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.

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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





Corleone, Hold the Throne

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