Sunday June 24, 2018

The (W)rap Up - Week of March 12, 2013 (@MannyWallace)
Posted by Emanuel Wallace at Tuesday, March 19th, 2013 at 2:00PM :: Email this article :: Print this article

Courtesy @MannyWallace

If you missed an of the new reviews this past week including Rashad & Confidence's "The Element of Surprise," then do yourself a favor and check out this week's edition of the (W)rap Up!

[The Element of Surprise] Rashad & Confidence :: The Element of Surprise
Ill Adrenaline Records

Author: Grant Jones Click here to find out more!

"Certain albums have that "classic feel" that is rarely replicated. "Illmatic" had it, "Hard To Earn" had it, and dare I say it "The Element of Surprise" has it. I'm not comparing this release from Rashad & Confidence with either of those acclaimed classics, but it certainly has the aura emanating from each track that suggests you are listening to the perfect marriage of raps and beats. Confidence has established himself as a talented beatsmith, delivering the strong "Purpose of Confidence" album with Tragic Allies emcee Purpose, which was one of 2012's better produced records. Lyrically it was good but not great, and you can read my thoughts on it HERE. Fortunately, Confidence released an album a year earlier with an unknown Myspace artist named Rashad which went under pretty much everybody's radar. Rashad has a Fashawn-like mastery of diction, words flowing effortlessly together that achieves a poetic aspect when matched with soulful production. It's therefore strange that he hasn't released anything since this record dropped in late 2011, particularly with lyrics as strong as these on "The Break Up Song." "Brand New" sounds anything but, with a sublime production containing standard chopped samples and scratched hook so often found on Golden Era hip hop records from the days of yore. Confidence represents the throwback sound that producers such as Marco Polo and Apollo Brown use to great effect by combining it with crisp, current sounds. It's about as hip hop as hip hop can sound, and although usually labelled as "underground" or "East Coast", it is the style of production that is often timeless."

DeeJay Element :: Reality Kings & Reason :: Brown Bag AllStars
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Reality Kings & Reason] "It's no secret I've been a fan of the BBAS crew dating back to their Hip-Hop Shop interview and before. Among the many secrets to their success is DeeJay Element, though you wouldn't always know it since he keeps it more low pro than his comrades. While Soul Khan's unorthodox delivery, the dual-threat skills of Koncept and J57, and the production techniques of Audible Doctor grab the limelight, Element just plays the background and does his thing - providing the vital hip-hop glue. He scratches, he produces, he drops mixtapes, he stays humble. "Reality Kings & Reason" should continue to elevate his stature toward the recognition level of his fellow beer drinking bros. There's no shared production on this EP - every beat is his and every scratch is his exclamation point on it. At the same time it's not surprising that he called his homies to rap on it, which makes it a Brown Bag AllStars project in all but name and a few of the cameos. The opener "Sound Familiar" keeps it 100% family, and has the eerie sound of 1960's psychadelic pop music plus the even more haunting "I'm the weight and the strength just to be Paul Bearer/keep it frank, I'm the future meets the b-boy era" line. Nobody involved could have known he'd die last week. Still, damn. "Complex Individuals" mixes it up a little more crew-wise, over a lightly strummed guitar with strong snare taps. Sene and ScienZe add welcome hip-hop flavor to it, and Audible Doctor rounds things out to keep it in the family. He stays on board for the next track, which brings in South Bronx favorite Chaundon to spit on "When I Grow Up." After a 96 second "End of the World" interlude, this EP is over far too quickly with the stellar closing song "Walk With Me," where Gorilla Tao and J Swiss find themselves upstaged by Soul Khan's opening nasal flow."

