Saturday June 23, 2018

The (W)rap Up - Week of October 15, 2013
Posted by Emanuel Wallace at Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013 at 10:00PM :: Email this article :: Print this article

If you missed any of the new reviews this past week including Black Milk's "No Poison No Paradise" then do yourself a favor and check out this week's edition of the (W)rap Up!

Courtesy @MannyWallace

[No Poison No Paradise]Black Milk :: No Poison No Paradise :: Fat Beats Records
Author: Jesal 'Jay Soul' Padania

"With "No Poison No Paradise" Black Milk delivers, in a sense, his best album thus far. It's a deceptively dark listen (the wonderful artwork should be your first clue), yet his delivery is deliberately toned down in energy, suitably matching the night-time theme. NPNP is effectively an amalgam of the previous three albums, and the end result for a restless producer who has, thus far, experimented without any real attachment. First, he chopped up samples; he ditched the vinyl back in the crate to go electronic; he then unplugged that equipment and hired a live band. His latest album finds him shunning musical innovation and favouring bringing together all three into a concoction principally fuelled by a desire to master his studio engineering skillset. Such a convergence is an interesting and rewarding outlook, not to mention thoroughly predictable at this stage in his career. At times throughout his career, it has come across as a battle between what Black Milk is good at, and what he actually wants to do; between his talent and his focus; between what we want to hear from him, and his subsequent reaction. In other words, he's damn stubborn. That can result in great music, though: here he's challenging us to keep up, jumping from genre to genre, style to style, with liberal use of the FX, panning knobs and brakes The beats on offer are less that, more genial treats gifted to us from a producer with an innate sense of when to go left when we expected a right turn. In fact, that instinct is ever so slightly toned down on NPNP, yet it recalls Kanye West's "Dark Twisted Fantasy" - with this being more of a "Darker Tangled Nightmare". The first listen is a full-on assault of your senses, soon crystallising into more identifiable joints. It's engineered to perfection."

Ace Hood :: Trials & Tribulations :: We the Best/Cash Money/Universal 
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Trials & Tribulations]"I've been relatively indifferent to Ace Hood's albums thus far. I honestly had nothing to say about "Gutta" nor did anyone else on staff - maybe we'll go Back to the Lab on it later. "Ruthless" had good production but forgettable lyrics. "Blood Sweat + Tears" had a little less of each. And now we've come to 2013, where the Floridian rapper has switched from Def Jam to Cash Money, but still winds up under the Universal Music Group umbrella either way - so it doesn't feel that different. One big difference though is that "Bugatti" went viral this year in a big way. Unintentionally this song had the effect of making me like Ace Hood a whole lot LESS. Mike Will Made-It's production is normally aight, but this feels like one of his more uninspired tracks. It's not helped by Future singing on it - a man who seemingly gets more annoying with every single song that he cameos on. Rick Ross tries to come in and save the day, but it's far too late by that point. This song stayed in constant rotation, and then a remix with everybody from Birdman to T.I. gave it a second life when someone should have pulled the plug long before. "Trials & Tribulations" was low on my list of albums to review, but when a tree fell on my home in late June, this album's release in July got ignored ALTOGETHER. I just couldn't drum up the interest when I had bigger fish to fry. Enough time has gone by now for me to take a proper look at "Trials & Tribulations," and I have to give Ace Hood his due - the majority of the songs here are NOT like "Bugatti." In fact he at times steers completely away from the lifestyle of big cars, big bar tabs and big booty hoes that his Cash Money compatriots seem exclusively obsessed with. "Another Statistic" shows a surprisingly self-aware and thoughtful Ace reflecting on the negativity of his atmosphere and his peers. The Lee on the Beats produced "Hope" is another sign that Ace may be maturing as an artist as he ages. "The day I witnessed my daughter born it was the greatest day of my life." Not only was it the greatest day, it may have been his most important day, as it seems to have sparked Ace Hood to put serious thought into his message. Old production partner STREETRUNNER comes back to provide one of the album's best instrumentals on the soulful "My Bible," and Cardiak's work on the closer "Mama" featuring Betty Wright will pull at your heart strings."

