Thursday May 24, 2018

The (W)rap Up - Week of April 12, 2011
Posted by Emanuel Wallace at Tuesday, April 19th, 2011 at 12:00AM :: Email this article :: Print this article

"Snoop Dogg is more than a rapper at this point. He's a pop culture icon. He's a guest star on sitcoms and late night talk shows. He's a brand, a trademark, an identifiable product even to those who have never listened to his songs. He's the Big Snoop, not to be confused with that little one called Joe Cool who likes to steal blankets from fools. If it were legal to sell marijuana without a prescription in all 50 states, best believe that he'd have his own brand of chronic in every drug store and neighborhood grocery. He's more bud than Budweiser and damn proud of it too. The best part of all for Mr. Calvin Broadus is that his hits are more than just sticky icky icky. Every album he drops these days makes a splash and has a chart smash, and "Doggumentary" has already had TWO. Snoop displays the kind of experimental attitude on "Wet" that comes with years of success. It's not the first time Snoop has fucked with the expectations of his fans, but he's not just singing this time, he's letting his voice be vocally AutoTuned by The Cataracs. As the wetness of song goes "drip, drip, drip" in the chorus, the off-key notes seem to hit and reverberate like water falling on glass jars and copper pipes. The jars and pipes themselves seem to be sitting in the middle of an echo chamber. A track this bold could collapse under the weight of its own creativity, but Snoop is the stabilizing factor in the middle of the monsoon. "

Brotha Lynch Hung :: Coathanga Strangla :: Strange Music Inc.
as reviewed by Pete T.
[Coathanga Strangla] 
"Long everyone's favorite baby-killing, flesh-eating slasher rapper, Sacramento vet Brotha Lynch Hung executed a brilliant comeback last year with his hip-hopera "Dinner and a Movie." Although his newfound friends at Tech N9ne's Strange Music certainly deserve a lion's share of the credit, Lynch himself deserves equal praise for his own resurgence, flawlessly executing an ambitious opus that played like an audio horror film. Those who cower at the mention of guts and gore should know from the get-go that Lynch will cause queasiness within seconds, but for the strong-stomached "Dinner and a Movie" was magnificent, entering the conflicted mind of a complex serial killer and offering as much tongue-in-cheek humor and ironic laughs as legitimately eerie moments. The chilling production from Lynch and his Strange buddies created more goosebumps than an R.L. Stine book, bursting with fragile pianos, thundering strings, and more screams than Elm Street, yet Lynch maintained the spotlight with a performance so over-the-top that much of the time the listener didn't know whether to laugh or cower in terror—and in the case of "Dinner and a Movie," that was definitely a good thing. "

Crafty :: Crafty Presents Overtime :: Frisko*Skies/Kunaki Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

"A message to all rappers out there past, present and future - I do NOT want to listen to your answering machine on an album. I don't care how clever you think it is that you can set a drunk, belligerent freestyle over the phone to a beat - don't do it. Furthermore I don't need to hear a concert promoter trying to sell you on appearing at some venue he had to put a thousand dollar deposit on while simultaneously trying to talk you into selling (at least) ten tickets to your friends if you DO appear on the show. If you buy Crafty's album I've just saved you four minutes and fifty-one seconds of your life. You're welcome. Crafty falls into the 2011 trend of doing everything yourself - he's the executive producer, he mixed and engineered the album, and it goes without saying that he raps on "Overtime" too. This is actually his second album though (the first from October 2009 slipped under our radar) and it would seem Crafty is already tired of having to hold ALL the weight, so he's brought in a whole slew of his friends and colleagues to do the rapping."

The CUF :: CUF Caviar Vol. 1 :: CFO Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[CUF Caviar Vol. 1] 
"N8 the Gr8, Pete B, Crush, Brotha RJ and Taktics (Lil N8) comprise the Sacramento rap group known as The CUF (California Underground Funk). Supporting non-members in 2011 include singer D Moe (cousin of Dudley Perkins) and crooner Maryann. The group's bio claims a history of chill from ninety-three 'til, having made their claim to fame performing on The World Famous Wake Up Show and using that as a springboard to drop three albums on the masses. At this point things get a bit sketchy. Even though it's explicitly stated that "Bustin writtens don't earn a pension/There ain't no retirement in this y'knahmsayin?/No retirement fund, no 401K plan" on their song "Don't Ask No ?'s" the group spent the last ten years doing anything BUT recording together. Despite their long friendship, this is only their 4th CD. What happened to The CUF? Did they get frustrated by a lack of major label exposure? Were they not feeling the love in their native California? Did the regional nature of their music not translate to a national audience? Was the group struck by those famous "creative differences" that split asunder so many promising or popular rap groups? "

Del tha Funkee Homosapien :: I Wish My Brother George Was Here :: Elektra
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **

as reviewed by Pete T.

