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November 24, 2004

recordsroundup: November 24th, 2004

Special Ed “Still Got It Made” (Semi)
Disclaimer: I – tadah – am somewhat of a Special Ed fan. I love “Revelations” and the older albums. And I buy everything that has this guy on it. Thus I was excited to hear that he has this new album coming out, and rushed do buy it. And now, now I’m about to throw it out the window, because it’s so horrible.
I don’t really issue warnings on albums you must avoid, but this is one of them. Do you remember that Special Ed used to have this dope flow? Well, he still does it, but now minus the ignorance, irony and I’ma-mess-you-up cadence. Now he does it lackadaisically and it does not work. Plus he got chubby. So he’s definitely not hungry anymore and you can tell in his music and his voice even. The photos in the artwork show him to be this smooth cat, and that’s the persona he brings across on the album. But who wants to hear Special Ed romance the ladies on a "Kryptonite" or get all mushy on "So Long, Goodbye"?
The album is badly mixed, so Ed often doesn’t meet the beat but hovers above it. The beats are often really bad, and sometimes really good, but don’t match Ed. Like "Special", "Dying Young" and "Smile", they are pretty good, for anybody but Ed. This is a style that does not fit him. It gets really bad with "I Know You" and "Somebody Gotta Bleed", both horrible attempts at commercial club music. All of that makes “All Night, All Day” with The Dogg Pound to be the best song on here, and Ed is so bad that he makes Snoop sound good on "We Gon Ride".
So this is really horrible. Yes, I usually don’t use words as harsh as this. But this is truly horrible.

MaD SoN “Peace Amongst The MaDness” (N.E.Time)
MaD
is half of the Minneapolis based Unknown Prophets who made some noise back in the days with “World Premier”, not just because they had Sluggo on their record. Years have passed now, and the team steps up with a couple of new releases. MaD keeps it in family, letting Big Jess, the other half of Unknown Prophets, do all the beats. Which are not always very impressive. They are sample based but lack a certain charm. They sound too much like 1999 beats by a dude back just learning his trade. Even though a “Unimpressed”, “10 Days Left” and “Don’t Cry” really sounds good. But when you listen to a “Rise Up”, these orchestra are just kept too close to the original and are probably not meant for a rap record. MaD on the other hand keeps it very conscious, forwarding strong messages like on “Times Like Those”. There’s actually no stupid babbling on here, with the lyrics reaching a depth the beats struggle to follow.

Team Demolition “Yo! TD Raps” (Depth Charge)
Can we please get the old “Yo! MTV Raps” episodes on a DVD or something? I’d camp outside the store to get that shish. I’m pretty sure the Team Demolition would join me. Building their album around old snippets of Fab Five Freddy interviews, the guys then break into the album with take-no-prisoners raps. There’s four people in TD – Zechariah Wise, Jady Experience, Lord Op aka J Cosell and DJ Dialtone – and they each sound different, adding a lot of shades to this pretty good record. Heck, listening to them scratching the surface of a really accessible mainstream-ish vibe, this is better quality than what you have to endure on any given BET program. The songs range from funky to old schoolish to straight up gritty to also some moments of humor. Heck they even let the DJ shine on two interludes. So yes, for all those that like a little street in their music, go check this out.

The Foreign Exchange “Connected” (BBE)
I’m pretty sure everybody knows about this already, so no reason to say much but: don’t be surprised if this appears on several ‘best of 2004’ lists. Heck, this is much better than Little Brother. So, make sure to get this. Play it for your woman. You’ll get a smooch for it.

Various Artists “Kingston 5 presents The New Sound Of Reggae” (Kingston 5 / Sony)
This is probably a good record, if you like this type of sound. I hate it. So I don’t like this record. But if you wanna discover what this ‘new sound of reggae’ is, and what people like Vybz Kartel, Tubby T, Ms. Dynamite (yes, that Ms. Dynamite), Lady Posh, Junior Reid, Buju Banton, and Mile High do. Now, if anything Flava feat. Macka Diamond “Crazy Thing” and Tyla “Far Away” sound kinda good. But that’s because they’re the least Reggae on here and actually just pure good old soul. The Hiites “The Dream” is at least kinda interesting and Buju’s “My Pen” and Alaine Laughton’s “Deeper” are good because they’re more traditional reggae.

