Eminem Joe Budden Reviews

Slaughterhouse – Welcome to: Our House album review

6 months ago the general public got its first taste of Welcome to: Our House when Funkmaster Flex played “Hammer Dance” on his radio show. Featuring a sample from Korn’s “Falling Away from Me” and production work from AraabMuzik, this song was a surprising single from Slaughterhouse.

Composed of Joe Budden, Royce da 5’9”, Joell Ortiz, and Crooked I, this group is a legitimate powerhouse in Hip-Hop. Each one of these MCs can hold their own and have a flow adaptable to almost any situation.

Almost being the operative word. Eminem is brought on to Executive Produce the album, which ends up hurting more than it helps. Welcome to: Our World shines on tracks that are far from Eminem’s trademark sound, and that allow the other rappers to play off of one another.

“Our House” embodies the issue perfectly. With a verse from Em and a hook from Skylar Grey, the song ends up being a bloated 6-minutes long because of 3 more verses from Slaughterhouse. The beat sounds like it was tailor-made for Recovery and is completely out of place.

That being said, there are plenty of great moments on this album that wisely get as far from the Eminem aesthetic as possible. “Get Up” finds the group rapping over drums that clip aggressively, and a keyboard line that keeps the momentum going. No I.D.’s clever sampling of “Ali in the Jungle” by The Hours does wonders for all of Slaughterhouse, but Royce Da 5’9” absolutely demolishes his verse.

Towards the end of the record is “Goodbye,” which finds Slaughterhouse being surprisingly poignant and emotional. A lot of rappers’ attempts at eulogizing their loved ones comes off heavy-handed, but this track does an incredible job of being honest while not being sappy. Ortiz’s verse stands out as it perfectly engulfs the listener in the whirlwind days before a funeral.

After numerous delays and a huge amount of hype, it’d be easy to dismiss Welcome to: Our House, but the pure talent and natural charisma between the 4 members cannot be played down. That is, when they’re fifth wheel isn’t demanding his presence be known.


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.


The Alchemist – Russian Roulette album review

2012 is turning out to be a huge year for The Alchemist, as he’s gone into full overdrive mode. Producing all of OFWGKTA’s Domo Genesis’ No Idols, working on an album with Evidence under the Step Brothers moniker, and countless other records, it’s amazing that Alan Daniel Marman has had the time to put together the interesting think piece that is Russian Roulette. 

Showing just how extensive his record collection is, each track on Russian Roulette uses samples from Russian songs to create the beats. Marman takes it a step further and demonstrates how impressive his rolodex is by bringing in Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire, Action Bronson, Roc Marciano, Danny Brown, Schoolboy Q, and many others to lend a hand.

With a grand total of 30 tracks but a running time of only 45 minutes, the album ends up feeling incredibly schizophrenic and frantic because of the numerous samples. Just when the tempo speeds up and you think Alchemist has found a rhythm, he slams on the brakes and expects you to appreciate a slow jam (complete with saxophone solo) while a sample from Rocky IV plays and Ludmilla Drago laughs off accusations that Ivan was doping.

While disjointed, there are definitely brilliant moments to be found. The first single and obvious stand out track is “Flight Confirmation” featuring the always impressive Danny Brown and Schoolboy Q.  Marman does a great job of keeping the beat out of the way and keeping it simple as Brown dives in headfirst, slowly transforming his usual nasal flow into a threatening guttural rage.

“Oleg’s Flight” finds Fashawn taking on one of the best beats on Russian Roulette. As the horns build behind him, Fashawn proves to be up to the challenge as he stands his ground and complements the menacing bass and eerie choir. Heist movies everywhere would be lucky to have a song this outrageously cool-under-pressure play during the climax.

The Alchemist himself has said, “Russian Roulette is not an album,” and interpreting it as such will only lead to disappointment. Here, The Alchemist is flexing his musical muscles a little and letting you know that you should pay close attention.


Lollapalooza Daily preview Sunday

It is Sunday, August 5th. The last day is always bittersweet. You have officially survived two days of some of the most beautiful chaos that you will ever experience, but sadly this is the last day you will be able to rage out in Grant Park until another year approaches. Sure you are feeling tired, but you know that today is the day that you must release all of your energy to give a lasting impression.

This day there are plenty of acts to rage to that span plenty of genres, with the main focuses being on hip hop and EDM. For a taste of some infectious Moombahton, people should definitely check out Nadastrom’s 2:00 pm set over at Perry’s. In the hip hop realm, Roc Nation signee J. Cole will be hitting the Budlight stage at 4:15 pm to perform fan favorites and deliver some hard hitting lyricism that he is known for. Meanwhile Doctor P will be at Perry’s at 4:30 pm making the crowd rave their hearts out for his fat dubstep tunes.

