Monday June 18, 2018

The (W)rap Up - Week of July 19, 2011
Posted by Emanuel Wallace at Tuesday, July 26th, 2011 at 12:00AM :: Email this article :: Print this article

"I pride myself on generally being up to date with the latest hip-hop news and album releases, both mainstream and underground, but I'll admit I had never heard of Kendrick Lamar until I stumbled across "Section.80" while browsing iTunes last week. At first I was slightly embarrassed, given that Lamar is quickly becoming a hot name in hip-hop and was named to XXL's 2011 Freshman Class, but my embarrassment quickly turned to excitement as I scrolled through the user reviews of the album. Lamar was being touted by many as the next big emcee, someone who understands and embodies the idea of real hip-hop. Like many, I find myself disgusted with the current state of hip-hop, and I was anxious to give "Section.80" a listen and see what the 24-year-old lyricist had in store. Right off the bat, it's apparent that Kendrick Lamar is wise beyond his years, and his lyrics have the maturity and depth of those of a veteran emcee. Growing up on the dangerous Compton streets allowed Lamar to witness and experience it all, and he isn't afraid to hold anything back on the mic, often delving deep into his inner thoughts. "

Black Rob :: Game Tested, Streets Approved :: Duck Down Records
as reviewed by Daniel Oh
[Game Tested, Streets Approved] 
"I'm being real with you guys. I haven't heard anything from Black Rob since he dropped "Like Whoa" a decade ago. Admittedly, the single was raw enough for me to keep around in my music library, and I still put it on from time to time if I need an extra boost in my day. Still, I'll be honest, I approached this album with a little bit of hesitancy. I know Rob is fresh off of a bid for grand larceny and has been in-and-out of the clink since he last shook the Hip-hop world. I'm all for rapper authenticity when they spit that gangsta shit, but when you've gone six years since your last major release, there's a justified concern over some possible rust over your skills. Also, while "Like Whoa" was a certified banger that will always be dear to my heart, it's not like Black Rob was such a groundbreaking lyricist to begin with. As it turns out, I'm right and wrong. There's no discernable regression from 2011 Black Rob and 2001 Black Rob, but there's no real improvement either. Black Rob has stayed the same. His voice is the same. His flow is the same. The shit he raps about is the same."

Curren$y :: Weekend at Burnie's :: Warner Bros. Records
as reviewed by Matt Jost

[Weekend at Burnie's] 
"A number of mixtapes, two independent albums, and now the major label debut. But it ain't Wiz Khalifa, it's fellow stoner and frequent collaborator Curren$y. Spitta fans will not like the comparison, but while Wiz Khalifa met the challenge and is one of the most prominent rappers on the scene with two platinum singles ("Black and Yellow," "Roll Up") and a gold album ("
Rolling Papers"), Curren$y fails to rise to the occasion with "Weekend at Burnie's" for Warner, the same label Wiz once had to obtain his walking papers from to get to where he's at now. This is not to suggest that Curren$y should start singing over synths or deliver some type of anthem, but simply that stepping to the next level on the business side of things should result in something of a higher profile. But Curren$y rather keeps it low-pro, all the while still basking in his splendid JETS lifestyle. The problem here is that not only is no progress made, "Weekend at Burnie's" might just be an artistic regress. "

Da Brat :: Life After Death Mixtape :: DJ Greg Street/So So Def
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Life After Death Mixtape] 
"After eight years away, it really does feel like a return from the dead. Hip-Hop's first female solo artist to go platinum, Shawntae Harris b/k/a Da Brat, seemed to disappear from the spotlight virtually overnight. After a disappointing performance on 2003's "Limelite, Luv & Niteclubz" her life and career began a slow and inexorable spin, getting more and more out of control. Her time on "The Surreal Life" highlighted her problems with her temper, so it came as no surprise to anyone who watched the legal problems she would face. She had already served a year's probation before filmingfor beating a woman with a pistol in a nightclub in Buckhead, Georgia. Apparently having learned nothing from that incident, she attacked a hostess at a nightclub in Atlanta with a bottle of rum, and wound up doing three years in prison after pleading guilty to aggravated assault charges. It wasn't until February of this year that she completed her work-release program. "

