Fat Joe & Remy Ma :: Plata O Plomo

Fair play to Fat Joe. No matter how many purists knock his career post-Pun for leaning towards club-rap in the vein of French Montana, it’s helped him remain relevant in a sea of jaded New York emcees struggling to transition through the ringtone era in to the South’s dominance and the mumble rap era we have now. Ten years ago, I was the type of fan Joey Crack called out on Twitter recently that wished he would just do tracks with D.I.T.C. and DJ Premier, seeing as that is often where his classic material has stemmed from. Joe’s done well to ride the waves and deliver popular party tracks every few years to keep the pockets full, and with “All The Way Up”, momentum increased in 2016 just as Remy was lining up her attack on Nicki Minaj.

“Plata O Plomo” was better than I expected. A lot better. Remy Ma is vicious throughout the record, reminding us all why she has the reputation as a fire-spitter. Ever since I heard her on the “Ante Up (Remix)” by M.O.P. I was never keen on her delivery – it cut right through me much like the awful Roc-A-Fella alumna Amil. Thankfully, Remy has developed a mildly deeper, more precise delivery since then and it’s made her rhymes much more impactful. The viciousness that her Nicki Minaj diss showcased is here (if used sparingly) and is often the best part of this record. Lines like “if I liked your man’s face I would’ve sat on it” hark back to the heyday of Kim and Foxy when the ladies could embarass any man with their putdowns. There are further jabs at Nicki on the nod to Pun, “Spaghetti”:

“Y’all bitches got fat while we starved
Shots in your ass, pads in your bras
Y’all some liars it ain’t no facts in your songs
And yeah that crown is coming back to the Bronx
Take away they stylist, they don’t know what style is
I’ve been fly since junior high, bitch
You the biggest bird on Sesame Street
And I’ma scramble ya egg, keep running your beak”

Fat Joe albums have always been reliable, particularly for those pounding street anthems. “My Lifestyle”, “Take A Look At My Life”, even his 1993 single “Flow Joe” that had snares to wake the dead; they all showcased Joe’s strengths. Direct, aggressive, and a wry sense of humor (the bluntness of the name ‘Fat Joe’ still makes me smile), there’s no denying Joe is underrated as far as emcees that have been around for 25 years. He held his own on “Twinz (Deep Cover ’98)” against one of the most talented lyricists to grace this planet, and he holds down a similar role on “Plata O Plomo”, with Remy often stealing the show.

Just like the club these tracks are designed for, guests are spilling out of the door. Sevyn Streeter kills the hook on “Go Crazy”, Kat Dahlia does her best Rihanna impression on opener “Warning”, but the (literal) unsung hero is Kent Jones with his butchered Autotune vocals. “Swear To God”, “Spaghetti” and “How Can I Forget” all utilise the hench, typical Fat Joe kinda beat, and when the duo stray from this style, the album returns to the blander New York rap we’re used to hearing from Khaled and co. Given the lyrical content is bordering on corny, Joe does a good job of maintaining his respect despite, like Ja Rule’s autobiography, his attempts to steer away from 50.

With the recent support for Puerto Rico and his work alongside Jay-Z in getting aid to the island in the wake of the devastating hurricane Maria, it would be good to hear some more introspection and shed some light on what is now a legendary hip-hop career. For now though, keeping New York in the ears of the masses whilst his partner in rhyme drops some rabid bars, is more than welcome and “Plata O Plomo” ends up being one of the better Terror Squad releases in recent memory.

7/10

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Doppelgangaz – Dopp Hopp

 

There is a select group of artists who have a knack for saying the weirdest things – Action Bronson is certainly one, but The Doppelgangaz are masters. Casual listeners may not be able to decipher a single line of any of the tracks on “Dopp Hopp”, but experienced ears will enjoy picking apart obscure references and the creepy humor tying it all together. Even the first track, reciting the letters D-O-P-P H-O-P-P sounds like D-O-P-P Ate-Yo-Pee-Pee. Or maybe I’ve been listening to this record too much late at night?

The lines go darker than that, particularly on the standout single “E.W.W.”. Matter Ov Fact and EP love an acronym, and “Every Which Way” is peak ‘Gangaz:

The costumes and jokey content are packed with descriptive vocabulary and terms deeply entrenched in American culture.

