"The Dirtball is back with his fourth solo album "Nervous System," which is also his first album since officially being made a member of the Kottonmouth Kings on "Long Live the Kings." Dirtball's vibe is best described the way Nervous did originally in his 2008 review: "The Dirtball has a bit of swagger, a strong stage voice and the tracks do not make me just want to dance in place; they make me want to PUSH SOME DAMN BODY!" He's a party rock rapper through and through, which is what made the Oregon native such a natural fit for California's Kottonmouth clique. A typical Dirtball song, say "Anybody" from this album, will tend to be about taking pharmaceuticals in anything BUT the recommended dosage while trying to get as crazy at the club or house party as humanly possible. The lyrics show that Dirtball seems to be walking a fine line between endorsing this behavior and warning listeners about it. If we were to take Dirtball literally at his word, he and Bizarre could have a contest for who pops more "Purple Pills" and he'd probably win. Dirtball professes that it's recreationally fun to be reckless. On the other hand in the very same song he's professing to get so high he feels like he could die, his friend Gabe actually DOES. Still one gets the feeling D.A.R.E. would not approve of his lifestyle, because Dirtball does his best to blur the line between telling a fictional character acting this way and his real life every day. "
Audible Doctor :: The Spread EP :: 2 Dope Boyz/Brown Bag AllStars
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
"The concept behind this album is fairly simple - Audible Doctor from the Brown Bag AllStars crew decided to record seven instrumentals and release them as a free EP. Usually Doc's beats are for his affiliated family members like J57 and Soul Khan, but this time around he's decided it would be more fun to see what bars members of the public could lay on the tracks. With the support of the 2 Dope Boyz site behind them, BBAS has distributed this free EP far and wide on the internet, and the zip file comes with a list of rules. Much like Ayatollah's "Fingertops," it's not hard to imagine your favorite emcees blessing these beats with bars. "Your Bad" puts piano keys together in slick shuffling synchronicity and has that mellow jazzy hip-hop groove of a classic by Da Beatminerz for someone in the Boot Camp Clik. Some might accuse "The Stars Above" of being a blatant ripoff of Kanye West's sound, but if they said so it could only be meant as a compliment to the spacey feel, heavy bottom and choice R&B sampling. "The Ex" snaps, crackles and pops like a record found in a church rummage sale, and it's something Evidence would produce, rap over, or more likely BOTH. "
http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2011_02_thespreadEP.htmlThe Aztext :: Who Cares If We're Dope Volume 2 :: Elevated Press Records
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor
"When last we heard from Vermont hip-hop trio The Aztext, they had released the first of a four-EP project, "Who Cares If We're Dope?" The concept is that each of the EPs will feature a different producer, and each EP will join together like Voltron to form an album at the end of the project. Volume One featured the sample-heavy, old-school leaning producer E-Train, and The Aztext were sounding a little defensive as they tried to find their place for themselves as artists who respect the classic hip-hop sound in a contemporary landscape. For Volume Two, they've decided if you can't beat ‘em, join ‘em. They've teamed up with San Francisco producer Touchphonics, who provides futuristic and club-friendly beats. The boys are getting out of their comfort zone and trying on a new sound. It starts off with the robotic "Cool Don't Exist," in with Pro and Learic trade rhymes about how they've outgrown a lot of labels that used to describe hip-hop, like fresh and def. The verses are solid, but the song gets dragged down by the hook. Things pick up with the future funk of "Doin' What I Want," in which Pro and Learic lay out their DIY attitude and their approach to music"
http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2011_02_weredopevolume2.htmlDiggy :: Past Presents Future :: Violator Management
as reviewed by Matt Jost
"This longtime Run-D.M.C. fan was considerably irritated by the reality show 'Run's House,' simply failing to understand reason and motive for the format. Still curiosity got the best of me and I spent more time with the Simmons family than I initially intended. I watched one of Run's sons, JoJo, dabble in rap a little bit, but apparently lacking the necessary determination to make any kind of impression. My sympathies were more with his brothers, Diggy and Russy, who at the time were too young to be spoiled by the promise of stardom. Fast forward a few years and the same Diggy has a DJ Premier-hosted mixtape on deck. Quite surprisingly, at least for a person like myself who much rather listens to birds chirp than celebrities twitter. Turns out, Diggy has already two free releases to his credit ("The First Flight" and "Airborne") and is signed to Atlantic since last year. "Past Presents Future" hopes for a credibility boost that is definitely in order under these circumstances. Primo lends his voice and turntable skills to the project, pointing out that from him you don't get anything less than a "real mixtape." He also provides the young rapper with one of his own famous beats, "Nas Is Like," for the opening track "Digg Is Like," which he equips with a matching D.O.C. sample to underline that this is Diggy's moment. "
