Thursday April 19, 2018

The (W)rap Up - Week of February 1, 2011
Posted by Emanuel Wallace at Tuesday, February 8th, 2011 at 12:00AM :: Email this article :: Print this article

[Gutter Rainbows]Talib Kweli :: Gutter Rainbows
Blacksmith/Javotti Media

Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon

"Gutter Rainbows" is not the first time Talib Kweli has experimented with an unconventional means of releasing his music. In 2005 he bootlegged his own album. In 2007 he released a FREE album with Madlib called "Liberation" online, although the download vanished from the Stones Throw website a week later. Kweli is both unpredictable and mercurial when it comes to proliferating his works, signs of both his artistic temperament and eccentric genius - focus on the word "genius" though. His name is a source of unending debate among hip-hop fans who can't agree on how much of a genius he is. Some boldly state he is the best rap lyricist in history, while others retort that if he's so damn good he ought to try fitting all his words into one line for a change. Even his admirers will agree that a Kweli rap song is often like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill - the flow goes everywhere. It's not a cement cap that stops Kweli though - it's a lack of support by the music industry for anything not guaranteed to gold or platinum on shipping alone. It should come as no surprise then that "Gutter Rainbows" was conceived of as a digital-only release, although rumors of a physical CD persist. For now you can get this album from Amazon and other similar outlets. "

Caligula :: Divine Madness :: Krycek Entertainment
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
[Divine Madness] 
"Roman historians and scholars are often divided on answering this one simple question: "Was Caligula truly insane?" Unpopular Roman Emperors ALL seem to be judged as "mad" to some degree by history, and there's some sentiment that this is revisionist history at its finest. There's little question there was a power struggle between Caligula and the Roman Senate during his reign, and that many of his public works were extravagant and/or self-indulgent, but as Emperors go that's just about par for the course. Even the sexual depravity of which Caligula is so often accused as proof of his madness was not unheard of among the Roman elites. They acquired boredom in one hand as they did wealth and status in the other, and finding things to amuse/fascinate/shock themselves was always a challenge. The other side of this coin is that there are almost no accounts which do not portray Caligula as excessively cruel, unnecessarily sadistic, lustful and drunk off his own ego. As the son of a popular military leader he rose to power at the people's ovation, and at first he played the role of a populist by cutting taxes and giving bonuses to the hard working soldiers, but in the end his personal steed Incitatus fared better than the public - living in a gilded stable while ordinary Romans lived in squalor. That same public was forced to worship Caligula as a living god. "

Nottz & Asher Roth :: Rawth EP :: Raw Koncept/SchoolBoy Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Rawth EP]

"From Snoop Dogg to Scarface, from Game to G-Unit, there's no doubt that if you consumed a daily diet of hip-hop from across America in the last decade plus you heard at least ONE Nottz beat on a hot-ass album. He's just that ubiquitous - everybody seems to love the sound that he throws down and even your favorite rapper's favorite rapper wants to rap to his instrumentals. Then there's Asher Roth - the
white bread rapper who got a leg up into the industry with the help of DJ Drama and Don Cannon, then won over frat boys everywhere with his party anthem "I Love College." Roth's trademark is a quirky sense of humor which has been compared both favorably and negatively to the only somewhat similar stylings of famous white rap artist Eminem. The reason for these two to collaborate on an EP are at least on the surface obvious. Roth certainly isn't going to turn down a chance to spit bars to a Nottz track, let alone more than a half-dozen of them. The already established Nottz doesn't really have anything to prove, but working with Asher Roth pairs his name in the limelight with a currently popular rapper, keeping the value of his name and his production skills high. Rappers shopping for someone to take them from unknown to globally known hear the Nottz tracks on a free Asher EP and say "Whatever his price, I'll pay it." Boom - Nottz stock just went up. "

 NYOil :: 9 Wonders Mixtape :: DJ Trackstar
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor

[9 Wonders Mixtape] 
"I used to work with an African-American doctor who had gone to school at a cow town in Northern California. She described watching "In Living Color" with her dorm mates, most of whom were white agriculture students. She said that it made her uncomfortable, because the show was black people making fun of black people. Her white dorm mates seemed to be laughing at the cast instead of with them. I feel the same way listening to Staten Island rapper NYOil. NYOil is music made by an African-American for an African-American audience. This mixtape offers a 22 songs that criticize the worst elements of African-American culture. It's an airing of dirty laundry that is necessary, but uncomfortable for an outsider (ie. this white reviewer) to witness. NYOil exposing and viciously calling out the worst elements and aspects of his culture, and it would be easy for an outsider to take that as criticism of the culture as a whole.

