This entire week of album reviews comes down to one main question: Did Ludacris succeed in making that elusive "Hip Hop classic" LP? At this point in a rapper or an emcees career they usually go into decline (Nelly) or show their age through diminishing skills (Ice Cube), Sometimes fans just plain get sick of them due to overexposure and mediocre material (50 Cent). Either way, we'll see if Ludacris can climb the mountain and make an album that fans and heads alike can point to as "that shit". Enough of the bullshit, let's get to business.
This week I'll be reviewing seven new projects that either leaked or recently hit store shelves in the following order: Ace Hood "Gutta", Alchemist presents The Alchemist's Cookbook "Better Living Through Chemistry", AZ "Final Call: The Lost Tapes", MeccaGodZilla "ERROARS", Nature "Pain Killer", Evidence "The Layover EP" and Ludacris "Theater Of The Mind". 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.
I was a young kid watching these writer's styles and bugged! © Bigg Jus AKA LUNE TNS
Best Joints: Ehh...*scratches head*
Hot Garbage: I Don't Give A Fuck, Get 'Em Up, Gutta, Guns High, Cash Flow, Ride, Fed Bound, Stressin', Money Ova Here and Ghetto were all meh but Can't Stop, Can't See Y'all, Get Him, Call Me, Top Of The World and Ride (Remix) are all straight up basura.
Dart's Take: This album has the absolute perfect name in my opinion. Great call, XXL! *Goes outside and tosses promo CD into the gutter*.
Best Joints: Freedom, Talkin' Gangsta, Quiet Money Anthem, Seems That Way, I Am AZ, Gangsta MC's, Live Wire, Magic Hour, Omega, The Truth and Mo' Strings
Hot Garbage: Girls R Free, You Know, Side 2 Side and Let Me Know are all meh in my opinion
Dart's Take: This is the album that never officially came out from AZ's deal with Motown. A few of these songs were on AZ's last album and the whole album pretty much leaked years ago with poor audio quality. This album is pretty much what you expect from AZ The Visualizer as he rhymes effortlessly over smooth laid back tracks and hard uptempo beats. Since AZ's last two indie albums are better than this one ("The Format" &"Undeniable") and several of these tracks have been heard before the best I can do is a recommended maybe.
Best Joints: Key To The City, Follow The Dollar, Calmly Smoke and Therapy
Hot Garbage: Lose Your (Interest) Life and Al Capone Zone (not a Keak Da Sneak fan) are hella disappointing.
Dart's Take: This EP is lacking the uptempo tracks and bangers that you normally associate with Alchemist's production. Too chilled out and laidback to be so short, plus there wasn't much to grab you as far as lyricsm was concerned. If I hadn't already heard "Key To The City" and "Calmly Smoke" a hundred times they'd have more impact. I give this EP a maybe and hope that "Chemical Warfare" delivers in '09.
Best Joints: Intro, Follow, UrFucked, Monsta Eyez, Interlude 1.0, Asian Sensation, Lunch Room 1996, Mystery Of Mina, Untitled, Erroar Echo, Magma, AwokenBeethoven, God2, Prophecy Pleaze, Stop It 2004, Halozzz, Mic Avengers, Nihon Fast, 8bits, Genesis and Gabarah
Hot Garbage: N/A
Dart's Take: Buy this shit now. All I can say is I have DAMN GOOD taste in Hip Hop producers. Last week, my boy Small Professor (What up, Philly?) sent me some heat. And this week I was murdering "Slowbus" and LI's own R.A.V.A.G.E. AKA MeccaGodZilla's "ERROARS" back to back. I've probably played this instrumental (except for the lone vocal, a banger with Junclassic called "Gabarah") project ten times or more this weekend while playing videogames, writing blogs or just walking around the mean streets of Boston. There isn't a dull moment on this entire joint so if you're a beathead there's no excuse for you not checkin' for this. "ERROARS" gets an easy mos def.
Best Joints: Intro, Live Wire and Flashback Freestyle
Hot Garbage: Nobody Else But Me, Gotta Get It, Cold Blooded Killer, Everyday, Ya Homie, Small Talk, The Sermon, Overnight Affair, Thought I Told You, Public Enemy #1, One Shot, Never Slip, Runnin' Out Of Time and The Countdown all ranged from blech to meh
Dart's Take: If I had been in a coma since 1999 and you played this album for me as soon as I came out of it and I didn't know what year it was and I hadn't heard any other Hip Hop mixtapes or albums since I went into that coma I'd say that this joint was "meh" but the beats were a'ight. After hearing it 2008 all I can say is that it lived up to it's name, 18 tracks and I didn't feel none of this shit. *Goes outside and tosses promo CD in the gutter next to Ace Hood's* "Pain Killer" gets an oh no from me.
Best Joints: The Layover, For Whom The Bell Tolls, So Fresh (Step Brothers), Solitary Confinement, Don't Hate, The Far Left, Rain Or Shine, To Be Determined and The Cold Weather
Hot Garbage: N/A (It was only 10 tracks long)
Dart's Take: Evidence has several classics under his belt if you add up his 12"s, his LP's with Dilated Peoples, his guest appearances and his excellent solo debut "The Weatherman LP". This EP is no different and bangers like "The Layover", "For Whom The Bell Tolls", So Fresh (Step Brothers)", "The Far Left", "Rain Or Shine" and "The Cold Weather" power this 10 track EP. "The Layover EP" will reside in my iPod until Ev's re-up "Cats & Dogs" comes out and his "Purple Tape Instrumentals" is scheduled to drop on December 9th. This gets the second mos def of the week.
Best Joints: Intro, Undisputed, Wish You Would, One More Drink, Call Up The Homies, Southern Gangsta (Rick Ross & Playaz Circle...you suck!), Everybody Hates Chris, What Them Girls Like, Nasty Girl (Plies...you suck!), Contagious, Last Of A Dying Breed (Weezy...leave those drugs alone!), MVP (Premier...you're the fuckin' man!), I Do It For Hip Hop (Nas & Jay...God bless you both!) and Do The Right Thang (Common...you really dig Zune's? LOL)
Hot Garbage: I wish I could substitute some of the "guest stars" on this album but other than that? Nada.
Dart's Take: Ludacris is one of the most successful emcees of the 00's with 6 straight albums that have done well on the Billboard charts and a slew of hits plus a Grammy award. Chris Bridges is also a natural actor with several notable film credits under his belt (Crash, Hustle & Flow, RocknRolla). He has the respect of his peers, critical acclaim and 12 million units sold worldwide but what he doesn't have is an LP that can be considered an undisputed classic. This album is Ludacris' attempt at fixing that problem and he almost acheived it.
I will say that this is my favorite Ludacris album of all of them by far and his superior lyricism, creativity and delivery raised this project to another level. Tracks like "Undisputed", "Everybody Hates Chris", "Last Of A Dying Breed", "MVP", "I Do It For Hip Hop" and "Do The Right Thang" are the standouts on "Theater Of The Mind" and help propel it to the 3rd mos def of the week. I don't think I've ever given 3 mos defs and 2 oh no's before. This falls short of being a classic but it's easily one of the best albums of the 2008 so far.
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
Royce Da 5'9"-Street Hop
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
MF Doom-Born Into This
Jadakiss-The Last Kiss
I do it for Hip Hop! © Ludacris, Nas & Jay-Z