Danny Brown :: Old :: Fool's Gold Records 
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor

[Old]"There have always been two sides to Detroit rapper Danny Brown. On one hand, he's a hipster wild man who spends his time guzzling drugs, screwing groupies, and rapping with a deranged flow. On the other hand, there is the street kid who grew up poor in Detroit, had parents that struggled with addiction, dealt drugs to crackheads, and realizes that he is on a dangerous trajectory. Both "The Hybrid" and "XXX" balanced songs about partying with more serious examinations of addiction and poverty. On his latest album, "Old," he goes as far as splitting those two sides of himself into two distinct album sides, each with their own sound and themes. Brown makes an interesting sequencing choice by starting off with the serious songs and saving the party tracks for later. For the first half of the album he sounds somber and reserved, a weary OG tired of street life. "Side A (Old)" is about his transition from dope dealer to rapper, and most of the first ten tracks on the album follow a similar theme. Even the production is subdued, with Paul White and Oh No providing sample-based beats. Most of the songs are about the horrors of poverty. "Wonderbread," the first song in which he raps in his trademark high-pitched oddball flow, is about the junkies, prostitutes, and shootings he used to see on his way to buy bread with food stamps as a kid. "Torture" is about the debased situations Brown got into as a dope dealer. Then he spends the next ten songs not listening to his own advice. The second half of the album is all about partying. The sample-based beats are gone, replaced by a combination of bounce, trap, and EDM supplied by longtime collaborator SKYWLKR, dubstep producer Rustie, and Fools Gold founder A-Trak. "Side B (Dope Song)" starts off with a video game theme, as if Brown is acknowledging the cartoonish nature of his party persona. From there shit gets crazy."

Dan-e-o :: Immortal :: Dan-e-o/URBNET 
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Immortal]"If you've already heard the new Dan-e-o interview on the website today, props for heading on over to check out the "Immortal" review. If you haven't, it's not a prerequisite to this write-up per se, but it may shed light on what Dan-e-o is all about if you're new to his music. Long time readers should be familiar with his steelo though. We've been writing about him for almost a decade now, and he's been in the music business even longer. His longevity would be impressive in any hip-hop scene, but regrettably his survival skills have not resulted in requisite fame South of the maple divide. Despite that Dan-e-o is "Immortal" - no matter how little or how much cheddar he has, no matter how little or how much mainstream airplay he's getting, Dan keeps on outlasting his peers. The title track of Dan-e-o's latest short release (22 minutes) is also a tribute to hip-hop's longevity, as he namechecks a slew of classic rap albums like "Illmatic," "Buhloone Mindstate" and "It Takes a Nation of Millions" in a rapidfire second verse. In fact the whole album is a salute to classics in one way or another. "Eritrean Girl" makes absolutely no bones about the fact it's a tribute to "Liberian Girl," a song which has been sampled many times before in hip-hop. My favorite was always "Keep On, Keepin' On" by MC Lyte, others prefer "Letter 2 My Unborn" by 2Pac, but this one pays homage to MJ in a way neither song does. The same can be said for "Worldwide Vapors" featuring special guests Big Kish and Maestro Fresh-Wes, an updated 2013 take on Biz Markie's theme from "The Vapors" back in the 1980's. The entire release is a (free) prelude to Dan-e-o's upcoming "Immortal" album, and ends with the uptempo sex song "Girl (Boom Boom Pump)," showing off not only Dan's nimble lyrical tongue but his ability to assert the machismo and charisma of LL Cool J in his prime - where a breathy whisper was just as powerful as a shouted epithet."

Dizzee Rascal :: The Fifth :: Dirtee Stank/Island Records 
as reviewed by Grant Jones

[The Fifth]"Driving home one evening, whilst flicking through the 5-song playlists that British radio stations such as Kiss FM and Capital rarely deviate from, I thought I'd put BBC Radio 1 on. For those uninitiated with BBC Radio 1, it is the main station aimed at younger listeners, but rather than bombarding the listener with endless pop and dance from Will.I.Am and Jessie J, they occasionally throw in some Kendrick Lamar or champion the latest "cool" rock group. This time however, I caught the much-loved Dizzee Rascal in an interview about his latest album. What stayed with me was the response to the question – "What advice would you give any young underground rappers?" – to which Dizzee replied "Open your mind, you don't know where it will take you". What I thought was a jab at rappers doing just traditional hip hop, was actually a summary of Dizzee Rascal's career. The first time I heard Dizzee Rascal was over ten years ago on a song called "Bounce" by garage outfit Roll Deep Crew. Succinct verses are a regular feature of garage (or were at least) with crews such as So Solid and More Fire throwing members at the listener from various angles. What Roll Deep did was bring some humour, some light-heartedness that is often lacking in the moody brags of garage rappers. Especially as grime became more popular, Dizzee knew that garage was already dying a death, and incorporated different sounds in to his debut "Boy In Da Corner". Grime was a primary theme but songs like "Fix Up, Look Sharp" and "Just A Rascal" felt very hip hop, with "Vexed" even evoking an element of techno. Dizzee has definitely been rapping on each album since 2003, but the musical direction he has taken has moved further and further in to the genres of dance and pop. "The Fifth" is (shockingly) the fifth release from Dizzee, and after ten years his uniqueness has become less prevalent with each album."

