Friday, October 19, 2012

Retiring Face Value

This blog is now retired indefinitely. I appreciate all the views and support for it. I have decided to divert my energy and resources into more important avenues for my growth as a contributing human being.

Follow me on Twitter @TheMCFaceman for the latest updates. You can check out some of my own music at and videos at, if hardcore progressive hip-hop is your thing. I also have a Facebook page you can throw a "Like" at. Lastly, I will still be posting at facemankind, my political blog, from time to time.

For serious business inquiries involving consultation, live performance, recording, and writing, please reach out to me on any of the social media platforms mentioned above and I will get right to you. 

Peace and Love,

The MC Faceman

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Album Review: "The Cant Resurrection" by A.M. Breakups

1. Chapter 1
The Cant Resurrection starts off with a looming, detective drama-esque instrumental with heavy piano riffs and haunting synths. A funky guitar and consistent tambourine jingle adds another layer, and in some ways, a different side to the beat, as if it had an alternate personality. The atmosphere and depth of this beat is a prime example of AM Breakups’ ability to hold his own without any vocals at all on a track.

2. Reference; Utica, NY 1951
In what is sonically a natural progression from track 1, “Reference” continues the theme of bi-polar instrumentation. The somber piano battles the upbeat, chopped up drum loop for the entirety of this beat while ambient cries streak across the backdrop.

3. Amphetamine ft. Teddy Faley
This beat gives me the feeling of being at the secret back room of a Shanghai opium den. Oh yes. Volume-wise, Teddy’s vocals take a slight backseat to AM’s instrumentation which can be expected from a producer’s album. Breakups definitely has the producing skill to get away with it, but the meticulous engineer in me wishes Teddy’s vox were up a decibel or two.
Faley’s strong suit is clearly his expansive range of emotion in his delivery. With a flow purely poetic and almost spoken word-like, Teddy proves you don’t need to overcomplicate your rhymes in order to have lyrical depth. Also, his engineering style in itself is used as a tool to further the meaning in his words. “I bought a drink for every person in that bar, but said I wasn’t going nowhere, and I wasn’t going nowhere far”. My favorite line in this track is: “There’s no point in a staring contest won by anyone not paying mind”.

4. Dreams ft. V8 & Eleven
“Dreams” starts off in an instant with the ramblings of V8 which can be perceived as either complete insanity or pure, uncut genius depending on the listener. One major gripe I have with V8’s flow is that he spits incredibly fast, which would be fine if his lyrics weren’t so galactically abstract. Most of his verse sounds like pure gibberish at first listen, and it doesn’t help that his vocals are a couple decibels too low. However, you can’t deny his unique delivery and content. He’s clearly talking about SOMETHING, and convincingly too, it just may be too much for the normal mind to process.
The chorus is easier to hear, but just as difficult to understand completely. “…Bounce off of metal and stick to glue/ Imagine me for you and you for me, so happy together”. There’s no doubt it is catchy though. The mixing on this track is exceptional. I’m a fan of the sped up vocals, echoes, and other effects. Eleven comes in strong with some catchy phrases like “colossal collisions” and “spinal drip, spinal graphs, hieroglyphs”. As someone with already bad hearing, I don’t like having to pump the volume so high to figure out what these guys are saying. The beat is simply too high. I’m the first to scream for complexity in hip-hop, but this song becomes a chore to truly understand. But with a trippy, bassy beat and solid flows like these, you can fully enjoy it if you aren’t thinking too hard.

5. Quaker Interlude (God Strong Optimis)
This is an awesome interlude. It’s warped, pitched-down drawl floats you along into a particular vibration. It’s soothing, thumbs up.

6. Forms ft. Billy Woods
This track continues the cheery feel, sounding very familiar until at about minute one it’s messing with your head. AM completely shatters any assumed predictability in hip-hop production and makes it sound good. There are “off beat” segments and expected structure is thrown out the window… and it’s enthralling. Billy Woods is heavily in tune with AM’s style as you can see right away. “We used to rhyme up in the building like Good Times, hard times”. Great content and delivery. The end of the song has a great closing melody leading into outro… gongs? Whatever it is, it sounds good.

7. Dukes Up! Ft. DJ Dylemma
Fresh cuts from Dylemma and a spacey-somber beat from AM. This is good smoking music. I’m not sure where the audio clip is from at the end, but I’m guessing either Lost or BBC’s Survivors? Hmn.

8. Blackout (Another Trip Pt. 2)
Trippy synth action starts off and leads into a multi-layered drum array. Smooth guitar riffs bring in an oldschool vibe that leans nicely into the left speaker.

