Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Return To The Winners Circle - Curren$y (Review)

1. Daze Of Thunder | 4 - 4.5 (Produced by Kanye West)

2. Rain Delay | 4 - 4.5 (Produced by RZA)

3. On... | 3 - 3.5

4. Trophy Case | 3 - 3.5

5. Empire Monopoly | 3 - 3.5

6. Frost | 3.5 - 4 (Produced by Beat Billionaire)

7. Record Deals | 3.5 - 4 (Produced by Organized Noise)

Curren$y needed to rap more.

8. Moon & Stars (Remix) (Featuring Big K.R.I.T & Killa Kyleon) | 4 - 4.5 (Produced by Big K.R.I.T)

9. Role Model | 4 - 4.25 (Produced by Ski)

10. Paydays | 3.5

11. Jets At Your Neck (Featuring Young Roddy & Trademark Da Skydiver) | 3.25 - 3.75

The Verdict: 38.75 - 43.5 | 75% | 3.75 / 5

“Haters is mad we get high, and rich \ Ain’t slowing down for nothing, George Kush the Button \ Like what do this though, fuck it, here go nothing.”

-Daze Of Thunder

Judging from that quote, I think it’s still a testament that the year of 2011 has brought no change into Shante Anthony Franklin’s artistic integrity at all. And that’s already one New Year’s resolution that Curren$y should, and is going to continually follow throughout the course of the year.

And this year really does look stacked for Curren$y. We’ve gotten talks of an early-quarter release of Pilot Talk III, his often-spoken of Muscle Car Chronicles, and the newest addition to this list, Covert Coup with super-producer Alchemist. So Curren$y does have a lot of to deal with, and this mixtape is merely the start to how Curren$y is going to tackle this 2011.

It seems quite obvious that Curren$y isn’t going to change his ways. From the stellar get-go of listing the usual objectives that Curren$y achieves and does on the stellar “Live Fast, Die Young,” production from Kanye West, to the sharp contrasts of the moody and brooding remake of Raekwons Rainy Dayz in Rain Delay, or even Young Dro’s summer banger “Freeze Me” made into “Frost,” whatever production the young Curren$y tackles is receives the same fate as any other track he’s going to. And I’m just fine with that.

There definitely are the shining moments on this tape (besides the forementioned), such as Curren$y’s ridiculous verse on the “Moon & Stars” remix, or the quietly hidden Ski-produced Role Model. Even Jets At Your Neck deserves some honorable mention, considering it’s the best J.E.T.S-posse cut. You’ve got the track Space Shuttle to compete with, so it reallyisn’t that hard.

Yet, you know that this is throwaway material for Curren$y. However, I don’t really feel that issue is too important to be addressed. If Curren$y is willing to consider such quality material as quick music for the masses, I don’t see any problem with that. Sure, the section from On... to Empire Monopoly isn’t the most engaging Curren$y rapping, but there isn’t anything specifically or blatantly wrong with any of it.

So anyways even in 2011, Just Enjoy This Shit. Jets fool.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Past, Present(s), Future (Review) - Diggy Simmons

(All tracks produced by DJ Premier unless noted)

1. DJ Premier (Intro) | 3.5

2. Digg Is Like | 3.25 - 3.75

3. Risin’ To The Top | 3 - 3.5 (Produced by Doug. E.Fresh)

4. DJ Premier (Break 2) | 3.5

5. Shook Ones Pt. 3 | 3.25 - 3.75 (Produced by Havoc)

6. Wake Up (Interlude 1) | 3 - 3.5 (Produced by Pete Rock)

Alright, I know you wake up seven in the morning. No need to scratch it for a minute.

7. DJ Premier (Break 3) | 3.5

8. Electric Relaxation | 3.25 - 3.75 (Produced by Q-Tip)

9. Paid in Full | 3.25 - 3.75 (Produced by Eric B & Rakim)

10. Elevator Music | 3.25 - 3.75

11, Shut Em’ Down | 3 - 3.5 (Produced by Pete Rock)

12. Cypher (Continued) | 3.25 - 3.75

13. DJ Premier (Outro) | 4 (Produced by Salaam Remi)

The Verdict: 43 - 43.75 | 67% | 3.35 / 5

There isn’t really much to discuss in terms of the mixtape itself. What you expect is what you’re basically going to get, though, you can never go wrong with DJ Premier scratches and smooth golden-age hip hop production.

