Thursday, July 14, 2011

Track Review: Esso - What If It Was You

Download: Esso - What If It Was You

What a chillingly beautiful chorus. The perfect sample for track with this type of content. Speaking of which, in this track Esso lays out how it might feel to walk in the shoes of societies most shunned or despised (by some, at least, and celebrated by others) and offers explanations for why it is they may make the decisions they do, and asks you if you'd do any different in their situation.
And what if it was you with that felony to your name,
always in and out the system even though you wanna change,
you never gon' get that job no matter how hard you explain,
you grew up in the hood, would you right be right back pitching 'cane?

And what if you was a star, everyone know who you are,
would you make it rain in strip clubs after buying out the bar?
Or would you right those songs that could change somebody life? Or feel like if you tried they'd ignore and treat you like, your outta sight..

Rating: 8.5/10

Track Review: Bizzle - This Aint Love ft. Lavoisier & Sevin (Prod. Boi-1da)

Off Bizzle's Tough Love & Parables album.

Download: Bizzle - This Aint Love ft. Lavoisier & Sevin (Prod. Boi-1da)

It was the Boi-1da production that got me to check this out but i'm glad i did. The production is excellent, led by some epic, sweeping strings and layered piano. With the three MC's, some lack a little presence and some don't have the most dynamic flows but all have fantastic lyrics and insightful commentary. Pretty much, all three of them call out and make known all the hypocrisy present in anyone who justifies horrible actions in the name of love. Yes, that could very easily come across as corny but there's just too much realism infused in the content for that to be the case. This is the type of song you would play for an imbecile who claims rap is all 'gangster thuggin bullshit and and lacks any substance'.
Risk your freedom and your life for keys to beamers and some ice,
You can't be beatin on your wife and teach your seeds about what's right,

Rating: 8.5/10

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Track Review: Nikki Jean - Million Star Hotel ft. Lupe Fiasco & Black Thought

Off Nikki's album, Pennies In A Jar, coming out tomorrow.

Download: Nikki Jean - Million Star Hotel ft. Lupe Fiasco & Black Thought || Lyrics

This is one hell of a track. I can't seem to find who produced this effort but whoever was responsible deserves a heap of credit for the brilliant orchestral production, the way the tracks mood shifts and change-ups are handled and how Nikki's vocals were mixed. For those not familiar with the name, Nikki was the vocalist who contributed to Lupe's The Cool, where she contributed hooks on 'Hip-Hop Saved My Life' & 'Little Weapon'. Lupe and Black Thought both contribute stunning verses centered around well constructed metaphors, so, when i say Nikki was just as critical to this track, that should tell you something about her performance.
But, I'm not really wanting for too much
I could feel like a millionaire with a few bucks
Whether in black Chucks or a new tux
Some take note but never give two fucks
Whether Wu-Tang Clan or the Klu-Klux
Wonder how the world gon' handle the new stuff
Find true love, that's my new drug
Nikki Jean get the orchestra cued up
This was everything a Lupe Fiasco / Black Thought collaboration should be.

Rating: 9.5/10

Previously: Album Review: Lupe Fiasco - LASERS || Saigon - Too Long ft. Black Thought

Monday, July 11, 2011

Track Review: Mr. J. Medeiros - Serious ft. Stro

This is off Medeiros' latest release, Saudade, out now.

Download: Mr. J. Medeiros - Serious ft. Stro

Medeiros' rapping is just so easy to listen to. The voice is unique without being too distinct, the flow is effortless, the rhyme schemes are flawless and there's just the right amount of lyricism for if you're not in an overly analytical mood. Stro's vocals are really growing on me as well and the singer does a good job with this track here.

Rating: 8/10

Previously: Mr. J. Medeiros - Neon Signs ft. Stro

First Class ft. Wale, Big Sean & B.o.B

Download: First Class ft. Wale, Big Sean & B.o.B | Lyrics

Not too sure where exactly this cut is from. Nonetheless, i'm struggling to find much to say about it. Not a single facet of the song was disappointing..was it a good track? Yes. Does any part of it stand-out? No, not really, it's just your regular laid-back production and 'a day in my awesome life' content.

