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



Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Album Review: "Spilled Milk" by Top $ Raz

1. Spilled Milk w/ Additional Vocals by Mayo Bass
Feeling the mellow beat. The chorus is well written and sounds official with the background singer. “It’s all spilled milk, but you can’t let it stain”. The beat production is a tight fit for Raz, props to Thinker. This is real talk here and good topical cohesion to boot. Dope imagery. Nice outro by Mayo. I could nitpick and say the flow could have been more diverse, but I don’t feel this track really needed it. As an intro track, it definitely served its purpose.

2. No Tears
Starts up with another mellow beat that lets you vibe out. Flow is different on this one and works pretty well with the beat. I’m not feelin’ the delivery on the first verse that much though, sounds somewhat monotone. This chorus is alright. Second verse drops some eye-opening personal lines. Content was on-point. Not feeling this track as much as “Spilled Milk” though.

3. Get Up, Get Her
This beat is knockin’ a bit. “Underground like Broadway Junction”… I had to quote that; I’m in that station every damn week. Here’s a welcome change of pace, flow, and delivery. “Tryna get an advance”, nice. “Get it crackin’ like eggs”, a little too obvious but delivered well. The chorus is okay, but the delivery is somewhat quirky. Perhaps a hushed and “sexy”-like voice would have worked better for those “If you want that girl”/”They wanna front” etc. parts of it. “Get high like apostles”, forced. “Party like a rockstar, pissin’on a cop car”, haha! The third verse wasn’t impressive, but had a cool flow.

4. Dead!
I love this beat. Vivid imagery. Paints an accurate picture of how no one really gives a fuck about the dirt that goes on in the hood. “20 years later no killer is found”. Delivery fits the beat well, very smooth and calm. Nice vocal effects. *For more on this song, peep my review of the Fighting For Futures Mixtape (Feb. 2010).

5. Far Rock ’95 ft. Mike Love & Vithym
“Moving like Commander Cobra”, hehe, I like that reference. Really digging Top’s delivery and flow on this verse. 2nd MC – Interesting voice that stands out. “Ounce in a shoe”, haha, really?? Nice flow and delivery. 3rd MC – Flow is ok but somewhat erratic.

6. Cold Blooded ft. Imagine That
IT – Nice flow, could be tighter though. Delivery on point. “But hoping I could catch a little light”, decent. Raz has a good voice. Nice rhyme scheme. “Built my city on rock then rolled”, pretty tight flip on a common metaphor. Lyrics were mediocre.

7. Perfect Stranger
Calm but scheming beat, I likes. “Baker man/pies”, played. Interesting concept, but lyrics are rudimentary. “Elevator/stares” punch-line is tight but could have been written better. “Diamonds/full deck of cards”, not bad. Flow is elementary on this track as well. Hehe nice Cosby impression on the outro.

8. Be Gone ft. Kalil Kash
Kash – vocal production not on par with Raz’, sounds echoey. Overdose of adlibs, reminds me of the commentary track on DVDs. Tight delivery. “Barry Bonds” line was too simple. Feeling this chorus and the sax that plays during it.
Raz - “You’re not pussy, you’re a yeast infection”, nice. Digging Raz’ delivery on this track.
Kash – “Cream”/money, played. “Booted” line was played too. Definitely not the best I’ve heard from Kalil.
Raz – “You cannot reset or press pause”, played but flipped and delivered nicely.

9. Burning Bridge ft. Scienze
Ear-catching, playful beat. Nice start. I can relate to this, dope concept. The singing isn’t good but I really like the chorus.
Scienze – Tight flow and delivery. “Cause be/Cosby”, not bad. “Clear/Dare” rhyme scheme was sick. “Broken pod”, ok.
Raz – “Rewind”, decent line but the effect and delivery made it dope.

10. Wo(men)
A nice, different style of beat with a similar feel to some of the others. I’m a sucker for good piano melodies. Cool plant allegory. The metaphorical transition in the second half of the verse was a little vaguer. The chorus is powerful in terms of how the beat changes and how Raz’ lyrics and delivery fit on it. Vivid imagery. “When you get to heaven you’ll be a n***a too”, WOW.

11. Farewell
Another absorbing piano melody. Ok first verse. The chorus is bananas with the imagery and delivery. “Anyone of us could have been Sean Bell”, that is deep. ‘He didn’t realize we tied to the same rope”, nice. Beatles references.

+ Raz has a great voice, especially for the type of topics he covers.
+ Delivery was on-point for the most part.
+ Song topics and concepts were relevant, personal, real, and unique. Although, some elements, such as lines about slinging crack, were over-abundant.
+ Great beat selection.
+ Well-constructed album that doesn’t just die off towards the end. It starts strong and ends strong with good content in the middle.

- Flow was fairly simple and repetitive/recycled throughout the album.
- Some lyrics were too basic and not accentuated with enough poetic devices.

Compatibility Rating:
Underground: 40%
Mainstream: 60%

Favorite Song: Spilled Milk

Face Value: 8.4/10



Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mixtape Review: "Rhyme & Noodles: No Artificial Flavoring Vol. 1" by Eric Sosa

1. Do Something (Freestyle)
Crisp production all around from vocals to beat. Sosa definitely has a mainstream/commercial appeal to his over all style, but especially his delivery. A few decent couplets and multi-syllabic rhymes here and there. “No woody” line was corny. “Ambidextrous/upper hand” nice.

2. Clothes off
Very basic and commercial chorus. The beat is catchy. Vocals a little low. “Tug of war with the phone line” nice. “Ice the champagne and spread it on the toast” what? “If we were figure skating it breaks ice” I get the metaphor but it does not fit well into the verse like an irrelevant side note. “Dinner for two” haha! Not really feelin’ the singing on this track so the extension of the choruses and added bridge do not help the song.

3. One Night ft. Mayo
Beat is ok. Chorus is super-repetitive but bearable. A lot of scattered similes and metaphors that either don’t make sense or are poorly set up. “Circle of trust/scars on my wrist/cuffs/lock” nice, but could have been better written. Some lyrics were too abstract. The chorus is too repetitive to repeat so many times at the end.

4. 87209
Dope beat. Simple chorus but works alright. “Prada wearin devil/band” Sounds forced, but makes more sense with further explanation in the verse. “Couldn’t stick/butter” dope! “Deeper than your knees” nice. “Stretchin the truth/we could split” tight. “Worried/were we” flip, nice lil nook. Digging the content, real personal. “Blue in the chin” quirky, hehe. “Lose when you win” ok. “Accident prone” sick. A lot of name-dropping and references most people won’t get. “Fish skin” not bad. Two choruses in 6 minutes? Sos’ went in.

5. One You (snippet) ft. Rocki Evans
Pleasant beat and chorus. Forced poetic devices jammed together. “gym/Gimme a bitch” ok. Very short snippet. Hilarious, hilarious, hilarious skit after the snippet about, you guessed it, noodles.

6. Superglue ft. Chaundon
This beat… is a BANANA FACTORY. “Knees/heels” too abstract. “Hyphens” forced. The “grimy voice” on the chorus is not well delivered and laughable, A for effort though. Chaun – Nice voice. Rudimentary flow and lyrics. Eric – “It says hi to me” forced and quirky. The track was decent, but this beat deserved to be viciously ripped.

