Music Reviews

Thes One & Raashan Ahmad – “Doin It” – [Tres Records]

Dianthus   10/1/2013   12-inch, Hip Hop

Thes One and Raashan Ahamad have been friends for over 9 years. Their other groups People Under the Stairs and The Crown City Rockers kept them busy until they were able to make this release. “Doin’ It” pours on the 70’s flavor with lots of drum kicks and funk-filled loops. “Good Co.” deals out a smooth beat, while Thes One and Ahmad trade rhyming lyrics like Garbage Pail Kid cards. “Allright” is equally funky with shine and flare and a high-hat beat that is extra crispy. If hip-hop is not your thing, all the tracks have instrumental versions to get your party groovin’ and your booty moovin’. I can dig it. Can youuuu diggg eeeettt?

Statik Selektah – “Extended Play” – [Duck Down]

MSTiZA   9/18/2013   CD, Hip Hop

This is very new york, east coast, big horn, banging, hog style, hip hop. All star packed guests [Smif & Wessun, Tony Touch, Nroeaga, Black Thought, Prodigy, Raekwon, Talib Kweli…] Even the Alchemist makes an appearance. Expect some of the cleanest rpoduction & seasoned sampling, from SS, veteran from the golden era of hip hop. Not anyone can get as close to this sound and the all star cast of MCs. So lock it in on extended play.
Fave tracks: 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

Doomtree – “No Kings” – [Doomtree Records]

MSTiZA   9/16/2013   CD, Hip Hop

This the latest from the Doomtree Family though it is from 2011. Several of artists are touring this year and have work in cue. This release doesn’t rely heavily on a studio sound. So be thankful. It’s got bang and bass; clever cadences and quick wit. I kind of think this stands apart from the artists’ solo releases because of the team spirit. That energy is clearly what makes the label and the artists stand apart. So keep your ears on the next from this team- solo or collabo: Lazerbeak, Cecil Otter, Mike Mctlan, Dessa, Sims, Paper Tiger, & P.O.S..

Archetype – “Bleed For Them” – [Dekagon]

humana   9/15/2013   CD, Hip Hop

Anything that gets my blood moving is good these days, and this rap music definitely does just that, with its soulful, jazzy infusions. My foot taps, my head bobs, and my mind is engaged as I consider the lyrics. Lots of beats and thought go into these tracks, and you’ve got to play a lot of it during Safe Harbor, but it’s worth it. Great outros on 5, 6, 8. 1 has portions of “Come and get your love,” 4 has “Keep it coming love,” and 13 has “Hello it’s me” if you feel like blasting to the past.

Method Man – “Tical” – [Def Jam Recordings]

Naysayer   9/3/2013   CD, Hip Hop

What can be said about Method Man’s first solo release “Tical”, from 1994, that has not been said before? The first solo project from a member of the original line up of the Wu Tang Clan. Album/CD goes gold and then platinum in 1995. “All I Need” remix by Puff Daddy sung by Mary J. Blige wins Grammy. Reaches number four on the Billboard 200 and number one on Top R&B/Hip Hop charts. On numerous lists of best rap albums. On two lists of the 1000 records you must hear before you die.
Phew! It’s dark. It’s heavy. Strong beats. Interesting production. Rhymes about shooting, killing, love, smoking, respect and disrespect, life, why he can’t get a record label deal. He mentions on at least three cuts that he’s from the Wu Tang Clan.
It’s almost 20 years old as of this review and it continues to hold it’s place.
Give it a spin….. late at night….’cause it’s all FCC.

Sole – No Wising Up, No Settling Down [Self Release]

fox   8/28/2013   CD, Hip Hop

If you were to roll by in a pimped-up ride with this album blaring, I would respect you for that. To quote track 5, these are “dense, abstract critiques about modern civilization”. Instrumentals are complex, varied and engaging in themselves. Powerful orchestral backing in track 6. Did you know Emma Goldman was a punk-ass anarchist from 100 years ago? Strong language warning on most tracks.