While these are freestyles essentially, it does show Diggy Simmons general subject matter, which is somewhat of a concern. It’s also interesting to note that this mixtape doesn’t take after the general “jet life / fly society” themes that Diggy usually portrays himself as. But still, much like fellow N.Y.C rapper J. Cole for example, Diggy tends to stay on his lane with raps about success, the good life, being good at rapping, and of course, ladies.

Diggy can certainly rap, there’s no doubt about it, but much what people are criticizing J. Cole about (one-dimensonal subject matter, what he’s going to rap about in the future), Diggy should also consider those same flaws J. Cole has. Diggy can certainly rap, like I said before, but how long can he rap before he runs out of things to say. Yet, unlike J. Cole, Diggy is a mere fifteen years old, there’s a bright future ahead of him. There’s no need to demean him just yet, considering Diggy is still a very impressive rapper.

Also DJ Premier, is it really necessary to scratch one Diggy line for a minute? I understand he wakes up at seven in the morning.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Finally Famous Vol. 3: B.I.G (Review) - Big Sean

(Produced by Key Wane unless noted)

1. Final Hour | 4:26 | 3.5 - 3.75 (Produced by Don Cannon & Nick Cage)

“Workin’ graveyard shifts because we here to make a ... killin’”

2. Meant To Be | 4:00 | 2.75 - 3 (Produced by DJ Spinz)

“Remain a stand-up n*gga like I was standing in front of the urinal.”

3. What U Doin’ (Bullshittin’) | 2:36 | 3.25 - 3.75 (Produced by The Olympicks)

"And now I put it in her mouth, and that bitch look like a conehead.”

4. Money & Sex (Featuring Bun B) | 3:47 | 4 - 4.25 (Produced by No I.D)

Big Sean kills the third verse. “Lifes a beach so I’m always getting laid.” “I’m in the back seat, getting my dick wet / Fell asleep while getting brain, that’s a headrest.” No I.D gives an odd, strangely fascinating production front.

5. Five Bucks (5 On It) (Featuring Chip Tha Ripper & Curren$y) | 3:42 | 3.75 - 4

“Acting all stuckup, now they just stuck from smoking with us.” I’ll give credit to Chip Tha Ripper for the extra effort he put in, made a nice flowy verse.

6. High Rise | 3:25 | 4.25 - 4.75 (Produced by Don Cannon)

The production and the verses are plain ridiculous. “Paranoid because every rapper named Big got bodied.” Gives a little jab here with the stealing flows thing.

7. Crazy | 2:35 | 3.25 - 3.5 (Produced by The Olympicks)

8. Hometown | 2:51 | 2.75 - 3 (Produced by Elised Of Treal)

9. Supa Dupa Lemonade | 3:34 | 3.25 - 3.75 (Produced by Bangladesh)

10. Fat Raps (Remix) (Featuring Chuck Inglish, Asher Roth, Chip Tha Ripper, Dom Kennedy & Boldy James) | 5:56 | 3.5 - 4 (Produced by Chuck Inglish)

Should’ve just taken everyone out except Chuck Inglish and add Curren$y again. Production has the warm bass which is always nice.

11. My Closet (Featuring SAYINAINTTONE) | 3:56 | 3.25 - 3.75

Confused when SAYINAINTTONE says “We got some haters in our closet and we use them for targets,” and then says later on in the first verse, “Yeah I got it all except them haters in my closet.” Sean kills his own verse.

12. Too Fake (Featuring Chiddy Bang) | 4:21 | 2.5 - 3 (Produced by Xaphoon Jones)

13. Fuck My Opponent (Featuring Tyga) | 3:43 | 3.75 - 4 (Produced by Trilliowz)

14. Made (Featuring Drake) | 3:39 | 3.5 - 3.75 (Produced by Wrightrax)

“I’m the highlight, like when markets glow.” Drake is really taking that Bun B-UGK thing seriously isn’t he?

15. Ambigious (Featuring Mike Posner & Clinton Sparks) | 4:54 | 3.75 - 4 (Produced by Clinton Sparks)

Sure the verses are embarrasingly bad, but Mike Posner croons ridiculously good for once, crooning that question every guy has with one miss.

16. Almost Made You A Love Song (Feautring Suai) | 3:57 | 4 - 4.25

Everything that this song said is written with purpose, and I especially like when Big’s last verse falters, and Suai croons with the breakdown. Ridiculous song.

