It's time for another new edition of The Hip-Hop Shop. Episode #181 is The Return of Make It or Break It. Your host Steve 'Flash' Juon says you can send Twitter feedback to the handles listed below or to @RapReviews on this episode! Thanks for listening and remember to share the show with a friend and tell them to check it out every Tuesday on RapReviews.com! Don't forget to subscribe to our RSS newsfeed and follow us on Twitter so you never miss a new episode.
* Hus & Rozewood - Star Temples * Chin Injeti f/ Bishop Lamont, Shad, Skratch Bastid - Peoples 1 (@tnr_chin) * Richie Branson f/ Random - Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis (@richiebranson) * Rkitech & Precise - The Feeling (@RKITECH @Precise_Chi) * Esohel x Chandler London - In Too Deep (@ESOHEL)
(Los Angeles, CA) Future Sounds / Blackground Records, the legendary label that brought you stars Timbaland, JoJo, Tank, Static Major and the one and only Aaliyah introduces the newest addition to their family -- the musically gifted soulstress, Jenna. The 23 year old San Diego native, debuted her first single "Falling to Pieces" featuring the acclaimed Southern hip-hop star 2 Chainz exclusively in partnership with Complex - the premiere men's lifestyle magazine, founded by Marc Ecko in 2002. This guaranteed smash successfully impacted Urban radio last week, and is the lead single from Jenna's highly anticipated debut album. Already garnering interest from industry superstars, the video for the single will be directed by Jason Beattie (Mike Posner "Cooler Than Me") and choreographed by Flii Stylz (Chris Brown, Usher, Madonna & Missy Elliott).
Having released his "Superman" single only a few weeks ago and as promised, London-based Hip-Hop artist Cheikh - of Senegalese and American descent - unveils the accompanying music video for his feel good Summer single “Superman” which has been getting a lot of love and support online since its release with features on MTV's The Wrap Up, Pardon My Blog and SB.TV among others - the single is also currently at #13 on the Hypem charts.
Here’s introducing emerging London-based Senegalese American Hip-Hop artist CHEIKH - real name Brandon Deme. Cheikh began rapping at the age of 17 after discovering his lyrical dexterities during impromptu freestyle battles with friends at High School and soon after, fun school yard rap battles among his peers quickly turned into a career path for the young emcee.
Fortunate to live in many different countries in his formative years before finally settling in the UK as a teenager, Cheikh has been blessed with experiences of witnessing and immersing himself in different styles and genres of music - which coupled with his own newly found musical abilities convinced Cheikh to take music more seriously and hone his craft further as a Hip-Hop artist.
After showing much promise as a new and emerging artist, Cheikh gained a valuable mentor in the much revered Head of A&R and Director of Music of Disturbing London Records, Richie Montana. The guidance and mentorship from Montana - who is a key element in the development and success of one of Britian’s most successful Hip-Hop artists, Tinie Tempah - has enabled Cheikh to be able to successfully sharpen his craft and develop his skills at an astounding pace over the last three years.
Citing his musical style as “cool, smart and uplifting”, Cheikh credits a variety of musical influences - from Chaka Khan to Lauryn Hill to Tupac and Kanye West - for the evolution of his unique style. Having been raised on the ethics of hard work and determination, Cheikh believes that anything is possible but that when we feel the impossible is near, then we must “pray until something happens”.
This belief and ethic as well as the conviction to take what was once a playgrpund pastime and turn it into a story worth telling was the inspiration for Cheikh’s debut mixtape titled P.U.S.H (Pray Until Something Happens). Released in August 2011 to much critical and fan acclaim, Cheikh’s debut mixtape led to several gigs and performances all over London including performances at One Mic UK and Redd Room which further built up his fanbase.
His sophomore mixtape, aptly titled Progession was released in April 2012 and as the name suggests, the artist development and “progression” that Cheikh showcases on this new record is evident for all to see. As you listen to Progression and its soothing and uplifting undertone, you cannot help but notice and applaud the successful transition that Cheikh has made over the better part of the three years in which he began rapping and writing songs.
Oddisee is too large of a talent to dwell comfortably under the term ‘beatmaker’ or even ‘hip-hop producer.’ The DMV representative has a musicality and vision that elevates him past those kinds of confines. Oddisee is a producer with roots in hip-hop. He can work a drum machine and he can rap, but he can also conduct and produce other musicians and vocalists.
