November 25, 2014

Various Artists - UGodz-Illa Presents The Hillside Scramblers (March 16, 2004)

You see it in every family.  There's always that one person who demands attention but doesn't receive it regularly, constantly overshadowed by the exploits and excitement surrounding various other relatives, but rather than play it low-key and wait for a window of opportunity to arise, they choose to take the bull by the horns and make a bold, dramatic move outside of the family unit, oftentimes while talking shit about their loved ones.  Eventually, they will end up crawling back to their family, who are nice enough to take them back in without fuss, and things quickly appear to go back to normal, as though nothing ever happened, although now everyone else has some ammunition to pull out when a certain someone decides to act out again.

That's pretty much what happened between U-God and the Wu-Tang Clan in 2004.

November 21, 2014

My Gut Reaction: Prodigy - H.N.I.C. 3 (July 3, 2012)

We have now hit the point in Prodigy's back catalog that I'm not entirely familiar with, due to there being just way too many fucking albums out to listen to at any given time, and also because of my declining interest in the rhyming exploits of Cellblock P.  However, I choose to power through, because I told a few of you that I do plan on writing about the newest Mobb Deep project at some point, and I feel, for some stupid reason that isn't supported by the rest of the blog because of my tendency to skip around, that it would be best to cut through most, if not all, of Mobb Deep's discography in some semblance of order, mostly because I like making things more difficult for myself.

Anyway, to H.N.I.C. 3.

November 18, 2014

Reader Review: D.P.G. (Tha Dogg Pound) - Dillinger & Young Gotti (May 1, 2001)

(Today, Sir Bonkers, of the Digging In Tha Crates blog, closes out my brief, unofficial Death Row Records alum series with a write-up for Tha Dogg Pound's self-released sophomore album, Dillinger & Young Gotti. If you're wondering why the words “Tha Dogg Pound” fail to appear on the album cover, it's explained within. Leave some comments below, and be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom.)

November 14, 2014

Kurupt - Tha Streetz Iz A Mutha (November 16, 1999)

Although Ricardo "Kurupt" Brown's solo debut, the double-disc effort Kuruption!, was a mild hit sales-wise, it pretty much bombed with every demographic it was intended to please.  Critics hated it because, well, it sucked, and longtime fans of Kurupt's tenure on the troubled Death Row Records found that a little bit of him went a long way, so focusing solely on him was akin to locking the camera on what is allegedly the main character while an entirely unrelated, far more interesting story plays out on the fringes.  Also, Kuruption!, although designed to cater to both coasts equally, failed to appeal to anyone, since the West Coast wanted to hear more of that Dogg Pound style, while the East didn't give a shit in the first place, as they were still upset at that whole "New York, New York" thing from the Pound's debut, Dogg Food.

November 11, 2014

For Promotional Use Only: The Lady Of Rage - VA 2 LA (June 19, 2005)

Poor Robin Allen.  The Virginia native straight out of Farmville (not the Facebook game, just to be clear) hit the equivalent of the goddamn Powerball jackpot when she was discovered by famed producer-slash-rapper Dr. Dre and signed to his then-fledgling label, Death Row Records, in the early 1990s.  After knocking guest appearances out of the park on projects from Dre and new friends and labelmates Snoop Doggy Dogg and Tha Dogg Pound, the artist commonly known as The Lady Of Rage was poised to reap the rewards of the success of her own debut project.  She even had 2Pac, another labelmate who is generally referred to as the best rapper of all time by stans who have apparently never listened to another rapper in their collective lives, in her corner.  But she was never able to capitalize on her popularity, which is a fucking shame.

November 7, 2014

My Gut Reaction: Funkghost - Caviar Taste (October 31, 2014)

By not quite as large a margin as one would think, Taylor's recent Reader Review for the ultra-rare Ultra Boogie Highlife, from Alvin "Funkghost" Harris", was still one of the most popular submissions to the site in its seven-year history.  This could easily be chalked up to two distinct factors: (a) people like reading about rarities and "lost" albums, and (b) it doesn't hurt that Taylor was offering up a copy of the album for download, since it can't be found anywhere and all.  But the fact of the matter is that Ultra Boogie Highlife is a hidden gem that, hopefully, reaches a wider audience that can appreciate its sound and its messages.

At the risk of sounding even more conceited and self-important than usual, that is probably something that Funkghost himself considered when he sent me a press release for his new album, Caviar Taste, the same day that the review was published.  Fourteen years after the truncated release of Ultra Boogie Highlife, Alvin finds himself drenched within a hip hop culture that has evolved far beyond his original sound, forcing him to make a choice: should he stick with the nostalgia circuit, dropping single after single of late 1990s-esque boom bap and catering to a specific demographic of hip hop head, or should he upgrade himself to the new millennium and act like the new artist he technically isn't?

Unsurprisingly, he went with the second option.

November 4, 2014

My Gut Reaction: Run The Jewels - Run The Jewels 2 (October 28, 2014)

Last year, Atlanta native Michael "Killer Mike" Render and Brooklyn-based professional rapper-slash-fornicator Jaime "El-P" Meline joined forces to form the duo Run The Jewels, their only real focus being eliminating their useless and uninteresting competition from our collective consciousness.  They did this by ambushing the microphone with pointed barbs, boasts, metaphors, and out-and-out aggression, as though they really were fucking pissed off at the state of affairs hip hop has currently found itself in.  The end result, the conveniently-titled Run The Jewels, was released for free on the Interweb (although a version you could actually buy, with some additional extras, was distributed through a deal with A-Trak's Fool's Gold label), and quickly topped many best-of lists at the end of 2013. 

Which makes sense, because that album was pretty good.  There's more than enough shit-talking in hip hop, but Jaime and Mike took that shit to another plane of existence, all while creating music that was actually interesting to listen to.

So this year, they did it again.  And did it better.