Kottonmouth Kings :: Sunrise Sessions :: Suburban Noize Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Sunrise Sessions] 
"If Proposition 420 completely decriminalized marijuana in Cali tomorrow, the Kottonmouth Kings would be the first to stand on the capitol steps in Sacramento and light a big fat joint to celebrate. Their advocacy is self-declared in their name, describing one of the most common side effects of a medicinal toke (or so I've heard). If that wasn't clear enough, their frequent use of green colors on their album covers would be a good hint, and if that wasn't clear enough song titles like "Ganja Daze" and "Stay Stoned" would be a good hint. Oh wait, these pot tokers still haven't been BLUNT enough to get their point across? Seriously, after over a decade of decadence it's hard to imagine anybody could miss their point, but if you still haven't gotten it the opener of "Sunrise Sessions" makes it abundantly clear. If this review is your introduction to the Kings, there's one other thing you need to know besides their pharmacological propensities - they are pioneers in a self-described "rip rock" style of hip-hop. "

Pimp C :: Still Pimping :: Rap-A-Lot Records
as reviewed by Emanuel Wallace

[Still Pimping] 
"So here's the score. Last October I reviewed "The Naked Soul of Sweet Jones," which was believed to be the final album of Pimp C material. I went through this whole rigmarole about how the idea of posthumous albums in hip-hop has always been a touchy topic. Making note of artists like Big L, Big Pun, Eazy-E, Ol Dirty Bastard, Camu Tao and of course 2Pac & Biggie, I mentioned how there are seemingly two extreme stances on the matter...people either hate it or love it. For the most part, I found "Sweet Jones" to be an entertaining and interesting listen when taken at face value. I wasn't too keen on the features of Young Jeezy and Drake though, and I'm glad that neither one of them found their way onto "Still Pimping." In fact, the title of the album itself speaks volumes without even trying. Prior to its release, Pimp C's widow Chinara Butler and Rap-A-Lot Records were embroiled in legal proceedings over master recordings of and compensation for the songs that ultimately would become the album's tracklist. I'm no legal expert by any means, but the album was released, so I'm going to go ahead and make this conclusion: Money talks. "

Sceptic and Dseeva :: Calm Before the Storm :: Sub Concious Records
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor

[Calm Before the Storm] 
"This is the second official album from Sydney rappers Sceptic and Dseeva, following their 2007 debut "Hip Hop Psykosis, and 2010 "Sub C Baby" mixtape, which you can download HERE. I write this every time I review an Australian hip-hop album, but Aussies make good beats, and Sceptic and Dseeva are no exception. Dseeva handles about half the tracks, with Peeks One, Myth_4, Boomkat, Ben Rosen, A-Drone, Grouce, Entyce, and Petes Beats handling the rest. They offer a range of styles, from the rock influence on "Hip Rock" to the street feel of "Omerta" to the loop-driven beat on "Pants Round My Ankles." Dseeva's beats have the dark, stripped-down feel of American street rap, using synthesizers, out-of-tune pianos, and guitars on his beats. There is nothing mind-blowing, but it is all done well. The songs are a mix of rowdy tracks about shit-talking, getting drunk, and starting fights, and more serious topics. "Realisation" takes the point of view of someone who has just been sent to prison and is realizing what he's done to his life; "Hey Girl" and Miss Ya" are tracks for the ladies, while "Shut My Eyes" is the exact opposite, describing a homicidal boyfriend stalking his cheating girlfriend. "

Zero Star :: Don't Look Now :: Zero Star Music
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Don't Look Now]

"It's a bold statement but it's not unwarranted. Star has a tendency to shine, having perfected a rhyme style where he interweaves a stop and start flow with both punchlines and intelligent points. Even his hooks tend to be different from the average, which is exemplified by the above track "6 Minutes Zero Star You're On," where instead of repeating the same lines he changes up the flow each time, putting the emphasis on different words and making you rethink what you've just heard. When he brags "Even when I go to sleep, I'm always thinking of rhymes" it doesn't really seem like bragging at all - just the honest truth. His vocal tone is a little bit Rhymefest and yes, a little bit Phonte as well, but the skills are entirely his own Columbus homegrown. He's not afraid to be a little bit weird too - it's not every rapper who would drop a lead single and accompanying video with a title like "72' Dolphins" hoping to get a buzz. Just let him clear his throat first. "

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