Dubstep takes over with another set that you can’t miss with Canadian duo Zeds Dead, busting subwoofers with their signature gritty bass. You can expect to hear tunes from their freshly released The Living Dead EP, as well as the favorites that made them shoot to the top in the EDM world. As day turns to dusk and the sun goes down, highlighting Chicago’s amazing skyline, the headliners take the stage. This is where the biggest conflicts of the whole night come into play.

Kaskade, Justice, Childish Gambino, and Jack White are all scheduled to play at the same time. While rock listeners will most likely make their way to see Jack White, and hip hop fans go see Childish Gambino, EDM fans are going to have a hard time to decide which one to choose.

Currently on his highly anticipated Freaks of Nature tour, Kaskade is known to bring beautiful melodic house music sounds that are high in euphoria and big on unity. French electro legends Justice sends festival fans into frenzies and judging by their latest album Audio, Video, Disco their live set is going to be crazy. Whichever one you choose, I’m sure it will be the perfect way to end an amazing Chicago festival.

As people clear out of Grant Park, I’m sure the same thing will be on everyone’s minds: Is Lollapalooza 2013 here yet?


Azealia Banks – Fantasea album review

Azealia Banks is essentially the year 2012 embodied into one charismatic female with a love for all things Aquarian and a gorgeous mane of colorful hair. This year has probably been the craziest year for music yet. Music is steady becoming genre-less with categories of music clashing together that would never had even been a thought in someone’s mind a decade ago. Hip Hop has melded together with the high energy world of dance music, with artists like Nicki Minaj rapping over synth filled tracks with lead ups and breakdowns that used to be only reserved for raves.

Speaking of Nicki Minaj, 2012 is also the year of the female rapper. In a field where women often have to struggle to be accepted or to even reach a high plateau, female rappers have made It to the top and now sit on top of a throne. The Kreayshawns, Iggy Azaleas, and of course the Azealia Bankses of the world are taking over the industry. The issue of gender and sexuality doesn’t stop there. 2012 was also a milestone in the hip hop/ R&B world when multi talented singer/songwriter came out as a bisexual via an eloquently written letter on his Tumblr page. Alas, Azealia Banks had came out as a bi sexual way before Ocean with bi-curious lyrics in her breakout hit “212” such as “Now she wanna lick my plum in the evenin.’”

Azealia carries that excellent rawness into her mixtape Fantasea with new and exciting material that makes me feel like I did when I first heard “212”. The mixtape begins with “Out of Space”, which I was wary about because The Prodigy is my favorite band of all time, and I am protective of them, but Azealia Banks did it complete justice with her confrontational delivery over the classic rave track.

“Neptune” serves as an audible underwater mermaid gathering with a slow bubbly synths and Azealia’s smooth vocals battling with raps similar to her “212” flow. The track also features a hard hitting verse from British rapper, Shystie. It is hard to pick a favorite track on Fantasea, simply because every track has mind bending production that somehow fits perfectly with Azealia’s voice. Everything from the Diplo produced drum line track “Fuck Up the Fun” or the Drums of Death produced lo fi tune “Nathan.” Azealia Banks flow ability is exceptional in “Nathan” with an impressive flow change up that gets speedy then slows down.

When Azealia declared on her Tumblr that she would rather be viewed as a dance artist then a rapper, she must have had her track “Luxury” in mind, the sexy house tune features more of her sultry singing voice as well as a sexy “talk-rap” that could compete with some of the best underground warehouse tunes out there. Fantasea ends with the infectious trance-hop sounds of the extremely talented Araabmuzik. “Salute a bad bitch, you should” raps an arrogant Banks.

Banks represents a new generation of intelligent carelessness that has become evident in this IDGAF world of today, and I must say her mixtape Fantasea captures this new attitude with raw skill that makes me excited for what else this boisterous mermaid-esque raptress has in store for the future.


Nas – Life is Good album review

Nas is no stranger to controversy. The politically conscious rapper got noticed with his amazing ability on his debut “Illmatic.” Nas continued to make headlines as he went on to make ten studio albums, including one that was called Untitled, because the original title was rejected due to the sensitive racial epithet he was going to use.

Fast forward four years to Life is Good, and Nas stirred up attention when he revealed that he was going to get personal with this album, by releasing the album artwork which featured him holding ex wife’s Kelis’ green wedding dress. When the cover was first released, there was speculation on whether or not this was a diss to the songstress, but once you give a listen to the album, it is evident that this entire project is a journey to Nas’ acceptance.

“No Introduction” hypnotizes with its smooth piano chords, leading up to a breakdown of vibrating guitar riffs, inspiring organs and an earnest Nas, delivering lyrics that let us begin his emotional journey with him. “The tales you hear is the truth, on me/ Who wasn’t the most faithful husband/ Reveal my life, you will forgive me/ You will love me, hate me, judge me, relate to me.”

The collaborations are a plenty in Life is Good, with an appearance by Rick Ross on “Accident Murders” as well as other notable features by R&B legends Mary J Blige and Anthony Hamilton. Nas displays radio play ability with his upbeat Summer anthem, “Summer on Smash” featuring Swizz Beats and R&B crooner, Miguel.