9. When Yr Eyes Are Closed
This one’s a ghoulish instrumental with some classic samples. Pretty straightforward.

10. Chapter 2 ft. Billy Woods & Eleven
Here is a more bombastic beat from AM with loads of different sounds hitting you from all angles. Despite its jazzy core, it definitely provides its fair share of hype, especially with Woods’ verse supporting it. Eleven approaches this joint with a more laidback flow, giving you two different tones from both lyricists.

11. Hearts
Such a great instrumental. The creepy melody and off-kilter drumwork make this a hypnotizing affair. Sparse audio samples accentuate the drums at parts.

12. Machine Gun Etiquette ft. Teddy Faley
Faley lends his spoken-word-like bravado and progressive engineering in full effect for this track. His indirect wording makes the track meaty and highly replayable. “My standstill iller than ya superman dance”. The music breaks into a weird convo… then in the effect-centric breakdown common in Faley’s music. The rhyme scheme at the end is unique and catchy.

13. Streets
Spooky and triumphant, this beat is in two different places like many of AM’s other beats on this project. It’s as if two different entities are at play here that work together to form one unifying sound. The track then twists into an outer limits mixed with mechanical dystopia type madness. Steady horns lead us through the middle of this beat as a lengthy bridge to a re-funkified continuation of the main melody. Now lustrious female vocals encompass what has become the soundtrack to a melancholy circus. The outro pulsates and vibrates interjectedly with pitched-way-the-fuck-down vox.

14. Stick To Downrockin’ ft. Bedtime9
Funky and dirty is this track, as AM dominates with a steady groove throughout half the song till a point comes where the song ODs on Robitussin. Everything slows down to a crawl and Bedtime comes in with subdued vox that trudge along with the beat. His vocals were definitely on the low side, but he spits lethargically enough so his lyrics can be made out.

15. Noah
Is a somber tune with lively drums… Paradox? That’s what AM is all about.

16. Third Neon Out ft. The Model Citizen & Eleven
Mod spits first on this classic boom bap assemblage of sounds. Mod’s vocab is on point and his content gives you a unique perspective. Rhyme scheme is tight. Eleven does a good job on the chorus, makes it catchy.

17. Perfect Science
This isn’t a beat as much as it is a sonic segue of melody.

18. Low Bombing ft. V8 & Shortrock
“You’re not invited, neither am I; same plots”. This is how this song starts, and is a fitting precursor to the conceptual and metaphorical expansiveness that follows. His stream of conscious-style flow is unheard of elsewhere. “Chickle little, I fiddle, and collect my viddles… ya goin’ home”. “Standing still, colonizing my libido into a plexis of per diem. My fantasy to get you outta here. When are we gonna leave, cuz here comes the vultures”. Yeah, not everyone will understand this. This is for people who can think outside the box. Shortrock’s contributions help make this a vortex of apparently alien thought and sound.

+ Progressive instrumentation and content
+ Multi-layered beats make for complexity which, in turn, provide extensive replayability
+ All-Star cast of emcees
+ Considerable amount of tracks make this a "bang for your buck" purchase.

- Mixing/Volume inconsistencies. Vocals were too low on a couple tracks.
- Overly abstract lyricism in some parts.

Compatibility/Appeal Rating:
Underground: 95%
Mainstream: 5%

Favorite Song: Hearts

Face Value: 9/10


Official Facebook Fan Page

Friday, February 11, 2011

Album Review: "Brother From Another Planet" by MC Elijah Black

1. The Mystery (Intro)
Mellow sample really sets the mood for this album and Elijah’s style.

2. Arrival
The beat has a weighty bass and crisp snare with a soothing piano melody. Sci-fi imagery is entertaining. Solid chorus. “Hard to seize.. stormy sea” – slurred and ran out of breath a bit. “Kill time/hourglass/wind blew” dope segment there. “The end so close to beginning times”. His delivery could use some more personality and flavor. It’s good but could have more of an impact if it varied more.

3. Take It Back
This beat is on a mellow tone as well, but layers some grittiness on it with the key-bangin’ piano melody. Vocals could use more EQ. Liked the delivery on “sweet night incense”. The chorus is a refreshing jump in tempo from his usual flow. “Nothing is fact, all we have are opinions”. “If my mind falls off the track”, this tribute has been done before a lot but it’s well executed at least.

4. Body Rock
Nice beat, a lot happening here. Cool story being told. A lot of samples so far in the project that tie in the tracks to the overall “sci-fi soul” theme. The chorus/outro is lackluster and feels incomplete.

5. Trust (Let Go)
Opens with an authentic 90s flow and delivery. The chorus is kinda quirky, but likeable. “Calls me a joke”, subpar. Doubles are off. Nice rhyme scheme. I can appreciate that Lost Boyz reference.

