(After a brief four-day nap (you two realized that running three posts in one day would probably lead to me skipping a round, right?), today I run a Reader Review for an artist I pretty much know nothing about, which makes for the best kind of Reader Reviews for me personally. Crazy Dave (better known as the commenter Dave Tarantino) takes on Decatur-based Jarren Benton's debut album, My Grandma's Basement. I've since figured out that Benton is known for his shock-value punchlines and use of trap-ish beats, which at least makes it seem like he isn't gunning for the Odd Future throne. After a really quick intro, he jumps right in, so get settled in and leave your thoughts for him below.)
March 8, 2014
February 28, 2014
A fun game is to bury yourself in work, declare that said work is a “project” that needs to be completed in a timely fashion, and then you keep pushing the deadline further and further into the future as you add new work on top of said “project”. Today's post is an example of such a phenomenon, with a twist: although it will appear as though I'm adding Schoolboy Q to my list of artist catalogs I need to complete, I'm also fucking finishing it. Today.
Yep. You should probably get a snack.
February 24, 2014
(This is a perfect example of what I call 'running a Reader Review in order to buy myself some time'. Which isn't much of a nickname for a process, but whatever. Today's contribution is an admittedly old one submitted approximately nineteen years ago by Sir Bonkers (of the Diggin In The Crates blog), who apparently decided to tackle Lil' Cease (of the probably-defunct Junior M.A.F.I.A. Clique) and his solo debut, The Wonderful World Of Cease-A-Leo, on a whim. Leave your thoughts for him, and that infamous dumbass album cover art, below. And I apologize for the fucked-up formatting: Blogger is acting like a baby.)
February 20, 2014
He doesn't pop up on this site all that often, but Chris “Ludacris” Bridges was, at least at one point, one of the most underrated rappers in the game. His elastic flow, jokes, and genial shit-talking ranks him with some of the best that ever did it, and that's not me being sarcastic. Unfortunately, he is oftentimes discounted because of many factors: his choice in subject matter, his beat selection, the company he keeps, and even his home base, Atlanta, since we're all supposed to only follow one messiah from that region, and that slot was taken by OutKast's Andre 3000 years ago. Hell, he's even distanced himself a bit from our chosen genre, choosing to take roles in high-profile movie sequels that feature cars driving fast instead. Most hip hop heads write him off as a guy who excels at singles, mainly because he has released a bunch of catchy-ass singles, but they don't dig far enough to discover that Ludacris can actually rap, and is also pretty funny when he wants to be.
February 16, 2014
So today features yet another Wu-Tang Clan-related post. At least it's regarding an actual member of the group, as opposed to one of their zillions of offshoots, weed carriers, or U-God, so I expect to see only a mild amount of complaining. Once again, if you're violently against seeing any Wu stuff on the blog, (a) why do you keep coming here, anyway?, and (b) just give it a few days. Change is constant, at least as long as I have my regular schedule going.
February 12, 2014
Seven years ago today I decided to start writing the type of album reviews that I wanted to read myself: reviews that both included track-by-track analyses of each song, intro, interlude, and skit, and tried to place each entry into the overall pop culture consciousness. And also with a shit-ton of italics and some much-needed humor, because writing reviews of music is inherently silly and, of all genres, hip hop takes itself rather seriously for what it is.
February 6, 2014
Rawkus Records released Soundbombing III, the third (and as of now, final) installment in the series, in 2002. That year was one of great change for our chosen genre, and even though they were seen as an underground label (or “the” underground label, depending on where you stand), Rawkus wasn't immune to the necessity of having a cash flow in order to keep their company afloat. As such, Soundbombing III marked a transition from aiming squarely for the backpackers to trying to appeal to all audiences, a paradigm shift that didn't sit well with most hip hop heads, and which eventually led to the implosion of the label. But that's getting too far ahead of myself.
February 2, 2014
In 1996, Donnie “Mad Skillz” Lewis released his debut album, From Where???, on Big Beat Records. He received this opportunity based on a second-place finish in a freestyle competition (where he lost to underground stalwart Supastition). Even with the little promotion he received (relative to actual known artists, anyway), he still managed to secure two minor radio hits, “The Nod Factor” (for the heads that like to nod) and “Move Ya Body” (a R&B-flavored song for the ladies), thanks to his need to satisfy all demographics. Donnie even secured some A-list assistance on his debut, in the form of Large Professor, Jay Dee (or Dilla, as he is better known today (R.I.P.)), Q-Tip, Buckwild, and The Beatnuts (who actually produced “The Nod Factor”).
However, mild critical acclaim and two radio hits failed to translate into a project that moved millions of units, so, branded as a failure because that's how the major labels worked back then, Donnie was cast off to be with those who hadn't ever signed record deals. So, you know, regular people.
