Saturday May 26, 2018

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


"If 40 is the new 30 then 30 must be the new 20, because at 33 years old Reks still sounds like he was born yesterday. After ten years strong in hip-hop he seems to only get better with age, although some may have thought he peaked in 2008 with the critically acclaimed "Grey Hairs." Not so. Quietly behind the scenes Reks was working on his next big release, dropping "More Grey Hairs" in the interim to appease the fans who wanted more. What is it about Reks that creates that demand though? Well for one this Boston based rapper has a witty delivery that mocks the conventions of rap music while at the same time celebrating the art of creating hip-hop classics. On the Blaze P produced song "The Underdog," Reks uses the hook to sardonically call himself "the greatest rapper no one heard about," then goes on to prove it might be true. I'm a sucker for harps in hip-hop beats, but Reks wrecks the best one that I've heard since PaceWon had rap "Locked" while simultaneously threatening to blast Torae with his own double barrel while asking the question on a lot of hip-hop fans minds"

Jesse Abraham :: One Day :: {self-released}
as reviewed by Mike Baber
[One Day]

"And so begins the opening track on Manhattan-born Jesse Abraham's debut EP, coming on the heels of several 2010 mixtapes that garnered respect among the New York underground hip-hop community. It doesn't take long to realize that Abraham is not your typical emcee; one can probably count the number of white Jewish rappers on one hand. In no way, though, is this meant to suggest that he is unworthy of blessing the mic. Growing up during the golden age of hip-hop gave him a deep passion and appreciation for hip-hop and the culture that surrounds it, and these old-school influences can definitely be heard in his beats and rhymes. Simply put, Abraham has been a hip-hop head from day one (he claims to have written his first rhyme at the age of nine), and his understanding for the music itself allows him to come across as an intelligent and well-versed rapper. "

Brand Nubian :: Time's Runnin' Out :: Sound of Dissent/Traffic Entertainment
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **

as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Time's Runnin' Out] 
""Time's Runnin' Out" is many ways a curiosity. This is (to date) the final album in the long career of Brand Nubian, dating all the way back to the seminal hip-hop classic "One For All" in 1990. That career has not been without some tumult in their membership. Founding member Grand Puba left to develop a solo carer and wouldn't rejoin the team until "Foundation" in 1998. The critical acclaim the reunion received must not have been a strong enough motivating factor to record another album, because it would be six MORE years until the Nubians joined forced again to release "Fire in the Hole." All the while the individual members of the group made solo albums and continue to do so to this day - the most recent being Sadat X's "Wild Cowboys II" in 2010. This group often doesn't act much like one at all. Nevertheless the Brand Nubian name carries weight in the hip-hop world, and at times it has carried some controversy as well. They've been accused of everything from being racist to homophobic to anti-semetic, and through it all they've taken the criticism in stride and kept on moving."

Custom Made :: Hi-Def :: Coalmine Records
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor

"L.A. rappers Custom Made have had their share of trials and tribulations since entering the rap game in 2002. They’ve had members leave, members incarcerated, and their former label sat on “Hi-Def” for over a year before the group got it released by NY label Coalmine. Custom Made haven’t let any of these setbacks get them down, however. They’ve slimmed down to a trio of  Bluff, Element, and Scoobs, and have kept releasing mixtapes in the interim. “Hi-Def” is their third official album, coming three years and a mess of label drama since 2008’s “Original Dynasty” on Babygrande. Their sound could be described as O.G. L.A. street rap. They come off like veterans who are weary from the life of streets and the life of a hip-hop artist. They are getting it from all sides: when they aren’t dealing with shiesty club owners and labels, disrespectful crowds, and the grind of touring and recording, they are dealing with the daily drama of the streets, ex-girlfriends, and soured personal relationships."

various artists :: HipHop World :: Lola's World
as reviewed by Matt Jost

[HipHop World] 
"Musical trend as well as cultural force, hip-hop went global long before the worldwide web became such a handy tool in connecting people all around the world. Yet for all the globetrotting it's done, hip-hop as a global phenomenon is rarely commemorated via compilations. In almost every hip-hop spot there are only two scenes that matter - the domestic one and the North American one. French and British rappers regularly attract their share of international attention, but on a global scale they remain exceptions. On the double disc "HipHop World," German world music label Lola's World gathers over 30 tracks from various local scenes. Led by a handful of familiar faces of international hip-hop such as k-os from Canada, Leningrad-born and London-bred DJ Vadim, Mexico's Control Machete, and Senegal's Daara J, the sampler covers a lot of unknown territory. Unlike the vast majority of compilations on the market, "HipHop World" discloses who picked the songs. That fact alone gives it immense credibility."