[Matter Ov Fact]

“Still Dumpster diving and digging through them trash mounds agh
Former miss Orange County up in the ash crown Vic
Said she only fornicates wearing the sash gown, sick
I come through in the Petrovic
With no dental coverage, just chewing on some Dentastix
Living like some kids, yo fuck a bunch of saloons
All I need is a bagged lunch from mom dukes and a Bunch O Balloons
Agh some Cap’n Crunch and a spoon
See I’m a simple man hunched over watching toons
Or chilling with Mandy, off the path of the meadow trail
While I’m getting a handy with some clip on stiletto nails”

The childish tomfoolery could be construed as corny, yet it never feels that way. “F*** a bunch of saloons” covers both the lifestyle of hanging out in bars and purchasing luxury cars – and dude’s turning them BOTH down for his mom’s packed lunch. Then only a few bars later Matter is catching a hand shandy in the countryside – something that also lends the duo a unique visual appeal (the countryside, not handjobs). Hip-hop as grimy as this is often associated with concrete backdrops and dusty alleyways, but the rural locations and decision to use cloaks as their get-up only adds to the idea of being a ‘Ganga. “Roll Flee” is their spin on the west coast hip-hop sound (accompanied by a Troutman-esque vocoder effect) that bangs nicely, sacrificing some of the lyrical impact found elsewhere on the album. It’s no surprise to hear it’s a single too:

The duo have released instrumental projects in the past and they continue to be underappreciated as some of the finest beatsmiths in the business. “I’ve Been” is a smoother jam, yet the harder songs are rock solid. “Bubblin'” is nasty, “Beak Wet” is on some Havoc in ’96 steelo, hell, the more accessible closer “Die 4 It” even goes hard.

Bumping Hammer’s “Too Legit 2 Quit”, going for girls with “Strong Ankles” – Matter Ov Fact and EP are clearly not your typical emcees judging by their influences. We’ve covered Doppelgangaz albums in the past and they tend to have a few certified speaker splitters balanced with more laid back tracks. What makes “Dopp Hopp” more memorable is not just the consistency of the production but the potency of the rhymes. Lines like “shorties who want their hinies spanked, she said ‘f*** a shower just hit me with the grimy shank'” are outright hilarious, and this dirty aesthetic somehow meshes perfectly with the crisp, heavy kicks and booming bass.

It’s a formula they’ve been using for nearly a decade now and it’s never sounded so good.

8/10

 

Oddisee – The Iceberg

I’ve thought long and hard about why Oddisee named his latest record “The Iceberg”. There’s very much a colder sound to this than his last LP, 2015’s “The Good Fight”, but it also has hidden depths that reveal themselves over time. The global warming effect on icebergs is another angle – the white man (a.k.a. the USA) has overlooked and often ignored the impact of melting icecaps despite contributing 14% of the world’s pollution with only 4.5% of the world’s population. The record industry has similarly overlooked Oddisee (or at least his style of hip-hop) for many years now, and years later, when society has been flooded by water (or in this case, music) people will reflect and realise that this album is special and should have been treated as such at the time. Then there is the movement that is Mello Music Group, the record label that Oddisee helped start back in 2009, his album “Oddisee 101” being the first full-length to be released under the MMG moniker. They have become a force in the underground, and unless you submerge yourself in to the genre fully, you won’t realise just how deep their catalog is (and how great it is!).

What’s scary about “The Iceberg” is how Oddisee keeps improving with each passing year. When year-end lists are compiled, there is always the same name that pops up each time. Sure, Kendrick is there every year, but not for a decade straight. Whether it’s an instrumental project, an EP of leftovers, a group effort, producing another artist’s album, or one of his own solo offerings, the quality is often unmatched.

In true RapReviews fashion (let’s say we’re ‘fashionably late’), this review is telling most people what they already know or have read elsewhere. The album is dope, but it’s the depth of lyricism that continues to impress, months after release. An impressive flow is often part of Oddisee’s skillset that doesn’t get the credit it deserves and “Things” is an uptempo number with a sleight, funky house influence running through it. The way the words weave between the kicks almost negates the content of the rhymes – he could just be rapping about random ‘things’ and it’d still sound dope.

Learning from television, “Built By Pictures” talks about the underlying mistruths some view proof of wealth. Debt and the need to show others how well you’re doing when your priorities are backwards is something Jay-Z mentioned on his latest album, but the lines “Why do my people spend more and have less than
No seat to eat the meal that I’m responsible for cheffing” and “A race with the have nots, Broke but the moat’s where the Jag’s parked” are particularly relevant to a generation that frequently lives in debt. Pay is also covered on “Hold It Back”, a thumping, organ-driven look at gender equality where Oddisee shares some themes that have been bugging him but can no longer “hold it back”:

