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The (W)rap Up - Week of August 2, 2011
Posted by Emanuel Wallace at Tuesday, August 9th, 2011 at 12:00AM :: Email this article :: Print this article

It's been a crazy week for me, but in case you missed any of the new reviews from the week of August 2nd, check out this edition of the (W)rap Up!

[Honkey Kong] Apathy :: Honkey Kong
Demigodz Enterprises

Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon

"It's probably a stretch to claim that Connecticut rap kingpin Chad Bromley b/k/a Apathy was inspired by Andrew Matson's review from 2006, but the title of his latest album does parallel something Matson said to describe the man nicely: "He's not an abstract rapper, form or content-wise, but offers technically flawless verses consistently delivered with the force of a guy who knows he's the shit. He's a mic ripper, a savage, a beast, an unstoppable force." Hmm. A savage, a beast, AND an unstoppable force? That certainly sounds "Honkey Kong," matched on the album cover by a ferocious white gorilla that can only be described as Snowflake on a steroid bender. Actually the title matches two different pop culture concepts - the famous King Kong of motion picture fame, and the video game Donkey Kong, which arguably was inspired by that famous filmic icon (though the court system ultimately ruled Nintendo did not owe the owners of the King Kong rights a single dime). On the one hand the implication is that Apathy is a ferocious foe who will take your girl while simultaneously taking the rap game to new heights. On the other hand one can feel Ap' is an exploited ape, sold to a public which fears him, while his own feelings are misunderstood or ignored. Depending on his mood Apathy is happy to portray either side of this divide, using the opening title track to showcase his unbridled rage."

Adam Warlock :: Dark Weapons (from Mars) :: Uncommon Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
[Dark Weapons (from Mars)] 
"If the name Adam Warlock seems immediately familiar to you, it's not because you've heard this album before, it's because you're a reader of Marvel Comics. Adam Warlock is a Stan Lee creation who made his debut in an issue of Fantastic Four all the way back in 1967, who has played a prominent role in storylines spanning multiple areas of the Marvel Universe in the decades since. The entire back story is entirely too convoluted so I'm not going to go into it here - it's easy enough to look up online if you like. The point is that instead of coming up with a completely original nom de plume for his debut EP, Adam Warlock chose one that was immediately and easily recognizable so that his EP would get more attention. To be fair though he's hardly the first - rappers name themselves after real and fictional men all the time. It's not like there isn't a Noreaga in hip-hop, named after Manuel Noriega, and his partner Capone is named after Al Capone. On the fictional flipside, MF DOOM is named after Victor von Doom, coincidentally from the Marvel Universe. So yes this shit happens all the time in the world of rhyme, but if you're going to take the name of somebody famous who happens to be fictional you're (A.) taking your chances the owner of the name won't sue and (B.) better hope that you don't suffer in comparison to someone who doesn't even exist in the real world. It's a fairly risky proposition therefore to come out as Adam Warlock. "

Declaime :: Self Study :: SomeOthaShip Connect/E1 Music
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Self Study] 
"Whether you call him Dudley Perkins or Declaime matters not - the Oxnard, California native is funky as a mo'fo. Oxnard might not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of California hip-hop meccas, but when you realize that Madlib, Oh No and DJ Babu hail from Oxnard too, perhaps you'll change your mind. The hallmark of Declaime's career throughout the years has been his iconoclastic nature, making him a West coast equivalent of DOOM, down to the flows that seem to change at random and the topics that seem to spring forth into raps in a stream-of-conciousness manner. This has earned him a dedicated cult following which creates a sustainable level of income, yet causes him to be overlooked for radio play in favor of the likes of Kanye West and Lil Wayne. In no way should that be considered a knock on him or them, it just highlights Declaime's highly intentional choice to not make music that formats well into urban contemporary airplay. "Self Study" proclaims itself both visually and artistically to be an introspective look into Dudley Perkins, the man behind the name Declaime, although it seems to this writer to be more of the same we've heard from him his entire career. Again this is not a bad thing nor is it bad news - Declaime's flows and tracks definitely stand out from the rest of his peers."

KRS-One :: Adventures In Emceein :: Echo-Vista
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **

as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Adventures In Emceein] 
"In the prolific catalogue of material that makes up KRS-One's hip-hop career, this album is something of an oddity, and not because of content. That's already been done - every time we all thought we understood Lawrence Krisna Parker he'd come along and do something like drop a gospel rap album. I sometimes believe Kris has a lot in common with that old adage of 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper's: "Just when you think you know all the answers, I CHANGE THE QUESTIONS." Well with this album there's no shortage of questions. Unfortunately there are no good answers to ANY of these questions, which is why this album is such an oddity and such a frustration to review. Even with the most obscure of KRS-One albums you can usually figure out what's going on and why. The motives behind a digital only release like "Lyrical Ass Beating" were easy to figure out - Kris felt disrespected and wanted to serve notice to the hip-hop nation and all his fans that he still deserved his props after all these years. It was the kind of salvo he could quickly fire off and cheaply distribute. That's not the case here - it's a full length album with major guest stars."

