Archive for the 'Review' Category

05
Feb
10

Album Review: Styles P & DJ Green Lantern – The Green Ghost Project

Green Ghost Project

Styles P & DJ Green Lantern – The Green Ghost Project [MP3 Download]

Record Label: Invasion Music Group

Reviewed by Mookie

(Dom’s note: We’re now collectively known as the Most Hated by one of these guys.. If you can’t stand the heat, get yo’ stankin’ ass out my kitchen!)

When you think of Yonkers-born emcee Styles P, you probably picture him as one of the frontmen of hardcore rap group The LOX. “The Ghost” has also built up a respectable solo discography over the years, with The Green Ghost Project as his newest album. Along with a mob of guest artists and producers, DJ Green Lantern and Styles linked up to create what they call a “monster” of a project. 

The Green Lantern-produced “Nothing To Lose” opens the album up with an abrupt banger. Turn this one up, it’s bass-heavy with a light accent that makes the beat just memorable enough to shine without overshadowing Styles’ vivid quotables.  

An impressive Slick Rick-sampling instrumental by Alchemist ensues on “Make Millions From Entertainment,” although the lyrical effort from Styles P didn’t quite match up. The dark, erie beat on “Time Will Tell” emphasizes Raekwon‘s stand-out feature instead. 

Unfortunately, not all of the production was up to par. “Bang Time” obnoxiously overuses an M.O.P. sample, diminishing its replay value and casting away an otherwise satisfactory feature while “Invasion” sours a Jadakiss appearance with a mundane beat and an out-of-place hook from Junior Reid

Styles has never really been known for his lyrical superiority, and nothing changes here. Most of the verses coil around the main subject matter: money. Although he does branch out occasionally into the realm of prison time (“Send A Kite”) or reminiscence (“Born In These Streets”). 

Still, poor production and low replay value plague nearly this entire project. No more than 4 of the 15 songs are worth multiple spins for anyone outside of Styles P fanatics. Although those few joints may be good, it’s not worth buying the entire album just for the sake of listening to them because it should have been a mixtape – at least the musical quality is reflective of one.

29
Jan
10

Album Review: Strong Arm Steady – In Search of Stoney Jackson

Strong Arm Steady - In Search of Stoney Jackson

Strong Arm Steady – In Search of Stoney Jackson [MP3 Download]

Stones Throw Records | Blacksmith Records

By Mookie

Back when Death Row Records dominated the West Coast rap game, a loose collective of Cali-based emcees including frontman Xzibit, formed Strong Arm Steady and built a considerable buzz on the underground circuit with a number of popular mixtapes. Since then, X-to-the-Z along with a handful of other members left the group, making Strong Arm Steady a trio composed of Mitchy Slick, Phil Da Agony, and Krondon.

In Search of Stoney Jackson is the group’s second studio album, and the first to be released on Talib Kweli‘s label, Blacksmith Records Stones Throw Records. With exclusive production from the legendary Madlib and features from the likes of Phonte (of Little Brother), Evidence, and Planet Asia among others, on paper, this project couldn’t look much better.

The actual result proved to be less than amazing. While Madlib holds up his end on the production, masterfully crafting a number of impressive, sample-heavy beats, Strong Arm Steady disappoints lyrically on the majority of the album. Phil Da Agony sounds awkward as he fumbles through most of his verses, almost as if he was rhyming off the top of his head the whole time. And while Krondon‘s efforts are quality at different times throughout the album, it’s not enough to single-handedly support the group when Phil didn’t bring his A-game and Mitchy Slick is borderline absent, only appearing on two of the album’s 18 tracks.

 But don’t write Stoney Jackson off just yet, guest appearances save this album’s replay value. Phonte comes through on the opener Best Of Times with the smoothest of hooks and Talib Kweli drops a dope verse on the Roxanne Shante-sampling Get Started. Unfortunately, some guest spots hurt more than they help. Like the cluttered True Champs that unsuccessfully squeezes in verses from 5 different rappers.

 As I mentioned before, Madlib really makes sure there’s not a negative comment to say about the production on this album. Songs like “Pressure,” my personal favorite, make it impossible for you not to bob your head to the bass-infested beat. The same ensues on the mean-mug worthy “Ambassadors”, while he flaunts a more laid-back style on “Chittlins & Pepsi”.

