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The (W)rap Up - Week of November 30, 2010
Posted by Emanuel Wallace at Tuesday, December 7th, 2010 at 12:00AM :: Email this article :: Print this article

"Now that I think back on this conversation, I question why I even bought the new Black Eyed Peas album "The Beginning." Out of habit, I think. To be honest their creative decline began with "Monkey Business" back in 2005, even though that decline has been matched by a subsequent skyrocketing rise in popularity. Perplexing, isn't it? It seems that the more dumb their lyrics get and the more simplistic their beats become, the more their albums sell and the more they get invited to perform at awards shows and Super Bowls. These things should not go together. We should be awarding individuality, originality and excellence in this world; instead we reward conformity, banality and mediocrity. I'm just as guilty as the next man though because I applauded N*E*R*D's last release as essentially fun music where "the most successful is the most inoffensive." One could argue that BEP is in fact the same thing. Except they're not. If one were to compare the production techniques of and Pharrell Williams, the latter Will clearly reigns supreme. Skateboard P and his nerdy family have mastered music that piles up funky layers of bass, beats, instruments and sounds until they climax in aural bliss. "

Ameer :: Only Built for Digital Links :: 25th Hour Music
as reviewed by Mike Baber
[Only Built for Digital Links] 
"No, there is no relation between "Only Built for Digital Links" and Raekwon's timeless classic "
Only Built 4 Cuban Linx." While New York based rapper Ameer's latest mixtape is similar in name, the production style is a far cry from the gritty hardcore vibes of "Cuban Linx." Rather, "Digital Links" is a blend of hip-hop, pop, and electronic music that makes for a unique and diverse body of songs. From the opening track, "Fresh Out the Oven"  which is nothing more than a kick, snare, and hi hat to the final song, "Friends List" which samples a song by The Killers and has an alternative rock sounding chorus  the mixtape has a little bit of everything and always manages to sound fresh. For starters, the pure range of sounds used on "Digital Links" is remarkable. "20 Winters" pits a hardcore drum loop over a noisy electronic synth and a high-pitched whistle that flutters in the background, which makes for a heavy hip-hop based track that Ameer tears apart. On "Footsteps," which sees Ameer sing the chorus as well as rap, a simple grand piano and a trippy high-pitched synth shine over a deep rolling bass."

various artists :: Creative Juices Music Sampler #1 :: Creative Juices Music
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Creative Juices Music Sampler #1] 
"Avoiding cliched phrases like "up-and-coming" when describing artists or record labels should be the #1 goal of every aspiring album reviewer. Unfortunately that also makes an opening paragraph for an album like "Creative Juices Music Sampler #1" exceedingly difficult. Let's start with the facts instead: the label has existed sine the early 2000's, has featured a variety of well-known rap artists on its releases (Killah Priest, Jeru the Damaja, Necro and Casual to name a few) and is currently home to Jise (of The Arsonists fame), Nems (MTV Fight Klub champion), producer/rapper IDE and many more acts. Their profile is pretty good for an independent record label, and their hustle has to be respected given how many indies have folded in the last decade. Creative Juices Music seems to be solid in the 21st century, and as such can afford to make an album like "Creative Juices Music Sampler #1" an exclusive available only through their website. Now as for those cliches, the temptation to use them when listening to an album like "Creative Juices Music Sampler #1" is exceedingly strong. "

Iron Lyon :: Time Capsule :: {self-released}
as reviewed by Mike Baber

[Time Capsule] 
"It's no secret that hip-hop's golden age has come and gone, leaving behind a trail of classic albums that continue to transcend time. The days of Tupac and Biggie have given way to a new, more mainstream era of rap that features synthesized beats and auto-tuned vocals, leading many to proclaim that hip-hop is dead. It seems that nearly every up and coming emcee trying to make a name for himself claims to be the one who will resurrect hip-hop, but few actually deliver on their promise. It's easy to rap about bringing back the old-school vibes of the 90s, but it's much harder to actually emulate the sound of the era. Iron Lyon manages to do just this, however, with his appropriately dubbed debut album "Time Capsule." I'll be the first to admit I was skeptical when I saw a line from the promo for the album that claims: "'Time Capsule' harkens back to the sound of early to mid-90's hip-hop." After listening to the opening few tracks, however, it immediately becomes evident that Iron Lyon has captured the essence of old-school hip-hop in his music. "

The Left :: Gas Leaks EP :: Mello Music Group
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Gas Leaks EP] 
"The latest champions of Detroit's hip-hop scene are named The Left, which may leave a few readers scratching their heads. Left of what? Left of convention? Left of New York on a line drawn East to West? The left behind who have been forgotten? Perhaps they're a little bit of all three. Producer Apollo Brown and rapper Journalist 103 turned a chance phone conversation into a chance to work together on hip-hop tracks, at which point they also added DJ Soko to the mix to round out their sound. The group's unexpected freshness has been impressing even the most jaded of critics ever since. What "Gas Leaks EP" lacks in depth it makes up for in quality. The songs were initially offered as a free download to supplement the already released "Gas Mask" album, but has since been converted to a purchase album through Bandcamp at a starting price of $1.49. That's honestly excessively cheap - $2.99 would have been just as fair and in no way unreasonable. There can be no doubt when listening to the Kanye West-like strains of "One Day" that this group's musical output lives up to the rapper's words "Apollo just shitted on this beat yo! I mean like real talk, my producer man!" "

