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 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.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Dissertation: The Wu-Thesis (Review) - CurT@!n$

1. The Dissertation Enterlude | 1:17 | 3 - 3.5
2. The Rebels Theme | 2:18 | 3.25 - 3.5
Some of the parts just sounds like ramble.
3. 36 Chambers Of Death | 2:44 | 3.25 - 3.75
“Turn your brain into confetti, come party with me.”
4. 2 Sports Cars (Featuring Dom Kennedy) | 2:16 | 4 - 4.5
“Ass so fat she made a nigga crash on his bike.”
5. Get It (Featuring Diz Gibran) | 2:29 | 3 - 3.25
6. The Dissertation Introlude | 1:52 | 3.75 - 4
“Niggas holla mason, but they don’t know what the deal is / But they ain’t architects or builders.” Reference to...?
7. The Gentrification | 2:23 | 3.5 - 3.75
I understand what gentrification means but it’s a flawed concept here.
8. Crime Heights 11213 | 3:10 | 3.5 - 3.75
“Niggas killed Jake, and his snake.”
9. Letter To The People Pt. 4 | 2:44 | 3 - 3.5
Production doesn’t fit the song subject.
10. The Message | 2:53 | 3 - 3.5

Overall Rating: 33.25 - 37 | 67 - 71 % | 3.45 / 5 | Good; detracting problems; TRY IT

So this mixtape can pretty much be explained in a sentence. Gangster/battle-oriented rapper decides to hop on and remix some vintage Wu-Tang productions.

Most of the mixtape is a good listen, with CurT@!n’s breezing through many of the tracks, such as the straight spitting “The Rebels Theme,” and “36 Chambers Of Death,” or the birds eye view-crime scene esque “The Gentrification,” and “Crime Heights 11213.” With varied production picks from the young rapper, their definitely signs of talents, showing verses differentiating his style from the others.

Specifically the main tracks that stand out are the typical heartbreaker women tales 2 Sports Cars, with a modern-twist, and The Dissertation Interlude, which introduces CurT@!ns storytelling ability, with a particular attention to detail.

Essentially, this mixtape is a very short listen, considering it’s a mere 24 minutes long. It’s an indictator of direction really, and you can’t really blame any mishaps or truly praise the highs, because it’s so short that you need more to prove it. Right now, CurT@!n’s looks like a solid rapper, fitting into a line of the many gangster/battle rappers to come. If he wants to stand out, then he should do it soon.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Because Of You (Review) - Ne-Yo

(All songs produced by Shea Taylor unless noted)
1. Because Of You | 4:27 | 4 - 4.25 (Produced by Stargate)
Many people have criticized this song because it doesn’t follow the vein of Ne-Yo’s two most recognizable singles, Sexy Love & So Sick, but I feel that simplicity wins this over, at the very least.
2. Crazy (Featuring Jay-Z) | 4:21 | 4.25 - 4.75 (Produced by Ron “Neff-U” Feemster)
“But I didn’t, so maybe it’s good to be crazy, isn’t it baby?”
3. Can We Chill | 4:24 | 3.5 - 3.75 (Produced by Eric Hudson)
4. Do You | 3:48 | 3.25 - 3.75 (Produced by The Heavyweights)
While very skillfully done, I have a feeling this is rather overproduced at times.
5. Addicted | 3:46 | 3.75 - 4
Emulates the Michael Jackson-Prince subject matter well. “I apologize for having the ability to satisfy accurately.” Looks stupid on paper, but hilarious when you hear it.
6. Leaving Tonight (Featuring Jennifer Hudson) | 5:15 | 3.25 - 3.5 (Produced by Knobody)
I see the point of the little introduction, but Ne-Yo needs to learn the show, dont’ tell concept.
7. Ain’t Thinking About You | 3:41 | 3.25 - 3.5 (Produced by Eric Hudson)
8. Sex With My Ex | 3:39 | 3.5 - 3.75
I appreciate the off-tuned piano, adds some flavor.
9. Angel | 3:28 | 3 - 3.25 (Produced by Syience)
Production front never really takes flight, like an angel with no wings.
10. Make It Work | 4:09 | 4 - 4.25
Absolutely adore the chorus, one of the best uses of ayo in a long time.
11. Say It | 4:41 | 3.75 - 4 (Produced by Keys)
Includes one of the more experimental / successful production fronts on the album. A little overpowering at times though, but I believe that was the artistic direction.
12. Go On Girl | 4:21 | 3 - 3.5 (Produced by Stargate)
13. Spotlight (Japanese Bonus Track) | 4:04 | 3.5 - 3.75 (Produced by The Heavyweights)

Overall Rating: 46 - 50 | 74% | 3.7 / 5 | Impressive; well above average; TRY IT

When I read a review online for this album, I glanced over someones opinion where they compared Ne-Yo to Michael Jackson, and supported it with quite some evidence. While I dismissed this at first, when I listened to this album again, I saw the similarities and the deceased singers personality in Ne-Yo’s veins, with songs such as Addicted.

