March 16, 2018

My Gut Reaction: PRhyme - PRhyme 2 (March 16, 2018)

The duo PRhyme is made up of rapper Royce da 5’9” and producer DJ Premier. If you’ve been a reader of this blog for any number of years, I would think that you already knew that, especially since I had explained this back when I wrote about their self-titled first album. Hell, if you frequent any hip hop site on the Interweb, you should already know this fact. But as they ventured into the promotional cycle for their sophomore collaborative effort, PRhyme 2, the duo of Ryan Montgomery and Chris Martin threw out some interesting breadcrumbs regarding the freshman album, one of which I will proceed to use in an effort to fill out the following paragraphs.

February 28, 2018

My Gut Reaction: Eminem - Revival (December 15, 2017)

If you’re reading this post, that means I made it: one new post a day for the entire month of February. Obviously, this will be followed up by another break on my part, but not of the “lengthy hiatus” variety: I just need to recharge my batteries and plot my next move. I also have a bunch of emails to respond to regarding Reader Reviews and whatnot, so if you’ve sent me something during the past few months, I will respond to you, and I apologize for the delay: I just kept putting off reading the messages in order to focus on this project. While you wait for some more new content, I suggest you catch up on the rest of the month of February, listen to some of the projects discussed, and leave some goddamn motherfucking comments, as this blog lives and dies based on audience participation, and I assume you two want me to keep writing, correct?

So for the final write-up of the month, let’s discuss the career of Marshall Mathers.

February 27, 2018

My Gut Reaction: Canibus - Mind Control (June 21, 2005)

With his reign as one of the three hip hop Cameo Kings winding down as the 1990s came to a close, Germaine “Canibus” Williams has had a tough time navigating our chosen genre. His career appears, on its surface, to be as haphazard and happenstance as life itself, with many of his creative and business choices seemingly made without any of his own personal input. Even the major decisions he does make, such as joining the military after the release of his fourth album, Mic Club: The Curriculum, or signing with Wyclef Jean’s camp for his debut, Can-I-Bus, concluded with very little impact caused by his own hand, such as getting kicked out of the military for smoking weed (um, his rap name is Canibus, what was everyone expecting), or getting kicked out of Wyclef’s crew and subsequently fighting with him.

The sixth Canibus album, Mind Control, is yet another project on which Germaine had no hand in its fate. Click through to learn more.

February 26, 2018

My Gut Reaction: LL Cool J - Authentic (April 30, 2013)

Lip Sync Battle’s James Todd Smith, who performs under the alias “LL Cool J” so as to avoid both process servers and his in-laws, has been an institution within our chosen genre damn near since its inception, and he’s made his mark over the course of his thirty-five year career. He’s been nominated to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he’s the first rapper to be honored at the Kennedy Center Honors, he’s been nominated for multiple acting awards (including an Emmy and a bunch of NAACP Image awards), he’s hosted the Grammy awards ceremony five years in a row, and he even has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. None of this would have been possible without rap, a fact he is fully cognizant of, and he periodically returns to the game in between acting jobs to sharpen his skills, put on some of the new blood, and to generally remind everyone of his first love, which is a tangible product that can be purchased in the form of thirteen studio albums and two greatest hits collections.

Yep, we’re going back to the LL Cool J reverse chronological review well today.

February 25, 2018

Something Different: Beyonce - Dangerously In Love (June 23, 2003)

So here’s the deal, folks: I’m fully prepared for today’s post to be ignored, dismissed, and likely trashed in the comments. But I don’t give a fuck: there is something about the ascension of BeyoncĂ© Knowles that has fascinated me throughout her career, something more interesting than her actual musical output, and after completing her husband Jay-Z’s discography again earlier this month (at least until he drops something else, which, well, who knows if/when that’ll happen), I found myself thinking about her own body of work, both as a member of the group Destiny’s Child and as a solo artist. There’s an evolution that happened with her music: she hit a point where the love songs took on more raw and poignant feeling, and where she celebrated her independence with far more confidence and audacity than she ever did on her former crew’s “Independent Women” (both parts). I think there’s a fascinating parallel between her own work and that of Shawn Carter, and I’m not just referring to the whole Lemonade / 4:44 cheating thing, and I wanted to discover for myself whether that was the case, or if I was just imagining shit.

So, because this is my blog blah blah blah, today’s post will explore BeyoncĂ©’s debut solo album Dangerously In Love. Tomorrow we’ll get back into some more rap shit, but today’s as good a day as any for me to start yet another project I may not ever finish.

February 24, 2018

Group Home - A Tear For The Ghetto (June 1, 1999)

In 1995, the duo Group Home, made up of rappers Lil’ Dap and Melachi the Nutcracker, released their debut album Livin’ Proof. Production was handled primarily by DJ Premier, who was helping out his Gang Star Foundation squires (in fact, both Dap and Melachi had made their respective debuts on Gang Starr projects): his beats on the project elevated it to essential listening, and both artists sounded pretty good over Preemo’s classic boom bap, even if they weren’t really the best rappers on their own. Four years later, they released a follow-up, A Tear For The Ghetto, on Replay Records, and in an effort to prove their worth as men or some shit, they only managed to secure one instrumental from Preemo, outsourcing for the majority of the studio sessions: not so coincidentally, A Tear For The Ghetto tanked (it’s not like Livin’ Proof sold a million copies or anything, but it was incredibly well-received), stalling Group Home’s career for many years, so much so that you two may have forgotten that they were even a thing before you read today’s post.

February 23, 2018

Prince Paul - A Prince Among Thieves (February 23, 1999)

What follows is a write-up for Prince Paul’s A Prince Among Thieves that I wrote over three years ago. I know this because I had to edit one of the sentences within the body of the post itself that dared to make a reference to time. I had been waiting for the opportunity to run this one, and I had big plans which I won't reveal here just in case I end up using them later, but in wanting to make sure I did the project justice, I kept putting it off until I just wasn’t writing anything for two years. This was supposed to run earlier this month, but I discovered that, by pure chance, today is the nineteen-year anniversary of the album’s release, so I held it back to celebrate a milestone that nobody will likely care about, but should. Feel free to refer to this review next year, when Paul is celebrating twenty years of A Prince Among Thieves, as it’ll still sound exactly the same and the notes below will still apply.

Unless Paul uses the milestone as an excuse to re-release the project with extra bonus material. I certainly would be open to that, anyway.