If you missed any of the new reviews this past week including The Coup's "Sorry To Bother You" then do yourself a favor and check out this week's edition of the (W)rap Up!
The Coup :: Sorry to Bother You
Author: Zach 'Goose' Gase
"This year has been quite a year in terms of politically charged hip hop. Brother Ali, Killer Mike and Lupe Fiasco have all dropped albums channeling Public Enemy, Ice Cube and KRS-One, to varying success. But it wouldn't be right to discuss political hip hop, without mentioning the Bay Area duo, The Coup. Boots Riley and company have dropped their fist album in six and a half year with "Sorry to Bother You," which features their style of socially consciousness paired with a great sense of humor.What makes "Sorry to Bother You" different from past Coup records is it has more of an electronic vibe. The funk is still there, but tracks like "The Gods of Science" feature a more synthy bassline, without sacrificing any funk. Tracks like "Strange Arithmetic" and "Your Parents' Cocaine" also follow this formula with great success. The album also features more organic production like the guitar-heavy "The Guillotine" and horn-driven "This Year." The album is mostly filled with high energy cuts like "Magic Clap" and "You Are Not A Riot (an RSVP from David Siqueiros to Andy Warhol)," but one of the biggest highlights on the album comes in form of the stripped down tracks like "We've Got a lot to Teach You Casius Green," which features strong vocals from Pam the Funkstress. The Coup continues its great legacy of dropping heavy subject matter, while still making it fun for the listener. While "Sorry to Bother You" isn't nearly on the level of "R.A.P. Music" or "Mourning in America…," it doesn't really try to be. What makes this record successful, is exactly what Lupe refused to do on "The Great American Rap Album:" make enjoyable songs first and spread a message second. "
various artists :: Reggae Golden Jubilee – Origins of Jamaican Music :: VP Records
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor
"This year is Jamaica's 50th anniversary as an independent nation. To celebrate, Edward Seaga, who helped draft Jamaica's constitution and was Prime Minister in the 1980s, has curated a four-disc box set that highlights the development of Jamaican music. It may seem odd to have a politician curate a collection of music, but Edward Seaga is more than just a politician. He worked in the music industry prior to his career in politics, founding the West Indian Recording Limited label, which he later sold to Byron Lee. The man knows his reggae, especially early reggae, which is featured heavily on this set. In fact, what sets "Reggae Golden Jubilee" apart from the many other reggae compilations out there, including VP's own "Out of Many" compilation released earlier this year, is the emphasis on early Jamaican music, and the breadth of music covered. The first disc is all early ska and reggae by artists like Desmond Dekker, Derrick Morgan, Justin Hinds, and Prince Buster. Some of these songs are classics that you may have heard on other compilations ("Carry Go Bring Home," "My Boy Lollipop,"), but there are also some deep cuts. You can hear the influence of early American R&B on the Jamaican artists on these early tracks. Theophilus Beckford's "Easy Snapping" and Higgs and Wilson's "Manny Oh" sound like early sixties doo-wop with a Jamaican lilt. The island was heavily influenced by American music: the fact that so many reggae singers have falsettos is directly attributable to the popularity of Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions. Listening to Disc One you can hear the Jamaican record industry maturing: the recording quality gets better, the songwriting gets more complex, and the artists start to find their own distinct Jamaican sound. By the end of the album you are at Bob Marley's classic "Trenchtown Rock," and Jamaican music has truly come into its own."
Latyrx :: Disconnection EP :: Latyramid, Inc.
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
"The original Latyrx album was one of the most profound hip-hop experiences I had in my college years. It represented everything to me that now gets labelled as "progressive" about hip-hop. Experimenting with unconventional flows and musical styles, Lateef and Lyrics Born were at the cutting edge of hip-hop, the sleeping California giant arisen - and one that seemingly decided to go back to bed while a generation of lackluster "trapping" emcees rose to popularity. Mourning their short career wasn't necessary though given Lyrics Born continued on, but it made you wonder what they COULD have done if the market was there and their determination remained in tact. If these two verses from "Rushin' Attack" don't seem to have anything to do with each other, that's part of the magic and mystery of Latyrx. The union of these two rappers was kindred spirits moving in the same direction, even though their styles were distinctly divergent. Lyrics Born a/k/a Tom Shimura has always been an introspective, personal and insightful emcee who sees both himself and the world more clearly than his peers. He's also got the ability to flip up his rap to a smooth croon on a dime. Lateef Daumont a/k/a The Truthspeaker first made his reputation on a cult classic single called "The Wreckoning" but outside of his partnership with Born and rare cameo appearances seemed a reluctant hip-hop star at best, tormented by his own talent and the expectations of his peers. In theory "Disconnection" is just a taste of a full length album to come in 2013, and if so it's worth salivating for. Despite the fact that over 15 years have gone by since their debut, you wouldn't know the difference if you let one album end and the EP begin. "Call to Arms" shows their commitment not just to raise up their native Bay Area hip-hop, but to do what they did so well on their first album despite two different styles - speak with one unified voice as a duo on whatever happens to be their motivation. In this case it's a call for human rights, a cry for dignity, a statement for equality that even inspires a brief cameo appearance by fellow California legend Boots of The Coup."
