as "Houston's premiere hip-hop artist". I've been bumping "The Fix" by Scarface sporadically over the last two weeks, and in all honesty I think that it's the excellence of that album that leaves me no other choice but to be so remotely unimpressed by "The Fresh Entrepreneur". I guess it's just an unfortunate coincidence that in my opinion, this album sounds like a parody of "The Fix". I traditionally give albums a few listens to leave open the possibility of a change of heart, but it was clear three songs into my second spin of "The Fresh Entrepreneur" that it just isn't going to happen in this instance. The album kicks off with an entirely expendable "T.F.E. Gala (Intro)", before transitioning into "Get Inside", produced by C10 and A1, which almost immediately reveals many of the most critical grievances a seasoned rap enthusiast will have with this album. "

Big B :: Good Times and Bad Advice :: Suburban Noize Records
as reviewed by Joe Howard

[Good Times and Bad Advice] 
"The first thing I noticed when I read up about Big B in preparation for this review was that the record label releasing this album just signed one of my favorite bands, (Crazy Town). The second thing I noticed is that Big B has yet to receive a rating higher than a 6.5 from a Rapreviews staff member. The third thing I noticed is that Big B has a long history in the genre of rap-rock. These three things may seem irrelevant to one another, but they are significant to me personally, because I have a great deal of respect for the staff of and their viewpoints, my favorite musical outfit of all time, 311, are rap rock royalty, and Crazy Town were one of my earliest musical influences. So, I guess you can say that I was intrigued by this album before I had even listened to it, and had somewhat predetermined what I was about to experience. One glance at the cover art of "Good Times and Bad Advice" provides a pretty good inkling into what you're about to hear when you listen to it."

Capital R :: The Enigma :: DFY Productions
as reviewed by Mike Baber

[The Enigma] "It's always refreshing in today's hip-hop game to hear a rapper who truly knows the history of hip-hop and gives credit to the classic records that influenced him. Capital R falls into this category, as he references and samples artists such as Tupac, Biggie, and the Wu Tang Clan throughout his debut EP, "The Enigma." What makes Capital R's story particularly intriguing, though, is that he was born and raised in the UK, and is part of an up and coming group of underground British emcees trying to find a niche in the rap game. On "The Enigma," Capital R not only raps but also assists with production, mixing, and sound engineering, working to create a surprisingly deep and well-produced debut EP that is sure to turn some heads. Many intro tracks on rap albums today are no more than 30 seconds long and generally aren't worth listening to more than once. The opening track on "The Enigma", titled "The Inception," is no typical album intro, though. "

Dan-e-o :: The Book of Daniel (10 Year Anniversary Mixtape) ::
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[The Book of Daniel (10 Year Anniversary Mixtape)] 
"Thanksgiving Day in Canada was October 11th, but we at RapReviews are giving thanks to Canada for their contributions to hip-hop all month long. Who better then to recognize than venerable rapper Dan-e-o? He's long been a stalwart of the Great North's hip-hop scene, recognized both for his lyrical talent and his commitment to the fierce independence of Canadian artists. While many rap artists on either side of the U.S./Canada border look at traditional ways of getting into the rap game - record a demo, send it to labels, sign with a major and pray they'll promote you - Dan makes his albums downloadable at low prices through and reaps the rewards of self-promotion through his own newsletters, radio shows and free mixtapes. If you think that's a recipe for obscurity you'd be dead wrong - we've been covering his music since 2004 and his recent free "Dilla Pickles" tribute album was a smash hit for Dan and with the readers of the website. He's the epitome of D-I-Y, succeeding on his own terms without needing a major to back him up."

