This week began with everyone anxiously awaiting June 2nd so they could cop "Double Barrel" & "Jay Stay Paid" . The wait for Game 1 of the NBA Finals got to be quite a chore as well considering LeBron didn't even stick around for the postgame press conference when his squad got bounced out of the playoffs in 6 games. I guess Nike went ahead and retired the Kobe and LeBron puppets, God knows Kenan Thompson and David Alan Grier are gonna miss those checks! Also, if Kobe Bryant fails to win a championship this season do you'll think he'll leave the court without shaking anyone's hands as well? It could happen.
Quite a few other things happened this past week, Hex Murda (manager of Black Milk, Guilty Simpson & executive producer of "Caltroit", "Tronic" and the upcoming "Random Axe" on Duck Down) and Robyn Elaine welcomed Rex into the world via Twitter. Hex informed me that she can fly already. Them dudes DO make "Monster Babies", though. Several albums also hit the 'net & bloggerverse that had people talking, namely the new AZ, Mos Def & Black Eyed Peas projects. Today, the film "The Hangover" also hits theaters so it's only a matter of time before it's online and I'm watching it on my PS3 (I kid, that's illegal...I wouldn't do that).
I watched E3 with my brothers (cuz I'm into that kinda shit...you have read this blog before, right?) and while every company except for Nintendo generated new excitement for their products coming out in *cough!* 2010, Sony merked everyone with their presentations. I may or may not be getting a PSP Go in October but I may finally cop a PSP of my own for a change. Look out for my Top 50 TG-16 & Genesis games coming this Summer on Poisonous Paragraphs. R.I.P. David Carradine, too bad all I can really remember you for is being cast instead of Bruce Lee in two of his own creations rather than what you accomplished in your own long career.
This week I'll be reviewing seven new projects that recently hit the 'net/bloggerverse and/or will be landing on store shelves soon in the following order: Ayah "4:15", AZ "Legendary ", Bashy "Catch Me If You Can", Black Eyed Peas "The E.N.D", Mos Def "The Ecstatic", Skepta "Microphone Champion" and Thaione Davis "Still Hear". 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.
Ecstatic!...Classic!....Flow! © Mos Def
Best Joints: Slow It Down, Might Not Be, Fallen, 4:15 AM, He Don't Want It, Who Are We, In My Lifetime, Do It All Again & Believe
Hot Garbage: N/A (I do wish it was longer, it's a damn good EP, though)
Dart's Take: This album first dropped back on April 15th and I put it in my Late Passes (For Doz Dat Slept) section but I decided to review it since it just became available on iTunes June 2nd. You might remember Ayah from her popular "Problem Woman" mixtape last year and have seen the sampler for "4:15" on sites like Rappers I Know & MOOVMNT.
This T.Dot songstress delivers a strong effort that puts her in the same company as Wayna, Mushinah, Yahzarah, Tiombe Lockhart, Stacey Epps & Georgia Anne Muldrow. While "4:15" clocks in at just under 26 minutes for 9 collected songs it's been played enough to justify the money I paid for it on iTunes. I give it a highly recommended maybe but if it had another 3 tracks I would've given it a mos def easy. Cop it without reservations and support quality indie music!
Best Joints: Before It's All Said & Done, Livin The Life, Refuse 2 Die, Dreams Come True, Good For Nothin', Money Makes The World Go Round, Poli With The Villans and Get Money
Hot Garbage: Boy Meets Girl and What Up (Sheek, you broke my heart (no Fredo))
Dart's Take: Yet another solid offering from the legendary Brooklyn emcee AZ. It has The Visualiza spittin' in his signature style over beats along he could kill but the album isn't as good as some of his other recent efforts. It wasn't halped by the lack of quality guest appearances. The two tracks that were turnoffs happened to feature Sheek Louch (AKA Cappadonna '09) & Hell Rell (AKA SuperUgly). "Legendary" had it's moments ("Refuse 2 Die", "Dreams Come True", "Money Makes The World Go Round" , "Poli With The Villains" & "Get Money") but other than that it's just OK and nothing spectacular.