[I Wish My Brother George Was Here] 
"The West Coast was a pretty uniform place when Teren Delvon Jones arrived in '91. Although N.W.A. had already called it quits, West Coast rap was synonymous with their unabashed hardcore gangsta shit, carried on by the group's individual members and disciples of the lean street reporting such as MC Eiht and Compton's Most Wanted. Their East Coast counterparts had already seen their share of alternative movements, most notably the friendly social consciousness of the Native Tongues posse which fought the tides of hip hop's early machismo and sought to inject humor, artistry, musicality, and intellect into the late-80s' rigid street-oriented sound. Still, despite years as a viable hip hop hotbed, the Westside had yet to find an answer to the De La Souls and A Tribe Called Quests, clearly awaiting a game-changer to push their coast into the new decade. Del tha Funkee Homosapien surely seemed an unlikely man for the job at the time, but twenty years later it's clear that his self-deprecation and honest humor were exactly the catalyst California needed to push their music to the next level. Being eighteen and from Oakland would on their own make him a dubious candidate to kick-start a West Coast renaissance, but Del had a foot in the door via his first cousin, a certain Ice Cube."

Charles Mingus :: Black Saint and the Sinner Lady :: Impulse Records
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor

[Black Saint and the Sinner Lady] 
"I came of age when music was still purchased in physical form at brick and mortar stores, and my relationship with music is different because of it. I used to go to record stores and sift through the bins looking for an album I wanted or one I didn't know I wanted. There was a thrill in finding a rare CD in the bargain bin, or finding a new record used, or coming across something I didn't even know existed. I used to buy maybe four albums a month - I couldn't afford more. I'd go home, reading the liner notes on the bus, and listen to the albums back to front multiple times. I'd listen to an album for a week straight, catching every nuance and change. Some of my favorite albums were those that required multiple listens to truly appreciate and discover: "Fear of a Black Planet" by Public Enemy, "Sandanista!" by the Clash, "Paul's Boutique" by the Beastie Boys. I knew every inch of every album. To this day I'm still discovering songs that were sampled and referenced on early Ice Cube and Public Enemy records. "

Moke & Tone :: Shot Heard Round the World :: Coalmine Records
as reviewed by Pete T.

[Shot Heard Round the World] 
"Last month, Minnesota congresswoman and presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann embarrassed herself during an appearance in Concord, New Hampshire, telling a crowd how proud she was to address a congregation in the state where "the shot heard 'round the world" was fired in Lexington and Concord. As any graduate of third grade knows, the Concord she was referring to in fact lies in Massachusetts and not New Hampshire, a fact unlikely to be forgotten by Moke & Tone. I'm not sure if their stage name is an unfortunate coincidence or an ill-advised reference to the Trackmasters' alias Poke & Tone, but Tone, a member of the Problemaddicts, calls the Commonwealth home, while partner-in-rhyme Machete Mokeout is listed as Cali-born and Bronx-bred. Whip out the liner notes of "Shot Heard Round the World" and you'll see a pair of scowling, hoodie-clad white fellas toting Louisville Sluggers, which provides a pretty good indication of what lies within. Theirs is of the gritty East Coast school of rap, and a number of the songs on their debut recall Ill Bill and his ilk with references to government conspiracy and futuristic scenes befitting of a sci-fi film. "Shit Is a Trip" proclaims the apocalypse Non Phixion-style, and "Shining" and "False Flag" follow in suit. "

Swollen Members :: Dagger Mouth :: Suburban Noize Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Dagger Mouth] 
"Dating back to 1999 with their commercial full-length debut "Balance," Vancouver's own Swollen Members have been among hip-hop's most influential and most disturbed groups. Battle Axe Record could in fairness be called "The house that Mad Child, Prevail and Rob the Viking built." The label either would not exist without them, or its relevance would be greatly diminished. Swollen Members won two Juno awards while under its auspices - the Canadian equivalent of a Grammy - but there's some evident frustration with not reaching larger sales or mainstream recognition worldwide. The jump to Suburban Noize Records for the 2011 release of "Dagger Mouth" is all the proof you need that they're looking for a bigger commercial outlet. This new partnership should put their album in stores everywhere. As for the disturbed part of the equation, album titles like "Bad Dreams" are just the icing on the cake. Mad Child's issues with substance abuse are well documented and would take too long to recount here anyway, but he's vowed to have a newfound sobriety going into the new decade and a renewed commitment to making music."

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