November 12, 2018

Bonus Post #2

I feel that previous post was written in a more meandering manner than I would have liked, running through multiple historical facts that you two have already known for years in an effort to bulk up the word count. I'm fully aware, you guys. Sometimes that's how these things go. But I'm going to try to counteract that by being much more lean here.

And as for those "historical facts" - here's something I'd be honestly surprised if either of you ever knew existed in the first place.

My Gut Reaction: Psycho Les - Psycho Therapy: The Soundtrack (February 13, 2007)

As you’ve likely noticed, especially this year, hip hop sees multiple new releases every single week. There are many factors involved that play a role in this turn of events, which is a topic for another day maybe, but you can watch the end result play out on the Interweb every Friday: so-called “heads” burn through every single new release in an effort to be the first to hear them, an exercise that grows more and more ridiculous with each passing week, as there is absolutely no way that anyone is deriving any sense of enjoyment from these speed-listens. So writers such as myself find themselves forced into one of two factions: either they go out of their way to write about as much of the new material as possible, gaming their respective outlets for clicks and such, or they don’t even fucking bother trying to keep up with the crowd, choosing to listen to music at their own pace and writing about shit when they get around to it. I, obviously, fall into the latter category. The fallacy of my chosen path, however, is the increased likelihood that a lot of each week’s projects will simply fall by the wayside, doomed to be forgotten.

For me, that happened with that last Roots album I reviewed, and it happened to Psycho Les’ solo debut, Psycho Therapy: The Soundtrack. Of course, a lot of my “forgetting” that the Psycho Les project even existed could also stem from how I never really saw the need for production-slash-rapping team The Beatnuts to release individual efforts. I’ll have to talk to my own therapist about that, I guess.

November 11, 2018

Salt-N-Pepa - Blacks' Magic (March 19, 1990)

Having already scored one massive hit very early into their career, the duo Salt-N-Pepa, along with their deejay Spinderella, had earned enough clout to record a project that was a tad bit more personal to them. Said project, Blacks’ Magic, was their third full-length effort, released in 1990, and yes, if you were alive when this particular album first hit store shelves, you’re officially old, like me, and you can pick up your complimentary pair of reading glasses and a lifetime supply of Werther’s Originals at your local city manager’s office, like me.

November 10, 2018

Kendrick Lamar - untitled unmastered. (March 4, 2016)

Only Kendrick Lamar could release an eight-song EP, one consisting of demo tracks and incomplete thoughts, and have it debut atop the Billboard 200. That move is virtually unheard of within our chosen genre: it isn’t as though the man born Kendrick Duckworth is The Beatles. And yet, not only did he sell hundreds of thousands of copies, he also convinced music critics that his castoffs are worth listening to, which couldn’t have been that difficult, as said critics have been racing to praise K-Dot’s body of work before any other outlet just for the bragging rights. It’s a fucking mess, is what it is.

Lamar even named this EP untitled unmastered., not even bothering to name any of the songs, pulling one of the greater troll moves of the past decade. How does one go about convincing others that their trash would be considered treasure to you? Because I have a bunch of abandoned write-ups and other projects that I’d like to unload on the next unsuspecting consumer, please.

November 9, 2018

Jay Rock - Follow Me Home (July 26, 2011)

There are some albums that I have an emotional connection with. You know what I’m talking about: the soundtrack to special life-altering events that you’ll forever associate with certain songs. It could be a first kiss, or what was playing in the background the moment you met your soulmate, or, to get away from the romantic assumptions here, a specific song that always reminds you of a time when hanging out with your friends was the priority. For similar reasons that I won't be getting in to, Liquid Swords will always resonate with me, even if I’ve stepped away from Wu-Tang projects over the past few years. Dr. Octagonecologyst is another such project, as is Endtroducing… and Depeche Mode’s Violator, to which I added the artist name lest you believe I was suddenly going all-in with my love for Q-Tip’s “Vivrant Thing”.

There are also albums that you have no such significant bond with, such as Jay Rock’s Follow Me Home, a project I came across in a public library, of all places, and which I chose to listen to after flipping through the liner notes and mumbling to myself, “Huh, there sure is a lot of Kendrick Lamar on here”, not having any real idea of who Lamar, Rock, or Top Dawg Entertainment even were at the time.

Obviously today’s post is about Jay Rock’s Follow Me Home.

November 8, 2018

For Promotional Use Only: Fat Joe - The Crack Era (June 16, 2008)

My ridiculous series on the albums of Joseph “Fat Joe” Cartagena continues today with a side quest of sorts. Longtime readers will remember that, for absolutely no reason and in a manner that is increasingly frustrating for me, I chose to attack Joey Crack’s discography in reverse chronological order, which, by the very nature of his work, means that I’ll have to sit through the man’s more mainstream efforts before finally reaching his underground street shit. But while Large Joseph found himself more familiar with radio playlists and the requirements he needed to meet to appease his label overlords, he still kept an eye, if not an ear, to the streets, resulting in an official mixtape, The Crack Era, released at some point in time between his seventh and eighth solo albums (Me, Myself & I and The Elephant In The Room, respectively).

November 7, 2018

J-Zone - Fish-N-Grits (March 31, 2016)

When I first started this site, one of the goals I hoped to achieve was to turn a larger audience onto New York-based Renaissance man Jay “J-Zone” Mumford. Ever since I first read about the man… online or in The Source or something, I honestly can’t remember anymore, sorry Jay, I’ve been a fan: he’s a guy who takes his craft seriously, but himself not so much, and that spirit follows him into his production style, which depletes all available samples in the surrounding area in a playful style, not unlike Prince Paul, but can turn on a dime to something much more street when necessary. His rhymes, however, have always been confessional, conversational, and, at times, downright silly as fuck, which is a compliment: it’s difficult to maintain one’s sense of humor when they’re getting screwed over by the very industry that employs them.