Goldie Lookin Chain :: Kings of Caerleon :: 1983 Recordings 
as reviewed by Matt Jost

[Kings of Caerleon]"The Jay-Z/Alicia Keys collaboration "Empire State of Mind" inspired countless cover versions that celebrated places that were NOT New York. Most of these renditions still found enough sources of local pride to talk about. But as you put some distance between you and any metropolis, the urban skylines and landmarks get smaller and smaller, and there inevitably comes a point where the settlements seem dull, or cute at best, compared to the exciting big city. From that contrast often springs comedy, for example the self-deprecating view small-towners have of their habitat. In 2010 an "Empire State of Mind" parody called "Newport (Ymerodraeth State of Mind)" went viral, describing and displaying the Welsh city of Newport in all its small-town splendor. As well done as it was, the spoof was bound to irk a handful of people (besides EMI, who asked YouTube to remove the video when it had already accumulated well over 2 million hits) - Newport's own Goldie Lookin Chain have been satirizing their stomping grounds for more than a decade. So it wasn't surprising to see the rap crew respond to "Newport (Ymerodraeth State of Mind)" - whose makers/actors had partly Welsh roots but still were obvious out-of-towners - with "Newport State of Mind (You're Not From Newport)." In it, rapper Rhys reclaimed his group's authority on all things Newport, all the while assuming the same ironic but affectionate tone when talking about his hometown. Three years later Goldie Lookin Chain are back with a new album and up to old tricks. Raps steeped in old school hip-hop, rhymes that oscillate between satirical and silly underpinned by a solid musical groundwork comprised of recognizable instruments. At first listen the one legendary group that is evoked are the Beastie Boys. The mic circulation, the "Apache" break, the vocal effects of the opening "It's the Chain" all convey that jolly, jesting feeling of the New York trio indulging in old school routines. That point of reference is actually reinforced by the track that follows, "Gangsta," where GLC rhyme over a sample so inextricably connected with "Paul's Boutique" it's hard to accept someone using it with what first sounds like a similar approach to rap."

Hyperaptive :: SykoTherapy :: Syko Recordz 
as reviewed by Jesal 'Jay Soul' Padania

[SykoTherapy]""Just when I thought I was out... They pull me back in!" Oh hip hop. You leave us disillusioned, but the supporters, DJs, artists and sites like this keep dragging us back for more. In UK hip hop month, I put out a clarion call on Twitter, and received some superb suggestions – shout out to @Chiraag_G for this one – and that unflinching passion of fans, willing to back their artists, has been overwhelming. Here, we take a look at "SykoTherapy" by South London rapper Hyperaptive, and it's one you'll almost certainly want to check out for yourself (the artist himself has kindly made the ENTIRE album available to listen to on YouTube so really you have no excuse not to). It's just a few years old, and if we were to assign one of those corny tagline stickers for the physical release, it would probably read: "What ‘Relapse' should have been!" Yes, Hyperaptive is white. No, that's not why the Eminem similarities are present. It's more to do with the concepts, flows, vocals, choruses and (occasionally) production. "Relapse" was an album I liked but have previously admitted to overrating at the time. Imagine if Marshall Mathers had been more lucid, confident, and had refined it to a lean 45 minute selection. Well, "SykoTherapy" would still be significantly better. It's one of the most fantastically written hip hop albums from the UK. Note: there is no timeframe assigned. It's THAT good, certainly from the perspective of lyrics and themes. Eleven songs, a couple of skits and you'll be itching to start over again. The wordplay is incredibly dense, yet with very few flaws or lines that don't connect, meaning that the replay value is astronomical as you'll keep discovering clever little lines here and there. It kicks off with the patient being visited by his psychotherapist, who subsequently gives him a keyboard for an hour to observe the effects. Although it's not the actual case (clearly this was produced on Logic or Reason), it still somewhat explains the relatively stripped back production which is, for the most part, intelligently paced and melodic (certainly not orchestral with hundreds of layers, EQ'ed to within an inch of its life). Occasionally, it misfires (especially near the end of the album) but while it may not be equal to the lyrics, it provides a suitable foundation for the MC to shine on. "