Nems :: Prezident's Day :: Creative Juices Music
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Prezident's Day] 
"Nems has had a few bad breaks trying to get "Prezident's Day" out in stores. Originally this album would have dropped around the time Barack Obama was voted into office on Psycho+Logical Records, but due to what his current label describes as "situations beyond Nems' control" the P+L people shelved his CD. There's clearly some industry rule number 4080 politics going on here but Creative Juices Music won't get any more specific than that. It's left to your imagination whether Nems went R.A. the Rugged Man on his label or the label went K.M.D.'s "Black Bastards" on him. Either way Nems has spent the last two years touring and promoting an album's worth of music that couldn't even be found in stores, but at long last Creative Juices received the key to unlock the vaults and release "Prezident's Day" to the masses. So who/what is Nems? He's a MTV Fight Klub champion, he's the founder of a New York rap crew called Fuck Your Lyfe, and according to his album's artwork his name can mean everything from "Naturally Evil Mind State" to "Never Equal My Skills.""

The Pharcyde :: Labcabincalifornia :: Delicious Vinyl Records
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **

as reviewed by Pete T.

"The Pharcyde burst on the scene in 1992 with their debut "Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde," an album that remains one of hip hop's most purely entertaining records to date. A shameless celebration of immaturity featuring odes to teacher crushes, masturbation, prank calls, police evasion, smoking weed, and "ya mama" jokes with rich, danceable grooves courtesy of producer J-Swift that would have been equally at home on a Saturday morning cartoon as on a rap LP, the Los Angeles quartet managed one of the early '90s most unlikely classics. Featuring four massive characters in the shrill Bootie Brown, the recognizably melodic Slimkid Tre, the hilarious Imani Wilcox, and the lovable motormouth Fatlip, "Bizarre Ride" was a comedic masterpiece that helped set the stage for a generation of alternative rappers inspired by their singular combination of wild humor, superb technique, seamless chemistry, and bold artistic approach in spite of their familiarity with the world so many of their South Central neighbors rapped about. "

Statik Selektah & Termanology :: 1982 :: Brick Records
as reviewed by Pete T.

"I can't claim too many good memories of 1982. In that Year of Our Lord my dear parents were about the age I am writing this and still years away from meeting. I don't imagine that Statik Selektah and Termanology have too many fond recollections of that year either, one they both spent a good portion of in the womb. Sure, they'll tell you it was a good year the year of Air Force Ones, "Wild Style," and "Thriller" but it was also a year that saw Reaganomic policies and foreign affairs that probably contributed, either indirectly or directly, to the decline of their hometown Lawrence, Massachusetts, a former industrial hub on the Merrimack River. Perhaps even reasons that Term cites guns and murder in his dream diary "Things I Dream," recalls coke pushing on "The Street Life," and claims "there's no such thing as equal opportunity" on "The Hood Is on Fire." Statik and Term are out to be the next great producer/rapper duo in the tradition of Gang Starr, Kool G Rap & DJ Polo, and Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth with "1982," and quite frankly it's surprising it didn't happen sooner. "

Suga Free :: Hi Power Pimpin' :: Hi Power Entertainment
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Hi Power Pimpin'] 
"Take a little bit of "The Mack," a little bit of hip-hop, a little bit of Bishop Don 'Magic' Juan, stir it all up and "Just Add Water" - the result is a potent brew that's totally Suga Free. Going back almost 15 years Pomona, California's resident kingpin of pimpin' has been spittin' game to the hoes. He's an exceptionally sexually active hip-hop star who believes in getting the P for free for himself, then selling it at a profit to everybody else. Though he shares a passion for the female form with fellow California artist Too $hort, their styles couldn't be more different. Todd Shaw casts a misogynistic but generally harmless eye at female companionship, using "bitch" as both a term of endearment and a reminder that he's alpha male both in the rap game and the bedroom. Dejuan Rice is not nearly so nice - if he's using the word bitch it's in the contest "bitch better have my money!" Prudes and conservatives may disagree with the profession he endorses lyrically, but it's still the world's oldest profession. "

Tinie Tempah :: Disc-Overy :: Parlophone Records
as reviewed by Jesal 'Jay Soul' Padania

"I feel like I owe Tinie Tempah a bit of an apology, for various reasons. Firstly, one of his singles in the summer of 2008 was sent into RapReviews for me to cover unfortunately, that very week I was taken seriously ill, and the CD got lost in the melee, never to be found again. Then, he released "Pass Out" at the beginning of this year, and I dismissed it almost immediately  that is, until the perfect beat started worming its way into my brain. Finally, I was all set to review this, his major label debut album, but he released it on my birthday and I got rather drunk. That might be the most unprofessional opening paragraph I've ever written for a review, but it serves as a reminder that Tinie Tempah is the kind of guy that gets ignored, passed over and ridiculed. Then, a funny thing happened: he won. "Disc-Overy" went to the top of the charts, and it contains four Top 5 singles, each of them genuine smash hits. At the beginning of the year, he wasn't even a credible threat, but by the end of it, 2010 was his for keeps. At the age of just 21 (he only just turned 22 this month), he now has a clear path to genuine super-stardom. "

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