This has been quite an eventful week, the poster boy of Hip Hop 2.0 ethered himself. An unfinished workprint sans finished special effects/CGI of the highly anticipated Fox Searchlight/Marvel Studios film "X-Men: Origins: Wolverine" leaked online (full review forthcoming soon in the Thursday post this weekend). Kevin Garnett will be held out until April 12th to rest his sore knee and prepare for the impending NBA playoffs and a gang of Hip Hop albums hit the internet over the past week that I'll get to right now. This has been another good three months for under the radar Hip Hop releases and April is shaping up to be good as well.
This week I'll be reviewing ten new projects that recently hit the 'net/bloggerverse and/or will be landing on store shelves soon in the following order: A-Trak "Infinity +1", Big Tone "The Art Of Ink", Cunninglynguists "Strange Journey Vol. 1", Illogic & Ill Poetic "Diabolical Fun", Jadakiss 'The Last Kiss", K-Os "Yes!", Kan Kick "Beautiful: Opus Of Love Deeper Than Flesh Vol. 1 & 2", Kero One "Early Believers", Mobb Deep "The Safe Is Cracked" and U-N-I & Ro Blvd "A Love Supreme". For those of you new to this blog, 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.
There's rules to the Hip Hop shit! © DJ Premier
Best Joints: Uhh...yeah. About that. I dunno.
Hot Garbage: Is this a trick question?
Dart's Take: I'll be honest, I don't know what the fuck this was. It's a mix CD but I can't tell if I actually listening to different songs or when it's been mixed or swithched because all of it sounds the damn same. Is Kid Sister rhymin' over instrumentals he's mixing or are these previous songs of her's that she did with Flosstradamus and all those other guys I don't listen to? I remarked on Twitter that this mix CD should be called "Only Built 4 Dudes With Tight Pants" after my first listening. This wasn't made for my ears but I'm still gonna give it an oh no because I had night terrors afterwards. That night, I dreamed I was trapped in a rave where everyone was dressed like characters from Tron.
Best Joints: Skin Deep, Business, Pedigree, Scapegoat, Paid, Laid & Played, A Song Called Triumph, Chocolate, The Look, Squo, Broken Logos, Folktale and Peace, Progress, God Bless
Hot Garbage: N/A
Dart's Take: I've had this album for about 2 months and I played it continously and it never left the regular rotation no matter what new LP's I ran across recently. Detroit's own Big Tone has previously appeared on his ABB debut "The Drought" back in 2005 followed by J Dilla's "Welcome 2 Detroit", Ta'raach & The Lovelution's "The Fevers" and last year's Top 50 of 2008 LP Shawn Jackson's "First Of All...". Big Tone handles the work behind the boards and spits flames next to Guilty Simpson, Blu, Ta' raach and Breeze Brewin. Bangers include "Business", "Pedigree", "A Song Called Triumph", "Squo" and "Broken Logos" but don't get it twisted there isn't a weak moment on this album. The jawn "Folktale" where Tone uses the names of several of Michigan's finest in his rhymes was crazy. April 14th go cop "The Art Of Ink", it gets a mos def.
Best Joints: Departure (Intro), Nothing But Strangeness, Lynguistics (Live), Move, Spark My Soul, Never Come Down (The Brownie Song), Hypnotized, Dance For Me, Die For You, Georgia (Remix), KKKY (Remix), Don't Leave, The Distance and Broken Van (Thinking of You) plus instrumentals for all of the songs.
Hot Garbage: N/A
Dart's Take: The last time Cunninlynguists dropped an LP it was a serious contender for album of the year (2007's "Dirty Acres"), this time around they're gonna drop two volumes of unreleased material and remixes like they did with the two volumes of "Sloppy Seconds". The first volume of "Strange Journey" is an excellent collection of tracks from a crew that keeps the classic Dungeon Family sound alive and well in 2009. Tracks like "Move", "Spark My Soul", "Hypnotized", or the "Georgia (Remix)" let you know that Kno is never gonna let you down behind the boards. The version I have even has the instrumentals included so it's even more of a no brainer. This album gets a mos def.