17. Memories | 3:34 | 3.25 - 3.5

18. Glenwood (Bonus Track) (Featuring Kanye West) | 2:39 | 4 - 4.25 (Produced by Kanye West)

“Ya’ll illy, I’m iller, I’m from Illnois.” “B-I-G is, gee whiz, he is / Sure he’ll be the man ever since a fetus.”

Overall Rating: 62 - 68.25 | 70 - 76% | 3.65 / 5 | Impressive; well above average; TRY IT

It all started with the Supa Dupa Lemonade video released at the beginning of the last year. Partly based off his recent XXL Freshman 2010 freestyle he did, and then adding to that, it looked like a new beginning for the G.O.O.D Music signee, and finally gave him something to characterize him besides the electro-tinged Getcha Some. Soon though, disgruntled fans and impatient critics soon began to wait for the constant delays, starting from Feburary, March, July, and finally it dropped on August 31st 2010. Probably due to the prolonged wait, or just the dissatisfaction of Big Seans material lately, it’s been said that Big Sean is just merely a uncharacteristic punchline rapper with a lack of ideas. Yet you have to ask yourself, isn’t it harder being original than just giving your fans a cohesive tape? Does it really matter in this decade currently whether your ideas have to be the most innovative, or the most experimental or quirky?

For now, the answer is a simple no. Currently we have stars like Rick Ross, Drake even people like Bruno Mars, all become famous even without providing any sort of characterisitic that they themselves pioneered. Rick Ross continues on the gangster mannerisms his predecessors have done, Drake crooning and rapping, just continuing on what other rappers have merely dabbled in, and Bruno Mars co-writing summer hits (Right Round, and his own summer hit, Just The Way You Are) Sure originality is a definite plus, but the critics of Big Sean act like it is his fatal flaw.

If anything, I’m more concerned with Big Sean’s blatant pop attempts. Getcha Some was Big Seans pop-opus, a electronica-tinged breakbeat along with blasting synths, and it seems to be the formula Big Sean seems to be following. Yet, why is Big Sean wasting his time on dull songs such as Too Fake (Just for the one, two, the relatively popular electronica-rap artist Chiddy Bang is on here too), or even songs like Meant To Be, a typical song about how Big was meant to be. Or if anything, we can be concerned about Big Sean’s choice of production. We’ve got songs like Hometown or Crazy that are just drab, monotonous tracks that could easily be added to Big Seans opponents arsenal of criticism.

Of course, you’ve got ridiculous tracks such as the horn and strings blaring High Rise, or the Drive Slow-sampling, 5 On It, even the moody, 808-minimalist dabblings of No I.D on the typically titled track, Money & Sex. Sure. Hell, you could even add the Finally Famous album-castaway, the piano-clunking rapping-duo Glenwood, with Kanye and Big Sean coming off each others lines. they don’t exactly demand different, but they simply demand a couple of undiscriminating ears to listen. The results are well worth it, as Big Sean constantly demonstrates his lyrical punchline muscle that’s made him so watched for these few years. From the first track, and even on his pop attempts, Big Sean always drops that one-liner or those several lines that makes your ears ring, making smiles and just providing a bunch of fun. It’s also fortunate for the kid that he can pretty much rap about the same things, and twist and formulate his punchlines for any occasion(Except Kanye, who just stole Glenwood with that Illinois line. Too ill.) Is that really a problem for anyone? After all I believe being an emcee was about entertaining the crowd, and if Big Sean can do that, that’s fantastic and simply, good for him.

What surprised me though was the two pop-songs that Big Sean nestled in near the end, which were the songs Ambigious and Almost Wrote You A Love Songs. While the simple glance at them already gives me shudders, and the featuring of Mike Posner was about to make me skip it, I just happened to listen to it. It was about ten at night and I was coming home on the train from a workout at the gym. It just hit me. Somewhere between Mike Posner’s crooning and Suai’s lovely singing it proved to me that, these are good, actually great songs. While Ambigious is a faded-late night daze, Almost Wrote You A Love Song simple works off that- ambigious feeling, allowing Big Sean and Suai to go back and forth talking about a lost love. This moment was simply unexpected and really interested me to see what Big Sean can do for his debut.

I think the main problem, admist all of the other previous stated is the fact that Big Sean isn't new. After all he has been doing this same kind of rap for a couple of years now, and now with the rap subjects of weed (High Rise, 5 On It), women (Ambigious, Almost Wrote You A Love Song, Crazy, Money & Sex), or in his case, just plain swagger-rapping, it's difficult to translate what Big Sean will make of these subjects in the longrun.

