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[Neva Left]

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The (W)rap Up - Week of July 18, 2017

If you missed any of the new reviews this past week including French Montana's "Jungle Rules" then do yourself a favor and check out this week's edition of the (W)rap Up!

[Jungle Rules] French Montana :: Jungle Rules
Bad Boy/Epic Records

Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon

"Karim Kharbouch b/k/a French Montana parlayed a successful mixtape career into a deal with Bad Boy Entertainment. In turn he parlayed that deal into his first major label release with an album titled "Excuse My French." The album spawned three singles between 2012-2013 and sold 177,000 copies. Both Mr. Kharbouch and Sean "Puffy" Combs were hoping for more. Why would either of them put it in ink if Montana wasn't expecting to be the next Biggie, Ma$e, or Machine Gun Kelly? It doesn't always work out that way though. For every Ma$e there's a Loon and for every Notorious B.I.G. there's a Shyne. Having a hot mixtape reputation doesn't guarantee you success nor does signing with a famous record label, and the reviews for "Excuse My French" were savage across the board. I'll applaud both Mr. Combs and Mr. Kharbouch for one thing though -- they didn't just cash in their chips and give up in the face of mediocre sales and press. In fact one might argue that French Montana is uniquely resilient, because four years can damn near be a lifetime in the music business, but he toughed it out until he could put a second album out named "Jungle Rules." The album got off to a hot start with the release of the early single "Unforgettable" featuring Swae Lee. The production team of Jaegen, 1Mind and C.P Dubb gave Montana what has become a signature sound for 2017's hit singles - a pulsing reggae influenced backdrop with strong percussive beats. It's fair to say "Unforgettable" is one of those songs where for better or worse the lyrics don't really matter. It's a song to get your drink on then get your dance on. The next single due out is "A Lie" and it pulls off a pretty impressive feat by featuring both hot R&B star The Weeknd AND the currently incarcerated Max B. The two were friends with similar wavy styles before Max got locked up though so it makes sense, but Max isn't due to be released until 2025 at the earliest, so unless he got a furlough his vocals (like many since 2009) had to be recorded over the day phone. Honestly I can't tell. Whatever manipulation Harry Fraud and company had to do to clean it up for airplay they did it well. I have no problem acknowledging French Montana can make slick, radio ready singles (just censor a small amount of swearing or release a clean edit) like a machine."

Agallah & Duke Westlake :: The 3-Day Theory :: The Order Label 
as reviewed by Grant Jones

[The 3-Day Theory] "There was a super slept-on album released in 2013 by Cali emcee Trek Life called "Hometown Foreigner". While Trek's unique concepts and relatable rhymes were the main selling point, what immediately grabbed me was the production Ğ it was real Ayatollah-like. Thumping yet smooth; Duke Westlake was a new name to many, having released a couple of projects on the acclaimed and respected label Mello Music Group. The two shouldn't work well together given the smooth/rough combination, yet they do, delivering a strong EP months before Agallah's latest full-length, the horrifically named "Agnum Opus".  First things first, this EP deserves better publicity. Agallah's been delivering quality street raps for 20+ years now and there are moments here that are reminiscent of 8-Off's classics "Till My Heart Stops", "Crookie Monster" and "Risin' to the Top". Granted, Agallah has never been the most lyrical cat, but his gruff, street-hardened delivery lends his songs a passion matched by few. "Woke up in Hell" showcases this, sounding hungrier than ever as he shares his appreciation for his rough start in life. It's not as deep as that may sound, but with the thumping piano-jabs on the instrumental, it's difficult not to care when your necks catching whiplash. Westlake's most thumping offering is "Proper," a mean track full of references older heads will appreciate (Harry Belafonte, Pete Sampras, "call me Pimp Jagger"). The message is rooted in authenticity, with Agallah even admitting that he "has Duke Westlake there's no need to call Dre". Now, a Dr. Dre and Agallah album would be cool but it's about as likely as a Nas and DJ Premier album (he says hoping to tempt fate). Agallah has a point though, Duke Westlake is hugely slept on and "3-Day Theory" proves that the L.A. producer is a short step away from wider recognition."

