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

RapReviews – Recommendations – 2015

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
Lupe Fiasco :: Tetsuo & Youth 20 January 2015 10
Deacon The Villain :: Instrumentals Two 10 November 2015 9.5
D’Angelo and the Vanguard :: Black Messiah 13 January 2015 9
Method Man :: Tical 10 February 2015 9
The Essence :: The Essence 24 February 2015 9
Kendrick Lamar :: To Pimp a Butterfly 10 March 2015 9
Slimkid3 & DJ Nu-Mark :: Slimkid3 & DJ Nu-Mark 10 March 2015 9
Kamasi Washington :: The Epic 23 June 2015 9
Nicolay :: City Lights Vol. 3: Soweto 15 September 2015 9
The Game :: The Documentary 2 / 2.5 20 October 2015 9
Scor-Zay-Zee :: Aeon: Peace to the Puzzle 10 November 2015 9
Joey Bada$$ :: B4.DA.$$ 27 January 2015 8.5
Dunc :: Cycles 17 February 2015 8.5
Rahiem Supreme :: Lost Gemz 03 March 2015 8.5
Asphate :: Closed Doors to an Open Mind 24 March 2015 8.5
Sareem Poems & Ess Be :: Beautiful Noise 31 March 2015 8.5
The 1978ers :: People of Today 07 April 2015 8.5
Small Professor :: Mixed Jawns III 12 May 2015 8.5
Relic (Rel McCoy) :: The 13th Floor 19 May 2015 8.5
Malik B & Mr. Green :: Unpredictable 09 June 2015 8.5
Deacon The Villain :: Instrumentals One 22 September 2015 8.5
Mega Ran :: RNDM 22 September 2015 8.5
Mick Jenkins :: Wave[s] 29 September 2015 8.5
Ghostface Killah :: Twelve Reasons to Die II 06 October 2015 8.5
Bou :: Educated Crook 03 November 2015 8.5

RapReviews – Recommendations – 2016

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
Torae :: Entitled 19 January 2016 10
Aesop Rock :: The Impossible Kid 10 May 2016 10
De La Soul :: and the Anonymous Nobody 30 August 2016 10
Elzhi :: Lead Poison 11 October 2016 9.5
Kendrick Lamar :: untitled unmastered. 08 March 2016 9
Kano :: Made in the Manor 29 November 2016 9
Solange Knowles :: A Seat at the Table 12 December 2016 9
Letta :: Testimony 19 January 2016 8.5
Pusha T :: King Push – Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude 19 January 2016 8.5
EarthGang :: Shallow Graves for Toys 02 February 2016 8.5
Kelela :: Hallucinogen 09 February 2016 8.5
ILLClinton :: ILLClinton Era 01 March 2016 8.5
One Be Lo & Bean One :: The Original BORN ONES 22 March 2016 8.5
Guilty Simpson :: Detroit’s Son 10 May 2016 8.5
Oddisee :: Alwasta 17 May 2016 8.5
BRBRCK :: Backstage 28 June 2016 8.5
J-Zone :: Fish-N-Grits 19 July 2016 8.5
Ka :: Honor Killed the Samurai 13 September 2016 8.5
Aesop Rock & Homeboy Sandman :: Lice Two – Still Buggin’ 04 October 2016 8.5
Danny Brown :: Atrocity Exhibition 25 October 2016 8.5
La Coka Nostra :: To Thine Own Self Be True 08 November 2016 8.5
Kate Tempest :: Let Them Eat Chaos 08 November 2016 8.5
Blade :: The Lion Goes From Strength to Strength (No Compromise) 15 November 2016 8.5
A Tribe Called Quest :: We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service 29 November 2016 8.5

RapReviews – Recommendations – 2017

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
Common :: Black America Again 10 January 2017 9
Run the Jewels :: Run the Jewels 3 03 January 2017 8.5
Ras Kass :: Soul On Ice: Revisited 17 January 2017 8.5
The Jazz Jousters :: Take 5.2 with Dave Brubeck 31 January 2017 8.5
LiKWUiD & 2 Hungry Bros. :: Fay Grim 21 February 2017 8.5
Sho Baraka :: The Narrative 14 March 2017 8.5
AllttA :: The Upper Hand 21 March 2017 8.5
Red Pill & Ill Poetic :: Instinctive Drowning (Instrumentals) 28 March 2017 8.5
Kendrick Lamar :: DAMN. 18 April 2017 8.5
Brother Ali :: All the Beauty in This Whole Life 23 May 2017 8.5
Logic :: Everybody 23 May 2017 8.5
Career Crooks: Good Luck With That 06 June 2017 8.5
Vince Staples :: Big Fish Theory 27 June 2017 8.5

Roc Marciano – Rosebudd’s Revenge

Peter Rosenberg (of Hot 97) recently shared his so-called “Best Emcee Points Based System” which highlighted an inherent flaw with any discussion surrounding who is the GOAT (Greatest of All Time). Some prefer that GOATs should be technically advanced first and popular second; others feel it should be the other way round. Personally, I feel that you can quickly determine whether an emcee is GOAT material by looking at their body of work. More specifically, have they dropped THREE great albums. Plenty of rappers have dropped one great record, many have dropped two, but three time’s the charm. Three is the magic number. Three great records proves that an emcee is not just consistent with their art, but have often achieved GOAT status over a prolonged period of time.

