Blackalicious – Melodica album review

Everything about Blackalicious’s EP Melodica  exudes classic. From Gift of Gab’s complex raps to Chief Xcel’s extremely fresh production, their debut EP should be used as an example for every rapper on how to make a classic album. The production on the album takes elements from every genre, creating a melting pot of sounds that Gift of Gab conforms to in each track.

“Swan Lake” begins with a clash of sounds that sound like the beginning to a rock track, then quickly descends into the smooth sounds of jazz. Gift of Gab’s delivery is also as smooth as honey pouring over the infectious saxophone blares.

“This is a song called ‘Attica Black’. A song about mediocracy, hip hop, and just in general the mediocracy in life. I hope you enjoy our presentation,” explains Gift of Gab at the beginning of Attica Black. The syrupy blues sound takes over and the track begins, pretty much summing up the sound of the 90’s all in one track. Most of the tracks on the album are laid back and soupy, but when Gift of Gab goes hard, he does it well. “Lyric of Fathom” gets in your face with an abrasive attitude and a delivery similar to the early sound of Outkast’s Big Boi. “Deep in the Jungle” also brings the heat with a double time delivery, that shows early signs of the speed rap seen in recent rappers like Ludacris and Twista.

An ode to malt liquor and urban life, “40 Oz for Breakfast” is over seven minutes long with an extremely chill and euphoric beats with hints of piano that creates a creamy sound that moves fluidly around Gift of Gab’s complex storytelling about his life. Melodica comes to an end with “Change” a serene effort that highlights Gift of Gab revealing his insecurities about life and living, something that everyone can relate to.

Melodica is one of those timeless albums that will go down in hip hop history as something that no matter what the time period, people can always find a track in the album that speaks to them. Whether it’s the perils of urban life or just plain inner insecurities, Gift of Gab puts his problem’s on the table so that we all know that we aren’t alone.


O.C. and Apollo Brown- Trophies album review

A decade ago the hip hop scene was littered with beefs, disagreement and animosity between artists. Fast forward to the present and the hip hop world seems to be coming together in harmony with more and more duo albums and collaborations coming out. Detroit producer Apollo Brown and Brooklyn rapper O.C., have come together in unison and put out the joint album Trophies.

Trophies is sixteen tracks of straight hip hop with no chaser. “Prove Me Wrong” provides vintage bass lines with just enough sounds of the keyboard to create a beat that nestles itself inside of your ear, along with O.C.’s gritty voice spouting off lyrics explaining reasoning behind his tough persona. “Been havin’ a walker since British walkers/ Way before Obama would start to be in office/Lost friends to jail and some dead in a coffin.”

Apollo Brown’s production on “Anotha One” is equivalent to lyrical butter, and serves as O.C.’s ode to his favorite green plant. Where there are plenty of tracks that have a relaxing aura to them, the duo shows that they can bring the heat with hard hitting tracks like the bass-heavy track, Disclaimer.

O.C. shows why no features were needed on Trophies by showing his versatility in his delivery can go from melancholy in the intergalactic track “Angel’s Sing” to soothing in “The Formula,” to downright unapologetic and harsh in “People’s Champ.” Where other artists would need features to create a well-rounded album, O.C. is able to do this all by himself. Seasoned rappers are a thing to cherish.

Although Apollo Brown and O.C. have produced what sounds like a classic, the album can get monotonous at times. Apollo Brown’s loop-heavy style of production does get weary on the ear by the last tracks, but where this may seem like flaw, you will notice that the repetitiveness of the beats will keep your head nodding through the album’s entirety.

OC’s smooth delivery of his lyrics coupled with Apollo Brown’s soulful beats are what makes this album great. Trophies proves to be a two-man show that delivers a treat for the ear drums and the mind. Hopefully, these album collaborations are a trend that is here to stay.


Killer Mike – R.A.P Music album review

If hip hop is dead then Killer Mike’s R.A.P Music is the undead zombie that has come to remind us all what is used to be and what it could be. R.A.P Music has all of the ingredients of a classic album. It manages to mash the old with the new with such ease that everyone should be looking to this guy to see how to do it right.
“This album was created entirely by Jaime and Mike,” explains the rapper at the beginning of the 80’s throwback track “JoJo’s Chillin”. Jaime Meline, also known as Brooklyn based producer El-P handled the production on the entire album, and these two are obviously a match made in musical heaven.

R.A.P Music opens up with an ode to Mike’s hometown (Atlanta) with “Big Beast”, featuring fellow southerners T.I. and Bun B. Although this is the only track with big name features on it, it is probably the weakest one on the album. This proves that Killer Mike doesn’t need a star studded album to produce some high quality content.

Mike shows his affinity for the arts with lyrics like “This is John Gotti painting pictures like Dali / This is Basquiat with a passion like Pac,” in the melancholy life lesson that is “Untitled”. He also shows his versatility in the next song high energy song “Go,” amped up with riffs and plenty of bass.

This album still manages to be fresh while bringing an 80’s flow along with some vivid storytelling that is comparable to Slick Rick’s classic record “Children’s Story”. When the electronic bleeps and gritty video game sounds kick in along with the intense delivery of a story about corrupt cops, you can literally imagine yourself in the bedroom seeing this grisly scene take place.

There are no standout tracks on the album, but that is simply because every single song can stand on its own. There are no fluff pieces, as every track has it’s own important story or lesson that Killer Mike tells in an honest, yet extremely effective way. With El-P’s innovative production and Killer Mike’s vintage Ice Cube-esque delivery, what we have here is pure hip hop genius. Is this possibly the best rap album of 2012? To quote the electro distortion heavy track “Butane”, I’d have to say “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!”