Best Joints: What's My Name, Diabolical Fun, Violent Verbage, What Happened?, I Know You, Let's Go, Crash, Get Up Or Get Down, Time, Right Here, Feel The Beat and Walk Into The Sunset
Hot Garbage: N/A
Dart's Take: Illogic has been nice since 1996, back when he was winning battles at age 16 all over Ohio and the Midwest. He recorded his first LP back in 1999 and 10 years later he's still going strong spittin' as raw if not rawer than he did when he first started out. He's usually had Blueprint behind the boards on his projects but on this LP and his excellent "One Bar Left" EP he's had Poisonous Paragraphs favorite Ill Poetic handling the beats and lending the occassional assist on the mic.
What we get in "Diabolical Fun" is a nonstop barrage of ridicolous bars over banger after banger from Ill Poetic. When they both get on the mic ("Crash" and "Walk Into The Sunset"? Sheeeiiit! © Clay Davis. If you think that classic Hip Hop doesn't get made anymore just spend your $7.99 on this project on thank me later when you realize that you were wrong. This album gets a mos def easily.
Best Joints: Pain & Torture, Can't Stop Me, Something Else, One More Step, Stress Ya, What If, Things I've Been Through, I Tried, Rocking With The Best, Cartel Gathering, Come And Get Me, Letter To B.I.G., and Death Wish (Lil' Wayne? C'mon w/ the faxing in your guest appearances!)
Hot Garbage: Who's Real (OJ Da Juiceman AND Swizz Beats?), Grind Hard (Mary?), What If's beat, Smoking Gun, By My Side (not feeling this one) and Something Else Remix were all meh
Dart's Take: Jadakiss hasn't made a new LP in a minute due to leaving his previous label to sign with Roc A Fella/Def Jam. Then Jay-Z left his position as President Of Def Jam and Jadakiss had to fight a couple of cases he had pending. After he had his album pushed back 3 or 4 times, it's finally about to drop April 7th. He's trying to get everyone with this jawn, the ladies, hard rocks, and people in between in order get the the most sales possible. My favorite tracks are "Pain & Torture", "Can't Stop Me", "One More Step", "I Tried", "Rocking With The Best" and "Cartel Gathering" (Woooooooo! © Ric Flair). All of throwaway and meh tracks result in a recommended maybe, best I can do under the circumstances.
Best Joints: Zambony, Astronaut, Burning Bridges, Uptown Girl, I Wish I Knew Natalie Portman, 4 3 2 1, Eye Know Something, The Aviator, FUN!, Mr. Telephone Man, The Avenue/Bonus Track
Hot Garbage: Whip C.R.E.A.M. was meh to me
Dart's Take: This album is not for everybody. If you weren't a fan of K-Os' previous work or the way he mixes genres of music on his projects then you won't like but a few songs on "YES!". K-Os rhymes, sings, has some straight up rap beats that turn into lush arrangements and then he'll put some weird effect on his voice for the full track. If you could rock with K'Naan's "Troubadour" from last month and you appreciate musicianship then you should check this project out. Standout tracks include "I Wish I Knew Natalie Portman", "Eye Know Something", "FUN!", "Mr. Telephone Man", "The Avenue" and the bonus track whose name I don't know. I give "YES!" a highly recommended maybe for fans of his previous work or albums like it...everyone else? Move on, there's nothing to see here! Clear the area! © Special Ed
Best Joints: The Bomb Butterfly, Thursdays at the Good Life, Herb Honey, Black Women Candle Wax, This Is a World Export, Continued Togetherness, Pop Tunes, Morning Paper, Don't Lock My Heart Away, Shrooming Birds Morning Song, NightTime Beauty, Serenade the Outdoor Visitors, C'Mon Love, Let's Dance, Take My Hand, Warped Dayz, O.X. Coming At Ya, I'm Going to Take U Out to Dinner, Can't Escape Space (Love Quakes), Enter The Inside (Yeah), The Revelations of Sadness, Westwinds Of Truism (For Otis) and The Tribes Chant
Hot Garbage: N/A
Dart's Take: Kan Kick is yet another nice ass producer/beatmaker from The Ox (Oxnard, CA, home of Madlib, Oh No, Roc C, etc.). He's produced numerous tracks over the years and contributed to quite a few classic projects. If you're a fan of instrumentals and/or a beathead then you must find this immediately and cop it. Some of it just just straight up chilled out head nod music but every other track will make you wanna freestyle (whether you rhyme or not!) over it. I give this a mos def, now find it and acquire it.