Iron Bridge :: Toilet Humour :: Iron Bridge Records 
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **
as reviewed by Grant Jones

[Toilet Humour]"As a Brit, I'm heavily biased when I say that British humour is the best in the world – despite being spelt with an unnecessary ‘u'. Hip hop from the British Isles has certainly lightened up as time has gone on, with acts such as Sway and Dizzee Rascal using wackiness to aid their character. Stig of the Dump often relies on his extreme alcoholism and abrasive language to grab a cheap laugh, while chart-toppers like Tinie Tempah regularly use silly lyrics to keep their content down-to-earth (I doubt he actually keeps his clothes at his Aunt's house). What separates Iron Bridge from these artists is that they had never wanted to be taken seriously; most of their debut (and unfortunately their only album) is full of outrageous boasts, mum jokes and most importantly – toilet humour. What makes this record worth a listen is its mix of poignant honesty and insane rhymes. Iron Bridge are two rappers; Dirty Verbals and Jibbarish. More often than not, an emcee's name means absolutely nothing, but these artists are quickly summarised by their appropriate names. Hailing from the outskirts of London, an area of England called Essex, the two have brought along many of their cronies, and the album cover states that it is Iron Bridge (featuring Essex). After a grimey introduction that proclaims "bow in our presence, peasants", "Dance For Your Daddy" sees the album make use of a sinister Ray Winstone sample from the film Scum, but it's the wild rhyming that can't help but raise a smile. Ron Compost drops some memorable verses throughout the album, but his 8-bar verse here combines necrophiliacs, asking to stay at the listener's house because he has defecated in his bed, and then retching like a sick dog. The anarchic content of many songs on "Toilet Humour" will certainly only appeal to a niche audience – having bought this CD as a sixteen year-old boy, the album's combination of British schoolboy antics and gritty, barebones production was right up my street. Despite the record often feeling like a bunch of mates that have too much spare time on their hands, it is a fun, if messy journey that never feels like it takes itself seriously."

MC Duke :: Organised Rhyme :: Music of Life 
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **
as reviewed by Matt Jost

[Organised Rhyme]"MC Duke's "Organised Rhyme" could be the British equivalent of Maestro Fresh-Wes' "Symphony in Effect." Both album artworks try to implement a typical lofty '80s rap name visually. The Maestro's tuxedo suggested a conductor in the area of classical music, the Duke's attire evoked landed gentry. But while Fresh-Wes established himself as the godfather of Canadian hip-hop with his 1989 debut, "Organised Rhyme," from the same year, is merely one album among several that constituted the first wave of British hip-hop. Like many of his peers in '80s hip-hop, Anthony Hilaire was a dancer first, his footwork taking him onto national television and the stage show of pop act Modern Romance. Although part of the Covent Garden scene where he tested his rhyme skills at open mics, he almost accidentally stumbled upon a rap career, famously responding to the boasts of a newly crowned DMC MC tournament winner and taking him out in the process in 1987. Witnessig the event, UK hip-hop vanguard Derek B placed him at the budding Music of Life label, on whose compilation "Hard As Hell" Duke debuted with the track "Jus-Dis." His first steps in the studio were influenced by American originators, "Jus-Dis" bearing an uncanny resemblance to the works of T La Rock, while "I Don't Care Anymore" mimicked Ice-T "Rhyme Pays" era. Once the album hit the shelves, the East London MC had not only moved away from US rhyme styles but from the accent as well. The overseas influence now mainly manifested itself in the rapper's pro-black pose. Yet he made a clear effort to adapt it to local conditions, addressing both the burning issue of South African apartheid and the historical burden of European colonialism. Also, London had seen violent protests in Brixton the years before, so the 23-year-old certainly could translate American rap rage to his own situation and surroundings."

