If you missed any of the new reviews this past week including Big K.R.I.T.'s "4eva Is a Mighty Long Time" then do yourself a favor and check out this week's edition of the (W)rap Up!
Big K.R.I.T. :: 4eva Is a Mighty Long Time
Author: Emanuel Wallace
"Forever is a mighty long time. In fact it seems like forever since Meridian, Mississippi native Big K.R.I.T. broke out with his "K.R.I.T. Wuz Here" mixtape in 2010, it feels like forever since his first album with Def Jam, "Live From the Underground" was released in 2012 and it even feels like forever since his "It's Better This Way" mixtape dropped in 2015. Last year, K.R.I.T. dropped twelve freestyles over the course of twelve hours and months later announced that he was no longer with Def Jam. His frustrations with his time at the label were chronicled in his song "Free Agent." Now back as an independent artist once again, K.R.I.T. presents a 22 track double album in the form of "4eva Is a Mighty Long Time." In addition to K.R.I.T. himself, the album features production from DJ Compstar, Mannie Fresh, Organized Noise, DJ Khalil, Supah Mario and WLPWR. Guest appearances include TI, Lloyd, UGK, Cee-lo Green, Sleepy Brown, Joi, Jill Scott, Keyon Harrold, Robert Glasper, Burniss Travis and Kenneth Whalum. The idea at play with the double album is that one disc represents Big K.R.I.T. -- the artist and the other represents Justin Scott -- the man. For what it's worth, Big K.R.I.T.'s albums have always followed the same trajectory: Starting with trunk-rattling southern anthems before delving into deeper and more introspective topics. One could see this album as an elongation of that formula. Disc 1 begins with "Big K.R.I.T." where he delivers a spoken poem for a minute before the bass drops and a fiery K.R.I.T. comes out swinging as if he has a point to prove. We've seen this from him before in the past (see "Mt. Olympus" and Big Sean's "Control" remix) and even K.R.I.T. himself decides that he needs to calm down. "Confetti" and "Big Bank" follow. The former comes off as a reality check for those who may think that they're really on top of the world and doing everything big when in fact they aren't doing very much at all, while the latter features TI and the two kings are at their s--t talking best just as anyone would expect. "Subenstein" is the fourth part in K.R.I.T.'s long running "My Sub" series and is co-produced by Mannie Fresh. True to its name, the track has enough bass in it to bring everything in its immediate vicinity to life, replete with the occasional mad scientist proclaiming that the bass is alive indeed. "1999" features Lloyd on the hook and his heavily influenced by Guy's "Piece of My Love" making it a perfect fit for the clubs of uh, various types, but it feels like the track will do well in strip clubs."
Charlie Sloth :: The Plug :: Grimey Limey
as reviewed by Matt Jost
"Almost ten years ago Charlie Sloth introduced himself to me as an amateur of UK rap in the best possible sense - someone who loves the genre enough to remind people - notably in the midst of Dizzee Rascal (with Calvin Harris), Wiley (with "Wearing My Rolex") and Estelle (with Kanye West) crossing over to higher levels of recognition - of the legacy of the rap scene of old. He did so with "Can't Forget About UK," an encyclopedic, loving homage to the pioneers, a number of which RapReviews.com has covered in the context of our annual UK Month. Sloth's own rap career stalled after a couple of mixtapes, instead he was able to establish himself as a fairly powerful radio personality, essentially succeeding rap radio institution Westwood on BBC Radio 1. "The Plug" is his full-length debut as a producer. At least that's the claim, even as it's nowhere explicitly confirmed on the actual release. Without wanting to question Charlie Sloth's contributions to this record in detail, Miami's DJ Khaled does come to mind, as the suggestion seems to be that like Khaled has the 'key', Charlie has the 'plug.' Apart from a recurring producer tag in a toddler's voice, he keeps silent and doesn't vocally penetrate songs with his personality. He seems to interpret the producer's job the old fashioned way - direct instruments and vocals, inspire songs, create records. Together with his numerous collaborators he came up with 22, at least a vague hint at the 2000's megalomania of which DJ Khaled is one of the last survivors. Regardless of whether he would have featured higher-profile guests if the budget allowed for it, the various pairings don't play out like a lottery in hopes of hitting the airplay jackpot. "The Plug" could just be more matter of the heart than fodder for the charts. With a soundscape that leans towards pop and trap, it nevertheless caters to today's audience that prefers a kind of rap (and R&B) that is a little bit different from the one celebrated in "Can't Forget About UK."