Ne-Yo is a deceptively simple artist when you look upon his albums. While he was a tad immature upon his last album, In My Own Words, this album shows the more experimental side of Ne-Yo, providing more strong vocals and a more stable, refined production front. Again, the simplicity of Ne-Yo, whether it be singing about going simple crazy for a girl or wanting to chill with a girl, is an easy, relatable expierence, and quite simply put, enjoyable. Most of the producers are consistent upon the album, with no one really hampering the tempo, rhythmn or harmony of the album in any way, and most of the efforts done here show genuine skill, particularly Ron “Neff-U” Feemster.

Continuing on with my praise of Ron’s production front upon my personal favorite song, Crazy, Ron provides the simple bed of hand-claps, drums and a twinkling piano that continues on throughout the song, as simple elements such as the plucks of a string, or the rumbling bass are added throughout the song and choruses. Ne-Yo’s topic matter, while certainly not original is heavily supported from the deftly quick Jay-Z verse and the soulful crooning. It’s certainly more of a background song, with the Jay-Z part coming and going quickly, while still being memorable, and the Ne-Yo singing just allowing you to think about that special someone.

While I stated that there aren’t really any moments that hamper the album significantly, there are points throughout the album that succeed more than the standard. The title track is certainly something, yet this something was criticized a bit for not replicating the same feelings as Ne-Yo’s singles, Sexy Love & So Sick. While all three of the songs were produced by the common collaborator (and highly skilled) Stargate, I think Because Of You is the most subtle, which helps it a lot whenver you feel up for the listen. It’s not as demanding on the ears, and that’s the charm of this song, and the album as a whole.

Songs like Can We Chill, Make It Work, Sex With My Ex or Addicted are strong songs on the album, with the production and topical matter meshing together seamlessly. Addicted features a nice Michael Jackson/Prince emulation, talking about a girl that may be addicted to him, for sex or not for, but eventually leading to sex. Can We Chill is a breezy pop song about the simple asking of a date that anyone would appreciate, and Make It Work features one of Ne-Yo’s best choruses in a while. Sex With My Ex features a risky-production front, with the helter-skelter features, but works as a whole.

The only true flaw in the album, however, is the single, Go On Girl. While Stargate provides a nice acoustic production, it seems rather similar-sounding to With You on Chris Brown’s album, who eventually did it better. It’s certainly not a bad song, but it just seems like a blatant pop moment for me.

I really wrote this review quickly, because I already knew everything to say before hand. I’m going to keep on repeating this same theme over and over, but only because it’s true. The true charm in this album is the simplicity of it. It seems so long ago that the R&B landscape had some mere innocence in it, yet now, we’re plagued with random R&B nobodies (Not The-Dream, R.Kelly, Trey Songz, or established acts already known, lets not twist my words) trying to constantly sing about sex, drugs, and money profusely. All of the album has a comfortable atmosphere around it, whether it be Crazy, Sex With My Ex, or Spotlight, all of the elements truly work. It’s a comfortable and charming listen, and proves that you don’t have to be extravagant to provide a good piece of work.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Anticipation (Review) - Trey Songz