 If your a big fan of Strong Arm Steady, In Search of Stoney Jackson might be a disappointment as it clearly sits on the shoulders of good guest features and exceptional production, but if your just looking for some quality underground West Coast rap, pick this one up – it’s worth a spin.

08
Dec
09

Review: Clipse – Til The Casket Drops

I’m extra excited today. No, it’s not JUST because the Giants whooped the Cowgirls OR bc Rutgers’ football team got their 5th straight bowl bid.

It’s ’cause I dropped my first review in a HOT minute. Not just that, I got to contribute to one of my favorite hip-hop blogs. Maybe you’ve heard of it? 

*Drumroll*

Hip Hop Is Read!

It’s run by a close friend of mine from the West Coast, the incomparable Ivan Rott. If you haven’t heard our OutKast sample set collabs yet, check out the sidebar. Also, we’re cooking up some more stuff in the near future. Stay tuned!

Excerpt:

TTCD is distinctly different from Lord Willin’ and Hell Hath No Fury – primarily due to the production roster and song concepts – though a common thread is the embodiment of each rapper’s struggle, whether dealing drugs or making music, which leads to celebrating triumph despite immense pressure. Sadly, the focus is on the joy this time rather than the labor required to attain it.

 

Click Here for the Full Review: Clipse – Til The Casket Drops

29
Nov
09

Clipse – Dealing With Dealing & Music

Til The Casket Drops

I been waiting on Clipse’s Til The Casket Drops for about three years now, as many fans have been. Pusha T and Malice comprise one of the few duos that has stayed consistent in the quality of their music – lyricism, content, imagery, production – throughout label woes and industry bullshit.

This album seems to be no different.

It’s got the singles, the R&B-friendly jams, and the street anthems. But the one aspect of the Clipse that I’ve admired the most is their ability to go beyond glorifying their surroundings, whether drug dealing or the music industry. This portayal of the darker side started with “I’m Not You” and has been a steady theme throughout the rest of Lord Willin’ and Hell Hath No Fury.

The ways in which each Thornton brother deals with their past and present is increasingly intriguing. It’s the reason why I had to rewind TTCD’s opening track “Speak of Freedom” about five times before proceeding.

Over haunting guitar riffs provided by Sean C & LV, “Speak of Freedom” depicts each MC’s perspective on their struggle with music as life. “Music’s been nothing more than a self-made prisonPusha spits, commenting on how it has affected friendships and relationships in his life. He notes that he’s “in the same group, but I don’t feel my brother’s pain/ Not to confuse, I was sentimental all the same/ I just don’t feel nothin’, I’m numb by the will to gain.” It’s an anamoly to hear a rapper talk about the downside of the grind, since many hide their emotions behind bars bragging about their hustle.

Older brother Malice, continues to warn of the consequences experienced as an entertainer,Nevermind my car, careful what you wish for/ Behind every curtain, the devil and his pitch fork.” He also comments on jealously, lust & love, noting he was “happy being piss poor.” He provides the other side of flaunting his riches – the side that few are ever real enough to mention.

It’s not often you find this dynamic combination in hip-hop, as Clipse walks the line between shining and sinning for an accurate portrayal of both sides of the high life.. before the casket drops on all of us.

Download: Clipse – Speak of Freedom

TTCD

Track List:

1. Speak of Freedom (Produced By Sean C & LV)
2. Popular Demand (Popeyes) feat. Cam’ron (Produced By The Neptunes)
3. Kinda Like a Big Deal feat. Kanye West (Produced By DJ Khalil)
4. Showin’ Out feat. Yo Gotti Produced By The Neptunes)
5. I’m Good feat. Pharrell (Produced By The Neptunes)
6. There Was A Murder (Produced By DJ Khalil)
7. Door Man (Produced By The Neptunes)
8. Never Will It Stop feat. Ab-Liva (Produced By Sean C & LV)
9. Eyes On Me feat. Keri Hilson (Produced By The Neptunes)
10. Counseling (Produced By The Neptunes)
11. Champion (Produced By The Neptunes)
12. Footsteps (Produced By DJ Khalil)
13. Life Change (Produced By The Neptunes)

30
Sep
09

Cop Today: Skyzoo – The Salvation

I see ’em lookin for the real, but they ain’t find that yet.

 I can’t believe I overlooked this earlier today. Better late than never, right?

Brooklyn verbalist Skyzoo dropped his debut solo album The Salvation today, a joint venture between 9th Wonder’s Jamla Records and underground imprint Duck Down Records.