Yet, why do people complain about Big Sean doing the same thing his fellow contemporaries have done? Is it really a crime for someone to talk about the typical while presenting it in his own way? After all, that’s what rap has been doing for several years now, basing it’s ideas off other genres and other songs and people, it’s a lot. While Big Sean certainly doesn’t give us the fantastic replication of a tape, he provides a consistently entertaining tape that’ll have you rewinding lines for days and weeks to come. However, it’s interesting how Big Sean will use his punchlines and his pop-abilities to formulate the long awaited debut album. Ever so easily Vol. 3 could’ve become a album, and it would’ve sold, but it wasn’t. Is that Big Seans huge mistake or a great decision? Essentially, this is Big Sean’s best, most consistent tape yet, and it should not go unnoticed. There is work to be done though, but of course, for any artist there is work to be done. In Big Sean's case, the problem will be in making the album with his one-dimensional persona.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Never A Dull Moment EP - Willie The Kid

(All songs produced by Lee Bannon)

1. Blades | 0:18 | 3.5
An interesting sample that tries to lay out the concept of this album
2. New Flash | 2:06 | 4 - 4.25
Everything sounds like it’s chugging along.
3. Necessary Way (Featuring La The Darkman) | 3.75 - 4
4. M140 Weighs A Ton | 2:29 | 4 - 4.25
“Castro cash flow, think like a Communist.”
5. Bath Water Running | 2:00 | 4 - 4.25
“Part from park that I played, I played her / Even paid piano players to serenade her.”
6. Sky Miles (Featuring Curren$y) | 4.5 - 5
“OG, no retro / Grab a dutchie and a bowl, thats Super Tecmo.” Or pretty much all of Curren$y’s verse.
7. Hickory Smoke | 1:54 | 4 - 4.25
8. Tarred & Feathered (Bonus) | 2:32 | 3.75 - 4
“Sweet like a parfait consumed / Flow like a souffle, they fake like a toupee, assumed, touche.”
9. Lost In France (Bonus) | 1:32 | 4 - 4.25
“Triumphant, arrive blow the trumpets / Breakfast in London, black team crumpets / Lacrosse trophies, rec room rumpus / Puff cigars, reminisce amongst stars.”

Overall Rating: 35.5 - 37.75 | 79 - 83% | 4.05 / 5 | Solid; few major reservations; BUY IT

Firstly, shoutouts to Verbose on the nappyafro.com staff for providing me with this project. I've really been anticipating this project for sometime, so it's really a huge help that someone would be ever so kind and provide it for me. Much thanks.

In Blades, the final sample the voice says is, “Watch how fast of someone whose really skilled can get into action with a knife.”

This quote speaks true for the whole EP, with Lee Bannon providing a flurry of fresh-samples from his crates, and Willie The Kid simply adapting to them. Lee Bannon & Willie The Kid have a very interesting chemistry, and it’s beneficial for both of them. Lee Bannon gets some nice exposure from Willie The Kids affiliates (DJ Drama, notably), and Willie The Kid gets a new lane of lyricism (Originally he was those typical gangster rappers) for himself to develop.

Lee Bannons production is pretty much worth the simple $3.99 purchase on Itunes, but I think I should emphasize on his production more. All the songs on this EP, until Sky Miles has this interesting vintage feeling, as if the quality was purposely altered to suit Willie The Kid. Lee Bannon heavily diversifies his production, providing chugging percussion to flesh out his endless array of samples exhibited, a howling scream on News Flash, a droning “necessary way,” on Necessary Way, or an accordian sample on M140 Weighs A Ton. Bath Water Running also features a retro sample, with it’s disco-lite tinge.

Of course, this EP is called Never A Dull Moment, and there would be dull moments if that vintage-style stayed consistent. However, starting from Sky Miles, a soft organ emanates throughout the track along with some drum kicks to add some warmth. Hickory Smoke features a flute whose notes play continously throughout, along with random vocal samples popping up throughout. Tarred & Feathered is a simple vocal sample thats lightly supported by some small percussion, and Lost In France is a collasal, hulking, track, exploding throughout with chimes and strings twirling in gracefully. Lee Bannon constantly switches up his style, and it’s intoxicating and plain hypnotizing.