Janelle Monae :: The Electric Lady :: Bad Boy Records 
as reviewed by Jesal 'Jay Soul' Padania

[The Electric Lady]"The previous two 'suites' - which took the form of "The ArchAndroid" - were awarded a classic rating on this very site, and pretty much universally. While Janelle Monae didn't become a household name on the back of that album, the amount of love she received for that slow-burning success has held her in good stead (to put it lightly). For my money, that album is up there will "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill" - albeit in a very different way, and without the commercial success Hill eventually crumbled under. "The Electric Lady" follows on in an incredibly polarising manner - even within the album itself - effectively simultaneously copying and ripping up the formula. It's a very good album indeed, yet by Monae's standards feels concessionary. Maybe it is cynicism, but just one look at the tracklisting hints at a more conservative label-driven ethos: front-load the LP with big name guests on singles to hook in the casuals and get the sales up. In fact, the first four songs are all collaborations, with Monae only rocking TWO full solo efforts in the first NINE numbers. The open invite list results in a very different vibe to its predecessor - more powerful, a statement of intent (even the gun slinging instrumental intro suggests this), yet almost certainly more impersonal. With "The ArchAndroid" we felt a part of it all, as if we were witnessing a musical at the theatre. "The Electric Lady" is more like watching her on-screen at the cinema. There's much back-and-forth between Monae and her guests, with arguably Solange on the title track the only cordial moment on offer. Prince is laser-focused on "Givin Em What They Love" (practically a mission statement for the album), and the melodies run riot once more on "Q.U.E.E.N." featuring Erykah Badu and an almost Lauryn-esque rap breakdown (one of the couplets pays homage). "Electric Lady" has a very "Umbrella" feel to it, a moment of breezy pop that works remarkably well, and after an all new radio station skit (that is integral to the whole Android storyline), the wonderful "Primetime" creeps into play. It's a 1980s style R&B duet, features Miguel and simply soars (sorry to refer to it AGAIN, but it brings to mind a more energetic version of Lauryn's duet with D'Angelo, "Nothing Even Matters"). After that, we get back to the more familiar Janelle Monae sound: her alone, a smorgasbord of genres, and more ethereal themes. "

Cale Sampson :: The Big Picture :: Cale Sampson 
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[The Big Picture]"If "The Big Picture" hadn't been released in September, you'd think it was from a rapper frustrated with the U.S. government shutdown - except of course that Cale Sampson is Canadian. If you believed that everybody in Canada is happy to live in such a peaceful and prosperous country, the Toronto native has another thing coming for you on his album's opening salvo.That cynicism is worthy of a Washington, D.C. resident. We already knew he was politically active on his self-titled debut though, when he dropped songs like "The Facts of War" debunking the excuses the Bush administration used to launch a war on Iraq. Whether or not the ends justified the means will be debated for decades to come, but the idea Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction is now pretty clearly ludicrous. Back to the subject at hand though - or if you will "The Big Picture." Sampson is painting using a rebellious brush here - there's a familiar echo of Immortal Technique and Boots Riley in songs like "The Truth Is." After Cale rattles off a list of conspiracy theories ranging from cancer cures being suppressed by big pharma, to Goldman Sachs purposefully causing the banking crisis, he challengers listeners "to write a song as smart as this to debunk me." This is where I must sound a cautionary note. I'm the first to advocate not having blind faith in the fourth estate, but I'm also equally wary of the unregulated nature of the fifth, and the human tendency to regard the written word as being imbued with inherent truth whether delivered with ink OR digitally. I'm a healthy skeptic of even healthy skeptics, so while I enjoy a good conspiracy theory, I am often inclined to treat them as little more than fiction. It's entertaining to speculate that George Bush was behind 9/11, but it's also inconceivable for more reasons than one can list here. "The Facts of War Part 2" tries to prove FDR purposefully instigated the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and that Lyndon B. Johnson staged the Gulf of Tonkin incident to launch the Vietnam War and let the U.S. military industry profit from it. Without a long political dissertation, it should be noted there were TWO Gulf of Tonkin incidents, and Sampson doesn't differentiate one from the other when he says that Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara admitted the incident never happened."