7. Summer of Love
Cool sample and beat that absolutely gives off the summer vibe. Welcomed change in flow. I like the techno segue at the second chorus. Officially dancing in my seat right now. “Hard beat need a clone” ok. “Beathe on your own” haha. “Not smart to bark with lungs of wood when I guess” what the..!? The “hey-hey” bridges are alright, works for the club scene this song is targeting.

+ Tight beat selection overall.
+ Quite a few standout lines.
+ Diverse range of topics which he followed well.

- Quite a few abstract, forced, subliminal, or nonsensical lines.
- Solid flow, although it was very similar throughout. “Summer of Love provided the only real exception to Eric’s default flow.
- His delivery was not very accessible for me. At first, I wasn’t digging it, but it grew on me over the course of the tape.

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

Favorite Song: 87209

Face Value: 8/10



Sunday, March 21, 2010

Album Review: "Untitled 'Til This Day" by Rebels Music Empire (R.Me)

1. Intro-BBQ
Starts off with a strong spoken word intro. Skit comes in, interesting. “She’s pregnant… Pregnant again”, haha. Other than that, not much else to this intro.

2. Back to Business
The beat is a head-boppin’ piano jam.
1st – Nice flow and delivery. Pronunciation could be better. Some decent multi-syllabic rhymes. Chorus is pretty decent, not much microphone presence on it though. It should pop a little more than that.
2nd – Mic presence lacking somewhat. I’m not sure if it’s really the vocal engineering or how he’s spitting. “Achoo” line was alright.
3rd – Vocals are too low. Nice rhyme scheme.

3. Please Smoke Weed B4 Rapping
The beat is bananas. 1st – Great energy and delivery. Fairly simple punchlines. Chorus is decent, fits well with the beat well though.
2nd – Nice vocal effects. “Cat/kittens” weak.
3rd – Feelin’ the energy. The vocal mixing sounds weird though, too much echoing. “Flow/swimming” ok flip on a played metaphor.
4th – Dope beatswitch for the drinker of the bunch. Voice fits the beat well and sets a mellow tone precisely.

4. Run Dem
Eerie start flips into a part wild west, part Caribbean type beat. 1st – Vocals are low. Solid storytelling.
2nd – Detailed imagery. Good vocal effects. The chorus is well-fitting of the beat and very catchy. Repetitive, but it works.
3rd – “Not miss a beat like metronome” too simple.

5. Follow Da Lead
Another club-ready beat that is an appealing blend of dancehall and hip-hop. The chorus is very repetitive but works for this type of song.
1st – “Harder than jawbreakers” too basic. Nice delivery, but presence is too hushed.
2nd – Pronunciation could be better and/or vocals are too low. Dope rhyme scheme and delivery.
3rd – Pronunciation and vocal clarity is an issue here as well. Breath control needs some work.

6. Ric Flair
Cool intro that leads into a jumpin’ beat. 1st – Solid, mainstreamish delivery. The chorus is catchy and clever.
2nd – A couple pronunciation slips. Good flow. 3rd – Nice mic presence in this track, sound like it was mixed differently than on previous tracks. Tight multi-syllabic rhymes.

7. The Gritty Rhyme Syndrome
Intriguing intro. 1st – “Blink of a lazy eye” nice. Rhyme scheme on-point.
2nd – “Long stick like Donatello” haha. “Jello”, predictable. This beat is somewhat odd. The piano melody is distracting at first, but you get used to it, then the chorus has a synth melody that is completely unexpected. The chorus itself is alright.
3rd – Tight energy with a slight LL-type flow. Rashid comes with a versatile flow on the bottom half of the verse.
A bridge with a more cymbal-sounding melody takes over, but is filled with repetitive chants.

8. Carrie Fever
1st – “Thighs begin” nice. Efficient lyrical progression. Chorus is ok, but sets a commercial tone for the track. The beat is smooth but uptempo.
2nd – Pungent delivery. 3rd – Slight lisp, but doesn’t detract much from the track. Very mainstream-focused track on an underground-type beat.

9. Hypnosis
1st – Some distortion in vocals. Basic lyrics. Chorus is dope, digging the singing.
2nd - “Cypher decipher” nice. Solid flow. 3rd – Straightforward lines that don’t show much poetic imagination.
4th – Tight multi-syllabic rhyme structure.

10. Oxygen
Pretty decent, synthy beat. 1st – Vocals are low. The chorus sounds dope, but the vocals are too muted there as well.
2nd - “Like a gallery” ok. “Waves” reaching a little on that metaphor.
3rd – Can’t understand a lot of what’s going on here due to the vocals being so low.

11. Light A Cigarette
1st – Good delivery. Chorus is catchy, but cloud 9 is cliché, especially in this point of the album after multiple similar references. Also, I can’t say I support cigarette advertising.
2nd – “Like a record when it plays” mediocre.
3rd – Sick flow.

12. Africa
Very hype beat. 1st – feeling the Jamaican-style delivery. “Flip me that money/spatula” played. 2nd – Solid rhyme scheme. The short chorus is ok.
3rd – Nice content. “We all got abducted”. 4th – “tiger as a pet” hehe. 5th – Tight delivery.

13. Skit-Pussy
Chuckle-worthy skit.

14. Tables Turn
Story concept feeding straight off of the skit. 1st – Nice flow. “Punched me in the brain” too simple. Vocal effect/delivery is annoying on the chorus.
2nd – Tight delivery. Vocals could have been mixed better and made louder.
3rd – Rhyme scheme is on-point.

15. Eulogy
1st – Tight multi-syllabics. Flow is consistent and solid. Chorus is charismatic and energetic.
2nd – No mic presence and very low on energy. A few competetent multisyllabic rhymes.
3rd – Basic rhyme scheme. No standout lines.
4th – Appropriate energy and delivery. Pronunciation slips.

+ Awesome beat selection.
+ Song topics, flows, and deliveries fit the beats well.
+ Strong delivery and thematic cohesion between members.
+ Nice use of skits.

- Vocal mixing was definitely a huge stain on the project. Much of the lyrics were inaudible and incoherent.
- Pronunciation was a factor, although this may have had something to do with the awful mixing.
- Lyrics were not at all complex.

Compatibility/Appeal Rating:
Underground: 30%
Mainstream: 70%

Favorite Song: Run Dem

Face Value: 7.8/10



Friday, March 12, 2010

Mixtape Review: "For The Love of Dilla" by Dremur

Straight-to-the-point intro that is a talk and rhyme hybrid. Beat starts up along with many quotes about J Dilla.. and that’s all it is. Very prolonged introduction. Could have been much shorter.

Opening sound clip gives you a sense right away of the topic. Nice flow and voice, but can’t help but draw a comparison to Kanye in that respect. Dope content. Switching up the flow with versatility. “Stimulus” line I didn’t fully get, some muddy pronunciation there. Not feeling the chorus, not well sung.
Eric – Quirky metaphor, but not bad. From there until the buddha line is abstract. Vocals could have been mixed better, hard to hear at times.

