Reviews The Game

The Game – The R.E.D. Album review

Its been a while since LAX and Doctor’s Advocate. Now The Game is back in full gear with The R.E.D. Album. In my opinion, The Game is one of the few last great rappers of the genre. Underrated doesn’t even describe it. Game teams up with top tear talent on this record, not to mention his affiliation with Dr. Dre and Aftermath Entertainment. It’s the first time back in with the group since 2006. With all that, The R.E.D Album is top notch and here’s why.

This record is full of personal, emotional stories. Stories about record label drama like the track The City. Tons of  true, honest lyrics as The Game proves that good rappers are still around in the main stream. Some of the best lyrics I’ve heard on a rap record in a long time. It’s rare to hear this kind of material in the main stream. To many fake artists out there in the main stream.

The production is perfect right to the tee. With names like Cool & Dre, DJ Khalil, DJ Premier, and Veteran Producer Pharrell Williams all give their special touches to each of their respective tracks. Cool & Dre produce one of the stand out tracks on the record. “Red Nation”, featuring the sample of Kernkraft 400’s hit trance/dance hit “Zombie Nation.” This song hits hard, and is one of my favorite tracks on the record. Another stand out would be the deep track “Ricky”, which features samples of the film Boyz n the Hood.

Tons of collaborations with the elite artists in the world of Hip-Hop and Rap. Artists like Snoop Dogg, Drake, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Young Jeezy, and Nelly Furtado just to name a few. There is a little bit of everything on this record to please the fans of the genre.

In the end, The Game and his team released a phenomenal album that has plenty of replay value. I really recommend this to anybody who loves real rap. Three years in the making, joining back up with Aftermath Entertainment proved to be all worth it. The Game is back!


Swollen Members – Daggermouth Album Review

I would be a liar if I sat here and mashed on the keyboard and told you how much I hated this album. However, I would also be liar if I sat here and told you how much I loved it. This metal/hip-hop mash up is not something you would find on my iPod; Nor would you find the CD case sliding around in the back seat of my car. A small part of me feels like I have to love this album because they are Vancouver music veterans.

Every second song was about drugs, dying and depression. It was like if I wanted to write a suicide letter I would use half these lyrics. Although, the songs that didn’t have pure hatred about life were surprisingly good. They were deep, real, and a small part of me could relate to them. For example songs like “Bring Me Down” featuring Saigon have depth and give you something to relate to. That’s what all music needs. Regardless of who it is, a song that has depth and realness will always keep me listening. That’s why I cant make up my damn mind with this damn album. I guess I can just be thankful that they saved the best for last.

Swollen Members has always been very original, and when they weren’t rapping about knives, guns and drugs I was intrigued and I was only hoping the next song would carry out the same beat and rhythm. Well, it didn’t. Instead, after one great track would finish “Chemical Imbalance” would come on and then I had to scramble to change the song. If only they were consistent through out the whole album I would highly recommend buying it.

Swollen Members is one of those groups where you love them or hate them; the type of group that has the same loyal fans since day one, and the group that will make music regardless of record sales. Let’s be honest; did you even know they were coming out with a new album? In all honesty, a small part of me has much respect for someone that does it just for the fans and not the fame. That’s hard to find these days. Overall, I don’t think they will stop making music anytime soon. So if you like a good show, try to catch them live. Otherwise, I’m on the fence about this one.

Articles Reviews

CBC’s Hip Hop Summit Concert Review – March 29, 2011

The Canadian music industry is an odd duck. It has a lot of benefits that our neighbours to the south could only dream of, but, it also comes with some unfortunate pitfalls. In my last post, hip-hop producer Fresh Kils put it perfectly:

“The joke about Canadian musicians is that no one gives a shit about them until they export themselves somewhere else.”

While that may not necessarily be an industry issue, it’s certainly not one being helped by the Junos. With exception to Meagan Smith (New Artist of the Year), all of this year’s broadcast awards were given to internationally recognized and popular artists. And that’s not to say that the Arcade Fire or Neil Young weren’t deserving, but what about Said The Whale or Matthew Good (winners of New Group Of The Year and Rock Album of the Year respectively). Why wasn’t Canada’s national upcoming talent showcased where people are more likely to see it?

And if that’s the case for your average pop or rock artist in Canada, its twice as bad for hip hop. Even with a big celebrity like Drake hosting the Junos, the Rap Recording of the Year award was non-broadcast.

That’s why when I had the chance to go to the CBC Hip Hop Summit concert in Toronto, I was ecstatic. On the bill was enough Canadian hip-hop legends and up-comers to make anyone turn their head. Maestro Fresh Wes, Kardinall Offishall, K-os, Saukrates and Shad were just a few of the crowd that graced the stage.

The whole thing kicked off with Classified and “Oh Canada” from his 2009 album Self-Explanatory. With everyone standing to attention and bobbing their head patriotically, he moved onto his duet with Maestro Fresh Wes on the (fitting) “Hard To Be (Hip Hop)“.

Michie Mee took the stage soon after and brought a few more people to the floor with her old school/ reggae style, complete with a dance breakdown. As someone who had never heard that much of her stuff, she made a big impression on me. She had a great sound and definitely knew how to work a stage.