6. Death On A Platter
Funny intro. “Greasiest spot in the hood”. Great concept. Pronunciation is much clearer here than in the other tracks so far. The chorus was too basic and plain. Could have had more lyrical sugar.

7. Earth Girls Are Strange
Really tight beat Elijah melds perfectly with. Tight chorus. Black builds his delivery up precisely with the melody. At around 2:30 Elijah reaches the point where he has officially sung too much. The chorus is dragging, feels like filler. Decent outro, kinda long though.

8. Space Ice Cream
Funky beat. “Spit this in circles/goes around”, could have been setup better. Catchy chorus. “One cup of that space ice cream”, haha. Very abstract content.

9. Didn’t Cha Know (Venusian Princess)
Black’s emotion and mic presence is brought up a notch here. Tight flow all over. “Can’t regret your life away”, NICE. After the chorus, it’s allllll the female vocalist who is dope... but that’s not who we’re here to see.

10. No Sun
Great topic. “That’s what I call perfect timing”, ok. Elijah is oftentimes too abstract. Drab chorus. Again, the back end of the song drags. Looping an already weak chorus for over a minute is not the look.

11. Mad Machinist
Opener is ear-catching. “These cats is ‘soul plane’”, tight. Quirky chorus, this one was decent. “They just Napoleon”, ok. Nice concept. This one could’ve used a 3rd verse.

12. So High
Takes a while to kick in that first verse. “Time flies/Time lies”, not bad; original. Time/Movie metaphor was cool. Pleasantly lighthearted tone. Another really short song.

13. No Sun pt. 2
Flow switches a plus. Heavy multisyllabic rhymes. “Part of her constellation”, tight. 2nd verse a slight step down from the first. Dope beat.

14. Beach Whale
This beat is probably the biggest departure from the feel the others have set throughout the project, but still fits when you wait for the verse to drop. “Fish out of water”, simple but well placed in a catchy rhyme scheme. “Chains on ya mind, change ya mind”, ok. The singsong adlibs add to the track.

+ Good beat selection.
+ Excellent overall concept and theme.
+ Very, very cohesive.
+ Good flow and ambitious lyrical complexity.
+ Nice lyrics, but it sounds like he's holding back.

- Pronunciation could be crisper.
- Some cases of redundancy. (Ex. We don’t have to visit Atlantis in every song)
- Cavernous gaps in song structure. Many tracks have only 1 verse and one too many tracks let the beat ride for half the song.
- For the most part, mic presence and emotion remain too low-key for my tastes.
- Elijah's singing was very hit or miss.

Compatibility/Appeal Rating:
Underground: 90%
Mainstream: 10%

Favorite Song: Mad Machinist

Face Value: 7.9/10


Official Facebook Fan Page

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Album Review: "Geography" by Dash Speaks

1. The World is Flat (N 29-¦ 31' 54.9116_ E 35-¦ 0' 21.9031_)
Eery-spacey start to a uniquely conceptualized album. All of the track titles have geographic coordinates tied to them (other than the last one) which I assume DO have some sort of significance, otherwise that’d be a bit sad. “Peter O’ Toole” line a little obscure and drawn out. Getting a vague “Drake” feel from the pace and delivery (monotone) of this track. This beat is haunting, I like. Nice use of vocabulary. “What being a man is as long as a butterfly’s wings are flappin/ cause and effect is subject to fact check.” Doesn’t make much sense to me but sounds good. I can tell this will be a very instrumental-heavy album, which I can appreciate. I’m hearing some light auto-tune, semi-fail.

2. Tonight (N 59-¦ 19' 56.0194_ E 18-¦ 2' 8.5412_)
This one starts right off with some throbbing bass-synth. Nice. Pretty good multi-syllabic rhymes. Tight sample on the beat. The lack of emotion can be irking. Third verse has some great imagery. “I sing too, we both got that hunger pain”. “At the bottom of the bag, but here’s a last taste”.

3. Fill Up the Void (N 47-¦ 48' 55.3212_ E 28-¦ 15' 55.5984_)
Proper progression album-wise. I was about ready for a club track. Very mainstream and poppy. Nice vocal effects pre-chorus. The chorus is by… Blue Man Group??? No, not really… Well, probably not. I’m not feeling the conviction behind the track. It feels like DS put this together more out of (the perception of) need rather than want. Def. not a fan of this track.