Chuckle-worthy track intro. Thoughtz – Tight rhyme scheme. Good mic presence. Quirky skit at the end of the verse.
YC – Dope delivery, mic presence, and rhyme scheme. “Clockwork” ok. “Day off” hehe, that’s happened to me.
Dre – Rides the beat well. No real standout lines from either MC on this track.

Feeling the Wylcef-ish type flow on this. Cool use of vocal effects. “Down with the beat/comatose” ok. Diggin’ this chorus, goes very well with the beat. Pretty decent, yet overdone, bridge into an awesome beat switch. Good use of vocabulary.

Nice topic. “Raisinette eyes”, “Ribs”. Dope chorus, but first verse was more about an edible girl. “From my candystand” haha! Ok here are some reference to being “Mr. Edible”. “Sour patch kids” Haha!!!
Geronimo – Good delivery. “Four ways to split that” stood out. Vocal mixing could have been better.

“Snappy happy neck” Hehe. Dope allegory and topic. Flow was alright for the most part, but a couple of rushed lines were in there (ie. “I knew this was right”).

Another unique topic. Nice content. Very short.

Yet another sick concept. Captivating story progression. Delivery is on-point. “Just killed a boy who thought he was my man” pretty good ending.

Nice rhyme scheme… but “Head spinnin” is repeated too much. Cool chorus. “Façade” line is rushed flow-wise. “Soul’s into you” tight. Beginning of “solar system” sequence threw me off at first. “Seed/Grow with ya” works.

“Like the clown fish” the flow on that was off. Chorus is decent. “Get Betha” semi-forced at best. After 2 minutes, only a bridge and chorus is left with a short outro. Would have rather heard another verse.

Dope topic. Lyrics are heavy in detail. Feeling the energy and delivery on this track. The song was well-written for the beat. Chorus is pretty cool. This track should have been further up in the playlist.

12. F.L.I.P feat BLACK MAGIC
Flow is a tad choppy. Chorus is nice.
Black Magic – Good voice. Basic flow. Outro was too long. No one wants to hear that much talking, no matter the topic.

13. SICK MC feat Epiphany Blu and Lex
“Da-feet/defeat” played. Chorus was alright.
Lex – “Arthritis” not bad. Sequence was very on-topic though. Some obvious metaphors though.
Epiphany – Lyrics were hard to follow. I’m not sure if it’s her pronunciation or her writing.

Interview skit. Was somewhat funny.

“Similes best sport” slurred. “Bars don’t sound right” I liked that line, although there was no clear punch there. Good emotion. “Tings” forced. Last minute is left for shoutouts.

Beat rides for a while before the verse. Nice rhyme scheme. Chorus is tight, although a bit repetitive. “Mind over matter” nice.
Geronimo – Rudimentary flow. Delivery is held back by the flow at parts.
Ars – Tight flow. “Launchpad” dope.

Another speaking joint. It doesn’t provide anything new. Drags on.

Opening intro and Dre’s verses are identical to Pt. 1. Would have benefited with some sort of change in those aspects and production.
Otis – Lyrics aren’t very complex, but cohesive.

+ Great quality and variety of song topics.
+ Rhyme scheme and delivery were on-point.
+ Songs were well-tailored to J Dilla’s beats.

- Flow was on for the most part, but was inconsistent in some songs. Laggy and rushed lines both showed up at times.
- A lot of the songs sounded the same. I don’t believe this had to do with Dilla’s beats, but more so with similarity in delivery throughout the tape.
- Too much speaking; a couple skits were just too long.
- Overuse of repetitive and/or chant-like bridges and outros.
- Hardly any standout lines. Poetic devices were used sparingly and ineffectively.

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

Favorite Song: Mr. Edible

Face Value: 8/10



Sunday, March 7, 2010

Mixtape Review: "You're Welcome" by YC The Cynic

1. State I.D.
Funky beat. Standout delivery that leaves every punch-line and metaphors clearly heard. “Arbees but on beat” interesting flip of a played concept. Nice rhyme scheme. “Matador D”, what? Dope content. Clear voice and pronunciation. Vocal production is well done.

2. Kick Back
Early 90s sounding beat. Delivery really boosts the lyrics. Solid flow. Nice vocabulary. “I’m the bomb, detonate” ok, but based off of a played concept. “Taken back” sick! Content was alright.

3. Return of the Slick
“Doe ray/ dough rise” dope. Slick multi-syllables. Rhyme scheme, again, is on point. “Bet some rappers won’t wanna rap after this”, “In the building like government planes” stood out.

4. The Honor Society
1st MC – Nice vocabulary. Pronunciation is off at parts. “Bars/payday” played. Tight switch in delivery at the end.
2nd – “lemon face” ok. Flow is solid. Not much here.
YC – “Regents” ok. “Ya’ll squeamish” nice.
J Monopoly – “Best maine”, haha! Obscure reference though. Tight delivery. “Steering him wrong” too obvious. Funny adlibs.

5. In The City
Warren Britt – Starts off with intense energy and delivery. Nice content and flow.
Chorus is catchy. YC starts off with semi-abstract lines that don’t hit really hit the mark. “Still worm?” “Metal instead of leather/wheels turn” – this doesn’t make sense to me, wheels aren’t made of leather. Verse was lacking lyrical coherence.
Monop – “From Queens come kings” nice. Haha funny adlibs, “ante up”. Flow was solid, but some clear room for improvement.

6. The Disclaimer
“Prolly got herpes anyway.. .slore” HAHA!!!

7. Chris Brown’s Latest Hit
“You just gave me herpes” haha! “If I ain’t got a rug” ok. Dope concept, very entertaining. Chorus is simple but funny. The singing is hilarious. Abstract lines. Seemed to go off topic on that last verse.

Nice wordplay. “Follow suit” ok. “Pass the light like astronauts” doesn’t make sense. Rhyme scheme and delivery is, again, ridiculous! “Mozart” dope.

9. The Blogspot
Nice beat, I’m feelin this. Expansive vocabulary. No standout lines, just a blog advertisement.

10. The Bad Seed
Beat is wild. “Pardoned from an archship”? Pronunciation wasn’t as good in this track. 2nd MC – “Purse” haha. “Killing time” ok.
3rd – Nice flow. “Tennis scout” corny.

11. Lost
1st – “Kick it hard” played/simple. Was off-topic first half of verse.
YC – Some cool verbal play. Some abstract lines. Topic cohesion ambiguous.
Hipnotic – Flow is nice. Solid rhyme scheme. Short verse.

12. Where’s Lauren (Take It Easy Rmx)
Diggin’ this beat. “Dancin’ for change” ouch! “Knows Johnny McCain”nice. Dope vocab and content. Rhyme scheme bulging!

13. Say Superman
“In these shoes”, “In three moves” dope. Steady stream of tight one-liners. Chorus is catchy and intelligent. “X-games Cynic”, “Definite” tight. [Note: For more on this song, peep my review of “Fighting For Futures Worldwide” by Various Artists. (Feb.)]

14. Be Aware (Kings of New York)
Chorus is ok. “Hung with rope” alright. Vocal production not great, loud breaths in particular stood unedited. Abstract lines. I can definitely appreciate a Christopher Walken sound clip.

