Posts Tagged hip hop

Album Review: E.L.I.

Never has my first listen of an album seem not so lightbulb an idea thanks, or no thanks, to the overwhelming backlash Panshak ‘Ice Prince’ Zamani received upon the release of his debut album ‘Everybody Loves Ice Prince’ just over a month ago.

Yes, the outpouring of emotions concerning an album tagged the rap book of bars to not spit for upcoming rappers kept me from bothering to get E.L.I. soon as it dropped. Same backlash I honestly had to find out for myself and concur with or otherwise, so here goes….

Following a string of successful guest appearances on tracks by his fellow Choc City mates and other Nigerian as well as some foreign artistes, expectation for Ice Prince’s maiden album consequently touched the clouds.

The former Jos resident decided to try pleasing everybody by putting together one too many sounds for our listening (dis)pleasure and this here’s my first grouse with E.L.I. Being a debut album, it would have been a whole lot better he stuck to the rap and hip hop genre rather than exploring what other talents lay inate. Such should only come after at least two highly successful albums in my opinion; Lagbaja a prime example and even he did so after six albums (I’m open to correction).

Next is the album’s title. Ever Lyrical Ice Prince is what I thought E.L.I. meant when the label let it be known that’s what the album’s title would be. Should’ve kept the original title he had in mind; the street he grew up in at Jos… understandable though, switching to E.L.I. following the messages he received when his mother died.

Then are the materials that made #IcePrinceBars a hashtag that stands for very lame bars. Truly, Ice spat a few here and there on the 17 track album that weren’t quite… *sigh*

“Can’t even ball cos these haters tryna deflate”… -__-. Some other ‘-_-‘ lines on the album include “I’m too big and my file never compress” -_-, “I spit too much I feel like I’m tongue-less.” -__- and the track, Magician I think, where I hear stuff about a she being ‘Inter Milan’?-___- but to all that, “Hate me? Watch my finger pop, no wicklow”.

Some other lines I’m willing to stand in the line of verbal bullets for though; meaning I like ’em, include “cos even when rain de fall we still drop sweat” just to emphasise on the hustle, “I’m balling like oh yea, homie call me la liga” and as if he knew what was coming, “If you fly too much they turn terrorists. If you try to shine too bright they turn eclipse”.

In all, la Liga disappointed as regards dabbling into other genres when I’d have preferred hearing him rather what he feels he ‘also’ can offer. Then those bars… -______-.

Ignoring that this is an album by a rap artiste however, a few of the sounds (excluding vocals) are enjoyable. Jesse Jagz went bonkers on the beat of ‘That Ni**a’. Pimple face (couldn’t help it) also delivered the goods on ‘Juju’ and of course ‘Superstar’ and definitely on ‘Oleku’ which, like it or really like it, is the biggest single of 2011 in Africa and that’s without taking to account the many remixes of it by ‘freestyle’ champions.

Samklef did good on the beat of ‘End of Story’ as did WizBoyy on ‘By This Time’ and to my utter surprise, M.I. on ‘Olofofo’ as well as ‘Remember’ and ‘Thank You’, which was co-produced with Chopstix.

Songs I can allow to take up megabytes on the system are Remember, Juju, Small Small, That Ni**a and Thank You. Of course, Oleku and Superstar have grown on a brother.

Rating: 2.8/5

1: Remember
2: Juju
3: Superstar
4: Magician ft Yung L & J Milla
5: Baby
6: Olofofo ft Wizkid
7: See Myself
8: Wassup Wassup ft 2face
9: Oleku ft Brymo
10: Find You
11: By This Time ft WizBoyy
12: Somebody Lied
13: Small Small ft Sean Tero
14: That Ni**a ft Morell
15: End of Story ft Samklef
16: Raindrops [It’s All Good]
17: Thank You ft Choc Boiz

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Distant Relatives Album Review

The idea of a hip hop icon and his reggae counterpart doing an album collaboration held quite an attraction to me and I had such anticipation for the album based on previous kind of collaborations as the Best of Both Worlds by Jay-Z and R. Kelly as well as the mash-up series by Mtv that was highlighted by the Collision Course album by Linkin Park and Jay-Z.

Distant Relatives by Nasir ‘Nas’ Jones and Damien ‘Junior Gong’ Marley; offspring reggae legend of Bob Marley, is a fusion of hip hop and reggae as never done before and the first single off it; As We Enter did a world of good for the album with its rhythmic beat that successfully complemented the seamless exchange of verses between the two artistes.

But if you thought the rest of the album would follow suit…the album would be a total flop; and that’s just being nice. That said, it’s safe to state that the duo do their best to lace their respective bars with not your average material and I’m especially impressed with Junior Gong’s contribution to the album – that’s apart from being the album’s co-producer – as highlighted in his flow on ‘Nah Mean’, Gong did to the track what Eminem did to Jay-Z’s ‘Renagade’ with all due respect to Nas.

