If you missed any of the new reviews this past week including E-40 and B-Legit's "Connected & Respected" then do yourself a favor and check out this week's edition of the (W)rap Up!
E-40 and B-Legit :: Connected and Respected
Heavy on the Grind Entertainment
Author: Matt Jost
"E-40 and B-Legit released their first hip-hop record together 30 years ago in 1988. It was called "The Kings Men," billed to M.V.P. (interpretations of the initials ranging from Most Valuable Players to Most Vicious Performers) and was a family affair through and through. E-40's uncle Saint Charles Thurman lent a helping hand on the business side, his brother D-Shot (then going by Busy 'D') and his cousin B-Legit rapped alongside him while his sister Suga T made an appearance on the single as part of female duo Sugar 'N' Spice. The four vocalists soon regrouped as The Click, releasing the EP "Let's Side" in 1990 on their family-owned Sick Wid' It Records. Ostensibly the driving force commercially and creatively, E-40 officially embarked on a solo career the following year with the "Mr. Flamboyant" tape, which rang the opening bell on one of rap music's most extended careers. A constant companion to said career have been family-related ventures - three Click albums, solos by B-Legit, Suga T and D-Shot, and regularly further family members entered the music business - his younger brother Mugzi and his cousin Kaveo rapped with The Mossie, his son Droop-E became a producer and his cousin Turf Talk a rapper. "Connected and Respected," the consequential new full-length collaboration between Forty and Bela first and foremost speaks of a lifelong bond (Legit grew up in the same household as the three Click siblings). If you have any doubt that this is not another random rap combo, just check the high school photo that graces the cover that shows the teenaged duo as drumming members of their Vallejo High School marching band. After graduating they enrolled at Grambling State in Louisiana (where they had relatives), where they wrote a rap version of their school's alma mater song, whose warm reception inspired them to give the music thing a shot during summer vacation back in California. Run, of seminal hip-hop trio Run-D.M.C., in one of their most famous songs, "Sucker M.C.'s," created the narrative of how his talents were discovered, the brief scene ending with him getting into a Cadillac, "the chauffeur drove off and we never came back." E-40 and B-Legit from all accounts never resumed their higher education, but like the majority of rappers they regularly returned to the past and shared with their audience the lessons they learned one way or another. "Life Lessons" then is an apt opener for such a project. As we've seen the term 'O.G.' used way out of its context in common parlance, the two rappers instill some respectability back into it. Their lessons typically carry a cautionary undertone, and while they realize that what they say may fall on deaf ears, they say it anyway, because adults just can't help themselves in that regard. Hypothetically, there's potential for a family sitcom in all of this, but while they are not averse to absurdities, the serious side weighs heavier than the lighter one, and as they get older probably increasingly more so. E and B are seasoned vets in street rap who abide to the rules of the game absolutely straight-laced."
The Library Steps :: Rap Dad, Real Dad :: Hand'Solo Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
"Hailing from the Backburner crew that includes Fresh Kils andTimbuktu among many others, Jesse Dangerously has been described as everything from a "Halifax rap legend" to a "nerdcore emcee" among other things. I don't know which descriptor suits him the best but I DOknow that he's one half of The Library Steps, a new group he formed with producer Ambition. What's with that odd group name though? Well I'll let their publicist Thomas explain."The duo is named in remembrance of the now demolished stone stairs of the Halifax Memorial Library entrance, where among a loose and ragtag assortment of the city's rappers they would gather across generations every Friday as the doors locked,to freestyle, beatbox, and play tapes in a cipher called Public Rhyme Distribution." Perhaps "Halifax rap legend" is actually the title that fits Jesse Dangerously best then. One gets the impression he's been part of the scene since whenever people first started to take note of the fact there actually was one in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Anyway this duo named in memory of a local landmark now gone has produced a 44 minute album entitled "Rap Dad, Real Dad" which may be just as puzzling as their group name to the uninitiated. I don't think I need Thomas for this one though. I'm guessing it's a play on the book titled Rich Dad Poor Dad which alleged to teach financial wisdom through a series of parables and life lessons, and it's perhaps a good coincidence I was listening to the song "Years" as I wrote these words and heard the words "save for retirement" rapped in my ear."