+ Delivery is poignant, emphatic, and clear. The number one standout weapon in YC’s arsenal.
+ The beats, while similar in style, fit YC’s archetype perfectly.
+ Some dope lines here and there.
+ Extensive vocabulary.
+ Solid guest MCs.

- While delivery was A+, it did not change much at all. YC has a very clear-cut and consistent formula that does not surprise you.
- A lot of abstract lines.
- Majority of topics weren’t very unique.

Compatibility/Appeal Rating:
Underground: 60%
Mainstream: 40%

Favorite Song: Return of the Slick

Face Value: 8.3/10



Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Mixtape Review: "Ode 2 Dilla" by Scienze

1. Intro
“Outro of my mind” nice. “Donuts” somewhat forced/abstract. Vocal production is on point, crisp with proper echoes. Nice delivery for this beat. Flow is solid. What’s with the donuts? Maybe I’m missing a reference. [UPDATE: Donuts is the name of a J Dilla album.]

2. Jamaal
Starts very abstract. “Are you/ or working for a” ok. “In a box/Stationary like cereal” played but flipped nicely. “Straight and arrow/turn” nice. After about 3:40 beat rides out for well over 2 minutes. I understand this is an ode to a producer but this isn’t acceptable.

3. Light Work ft. I.D.R.
Long intro but the beat is interesting enough for it to work. Vocal effect fits the beat well. Good use of multi-syllables. Rhyme scheme provides good segues between lines. “Shoe size” sounds forced.

4. Concrete Rose ft. Wacky Jr. & Fresco Love
Opening verse has a beat-appropriate old-school flow. “Drop” ok, nice effect though. “Heart hits you first” dope sequence. 3rd artist – not feeling the delivery. Flow is very basic.

5. Back Pack Raps
“Stay on traps” ok, but not well explained. “Food for thought/bananas will appeal” Bananas/appeal played but “food for thought” link makes up for it. “Spray on daps” dope. “Scienze blows up” nice.

6. Kwality by Talib Kweli
Quick skit that gives you some J Dilla background.

7. More Beats ft. Top $ Raz & Rich Daname
Flow is tight. “No progress reports” nice.
Raz – Good rhyme scheme. “African dance” solid. “Make an odd number out of dimes” ok.
Rich – Too much echo effect. “We just spark em” ok, played homonym usage but flipped uniquely. Not much direction or focus in content.

8. Ode 2 Love (Pre-Dream) by HERo
Female MC has an old school vibe and a nice voice. Lisp can be distracting though. This track seems out of place, Scienze only appears at the end with a chant.

9. Dream Me
Feelin’ the chorus. Delivery fits the beat well. Dope content, very smooth. “Plane/cupid” sequence is tight. Rhyme scheme is on-point. Humming at the end works well with the beat.

10. InterMISSION
“Writing songs backwards” nice, but odd punch. Quick track.

11. Mind Fuck’d
Nice vocal effects, reminds me of how Dead Weather does their effects. “Time’s up/under it” metaphor is played. Dope rhyme scheme. Sick delivery. “Oxen” haha! “Prophet/profit” been played, but your rhyme scheme on this makes up for it. “Wet like a faucet” sooo played.

12. Fall In Love ft. Joe Hidro & Kaito
Chorus is decent. Nice opening sequence. “Laid back/ never reclining” contradictory. “Parallel/perfect alignment” dope!
2nd – Curses used as filler. Sterile and basic flow. Lacks emotion.

13. Circus ft. I.D.R. & Joe Hidro
The simile in this chorus is plain silly but kinda catchy. “Flipped on me” nice. Not feelin the flow or delivery though.
2nd – Basic flow and lyrics. Mic presence lacking.
Sci – Brings the simile alive in this verse. I wish the other two lyricists did the same. “Ringmaster/ring/king/queen”, “Feel like a clown” dope!! “Tight rope” sequence could have been done better, but ok.

14. Sleeping Awake
“Countin’ the sheep until they run out” ok. “Bring the ton out” decent. Nice rhyme scheme. “Run out” alright.

15. Sweet ‘n’ Low, Half ‘n’ Half
Damn this beat is SICK! Rhyme scheme is INSANE. “Caprendo.capiche/plain and simple” dope. Verse ends flatly. “Fart is” immature but very funny!

16. Sunday Morning
Interesting concept. “Bling” haha! “Made the toilet a chair” hehe. “Night to see” nice.

17. Ode 2 Dilla
Long skit with props to Dilla. A lot of peeps contributing so it stays fairly interesting.

18. Flyyyyy
“livin’ fast like Sonic” ok. Sick rhyme scheme. Lyrics are very abstract on this track. “The air up there can kill ya” nice. “Voltronic” dope.

19. On The 1 (Outro)
Long outro speaking on Dilla. Could have been much shorter.

+ Catchy, varied, and slick rhyme scheme that makes every track different despite similar track vibes.
+ Flow was solid and consistent throughout the tape.
+ Rode and melded with Dilla’s beats cohesively.
+ Delivery was well suited to beats and topics.
+ Vocal production and effects were impressive for the majority of tracks

- Too many abstract lines and punches.
- Guest MCs were not very impressive overall.
- Some songs did not have much thematic focus.
- Not many standout punch-lines or use of poetic devices.
- Many played punch-lines.

Compatibility Rating:
Underground: 65%
Mainstream: 35%

Favorite Song: Mind Fuck’d

Face Value: 8.3/10



Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mixtape Review: "XS" by Jesse Abraham

1. Abraham & Cheese
Clever title. Clips from an audio book playing over a pretty decent beat.

2. So Whatcha Feelin’? Ft. Jenny Hartman
Diggin this beat. Fast marching-band percussion and groovy bass line. “Droppin cakes and candy corns” odd. “Mental laps/lapse” nice. The chorus is quirky but vibeable. “Efficient vibration” hehe. Flow speeds up nicely on last verse. The lyrics on this last verse are very abstract and random. Very hard to follow.

3. Either
Nice beat, remind me of a joint Jay-Z rocked before. The chorus is alright. “like Dr. Pepper when he throws his soda out” I have no idea what that means. Flow is on-point. “Nickel bag trickles”. Dope rhyme scheme/structure. Vocal production is off. “Stripper in a Duke dorm” reference was fairly obscure. “Genitals, heel” haha!

4. Between The Bars ft. Top $ Raz, Spills, & Pete Colon
The beat is sick, loving the deep synth. Vocals on chorus are too low and partially incoherent.
Raz – Nice multi-syllable rhymes. Delivery and flow work with the beat well. “Comes with the territory” tight.
JAbra – Good delivery and flow. Lyrics are on the battle tip. Dope rhyme scheme. Delivery change-ups are sick. Some of the content seemed out of place.
Pete – Vocals are too low. Interesting delivery. Nothing stood out lyric-wise.
All three verses were speaking on 3 different topics. No thematic cohesion at all.

5. Now I Know
The beat is bumping with a catchy percussion. Feelin’ the chorus. “Series of moments”. First track with a solid topic. “A part of each other” nice. “I’m a fraction”.

