Wednesday June 20, 2018

The (W)rap Up - Week of February 15, 2011
Posted by Emanuel Wallace at Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011 at 12:00AM :: Email this article :: Print this article

"There's a deliberate mixing of pop culture references in the titling of this album. If on the one hand you abbreviate the underground rap pugilist Virtuoso to a singular "V," you might be reminded of a 1980's NBC mini-series called "V: The Final Battle" where aliens attempt to steal the world's resources. If on the other hand you're of a horror movie mindset, you may instead flash back to the 1981 film "Omen III: The Final Conflict." The trilogy depicted a child named Damien Thorn who was actually the Antichrist incarnate, at first unaware of his demonic heritage, later embracing his destiny and promulgating evil until his ultimate demise. Either one is ultimately apt, because both reference dark days for humanity, and Virtuoso is proud to be one of rap's most gothic emcees. He seems to have found a like-minded soul in new production partner Blue Sky Black Death. They aren't co-credited on the cover or binding, but they produce two-thirds of "The Final Conflict" and give Virtuoso an appropriately menacing sound. GZA's once boastful line "I be the body dropper, the heartbeat stopper/Child educator plus head amputator" is given a newfound menace when sampled for the grim "Heartbeat Stopper," which appropriately also features a sample of Ryzarector cackling "HA, HA HA HA HA HA!" V's raps are penned with poison"

Ayatollah :: Fingertips :: Tollah Music/Nature Sounds
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
"If you know "Ms. Fat Booty," you know Ayatollah. If you don't know "Ms. Fat Booty," then take a moment out of this review to hit up YouTube and listen to this Mos Def classic. Once you hear it, it ain't hard to tell why Ayatollah has so many clientele. The list of rappers he's produced for includes commercially popular emcees like Ghostface and Styles P, but he's equally respected among stereotypically "backpack" rap nerds for songs with everyone from The Last Emperor to Sean Price, and he's scored songs for legends like Rakim and Talib Kweli to boot. When it comes to hip-hop beats, Ayatollah has been there and done that, and largely received acclaim for his production everywhere that he goes. What he hasn't done, at least in the last five years, is release an instrumental album on vinyl. That's a big selling point for "Fingertips," an album made by a producer FOR the hip-hop deejays, so that you can mix his beats with other people's rhymes. "

Big L :: Return of the Devil's Son :: Flamboyant Music Group/SMC
as reviewed by Matt Jost

[Return of the Devil's Son] 
"At first sight, "Return of the Devil's Son" is another eyewash of a posthumous rap album, suggesting a 'return' that sadly cannot happen and masquerading already released tracks by altering their names. That at least was likely the major gripe of Big L collectors once they heard the project late last year. The positives are that members of the family are involved in the release and that the tracks were (largely) left as they were recorded. The gems on this collection are the tracks Big L recorded before or for his full-length debut "Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous." "Devil's Son" (irritatingly listed as "Devil's Son From Lifestylze"), the 1993 promo for Columbia, is Big L at his nastiest, the Nas samples inspiring satanic verses that hope to stir more controversy than Salman Rushdie's. Although Big L was already a full-grown MC at the time of his first appearances on Lord Finesse and Showbiz & A.G. records, some of his earlier steps may have lacked the poignancy that makes us today reminisce over the late great Big L. In that context maybe "Devil's Son" can be seen as a drastic measure to showcase his potential - even if only hardcore rap fans would - hopefully - understand all the reasons why a rapper would say such things. "

Black Spade :: Build & Destroy :: Union Los Angeles
as reviewed by Mike Baber

[Build & Destroy] 
"It took no more than a quick glance over the cover art of "Build & Destroy" for me to realize I was in for something out of the ordinary. Done completely in black and white, the front of the album features a dark silhouette of a man's face, a praying mantis, a hot air balloon, a planet from outer space, and what appears to be the skyline of a futuristic city, all resting on top of a slightly trippy checkered pattern. And indeed, my initial assumption proved to be correct. Take the spacy vibes of Outkast's album "Atliens," give it a slightly electronic new age twist, and throw in crooning soul and jazz samples mixed with singing and rapping, and you will have some idea of what kind of music "Build & Destroy" encompasses. While this may seem confusing, one thing is certain; this is not your average "hip-hop meets soul music" album. Black Spade's first official mixtape has a certain funky vibe to it, and this is by no means a bad thing. Even in a hip-hop game where true originality and creativity are becoming harder and harder to find, there is simply nothing else out there right now that sounds like "Build & Destroy," and this alone makes it a worthwhile listen. "

