If you missed any of the newest reviews including Sha Stimuli's "Lazarus" then do yourself a favor and check out this week's edition of the (W)rap Up!
Sha Stimuli :: Lazarus
10 Minutes Late Records
Author: Grant Jones
"Sha Stimuli is the type of emcee you shout from the roof about when you discover his music. An emcee's emcee cut from a similar cloth to Crooked I and Elzhi, "Lazarus" inevitably landed undetected and I'm left wondering the hell why. Lyricism is often dismissed in favor of minimalism, melodies and crime porn, so I'm going to deliver this review primarily in rhyme-form. When great emcees are discussed, I diss, cuss in disgust and spit stuff. The best-at-it rhyme schemes are often overlooked like dead rapper crime scenes. While Eminem, Kool G Rap and Big Pun are idolized, rivals find idle eyes blindly pass on their mindful rhymes and byzantine lines. Sha Stimuli paints pictures and blasts you with quotes, meaning much like elderly cats and dogs, his catalog is suffering from masterful strokes. Sitting somewhere between Saigon and Papoose vocally, Sha's bars are equally advanced but he surpasses them both emotionally. Straight from the outset, Sha sets it out. There are some deeply personal tracks on "Lazarus", and each verse is packed with passionate raps highlighting that these streets aren't glamorous, but hazardous traps. "Remember Me" is Sha's message to his absent father, even suggesting that he often feels he'd rather not have existed than grown up with no daddy. Pain is a part of his bars like it is to an absinthe farmer, but he keeps high spirits with lyrics not suited to clubs like a broke caddy."
EPMD :: Unfinished Business :: Fresh/Sleeping Bag Records
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
"It's not easy for me to be objective about EPMD. When people pose the "stranded on a desert island" question, I always put both "Strictly Business" and "Business As Usual" on the short list of albums I just couldn't live without. I'd also need a solar powered boombox because presumably I wouldn't have a lifetime supply of D cell batteries but that's neither here nor there. The more intriguing question might be why I always overlook their second album "Unfinished Business." It's not out of any lack of affection for the album or the tracks on it. In fact the first time I heard DMX's "Get at Me Dog" I was actually OFFENDED that he'd jack the same B.T. Express track EPMD used for "Get the Bozack." To me they had some nebulous undefined "right of first usage" and anybody who tried to use it afterward could go and do exactly what Erick and Parrish suggest all "nickel dime suckers" do. An older and (slightly) more mature Flash realizes no such "right of first usage" exists - anybody can sample what they want from whoever they want provided they pay the clearance fee. Perhaps this is an issue we can settle with Who Sampled It Better in the future. In the meantime EPMD's self-produced track (most likely done by Erick Sermon specifically) is still to me the one definitive jack. It's just one of many songs that I heard on this album that became "definitive" to me when I heard them. Take "So What Cha Sayin" for example - a typically EPMD smorgasbord of sampling which takes the drums from Soul II Soul's "Fairplay," the funk of B.T. Express' "If It Don't Turn You On" and Funkadelic's "One Nation Under a Groove," and even a small snippet of P.E.'s "Public Enemy No. 1" and combined them all together into what I consider to be an unquestionable hip-hop classic. The opening line sets the tone: "The importance of a year, yeah we're back to work/I took time off, while other rappers got jerked." Erick and Parrish believed in QUALITY over QUANTITY and this is some quality head nodding boom bap vintage hip-hop. "
Statik Selektah :: 8 :: ShowOff Records/Duck Down Music
as reviewed by Sy Shackleford
"Lawrence, MA's Statik Selektah has released his eighth album, "8", and with it, continues his proven process of bringing together disparate artists under his umbrella for a project of all exclusives. Unlike the crop of compilations issued in recent years as albums overseen by a DJ (such as DJ Khaled, DJ Whoo Kid, et. al.), Statik takes a cue from DJ Clue's playbook: He produces, dee jays, and enlists emcees of varying levels of familiarity for his own albums. What's more is how Statik has been able to match his choice of emcees over his sample-based productions, sounds that range from street-level to playful to wistful. He's clearly a student of '90s hip-hop production: Soulful vocal samples, hard-hitting boom-bap drums or synth drums; and obscure instrumental loops. And while the idea of '90s production is dated and redundant to some, I would counter that the assessment is only true if the rapper or producer is using it as a crutch to compensate for whatever they may lack musically. That isn't the case with Statik. Consistent head-nodding production and the selection of emcees he's pulled makes "8" an album for listeners who like densely-layered verses over classic sounds. The roster on "8" varies lyrically, but most of their names ring out and they brought their best over Stat's production. The roster includes emcees I expected to be present (Termanology, Chris Rivers, Action Bronson, and Raekwon) and emcees who I didn't expect to see here at all (2 Chainz, Juelz Santana, Wale, and Wiz Khalifa). The album's intro is a sequel to "Harley's Blues" from Stat's 2015 album "Lucky 7", complete with a sample of his unborn daughter's heartbeat. The first actual song on the album is "Man of the Hour" featuring 2 Chainz and Wiz Khalifa. It's braggadocio rhyming, but both rappers meld their respective styles well with the jazz-soul beat. "Put Jewels On It" is straight-up boom-bap and features Run the Jewels. The appearance of the gun-and-fist gesturing duo is the biggest surprise on "8" and it's rare that they drop bars outside of El Producto's futuristic urban production. "
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