Killer Mike – Pl3dge album review

No holds barred, pure and simple. That is the only way to describe the new album Pl3dge, by Killer Mike. He takes no prisoners in his latest release, proving to be one more step in his evolutionary process where there is truly no ceiling he can hit.

Since 2003 we have heard what Killer Mike possess, but it is in the last few years that he has be linked to Outkast that he has truly been given a venue to shine and grow. There is nowhere to better see that growth than with Pl3dge. Nothing is off limits on this album, which in many ways acts as a call to action for the poor and disenfranchised, but also those living in the margins and to those who are often dubbed as heroes. In Mike’s eyes they are more apart of the problem than the solution. During “That’s Life 2”, Mike calls out to Ms. Oprah, Mr Cosby and President Obama.

“Why when Oscar Grant got murdered we didn’t here a peep from y’all…we appreciate the you delegated for Henry Gates, but what about your people slaving in these fields everyday…”

Killer Mike uses this song to call into question the efforts of the Black middle class and as to whether the Black faces we see are an indication of progress or assimilation and intra-racial classism.He takes on heavy ideas of what it means to not only be Black, but what progress should be mean to Black people.

This album starts out by making an impact, “So Glorious” could be considered Mike’s own version of “Juicy” as it gives reference to all the things good and bad that has brought him to the place he is now.

“If it weren’t for Rap, I’d have a job to sell cocaine…they say I celebrate the pusher that’s profane. I say to feed my babies, I’ll do anything. I’ll sell “H”, I’ll sell “C”.”

Everything about Pl3dge is a testament to what happens when an artist becomes reflective, Killer Mike has used the use of hard beats and unlike the slow melodies that other acts use, Mike has skipped the dramatic mix-mastering and delivers his message with rhymes that don’t hide, but come full force, without shame. Pl3dge is an album that is reflective of both lyrical and spiritual growth.

Killer Mike is giving listeners a dose of medicine and something to bob their head to. Pl3dge definitely proves itself as an album worth coppin’, putting in the stereo, iPod or downloading on your phone and playing on repeat.


Blu – Her Favorite Colo(u)r album review

Music is an art, this is not a surprise. We regard it as such because it requires time, love, devotion and placing one’s thoughts and emotions in a form that is tangible; therefore making it permanent. Music is a special art because it uses the words that we speak everyday to create a line of consciousness, fun, and maybe even memories. That is the kind of art that present in the new album from Blu entitled, “Her Favorite Colo(U)R”.

This L.A. based producer and lyricist proven himself a few times over with his previous albums and compilations. But it is through this his latest release that we get to truly see the talent in his lyrics, the depth of this mixes and the sheer originality of the music on “Her Favorite Colo(U)r”. This is an album that does not simply have tracks, but it has moments. Many of the songs on this album are short; but they act like breaths between poem stanzas. Time in between for you simply to inhale and exhale the downbeat. Not only is the whole album laden with the movement of an extended poem, it is woven throughout with poignancy that is created with the riffs of Billie Holiday (Amnesia) and excerpts of romantic comedies with dark intentions (“Morning” and “Melo”); songs that are heavy with content between the combination of serious commentary and lightly delivered lyrics. There are even Curtis Mayfield samples (“Pardon Me”) and guitar riffs, rife with angst (“Cellin’ L’s”). For an artist that is fairly new to the game; Blu has sound that parallels that of the Roots and Pete Rock. Blu is bring new age methods to classic method; creating music that shows true respect for Hip Hop.

Some artist create beauty with paint strokes, others color the page with pen marks; decorating its margins words to be read in an effort to create left-aligned feelings. Then there are those artists that can move us with the refraction of diaphragm, inhalation of breath, record spins and sampling just the right amount of history to create soul. “Her Favorite Colo(U)R is the type of album that resonate with those of us who know that rhymes and rhythms are the lasting art forms of impressionism that are the Hip Hop version of what it means to be an artist that takes words, feelings, and surroundings and regurgitates them back on the world through beats

“Her Favorite Colo(U)R is an album to be listened to and felt.


