Here is my dude Broken Soul Boy doing another great hip-hop review (MUCH respect).
Been well content with my purchase of the new Mos Def album, The Ecstatic. A lot of different things going on in the project, and about three quarters of the album, I would consider very good.
The striking thing about this album is the production. It is only a 45 minute long album, and many of the tracks are just a bit too short in length. (That is actually very annoying throughout this album when there are some dope joints on there) And the productions are for the most part are creative and very eclectic in nature, with some random elements of speeches and other skits seemingly thrown in. Quite a few of the joints are beats which randomly flip into a different hook. All of this combined, makes The Ecstatic feel like its basis was an abstract beat tape, something not far off a Madlib/Beat Konducta type compilation, which Mos Def used a series of challenging beats for a full album.
There was also a few Middle Eastern flavoured influences that made up a chunky proportion of the album, and added quite a range of interesting music to the whole project. Right from the introductory track called Supermagic, where Mos attacks the hook that is dominated by a catchy grinding electric guitar chord, with a good flow. Embassy is another standout and strange track for me, with a classic flip in the process. Also got to rate Auditorium with a killer production, a brilliant use of a Bollywood sample and Slick Rick featuring. Speaking of guests, Talib Kweli also drops a strong rap on the History track as well.
The album progressed towards a more classic soul vibe in the latter part. No Hay Nada Mas was especially interesting where Mos rhymes in Spanish (I think!), to an extremely melodic chord that sounds straight off a harp. He adapts an ill mellow flow on this, matching the vibe of the track spot on and you just got to have faith that his rhymes in a foreign language are as reflective as the actual tune itself.
The best track off the album is Workers Comp, an ode to the graft of working life and its devastating toll. A real profound soulful cut over everything else on the album, with Mos even attempting some decent singing on the chorus.
Mos Def could have come through with more hard hitting and memorable lines on the album, and it was an annoying feature about the tracks being too short for the most part. Asides from that, there are a lot of positives from this album which stands out uniquely from the rest and brings real artistic hip hop to the masses, digging deep in the crates to get the productions compelling. The Ecstatic is Mos Def’s best work since Black On Both Sides.
This only happens every so often – Raj Lovesoul on Jay Sean’s Career… Here’s the new video called ‘Down’ feat. Weezy F.B. a.k.a Lil Wayne.
There are 2 things that the great DJ in the sky made it easy for British DJ’s to do. 1) blink, and 2) hate on Jay Sean. I’ve heard countless people from regular joe’s, to so called tastemakers, say Jay Sean is this and that, he’s arrogant, he doesn’t really talk to people, etc, etc. Well to be honest, if I had a video like this to deliver, I wouldn’t allow myself to get distracted. From time to time, I’ll casually sing Jay’s praises. It’s been widely accepted that he’s carried the ‘britsh asian boy does RnB’ title on his back for years (sorry raghav, your names not on the list, you’ll have to que and pay).
But this video is out of here… as in Estelle feat. Kanye West… outta here. Let me back peddle. I heard this on the radio, and I personally thought that the track was found when someone at Cash Money hacked into Akon’s PC and raided the recycle bin, and nabbed Colby O’Donnis’s A&R blueprint too. I couldn’t tell the difference between this, JLS and countless others. I was almost ready to take Hova’s beat and record ‘Death of Akon-Tunes’. But the reality is, only Jay Sean sets the standards for Jay Sean – and he knew where he was going. We are not expected to like everything he does straight away because he himself is on new ground everytime he grows musically, and this video has impressed me because it works at a global level. There is no music market that will not go crazy for the visual, the traditional urban RnB rap consumers will eat up Lil Wayne’s verse (it worked for Bobby V and Lloyd), and Jay’s 2-4-1 creatine vouchers are subtley leveraged in the first few seconds (this would be a very different review if dude had his shirt off through-out).
