Music Reviews

Ahmad, Raashan – “Push, The” – [Om Records]

aarbor   1/5/2011   CD, Hip Hop

Raashan Ahmad is from Trenton, NJ ??? he???s known as the MC for the Crown City Rockers. Here???s what he has to say about this album which is his first solo album: ???I have been in a live band for the last 8 years and have learned so much about different rhythms, genres, methods, and musicality??? But this album is a return to basics, that good ol’ boom bap, the beats and rhymes. I needed to get in touch with the other side of me, the side of me who loved Run DMC, BDP and the 808 machine. It was where I started as an M.C. and I needed to touch that again. As an M.C. in Crown City Rockers I try to be as varied as the music that we create. My writing is for myself as well as an audience as diverse as our crew. It is a challenge that I love; one that pushes me out of my comfort zone and inspires me to improve my talent. Without the skills I acquired from being in a group with such talented musicians I never could have made a solo album that is, in a word, selfish. This is a non-collaborative effort born out of my own fears, insecurities, observations, triumphs and tragedies. It is therapy over beats.???
Raashan???s little son sings on track 11. AArbor
Don???t Miss: tracks 8, 13
Language on Tracks: 2, 5, 7, 10 12

Die Antwoord – “$O$” – [Cherry Tree Records]

aarbor   1/5/2011   CD, Hip Hop

Die Antwoord (which means the Answer) is a hip hop group from Capetown, South African. The three members are: Ninja, Yo-Landi Vi$$er and DJ Hi-Tek

Die Antwoord performs music which incorporates many Zef elements and references. Zef is a South African counter-culture movement. They describe Zef as ???modern, trashy and out of date discarded cultural and style elements.??? Zef is, you’re poor but you’re fancy. You’re poor but you’re sexy, you’ve got style.”

The word “Zef” is a contraction of the name of the Ford Zephyr, a car that was popular worldwide from the 1950s to the 1970s. In South Africa, these cars at that time were more often than not owned by working-class people especially from the then-upcoming East and West Rand areas of Johannesburg (due to gold mining activity and the rising price of gold after it was de-coupled from a fixed US Dollar price of USD30 per fine ounce) and when Ford was seen as a high-quality product to aspire to as a car to own. The most distinctive and well-known feature of these cars were their horns that made a peculiar and amusing “A-hooo-haahhhhh” sound.
The music is fun, it???s sung in English, Africaans and Xhosa ??? (Morris Minor says ??? and I agree) ???don???t miss their online videos to get the full sense of this band.???

FCC Language on all tracks.

Robust & Pore – “Something to Sit On” – [GALAPAGOS4]

MSTiZA   1/5/2011   CD, Hip Hop

There is a quote on the inner sleeve that says “..filling potholes in 2011”. And I couldn’t have put it better. This release fills the gaps in Hip Hop from ’96-2010. Next time you want to reminisce on the hard styles of NY late 90s backpack styles or midwest funk grooves pick this. It is almost like a time capsule. And honestly, by the looks of the album art, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a tape dug up from the wheel well of their car trunk and it turns out they decided to release it now, you know, filing in the gaps. Robust has a laid back cadence that is more classic and laid back. Pore puts together some thick, genuine soul samples and beats that really lay the ground for Robust. I could listen to instro’s of this all day long, The beats will get the jazz/soul audiophiles ears ringing. Vox samples start off a few tracks and some short interludes. Tracks 12, 14 are mostly instrumental with samples. Track 15 ends with a ‘thank you’ outtro

ass: 1,2,6
FCC LANG: 4,6, 9, 10, 13

LA Series Part 4 [coll] – [All City]

humana   9/24/2010   10-inch, Hip Hop

Love this! J. Dilla???s former collaborator HouseShoes brings us two percussion-enlivened tracks, one of which is a remix of ???Look of Love???–yes! Jordan Rockswell (aka Snowman) here records three debut tracks full of synth and beats. The lovely ???Winter Warfare??? segues right into ???The Groove.??? Both sides are lush and warm and will set your heart beating again.

