Thursday May 24, 2018

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

"About a month ago I decided to backtrack and get caught up on LMFAO's debut album "Party Rock." It's safe to say that I discovered that Redfoo and SkyBlu were not lyrical giants, but there was a relatively harmless and carefree attitude to the album that when paired with good production made their music listenable. Their content, while admittedly vapid, was at least unapologetically so. If you're going to make an album with nothing better to say than how many shots of Patron you can drink without puking, and how many women you can sleep with and not catch a venereal disease, then you might as well go the full length and not half-ass it. I can give LMFAO the credit they deserve for taking what could have been a one hit wonder song like "I'm in Miami Bitch" and actually developing a following and a slew of hits for the club (and the after party). For that reason I'm also not surprised that they came back with a new album for the summer of 2011 called "Sorry For Party Rocking." Much like when they first debuted, their first single "Party Rock Anthem" came out well in advance of a full length, and much like "I'm in Miami Bitch" it's an infectious albeit misogynistic ode to having a good time."

DJ Junkaz Lou :: Tales From the Nightmare Industry Vol. 1 :: Junkadelic Music
as reviewed by Mike Baber
[Tales From the Nightmare Industry Vol. 1] 
"Gangsta rap is in a sad state. As I wrote my review last week of LA rapper Co$$'s "
Before I Awoke," an album clearly influenced in part by West Coast heavy hitters such as Dre and Snoop, I realized that, in today's hip-hop game, there are few mainstream emcees who fit the profile of gangsta rap. Save for a few exceptions, the subgenre has largely moved underground, and a number of artists choose to eschew the spotlight in favor of maintaining their hardcore style. Unfortunately, much of the music today fails to capture the essence of the early 90s -- when gangsta rap was a powerful form of expression that took hip-hop by storm and opened listeners' eyes to the lifestyle of the streets -- and instead suffers from overly simplistic lyrics and mediocre beats. Given the fact, though, that "Tales From the Nightmare Industry" is a compilation album, I had hopes that the handful of Junkadelic Music emcees would have enough creative firepower to switch it up occasionally and keep things from sounding monotonous. Unfortunately, despite a few solid verses, there was simply not enough depth to satisfy my initial expectations. In terms of production, DJ Junkaz Lou certainly delivers some head-bobbing tracks. "Dream or Nightmare" has a sinister vibe overall, with a simple but effective drum loop over deep brassy synths and eerie electric piano keys. "

gw :: I : Absolute :: gw Music
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[I : Absolute] 
"Often when reviewing albums the critic is presented with an overly abundant press kit. Typical features include a fold out poster of the artist (DO NOT WANT), a five page bio of the artist's entire life story (CUT IT DOWN TO ONE), press clippings of every review they've ever received (SELECT A FEW QUOTES) and a lengthy list of all the people who they opened a show for (NEVER SAW THE TOUR). As obnoxious as these voluminous packages can be, they do at least remove any mystery about what you're reviewing. Every single fact you could ever want about an artist you've never heard of, right there are your fingertips, without even needing to do a Google search. At least in that respect you can appreciate the efforts of the artist or their record label to keep you informed, so that you don't have to fumble around in the dark blindly for interesting factoids about a rapper, DJ or producer you and your audience have never heard of before. Then there's the opposite extreme. Once in a while you get a press kit so slim it could be folded up and slipped into even the tiniest of jacket or pants pockets. Thin is not always bad - at least it saves a few trees. Scant, on the other hand, is. Some artists just can't resist trying to be cryptic and unfathomable, offering you as little information as possible, leaving it entirely up to you to figure out who the hell they are and what they're about. gw (real name George Whalley) is that sort of person, and his press kit is that sort of press kit."

Kae Sun :: Outside the Barcode :: Kae Sun Music
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Outside the Barcode] 
"Ghanian born Kae Sun quietly started to make some noise in 2010 with the release of "Lion on a Leash." He was not intimated by the cold climate of Canada - he still had plenty of heat for the mic as both a singer and emcee. That's something I had noticed myself when listening to various URBNET downloads and compilations. I'm sure I even wrote on Twitter at some point that based on what Kae Sun had done, I was looking forward to his future projects. As evidence for my belief that this took place, and/or that I must have even heard back from him about it, I checked my account to see that I am already following @KaeSun. Therefore I'm sure I'll drop him a line about this review too. Now whereas I may have been impressed with his rapping in the past, I did mention the singing in the opening paragraph, and Susan 'susiQ' Kim made sure to make a point of it in her review as well. The reason I'm making a note of this right here and now is that I had hoped to hear some rapping of any kind from the talented lyricist on "Outside the Barcode," but the title of the release should have been my first clue I wasn't going to get what I was looking for. He's not only outside of Canada, he's pretty much outside of hip-hop on this one. "

