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Speaking of Fiascos…

Lupe Fiasco is one of my favorite rappers out there. His two albums Food and Liquor and The Cool are phenomenal and his concept tracks revolving around “The Game” (look them up if you haven’t heard them) are simply amazing. Seeing Trev’s post on “Go to Sleep” hyped me up for more Lupe.

I’ve been waiting for 2 years now, however, for his next album. Initially it was supposed to be his final album, LupE.N.D but he has since changed his mind and put his final contribution to rap on hold indefinitely, instead deciding to create Lasers (Love Always Shines, Everytime Remember 2 Smile), originally We Are Lasers, originally The Great American Rap Album. This album has seen a lot of issues, from leaked tracks to Atlantic Records deciding not to release it for some reason (supposedly they’re close to releasing it, according to Atlantic Records tweets), making it almost unbearable for those Lupe fans among us. There is a petition for Atlantic Records to release it, however, and you can sign it here.

Hopefully Lasers gets released soon so I don’t have to resort to unofficial mixtapes(shudder) to get my Lupe fix.

-Lars

First leaked track from the album, “Shining Down”

Officially released music video for “I’m Beamin”


Thoughts on the mosh pit and Alice Glass’ hind-quarters

If you’ve been following the blog and you saw Jules’ picture uploads last night you’ll know that we were at the Crystal Castles show at the Electric Factory. The show was another stop on the Hard Summer Tour and the other acts included Rusko and Sinden.

Enough background info though.

We got to the show kind of early and housed some pounders and Four Lokos, a great idea had by all. When we got in Destructo was playing his set, which wasn’t too bad at first, but he played for a long ass time with not much original going on. During the middle of his set, though, I made my way up to the front, almost at the fence which is where I stayed for almost the whole night. Sinden came on next and started to rock the house. His light show was pretty nasty and he was cutting some sick beats. During Sinden’s set I helped break up at least 4 fights right behind me in the mosh.

Speaking of the mosh, though, why is it that every time I get up near the front of a show, there are always the worst assholes on the fence? Seriously why is the asian kind holding his ears shut standing in front of me at a CRYSTAL CASTLES show? Oh and the asshole checking his facebook every 10 minutes? Fuck you man, you don’t deserves to be up at the front. Go stand in the back and keep pretending you like the show and let everyone else up to the front.

Rusko came on after Sinden and played a fucking wicked set, though I was ready for CC around 3/4 of the way through his set. Then, after the stage crew spent 20 minutes setting up the stage, Alice Glass (with her usual fifth of Jim Beam) and Ethan Kath stepped on to the stage. They kicked it off with “Fainting Spells” and a fucking killer light show and just jumped right into their new album. The mosh was a madhouse when Alice decided to start crowd-surfing, which was so baller. I held her by myself for a little and eventually had her ass directly in my face. Awesome.

It was right around “Empathy”, however, that I passed out three times in quick succession and I thought that it would probably be better for my health to push my way back out. I must have looked like a monster, emerging from the writhing mass that was the mosh, completely drenched in sweat, hair pulled back. It sucked I couldn’t make it all the way through their set in the front, it was really cool to watch the whole scene in front of me as I stood at the doors and watched the stage (their lights show is epilepsy-inducingly awesome).

All in all, an absolutely successful night (Alice Glass’ ass was in my face!!!). If you have a chance to see them any time soon, I highly recommend their Hard Summer Tour.

Not the show we were at, but just to give you an idea of what the atmosphere was like.

I passed out before and during this song:


Teflon Don (Not John Gotti)

If I say “Teflon Don” and you immediately think of John Gotti, head of the Gambino crime family of New York, then you aren’t far off. Though Gotti died in 2002, his nickname lives on through Rick Ross (the Boss). Ross releases his 2010 album Teflon Don under Maybach Music Group and Def Jam Recordings (no surprise there) and has garnered some popularity with his singles “Super High” (featuring Ne-Yo), “B.M.F (Blowin’ Money Fast)” and “Live Fast, Die Young”, so it’s likely you’ve heard one of these singles or at least have heard of the release of the album.

