"Hip-hop's most famous ghostwriter shows no signs of slowing down in 2010 after a fifteen year hip-hop career. In fact if anything Shaquan Lewis is turning things up a notch with the release of "The World Needs More Skillz." The title could be perceived as arrogance by the haters he is addressing above, but the saying always goes it's not cocky if you're being honest. Honestly Skillz is right. He's the kind of name that gets brought up any time great rappers and lyricists are discussed, the prototypical "rapper's favorite rapper" who suffers from undeserved lack of commercial success no matter how critically acclaimed his albums are. Behind the scenes he's written dozens of the songs you know word for word from other emcees, but his very success in this endeavor disallows him from taking credit. The world needs more Skillz not only because he's good, he makes the WORLD look good. If he ghostwrote a song for Waka Flocka Flame, he wouldn't suck - well for at least 3-5 minutes. On his own he'd go back to being shit. "various artists :: Blow Your Head: Diplo Presents Dubstep :: Mad Decent
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor
"It takes some cajones for an American producer to title a compilation "Diplo Presents: Dubstep," given that the genre originated in the UK and has been around for a decade. Diplo has the cajones, though. He's a skinny white dude who makes club music, both in his native B-more, and with one of the most riotous reggae acts around, Major Lazer. This is not a man who knows boundaries. The same can be said for dubstep, the latest electronic music craze straight outta London. I first heard the term a few years ago attached to UK artist Burial, and then last year when I reviewed Teleseen's "Fear of the Forest" for this site. Dubstep is glitchy and slippery, founded on an unstable bedrock of pulsating bass, often built around triplets. It doesn't offer the steady rhythm of house or techno, and is thus a little harder to grasp on to. To my ears, dubstep sounds like drum n' bass if it were slowed down, mellowed out, and used Jamaican dub rather than the Funky Drummer as its template. "
http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2010_11_diplopresentsdubstep.htmlThe East Flatbush Project :: First Born (Overdue) :: 10/30 Uproar Music
as reviewed by Matt Jost
""Consider Violence" is a fitting title, though, not only because of the lyrical content of the album, but also because of Gon's aggressive and violent delivery. As he deals with issues such as conflict in the Middle East, racial profiling, and his struggles to make it as an underground rapper, Gon comes with an f-you mentality and a raw uncensored style of rhyming that, while more toned down and less complex, is reminiscent of Eminem's style from his "Marshall Mathers LP" days. With a good mix of busy up tempo beats and slower, more reflective tracks, "Consider Violence" is Gon truly bearing his inner thoughts on life without really caring what anyone else thinks. In 2005, Gon was nothing more than a college student with a passion for hip-hop when he founded Urchin Studios with a couple friends as a means of getting his music out. Two mixtapes and five years later, Gon still has a number of doubters, and he doesn't shy away from expressing his frustration with the rap game on "Consider Violence." "
http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2010_11_gonconsiderviolence.htmlH.W.A. :: Livin in a Hoe House :: Drive-By Records
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **
as reviewed by Emanuel Wallace
"For many, the brash and crass lyrics of La Bella Mafia, Fox Boogie and Da Baddest Bitch were the first of their kind, but they actually weren't. Back in the late 80's and early 90's, there were groups like Kimmie Fresh and The People, Bytches With Problems and Hoes With Attitudes. Conveniently and conspicuously known as H.W.A., the group consisted of Chicago natives Baby Girl, Jazzy and Diva, who then relocated to Los Angeles. Their debut album, "Livin' In A Hoe House" was released in 1990 on a label called Drive-By Records and was primarily produced by Dangerous D, with assistance from Ronnie Vann, Ced 'Casanova' Malone and someone named Nutra-Sweet. From the album's opening moments, the Hoes are taking shots at Ruthless Records. The first victims are Terri B and the late Eazy E. Throughout the course of "Livin," every member of N.W.A. gets caught in the wrath of these Hoes, with Eazy taking the most damage. Even some non N.W.A. artists aren't safe, as they are referred to either by name of by parody of their songs. Tone-Loc, Ice-T and Too $hort are mentioned by name and an inference to Sir Mix-A-Lot can also be heard."
http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/BTTL_HWAhoehouse.htmlJay-Z :: The Hits Collection Volume I :: Def Jam Records
as reviewed by Jesal 'Jay Soul' Padania
"Well, here we are, dear reader. And unfortunately I seem to have been proved correct, at least on the first volume. It's a complete load of nonsense, seemingly choosing 14 of his biggest selling tracks, chucking them into an iTunes playlist and pressing shuffle. The flow between the songs makes little sense, as does the selection, and for Jay-Z fans, there is literally no point in considering this as a worthwhile purchase, especially since there aren't even any new tracks. It is worth pointing out that there will be various incarnations of this "Hits Collection" - including the Standard (or bog-standard) version, a Deluxe Edition, a Super Deluxe one and, presumably, one with a vial of Jigga's blood attached so you can drink it (thereby joining his secret society). He also has a book called "Decoded" being released in the coming weeks which, frankly, looks a lot more interesting. So what of the actual song choice? Because, all nit-picking aside, this presumably hasn't been created for hip hop heads. No, it is there for the mass market which has more a passing interest in Carter and his radio fodder."
