"There are readers checking out "Dirty Pretty Things" right now who probably own all four versions of "Delightful Bars," Rapper Big Pooh's mysterious solo album, even the rare "Japanese Daifuku Version" that I've never personally seen. I'm on the flipside of that equation though - I own NONE of the four. I've enjoyed various songs from the album that came out on mixtapes, as singles, or had videos made for them, but I never went out and picked up a copy or even looked for a retail digital download. Looking back now the only thing I can do in fairness to make up for that is to review "Dirty Pretty Things" and balance the scales. They've been unbalanced for a while now. Phonte was always my favorite member of Little Brother, to the degree that I've probably overrated him to some degree as a lyricist, and may have unfairly underrated his cohort. There's nothing about "Dirty Pretty Things" that presents the notion the self-described "fat boy fresh" rapper is not delivering on Phonte's level. In fact I'd go so far as to say the Family Biz produced "Medicine Man" shows just to what degree we've all been sleeping on Pooh like Christopher Robin. You can tell Pooh likes the rock influenced music, because he bobs his head to the beat in the music video he released back on September 11th. It brings out the inner braggart, and he does his best to profess that he's out to get money while shining brightly rap-wise in a world of emcee darkness."
3:33 :: Live From the Grove :: Parallel Thought
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor
"The Bohemian Grove, located near San Francisco, is home to the Bohemian Club. The club, whose members include prominent businessmen and politicians, including most U.S. presidents, is a secret society with arcane rituals based on paganism, including a Cremation of Care in front of a giant owl shrine. 3:33's latest album is meant to invoke the mystic paganism that permeates the Bohemian Grove, capturing the dark arts that are associated with the spot. In their press materials, they claim the album was recorded there, although I can't confirm that. 3:33 write, "those who listen will swear they can hear the very voice of Moloch whispering, foretelling coming realities in dead languages. Some can hear the crackle of burning effigies, filling the night sky with acrid unholy smoke amidst the shrewd cackles of mad men foolish enough to offer their souls to the Babylonian blood gods. The album sounds like tamed chaos- a focused channeling of the cryptic energies that permeate from within this house of leaves." I don't know much about 3:33. From their bio I know it is a "they" and not a he or she. I know that their influences are more along the lines of experimental composers like John Cage rather than hip-hop producers, although they are on a hip-hop label. "
http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2011_11_333livefromthegrove.htmlCold Heat :: Raising the Bar :: Soulspazm Digital
as reviewed by Daniel Oh
"Quiet quality is the bane of most underground rappers. The rap game is saturated with MCs and producers that are so technically gifted, but somehow lack that "it" factor that A&Rs and record labels harp about. Still, figuring out who gets to blow up and who doesn't is an almost arbitrary process. Some artists will never get the capital or marketability needed to get out from under all that obscurity, some will get lost in the YouTube shuffle after blowing their first 15 minutes of fame, and some just aren't ready for the bright lights of recognition and acclaim. It's not an affront to the talent or deserving of any of these artists, it's just the way the game is. With that said, I can feel for Cold Heat. Their Hip-hop skills are on point from a technical standpoint. Jak D has a fluent understanding of flow and delivery, of how to fit words and rhymes in to highlight the best parts of his verse. He not only knows how to switch up the flow, but he knows when to switch it up. His lyrical skills are on point, he crams enough punches to keep the headphones rocking back and forth at a constant clip. Jay W isn't bad behind the boards, he doesn't push boundaries or get overly creative, but he does know how to make a solid beat to spit behind. Cold Heat is very technically gifted, a Hip-hop duo that will make the purists (like me) swoon. "
http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2011_11_raisingthebar.htmlInfinite P :: Moonlight :: IP Music
as reviewed by Aaron Boyce