Luck-One :: True Theory :: Architect Entertainment
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[True Theory] 
"Hanif Collins' chosen nom de plume of Luck-One is in some respects a direct contradiction of his life experience. There's nothing "lucky" at all about being arrested on robbery charges as a teenager, tried as an adult, found guilty and forced to serve a mandatory minimum sentence under Oregon law. Instead of going to college or entering the workforce, Collins was going to prison for half a decade, where he wound up in solitary confinement for two years. The press release for Luck-One consciously chooses to bring up this fact and frame it in the context of "political activism" and "food strikes," but we only have their version of events to go by. Frankly I would think mentioning he was tried as an adult and sent to prison as a teenager would in itself engender sympathy for Collins' outrageously bad luck - going extra with it only makes one skeptical about whether or not Collins was a prison philosopher or a problematic prisoner. "

Matisyahu :: Live at Stubb's Vol. II :: Fallen Sparks Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Live at Stubb's Vol. II]

"There's a roots reggae meets rap, Bob Marley meets Kardinal Offishall, old school protest song meets modern day struggle feel to Matisyahu's "One Day." The song engenders such warm fuzzy feelings of positivity that it's hard to be cynical when hearing it, even when it's used in advertising to pitch products or TV shows to you. Even without knowing a thing about Matisyahu you can picture him with a full head of dreads, rocking a reggae festival in the heart of Kingston until the sun goes down, with throngs of adoring fans singing along. That sun better not be setting on a Friday night, because Matisyahu is the spearhead for a musical movement bringing Jewish faith to reggae music. This was such an unexpected and unconventional combination that he was at first regarded as a curiosity by the pop music world, which sent his first mainstream single "King Without a Crown" rocketing up the charts. It was (and is) a catchy tune, but let's be perfectly honest - people looked at Matisyahu as being an oddball. After all aren't most reggae artists Rastas, with a few Christians sprinkled in here and there? "

Quite Nyce :: The D.O.N. (Definition of Nyce) :: {self-released}
as reviewed by Pete T.

[The D.O.N.] 
"Worcester, Massachusetts rapper Quite Nyce has been on his grind for the better part of a decade, much of it as one-half of the duo RADix, and to kick off 2011 he unveiled a new solo album, "The D.O.N. LP," for free download. Although Quite Nyce's name doesn't turn heads the world over, he's quietly gained commensurate respect in the Boston underground which should be enough reason alone to check out a full-blown LP of his for free-ninety-nine. Clocking in at just under 40 minutes and featuring production from DJ Trusty, JL, Dox, and GMJ, it may prove just the push he needs to reach the next level. Quite Nyce isn't the sort of rapper who wows you upon first listen. He sports an articulate flow and an old-school East Coast approach to his music, with a penchant for sturdy, solid beats and straightforward rhymes. He is, however, very good at what he does, and by exploring different territory throughout "The D.O.N. LP" proves a versatile MC as well. His rhyme schemes are often fairly unorthodox in structure, and the heavy "React" kicks off the album, featuring heady, rugged verses over a thumping, horn-laden DJ Trusty track. ""

Serge Severe :: Back On My Rhymes :: Focused Noise
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor

[Back On My Rhymes] 
"The new satirical show "Portlandia" claims that the Northwestern city of Portland is where the dream of the 90's is still alive. If that's true, than Serge Severe is a natural fit there. He may not have any tribal tattoos or be going to Clown College, but his ethic and music are unabashedly old-school. Mainstream rappers may be singing as much as rapping and mixing in pop music and dance music into their beats, but Severe is having none of it. He drops battle rhymes over sampled beats, and he does it well. I first heard Severe a few years ago when I reviewed his album "Concrete Techniques." For his third album, "Back On My Rhymes," Severe doesn't fix what ain't broke. He sticks with the same producer, DJ Sect, the same sound, and the same delivery. Severe covers some turf lyrically. Beyond the typical battle rhyme concerns of asserting the superiority of his microphone skills, Severe raps about the state of hip-hop and the struggles of being a rapper. He drops a lot of references to old school artists, and at times it sounds like he's struggling to find his place in an industry and genre that doesn't have much respect for the artistry and lyricism he brings to the game."

Read 1,381 times:: Subscribe to News by Email

©, a Flash Web Design Exclusive