The disc is an earnest auto-biographical account of Sky’s entire life, boasting top-notch production from Just Blaze, Black Milk, Nottz, Illmind and of course 9th. Keeping with the self-revelation concept, The Salvation has only one feature – singer Carlitta Durand. The rest was solely on Sky’s shoulders – luckily, he’s a high-caliber MC that can handle the workload.

Upon first listen, I’m thoroughly impressed by his development since The 3 Day High, which I thought sounded forced and unnatural. I can tell he took  the proper time and effort to focus his vocals, resulting in a captivating listen with hardly any filler.

Don’t believe me? Wanna find out for yourself? I got you covered. Click the artwork up top or go here to buy it from Amazon. Peep the track list below with a download link to the cut produced by Just Blaze. Don’t say I never gave you nothin’!

Support hip-hop music, Enjoy!

Track List:

1. The Opener (produced by Cyrus Tha Great)
2. Return Of The Real (produced by Just Blaze)
3. The Beautiful Decay (produced by 9th Wonder)
4. My Interpretation (produced by Best Kept Secret)
5. Popularity (produced by Nottz)
6. Like A Marathon (produced by 9th Wonder)
7. The Shooter’s Soundtrack (produced by Cyrus Tha Great)
8. Under Pressure (produced by 9th Wonder)
9. Penmanship (produced by Black Milk)
10. Dear Whoever (produced by Illmind)
11. For What It’s Worth ((produced by Eric G)
12. The Necessary Evils (produced by Needlz)
13. Easy To Fly featuring Carlitta Durand (produced by 9th Wonder)
14. Bottom Line (produced by Eric G)
15. Metal Hearts (produced by 9th Wonder)
16. Maintain (produced by Nottz)

17
Sep
09

TRU Brain Trust Reviews OB4CLII

OB4CLII

The homies of The Rap Up Brain Trust and I weighed in on Raekwon’s newest offering Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II this time around. Check out my contribution and the rest of the crew here at TRU.

What are your thoughts on the album?

Thanks for reading, Enjoy!

11
Sep
09

Run This Town Tonight

MSG

It’s the day we’ve all been waiting for. Okay, maybe you haven’t, but I have. Tonight, Shawn Carter will be tearing down Madison Square Garden for his 9-11 tribute concert/ album release bonanza and your boy will be in attendance for the festivities.

Though Blueprint 3 has been met with tepid reviews from critics – just peep my Brain Trust familia’s reviews at The Rap Up – it’s still a solid album compared to most and I’m dumb excited to see the best rapper alive perform. It’s Shawn Carter, at MSG, on a historic day in both hip-hop history and the history of our great country.

For those with tickets, let’s have an epic night. For those without, you can catch the concert on FuseTV at 9 PM.

Let’s take a moment of silence to remember those who gave their lives during the World Trade Center attacks, then throw up a diamond ’cause the Roc will be in the building!

The Roc

02
Sep
09

Sound Table 9/2/09

BP3OB4CLII

The internets have been blown up this week by two of the most anticipated albums of the year, Jay-Z’s Blueprint 3 and Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Pt. II.

You thought I’m gonna post the full versions? Ha! What I will do is include my favorite tracks in this edition of the Sound Table, plus links to some early reviews for each album and an interesting article about the 10 producers that could’ve saved BP3.

Anyways, go out and support both MC’s next week. Enjoy!

Read: 10 Producers That Could’ve Saved Blueprint 3

Jay-Z Blueprint 3 Reviews:

LA Times Blog by Jeff Weiss

Daily Mathematics by Combat Jack

Byron Crawford by Bol

BGBD & RTD by Enigmatik & Khal

Broken Cool

Raekwon Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Pt. II Reviews:

Daily Mathematics by Combat Jack

BGDB by Enigmatik

Wake Your Daughter Up by Travis

Sound Table

Jay-Z ft. Alicia Keys – Empire State of Mind

Jay-Z ft. J Cole – A Star Is Born

Jay-Z ft. Mr Hudson – Young Forever

M.O.P. ft. Redman – Riding Through

Nicolay – City Lights Vol. 2: Shibuya Sampler

Peter Bjorn & John ft. Rapper Big Pooh, Phil Nash & Chaundon – Stay This Way (DJ Jazzy Jeff Remix)

