This week was much different from the previous ones. In the NBA both the Nuggets and Magic managed to steal games away from the Cavs and Lakers on their home courts. I missed both games as I was busy doing other shit...if the Celtics ain't playin' homie I ain't concerned. Mike Vick got released from prison after a far too long incareration and he's under house arrest for 2 more months.
Rumors are the New England Patriots are thinking about offering him a deal. The blogosphere is on fire since Jay-Z executed a buyout of his Def Jam contract and his next LP will come out on his Roc Nation label. He reportedly signed the homie Mickey Factz as well. Then a few highly anticipated "no..I'm serious) projects leaked during the week. Oh..and "Terminator: Salvation" reportedly sucks more than Sara Jay and Lacey Duvalle combined. That brings us up to today.
This week I'll be reviewing nine new projects that recently hit the 'net/bloggerverse and/or will be landing on store shelves soon in the following order: Cage "Depart From Me", Donny Goines "The Breakfast Club", Elektrik Red "How To Be A Lady Vol. 1", Freeway "Philadelphia Freeway 2", Georgia Anne Muldrow presents Ms. One & The Gang", Muhsinah "The Oscillations: Triangle", Sandpeople "Long Story Short EP", Scratch "Loss 4 Words" and Sheek Louch "Life On D-Block". 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 recently revised "Cop It Or Not" ratings system breaks down below:
Opinions be damned. This particular project has no redeeming qualities whatsoever and should come with a Surgeon General's warning and/or a biohazard sticker. It should only be handled by hazmat teams or bomb/demolitions squads. To quote Common & Canibus, this album is your worst nightmare squared.
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.
Don't you... forget about me! © Simple Minds
Best Joints: Nothing Left To Say, Beat Kids, Dr. Strong, Found My Mind In Connecticut, I Lost It In Haverton, Teenage Hands (WTF? @ the chorus), Katie's Song (this could be an indie rock/college radio hit...I don't know how to feel about that), Strain, Look At What You Did, Transmission, Depart From Me and I Never Knew You
Hot Garbage: Eating It's Way Out Of Me, Kick Rocks and Fat Kids Need An Anthem
Dart's Take: I was a huge Cage fan going back more than 15 years ago when his name was Benz and he was in the same circle as Kurious, MF Grimm (AKA Grim Reaper) and Count Bass D during the Hoppoh Records days. When Cage started dropping ill ass records on Bobbito Garcia's Fondle 'Em Records he immediately became an underground sensation. He built an impressive resume throughout the late 90's & 00's by recording on various labels (Fondle' Em, Bad Magic, Eastern Conference, etc.) before he switched over to El-P's Def Jux machine.
He released the impressive "Hell's Winter" LP in 2005 which was a departure from his previous sound but still steeped in Hip Hop. This album is as much a change from his previous LP ("Hell's Winter") as his previous LP was from his earlier material (if that makes any sense). I was taken aback by the lead video to this project (which was the impressive directorial debut of Shia LaBeouf) as well as the "I Never Knew You EP". I had no idea what to think.
Less than 3 hours after seeing the video and hearing the EP I heard the album. Needless to say I felt as if I was hit by a bus. I told someone on Twitter it was like being a little kid watching a pregnant cat give birth to a litter of baby ducks. I'm still confused about what I heard on "Depart From Me" and it's been damn near a week since I first heard it. It doesn't suck but I don't see myself ever putting it in my iPod Touch.
It sounds too Emo Rock mixed with Hip Hop and mashed up elements of other musical styles for my tastes. I need some consistency in my lostening experience. It goes from spoken word to Rap to Rock in under 90 seconds sometimes. Then you realize that Cage is singing (?) about Vampires or some shit. I dunno. I kinda felt like Chris Palko, El-P, Shia La Beouf & Ashton Kutcher were gonna come through my front door with a camera crew and scream "Dart Adams, you've been Punk'd!" "THIS isn't the real Cage album!" "Aww...if you could've seen your face!".
Above when I use the word "best" I meant as in "most tolerable to ME". I'm gonna cop out and give this one a maybe as in "decide for yourselves" as it clearly isn't for me. *Plays "Porn Again", "Weatherproof", "Movies For The Blind", "Nighthawks", "Waterworld" & "Hell's Winter"*
Best Joints: Don't You, Bring it Forward (New York, New York), Whatever it Is, Money, Don't Mess With A Woman, Sublime, She Likes, Make Me Feel, What U Expected Remix, A Love Song, Closer, Digital Genocide, Grateful, Can't Get It Right and These Times
Hot Garbage: Oh No (perfect title) and Party Apple
Dart's Take: Donny Goines is one of the hardest working men in Hip Hop right now. He's done a gang of guest appearances, done a gang of shows, dropped a gang of mixtapes and he's raised the stakes and his profile with the passage of time. Anticipation for his next project raises every time he drops another project. His "Minute After Midnight" album was critically acclaimed and it has all led to this..."The Breakfast Club".