Dirty Circus :: Alive and Well :: URBNET Records
as reviewed by Pedro 'DJ Complejo' Hernandez

[Alive and Well] 
"I never thought I'd ever have the occasion to interpret the meaning of a dead roach. While a dead canary to a miner used to be their only warning of danger, dead roaches have never been employed for similar useful purposes. That Dirty Circus uses a roach as their logo is really not out of the ordinary; roaches tend to be interpreted as conveying filth, dirt, and a general lack of sanitation. The dead roach on the cover, though, has more meaning than your typical dead roach. Their album is called "Alive and Well," yet the creature featured on their cover is everything but. Considering roaches are some of the most resilient creatures to inhabit this planet, a dead roach is even more intriguing. Having exhausted my dead roach interpretation skills, I've come away convinced Dirty Circus isn't your typical rap group without even hearing a single song. Now that's what I would call an effective album cover! Dirty Circus' album cover isn't the only thing to love about "Alive and Well." Over the album's 13 tracks, the duo of Metty the Dirtmerchant and Mos Eisley craft some of the most refreshing "golden era inspired" rap you'll ever hear."

El Da Sensei & The Returners :: GT2: Nu World :: Coalmine Records
as reviewed by Pete T.

[GT2: Nu World] 
"Something I appreciate about El Da Sensei is that he has just about every reason to sound bitter but doesn't. As one-half of Newark duo Artifacts, he released a pair of East Coast standards, 1994's "Between a Rock and a Hard Place" and 1997's "That's Them," two underrated records in their own right, before embarking upon a solo career. Since then he's released a slew of acclaimed albums on his own that, while championed by a select audience, have failed to turn the same heads that Artifacts did. Whether because marketers failed to parlay his relative notoriety into his solo projects or simply because the timing was unfortunate, El hasn't been moving the units he did back in the ‘90s, but he's embraced his underground status as a mainstay on the scene. He doesn't feel the need to remind listeners about his graffiti-rap roots or hearken back to a better day, nor does he demand that new jacks pay dues—instead, he treats his former affiliation as a launching pad from which he's amassed a substantial solo catalog miles deep within the underground. "

Gappy Ranks :: Put the Stereo On :: Peckings/Greensleeves/VP Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Put the Stereo On] 
"It's often (but not always) true that when more than two record labels or imprints want their names on someone's project, the artist must be ON FIYAH. Everybody wants a piece of that pie when the rapper/singer/performer becomes a huge star and a household name. Just like Shady/Aftermath/Interscope all had that kind of faith in 50 Cent at the start, we find Peckings/Greensleeves/VP all similarly vested in the London, UK based Gappy Ranks. You wouldn't suspect he was from London listening to "Put the Stereo On" - his rhythms and rhyme is straight outta Jamaica like a classic roots reggae artist from days of old. Wait - classic roots reggae? Is that really going to blow up and go pop in 2010? Regardless of any of our personal preferences we all have to be a bit realistic. Right now what's trending and successful in the music industry couldn't be further from the sound of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Barrington Levy. We live in the age of Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Far East Movement. "

Muneshine :: Status Symbol :: Domination Recordings
as reviewed by Pete T.

[Status Symbol] 
"The multitalented Saskatchewan-born, Toronto-based Muneshine has received no shortage of love from critics and his fellow artists alike, including those employed by RapReviews. In his review of 2007's instrumental album "A Walk in the Park," now-retired writer and producer Matt Tomer praised Mune for his smooth production and ear for soul samples, resulting in beats so good that he found it "unfortunate" that his upcoming album "Status Symbol" was to feature only his raps and not his beats. Since then Muneshine has been so busy it's been tough to keep up with him, appearing on projects by such acclaimed producers as Oddisee and Incise and collaborating with big names from across the international scene including Shad, Ohmega Watts, and Ed O.G. Earlier this year his full-length collaboration with Long Island MC/producer Saint as The Residents earned him further praise from this site, and he continues to record extensively with fellow Canadians D-Sisive and Ghettosocks as well as his Wax Reform crew. "

