I often dedicate certain numbered "What's New In Dart's iPod" posts to Boston sports figures. In the past I've done dedications to Paul Pierce (#34), Reggie Lewis (#35) and Kendrick Perkins (#43) so today's post was a no brainer decision, really: #54 of the New England Patriots Tedy Bruschi. There are several reasons why I'd name a drop after #54 other than his performance on the football field and I'll go into detail below in this Halloween post.
Sure Tedy Bruschi was one of the all time greatest college football linebackers while at Arizona (he set the old college sacks record). He's also had an All-Pro career as a linebacker with the New England Patriots as a part of one of the most versatile LB corps in NFL history. This was all before he won three Super Bowl titles in 2001, 2003 and 2004 and appeared in another one last year. While the Patriots lost that game, the fact that Tedy Bruschi played in it at all was an accomplishment in itself because the man many thought to be the picture of health suffered a stroke in 2005 because of a tiny hole in his heart.
After the hole was repaired, Bruschi worked tirelessly to get back to the game. People thought he was crazy for not retiring and calling it a career right then and there. To Bruschi if he'd ever listened to other people or naysayers he'd never have played NFL football in the first place. He was deemed too small and slow to be an effective NFL linebacker by most pro scouts even though he had a great college career and great instincts and ball skills. About 8 months after suffering a stroke Tedy Ballgame was back on the field at Gillette Stadium helping the Patriots win. He hadn't lost a step.
This drop is dedicated to everyone else out there who pursue their dreams in the face of naysayers and nonbelievers, stick to their guns and ultimately succeed and prove them all wrong. Tedy Bruschi continues to inspire people of all walks of life to this day and he has the Patriots at the top of the AFC East yet again. When he finally hangs it up not only will he get his number #54 retired by the New England Patriots one day but he'll surely earn a spot in Canton, Ohio's Pro Football Hall Of Fame. Now onto the album reviews:
This week I'll be reviewing seven new projects that leaked or recently hit store shelves in the following order: Edgar Allen Floe "The Streetwise LP", Illa J "Yancey Boys", Joe Budden "Halfway House", Little Brother "Separate But Equal", Q-Tip "The Renaissance", Reef The Lost Cauze "A Vicious Cycle" and Sean Price presents Ruste Juxx "Indestructible". 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.
The choice is yours! © Dres
Best Joints: What It Is, The Hit, Slick Talk, So Far, I See All, Arrest The President, Nametag Streetwise, Shine, Fear (Remix), Lifeline, Props, Exposure, Fair Warning and Won't Change
Hot Garbage: N/A
Dart's Take: Justus League affiliate Edgar Allen Floe came with it lyrically and as would be expected the production and guest appearances were on point as well. There is nothing about this album that is wack but it isn't exactly mind blowing either. It's a well made album that deserves a spot in your iPod or Zune (do people really own those?). I give it a recommended maybe.
Best Joints: Timeless, We Here, R U Listenin'?, Strugglin', Showtime, Swagger, DFTF, All Good, Sounds Like Love, Everytime, Illasoul and Air Signs
Hot Garbage: N/A
Dart's Take: The eerie thing about this album is that Illa J does a lot of thing that you'd think Dilla would do on certain beats. For instance, the opening track "Timeless" where Illa J sings on it as opposed to rhyming reminded me of Dilla on "Think Twice". While Illa J isn't an ill lyricist neither was Dilla so it's all about what he does on the beat and with it. His hooks and delivery are more than enough to keep the listener interested.
Stand out tracks include "Timeless", "R U Listening?", "Showtime", "DFTF" and "Sounds Like Love". Since all of the production is done by J Dilla you know what to expect on that end. Illa J delivers with his debut album and earns a recommended maybe. Check it out if you're just looking for some quality Hip Hop or if you're a Dilla fan.
Best Joints: On My Grind, Overkill, Check Me Out, Sidetracked, Slaughterhouse, Under The Sun, The Soul, Anything Goes, Go To Hell, Just To Be Different and Touch & Go
Hot Garbage: N/A
Dart's Take: I'm a fan of Joe Budden so any time some new material of his hits the 'net I'm all over it. Since his upcoming album on Almagam Digital "Padded Room" has been pushed back he decided to give the fans a pre-album of sorts called "Halfway House". The results pretty much shame a fair percentage of albums that have been released so far this year.
Between bangers like "On My Grind", Check Me Out", "Sidetracked" (where Joey kills Coldplay's "Lost"), "Slaughterhouse" (which could've also been named "Overkill"), and "The Soul" and even the obvious single "Touch & Go" which sounds like something he would've recorded for his first Def Jam album it's impoosible to not be anticipating the release of "Padded Room". The version I got for review was missing the two bonus tracks but even without them "Halfway House" gets a mos def from me. If you don't care for Joe Budden already and you still don't after this then I don't know what to tell you.
Best Joints: Knock Knock, Cross That Line, Let It Go, Can't Let Her, Rollin' Out, Macaroni, Boondock Saints, Home, I Need You, Candy, Speed Racin', Deeper, Playin' To Lose and Passionflower
Hot Garbage: N/A
Dart's Take: I was a big fan of DJ Drama's "Separate But Equal" mixtape way back in 2006 when it first dropped but so much time has passed since then that it isn't enough of a selling point to have a version of "Let It Go" where DJ Drama isn't bringing the track back a million times. On top of the fact that this release is at least a year too late while it has songs the previous version didn't it's missing tracks like "Oh My G" and Phonte's hilarious parody of Kanye West's "Late" called "Hate" in addition to a couple of other missing skits.