Nicki Minaj :: Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded the Re-Up :: Cash Money Records
as reviewed by Jesal 'Jay Soul' Padania
"Just when you thought it couldn't get anymore confusing… Are you ready for more "Pink Friday" from Nicki Minaj? It's not the first one, but a second version of the second one, making it the third one. But not the official third one, not even a "Remix – no no, this is a "Re-Up" (to use the "drugs have nothing to do with this album" terminology). Basically, there is an all-new eight-track EP added separately, in addition to the original nineteen-song album released earlier this year. It brings the entire effort up to over 100 minutes worth of fresh '12 material from Minaj, and that is nothing to sniff at. If you buy the physical copy, you also get some sort of DVD with another hour and a half worth of who knows what (I'm assuming music videos and concert footage). But for now, let us focus on the digital music-only version. You may recall in my original review of "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded" that I had numerous misgivings about the album. It's not that I didn't enjoy quite a few numbers – I most certainly did. It's just that it felt like a double album squeezed into one disc, with a lot of fat attached and a complete lack of soul. What I can now admit, more than six months later, is that I have since listened to it, a lot. Well, not the whole thing, but certainly my own playlist of a dozen songs. Seriously, I've listened to it more (particularly at the gym) than pretty much anything else this year (which came as a surprise to me too). So when "The Re-Up" was announced, it was a pleasant surprise – it represents a chance for Minaj to balance out the feel of the album, to offer a new batch of songs to fans that wish to cherry-pick their favourites and personalise them. It's worth mentioning that this is pretty much exactly what Lady Gaga – one of Nicki's primary influences – initially did with "The Fame" and "The Fame Monster" (and RedOne produced much of Gaga's work before his "Starships" and "Pound the Alarm" days)."
P.O.S. :: We Don't Even Live Here :: Rhymesayers Entertainment
as reviewed by Zach 'Goose' Gase
"For Rhymesayers Ent. releases, good things come in threes. Chasing the heels of Aesop Rock's "Skelethon" and Brother Ali's "Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color," P.O.S drops his first album since his 2009 breakthrough "Never Better." The Twin Cities rapper, best known for combining elements of hip hop and heavy metal, continues to push hip hop's boundaries, this time using heavy electronic sounds. The harsh synth-driven record, "We Don't Even Live Here" is as heavy as his previous releases, but P.O.S's lyrical content tends to be more easy-going than on previous releases. By no means "We Don't Even Live Here" a soft record, but P.O.S sounds like he's having more fun on his first album in three years, than he has on previous records. "Fuck Your Stuff" is an anthem for being reckless and Hulk-smashing anything in sight. I highly suggest playing this while running a 5K or bench pressing. "Get Down," which features a guest verse from Mike Mictlan, features some crazy synth work, and is the closest a rapper named Pissed Off Stef is ever going to get to light-hearted. "We Don't Even Live Here" is solid front-to-back and is arguably a more consistent record than "Never Better." The new record also doesn't seem to have as many goosebump-inducing moments like "Purexed," "Optimist (We Are Not For Them)," or "The Brave and The Snake," from his 2009 record. "We Don't Even Live Here's" best record is "Where We Land," which features Justin Vernon (best known from Bon Iver and his many features on Kanye's last solo effort). This is a match made in Heaven, as Vernon's closing bridge along with P.O.S's memorable hook makes the track one of the year's best album cuts. "
PremRock :: Mark's Wild Years :: Bandcamp.com
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
"Having become a convert to Planet PremRock back in 2011 on his album with Willie Green, I was more than pleased to hear he was back in 2012 with "Mark's Wild Years." As a bonus this brand new LP is available via a name your own price option. Now there's only two ways you could decide what to pay +before+ downloading the album - take my advice at the end of this review or stream the album via the embedded player below to know whether or not you feel it. I'm going to suggest doing BOTH. "Mark's Wild Years" is a conceptual album inspired by singer and songwriter Tom Waits, which is made obvious from the opening song "Step Right Up," which interpolates the bassline from the Waits jam of the same name - although PremRock decides to rap over it at double the speed. If you're not familiar with Waits he's got a raspy growling vocal delivery, one which harkens back to old times blues, and one almost inconceivable coming out of a skinny white guy from Pomona. If that seems blunt or unfair, I dare you to listen to the original version of "Step Right Up" and not think you were listening to Lightnin' Hopkins mixed with Louis Armstrong. A familiarity with Waits' extensive catalogue can improve your listening experience, but isn't strictly necessary thanks to Prem's narrative ability and stellar delivery. A case in point is the song "Christmas Card From a Hooker in Prague," which is a direct rift on Tom Waits' "Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis." The original version is a narrative from a prostitute writing a letter to a john named Charlie, and in this case PremRock changes up the context so that he's the protagonist reading the hooker's letter. "
Skipp Whitman :: 5AM :: WTMN&Co
as reviewed by Matt Jost
"Since the first rappers entered a recording studio, hip-hop has been a success story, one often told first-hand by the artists themselves. Rappers soon learned that their stories became more interesting when they related not only the success but also the struggle that comes before it. Even the highly talented but for whatever reason relatively unsuccessful ones began to translate their fate as starving artists into engaging tales. Lately, however, it's all gotten a bit too much, with every other up-and-comer pestering the world about how badly he wants rap success. Skipp Whitman too ponders "how to make a living only from makin' songs," but he does it with so much feeling and flair that it's impossible to lump him with all these kids expecting fame to be handed to them on a silver platter, not with inspiring lines like "A pipe dream is keepin' me up so I may as well / hop to it - and maybe we sell." It helps that musically "5AM" is absolutely up to date, Whitman infusing his tracks with pop and electronica influences and not shying away from singing hooks. With a relaxed tone and delivery somewhere between Defari and Wiz Khalifa, he contemplates his situation over studied, solemn compositions, substituting fabricated rap swag with genuine hip-hop attitude ("I arm myself with a force field / It feels natural, while MC's got that forced feel"). He touches on topics that should be familiar to anybody pursuing a long-term goal: paying bills, maintaining relationships, handling criticism, being creative, overcoming stereotypes. Although he focuses almost exclusively on himself, he does widen the scope on "Dreams," where he involves listeners who fight a similar uphill battle."
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