[A.D.I.D.A.S. (Relaced)] 
"Even when you're covering hip-hop releases on a constant basis like does and has done for many years now, there will always be the ones that get overlooked. Regular visitors have surely wondered about the site's selection process, and while various factors are involved in that process, there are two patterns that may just get to the heart of the matter. One is the déjà vu. You have artists who have been going down the same road for years. With them there inevitably comes a point when critical minds will run out of things to say. A second pattern is in effect when the things you'd have to say are best left unsaid. The reason I've still come around to reviewing Ras Kass' "A.D.I.D.A.S." - an acronym for "All Day I Dream About Spittin" - a year or so after its release in digital format and six months after it came out on CD is that I feel that when a much lauded rapper such as Ras Kass puts out product, it should not be ignored, even if the two aforementioned reasons so far prevented me (and possibly other staff members) from covering "A.D.I.D.A.S." To cut to the chase, the version at my disposition, the physical release "A.D.I.D.A.S. (Relaced)," is an often below average, frequently terrible, rarely solid double-disc offering from a rapper whose standing is mainly based on his debut album ("Soul on Ice") and an unreleased one ("Van Gogh"). "

L Pro and 5th Sequence :: Equilibrium :: Vinyl Fluid Records
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor
"This is an EP from Portland MC L Pro and producer 5th Sequence. According to his bio, L Pro has been in the game for a minute, first as half of 90s rap duo Grassroots, and then working with Soul Plasma on 2003's "Simply Soul." After getting divorced and stabbed in the face (!), Pro took some time off from hip-hop. "Equilibrium" is a prelude to his forthcoming album "Vertigo." L Pro is an able rapper, and he's found a perfect partner in 5th Sequence, who acts as Pete Rock to L Pro's C.L Smooth. The beats are built around funky jazz loops, punctuating with cutting and scratching. The EP starts off with "Good Morning," with L Pro rapping over a funky horn and string loop. The track introduces L Pro as a rapper not afraid to cut rivals down with his microphone skills. Between the bouncing beat, the classic hip-hop lines scratched in, and L Pro's battle rhymes, "Good Morning" feels like it could have been released in 1991 rather than 2011. The horn sample on "Conversation" is reminiscent of Pete Rock and C.L Smooth's "T.R.O.Y," with L Pro rapping about a conversation he had about his rap career with a female admirer. "Listen mama, there's no need for drama/I'll send you the MP3 so you'll believe," he raps. "

Playa Rae/Trey C/Tha Critic :: Facetime :: Monstaville Music
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
"The last time RR heard from Playa Rae was when Pedro 'DJ Complejo' Hernandez reviewed "Days Like This" back in 2008. Since then Rae has kept his hustle poppin', expanding his Monstaville Music imprint and working to make it a hip-hop force in San Jose and the Cali scene as a whole. To Rae's credit he's also trying to reach out to hip-hop heads outside the local market, even though it has often been said you can go gold or platinum in Cali and still be unknown in the rest of America. That occasionally leads to a level of insularity which makes it hard to get widespread coverage, but Monstaville Music wants to break the mold and do more than go gold. So with that said, Rae has decided to form a supergroup of fellow artists and dub both the crew and the album "Facetime." This is something Rae's had experience with before, as he previously joined with Texas rappers Fade Dogg and Gemini to form a group called Gamebreakerz. As Pedro noted in his Playa Rae review, the project made some noise, but ultimately didn't cause a revolution for Rae or the other latino rappers involved. Accordingly I don't get the feeling that heritage is a focus on this one, unless being a Californian is now an ethnicity. "

Roach Gigz :: Bitch, I'm a Player :: Thizz City
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Bitch, I'm a Player]

"Roach's bio states the 21 year-old was conceived in Nicaragua during the war between Contra and Sandinista forces, but the war was pretty much over in 1989 as the rebels had agreed to disband and participate in political elections the next year. It's telling that the entire Iran-Contra scandal happened before Roach could even be aware of it, let alone theoretically conceived. My point is that I don't know why his bio made a point of it at all, when it could have skipped over this trivial fact right to his upbringing in the Bay Area, and the fact he chose his rap name based on a character from the movie "Next Friday." Roach gained fame locally through "Roachy Balboa" mixtapes, then got more nationally by appearing on MTV2's Sucker Free series. "Bitch, I'm a Player" is an intentionally misogynistic name, and most of his humor is as well. He's lyrically the 21st century equivalent of Too $hort, from his raunchy subject matter to his frequent use of that five letter pejorative for women."

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