(Produced by John “SK” Mcgee & Troy Taylor unless noted)
1. Famous | 3:39 | 3.75 - 4
2. Showerlude | 1:20 | 3 - 3.25 (Produced by E.Miles & Troy Taylor)
3. Scratchin’ Me Up | 4:08 | 4.25 - 5 (Produced by Troy Taylor)
4. Does She Know | 4:07 | 3.25 - 4
5. Infidelity | 3:43 | 4 - 4.25
“How do you fix an love undone, how do you know if you fit to love someone?”
6. You Belong To Me | 3:54 | 3.75 - 4
7. More Than That | 4:06 | 3 - 3.25 (Produced by Troy Taylor)
8. On Top | 4:15 | 3 - 3.75
9. It Would Be | 3:40 | 3 - 3.25 (Produced by Troy Taylor & Patrick Hayes)
10. Make It Rain | 3:59 | 3 - 3.75 (Produced by Eric Hudson)
You should listen a little more, it’s hilarious.
11. Yo Side Of The Bed | 4:10 | 3.5 - 4 (Produced by Troy Taylor & Patrick Hayes)
12. She Ain’t My Gurl | 4:06 | 3.25 - 4 (Produced by Young Yonny & Troy Taylor)
13. Successful (Featuring Drake) | 3:34 | 3 (Produced by 40)
Mainly gave this rating because I felt that this really isn’t part of the mixtape, yet the mixtape garnered enough respect for me to help it out.

Overall Rating: 43.75 - 46 | 67 - 71% | Good; detracting problems; TRY IT

For some reason, I tend to listen to this mixtape more than his albums that came out, Ready and those other previous flops. I assume it’s because Trey Songz stays in his lane here, with twinkling, friendly, piano-laden productions from the usual suspects here. Whatever it is, I still don’t mind, considering the section of Famous to You Belong to Me is one of the more played sections whenever I’m in one of those moods.

While Trey Songz isn’t doing anything real special here, it’s the subjects that he covers (sexing a girl to make her famous, having sex, beds, more sex, and love problems, and such) that he tends to do well upon. Famous is a nice song because it sounds comfortable, as does Scratchin’ Me Up (Great R. Kelly themed song), and Infidelity is quite a song for Tremaine to croon over. Eventual album cuts You Belong To Me & Yo Side Of The Bed are quite simply put, songs that work.

While certainly not revolutionary, it’s one of the more consistently played because I feel that I know what to expect, and whatever I hear I know that I can relate at that time. Of course, the repetitive nature is what hinders the eventual outcome of this album, and it’s pretty much meant as a project to listen and then come back for a little bit.

Fan Of A Fan (Review) - Chris Brown & Tyga

(All songs produced by K Mac Beats unless noted)
1. Intro | 0:40 | 3
2. What They Want | 3:12 | 3 - 3.5
Chris Brown goes on to repeat the poland spring / wet metaphor several times more.
3. Drop Top Girl | 2:37 | 3 - 3.25
4. Dueces (Featuring Kevin Mccall) | 4:23 | 3.5 - 3.75
Now that this is an official single, I’m interested to see how this will do, for all of the artists, including K Mac. In terms of breakup songs, it’s better than the general standard.
5. No Bullshit | 4:06 | 3 (Produced by Tha Bizness)
Should’ve replaced that Tank track on the album, since this seems less forced
6. 48 Bar Rap | 2:33 | 3.5 - 3.75 (Produced by Jahlil Beats)
“Two girls at the same time, what the fuck?”
7. Ballin’ (Featuring Kevin Mccall) | 3:33 | 2.5 - 2.75
“I’m ballin like a bitch,” a la Lil’ B style.
8. Middle Talking | 0:20 | 3
9. Ain’t Thinking About You (Featuring Bow Wow) | 3:55 | 2.5 - 3
10. Like A Virgin Again | 3:35 | 2.75 - 3
Real original rap Tyga. Or is it Chris Brown? I really couldn’t tell the difference here.
11. Have It (Featuring Kevin Mccall) | 4:02 | 3 - 3.5
12. Number One | 3:44 | 3
Is it me, or does the piano sounds exactly like the one used on Ain’t Thinking About You?
13. Make Love | 3:43 | 3 - 3.25
This track grows a little bit over time, since the cartoonish production was offsetting at first.
14. I’m So Raw | 1:57 | 4
“I’m so raw, turn the oven on / Chef Papa John, I get the parmesan / She want a yellow nigga, corn on the cob / Indian giver, slob on my knob.” It sounds better when Tyga pronounces the words. The production is a rendition of I’m So Appalled, so whoever re-engineered & mastered it, I’m very impressed.
15. I’m On It (Featuring Lil’ Wayne) | 2:54 | 3.25 - 3.75 (Produced by Calvo da Gr8t)
16. Movin 2 Fast | 3:29 | 3 - 3.75 (Produced by K.E On Tha Track)
Reflective Tyga is a success.
17. Regular Girl | 3:31 | 3 - 3.75
18. Outro Talking | 0:45 | 3.5
Bonus Tracks
19. G Shit | 4:04 | 4 - 4.5 (Produced by Jahlil Beats)
Blissful ignorance during the summer. These are the kind of tracks that should’ve been on the album.
20. Holla At Me | 3:15 | 4 (Produced by Jahlil Beats)
“I bag bad bitches, motherfucker Kat Stacks.” What?