Lil B – “Rain In England” – [Weird Forest Records]

humana   8/29/2010   CD, Hip Hop

I know nothing about hip hop/rap, but the thing that kept me listening to this CD is interest in the stories this Berkeley rapper has to tell. Yes, he???s egocentric, but he???s also got a unique perspective on the life he???s lived (all 21 years of it). Anyone with a healthy respect for women (6) and the earth (7) is worth a listen. The tracks work best when Lil B talks over minimal keys (occasionally he ventures into singing). Do as he tells you in Track 1 and ???just breathe.???

Black C – “70’s Baby” – [Rightway Productions]

Thurston Hunger   7/30/2010   CD, Hip Hop

Last man standing from the Hunter’s Point Hit Squad, and
then the RBL Posse. Black C (Chris Matthews) plays a different
kind of hardball but doing it here over some soft 70’s soul
moves. Things move faster now than then, so we find a lot of
samples sped up…including #5,6,10,15 and 17. On “What
Could’ve Been” that ramp up works well, but later on it gets
a little gremlinized. Overall the beats though really capture
the plan, I bet some instro versions would’ve nailed heavy play.
Check the work over Willie Hutch on “I Got Money”, also the
convertible cruise on “The Life” with Moe the Hustla in the
passenger seat. “Why They Hate” starts with a phone call
confession, but has solid producton, wah-wah never fails
and these violin and trumpet trills work really punctuate
C’s short jab rhyme flow. The Cheffz bust out a gremlinized
Al Green for the finer things on “Gave U My Luv”. “Can’t
Go Back” does the best at capturing that 70’s flow. Mandatory
two tracks on herb, “Mary Jane” tips the blunt to both the
Magical Diamonds as well as the Posse’s original spark,
“Don’t Give Me No Bammer.”
While “My Bed Room” is supposed to be for the ladies, the
track after, “I’ll Never Tell” works the X chromosome a
little better, nice rhymin’ Simon. The closer has Martha B
add angel’s wings to the nostalgia of a nearly 40 year old
rapper. I’d say this lp mostly still has the mindset of
youth, but the introspection reflection of rap still alive
and recording beckons. Ruthless ain’t necessarily truthless.

-Thurston Hunger

Da We Mobb – “Da We Mobb” – [Yay Area Entertainment]

Thurston Hunger   6/26/2010   CD, Hip Hop

New underground, coming out of Oakland and bursting with
sideshow pride. Three mouths to feed on Smoky’s homecooked
beats, rappers Zipp, Young Truth and Big A leading the way.
The album has its own fun, prank calls, fake radio giveaways,
and an imaginary gig at the House of Blues. These guys are
so new, they don’t even have a song about being screwed by
the record industry. Instead this is homegrown, over the
course of years, but still retaining a sense of the
spontaneous. Even when the prose ain’t purple, the trees
are, a blunt front blowing over the bridge. Probably Smoky’s
and I do think his production is the secret sauce here,
tracks like “We Go”, “Addicted to Da Game” and “Get Money”
just come infectious while the lyrics will play hopscotch
on the roof of your heads. More than a sideshow memento, and
even if they don’t get the money, they’ll still be laughing.
Promising debut.

-Thurston Hunger

Jay Dee “Fuck The Police” b/w “Move

MSTiZA   4/13/2010   12-inch, Hip Hop

DJ Rhettmatic, aka Nazareth Nirza, began his DJ career in 1983 with the DJ group Double Platinum and was one of the founding members of the legendary Beat Junkie crew. In 2004, he released Exclusive Collection on Up Above Records and included this single, Jay Dee(J Dilla, RIP 2.10.06)’s, Fuck The Police. He was known as a Rapper then a Producer. This single is made for the OG Hip Hop head. The title track includes 3 samples of NWA’s ’88 original. The B side is a ditry & dry, with his original style, from his roots in Detroit to and all the artists he shared the circuit with. This single was released moments before he scored a deal with MCA, a deal that stalled, which produced the collaboration of Dilla with Madlib and named Jaylib. James Dewitt Yancy died(of TTP, a blood disease) with a core audience of mixtape fanatics and much of his work still waiting to be released. We have the first posthumous release, “The Shining”, which was 75% complete when he died.