It's not enough that I don't hear "Gangsta Grizillz!" from Lil' Jon at the beginning of every track for this version of this mixtape to stand out enough for me to want to re-purchase it. Little Brother fans will have already heard these songs and will rather wait for a proper album. If this joint came up last year before "Get Back", Rapper Big Pooh's "Rapper's Delight", Zo! And Tigallo Love The 80's and the Foreign Exchange re-up then it would've had more of an impact. If you're not familiar with these tracks check it out, otherwise it's a maybe only because this is old news now.
Best Joints: Johnny Is Dead, Won't Trade, Gettin' Up, Official, You, We Fight/Love, Manwomanboogie, Move, The Renaissance, Dance On Glass, Life Is Better, Believe, Shaka and Feva
Hot Garbage: N/A (It sucks that it took 3 years for some of these songs to finally get a proper release)
Dart's Take: It's about goddamn time this album got released. When I did my infamous post on Okayplayer back in 2006 where I found hard to find and out of print albums and I took requests for posters the most requested albums were "Kamal The Abstract" and "Live At The Renaissance" hands down. After hearing these albums you had to wonder why the hell the label was afraid to release it. Some of these songs ("Johnny Is Dead" and "Feva" included) are on this project.
I played the hell out of "The Renaissance" when I first got it often without realizing that I hadn't even though about touching the fast forward button on my iTunes. Q-Tip did an excellent job of mixing genres of music and making it work. If joints like "Gettin' Up", "Official", "Move", "The Renaissance", "Life Is Better", "Shaka" and "Feva" don't get your head nodding then I don't know what on Earth will. I give "The Renaissance" the second mos def of the day.
Best Joints: Back At It, Pay-Per-View, Problem, I Wonder, Thug Fantasy, I Ain't No Rapper, Big Deal, Not That Easy, Listen To Me, Upside Down, Gone, Amnesia, Nat Turner, Bad Lieutenant, When You Get Free, Home and Still I Rise
Hot Garbage: Get It? Got It? Good and the J.J. Brown remixes of Listen To Me and Get It? Got It? Good were all just meh to me.
Dart's Take: Reef The Lost Cauze is a personal favorite of mine and since all of the Army Of The Pharoahs projects started being fired out on after the other by Babygrande the two albums I was really looking forward to were Reef The Lost Cauze and Jedi Mind Tricks. Now the Reef project finally appears in my mailbox and I can review it.
Reef kills it lyrically mixing punchlines with hardcore battle rhymes on tracks like "Back At It", "Pay-Per-View", "Problem", "I Wonder", "I Ain't No Rapper", "Big Deal", "Listen To Me", "Gone", "Amnesia", "Bad Lieutenant" and many more. There isn't a weak moment on this album save for one track I wasn't feeling too hot and two J.J. Brown remixes that didn't fit the song at all. Between the production and the rhymes over 16 hot joints I give "A Vicious Cycle" a highly recommended maybe.
Best Joints: Wipe Off Ya Smile, System On Blast, Get Up, Machine Gun Skunk, Grave Digga, Pimpin' Ya Wife, Duck Down!, Love Is Worth Waiting For, Blaze My Fire and Optimistic
Hot Garbage: Morgue Truck, Let Me In, To All My Enemies and Homocide Niggas are were just meh to me (you (the reader/listener) might like 'em.
Dart's Take: If you love that lyrical hardcore thug shit then this is the album for you! The problem is that for me to really get into this album given the themes and limited subject matter Ruste Juxx would have to be super hyper lyrical to avoid the constant threats of brain stabbing and gun talk from becoming somewhat annoying. As a part of a group or a guest rapper he's at his best, over top notch production (like Black Milk's) he can make bangers but left to his own devices he may or may not come off. I give this album a maybe although it's in the 90th percentile of maybe's that I've given in the past.
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
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 October 31st, 2008):
Frankenstein-Braille (prod. by Symbolyc One)
Rocket Ship Rap-Freeway (prod. Sap Da Beat Man)
Sidetracked-Joe Budden (prod. by Coldplay)
Top Of The Money-Curren$y
Life Is Better-Q-Tip (prod. by Q-Tip)
Computer Love-Ghostface Killah (prod. by Roger Troutman)
Slick Talk-Edgar Allen Floe
I Ain't No Rapper-Reef The Lost Cauze
Warwick Avenue-Wale f/Duffy
Duck Down!-Ruste Juxx (prod. by Black Milk)
Listen Up-EPMD (prod. by EPMD)
Showtime-Illa J (prod. by J Dilla)
Left Field Lovely-B.O.B.
On My Grind-Joe Budden
Give Up Your Guns-Royce Da 5'9" f/Talib Kweli & Raekwon (prod. by DJ Which)
Drop-Rich Boy f/Polow Da Don (prod. by Polow Da Don)
Official-Q-Tip (prod. by Q-Tip)
Ike's Mood Revisited-Diz Gibran (prod. by Isaac Hayes)
I Am Hip Hop-Stat Quo
The Reading-Asher Roth (prod. by Nottz)
Exposure-Edgar Allen Floe
The Layover-Evidence (prod. by Evidence)
DFTF-Illa J f/Affion Crocket (prod. by J Dilla)
Where I Be At-Buckshot f/Oddisee (prod. by Oddisee)
Wipe Off Ya Smile-Ruste Juxx (prod. by Black Milk)
Missile Testin' (Death To Infidels)-Bishop Lamont
Gone-Reef The Lost Cauze
Let It Go-Little Brother f/Mos Def (prod. by Khrysis)
America needs a new direction...© Barack Obama