Oddities :: The Scenic Route :: Underworld Records/Battleaxe Records
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **

as reviewed by Matt Jost

[The Scenic Route] 
"Roughly ten years ago there was a shift in the Canadian hip-hop landscape that was also registered by An increasing number of acts from the provinces began introducing themselves to a larger audience, from strictly indie types to major hopefuls - Swollen Members, Choclair, Kardinal Offishall, Solitair, Dan-e-o, Classified, Eternia, K-Os, Da Grassroots, BrassMunk, The Pangea Project, Jeff Spec, DL Incognito, Tru-Paz, Shadez, Mood Ruff, Arcee, Buck 65, Sixtoo, Johnny Hardcore, Cadence Weapon, Sweatshop Union, Pip Skid, mcenroe, Circle Research, Wordburglar... Among them were Oddities, a Toronto-based quintet that appeared on one of our staffers' lists of 2004's best albums. They adjust their line-up from song to song, depending on who's down to execute the concept at hand. The opening "Oddities" is the only track where all five vocalists share the mic. The way Bookworm's slowly unfolding, then gear-shifting beat illustrates how sonic can turn to scenic, it might as well be the title track. The MC's succeed each other with serpentine flows, combining for a collective declaration of superiorty."

Pigeon Hole :: Age Like Astronauts :: URBNET Records
as reviewed by Pedro 'DJ Complejo' Hernandez

[Age Like Astronauts] 
"Pigeon Hole obviously loves to play with words. Their name implies as much. It's fitting their album title presents a phrase that too is open for interpretation. Science will tell you astronauts age just like you and I do. Before that was established, there did exist a misconception that in space time goes slower so astronauts in orbit age slower than those stuck on earth. The accuracy of the concept is irrelevant, but the origin is not. Fueled by the human desire for immortality, the myth reflected just how self centered we can be. In a time when space exploration was opening up unknown frontiers and infinite possibilities, there were still plenty of humans wondering just how these vast new worlds could benefit them as an individual. While I would never call Dusty and Marmalade (Pigeon Hole) self centered, this album is definitely an assertion of the duo's individuality and distinction for the greater Sweatshop Union collective. Whether the album title was meant to be a reflection of the general wish to live longer lives or a tongue in cheek reference to the fact it's taken a VERY long time for Pigeon Hole to release their "debut" album, the duo makes the most out of their opportunity to establish themselves outside of Sweatshop Union. "

Royce Da 5'9" :: Bar Exam 3 ::
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Bar Exam 3] 
"Ryan Montgomery is best known as real life rapper Royce Da 5'9" but judging by the first skit of "Bar Exam 3" he'd also like to be known as the fictional character portayed by Jonathan Goldsmith for Dos Equis: "The Most Interesting Man in the World." Does Royce Five Nine qualify as this interesting? Well he's right up there. There aren't many rap artists who would have the cajones to cross both Dr. Dre and Eminem then increase his legend with a pro-Detroit "Rock City" album featuring production by DJ Premier - and that was the EARLY part of his career. Since then in the last decade he's dropped a dozen albums on and offline including the self-titled hip-hop supergroup classic "Slaughterhouse." He's been in and out of jail, he's been in and out of feuds with Eminem's D12 crew, he's been proclaimed rap music's savior, he's never not quotable. In fact when it comes to punchlines Royce stands toe to toe with the likes of Eminem and Skillz and isn't afraid to be politically incorrect about it"

Sadistik & Kid Called Computer :: The Art of Dying :: Best Kept Records
as reviewed by Daniel Oh

[The Art of Dying] 
"When I first listened to this album, I thought I was listening to Slug's long-lost twin, or at the very least, his cousin. It's not just that Sadistik channels the flow of Slug into his raps, but the same depressive and contemplative energy that would fit perfectly in "Lucy Ford' or "Godlovesugly." This whole release is run with a motor of emotion and melancholy, from the dark and symphonic beats to the skillfully crafted verses on melancholy topics, like death and heartbreak. The large influence of Atmosphere is apparent throughout this album, but I daresay it has a little bit more cross-over appeal. I mean, people more in-tune with their inner thug wouldn't be predisposed to like this album, but I feel that "The Art of Dying" improves on the formula brought forth by early Rhymesayers shit.  "The Art of Dying" starts off with "Wake Up Dead," with a long intro that sounds like Kid Called Computer is warming up the keys to start the journey into the melancholy. The beat mixes synth sounds with natural instruments to create good framing for Sadistik to strut his stuff. Sadistik is fond of the multi-syllable schemes, which matches the fast-paced drumlines that accompany the dark music."

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