8/31/08

Random Post #2

1 - The Recession is a classic and album of the year so far. Review by Wednesday. The only other albums that could come close to it are Paper Trail and Theatre of the Mind. Maybe Detox if Dre finally gets bored with the questions and just puts it out.

Other albums worth caring about
II Trill
Ego Trippin'
I Pledge Allegiance to the Grind II
The Nigger Tape
Trilla (Just my luck. Soon as I start liking the dude, the truth is revealed.

2 - Two of the best rappers alive have just announced that they have upcoming albums: Cam'ron - Crime Pays & Scarface - Emeritus. Their just may be a god. I've been procrastinated on my Scarface discography review, but The Fix has officially become my favorite album in the last week or so. And High Powered is a monstrous track. To quote my best friend "Scarface raps just to make everyone else sound like a bitch".

Cam'ron has been "missing" for a while, but he's still been dabbling in music every now and then. My Aura still goes harder than most tracks out there.

3 - I don't know and I don't even pretend to know shit about politics, but what the fuck is McCain thinking??? The governor of Alaska??? Really, McCain??? Are you that desperate to pick up leftover female votes??? FAIL!!!

4 - Somebody please tell Lil' Wayne to stop. Just stop. You sold a gazillion records and you're skipping court to drop terrible verses like on Swagger Like Us (which is great besides his verse).

5 - Common's video for Announcement is raw as hell. Almost makes up for the mess that is Universal Mind Control. I only have 21 Neptunes produced tracks on my iTunes. hmmmmmmmm

6 - Chamillionaire loses alot of points for selling Mixtape Messiah 4. Mixtapes are supposed to be free man. Don't be a douschebag just because Ultimate Victory flopped. It was still a great album.

Upcoming posts
The Recession review
Kanye West production discography review of my iTunes
Scarface discography review
Ludacris vs. T.I. Discography review


(The chick to the left of me is a dime)

8/25/08

The Game - L.A.X.



The Game claims alot of things. He claims that their is no rapper on earth that he can't lyrically fuck in the ass. He claims that he single-handedly ended G-Unit. He claims that he has three classic. He claims that L.A.X. is his last album, unless he gets to make his dream West-Coast project DOC. If this is true, than Game has ended his wacky career on a low-note.

Game continues to show that he has an excellent ear for beats. LAX has great production full of West Coast bangers and West Coast funk. Cool & Dre do themselves particularly proud with the emotional banger "My Life" and the guitar smashing "Money". Game is damn near as good lyrically as he was on The Documentary and his flow is much more flexible and he even shows some excellent mimicking abilities without sounding like a parody.

The problem with the album is a lack of focus. The Documentary was Game proving that he deserved the backing from Dr. Dre and 50 Cent. Doctor's Advocate was half Chronic 06 and half emotional expungement. LAX feels alot more like a debut album than a final album. DMX's intro and outro are kinda moving, but predictable and unnecessary. State of Emergency, Bulletproof Diaries, and Ya Heard seem to exist just for the purpose of Game getting to collaborate with artists he respect; Ice Cube (who's only the chorus), Raekwon, and Ludacris, who continues to prove why he's the best feature man in the game. Cali Sunshine is just a sonically calmer version of State of Emergency or LAX Files. House of Pain has a brutal DJ Toomp production, but Game doesn't really attack it like he does on previous battle-rap tracks like Church for Thugs or Scream on 'Em. Let Us Live has Game doing an excellent imitation of Nas' Escobar persona, but it's pretty useless on a track called Let Us Live when he makes no type of social commentary. And his two attempts at lady songs, Gentleman's Affair and Touchdown, are the two worst tracks he has ever made. Special from the Documentary is ions better.

It's not all bad though. LAX Files is a dreary opener where Game semi-documents his life as gangbanger. My Life is an emotionally draining track where Game pours out his feelings about the hood and his life. This is hands down, Lil' Wayne's best use of the vocoder (or autotune whatever) and Wayne really drenches the emotion of Katrina onto the chorus. It rivals Start from Scratch in pure emotion. Money has a great Cool & Dre production and Game is lyrically on fire while bragging about the almighty dollar.

