Wednesday May 23, 2018

The (W)rap Up - Week of April 5, 2011
Posted by Emanuel Wallace at Tuesday, April 12th, 2011 at 12:00AM :: Email this article :: Print this article

[Capo]Jim Jones :: Capo
E1 Music

Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon

"I routinely find myself at odds with not only the RR staff in general but the hip-hop populace as a whole when it comes to Jim Jones. Make no mistake, if he has a hit that crosses over to the mainstream, I enjoy it as much as the next man, because he does have (if nothing else) a charismatic delivery. In general though I find his flow to be overrated and his lyrical content to be nothing special whatsoever. Now far from being upset about this contradiction, it's the very sort of thing I encourage at I'd rather have a difference of opinion where one writer thinks he's hitting all the right notes, while I think he's struck all the wrong ones, because that just goes to show we are not clones who all have the same view of hip-hop. Furthermore these kind of contradictions cause us all to critically re-examine our opinions and remain open-minded about different genres and styles of the entire hip-hop diaspora. So far be it from me to dismiss Jim Jones entirely in 2011. He's got a lot going for him, not the least of which is that he's one of the most prolific artists to ever come out of Cam'Ron founded DipSet. This is the NINTH album by Jones we've covered since 2004, and there's probably at least a mixtape or two we missed along the way. If you count albums with Byrd Gang or the Diplomats the totals of his discography and releases reviewed both increase that much more. When you're #WINNING more than Charlie Sheen, there's no reason to slow your roll for the haters, and as long as each album continues to sell you keep on dropping more and more of what your audience wants."

Big K.R.I.T. :: Return of 4Eva :: {self-released}
as reviewed by Emanuel Wallace
[Return of 4Eva] 
"In 1988, Public Enemy released a song called "Don't Believe The Hype" and it was the second single from PE's second album, "It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back." Fast forward to 2011 and we have a hip-hop industry that seems to be predicated, built on and fascinated with hype. Everyone is out to be the next big thing and if there's not a lot of staying power within a new act, even the hottest of Tuesday's artists (new and old) are forgotten about by 9pm Wednesday night. One outlet that seems to generate a great deal of hype and speculation year in and year out is XXL Magazine's Top 10 Freshmen list, and since 2008 we've seen some artists live up to the hype in some way or another like 2008's Lupe Fiasco or 2009's B.o.B. and Kid Cudi, while others like 2010's OJ Da Juiceman have faded away into obscurity. The 2011 list consists of Meek Mill, Lil B, YG, Mac Miller, Lil Twist, Diggy Simmons, Cyhi Da Prynce, Kendrick Lamar, Fred Da Godson, Yelawolf and Big K.R.I.T.. To be honest, I'm not overly familiar with all of the 2011 selections, but I'm secure enough to say that I'm sure Big K.R.I.T. fits in somewhere near the top of the list. After all, he did come in at #1 when I wrote my 2010 Year in Review back in December on the strength of his "K.R.I.T. Wuz Here" album, which I still have in heavy rotation (along with the chopped and screwed version). After a handful of guest appearances and an increase in notoriety, the not-quite-newly minted Def Jam signee promised the fans that he would release at least one more project before going forth with the major label debut. The album reportedly took over a year to make and after being delayed for a week, Krizzle finally unleashed the album, calling it "Return of 4Eva." The album features appearances from K.R.I.T.'s partner in rhyme, Big Sant, as well as Joi, Bun B, Chamillionaire, Raheem DeVaughn, Ludacris and fellow Mississippian, David Banner. "

Chaz Kangas :: A Personal Reference :: {self-released}
as reviewed by Mike Baber

[A Personal Reference] 
"Rappers often claim to be something they are not. There are countless emcees who spit about bringing back the old school and keeping "real hip-hop" alive, when in fact the actual quality of their lyrics is subpar at best. On the other hand, there are rappers who boast about popping bottles, screwing models, and everything in between, and while these assertions may be true to some extent, listeners must take them with a grain of salt. All in all, there are too many rappers talking about keeping it real who in reality are more fake than a bootleg Rolex watch from a street vendor. Enter Chaz Kangas, an up-and-coming battle rapper who reps his birth place of Minnesota and his current hometown of New York. Chaz doesn't claim to be the best rapper, or even the best white rapper, but "A Personal Reference" is, in my mind, the very definition of keeping it real. He simply tells it like he sees it, spinning straightforward but often humorous stories of his daily life and encounters, and his fresh perspective on hip-hop makes his latest release an enjoyable listen. The album cover art says it all – a picture of Chaz, looking like he just rolled out of bed, leaning back with a tray of devoured Arby's food in front of him – and the opening track, "Young Gifted, and Chaz," reinforces the casual, carefree vibe of the album. Chaz receives a phone call, most likely from the album's sole producer Good Goose, who asks "Hey Chaz, you wanna make an album?" Chaz responds with "Yea, let's do it right now," and transitions right into his opening verse, a quick autobiography where he raps "A townie mindset with an urban perception/ Here to take the game in a certain direction." "