XV – Zero Heroes mixtape album review

I am all about a mixtape. Whether its Kanye, Weezy, Consequence or Pete Rock; to me there is nothing in Hip Hop that compares to the mixin’, the match’ and the freedom of orginiality that mixtape gives. The combination of old and new and the introspection it takes to create the organic feel of the a mix is a true gift. It is especially awesome when a newcomer is able to create a mixtape that can conjure the type of talent that is normally associated with veterans in the game. Time means nothing when you come with enormity of talent and orgininality that XV is bringing on his latest “Zero Hereos”.

This Wichita, Kansas native is bringing a fresh perspective that as an audience we are not able to see much representation from the “Sunflower State”, beyond TechN9ne, so with the precedent being set high from what we expect from rappers from Kansas; XV had to come hard and he does.

In his 16th mixtape; XV is truly showcasing his ability to be compile a multitude of themes, sounds, beats, and collaborations in one album to create a sound that is truly different. This is an album that can compared to other great mixtapes; but not because it bites the sound of another artist; but because it delivers the caliber of that is expected from those that have made a name for themselves in the mainstream.

Since its release; “Zero Heroes” has been noted by many in the underground scene as this year’s best mixtape, thus far and while I have my favorites with this being among them. Mid 2010 XV reached a new pinnacle in his career with his signing with Warner Bros., a well-deserved plateau for this artist.

XV’s “Zero Heroes” has earned the acclaim that it is garnering as one of the best mixtape to be released this year. “Zero Hereos” is worth giving not just a first or 2nd listening; but put it on repeat and wait for the beat to drop.


Beastie Boys – Hot Sauce Committee pt 2 album review

What do you say when a group like the Beastie Boys comes back on the scene with a new album that absolutely rocks beyond comparison? What words do you give to the enormity of the “Fight for Your Right” being not only revisited in the form of an awesome album track but a star-studded 30 minute music video? What do you say about an album that flashes back to the glory days of Hip Hop…you say; “Thank God!!!” Hot Sauce Committee 2 is the latest album from the Beastie Boys and is quickly showing the world why the Beastie Boys are the legend they have come to be known as the last 20+ years.

Hot Sauce Committee calls upon a bit of the old and new; providing listeners with the Beastie Boy rapid-fire lyrical delivery and instrumental content and calling on the collaboration skills of Nas (“Too Many Rappers”) and Santigold (“Don’t Play No Game I Cant Win”). These collaborations add even more richness to the sound of Beastie Boys while making them current and giving them the opportunity to successfully cross over to a whole new generation of Hip Hope lovers.

Hot Sauce Committee 2 has been on repeat since I received it. It is a flashback to the good times and a real contender in this current world of artist. When it is all said and done; the Beastie Boys are timeless.

The album once against reminds us that the Beastie Boys even in becoming adults have not lost touch. Hot Sauce Committee 2 is just one more notch in the career belt of a trio that always delivers the goods as it takes the listener back to those fun carefree times of Hip Hop. So what do you do when a group like the Beastie Boys creates a boss ass album? You turn it up loud, bob your head to the beat.


Bambu – Exact Change Reloaded album review

Ask anyone who truly loves Hip Hop and they will attest to the fact that amongst any genre of music, it is Hip Hop that has proven to be the most diverse and universal than any other variety of popular music.  Hip Hop speaks to the masses. In my time I have met Black B-boys, Fresh Latinos, Break-dancing Russians, and Native American D.J.’s. Hip-Hop has no color and knows no bounds; dope skills and powerful lyricism have color lines. Hip-Hop is for the masses; the suburbanite to the urbanite. Today we take the journey of Bambu’s double album Exact Change.

      Bambu, sometimes known as the “Filipino Most Def” is one half of the Filipino rapping duo Native Guns. He has decided to once again strike out on his own and explore his ideals of what it means to be “American”, positively raising his son, misogynist ideals of women, love, and even mass media. He tackles the uncomfortable commentary of the day with the skill of a good MC; but the care of a true thinker. Bambu has taken the time to make lyrics that are reflective and introspective. We see this introspection in tracks like “Misused” a lyrical letter to his son, in which he gives his son the advice and knowledge that only a father can give with lines like, “You always have someone you can talk to, Son. I’ll never judge you. I’m here to guide you so that you do not get misshapen in this world.”

