Sunday May 27, 2018

The (W)rap Up - Week of May 10, 2011
Posted by Emanuel Wallace at Tuesday, May 17th, 2011 at 12:00AM :: Email this article :: Print this article


"Blitz the Ambassador may hold the distinction of being the most familiar artist to RR readers to NOT have already an album reviewed. That may seem contradictory until one considers that Adam B interviewed him back in 2007 and that thanks to an active publicist he winds up on our newsfeed regularly. Even I your humble writer was a bit stunned when I looked through the RR archive and discovered that he had NO albums reviewed before now. I had seen the name Blitz the Ambassador so many times it seemed to me we had covered "Native Sun" before now, and I was actually checking to make sure I wasn't writing an unnecessary duplicate. As it turns out it's quite the opposite - it's a necessary and wholly unique inclusion. By way of background for those who don't know the Blitz name already, this international hip-hop artist was born in Ghana and hails from the capital city of Accra, a growing urban center of 4 million plus which has blossomed in vitality and importance ever since the country first shed its Gold Coast colonial roots. It's an international city at the heart of a cultural and economic boom, which is also reflected in a demographic which as of this writing pegs almost 60% of the population as being under the age of 24. "

Chiddy Bang :: The Preview :: Regal/EMI Records
as reviewed by Matt Jost
[The Preview] 
"Seizing the moment is one of the trickiest tasks the people responsible for a rap act's career (label staff, managers, publicists and last but not least the artists themselves) have to tackle. Chiddy Bang's "Opposite of Adults" was a song that didn't resonate too deeply with the rap industry but that did garner attention and airplay on the internet and abroad. The song became commercially available as a single in the first half of 2010, charting in various countries and almost cracking the UK's top ten. Intially titled "Kids," it had begun to made the online rounds roughly a year earlier, turning heads with its sampling of indie rock sensation MGMT. The initial resonance of "Opposite of Adults" likely took Chiddy Bang by surprise as they hadn't released as much as a free mixtape. Naturally, the song was included on their '09 debut tape "The Swelly Express." But "Opposite of Adults" still had untapped potential, so then came the video and the official digital release. Later in 2010, the song finally wound up on a CD. The title of the EP, "The Preview," suggested that the main event was still to come. "

Ciecmate :: Game Over :: Broken Tooth Entertainment/Obese Distribution
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Game Over] 
"In Jesal 'Jay Soul' Padania's review of the 2009 Ciecmate & Newsense duet "A Tale of Two Cities" he offered equal parts praise and criticism for the Australian tandem. While generally a fan of the production and Australian pride the Melbourne and Canberra emcees had respectively, he somewhat controversially suggested that a lack of black immigration had caused Australian emcees to not develop the character of their counterparts worldwide. As EIC it fell to me whether or not to disperse this theory to the masses, and as I do 99.99% of the time I sided with giving the writer the forum to express his opinion regardless of whether or not I agreed. There's not much point to soliciting a diversity of opinion for a review site and then arbitrarily silencing any of them that don't match mine. That being said as a long-time listener of Aussie rap I honestly couldn't disagree with him more. To me Australian emcees have plenty of the TONE and CHARACTER he so vehemently suggested that they lack. Oddly enough it's Ciecmate's latest album "Game Over" that I feel makes the point about what Aussie rappers are like. "

Hieroglyphics :: 3rd Eye Vision :: Hieroglyphics Imperium Recordings
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **

as reviewed by Mike Baber

[3rd Eye Vision] 
"When most fair weather hip-hop fans think of the West Coast rap scene, names such as Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Tupac, and Ice Cube are among the first that come to mind. In the late 80s and early 90s, these artists laid the foundation for an emerging "gangsta rap" scene coming out of California, which is carried on today by artists such as Game. What fewer casual hip-hop listeners realize, though, is that beneath all the talk of drugs, guns, and gangs in West Coast rap, there exists a strong alternative hip-hop scene that has produced classics such as The Pharcyde's "Bizarre Ride II" and Souls of Mischief's "93 'til Infinity." As my taste in hop-hip has changed over the years, I have found myself increasingly gravitating toward this underground alternative community, and as I quested for more in order to satisfy my appetite, I struck gold when I came across Hieroglyphics. Founded in the early 90s by Del tha Funkee Homosapien, Hieroglyphics is an Oakland-based hip-hop supergroup featuring Del, the four members of Souls of Mischief, and several other local artists including Casual, Pep Love, and Domino. I was surprised to find that, despite covering every other Hieroglyphics album, RapReviews left their debut album untouched, and I set out to pick apart "3rd Eye Vision.""