Mac Minati :: Paranormal Mactivity :: Street Level Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Paranormal Mactivity] "There's a bit of a mystery to Mac Minati, and I'm not just talking about the artist himself. I got this zip file for review late in 2012 and due to the extensive amount of submissions we receive for coverage it got put on the backburner for a bit. Around the same time I received a brief press release from his label offering the album as a free download. The page that the DL was on no longer exists, which happens all of the time, but if you Google ANY combo of "Mac Minati" and "Street Level Records" that leads to the SLR website, you'll get a 404 on the other end. Was there an acrimonious split between the two? Even an album he apparently released just last month returns a "OOPS! NOT FOUND" response too. Here's what we can tell you about Mac Minati that you can't find on the Street Level website - he used to be known as Mac Gamer, represents for Seattle, and lives in Kings County. "Paranormal Mactivity" has more than the average number of big names for a rapper coming up out of the Pacific Northwest, and some of them from big names - Crooked I and The Game on "New West" for example, built around a hook proclaiming "from Cali to Seattle we keep it crackin." The song hits hard enough for me to bump it more than once, as does "Ain't the Same Kind" featuring Birdman and E-40. About 40% of Mac Minati's songs are produced by D-Sane, who seems to have his finger on the pulse of Minati's style. He provides a mellow backdrop for Minati to hit a faster Twista-esque flow on "Let's Play," gives a Big B/Kottonmouth grinding bottom to "I'm Broke" featuring TDF's Produk, hits an echoing and spacey backdrop for "Temptations" and arguably achieves his peak on "Love Don't Live Here." The interpolated chorus may have been obvious from the title, but Minati's words still play well with the set-up."

Mad Dukez & Fresh Kils :: The Open Affairs EP :: Bandcamp/Deep Thinka Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[The Open Affairs EP]"The first pairing of Mad Dukez and Fresh Kils seemed ideal to me - a rising Buffalo rapper tag teaming with an established and cutting edge Canadian producer. With apologies to Dukez I was such a fan of that pairing that I may have been a bit underwhelmed by his recent "Volume 4" release, which was intended more as a mixtape than as a full project anyway. "The Open Affairs EP" is both a chance to give Mad Dukez his just due, and happily it reunites him with Fresh Kils too. "World Wide" recaptures the earlier magic of their partnership as Kils layers his MPC stylee deftly, finding the right level between making his instrumental have punch and not overwhelming his emcee cohort. The vocal samples add a fun emphasis to the song, and the cuts by Uncle Fester tie it together well. This is all true times two on "Passed Preachin'" featuring stellar Canadian rapper Relic. It's that jazzy mixture of boom bap that mixes modern production techniques Guru would recognize on "Jazzamatazz." If you're looking for Kils more electronic and punchy style though, "Round Rock" is your ticket."

Miami Beat Wave :: #B2B :: Bandcamp/Miami Beat Wave
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[#B2B] "Miami Beat Wave is a hip-hop production team that (as their name implies) hails from South Florida. "#B2B" is their acronym for "Back 2 Basics," a movement where quality hip-hop comes first and posturing bullshit comes dead last. Combine the two and you've got the album that matches their movement's name, which is available either as a free download or via #NYOP for as little as 50 cents (plus three dollars shipping). Now it's possible this is your first exposure to MBW, even though we have mentioned them here and there on the newsfeed, so you're probably wondering about their credentials and why you should be interested in the album. In some respects the line-up of this nearly hour long CD/DL can answer both questions. The range of people they work with is fairly remarkable, from mainstream superthugs like N.O.R.E. on the angry pianos of "2 Gun Salute" to long time politically militant rappers like on "Stay Alive." MBW do tend to skew a little bit further toward the underground on this one - from Strange Music crew ˇMAYDAY! on "So Cold" to the straight up ruggedness of Skam2? on "Anti-Heroes & Super Villains," one of this album's best cuts. Skam is definitely the kind of rapper who fits in the "anti-hero" mold - someone you can cheer for as he fights for a good cause, even as he might do some unkind things to his rivals (on the mic or otherwise)."

Prof :: Kaiser von Powderhorn 3 :: Stophouse Music Group
as reviewed by Matt Jost

[Kaiser von Powderhorn 3] "The first time I heard Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' smash hit "Thrift Shop" I thought to myself, "This could be Prof." The same wisecrack attitude, the same untamable flow, the same predilection for musical collages. (Accidentally, the Seattle rapper's full alias used to be Professor Macklemore.) Both also have a serious side to them, and that's exactly where they go seperate ways. Macklemore can't help but temper his big dreams with moral and ethical questions, Prof has a seperate mixtape series just to take his antics to new levels of absurdity. "Kaiser von Powderhorn 3" is the latest (released last year), whose trashy tendencies are already announced on the cover, a spoof on the legendarily overblown Pen & Pixel designs that shows Prof surrounded by pregnant swimsuit models, who also happen to be featured in the video for "Me Boi," a modern day "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)" anthem that includes Prof yelling, "Get drunk! Break shit!" and boasting, "Put the circus posters up over the billboards / This the type of party college kids will kill for" - appropriately over a Tinie Tempah track called "Pass Out." But more than "Licensed to Ill"-era Beastie Boys, "Me Boi" recalls the days of crunk, while the following "Get Some" plays like a soundclash between the Thizz Nation and Strange Music. Borrowing Mac Dre's carefree clowning, Tech N9ne's fiery flow, the tomfoolery from both, and adding his own brand of spontaneous singing outbursts, Prof bounces around to the staggering funk provided by producer Julian Fairbanks. "New Kid" resurrects a Jermaine Dupri beat from Daz Dillinger's So So Def album, a surprisingly coherent choice for the pairing of Prof and old acquaintance Yelawolf, who gives the mixtape's first major co-sign. The second comes from fellow Minneapolitan Slug, who joins Prof for "Swimming," a "Felt" style metaphorical girls theme to a minimalistic backdrop."

