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The (W)rap Up - Week of May 24, 2011
Posted by Emanuel Wallace at Tuesday, May 31st, 2011 at 12:00AM :: Email this article :: Print this article

[Goblin]Tyler, the Creator :: Goblin
XL Recordings

Author: Eric Sirota

"Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, the California-based rap collective, which Tyler founded and leads, largely made up of kids twenty and younger,has generated a lot of controversy, and rightfully so. Tyler and his crew say some pretty fucked up shit, and they say it pretty often. They kill. They rape. They degrade women and gay people constantly. "Faggot" is their dis' of choice. Or maybe it's "bitch." Or "cunt." Saying Tyler's language is jarring, is like saying Manute Bol was tall. Tyler's language is appalling, through and through, on nearly every song, whether the song is violent ("Transylvania"), romantic ("She"), or introspective ("Golden"). That Tyler employs bigoted and venomous language, however, does not necessarily warrant criticism. There is a difference between "disturbing" and "offensive." Plenty of great art is disturbing - some of it because it creates characters and imagery that employ repugnant viewpoints and means of expression. It would seem to miss the point to, for example, dismiss Silence of the Lambs as a depraved romanticizing of violence, as to do so would conflate Lecter's viewpoints with that of the film itself. This is by no means to say that the marketplace of ideas should lack filters. "

Acid Reign :: Diversity :: Uncommon Records
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor
"First things first. This is the L.A. hip-hop duo Acid Reign, NOT the British metal band, known for such songs as "Insane Ectasy" and "Humanoia." The Acid Reign that made "Diversity" do not have long manes of hair that they whip around while they shred on their flying V's. Instead, they shred on the mic, spitting lyrics with flows honed from years of participating in Project Blowed, the Thursday-night open mic workshop that was the breeding ground of Jurassic 5, Aceyalone, and the Freestyle Fellowship, among others. Gajah and BeOnd got their start almost two decades ago rapping with their Christian youth group. Over 18 years and several releases, they've honed their sound, added a member, and moved away from their explicitly Christian rap tag. Not that they've gone gangsta or mainstream: they still keep it positive, but they've moved away from proselytizing. The titular "Diversity" applies to the album itself as well as the lyrics and philosophy of the rappers.They are joined on the mic by Aceyalone, Abstract Rude, Myka 9, Nga Fish, Rifleman, Graves, Olmeca and Neila. Beats are handled by EQ, Nasa, OoloO the Wize, Re4M, Brazini, Biz 1, Deaf Switch, Scorpioflo, Da Poet, Chrono Triggers, DJ Casey, and Bornagen Baldwin. "

Chiddy Bang :: The Swelly Express ::
as reviewed by Mike Baber

[The Swelly Express] 
"For a group that released their first mixtape less than two years ago, Chiddy Bang certainly has a lot going for them. For starters, emcee Chiddy (real name Chidera Anamege) recently broke the world record for the longest freestyle, clocking in 9 hours, 18 minutes, and 22 seconds. The lyrics obviously grew repetitive after some time, but it remains an impressive feat nonetheless, and the publicity stunt drew live coverage from MTV and catapulted Chiddy Bang into the national spotlight. After having their hit song "Opposite of Adults" featured in a commercial for Need for Speed videogames, Taco Bell used one of their most recent singles, "The Good Life," for its recent advertising campaign. With the release in 2010 of "The Preview," a well-received predecessor EP to Chiddy Bang's upcoming debut album, I figured it was an appropriate time to go back two years and return to the mixtape that started it all. And while "The Swelly Express" is indeed no more than a mixtape from an up and coming group trying to find their footing in the rap game, it has a surprising amount of polish and depth that give it the feel of a well-crafted album. Fans of Chiddy Bang who are already familiar with the production style of Xaphoon Jones will feel right at home with "The Swelly Express." "

CStraight :: So Not Cool :: Godchaserz Entertainment
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[So Not Cool] 
"Holy hip-hop can at times inspire outright cynical hatred. It's easy to see why when you hear emcees who could otherwise be taken seriously make silly statements about doing "drivebys for God" with the gospel word. As Ed Lover would say, "C'MON SON!" As a whole though I'm neither for or against spirituality in hip-hop, which is far more omnipresent than most listeners ever realize. Some go out of their way to make it obvious by talking about a pilgrimage to holy places like Jerusalem or Mecca. Many are far more subtle, talking about praying for hope or forgiveness, without explicitly stating what or who they are praying to. Even a rapper who claims to worship the devil and practice Satanism is still declaring a belief in SOMETHING. It's all about the level that you want to take it to in your rhymes and whether or not you believe it will hurt you with hip-hop heads who only put God or Allah in their lives when it's convenient and otherwise don't want it put in their face. The rappers of GodChaserz Entertainment stand out and in some cases shock the listeners by being in no way subtle about their faith. This doesn't always pay off musically or lyrically, but in some cases it's surprisingly refreshing. "