People Hear What They See, his new full length LP on Mello Music Group, has proven just that. “The Need Superficial” doesn’t necessarily sound like a contemporary hip-hop song until Oddisee starts rapping a few bars in. Not content to merely coast along the smooth and funky concoction he’s brewed up, Oddisee drops seamless bars that examine his dealing with past relationships and the pitfalls along the way.
"With its rowdy lyrics, heavily synthesized and bass style, crunk music reached its peak in popularity during the early to mid 2000's. It dominated the pop charts thanks in large part to rap groups like Three 6 Mafia, Ying Yang Twins and Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz. Even singers like Usher, Ciara and Chris Brown blended R&B with crunk (crunk&B) to scorch the radio waves. As a protégé of Lil Jon, Lil Scrappy has been known for a few crunk hits of his own over the years such as "Head Bussa," "No Problem" and "Money in the Bank." The Atlanta rapper's fourth solo album "Tha Grustle," exhibits Scrappy's attempt to balance his hardcore style with crossover appeal. "Face Off" starts the album with a bang through its menacing synth, pounding bass and sped-up high hats. Lil Scrappy raps aggressively as he utters death threats to his foes with conviction. "Democrat" is also an effective street joint where the rapper talks about hood politics associated with the dope game. "No L's" features a nice chopped-up synth as Scrappy flosses about his reckless lifestyle of riding around town without a driver's license while staying high and strapped. "
"The influence of early nineties New York hip-hop on Australian hip-hop is so pronounced that you can probably track down a Patient Zero who was the first one to start bringing over records by Gang Starr, the Wu-Tang Clan, Jeru The Damaja, and the D.I.T.C. crew from New York to Melbourne. From the Australian hip-hop albums I've heard, I get the sense that they never experienced the jiggy era, never got seduced by the slippery drawl of Southern rap, and haven't traded their MPC's for Fruit Loops yet. On his sophomore album "Zero," Melbourne MC Maundz keeps it true school, Aussie style.
Maundz is from the rowdy, shit-kicking school of MCs that include Vinnie Paz, M.O.P, and DMX. He yells his rhymes like threats, and seems just as likely to give rival MCs an actual beatdown as a verbal beatdown. The epitome of this is "Maundzilla," where he imagines himself as a Godzilla-sized rapper. While Maundz barking flow brings energy, it lacks finesse. Even on mellower, downtempo tracks like "Take It Back" he's still rapping at 11, sounding like he's about to rip someone's head off. The limitations to his style are made clear on "All Quotes" when Action Bronson shows up to give some Ghostface-inspired verses. Maundz rhymes are as complex as Action Bronsons, but the Australian rapper's delivery lacks the style of the former chef from Brooklyn. Of course, criticizing Maundz for lacking finesse might be like critizing a boxer for sucking at ballet. "
"Max Burgundy has perhaps the most intriguing back-story of any artist I've reviewed in recent memory. Born and raised in the Bronx, Burgundy's first major obstacle was the loss of his father, who was murdered right across the street from his home, causing his mother to move the family to Southern California. Torn between his love for basketball and the dangerous gang culture the pervaded the area, Burgundy took a somewhat lackadaisical approach toward high school and ended up pursuing his basketball career at a local community college. It was there that he discovered his interest in philosophy, and he ultimately parlayed this interest into an Ivy League education, which was unfortunately cut short by a drug distribution charge that led to his expulsion. With this in mind, I was interested to see what kind of persona Burgundy would take on as an emcee and, more specifically, whether he would stick to his East Coast roots or adopt more of a West Coast flow. It's clear from the beginning that Burgundy doesn't shy away from his troubled past, and his willingness to open up and vent his frustration allows the listener to better understand all the Burgundy has overcome thus far in life. The opening track, "Momma Tol Me," sees Burgundy spit about the pressure his mother put on him growing up to succeed and make money, and the lack of any percussion to accompany the crooning orchestral strings ensures the spotlight is centered on his lyricism."