If you're a die hard AZ fan pick it up, but if you're just a casual fan then pick up his previous LP's "A.W.O.L", "The Format" & "Undeniable" or download his "N4L" mixtape with DJ Absolut instead. Real talk, this is far from wack but there's so much better shit out right now you should save your dough to cop other jawns that are dropping soon. This is coming from an AZ fan.
Best Joints: Before Before, Who Want To Be A Millionaire?, She's A Gangsta, Travel The World, Change, Ransom, Living My Dream, What About Me?, Day Before I Die, Kidulthood 2 Adulthood and Black Boys
Hot Garbage: Copy Cat, Life, Your Wish Is My Command, We Can Do Anything and Sorry
Dart's Take: I've been a Bashy fan going back to 2004 when I first heard him on a copy of Grime posse tracks. The single" Never See Me Fall", the "Chupa Chups" & "Bashy.com" mixtapes all raised his profile and the single "Black Boys" was unexpectedly controversial though all it did was big up positive Black role models in the UK. Bashy's attempt to climb into the stratosphere of the UK music scene is his new LP "Catch Me If You Can".
There are a gang of tracks that could well become hits in the club and on radio (some you could probably sneak into the rotation in the States in my honest opinion). My problem with the album is my same problem with every major label release. Too many damn attempts at making radio hits, club bangers and too many R&B/Pop guest appearances. If you find the album around or peruse the UK iTunes store skim the album, there are a couple of jawns on here ("Before Before", "Travel The World", "Ransom", "What About Me?", "Day Before I Die", "Kidulthood 2 Adulthood' & "Black Boys" ) but it's so damn radio/commercial oriented I have to give it only a maybe.
Best Joints: Huh? What? © Joeski Love
Hot Garbage: Boom Boom Pow, Rock That Body, Meet Me Halfway (Is this an 80's song? Madonna is that you?), Imma Be, I Gotta Feeling, Alive, Missing You, Ring-a-Ling, Party All The Time, Out Of My Head (this sounds exactly like a Disco song from the late 70's), Electric City, Showdown (this is gonna be a huge hit unfortunately), Now Generation (This is a Pepsi commercial? It's a commercial for somebody), One Tribe, Rockin To Beat, Simple Little Melody (it really ISN'T!) and Mare (why quit now?)
Dart's Take: This album is terrible. It sounds like the theme music to a gay wedding in deep space in 3008 where the vows are done in AutoTune and Lady Gaga is the minister. There are about 3-5 songs that are going to be huge hits and cheerleading squads will do backflips and cheer to for 10 years or more. This music could incite heads to commit mass suicide like in the film "The Happening". I don't remember hearing a verse from Taboo on this entire album. Apl. D. Ap? Yeah..but no more than 8-16 bars at a time.
If you love Hip Hop, you more than likely will hate this album more than Bobby Brown hates drug tests. Will & Fergie dominated this album with a bunch of audio high fructose corn syrup. This shit was the sonic equivalent of waterboarding. I wanted to break into Interscope's offices and recreate the end of "Taken" with their execs after hearing this drek. This shit is The Wackness! Avoid it like a dance contest invitation from Spectacular.
Best Joints: Supermagic, Twilite Speedball, Auditiorium, Wahid, Priority, Quiet Dog Bite Hard, Life In Marvelous Times, The Embassy, No Hay Nada Mas, Pistola, Pretty Dancer, Workers Comp., Revelations, Roses, History and Casa Bey
Hot Garbage: N/A
Dart's Take: Did you actually enjoy "The New Danger"? Did you like "Tru3 Magic"? No? Then stop reading this review. This album was never made. Go on with your life. Are you still with me? Have you come to the realization that Mos Def will never make another album like "Black On Both Sides" again and you're okay with that? Then you'll like "The Ecstatic". It features production from Madlib, Oh No, Mr. Porter, Preservation & J Dilla and guest appearances from Slick Rick, Talib Kweli & Georgia Anne Muldrow.
