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The (W)rap Up - Week of January 18, 2011
Posted by Emanuel Wallace at Tuesday, January 25th, 2011 at 12:00AM :: Email this article :: Print this article

"Having previously reviewed "Moonshine" – an album by Chicago native Matlock that dropped on the same day as Kanye West's "Graduation" – my ears pricked up when I heard about his new LP, "2707." I rated him as an exceptional lyricist first-time round, a view that hasn't changed, but saw the beats as middling, imploring him to diversify and focus on the music to inspire the listeners. Whilst I'm sure my review had absolutely no bearing, it's great to see that Matlock has at least focussed on providing his own talents with a firmer musical foundation. The result is a strong album that leaves you scratching your head as to why he isn't on a more prominent record label – he deserves the shine. "2707" is an hour-long rap album. That might sound stupidly obvious on RapReviews – but there aren't a plethora of R&B choruses, or pop-crossovers, or dance beats. It's a relatively straightforward MC-driven LP, but musically it's surprisingly diverse, with virtually no two tracks sounding the same. Surprisingly, it turns out that having a variety of producers makes for a much more consistent listen – last time out, I felt that an over-reliance on Kaz One was the first album's downfall."

Chris Clay :: The Christening :: MIM Entertainment
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
[The Christening]

"Despite being hella proud of his Midwestern heritage and the "ten thousand frozen lakes" of Minnesota, the rapper is now repping his area code from the much more hospitable climate of Southern California. Mr. Six-Fifty-One Chris Clay now has more in common with Mr. Six-One-Nine Rey Mysterio. It's not a betrayal of his heritage though, it's just what Clay needed to do to take his career to the next plateau. Moving to Cali enabled him to ink a deal with MIM Entertainment and take his exposure beyond playing clubs in the Twin Cities and selling tapes out of the trunk of his car. Every young rapper has to make that choice at some point - stay the local neighborhood hero everyone loves or take a chance on becoming a hip-hop superstar. After all if Marshall Mathers never signed with Andrew Young, Eminem would be selling mixtapes hand to hand on 8 Mile Road right now. Chris Clay's "Christening" is a twenty-six track long mixtape ostensibly hosted by DJ Whoo Kid, although his involvement in this project is minimal at best. That's actually to Clay's advantage as hearing him shout "WHOOOO KIIIIIIIIID" a million times might knock a full point off his album's score."

DJ Butter :: Detroit Demo :: Crazy Noise Productions
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Detroit Demo] 
"DJ Butter is a well known fixture of Eastern Michigan hip-hop. He's Detroit born and raised and well known for supporting the scene by exposing local artists to a larger audience. He also maintains a close affiliation with recognized D rappers like Royce Da 5'9" and Obie Trice, who get love on his projects or vice versa. When nobody else is supporting Detroit's underground rappers, you can count on Butter to be there to lend a helping hand. Eminem and D12 completists already know this because some of their most obscure and hard to find tracks appear on DJ Butter mixtapes like "Kill the DJ," from a time when the former has just broken through nationally and the latter were unknowns. Put simply Butter has been integral to Detroit hip-hop in the last decade+. When the DJ Butter "Detroit Demo" mixtape hit my desk last week I was intrigued by two things - the lack of a copyright date on the artwork and the sheer amount of names I didn't recognize on it. A little research determined that this album was first released in 2008, though I suspect it's had more than one printing since then. "

Don P :: Talking Bout Money :: Hood Royal Entertainment/Stay Tooned Entertainment
as reviewed by Matt Jost

[Talking Bout Money] 
"This was a YouTube-inspired purchase. Sometime in 2009 I read about a new Don P video featuring The Jacka. Don P (not to be confused with the Trillville member of the same name) briefly had my attention in the late '90s and early '00s but had since faded from my memory. "Distractions" served to renew my interest in the Oakland rapper, yet the actual album didn't happen until 2010. Once I got a hold of the CD, I went directly to "Distractions" - and got greeted by an overmodulated bass that threatened to ruin the entire experience. I later realized the video had the same problem, but naturally was now less inclined to overlook the flaw without the visuals and having actually paid for it. "Distractions" serves as an example for the negligence that regularly plagues Bay Area rap music. The Coldplay song "X&Y" had already been sampled by Swizz Beatz for his '07 album, but it's really warranted on this - more negligence - uncredited production, the pointed Chris Martin vocals echoing as Jacka flat out dismisses the newly elected Barack Obama "