Angel has a funky Kanye production and is great just off of the irony of the track. Common appears and raps about weed and Game spits about what hip-hop means to him. I know, right? Never Can Say Goodbye has a brilliant concept as Game takes on the personas of 2Pac, Biggie, & Easy-E just minutes before their deaths. Game really flexes his impersonation skills and he does a damn good job, even though his Big mimic sounds sort of like a parody. After so much laid-back funk, the bleepy synths and rock drums of Dope Boyz is a banging breath of fresh air. Pain is a laid-back ode to all the pioneers of hip-hop (Isn't that Game's career?). Letter to the King is a haunting track where Nas joins Game to share some thoughts about the sacrifices that civil rights leaders like MLKJR & Rosa Parks made for the future and questioning the integrity of current leaders.

Overall: 6/10 - 3/5 - B-

Best Songs: My Life, Money, Angel

The Bonus CD is half and half. Big Dreams is definitely album worthy with an epic Cool & Dre production and Game stomps all over this track. Spanglish has a great beat and Game raps about the presence of Latin bangbangers. That's the good half. Camera Phone is even worse than Gentleman's Affair and Touchdown and Nice has Game throwing generic punchlines over a paper thin beat. Not worth buying.

8/23/08

Ice Cube - Raw Footage



I'll be honest and say that I've never listened to an Ice Cube album. Besides a couple of singles (Go To Church owns) and a hanful of great guest appearances, I'm not familar with much of Ice Cube's work. So, uh, Ice Cube - Raw Footage.

Raw Footage is for the most part, raw. Cube, one of the originators of gangster rap is still all about representing and defending it, as seen on "Gangster Rap Made Me Do It" and "Thank God" which has a dead-on attack on gangster rap critics. Cube does offer some deeper numbers like the smoothed-out "Why Me" where he asks murderers to think about the overall effect that murder has on the world before they do the deed and "Hood Mentality" where he takes on the persona of an ignorant black teenager as a criticism of the mindset that young black men possess. Everything else is pretty much hard-ass gangsta tracks with small bits of mature insight in the hood. See the funky "Stand Tall"

"Everyday I think about my color
And all the crazy shit that we do to each other
I ain't ya blood brotha, but I'm ya cuz brotha
Let's take it back to the love and how it was brotha
If not we gon' be pull these triggas
And show the world we deserve to be called niggas"


Cube is still a solid lyricist, but his slow, predictable delivery and his crisp enunciation make his flow very dated and at times he can drop some corny lines.

"They music is fluffy, my shit is so gutter
That shit is kinda popcorn, my shit is so butter"

-It Takes A Nation

The corny lines are made null and void on the anthemic "Thank God". And Cube proves he can still be a menace on "Here He Comes"

"When I hit the block, watch 'em scatter like roaches
So don't be fake, cause I know what a hoe is
Handle my business, no playing cause I'm focused
You the definition of what a fuckin' joke is
When they see you coming they play with yo emotions
Fuck with my emotions and they'll found you in the oceans
Yeah I said oceans, thats right I mean plurl
My boy got a knife that turn a boy into a girl"


The production in pretty good overall. Trademark West-Coast beats; aggressive bass and bleepy, tinged synths. DJ Toomp delivers the best track with "Got My Locs On". It sounds like something straight out of Thug Motivation 101, with booming gothic synths and Young Jeezy's uber-cool voice on the chorus. The Game, who is evolving into the Johnny Depp of rap, perfectly imitates Cube's vintage flow on "Get Used to It" which also has a useless WC.

Overall: 7/10 - 3.5/5 - B

Best Songs: Hood Mentality, I Got My Locs On, Here He Come

8/20/08

Nas REDUX!!!



Untitled should've been a masterpiece. Nas has always been kinda conscious and slowly, but surely as his career progressed he got angrier and angrier at the way things in the world are and Untitled/Nigger was gonna be Nas focusing all his anger on the pen and pad. The album being names Nigger just insured that Nas would be criticizing the government, society, and the black community to a lesser extent and that is basically what he did sans Breathe, Make The World Go Round, Queens Get The Money, & We're Not Alone. The Nigger Tape is arguably the best mixtape ever made with the only competition being Dipset Vol. 5. It had a handful of tracks with great production, lyrics, and themes that support what Nas was trying to do. So here's my version of Untitled with songs from Untitled, The Nigger Tape, and two random tracks. The pace rises from calm to banging frequently in my attempts at cohesion.