6. Softly
A dopely mixed & sampled beat.

7. Just In Time ft. YC The Cynic
Chorus is well structured but Jesse’s singing voice is too monotone. Beat is righteous. Flow is vicious. “Shuckin’ the corn” Haha! What!?
YC – Very on topic. “I fly with it”. Effective delivery and nice flow.
JA – Diggin’ this drastic change in delivery. More on-topic here. “Hadoken a wristwatch” hehe. Cool bridge-like transition before the last couple lines.

8. I Can’t Quit You
Beat is super-tight. “Legally bequeaths me with beats” ok. Great vocabulary. “Trees, leaves, and seedling.. paper” dope. Diggin’ the delivery a lot. Nice multis. Well done vocal effects.

9. All I Know Is
Chill beat, I feels it. “Playing with a dradel” Haha!! Chorus is decent. Nice topic and content.

10. When
Funky beat. “Stop being bendy” Haha! “When will vaccines get infected”, “When did everyone start wearing tight pants”, “Ticklish”. Unique topic and rhyme scheme.

11. The Sit Down
This was weird/interesting haha. It could have been better developed. If it's a "voicemail" how are you responding to him?

12. The Sickest
Vocal production is low quality. Some nice mixing, but also sometimes it’s too much. “Disinfect it”. Diggin’ this chorus.

13. That Song
Vocal production needs work. Flow is a tad basic compared to flow on previous songs. The main chorus sample is somewhat annoying after a while.

14. March
Very synthy and clubbish beat, I digs. Organs add nicely to it. Soft background ambient synth make a smooth transition. I like evolution of percussion after that midpoint. This is a really unique mix of techno, house, and hip-hop.

15. Take Me
Chorus is cool. “Even then we say yum” haha. The topic romantically describes NYC. The delivery was alright, but I felt was not up to par as in some of the earlier tracks.

+ Excellent flow that stays on beat all throughout and changes up at the right times.
+ Varied rhyme structure that makes great effort towards keeping the listener’s attention.
+ Sick delivery in most of the tracks.
+ Guest artists were on-point for the most part.
+ Awesome beat production.

- Random lyrics and content peppered much of the first half of this tape that can leave the listener confused and de-immersed.
- The bottom portion of the tape, from 11-15, consisted of tracks that, while more on-topic, were more bland than the first 10 songs, with not many stand-out lines at all.
- Vocal production was a mixed bag. Some tracks were well engineered, while others were clearly not.
- Jesse’s delivery was lackluster towards the end, especially compared to the first set of tracks.
- Song topics in the first half could have been better thought out and cohesive.

Compatibility Rating:
Underground: 75%
Mainstream: 25%

Favorite Song: Now I Know

Face Value: 7.8/10



Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mixtape Review: "Fighting For Futures Worldwide" by Various Artists

1. Fighting For Futures (Intro) by DJ Mr. President
Mr. Prez shows off serious scratching skills to a mellow, yet up-tempo beat. Use of a few samples were very repetitious.

2. Say Superman by YC the Cynic
Production and mixing is on point. Back to back punch-lines. “Connect four in three moves”. The chorus is catchy. The beat is funky with great change-ups. Delivery and wordplay are definitely his strong suits.

3. Something to Feel by Edara
Here is a smooth pop/r&b track with a nice beat that reminds me of something Janet would rock to. Edara’s silky voice caresses your ears.

4. We Can Fly by Homeboy Sandman
Back to hip-hop with Sands with an expected melodic chorus. I’m loving the use of samples so far in this tape. Can’t go wrong with Street Fighter II. The beat has a great Spanish guitar + Caribbean drum sound to it. HS brings imaginative content with a solid and persistent flow. “Dermatologists” line I didn’t get. Someone help me with that one. “Security breach” line offers vivid imagery, this I like. Second verse starts off with a complex and ambidextrous rhyme scheme. His lyrics are his densest here in the sense that they are less accessible. I appreciate complexity and historical reference but it shouldn’t take more than three listens to know exactly what a few bars are conveying. The third verse has a great rhyme scheme for this type of beat. “Draws energy from the underneath”.

5. Brooklyn to Babylon by Shinobi Ninja
Moving straight into party mode with this one. Another Caribbean-inspired beat with dope horns and synths. This track has a very poppy vibe but it is catchy. A lot of repetition until the last minute The short verse at the end is simple but works well with the feel with the track.

6. Open Hearts & Minds (Skit)
Short and to the point. No complaints here.

7. Lifetime by Fusion
Lovely R&B song with nice vocal harmonies. The all-acoustic guitar instrumentation was the right move.

8. Dead by Top $ Raz
A somber track with a smooth-voiced Top $ with a half singing melodic flow. Chorus uses vocal effects well. Content is completely on-topic and exemplifies stellar storytelling which this beat fully encourages. Lyrical complexity and poetic devices were nonexistent but they were not really necessary. The message this track delivers benefits from Raz’ clarity.

9. Dream On by Eric Sosa
The emotion is definitely heard although his delivery sounds strained or forced. “All the right elements.” Rhyme scheme on first verse starts off simple but picks up towards the end. The chorus is mediocre, only because I am picky with sampled choruses and how artists contribute, or don’t contribute, to them with their own rhymes. “Ketchup/Grey poupon” played. The prolonged food metaphors are lackluster.

10. Harder by The New Age
Noticeable pops left in chorus vocal mix. I dig this beat, very New York. Flow goes from steady to sloppy and vice versa. “Since four I knew what a razor was for” damn. “Nickel-plated bubblegum” forced simile. Undoubtedly the weakest track thus far.

11. Worth Fighting For (Skit)
Enforces the “worldwide” aspect of the tape with random Englishpersons. I can dig.

12. MLK by Danny Goines
“Reach the clouds in the sky” ok. Pretty straightforward flow and delivery. The beat is alright, if a little on the generic side. Chorus is somewhat predictable but the lyrics have more to it than you expect at first. “On the shoulders of giants” nice.

13. Contradictory by Spills vs. Felecia Cruz
Spills starts off with a syllable-icious flow. Vocals are too low. Can’t really make out any of the first short-verse’s lyrics. “My antenna senator with sentences” what?? The second shortie makes more sense but it’s way too short. The chorus is too repetitive to occur more frequently than the verses. Halfway through, there isn’t enough to explain the topic. Felecia’s first verse is in a hushed whisper which makes parts of it hard to distinguish between a following echo or a poorly pronunciated line. The second “verse” is similar. The beat is soulful with well-used samples. Overall, a very niche song.

14. Daydreaming II by Best Kept Secret
Dope voice. Delivery and mic presence is lacking in the chorus. I get no sense of conviction from it. Flow is seamed and stilted. The content brings real talk any underground emcee can relate too.

15. Digit by Jesse Abraham
Beat is well produced with a deep bass and Jesse’s well-mixed vocals are superbly clear over it. “Finite forever” “My knife’s a feather” dope. Starts off strong with a poetically infused rhyme scheme. Some vagueness. Second verse with an uber-funky flow that is semi-omnipotent. It’s both here and there at the same time! His mic presence is very niche, akin to someone softly rambling into your ear. To be clear, your feeling about it will be very subjective. I can imagine most will either love or hate it. It seems like the first was built for lyrics, the second for flow, and the second for rhyme scheme.

