Wednesday June 20, 2018

The (W)rap Up - Week of June 14, 2011
Posted by Emanuel Wallace at Tuesday, June 21st, 2011 at 12:00AM :: Email this article :: Print this article

"It's been a long time coming, but Eminem and Royce da 5'9" have finally done it. "Hell: The Sequel" is an EP – and for good reason, too, as we'll see later – as opposed to an official album (even if the Deluxe Version has eleven tracks and clocks in at three quarters of an hour). After so long, however, most fans will just be glad to have anything from the duo that genuinely terrorised the hip hop landscape over thirteen years ago. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then, and it would be unrealistic to expect exactly the same visceral thrill that BME used to provide on tracks like "Nuttin' To Do" and "Scary Movies" – or even the original version of "Renegades" that Jay-Z hijacked for his "Blueprint" album. I mean hell, when these guys were spitting in a PHONECALL to a radio station for five minutes, it is still more attention-grabbing than most of the free hour-long mixtapes released nowadays. But that was then, and this is now. Eminem is no longer the force of nature rapper that emerged on the scene. He's older, wiser and sober. Yes, that flow isn't quite as incisive and, of course, he's developed that unnecessary habit of screaming his verses, but he can still deliver flows, lyrics and well-written songs. If that seems like a dampening of expectations, then don't worry – for while Em may have changed a touch for the worse, please recognise that Royce da 5'9" is even better than his '99 counterpart. Over the last couple of years in particular, he's been on fire and totally found his comfort zone: brilliant lyrics, the brashest flow in the game, devastating punchlines and the ability to dominate break loops."

Applejaxx :: Glow in the Dark EP :: Fadacy Music
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor

[Glow in the Dark EP]
"Christian rap is a dicey prospect. How do you approach music that takes pride in being as raunchy, vulgar, and hedonistic as possible and make it Christian? How do you put a Christian spin on music that is meant to make you shake your ass in the club? And how do you do Christian rap without being too corny or inauthentic? On the negative end of the spectrum are artists like J.O.T. and Miss Crystal, who come off as corny, amateurish, and inauthentic. More often, the result of the mix between explicit Christianity and rap is something more along the lines of Carnival, who have solid musical chops but are still too feel-good and preachy for the non-Christian rap crowd. The pinnacle of success are artists like Rhymefest who manage to address their faith openly in their music without coming off as preachy. North Carolina rapper Applejaxx is somewhere between Carnival and Rhymefest on the spectrum, and probably closer to the former than the latter. This is the fourth project of his we've reviewed on RapReviews. Guido Stern was not a fan of his 2008 mixtape, "Databass." I thought his debut album "Back 2 the Future" was well-done but I was less inclined towards his follow up EP, "Jesus High")."

Big Mike :: Somethin' Serious :: Rap-A-Lot Records
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **

as reviewed by Matt Jost

[Somethin' Serious]
""There's something about them Mikes - everybody wanna be one." Apart from Big Mike making a clever aside to a Michael Jordan slogan ('Be like Mike') here, there are indeed a number of Mikes in rap (not counting the one mic/mike practically all MC's fiend for) - Wonder Mike (Sugarhill Gang), Mike D (Beastie Boys), Mike G (Jungle Brothers), Mr. Mike (South Circle), Killer Mike, Mykill Miers, Mike Jones, DJ Magic Mike, Mix Master Mike, DJ Michael '5000' Watts, (DJ) Big Mike, Mikey D, Mikey Rocks (Cool Kids), Mikah 9 (Freestyle Fellowship), Mike Ladd (Majesticons/Infesticons), Michael Franti (Spearhead, Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy), Mike Skinner (The Streets), Mic Geronimo... There are three Mikes alone on this album - Michael 'Big Mike' Barnett, Michael 'Mike B' Banks and Mike Dean. The latter is arguably the most prolific with his key contributions to the Rap-A-Lot Records catalog and his recent involvement in Kanye West releases. Engineer/producer Mike B is a a notable figure in Houston hip-hop, but Big Mike is the one with the mic in his hand (which, as he claims on the Mike B-produced title track, has been attached to that hand since birth). Before his 1994 solo debut, Big Mike had been in two groups, the rather obscure Convicts and the world famous Geto Boys. Mike accepted these formats but kept his mind on a solo career."

LMFAO :: Party Rock :: Records
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **

as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Party Rock]
"I'll be the first to admit I didn't take LMFAO seriously. The name alone gave me reason to think they were not a serious group, and the fact they are the son and grandson of Motown founder Berry Gordy led me to believe their album was a vanity project that got released because of nepotism. In the real world though pretending things you think aren't important will eventually go away doesn't work, so I made a huge mistake in underestimating how popular LMFAO would become. Their first single "I'm in Miami Bitch" became a global phenomenon, with so many revisions and guest star remixes that listing them all would be longer than this entire review. On further reflection it's not hard to see why. Redfoo (the elder of the two) produced a simple and unencumbered bassline with a few electronic notes sprinkled over it, and the kick/snare tempo makes it easy to dance to. Combine that with a chorus people love saying out loud when they're drunk because it feels a little bit naughty and rebellious, and you've got a sure fire winner on your hands. LMFAO may have had connections and nepotism on their side, but a hit's a hit's a hit no matter who makes it or why. "

Playdough :: Hotdoggin :: Writer Dye Wrecords
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Hotdoggin]"First and foremost congratulations to the Dallas Mavericks on winning their first ever NBA Championship on June 12th, winning a hard fought series with the Miami Heat 4 games to 2. Second of all congratulations to Dallas, Texas rapper Playdough on a rap career spanning over ten years, an incredible accomplishment in his field of endeavor as well, especially given so many rappers fizzle out in a year or two before even scoring a hit locally let alone nationally. Playdough has gotten a lot further than most of his peers, dating all the way back to his 2003 release "Lonely Superstar" on Uprok Records. It's actually telling that the website for Uprok no longer exists and the label is all but in name completely inactive, while Playdough has gone on two have two globally distributed albums and even release an exclusive EP in Australia. Well done sir - a job well done. "Hotdoggin" is another step in the journey for Playdough, a chance to re-establish the faith his fans have shown in him, and possibly to win a few new converts to his style in the process. The packaging and promotion for the album suggests either a street food vendor or one of those ubiquitous food trucks seen all over most major metropolitan cities these days."