The Electric :: DJ Vadim Presents The Electric - Life Is Moving :: Organically Grown Sounds
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[DJ Vadim Presents The Electric - Life Is Moving] 
"The Russian-born artist/producer DJ Vadim's reputation is that of a eclectic and innovative musician not afraid to experiment with hip-hop sounds or merge them with other genres. It's hard to imagine a situation where Vadim will either be satisfied that he's found "it" and either stick to that one style for the rest of his life, or conclude that he's peaked artistically and can't create anything better or more interesting. Some people would be unsatisfied to be on a never-ending Quest like Tribe to create new music, but Vadim seems to thrive on this turmoil. In fact he conceived of the concept for his newest group The Electric while he was on tour in the U.S. and Europe promoting his LAST album. It was only a matter of time before he stopped moving long enough to put theory into practice and record his newest musical experiment. So what exactly is The Electric? It's a triumvirate that combines Chicago rapper Pugs Atomz, UK songstress Sabira Jade and the instrumental/musical backdrop of "Daddy Vad" himself. "

Johnny Polygon :: Wolf In Cheap Clothing ::
as reviewed by Emanuel Wallace

[Wolf In Cheap Clothing] 
"They say you never forget your first. Well, Johnny Polygon was my first. Now before you get your panties in a bunch and start sending me emails with subjects like "Pause" or "No Homo" or whatever other term you kids are using these days, Johnny Polygon's "Group Hug" was the first review that I wrote for this fine website. In the time that has passed since "Group Hug," Johnny's popularity has increased, largely due to the success of "The Riot Song," which even spawned a video and a remix with Kid Cudi. He's had a few releases, namely "Rebel Without Applause" and "Catch-Up." The latter was a collection of songs both unreleased and previously available tracks that dated all the way back to 2004 and even includes a couple songs that didn't make the final cut of "Wolf In Cheap Clothing." During my first review, I felt like Johnny was doing a bit of experimenting with different styles, trying to see what works best for him. In 2011, I've come to understand that this IS his style, and if you don't like it, that's okay because your girl does. "

Tone Tank and Scott Thorough :: Scott and Tone :: Modern Shark
as reviewed by Daniel Oh

[Scott and Tone]

"Naturally after reading that, I readied myself to be bombarded with otherworldly sounds mixed together in a chaotic fashion, kind of like the initial feeling I get when I experience a Jackson Pollock painting. After all, if the PR guy was going to mix random metaphors that mean nothing to describe what I'm about to listen to, I might as well prepare myself for the unique experience. As it turns out, Tone Tank and Scott Thorough are different. Different is a neutral word in this context, I'm not saying they're good, I'm not saying they're horrible, they're just…different. First of all, the production style of "Scott and Tone" is mostly stripped down concoctions with an emphasized drum line and a lot of 80s electro synth. Scott Thorough doesn't follow conventional thinking when he's crafting beats, he'll bring up different combinations of samples and sounds seemingly at random, stir and boil, and throw it to Tone Tank to rap over. And Tone Tank's voice, it's like a splice of MF Doom and a New York guido with a slight drunk slur. I'm using such ridiculous metaphors because that's how it truly sounds. "

Viceverses :: Native Blood :: Cloudscraper Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Native Blood] 
"Viceverses is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma that's far from easily solved. The first mystery is that the group calls themselves The Double V for short, when in fact that's actually longer if you count the spaces (or equally as long if you don't). The second is that the members of this rap crew hail from Kent, Ohio while stating that they've also spent time in Cleveland and Boston as well. I'm not sure what different that fact is supposed to make given none of the rappers sound like Bone Thugs or Big Shug. None of these puzzles are near as mystifying as the sound of the Viceverses on "Native Blood." None of the rappers here appear to have any Native American heritage, nor does their official bio state as much, yet the artwork and title of "Native Blood" and lyrical references to "our ancestors" suggests Viceverses is expressing an awareness of indigenous Americans spiritually if not in direct ancestry. A majority of "Native Blood" does not feature the traditional percussion or rattle sounds associated with American Indian music, but Viceverses certainly doesn't have the contemporary hip-hop sound of their peers either."

Waka Flocka Flame :: Flockaveli :: Bricksquad/Warner Bros. Records
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor

"This album came out in October, but we're just now getting around to reviewing it. In part that's because we never got a review copy, and none of us were too eager to spend our hard-earned scratch on Waka. In part it's because writing about Waka Flocka Flame's music seems pointless and contradictory. This is not intellectual music meant for calm reflection and analysis. Waka makes music for the streets and for the club. If you are thinking about Waka's music, you are missing the point. Waka, aka Juaquin Malphurs, got his start backing his mentor Gucci Maine (his mom was Gucci's manager until recently), and made some buzz with mixtapes before "Flockaveli" came out.  He's had a string of hits in 2010, including "O Let's Do It," "No Hands," and "Hard In Da Paint." He's also had some controversy. He admitted to not voting on BET, and brags about not being lyrical. His lack of lyricism has gotten him his share of criticism both by critics and by Method Man, who said "if you ain't saying shit out your mouth, your time is very slim in this motherfucking game." (Meth later apologized). "

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