"I love the Eurostar from London to Paris. That relatively recent but now iconic train journey, connecting an island to its closest continental cousin is both symbolic, and functional. I've been on it many times over the last dozen years, and since I love trains a whole lot more than planes, it is a way to effortlessly visit France/Belgium for the day/weekend. That is one of the many reasons I approached "Last Train to Paris" with an equal mix of hope and trepidation: I too have caught the last train to Paris. Hell, I've even picked up a girl on the train there (now I'm just showing off). But I just hoped that Diddy wouldn't trivialise it for the sake of a story. I needn't have worried, as the "concept" behind this album is as loose as the girl I picked up that time on the Eurostar. In fact, it is barely worth paying any kind of attention to, as it is more a random anti-narrative, akin to a collection of vaguely interconnecting short stories (not entirely unlike "Paris, Je T'Aime"). It has a vast collection of authors, singers, rappers and producers; catchy choruses, solid lyrics, too. "
http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2010_12_lasttraintoparis.htmlFresh Cut Collective :: Fresh Cut Collective :: Unifi Records
as reviewed by Mike Baber
"Fresh Cut Collective isn't your everyday hip-hop group. In a day and age when only a handful of new artists manage to bring a fresh and innovative sound to hip-hop, there is something about Fresh Cut Collective that stands out from the start. Maybe it's that the Milwaukee based group is really a hip-hop band consisting of lead vocals from emcee Adebisi Agoro, two guitars, two keyboards, drums, backup vocals, and even a violin. There are definitely a number of artists who use a live band when performing in concert, but there are fewer that actually record every instrument live in the studio, as Fresh Cut Collective does. Maybe it's that the group lists influences "ranging from Outkast to Led Zeppelin to Bach" on their website, which makes it easy to see how they came about their unique style that expands the range of the hip-hop genre to include elements of indie rock, electronic, and soul music. Or maybe it's that the members of Fresh Cut Collective have a passion for their music that is evident from the opening track to the final song. Regardless, the group simply brings a newfound liveliness to the hip-hop game that makes their self-titled debut album a success from start to finish. "
http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2010_12_freshcutcollective.htmlKingHellBastard :: Remember the Name :: Unifi Records
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor
"KingHellBastard are a hip hop group that have been part of the Milwaukee underground for a decade. From their unusual name, you'd think they sounded like some freaky anticon- type noise, but in fact their sound is new old school, the kind of Golden Age-leaning boom bap that has seen a resurgence in recent years. Their sound is an amalgamation of uptempo conscious rap like Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul rounded out with the harder edge of Showbiz and A.G. and Eric B. and Rakim. Their beats are less stark and their lyrics more positive than what fellow old-school revivalists like Duck Down or DITC are doing. KHB share more in common with positive groups like Ugly Duckling or Jurassic 5, although they do offer up some verbal beatdowns. MCs Dana Coppafeel, Shemp, and DNA are capable rappers, if not quite at the level of the MCs they emulate. They hold their own with the guest MCs, and their decade in the game shows in their lyrics and delivery. The first half of the EP includes collaborations with Akrobatik, Raashan Ahmad, Stricklin of EMC, and Sadat-X. "
http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2010_12_KHBremember.htmlLil 1/2 Dead :: The Dead Has Arisen :: Priority Records
as reviewed by Pete T.
""The Dead Has Arisen" by a Lil 1/2 Dead, you say? With a cover depicting some sort of Two-Face/Skeletor hybrid, better yet? Before you write this off as a trip down horrorcore lane, you might be pleasantly surprised (sorry, Flatlinerz fans) to know that Half Dead's debut is one of the smoothest, most well-produced g-funk records to emerge from the vibrant Long Beach scene in the great year that was 1994. A cousin of Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, Daz Dillinger, and RBX, Lil 1/2 Dead fielded an invaluable shoutout courtesy of Snoop on "Lil' Ghetto Boy" from Dr. Dre's "The Chronic" ("Wake up, jumped out my bed / Hung in a two-man cell with my homey Lil Half Dead"). A tangential Dogg Pound affiliate, Young HD inked a deal with Priority on the heels of his buddies' success and released "The Dead Has Arisen" to little fanfare. While his pals' influence was certainly instrumental in Half Dead's getting his foot in the door, "The Dead Has Arisen" contains neither guest appearances nor production from any of the D.P.G.C., making its brilliance all the more impressive. "
http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2010_12_thedeadhasarisen.htmlLowkey :: Dear Listener :: SO Empire
as reviewed by Trenton 'liquid_sky' Ray
"T.I.P., comin' live from the V.I.P.? Well, not quite—this time around T.I.P.'s comin' live from the penitentiary, a fact lost only on his most inattentive of listeners. Mr. Harris' legal troubles have kept him in the news, but his seventh album "No Mercy" arrives in a typically busy fourth quarter sandwiched between most of 2010's biggest rap releases including records by Kanye West, Kid Cudi, Nelly, Lloyd Banks, Nicki Minaj, and Ghostface Killah. Not to be outdone or overshadowed, "No Mercy" enlists the talents of literally dozens of hip hop and R&B's respective A-lists, attempting to build upon the double-platinum crossover success of 2008's "Paper Trail." Hip hop's fascination with embattled, embroiled, and incarcerated figures is no secret, and this year alone yields multiple examples—fans have mourned Lil Wayne's jailing and celebrated his release, watched DMX's various run-ins with the law like a train wreck, and heard speculation that Lil Boosie may be the next member of Louisiana's death row. Examples from years past are similarly abundant—Sadat X's gloomy, jail-bound narratives of "Black October" and X-Raided's albums infamously recorded entirely over the prison phone are further cases of rap listeners' obsession with the criminal."
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