When I think of Rick Ross, I think of a big black man with a deep voice, smoking a large cigar and rapping from a leather couch. His music has always followed this kind of style. His deep, gritty voice with his medium flow speed combine to create a very unique sound, one which I can really get behind. Teflon Don is no exception to this formula, staying away from super-hype sounding tracks, instead sticking to nice, clean beats and flows working well over these beats. Despite Ross’ gritty delivery, the album is surprisingly cleanly cut, which I expect from Def Jam

Teflon Don starts out with a very strong mix of tracks including “I’m Not A Star” (featuring J.U.S.T.I.C.E League) and “Free Mason” (featuring Jay-Z and John Legend). You’ll find that every one of his songs includes a collaboration, which is nice if you like unique verse styles, but takes away from Rick Ross’ chance to craft any meaningful synergy between tracks. The tracks are solid, though I will admit that Ross is certainly not a lyrical genius in any sense. His collaborating artists often outshine him lyrically, but that can be overlooked with his classic character shining throughout the album. My choice for the weakest track on the album has to be “MC Hammer” (featuring Gucci Mane). The track simply doesn’t do it for me, with a weak beat (relative to the rest of the album) and boring rhymes and an even more boring subject (MC Hammer? The poor man has been a running joke since his bankruptcy almost 14 years ago). Gucci also doesn’t add anything substantial to the track

The album is definitely a strong release, however. You’ll find yourself bobbing your head with Rick Ross’ voice and easy-to-listen-to beats. His lyrics, though generally fairly weak, can sometimes surprise you with their cleverness and can elicit a smile at their pop-culture references. If not in my Top 10 releases of ’10, it’s certainly in my Top 15. It’s a strong effort by Ross and his collaborators, and it shows well. A definite pick up this year for any rap-enthusiasts.

-Lars

“I’m Not A Star” – Rick Ross Featuring J.U.S.T.I.C.E League

“Free Mason” – Rick Ross Featuring Jay-Z and John Legend


The Good Doctor

So here I am, sitting up at 3 am wandering aimlessly about the internet, checking out music and other oddities when I inevitably stumble onto some stuff about arguably my favorite rapper/producer/entrepreneur Dr. Dre. With bated breath I look for more info regarding the release of his next album, Detox. Supposedly the wait is over. Dre has officially announced that his next release will be by the end of this year (I’m still waiting for the inevitable push-back to polish it more…).

But the more surprising news regarding Dre is his new concept album The Planets. Apparently the Doctor has been studying the planets and their properties and is attempting (and hopefully succeeding) in converting them into audio forms. This album will be all instrumental, a hip-hop album without hip-hop. Dre, you’re a revolutionary.

Seriously though, if anyone can do it, it’ll be Dr. Dre. Let’s hope we see Detox first though, else I may just call it quits on music altogether. This wait has been excruciating.

-Lars

Also, his leaked track “Under Pressure” (featuring Jay-Z). You’ll recognize the beat from his Beats by Dre commercial

In case you forgot…

And my personal favorite


Acquire Curren$y, have sexual relations with women

Sorry for the time between posts. I’ve been making my way through a couple albums and trying to figure out which I should write
about.

Curren$y’s Pilot Talk, released under Damon Dash’s label BluRoc Records (Curren$y’s first major label album) and produced almost exclusively by Ski Beatz (the genius behind Jay-Z’s excellent album Reasonable Doubt).