Black Landlord – “Addicted to Distraction” – [Ropeadope Records]

MSTiZA   2/3/2010   CD, Hip Hop

Philidelphia gave us the Roots. The Roots gave Black Landlord their whole style ten years ago. Vocal delivery is like the call and response. His actual voice sounds simiar to Gift of Gab at times and at others it’s eerily like B Real(Cypress Hill) with his very own Send Dog sounding hype man. However, the rhyme style isn’t like these at all. It’s filled with story telling yelling verses and hooky choruses. I can’t say enough good about the band and their production. If you like the live sound of the JB’s, Crown City Rockers, or the Dap Kings, you will definitely like these tracks. You get the full sound of horns, guitar, keys, etc. Producers Leonard de Leonard and Olaf Hund have done an excellent job giving each member of the band due justice to their instruments.

FCC: 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11

3WR: Hype Band, Man

Kid Acne – Romance Ain’t Dead – Lex Records (2007)

MSTiZA   12/9/2009   CD, Hip Hop

UK rapper/graffiti artist Kid Acne grabs the mic, dissing, pissing, ripping, and reminiscing. Req One claims to have “taken old-fashioned records and programmed them in to Fruity Loops”, but don’t write it off. These tracks may be laden with samples in landslides, but they are sequenced with emphasis. Don’t be discouraged by the samples, they are used in creative mentages, sometimes assaulting and other times simple in the breakdowns. I suggest you read the liner notes for the details on them. Vocals are humorous and clever; reminiscent of Kool Keith and his tenure in the UMCs, Beastie Boys, or Audio Two. On Track 5 you will find some of the smoothness of Slick Rick and LL Cool J. Lyrics are aggressive, entertaining, and follow the storytelling styles of the MCs mentioned. The release is consistently held together, intentionally?, by this throwback to the new jack sound of the late 80s early 90s in rap music.

3WR: Neo New Jack

FCC: 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 10,

Qwel & Maker – “So Be It” – [GALAPAGOS4]

Max Level   9/28/2009   CD, Hip Hop

Super reliable underground hip hop music. Qwel (emcee) and Maker (beat architect) have been working together for a while now and it shows; the two fit together like a fist and a glove and a punch to the face. As usual, Qwel lets his raw wordy rhymes fly while Maker ransacks the record bin and drops in big beats for just the perfect accompaniment. “Back Stage Pass” kicks the thing off in high energy style, but my favorite track is probably “Lunch Money”, a tribute to poor families trying to get by. This here is a pre-release sampler from Galapagos4 with alternate versions and a couple of bonus tracks: #13 is a DJ Bizkid preview mix of the tracks, and #14 finds Qwel delivering some serious rhyming over a Graham Nash(!) sample.

Paper Tiger – “False Hopes” – [Doomtree Records]

Max Level   7/14/2009   CD, Hip Hop

A batch of moody beats and grooves from this one-man project, a member of the Minnesota hip hop collective Doomtree. It’s instrumental for the most part, except for the melancholy final track, which features Dessa on vocals. The other tracks are decorated here and there with vocal fragments. This CD is well done and enjoyable, but, well, it doesn’t say a whole lot to me; an hour after hearing it, I can’t remember much about it. I’m not really up to speed on the Doomtree thing, but I am definitely interested; I’d like to hear Paper Tiger working with a few different MCs.

D-Sisive – “Let The Children Die” – [Urbnet Records]

humana   6/14/2009   CD, Hip Hop

Hip-hop: Out of Toronto, Canada comes the unique perspective of Derek Christoff, aka D-Sisive. Through a combination of singing and rapping lyrics that range from touching tributes to family members (5) to daydreams (13) to multiple means of death in this ???wonderful world??? (19), D-Sisive offers songs intended for kids in school and college (at least according to his lyrics). I don???t know much about hip-hop, but the stories on this CD are worth listening to.
FCC: 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, 10, 14,, 15, 17, 18.
Picks: 13, 9, 11, 5, 6, 8, 18,.
PGM: Songs end abruptly.