As far as the dancing, probably the best move I’ve seen in his career. Did he do a 8 bar break and bust a move through it like Usher, nope. But he pulled of the ‘dancing without really dancing’ thing perfectly, allowing him to explore this aspect further in his videos further if he wishes. I am now a fan of this track, but I’m more impressed by the fact that Jay has kicked in the door to the US, but stepped back before running through it to think through his strategy (Robbie Williams, get Jay’s BB Pin, dude figured it out). Also, hearing ‘Ride It’ get washed away by the thunder and wound down was a nice touch to… the efforts didn’t go unnoticed.
This has easily got to be contender for best mixtape of this year – outstanding piece of work.
The main theme of the mixtape is about paying homage to the music of Q Tip and Tribe Called Quest, legends in hip hop. A combination of dope bootlegs and remixes that almost feel like a new Tribe Called Quest album (I wish!) – mixed in with some of the classic Tribe/Q Tip records. But all the way through the mixtape, the flow of beats is addictive and seriously ill, throwing at you some raw soul or jazz flavour that just make for compelling listening. And its complemented by some ill editing and production up between tracks, all the way throughout.
Special favourites are the DJ Scratch remix of Renaissance, Breathe And Stop, mixed with the mellow beat from God Lives Through joint, Consequence and Kid Cudi featuring, and the Excursions joint with the lyric that I only wish were true: “Tribe didn’t break up // they just taking a break”!
One of the main features of the mixtape are the interludes, which are mainly commentary about various joints, how breaks formed the samples for some of the anthems we know, and also Q Tip chatting about his inspirations. For instance, it was a complete shock for me to hear about how the beat for Award Tour, was influenced directly from the old and classic RNB joint Don’t Walk Away from Jade – amazing how good that sounds even though that’s early 90s!
And apparently there’s a volume 2 on the way! I can’t even believe this is for free (50 tracks!), and all real hip hop heads will be seriously missing out if they don’t get round to checking this out soon.
Posted by Broken Soul Boy. Check the previous post for the download.
J Dilla was one of the best producers ever, before he was cruelly taken away from us almost 3 years ago. His music stood out for representing the culture of dope soulful beats, many of which were proper hip hop, head nodding business, and they felt deep and real. It’s not often you have a producer who was able to construct a colossal series of beats, often from very obscure sources, which were evocative and soulful. So his passing away at a still young age was a real wounding loss for music. As the hip hop proverb goes, J Dilla changed my life!
Coming up to the 3rd anniversary of his passing, one talented rapper by the name of Termanology has released a mixtape in tribute, called If A Heaven Was A Mile Away. One the biggest highlights on this compilation is the all stars line up on the ‘Say It’ beat; a seriously great dreamy style record that was on the Jay Loves Japan compilation. I had waited ages for that compilation, just for that blazin instrumental. Here is the joint:
This whole all stars project is incredible; featuring Joell Ortizz, Saigon, Bun B, Freeway, Sheek Louch and Termanology himself. So you know there ain’t no messing about here with a strong choice of credible artists. And all the rappers drop sick rhymes, ride the beat with fire while doing their own thing; they all flip the script coz the instrumental sounds slow and mellow holding it on its own, but when all the rappers get hold of the beat, they turn it into some hyped up energetic smash with all the fighting talk. And it makes you think about the many ‘could have been’ J Dilla productions which could have been transformed and raised the profile of the guy that didn’t get the credit he deserved.
If I was to pick a favourite, it would be Bun B as I think he made the most of his 16 bars. Who represented for you?
Posted by: Broken Soul Boy
Every sub-genre in hip-hop has submitted new comers, from The Cool Kids trend-happy neo-backpacking, to Lupe Fiasco’s revival of lyricism. Look west and you can clearly see who is trying to breathe life back in Gangsta rap. The self loathing, Glasses Malone, with his latest Westside / Dirty South hybrid mixtape. ‘F— Glasses Malone’.