16. Sky High by Varyus Waise
The beat is very soulful with a steady bass. The hypest song so far in the tape. Waise’s style is a nice change of pace from a largely mellow project. Flow a lil choppy at parts and I caught at least a couple sped-through line. Well-emphasized punches. Breath control could use some work. Sticks to the topic well.

17. Into Reality (Skit)
Quick skit to an up-tempo beat.

18. Leave It Alone by Father Dude
This reminds me of the Family Matters theme song for some reason. Awesome R&B song that sounds like it’s from the 80s but with current generation production and mixing.

19. Live Ya Life by Gypsy Flesh
Chorus has a mainstream sound to it. This has a similar formula to a few 90s female hip-hop songs. The beat is very 1996 with a slick bass-line and disco sample. Nice voice and mic presence. Chorus is well-sung, with a poppy feel.

20. Mr. Policeman by Bless Roxwell
Not feeling her voice much. Chorus pretty simple. Delivery is unique and fits the accusatory content. Good topic with insight in every line. The bridge was lackadaisical. Her straight-to-the-point verses outshine the annoying chorus.

21. Spaceship Earth by Eagle Nebula
Beat is funkariffic. Nice voice and resonant mic presence. I dig that little chorus. Trippy imagery with a conscious tone.

22. Dialogue Fresh by Premonition
“Iron chef of the dialect” line and the rest of that opening rhyme scheme was dope. “Vegetable crisper” Haha!! Flow is on-point. “Taser and stun beats” nice. The chorus is catchy and refreshing. The deep piano melody on it is my favorite part of this percussion-filled beat. “Wrist breaks”. Prem’s subtle delivery variance keeps it interesting while making it easy for the listener to follow along with the lyrics.

23. Brooklyn Keep On Takin It by Warren Britt
Resounding WOOS start off this track. I usually disapprove of this kind of mixtape staple, but Mr. President mixed it down particularly well. Flow is a little rigid at parts but well spat in others. Multi-syllables well done. “Play boy like a centerfold” not bad. Chorus is alright. There’s enough going on in the beat for it to pass, but Warren could have laid some better hype over the first chorus while the second is well-covered.

24. Losing Control by Otis Clapp
Beat is mellow with a well-placed sample. Good voice with an appropriate delivery. Flow is steady. Poorly structured, two choruses before a verse? Clapp starts off his verse with a picked-up flow but rushed through “gotta be more through it”. Song lacked poetic devices.

25. Lunar Eclipse by Miz Metro
Very catchy beat. Opening vocals a tad low and has a 1960s vibe. Singing style changes up to a more Madonna-ish demeanor. At the end she takes on a British accent which brings M.I.A. to mind. Unique feel to this track.

26. Care For Others (Skit)
Somewhat haunting beat with a few short words.

27. Peace, Love & Music by Jeanette Berry
Vocals are clear but could have been mixed better. Jazzy beat under soothing vocals.

28. Genuine by David Aaron
Soft-rock beat with plenty of cymbal action. I like David’s voice but it does go monotone at the “we all share” parts. Overall, could have used more vocal inflexion.

29. The Billboard by The Zeps
Good voice and mixing to go with it. Persistent flow with well-placed multi-syllables. Chorus is a rockin’ good time. “Payin my gas bill”, “one buck”. As an underground artist, I can definitely relate to this. Other than flow, not much new brought to this overdone topic though.

30. Saw Red by Edara
Deep into the tape we have another E joint. The beat is KTU-worthy and would please many a club-goer. The chorus is repetitive but It’s diggable. Her previous track stands as the better.

31. Casual Boys by Terry Poison
80s influenced beat that can get your head bopping on-contact. Heavy synth will have your skull vibrating to all directions at once.

32. Youth Around The World (Skit)
Shoutouts on a saxxy beat.

+ Overall vocal production and engineering was crisp and well done.
+ DJ Mr. President did a great job mixing track segues.
+ Wide variety of different tracks. A proper amount of R&B filled the void left by a lack of hype tracks.
+ Many different song topics.
+ The tape combines both strong mainstream and underground appeal.

- Overly mellow vibe almost to a fault. Not enough tracks that can get a crowd amped.
- Lyricism varied greatly, from too much to not enough. Expected in a various artists tape, but may push some to approach it more selectively. A project specialized more according to song type would have been beneficial. (ie. R&B only or Hip-Hop only)

Compatibility/Appeal Rating:
Underground: 40%
Mainstream: 60%

Favorite Song: Dialogue Fresh

Face Value: 8.5/10



Monday, February 15, 2010

Mixtape Review: "R.I.P. Death To The Industry Vol. 1" by Illicit Visionariez

1. Intro
Starts off the mixtape with a haunting beat and requisite deep-voice taunt. I digs it.

2. Cold [Remix]
The beat is a bass-tastic smooth one with an often-used sample. The chorus works with the topic well. Simple yet catchy.
Gordo laces the first verse with lively emotion but with a flow that drags somewhat which could probably be remedied by tweaking the delivery or by adding a couple more syllables to increase fluidity. His lyrics are straight forward and direct.
Precise is next in verse 2 with a stable punch-line rhyme scheme. Pre’s delivery and emotion is well suited for the continuous array of punches. Flow is on point.
Gordo’s 3rd with more mellow and smooth-voiced lines. Dropping the beat for the last line was a nice touch.

3. Blueprint 2 [Freestyle]
Pre starts it off with a calmer approach. Mixing on this track seems to be a step down from Cold. “Read it twice”, “Hate IV”, “Can’t Stand”, “Matter of face” lines were nice. Doubles could have definitely matched better. Adlibs clutter up the verse a bit. Nice switch in rhyme scheme at parts.

4. I.V. Anthem
The beat is a steady piano jammer with a simple melody. Gypsy starts out this track with fierce emotion. Rhyme scheme and flow are simple but work well with his delivery. “Smilin back through the blood”.
Ghetto Preacher is next with a wild and erratic flow. Adlibs muffle out the verse a lot. Pronunciation can definitely use work. JusWyze is next with a lot of slurring throughout his verse. I dig his voice. Not feeling the flow on the mini-chorus no matter who spits it.
Gordo is next with an unexpected beat change. Good vocabulary.
Precise is last but not least. “Ten hut” adlib is dope. “No reason in general”.

5. If I Ruled The World [Freestyle]
JusWyze starts this one off. Sounds like breath control could use work. Pronunciation still an issue. Poor verse.
Precise with more hyphy punch-lines and steady flow. Interesting use of effects. Adlibs were used well and sparingly in this verse.
Gypsy on the next with a delivery that has some emotion but sounds monotone when compared to his viciousness on the Anthem track. Good vocab. Multi-syllabic rhymes spread throughout.
Cool track but would have preferred an on-topic remix to another “I’m the shit” track.

6. Stillmatic [Freestyle]
I always dug this beat. This is a Gordo-only affair with some chuckle-worthy lines about unsightly dress and “bubble-gum artists”. “Sesame street hat”.

7. Nicest Rappers Alive [skit]
An entertaining skit that was maybe a little longer than it should have been. I don’t think I’ve seen a skit over 4 minutes before. “Get your butt soft” Haha!

8. Wanted [Dead or Alive]
Nice beat made with a great sample. On Gordo’s stretched-out flow persists on his second solo track. Doubles are off. Lyrics are very concrete. Could use more poetic devices.