Pusha T :: Wrath of Caine :: DatPiff
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor

[Wrath of Caine] "By now Pusha T's story is familiar with RapReviews readers. As one half of rap group the Clipse, he released three albums and several mixtapes of cold-as-ice coke rap over banging beats. Then Pusha T's brother Malice found God and decided that rapping about selling drugs conflicted with his values, so Pusha was left on his own as a solo artist. Tired of appealing to a small subsection of music fans, Pusha signed to Kanye's G.O.O.D. Music imprint in an attempt to make fans who weren't rap nerds or actual drug dealers. If there was any question that Pusha was going to explore new territory, the title of his mixtape puts that to rest. Pusha's career has been made rapping about being coke dealer, and he's not changing gears this far into a good thing. The older he gets, though, the more outlandish and unbelievable his lyrics get. On the Clipse's "Hell Hath No Fury," he was a grimy aspiring drug lord. On "Wrath of Caine," he's in full Rick Ross mode (the rapper, not the drug dealer), acting as if it makes any sense at all that a criminal mastermind making billions in the drug trade would also be rapping about it. Any sense of reality that was present in the early Clipse material is gone. Pusha is in full-on Hollywood fantasy mode now. As always, Pusha assumes the persona of a ruthless drug dealer who occaisionally dwells on the horrors his lifestyle has wrought. Pusha hasn't gone Christian like Malice (now No Malice) has, but his rhymes are full of Biblical imagery. Pusha knows he's doing the devil's business, and alternates between celebrating his wicked ways and trying to atone for them, although there isn't a hell of a lot of atoning on "Wrath of Caine." "This is the energy I've been missing," he announces on the opening intro. "A thousand drug dealers with the cruelest intentions." I don't know where he is with No Malice's newfound churchiness, but on the Rick Ross and Kanye assisted "Millions," he almost seems to be mocking No Malice."

Skrilla UGQ :: Certified Queen :: Hoodtapes/Kings & Queens
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Certified Queen] "I strongly suspect this album was sent to me around the time of our last UK Hip Hop Month, but it slipped through the cracks until now. Even though a more official version was released through Hoodtapes and other UK mixtape sites in December, this version contained nothing but clean dubs of her songs, many lacking MP3 tags for artist and album name. Trying to find all of Skrilla UGQ's tracks after importing the unzipped folder to iTunes was a needle and haystack affair. I really wish artists would make these things easier on reviewers. Unfortunately I don't believe it was ultimately worth the effort. I've spent the time to compile her songs together on my playlist, listen to them multiple times, and I'm not convinced her sound and style is that special. Let's give credit where it's due - the UK scene doesn't overflow with female exports - so it's nice to hear a woman with the typical English-by-way-of-Jamaica accent. Beyond that there are major problems. Take "Zone" for example, where she spends more of the song singing than rapping, and an unnamed (lucky for him or her) producer seems obsessed with manipulating Pac-Man sound effects. "To the Floor" is even more obnoxious though - I really don't need to hear a UK female emcee singing "I'ma drop it to the flo'" - I can already get that whack shit in a Cockney accent from Nicki Minaj. "Bring Back the Realness" feels a bit ironic. One version of "Turn It Up" makes me want to do what the title implies, but only because it has a Dirty South sound similar to a DJ Paul album. The "Gully Funk" remix is best skipped. Her song titles express simple sentiments, which is at least appropriate given the simple rhymes, such as on "Count Down." "Leave {*censored*} sour faces like when milk curdles/Their lines are kinda flabby, man they need a girdle." Other nursery rhyme songs include "Work Hard," "Can't Fall" and "Back It Up." "

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