Willie The Kid, much like Lee Bannon constantly alters his lyrics to fit the suiting topic of that production he’s been provided. From News Flash to Bath Water Running, it seems like the four track sequence is a series of songs with certain elements relating to each other. From the basketball-shootout story of News Flash, continuing on to the related need for violence on Necessary Way, the quirky gun-talking of M140 Weighs a Ton, or even the two faced lady pimping of Bath Water Running, the first few tracks go seamlessly together. Even tracks such as the simply shit talking Hickory Smoke and Tarred & Feathered, or the birds eye view given in Lost In France, they all that certain trait just linking each track to each other.

However, Willie The Kid is certainly not the greatest lyricist. While Willie The Kid can certainly hold on his own, as he lashes out observational stories like no tomorrow, and also expresses what he, as a rapper just thinks or sees. Willie The Kid has definitely improved his mic presence, with his verses seemingly showing signs of a Curren$y-lite, specifically as Willie The Kid has these moments where he wanders off and describes something else, and jumping back to the original subject later. Yet, speaking of Curren$y, the original Curren$y simply outshines Willie The Kid on the simply ridiculous Sky Miles, with the organ chugging beat allowing Curren$y to simply go crazy. This shows that Willie The Kid certainly has leaps and bounds to jump over before anything.

This EP releases at a time where artists like Rick Ross has pretty much tarnished the value of the EP, instead providing a behemoth standard for the hip hop/rap EP, simply put, original production. I'm glad that Willie The Kid was able to exactly do that.

Never A Dull Moment EP speaks for itself, because no single moment was ever dull. This project, being an EP, much like a knife, finishes through incredibly quickly, and while the skill of the person using the knife, or Willie, can be improved, it’s basic idea you can apply to this EP. Yet, it’s simply quite a project from both parties, and I’m definitely looking foward to any work that continues on between them. They definitely need it, since Single Rapper / Producer collaborations haven’t been seen in a minute, and this is one modern example that simply works.

Monday, August 9, 2010

ǝpısdn uʍop (Review) - Bei Maejor

(All songs produced by Bei Maejor unless noted)
Part 1: The ǝpısdn Down Story
1. End of the Night | 2:06 | 4 - 4.25
2. Kisses in the V.I.P | 4:22 | 4 - 4.5
The beginning part reminds me somewhat like Taeyang, not sure why.
3. Order What U Want | 3:53 | 3.25 - 3.75
Sometimes, theres no problem with doing blatantly pop-mainstream songs if the songwriting isn’t reprehensible.
4. Barbershop Talk (The Explanation) (Featuring Clinton Sparks) | 6:02 | 3.25 - 3.75
The boom-bap freestyled atmosphere is certainly an interesting way to put things. The story is quite interesting, and for a pop songwriter he definitely has his own creative lane.

Part 2: ǝpısdn uʍop Songs
5. Gone | 4:01 | 3.25 - 4
Creative concept, though it lacks that extra mile to really pull the vacation concept through.
6. All Night | 4:07 | 3.25 - 3.75
It took some time, but someone has successfully done the J.R Rotem on “Don’t Stop Believin.”
7. Boxers | 4:17 | 3.5 - 3.75
8. Gamez (Featuring Keri Hilson) | 3.25 - 3.75
Surprising that this song doesn’t sound totally ridiculous, actually it isn’t that bad of a song.
9. I’m On It (Featuring T-Pain) | 3:33 | 3.25 - 3.75 (Produced by All Star)
The T-Pain hook + melody make it sound like that DJ Khaled song, All I Do Is Win. Also, why is Madvillain’s, Accordian playing in the background?
10. Drinks On Me (Featuring Trey Songz) | 4:01 | 3.25 - 3.75 (Produced by Tim Bosky & Bel Maejor)
11. July (Featuring Drake & Jhene Aiko) | 4:36 | 3.75 - 4
12. She Was (A Broken Love Story) | 4:07 | 4 - 4.25
The production really brings this rather-typical story into better heights.
13. Facelifts & Waterfalls | 5:16 | 3.25 - 3.75 (Produced by Boi-1da)

Overall Rating: Part 1 | 14.75 - 16 | 76% | Solid; few major reservations; TRY IT
Part 2 | 30.75 - 34.75 | 72% | Impressive; well above average; TRY IT
Part 1 & 2 | 45.25 - 51 | 74% | Impressive: well above average; TRY IT

“Wow, I’m never that lucky.”
Much like Clinton Sparks, that was the same quote I had after the first part of this ǝpısdn Down Story was left to be continued on. The first two songs, End Of The Night, with it’s cluttering, boombastic drums, and Kisses in the V.I.P, a simple piano that expands on to a true song, are both highlights in this simple four part story. It really doesn’t matter whether they help drive the storyline on, because most of the story is explained in the little skits that are intelligently placed in the end of each song (except End Of The Night) Order What You Want is a simple, smartly written pop attempt and Barbershop Talk takes a definite left with the boom-bap retro throwback storytelling production.