Listing to this tape, it feels like Glasses isn’t an ‘original’ artist per se, but more a refinement on some big let downs. He’s more lyrical than Game, less annoying than Young Jeezy, and sounds more credible than the other 90% of other gangsta rappers. He has also found a home on Cash Money Records which opens up some stellar collaborations with Lil’ Wayne and Birdman. G Malone can easily hold his own with Weezy on ‘Where Itz At?’. The below par final verse by Cam’ron on that record was a bad decision all round, and the Dipsetter get tanned lyrically by both his counterparts.
‘My 16′s so fly, I’ll call ‘em jail bait’
‘I used to paint pictures with my 16′s, now I spit plasma big screens, look at the vivid scenes’
‘I see these n*****s claiming long beach and ain’t stepped a foot in this city, in MY city, Crooked is Biggie’
Impressed? You should be. Crooked I’s second installment of The Block Obama series is a fire tape, jam packed with quotables that are surprisingly easy to digest and not over complex. If you look at this tape objectively, it should have never come out. From 1995 onwards Crooked has consistently been beaten down by the music industry, from signing to Noo Trybe and the whole label getting dropped by Virgin, to signing with Death Row and Suge Knight… well… being Suge Knight. Even half of this experience would have your favourite rapper flipping burgers by now, but it seems to have made Crook stronger, and now one quarter of the new Slaughterhouse has found his running pace. Click below for full review.
Last night, Kanye previewed 808 and Heartbreak at The 02, assumedly after his show. The homey Sumit from HipHopChronicle was in the house and emailed me the review. Here is the album cover…
…and he is the link to his track by track review. Enjoy.
Even though this is the first ever Best of Both Reviews (i.e. When two lovesoul writers cannot agree on which review to post) I have to confess that it is not a case of extremes. I do not think this is the best album ever, and Hip-hop Singh does not think this is the worst album ever (otherwise I’m sure Camron, Plies and Tony Yayo would lose the talent that makes them ’special’).
So let me start by saying this album is NOT an absolute classic, more a modern day classic. Weezy is superb, refreshing, versatile, humorous and octane fuelled, but the polishing that the absolute classics have had is lacking in this. In the first track, ‘3 Peat’ he threatens to ‘m-fk your kids’, and in the last track he targets paedophiles, mistakes that are too easy to see. So why is this? Well back to the real classics, Biggie had Puff, Em and Snoop had Dre, 50 had Em, Game had 50, and Jay-Z had…well Jay-Z. Weezy has Baby, and although Baby has hits to blow any clubs south of Philly to pieces, Baby he’s not changed hip-hop, just contributed.
But before Hip-Hop Singh uses this against me, let’s focus on why this is one of the best albums of 2008 so far. It’s full of the hits that hip-hop needs. While Soulja Boy and Hurricane Chris claim to have catchy down, their flows and lyrics (and beats) cannot touch the near flawless ‘A Milli’. The ‘young money millionaire, tougher than Nigerian hair’ rips this beat to shreds. The flows, pacing, intonations, metaphors and even riding of the chops and screws is stunning. This song will absolutely explode clubs and cars forever.
Other stand outs include Just Blaze’s Mr Carter. Jay-Z makes an early appearance at Weezy’s party (2nd track, tho I think it should’ve been about 2/3rd of the way in). Weezy is really whatever on this track, we’ve definitely heard him better rapping over khaled and swizz beats. When hova steps up, its magic. Although its not like his Kanye, Rick Ross or Aztec cameos, its damn good, as he spits ‘the dope bwoy just came off the spoon’, forcing weezy to come back spitting ’so far from average’. The saving wack rappers concept track Dr Carter is very similar, it seems like he’s just spitting for the hell of it, until the trumpets come in to remind the Game, take notes on how you shout out other rappers from Weezy; subtle, fast, direct and back to the music.