4. Tragic Kingdom (N 27-¦ 58' 48.072_ E 86-¦ 55' 17.5548_)
This is a little more like it. Back onto the spooky techno style. “Current/wire”, ok. “The ink I (Inca) drop like conquistadores”, tight!! “Box me in like Bento” to “pop like Prosecco” was an excellent example of how to fit 2 punchlines into one bar. It’s great when neither are very complex or incredibly original like these two, but when placed together, it works really well. Catchy chorus, could have been tweaked a little more though. The second verse starts off with what sounds like pure filler made to sound tight. Maybe I’m not catching something here. “What most of what you cop is just cut and copy”, ok. Gotta respect this man’s knowledge… He’s dropping Cold War references for guard sakes! Haha! Halfway through the second verse, the appeal starts to fade. “On top like halter”, ok.

5. Army of Me (N 34-¦ 3GǦ 30.05GǦ W 118-¦ 26GǦ 28.09GǦ)
I’ve fallen into an abyss of a cliché with this one. I am glazing over this track, not much is retaining after many plays. “Just cuz you reaching for the stars, don’t mean that they align”, pretty good. 3rd was stronger than the first two at least. Bland track.

6. Explorer's Anthem (N 10-¦ 18' 38.5805_ E 124-¦ 0' 54.7513_)
Cool start. Chorus is alright. Nice wordplay. “Magellen” line was nice. 2nd verse has some seemingly forced lines (where does corduroy fit into this?). Diggin’ the commitment to the exploring theme.

7. Before You Go (N 40-¦ 44' 9.298_ W 73-¦ 59' 14.788_)
So here’s an R&B track. Delivery draaaaaaaags on the second verse. Zzzzzzzz… “You see what I mean, cuz I see you and you see me, and we both see something don’t we?” HAHA!! Wow. That was bad. Ok, around 2:45 we’re heading into jingle territory. I can imagine some females liking this track (no offense). Definitely not up my alley or even near the block. It’s probably a good couple train stops (plus a shuttle bus) away.

8. Faultline (N 81-¦ 18GǦ 0GǦ W 110-¦ 48GǦ 0GǦ)
80s rock kinda vibe starting here. Very Journey. Beat is pretty tight. Singing on the chorus could be better. I like the concept though. This is pretty catchy actually. “The change in the climate has affected the tide”. Distorted-effect verse maybe a tad loud. I wish there was more substance to this song, because it has such a classic feel to it. I recommend a remix!

9. DubStep (N 48-¦ 51GǦ 10.8GǦ E 2-¦ 20GǦ 59.28GǦ)
More auto-tune? I am frowning deeply. Nice rhyme scheme. Chorus is ok. ADD imagery. “Semi and Mobile”? Obscure reference. “Marco Polo”, meh – does continue the explorer theme though. “My style is not the proto”, weak punchline. Sounds cool but could have been tweaked to make more sense. “Quasi-quasimoto”, tight. The whole medicine metaphor portion didn’t make much sense to me.

10. Martians Won (RA 05h 35m 14.29s _ Dec -05-¦ 23' 37.91_)
Second verse is kinda random. Dash went from talking about his uncle to Martians inquiring about his kicks within a couple bars. 3rd verse continues the wackiness.

11. Martians Too (Adrastea)
Auto-tune orgy here. And the real techno has begun as well. Oh, lordy. Interesting concept. Doesn’t get much poppier than this. Makes Justin Timberlake sound like Rakim.

+ Dope album concept put to good use.
+ Great use of vocabulary.
+ A few quotables here and there.
+ Great, cohesively laid, production.
+ Nice track variety.

- Some really weak lyrics at parts.
- Way too poppy!!! This is an underground *hip-hop* review blog, afterall.
- No emotion whatsoever.
- Very “Drake-esque” in his approach and delivery.

Compatibility Rating:
Underground: 15%
Mainstream: 85%

Favorite Song: Tragic Kingdom

Face Value: 7.3/10



Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Album Review: "Inches" by 1221

1. Intro
Dope beat, monks singing. 1221’s voice vaguely reminds me of DMX’s. Emphatic speech with meaning. Explains the theme and name of the album, powerful.

2. More
Vocals are just a tad low, making it hard to make out some of the lyrics. Feeling his delivery. Nice use of vocabulary: “Survival of the fittest, livin’ frivolous, no lack of inhibition”. “Moralist/More or less”, nice wordplay. Pretty good chorus. Traversing through history in his content, I can dig it. Deep historical content.

3. By My Side
His steady-to-burst flow is well-tailored for this beat which is pretty tight in its own regard. This guy is a very positive-minded artist. I don’t think I’ve even heard a single curse yet, admirable. Good use of multi-syllabic rhymes.

4. Confessions of an MC
“Even my dutch calls me master”, tight. This beat’s got a steam-punk+funk (steam-funk/funk-steam?) vibe going on. Smooth chorus. 1221’s punch progression seem random and disconnected at times. Varied flow that changes up at proper times.