Kardinall Offishall was next and he went the extra mile to get everyone to their feet. Surrounding himself in the crowd and getting us to chant the chorus with him, Kardinall belted out his ode to Toronto aptly titled “The Anthem“. Cadence Weapon threw the audience for a bit of a loop with his unique style (including screaming into a FX heavy microphone) but, with the help of Shad, showed that he’s just as capable to pull out the big hits with “Baby (I’m Yours)“.

Other notable moments included Skratch Bastid with a DJ set and a breakdance circle, K’naan stopping by to perform “Take A Minute“, and the Dream Warriors belting out the eclectic “My Definition“.

As great as everyone had been, the last 20 minutes was definitely when show came to it’s full potential, including Shad and K-os joining the Maestro onstage for “Let Your Backbone Slide“. Not one to disappoint, the original Can-con hip-hop icon was dressed in full suit and cummerbund as he tore through the ’89 classic.

The big number done, all of the night’s artists came back out for a freestyle session that was more fun than anything. Even Buck 65, who had been hosting the night and strictly stayed off the mic, was coaxed into the circle.

Then, as Kardinall dropped what was supposed to be the final rap of the night, the DJ played back the hook from the Rascalz hit “Northern Touch“.

I can honestly say that of all the shows I’ve been to, I’ve never seen anything like it. Led by former Rascalz member, Red1, and backed by track contributors Kardinall and Choclair, the stage came alive. The MCs were shoulder to shoulder rapping right in our faces as the dedicated crowd hit them with every word. It was a surreal moment that I think will be remembered for a long time to come.

And we need moments like that to sell Canadian artists to Canada again. While the concert had an excellent calibre and energy in the artists, it seemed as if the crowd that night was a little hesitant. At moments, I even felt that some of the greatest hip-hop artists in this country were struggling with their own home crowd.

So do yourself and this country a favour; support Canadian hip-hop and make people care. We’ve got to appreciate what we’ve got here at home.


If you’re dying to get you’re fix of hip-hop and you live in the Toronto area there’s an event running all day today at the CBC building with performances, break-dancing and, at 6pm EST, the concert being broadcast. If you’re not so lucky stay tuned to CBC Radio 2 who will be broadcasting the whole event over the airwaves also starting at 7pm ET.

Press Releases

Irish Rappers and Irish Hip Hop

As with the many other countries in the world producing their own regionalized Hip Hop, Ireland is emerging.

MVRemix is looking to partner with Irish writers to get involved with the Irish scene. If you’re interested, please click here.

We’re looking for writers to review albums, shows and interview Irish artists.


Gucci Mane Looks Back At Life Of Crime, Hip-Hop

This exclusive ShockHound clip, was filmed shortly before Gucci Mane went to jail, and finds him talking about his early life of crime and his early attempts to break into the hip-hop game.


Top 5: Hip-Hop Protégés

Snoop Dogg

Snoop D-O-double-G has been around for so long that it’s hard to imagine him being the protégé of anyone. He is, though. Way back in the early nineties, Cordazar Calvin Broadus was fresh out of high school and a couple of convictions of cocaine trafficking. His freestyle over an old En Vogue song somehow made its way to The Dr. Dre’s ears, and after an audition, Snoop Doggy Dogg found a home at Death Row Records. He certainly has a thing for doctors, as he not only caught the attention of Dr. Dre, but also The D.O.C. (from gangsta rap pioneers N.W.A.), who gave him pointers on how to craft some good rap. Random fact: Snoop is a spokesperson for “Chronic Candy,” made in Switzerland and tastes like… you guessed it: marijuana. On second thought, maybe that’s not so random.


Probably the most famous protégé in the history of hip-hop, Eminem made a huge name for not only himself when his Slim Shady and Marshall Mathers LPs came out, but also Dr. Dre, the man who seems to be some kind of talent magnet. That or he just knows how to pick those rappers; thanks to Em, his label, Aftermath Records, found its biggest star, and with Dr. Dre producing the bulk of his albums, Eminem became the rapper that you and your mom knew about. In any case, Eminem’s undying obsession with controversy ensured that music listeners will always be likewise obsessed with Slim Shady – and how could we not? It’s not everyday that a non-African-American rapper has the power to shock you like no gangsta rap has ever done.

50 Cent

From one rapper with an eye for talent to another, Eminem must’ve been taught well by Dr. Dre because when he picked up 50 Cent, he got Aftermath Records another multi-platinum superstar rapper. A little know fact about 50 is that he had some help before Eminem and Dre came along; Jam Master Jay was technically his first mentor in the art of writing songs. After 50 Cent got shot in the infamous nine-bullet-wound incident, one of his CDs found its way into Eminem’s hands, he got flown out for an audition… and everyone knows what happened after that. The lesson here? If you want to make it big you’ve got to go straight to the top – that’s where the people with the jets are.