January 29, 2014
My Gut Reaction: Dreddy Krueger Presents...Think Differently Music: Wu-Tang Meets The Indie Culture: The Lost Files (June 21, 2011)
WARNING: Today's post is Wu-Tang in nature. Most of you two already know my deal when it comes to this blog, so you'll probably just keep quiet and move it along. However, if you are vehemently and violently against the Wu-Tang Clan for some ungodly reason and refuse to see anything written in virtual ink about the group as a whole, I advise you to step away from the blog for a few days, and maybe, just maybe, there'll be something else for you to bitch about.
Still here? Seriously? Alright then.
January 25, 2014
My Gut Reaction/Something Different: Kenna - Land 2 Air Chronicles II: Imitation Is Suicide - Chapter 3 (December 3, 2013)
Finally managing to fulfill one of his promises, Kenna Zemedkun released the third and final entry in his Imitation Is Suicide series in December of 2013. I say “finally” even though it was hardly the dude's fault that all of his other rumored projects and release dates fell by the wayside: that can easily be blamed on his record labels and the music industry as a whole, running with the current trends instead of trying to build an artist from the ground up. So maybe this joint venture with Dim Mak, Steve Aoki's label, will pay off handsomely in the end.
January 21, 2014
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” My use of that quote was unintentional: the fact that it is attached to a review that is running so close to the holiday named after the man is just a happy coincidence. But I believe that message certainly applies to the subject of today's post, Ryan “Royce da 5'9”” Montgomery, who has certainly seen his share of both challenge and comfort.
January 17, 2014
Hey, you're still here. That's awesome. I'm going to let you in on a secret: I'm as sick of that picture from the previous post as you are. So as a reward for sticking around, today I'm running a review that I actually meant to run sometime last year, but never did, as I wasn't really inspired to finish listening to the album until now. Whether that's a signifier of my overall feelings of the fourth full-length album (and sixth project overall, counting EPs, but skipping instrumental discs) from The Beatnuts, Take It Or Squeeze It, is something you'll have to wait until the end of the write-up to see. Or skip ahead, I don't give a shit; they all count as page views anyway.
Apologies for the weird spacing throughout. Oh, that Blogger has a mind of its own.
December 29, 2013
As we come to the end of yet another year, it's time to reflect on how far our chosen genre was been able to progress, and also on how many steps back it was forced to take thanks to the quality of the output this year. 2013 wasn't a bad year by any stretch of the imagination, but it had its fair share of disappointments, and I want you to discuss both your favorite and most hated moments of the year, in addition to you rfavorite and least favorite posts, in the comments below. Here, I'll even start.
December 26, 2013
Back in 2012, Cypress Hill were at a crossroads. Having released their last project, Rise Up, two years prior, the founding trio of the group, made up of rappers B-Real and Sen Dog alongside their producer-slash-deejay Muggs (Eric Bobo also counts as a member, but he has nothing to do with today's article), counted themselves as members of a musical genre that none of them felt as comfortable with as they may have before. This was evident when you recall their excursions into rap-rock and reggae, which I'm sure most of us would like to gloss over, but that shit really happened, you can't will it out of existence. So they did what any reasonable rap group might do when faced with career-altering decisions: they went to the club.
December 23, 2013
For Promotional Use Only: Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire - Merry eX-Mas & Suck My Dick (December 25, 2011)
Brooklyn-based emcee Mr. Muthafuckin eXquire sounds like if Killa Sin or some other high-grade Wu-Tang Clan b-teamer were signed to Rawkus Records, favored experimental beats mixed with boom bap, and were more loquacious about both the good and bad aspects of his life, and also in this example he drinks more. This was made clearly evident on his 2011 debut, Lost In Translation, which was packed to the gills with vague threats, hilarious boasts, pop culture allusions, and exposition.
December 20, 2013
(This final Reader Review of the year is one of the funniest ones I've seen in a while: you two will need to step your writing game up now. It comes from Andrew, who gives Lil' Boosie's Bad Azz its due. As I choose to not know what a Lil' Boosie is, I'm going to step away now: leave your thoughts in the comment section below.)
December 17, 2013
(For today's Reader Review, Taylor relayed his thoughts on a rap album from actor-slash-comedian Jamie Kennedy, one which was conceived after the relative success of his movie Malibu's Most Wanted, a comedy that exists, although I don't know of anyone personally who has ever seen it. Originally submitted as a possible April Fools post (note to the readers: I don't accept Reader Reviews for that particular day), Taylor was kind enough to do a page one rewrite, the results of which are below. As always, leave comments, death threats, and what have you.)
December 14, 2013
(Frequent contributor Justa chose to listen to Mystikal's fourth album, Let's Get Ready. I don't know why, but he did. So the least you can do is leave him some of your comments.)
December 11, 2013
(For today's Reader Review, Antony tackles the first release from underground stalwarts Non Phixion. The Future Is Now is a project I'm sure will resonate with a lot of you two: leave your thoughts for Antony below.)
December 8, 2013
(Sticking with the West Coast for a little while longer, Leon contributes his thoughts on E-40's sophomore effort, In A Major Way. I know that some of you two felt that E-40 was a name that was mostly missing from these pages, so Leon attempted to correct that oversight. Leave your thoughts for him below.)