http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2011_02_pastpresentsfuture.htmlvarious artists :: Generation Bass Presents: Transnational Dubstep :: Six Degrees Records
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor
"Generation Bass is an international dubstep blog started by DJ Umb and his partner Vincent Koreman in February 2009. "Transnational Dubstep" is their attempt to document and highlight some of the outstanding dubstep they've come across since founding the blog. It contains fifteen tracks of dubstep that incorporates elements of Indian, European, Middle Eastern, and Latin American music. All of the tracks follow the dubstep template: wobbling bass, syncopated beats, and dark vibe. It's what the artists do to the template that makes things interesting. The bulk of the songs incorporate elements of either Indian music or European and Eastern European folk music, although there are tracks that reference Middle Eastern and Latin American music. In terms of approach, some artists go for a mellow, contemplative vibe. Album opener "India Sleeping" by Mars is a mid-tempo song that meshes its Indian singing and instrumentation with the wobbling sub-bass and electronic kick drum in a fairly organic fashion. There are several other tracks that go a similar route, toning down the dissonance and aggro that characterizes some dubstep. "
http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2011_02_transnationaldubstep.htmlKool G Rap :: Offer You Can't Refuse :: Kool G Rap Now
as reviewed by Jesal 'Jay Soul' Padania
"One of the funny things about Kool G Rap - and a definite advantage - is that he sounded like a 42 year old, been there, done that G twenty years ago. Now that he's finally reached his forties, he sounds even more comfortable in his own skin, and on the new free download EP ("Offer You Can't Refuse") he sounds as fresh as he did all those years ago. Lyrically, he isn't just good - he's a true great, a beast on the mic with tongue-twisting polysyllabic rhyme schemes, genial story-telling abilities and magnetic delivery that's probably slowed down about 1% over the years. So we have eight tracks, clocking in at under 24 minutes, and it's the perfect taster to prime us for apparent new album "Riches, Royalty & Respect" (which is destined to drop this year). Frankly, as long as the production is on point, you can already consider it an essential purchase, as his efforts behind the mic on OYCR as top notch. He's never been the most prolific artist, putting out content for the sake of it, so you know that whenever he utters a single word, it is considered and worth hearing. "
http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2011_02_offeryoucantrefuse.htmlMaylay Sparks :: Flaskworthy :: Gorilla Movement/Felix Records/Oarfin Records/Soulspazm/Long Range Distribution
as reviewed by Pete T.
'The RapReviews faithful may be a bit surprised to know that your humble critic is still a birthday removed from the legal drinking age, so I can't speak with great wisdom on the subject of fine liquor. Still, I've always been somewhat intrigued by the almighty flask, one of drinking's great symbols and message-senders. When one carries a flask, it tends to be concealed and used discreetly, whether the contents are being added to something else or consumed straight from the container. Carriers of flasks almost always tend to be older gentlemen, and they send the message that these drinkers are looking for an extra kick not provided by the circumstances. They also indicate that said party is not interested in sharing or being social with his drink—it's for his enjoyment and his alone. Maylay Sparks has been a recognized name in Philadelphia's hip hop scene for years, but these days you'll be hard-pressed to find him within the friendly confines of Eastern Pennsylvania—for most of the new millennium he's called Copenhagen, Denmark his home. One would never know by his latest effort "Flaskworthy," though, an album so deeply-rooted in a street-oriented East Coast sound that one can practically hear the SEPTA trains rolling by. "
http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2011_02_flaskworthy.htmlMic Life :: Explozif :: NSC Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
"Here's what I know about Mic Life: real name Michael Zunega, he started rapping at the age of 15, and his label NSC says he's "the zombie futuristic creator of the NU Rap NRG" and so well known he's "no longer in need of presentation." That's undoubtedly true in French speaking Canada but for those of who live South of Quebec he's a little bit more of a mystery. Nevertheless his album intrigued me when I was at a HMV store in Montreal. At first glance you would think he's rocking beaded dreadlocks, but on closer inspection he seems to have headphone jacks and RCA plugs coming straight out of his skull. He's got tattoos on his neck I can't make out, and "alien" contacts in his eyes to make him look more mysterious and/or menacing. He's definitely something different from the average rap artist, let alone compared to the people in his own scene. I had to take a chance and find out what was so "explosive" about Mic Life, and for only $11.99 CDN that wasn't an expensive proposition. "Senim Silla's certainly no stranger to slept-on releases. As