      Exact Change is an album that is loaded with content and interestingly enough not as many collaborations as we have grown to expect from artists; especially with a body of work this extensive. The Bay Area duo Zion I and L.A. based rapper Krondon are the only features on this album; which speaks volumes for the unmasked, naked and pure sound that Bambu is looking to achieve with album. This work is sparse is the best of ways; this rapper is doing his job and that is to deliver a message and make you think and reflect.

      Exact Change is Hip Hop album that is a call to action to the people, provoke thought, and show how from the beginning to now Bambu has an artist has grown, matured and culminated his experiences into an album that brings out his best as a MC. He is truly representing the diverse, multi-faceted quality that is Hip-Hop taking the concept and making it truly reflective of his culture and experiences.

The album’s title is a double entendre of the best kind; the concept of Exact Change and creating change. The name for this double album; Bambu came and conquered with this album that is as varied, distinct and moving as the concept of Hip Hop itself. 

Consequence Reviews

Consequence – Movies On Demand 2 mixtape review

There is nothing in this world I love in Hip Hop more than a good mixtape. Nothing. That sound that only comes when an artists gets to be their most raw, that music that lovers of Hip-Hop get to hear when the artists is not a virgin; but definitely not a whore of the fame.

Mixtapes allow the artist to have a real conversation with the fans. The heavy pressure to be commercially relevant is gone and it becomes about the music, the flow, and enough room to get in touch with their roots and flex their skills. Amongst the greats on a mixtape is none other than Consequence, and his latest Movies on Demand 2 proves just how hard this brother can rap when given the room to spread his wings and please lets not forget the unadulterated, never duplicated talent of ‘Your Wifey’s Favorite DJ’ DJ Ill Will and DJ Rockstar; two mix masters that bring nothing but skill as they take each track and blend it, creating tornado of ill beats.

Consequence can take a beat; any beat and make it knock. Give him the inspiration to make it a collaboration and you have some of the hottest tracks ever to be given life on 16 bars. Some of the co-stars on this latest production include Q-Tip, Large Professor, Havoc, Diggy Simmons, Phife Dawg and Soul Live, packing this album with enough talent to have Hip Hop heads bobbin’ for more than minute. These compilations are a blend of old and new artists that have and are making their mark on the industry.

And the beats…what can I say about the beats? What is a mixtape without dope beats? Who knows? When you listen to Movies on Demand 2 you don’t have to ask because blended over the rhymes of mic geniuses are the some are the essence of Marvin Gaye, Biggie, and even a hook from Amerie.

Consequence, as usual performs fantastically, and he brought his people with him on a mixtape that hits hard. Movies on Demand 2 features good Hip Hop music is its purest form; beats that knock, amazing collaborations and thoughtful lyrics. This is what good music sounds like when it gets to its roots. Consequence can add one more classic mixtape to his repertoire with Movies on Demand 2.


DJ Quik – Book Of David album review

Is it Ladies Night? Am I getting in free before 10 for $2 shots of Henny? Is my man trying to pull out some of those slow playa moves to set the mood? Or dare I say; am I listening to some truly good music by the legendary DJ Quik, one of the originators of the Los Angeles rap scene? Hell if I’m lucky all of the above is true, but for now we’ll use this review to give big ups to DJ Quik as his latest album “Book Of David” is literally dripping with style, a fantastic flow, and enough music to keep you bobbing your head and shaking your behind for more than a minute. This album is what happens when you spend 20 years being an artist; rather than merely dropping the occasional club thumper.

I have been a fan of DJ Quik even before it was appropriate for me to listen to his music. Memories of cookouts and cousins grinding with their boyfriends while the words, “My name is Quik, but you can call me daddy” played through the boombox. Quik was always able to reach the masses whether it was in front of the mic in his hometown of Compton, California where he started out making homemade mix tapes or through stereo speakers in the park where my cousins partied in Sacramento or behind the scenes producing for everyone from Snoop Dogg to Talib to Whitney, and on down to Murs, Eazy-E and even Will Smith.