Jacki-O “Poe Little Rich Girl” (TVT)
Hmm….what to say about this? Well, it features Jazze Pha, the Ying Yang Twins, Ghostface (doing “Tooken Back” that was already on “The Pretty Toney” album) and Trick Daddy. You wanna hate this but “Living It Up” is actually pretty nice. Sure Jacki is no impressive rapper but you don’t listen to this because of the lyrics. You listen to this because it plays in the club. Even though Jacki actually has a nice way to deliver her rhymes, a certain effortlessness and acting twist to, it and a good voice to back it up. What she says is still forgettable. Sure, all the 14 year olds will get a snigger out of “Pussy (Real Good)”, but anyone older? Not really. Production comes from Timbaland (who cannot/does not go wrong with “Slow Down”) Red Spyda, Cool & Dre, Jazze Pha, Gorilla Tek, Beat-in-Azz, Young Hollywood (like on the nice “Pretty”, but isn’t this a bastardized “Waterfalls”?) and Nottz. Oh, and the “Fine” music video is on here too.

Unknown Prophets “The W.E.T. (WhodaEverThought) EP” (N.E.Time)
MaD SoN and Big Jess of Unknown Prophets return after their 2000 album “World Premier” which featured Brother Ali, Slug and DJ Abilities of the Rhymesayers massive. Only nine songs, ranging from songs with braggadocio content (“Warning”), to reminiscing (“Look At Us Now”) and more braggadocio on “Shit Talking Material”. Best song is “Writer’s Block” which features a dope piano hooked up Jess. “So Live” feat. Tek is also kinda nice, with the rappers honing their bragging and boasting personas. All in all there’s a lot of promising moments, but you still cannot fully grasp these artists, who they are and what is exactly them. They still need to find their own personal sound and it’s hopefully along the lines of “Writer’s Block” which both musically and lyrically is really good.

Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz “Cunk Juice” (TVT)
The list of people on this record will be reason enough for some to pick up this album. For others to avoid this album. But we got the following on here: Ice Cube, Chris Rock, Lil Scrappy, Gangsta Boo, 8 Ball & MJG, R. Kelly, Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, Suga Free, Ying Yang Twins, Pharrell Williams, Nas, Bun B and Jadakiss. We even get a “Yeah” part two, as Usher, Ludacris and Lil Jon team up again for “Lovers And Friends”, a balladesque snooze song. The tracks all sound very similar, both amongst each other but also compared to the last album. They come with the same tired way to scream hooks. Even worse though is that Jon struggles to really do something new and exciting. “Contract” is kinda interesting, on “Bitches Ain’t Shit” he recreates a cool westcoast vibe. But in general this would flop without all the hype that’s currently surrounding this Crunk phase.

Muph & Plutonic “Hunger Pains” (Obese)
On Muphin’s last album “More Than Music” things always got exciting when Plutonic Labs was behind the boards. So we’re very happy to get a full album by the two entities teaming up. And we’re not handed a disappointment but a great release, with Muphin sounding very comfortable over these most of the time splendid beats. We go from “Work Hard” to “Beer Goggles” (one of the best songs) to the double timing of “The Jason Chapman Sway” to the very dope beats on “Hunger Pains” (feat. Raph Boogie) and “Paracetamol” to “You’re Choice ‘Kings’ ” which features no other than The Grouch. Good album; really good album.

Various Artists “Definition: The Hip-Hop Compilation” (Neblina)
The Carolinas are really hot right now. Not just since the success of Little Brother. Nope, nope, nope. And the quality doesn’t end with Little Brother either. This compilation digs a little deeper than what you’re likely to be force-fed by all those scratching the surface cats. So we get dudes like Chapter 13, K-Hill, Medinah General, Mercury Waters, Manov War, Cpectac, L.E.G.A.C.Y. and Rockwell. With beats by 9th Wonder, K-Hill, DJ Forge, Rashid Hadee, Nick the 1da, Chopy Chop-E and Rockwell. There’s a hype bubbling about this record right now, for all the right reasons. So get with the program, this is some good rap right here.

Jedi Mind Tricks “Legacy Of Blood” (Babygrande)
Now, the JMT fanbase is already quite big. And finally with this album, there’s reason for it again. As reluctant as I was to really sink my teeth into this (I’m one of the ‘ignorants’ who wasn’t too impressed by “Violent By Design”), but just a couple of spins really impressed me. Vinnie is still spitting hard, of course with repetitive subject matter, but over excellent Stoupe production. They get help from GZA/Genius, Sean Price, Des Devious and Killah Priest. So give this a chance, even if JMT hasn’t been your thing so far.