Overall Rating: 63.75 - 66 | 64 - 66% | 3.3 / 5 | Good; detracting problems; TRY IT

I was relatively interested in this project; due to the relatively growing buzz of this collaboration mixtape, and the fact that Tyga was slowly growing buzz from me. With his “One Verse, one hearse,” series, and his constant stream of freestyles, I was willing to let my original impression slide away. It really helped that the standout tracks G Shit & Holla At Me came out before the project.

There are many typical R&B Chris Brown tracks dominating throughout the album, but that’s to be expected. Unfortunately, most of the tracks tend to be quite average, with the post-middle section (Ain’t Talking About You to Make Love, excluding Have It) to be the generic tracks that the general critic populations seems to despise excessively. It’s more because of not the production fronts by K Mac, it’s just that the topic of what’s being sung is frankly, quite typical. Chris Brown has definitely been doing this for some time, so I definitely don’t expect him to change his ways.

However, there are some nice Chris Brown singing highlights, which are mostly on the rap-themed tracks and also the beginning section, primarily. Drop Top Girl, the first of many Chris Brown singing ventures to come talks about the simple girl who drops her top. It’s a cute, summery song, and retains that Chris Brown innocence factor. No Bullshit, a supposed leftover from the album, has Chris Brown talking about how he’ll do a girl without any bullshit, exenuating the solitary feeling with a couple of hard hitting congas and pianoes. Not to say these tracks are really different, but it’s a little better than most of the tracks on the album.

Chris Brown also has these times where he just wants to go straight fly / stunna mode on the crowd, and to say the least, they do work. What They Want & Have It are generally acceptable tracks, with Chris Brown rapping over and over on minimalist tracks, with a delievery & beat preference inspired from his fellow contemporary, Tyga (Who also happens to rap on Have It) 48 Bar Rap is a more interesting turn from the singer, mostly because the superior Jahlil Beats produces upon it, and gives a wobbly-synth dominating track for Chris Brown to rap about stuff. Chris Browns raps however, do seem forced, and excessively tries to go the battle / pretty boy rapper lane.

Tyga, as the other contributor to this mixtape easily surpasses Chris Brown, whether it be on the tracks they rap on together, or with Kevin Mccall. Tyga’s three main songs in the end of the album, mainly I’m So Raw are defintely indicators of what is really to come for the young rapper. I’m So Raw, with the interpolation of the Kanye West produced, I’m So Appalled, allows the young rapper to stay in his niche of combining the youthful swagger and the punchline-laden raps that he’s been secretly developing. I’m On It provides a askew production front from Calvo and Movin 2 Fast provides something a little extra compared to the typical Tyga tracks.

Of course, now it’s when they work together is more interesting. While the synth-roller Ballin, obnoxious-drum influenced Number One, and the jazzy-organ rumbling Regular Girl are all nice pictures into their collaborative skill, it’s mainly the Deuces track, and the two promotion / bonus tracks that truly stand out. G Shit isn’t revolutionary in any single way, but the Jahlil Beats inspired production allows the breeziness (no pun intended) and summer feel to cascade all over the typical fly pretty boy lyrics from both Tyga & Chris Brown, with neither person dominating the track. Holla At Me is another Jahlil Beats jerking-style production that allows both rappers to do the typical and succeed at it again. Dueces is an interesting trio combination that allows all of the rappers to talk about “chucking up the deuces.” Nothing overtly dominates the other, and it’s another success.

If we’re on the topic of producers, simply Jahlil Beats is a far superior producer to K Mac Beats. K Mac Beats, while certainly not average, he just panders to Chris Brown & Tyga with his productions, and that’s not really something that I can criticize. Jahlil Beats has made his start on this mixtape, so I expect more from him to come.

Essentially this is more of a Chris Brown mixtape featuring Tyga, but that’s to be expected; considering Chris Brown is hastily trying to get back into the industry from his controversial situations. Of course, being a Chris Brown & Tyga mixtape, you’re going to get the usual teenager-pandering subjects, which is of course, girls, more girls & themselves being fly and better than everyone else. That, while many would tend to discriminate against it, shouldn’t be given a double standard because it’s what Tyga & Chris Brown just tend to do. Both have to appeal to their crowd, and both of them do it in a successful, cohesive way, with this album not lagging or becoming excessively boring. A definite project to listen to in the summertimes ahead.