Silent Eclipse :: Psychological Enslavement :: 4th & Broadway 
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **
as reviewed by Jaroslav 'Czechone' Lavick

[Psychological Enslavement]"I really miss Afro-centric hip hop, particularly the passion behind the sentiments associated with it. I also miss the enlightenment provided by the rappers of the mould; I actually learnt quite a lot from the rappers of the era during my youth, and I say without any exaggeration that they played a major role in shaping me into a far more culturally aware person than I would have been had hip hop of that nature not come into my life. Whilst there are a handful of hip hop artists these days waving barely noticeable black awareness banners, the movement is nothing like it was. Hip hop is regarded as many things these days; an art form, a culture, a dance style, a fashionable trend and image, or simply another genre of music (and at times hip hop is unfortunately made to look as an exploitable gimmick when someone like Miley Cyrus latches onto it), however the idea of hip hop being a movement of awareness and change has long been forgotten - for close to 20 years now. It's a sad fact, and I think that deep down the likes of Chuck D, KRS-One, Paris and so on wouldn't be too happy with the lack of knowledge, wisdom and understanding in today's hip hop. Yes, hip hop still holds on to back in the day ideals such as the Four Elements, and there's an ever growing retro trend developing in the sound of the music also, but unfortunately important ideologies that were once very significantly at the root of the hip hop such as "Fight the Power" and "By Any Means Necessary" rank as pretty meaningless and insignificant to kids into hip hop these days. Many of the new generation of fans label such hip hop as "too preachy" (I've heard such sentiments time and time again in relation to KRS, for example). Whatever happened to the "Edutainment" factor in hip hop? 1995's "Psychological Enslavement" by the UK's Silent Eclipse is an album that I often turn to when looking to get an injection of the thoughts and era that I described above; an era where I was angrily waving my fist in the air, chanting down the oppressors in unison with my rap heroes. Actually the album came out at a time when the Afro-centric era was on its last legs; by 1995 hip hop in general was all about East Coast vs. West Coast, The Wu-Tang Clan, G-Funk, Master P/No Limit Records etc., whilst African Medallions and Malcolm X quotes on albums were mere novelty trends of the past."

Sonnyjim :: Trading Standards :: Dented, EatGood Records 
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **
as reviewed by Grant Jones

[Trading Standards]"Accents are a funny thing, in both senses of the word. Growing up in England, you forget just how diverse the linguistics are for such a small country. Of course, given the size of London and its large council estates (the "hood" to American readers), it's understandable that many overseas listeners stray towards the London rappers. Unless you're a true cockney, South East residents generally speak the same way. When you stray West, or North in particular, the accents vary wildly. There's the phlegm-gargling Liverpudlians, the harsh yet chirpy Geordie (Newcastle) and the "everything's a question" Brummie (Birmingham). The Brummie is often regarded as the most annoying accent due to its downtrodden, monotonous delivery, so it was all the more surprising when Sonnyjim stormed the UK rap terrain in 2008 with his verbal onslaughts. For the most part, that is exactly how Sonnyjim raps, firing rhymes at a relentless rate despite never feeling like a tongue-twister in the vein of the Phi Life Cypher lads. "Trading Standards" was a mix-CD released five years ago that showcased Sonnyjim at his most potent. It's not an amazing debut, but compared to his recent work which is bogged down in lyrics focused around his drug habit, the record possesses a wild energy that at times produces some superb displays of rapping ability. "On All Cylinders" is perhaps the finest example of this, with Jim even proclaiming he's "a proper rapper's rapper" whilst firing off bars barely leaving room to catch breath. It's rough and ready compared to the calmer pace of "Pecking Order", which utilizes a calculated yet infectious piano loop that gives the song a psychotic charm. It evokes the image of Sonnyjim sitting at a piano in a dark room, jabbing at keys whilst reeling off rhymes. Given the mixed-in transitions between songs, it's easy to forget that Jim only has five tracks on his own. "The Ultimate Triumph of the Little Guy" is a jokey track with a freestyle session vibe to it, particularly given how simplistic the beat is. The pick of the solo tracks is "The Mission Statement", a surprisingly honest collection of verses that remind us he is an ordinary guy at the end of the day (and at the end of the record). The beat is, as Jim himself says – "on some Pete Rock and Kev Brown shit". Musically, much of "Trading Standards" is well produced, with perhaps only "Stack Ps" standing out as a truly special instrumental. "

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