Boogie Down Productions – “Man & His Music” – [B-Boy Records]

abacus   8/19/2013   12-inch, Hip Hop

On August 27, 1987 BDP founder/producer DJ Scott “La Rock” Sterling was shot after intervening in an altercation between BDP associate D-Nice and some folks he may have cuckolded. About a year later, BDP frontman KRS-One and B-Boy Records put together this tribute album of remixes to carry on Sterling’s legacy and released it in limited press. Classic boom-bap beats cut up into collages of all sorts of early BDP tracks including many familiars like South Bronx, The Bridge is Over and of course Criminal Minded. Remixes and medleys with production ranging from early hip-hop breaks minimalism to cluttered and chaotic samplage and some scratch happy antics thrown in for good measure. With KRS-One heading the project you can expect lyrical confidence, consciousness and confrontation; calling out fake rap, street violence and pushing for social awareness (La Rock’s death was a big influence on the Stop The Violence Movement). An awesome collection of busy cut-ups of these early hip-hop pioneers. Turn up the boombox and bump it!

Boboso – “Life’s a Gas” – [Self-released]

humana   8/1/2013   CD, Hip Hop

You know, I’m going to have to do a grave in order to play this CD, because it’s really rollicking and fun. Boboso lays down the beats and raps some killer lyrics with references to pop culture of yesteryear: 6 is a namedropping tribute to Star Trek The Next Generation; 7 mentions Ash Ketchum (“I choose YOU!”); 2 has a sample of Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does It Better”); 8 is based on “I’m Your Puppet” from 1966; Joe Esposito’s “You’re the Best” is sampled in 12. This Mexican-born, San Jose-based musician even throws in some references to Santa Clara and the South Bay. On top of the beats there are jazz (3, 9) and big band influences (5). Overall, full of energy and makes you really feel that life’s a gas indeed.

Alchemist, The – “Rapper’s Best Friend 2” – [Decon Records]

mann   7/16/2013   CD, Hip Hop

14 hip-hop instrumentals from LA’s Alan Maman The Alchemist released in 2012. These instros eventually became songs and freestyle beds for the rap luminaries like: Prodigy, Capone-N-Noreaga, Rick Ross, Eminem, and Cam’ron. The standouts are Ten Dollars, Microphone, and Deathwish– boom bap beats, heavy synths, and moody keys with occasional vocal snippets. The Michael Mann emotion of it all makes rap vocals unnecessary and allows it to stand on its own as a rugged composition. Mann the General.

Hip Hop for the Hill – Vol. 7

japanic   7/15/2013   CD, Hip Hop

# Artist Track 1. Dirt Platoon & Kyo Itachi (ft. Rustee Juxx) Dirty Work 2. DJ Muggs Sound Clash Business 3. El-P & Killer Mike Get It 4. Incredible Torture Show, The (ft. Roughneck Jihad) They All Come 5. Inspectah Deck, 7L & Esoteric (ft. Action Bronson) Czardi Gras (it’s Raw Again) 6. King Cesar (Monsta Island Czars) Who’s The Master (remix) 7. Kutmasta Kurt, Motion Man & Retrogott Rhyme Imperial, The 8. Kutmasta Kurt, Motion Man & Retrogott (Inst.) Rhyme Imperial, The (Instrumental) 9. Mr. MFN Exquire (ft. Danny Brown, Nacho Picasso, Flatbush Zombies) Tomorrow’s Gone 10. Native Brown & Barry Bones (ft. Jesse Medina) Preaching Decay 11. Pro Era Like Water 12. Shaz Illyork (ft. A.G. Da Coroner) Alicia Keys 13. Timeless Truth Scene of The Rhyme 14. **Bonus** DFS (ft. Spexxx, Detox, Brewmasta) Another Form of Art

**A real brief disclaimer: this is not a music release by KFJC. This radio station and it’s staff do not claim ownership of these songs herein.

The idea for this collection is just to consolidate these various HipHop/Rap tracks (worthy of some spins) and get them onto a single medium – for easy to access airplay. In other words, if it were the 90’s then these were those vinyl/CD singles that were sent to the station (via promotional service from the labels and such) which then made it to the “Currents” library. Blast Beats!