Sidenote: I understand that this review was excessively long (pause), but we’re discussing about my generation here, and while it’s not the highly sophisticated of subjects, it’s sitll relevant to some extent.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

5:01 Overtime (Review) - Laws

(All songs produced by J.U.S.T.I.C.E League unless noted)
1. Overtime | 4:07 | 3.5 - 3.75
Beyond me why they give someone not on their label such as Rick Ross excessively superior productions, rather than giving their main artist a rehashed Maybach Music (Ironic isn’t it?)
2. If I Could Change (Featuring Blazed) | 3 - 3.25 (Produced by The Kaliphat & Paperboy Fabe)
3. Hold You Down (Remix) (Featuring Emilo Rojas & Big K.R.I.T) | 3.75 - 4 (Produced by DJ Khalil)
Never knew Big K.R.I.T would sound comfortable in this kind of production.
4. Believer (Featuring Jason Caesar) | 4:33 | 3 - 3.25 (Produced by Da Honorable C.N.O.T.E)
5. Audio Savior | 3:19 | 3.5 - 3.75 (Produced by Illmind)
I have a lot of tough love for this song.
6. 5:01 Interlude | 1:07 | 3
7. Illumination | 1:57 | 3 - 3.25 (Produced by Benjamin Plant)
8. Number One (Featuring Jay Rock) | 3:42 | 3.5 - 3.75 (Produced by S-Type)
I love the way Laws starts out the third verse, one of my more favorite parts of the album.
9. Murder | 4:25 | 3 - 3.25 (Produced by Tn2 Productions)
10. This Is Me | 2:38 | 4 (Produced by L.A Da Craftzman & Feb. 9)
The beginning few seconds is my favorite part, though the production grows on you nicely.
11. Wall To Wall | 3:20 | 3 - 3.25 (Produced by Benjamin Plant)
The speech should’ve been put somewhere else, since the production doesn’t convince me.
12. Vintage Futuristic 2 (Featuring Funkghost) | 3:26 | 2.75 - 3 (Produced by M-Phazes)
13. Want It All | 2:57 | 4 (Produced by Feb 9)
Adore it when the production switches up to, “Ask about my race we gonna beef like bistroes....”
14. Flashback | 5:04 | 3.25 - 3.5
If anything is interesting, it’s the verses.
15. Shining | 4:23 | 3.75 - 4 (Produced by 9th Wonder)
16. My Chick (Featuring Don Primo) | 2.5 - 2.75 (Produced by Benjamin Plant)
17. Hustle (Featuring Mason Caine) | 3:22 | 3.25 - 3.75 (Produced by L.A Da Craftzman & Feb. 9)
Maybe I don’t take them seriously because of how the rappers sound. Catchy chorus though.
18. Colors (I Don’t Care) (Featuring Calvin Harris) | 2:51 | 3.75 (Produced by Calvin Harris)
“I rhyme up or whatever / Swing by the crib we could fuck or whatever.”
19. So Nice (Featuring Jason Caesar) | 3:09 | 4 (Produced by S1 & Caleb, co-produced by Apple Juice Kid)
20. We Like It | 3:46 | 3.25 - 3.5 (Produced by Da Honorable C.N.O.T.E)
21. Runaway | 3.75 - 4
Laws is quite a storyteller, like the fact that he gives more details than other rappers.

Overall Rating: 70.25 - 74.75 | 67 - 71% | 3.5 / 5 | Good; detracting problems; TRY IT

Mainly, the problem with Laws is the production that he chooses. Sure, he sounds comfortable on basically any production you give the kid, but that’s no excuse for the producers to give such dull, original beats. Producers such as Benjamin Plant, Da Honorable C.N.O.T.E, Tn2 Productions, M-Phazes, and even the ever-consistent J.U.S.T.I.C.E League really drop the ball here, giving dull, electronica-tinged production fronts. While that kind of production isn’t a crime, the way it’s presented makes me wonder what would happen if Laws recircuited better producers for the album.