Insisting GOATs craft three great records ensures that the candidate list immediately eliminates divisive candidates such as Big L, Big Pun and Notorious BIG. It also helps often overlooked emcees like Elzhi, Redman and a certain Roc Marciano – all emcees who SHOULD be part of GOAT discussions. And anyone who claims sales numbers are important can go listen to their Coolio CDs. You see, Roc Marciano delivered a super-slept-on gem in 2004: The UN’s “U N Or U Out” is a classic example of gritty New York Hip-Hop, unfortunately released during the heights of Dipset fever. Granted, it was a joint effort alongside Dino Brave, Laku and Mic Raw, but it aged a hell of a lot better than most rap records from 2004.

In 2010 “Marcberg” took a less-is-more approach, showcasing Roc’s production skills and laying down a marker for all artists wanting to emulate the 90s sound but ultimately failing to bring anything new to the table. “Marcberg” is great but 2012’s “Reloaded” is his magnum opus; grander, more cinematic and boasting memorable singles in “76” and “Emeralds”, it remains his best work. A year later saw the release of “Marci Beaucoup” with the focus less on Roc’s lyricism and more on collaborations with underground favourites over his beats. In my opinion, this was a step down (it was still a good project) and then it went quiet for a few years. The odd killer guest appearance here and there whetted fans’ appetites for Roc Marciano’s third solo LP, which in 2017  has a lot to live up to in a world with Westside Gunn, Conway and Your Old Droog.

“Rosebudd’s Revenge”, much like 2013’s “Marci Beaucoup”, leans more towards the soulful, less jarring production with reduced emphasis on the intricate rhyme-style that had you hanging on every word of “Reloaded”. That’s not to say that the eloquently delivered, advanced rhyme schemes aren’t as relentless as ever, because they are, but the mix on the vocals is noticeably quieter and less impactful.

Opening with “Move Dope”, Marciano pulls no punches displaying witty lines such as “two biscuits like it’s time for tea, I’m like Ice-T times three”. In fact this single bar sums up the exagerrated tales of crime and how calm and cool “Rosebudd’s Revenge” is. The first half sees the better production, largely from Arch Druids who lace the standout song “Gunsense” which is full of typically sharp lines:

“Sink your boat
Your body wash up somewhere in Glen Cove
I was always told to push the envelope
It had blow in it though
Look what the wind blew in, in Kenneth Coles
Quick, pull a lick like a pick n’ roll
The give and go, some nights alone, run the iso
I’m not a racist, dipped Jesus face in white gold
I know I know
That’s not the Messiah’s nose, he had wide nostrils”

What a lot of the songs succeed in doing is generating an immersive atmosphere that’s just as well done as it is on “Reloaded”. The problem lies in the weaker beats that close out the album as well as the aforementioned vocal issues. “Killing Time” utilises a Lou Courtney sample that interferes with the vocals – there’s a reason why Dipset had such short bars. “Pray 4 Me” is similarly overbearing and not your traditional Marciano production, but is still a satisfying, more experimental addition which even sees Roc try his (pimp) hand at singing.

Compared to last year’s “FLYGOD” from Conway, “Rosebudd’s Revenge” sounds more cinematic yet less enjoyable. It’s easily his hardest project to appreciate on the first few listens, showing its best bits after it’s been in the deck for a while. It’s taken me over twenty listens to appreciate what Roc is doing here, but as a huge fan of his earlier work, it ultimately falls short. The mellow instrumentals ensure a sleepier listening experience more in line with work from frequent collaborator Ka, who is frequently acclaimed but definitely more an acquired taste. Put a playlist together of “Marcberg”, “Reloaded” and “Rosebudd’s Revenge” and it’s immediately apparent that Roc’s vocals lack the razor sharp potency he had on earlier projects. The over-the-top hyper-lyrical Roc Marciano is here and well, but his AR-15 isn’t as finely aimed.

So is he a GOAT contender? He’s in the discussion – “U N Or U Out”, “Marcberg” and “Reloaded” means he has the three outstanding records in the bag, but his recent work hasn’t quite reached those heady heights of uber-braggodocio.

7/10