“May I never meet the people I’m inspired by,
and find out that they’re really, really fake or they just kind of lied
Kind of surprised I was able to keep my mouth shut
This long, but
On this song, I’ma tell how I feel being quiet is a crime
Not enough fake G’s doing time
I’m not the only one to notice that”

Brother Ali’s “Dear Black Son” remains a standout moment in Hip-Hop this year, but “You Grew Up” runs it close. Telling the story of a young black boy’s friendship with a white boy, it not only highlights the innocence of youth but the sheer ignorance and miseducation of a generation that didn’t grow up with people of other races. The story of the boy’s father being fine with his son having a “black friend”, and then banning the son from seeing him after losing his job is not just a perfect example of miseducation, but also the generational divide and how racism is learnt. Oddisee articulates how growing up doesn’t necessarily make you more mature or necessarily informed, but can highlight how a disdain for anyone different is taught (directly or indirectly). Barack Obama’s recent tweet (that became the most “liked” tweet in history) is an example of how racism is learnt, and “You Grew Up” shows (just as Ali’s “Dear Black Son” does) how dumb this mindset really is.

On a more positive note, if you ever get to see Oddisee perform live, look out for the bass solo at the end of this track as it is much better than the recorded version.

Never afraid to try something different, “NNGE (Never Not Getting Enough)” sees Oddisee embracing his local music history by spitting to a Go-Go style instrumental. DTMD’s Toine delivers the lone guest verse and holds his own:

“I used to do it for the fist bumps and applauses
But caring about respect started making me nauseous
You walk into a room, and bammas speak to you cautious
Like employees trying to figure out who the boss is
So now I just kick it for, the most divine
Working overtime
Sitting with an open bottle, looking for an open mind
Trying not to be aggressively jaded
Because I find myself just getting faded
And I know that ain’t quite me
I step up for whatever it might be
And RSVP when inspiration invite me
Because who else gonna look out for those who look like me
Another disenfranchised boy in a white tee”

2015’s “The Good Fight” certainly had more of a positive, toe-tapping vibe than “The Iceberg”, and with “Want To Be” Oddisee delivers a snappy, feel-good number to add some balance to the album. No matter how oppressed he may feel in the United States; no matter how difficult things get in Trump’s vision of America; when it all boils down to the life of Oddisee, he just wants to be happy. That sentiment echoes throughout the album, which could have proven drearier and altogether less fun, yet Oddisee tackles such serious messages with a jazzy, almost live-feeling selection of beats. The drums are crisp and loud throughout, the finger-snaps on opener “Digging Deep” are crystal clear – this is definitely a record best experienced with a good pair of headphones. “Like Really” also highlights this, which when performed live is typically throwback in its crowd-interactivity, yet carries plenty of potent messaging aimed towards a certain Mr. Trump. The way in which Oddisee goes off on the second verse is reminiscent of an Esoteric or Big Pun in full flow – it’s a beautiful thing.

Oddisee takes the latter part of the album towards more tender tales of behaving like a gentleman for the lady in his life. Before you reach for the sick bag, it’s all done without an ounce of soppiness and makes clever use of the tried-and-tested metaphor of hip-hop being a woman (ie. Common’s “I Used To Love H.E.R.”). Many have tried to update the classic Common Sense track, and Oddisee takes it in interesting directions:

“I got a lover but it’s complicated
We’ve been off and on, trying to keep the fire warm
But a brother jaded
I’ve even moved up to Brooklyn so that we could bond
Feel like I see her even less then when I lived away and
Suffocated by the city she ain’t ever home
She in LA or any other place that ain’t my arms
Can’t say she cheating because she was never mine alone
I just think I’m better for her than the drug dealers and the lie tellers
Yeah am I wise but I could be wrong”

You’re not wrong, Oddisee. As Masta Killa once said, “the dumb are mostly intrigued by the drum”, and yet Kendrick’s numbers don’t lie. J Cole’s number don’t lie. Continuing to fight the good fight, the lack of any curses only adds to the appeal for a wider audience. Back in 2001, former RapReviews writer Noixe cited The High & Mighty’s “Home Field Advantage” as the album to recommend to someone who is new to hip-hop music. As good as that album is, in 2017, Oddisee’s “The Iceberg” is that album, particularly if you’re an adult.

10/10

Raekwon – The Wild

In my review of Wu-Tang Clan’s disappointing “A Better Tomorrow” I talked about Raekwon and RZA’s differences and how much better that record could have been if Raekwon’s vision was realised, rather than RZA’s. With “The Wild”, Raekwon’s eighth solo LP, we have proof why Raekwon should be leading the Wu-Tang Clan’s next record, especially from a production standpoint. You see, “The Wild” is a consistent little record, confirming how the Wu needs Rae but also reminds us why Rae needs the Wu too.