Raekwon – Surgical Gloves

Raekwon ft. Lyfe Jennings – Catalina prod. Dr. Dre

Raekwon ft. Inspectah Deck & Masta Killa – Kiss The Ring

18
Jul
09

Review: Fabolous – Loso’s Way

Cover

First I’d like to introduce the newest contributor to HTT, Mookie! He used to run a dope blog over at Def Sounds until the evil blog provider Blogger discontinued it. No worries, though. He’ll be cooking up some fire for my blog now, starting with this review of Fabolous’ new album Loso’s Way. *Slick Rick voice* Heeeere we go:

Review: Fabolous – Loso’s Way

By Mookie

Fabolous has yet to have that one breakout album that puts him into the discussions for the best rappers in the game right now. Almost all of his albums, although commercially successful, have been critically regarded as mediocre or just above. Fab is hoping that this album, with a concept based on the movie Carlito’s Way, can put him into that circle of the elite.

Before you listen to this album, understand that it is very loosely based on the actual film. Lyrical references are scarce if any and even the Mafioso-style you might have expected only appears occasionally on tracks like “My Way” and “Lullaby.”

The majority of the album is actually pretty upbeat, danceable tracks with an R&B guest spot – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, Fab is known to make some of his best music with a singer by his side.

Kobe (no Black Mamba) kills his guest spot on “Imma Do It,” same with Keri Hilson on “Everything, Everyday, Everywhere”. But some features just should have been left off. For example, The-Dream on “Throw It in the Bag.” I understand the need for a single that’s gonna get radio play and essentially move this off shelves. I understand that everything The-Dream touches right now turns into gold. But this track is a misplaced disaster. It’s essentially just a variation of the same beat that The-Dream always uses, with Fabolous spitting basic rhyme schemes about how his girl can have whatever she wants. Skip.

Fab’s rhymes were actually my main problem with this album as most of the production was on point. Too many simple metaphors like, “I’m so fly they should put me in the skies/ My shits tight like they put me in the wrong size“. Too many lines that straight up don’t make sense, like, “Nursery, rhyming, hickory, dickory/ Blowing that siren, the hood call it pickory, biggie, puffy, busta, victory“. And WAY too many, “Loso, you already know so” lines.

That’s not to say that there weren’t some good songs along with the skippable ones. Lil’ Wayne features on “Salute,” a mean-muggin’ head banger where Fabolous actually drops some lyrics that made me think twice like, “I’m not a boxer, I’mma be brief nigga.” And other than the aforementioned tracks, a couple more like “Stay” featuring Marsha Ambrosius and “Feel like I’m Back” were pretty good.

The truth is, not much about this album is very exceptional. The pros and cons round it out to be just about average. I wouldn’t shell out the full price; maybe pick out a couple tracks.

Rating (Out of 5 Crowns):

Crowns

Best Tracks:

“Imma Do It”, “Everything, Every time, Everywhere”, “Salute”

Worst Tracks:

“Throw It in the Bag”, “There He Go”, “Last Time”

14
Jul
09

Royal Court & Sound Table 7/14/09

Renee Kandy

Renee Kandy of Lawrenceville & Newark, NJ

 

Royal Court:

The Rap Up Brain Trust Half Time Report: The Best & Worst Rap Songs & Albums of 2009 (So Far)

TRU Brain Trust Determines Game’s Jay-Z “Diss” Wasn’t Worth Our Time

15 Horrible Places To Be High [via Hail Mary Jane]

Behind The Scenes of Rosa Acosta’s Photo Shoot [via Real Talk NY]

Ghostbusters Car For Sale [via Ruby Hornet]

Rakim Readies The Seventh Seal, New Single July 28th[via Grand Good]

Worst Boob Jobs Ever [via Yep Yep]

WYDU’s Mid Way Report: Top 5 Instrumental Albums [via Wake Your Daughter Up]

 

Sound Table:

DJ JS-1 ft. Masta Ace, OC & Pharoahe Monch – Ridiculous (Remix) [via Michelle at Audible Treats] (Buy the track here)

Elucid – However You Want prod. Von Pea [via Khal]

Nametag ft. Skyzoo – Back On My Shit (Prod. by Black Milk) [via Nah Right]

Skyzoo – “The Beautiful Decay” (Prod. by 9th Wonder) [via Gotty at TSS]

Twista ft. Kanye West – Alright prod. Kanye West & No I.D. (Bonus off Category F5, buy the album here) [via Perajok]

Usher ft. Pharrell – Certified (prod. The Neptunes) [NoDJ] [via 2DB]





Corleone, Hold the Throne

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