You might know him as that guy in the wheelchair from that Degrassi show, but apparently, Aubrey “Drake” Graham raps even better than he acts. Actually, it might have something to do with the producers of his show getting rid of the entire cast, but that’s a different story. After working on a bunch of mixtapes in his early career, Drake finally ended up on Lil Wayne’s Young Money label, and was (still is, probably) one of the most hyped Canadian rappers in a long, long time. It remains to be seen if Lil Wayne, his mentor who’s pretty young himself, can pull a Dr. Dre, but given how Drake is doing on the charts, the chances look pretty good.


Rappers aside, one of the biggest protégés in hip-hop music has to be “Danjahandz,” or simply Danja, who’s been the perfect student for Timbaland. This record producer has worked with Nelly Furtado, Justin Timberlake, Madonna, Lloyd Banks, T.I., and of course, Timbaland himself, picking up a couple of Grammys along the way. Stepping out of his mentor’s shadow though, Danja’s experience with piano and drums sets him apart from other beat-makers who go completely digital and forgo their instruments, and this strategy earns him at least 50k per track at the last count. Not too shabby.


Top 5 Hip-Hop Producers in the Game Today

Singers and rappers may get all the love on-stage, but having a good producer on your hip-hop track or slow jam can jack up your chances of a gold single better than any front-page sob story… unless you’re Rihanna. The evolution of the way songs are made and marketed is earning the people behind the beats some well-deserved attention. With services that’ll set you back upwards of a hundred grand per song, there’s a good reason these five producers are still in business.

Bryan-Michael Cox

Getting his big break thanks to earlier connections with Jermaine Dupri and Beyoncé, B. Cox is one of those producers who regularly see their songs catch fire. Having cemented himself firmly in the hip-hop industry based on wildly successful partnerships with artists like Usher (“U Got It Bad,” “Burn,” “Confessions Pt I & II”) and Mary J. Blige (“Be Without You”), there is no shortage of work for this Miami-born, Houston-bred producer. He’s won Grammys for both producing and songwriting, and with new R&B artists such as Sterling Simms and Johnta Austin scrambling to get a piece of him (along with a shot at that hit single), Bryan-Michael Cox might just take over the spot of lead money-maker for So So Def.

The Neptunes

The Neptunes, aka. Pharrell and Chad Hugo, aka. two-thirds of N.E.R.D., is one heavyweight duo. Their productions are shoved tentatively under the hip-hop genre, but it’s definitely a different kind of hip-hop; there’s a little eccentric flavour that most other producers don’t embrace as fully and satisfyingly as the Neptunes. It might be the synths, it might be their funk, or it might be Pharrell’s falsetto, but really, who cares? The Neptunes pretty much made Justin Timberlake when he broke off from NSync, and their reputation for offering something more than your typical gangsta rap has earned them love from Jay-Z, Common, and even Madonna. The coolest Star Trek geeks around? Oh yeah.


Possibly the biggest production duo outside of North America, Stargate hails from Norway, and has been churning out hits in Europe since way before Ne-Yo. Originally working almost exclusively within the pop genre, Mikkel Eriksen and Tor Erik Hermansen made massive headway into the States’s R&B market after “So Sick.” While they’ve received some criticism for allegedly reusing material, it doesn’t seem to be a problem, as a Stargate track seems to be a guaranteed hit either way. Just ask Rihanna, Beyoncé, Ne-Yo, and Lionel Richie (who got his first number one in ten years thanks to Stargate). It would be interesting to see if this team decides to break into hip-hop, a genre that might be more resistant to their Euro-pop sound, but seeing as how they’ve already worked with rappers like Flo Rida and Nas and have a joint record label with Jay-Z, they might just have a chance at taking over all of urban music.

Kanye West

Who knew? The Louis Vuitton Don may talk annoyingly big sometimes (okay, all the time), but thankfully, he has shown that he can back it up. Using samples that span an impressive range of genres and time periods in the history of music, Kanye’s flair for the eclectic is almost comparable to the Neptunes, except Pharrell and Co.’s sound is much more defined and recognizable. His favourite collaborators include Talib Kweli, Nas, Jay-Z (he’s producing almost all of the soon-to-be-released Blueprint 3), and of course, himself. Ego problems aside though, Kanye West has a knack for knowing not only what people like to hear, but more importantly (judging from his timely collab with Jay-Z, “Death of Autotune”), when they get tired of it.


Undisputed hip-hop royalty, Timothy Mosley, or as you know him, Timbaland, rose through the ranks of hip-hop together with Missy Elliott, Ginuwine, and the late Aaliyah in the nineties. It’s safe to say that everyone who’s anyone – or wants to be anyone – has worked with Timbo; his efficiency with the beats and willingness to experiment with new sounds has not only helped hip-hop evolve, but also completely changed the pop genre, luring it effortlessly into the R&B/hip-hop sound. He’s ventured into uncharted territory with M.I.A., Duran Duran, and Bjork, but has always returned home to hip-hop, where his roots are firmly established. Apart from artists who are “heavyweights” in their own right (like Jay-Z, Missy, Beyoncé, and Luda), you’re more likely to hear the DJ introduce a Mosley Music collaboration as a “Timbaland track” rather than an <insert artist name here> track. While it is slightly disappointing that Timbaland is expanding his list of references all the way out to bubblegum-pop land (the Jonas Brothers? really?), there is no doubt that his touch is literally gold.