49 Stories “Blind Faith” (Voicebox)
Straight from one of the heartland Red States comes this collective. It’s a three people team up of Gollum, Once and Paradox. The last two spit over the Gollum produced beats, who must like the Mood album “Doom”. You get a similar darkish, esoteric vibe, what can be as good as “Arms Bend”, “Hardcore”, “Hypochondriac” and “Drop The Drums”, but as boring as “Together” (the posse cut with Sentence, NottheSame, Effort, Bantar, The Fool, AES and DJ Thought) or bad as “Fake Pain” and “Escape”. Lyrically the cats are secure behind the mic, but say far too much on one song to not exhaust you by the third track. The ignorant amongst us could describe this as ‘typical’ white guys rap, along the lines of an Adeem. That’d be a little bit unfair though. Because the rappers and especially the producer are too good for being labeled that; as accurate it may be. Worthy of a try, but definitely not for everybody.

Various Artists “Silvertab: Harambe Dope Sessions” (DIY)
Various Artists “African Dope Soundsystem” (African Dope)
Kalahari Surfers “Muti Media” (African Dope)

Straight from the motherland, or more precisely: from the country of South Africa come these three CDs. All three albums are interesting, just because of where they are coming from. But even if some of the rap sounds kinda clumsy (like MC Einaar & DJ Cool Guy “Milk And Cookies”), the standard is actually surprisingly high. People like Crisis (“Taking Over”) are really good and people like Hymphatic Tabs (“Come”) really creative. And even if we don’t understand what people like Ozone (“Monate”) say, we can still really ride with this nice beat. And well, then there’s of course the plain bad, like “Kasi Soul” by Gciwane, Gzus & T-Klep. These songs are all on the “Silvertab” record.
“African Dope Soundsystem” does another misplaced music genre, considering that we get Reggae on here. But it’s still a little more ‘locally’, as there’s much more of an expected African influence on these songs. Starting with “Big Trouble” by Black Dillinger, going to the pretty good second Black Dillinger song “Black Repatriation,” to the drum-n-bass of Juan Thyme feat. Crosby “Mo Fire Mo Presha (Funky Love Mix)”, to the excellent dub on “Pump Da System” by Juan Tyme, who happens to be the most interesting artist on here. And having heard this, the Kalahari Surfers are a little less of a surprise. They give us a really good dub-ish, electro, pop, trip hop hybrid. So while this is not just widening adding new geographical areas to the music that you’re listening to, this might actually also widen the spectrum of music you listen to.

Automato “Automato” (Coup De Grace)
We already had an interview with the guys (read it here). So basically everything is already said. Apart from: is this any good? It often is. Like on the opener “Focus”, the great “Capes Billowing” (which should have been kept entirely instrumental) and the funky “The Let Go”. Sure, they struggle sometimes with getting rid off the live-ish vibe (like on the not so great “Walk Into The Light”), but often the beats are gritty enough to work, like the background drum on “Cool Boots”. Yes, they do much better than the majority of other live instrument rap groups. So check this out.

Dooley-O “The Beat Segment” (Female Fun / Domination)
Many have done it before: grab a bundle of old break records, put them in a mix and call it a day. Sure, many have done it and often it’s been good too. This here however is beyond good. Why? Well, for one because the casual listener will not recognize most of these songs. Heck, Dooley digged deep into his private stash and pulled out some gems. Sure, those ever in the know folks that dig themselves, will know some, but whateverAnd second, this is a bag full of surprising, severely funky joints. You gotta play this loud too. Play at your next party and while doing private dances around your apartment. Yes, this is very, very good and belongs in everybody’s collection.

Jennifer Johns “Heavyelectromagneticsoularpoeticjunglehop” (Nayo Movement)
Yes, this is a gimmicky title. But it’s still an appropriate summation of this ten song limited edition EP. And the thing is: whatever Jennifer does, she does it well. Be it the smooth singing of “Beautiful”, the bonus track “Afraid Of Me” or the Sade song “Cherish The Day,” which takes minimalism to new depths. She can however also do the aimed straight forward song “Heavy (808-Jungalistic Afro Freak),” with a dope bassline, not much of a beginning, but quite possibly no end. Or there’s the jungle in the ‘what have you done lately’ song “Do You Believe In Love”. Of course her versatility will be her downfall, as this is hard to market. There’s just no market for ‘simply good music’ anymore. So they’ll emphasize the finally-some-good R’n’b of “Never Give Up”. And who produced much of this? Remember Spontaneous of “Spur Of The Moment Musik” fame? You know the album on GoodVibe? Well he did these beats. Now make sure you give this a listen.