Damien Marley maintains that tempo well enough in the following track ‘My Generation’ which featured Joss Stone and Lil’ Wayne who does his bit, as always “so when u finish reading Revelations/thank God for my generation”.

Flag Wavin’ K’Naan is also featured on the album in the track Africa Must Wake Up, a very slow tempo song I must warn that requires your attention for twenty seconds short of seven minutes and you’ll have to be patient before hearing K’Naan; he comes in just after the third minute and frankly I thought he’d do more but alas, he was just passing by I guess. The beat goes up a notch in tempo though from the fourth minute before going back to status quo in the final minute. Why I’ve gone through that trouble is to say, it’s a groovy song actually.

My qualms with the album is why it couldn’t live up to its title and get some distant relatives on the album as well with names like South African rapper HHP and maybe a 9ice from Nigeria coming to mind, it would’ve helped capture the whole idea of the album in my view.

Another down of the album for me is expecting a little bit more on the album – tasking two or more producers to lace their beats on, Wyclef Jean and Jerry Duplessis for starters – especially seeing as the album took two years to produce.

Rating: 6/10

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Teflon Don Album Review

The latest studio album of Dade County rapper William D. Roberts, better known as Rick Ross and fast becoming known also as Ricky Rozay, is one very expensive piece of music that sees him collaborate quite a number of artistes as well as sample the exclusive-sounding works of producers as J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, Kanye West, No. ID, Lex Luger and the Runners on the iTunes bonus track.

Teflon Don album cover - the catch is in the scenery captured in the shades

Teflon Don has Rick Ross rap for most parts about the usual we’d expect from him; life on the fast lane, title tracks of a couple of his favourite automobiles apparently but in tracks as “Free Mason”, “Tears of Joy” and “Maybach Music III”, the self proclaimed boss somewhat put to rest any doubts of his, pulling off cheeky lines like “We’re the lost symbols speakin’ cryptic code/ancient wisdom valuable like gifts of gold” and “My top back like JFK/they wanna push my top back like JFK!/so…so I JFK, Join Forces with the Kings and we ate our day” from “Free Mason”, “Everybody know I’m alotta people threat/biggie smalls in the flesh, I’m living my life after death” from “Tears of Joy” and “I came alive like a morph in summertime/Japanese wheels, blades all samurai” from “Maybach Music III”.

It is on “Free Mason”, featuring RocNation mogul Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter and John Legend, that Rozay in my view pulls off one of his better verses ever; a necessary thing to do when you’re rapping alongside a proven wordsmith as Hova who, on the track, explicitly debunked claims of him being a part of the church of Satan, “Rumours of Lucifer, I don’t know who to trust… he without sin cast the first stone, so y’all should look in the mirror and double check with your parents… b***h I’m red hot/I’m on my third six but a devil I’m not”.

On the No. ID and Kanye West produced “Tears of Joy”; both of whom I feel should produce more beats together more often, Rick Ross raps over the old school vibe from the genius duo about rising out of the ghetto to living the life only black American Express cards can afford, such as a “quarter million for the…” track’s production apparently.

Such is the theme that runs through the album with self proclaimed king of the south T.I. and Erykah Badu featured on “Maybach Music III” along with Jadakiss, Diddy on “No. 1” following the success of their collaboration on Diddy’s “Hello, Good Morning”. Other artistes featured on Teflon Don include Raekwon on the bonus track “Audio Meth”, Gucci Mane on MC Hammer, Styles P on B.M.F. (Blowin’ Money Fast) and Chrisette Michelle on “Aston Martin Music” alongside Drake whose debut album “Thank Me Later” came at a very wrong time with Eminem and Ross coming strong and T.I. to follow suit come September.

All that collaboration left Ross not doing much of spitting bars on his album, something that leaves much to desire and affirms my view of the rapper as a second grade one only capable of just about getting it wrapped up in the studio; the only glaring downside on the album of an otherwise well produced album that makes for good listening overall and my top picks from it are Free Mason, I’m Not A Star, Audio Meth, Tears of Joy and Maybach Music III.

The album was released under the Def Jam Records and Maybach Music labels on July 20 and debuted at second place with just under two hundred thousand copies sold in its first week, right behind Eminem’s platinum certified Recovery album by sales of just a thousand copies less and the latter has held the number one spot for four weeks.

Super High has a remix that features Ace Hood.

Rating: 6.5/10
If the album was made only of Free Mason and Audio Meth, it’d probably score a 7.5 on here but… it is what it is!