Essentially this story is about Bei Maejor struggling between two women, who just happen to be a bad daughter and her equally bad mother (You know what I’m talking about) Throughout the mere four tracks, it’s a budding concept, and I’m pretty sure that Bei Maejor is going to expand on this in another mixtape or his eventual album. Bei Maejor has ghost-written and produced for a while, so his talents are definitely not to be wasted. Part 1 pretty much doesn’t have any flaws, and while none of it is perfect, it’s certainly creative, and that kind of artistic integrity is interesting in this current environment.

Much like Part 2 was called on the mixtape back cover, Part 2 is basically ǝpısdn uʍop songs, because there’s no real concept throughout each song that continues on. Obviously with Bei Maejor as a pop-pandering artist, one can expect many blatant pop attempts, and that’s already obvious from the get-go, from the melodic, innocent-piano laced, Gone. Gone is an interesting solo Bei Maejor song in particular, mostly because of it’s subject matter. While you’ve got a “Don’t Stop Believin’,” cover basically in All Night, and him talking about girls wearing boxers, Gone, at least talks about not having enough money to bring a girl on vacation. Bei Maejor as a solo artist can certainly hold his own, and while his voice isn’t turning ears, much like fellow R&B contemporary artist The-Dream, Bei Maejor knows how to make the song (But to a much lesser extent)

Bei Maejor has been doing this for a while, and his knack for specific sounds and lyrics definitely showcases in the three obvious radio-crossover songs, from Gamez to Drinks On Me. Gamez, along with that sexy Keri Hilson hook is actually not a totally ridiculous song, in fact, I wouldn’t really be surprised hearing this a couple of times if the radio snags it up quickly enough. Even further, I wouldn’t even mind hearing this out, because the pop-atmosphere, bright, breezy, and light, is exactly what this song is about. However, I’m On It and Drinks On Me aren’t terrible attempts, but their the most obviously cliched subject mattered songs. Typical T-Pain and Trey Songz hooks don’t really help matters (even though I like Trey Songz hooks), because both of these hooks sounds pretty damn forced. I was singing a little to the T-Pain hook, but the Trey Songz hook is one of the most laziest I’ve heard in a while. Yet, all of this is merely coasting for the young star, so I expect more from him.

So exactly why am I pulling so much for the young star, even if my comments seemed so deragatory? It’s pretty much all due to the impressive production and engineering skills the young singer has. Two songs specifically show the varied production schemes that Maejor can exhibit, and these songs are July and She Was (A Broken Love Story) July has a twinkling, innocent flair to it’s small pianos and plucking strings, with Bei Maejor singing about an unknown woman whose due date is July, along with a coasting Drake verse. She Was (A Broken Love Story) is a story about a young football star, and just requires a listen to get through. Yet, what wins this over is the production, with this song starting with an A Milli styled -strings introduction, and then continuing on to a teeter-tottering strings and acoustics train, as the story accelerates at an exhilirating pace.

As we conclude with Facelifts & Waterfall, a rather standard song mostly interesting for the confessional / biographical nature that Bei Maejor takes, we're pretty much left with a pop-debut album, if anything. Bei Maejor was someone I didn't really get into in my inital listens, because I pretty much expected a typical Jason Derulo, Range, or Iyaz kind of person, someone that wasn't interesting or distinguishable from the numerous established acts. Instead, what I got was someone else, an aspiring artist that's previously established himself in the industry, but not in the mainstream world, where he truly belongs. Bei Maejor isn't extrodinary, in either singing or rapping, but what I previously stated about The-Dream, Bei Maejor knows how to make the song, and these songs happen to make albums.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

B-Sides (Review) - Nesby Phips.