5. I Don’t Need Nobody
Hype chorus. First emcee was alright, good emotion. I dig the beat-boxing bridge. The second emcee sounds like the last person on Earth who should be dropping N-bombs… “Layin’ lines like a plumber”, eh. 1221 droppin’ a bit of knowledge on here. “A man is his own island at times… In every man there is a calling for a king, but whether you answer the call depends on the shoulders of ya’ll”. Just noticed the chorus starts with “blaze with an infamous team” when the song is about not needing anybody. Also, this is a collaboration track. Am I wrong to think that’s hypocritical?

6. Lockdown
Cool intro. The beat is spooky. Chorus is simple but the beat compensates with heavy church organs that enchant the listener. It just occurred to me that his flow strongly reminds me of Pac’s. Nice use of sound clips.

7. Dead or Alive
The beat and sang-chorus raise this song to an epic level. The burst portions of his flow can muffle the pronunciation sometimes. Ear-catching doubles and accompanying vocal effects.

8. Lovin
“I fucking hate you!!!” Compelling start to a love song. Trippy beatswitch on the bridge. Some of the imagery is cliché. “As I turned my head, she stood there with a piece of my heart”… “As our bodies pressed together, it was almost like I stole a piece of heaven”. 1221 definitely makes it a point to segue the end of his verses directly into the chorus such as is “Lockdown” and “Dead or Alive”.

10. Unknown Soldier
Dynamic beat. Airtight flow. Lyrics are sterile and very straightforward. The effort is there in production, mixing, delivery, and flow, but the rhymes themselves lack replayability and depth. Good use of vocabulary.

11. Set Me Free
Eclectic beat, a lot of different sounds working well together. First verse sets the positive tone of the track. Nice vocal effects and use of echoes in particular. Solid delivery and chorus.

12. We Want The World
This rock-infused beat sounds appealing. “One nation under a beat”. Interesting bit of talk on the bridge. “Left to die in the streets like pariahs and theifs”, nice. Some of the lyrics sound a little too straightforward and less poetic than they could be. Great message.

13. Dreams
The jazzy beat on this track is a welcomed change in instrumentation. 1221’s delivery on this one is too strong and forceful for the beat. The featured artist on the second verse sounds something like Ice-T. The feature on the second verse has a basic flow and elementary lyrics.

14. Shots
“I’m guessin he never knew that brothers of our color could be red-handed too”, tight. Funky beat. “Many men”? Really? Lyrics too similar to the 50 Cent song. Vocals on the verses sound a tad low.

15. Where Is The Love
Feelin’ the chorus, pretty catchy. 2nd verse is very focused content-wise. No standout lines though. I like the feature’s voice on the 3rd verse. “Think up a name for yourself”, very true.

16. Party Track
Not the most creative name for a song. The beat is definitely something for the club, and it’s TIGHT. This joint is live. The chorus is great, I love it... “GET FUCKED UP”! The track should have come earlier on in the album which for most of its entirety was somewhat monochrome. The British-accented feature added some lightheartedness to the track, wish there was more of him in there. The last verse was generic.

18. Jersey Bounce
Diggin’ this flow. “Insane is playing charade with Stephen Hawking”, hehe. The chorus is decent at best, annoying at worst. Random content. “I’m tryna live, man”, ok.

19. Wild Things
First artist is bland. Chorus is pretty good. 2nd artist is also bland. The features in this album so far have been very hit or miss. 1221 starts off really strong. “Some people deal with personal pain by little missiles equipped with criminal liquids and stick it in their vein”. Nice flow switches. One of his best verses in this album, if not THE best.

20. You Would Have Seen
“When you hold on too long, I guess a part of you dies”, nice line but I think more could have been done with it. Missed opportunity for a good metaphor or simile. I like the dramatic “but you left” before each chorus.

21. Stringaa
Dope beat, very epic, but overpowers the lyrics. The lyrics don’t flow concisely. Thoughts are extended through a bar too many with not much poetic pizzazz to carry it through.

+ Powerful delivery and standout voice.
+ Varied and hard-hitting flow.
+ Top-tier production throughout the album.
+ Positive subject matter and direction.

- Hit or miss featured artists.
- Lyrics were often bland and generic. It was somewhat of a challenge finding above-average lines.
- While his flow and delivery were excellent, they also sound VERY similar to Tupac.
- His voice sounds a lot like DMX, and the Bible-thumping didn’t help this distinction.
- The album was waaaaaaay too long. At nearly 1 hour and 30 minutes with little variety until the end, this project could have been much shorter.