1 - Nigger Hatred
2 - Be A Nigger Too
3 - You Can't Stop Us Now
4 - Hero
5 - Esco Lets Go
6 - Cops Keep Firing
7 - Sly Fox
8 - America
9 - Association
10 - Ghetto Remix
11 - N.I.G.G.E.R. (The Slave and The Master)
12 - Fried Chicken
13 - Project Roach
14 - Testify
15 - Black President

I guess Nas couldn't clear the sample or he just liked Queens Get The Money better, but this is clearly the better opener. Queens Get The Money is more like a really dope "freestyle" that has no type of meaning. It's technically better than Nigger Hatred, but Nigger Hatred gets the point across better and really prepares you for the album.

The transition from the somber piano to the anthemic hi-hats and drums show Nas means business. Hero and Esco Lets Go are the commercial minded bangers, but Hero is basically summing up the deal with whole Nigger controversy and some flossing layed across a glittery Polow Da Don production. Esco Lets Go is the best Nas song ever. This beat is something serious and this one of maybe 3 or 4 times in Nas' career where he shows some "swag". I'm not big into "swag", but Nas is just too raw on this.

Cops Keep Firing, Sly Fox, & America is the attack on the government and society section. Great production on all 3 of those. Association is about how the people around you affect how you're viewed. Nas drops 2 serious verses and stic.man from Dead Prez drops a hard verse. The chorus kinda sucks when it changes to woman. The Ghetto Remix, NIGGER, Fried Chicken, & Project Roach is the hood observation section. Nas and fellow NYer Joell Ortiz both go in over DJ Green Lantern's jazzy production on Ghetto Remix. NIGGER is their because it's great and DJ Toomp's drums make the transition to the great concept tracks Fried Chicken and Project Roach that much better.

Testify's production is a true experience. It doesn't register at first, but on repeat listens the piano, sample, and subtle choir is truly moving. Black President has an anthemic quality about it and it's a look to the future, so it's only right that it's the closer.

ENJOY

8/16/08

DJ Drama & Ludacris - The Preview: Gangsta Grillz



To gain some buzz for his upcoming album and my prediction for album of the year, Theater of the Mind, Ludacris teams up with DJ Drama (AKA Mr. Thanksgiving AKA The iPod King AKA Barack Odrama AKA Dram Cruise) for the mixtape The Preview.

The results are pretty good. Ludacris takes his comedically dramatic liquid flow and clever punchlines and applies it to a gang of jacked beats. From recent bangers like Jay-Z’s Blue Magic, Mike Jones’ Still Tippin’, & Young Jeezy’s Put On to vintage classics like Outkast’s Get Up and Get Out, Tela’s Sho Nuff, & Prodigy’s Keep It Thoro.

Luda adds his own spin on the mixtape by adding some comedy to the mix. The “Vocalizer Skit” is an advertisement for the ubiquitous vocoder being used by Lil’ Wayne, T-Pain, and others. Officer Ross’ The Boss is turned into Bigg Ass House where Luda brags about the size of his domain. The funniest track is when Luda transforms John Legend’s Ordinary People into a drunken club night entitled “Ordinary Negroes”. Throw It Up, which I guess is gonna be on Busta Rhymes’ Blessed, is a banging posse track with Luda, Lil’ Wayne, & Busta Rhymes. It’s one of Wayne’s best guest verses since he got kinda wack, Luda proves why he’s the best feature rapper alive, and Busta, who’s been on a tear this year with brutal verses on LaLa and Fried Chicken, drops a hard verse.

It’s not all peaches and cream though. Luda comments on the state of rap beefs on the Heart of the City-esque “Stay Together” and he uses Young Buck’s sinister “Get Buck” to support Barack Obama on the gold star “Politics As Usual”. It’s main flaw are the boring tracks used to promote low-level DTP and AMG artists.

Overall: 8/10 – 4/5 – A-. Trademark Luda, but too much weed-carrier promotion.

Best Song
1 – Politics as Usual
2 – Throw It Up
3 – Ordinary Negroes

DOWNLOAD THE PREVIEW: GANGSTA GRILLZ