9. Under The Sun [Original Rendition]
Up next is Precise’s first solo joint on the tape. The beat is solid with a classic sample. Pre comes in with a good flow and a struggle-to-the-top concept. So far this is the most personal of the tracks I’ve heard. “Spillin the formaldehyde”, “mind on rigamortis”, “restraining order” are standout lines. “Period” line is played. My only real gripe with this track is that the topic doesn’t fit the chorus, but the vibe of the beat certainly does.

10. Last Hope [Original Rendition]
Soulful beat. I dig. The singer on the chorus is pretty decent. In what is Gordo’s 3rd solo on the tape, the topic and beat better match his mellow voice and delivery. Lyrics are deep and true to real-life situations. Would be great if this were earlier on in the tape as this is much better than his first 2 solos. I really dug the feel of this track.

11. Interlude
A (thankfully) brief intermission that is over before you know it.

12. One [Original Interlude]
I’m digging this upbeat.. beat and the sampled chorus. Pre is first with a laidback flow. Gordo is next with good vocabulary. Clever rock references abound. Last verse is a back-and-forth with Precise and Gordo which is always fresh. A light-hearted track that is light on lyricism but heavy on fun.

13. Bang, Bang [Original Rendition]
I love this beat and even contemplated lacing it myself. Pre starts it up his solo with his usual antics. Some of the strengths and weaknesses of the verse have been mentioned earlier in previous tracks. “Bone ya marrow”.

14. What Them Girls Like [Original Rendition]
A remix to a well-received pop song. I liked the original so this is an easy win for me. Precise starts it off with uber confidence. Gordo comes in strong for this type of song with his butter-svelte vocals. “What she wants and needs” is a simple line but effectively delivered. “Rum and coke”, “call yourself a cab”: hilarious! Precise again: “my carseat stinks”, “you’se a hoe”. I like the jovial twist to the track. The gypsy outro was classic.

15. Cross My Mind [Original Rendition] ft. Scooby
Pre starts it off with smooth punches. Doubles on this verse work a lot better. Gordo 2nd: “Yup!” I chuckled. Another Gordo-compatible track. Scooby does a great job singing on this track. Very catchy chorus!

16. Ode To New York
The last Precise solo of the tape is dedicated to NYC, obviously. This is a proper beat for the topic. “Ebola is a hood chick”, “J-A-F”, “take ya rock away”, “Lil Scrappy”. Clever wordplay.

17. Outro
The outro greets the listener with another creepy beat, this time one with a “Halloween” sample. More spooky deep-voiced messages and laughing.

+ The topic-based tracks definitely stood out and evoked some emotion.
+ Precise’s spare but hard-hitting punches.
+ Gordo’s humorous lines in his more mellow tracks.
+ The beat selection, although predictable, were well chosen and friendly to most ears.

- Mixing was hit-or-miss, especially doubles and adlibs. Oftentimes, the doubles didn’t match the punch-lines, and in some instances, two completely different things were being said.
- Pronunciation was a resounding weakness throughout the first half of the tape, particularly in verses by JusWyze and Ghetto Preacher.
- Song topics were not varied enough. The first half of the mixtape felt redundant while the second half brought more interesting and diverse concepts.
- Lyricism was there for the most part but, ideally, there should have been more standout lines overall.
- Flow was definitely an issue for much of this mixtape. Everyone could use at least a little more improvement, but Gordo, JusWyze, and Ghetto Preacher must step their game up.

Compatibility/Appeal Rating:
Underground: 55%
Mainstream: 45%

Favorite Song: Under The Sun

Face Value: 7.2/10



Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Mixtape Review: "Get With A Visionary" by J. Biz

1. Intro
Nice, sample-heavy beat. Mixing is solid, crisp vocals. Back to back multi-syllabics. “Empanada”, “Substance abusive”, & “baking soda” were standout lines. Good breath control. “Hard work” kinda played. This is a proper intro track simply because it does its job well. It nicely expresses Jbiz’s style which is a mix of underground with mainstream appeal. Reminds me of a lot of mainstream mixtape grinders but with a more positive twist.

2. Biz Iz Goin In
Triumphant type beat here. Hype chorus. The vocal mixing on this track sounds a little more distorted and louder than in the Intro, but it’s listenable. Flow is dope. This is head-boppin’ music fasho. I’m dancing in my chair as I write this. A couple lines are muffled, either due to pronunciation slips, an off double, or mixing. “Ribcage to an asshole”. Energy and emotion were definitely there.

3. Osama Bin Grindin
Clever name. The beat is another epic melody with horns galore. Chorus is catchy. First verse starts strong. “Method to my combat”. Nice use of vocabulary. Again, vocal production could’ve been crisper. Another super-hype track.

4. Shoot Me Down [Remix]
This track brings it down a notch with a mellow approach which was well-needed. Vocal mixing sounds better on this one. Rhyme scheme is methodical and consistent. “Rather the universe”. Chorus has a nice sample. Whereas every track so far were self-promotional hyphies, this one shows a little more depth by giving historical examples of people who never gave up and became great.

5. Bizunderstood
Another sample-heavy beat. Mixing is on the lower end on this track. Doubles at parts are a tad off. Feeling the different delivery approach. “Recognition / Record mission”, nice wordplay.

6. Blow My Mind [Remix]
Mixing is good here. “Crystals on the weed”, dope. “Cut down trees”, predictable. Most of the lyrics weren’t too impressive here. Standard weed song fare. Not a bad track though.

7. Wunderworld of L.G.I.T.
Beat is funky and the flow is machine gun quick. Mixing on chorus could have been better, although the verses are clear. Energy and mic presence is there.

8. Get Down, Jerz Up ft. Chupie! & Ravenis
Chorus is alright, too simple for my tastes though and not catchy enough. Not feeling Chupie!’s vocal effects, it’s effecting lyrical clarity. His flow doesn’t vary at all throughout the verse. The beat is a proper dance tune. Jbiz brings a solid verse that switches flow here and there. Ravenis has good flow and energy but not much content. Typical club track, but it does the job

9. Come Zone Out
This beat’s a hype double-time affair. Jerz comes in strong with a chain of multi-syllabic punch-lines. I like the vicious tone in Jerz’ voice. The chorus is very catchy. Flow is vicious. This track doesn’t offer much variance from the first portion of the tape.

10. Don’ Know
An interesting concept track. Vocal mixing could have been clearer and a bit louder. Dope content. Doubles could have been tighter.

11. Effortlessly
Dope beat that knocks. Chorus is pretty decent. I like the way Jerz starts with a well-ranged delivery. “Hardboiled” stood out. Early second verse has a pronunciation slip. “Zach Morris” Haha! “And texture” Nice. More punch-line hyphy but there were some fresh lines in this one.

12. We Go Hard
The chorus is way too repetitive. “Played through the tri-state”. Content in this track is noticeably more generic than other similar tracks so far.

13. Dreams R Made Of
Smooth beat and a well patterned chorus start this off. Vocal quality is way down on this verse. Dope rhyme scheme. Last verse is mixed much better. Nice vocab. “Pockets hurl” alright.