"This could have the most fitting album cover that I have ever come across in over fifteen years of listening to hip-hop. Ignoring the fact that this album is actually called "Moonlight", the serene setting of the cover's artwork would make the perfect location for soaking up this album. A few friends, something to drink, smoke and eat coupled with this playing in the background and you would have all the ingredients for a chilled evening by the ocean. The combination of Infinite P's rich vocal tones and his effortless, almost lazy, flow work well together again as you can't help but nod your head to the next offering, "Doing It Right". This track sounds like it could have been plucked out of fellow Canadian Moka Only's extensive back catalogue and it's no surprise to see Moka himself pop up on "Fuck You", which follows. Moka Only actually makes three appearances on this album and it is clear that the ex-Swollen Member has had a huge influence on I-Peezy, both in beat selection and lyrical style.As the beat is plodding along and Main Flow is, as expected, tearing up his guest spot, the track is abruptly cut short at just over the two minute mark. "
http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2011_11_infinitepmoonlight.htmlKilla Kyleon & Rapid Ric :: Candy Paint N Texas Plates 2 :: Authintik Music Group
as reviewed by Matt Jost
"While I was never short of reasons to be skeptical about the Boss Hogg Outlawz ("Boyz-N-Blue"? Seriously?), one rapper stood out next to the designated alpha dog. That rapper was Killa Kyleon, displaying above average penmanship on many of the tracks he was featured on. Having since parted ways with Slim Thug and BHO, Kyleon is determined to establish himself amongst Houston's heavy spitters. With his latest project, "Candy Paint N Texas Plates 2," he takes another step on the long ladder of success. Not too long ago, offerings by rappers of Killa Kyleon's ilk would have been streamlined from front to back with synth tracks and hustle raps. In today's open-minded climate, a mixtape like "CPTP2" is much more diverse. It can place "Watch the Reaction" next to "Come on Baby" and thus go from old-style southern rap with Pimp C and Lil Keke to a Mac Miller feature on a beat by Spanish production team Cookin' Soul. And since it sports a soulful southern sound, it does well to consider talented H-Town singers like Jack Freeman ("Make Me") and Ced B. ("Gangsta Life"). The references are also broader, be they lyrical or musical. On "Bodies Hit the Floor" Killa namechecks the nu-metal band from Dallas that inspired the song's title ("Let the bodies hit the flo', I kill this shit like Drowning Pool"), while Big K.R.I.T. samples Bon Jovi and Biggie Smalls for the epic "Hustler's Prayer" as Kyle rises to the occasion with a lyrically dense performance."
http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2011_11_candypaintntexas2.htmlProfessor Green :: At Your Inconvenience :: Virgin Records
as reviewed by Jesal 'Jay Soul' Padania
"The problem with UK music critics is that they are unsure of how to deal with hip hop - whilst MC's, DJ's and heads are deeply schooled in the roots of the genre, frequently music journalists on this island aren't "rap critics" that understand the intricacies, nuances, ambiguity and (yes) sheer hypocrisy of the game. That's why, superficially, Professor Green's sophomore album, "At Your Inconvenience," already seems to be flying over a lot of heads. Of course, all music contains seeds of universal truths, but our beloved genre plays by its own rules. So yes, whilst it might be strange to hear an emo-rap song for four minutes followed by a track where the sole ambition is rhyming about getting your dick sucked, that's just how it goes. When analysing a rap album, you have to know precisely what to analyse, and what the MC is trying to achieve. On AYI, Professor Green is trying to advance his career in various ways: musically, it's an incredible diverse and personal listen that shuns the pop-dance sound of his debut; conceptually, he's attempting to forge a much more personal connection with listeners; commercially, there are fewer throwaway chart moments - instead, he is trying to make singles that have more of an artistic merit than ripping an INXS sample. He has set the bar high for himself, as this is an album with ambitions that barely relate to his debut (it's worth remembering that "Alive Till I'm Dead" only came out 15 months ago). "
http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2011_11_atyourinconvenience.htmlRandom and Lost Perception :: Black Materia: Final Fantasy VII :: Mega Ran Music
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