Compatibility/Appeal Rating:
Underground: 35%
Mainstream: 65%

Favorite Song: Confessions of an MC

Face Value: 7.7/10



Friday, July 9, 2010

Album Review: "Freedom II" by Everliven Sound

Everliven Sound is comprised of Cymarshall Law and Skit Slam, blood brothers who originated from the United Kingdom, but moved to New Jersey in 1990. With soul and reggae influences and an international hip-hop slant, the duo has been recognized as a powerful underground force in the United States and overseas. Their second full length album, Freedom 2, is a sequel to 2008’s Freedom, and is once again produced by the Norwegian production team known as The Beatnikz.
From the get-go, Everliven Sound’s style is immediately apparent. Freedom 2 time-warps us back to the 1990s with pungent boom-bap production and a penchant for poetic lyricism. Both Skit Slam and Cymarshall Law display an authentic hip-hop flavor, but Cy adds a little more with noticeable reggae influence in his delivery that give his verses extra oomph. The first track, “Get Up Stand Up”, is a predictable introduction but is upbeat instrumentally and has a great chorus. Cy comes in bursting with charisma and solid multi-syllable rhymes. Skit has a more mellow approach in his delivery and a more traditional flow. While their style gives the listener a sense of nostalgia, shows some of their lyrical limitations on their last verse. Lines like “You couldn’t break the law if you were a convicted criminal”, “Emcees I burn ‘em up like fire should”, and “I hit trees like Michael Phelps” are too simple for my taste. Not to say that this type of lyricism has no place, but I personally prefer more complex lyricism.
“Christening” is another track with a hype and energetic chorus that reminds me of The Lost Boyz. Skit Slam’s laidback delivery is a good counterpoint to Cymarshall’s colorful style. “I stand behind every bar like I was serving drinks”, played metaphor. Skit Slam does a good job of referencing the concept of the track. “Baptized, I standout like a black eye”. “Elements” is up next and starts off with El da Sensei’s deep-voiced bravado. Although his lyrics are could have been more focused, he still paints a good picture of graffiti’s importance in hip-hop culture. DJ Don Martin’s cuts fit well with the theme of the track and provide a tight chorus. Skit’s up next giving props to the B-Boys and B-Girls who supported hip-hop with its own unique dance form. His use of detail and references to breakdancing flesh out the verse properly. Law comes in strong: “Man up brother, I speak with enough power to chain lightning bolts and handcuff thunder”.
Next up is “Waiting Too Long”, a song about their struggle and work in hip-hop. There’s a strong message in this song relating the amount of work necessary to be successful in hip-hop to slavery. Skit has a few powerful lines at the end of his verse and Cy’s delivery and rhyme scheme shine on his verse. The chorus on this one is fairly catchy. “Hook Them” fittingly has a dope hook, although it sounds a tad distorted. This one’s about staying away from beef, how sick they are, and… well, that’s pretty much it. I don’t feel like there’s anything new here people haven’t heard before. Skit is on-point on “Walk Away”, with potent lines and ubiquitous mic presence. “My bars’ a killer that won’t hide the pistol”. Cy has some on and off lines in his punchline-heavy approach. “For my daughter I’ll cut your throat with a quarter”, so outrageous it was funny.
“Crack and The Electric Chair” probably has the sickest beat so far in the album. The concept is important and significant politically. Hip-hop needs more tracks like this and less “I’m better than you” songs. I appreciate Cy’s acknowledgement of the lack of good roles in Hollywood for non-whites. The same can be said for the videogame industry. “All Right All Real” is a really personal life account of the duo. Well, Skit does a better job of staying on-subject while Law slips back into ish-talkin’ mid-verse. The next song, “Days of Faster”, is a unique track that details how fast time flies but goes deeper than that. “Went so fast, I wondered, days am I losin’? / It’s confusin’, time must be an illusion”. Skit brings a positive message in his verse along with words of encouragement to keep grinding against the pace of time. “Come Correct” has bass-heavy drums and an almost Legend of Zelda type melody. The lyrics and content aren’t impressive though. “I’m on top of my game like Dance Revolution”. Cy’s pronunciation could have been a little better. Clearer articulation on the setup to the Forrest Whittaker line could have made the punch sharper.
“Credit Crunch” is self-explanatory but does stray into other socio-political messages. Skit Slam on the second verse has a more logically correct verse to me while Cy has more of a naïve political outlook in his two verses, but it’s arguable this point strays from the actual focus of a hip-hop review. CyMarshall uses some clever liquor metaphors when describing a female on “Ms Liquor Spliff” while Skit Slam compares his girl to the finest in piffery. “Sun Moon and Star” ft. Stahhr has a fresh concept with some good details here and there within the verses. “Follow My Lead” has a dope beat and Skit comes in strong. “If I’m broke, I will jack n****s like a beanstalk”. It’s a solid song about originality in music, definitely an honorable cause. “Can You Relate” ft. John Robinson is another positive jawn that gives you something to think about. “Don’t Believe” sheds some light on the fakeness of the media and politics. “One day Doctor King will be white”. “Dumbflows” doesn’t sound as polished as most of the other tracks on this LP. Cy’s delivery sounds too similar to other songs earlier on in the project. “Know No” is another braggadocio track to end it off. “I pressure peers, I rise to the occasion when pressure appears”, dope. “The boy gets it crackin’ like stale dutches”, haha!
Everliven Sound provides a succinctly 90s-influenced style of hip-hop that will give traditionalists something to vibe with for some time, but they do not keep up very well with the lyrical standards of hip-hop today. But while much of their lyrics are too basic or bland, they do cover great topics. The Beatnikz provide stellar production throughout the LP although their beats do sound too much alike at times. Variety is the spice of life after all. Freedom 2 is a boom-bap-alicious LP that will get you thinking if you listen closely, but the degree in which you’re drawn in depends upon your specific tastes in hip-hop. For me, there was definitely a lack of lyrical complexity and the lack of variety in production made the experience drag on a bit. Freedom 2 still has a lot to offer and any fan of the 90s era of hip-hop should be able to enjoy this record.