Rating: 7/10

Previously: Album Review: Big Sean - Finally Famous || B.o.B - NY NY || Wale - Jump (freestyle)

Track Review: Consequence - On My Own ft. KiD CuDi (Prod. Kanye West)

Originally slated for Cons Tv, this is now slated to appear on Movies On Demand 3.

Download: Consequence - On My Own ft. KiD CuDi (Prod. Kanye West) | Lyrics

Consequence is solid as usual on this as speaks indirectly on his recent label situation and what he's learnt from it.
When you on the road to riches and you get to where the road stops
people in your life are either shortcuts or roadblocks
I felt his verses were a little short but. I have mixed feelings though about both the Kanye production and the KiD CuDi hook. I think the vocal samples are used well but i'm not a fan of the strings Ye' sampled. As for the hook, there's something about CuDi's 'forever' refrain that just rubs me the wrong way but other than that it's enjoyable enough.

Rating: 6.5/10

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Track Review: Apathy - Word To The 23rd freestyle

Apathy does a promo freestyle over Mobb Deep's 'Eye For An Eye' and House of Pain's 'Put Ya Head Out'.

Download: Apathy - Word To The 23rd freestyle

Apathy really hasn't put a foot wrong in the lead up to his Honkey Kong release (August 23rd) with every track put out being nothing less than great. Apathy does a great job over the House of Pain track but he pretty much destroys 'Eye For An Eye' and shows exactly exactly how you do multisyllabic rhymes without them coming across as forced.
Impatient, sick of waiting, sick of pacing in my room,
in syncopation with the shit i'm playing, feel it boom
Sick of chasing, chick's i'm dating, dick 'em then i'm quickly skating
Spittin insignificant ignorance mixed with information

Rating: 8.5/10

Previously: Apathy - East Coast Rapist | Apathy - Most Murderous Music (freestyle)

Track Review: The Cool Kids - Roll Call ft. Asher Roth, Chip The Ripper & Boldy James

This is off The Cool Kids debut album, When Fish Ride Bicycles, dropping this Tuesday, July 12th.

Lyrics | Download: The Cool Kids - Roll Call ft. Asher Roth, Chip The Ripper & Boldy James

'Roll Call' is the type of Cool Kids i enjoy. No forgetting to rhyme half your lines from Mike and Chuck and the minimal production that manages to keep your attention and avoid feeling repetitive, especially given the track runs for 5 minutes. Asher has a nice verse, Chip's is okay and Boldy's is 'eh'.

Rating: 7.5/10

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Track Review: RZA - Operator ft. Kosha Dillz & Kool G Rap

This post is mainly thanks to Kosha Dillz. This is the first time I've heard the MC, who, if you hadn't noticed from the name, is Jewish, and seems to like to drop a number of references in his rhymes so you don't forget it. Gimmicks aside he does a terrific job with his verse here, his flows flawless, rhyme schemes are on point and he's adept with the imagery as well. RZA contributes some decent production and an average refrain while Kool G Rap lays down a fairly underwhelming 16 himself.

Download: RZA - Operator ft. Kosha Dillz & Kool G Rap | Lyrics

Rating: 7/10

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

NEW: Vakill - Armor of God

Vakill's long - and i mean looooooooong - awaited 3rd album, Armor of God, has finally hit the net. Funnily enough, though I love his last two albums, I wasn't particuarly fond of either on first listen. On that note, i'll be dropping a review in a week or so once i've had time to digest the release. Here's the tracklist and a couple of the tracks to be found on Armor of God:
1. Intro
2. Hi Ate Us (produced by Panik)
3. Armor of God (produced by Jake One)
4. Mean Mug Muzik (produced by Panik)
5. Sick Cinema (produced by Panik)
6. Heavy (produced by Panik)
7. Endless Road f/Vizion (produced by Bluntologist)
8. The Apology (produced by Joe Blow)
9. Wild Wild (produced by Bluntologist)
10. Beast Ballad f/Crooked I, Rhymefest, Juice & Nino Bless (produced by Panik)
11. NWA (produced by Panik)
12. You Don’t Know f/Astonish (produced by Panik)
13. I Came for U (produced by Panik)
14. Armorgeddon (produced by Jake One)
15. A Lynched Legacy (produced by Memo)
16. Bi-Polar (produced by Panik)
17. Proof (produced by Jake One)

Previously:  Album Review: The Darkest Cloud

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Doomtree - SREAM (Sleep Rules Everything Around Me) [Wugazi remix]

This is a bit of a change of pace. Talented Minnesota collective, Doomtree, are making a mash up project called 13 Chambers where they're combining Wu-Tang Clan with Punk Rock band Fugazi. This track is the combination of Fugazi’s I’m So Tired and Wu-Tang Clans C.R.E.A.M. I must say, that as someone who generally avoids producer remixes I'm really enjoying this.