The Fraternity :: Dark Arts of the Iron Age :: Sleep 513/The Fraternity 
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Dark Arts of the Iron Age]" After having several solo albums reveiewed throughout the last decade, Orange County rapper Loose Logic revealed a new facet of his persona by reaching out to us with The Fraternity's "Dark Arts of the Iron Age." I didn't picture Logic as a "rolling with a crew" emcee before now -- he seemed perfectly content to ride hard solo and take whatever success or failure that would come along with it. Mind you that's not a trait unique to Logic. Anybody who records and/or performs on their lives and dies by that sword. The "Iron Age" was one all about that sword as well, as larger societies and communities formed that could both support and consume the new products that came from blast furances capable of purifying iron. Obviously weapons of warfare were a strong component of that, but for the wealthy items made of iron were renowned for their durability and symbolized the prestige of being able to afford something that would last over the long haul. Sayings like "iron sharpens iron" have been passed down over the ages to point out the strength that iron personifies The Fraternity is Logic's previously unseen crew, who for the life of me I can't remember him mentioning or promoting before, but their "Dark Arts" album clearly means to invoke those ancient times (ranging from 1200-600 BC by a Judeo-Christian calendar) that are to some degree recorded and understood by the very iron artifacts they left behind that survived to modern times. Written tablets could be broken, papyrus scrolls could weather, crack and crumble, but well forged iron could endure (and poorly made/kept could rust) for centuries. There's a clear mysticism implied by the name of the album as well, and a hint of the conspiracy theories of those who believe that "ancient technology" from "ancient aliens" explains humanity's seemingly rapid progress from the stone age to modern civilizations around that time. Some of that same vibe can be heard on "Sunken Place" with its haunting background melody and repeated references to the Illuminati and mind control."
The Top 10 UGK (and Bun B) Videos

Editorial courtesy of Steve 'Flash' Juon.

[Bun B courtesy Wikimedia Commons]R.I.P. Pimp C.

"One wit a trigger, two wit a bat
Three big brothers, fo' - wanna squab with me
so I guess a brother gotta throw
Tell 'em like this, ya better get up out my camp dude
Befo' I have to pull my gat and get, real rude
I don't figure that it's worth gettin hurt
Just 'cause ya gal wanna give me that skirt
Bet it feels funny when ya doin 69
Knowin that ya sippin on all my jimmy wine
And when ya get a kiss, do ya feel bad
knowin that ya swallowed all the skeeter that I had?
You wanna step to me but I don't really think ya should
I shoulda shot you up instead I told ya somethin good"

1.) UGK - "Something Good"

2.) UGK f/ OutKast - "Int'l Players Anthem"

3.) Bun B + many more - "You're Everything"

4.) UGK - "Take It Off"

5.) UGK - "Da Game Been Good to Me"

6.) Bun B + many more - "Get Throwed"

7.) UGK - "The Game Belongs to Me"

8.) Bun B f/ Drake - "Put It Down"

9.) UGK - "Wood Wheel"

10.) Bun B f/ Sean Kingston - "That's Gangsta"

Editorial: The Super Nintendo (SNES) Classic Saga Continues

Editorial courtesy of Steve 'Flash' Juon.

[Super Nintendo courtesy Wikimedia Commons]When I last wrote about the Super Nintendo (SNES) Classic in late June there was plenty of reason to worry that Nintendo would botch this as badly as they did the NES Classic, even though Nintendo has insisted that they are producing "SIGNIFICANTLY MORE" than the time before. Regardless I outlined many reasons "significantly more" would not be enough. For your convenience here are those bullet points.

1.) The high dollar value of the games on the SNES Classic when sold individually leading to high demand for a unit with all of them combined.
2.) The inclusion of the never before released Star Fox 2.
3.) Some of the games included don't work in flash carts and are very difficult to emulate properly.
4.) Everybody wants to relive their childhood without the hassle of a CRT TV set-up.
5.) Nintendo has a very poor record in general of making enough of anything to meet demand.