"It was my original intention to review the free download version of MellowHype's "BlackenedWhite," but like so many of the links on their tumblr it seems to no longer exist. That's not entirely their fault as the federales seized MegaUpload for serving up free movies and pirated albums in limitless quantities, and even when alternate services are used the demand from Odd Future fans is so overwhelming it can cause the files to be pulled for violating TOS. So let's take it from the officially licensed version that came out on Fat Possum Records. As "64" was the lead single for the re-release it probably serves as well as a representative of this album as any track. Hodgy Beats lyrical style on both solo and group releases for the Wolf Gang is somewhat less macabre than Tyler, the Creator and not as intentionally graphic as Earl Sweatshirt, but does show tendencies of both on this song. Producer Left Brain emphasizes this feel with a dark and eerie beat that makes this a purposefully ODD choice for a single - it's not the kind of rap you can do a dance move to. There are certainly other songs you could bob your head or tap your feet to though such as "Rico" featuring Frank Ocean."
"Where is Tupac? No seriously. Where is he? After the icon's death in 1996 rappers scrambled to take his place, among them a number of straight impostors. While there was no apparent heir to his throne, some managed to approximate the fervor and passion - particularly DMX and Eminem. Every year since the media discusses the legacy he left behind. But despite one of the genre's biggest stars hollering something about 'Tupac back' only last year, newcomers seem content with inking their body in Pac fashion and largely ignore the artistic templates he set. Instead we get startingly unimaginative releases like Rosco's "The Album." Not to be confused with Kurupt's younger brother Roscoe, or Star Trak affiliate Rosco P. Coldchain, or Roscoe Dash of "All the Way Turnt Up" fame, or even Cali vet Rasco, Rosco seems to be located in Atlanta, GA, but that's pretty much all I can tell you about him. Apart from him being a ladies man, at least that's to be concluded from several songs. But besides that? Let's take "Why I Grind." Seems like a potentially informative track, right? "I take a look at my past (...) it remind me why I grind," he begins, but then completely forgets to share what he sees when he looks back. He's quite right when he observes, "Things you achieved, can't nobody erase 'em," but again he keeps those achievements all to himself. "
Vell Bakardy :: Genuine Liqua Hits :: Wild West/American Records ** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series ** as reviewed by Matt Jost
"By the time he made his national debut in 1995, Lavell Franklin was already a veteran of the Kansas City rap scene. Having made the rounds as DRV (Def Rhyme Vocalist) in the later '80s, at one point he hooked up with local DJ/producer Joc Max, with whom he recorded the song "Bust a Move," which was pressed up and distributed by L.A. label Macola in 1989. Later still, now known as Vell Bakardy, he formed Tha Drunx with partner in rhyme Zeno Vellie. While living in Los Angeles, around 1993 he scored a solo deal with Wild West, who was in a partnership with Rick Rubin's American Recordings, providing Vell Bakardy with national exposure. Although "Genuine Liqua Hits" had a West Coast-leaning sound and featured AMG twice, the album was ostensibly the product of Kansas City, MO. Tres-nueve would be 39th Street, one of the city's main streets and frequently referenced location ("the Nine") on "Genuine Liqua Hits." Vell's portrayal of KC isn't particularly flattering. In the "Intro" he laments that "ain't nowhere else to go but to the liquor store, sit on the side of the building and get drunk, you know - Kansas City, Missouri." Consequently, the lead single was called "Drink Wit' Me," and it too stressed the apparent importance of alcohol in 39th Street's social life. By the time Bakardy admits that the morning after he hears voices saying, "Vell, come back to the liquor store," you know he has a problem. "
"Inevitably when discussing "One Crazy Weekend" the subject of "Musical Meltdown" is going to come up, so let's just address it right now. Over 15 years ago now, somewhere between his star making appearance on The Fugees' track "Cowboys" and the EP he released with the Outsidaz crew, Zee recorded an entire album for Perspective Records that for unknown reasons never got released. Complicating matters is the fact that Perspective had a very short shelf life as a label, not even lasting a whole decade, and whatever was left of the imprint was absorbed into A&M Records in 1999, and they in turn were absorbed into the Universal Music Group, and... well I think you get the idea. You either own a bootleg of "Musical Meltdown" or you don't, because at this point the original masters might as well not exist. There's never going to be an official release because there's no financial incentive for anybody at Universal to sort out the legal quagmire of who owns what, let alone press up and issue a rap album that no matter how critically acclaimed would sound dated compared to hip-hop in 2012 and would not move major units. I'm a cynical bastard when it comes to labels profiting off artists and even I will admit they couldn't turn a dime on "Musical Meltdown" at this point. "