I thought was going to be a project you find in stores but no, it's another free project available for download. The thing is that just like an overwhelming amount of free album to come out so far this year, they're blowing the major label releases out of the water as far as quality and listening satisfaction goes. Back in April when I did my Top 50 of the year so far, 26 of those releases were either free LP's or mixtapes. Donny Goines excellent LP "The Breakfast Club" falls into that same category.
The standout tracks "Whatever It Is (What up, Mela?)", "Money", "Sublime", "Make Me Feel", "What U Expected Remix", "Digital Genocide", "Grateful" and "These Times" will have your head nodding extra hard (as opposed to just regularly). Production by Buckwild, Dame Grease, Kwame, Digga, Statik Selektah, The Apple Juice Kid, Cook Classics, Cookin' Soul, Versatile, DJ Static, DJ Snips and Dub Z. make the album flow together lovely.
Guest appearances by Tanya Morgan, Naledge, Amanda Diva, Skyzoo, Rain, Termanology, Reks, Planet Asia, Poison Pen & Big Lou among other underground luminaries make this a must cop album. Donny Goines spit fire over these tracks and he's managed to up the ante once again. What can Donny do to top this one? I can't wait to see. "The Breakfast Club" earns a mos def. Get it here
Best Joints: Muah, So Good, Devotion, Freaky Freaky, Bed Rest, Friend Lover, P Is For Power, W.F.Y, 9 To 5, Go Shawty,
Hot Garbage: On Point (?), Drink In My Cup, Kill Bill (THIS is the song they're concerned about radio not playing? Are they fuckin' serious?) and So Good (Remix) (Lil' Wayne ruined a good thing...again)
Dart's Take: I only heard the edited version of "So Good" but I rally should've realized what I was gonna get into when I saw the video for said track. I press play and I was like Say whaaaaaaaaaaat? © Stewie Griffin. I heard more swearing in the first minute of the opening track then I did on most of the Rap albums I'd played previously that week. The album is called "How To Be A Lady Vol. 1" but I'm sure if their parents heard this album they'd be in shock at what they heard coming out of their daughter's mouths.
The-Dream and Tricky Stewart did the majority of this album and it sounds like it can make some headway in today's R&B world where even the girls make tracks that make you go "What did they say in the hook again?". They clearly held off on giving some of these tracks to other competing groups and female artists in favor of Elektrik Red (read: they gave Ciara, etc. some of their fromunda/throwaway shit and kept most of the heat for themselves.
Given that Jodeci opened the floodgates for raunchy R&B and TLC and Missy Elliott did it for women, Elektrik Red have taken up that baton and run with it ("P Is For Power" & "W.F.Y" had me a little shook LOL). That being said it's a pretty good album even though you really wish they'd tone all of the overly sexual stuff the fuck down and just let the music and their vocals speak for themselves. I'll give this album a recommended maybe although this album kinda beat me over the head a lil' too much with the aggressiveness.
Best Joints: Finally Free, Gotz 2 Be Tha Bomb, Hands Up, Crack Rap, Murda Muzic, Around The World, Streetz Won't Miss 'Em, It's A Good Day and Keep Yo Handz Up
Hot Garbage: Finding out that 3 of the 13 tracks are interludes and two songs are the same except for a guest verse from Sheek Louch sucked ("Hands Up" & "Keep Yo Handz Up"). This is an EP essentially marketed as a full album. SMH
Dart's Take: This "album" was cool. Nothing wack but nothing that really stood out. The bars were solid. Production was solid. If you 're a big Freeway fan then by all means pick it up. If you wanna know if it's "better" than his last album I'd say no because that album had 3 or 4 certified bangers that I still play to this very day and this project lack those type of jawns. I pretty much forgot half of these tracks after I heard 'em, too.
The eight tracks collected here are just as good as the songs Freeway distributed to Nah Right last year...nothing mind blowing, just some typical, solid Freeway material. I give "Phialdelphia Freeway 2" a maybe for it's short length and a lack of bangers/standout tracks.