At the time many people would have said I was sounding the alarm too early and things would not turn out nearly as bad this time around as they did on the NES Classic. That would have been fair given that at the time I wrote it the SNES Classic hadn't even gone up for pre-order on any of the major retailers in the United States. That all changed on July 21st when very late in the evening, a point by which many people were already asleep, Walmart put the SNES Classic up for sale. Despite the late hour and many people not putting out the word, including some who promised to do so the second it went on sale, Walmart's website was still bombarded with hits and their entire allocation of stock sold out in 30 minutes. That's right. It sold out in a half hour on a Friday night. Still not concerned?

The good news for me is that a long time reader of the site (thank you Mike) saw my previous editorial on this topic and generously offered to build me a custom Raspberry Pi enclosure with HDMI output that would function (but obviously not look) like a SNES Classic. He asked for no endorsement of his build nor did he request that I review it, but I'm in the process of filming a review right now and so far I'm pleased with the results. It takes a little bit of trial and error to get what you want to work how you want though, which has always been the appeal of a device like the NES or SNES Classic -- it's plug and play. You run the HDMI from your TV to the box, plug in a controller and a power supply, and the games are already loaded and ready to play. You're done. No fuss, no muss.

Other retailers have yet to follow Walmart's lead and put the SNES Classic up for pre-order, but hopefully if they do they will learn from Walmart's mistakes and handle it a little more smoothly. On the other hand there's every possibility that if any retailer gives people advance warning, scalpers are just going to rush in to buy all the stock, and if they DON'T their website is just going to be carpet bombed with traffic the moment word gets out and everybody rushes in. It's potentially a no win situation. It might be possible that the only fair thing to do would be to not allow pre-orders at all. Every retail store gets an allocation based on the size of their local market (a city of a million gets a few thousand spread out between Target, Walmart, Best Buy, et cetera while smaller cities get smaller allocations) and you just have to show up on release date to get one.

In theory this would work great. If they shipped ENOUGH you wouldn't have to get in a line at four AM and wait - you could just pick any random retailer and go that morning. Unfortunately that's why I and a lot of other people have learned to pre-order -- NINTENDO NEVER SHIPS ENOUGH and there is ALWAYS A 4 AM LINE at every store. Keep your eye on the latest stock so you can avoid camping out yourself -- or build your own emulation station and skip the hassle altogether. Your call.
"Who Sampled It Better?" #8 - Ready or Not Here I Come

[Lauryn Hill courtesy Wikimedia Commons]"Who Sampled It Better?" #8 - The Delfonics' "Ready or Not Here I Come (Can't Hide From Love)"

As written by Steve 'Flash' Juon, and voted on by THE PEOPLE who read!

With respect to The Delfonics we had to use an image of Lauryn Hill here for two reasons. The first is that there simply aren't any public domain images of either the group performing live or any individual members, including the late Randy Cain and Major Harris, may they both rest in peace. The second will be obvious once you hear the embedded clip of the song sampled for this week's vote.

For me that soulful singing immediately evokes memories of The Fugees' hit single "Ready or Not," where Lauryn Hill gave her own powerful interpolation of the original vocals, but using her image here is actually a bit of a red herring. This series is called "Who SAMPLED It Better" and not "Who SANG It Better" so believe it or not The Fugees are disqualified here. Now if we were talking about their sample of Enya's "Boadicea" for the backdrop of "Ready or Not" (which they almost got their pants sued off for) we'd have something to discuss. Instead listen to that intro again right before The Delfonics start singing -- sounds familiar right? Of course it does. I can give you four examples of rap artists who have sampled that intro, and after listening to all four you can place your vote below.

1.) Tha Alkaholiks - "Do It"

2.) Missy Elliott f/ Da Brat - "Sock It 2 Me"

3.) Three 6 Mafia f/ Project Pat - "Who Run It"

4.) T.I. f/ Nelly - "Get Loose"

There you have it. Four candidates for "Who Sampled It Better" who all used The Delfonics. Now is the time to let your voice be heard! Cast your WSIB ballot below and share this post/tweet so that others get a chance to vote too.