Dark Time Sunshine – “Vessel” – [Fake Four Inc.]

humana   6/30/2013   CD, Hip Hop

Chock up another genre for my training! Hip hop lyrics are like poetry, yet with a definite cultural snapshot quality to them, and this is what makes hip hop so crucial. I may not understand what they’re talking about, but Dark Time Sunshine have a lot to say, and they say it over pretty impressive, throbbing beats that I can relate to, if I can’t relate to the words. 9 has a nice female vocal and goes into the band’s name; 7 and 16 have catchy bass beats and quirky outros that sound nothing like the rest of the song (some are like samples). I enjoyed this.

Mf Grimm – “You Only Live Twice” – [Day By Day]

mann   6/19/2013   12-inch, Hip Hop

During a four year break from MCing, MF Grimm became a respected author of the Eisner-nominated, Glyph Award winning autobiographical graphic novel Sentences: The Life of MF Grimm, and in 2010 he released his 8th studio album in the same vein: You Only Live Twice-The AudioGraphic Novel which includes a 16-page comic book crafted by cartoonist Jim Mahfood (of Kevin Smith’s Clerks fame). Grimm gave birth to his rhyming discog by shouting “Shit ain’t never gonna change, FUCK IT!” on the Kool G Rap classic Take ‘Em To War, then put on the masks with MF Doom and King Ghidorah when he joined up with the alcoholic metal-faced one’s Monster Island Czars, so I guess you could say this graphic novel form of hip-hop would be his third incarnation and his most positive message/attitude-wise to date (funny how becoming an award winning author lets you brush off the thug angst and cruise thru your midlife crisis). Problem is, I think a lot of his original fan base is still bumping Take ‘Em To War and haven’t gotten over it. I mean, I haven’t anyway. But when that hardrock stance leads to you shot in the spine and trapped in wheelchair for the rest of your life, I’m sure a change towards positivity and understanding would be the only move. So I’m a dick for taking that shot; I just really love that G Rap track, b. The wide blend of production on Twice from Twiz the Beat Pro is hit or miss, often not gloomy enough for a guy named Grimm. Return To Eden and the title track go, hell the whole first plate goes, though I lost interest on the second, and the first track is my favorite where he invents a sparse new NY rap style, name drops “blessings from the Elohim” and says “thank you for giving me rap in its purest form to save ’em all.” Maybe even M the G.

Ghostface Killah – “Twelve Reasons to Die” – [Soul Temple]

mann   6/12/2013   CD, Hip Hop

The full title of this release is Adrian Younge presents 12 Reasons to Die, and that is important to note. Adrian Younge is LA’s current head procurer of dark soul with his interesting style that sounds like he’s composing 70s movie score type jams on an Akai MPC sampler/sequencer and then having his resident soulburner band, Venice Dawn, replay his compositions (utilizing old timey recording techniques [read: protools plug-ins] I’m sure) with a careful intent not to lose any of the original dirty feeling that a sample-based rap jam has to have to be just that. This style was effective on Younge’s earlier projects (the Black Dynamite Soundtrack, Something About April, and AY presents The Dramatics) and his record remains unblemished here. Only the Roots, Dr. Dre’s Niggaz4Life opus, and Above The Law’s post-Black Mafia Life catalog pull off a live hip hop thing better. Younge is on his shit. Now to the raps. I wouldn’t say this is a GFK career defining lyrical presentation but it is way above par and he gets an A+ for a cohesive story throughout all 12 songs about a ruthless black gangster preyed upon and murdered by the evil DeLucca family with his remains being mixed into melted vinyl and pressed into 12 records to be held by the 12 heads of the family. Problem is when the records are played the spirit called the Ghostface Killah rises for bloody revenge. This is Elmore Leonard-Donald Goines-Blaxploitation on wax. On top of that the CD comes complete with a full instrumental version that should really be filed under dark soul rather than hip hop, it has a really heavy plot even without the crazy vocal vengeance. The CD also comes with a “tape” version of the first 11 tracks where up and coming Detroit producer Apollo Brown remixed the whole shit, which has affectionately been dubbed “The Brown Tape” by real rap heads who prefer Brown’s lo-fi all sample-based compositions to Venice Dawn’s attempts to interpolate Younge.

