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The (W)rap Up - Week of April 26, 2011
Posted by Emanuel Wallace at Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011 at 12:00AM :: Email this article :: Print this article

"Individually Vinnie Paz and Ill Bill are two of underground rap's most acclaimed emcees. Paz is known for a guttural flow laced with mercilessly murderous thoughts, and has been the frontman of Jedi Mind Tricks since he was known as Ikon the Verbal Hologram. Bill is known for channeling a slew of conspiracy theories about the illuminati and "black helicopters" into hip-hop, first through his Non Phixion comrades, then as a solo artist. Collectively the two are known as the Heavy Metal Kings, a reference that describes both their musical attitude and their penchant for rapping about firearms. They first collaborated as a duo on "Servants in Heaven, Kings in Hell" back in 2006, which sewed the seeds for an eventual full LP. Five years later in 2011 that tree bloomed with fruit, although the unprepared who take a bite may find the taste especially sour and acrid - possibly even poisonous. If Vin Rock, Treach and Kay Gee are Naughty By Nature then it's fair to say Vin Paz, Ill Bill and their producers of choice are Malevolent By Nature. There's almost nothing in the world that would make this duo happy, except perhaps the total collapse of Western society and/or an unlimited supply of ammunition to shoot in the air. Around every corner of their lyrics is a FBI agent waiting to incarcerate them, a CIA operative seeking to overthrow a third world government, and a martyr to the precepts of Malachi Z. York. "

A.M. Breakups :: The Cant Resurrection :: Backwoodz Studioz
as reviewed by Pete T.
[The Cant Resurrection] 
"Fresh off collaborations with Super Chron Flight Brothers and N.A.S.A., 24-year-old Utica, N.Y. producer A.M. Breakups' solo debut comes in the form of "The Cant Resurrection," a mostly-instrumental LP steeped in a dark, industrial sound. A.M. Breakups sports a heavily mechanical sound with many unorthodox audio elements and unusual loops and rhythms for an abstract style that often belies musical convention. Early tracks such as the short "Reference; Utica, NY 1951" build layers of keyboards, guitars, and complex percussion arrangements for an eerie and unsettling effect. Some tracks, such as "Dreams" with V8 and Eleven, are too cluttered sonically, with a myriad of distinct elements failing to blend together with the rigid drums and nonsense-spewing rappers. The "glitch-hop" approach proves most effective on the more musical and less frenetic tracks. "Forms" has an appealing melody achieved through the interplay of a sunny piano and otherworldly-sounding synthesizer, and Super Chron Flight Brother Billy Woods contributes to the distant vibe with a trademark smoked-out performance. "

DJ Cosm :: Time and Space :: URBNET Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Time and Space]

"Respect for the culture, check. Dues paid, check. Essential credentials to make his solo project worth checking out - checkmate. Despite this there's cause to pause, as Alex Sheremet was openly critical of a previous Dragon Fli release, accusing them of never getting beyond "pleasant listen" status and creating truly innovative hip-hop. With that in mind I'm looking for what DJ Cosm can achieve outside the constraints of the group dynamic. With an ambitious and Whovian title like "Time and Space," he's almost promising that he can pluck talent from anywhere/anywhen in hip-hop and do something intriguing with them musically. It's time to throw open those blue police doors and find out whether what he's got in store is brilliant, terrifying, or both. "Hi" featuring Rasul Syed (a/k/a Mangolassi) certainly starts things out on a promising note. There's a laid back feel to this song that's more Cali than Calgary, a breezy hit of R&B plus jazz that allows Rasul to flow like water over the beats. His tongue seems to always be on the virtue of going numb from being too relaxed, but the diction stays clear and in tact throughout."

DJ Quik :: The Book of David :: Mad Science/Fontana Distribution
as reviewed by Pete T.

[The Book of David] 
"Over the past few weeks, we've been bombarded with headlines that almost certainly had 2012 doomsday theorists ducking for cover: untold political unrest throughout the Middle East and Africa, a horrific earthquake and nuclear scare in Japan, and right here in the good old U.S. of A we narrowly avoided a potentially catastrophic government shutdown. Yet somehow when the weather starts getting warm and DJ Quik has a new album on shelves all seems right with the world, and so we find ourselves with his eighth solo LP "The Book of David." 2011 marks the twentieth anniversary of the Compton legend's ground-shaking debut, and in the two ensuing decades David Blake made his name as arguably the best producer to call the West Coast home. "The Book of David" won't be changing anybody's mind, as it's seventy minutes of delectable audio treats. Quik brilliantly walks a fine line throughout "The Book of David" by bringing back his familiar soul and funk-rooted sound, yet as always making the subtle adjustments that have kept his music fresh and exciting since '91. The bright keyboard synths, sunny high hats, and judicious use of strings and horns are his trademarks, recalling his classics that proved soundtracks of summers past, and the warm-weather vibes are inescapable on his latest as well. "

