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.