Book Of David is something new for Quik, although in a recent interview he stated, “I didn’t approach it to do anything new, in fact I wanted to bring back all the old stuff. I like 80’s music. That’s the tempo that I rap to, the tempo of a heartbeat… I listen to El Debarge, Curtis Mayfield. Music you can walk to and feel like a pimp to. I’m trying to capture some of that 80’s magic.” Whatever magic it is Quik is trying to capture on this album, it’s there. The melodies are smooth, the beats knock and the collaborations, well the collaborations are straight up magic. Appearances include BlaKKaszz K.K., Ice Cube, Dwele, Kurupt, Bizzy Bone and more than a couple hooks sang by the original “Fly White Boy” himself, Jon B.

This is an album of ‘Grown Man’ music as many of the songs give props to the ladies and show how Quik’s music has matured in the last two decades; but still remains homegrown. The man even samples “Grease Lightning”…classic! The maturity in the sounds and even outlook becomes real when listeners hear tracks like “Time Stands Still” (featuring Dwele), “Real Women” (featuring Jon B.) and “Killer Dope.” Quik is story-telling, sharing his commentary on the state of rap music and overall just having a good time; basically he is doing what the music was intended to do and just in time for the summer.

Its no secret that Dj Quik’s last couple of albums have had dismal sales and every little accolades, the reason for this we will not debate; there’s no need to. Quik’s Book Of David is the album that will once again but this legend back on top. An album that proves anyone can make a couple of hits, but legends remain on the scene. At the end of “Killer Dope”, Quik says, “Shouts goes out to myself. I love me, DJ Quik, f*ck the world!” and after listening to Book Of David it clear why you have lasted 20 years in the game with the rest of us loving you too.

Chris Brown Reviews

Chris Brown – F.A.M.E. album review

Oh Chris… C. Breezy… a complicated man, tortured soul, at times hair triggered and other moments, a sweetheart. Such a complicated relationship many listeners have with this artist and wild man – but how best to compare the two? How best to separate the man that throws chairs through windows and the man who gets listeners in the mood with songs like, “Wet the Bed” and “No Bullshit” (the titles are rough, but the lyrics encourage you to do everything soft and slow).

However; as reviews go today; it is not my job to judge the man, but the album and even though I may question his mental balance, there is no doubt after listening to his latest album; F.A.M.E, (which has gone through 3 meaning changes: “Forgiving All My Enemies,” “F*ck All My Enemies,” and finally “Fans Are My Everything”) that in the studio, Chris Brown is a force to be reckoned with in a very positive way.

This album has everything a good R&B album should, music to bring you to the bedroom, something to keep the rhythm while you are in there and even a couple of songs to listen to while you make the obligatory post “gettin’it” snack! Now don’t get me wrong, it is not all about sex and lovemaking. “Deuces” provides the breakup track and “Should’ve Kissed You” (we will be mature and assume this song is not about Rhi Rhi) lets you reminisce about a lover long gone. Just in case you don’t have anyone to make love to, argue with (or miss) Wiz Khalifa makes an appearance on “Bomb” (on the deluxe version) so you can make your way to the club and find someone.

This album knocks in the best ways possible as it has the ability to do what most albums as of late do not; have you turn it on and let it play all the way through. There is no need for skipping with F.A.M.E. Like good foreplay you want each song to last as long as possible.

This week Chris hasn’t gone upside anybody’s head, his hair is back black and the GMA window has been fixed for a few weeks now, so we are going to focus on the music and give this young man his props for creating an album that focuses on life experience, his musical maturity, and thoughtful and successful collaborations with a group of diverse and creative artists.

It is said that with genius and talent come with some level of insanity; maybe F.A.M.E is Chris’s expression of that saying because even though the actions of Chris Brown [the man] are at best questionable, there is not doubt about the talent that went into F.A.M.E.