Extra Kool & Satyre :: Used to Be Optik Fusion :: Dirty Laboratory Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Used to Be Optik Fusion] 
"A long time ago in a Dirty Laboratory far far away, Extra Kool and Satyre used to be Optik Fusion Embrace. No more. Whatever this crew is now, they're not what they used to be, and they want that point to be perfectly clear. To that end they went to the extraordinary length of making their artist name and album title read side by side as though it were one complete sentence - that is unless backwards reading like Yoda you are. That apparently wasn't enough though - they had to up the ante and go De La Soul on us with the lead track off their new album entitled "Optik Fusion Is Dead." The artwork for The Artists Formerly Known as Optik is like a surreal Salvador Dali painting colliding with Willy Wonka's candy factory. If one were to take the peppermint candy canes as a metaphor for something that's "extra cool" to the tastebuds, it seems perfectly clear that the rapper believes whatever he was has melted away even in the cold Denver air. What of his partner Satyre though? Where does he fit into the picture? That's not clear on the cover though it's much clearer on the flipside: "all beats by A. Gardiner - for beats e-mail satyratm at yahoo dot com." "

JNatural :: Love Is On Hiatus :: Project Blowed
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Love Is On Hiatus] 
"Janelle Corpuz is the female rap artist who never expected to have a music career, then wound up getting a major endorsement from a legend of the game once she arrived. Although she was interested in slam poetry dating back to high school, the lure of higher education was strong and the desire to own her own business even stronger, leading inexorably to Halseyan International LLC. The love of the art and culture stayed strong though, as indicated in her JNatural bio: "(In) college JNatural and her friends were staying up late at night dissecting the lyrics of Freestyle Fellowship, Living Legends and Hiero." Perhaps it was inevitable then that she'd form her own hip-hop band and jam with members of California's Project Blowed fam. Aceyalone saw in her something that music was missing and christened her "the new face of hip-hop [..] here to serve y'all." He's had a guiding hand in her career ever since. JNatural's "Love Is On Hiatus" could by title alone be seen as a potshot at earlier points in her career, as she at one point released a "Sex Lies and Sextape" mixtape to get a little more mainstream recognition. The cover of her latest album is almost anti-sexual to boot as all the feminine curves are well hidden, leaving only her haircut and a little makeup to save her from androgyny. "

J Rocc :: Some Cold Rock Stuf :: Stones Throw Records
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor

[Some Cold Rock Stuf] 
"J Rocc has been DJing hip-hop since before a lot of rappers were even born. He started in the mid-80s, founded the Beat Junkies in the early 90s, and has been producing and DJing for Madlib for the past decade. I've seen him live a few times, and he always manages to mix old-school boom bap with more contemporary sounds. He comes off like a pro, not a dinosaur, keeping the spirit of turntabilism alive while incorporating new elements. So it's not a surprise that his first solo album for Stones Throw incorporates classic beats with more avant-garde and abstract  ideas. The album starts off with a reworking of De La Soul's "Cool Breeze On the Rocks," indicating J Rocc's appreciation for and relationship with hip-hop's past. It immediately goes into the mellow, melancholy "Don't Sell Your Dream (Tonight)," which leans more towards 90s trip hop than 80s hip-hop. "Stay Fresh" offers a breakbeat that picks up the tempo while still recalling DJ Shadow's "Endtroducing..." "Stop Trying" layers electronica over a latin beat. "Party," my favorite song on the album, mixes Bollywood sample with late-70s BK funk, letting it cook for a solid six minutes. "Play This (Also)" mixes a hammering breakbeat over jazz and psychedelic samples. "

King Louis :: Hits In My Sleep :: White Owl Drop That
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor

[Hits In My Sleep] 
"I'm not a huge fan of mixtapes. I don't like the crappy sound quality, I don't like the annoying DJ drops, and I don't like the lack of quality control. The average mixtape is 74 minutes of music that sounds like it took 90 minutes to record and produce, and could have been distilled down to three or four decent songs. Even celebrated mixtapes like Big K.R.I.T.'s "Return of 4Eva" contain too much filler for me to want to spend a lot of time with them.I have limited time to listen to music, and there are way too many legitimate releases to listen to for me to spend much time on mixtapes. However, they exist for a reason, namely to help a rapper get heard and keep their name out there. The strategy worked better ten years ago when hundreds of rappers were dropping mixtapes. Nowadays thousands of rappers are dropping mixtapes, and it's too much of a chore to weed out the few decent mixtapes from the mountains of mediocrity. I'm a music critic and even I don't have the desire to listen to the fifty mixtapes released every day to figure out which one might actually be worth the hard drive space. "

Malcolm and Martin :: Life Doesn't Frighten Me... :: Soulspazm Records
as reviewed by Matt Jost

[Life Doesn't Frighten Me...]

"Martin Luther King and Malcolm X are two of the most iconic figures of 20th century black America. Both dedicating their lives to a greater cause, each choosing a different path to reach his goals, but both meeting the same tragic fate. The lives they lived and the decicions they made reflect the range of human life. One followed in his father's footsteps and became a clergyman before discovering his mission as a civil rights activist, the other had to pay his debt to society behind bars in order to find his calling. One argued from the point of Christianity, the other chose a non-Christian faith to emmancipate himself and his people. One had an academic background, the other drew experience from the streets and prison. One marched his way into the mainstream, the other remained a political outcast. King and X have been present in rap music, even regularly being mentioned together in songs. The references are occasionally trivializing (Drake) or presumptuous (Benzino), but generally the two serve as examples of great leaders that are sorely missed. "

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