Face Value: 7.5/10



Friday, April 9, 2010

Mixtape Review: "That Jawn Vol. 1" by BS

1. Entrance
Quirky yet charming intro. Beat is pretty hype. Vocal production not bad, but could be crisper. “Slick but oil-free”, hehe. Flow is stilted at times. Vocal levels a little low on parts, not completely even. “Backwards/dyslexic” was a good concept but could have been written better. “Swine flu/pigs”, decent. Refreshing delivery.

2. Go Kartin’ ft. Kamikaze Picnic
This beat is awesome. KP – Nice voice and interesting delivery that fits the zany, yet detailed, imagery. Vocal production is great and well-mixed for the beat. Unique chorus that is catchy with fitting delivery.
BS – Playful delivery that works well with the beat. “Byeuuum, straight through traffic”, cool line. Nice imagery. Flow too regimented and stiff. Tight use of vocal samples
KP – Lyrics are too abstract. BS & KP – Back and forth sequence sounded good but also was lyrically vague. BS – “What is real is just perspective”, truth. “Eat my ghost, BAM”, chuckle-worthy line although the line is very abstract. The bass riffs at the end were a great sound-off to the track.

3. Break Bad (Remix)
Well known Stoupe beat, I still digs it. “Like Malcolm’s dad” & “Pete Petrelli” are fairly obscure references. “I never see defeat because I stay on my chin up”? This is either a pronunciation or writing issue.

4. Broke With A Plan ft. Chaz Kangas
Choppy flow. “Shouts to my people living budgeted”. Doubles are off. Delivery is unique but microphone presence is weak. Funny and catchy chorus with good use of vocal effects. Dope content and concept. “La vida broka”, hehe.
Chaz – “Off the ladies”. “Withdraw from the first bank of sugar mama”. “Leave with your purse as a disconnection fee”, nice!

5. Hold On ft. Jesse Abraham & Premonition
Sick beat. JAbra – Sounds like a freestyle, very random lyrics. “Hopping turnstiles because of unfair fares”, word. Chorus is ok.
BS – Tight delivery. Flow up from the last couple of tracks.
Prem – Complex and involving rhyme scheme. Flow is precise. “Script the antacid”, decent but also type weak. With this much talent on one song, there should have been more standout lines.

6. Half-Done House ft. Kamikaze Picnic & Chaz Kangas
Funny and novel chorus that sets up the topic well. Lovely mixing and use of vocal samples. KP – energetic and charismatic delivery. Vocal mixing seemed off for this track. Chaz does a nice job on the chorus conveying his character. The beat works very well for the topic and make the song ear-catching. BS – “I came around half-mast”, haha. Flow and delivery is on-point. “Leaky like a pissin’ paraplegic”, lands flat.

7. Work
Very funny intro. Tight concept. Delivery is emphatic. Catchy chorus with a clever little twist on the last line. “Only excelling I see is spreadsheets”, ok. Simple lyrics, lacking poetic devices. Hilarious outro.

8. Shark Eyes
Tight beat, sax and guitar melody makes it happen. Delivery pops. “Sewer patra homicide”?? Are you trying to say “patricide”? Pronunciation a lil murky.

9. Shrink Wrapped ft. Kamikaze Picnic
Chorus is ok but flow is too simple. BS – Small dose of melody in delivery adds a lot. “New Era” line was obvious. Flow could have been a little tighter. “Red ring of death”, hehe. I like how the beat breaks down at the end of the verse. The addition of singing to the successive choruses add a lot. Very catchy. “If they can do it, so can you”...
KP – Lively delivery. Basic flow. “Near the shadows I am shrouded”, dug the delivery there.
KP & BS – BS’s flow is pretty vicious compared to the rest of the track. Again, KP’s flow was to simple and similar to how he flowed everywhere else on the song. Cool little acappella at the end.

