This past week America surprised the hell out of me and voted Barack Obama into office by an overwhelming margin that saw the United States experience it's greatest voter turnout in more than 100 years. He (Obama) received 68% of the youth vote, 66% percent of the first time voters, 95% of the Black vote, 68% of the Latino/Chicano vote and and a surprising 43% of the White vote. To put that into proper historical perspective that's a higher percentage of the national White vote than both Al Gore and John Kerry got...it's also more than Bill Clinton got in 1992 and 1996 when he won both presisential elections. Wow.
I was very proud of John McCain for not allowing the people to continue booing Barack Obama during his concession speech and I appreciate that he never went for it when his supporters would say that the were "afraid" of what would happen if Obama/Biden won the election. Will things change overnight? That's an impossibility because you have 8 years of mess and ineptitude to clean up first. Remember how long it took the Clinton Administration to get things rolling after the quagmire the previous 12 years of the Reagan/Bush Administration immersed this country in? I sure do.
The man has the job now and it's time for him to roll up his sleeves, loosen up his tie and execute when he's finally gets inaugurated. Whether you like it or not, Barack Obama is the 44th President Of The United States. Getting him in office was the easy part, the hard part will be restoring the United States to it's former glory and all of us have a part to play in doing that just as we did in this election.
This week I'll be reviewing seven new projects that leaked or recently hit store shelves in the following order: Beyonce "I Am...Sasha Fierce", DJ Skee & Evidence "The Layover Mixtape", Jedi Mind Tricks "A History Of Violence", Krohme "The Beasts Released: South Of Heaven Vol. 1", Royce Da 5'9" "The Album", Small Professor "Slowbus" and 88-Keys "The Death Of Adam". For those of you new to the party, I don’t rate albums on a scale or assign them a numerical value out of 5 or 10, instead I merely answer the all important question of “Is it worth buying or not?”. Here's how my "Cop It Or Not" ratings system breaks down below:
Oh No! This CD is a drink coaster/table balancer/doorstop/gerbil/hamster room divider/frisbee/discus/makeshift shield/last ditch choice for a visor/alternate shuriken choice. Sell this shit to whoever is dumb enough to buy it from you.
Maeby (Maybe)! Depending on your own set of personal preferences you might like this joint. Give it a listen first to see if it's in your lane or not.
Mos Def! Cop the album when it drops...'Nuff said.
Change is gon' come...yes it is! © Sam Cooke
Best Joints: If I Were A Boy, Halo, Disappear, Broken-Hearted Girl, Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It), Radio, Diva, Sweet Dreams and Video Phone
Hot Garbage: I thought that Ave Maria and Satellites were both kinda meh
Dart's Take: Since this album only has 11 tracks on it (and 4 additional songs are on the Deluxe Edition) it doesn't really make any sense for this to be a double CD unless it really is a cheap way for Mrs. Carter to try to beat Alicia Keys' sales record. I actually like "If I Were A Boy" better when I actually sit down and listen to it and I don't get distracted by the visual of Beyonce in a police uniform. One issue that I have with this project that it's too steeped in what's hot on the radio instead of having it's own direction.
Almost the entire first half of the album was a bunch of slow songs and the track "Halo" sounded like a T-Pain, The-Dream or Ne-Yo song while on the second disc "Radio" sounded a little too much like Janelle Monae for my taste and "Diva" was just a rehash of Lil' Wayne's "A Millie". This album has of course taken on the Techno/Electro sound of the music that's dominating the airwaves and charts right now. While it isn't very original or progressive (no Sol-Angel and The Hadley St. Dreams) it will move units. I give it a recommended maybe because it doesn't suck by any stretch but it's really too short and this album really doesn't need to be on two separate discs at all.
Best Joints: The Layover, FreeP, Tip The Scale, Recognize, Beatiful Day Remix, Beats Like This, Let Yourself Go Remix, Calmly Smoke Remix, Hits From The Bong 2008, Hush Now, One Shot, All Said & Done Remix, For Whatever It's Worth, Half Off, Celeb Reality, Bigger Dreams, For Whom The Bell Tolls, Hot & Cold Remix and The Last Shall Be First
Hot Garbage: Worldwide EV was the lone miss of this entire mixtape.