Minus the appearances of Lil Wayne and G-Eazy, there’s a noticeable lack of backup which Rae’s best work has benefited from. Partnering with Ghostface on “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…” and then half the industry on its sequel, there’s a disparate feel to “The Wild”, particularly with the less energetic delivery as Rae approaches his fifties. It’s a good thing then that the production is largely solid throughout – despite the album title there’s a clear decision to craft a mature, smooth sounding record. Storytelling remains the Chef’s speciality; “Marvin” is a snapshot narration of the eventful parts of Marvin Gaye’s life with Cee-Lo Green tying it together with one of his smoother warblings.

The best tracks just so happen to feel the most Wu-Tang: “Nothing”, “Crown of Thorns” and even the Weezy collaboration “My Corner” doesn’t disappoint. The problem with the album lies in the decision to use dated beats. “Visiting Hour” is like a throwaway from the “Recovery”-era Eminem, built around Raekwon’s message to those considering a life of crime and how he risked that 25-to-life lifestyle (conveniently, a song from Eminem’s “Recovery”). “The Reign” and “M&N” feel like something Saigon spat over ten years ago on a mixtape. Again, solid tracks but nothing particularly memorable.

Generally, the Wu have fared well in recent times, with Ghostface’s storytelling style meshing well with Adrian Younge’s moody backdrops, Inspectah Deck’s second life with the CZARFACE records reminding us how dope his flow is, and even Cappadonna had that “Eyrth, Wynd and Fyre” double-disc project (don’t sleep)! Granted, Method Man’s “The Meth Lab” was a pile of arse, but that’s largely down to there not being enough Meth. “The Wild” is decent, but also frustrating for that exact reason – it’s just decent. Yet, decent Raekwon is still worth listening to. I have to give Rae credit for how he has put out an album with tracks like “This Is What It Comes Too” as lead singles. Much of “The Wild” is standard album track fare with Rae in his comfort zone, but it’s delivered with aplomb and will satisfy most fans. Those expecting something a bit more Wu-Tang or a full record of classic Chef rhymes will be disappointed, as will anyone asking for beats of the standard both “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…” albums had. I enjoyed it but found it all a bit underwhelming, and while it’s better than “A Better Tomorrow”, that’s not really the praise a Raekwon album deserves in 2017.

6.5/10

Talib Kweli & Styles P – The Seven EP

Three may be the magic number but today’s number is seven.

You see, kids, seven years ago, Talib Kweli and Styles P combined on one of 2010’s best singles: the Statik Selektah-produced “The Thrill is Gone”. OK, it was first heard in 2009 but it featured on 2010’s “100 Proof”, so let’s stick with the seven theme. Since then, both Talib and Styles have each had seven projects drop. This is probably coincidental and this EP is called “The Seven” purely because they knocked out seven tracks together, but writing reviews in new, interesting ways is hard work and I’m tired. Deal with it.

“The Thrill is Gone” was and still is a dope track, utilising a killer piano loop and some classic Biggie Smalls lines. Even then, Styles was calling for the next generation of Public Enemy to rise up which hasn’t really materialised. Under a Donald Trump administration with racial tension higher than ever, this is a growing concern. Thankfully, “The Seven” continues that potent message forward, a decade later with a sound that’s less throwback and more modern NYC. There are plenty of mentions of how hip hop isn’t what it used to be but there’s a nice contrast between the two veterans which gives the rhymes some balance, as demonstrated on “Poets & Gangstas”.

While the former major label emcees are no longer charting with club bangers, it’s nice to hear their message over modern, distinctly New York production. Marco Polo has proven he has chemistry with Talib Kweli in recent collaborations (check the superb Guru tribute they did) and “Nine Point Five” is arguably their best work yet. Styles knows this is the gem of the EP and so enlists Jadakiss and Sheek Louch who deliver strong verses, particularly ‘Kiss, but Kweli delivers potential jabs at KRS-One (depending how much you read in to the line “you follow blind faith it make you seem unclean”):

“We plundered and we wonder why the planet hot
Made in His image, are we worshipping the man or not?
Get an uncomfortable feeling every time I hear “Planet Rock”
Disappointed in the leadership, hand to God

Evidence is more than the images the cameras shot
You follow blind faith it make you seem unclean
But faith in only evidence of things I’ve seen
Cause information make it harder for us to follow discussions
But educated guesses beat wild assumptions
Information lead to knowledge, knowledge lead to wisdom
Wisdom lead to understanding, once you have all that
You start demanding justice
Justice is what love look like in public
I ain’t just writing for it, I’m out here fighting for it”

It’s good to hear Talib mention “the uncomfortable feeling I get every time I hear ‘Planet Rock'” knowing full well Bambaataa is likely guilty of paedophilia despite many in the industry preferring to sidestep the issue. With R Kelly’s name rearing its urine-stained head once more, the bluntness of many of the rhymes are not only refreshing but a reminder of how passive and protective the music industry can be.