NYOil has come a long way since his name meant "New York's Original International Lover." In the process, he has transformed himself into a provocateur and critic of hip-hop in particular, and African-American culture in general. He's not afraid to call African-Americans out on the things they are doing wrong, and he is merciless to rappers that he feels are presenting a negative image of African-American culture. "

Random :: Black Materia: Final Fantasy VII :: RAHM Nation Recordings
as reviewed by Mike Baber

[Black Materia: Final Fantasy VII] 
"Never judge a book by its cover. When I heard that "Black Materia" was an album centered around the famous RPG Final Fantasy VII and named after a character in the game, I wrote the album off almost immediately without even hearing a single track. I had never even heard of Random, aka Mega Ran, and I simply couldn't fathom how any emcee could turn a video game into a rap album without coming off as nerdy and immature. What's more, while I don't abstain from all video games, I have never played Final Fantasy and therefore know almost nothing about the game itself. My initial skepticism, though, was quelled after just a quick listen through of the album, which couldn't have been further from what I expected, and I soon found myself mesmerized by Random's powerful flow and impressive storytelling ability. Right off the bat, it's obvious that Random isn't afraid to bridge the gap between hip-hop and other genres, as Lost Perception, who produces every song on the CD, incorporates elements from soul, electronic, and classical music in his beats. What really makes Random unique, though, is his trademark style of sampling music from retro video games, and "Black Materia" stays with this trend."

Space Invadas :: Done It Again EP :: BBE Music
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Done It Again EP] 
"Another of those oh-so-unlikely musical combinations that they actually ought to be expected as part for the course took place when Sydney, AU producer Katalyst and soulful London, UK singer Steve Spacek combined to form the Space Invadas duo. The latter is arguably the better known of the two, having previously collaborated with a plethora of hip-hop artists such as Common, Mos Def and Slum Village just to name a few. If you heard a crooner you didn't recognize on a rap track but thought he sounded like a vintage soul singer from the 1970's, it may have been Spacek. As it turns out that's the very sound of R&B rock 'n soul that best defines the Space Invadas. Though their name borrows from a video game that first came out in 1978, their sound is vintage early 70's in every respect. If you blindfolded someone and played them a Motown record from the same era and then played the first four tracks from the Space Invadas EP, they'd be hard pressed to tell the difference. The titular "Done It Again" is all organs, bass and funk. If you didn't know better you'd think Katalyst had simply looped a song straight off the "Superfly" soundtrack, right down to the "wah wah" guitar sound - even more easily picked out in the accompanying instrumental. "

Stereo Boyz :: Live from the Ghettoblaster :: Stereo Boyz
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Live from the Ghettoblaster] 
"Continuing the unofficial "Winter of Detroit Hip-Hop" on are the Stereo Boyz, consisting of Mixo (aka Applauze Beetz), Mic Audio (aka Perfect Hell) and Kid Boombox. The members were previously part of a collective called Rhyme Asylum but split off to release a group album on their own, though it's presumed to be an amicable split. The only people that the Stereo Boyz seem to have any beef with are inferior acts that don't take the craft of making rap music seriously. They waste no time calling out those rappers and producers on the opening track of "Live from the Ghettoblaster" and pull no punches about it, saying that the rap scene has become a "Circus Act" full of clowns. Their disdain is self-evident, what they offer as an alternative somewhat less so. Decrying other aspects of hip-hop as being the ruin of the genre is far more fashionable than backpacks and reversible sweaters. If it's not the East coast blaming the West coast, the South blaming the North, the indie rappers blaming the mainstream stars, or any vice versa or combination thereof, then it's all of the above blaming the internet."

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