Dart's Take: This mixtape will do the job of making the 18 day wait for the "Layover EP" that much easier. The big wait, of course, will be for Evidence's 2nd solo LP "Cats & Dogs". The mix of new mixtape tracks, remixes of older material and a couple of tracks from the upcoming EP did the job of earning this mixtape a highly recommended maybe. If you're not a fan of Evidence's style and last year's "The Weatherman LP" did nothing for you then don't even bother with this.
Best Joints: Deathbed Doctrine, Deadly Melody, Monolith, Trail Of Lies, Heavy Artillery, Seance Of Shamans, Godflesh, Terror, Butcher Knife Bloodbath and Death Messiah
Hot Garbage: Intro, Those With No Eyes, Geometry In Static and The Sixth Gate Shines were all skits/instrumentals. A lot of these tracks also seem to run together and sound alike.
Dart's Take: Babygrande has released solo albums by just about every member of the Jedi Mind Tricks extended family/crew Army Of The Pharoahs and we finally come to the Jedi Mind Tricks new album "A History Of Violence". A few Fridays ago I wrote about JMT/AOTP fatigue because many of the releated albums didn't really stand out from each other either sonically, lyrically or thematically so they all kind of bled together into one long continous LP over the Summer and into the Fall. This album is no different.
Don't get me wrong, if you're a die hard fan of this crew then you're in seventh heaven but Vinnie Paz and Jus Allah spit gothic hardcore verses over the same sounding production that I heard The Army Of The Pharoahs, King Syze, Doap Nixon and Outerspace all rhyme over and in much the same style as they did previously. Vinnie Paz seems to be screaming and forcing his bars out rather than just rhyming as well.
This album was pretty good, standard fare from JMT. It didn't blow me away like some of their previous material has done in the past, though. I didn't rewind many tracks on this project but that doesn't mean it wasn't good. I give "A History Of Violence" a recommended maybe but that's the best I can do.
Best Joints: Think Twice, Gotta Love Me, Catch Me On Broadway, The Judgement, Goon Opera, Eye Can't Sleep, Grizzly, Stand Up, Set Me Free, Avoid The Static, Hallowed Be Thy Name, Dominion, Blood Rites (Warrior's Theme) and Goon Opera Remix
Hot Garbage: Ab Initio, The Beasts Released and Ad Finem are all skits/interludes, Awaiting The Hour is garbage and Retrospective Reflections is meh
Dart's Take: This album sounded just like the same type of music that the Army Of The Pharoahs, Jedi Mind Tricks, DJ Muggs, etc. make all over again. Well this album is well produced it tends to suffer when Krohme decides to get on the mic rather than let an all star line up of guest emcees do the heavy lifting. While some tracks are better than others occasionally a few verses pop up in the middle of them that sound like they came from a high schooler's demo.
Outside of a few standout tracks and themes that have been done to death over the past 10+ years I give this album a maybe. His "Battle Of 2012" project was much more of a chore to listen to because it lacked the lineup of veteran emcees that were on this album (Kool G. Rap, Hell Razah, C Rayz Walz, Lord Jamar, Reef The Lost Cauze, Sean Price, Chaundon, Block McCloud, Copywrite, Psycho Les, etc.) but check it out to see if it's your cup of tea or not.
Best Joints: Promised Land, Heat To The Streets, Give Up Your Guns, We Deep, Rewind, Gun Music, Bad Guy, Let's Talk, Been Shot Down and On The Low
Hot Garbage: We Everywhere and Angel were both meh.
Dart's Take: If this album weren't so short and if I didn't already hear the majority of these tracks already off of "The Bar Exam 2" I would've given this a mos def with even thinking about it. Just download "The Bar Exam 2" get the individual missing tracks from blogs and wait to buy his upcoming DJ Premier executive produced One Records LP called "Street Hop". I give this a recommended maybe for folks that never heard "The Bar Exam 2".