The incredible honesty on display on “Brown Boys” is bottled anger being smashed open. It’s a shame the beat isn’t quite up to the same standard; Kweli tackles the issue of Islamophobia but the Styles P performance is on some vicious Ice Cube steez. It’s the most memorable thing I’ve heard from him since that verse on “Come Thru” back in 2001 and for completely different reasons:

I am a brown guy
But don’t call me nigger, please
Nigga please, you see that white boy, that’s a nigga b
Nigga ain’t a color, it’s a mindstate, you diggin’ me?
Maybe not, I get it tho
But all them white boys blowin’ weed they some niggas too
The difference is they got white privileges
Cops will kill me but I doubt that they kill ’em too
This ain’t a stab or a jab
But I’m feeling kinda mad they ain’t treated like a villain too
His weed is good as mine, his gun bigger than mine
And he motherfucking chilling too
Now if my color make you hate me then I hope you go blind
And can’t see what your children do
Now that sound kinda harsh
But you would feel like I feel if you had black children too
Racism make you sad and that shit’ll have you mad
Sittin’ there with a sick face
A dickface, you a dickhead
And what you gonna to with all the people from a mixed race
America is a sick place (you know)
But we paint it to be good
This is big city talk that we spreadin’ worldwide
Coming from a humble nigga coming out a poor hood, ghost

 

This is what hip hop needs. Joey Badass toyed with it on “All Amerikkkan Bada$$” but anger and frustration is often best shared in direct, uncensored rhymes. “In The Field” and “Teleprompters” contain topical messages but suffer from weaker instrumentals and thus, the socially aware rhymes can become overbearing. “Let It Burn” though, is my most played song of 2017. It’s filth. THAT BEAT. THAT RAPSODY VERSE. The type of track that has you writing in all caps, thanks to Khrysis’ head-slamming kicks and Chris Rivers’ catchy hook:

Ending on a strong note, “Last Ones” reminds us all not to take artists such as Talib and Styles for granted, feeling all the more genuine with the recent death of Prodigy. There are a generation of emcees spitting gems, still putting out good music, but who often go overlooked, yet when they pass away everybody waxes lyrical about them.

“The Seven” may not be either emcee’s best work, it may not quite be magnificent, but it dwarfs many longer projects released this year and deserves your attention. You may just learn something.

7/10

Snoop Dogg – Neva Left

Snoop may have never left, but his annual releases have become so underwhelming in recent years that if he did leave rap alone, we’d miss HIM more than his music. Snoop is an iconic figure, even in 2017, despite much of his relevance coming through his social media presence. While Snoop’s catalog is as large as the blunts he smokes, it’s nowhere near as potent. Last year’s “Kool Aid” was mostly trash, with the short compilation “Cuzznz” being little more than a collection of throwaway recordings alongside Dogg Pound colleague Daz Dillinger.

This year’s “Neva Left” is relatively hit and miss but does benefit from rewarding older listeners, particularly with the guest features. The album’s title is clearly a statement to the hardcore who question Snoop’s output, particularly the albums of the past 10 years. They’ve often come with an obvious single that sounds nothing like the rest of the record, and there’s usually an awkward blend of west coast gangsta rap and lighter, more poppy productions. As an ardent fan of 2000’s “Tha Last Meal” and the playfulness of the Kokane hooks and tongue-in-cheek pimp talk, I’m glad that there’s more of this material here. This is an album catered to 30-somethings who remember the dominant years of Dre and Snoop, whether it was the early 1990s or the early 2000s.

After an ill-judged, five-minute long intro that samples The Charmels’ “As Long As I’ve Got You” (as made famous by Wu-Tang Clan’s “C.R.E.A.M.”) – Rick Rock comes through with another simple, effective number in “Moment I Feared”. There are clear digs at artists like Lil Yachty (especially in the video) but it’s all done in good taste:

Snoop looks back on “Bacc In Da Dayz” but the hook isn’t one of Snoop’s best. “Promise Me This” is better but the album falls off a cliff over the next fifteen minutes. Sore thumb moment “Trash Bags”, a hybrid of YG’s modern West Coast sound and the trap sound that’s all over the radio at the moment, feels cheap, as does “Go On”. It sounds like an attempt to emulate Pharrell Williams but the tune sounds about ten years late.