June Marx :: Core of Vengeance :: Holographic Pagoda Records
as reviewed by Daniel Oh

[Core of Vengeance] 
"It's hard to apply an opinion shaped by modern trends to this album. Especially when it has an opening sample that goes something like this:

I will tell you why God got furious, we did not teach our children the ancient ways of this land…all they knew were the customs. The opening track of "Core of Vengeance", "Spear of Destiny", is a throwback to the old Jedi Mind Tricks and Apathy tracks from the late 90s and early 2000s. It hits nonstop with violins and ominous bells, with an unmistakable New York accent dropping that intellectual gangsta. There are elements of established New York players like Immortal Technique and GZA/Genius in June Marx's flow, as he aims for the dome with his hard-hitting flow. This type of style doesn't having any unifying plot, gimmick, or theme to really tie a verse together; just a heavy dose of one-two-three combinations of bars that hit like a Manny Pacquiao barrage. It goes well with the unrelenting cadence that frames the song, and gives a good introduction for what's in store for the rest of the album. "

Mad Child :: M.A.D.E. EP :: Battle Axe/Suburban Noize Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

"If you heard one sentence more than one time about Shane Bunting in the last 15 years, there's a good chance it's "How is he still alive?" By his own admission, Mad Child is the textbook example of letting fame and fortune be your own undoing. The success of Swollen Members LITERALLY gave this Van City rapper a swollen head, leading him to believe he could consume massive quantities of drugs and alcohol with no consequences physically or financially. His life spiraled out of control to the degree that he decided to go cold turkey in 2009, a decision that was better for his health long run but which caused the already troubled emcee to be on the wrong end of a painful detox. Thankfully when you're a rapper the best way to vent your frustrations is to write rhymes, and Mad Child has been dropping one EP after another to get the shit out of his system, figuratively and literally. And thus on "Dead Man Walking" from "M.A.D.E." you hear Shane Bunting's soul laid bare, stripped of any egotistical drug-addled superstar delusions. It's ballsy in its honesty and a perfect portrait of what coming out of a self-induced haze really feels like. If Charlie Sheen ever decides to take sobriety seriously too he might write a few poems like these. That's right - poems. They are given rap beats and on occasion rap hooks are even scratched in, but they definitely speak of personal hell and torment more than your average braggadocious rapper. "

[The Unkomfortable Silence]

"It's easy for me to believe Melo Kan is a ten year veteran of the rap game with two previous albums out. Even though we've never reviewed either of those previous releases, it may be that Melo Kan's "The Unkomfortable Silence" is a new peak of confidence for the aspiring rap artist, and as such he's seeking a far wider audience for his last album than previously local album releases. And the fact is Melo Kan is not that bad on the mic. He certainly lives up to the "mellow" part of his name - this is not a guy who feels the need to scream and shout and threaten violence to get his point across. There are some solid B+ and up songs on this CD. "I'm Still In Love With Her" has a jazzy piano backdrop from Stan Beats and nicely follows up on a concept Common introduced to hip-hop back in the 1990's. The For'Son laced "Reachin'" has brassy horns, a breezy chorus, and Melo chooses evocative lyrical descriptions you're not used to - his "palpitating heart" instead of his "beating heart" - and that's the kind of creativity that sets rappers apart." Da Legend :: The Myth or the Legend :: NDL
as reviewed by Daniel Oh

[The Myth or the Legend] 
"Versatility is an underrated talent for a lot of artists. I think it takes a lot of intelligence, deep understanding, and raw talent to be able to switch up style, flow, and tone to fit any beat. That would be the most redeeming quality of Napoleon da Legend on his 9-song release "The Myth or The Legend". That's not to say that Napoleon isn't skilled with his flow, nor am I saying that Napoleon is subpar with his lyrics. He's sharp on both major qualities of a rapper, but I'd say the one thing that helps tip him over the scales is his versatility. It might be better if I just go focus on a few tracks to describe what I'm talking about. With "The Myth or the Legend", J-Dub the Sound Professor crafts a nice combination of vocals, chimes, and staccato hi-hats and claps to give the beat a feel like a Middle Eastern minefield. Napoleon takes his time to speak over the somewhat chaotic cadence to glue the song together. He's got some nice bars like: "Couldn't follow da Legend with ankle detectors, or GPSes" and "fuck Bonaparte Josephine, I married Joan of Arc." The entire song is just a showcase of Napoleon's lyrical prowess and his ability to drop knowledge, which is pretty nice. "

[Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang] 
"Originally this album was conceived as Raekwon's response to "8 Diagrams", as he stated numerous objections to the sound and style of the album in interviews after it was released. It was stated that "Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang" would be an album of original beats NOT produced by RZA or his affiliates, featuring any and all members of the Clan who wanted to participate on it. Time passed and so did the debate about "8 Diagrams," and while there have been the usual slate of Wu solo albums and a few compilations, that "response" never emerged and in all likelihood was forgotten about by all but the most dedicated Wu-Tang Clan heads. A little over three years after "8 Diagrams" the idea of "Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang" has resurfaced in the form of a solo album from founding Wu member Raekwon the Chef. He's long been a fan favorite for his storytelling raps, raspy voice and colorful slang, and came correct in 2009 with a long awaited Part Two sequel to his classic "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx" album. Raekwon's never been the type to rest on his laurels though, whether his albums have been critically acclaimed or strictly for the underground hardcore Wu heads. It makes sense for Rae to drop "Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang" on a variety of levels." 

Read 2,287 times:: Subscribe to News by Email

©, a Flash Web Design Exclusive