Friday, October 19, 2007

What’s New In Dart’s iPod #11 AKA The Last Shall Be First

Today I’ll listen to and review three new releases for my dedicated readership (all 12 of you should feel honored that I go through all of this trouble). They are the new collaborative offering from Blue Sky Black Death and Hell Razah “Razah’s Ladder”, Smif N’ Wessun’s new project “The Album” and the much delayed Kenna project “Make Sure They See My Face”. I have a unique “Cop It Or Not” rating system that doesn’t work on a numerical scale that I will explain for you 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.

My style changes and switches, I came to make ladies outta bitches...crackhead n*ggas get stitches! © Cappadonna

The first album up for review is Blue Sky Black Death and Hell Razah’s “Razah’s Ladder” project. Blue Sky Black Death is a duo of Hip Hop producers from San Fransisco (pictured below) that have several tracks to their credit but are most noted for their previous collaboration with Wu affiliate Holocaust AKA Warcloud earlier this year. This album is Hell Razah’s second album of the year as his critically acclaimed “Renaissance Child” was one of the year’s best releases. Let’s hear this one.

The album opens up with a nice intro called “Elevation” in which Hell Razah goes into preacher mode. The first formal track on the album is “Razah’s Ladder” and it’s dope. Hell Razah sounds a lot better suited to BSBD’s soulful and laid back production style than Holocaust did. The second song “ The Cube” is another nice track and it features Crooked I who absolutely kills it. “Most Merciful” is a nice track that clocks in at just under 2 minutes.

Next up is “Audiobiography” in which Hell Razah and Shabazz The Disciple tell the story of their respective early careers over another nice beat..apparently Nas has been pretty inspired by these cats (according to them, at least). The songs “Pray Together” and “Poor Righteous Dreams” illustrate how well BSBD’s beats work with Hell Razah’s flow and subject matter. The man known as “Young Rabbi” (pictured below) by his crew is doing an excellent job in showing his peers how to make a cohesive concept album.

"Better Than Jewelry" is yet another ill track and the the following song “ Project Prophecy” features former Non Phixion members Ill Bill and Sabac Red is another banger. “Painted Jezebels” is about Hell Razah dropping knowledge on misguided young girls (and then fuckin’ ‘em) and a collaboration with fellow Sun Of Man Prodigal Sunn called “Written In Blood”. The final tracks on this album are the ill “Stairway To Heaven” and an outro called “Sun Of Man”. For me, this was a dope album from beginning to end.

I have liked all of the previous Sunz Of Man projects and their related albums, especially Hell Razah’s solo efforts so this is my cup of tea. Blue Sky Black Death’s soundscapes complemented Hell Razah’s style perfectly and it resulted in a solid album. I’ll definitely be importing this to my iPod for a while but I’ll give this a recommended maybe because this type of album and subject matter isn’t for most rap fans or even Hip Hop heads.

Next album up for review is the new Smif N’ Wessun joint “The Album”. I heard that all of the production was handled by Ken Ring and Rune Rotter with the assistance of legendary producer Tommy Tee. Hopefully, this album knocks because when Tek & Steele receive lackluster production their albums tend to suffer. There is also a lack of appearances from the Great Eight (other than one verse by Rock) on this project which has me like “Uh Oh”. I’ll listen to the project and hope that won’t make a difference.

The opener “See The Light” is cool, but it’s not typical Smif N’ Wessun’s kind of laid back and that’s kind of off putting to me. The next track “Gotta Say It” is better, although just slightly. The beat doesn’t bring the most out of Tek and Steele at all. “Trouble” is cool but I’m waiting for the album to fall into a real groove or at least for a beat that actually makes me nod my head. Nothing yet. “K.I.M. 2000” is just okay and I’m started to get worried because I had to fight myself from skipping ahead. The next song “P.W.C. 4 LIfe” has a beat that sounds like something I laugh at when I hear it on someones MySpace page...Oh man I hate this track. “Gangster’s Prayer” has yet another lackluster beat and I’m starting to get bored with this album. That ain’t good.