Ocean Wisdom :: Chaos 93' :: High Focus Records
as reviewed by Matt Jost
"Here's an idea. Every rap novice shall make himself familiar with the rap music that was hitting in his or her year of birth. It's an utterly stupid idea, of course, as if the year an artist was born in ought to have any bearing on what he or she does now. The world turns fast, and around the western hemisphere self-made musicians are already for some time now inspired by the aesthetics (and work ethics) of Lil B and Gucci Mane, and the very latest generation is already influenced by the students of these two. The line of succession renews itself at ever shorter intervals, to the point where it becomes near impossible to identify any originators. A handful of young artists look further into the past for inspiration, to a time when rap's evolution looks deceptively distinct. Searching for music that speaks to them individually, they hit pay dirt in the earlier 1990s. Nostalgia for that specific period has been widespread for at least ten years, but things really only get interesting once rap beginners find a fresh approach to the past, unburdened by blind worship and sentimental memories. Ocean Wisdom (real first name, no gimmick), a Brighton rapper in his mid-twenties, is a potential candidate. His debut "Chaos 93'," released in February 2016, is a wild trip through jagged soundscapes (courtesy of Dirty Dike) and breakneck flows that makes some conscious stops circa '93 but regularly comes back to the present and underground hip-hop in general. Breakout single "Walkin'," which also opens the album, trusts Necro's Psycho+Logical-Records interpretation of the latter with grimey horns lighting up the dark, dank atmosphere. Ocean Wisdom's appeal is immediately apparent, the vocals locking in and not letting go once, the flow switching up and running through tongue-twisting segments. "Make a film about me, find a proper fuckin' stuntman" perfectly sums up his focus on the physical challenges of his performance. He certainly hints at being able to offer content, but for now his strength lies in darting across rumbling beats with the demeanor of a playful attack dog puppy. "
Open Mike Eagle :: Brick Body Kids Still Daydream :: Mello Music Group
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor
"One of the most powerful things about hip-hop is the way that it gives a microphone to people from groups that aren't often listened to in our society, and particularly people from neighborhoods that are often only talked about in terms of crime statistics. Hip-hop was invented by a group of black and hispanic kids who lived in the South Bronx, a part of New York City that most people wouldn't want to drive through. Throughout its history hip-hop has given an audience to people from the most notorious areas in L.A., New Orleans, Houston, New York, Chicago, Gary, etc. L.A. rapper Open Mike Eagle continues this legacy with his latest album, "Brick Body Kids Still Daydream." It is a eulogy to the Robert Taylor Homes in Chicago, which were demolished ten years ago. Open Mike uses hip-hop to tell the story of the people who lived in those homes, sharing a perspective that is rarely considered in the halls of city government or in the news. The album is full of nostalgia, love, compassion, heartbreak and rage. It's one of the best things Open Mike Eagle has done in his career. Open Mike is a highly intelligent and highly educated, and he's found a way to meld his intellectualism with hip-hop in a way that works. We're talking 25 dollar words, obscure references, and challenging concepts all delivered in rhyme and on point. All of this means he can drop lines like "Y'all think it's all good but it's really a gradient" and make it sound legit. The album opens up with the revenge fantasy "Legendary Iron Hood," the video of which shows Mike getting revenge on gentrifiers. Throughout the album there is a sense of barely controlled despair and rage underneath Mike's raps. "I fly in all my fantasies and die in all my dreams" he raps in "(How Could Anybody) Feel At Home." On "No Selling (Uncle Butch Pretending It Don't Hurt)" he raps over a woozy beat by Kenny Segal as a man trying to pretend everything is ok when it clearly isn't."
The Perceptionists :: Resolution :: Mello Music Group
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
"I made a resolution that if I only got through one review this week it would be something important and meaningful. Not-so-coincidentally that's exactly what motivates Boston area rap stars Akrobatik and Mr. Lif - a "Resolution" to not do anything that isn't both meaningful and musical. They consistently deliver quality hip-hop whether individually or when they link up to form the rap supergroup known as The Perceptionists. This has required no shortage of perseverance over the years, as indie rap stardom isn't necessarily a road paved with gold, and even if you could find such a road prying those bricks up and carrying them would be heavy as f--k. On top of that Akrobatik survived a ruptured heart valve in 2011 that almost ended his life and not just his career. It wouldn't be hard to argue that hardened his resolve to continue making music that matters, even though it would also be as cliche as me working the title of their newest album into this introductory paragraph. Perhaps I'm just proving that Akrobatik and Lif are better writers than I am and I'm perfectly okay with that after listening to songs like "Free At Last" featuring Syne, masterfully produced by Synesthetic Nation. The combination of melodic piano, heavy bass, pounding drums and guitar licks makes my own heart beat a little faster, and the thoughtful rhymes of the dynamic duo are as sharp as at any point in their long careers."
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