OBUXUM :: H.E.R :: URBNET Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
"At times the artists who grace these pages are so obscure to me that I can only look through the reader's eyes and think we must be sharing the same thought: "Now who the hell is THIS?" That's why I share snippets from the press kit where applicable. You might as well glean what little insight I did into an artist in the exact same way I did. I can't think of any other way you'd learn about OBUXUM. If you Google her name that just takes you straight back to the Bandcamp where you can listen to or download the "H.E.R" album. I struggled a little to make that a coherent sentence because OBUXUM is feminine, and typing "her H.E.R album" looked and sounded terrible. Obviously though it's her intent to make "H.E.R" more memorable by creating that cognitive association, especially given we've been using it as an acronym meaning (among other things) "Hip-Hop in its Essence is Real" as first coined by Common back in the 1990's. Anyway here's what URBNET had to say about their newest artist in order to end all the her/H.E.R. confusion. "OBUXUM is a Toronto based Somali-Canadian producer and beat maker, whose lush and characteristic sound celebrates story telling. She has made her presence known with notable festival performances at Wavelength Festival, Kazoo! Fest, Electric Eclectics, and Venus Fest. OBUXUM's latest EP, H.E.R., released via URBNET in 2018, embodies her inspirations and reflections, to the feel of a rhythmic pulse. She tells her un-silenced story of what it is to navigate this world as a Somali-Canadian womxn." The vowel missing in "womxn" is not a typo. That's intentional. Somewhere along the line in recent times that's become a really "cool" thing to do all over again. I remember "l337 5p3Ak" being all the rage for a while in internet chat groups, back when our memes were "all your base are belong to us" and "YATTA!" Yes - the dankest of dank memes. These days it's substituting consonants for vowels instead of numbers for letters but it's the really the same thing. Let's get back to OBUXUM. How do you even pronounce that anyway? Oh-buck-sum? Aw-books-em? I have no idea."
Rock Mecca :: Ironworld :: SpaceLAB Recordings
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
"Nearly six years ago I reviewed Rock Mecca's "Pirate Radio Star." As the name would suggest Rock styled himself as an underground broadcaster putting out the vibes that the people wanted/needed but had no other access to. As thematic albums go it was largely a success thanks to the commanding presence Mecca had on the mic, the quality of his production, and a liberal sprinkling of pop culture references that everybody from sci-fi nerds to Brooklyn hard rocks could relate to. He returns to that successful formula on "Ironworld" - not the one of the illegal radio deejay operating above the law, but the one of mixing touchstones of pop culture with hip-hop attitude. That was immediately evident on "W.A.S.C. (Rebel Anthem)" as the track immediately bounced from Joe Esposito's "You're the Best Around" (Karate Kid) to a sample of the piano keys on "Hulk Hogan's Theme" from "The Wrestling Album." Those keys come back loud and clear during the chorus as the deejay scratches Busta Rhymes ("Scenario") saying "Powerful impact, BOOM from the cannon." It's like somebody tried to capture every single thing I ever enjoyed from my childhood and college years all in one song -- oh and the lyrics are pretty good too. Rock gets extra points for referencing one of the most infamous album covers of all time and for doing an LL Cool J impression in the final verse. The pro wrestling tie in from sampling Hogan's theme wasn't a coincidence as the previous track was called "One Man Gang" and the very next track on the album is "Stone Cold." It opens with samples of a man Steve Austin knows quite well - "Iron" Mike Tyson. It's actually a recurring theme for "Ironworld" in general though - wrestling that is, not Mike Tyson specifically. I'll get to that in a second though. Take a moment to enjoy the jazzy backdrop of "Stone Cold," a song which sounds nothing like Austin's glass shattering backdrop (and that's just fine)."
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