http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2010_11_jayzhitsvol1.htmlKid Cudi :: Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager :: GOOD Music/Universal Motown
as reviewed by Jesal 'Jay Soul' Padania
"Kid Cudi released his debut last year, and follows up quick-fire with his sophomore LP. There are various approaches to the clichéd "tricky second album" - stick to a bunch of big hits; refine the formula; expand on the formula; start afresh. The last of those probably represents Cudi's choice. He creates a wildly different vibe, feel, and mood. Whilst his musical selection is all over the place - ranging from hip hop to rock to pop - his subject matter gets even darker. It follows on flawlessly from his debut, yet sounds almost nothing like it. The whole album is expertly subversive on an almost subliminal level. Whilst the first MOTM was a more universal creature, and one that divided opinion, the second dose is even more fearless, taking no prisoners from the second the insistent marching drums of "Scott Mescudi vs. the World" kick in (following a clever little in-joke melody), and Cee Lo Green, needless to say, kills the chorus, presumably written by Bruno Mars and co. "REVOFEV" is, perhaps, one of the most attention-grabbing tracks in recent memory, with Cudi almost battling the genial instrumental (courtesy of Plain Pat and No I.D.). The skipping, Swinging Sixties jaunt is almost like a warmongering anti-war track. "
http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2010_11_manonthemoon2.htmlLil Wayne & DJ Alexei :: Weezy's 90s Ball, Vol. 1 * Rock :: DatPiff.com
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
"This album probably shouldn't exist - not for artistic reasons mind you but legal ones. DJ Alexei received a cease and desist letter from Cash Money Records making it perfectly clear they did not authorize or approve of Alexei using, remaking, reinterpreting and/or releasing a mixtape of Dwayne Michael Carter's music. I'm not a legal expert and wouldn't claim to be, but when Alex sent me that letter I gave him my uninformed non-legal opinion - shelve the album. Don't distribute it, don't promote it, don't give it away for free, and don't incur the wrath of their well-financed legal department. Cash Money lives up to their name by being one of the few labels these days staying flush in a recession, and they owe that almost entirely to their cash cow Weezy. They are undoubtedly happy to spend some of that surplus to protect their most valuable asset, even if being so overly litigious is anathema to very culture hip-hop comes from. After all Weezy is where he is today in part BECAUSE of bootleg mixtapes which he intentionally leaked tracks to and recorded songs for. "
http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2010_11_weezys90sball.htmlLuciano :: United States of Africa :: VP Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
"The contradiction of Jepther McClymont's chosen stage name is too large to ignore, especially given that Luciano portrays himself as a social activist, pan-African cultural unifier and rasta spiritualist. Many will instantly be drawn to think of criminal mastermind 'Lucky' Luciano, arguably the most famous mafia crime boss in the history of the United States. The one and likely ONLY thing the two men could be said to have in common is that they believed in unity. Luciano sought to organize warring mafia factions from different families under one "Commission" that would control and direct their respective crime rackets to the profit and benefit of all. Luciano's "United States of Africa" imagines an African continent where all countries work together toward one common goal, rather than warring within themselves or with each other. It's certainly a more noble dream than his namesake's, which may have ended SOME bloodshed in mafia business but certainly didn't curtail the criminal operations which hurt so many people. "
http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2010_11_unitedstatesofafrica.htmlTwin Peaks :: Perfect Strangers EP :: Bandcamp.com
as reviewed by Pete T.
"Canada Month, the hangover? Hardly. Fact is, rappers from the Great North have been absolutely killing it in 2010 with records from the likes of Shad, Incise, Moka Only, the Sweatshop Union crew, and others bound to end up on year-end lists such that RR's October features only provided a glimpse of the quality hip hop coming from the Canadian scene this year. And if "Perfect Strangers," a prelude to Twin Peaks' upcoming full-length, is any indication, there's plenty more to look forward to on the horizon. Twin Peaks is the result of two creative giants joining forces in the humorous Halifax talent Ghettosocks and critical darling Muneshine, a prolific rapper/producer based in Toronto. Coming off the well-received "Open House" with Saint just last year, Mune once again proves that his talents are as well-suited for the group setting as they are solo. That said, even with production from M-Phazes, Suff Daddy, Rich Kidd, Bigg Bix, and Jorun Bombay, Ghettosocks' fingerprints are all over this EP, with his off-the-wall references and comedic goofiness that make it easy to overlook his consummate skills on the mic."
http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2010_11_perfectstrangersEP.htmlWhy? :: Elephant Eyelash :: anticon.
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **
as reviewed by Eric Sirota
"One should think twice if a critic or listener does not take to Why?. They are a deeply odd band, which is not surprising, considering they are on the deeply odd Oakland-based anticon label. Lead singer/MC Yoni Wolf's deadpan whine is certaily not for everyone (when is a deadpan whine for everyone, really?). Wolf's lyrics are a series of neurotic musings on sex and death. Lyrics like "you act like a slut, but you're really a freezer," "to inhaling crushed bones through a dried-up white out pen," and "there'll be a time for drying up and dying on sidewalks" are sure to alienate some. A lot of people are not going to like Why?. And perhaps for good reason. This is unapologetically self-indulgent music. To the extent that Why? adopts rap norms it is arguably to conscend to them, such as on the album's opener, "Crushed Bones," which Wolf begins with a series of "yo's" before transitioning with a purposeful lack of grace into talk-singing folk. Still, there is something brave and vulnerable about this record. Why?'s lyrics are disturbed and creepy, but not more disturbed and creepy than an average person's inner life (but perhaps I've said too much). "
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