Donnis :: Southern Lights :: The Academy/Karmaloop
as reviewed by Matt Jost

[Southern Lights] 
"I forgot what the Bubba Sparxxx-coined New South stood for (in case it was more than an attention-craving catch phrase). If it served to drum up interest for a new generation, the south steadily broke artists in the last ten years, so there certainly hasn't been a shortage of new southern rappers in the past years - B.o.B., Waka Flocka Flame, Big K.R.I.T., Yelawolf, Dorrough, Pill, CyHi Da Prynce, Playboy Tre, Travis Porter, et al. ATL MC Donnis basked in the spotlight a few years back thanks to his breakout hit "Gone," being signed to Atlantic in 2010 and subsequently joining XXL's Freshmen. The major label full-length has yet to materialize, so Donnis hits us with another free offering, "Southern Lights."

A female voice welcomes us to the "New South" (or "new south" in case Bubba got that one trademarked), with another woman translating to Japanese. With its lush beat by Needlz and vocal contribution from Big Rube, the intro combines a laid-back atmosphere with artistic ambition, as Donnis provides the ambivalence fit for these uncertain times. The self-proclaimed 'Atlanta Brave' chases the nightmares away with daydreams, confident about his potential"

Killer Mike :: Pl3dge :: Grind Time Official/Grand Hustle
as reviewed by Emanuel Wallace

"Killer Mike is the reason that I'm writing at RapReviews right now. I don't know Michael Render personally, the introduction to his 2008 release "I Pledge Allegiance To The Grind II" deeply resonated within me. In just over two minutes, Mike let me know that I did not need permission to do something great, that I should fire my boss and that there was nothing in the world that could stop me from achieving whatever I wanted to achieve. Since then, I've picked up a few writing gigs here and there and started going hard with my photography. Small steps in the grand scheme of things, but a far cry from loading yellow pages into people's cars and breaking down old coffeepots and disposable razors. In the time since "Pledge II," Killa Kill has strengthened his already strong relationship with his fans, or supporters as he calls them and has become more outspoken than ever. With the third album in his "Pledge" series, cleverly titled "Pl3dge," Mike Bigga proclaims this to be his magnum opus. Lofty aspirations indeed, but if anyone can pull it off, it would be Killa Kill from the Ville. "Pl3dge" features production from Smiff & Cash, Sweatbox Productions, No I.D., The Beat Bullies, Tha Bizness, Raz, Zone Beats, Flying Lotus and DJ Speedy."

New Boyz :: Too Cool to Care :: Asylum Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Too Cool to Care] 
"The New Boyz are the recently arrived duo named Ben J and Legacy who debuted in 2009 with "Skinny Jeanz and a Mic." Since their birth on the hip-hop scene, the tandem have advocated a relatively inoffensive agenda of sex, partying and fashion. These Boyz aren't out to stop the violence in Yemen, legalize marijuana or reform health care. They literally live up to their name - they're just too young to give a damn about anything but having fun. If you understand and accept their agenda (or perhaps the lack thereof) the New Boyz are perfectly acceptable. The biggest drawback to their debut album was that it ultimately became repetitive, both in terms of Legacy's production abilities and their self-absorbed subject matter. "Too Cool to Care" has taken care of the former by bringing in a slew of guest producers, taking the reigns of the sound away from the New Boyz entirely. If you were a fan of their swagger though you'll be pleased to know that the all star talent they brought in goes to great lengths to keep their New style and sound in tact - they just make it tighter. DJ Khalil and Sabi give them a rock and roll attitude on "Tough Kids," Meech Wells does their minimalistic style to a tee for "Crush On You," and the tandem of Matt Squire and Damon Sharpe provide a bouncy electronic backdrop for the lead single "Break My Bank." "