If it isn’t for Nas’ amazing skills, then another reason to put this album down in musical history is the collaboration between him and Amy Winehouse. As “Cherry Wine” begins and Amy Winehouse’s gorgeous voice spreads throughout the tune, you can’t help but get chills. I admit that I felt my eyes get wet as the late Winehouse displayed why we all fell in love with her in the first place. Nas raps over the downtempo jazz beat repeating “Life is good”, while Winehouse belts her soul out. This moment is unreal and truly magical.

Nas’ Life is Good is his personal therapy session. He lays it all out on the table, and after expressing all of his feelings through fourteen tracks of advanced beats and lyricism supremacy. It just so happened that this musical therapy session is a piece of classic hip hop that we all are lucky enough to listen to.


MMG – MMG Presents Self Made Vol. 2 album review

In recent years, music collectives have been put in the forefront of the music industry with groups like YMCMB, Good Music, OFWGKTA, ASAP Mob, and Raider Klvn taking over the hip hop industry. In 2008, Maybach Music Group is Rick Ross’s addition to this trend, leading artists like Meek Mill, Wale, Gunplay, Stalley and more recently R&B crooner Omarion. Displaying their talents on Self Made Vol. 1, the first album shot Meek Mill into stardom, gaining him success on singles “Tupac Back” and “Ima Boss”. Now the hip hop collective is back with another volume to their Self Made series, rightfully titled MMG Presents: Self Made Vol. 2.

“Power Circle” features the entire Maybach Music Group sans Omarion, and is heavy on quality lyrical content, which may surprise people who are only familiar with Maybach Music Group through their tracks that constantly talk about drug dealing and women. The six minute track gives everyone a chance to shine, but the real standout on this track isn’t even a part of MMG. When Kendrick Lamar closes out the track, you almost forget about all of the other verses that were featured.

The singles from Self Made Vol. 2 aren’t too much to write home about with the Rico Love produced “Actin’ Up” acting as a high energy club banger and “Bag of Money” being a hip hop ballad of sorts featuring the auto tuned squelch of T Pain.

Everyone has their place in the Maybach Music Group, with each artist on the label bringing something different to the table. Stalley brings the lyrical content with the haunting track “Fountain of Youth” being an ode to his struggle coming up. Wale’s excels in delivery, with hard hitting one liners and changing up his flow within the middle of a track to keep it fresh, as seen as the party anthem “I Be Puttin’ On” featuring Wiz Khalifa, French Montana and Roscoe Dash. There was some speculation and criticism when Rick Ross announced his decision to sign Omarion to MMG, but it is evident why this is a good choice on “This Thing is Ours”, with his R&B vocals adding a polished sound to the normally hard sound of MMG’s music.

Gunplay brings pure street with no chaser to the MMG group, warning “I’m a shark out the tank, I don’t bark I just bite/Keep the K all day, don’t walk up on me I’ll pull that knife” on “Black on Black”. Self Made Vol. 2 was definitely a step up from the previous effort, this time focusing more on content than flashy tracks to keep people’s attention. Fans of MMG, will appreciate this work while new fans might be gained for those who questioned MMG’s skills.


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!”


Danny Brown – XXX review

One of the most talked about artists in the Hip-Hop/Rap game has just dropped his latest effort XXX. The 30 year old lyricist  Danny Brown almost signed with G-Unit, but with his unique look, it didn’t happen. Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson loved the music, as he should.  XXX takes us in to the dirty and unclean world of the poor in the city of Detroit. XXX is a truly unique listening experience for many of the right reasons. Truly something we haven’t heard in the world of the genre.

Danny Brown’s lyrics are described as unclean and dirty. A lot of the record is crazy, lewd, and in your face. His love for the ADHD drug to make you focused, Adderall can be heard in the track “Adderall Admiral.” The opening few lines in the track really do express his love, “Eating on an Adderall, Wash it down  with alcohol. Writing holy mackerel, Actual all factual.”  The track “Die Like A Rockstar” is a grim look at drugs and the stars the died who had drug problems.  Another standout on the record lyrically, is “Pac Blood.” Some of the most in your face, hard, uncensored lyrics ever. Talking about the Pope, the Virgin Mary, and the infamous Sarah Palin in unflattering ways.

The production value isn’t Grammy winning material, but still complements the wacky, honest lyrics. Nothing over the top like some of the music that is out in the main stream, but enough to get you replaying the record. The beats on the record serve as a soundtrack to the lyrical content that Brown spits into the microphone. He absolutely kills it on some of these tracks like “Radio Song” and the drug anthem “Blunt After Blunt.”

XXX delivers something special, and is really something to give a serious listen to. It’s not everyday you hear stuff like this in music. Danny Brown is an artist to watch in the future. If anything deserves to be at the top of your must get records of the year, totally get XXX.

Danny Brown’s XXX is now available on Fools Gold Records for free!