However, not all the problems lie in the production, though that’s really the main issue that the rating detracts from. Laws is primarily a battle / punchline rapper as evidenced by many of the tracks here, and I completely understand if Laws tries to appeal to the mainstream or other groups, but when you have tracks such as Murder, or Hustle, it’s really hard to take Laws seriously, because Laws sounds rather uncomfortable in these kinds of songs, and his voice on these songs doesn’t help matters either. Of course, the mainstream Laws has to be explored also, and while songs such as My Chick and Vintage Futuristic 2 are admirable attempts, they come off as another typical attempt in the end.

Yet, I still previously stated that I still appreciate the energy that Laws brings to the tables. Consistency is brought on with tracks like the fan-favorite Hold You Down (Remix), which has a double-timed Emilio rapping for his life, Big K.R.I.T sounding consistent as usual, and also a rejuvinated Laws attacking the wailing, guitar influenced production of the quickly rising DJ Khalil. Songs such as Audio Savior, Number One, Runaway or Shining show that Laws is definitely not someone to ignore in the long run. While Audio Savior and Number One are mostly the boasting and bragging topics that Laws tends to discuss, Shining is an interesting 9th Wonder production that allows Laws to reflect upon him “shining” in the music industry. Runaway talks about an unnamed breakup that Laws had, describing the journey ever so vivid.

There are also tracks which I appreciate, which are the actual legitamite mainstream attempts, which are the Calvin Harris produced synths track of finding women in different colors, or the typical Laws boasting track of So Nice, with personal favorite producers S1 & Caleb, and added with a little go-go flavor from Apple Juice Kid.

However, my favorite songs on the album were definitely the songs that were produced by L.A Da Craftzman and Feb. 9, two unknown producers who prove their worth to Laws. As a duo, they produced Hustle & This Is Me, with This Is Me becoming a crazy helter-skelter rolling drums track, allowing Laws to represent himself. Feb. 9 also provides a solo track upon his own, with a conga, strings drowning type of track, which is quite intoxicating.

The question of whether the wait for 5:01 Overtime was actually worth it, and I believe it was. While you’re not exactly getting a true sequel to the original 4:57, you’re getting a couple of nice listenable extras, mostly the Hold You Down (Remix) in a nice album form, and tracks you’re left to determine whether it’s discarded or kept. Besides, this tape isn’t in the DJ version, eliminating the useless Rock and Roll Survival track that existed before, and the Don Cannon drops.

From what I see about Laws, there are many quirky element that he shows.

Laws is a rapper that needs to have the right elements to make himself appeal to the mainstream. I was recently watching a quick freestyle he put out a couple of days before this came out, which was Last Day (Pharcyde Freestyle) where Laws literally described the last day of work on the classic Passing Me By track. I kept on listening to that specific track, because it showed that Laws could actually tell a story, and also proved me something else. Laws is someone that should be listened in burst intervals, not because he’s a bad rapper, but his whole persona tends to get dull after a while. Yet, that shouldn’t be a reason that you shouldn’t listen to this original album. Laws is definitely someone that I’ll be looking out for in the future, however he must fix his flaws.

However, these are one of the rare times I wish I seriously could’ve given this album a higher rating, because I still appreciate Law’s evergoing charisma, as he is constantly adapting to every track he goes on, whether it be electronica, rock, or hip hop based production.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Say What's Real: Everybody Has A Story To Tell - QuEST

"Now everybodies doing the honest route, and honestly thats what I tend to rhyme about."

Shit, next time I'm not going to sleep.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

On Some Bee Buzz: Willie Da Kid & Lee Bannon

I was attempting to write some quick verses just for satisfaction, when I glanced upon a previously downloaded track, Sky Miles, with Curren$y. I realized, these are the kinds of joints that I like for a couple of minutes, mostly because their short, easy to rap over and they have a concise feel.

Then I realized, these tracks were all by Willie Da Kid, a lyricist I dimissed because of his surroundings, and the seemingly generic factor he had surrounding him. Of course, I picked up all the tracks that were going to be on this aptly titled EP, Never A Dull Moment. It seems correct, and a budding concept that other artists should follow, short, cinematic-produced tracks with a quick verse or two, and just moves on. This A.D.D concept is an interesting one, and three rappers I definitely would consider of doing it is Curren$y, Rick Ross & Tyga. It seems that a punchline-ridden, flowtastic verse always works.

Even more interesting is Lee Bannon. While I've never really heard of him (Downloading some stuff now, actually), these productions that he does for Willie Da Kid seems themed, catering towards some specific topic that Willie's gonna start talking about, which is usually The-Game kinda topic, the talking shit about anything topic. Works quite nicely.