Best Joints: Phantom Menace, Stevie Said So, April Flowers, Dark Smile, Kelis, December 6th, Winter Leaves Pt. 2, John Henry, The Sky Is Falling, Theme From Mohawk!, MM...Foodstamps, Oh & Ran and Winter Leaves Pt. 0
Hot Garbage: N/A (I wish it could've been a little longer)
Dart's Take: One of my favorite unsung producers Small Professor hit me off with this ridiculous instrumental project called "Slowbus" last week that I haven't stopped playing since I got it. If you can listen to tracks like "Dark Smile" and not get the urge to find the nearest aquarium, break into it and stab a dolphin with a salad fork (wait, maybe that's just my crazy ass) or listen to "Winter Leaves Pts. 0 & 2", "Theme From Mohawk!", "Kelis" or "Oh & Ran" and not have to urge to start a brawl while in line at Starbucks or steal a street vendor's push cart when he's not looking and move it a few blocks without his knowledge than you're better people than I (that's really not hard to be seeing as I'm sort of an asshole).
I wish that "Slowbus' could've been longer but you don't give away a bunch of 4 minute beats for free! That would be like writing about Hip Hop five times a week with these long ass time consuming pieces for close to two years without ever receiving compensation and who would be stupid enough to do something like that? I give "Slowbus" a mos def. Go find it and download it now.
Best Joints: Nice Guys Finish Last, Handcuff 'Em, Stay Up! (Viagra), There's Pleasure In It, (Awww Man) Round 2, Dirty Peaches, Close Call, The Burning Bush, Ho' Is Short For Honey, No, I Said I LIKED You, M.I.L.F. and Another Victime
Hot Garbage: I thought that Morning Wood and The Friends Zone were both meh
Dart's Take: You remember when I was talking about "originality" and something that drew your attention and sounded different from what everyone else is making? Remember when I complained about not having the urge to replay any tracks on some of the other albums I've reviewed thus far or my frustration with album tracks bleeding together into one long never ending track since there was no diversity in the project or it's themes? I did not have that problem with 88-Keys' debut album "The Death Of Adam" at all.
This concept album tells the story of Adam, a typical cat from Uptown that's just trying to get some ass and experiences a few twists and turns along the way. 88-Keys, produces, arranges, plays instruments, sings and rhymes (sounds kinda like Kanye West x Consequence) throughout the entire project that's strung together by a female narrator. Tracks like "Nice Guys Finish Last", "Handcuff 'Em", "Stay Up (Viagra)", "Dirty Peaches", "Close Call" "Ho' Is Short For Honey" and "M.I.L.F." are all worthy of rewinds. Guest spots were filled in admirably by Kanye West, J*Davey, Phonte, Redman, Kid Cudi and Bilal and even the skits and interludes were dope.
I played this album about three times all the way through the first time I heard it because it was so refreshing compared to what I'd heard already that week. I give this LP the second mos def of the week. Go make it a point to cop 88-Keys 'The Death Of Adam" when it drops November 11th!
Late Passes (For Doz Dat Slept):
Projects I'm Looking Forward To Reviewing Once They Leak...I Mean Drop:
Jay Electronica-Act II: Patents Of Nobility
Jay Electronica-Abracadabra: Let There Be Light
Royce Da 5'9"-Street Hop
Big Boi-Sir Luscious Leftfoot
Mos Def-The Ecstatic LP
Magnif & J Dilla-Detroit Royalty
Blu-God Is Good
Sean Price, Guilty Simpson & Black Milk-Random Axe
Platinum Pied Pipers-Abundance
Method Man & Redman-Blackout 2
Redman-Muddy Waters 2
B.O.B.-The Adventures Of B.O.B.
Billy Danze-Behind Gatez
AG & O.C.-Oasis: Together Brothers
Phat Kat and Elzhi are Cold Steel
The Beatnuts-The Planet Of The Crates
Wiley-I See Clear
Ski Beatz-Half Man, Half Amazing
Evidence-Cats & Dogs
Dart's Fat Tape/CD-R (as of November 6th, 2008):
I, too am America © Langston Hughes