Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Tape Deck: Volume #10 (Reviews)

Twenty-two tracks in all. Enjoy:

Al Be Back - Big Cuzin (R.I.P.)
Over Kanye's "Big Brother" beat from '07, Bronx native Al Be Back sheds love to a legend by dropping his raspy vocals in a tribute of course to the notorious B.I.G. P.U.N. The lyricism ain't really up to par by standard, but he makes up for it in raw emotion.
B.o.B - Hip Hop Ain't Dead (The Future)
I like the message on this track. B.o.B. exhibits some clever wordplay, most notable with the reference to BAPE: "Why you think they call them Bathing Apes?/ They think we just a bunch of babies and apes/". I'm not fully sold on this guy quite yet, but it seems like ATL has some great potential in 'im. Too bad he chose to name himself after an eight year old OutKast song.
DJ Babu - Frozen (feat. Guilty Simpson)
J Dilla did such a good job of adapting to the Cali sound once he moved out West. With that being said, the first moment I heard "Frozen" I thought it was a Dilla beat. I guess that's a pretty good compliment for Babu, huh? In his own religious fashion, Guilty throws some heavy lyrical barbs across the track which Babu infused with frenetic bells and synths.
DJ Earworm - Reckoner Lockdown (Kanye West vs. Radiohead)
You know I love blends, right? If you close your eyes when listening to this song, you can enter into a fantasy world in which Kanye and Radiohead collaborate on an album. I'd be really okay with that, and as a result I really, really dig this remix. DJ Earworm does a great job of picking just the right song to blend with Yeezy's "Love Lockdown". The piano keys are well-placed and the hyper drums on the chorus sound smooth as well. I think I might like this one more than the original.
Emilio Rojas - Pain
This beat doesn't grab me. At all. Raks does his thing on the mic, but the "feel my pain" rhetoric is pretty dry by now as far as hip hop trends are concerned.
Freeway - Love 2 Ball
Freeway is on a fuggin' roll! He's been featured on six of our ten Tape Deck volumes (eight times total)! His knack for flipping soulful tracks is right up my alley, and I've gotta give this one yet another positive look. Freeza kicks his pimp talk with this one, while adding some humor: "You wanna sip rosé in my villa all day/ Play Nintendo Wii with Mack and Young C/". Freeza's been killing the blogosphere lately with all this new music. To quote Jay on "What We Do": "Keep goin'!"
Kanye West - Heartless (Mastered)
Okay, I'm giving this one a second shot. Last time around, I gave "Heartless" a flat 2-star rating. I'm gonna try to be a bit more constructive and less "heartless" now. A few things I like about this track: The bouncy keys that replace hats make this track very funny, fun and almost kid-like - in a good way. The music is catchy. I'll never fault Kanye for that, he definitely knows how to tug at your brain with that kinda stuff. The singing is about as good as I could expect him to do. But he's not a singer! That's not his forté! Think of it this way: He's kinda setting himself up as a male version of Ashlee Simpson. I'm only saying that because I'm predicting that he'll get caught up in some lip-synching fiasco. It's bound to happen. We cut emcees a lot of slack for playing backing vocals during their live shows because rapping takes up a lot more energy than singing. Now that Kanye is stepping into this arena, I'd love to see him pull of a hour-plus-long live show. I don't think he can do it? Why. Because as I said before, Kanye West is not a singer! Pre-pubescent girls, teeny boppers, and random music fans looking for a flavor of the month/week will get into it, but it comes down to this: there's not much substance here! I tried 'Ye, I really did!
Kay & Donwill as the Fly Guys - I Think (feat. Che Grand & The Luv Bugz)
Simple girly song. Nothing noteworthy here. In fact, the chorus severely pisses me off - very annoying.
Lupe Fiasco - Accept the Troubles (Unreleased)
WTF? Where did this come from. If you didn't know this was an old Lupe Fiasco song, you might have thought that it was 50 Cent back in the day (late '90s, early '00s). N-word abound, "Unreleased" Lupe makes "Contemporary" Lupe seem like a saint. The beat is an epitomic of gully mixed with high-pitched vocal samples from years past as Lupe rides the vibes with ease. Who do you like more? This Lupe or that Lupe?
Prodigy - Cold World
Solid track from Prodigy. Nothing special though.
Q-Tip - Gettin' Up (Remix) (feat. Eve)
Why they chose to use the same sample from "It's All About the Benjamins" is beyond me. Why they chose to have Aftermath's latest crypt-keeper Eve on this remix with Tip is also beyond me. Ms. Jeffers sounds exhausted! Must be from all that digging... She used to be feisty and vicious. Now she kinda sounds like.... Q-Tip. Ah! I see it now! Seriously though, this remix is yawn-worthy.
Rapper Big Pooh & Skyzoo - Keep It to the Side
Nothing catchy here.
Saigon & Lil Fame - WW4
What with the heavy beat and all, this track didn't need any extra energy. But M.O.P.'s Lil Fame does what he does by adding a frenzy-filled chorus as Saigon rips the beat. Solid.
Sam Scarfo & Ghostface Killah - Jesus Loves You
Scarfo 'n Ghost weave a collage of tales about the lives of people who err in the face of G.O.D. This track is all about redemption in the wake of acts such as violence. Good track.
Skyzoo - S.K.Y.
Beat is nice. Lyrics are boring and played out. What happened to originality?
Stat Quo - The Sun
"No other rapper is even coming near this". I wish I could say he was right. Well, actually, he is right. No other rapper in recent memory, aside from Kanye, has been this disappointing. But then again, Kanye isn't a rapper anymore, he's a hack of a singer. So I guess Stat's quote stands as strong as ever. Way to go!
Statik Selektah - Destined to Shine (feat. Torae, Sha Stimuli & Jon Hope)
Stat' flips a portion from Nas' "Surviving the Times" as this trio of emcees reminisce over their come-up in the rap game.
Sugar Tongue Slim - The A
Classic sample/melody. Weak/annoying flow. "If I wasn't so fly, I might have had a backpack". WTF?
Swoop & Spitz - Welcome to LA
On behalf of my city, I reject this endorsement from Swoop & Spitz for it's wick-wick-wackiness! Swoop, Spitz and Sugar Slim would make an incredibly shitty trio.
The Gigantics - Shut Up (fea. Murs, Vitamin D & Mr. Lif)
Nice cipher track right here! Murs takes the #1 spot right here, but all three emcees give a solid, fun effort.
The Gigantics - The Explanation (feat. Aesop Rock, Onry Ozzborn & Eligh)
It's always nice to Aesop Rock do his thing. And he does just that on this creepy beat which throws some heavy bass hits and claps beneath catchy guitar string loops.
Wordsmith & Skyzoo - Nobody Cares (Prod. by Strada)
'smith and Sky go in on current events like high gas prices, the war, the housing crisis while asking "who cares?" Perfect track for the current state of affairs in the country. Depressing though... lol...