Lewis Parker, T.R.A.C., John Robinson – “Tic-Tac-Toe” – [KicDrum Products]

mann   5/22/2013   7-inch, Hip Hop

Independent sample-based hip hop released on vinyl the way it should be done. Philly’s production duo of Drumz and Llingo bring the most out of their SP12 with this one, teaming up with some cutty NY MCs for the perfect blend of streetwise wisdom both sonically and verbally. Heavy on the east coast traditional beat digger vibe and the remix on side B is a bit more spacey. The stand out MC for me is the last in line John Robinson, his gravely voice is reminiscent of Mr. Cheeks of Lost Boyz but his flow is more like a megablunted Keith Murray. KicDrum Products and their Silver Seven Series of indy rap 7″s are the future of the history of this real rap shit. No FCCs, plays at 45. Mann the General.

Ol’ Dirty Bastard – “Nigga Please” – [Elektra Entertainment]

mann   5/22/2013   CD, Hip Hop

1998 was arguably the craziest year in this crazy man’s short life. He rescued a 4 year old girl from the burning wreckage of a car crash, snatched the mic and slighted Puffy at the Grammy’s, pleaded guilty to attempted assault on his wife, was the victim of home invasion at his girlfriend’s house in which he got shot in the arm and back with a .357 but the wounds were deemed superficial, was arrested for shoplifting $50 sneakers with $500 in his pocket, and was finally acquitted for weapons and attempted murder charges. In 1999, after being arrested in February for being a convicted felon wearing a bulletproof vest and doing time for possession of marijuana and 20 vials of crack cocaine, he recorded and promoted this album album until he was forced to enter a court-ordered drug treatment program which he escaped from in October of 2000. He was also monitored by the FBI during this time: His FBI file was released to the public after a Freedom of Information Act request. It contains details of numerous crimes, such as alleged connections to three murders, a shoot out with the NYPD, and a RICO investigation against the Wu-Tang Clan. The production on this is handled by three camps: the Neptunes (their best work ever in my mind), Irv Gotti and posse, and Wu-affiliates (RZA, True Master & Buddah Monk). Soulheads will be drawn to the familiar voices of Chris Rock and Pharell on Recognize or the Rick James cover Cold Blooded or the chart-topper Got Your Money that launched R&B singer and rapper Nas’ wife Kelis’ whole career. But the two highlights for me are 1. the album’s soulful cohesiveness aside from the positively erratic and insane vocal performances, though it was not as critically acclaimed as his debut album (Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version), I think it is more of a complete and discerning work with no filler, and 2. the track Gettin’ High which is a Brooklyn Zoo posse cut where Ol’ Dirty is absent, when it comes to throwing the publishing around the man was a humble genius through and through. There is FCCs through and through also so only for safe harbor unless somebody cleans it up.

Insane Warrior, The – “We Are The Doorways” – [Electrical Connections]

MSTiZA   5/15/2013   CD, Hip Hop

Some say it’s an alter ego, I say it’s his genius. In 2011, RJD2 released this album as the Insane Warrior. It is supposedly inspired by 70???s sci-fi and horror flicks. The insanity may be the full indulgence , a head on leap into the lap of cheesy, whipped up, superr sick synth. I consider this more of a concept album. It has to be. The synth takes the spotlight. And when it does you get everything from blacksploitation, Beverly Hills Cop(3), 2001 A Space Oddessy(4), (1)Steve Wonder???s album, The Secret Life of Plants (one of my personal SW favorites), nearly the stairway to heaven on xylophone with rainsticks? NO? NO.. (6), yacht rock(7). Still RJD2 sounds are ever present(2) Six months ago this album was near rejection but second and thirds listens really made this album stick. AllI had to do is wait for it. All tracks instrumental.