J Trey :: Blue I Soul :: Minor League Music
as reviewed by Matt Jost

[Blue I Soul] 
"With the death of Nate Dogg comes the realization that only a handful of singers are naturally at home in hip-hop. Still rap and R&B can look back on a long and fruitful relationship that resulted in hundreds of high-profile collaborations. The groundwork for the fusion of the two genres was laid even earlier, but the landmarks were erected in the 1990s. Iowa trio J Trey wears the '90s influence proudly on its sleeves on "Blue I Soul." Comprising 19 tracks, the album is divided into a reimagination of earlier material through the remix lens and a second part presenting 12 new songs. The "Can't Drop the Mic" remix represents the R&B lineage with funky bass licks, padded drums and warm keyboard layers joining to create a soft, slow bounce as the three vocalists allow themselves to be magnetized by the mic. It seems early on J Trey developed an unapologetic temper that really fits their status as an indie act. Says rapper JT on "Can't Drop the Mic": "We got a hot mic, pass it around, still tryina get down / The difference is we don't give a shit now / about what them stupid labels say / And radio play, no way / pigs'll fly 'fore we see that day." "

Junk Science :: Phoenix Down :: Modern Shark
as reviewed by Susan 'susiQ' Kim

[Phoenix Down] 
"UP UP DOWN DOWN LEFT RIGHT LEFT RIGHT B A... yes, it's the Konami code! As a throwback to classic video games, Junk Science lets loose on a new label with a definitely new sound in "Phoenix Down." With Def Jux going on "hiatus," Baje One of Junk Science started his own label, Modern Shark, and thus creating new projects with an original sound. As they stray away from the classic Def Jux sound, Junk Science (Baje One and DJ Snafu) teams up with producer Scott Thorough from Nuclear family and pays homage to video game instrumentals. Scott Throrough's production takes advantage of the use of 8-bit synthesizers to authenticate the classic sounds that resonate throughout the album as Junk Science says, "Phoenix Down" isn't ABOUT video games per se, it's more like games are the backdrop, the influence behind the music." "Phoenix Down" commences with "Box Art," an introduction to the steadily growing world of technology. The minute you hear the track, there is no doubt that the sounds are reminiscent of your childhood days sitting in front of the television with a game controller in hand."

Moonshine Bandits :: Whiskey and Women :: Suburban Noize Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Whiskey and Women] 
"The opening track "For the Outlawz" proudly proclaims the Moonshine Bandits to be some good old boy, hard liquor drinking and hardy partying country rappers. Most members of this hip-hop subgenre hail from the rural South, but the Bandits come from Los Banos, California - population 35,000. By California standards that's fairly country, especially compared to a sprawling metropolitan area like Los Angeles; so we'll de facto accept that it's as rural as any small town in Georgia, Arkansas or Alabama for the purposes of this review. Rappers Tex and Bird describe themselves as "blue collar (and) built with American pride." Their song titles reflect that attitude as well - by way of example let's name just a few out of the 14 total here: "My Kind of Country," "Whiskey River," "Moonshine on Me," "Dash Fulla Cowboy Hats," and of course "American Pride." If you had any doubts about the "hard drinking" part, their bio goes on to state that their favorite tour venues are "smoke filled dive bars" and that they love to play at "Harley Davidson events" and "beer festivals." They're so ernest about being countrified they almost come across as parody of rural stereotypes. "

The Silversmiths :: A Tandem of Giants :: Obese America
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[A Tandem of Giants] 
"If you're familiar with the artists involved The Silversmiths have actually been around for over a decade, dating back to when they were known as the White Collar Criminals of hip-hop. It wasn't a bad idea conceptually and showed potential lyrically, but owing to a relative lack of experience and an overall lack of exposure it didn't go that far. Years later Jon?Doe and Sankofa updated their name and their sound to release "The Algol Paradox." It's not as though both weren't busy in the interim producing and recording, and Sankofa in particular has received praise and critically acclaim for his solo releases, but putting the two together seemed to raise the bar for them to challenge each other creatively. "A Tandem of Giants" represents an opportunity for them to reach an even higher plateau, even as their humorous and self-deprecating press kit refers to them as "old and stuff" while noting that "Charles Bronson faked his own death just so rabid fans and Playboy bunnies would leave him alone long enough to listen to this classic rap album in its entirety." Let's put as fine a point on this as possible without being overly verbose - The Silversmiths take hip-hop seriously but don't take themselves seriously. "

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