Download: Doomtree - SREAM

Monday, July 4, 2011

Track Review: Trae Tha Truth – I’m On ft. Lupe Fiasco, Big Boi, Wale, Wiz Khalifa & MDMA

Off Trae's upcoming album, Street King, dropping July 12th.

Productions on point here with it's minimalist, relaxed vibe. MDMA's vocals are a nice touch an a lot less commercial than anything you might have heard from him on LASERS. Lupe's verse is pretty good and Big Boi brings some great energy to the track. Trae, Wale and Wiz's verses are all decent enough but hardly memorable. I've seen a lot of complaints regarding Trae's voice and I have to say, it certainly is distinct. I can't say I'm a big fan but it fails to bother me either.

Download: Trae Tha Truth – I’m On f. Lupe Fiasco, Big Boi, Wale, Wiz Khalifa & MDMA (Produced by Cy Fyre The Producer) | Lyrics

Rating: 7.5/10

Track Review: Common - Ghetto Dreams ft. Nas (Prod. No I.D.)

 Ghetto Dreams is Common’s first single off his upcoming album, The Dreamer, The Believer. My Hat's off to No I.D. for his production here, it sounds like a modern day revision of a 90's 'banger' with it's looped sample arrangement and vocal cuts for a chorus.
The type of bitch that Big said he would die for
Is the type that I would rather stay alive for
While I never would have thought 'women' would be a suitable topic for this brand of production, Common's musings on the perfect woman and Nas' braggadocios adventures concerning the opposite sex both work because they apply the same flow and delivery you'd expect from either of them on a 'street track'.

Rating: 8/10 

Download: Common - Ghetto Dreams ft. Nas | Lyrics 
Previously: Nas - Nasty

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Quarterly Review: Best Hip-Hop From April - June


After a slow start to the year the second quarters seen a ton of new music released and with Kendrick Lamar, Royce Da 5'9, Vakill, J.Cole and Jay-Z / Kanye dropping in the next month or two there's plenty of good Hip-Hop still to come our way.

In general order of quality

Lupe Fiasco - Airplanes | Review
Vents - Marked For Death | Link
Kendrick Lamar - Ronald Reagan Era | Review
Richie Cunning - Pure Imagination | Review
Kendrick Lamar - HiiiPower | Review
Elzhi - Memory Lane | Link
Nas - Nasty | Review
Grieves - Boogie Man | Link
J.Cole - Return of Simba | Review
Big Sean - Wait For Me ft. Lupe Fiasco | Link
Brown Bag Allstars - See Again | Review
Random Axe - Jahphy Joe ft. Melanie Rutherford | Link
Drake - Marvin's Room | Review
Drapht - Sing It | Link
Royce Da 5'9 - Second Place (Prod. DJ Premier) | Review
Bobby Raps - Riff Raff | Review
Mr. J Medeiros - Neon Signs | Review
Blue Scholars - Cinemetropolis | Link
J.Cole - How High | Review
Drake - Trust Issues | Review
Jehst - England | Review
Drake - Dreams Money Can Buy | Review
Co$$ - Only When I Dream ft. Aloe Blacc & Sene | Review
Copywrite & Jakki Da Mota Mouth - Luscious | Review
Nametag - S.I.N ft. Quest MCODY & Buff1 (Prod. Black Milk) | Review
Ketchphraze - My Detroit ft. Trick Trick & Elzhi (Prod. Black Milk) | Review

For download links to individual songs click the 'review' link next to each track 

Drapht - The Life of Riley

The best release from Australia so far this year. The album has "some great production, well complemented with dynamic hooks and an MC with a unique voice and versatile and varied content".
Rating: 7.7/10 | Full Review 