Freestyle Fellowship – “To Whom It May Concern…” – [Basement Records]

Max Level   6/1/2009   CD, Hip Hop

CD reissue of a 1991 LP that is considered an underground classic and a big influence on the future direction of West Coast rap music. This So Cal crew brings big doses of social consciousness, black pride, and stoned-out goofing around. Not too surprising to hear cool-era Miles Davis sampled on one of the tracks, but FF were probably the first to rhyme over The Turtles, and how are you not going to like that? Production is simple and not overly polished. Rap-wise, Aceyalone and P.E.A.C.E shine brightest here. Several short tracks, like a minute or two or even less.

Earpeace – “Earpeace E.P. ” – [Porter Records]

Max Level   12/6/2008   12-inch, Hip Hop

Cool abstract sounds from under the hip hop underground. Non Genetic (Shadow Huntaz emcee) adds his relaxed poetics to the quietly minimal beat backgrounds of Dawid Szczesny, who is working with turntable, sampler, and laptop. I like the vaguely unfinished feel of the music, which leaves the vocals plenty of room to operate. Non’s laid-back lyrics roll out over Szczesny’s cut-up beats, ping pong electronics, jazzy guitar chords, and soft sax sounds. A live bassist checks in on a track or two. Love this collaboration.

Common Market – “Tobacco Road ” – [Hyena Records]

Max Level   10/9/2008   CD, Hip Hop

This Seattle hip hop duo is laid back, but they come on strong in their own way. Emcee RA Scion has a raw, expressive, sometimes rapid-fire style, with perceptive lyrics covering a wide range of topics. Mostly I sense that he’s on a mission to remind us that we all need to get along with one another. Many worthwhile messages here, so pay attention. Producer/beatmaker Sabzi (Blue Scholars) keeps it simple and soulful underneath with music that isn’t too dense or abrasive or challenging, just solid bumpin’ with jazz-leaning grooves heavy on keyboards/vibes. Singing and harmony vocals here and there add to the very musical feel of this CD. Track 1 is some crazy preacher guy doing his thing. Track 11 is an instrumental reminiscent maybe of some of DJ Shadow’s stuff. What more do you need?

Dj Frane – “Journey to The Planet of Birds ” – [None]

cinder   7/11/2008   CD, Hip Hop

DJ Frane, self-described as a “mellow, stoned-out version of the Bomb Squad or late 80’s Dr. Dre, or maybe Prince Paul meets Pink Floyd.” A super relaxing, chill sampled-up hip hop release. It’s the final installment for his trilogy “Beats to Blaze To” series. Cool fact – the piano used on this album was inherited from his 101 year old grandmother! DJ Frane uses all sorts of samples from spacey lounge sounds, jazz piano, electro funk, asian instrumentation, vocal clips of all sorts (jazz singer, robot, beat poet) and of course – bird sounds! If you dig DJ Shadow, DJ Krush or Nightmares on Wax, this will have you head knodding like no tomorrow. The whole thing flows together, really nicely, so fade outs should be used!

Prolyphic & Reanimator – “Ugly Truth, The ” – [Strange Famous Records]

Max Level   6/4/2008   CD, Hip Hop

This is what indie rap is all about: a strong hip hop collaboration between an emcee with something to say and a DJ/producer who surrounds him with dense and interesting music. Prolyphic spits his down-to-earth lyrics, confident and fearless, on top of multi-layered beat backgrounds that no doubt inspire him to hit even harder. Reanimator sets a new standard for DJ/producers; his music is a show all by itself; hugely dynamic, constantly surprising, always pushing things forward. Can’t wait for this team to drop the next project on us. Guests: Macromantics (4) and B. Dolan/Alias/Sage Francis (6)

DISFLEX.6 – “Slow Burn ” – [247 Records]

Max Level   2/26/2008   CD, Hip Hop

Hip hop out of Northern Calif with laid-back beats and melodies behind some fresh lyrical talent. Nothing too urgent or in your face, and that’s OK. The production is by Jason The Argonaut and Elon.is, a team that knows how to make musical beats into actual song structures. Lyrics by Jason the Argonaut and Lazerus Jackson, with guest appearances by the rest of the Sunset Leagues emcee crew. I like the weird creepy vibe on #12. Worth checking out for sure.

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