Random Axe :: Random Axe :: Duck Down Records
as reviewed by Mike Baber

[Random Axe]

"Two summers ago, the four-headed beast that is Slaughterhouse dropped its self-titled debut album in an attempt to steer the hip-hop game back on the right track. Joell Ortiz, Joe Budden, Crooked I, and Royce Da 5'9" felt that hip-hop was in a sad state, with garbage music populating the radio and skilled underground emcees going largely unnoticed, and collaborated to drop one of my personal favorite albums of 2009. Two years later, Random Axe has set out to follow in Slaughterhouse's footsteps and release an album that kicks mainstream influences to the curb and instead sticks to the hardcore roots of hip-hop. And just like Slaughterhouse, the chemistry between Sean Price, Black Milk, and Guilty Simpson is evident throughout the album, as Black Milk's hard-hitting production style meshes seamlessly with each emcee's flow. Simply put, I couldn't have said it any better than Simpson; you can't go wrong with Random Axe's self-titled debut. Black Milk's production is on point for nearly every song, and while he maintains a fairly consistent style throughout, there is enough variation and creativity to keep things interesting from the first track to the last. "The Hex" pits a driving electric guitar and a foreboding piano over heavy drums, as the group pays homage to Hex Murda, who manages Milk and Simpson, with aggressive and inspired rhymes. "

Stranger Day :: Barstool Bounce :: Permanent Vacation/Deep Fried Family Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Barstool Bounce] "Once again feeling the desire to pull back the curtain behind which reviews are fed to you through the music industry triangle of glossy magazines, highly finances websites and billion dollar record labels, I'm offering you this opening paragraph from North Carolina emcee Stranger Day's "Barstool Bounce" press release. This is what you get in the mail when you sit on the review side of the equation, the kind of pitch designed to convince you whether or not you should slit open the promotional CD you've received to review the contents within. Ultimately I was convinced to crack open "Barstool Bounce" and give it a chance, but it actually wasn't this paragraph or the rest of the accompanying press release that sold me. It was seeing the name Emynd as the producer for 6 out of 7 tracks that did the trick, as he's a Philadelphia based producer who made his name working with the likes of Reef the Lost Cauze, Diplo, Gucci Mane and Lil B (#TYBG). So sure, why not take a chance on Stranger Day when he's got Emynd backing him up musically? There's at least a fair chance that even if he was terrible lyrically the music would be aight and this wouldn't be a review I'd regret assigning to myself. "

Wyzaker :: The Red Midnight :: Neferiu Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[The Red Midnight]"A long time ago in a galaxy far away called the 1970's, "Hotel California" was a hit rock single that that crossed over from the world of music and like the song itself became a metaphor for something bigger. The Eagles drew their inspiration for the lyrics from the corruption and greed of the music industry, describing their stay in the allegorical hotel as a "lovely place" that "you can never leave," essentially a fantasy that turns into a nightmare. Though he's far removed by both age and geography from the L.A. rock scene that gave birth to the Eagles, Wyzake has similar intentions on "The Red Midnight." The title at first seems to reference a surreal atmospheric phenomena like the orange tinted harvest moon, but in actuality it is a hotel "located on the corner of 3rd Ave and Sticky Street East, in the core of the city of fire." (The lower case spelling of the city's name being the artist's preference.) Who would go there, and who'd willingly stay in such a hellish place? "Popsickill the Dizzy Kid" would. Even in the introductions to songs, a sense of sick and twisted reality pervades. "Officer Murphy" opens with samples from the TV movie "Desperation," itself based on a horror story by Stephen King. A police officer played by Ron Perlman calmly and matter of factly reads a couple their "rights" while throwing in an unexpected random tidbit."

Chip Tha Ripper :: Gift Raps :: SLAB Entertainment
as reviewed by Emanuel Wallace

[Gift Raps] "For nearly two decades, the quintessential name in Cleveland hip-hop has been none other than Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. Prior to that, there was MC Brains and his Michael Bivins-produced "Oochie Coochie" and a group called 116 Soljaz that was signed to Def Jam for a minute. There's still a bubbling underground scene in Cleveland, but nowadays its biggest noisemakers are Kid Cudi, Ray Cash and Chip Tha Ripper. Born Charles Worth, Chip has been on the mixtape scene dating back to 2007. His projects "Money" and "Can't Stop Me" were well received and he even appeared on Cudi's "A Kid Named Cudi" mixtape. By the time 2009 rolled around, Chip had been featured on "Hyyerr" from Cudi's "Man on the Moon: The End of Day" album and his mixtape "The Cleveland Show," while somewhat bloated, had become a major hit for him. In the time since then, he's collaborated with the likes of Pac Div, Big Sean, Freddie Gibbs, Kidz in the Hall and The Cool Kids. Chip announced that he would be recording his latest release, "Gift Raps" with production primarily from Chuck Inglish of The Cool Kids and the project became available for download this past March. Fittingly, "Gift Raps" kicks off with "The Entrance" and advises anyone who might even think of getting in his way to make room. The inevitable Bone Thugs influence can be heard in the stutter step flow that Chip switches to from time to time on the project. "

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