(All songs produced by Nesby Phips unless noted)

1. Aircraft Carrier | 2:01 | 3.5 - 3.75 (Produced by Sara)
2. Easy Peasey Japanesey | 3:03 | 3.5 - 4 (Produced by DJ Maxmillion)
“Plots getting thicker, I’m seeing the antagonist / Could you please step off the table with your dragon breath.” Reminds me of a Curren$y-lite here, especially with the nice Prioritize reference here.
3. Early Bird | 2:47 | 3.25 - 3.5 (Produced by DJ Maxmillion)
“And I don’t land unless you meet my demands / Simply lemonade, two call mic dope sound man.” The production grows dull though, even with the rumbling guitars.
4. Real Playas (Toughen Up) (Featuring Kosher Beatz) | 3:47 | 3.25 - 4 (Produced by Lazy Mane)
“Advanced eloquent / Tell him about that man whose gripping mic stands with that elephant.”
5. Say My Name (Featuring Side A) | 3:01 | 4 - 4.25
6. Inside Lookin Out | 2:52 | 4 - 4.5 (Produced by Ski Beatz)
“I try to walk it like I talk it, in a jesus fashion.”
7. Toughpills (Featuring Don Cannon) | 1:51 | 4 - 4.25 (Produced by Pete Rock)
Exactly what does the Don Cannon ad-libs have to do with the song?
8. The Avowal | 2:48 | 4 - 4.5
“Keep it consistent like beans and rice.”
9. 3 The Hard Way (Featuring Rugz D. Beweler & Da$h) | 4:30 | 3.75 - 4
The production and Phips just overshadows everyone else.
10. Midnight Oil (Featuring Jon Mecure) | 7:07 | 4 - 4.5 (Produced by Jon Mecure)
The production is just plain ridiculous.
11. Word To These Bo Jacksons | 2:34 | 4 - 4.5
I’m still not sure what the shoe has to do with the song.

Overall: 41.25 - 45.75 | 75 - 83% | 3.95 / 5 | Solid; few major reservations; TRY IT

I really can’t put words to this mixtape that’s practically an album.

Nesby Phips has had a definite steady rise, and it really helps that he’s affiliated with the Bluroc / Creative Control line of artists, since the influence of rapping contemporaries Wiz Khalifa, Tabi Bonney, and especially, Curren$y has had quite an effect on his rapping skills. I was first introduced to Nesby Phips on the Curren$y track Mazaltov, and while a respectable production, it really wasn’t enough to get me interested in Nesby Phips as the artist. Time continued on, and my eyes and ears had perked interest, especially with the tracks after that, such as the addicting Supply, off Wiz Khalifa’s Kush & Orange Juice, or Tabi Bonney’s Radio. Again, respectable tracks, but it still wasn’t really registering on my radar, but yet, time soon followed on.

However, the huge moment came when I listened to Prioritize (Beeper Bill), off Curren$y wonderful album, Pilot Talk. The bed of wailing synths, and the simple percussion was heaven upon my ears, and Nesby Phips guest verse truly cemented his spot in my “hot rappers buzz list.” When this mixtape came out, I quickly snapped it up.

After listening to this mixtape several times, it’s definite Curren$y has had quite an influence upon the rising rappers lyrics, with Nesby Phips subconsciously making references to the ordinary, the unordinary, and the everything else in between. Nesby Phips, much like his contemporary cannot stay on one subject for too long, discussing topics such as his cementing in the rap society, making ladies say his name, trying to boast a little bit, or really, just plain anything that sets in his mind. Nesby Phips is definitely a headphones rapper, considering you have to listen to what he says in order to follow. That listening is also rewarded, with strokes of genius, and some of these genius quotes have been posted up to show you.

While Nesby Phips lyrics may sometimes may not register in peoples minds, it’s obvious that Nesby Phips knows his true calling is his production skills. While affiliates Sara, Ski Beatz, DJ Maxmillion, Pete Rock (Very, very surprising) and Jon Mercure certainly don’t slack on their guest spots, it’s definitely Nesby Phips own production that steals the show, and made my decision of this. Say My Name is a minimalist bass-heavy, vocal sampling track that sharply contrasts with the subject matter. The Avowal shows the commanding strings that dominate the track, with some small percussion tidibits keeping tempo. 3 The Hard Way flips a soul sample a la Madlib, and uses that sample throughout the track, and Word To These Bo Jacksons uses more strings and violins, giving off an almost-paranoid atmosphere, as Nesby Phips just asserts himself more. The production is truly some of the best I’ve heard all year, and it really makes me fiend for more of his work.