Toolshed :: The Lost :: Hand'Solo Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[The Lost] 
"Chokeules, Timbuktu and Psybo have combined to form a Canadian hip-hop supergroup named Toolshed. If you're not already familiar with any of these artists skepticism would be immediately understandable, as hip-hop supergroups are a dime a dozen these days. Familiarity will NOT breed contempt though - it will have you salivating at the potential of what this crew can do with nearly an hour of studio time and 16 tracks to spread the wealth out on. It's not long before pressing play on this disc that the dividends start to play, especially with Timbuktu pulling double duty on production. The last two lines are a bit of an obscure reference, but Devil's Pale Ale is a beer made by the Great Lakes Brewery in Toronto, that comes in a tall can with a highway road sign reading "666." So yes, the members of Toolshed are Crazy Canucks and proud of it (don't get mad, that's actually another of GLB's products) but it's about the hip-hop swag first and foremost. Tim's beats take what could otherwise have been some good to average localized braggadocious rhymes up a notch. The "Flavor Saviors (Remix)" sounds like Jeru the Damaja's "Come Clean" and Xzibit's "Concentrate" got thrown in a blender and came out chunky, but delicious. "

Too $hort :: Still Blowin' :: Dangerous Music
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Still Blowin'] 
"As Hip-Hop Hall of Fame candidates go, Todd Shaw a/k/a Too $hort is a first ballot, first year inductee. With the release of "Still Blowin'" in 2010 his career now spans four decades - the 80's, the 90's, the 2000's and of course the decade this review is being written in. I wasn't in on the earliest releases of his career, the tapes that legend has it were sold out the trunk of his car in East Oakland, but once he was under the Jive and RCA Records umbrella the "Freaky Tales" rained down on even the driest of Midwestern rap soil. At first the novelty of a rapper who abused the word "bitch" more frequently than a heroin addict does needles may have been the culprit, but over time and a continuing series of funky funky beats I was convinced his pimp wisdom was more than just the recitation of Blaxploitation films from the 1970's. After all even KRS-One recognized that capitalism is a system of pimps and hoes. Critics by and large agreed - he was a foul-mouthed misogynist but not an unintelligent or ignorant rapper. Songs like "The Ghetto" are testament to his observational and oratorical skill. If you get over the hump of shock value he is an unqualified musical legend. "

Trackstar the DJ :: Still Dreaming VI :: Hip Hop Needs Balance
as reviewed by Pete T.

[Still Dreaming VI] 
"Last summer I couldn't believe my good fortune to stumble upon a new copy of Mystic's long out-of-print 2001 debut "Cuts for Luck and Scars for Freedom," a great record that positioned the Oakland native as the next great female MC. Ten years later though, the follow-up has yet to materialize, and despite still showing up as a guest on West Coast projects every now and again she's been an elusive figure, which is why I was a little surprised to see sistagirl was the host of Trackstar's "Still Dreaming VI" mixtape. Mystic is the master of ceremonies on the St. Louis DJ's compilation featuring a wide range of smooth hip hop tracks and R&B cuts both old and new. "Still Dreaming VI" exudes feel-good vibes throughout its 80-minute running time. While I was already familiar with many of the tracks from prior retail releases, it proved a quite enjoyable compilation upon repeat listens. The hip hop tracks feature bright, soulful production, such as on Lupe Fiasco's "Hurt Me Soul" from his debut and the Black Eyed Peas' "The Way You Make Me Feel" from theirs, a song that might serve as a reminder to those who have forgotten the distant time when BEP didn't suck. "

Y-Love :: See Me :: Shemspeed Records
as reviewed by Pete T.

[See Me] 
"Black Jewish rapper Y-Love returns this month with a new EP "See Me," a six-track listen produced by Diwon. Taking an expansive global music approach, Y-Love blends various elements of Middle Eastern, Caribbean, African, and American music in his hip hop potpourri. Opener "The Takeover" sports a heavy reggae flavor enhanced by guest TJ di Hitmaker, a Jamaican dancehall toaster. Y-Love displays a nimble flow but unimpressive lyricism over the exceedingly minimalist production. "Move On" featuring DeScribe is a weak club track with uninspired verses. Although Y-Love's unique background would on paper breed a compelling rap formula, "See Me" is plagued by bland, lifeless production, tracks aiming for the club and dance floor, and feeble attempts by Y-Love to inject too much swagger into his rhymes. Between weak punchlines ("My flow's always on like Beyonce's weave") and boring braggadocio Y-Love offers little to recommend himself besides his quick tongue. The Ido Z collaboration "See Me" is a staticky, abrasive club track, and although "Boom Selecta" features Y-Love's most impressive vocal performance, the guests and production don't match."

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