Hermit of The Woods – “Land of The Lotus Eaters” – [Endemik Music]

MSTiZA   5/15/2013   CD, Hip Hop

What does the midwest and Halifax, Nova Scotia have in common? First, they are both light years from Hollywood. Second, it seems that the decca decade has yet to invade the culture. Hermit of the Woods, is Canadian rapper and spoken word artist who, in my opinion, cherishes the isolation from consumer culture. There is a mix of dark interludes with spoken word raps that will throw you back to the early aughts. The album is not perfect and it is better off for it. Track 2 reaches a place where it seems Busdriver met theDeftones in a smoky bar. But it works, only because it wasn???t the whole album AND there are music lovers who cream over that shit. Fortunately, other tracks may reminisce of Tricky, Sleep, and for that it???s a fair release. If Hermit stays in the woods, I expect it will just get better.

Blu (feat. R.A. The Rugged Man + Tristate) – “Thelonius King” – [Fat Beats]

mann   5/8/2013   7-inch, Hip Hop

Surprisingly rugged new single from the usually subdued and introspective Blu. The production by Bombay (never heard of him before but hope to hear more like this) is almost industrial, grungy savage, distorted all levels blocked out in the red, the sound wave of the entire track probably looks like a brick thru the window of Wells Fargo. Blu is joined by legendary undergrounder and NY boxing aficionado RA the Rugged Man and Tri-State of the new Alchemist-produced group Durag Dynasty. Blu and Tri-state are MC killers for sure who play the bread nicely with well above par verses, but RA is the butcher in between who really strips the flesh from the corpse with the illest endeavor; he says, “In a world of murderers and rapists, and children with exposed ribcages, organ damage from famine, flies on their faces, blood thirsty baby killers and mental cases, gun-totin’ cops born racist, school districts preaching hatred, angels with black wings holdin’ automatic guns like gatlins, bodies blown to bits, bloody torsos that lack limbs.” The b-side is the same beat, but it only has Blu on the solo tip with 3 verses (1 is his original and 2 alternates), but I wish it was the instrumental because this beat is so large it should stand on its own. If you dug Gangrene you’ll dig this chaos too. Plays at 45. Mann the General.

Controller 7 – “Left Handed Selections” – [Grey Carpet]

Dianthus   5/8/2013   12-inch, Hip Hop

Born in San Jose, CA, Controller 7 (aka Tommy McMahon) spent many years listening to jams on MTV and memorizing his favorite Run- DMC lyrics. It was not until 1999, while living in Berkeley, that one of his demo tapes landed in the hands of Anticon label rapper Sole, that a friendship began and records were created. Left Handed Selections is a collection of music created in San Jose and Berkeley in the Spring of 1998 and 2000. This album contains a cinematic beatscape of mainly instrumentals appropriate for a mainstream soundtrack or a great party backdrop. “The Candle (remix)” does feature rhymes by Deep Puddle Dynamics along with the intro track, but they are only a shiny accessory to the rest of his optimal selections. Controller 7 sustains sexy beats and elegantly mellow and upbeat music for everyone to enjoy. His artistic and talented creation leaves me wanting to know what he will do with his right hand next.

Tyler, The Creator – “Goblin” – [XL Recordings]

Dianthus   5/8/2013   12-inch, Hip Hop

Odd Future leader Tyler the Creator’s second album Goblin is produced almost entirely by himself. Not bad for a 19 year old who also was able to bring some of hip-hop’s newest and greatest indie artist like Left Brain, Jasper Dolphin and Taco Bennett. The album is filled with spooky, venting lyrics to his therapist about fame, hype, message boards and girls unwillingness to perform fellatio. Most of the tracks are dark and somewhat uncomfortable, but are filled in with honesty and a brave conclusion of the world around him. “She” featuring Frank Ocean, on vocals relinquishes his internal fantasies, while “Nightmare” opens up to his fears and criticisms. “Sandwitches” does show his humorous side while dueting with Hodgy Beats in a rhyming bro-down. Tyler the Creator is still young, and sometimes falls in and out of the rhythm pocket and maybe a little overdramatic, but he has a big cult following and a record label that is willing to contribute in making him a successful artist doing what he loves. -Dianthus-

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