Let me just say this as a preface: if you aren’t down with smoking the reefer, you may not like this album as much as those of us who do. This is a slow moving creation, not hasty in what it tries to accomplish which seems to be a smokers dream, especially in the heat of the summer. It starts off with a very solid track in “Audio Dope II”. I imagine listening to this track in a smoke filled room, passing a lit blunt around. The bass is heavy and filling while the lyrics are slow rolling and almost without pause, a style I like on tracks like this. The next song, “King Kong” is, in my opinion, the weakest on the album so I won’t spend time talking about it. “Skybourne” featuring Smoke DZA and Big K.R.I.T is another dope track with a relaxed beat and bass. The flow is a little more aggressive, but it suits the song well. My favorite track, though, has to be “The Day” featuring Jay Electronica and Mos Def (Jay absolutely destroys his verse). This song has an entertaining beat, good rhymes, and bomb-ass collaborations. It’s an upbeat track in a fairly subdued album and is refreshing.

Pilot Talk is an album I’d throw on while lounging around my room. Its slow bass, rhythmic and continuous flow and good collaborations craft a very solid album with very few songs that will leave you dissatisfied, transitioning between songs well and keeping the general vibe of the album true. As Curren$y’s major debut (he has a shit load of mixtapes out), I’d have to say it’s very successful in making a decent summer album. This album will go on my lazy summer day playlist with the likes of Jurrasic 5, The Roots and Atmosphere.

Honestly, the whole album grows on me the more I listen to it, I only wish I were sparking up a little weed whenever I listen to it. If you enjoy getting high, try getting high to Pilot Talk, relax, and enjoy these hazy days before autumn takes ’em away.

-Andy


The Darkside isn’t cool without Vader

Let me start this out by saying I don’t like Fat Joe. He’s a boring rapper to me, but he has fallen off the grid recently, so it was news to me when I found out his tenth album was dropping on Tuesday. I imagine it’s probably news to you as well so I thought I would review it. Fat Joe recently signed with E1 Music to release The Darkside Vol. 1 and in my opinion, he shouldn’t have.

As with most of his tracks, his lyrical abilities are very basic and strained by his continuous desire to be a legend (which he’s claimed he is in multiple interviews). His first album Represent is the only album of his I’ve ever owned and that was only for the sake of having it. This record is not good. I was semi-hopeful when I heard the legit beat in the second track “Valley of Death” that his skill may have matured in my listening absence, but I was disappointed when I heard is boring flow, lackluster rhymes and unimaginative themes. His collaborations are what you would expect from any relatively well known artist nowadays : Wayne, Jeezy, R.Kelly, Cam’ron, Trey Songz, and Clipse (Why Clipse, why?) and all fall short, except Clipse (but that may be my bias towards liking Clipse). This was supposedly going to be Joe’s return to his hardcore rap roots and reinforcing his claim as a hip-hop mogul, but is just a rehashed album with no new concepts. When I think of hardcore, I think of Jedi Mind Tricks, Immortal Technique, Ill Bill and the other rappers who can make you cringe with their brutal lyrics, not make you stare blankly at your iTunes window as track after track passes by without reaction. “Rappers are in Danger” is, I would imagine, supposed to be a violent sounding hardcore track, but is particularly bad song with it’s poorly scratched chorus (“rappers are in danger”, how original…) and Joe’s tame lyrics. I almost imagined the first single off of the album “(Ha Ha) Slow Down” was good because of its nice bassline and interesting sample, but the rapping on the track is weak and Joe’s hook is annoying.

Tip for you Joe: if you want to sound hardcore stop using such laid back beats and samples and create a grungy, dirty sound. Oh, and learn to rap about some new stuff.

This relatively unknown album should stay just that, unknown. Unless you are a die hard Fat Joe enthusiast (something I have yet to ever encounter) you probably will be bored by this completely unoriginal album. I listened to this wildly mediocre album so that you don’t have to, heed my advice. I promise you a good review soon. I promise.


Rap’s changed, they wanna know how I feel about it…

…They say rap’s changed, they wanna know how I feel about it…

Dr. Dre’s line off “Still D.R.E” has impacted me more recently as I look at rap nowadays. It may be selective memory, but it seems that true “gangsta rap” has been lost in the modern rapper. In the 80’s and 90’s we had had true rhymes about the ‘hood and the terrors that come along with poverty, drug culture and general mistrust of authority (many times with very good reason), but lately with the mainstream explosion of hip-hop and, by association, rap, the really “gangsta” feel to rap has been lost. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, all genres of music evolve with the times. Rock music needed the power ballad era so that everyone could realize how awful power ballads are. Evolution shows that the genre isn’t stagnating, and as much as I love to bump Illmatic and Ready to Die, I’m glad there are rappers out there like Kid Cudi, Drake, and the much more unknown Childish Gambino.