Dave Chappelle Guests on "What's Good with Stretch & Bobbito" @NPR Podcast

Dave Chappelle Guests, Erykah Badu Pranks on First "What's Good with Stretch & Bobbito" NPR Podcast

A.T.: For the inaugural episode of New York DJs Adrian “Stretch” Bartos and Robert “Bobbito” Garcia’s podcast, “What’s Good with Stretch & Bobbito,” the duo got a rare chance to interview revered comedian Dave Chappelle and his Chappelle Show cast mate Donnelle Rawlings. During the 35 minute interview, Chappelle and Rawlings reveal what their favorite Chappelle Show sketch is, what Chapelle’s experience was hosting the first episode of SNL post-election, and even get paid a prank call by their good friend, Erykah Badu.

Audio: @FredTheGodson & @DaveEast Drop "G5" Ode to NYC

Audio: Fred The Godson & Dave East Drop "G5" Ode to NYC

C.B.: After several years of, Fred The Godson is putting the final touches on what will be his long awaited debut studio album. The album is slated for a 2017 release and features hip-hop heavyweights Rick Ross, Fat Joe and many more. Ahead of his long-awaited full-length record, Fred The Godson is dropping a fresh mixtape on August 18th entitled Gordo that will showcase his growth. Today he give fans a taste with an exclusive first listen of his track “G5” featuring Harlem-born rapper Dave East. According to Fred the Godson “straight gutter, New York City hip-hop” inspired the song and the tracks savage beat called for collaboration from a fellow NYC hustler like Dave East.

Video: @JimiTents - "Rick Rubin"

Video: Jimi Tents - "Rick Rubin"

ATBM: Jimi Tents releases the music video for his album stand-out, “Rick Rubin.” From getting wavy at a Hollywood Hills pool party to riding around Beverly Hills in a drop-top, Jimi Tents’ spreads warm vibes in the colorful visual for his homage to Def Jam co-founder and renowned producer, Rick Rubin.

Video: Lloyd f/ Rick Ross - "Heavenly Body" (@lloyd_yg @RickRoss)

Video: Lloyd f/ Rick Ross - "Heavenly Body"

AKW: Platinum-selling singer/songwriter Lloyd returns with a brand new visual for his single "Heavenly Body" featuring Rick Ross, from his TRU EP that was released in December via Young Goldie Music/EMPIRE. The EP also features Lloyd's RIAA gold certified hit single, "TRU."

Video: @AntonioBreez - "Survival of the Fittest Freestyle" (@gittuffent)

Video: Antonio Breez - "Survival of the Fittest Freestyle"

G.E.: Antonio Breez delivers a visual synopsis that teases his fans whom are anticipating his upcoming project titled TMN. Breez pays homage to Mobb Deep, after both members liked a raw freestyle video of Breez rapping to his beat. This encouraged him to record and film the freestyle.

Audio: @RealMastaKilla f/ Boy Backs & Moe Roc - "OGs Told Me" (@NatureSounds)

Audio: Masta Killa f/ Boy Backs & Moe Roc - "OGs Told Me"

N.S.: Masta Killa may not be the highest-profile member of the Wu-Tang Clan, but he's undoubtedly among the most consistent. The last original member to go solo, Killa has now released three critically acclaimed albums, and stolen the show on countless Wu classics. It's now Masta Killa season once again, as the veteran wordsmith will release his highly anticipated new album Loyalty Is Royalty this fall.

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Welcome to for July 25th, 2017!! Please support us at our Patreon page and we can go 100% ad free when we hit the target goal. You can also shop Amazon through RapReviews and like us on Facebook. This week we have EIGHT new items for you: AUXX's "23/09," a new editorial on the SNES Classic, Madchild's "The Darkest Hour," Snoop Dogg's "Neva Left" (our featured review), SZA's "Ctrl," a list of the top 10 UGK (and Bun B) videos, Emanuel Wallace's The (W)rap Up for July 18, 2017 and WSIB #8 for "Ready or Not Here I Come."

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