Apr 28, 2009
If you haven't heard of Canada's dopest, then you're welcome in advance. The Old Prince kicks off a surely bright future for one of the game's brightest talents. Whether clowning on YouTube videos or simply killing any beat he stumbles upon, Shad is clearly one of the leaders of hip hop's newest movement.
The funk/jazz/soul infused album is strong throughout, and can be listened to all the way through. While it's not immediately apparent that this is a drop-dead classic (which it may be), Shad makes sure his talent catches your eye. If you have any understanding of good music, you'll appreciate everything The Old Prince has to offer. Like I said, you should just listen through everything, but my favorite tracks are:
- I Don't Like To
- Now a Daze (The CLASSIC)
Upon first listen, you'll immediately realize that Shad is an extremely intelligent, witty and funny guy. All of this is evident through his humor infused wordplay and upbeat, effortless flow. It's impossible not to like this guy. He's def somebody most people can relate to, especially considering your typical listener is vastly different from the majority of those who were involved in the Golden Age movement of the mid-90's, where the humorous topics still held a more serious undertone.
I remember listening to this album for the first time two years ago. Vividly remember it; Remember thinking I was hearing something special. A new era of hip hop was born with this album.
The album begins strongly and hooks you immediately. Blu comes hard from the start, talking about issues such as money, commercialism, the 9 to 5, women, the ills of the rap game, drugs, youthful struggles and spiritual journeys. The unique part is, Blu’s style allows you to connect to him, but still feel and respect his story. Unlike most rappers, he does it with a certain humbleness that you can understand and identify with. His intricate flow, thick wordplay and thoughtful lyricism fill this classic album throughout.
There are too many good tracks to name them all individually. Just listen to everything; multiple times. Here are my favorites though:
- So(ul) Amazin’ (Steel Blazin’)
- Dancing in the Rain
- The World Is (below the heavens…)
Good music gets better over time. This album gets better every time I listen to it. With Exile on the boards, you know there’s gonna be dope beats. With Blu, you’ve got an emcee who shows that he is, arguably, the best on the planet. This is MOS DEF a classic. I know you have $10! The beginning of the New Era! I’m tellin’ you.
Apr 24, 2009
Since I just reviewed the Son of Ran LP, I figured I'd put up a few instrumental releases from one of the main producers on that album. Freddie Joachim is one of the top producers coming out of Cali, making a name for himself in 2005 when he dropped an EP with Cypher Optics. His LP "In With Time" from 2008 was one of the best albums of that year, providing soulful, jazzy tunes while refusing to switch up his style for anyone.
Now the guy's back again with a couple free instrumental gifts for your ears, the Tiger EP including the gems "Sauced" and "Winter Rainbows", and the Cougar Instrus with sick tracks like "All Together" and the fluid "Sunday Haze". These tunes will have you vibin and noddin your head before you know it.
Since this is a quick review, I won't give a rating (and no favorite line since there are no words) but I will give you a link to Freddie's Blog and hope that you pick up his new album "Study Guide" that he just dropped in Japan with fellow So-Cal producer Question. No sleepin!
Apr 10, 2009
The sickest free LP you've never heard, A Tribute to Sky City, dropped in 2006 in order to get Son of Ran some recognition which definitely worked out in his favor. The teacher/writer has stepped up his lyrics and flow from previous projects, now combining forces with talented producers Freddie Joachim, Supa Koopa, and DJ Pauze. All the beats sound great together and the album is very solid from start to finish.
Pauze is the first to showcase his skills with "The S.O." the album's intro, a hard hitting track that begs to be played in the ride with bass on high. Ran splits this beat with his laser-precision flow and wordplay. The next two tracks are a little more laid back and jazzy, Freddie Joachim contributes strongly with "Can I?" and "Brief Soul". Unlike his previous work with Memphis Reigns, Son of Ran comes through more confident and ready to tear up the quality beats he's been blessed with.
The album stays on point with "The Professor" and "Second Wind", two bangers from Supa Koopa. The strongest track though is "Street Science", a thumping contribution from DJ Pauze that might give you goosebumps. Production is very well done and Ran completes the formula with his sharp lyrical skill.
You can download Sky City here for free. This was made to get Son of Ran's name out so pass it to your friends, burn some CD's and get this playin in your ride. You won't regret a second.