Best Joints: Return, Hiphop, Mr. President, Divinely Free, 2 MC's, Sundaze, Motivation, My Life, 80's Freestyle Skit, Dearest Daddy, Near & Far, Turiya's Smile, Far Behind, Long Gone, Funny (Hiphop), Drunken, Million Man, Try Your Best and To Dance
Hot Garbage: Magic Walk was meh
Dart's Take: This album was bananas from beginning to end. The beats knocked and Georgia's vocals and rhymes over her tracks are ridiculous. Her "gang is comprised of her inner circle (Dudley Perkins, AKA Declaime, D-Moe, Stacy Epps, Jimetta Rose & Illicit Child) as well as several of her associates (Black Milk & Rapper Big Pooh appear on 2 MC's). She also appears herself as Eagle Nubula & Ms. One. Dudley's little sister Ms. Dezy even gets to freestyle over a couple of Georgia Anne's beats (she'll get better...she's just a kid).
If you like beats and vocals or you're already a fan of Georgia Anne Muldrow's previous work then this is a no brainer. How people still sleep on this woman is completely beyond me. The sleepers must awaken on the real. "Georgia Anne Muldrow presents....Ms. One & The Gang" gets a mos def. Go forth and cop it now.
Best Joints: Before, Two Three, Always, Lose My Fuse, Stay Here, Windoors, Something Nice or Nothing At All, Gogh Again, Do I?, That Day, Re: Outsource, Siz and After
Hot Garbage: N/A
Dart's Take: After years and years of building a solid scene and nurturing more and more talented artists it seems that 2009 might become the year that the DMV finally explodes onto the scene and takes it's rightful place next to other regions regarded as the most talented in Hip Hop & R&B. Muhsinah is a producer/singer/songwriter that I've featured several times in the past on Poisonous Paragraphs.
Her new release "The Oscillations: Triangle" is more of the excellent vocals we've come to expect from Muhsinah over the same ridiculous production we've come to expect from her and her peoples (Oddisee, Exile, Flying Lotus, Bilal Salaam & Mike Slott). There isn't a weak moment on this entire project so I'm forced to give it a mos def as well. Find it and cop it.
Best Joints: Strands, Hate Aside, Oh My God, Beyond Us, Control Panel, Money Is On Their Minds, Goodbye World, Left and The Dapper Mob
Hot Garbage: N/A
Dart's Take: Last year, it was Doomtree. A huge collective of emcees and producers from the Northwest that came out and made an impression with their release. This year it's Sandpeople. I played this album several times looking for a flaw or a reason to not like it. I couldn't find anything glringly wrong about it. It's dark and foreboding while at the same time dense and lyrcial enough to draw the listener in and keep them hooked throughout to entire project.
Several of Sandpeople's members were also involved in last year's supergroup project The Gigantics "Die Already" LP. I'll just say this in closing "Long Story Short" was what I hoped Cage's "Depart From Me" would be. That's why it occupies a space in my iPod Touch. I give it a highly recommended maybe. Check it out.
Best Joints: Let's Go, If Our Love Was A Song, Ready To Go, Get The F Outta Here (the hook is hella corny), Everytime, Too Late, Midnight Hour, I'll Be There For You, Fade Away, So Hard To Find My Way and Untitled
Hot Garbage: Tonite and Girl I'm Gonna Make You
Dart's Take: This project was really hit or miss with me. Even the tracks that I liked I didn't like all that much. Everything floated slightly above the "meh" level. Some tracks worked but nothing really grabbed you and made you say "I'd be willing to buy this entire album". Overall it was a solid project but there is too much good shit out there that I'd be willing to pay for over Scratch's "Loss 4 Words", especially with the way May's panned out for new music releases. I can only give this album a maybe.
Best Joints: It's On, Life On D-Block, Give That Up, Pimp Shit, That Nigga and Not Livin' It
Hot Garbage: Time 2 Get Paid, In The Rain, The Boyz From NY, My Guns Go and Time 2 Get Paid (Alternate Version)
Dart's Take: I wish I never heard this album. It's actually better than his last album which isn't saying much because that LP was fuckin' turrible, jus' turrible (no Charles Barkley speeding on the highway @ 3 AM to get a blowjob). Sheek is convinced that he's killin' shit on this album...all he did was kill my faith in humanity as whole by making me listen to this piece of ass album. Production was handled by some dude name Hollis and it's hit or miss just like Sheek and his right hand man Bully's bars. I wish that the Men In Black really existed so they could erase my memory of this aborted Hip Hop baby called "Life On D-Block". It gets an oh no.
Dart, we'll erase JUST your memory of the Sheek Louch album for you...OK , buddy? Now look directly at the nueralyzer! *Fwooosh!*
Thanks fellas. I appreciate that more than you'll ever know...really. Where was I again? Oh yeah...
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
Statik Selektah-The Hangover
Who is this? Cage? © Eminem