10. Get Over Yourself (J Dilla Remix)
Vocal production is crisp. Straightforward lyrics that stay on topic. “The only shine you can see is on the outside”, deep line that works on more than one level. “Sense/cents” is an uber-common metaphor. “It’s not your fault you learned love in dollar amounts, but what will you do once your checks start to bounce”, wow… I can totally relate to that. Good delivery. Proper end to the last verse.

11. Sly ft. Jesse Abraham
OH WOW. KO sampled “the wheel of morality” from Animaniacs for the chorus. It’s hard to get sicker than that. Lighthearted and charismatic delivery.
JAbra – Vocal production could have been crisper, but good vocal effects. “Wild as a walrus”, line and delivery was hysterical. Good use of vocabulary.
BS – Vocal effects were iffy, some may like it but others might now.

12. The Vamps ft. Kamikaze Picnic, Homeboy Sandman, Final Outlaw, & Robo
KP – “Death is not my marker”, nice. “Fangs meant freedom when pushed from a kiss”. Chorus is alright.
HS – Tough delivery. “Then you’re fuel, then you’re food”. The fact that he has a song called “Fuel” makes that line pretty cool. Impeccable flow and rhyme scheme.
Final – Crisp voice and delivery. “Isn’t it shocking, twisted and haunting, how trivial it all is”. “Tackle you and drain you till you cramp”, nice.
BS – “Started with black market nose-plugs for garlic”, nice. “Don’t re-up, I revamp”, haha. Pronunciation muffles at parts.
Robo – Highlarious delivery!! “Power plant”, ok. “Look at my bicuspid, you’re about to get dusted”, haha. Flow is basic. “Hot topic shirts” line was nice, could have been delivery better though.

13. Z-Train ft. Albert Rhymestein & QV
Al – “The hue of doodoo brown”, haha. Tight rhyme scheme and great job staying on topic. “Like solar wind funnelin’ through a jungle”, wild and funny imagery.
QV – Comical chorus, good singing.
BS - “Woke up with a tentacle”, ok. “Bullshit 2.25”. “Bing bong”, hehe.
Hilarious last line by AR.

14. Junk Milk ft. Kamikaze Picnic
Very funny lyrics. “Dry it out, smoke the lumps”. Great structure. Beat fits the topic well. KP – “It’s drippin down my arms”, haha. “It keeps me warm like sunshine on your front line”, HAHA!! Diggin’ how this beat progresses.

15. Sugarthwacked
The beat is very uptempo and makes you want to move really, really fast. HAHAHA!!!: “I could go nuts off glazed donuts until my mouth starts to foam up”. “Wake me up with a fructose aroma”, hehe.

16. Fresh Veggiez ft. Steve Fox
BS – Doubles are a tad off. Flow is ok, a standard hip-hop flow though.
SF - Vocals are a little low. Pronunciation could be better. Chorus is ok.
BS & SF - “Don’t wanna die shittin’ like Elvis Presley”, nice.

17. I’mma Do ft. Steve Fox & Premonition
Chorus is alright, but catchy. Steve – Mic presence lacking. Doubles are off.
BS – Very abstract lyrics. Vocal mixing could have been better.
Prem – Somewhat monotone delivery. Tight flow.

18. Candy Ravers (80C Remix)
Vocals a little low. Funky beat. Fun delivery. Weird vocal effects. Quirky ending.

19. All Wrong ft. Pruven, brokeMC, TruthNow, Albert Rhymestein, Dyalekt, & Steve
BS – Nice multi-syllabics. Flow could have been tighter.
Pruven – Vocal levels and mixing were subpar.
Broke – Good delivery. Tight flow.
Truth – Flow is very rigid. Vocal production is crisp.
Al – “He didn’t want to live naively, that’s all”.
Dyalekt – Pronunciation is very blurry. Rapid flow.
Steve – Cool delivery.

+ Wide and unique range of topics.
+ Entertaining, charismatic, and oftentimes funny delivery.
+ Wide range of talented guest MCs.
+ A few very funny lines.
+ Pretty solid beat selection.

- His flow, while sometimes tight, was often somewhat basic.
- Uneven mixing all throughout the tape.
- Not many standout lines.
- Lyrics were too abstract at times.
- Some guest appearances didn’t go as well as others.

Compatibility Rating:
Underground: 65%
Mainstream: 35%

Favorite Song: The Vamps

Face Value: 8/10