I'm going to give Never A Dull Moment a good rating in my book, because it's forming terribly nicely. While Willie Da Kid isn't necessarily the greatest rapper ("Soft like a marshmallow" isn't really a gut-grabbing metaphor, while Lost In France is a great concept in it's own) Lee Bannon however, he's definitely someone to look out.

So, on some bee buzz shit is Never A Dull Moment EP in my eyes.

Sky Miles (Featuring Curren$y):

I mean, obviously Curren$y's verse exposes Willie Da Kid, but the way that this track is designed is just to let the rappers just rap on and on about the same, comfortable topics.

Lost In France:

I've already stated it, but it's a concept done right.

Hickory Smoke:

Again, cementing the Lee Bannon production front.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Say What's Real: Houstalantavegas - Drake

"We all got dreams and we all star reaching, all star peaking, all star weekend"

Let's see if Drake can replicate this feeling again.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Exclusive (Deluxe Edition) Review - Chris Brown

(All songs produced by The Underdogs & Rob Knox, unless noted)

Throwed | 3:02 | 4 (Produced by State Of Emergency & Bryan-Michael Cox)
This song is so innocent, some people should just listen to Chris Brown sometimes.
Kiss Kiss (Featuring T-Pain) | 4:11 | 3 - 3.25 (Produced by T-Pain)
Never understood why this song was popular, maybe it was the T-Pain craze.
Take You Down | 4:06 | 3
Some bass would add the much needed warmth.
With You | 4:12 | 3.25 - 3.5 (Produced by Stargate)
Picture Perfect (Featuring Will.I.Am) | 4:13 | 3.25 - 3.5 (Produced by Will.I.Am)
Unlike Damn Girl, a similar subject-sounding song, this Will.I.Am feature wasn’t necessary.
Hold Up (Featuring Big Boi) | 4 - 4.25 (Produced by Andre Harris & Vidal Davis)
This song would’ve really helped on if it was put on Graffiti. Nice genuine moment here.
You | 3:22 | 4 (Produced by L.O.S. Da Mystro)
Besides the original name, Dream pens a successful song once again, successfully sung.
Damage | 4:17 | 3 (Produced by The Runners)
Just sounds standard, not necessarily bad.
Wall To Wall | 3:43 | 2.75 - 3 (Produced by Sean Garrett)
I can completely understand why this song wasn’t a hit.
Help Me | 3:17 | 3
I Wanna Be | 3:46 | 3 (Produced By Antonio Dixon & Eric Dawkins)
Gimme Whatcha Got | 3:48 | 2.5 - 2.75 (Produced by Jazze Pha)
I used to like this song, but then I realized the production really needed work.
I’ll Call Ya | 3:54 | 3 (Produced by Swizz Beatz)
Lottery | 3:41 | 3
Nice (Featuring The Game) | 4:32 | 3 - 3.25 (Produced by Scott Storch)
Hey, a Game rap that makes actual sense! Also, we get the change of pace here.
Down (Featuring Kanye West) | 4:17 | 3 - 3.25 (Produced by Bigg D)
Phoned in Kanye West verse, and overpowering production, on an otherwise nice song.
Forever | 4:38 | 4 (Produced by Polow Da Don)
This song is a straight hit.
Superhuman (Featuring Keri Hilson) | 3 - 3.25 (Produced by Harvey Mason Jr. & Oak)
Heart Ain’t A Brain | 3:41 | 3 - 3.25
Picture Perfect (Remix) (Featuring Bow Wow & Hurricane Chris) | 4:12 | 3.5 - 3.75 (Produced by Chris Brown)
Cuts off that really annoying Will.I.Am part I hate, and the pedestrian appearances don’t matter.
Fallen Angel | 5:32 | 3 - 3.25 (Produced by Bryan Michael Cox)
The vocal distortion is a little distracting, it gets a little irksome.

Overall Rating: 67.25 - 70.25 | 3.1 / 5 | 64 - 67% | Good; detracting problems; TRY IT

Let’s just forget all of the bias, controversey, and all the general situation just for a little bit.

It’s the year 2007, where Chris Brown was merely starting to become a force in the R&B-sex / booze fuckery inspired of a world, and compared to his many other contemporaries, which were generally Usher, R. Kelly & The - Dream (Who funny enough, wrote one of the best songs here), many people considered him to an emerging fresh breath of air, with his babyface looks and soulful singing about the more, innocent things in life.