Thankfully, things picks up with “Big Mouth”; old-school in the vein of Spoonie G, it suits Snoop really well without feeling archaic. The simpler the rhymes, the more effective Snoop is, but it’s good to hear Snoop lighten up on the third verse. Modern hip hop is especially bereft of clowns we can laugh with and Snoop can filp between fun joker and gun smoker with ease, and that’s where the best tracks come from. The Too $hort collaboration “Toss It” is typically brash, giving feminists everywhere heart palpitations, but the way that the two veterans deliver their lines with wry details like “old n***** with young hoes” could teach younger so-called players a thing or two about portraying that in songs without sounding like complete dickheads.

Some of the guests are surprising too, most notably the KRS-One-assisted “Let Us Begin”. Along with Chuck D, KRS is one of a select few artists to still be releasing music THIRTY years after their debut. It’s a shame then that the Battlecat beat is throwaway and KRS drops a clanger of a verse reminiscent of his early 2000s work where he experimented with sound effects. If you heard “My Mind is Racing” you’ll know what I mean.

More rewarding is the weed smokers’ dream team collaboration between Cypress Hill’s B-Real, Redman and Method Man. The last I heard, the dealer who supplied that studio session is now happily retired. Snoop’s verse for “Mount Kushmore” is well worthy of being last, but Redman shows just why he’s STILL one of the best guest emcees. He kills it. “I never cruise, I aim to be the top gun” – corny when written out but delivered by Reggie Noble? Different story. Meth shows some glimpses of his ridiculous flow where he catches pockets in beats like nobody else can but for the most part, “Mount Kushmore” does what it says on the (moun)tin.

That was nearly as corny as the Redman line.

“Neva Left” is unfortunately, yet predictably, another mixed bag. The good tracks are effectively updates to proven formulas, which when matched to more imposing beats, show Snoop hasn’t lost his touch. I wish Snoop would embrace his position and let the tracks aimed at capturing a new audience go. Is Snoop really trying to capture a new audience at this point? It feels like some of the tracks are there so that the label can tick some boxes, but when Snoop sticks to the gangsta posturing and pimp talk, he’s as charismatic as he’s ever been.

6/10

RapReviews – Recommendations – 2012

As part of the data transfer to the new RapReviews.com website, we have built a database to store all the review content. Currently, the website is thousands of HTML pages, so this was a long and painful process, but alas, we have done it! Shout out to Matt Jost for the support on this.

Given the current site design doesn’t have a search function (CTRL+F isn’t the same!), I thought it would be nice to pull together all the highly-rated reviews from the team. There’s bound to be some gems in here that you may not have checked for upon release.

The list is over 1,000 strong so I’ll be posting these day-by-day, grouped by year of review. It’s worth noting that these are sorted by the date that the review was posted, so we may have covered a record years later.

Keep an eye out for more information on the new RapReviews, and thanks for your continued support!

Record Date_Reviewed Score
Apollo Brown & O.C. :: Trophies 15 May 2012 10
GZA :: Liquid Swords – The Chess Box 14 August 2012 10
Danny! :: Payback 24 January 2012 9
DJ Premier & Bumpy Knuckles :: KoleXXXion 01 May 2012 9
Killer Mike :: R.A.P. Music 22 May 2012 9
Master Ace :: Take a Look Around 26 June 2012 9
Nas :: Life Is Good 12 July 2012 9
Plan B :: Ill Manors 30 October 2012 9
Gabriel Teodros :: Colored People’s Time Machine 17 January 2012 8.5
Common :: The Dreamer/The Believer 31 January 2012 8.5
Big K.R.I.T. :: 4evaNaDay 13 March 2012 8.5
Shabazz Palaces :: Black Up 13 March 2012 8.5
Immortal Technique :: The Martyr 13 March 2012 8.5
Various Artists :: Giant Single: The Profile Records Rap Anthology 20 March 2012 8.5
Burial :: Kindred EP 27 March 2012 8.5
Quakers :: Quakers 03 April 2012 8.5
Del the Funky Homosapien & Parallel Thought :: Attractive Sin 24 April 2012 8.5
The Liquid Crystal Project :: LCP 3 24 April 2012 8.5
Atherton :: No Threat 29 May 2012 8.5
Zomby :: Dedication 29 May 2012 8.5
El-P :: Cancer 4 Cure 05 June 2012 8.5
Various Artists :: Soul 7 10 July 2012 8.5
Gensu Dean :: Lo-Fi Fingahz Instrumentals 17 July 2012 8.5
Meyhem Lauren :: Respect the Fly Shit 24 July 2012 8.5
Ab-Soul :: Control System 31 July 2012 8.5
Sir Michael Rocks :: Premier Politics 1.5 21 August 2012 8.5
Rapsody :: The Idea of Beautiful 28 August 2012 8.5
Oddisee :: People Hear What They See 18 September 2012 8.5
Aesop Rock :: Skelethon 18 September 2012 8.5
Brother Ali :: Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color 25 September 2012 8.5
Tricky :: Pre-Millennium Tension 23 October 2012 8.5
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis :: The Heis 23 October 2012 8.5
Sean Price :: Mic Tyson 06 November 2012 8.5
P.O.S. :: We Don’t Even Live Here 20 November 2012 8.5
Relic (a/k/a Rel McCoy) :: Miles to Go 27 November 2012 8.5
Illy :: Bring It Back 04 December 2012 8.5