one of the core members of the Michigan collective Binary Star, he recorded "Waterworld" in 1999 on a $500 budget and released it via a 1,000 copy pressing. Even that record generated enough positive buzz, though, that it warranted a remix/remaster project the next year, titled "Masters of the Universe," that saw a much wider independent release and is considered by many to be one of hip hop's most underrated classics, evoking classic hip hop spirit through deep, jazzy instrumentals and the rappers' heady, reflective lyricism and sharp chemistry. "Masters of the Universe" has steadily gained acclaim through a series of national reissues, but by the time the masses seemed to begin to appreciate its genius, members One Be Lo (formerly known as OneManArmy), Senim Silla, and Decompoze had gone their separate ways. The Binary Star saga is harder to follow than the plot of "Inception," which in a sense adds to their mystique—some tales detail the members joining forces while in jail, while other rumors have even implicated Senim as a fugitive himself. In any event, Lo went on to find his greatest acclaim to date with 2005's "S.O.N.O.G.R.A.M.," and in 2007 Senim finally broke loose with "The Name The Motto The Outcome," released quietly on Infinite Rhythm Network. "
http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/BTTL_thenamethemotto.html$hamrock :: Tha WyteRapper $how :: Wyte Music Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
"It's been four years since Timothy Rasmussen a/k/a $hamrock won VH1's "The (White) Rapper Show." He got $100,000 to help launch his career, although on receiving his prize he announced his intentions to use the money to repay his friend Black Josh for paying his rent while he was on the show, taking care of his parents, and helping his sister with college tuition. That was and is noble of him ('nuff respect $ham) but his music career definitely stalled while he was helping out his fam. In fact despite the fact winning the show gave him a visibility and notability most rappers would kill for, his name evaporated to the degree that when you try to Wiki search, you get redirected to a page about the reality show he was on. Even though they've got some funny ideas about who and what should be notable, in this case it might actually be fair. He dropped one album called "Worst 2 First" in 2009 on G.E. Entertainment as a download only... and that's about it. Whatever he's been doing, it hasn't been in the mainstream music spotlight. 2011 is the year $hamrock looks to change that, and he may have found the ideal partner to help him do it - Hypnotize Minds alum Lil Wyte, the self-described "Bad Influence" in hip-hop. "
http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2011_02_thawyterappershow.htmlSnowgoons :: Kraftwerk :: Goon MuSick/iHipHop Distribution
as reviewed by Matt Jost
"Kraftwerk? Wasn't there something about hip-hop and that word Kraftwerk? Indeed. In 1982 Afrika Bambaataa, Arthur Baker and John Robie collaborated on the seminal fusion track "Planet Rock" that would influence subsequent popular genres of electronic music. Borrowing melodies and patterns from two songs released in 1977 and 1981, "Planet Rock" was indebted to even greater pioneers of modern music, German band Kraftwerk. While hip-hop and the genre "Planet Rock" helped establish, electro, soon parted ways, the synthesized and syncopated funk left its mark on West Coast hip-hop and later resurfaced in the acclaimed beat creations of Timbaland and The Neptunes. There's little of the band Kraftwerk in German hip-hop production team Snowgoons, and yet the title of their latest album, "Kraftwerk," is apt. Thanks to "Planet Rock," the term is significant to hip-hop history, and translated it means 'power plant,' which is just what the Snowgoons seem to be. They keep churning out high-powered album after high-powered album. Neither them leaving Babygrande Records nor last year's departure of DJ Waxwork could stop them. "
http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2011_02_snowgoonskraftwerk.htmlTef Poe :: Money Never Sleeps :: Footklan Music Group/Dat Piff
as reviewed by Mike Baber
""Money Never Sleeps" is one of those albums that sound great from a distance. Full of bumping instrumentals that feature chopped soul samples and plenty of strings and horns, the mixtape has a very upbeat feel to it, and it is easy to get lost nodding along to the head-bobbing rhythms. Tef Poe, a St. Louis emcee who often refers to himself as "Poe-bama," has a steady flow that meshes well with many of the tracks, and after a quick listen through he seems to have a lot of potential. A more in depth analysis, though, yields different results, as Tef Poe is often lacking when it comes to creativity. For a 20 song mixtape, he simply doesn't have enough to rap about to keep things sounding fresh throughout, and he doesn't change up his flow enough to account for this shortcoming. There are definitely a handful of songs that stand out, as Tef Poe shows flashes of wizardry on the mic, but overall the subject matter doesn't venture much outside his love for money, sexual exploits, and overall superiority in the rap game. I'll be the first to admit I had high hopes for "Money Never Sleeps" after hearing the opening track, "Glad You Came," which pits Tef Poe's easygoing flow over a soul-heavy beat. The next few songs, though, gave me some doubts."
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