Kid Cudi’s first non-mixtape album Man on the Moon was incredible. When I first heard it, I was amazed with what he was doing with his beats, rapping style and heartfelt lyrics. If you haven’t heard at least 3 songs from this album, you must not have listened to the radio or anything popular in the past year. His next full release will be (hopefully) September this year and I will without a doubt be picking that up.

Drake’s been a surprisingly positive artist for me ever since So Far Gone, which is sort of odd since I usually tend to stay away from mainstream artists like him. He recently released Thank Me Later to generally positive reviews. This album is an interesting mix of slow, bass driven jams like “Up All Night” and hype, quick-beat driven songs like “Over”. Despite this contrast, most of the beats are fairly sparse, bringing Drake’s lyrical prowess to the front of the album. Drake retains his recognizable voice and soft-spoken delivery for which I’m grateful. His rhymes can be a bit stale if you’ve listened to enough self-praising rappers like Wayne or many of the other rappers you can hear on the radio, but if you listen to enough variety, his style is entertaining. On Thank Me Later it’s abundantly clear that Drake’s fame has been noticed by others in the industry as the collaborations are heavy hitting. Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, Nicki Minaj (who I thought killed it on “Up All Night”), T.I, Swizz Beatz, and, of course Wayne (seriously, what wont this guy put his name on?). Overall I think Drake takes his successes from So Far Gone and continues the trend in an even more public fashion with his debut album. I admit some of the songs are in typical Drake fashion (in that they’re very slow sound like he’s kinda just talking at you), but that’s his style and he does it well with his sexy-ass voice. I would like to see a little more variety from his normal topics for songs (women, love and his own greatness) but if he keeps them true I won’t mind these semi-played out themes. Overall, I liked the album for what it was: a good Drake album. I sincerely hope he doesn’t completely sellout as I see him as the true crossover between hip-hop and rap.

Now for my up-and-coming favorite. Have you seen the youtube viral video “Bro Rape”? I’m assuming you have. Have you seen NBC’s “Community”? I reckon you’ve at least heard of it. I’m also pretty sure you’ve seen NBC’s “30 Rock”. But have you heard of Childish Gambino? Likely not. What do these all have in common? Donald Glover. The guy’s a genius. He wrote for “30 Rock”, starred in “Community”, starred in all of Derrick Comedy’s sketches and even in their feature-length film “Mystery Team” and through it all, just wanted to rap. Donald aka Childish Gambino (thanks to a Wu-tang Clan name generator) kills it with his debut album Culdesac. Of the 2010 releases, it’s my favorite. Donald is a far cry from rappers such as Biggie, Pac and Snoop, but his rhymes are intelligent, smooth, funny and, overall, heartfelt. From the first track on the album, “Difference”, you can tell that his heart’s in this project the whole way and it shows. The whole album is a perfect blend of quick-paced songs and slow raps with baller beats and samples throughout. Most of the tracks have tongue-in-cheek humor amplified by Glover’s amazing lyrical ability. He raps about his issues being an outcast through his life, his desire to be successful, and his inherent hipster attitude. It’s really hard to pick out specific tracks, but if I had to choose my favorites, I would have to say “Difference”, “I Got This Money”, “I’m Alright” and “The Last”. These are just the best of the best though. I can’t stress how much I like this album. Best thing: all his stuff is free, and all his mixtapes are pretty dope. I recommend downloading all his stuff and listening to it ASAP.

-Lars

Over (Childish Gambino cover) from Donald Glover on Vimeo.

Up All Night – Drake

Fancy – Drake