Weezy highlights his a status as future great by picking some challenging beats. He rides Kanye’s ‘let the beat build’, but the lack of bass and slightly adolescent tone of his voice doesn’t allow his words to cut though and be memorable, like the tracks producer can be. This trait fortunately doesn’t restrict him so much on ‘The La La’, produced by David Banner and feat Brisco and the proven versatile Busta Rhymes. Busta is typically very good, tho I need a more bit of the dungeon dragon style to make me press repeat on him.
‘You aint got nothin’ is a great collab cut feat fabolous (feels like his track when he spits), juelz santana (feels like his track when he spits actually) and weezy himself (oh its actually his track). But weezy does damage this record, straight spraying venom everywhere and showing that he is actually better than his trackmates. Another highpoint to demonstrates weezys confidence.
Also some of the average tunes include ms officer ft bobby valentino (weezy, did u loose lloyds number?), and the hook driven, but otherwise poor, T-pain 2nd single feature ‘get money’. But there are still gems like radio-ready ‘comfortable’ with babyface to keep you two-stepping this summer.
So should you buy this album. Like over a million buyers in his first week out, yes, it will complement your hip-hop collection no doubt, its dope as hell and stands shoulders above most ‘new’ artists (weezy aint new, he’s revived, but you get what I mean). Hip-Hop Singh, take the baton….(Raj Lovesoul signing out)
Hip-Hop Singhs Review
Ok, Weezy has dropped his album ladies and gents, the question is does it give credibility to the claim of “best rapper alive”? I’ve heard the album, thoroughly, and the only answer is a resounding no.
The artist comes of with some heavily cliched production and nonsensical rambling lyrics, that try and come together at the end of verses, but more often than fall quite flat instead. That’s not to say the guy doesn’t have highlights and great catchy tracks, but these nuggets are lined side by side with some truly “please-hit-skip-track-now” songs.
Let’s face it Wheezy does get judged harshly due to the hype and hotness surrounding him (the album has a sticker that carries a Kanye West endorsement quote of the man himself) and he HAS greatly improved from his Hot Boy beginnings. The early track show this no less “3 peat” with typical weezy lines like “throw it up like i was trying to lose my gut”. Such lines will cause listeners to smile at the simple idea and effectiveness of such lines, and the realisation that no one else can really get away with such lines. Wayne does, due to the style in which he delivers his rhymes, each line dripping with charisma and swagger, two traits you could never accuse the kid of lacking. But the phrase “all style and no substance” never becomes more apparent later on in the very same song, where such lines like “watch me/ bitch watch me/ bitch watch me/ but they cannot see me” and “abracadabra…..i say up like viagra” cause you to grimace and hang your head in shame. It’s hard to believe that this guy reckons to be on top of the game and wants to lay claim to the crown, YET CHAMPIONS LINES LIKE THOSE??
Straight away Wayne makes amends for such trespasses by flowing over a VERY Just Blaze-esque beat Mr. Carter, along with his namesake. Here Wheezy is far more focused and his lines are stronger and flow much better delivered. Even lines like “I call them April babies because they’re fools!” show his creativity and succeed at keeping a smile on your face. The hook is very catchy and Wayne’s adlibs serve to enhance it further, and I defy anyone to not be singing it or having it playing in their head after only a few listens. But the crowning moment of the song comes of as Lil’ Wheezy’s greatest failing. Last verse duties fall to Jay-Z himself, and even with it being far from Jigga’s best verse, he comes of a class ahead of title artist in flow, lyrics and content. I suspect this is evident to Wayne himself, which is why he even reference lines from Jay’s “Lucky Me” at the end of the song.
Wanye has been known for flip-flopping between being “the best rapper alive” and “the best rapper since Jay retired”. After this song and album, he should stick with the post-retirement line, because at least that way he would be less wrong.