Nesby Phips is someone you can’t really describe, considering his production and lyrical palettes go all around the place. Yet, that’s one of the best things about this mix-album. The complete randomness of Nesby Phips lyrics, whether comparing his lyrical presence to an elephant, or plainly stating that this rap stuff is “easy peasey japaneasy,” it’s certainly a creative, and interesting artistic message Nesby is providing here. Simply, a great mixtape, that leaves many opportunities for the newcomers and the previous fans to savor.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Politics As Usual (Review) - Termanology

(All songs produced by DJ Premier unless noted)

1. It’s Time | 0:53 | 3 (Produced by Easy Mo Bee)
There’s absolutely no point to this, maybe it’s supposed to provide warmth?
2.Watch How It Go Down | 4:01 | 4.5 - 4.75
3. Respect My Walk | 3:03 | 3.25 - 3.75 (Produced by Buckwild)
Should’ve been the last track, though I can see why The Chosen was also picked.
4. Hood Shit (Featuring Prodigy) | 3:55 | 3.5 - 4 (Produced by Alchemist)
5. Float | 3:15 | 3 - 3.25 (Produced by Nottz)
I like the sampling at the chorus though, but it doesn’t have that feeling you’re supposed to have.
6. Please Don’t Go | 4:27 | 3 - 3.25 (Produced by Nottz)
At one point of time, I used to absolutely adore this song, but now it’s become too repetitive.
7. How We Rock (Featuring Bun B) | 3:57 | 4.5 - 5
Remember when Bun B actually sounded inspired? Sorry Term.
8. Drug, Crime, Gorillaz (Featuring Sheek Louch & Freeway) | 3:52 | 3.25 - 3.75 (Produced by Nottz)
Insanely energetic preformances.
9. In The Streets (Featuring Lil’ Fame) | 3:54 | 3.25 - 3.5 (Produced by Hi-Tek)
10. So Amazing | 3:53 | 4.5 - 5
“You know a good thing when you see it.”
11. Sorry I Lied To You | 3:04 | 3.5 (Produced by Large Professor)
12. We Killin’ Ourselves | 3:58 | 3.5 - 4 (Produced by Pete Rock)
If only they worked on that chorus.
13. The Chosen | 3:26 | 3.25 - 3.75 (Produced by Havoc)

Overall Rating: 46 - 50.5 | 71 - 77% | 3.7 / 5 | Impressive; well above average; TRY IT

This album came out at a time where I was recently getting introduced to the rap genre in general. I was quickly snapping up any hyped up rapper, and this album just came into the mix. Upon my initial listens, I constantly put this album in rotation, and at one point, I easily loved one of these songs, such as Please Don’t Go, which I absolutely loved at one time, or Drug, Crime, Gorillaz, another track that I also previously adored.

Yet, nostalgia can only go so far as to determining the albums quality.

Obviously, we have a stacked producer list, considering we’ve got the obvious greats such as Pete Rock, Large Professor, Easy Mo Bee, and also the consistent well-knowns, such as Hi-Tek, Alchemist, Buckwild and of course Nottz. All of the producers pretty much provide consistent productions, with Alchemist, Buckwild, Pete Rock & Havoc providing more interesting production for each of their individual songs. Nottz, however, pretty much takes the L here, considering providing three songs in comparison to all of these greats, is a lot to handle. However, if I was given a instrumental tape out of just this album, I would’ve been a much happier person.

However, we cannot forget the surprisingly prolific, legendary DJ Premier. DJ Premier pretty much provided the foundation for this albums score, with all three of his productions sounding straight classic from the first listen to the fifteth listen. You can easily tell the quality, with all three tracks having individualistic features that aren’t usually set, such as the triangle hits on How We Rock, the funk-throwbacks of So Amazing, or the explosive strings on Watch How It Go Down. This was pretty much the obvious thing for myself to say, so nothing important here.

One time, I always wondered why this album wasn’t considered a great album. Termanology had the flow, the swagger, and the lyrics, but yet, he didn’t have that certain ability. That certain ability was to make a song. Sure, all of the DJ Premier productions are pretty much just lyrical lines again and again, it’s more apparent in other songs, such as Drugs, Crime & Gorillaz or Respect My Walk. It just seems like Termanology is just spitting lines continously, just to get to the end of the song. Even songs such as Please Don’t Go have to constantly be injected with those slick lines just to get through to the end.

There was a quick sample in So Amazing that simply said, “You know a good thing when you see it.” Do you really have to be concerned about whether rappers like Termanology can be introspective, reflective or other things that they aren’t? Not really.