November 19, 2004

EXCLUSIVE: Mike G & Cadence "State Lines" audio

Cadence, one half of Raw Produce, gears up to release his production album called "State Lines" on Domination Recordings. Amongst the list of twenty plus artists on the record are names like Mike Ladd, Yesh, Dooley-O, Esoteric, Eddie Meeks of Prophetix, Binkis Recs, Zimbabwe Legit and Mike G of the Jungle Brothers.
To celebrate this release, and because we're sneaky bastards, we shall leak one full song off the album. Yes, no one else has this yet, so enjoy it. What it? Nothing less than the title song (click the title and enjoy):
"State Lines" by Mike G. and Cadence.




November 18, 2004

newswrapup: november 18th 2004

Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids on DVD
Fat Albert and the Cosby kids, which aired from 1972 to 1984 enjoyed one of the longest and most successful runs in Saturday morning, cartoon history. It’s a series about a group of urban adolescents growing up in a Philadelphia neighborhood. The show was based on Bill Cosby's ‘60's stand up comedy monologues about his childhood. Topics ranged from social issues to personal introspection and were blended with humor and music.
On December 14th, Urbanworks entertainment will release a DVD containing five episodes of the series: “Creativity”, “Take Two, They’re Small”, “Smoke Gets In Your Hair”, “Sweet Sorrow” and “Poll Time”
View the 30 seconds TV spot here.

J-Live signs with Penalty Recordings/Rykodisc
Now, being an avid reader of this page, there’s no doubt you know J-Live. If not, he burst unto the scene back in 1996 with his first single, "Longevity" b/w "Braggin' Rights". After going the obligatory route of getting signed, not seeing his album come out, he finally had “The Best Part” and “All Of The Above” drop. On his deal, J-Live says, “I'm extremely excited about being the latest addition to the Penalty/Rykodisc family. This is a huge step forward in my career. I'm working on my 3rd full length album. I'm confident that with Penalty Recordings, my music will be able to reach more ears than ever. I feel like I'm in the right place at the right time.” The album will drop Spring 2005.

Unknown Prophets Show Dates...
The Unknown Prophets are coming to a town near you. So make sure you attend these happy get togethers:
- Thursday, December 2
The Otto Bar; Unknown Prophets w/ Black Sheep; Baltimore, MD; $10-$12, 18+; theottobar.com
- Saturday, December 4
The Brew River; Unknown Prophets w/ Written Prisms; Salisbury, MD; 10 pm; $5, 21+; writtenprisms.com
- Thursday, December 9
Unknown Prophets w/ Black Sheep; New York City, NY; Doors 5:30 pm; Show time 7:00 pm sharp
- Saturday, December 11
Hudson Duster Entry; Unknown Prophets w/ Meaty Ogre (Galapagos 4); 40 Third St.; Troy, NY
- Thursday, January 20, '05
Zebra Cocktail Lounge; Unknown Prophets w/ Kanser; Bozeman, MT
- Saturday, January 22, '05
Fox Theater; Unknown Prophets w/ Heiruspecs, Kanser, and DJ Swych; Boulder, CO$15 in Advance, All Ages; Purchase tickets online at foxtheater.com

Ol’ Dirty Bastard featured on “The Future Of Hip Hop Is Now” by BeKay
The hip-hop world mourns the passing of Wu-Tang Clan member and co-founder Ol’ Dirty Bastard. ODB, born Russell Jones, passed away Saturday in a Manhattan recording studio.Recorded earlier this year, ODB’s vocals are a huge part of the action on fellow Brooklyn native BeKay’s new disc “The Future of Hip Hop is Now,” with ODB featured on the stand-out track “Where Brooklyn At?” The disc was released earlier this month on TSOB (The Sound of Brooklyn). ODB took also part in a video shoot for “Where Brooklyn At?” in late October; the clip, directed by Ragin’ Nation Films (Styles P, Stretch Armstrong) and featuring director of photography Cliff Charles (Mos Def, Wyclef Jean, Lil’ Jon and the Eastside Boyz), will soon be edited and ready for the air. Bekay’s previous videos garnered airplay on MTV2, Fuse and BET. 24-year-old BeKay was featured on BET’s “106th and Park” and at shows at the Cheetah Club, SOB’s, the Pyramid, CBGBs and the Knitting Factory. BeKay also ended up in the top 40 finalists (among 40,000 hopefuls) for a spot on MTV’s “Making the Band II” and was one of 27 finalists (among 1,000 entrants) in MTV’s 2003 search for the best on “MC Battle.” BeKay’s tracks have been featured on New York’s HOT 97 and Z100. For more information on BeKay and “The Future of Hip Hop is Now,” visit bekayrap.com.