Unfortunately Wayne is not helped with some HEAVILY cliched lazy production, with the same horns and drum count down patterns appearing in virtually every song, making some of the beats nigh impossible to differentiate from standard south hip hop fare. Others are just awful, “A Milli” has a sample and loop that just wears away at the sanity of those who hear it for prolonged periods of time. “Dr. Carter” is a concept song that just fails due to Lil’ Wayne being a rambling mess on a concept that requires focus and execution, two trademarks the rapper lacks here. The Dr. Carter makes you ask “would u want to be treated by a mumbling incoherent unbalanced individual with as much finesse on execution as a monkey performing brain surgery with a wrench”, such is how Wheezy comes across. And “Phone Home” is just terrible, sorry, that’s all i can say about it.
“Tie My Hands” a collabo with Robin Thicke, comes across as a nice slow jam with style and smoothness, even if it comes off more a Robin Thicke song with Lil’ Wayne on it, probably because Thicke produced it as well. “Lollipop” is a standard Wayne club single, and just acts like Ronseal, doing exactly what it says on the tin. “Let The Beat Build” is also a pretty decent affair with Kanye West handling the boards and Wayne delivering decent lines. The rest of the album is pretty much forgettable fare.
I feel Wayne’s style of repeating lines and flipping their meaning was done 1st by Dipset, and all is like Pac than Biggie, as an artist who has stylish delivery more than quotable lyrics.
Even Ghostface can be accused of having lyrics that can border on nonsense, but Ghostface does not sound like Animal from the police academy movies when he raps, Lil’ Wayne does. So as an album I cannot call this good, not by a long shot. To be honest it’s pretty poor.
Mixtape Name: It’s Hard Being Good
Created By: Charlie Sloth [Click for Artist Site]
Overall Rating: 8 out of 10
Reviewed by: Raj Lovesoul
Download it now here whilst you read the review
Charlie Sloth has issues. Way too many than his brilliant mixtape ‘It’s Hard Being Good’ can pack in. But as all good mixtapes should do, it serves as an exciting prequel to an inevitable career as a signed artist.
Camden raised Sloth is a versatile MC, a strength that he exploits when he sounds like he’s rapping in the rain during the thunder-clad counselling session in ‘My Shrink’, to the fairground fairytale killer ‘Mr Rapman’ (I dare you to not say ‘you f—king mug’ within 24hrs of hearing that record). The fact that he chooses so many different sounds and beats shows a certain level of confidence in his own ability as a writer, rapper and rebel. With piercing lines like ‘you’re not you when you rap, you’re your favourite rapper in disguise, oh my God look at this guy, all he ever does is lie’, the vendetta theme of this mixtape is exposing what is wrong with hip-hop, society and himself, all interwoven and presented thoughtfully and brutally honest. Further props to him for the record ‘Can’t forget about UK’ as he breaks down all of his UK hip-hop influences over Nas’s ‘Can’t Forget About You’ beat. Listen to it a few times, then hit Wikipedia, you owe it to UK hip-hop.
In my opinion, without a shadow of a doubt, the best record on the album is ‘Think Positive’. The slow hook, creeping keys and stabbing verses challenge you to hit the forward button, and you just can’t. It’s as if Charlie sit’s you in the car that is his life and then drives you into a wall, as he talks about his son thinning due to lack of food and feeling like he has no spirit (‘where the f—k is God?!?!’). Half way through the record, it switches to the positives that reflect his life now, rolling with The Jump Off team, London’s leading Hip-Hop and sports entertainment collective. The beat changes into up-tempo reggae, and Sloth pieces his life back together in front of you brick by brick.
The fact of the matter is, it was probably harder for me to avoid writing ‘the UK’s answer to Eminem’, than it was for Charlie to put his album together. His flow is effortless, his voice lands right into the beat, deep enough to mix in, but sharp enough to be heard and the content is bang on point. You get the bragging mixed with the truth, the sound effects mixed with quick verbal skits and an on-going sense that your life isn’t that f—ked up compared to this guy. This mixtape is a benchmark of change for Charlie, and as an artist he exists as a metaphor for society as it is today, and how it could be. Hopefully society will be as good as Charlie’s life when he inevitably gets a Brit Award.