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.