“Stomp Thru” features Joell Ortiz and Rock and it’s the first song that sounds like it actually belongs on a Smif N’ Wessun album (in my opinion) thanks to the guest verses that inject some much needed adrenaline into this anemic album. The next song “Who’s Gonna Save Us” is actually good, this is by far the best song on this album. Which is bad because I’ve only “liked” three joints in total up until now. “Still Fighting” is just okay to me. The “Yeah”’ beat threw me off and I didn’t like it at all on the first’s become kind of a grower after a few more listens and it has moved up to just “tolerable” (best I can do...sorry). “Movie” and Can’t Stop” are two more lackluster songs with less than impressive beats. The last two tracks “I Can’t Feel My Face” and Still Here” are slightly better than the previous set but not good enough to improve my rating for this album.

I would give this album a maybe but the overall lack of energy, the disappointing production, the lack of bangers and average guest appearances really have me leaning towards an oh no. If I compare this album to Smif N’ Wessun’s previous project “Reloaded” then this album is absolute trash in comparison. If you’re looking for this album to be anything better than just okay and boring as hell then prepare to be underwhelmed. These cats should make sure that Khrysis, 9th Wonder, Illmind, Nicolay, Moss, Oddisee, Ayatollah, Coptic and The Beatminerz are behind the boards before they think of recording another project. I say no but I respect Tek and Steele so much I’ll hit them off with a maybe (even though I really don’t like this album AT ALL).

The final album I’ll be reviewing is the long delayed album by Kenna called “Make Sure They See My Face”. Kenna’s debut album “Sacred New Cow” is a cult favorite among many music fans and his projects are collaborations between Chad Hugo, the other half of The Neptunes. You can’t take their music and easily categorize it, you just have to open your mind and listen to it. I was alerted to the fact this album was finally dropping by Ian @ Notes From A Different Kitchen and I decided to get a promo copy to review. Now, I’ll just press play on my iTunes and get to work.

The album starts off with “Daylight” which has a 1:00 long buildup but rewards the listener by being a completely ridiculous composition. “Out Of Control” is the same song from that PSP commercial from a while back. It turns out that was just the second time this project got pushed back. This track is crazy as well. “Loose Wires” is fuckin’ bananas! It sounds like much of the music that the Neptunes and Timbaland make (especially with Justin Timberlake) which makes sense because all of these cats come from Virginia.
“Say Goodbye To Love” is yet another banger and I’ve already played a couple of these songs twice. “Sun Red, Sky Blue” is bananas and the bridge is reminiscent of The Police on their “Ghost In The Machine” album (I’m a music nerd, dammit!). “Baptized In Blacklight” uses the “White Lines” bassline under the track and it’s another fire track. This album is far exceeding my expectations so far.

After playing “Static” and “Phantom Always” I’ve already decided that something is definitely getting booted out of my iPod and this is going in as soon as bloody possible. My brother Buc was making the stinkface after I played him a couple tracks, in particular “Face The Gun”. This album might be up there with Justin Timberlake’s “Futuresex/Lovesounds” and better than the first half of Timbaland’s “Shock Value” (why he didn’t mix the songs up rather than doing halves I don’t many people do you know that REALLY play that whole joint from beginning to end because of it?). After playing and replaying the last three tracks “Better Wise Up”, “Be Still” and “Wide Awake” again and again I’ve made my final decision.

Kenna and Chad co produced this entire project and where clearly influenced by electro and synth pop from the 80’s as well as groups like U2, The Police and “the Virginia sound”. In the end, the mix of all of these sounds and influences resulted in a beast of an album. This album could’ve fell into a “mos def for me, but maybe for everyone else” category but fuck all of that. If you liked Justin Timberlake’s album, Timbaland’s album, or any real music of any kind than you should like/love this Kenna album. It gets a mos def from go and buy this shit right now.

I switch speeds like Bruce Lee riding a Fuji in a movie..© Redman



Travis said...

I'm digging that BSBD and Hell Razah album. I hated the one with Holocaust last year, so it was good to hear.

Still haven't listened to the Smif N Wesson and I'm kind of scared to after all the things I've been hearing

Anonymous said...

The new Kenna album is BANGIN! I loved "New Sacred Cow" and thought this one would be a slight drop-off in production and songwriting...and it's even better.

Props to the Neptunes for taking it there.

Eric said...

Holy Shit!!! Kenna's joint is Dooooooope! I copped it at Best Buy last week and finally got around to listening to it.....unbelivable album, thanks for the headz up!