Kyle Rapps :: Re-Edutainment EP :: Mayhem Entertainment
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor

[Re-Edutainment EP] 
"Kyle "Rapps" Sutton has been involved in hip-hop for a number of years under a number of guises. He recorded under the name Black Skeptik, then as Skeptik as part of the Thought Breakers. He formed a street poetry collective called the Mayhem Poets. He got a B.A. in Spanish at Rutgers University. Now the Jersey native has changed his moniker to the more positive Kyle Rapps and has released an EP that hearkens back to the Boogie Down Production classic, "Edutainment." The goal is to educate while entertain, and Kyle aims to serve up helpings of both education and entertainment. Kyle even offers a collaboration with the Teacher himself, KRS-One, on a remix of "Rent."  Kyle's style lacks the harder edge of KRS-One - the younger rapper is much positive and upbeat than his cantankerous elder. Kyle is more in the vein of Homeboy Sandman, another East Coast rapper who offers literate, positive rhymes. Kyle has spent a lot of time performing for schools, and many of his rhymes are aimed at teenagers. He documents the changes that come with "Puberty," he raps about going to the "Prom," and calls out a "Bully." U-N-I joins him on the mic to school kids on "Rapps 101," and Joel Ortiz shares his thoughts on "Hardknock Children." Not that older listeners should sit this one out. While the subject matter may be PG, Kyle's insightful lyrics and wordplay make this EP worth listening to even if you are well past voting age. Kyle's background as a poet shows throughout. "

Mac Montese :: On a Mission :: Black Rain Entertainment
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[On a Mission] 
"Mac Montese is the latest artist hailing from the Black Rain Entertainment family, the label best known as the musical home of their co-CEO Lord Infamous. He in turn is best known for being one of the founding members of Three 6 Mafia, but relations between the founders have been strained for more than a minute now. As such it's never surprising if DJ Paul and Juicy J aren't seen on a Black Rain released album, but not at all surprising when former Hypnotize Minds artists like Gangsta Boo and Koopsta Knicca do. Personally I wouldn't mind seeing all the past and present Memphis family members peace it out and get together in the studio again, but in 2011, it is what it is. The impression one gets of Montese from "On a Mission" is that he's being groomed as a successor to Lord Infamous. That's far from a bad idea given Infamous has had some serious health issues of late and could probably use someone to carry the torch for his label in the event of his untimely demise. Of course Montese can't simply be "Scarecrow Part Deux" and expect to earn the respect of devoted Southern hip-hop fans, let alone a national or worldwide following for his music. That's why throughout this 18 track album almost every other song finds him going for dolo. There's a good news/bad news type situation going on here I'll have to break down for you the reader in detail. Here's the good news - Montese is competent at delivering a verse, his accent and diction are mostly clear, his vocal tone is not unpleasant and he doesn't embarrass himself lyrically. The bad news is that puts him somewhere in the middle of the pack for rappers from any region of the United States. "

Sweatshop Union :: Water Street :: Sweatshop Union Music
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **

as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Water Street] 
"Many of the Back to the Lab albums we cover at are the result of direct requests from our readers, and Sweatshop Union's "Water Street" is no exception. Although I heard enough that I liked on "United We Fall" back in 2006 to give them a 7 overall and a 7.5 for lyrics, I hadn't been keeping up on their endeavors in the days since. If one wants to be fair they didn't exactly keep me appraised of theirs, and in the last six years they've only released this album and one other EP. That's not exactly what one would call "prolific." The individual contributors to this large collective stayed busy, but getting them all in the studio for one session seemed almost Wu-Tang-esque in difficulty. On top of all that, S.U. founding member Kyprios opted out of future group projects to further his solo career, so "Water Street" is his last album with S.U. (for now). For those unfamiliar with Sweatshop Union's philosophy or work ethic, they are a politically conscious crew who is not afraid to stand up for causes, or even to stand opposed to the mainstream of the very genre they are a part of. It's probably helpful in that regard that the membership is Canadian, because the Union can be part of the North American roots of hip-hop at large while maintaining their own worldview separate from that of the United States. Let's not draw too large of a distinction from this difference though, as though all rappers South of the border are materialistic and vapid, while all rappers North of it are open-minded and egalitarian."

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