Agallah & Duke Westlake :: The 3-Day Theory

There was a super slept-on album released in 2013 by Cali emcee Trek Life called “Hometown Foreigner”. While Trek’s unique concepts and relatable rhymes were the main selling point, what immediately grabbed me was the production – it was real Ayatollah-like. Thumping yet smooth; Duke Westlake was a new name to many, having released a couple of projects on the acclaimed and respected label Mello Music Group. The two shouldn’t work well together given the smooth/rough combination, yet they do, delivering a strong EP months before Agallah’s latest full-length, the horrifically named “Agnum Opus“.

First things first, this EP deserves better publicity. Agallah’s been delivering quality street raps for 20+ years now and there are moments here that are reminiscent of 8-Off’s classics “Till My Heart Stops”, “Crookie Monster” and “Risin’ to the Top”. Granted, Agallah has never been the most lyrical cat, but his gruff, street-hardened delivery lends his songs a passion matched by few. “Woke up in Hell” showcases this, sounding hungrier than ever as he shares his appreciation for his rough start in life. It’s not as deep as that may sound, but with the thumping piano-jabs on the instrumental, it’s difficult not to care when your necks catching whiplash.

Westlake’s most thumping offering is “Proper”, a mean track full of references older heads will appreciate (Harry Belafonte, Pete Sampras, “call me Pimp Jagger”). The message is rooted in authenticity, with Agallah even admitting that he “has Duke Westlake there’s no need to call Dre”. Now, a Dr. Dre and Agallah album would be cool but it’s about as likely as a Nas and DJ Premier album (he says hoping to tempt fate). Agallah has a point though, Duke Westlake is hugely slept on and “3-Day Theory” proves that the LA producer is a short step away from wider recognition.

S*** like “Sit With the Winners” and “Children in the Street” are fire. FIRE. In a year of intensely lyrical records from the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Brother Ali and Oddisee, it’s great to hear hard street raps over booming backdrops, something that is becoming a bit of a lost art.

7/10

RapReviews – Recommendations – 2013

As part of the data transfer to the new RapReviews.com website, we have built a database to store all the review content. Currently, the website is thousands of HTML pages, so this was a long and painful process, but alas, we have done it! Shout out to Matt Jost for the support on this.

Given the current site design doesn’t have a search function (CTRL+F isn’t the same!), I thought it would be nice to pull together all the highly-rated reviews from the team. There’s bound to be some gems in here that you may not have checked for upon release.

The list is over 1,000 strong so I’ll be posting these day-by-day, grouped by year of review. It’s worth noting that these are sorted by the date that the review was posted, so we may have covered a record years later.

Keep an eye out for more information on the new RapReviews, and thanks for your continued support!