Diplomats/Dipset Jim Jones Reviews

Jim Jones – Capo album review

Jim Jones once again graces us with his skills and a new album. Capo will be the 5th studio album for an artist that has earned his stripes. This once hype man turned artist, and now record executive, has taken fully used his talent and know-how to flip his own success. Capo is just one more notch in Jones’ belt. He has come a long way in sound, lyrical content, and style since he was first interviewed by the MVRemix in fall of 2004.

The first single, “Perfect Day” is introspective, thoughtful, and even carries moments of poignancy; all the things that a good single should be. This single showcases the mutli-faceted quality that Jim Jones is known for. “Let me fly” that masquerades as one just for the ladies; but don’t let that smooth beat fool you; the song is for everyone; something to let thump in any stereo. Jones especially with the release of a deluxe album which features an additional 5 tracks: Baggage Claim (Feat. Sen City), Salute (Feat. Camron & Juelz Santana), Hockey Bag (Feat. Camron & Juelz Santana), Dope Boi (Feat. Mel Matrix), Bussa Move (Feat. Shoota,Hard Luck & Mel Matrix) which make the extra work to find the deluxe all the more worth it.

Arguably, some critics and fans have commented that they have heard all this before from Jim Jones; but they have greatly underestimated the elevation of rhythm, lyrics, and overall tone that this album has to offer over those albums previously heard from Jim Jones. This album is one that bridges fans from what was seen before to what talent lies ahead; it is like the preview to what’s next for the un-fade-able rapper.

If you want an album that takes you from the club, to your car, and maybe even the bedroom; Jim Jones’ “Capo” has what you need. This is an mc that deserves a lot of respect for creating an album that exhibits his talent and ability to create music that speaks to the masses along with those who rock to a slower beat.


E-40 – Revenue Retrievin’: Graveyard Shift album review

Legendary. The only way to describe E-40 and the influence and recognition he has brought to not only West Coast Hip Hop, but to Bay Area Hip Hop. E-40 has revolutionized language, style, and music. E-40 has not just created music; he has lead a movement; better known as Hyphy. Within the last few years 40 has released albums that have shined a spotlight on the talent, lifestyle and philosophies that exist in the Bay Area Rap scene.

Last year, 40 gave fans Revenue Retrievin’: Day Shift and Revenue Retrievin’ Night Shift this double CD album had enough heat to last the summer and now a year later we are blessed with more Bay Area lingo, style and musical charisma. March 29th, 2011 saw the release of another Revenue Retrievin’ compilation; this it is the Overtime Shift and the Graveyard Shift.

Graveyard Shift is just one more album showcasing the story-telling that E-40 has been so known for, the quality to be the voice his environment and the streets, each track an homage to the Bay that raised him. E-40 while finally getting the clout deserved in the mainstream even though he himself is a self-proclaimed underground artist; there are is no fakin’, frontin’ or illusions of grandeur. E-40 gives it to you, in his rawest form.

Graveyard Shift calls out the suckas and leaves rooms for compilation with for MCs from the Bay Area and beyond. B-Legit, Slim Thug, Bun B, T-Pain are just a few of the artist, putting in work on the Graveyard Shift.

His lyrics gives fans content that acts a tour through the Bay; there is not a Bay Area Hip Hop head that can listen to “That Candy Paint” and not think of sunny days in Oakland, San Francisco, Vallejo, or Richmond and not bop to the beat and reminisce.

On the track “E Forty”, a track that uses a soundbyte some 15+ years old from Tupac proclaiming as being “The Bay Area” it become real that E-40 has not just been apart of a movement, but he set the foundation for Bay Area Rap music, delivers his lyrics through the lense of the people who live it, and truly appreciates the environment that inspires him. E-40 says it best,

I am what Ron Jeremy is to porn…the voice of the soul, face of the base, say what the people want to say, but aint got the outlet to say. So they cant on me to relay the way that they feel, you see the realest rapper alive, hood niggas live through me.

Graveyard Shift has done just what it and all of E-40’s album were meant to do; represent and give voice to the people he knows and community he considers himself a part of. But the amazing thing about an album that is honest and pays homage to the artists’ environment is that in its truth and rawness it radiates out beyond the neighborhood and begins to speak to anyone that can appreciate it; E-40’s Graveyard Shift is an album of that caliber.