CD Review: I Am Not A Human Being [2010]

Rapper: Lil Wayne
Release: 10/2010
Label: Young Money

1. “Gonorrhea” – B
2. “Hold Up” – C+
3. “With You” – A-
4. “I Am Not A Being Human” – C-
5. “I’m Single” – C+
6. “What’s Wrong With Them” – B+
7. “Right Above It” – A
8. “Popular” – B-
9. “That Ain’t Me” – B-
10. “Bill Gates” – B

Comments: Lil Wayne is an interesting fellow. He has an adoration of playing around with words. He particularly utilizes metaphor and simile. His rhymes range from cheesy Weezy to fairly intelligent and thoughtful. Beats have never really been a focal point for Weezy, especially on non-singles. He almost can’t be taken seriously, nor can his guest rappers, but some how they always end up with something called a song. It’s striking. On the R&B slow jam “With You,” we get a good sense of what Wayne is capable of in terms of sensible writing. He effectively tells a romantic story without much effort. What I’m saying is “With You” doesn’t sound forced or random. “Tonight it’s moonlight and candles and shit.” That’s all. It’s so Human Being. Imitating Beastie Boys rock-rap style isn’t Weezy’s thing. He made a terrible rock-esque album earlier this year, didn’t he? Let Wayne shine. He doesn’t need power beats or abrasive guitars. I was expecting Nicki Minaj to rap not sing a chorus on her feature in “What’s Wrong,” but I must say she doesn’t do that bad of a job. Wayne’s verses are solid. “Right Above It” was the first single (featuring Drake) from this record and contains the record’s most distinguishable beat/chorus. It deserves all the accolades it has/is getting. I didn’t expect much out of this relatively short LP. There are high points and other points that just seem to exist without much fanfare.

Grade: B- (82)

CD Review: Sir Lucious Left Foot [2010]

Rapper: Big Boi
Release: 7/2010
Label: Def Jam

1. “Feel Me (Intro)” – N/A
2. “Daddy Fat Sax” – B
3. “Turns Me On” – C+
4. “Follow Us” – B-
5. “Shutterbugg” – A-
6. “General Patton” – C-
7. “Tangerine” – B-
8. “You Ain’t No DJ” – B-
9. “Hustle Blood” – C
10. “Be Still” – C+
11. “Fo Yo Sorrows” – B-
12. “Night Night” – B-
13. “Shine Blockas” – A-
14. “The Train Part II” – B
15. “Back Up Plan” – B-

Comments: This album is too confusing for a guy like me. The choruses on “Turns Me On” and “Follow Us” are pretty stale and generic. “General Patton” is just shy of terrible. “Shutterbugg” is the first song on here that flows wonderfully, a throwback to late ’90s hip-hop. Unfortunately, not one other song makes such an impact as that one. “Shine Blockas” reminds me of a song that I heard a while back (5+ years ago) that is just realistically chill and comforting. It’s not overdone at all. It’s real. Overall, I’d recommend this to people who are more into hip-hop than I am.

Grade: B- (80)

CD Review: Thank Me Later [2010]

Rapper: Drake
Release: 6/2010
Label: Young Money Entertainment [Universal Records]

1. “Fireworks” – B-
2. “Karaoke” – B-
3. “The Resistance” – B
4. “Over” – B
5. “Show Me a Good Time” – C
6. “Up All Night” – B
7. “Fancy” – C+
8. “Shut It Down” – B-
9. “Unforgettable” – C
10. “Light Up” – C
11. “Miss Me” – B
12. “Cece’s Interlude” – C-
13. “Find Your Love” – C+
14. “Thank Me Now” – C-

Comments: Aubrey Drake Graham was a nobody without Little Wayne. Little Wayne got a hold of a few of Aubrey’s raps and was like “yo, I want to make this guy big. I want to sign him to my label and a take cut of his income!” Aubrey was like “all right, Dwayne, that’s fine, but I’m not going to make this for commercial purposes.” At any rate, Aubrey was able to get in touch with a shit load of high profile hip-hop players like Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, Timbaland, Jay-Z, and Young Jeezy.  to appear, in some capacity, on the album. That’s all nice and all, but does Aubrey know how to tell a story? Yes. He does that at length. “Over” is incredibly Lil Wayne like. It’s more explosive than any of the previous tracks and, for that reason, has more appeal. The chorus is not traditionally annoying, but it’s not anything special. There’s really not much else to say about anything else. I don’t think Drake could have struck out much more on such an anticipated, ultra-hyped album. Most of the songs on here are just average rap songs, lacking solid beats or decent flow. Little Wayne Weezy single-handedly saves “Miss Me.” Drizzy is just weak, ‘yo. “That’s nasty. Yes, my name is Weezy, but I’m not asthmatic.” Damn, Weezy, keep doing your thing. You drop some great lines.

Grade: C+ (78)

CD Review: The Adventures of Bobby Ray [2010]

Rapper: B.o.B – Bobby Ray
Release: 4/2010
Label: Atlantic

1. “Don’t Let Me Fall” – B+
2. “Nothin’ On You” – B+
3. “Past My Shades” – C
4. “Airplanes” – D+
5. “Bet I” – C-
6. “Ghost in the Machine” – B
7. “The Kids” – A-
8. “Magic” – A-
9. “Fame” – A-
10. “Lovelier Than You” – B
11. “5th Dimension” – B-
12. “Airplanes Part 2” – B