Snicka presents Biggie Blendz
So Snicka got his hands on a few acapellas from the late great Notorious B.I.G. went in the lab and blended them with some beats out right now. Ever wonder what Biggie would like over a Kanye track? Biggie on some Reggaeton? Well, this is where you can find out how that’d sound like. Snicka has Biggie rhyme over beats from Dr. Dre, Just Blaze, Lil Jon, The Neptunes, Timbaland, Mannie Fresh, Eminem and more. And he’s also giving you 12 bonus tracks of Biggie in Concert Live in London. Listen to snippets here and visit Snicka’s webpage here: snicka.com.

Soul Dojo gives you 9th Wonder material
Kaze’s “Spirit of ‘94 Version 9.0” album remixed by 9th Wonder is now available on the web. Check out cdbaby.com/kaze3. The project includes 8 tracks from Kaze’s original, debut album remixed by producer 9th Wonder. The album also contains a different 9th Wonder mix of the song “Soul Dojo”, which did not appear on “Enemy of the State” or the 12” Single. This CD also features the previously unreleased “Last Laugh”. More information on souldojo.com.

Quickies
Prince Paul will release an album with our friends Female Fun in 2005. You heard it here first. +++ Our good friend Waxfactor along with partner Mr. Trick do a great and exciting radio show called Rhythm Incursions, playing everything that can be considered an update of rap music. Make sure you check out their website for archived shows. rhythm-incursions.com. +++ Visit the website of Tes One (the artist not the rapper): tesone.net. His art is great and he’s selling it. +++ Ludacris’ new album will drop December 7th. It’ll feature production by Doug E. Fresh, Green Lantern, KLC, Lil Jon, Organized Noize and Timbaland, as well as guest appearances by DJ Quik, DMX, Lil Jon, Nas and Nate Dogg. +++ Eminem has redone the video to “Mosh” (for obvious reasons). The new end might even be more powerful though. Watch it here: Windows : Real Audio. +++ Watch Mos Def's new videos "Ghetto Rock" here: Windows Lo : Hi - Real Lo : Hi - Quicktime Lo : Hi and "Sex, Love & Money": Windows Lo : Hi - Real Lo : Hi - Quicktime Lo : Hi +++ Oh, and there’s a ‘reunion’ about to happen that will blow the socks off every underground hip hop head. Man, I wish I could tell you more, but damn, this is so secret they tried to kill me after they told me.




November 09, 2004

realwordisms: November 9th, 2004

Just one week ago Bush won. Or did he? Okay, okay, before you say anything: Yes, none of what people will find out now, none of the troubling weird occurancas will make a difference. Bush will be the president for the next four years. But did he win? Well, maybe. And that maybe is fair. Not just because of what the left wing medias report, but also what the mainstream media reports. Like CNN says: "Glitch gave Bush extra votes in Ohio".
Actually if you wanna read a good summary on things (with more links), you must read (and please do) this article: "Worse Than 2000: Tuesday's Electoral Disaster". Read this if nothing else. But if you wanna read more, then read these:
- "Kerry Won. Here are the Facts." (or here)
- "Evidence Mounts That The Vote May Have Been Hacked"
- "Group Finds Voting Irregularities in South"
- "None dare call it voter suppression and fraud"
As said, knowing this will not make a difference. But there's people that don't give up now. The League of Pissed Off Voters actually asks for you to share your story and they are organizing Public Hearings in Ohio. Check indyvoter.org for more information. Also kinda pissed off are the people in San Francisco: "San Francisco in No Mood for Tolerance After Bush Win" and our good friend and in house columnist Cadence (of Raw Produce) who wrote this excellent second installment of "Pack Of Lies." And finally, while not necessarily angry, but nevertheless sorry are all these people at Sorry Everybody, who post pictures, often amusing, silly but sometimes even a little touching.
So what now? Maybe you are one of those "Liberals Dismayed by 'Moral Values' Claims". Maybe because 'lying about going to war' is not included in those 'moral values.' But there's no reason (and time) to hide somewhere, because there's important tasks coming up. First: know your enemy. Therefore read about the American Taliban, also known as those Christian Fundamentalists. Why? Well, how about the problem of a "The New Birth Control Ban"? Is that enough to get you going? If not, read about "Christians See Court Appointments as Top Bush Aim", about "U.S. Moves Toward a New Conservative Era" and about how "Bush Agenda Would Add Big Costs". Or you can read about the progress on the war in Iraq: "'Cash on the spot – if they tell us where the weapons are'" and "Saudi religious scholars support holy war against U.S. forces in Iraq".