Favorite Line: "This in particular is mind elevation, I designed what I'm sayin with my eyes dilated / Call it extracurricular to lecture a class about life in the fast lane vehicular crash to pass / We don't ask that you stick to your math, in fact, there's no prerequisite that said you had to listen to rap." from the track "The Professor".
Author's Notes: Best free album I've ever heard. This could have sold a ton, but Ran took the other route and banked for his future. Now it's very bright, recently releasing an album with the Messenger crew which is almost as good as this, but not quite! This is sharp and on point throughout.. don't sleep!
Apr 3, 2009
Upon the first listen of this LP, my first thoughts were "Damn who are these guys? Wow. I need more of their music.." This seems to be universal for heads finding this group, an obscure duo of Hus Tha KingPin and SmooVth Dude from Long Island, NY. You may not have guessed, but Tha Connection is one of the best hiphop groups out that you haven't heard of yet. They've recruited an array of producers (Vans Cal, 12bit, Elaquent, DJ Kryptonite, Max I Million to name a few) to enhance their melodic sound, and it pays off with what is most likely the best album of 2008.
This very listenable and laid-back album starts out with "Take It Higher". After the atmospheric beginning, the vocals and drums hit together and make your head nod instantly. From here, "Cold Soul" brings you into a good-times, almost party vibe that leaves you smiling from the smoothness. At this point I knew I'd be cracked out on Moon Water for awhile.
My favorite track, "Hibernation (Remix)" hits slow but steady, with dope lyrics and one of the sickest jazzy beats I've heard in a bit. Track four, "Blacklight" is a slow, trippy midnight tune that'll have you lighting up incense and getting your mind right under your own blacklight.
Other strong tracks include "Drumstick (Remix)", "Realness", and "Classic (Feat. Kush Foreal)", a great song bringing solid vocals, saxophones, and piano samples together for another winner featuring a dope Swedish artist as well. Not very often will you get all those on one track.
Overall this album is strong from start to finish. Every track is very listenable, and damn it's nice to throw on a CD and not have to hit the skip button a bunch of times. Get your dough together to purchase their new LP "Love Royale" when it drops May 4. In the meantime, check out a few of their free releases, Connect (2007) and Food EP (2008)
Favorite Line: "Listen, big money will change the way you think / So you gotta know more or your head kinks / Read a book, stop watchin what the next man do / And be yourself, change the game don't let the game change you" from the track "Blacklight"
Author's Notes: Quickly became one of the best albums I've ever heard and have had it on repeat ever since. Don't sleep!
Apr 1, 2009
Throughout the blunder of commercial "hip-hop" (which should really be categorized as mainstream rap) and headache-inducing choruses about clubs and rims, you might find yourself hoping for an escape, a breath of fresh air, trying to find music that doesn't make you feel like you should be wearing a helmet listening to it. The answer is in your local used record store, under E.
Flip back till you see Life's a Struggle and purchase that wax (or plastic)!
Now you're tuned into the wonderful sounds of Electric, smooth Chicago hiphop that brings insightful lyrics, jazzy mellow beats, and a collective of talented artists together into one short but sweet album. The group is comprised of Dagha, Insight The Truncator (producer/MC and founder of Electric), Raheem Jamal, Moe Pope (from Mission), and Anonymous. This is an impressive bunch of artists but you wouldn't have guessed before they released this LP.
The album starts out with a cool, jazzy intro, then blasts you into "Can't Stop", a four and half minute pure hip-hop cypher that starts with a nice Gangstarr sample and ends with you knowing that each emcee has skills, and that you're headed down the right path with the dope production you're hearing. Note: No choruses needed.
Standout tracks on the album include the title track "Life is a Struggle", "Respect Life", and the on point "Late Show". Since the runtime is just over thirty minutes, you'll have to put this one on repeat but you'll be happy - there isn't a moment wasted, no tracks to skip over or weak emcees to fast forward. This is 100% real hiphop with a jazzy touch that'll leave you on a positive note. Good cd to throw on anytime.
My Rating: 9/10
Favorite line: "My enemy is not decided by the president or news coverage transmitted to your residence / Brainwash your thoughts through your dummy box, it's just like you're smokin funny rocks / Deplete your money stocks" from the track "Can't Stop".
Author's notes: Production by Insight is extremely well done on this CD, one of the easier things to overlook since there's so many emcees and so little time to showcase all their skills. Electric did a great job of meshing all the artists strengths and collaborating to make a great album. For more information see insight.fm