Best Joints: Welcome To The Bay, When The Sunshine Comes, Keep Pushin', Let's Just Be Friends, Bossa Soundcheck, Love And Happiness, Stay On The Grind, A Song For Sabrina, This Life Aint Mine, I Never Thought That We and Goodbye Forever
Hot Garbage: N/A
Dart's Take: Kero One's album is full of instrumention, laid back beats, smooth rhymes and a fair amount of singing over the tracks. If you're looking for some chilled out West Coast riding music with an organic sound that you can just lay back and vibe to then this is that album. I prefer more lyricism and punchlines/battle rhymes to rapping about relationships and kickin' it for an entire album but that's just me. My favorite selections off of "Early Believers" were "Welcome To The Bay", "Keep Pushin'"and "Let's Be Friends". I give it a recommended maybe.
Best Joints: Heat, Watch Ya Self, M.O.B., Can't Win 4 Losin', Yea, Yea, Yea, Infamous, What Goes On, Get Out Our Way and You Wanna See Me Fall,
Hot Garbage: That Crack, Position and Don't Play
Dart's Take: I'm a Mobb Deep fan and I always love to hear some previously unreleased Mobb material but a lot of these tracks are standard Mobb Deep album tracks circa 2003-2005 (post the joint venture with Jive). There are a few jawns that should've been released before like "Heat", "M.O.B.", "Infamous", "What Goes On" and "You Wanna See Me Fall" but everything else is typical Infamous fare. If you're a diehard Mobb Deep fan then by all means. cop it. If not, just wait for P to get released from the bing. I give it a maybe.
Best Joints: My Life, Windows, Supreme, Hollywood Hiatus, Lately, Pulp Fiction Part 1, The Grudge, Voltron, Stylin', Hammertime, Calendar Girls, Lauren London, Black Sky, Halftime and A Love Supreme
Hot Garbage: N/A
Dart's Take: U-N-I is one of my favorite newer groups in Hip Hop alongside Pac Div. Their previous mixtapes "Fried Chicken & Watermelon" and "Before There Was Love" raised anticipation for this collaborative LP with producer Ro Blvd through the roof. I have to tell you that these cats have not disappointed in any way, shape or form with this finished project. This album bangs from beginning to end, I think I played each song on "A Love Supreme" again after the first time I heard it during my initial sit down with it. This was a great week for Hip Hop heads on the internet!
My favorite jams from "A Love Supreme" are "My Life", "Supreme", "Hollywood Hiatus", "Lately", "Pulp Fiction Part 1", "The Grudge", "Calendar Girls", "Lauren London" (they flipped a Morris Day beat!), "Halftime" and a "Love Supreme". Find this album and cop it yesterday. It dropped this past Tuesday so you should have no problems finding it anywhere fine music is sold. Support real artists that do it the way it's supposed to be done. I give U-N-I & Ro Blvd's "A Love Supreme" another mos def. What a great week, huh?
Late Passes (For Doz Dat Slept):
Projects I'm Looking Forward To Reviewing Once They Leak...I Mean Drop in 2009:
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, Son Of Chico Dusty
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
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
Ski Beatz-Half Man, Half Amazing
Evidence-Cats & Dogs
Eminem-The Relapse & Relapse 2
Statik Selektah-The Hangover
Cage-Depart From Me
This is the face of Hip Hop 2.0's poster boy. Fuck all that noise...it's just "Hip Hop" and this dude AIN'T it. Hip Hop is about being true to yourself, being true to the art, respecting the culture and being original. That being said, Charles Hamilton doesn't represent any of the things that I dearly love about Hip Hop. He's a liar and a thief...and his album will be in stores sometimes in the near future. SMH.