Of course, this is generally a double-edged sword. While most general listeners appreciate the nature of Chris Brown’s lyrics, that doesn’t necessarily mean it provides an outlet for the most creative or inspired songs. Most of this album’s rating was hampered mostly because of the incessantly dull middle section, from the songs Damage to Lottery (Or the song, Nice, if you don’t feel it that much) Now, don’t get me wrong, these aren’t by any means terribly produced or sung songs, it’s the way their presented seems to be formulated to fit the mainstream needs, and not the artistic talent of Chris Brown himself. Soulful singing doesn’t get you away from singing the most dull of subjects, or the most uncreative of lyrics. There’s not much more I can explain about the middle section, morely because it just slowed down my receptors, and just caused me to speed up a little bit through it.

Again, a double-edge sword indeed, because there are also sparks of moments where Chris Brown truly shines. Admist all of the drab decorum that’s littered throughout the album, a few songs of interest defintely captivate the listener. Throwed, my personal favorite song on the album is a nice switch up of the production that we were used from Chris Browns go-to producers, with State Of Emergency giving an innocent vibe of the claps, bongos, congas and all of the bass drum kicks. It helps that Chris Brown talks about something else besides pleasing the ladies. Hold Up is also another interesting moment, where Chris Brown talks about the wait where he’s going to “meet the parents,” and see if he can date that “Miss Smith.” Big Boi’s preformance adds a little flair to the otherwise unchanging pace of the song. You, is also another song of note, because The-Dream pens a cute song for Chris Brown to sing the same subjects, but with a more mainstream twist. Nice, Down and the whole bonus deluxe edition songs do provide a little more variety than the norm, which is pretty nice, particularly Picture Perfect, because it shows some skill from Chris Brown as a producer, and his C-list contemporaries.

I felt like I should personally dedicate a section to the singles that Chris Brown had. Kiss Kiss & With You, two wildly popular songs (Especially Kiss Kiss) on the radio. While certainly above the average standard, it’s more of an example of how a little innocence really can bring success. With You, talking about the obvious or Kiss Kiss, a deceptive song about trying to appeal to a girl, are just little milestones to hop over for the young singer. Forever, the main reason why the Deluxe Edition was actually reviewed is definitely one of the main highlights. Mainly the start of Polow Da Don’s string of R&B hits soon to come over the years, and one of Chris Browns best vocal preformances, it’s quite a single that really appeals to the demographics it wants too.

Chris Brown is certainly not a weak artist, though the mainstream currently thinks so (They are starting to let go of that fifteen minutes of hate now, however) Sure, his lyrics aren’t necessarily the most revolutionary, but they show a consistency that most R&B artists fail to follow (Trey Songz on instances, Lloyd, Omarion, or even T-Pain), which is most definitely needed in this commonly sex filled, booze guzzling, one night lust loving landscapes. Sure it’s flawed, but it’s definitely worth a listen.

Jets + Boston Rich Boys? The Sam Adam & Curren$y duo

I've always thought this duo, a straight quoted from itunes, "Mixing Shwayze-like beats, the caustic attitude of Kesha, and a tough version of suburban rap," kind of kid (whose been gaining steady fame), and a chill laidback weed smoker, wasn't exactly the correct duo. But yet, it works.

Firstly, there are many circumstances of why this supposed duo wouldn't work. Firstly, it's the material that both of these people present. With Sam Adams, it's pretty much frat music, electronica-synth sounds (Swang Your Drank, for example), or mainstreaming production with the dude. Curren$y is just pretty much all over the place, shredding anything. Oh, and Curren$y doesn't use ... auto tune.

So we have two songs here, Fly Jets Over Boston, and Walk With These, two hazy inspired tracks from emerging (and interesting, I would love to freestyle over this)) producer Xperiment, that apparently started with this collaborative project about literally Jets over Boston or something along the matter.

Take a listen for yourself:
Fly Jets Over Boston (Featuring Curren$y):
"You got screen door lyrics, we can see through em'."

I've noticed that Curren$y usually tries a little more on Sam Adams tracks, maybe it's the friend factor, or just that he wants to? Curren$y + Xperiment is a interesting project idea.

Walk With These (Featuring Curren$y):
"When I already told ya to walk with these, guess you want me to lace them up for you too"

SHIT Curren$y, that's a nice opener. Sam Adams doesn't slack either.