Blue Scholars - Cinemetropolis

Brilliant production, some of the best so far this year. Album does tend to get a little monotonous after a while however.
Rating: 7.3/10 | Full Review 

  Random Axe - Self Titled

This album really delivers exactly what you're expecting: great production from Black Milk and fairly good battle rap from Guilty Simpson and Sean Price. Nothing new or innovative about this release but it does what it does well.
Rating: 7.7/10 | Full Review

Elzhi - Elmatic

"Much like the original record there is zero filler and the whole release has a ton of replay value". Will Sessions does an amazing job recreating Illmatic's production and Elzhi has one of his strongest performances yet.
Rating: 9.0/10 | Full Review | Download

Bad Meets Evil - Hell: The Sequel

Disappointing. Every now and then you can see glimpses of what the project should have been (mainly from Royce's corner) but in the end the whole release is sub-par.
Rating: 6.2/10 | Full Review

Vents - Marked For Death

Vents is the Australian version of 'Lowkey' or a toned down Immortal Technique. Great aggressive delivery, great content and solid technical skills.
Rating: 7.4/10 | Full Review

Grieves - Together/Apart

Anyone that's never given Grieves a chance needs to, now. He's certainly not for everyone but anyone that's a fan of Brother Ali or Dessa is going to have a hard time not enjoying this release.
Rating: 8.7/10 | Full Review

Big Sean - Finally Famous

Big Sean falls into the Drake and Kid Cudi category of not necessarily being a great MC but still being able to make great music. Wasn't expecting to like this anywhere near as much as I did.
Rating: 7.5/10 | Full Review

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Album Review: Big Sean - Finally Famous

I must say, I was debating whether or not to even give this album a listen. My only real previous experience with Big Sean was his guest verses on Kanye's GOOD Friday series where he usually managed to put out the worst verse on any track he was featured on. Suffice to say, Finally Famous left me pleasantly surprised. The production - almost exclusively handled by No I.D. - is fantastic and thanks to a slew of guests the albums choruses are outstanding.

As for Big Sean himself, well, he's no Drake or Kanye but he is a lot better than I gave him credit for. His content isn't exactly varied but he's not rehashing the same work over and over again either and at times his lyrics are reasonably personal and revealing. His flow is competent but he does make an effort to vary it. Delivery wise Sean's rather bland and monotone and his attempts at, what I can only call, 'swagging it up', almost all fail miserably.
Boy, I’m cock-a-mania
The most zaniest, insaniant
Pulling up in Merced-iance
Rolling up like I’m Damian
I love girls that Arabian, Albanian, caucasian
You'll have a tough time finding lyrics more cringe worthy than that. That said, his lyricism is actually somewhat witty and impressive at times, though he does have some rather horrific punchlines and and attempts at wordplay. On the flip side, he has the ability to bring meaning and poignancy to his music, with tracks such as 'Don't Tell Me You Love Me' and the John Legend assisted 'Memories'.

While Big Sean is overshadowed somewhat by the albums production and guests (Lupe's verse is stunning) the album is still really enjoyable and likely to go down as one of the years better commercial releases within the genre.

Highlights: Memories, Don't Tell Me You Love Me, Wait For Me
Lowlights: Dance(Ass)

Rating: 7.5/10

Track Review: Richie Cunning - Pure Imagination (Prod. Richie Cunning)

Download: Richie Cunning - Pure Imagination

I feel like I'm saying this a lot lately, but, this track is a contender for song of the year so far. The production makes use of the 'Willy Wonka' soundtrack - which it samples - to great effect, with a dark, somber loop that switches to more wistful, feel good instrumentation throughout the song. The writing is superb. Richie is both poetic and straight-forward as he muses on what life would be like if he made it, followed by his exploration of the reality of his situation.The lyrics are brutally honest and all the more endearing for it:
If i knew that even one listener was with it
I would spit til the club had to close down,
Like a tired old horn player blowin with his
case popped open on the street in a ghost town,
Take a breath, grab the mic, here we go again,
Crowd thinning I pretend that I aint noticing,
They say 'Richie yo you know we got your back
but it's late and we aint sittin round waitin for the show to end',
Type a night to turn bangers into sad songs,
Didn't even make enough to grab a cab home,
Same train same lonely ride, the cold world roles slowly by..
 Just brilliant.

Rating: 10/10