Track listing
1. “I’m Not a Star”
2. “Free Mason” (feat. Jay-Z & John Legend)
3. “Tears of Joy” (feat. Cee-Lo)
4. “Maybach Music III” (feat. T.I., Jadakiss & Erykah Badu)
5. “Live Fast, Die Young” (feat. Kanye West)
6. “Super High” (feat. Ne-Yo)
7. “No. 1” (feat. Trey Songz & Diddy)
8. “MC Hammer” (feat. Gucci Mane)
9. “B.M.F. (Blowin’ Money Fast)” (feat. Styles P)
10. “Aston Martin Music” (feat. Drake & Chrisette Michele)
11. “All the Money in the World” (feat. Raphael Saadiq)

iTunes Bonus Track
12. “Audio Meth” (feat. Raekwon)

©δ.õÁ 26/07/2010 ™

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…having a Recovery: A Review of the Recovery Album

There are very few musicians, and even fewer rappers capable of reviving a dwindling career up to or very close to the point of their peak and I feel Detroit rapper Marshall Bruce Mathers III, much better known as Eminem, just added himself to that category having listened to his latest (6th) studio album aptly titled Recovery.

Official cover for Recovery

Official cover for Recovery

Recovery is being a commercial success, selling 741,000 copies in its first week to claim the best opening week for an album in 2010 (so far) and currently topping most notable country charts (about 20 countries); such is the album’s success so far its least position on a country chart is 8th.

Recovery’s success makes me wonder, if “that last album…in the trash” was able to pick up Best Rap Album at the last Grammy Awards; ahead of overwhelming favourite The Blueprint 3 by Jay-Z, it has to be a matter of how many awards Recovery will pick up when the awards season arrive.

Relapse cover

Relapse cover

Yes, Eminem still is (unrepentantly) as verbally vulgar as ever but his use of metaphor, sarcasm and phenomenal vocal strenght (most evident in No Love featuring Lil Wayne) sets the album to be Eminem’s best effort since The Marshall Mathers LP of a decade ago, if not slightly better.

What I particularly like about Recovery, strangely enough, is the sparse use of long time collaborator Dr. Dre on it. The ace producer, unlike in last year’s Relapse, produced only two of the 16+1 tracks in the album (which by the way has no skits) and in my view, Eminem produces better than the normal best when working outside the good doctor and the proof is in songs as Beautiful (Relapse), Marshall Mathers (The Marshall Mathers LP), Not Afraid and No Love (Recovery), Lose Yourself (8 Mile OST), When I’m Gone (Curtain Call: The Hits), Cleanin’ Out My Closet and ‘Till I Collapse (The Eminem Show), Like Toy Soldiers, Spend Some Time and Mockingbird (Encore Disc 1), 97’ Bonny & Clyde (The Slim Shady LP), Infinite and Tonite (Infinite) and oh, Stan with the magnificent Dido Armstrong.

Infinite cover

Infinite cover. Only a few hundred copies of the album were sold and in vinyl by the artiste himself.

So what else makes Recovery tick? Eminem avoided, as much as he could, using an accent while at it. He also had some out-of-the-box collaborations with Lil Wayne (a collabo I bet we’ll see much more of), P¡nk (which isn’t much of a surprise since she and him kinda have a character fit) and most surprisingly, Rihanna on a song aimed at Kim (Love the Way You Lie). And, he made use of unorthodox productions – the sound for most parts wasn’t what I’d become used to from Eminem.

The tracks that propel the album? No Love (featuring Lil Wayne) for me is the best track on the album with Wayne at his metaphorical best – “…my gun’s semiCartermatic” (sic). Eminem then comes in with 40bars of pure genius (the standard rap verse is 16bars, equivalent to 40seconds) and the hook was cool.

Not Afraid comes a very close second as firstly, you’d hear Eminem’s true voice on it as with in No Love. Secondly, he mentioned a few truths – “…in fact let’s be honest, the last relapse CD was ehhhh/perhaps I ran ’em accents into the ground” and “it was my decision to get clean/I did it for me/admittedly I probably did it subliminally for you…” and finally, the song was aimed at the fans.

Other songs that have me clicking the repeat symbol are You’re Never Over (dedicated to Proof), Untitled (the +1 track you could also call it Here We Go), Almost Famous (which has an ill hook), Seduction (where he murders the second verse with genius, mimicking Jay-Z’s ‘ahw’ from BP3), W.T.P. (White Trash Party), Cold Wind Blows (where, in the second verse, he does a quite hilarious thing with lightning) and Won’t Back Down (featuring P¡nk).

In all, I’ll rate Recovery 4.5/5 from a bias view and 3.8/5 from a critique view. Indeed, Recovery will make you throw that Relapse CD into the trash, I guarantee it!

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