14. Y.B. Million Buckz
Beat is cool, but a lot like the other hyphy beats throughout the tape. Chorus is alright. “Entertaining in costumes”. Flow is there. No lines really stand out for me here.

15. Like A Star [L.G.I.T. Mix]
Beat is techno-like and danceable. Chorus works well with the samples. Jerz’ verse fits the track and topic well. “Spacecraft” nice. It’s an R&B collabo but there is a lot more singing than rapping.

16. Heartbeat
Much needed change of beat style. Vocal mix needs work. “Main thing, music” True.
I can appreciate the heart references.

17. Conglomerate Bars
Clubby beat. Diggin’ the rhyme scheme. “As hard as obama clique” ok.

18. And The Beat Goes On
“Boisenbarry platter” nice. Chill beat. Dope rhyme scheme. Chupie! has a good voice but simplistic rhymes.

19. Trouble
Vocals are a little low. Another concept track that casts a wider net on more topics. Beat is tight with good samples. “Flippin’ money just to get this gas money”, “hold my shine” are fresh.

20. All Nite
Predictable sample based on title, but the beat is alright though… for a minute then you realize there’s too much going on, too much percussion. “Flyer than any chopper” played. Next verse brings a vicious flow and unique delivery.

21. RIP Jorge Jorb Baerga
Concept joint. Sentimental track that pays respect to a fallen friend. Not heavily lyrical but a cool track that pays its proper respects. A nice change to the majority of the tape’s theme.

22. Jerz On It ft. Heat, Yung C, & Rocco
Hard, Em/50 type beat. Heat vaguely reminds me of 50 actually. “AC” played but ok. Good delivery. “Ain’t no more trunk space” Haha! Chorus vocals are way too loud. Rocco has a smooth approach but a simple rhyme scheme. Biz brings a hard delivery that fits the beat. “Da-feet” very common wordplay.

23. Thank You [Outro]
Shout out track. I like how the lyrics match the original song’s flow and rhyme scheme at parts.

24. Shhh [Bonus]
Multis abound. One of the more underground-like beats on the tape. Chorus is alright. “Glisten, ain’t even got a chain” ok.

25. Where I’m At by Rocco ft. JBiz
First MC has a West Coast flow but it plods. Quirks in Biz’ vocal mix.


+ Jbiz has a solid and consistent flow that refuses to miss a snare. Many songs had above average flow that catches the listener’s ear instantaneously.
+ Delivery was on point and even switched up at times, although more changeups would have been nice.
+ The beats were of good quality and not over exposed.
+ Jbiz’ rhyme scheme was on point. It never felt redundant.


- Too many hyphy songs and not enough originality in topics. Most songs involved addressing haters or talk of how sick the MC is. Especially with a mixtape this long, it can bore the listener to hear 10 songs with identical themes. The more diversity, the better.
- Overall, the lyrics were well crafted, but there is definitely a lot of room for more poetic devices such as metaphors, similes, etc. A lot of the lyrics seemed too straight forward.
- Vocal mixing and engineering were lacking in many songs, although most were very listenable.

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

Favorite Song: Biz Iz Goin In

Face Value: 8.2/10




Sunday, February 7, 2010


This is my independent hip-hop review blog. The purpose of this blog is to help indie artists elevate and develop their skills by giving a completely objective, and sometimes harsh, review of submitted albums and mixtapes. While no one can be completely objective, I'll try as hard as I can to give a detailed critique based on my idea of what hip-hop is. Not only will I analyze your hard work for your own benefit, but it will also benefit me to bring forth to my conscious mind what I, and others, look for in a good hip-hop album or mixtape.

Please do notice that I have yet to mention the word "rap". I feel rap and hip-hop are two completely different things. What you hear on the radio is mostly rap. Commercialized, derivative, unimaginative, and "POPPY" rhyming. These songs usually lack introspection and are completely superficial. I do not endorse this. If you submit something like this to me, then I will have to put my bias into consideration. Having said that, I do recognize the place for that kind of music and it is what's making money for people these days. This is why when I review your work, I will also judge whether I think it's more appealing to The Underground or The Mainstream (ex. 55% Underground, 45% Mainstream). Could a 100% mainstream album earn a 9/10? Sure, of course. Anything is possible, and I fully believe that when it comes to life in general.

Will anyone ever get a 10/10? Possible. Is it probable? Nope. A 10/10 score will not be considered perfect since nothing can be perfect when it comes to music since everyone has their own tastes. A 10/10, which likely will never be awarded, would be something akin to "Capital Punishment" by Big Pun, "The Score" by the Fugees, or "All Eyez On Me" by Tupac. An album that, from production to lyrics, is the making of a classic. Scores will be broken down to each tenth of a point, making it as precise as possible without sounding pretentious (Ha!). So there is no confusion, here are what the numbers represent.

11: Perfect - "The Unicorn". Doesn't Exist.

10: Classic - "The Immortal". A rare gem that is few and far apart. In ten years, you could listen to this piece and still find relevance. It simply defies time.

9: Outstanding - "The Daaag". Impressive, amazing.. Whatever you wanna call it, this piece brings hip-hop to a new level with originality, depth, and catchiness. Only a few minor issues keep this from being a complete classic, but they're barely detectable. Although, it's possible there are SOME tracks on there which, in themselves, ARE indeed classics.

8: Great - "The Dope". Exceeding the standard of hip-hop today. This work has the right elements, save for a few somewhat perceptible blemishes. Maybe you shouldn't have done that one track about shoelaces. You're close to the top echelon. Just a few more steps and you're there!

7: Good - "The Trooper". This work is a mixed bag. There may be quite a few good parts to this piece, but there were also enough not-so-good parts to drag it down from dopeness. There's still a lot of potential, though.

6: Decent - "The Straggler". This album or mixtape shows a lot of effort and passion, but comes up short in many categories. Some facets aren't quite as listenable as others. There's still some good in there, but you may have to listen carefully to find them.

5: Mediocre - "The Lost Soul". There are major issues with this one. At this point, I'll be trying very hard to find something good to say about this piece. I will also likely get mean and vengeful on your ass and tear this thing apart for making me listen to the whole thing. But at least you'll know exactly what you need to save your hip-hop career. On the other hand, some may really like this joint. It may fall into a small niche I'm not privy to like "Electro-Pig Squeal-Death Rap".

4: Deficient - "The Cliffhanger". This is the moment in your life where you need to seriously ask yourself if the music business is right for you. Will you fight to pull yourself up out of the muck or will you fall 1000 feet to your sloppy death? The entirety of this piece is hardly listenable.

3: Bad - "The Torture Device". EVERYTHING about this goes against all that is good in the world. This is what interrogators use on captive terror suspects for quick answers. Yes, you could use this piece of work as a WEAPON. You shouldn't even be allowed to listen to OTHER people "rap".

Anything under that would just be an exercise in comedy. In any case, I aim to be highly selective in who's work I choose to review since the review process takes up a lot of my time.. and I'm NOT getting paid for this. Be very very surprised if I review anything under a 6.. They likely bribed me! Remember, my reviews are not written for promotional purposes, but are mainly for the MC's own elevation. Expect harsh reviews with no punches held. Throughout the years, I've learned that brutal critique is the BEST way for an MC to elevate his game. Welcome to Face Value.