Comments:
“Don’t Let Me Fall” starts off slow, but improves as the song drags on. The chorus is cool. If you’ve listened to any modern hip-hop or pop station, I’m sure you’ve heard “Nothin’ On You.” It’s a “summer song” to me, despite its debut in November 2009. It’s finely organized with an enjoyable background lullaby, even if the chorus is a bit sub-par. “Past My Shades”…come on! Steer clear from “alternative rock” Bobby Ray. It’s not your thing. “The Kids” is a hip-hop sample of “The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance” by Vampire Weekend. I dig. “Always in detention for the lack of attention/ you can call it deficit” tells me we got a bad kid up in here. “Magic” is repetitive and frankly fun (not the chorus), but it’s more like “Rivers Cuomo time,” showing Bobby Ray taking cue from Black Eyed Peas’ style. The second verse of “Fame” flows so well. It may be the best verse on this album. I mean, of course, lyrically it’s infantile and just plain dumb, but realistic to some degree. “Everyone can’t be O to the B” … right? “Airplanes Part 2” has me convinced that it’s an improvement over “Part 1.” What if Eminem wasn’t famous? Don’t we all wonder? Or maybe that thought has never crossed anyone’s mind until this song came about. When Bobby Ray raps before Eminem, the song loses cred. I mean, how does Bobby Ray know fame? He’s a relative unknown even in the hip-hop world. “He’s gonna have a hard time explaining to Haley and Lainey these foodstamps and this WIC shit ’cause he never risked shit. He hoped and he wished it, but it didn’t fall in lap,” raps Eminem on his verse. Highlight of the song. “Lovelier” has Bobby Ray on acoustic guitar and he proves to be all right in that regard.

Grade: B- (82)

Classic Album Review: Revolutinary Vol. 1

Artist: Immortal Technique
Full Title: Revolutionary Volume 1
Label: Viper Records
Year: 2001
Grade: B+

Keyword: REVOULTIONARY. Many refer to themselves as revoltuionaries, whether it be a Republican Congressmen from Texas or a radical nerd on his blog, but few can back it up. Immortal Technique is part of this rare breed. He is the closest example of a musical Che Guevara, if there ever was one. Before the listener even hits play, he/she is already bombarded by tech’s intense dissidence in the cover art: masacred police officers and the hammer and sickle a la Soviet Union. But, unlike dem pinko commie fags, tech’s Revolution (at least musically) succeeds because as he says it is, “built out of love for his people and not hatred for others.” The album opens with a solid 9 in “Creation and Destruction.” It basically foreshadows everything the MC is notorious for: violent lyrics, intimidating delivery, and uncompromising politics. This continues throughout the record, while he delves into such untouchable topics as police brutality, corporate media bias for the elite (“The Getaway”), the racist, White, economic, class structure which leaves poor people, mostly blacks and latinos, but also whites, and millions in the Third World concerned only with day to day poverty rather than developing Socialista philosophy to rise out of this trap (“The Poverty of Philosophy”- Spoken Word), and the harsh and regrettable reality of thug life, (“Dance With the Devil”). The latter is arguably one of the most horrifying tracks I have ever heard. Tech’s disturbing lyrics paint a petrifying picture of rape and murder. Overall, this is a sound record one of the finest from today’s greatest hip hop star. You would be hard pressed to find another rapper with as much skill, integrity, and hardcore style. To add to this hardcore reputation, all of the raps were created while he was in prison. Take that Fat Joe, you Fake, Fat, Fuck! Not that I’m in any position to criticize, with absolutely no street credibility WHATSOEVER! But, that’s alright, at least I’m not Billy Jacobs. You’ll have to listen to this album to know who Billy Jacobs is!

VIVA LA REVOULTION!!!

Chris

GZA On Black Lips/KK/Hip-Hop

Check out this interview with Wu-Tang member GZA:


…LA Times…
How did you end up collaborating with The Black Lips and King Khan?

Originally, it came about through my manager Heathcliff [Berru]. The bands were fans of Wu-Tang and I and we decided to perform together. It worked out well; they’re good musicians and we have a mutual admiration and love. The thing is, they were already connecting with me in some way first. I’d never heard their music before, but I was feeling it and when I saw both of those groups perform live, I knew I could work with them. The vibe was there.

Much of current hip-hop — particularly the more mainstream iteration — is characterized by glossy shiny-sounding production. Did some of your desire to work with the Black Lips and  King Khan stem from the similarity of their lo-fi aesthetic to the beats you came up rhyming on?

That’s my problem with the stuff today — it doesn’t sound raw and uncut. When the Black Lips sent a track over to me, I thought it sounded like a Beastie Boys track, the way the singer was singing and flowing on it. He was right in the pocket. You don’t get hip-hop that sounds that gritty anymore, you get some Auto-tune, ping-pong computer-made and Casio stuff.

A lot of rappers have tried to chase whatever trend was hot, whether it’s Auto-tune or getting the hottest R&B hookman on a track, but you’ve carved out a different path.

I think it’s about being original and creative. You’ve got to be comfortable with yourself. There’s no set way to do anything. Sometimes you have to go outside the box, sometimes you can do things the standard way. Like you don’t have to have a beat to write a song, sometimes you can write lyrics without the music. A lot of artists think that to be current, you have to follow what’s out there and do something that’s so unlike what you normally do. It can work but it doesn’t if you chase it.

Whaddup ERS @ Night

Screw that ish (although it is great music to crank after late night concerts), here is the rap/hip-hop you gotta listen to:

Beanie Siegel – “The Truth”
Blackalicious – “Deception”
Booba – “Ecoute Bien”
The Crest – “Heart Shaped Box”
Daz Dillinger“On Some Real Shit”
Enur – “Calabria”
Geto Boys – “Gota Let Your Nuts Hang”
Ice Cube – “It Was A Good Day”
Lauryn Hill – “That Thing”
Mr. Lif – “I Phantom”
NWA – “Straight Outta Compton”
The Pharcyde – “Passing Me By”