K-Murdock :: The Ronin (EP) :: Neosonic Productions
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[The Ronin]

"K has always been a dope producer even when he's just dropping his own instrumentals, but it's often the act of pairing with a dope emcee that brings out the best he can do. Whether it's Raw Poetic or Mega Ran just to name a couple, you can always expect the beats to be the equal of the rhymes and enhance their interesting lexiconic qualities. We can happily report that "The Ronin (EP)" follows that same trend, and also features familiar rappers like Braille blessing those beats. Braille Brizzy does a fine job on his bars, as do all of the emcees that join K on this concept EP, but since even he will admit their reason for inclusion is rather random I tend to dwell more on the beats to the rhymes for this short seven song 25 minute long release. "Pieces" is a spartan track with some clear anime and video game influences, taking a deliciously understated drum track and carefully applying the watery sounds over the top. "The Wu-Tang Joint" lives up to the name, sounding like something bouncy brassy and horny that you could find the likes of Ghostface and Rae spitting to."

Knowledge Medina :: The Flow Documentary EP :: Studio 643
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[The Flow Documentary EP] 
"Knowledge Medina hails from what he likes to call the "Gunshine State" of Florida, and he rolls with the Studio 643 crew, who have slowly been bubbling up underground thanks to tracks produced by Soul Theory. And who has Soul Theory worked with, you ask? Good question - Reks, Edo.G, Skyzoo, Reef the Lost Cauze, Termanology, Nature, and at least a half dozen more of your favorite underground artists. As it turns out having those connects turns out to be beneficial for Medina because Reks makes a cameo appearance on his "Flow Documentary EP" for a track that's well named - "Forever." While it's not the kind of high energy performance he exerts on "25th Hour," it's nice to chill with Reks and his friends as they lay back over Soul Theory's mellow cut. That's a general theme for Knowledge Medina on this EP - being laid back. He often talks a hard game, but he seems to espouse that old philosophy of speaking softly and carrying a big stick. Even when he has Soul Theory turn up the menacing instrumental backdrop a notch for "Essence of Death," the pace is steady and sure and the smoky flow is almost laconic. He's like a Floridian version of Prodigy."

various artists :: Riddimentary: Diplo Selects Greensleeves :: Greensleeves/VP Reggae
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor

[Riddimentary: Diplo Selects Greensleeves] 
"Thomas Wesley Pentz, better known by his stage name Diplo, is an unlikely champion of reggae and dancehall. The Philly-based DJ and producer first gained  notoriety for his personal and artistic collaborations with M.I.A., and then blew everyone's expectations by introducing dancehall to a wide audience with his partner Switch as Major Lazer.  A skinny white kid from Philly isn't the most obvious person to make dancehall that would get both Jamaicans and American hipsters ratcheting their partners, but that's exactly what he did. In between recording the new Major Lazer album, Diplo took time to release this mix CD featuring tracks from British reggae label Greensleeve's early 80s output. The label initially wanted him to do a more contemporary mix, but Diplo chose to highlight the music that turned him on to a reggae when he was growing up. The result is a mix that highlights some of the classics of the era. The album contains a mix of dub, dancehall, roots reggae, and lovers rock. It starts off with Alpha and Omega's trippy  "Who is the Ruler," a mellow digital dub songs that starts things off slowly. John Holt's roots comeback "Police in Helicopter" is represented, as is Gregor Isaac's 1982 lovers rock smash "Night Nurse."  "Police in Helicopter" is an impassioned indictment of the Jamaican government's war on marijuana, and proof that reggae didn't lose it's consciousness as the roots-heavy seventies rolled into the digital eighties. "

The Shotgun Wedding Quintet :: Tales From the Barbary Coast :: Jazz Mafia
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Tales From the Barbary Coast] 
"The Barbary Coast sounds like an alluring yet far distant land, accessible only by boat, where pristine white sand softly envelopes your toes as you walk barefoot on the beachfront. A sharply dressed employee of the only resort allowed to operate on the coast brings you a tall, amber colored alcoholic beverage - strong enough to feel yet sweet enough to mask the throaty burn, without any cough syrup overtones. In the distance a vision of nubian beauty whose hips could have launched a thousand more ships than Helen of Troy ever did waves to you, beckoning you to join her. Ahh yes, let us hear these tales of the Barbary Coast, this mysterious and seductive home to enchanting adventure. The name, much like the above lyrics from "Numbers Game," is deceptive. Though it sounds mysterious and romantic, the Barbary Coast is actually a historically infamous red light district from San Francisco, California that boomed during the gold rush of the 1840's and 50's. Writers of the day who had much to say about it had nothing GOOD to say about it - some even implying that if the mouth of Hell could open to swallow humanity whole it would be found there. Men outnumbered women a 100 to 1 and it was said the 1 was usually a prostitute. "

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