Record Date_Reviewed Score
Illogic & Blockhead :: Capture the Sun 21 May 2013 10
effect & dang :: You Don’t Love Me And I Don’t Care 02 July 2013 10
Silent Eclipse :: P$ychological £nslavement 15 October 2013 9.5
Roc Marciano :: Reloaded 08 January 2013 9
Professor P & DJ Akilles :: The Realism 19 February 2013 9
Grieves :: Together/Apart 26 February 2013 9
Tonedeff :: Glutton 05 March 2013 9
Demigodz :: KILLmatic 05 March 2013 9
Rashad & Confidence :: The Element of Surprise 12 March 2013 9
Ghostface Killah & Adrian Younge :: Twelve Reasons to Die 30 April 2013 9
Cyrus Malachi :: Black Athena 30 April 2013 9
Qwel & Maker :: Beautiful Raw 11 June 2013 9
Deca :: The Ocean 20 August 2013 9
Kno :: Death Is Silent 08 October 2013 9
Innate & EP :: Such As I 25 October 2013 9
Hijack :: The Horns of Jericho 29 October 2013 9
Asheru :: Sleepless in Soweto 19 November 2013 9
Ka :: Night’s Gambit 17 December 2013 9
Tanya Morgan :: Rubber Souls 31 December 2013 9
Beneficence :: Concrete Soul 08 January 2013 8.5
D-Sisive :: Jonestown 3. The Dream Is Over 22 January 2013 8.5
Jahshua Smith :: The Final Season 06 February 2013 8.5
D-Sisive :: Run With The Creeps (The D-Luxe Edition) 26 February 2013 8.5
Sankofa :: Just Might Be 02 April 2013 8.5
Von Pea & Aeon :: Duly Noted 09 April 2013 8.5
Big K.R.I.T. :: King Remembered In Time 16 April 2013 8.5
Cyrus Malachi :: Ancient Future 16 April 2013 8.5
Johnny Polygon :: The Nothing 05 May 2013 8.5
Chance The Rapper :: Acid Rap 14 May 2013 8.5
Mitchy Slick and the World’s Freshest :: Feet Match the Paint 04 June 2013 8.5
Tree :: Sunday School 2: When Church Lets Out 18 June 2013 8.5
Prodigy x Alchemist :: Albert Einstein 17 July 2013 8.5
Swami Baracus :: The Recipe 30 July 2013 8.5
Terrace Martin :: 3ChordFold 20 August 2013 8.5
Bambu :: Sun of a Gun 03 September 2013 8.5
J-Zone :: Peter Pan Syndrome 17 September 2013 8.5
Suspekt :: The Underground Strikes Back 08 October 2013 8.5
Danny Brown :: Old 15 October 2013 8.5
London Posse :: Gangster Chronicle: The Definitive Collection 22 October 2013 8.5
Reks :: Revolution Cocktail 19 November 2013 8.5
Roc Marciano :: Marcberg 26 November 2013 8.5

RapReviews – Recommendations – 2014

As part of the data transfer to the new RapReviews.com website, we have built a database to store all the review content. Currently, the website is thousands of HTML pages, so this was a long and painful process, but alas, we have done it! Shout out to Matt Jost for the support on this.

Given the current site design doesn’t have a search function (CTRL+F isn’t the same!), I thought it would be nice to pull together all the highly-rated reviews from the team. There’s bound to be some gems in here that you may not have checked for upon release.

The list is over 1,000 strong so I’ll be posting these day-by-day, grouped by year of review. It’s worth noting that these are sorted by the date that the review was posted, so we may have covered a record years later.

Keep an eye out for more information on the new RapReviews, and thanks for your continued support!

Record Date Reviewed Score
Mistery :: Way of the Warrior 25 February 2014 9
The Grouch + Eligh :: The Tortoise and the Crow: 333 04 March 2014 9
Nas :: Illmatic XX 17 April 2014 9
Pharoahe Monch :: PTSD: Post Traumatic Stress 17 April 2014 9
Eligh :: The Tortoise And The Crow: Nomads 29 April 2014 9
Blueprint :: Respect the Architect 20 May 2014 9
J-Live :: Around the Sun 24 June 2014 9
Logic :: Under Pressure 28 October 2014 9
Run the Jewels :: Run the Jewels 2 28 October 2014 9
Diamond District :: March on Washington 04 November 2014 9
Big K.R.I.T. :: Cadillactica 12 November 2014 9
Elaquent :: Green Apples and Oranges 21 January 2014 8.5
Prince Po & Oh No :: Animal Serum 18 February 2014 8.5
Freddie Gibbs & Madlib :: Pinata 25 March 2014 8.5
ATOMS :: SANDS 06 May 2014 8.5
Dag Savage :: E & J 20 May 2014 8.5
Blitz the Ambassador :: Afropolitan Dreams 27 May 2014 8.5
Sage Francis :: Copper Gone 24 June 2014 8.5
Gene the Southern Child :: Southern Meridian 15 July 2014 8.5
Muneshine :: In Transit 22 July 2014 8.5
Dilated Peoples :: Directors of Photography 27 August 2014 8.5
Vince Staples :: Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2 27 August 2014 8.5
Saba :: ComfortZone 27 August 2014 8.5
Wara from the NBHD :: Kidnapped 30 September 2014 8.5
L’Orange :: After the Flowers EP 14 October 2014 8.5
Rapsody :: The Beauty and the Beast 28 October 2014 8.5