If you missed any of the new reviews this past week including Nipsey Hussle's "Victory Lap" then do yourself a favor and check out this week's edition of the (W)rap Up!
Nipsey Hussle :: Victory Lap
All Money In/Atlantic Records
Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon"In 2013 Nipsey Hussle hit a new level of widespread recognition when his "Crenshaw" mixtape reportedly made $100,000 in just one hight. That's an impressive accomplishment even for somebody with the word "Hustle" in his nom de plume. How did he do it? He only pressed one thousand copies of the album and sold them for $100 each. One apocryphal tale stated Shawn Carter himself bought a hundred copies for ten grand, a story that quickly circulated online and gave Hussle a reputation as both smart entrepeneur and up-and-coming rapper. None of Nipsey's hustle happened overnight though despite the impression this news made. He had been rapping and releasing mixtapes since the mid-2000's, was a XXL "Freshman" in 2010, and based on the buzz he had at the time signed a deal with Epic Records. That deal fell apart without an album being released though. Eight years later we are FINALLY getting Nipsey Hussle's first official studio album. It's understandable that he wants to call it "Victory Lap" given how long it took to cross the finish line and put something on store shelves. The real victory may be his music video for "Last Time That I Checc'd" featuring fellow Cali rapper YG. Crip and Blood meet each other as equals instead of rivals, dipped in their respective colors in a studio painted to match, freely crossing over to each other's side to show respect. Both men floss their wealth and whips with equal abandon, with Nipsey laying down his hustle game in the chorus. The unity shown in the video is impressive. The philosophy of getting ahead without someone pushing him to the mainsteram is equally so. "No co-sign/I ain't need radio to do mine, I done fine." A length list of production credits accompanies the song: Mike & Keys, Rance of 1500 or Nothin', BrodyTheGr8 & Kacey Khaliel. I wouldn't take a single one of them out of the studio because this track THUMPS HARD. It's the kind of track that makes me resent the cold winter months of the Midwest, because it's meant for dropping the top and booming loud as hell, but I'd freeze my ass off doing that right now. Production and guest stars continue to be strengths of "Victory Lap" throughout. Puff Daddy cameos on (but does not produce) "Young Nigga," Kendrick Lamar reps Compton on "Dedication" and The-Dream guests on the Mike & Keys produced "Million While You Young" just to name a few."
Leikeli47 :: Wash & Set :: Hardcover/RCA Records
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor
"In the wake of Rick Ross's exceedingly wack explanation as to why there were no women signed to his label, Pitchfork published an article that listed all of the rappers signed to the biggest major and independent rap labels, and the number of female rappers signed to each. The results were appalling. By my math, less than 2% of the roster of the major rap labels are women, and that includes indie stalwarts like Mello Music and Rhymesayers. While it's true that hip-hop has always been dominated by male rappers, there have been significant female rappers throughout the genre's history. Moni Love, MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, Salt N' Pepa, Da Brat, Lil Kim, Eve, Remy Ma, Lauren Hill, and Missy Elliott have all made huge contributions to hip-hop, and those are just the ones who have sold a ton of albums. Yet for whatever reason a female rapper like Nicki Minaj breaking big hasn't led to a subsequent rush to sign more female rappers in the hopes of striking gold. They are seen as a fluke, an anomaly, a blip in the radar in between the legions of male rappers. It's only in the last couple years, with the internet tearing down the walls erected by the record industry, that more female rappers have come to the fore. Enter Brooklyn rapper Leikeli47, who has been putting out stuff since 2012. She immediately stood about from the pack because of her fierce lyrical skills, her banging production, and, oh yeah, the fact that she performs wearing a mask. It says something about her that the mask is the least interesting thing about her whole package. "Wash & Set" was released on a major label last fall, but fell under the radar. Her most streamed song on Spotify ("Money") has just under 4 million streams, which puts her firmly in indie/underground territory, along with Brother Ali and Freddie Gibbs. That's not nothing, but it is a far cry from the tens of millions of streams that more popular rappers have, artists who Leikeli47 could rap circles around. Who says life is fair?"
Nerd Ferguson :: Trust Me, I Know What I'm Doing :: Sound Council
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
"It's probably not a good sign for Nerd Ferguson that the first hit I get when Googling to check up on him is a comic book store in Mackinaw City. I never went to that part of Michigan when I lived there, but I heard it's nice if perhaps a little bit of a tourist trap. Anyway I first got introduced to Nerd Ferg back in 2012 and thought "Hmm. The kid has promise." The name is actually a bit misleading. He's not afraid to make fun of himself on a song, but he's not a cliche "nerd" of the pocket protector and glasses variety, nor could you characterize his raps as #Nerdcore. It's better to say he's hard but not hardcore, cut from a similar cloth to Childish Gambino but a little more rough around the edges. The reason I had to check up on Mr. Ferguson is because I found this zip file languishing in an obscure portion of my hard drive, untouched for a couple of years, presumably because I sent it to a staff writer and they passed on it without saying so. In other words I completely forgot I had it. My bad Ferg. I'm treating this like the new review it should have been even though the album came out a couple of years ago. It just didn't have that Back to the Lab feel like I was blowing the dust off an old favorite (or something not a favorite that's just old). Looking at his catalogue online this is still the most recent album he's released, though I imagine he's been working on something in the interim and (if he's doing alright) he'll hit us up with it. I won't be finding him on Twitter though to ask though. The only hits I get there are the aforementioned show and a pro wrestling fan who's into ska music. Typical Nerd Ferguson albums are largely self produced and "Trust Me, I Know What I'm Doing" is no exception. The two exceptions out of 14 tracks are "Mushroom" produced by Lee Treble featuring Allen York & zachG, and "Work Out" produced by Mike 'D-Vine' Harris featuring Defakton and Dizz Vicious. We'll get back to both of those in a little bit. The first thing I have to say is that this album continues a trend from "Gunshots & Twizzlers" of Nerd's production getting a little more pop friendly and uptempo. You may automatically assume either of those things are bad qualities -- not necessarily. If Nerd Ferg can break conventions about what what the word "nerd" defines then he can also break them as regarding what a hard rap song should be. "Just Lose It" has some serious words to a seriously upbeat backdrop."
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