"I admit that we made a mistake - well more specifically I made a mistake. If that seems like an unconventional way to begin a review, it helps to start with the fact that RR covered "Black Materia" back in February. Through no fault of his own, the writer covering the project received an incomplete copy of the album, one which was supplied to the website for preview rather than REview. For an amount of time that I find embarrassing to me, this mistake flew completely under my radar, until the artist HIMSELF pointed it out to me after I met him in person for the first time a couple of months ago. Now to Random a/k/a Mega Ran's credit he was not the least bit hostile about this mistake, which is a rather unconventional reaction among artists to say the least. For doing someone a disservice of that magnitude the responses can be anything ranging from rude e-mails to physical threats. The latter is usually more a response to feeling "dissed" because the writer in question found an album to be of subpar quality, but it remains in the realm of possible outcomes. I'm happy to say that's not Ran's forte. It's not even that I expected it to be - after all the dude's not exactly portraying a gun-toting gangster on his albums, unless you mean a Nintendo light gun with a cord attached to a console. Still a mistake like that could have soured the lines of communication and damaged our ability to work with him on future reviews. He had only one request to repair the damage - do another review but this time use the FULL length LP. "
http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2011_11_blackmateriaredux.htmlRolling Stoned :: Space Cake :: 95 Labs
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
"I first discovered Rolling Stoned while compiling music for a new episode of The Hip-Hop Shop. That goes to show these episodes can be just as useful for me as for the visitors each Tuesday, even though free downloadable podsafe music every Tuesday is hard to argue with. Of course the shows wouldn't be very good if I wasn't being selective about what's worthy of inclusion, and the song "Boom Boom" certainly fit the criteria. I really dug the choice of John Lee Hooker's hard rockin' blues song as inspiration for their track. True to the spirit of the original, the rappers talk about a woman that's killer hot, but true to the spirit of their smoke there's a lot of double entendre and pharmaceutical allusions. Most of the album's songs are far more blatant and far more blunted. Even their "Intro" is a woman preparing a recipe with ground up marijuana leaf as one of the ingredients, although she's sure to stress that her preparation is for medicinal purposes only and NOT recreational. I doubt that Rolling Stoned cares. They claim a variety of afflictions on the following song "Medicated," including a case of glaucoma for which they've "gotta see a doc-torrrr," making sure to have their papers to prove it when pulled over. The members of Rolling Stoned - Marii Jane, Salazar, Shottie & Joey Duz - have an interesting chemistry beyond the chemicals they're ingesting. Verses are bilingual, switching back and forth between English and Spanish like early Cypress Hill songs. "
http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2011_11_rollingstonedspacecake.htmlSugar Minott :: Hard Time Pressure :: VP Records
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor
"Despite P. Diddy's claims to the contrary, it was reggae musicians who truly invented the remix. Jamaican producers were repurposing instrumental backing tracks, or riddims, before Sean Combs was out of diapers. Dub producers took riddims in strange and exotic directions, and deejays chatted over riddims, often answering the original song. Sugar Minott pioneered the art of singing over riddims, creating new songs out of existing templates. This box set collects 36 of his songs and DVD of him playing live in Japan in 1986. Sugar Minott got his start singing in the vocal group African Brothers. In the late seventies, he began writing and singing new songs over old Studio One and Treasure Island instrumentals. The producers and record companies loved him because he could create brand new tracks without having to hire musicians to record new music. He was so successful at it, he started his own Black Roots label. Disc one starts off with his early hit "My Love Is True," followed by "Hard Time Pressure," a reworking of Hopeton Lewis's "Sound and Pressure." The two songs show two distinct sides of Minott's personality. the romantic crooner and the protest singer. It's a testament to his versatility that he was able to sing both types of songs convincingly. Disc one leans heavier on roots reggae concerns of praising Jah and the herb, and singing about injustice. "
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