If you haven't been feeling any of Mos' output from 2003 to now you'll just think it's lazy and he's doing to much damn singing and too many tracks are too short and/or off the wall. If you prefer more straight forward Hip Hop this may frustrated or annoy the fuck outta you. I personally dig it and I think this may be his best effort since "Black On Both Sides" (but nowhere near the classic album that was). I give "The Ecstatic" a mos def since I've played it more than any of other album from the past week of releases and I can't find anything on it I don't like. Cop it...or at least listen to it first before deciding. After all, it's YOUR money.
Best Joints: Reflecting, Are You Ready?, Oh My Gosh, Look Out, Sticks And Stones, Lush, Skepta, Gingerbread Man, Ed Hardy Party (For the record, I DESPISE Ed Hardy gear), Over The Top and Dark
Hot Garbage: Too Many Man, My Emotions, Disguise, Madness, Sunglasses At Night and Rolex Sweep are all meh...Where's "Nokia Charger Wire"? That's my jawn! No "Cricket Bat"? Fuck!
Dart's Take: Skepta is a member of the legendary Grime outfits Roll Deep & Meridian Crew. Skepta is a top producer and emcee on the UK Garage/Grime scene and brother of emcee/producer JME (The Adenuga Bros.). His label Boy Better Know is celebrated all over the UK & Europe and his last LP "Greatest Hits" was a success. He has a gang of classics under his belt that lead to Joseph Adenuga calling himself "The King Of Grime" (Wiley doesn't argue this). He even saw his recent hit "Rolex Sweep" get covered by none other than Coldplay live on stage. That's fuckin' huge.
Skepta's album has the expected attempts at club/rave hits, a gang of radio friendly tracks (like "Too Many Man") and some more choons that'll make Grime heads go crazy at Ayia Napa or all over Europe. It's a pretty even album and if you're looking to get into Grime definitely check both of these projects out on the UK iTunes store. I give it a maybe because of all the commercial tracks and the omission of my favorite Skepta tracks of the past year.
Best Joints: Still Hear, Inside Your Mind, Tradesmen, Bottom Line, Observation Incomplete, Problems, The Gambit, Confessions Of An Adolescent, Subliminal, Face Of The Hood, OneTwo, Leaving Babylon, Deception, Highest Regards and Purpose
Hot Garbage: N/A
Dart's Take: Every year there are about 10 underground LP's that come outta nowhere and take us all by surprise in Hip Hop. While 2009 has been the year of the excellent free album, Thaione Davis and Rashid Hadee have managed to sneak another excellent album under the radar from Chicago. The production on this project is top shelf. The guest appearances are handled by Chicago underground vets Infinito 2017, Longshot, Rashid Hadee and Iomos Marad among others and you'll be nodding your head from beginning to end on this one.
Thanks to Eric @ When They Reminisce to giving me the heads up on this one. It's been available on iTunes for a while but it officially dropped on June 2nd. I bet most of you weren't even aware it was out already. This album got more spins in my iTunes than Mos Def's did this past week (I got it two days earlier but after that it was even). There weren't any throwaway tracks or anything to skip on this entire project. If you play this in the background heads are gonna ASK what's playing as opposed to dismiss it as background music. Thaione Davis spit some nice bars all over "Still Hear", forcing my hand to give him a mos def. Find this album now. You're welcome!
Late Passes (For Doz Dat Slept):
Projects I'm Looking Forward To Reviewing Once They Leak...I Mean Drop in 2009:
Fashawan-Boy Meets World
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
Royce Da 5'9"-Street Hop
Magnif & J Dilla-Detroit Royalty
Blu-God Is Good
Drake- Thank Me Later
Sean Price, Guilty Simpson & Black Milk-Random Axe
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
Better luck next year, fellas! The Lakers are now three games away from capturing their 15th NBA title.