Monday May 28, 2018

The (W)rap Up - Week of October 22, 2013
Posted by Emanuel Wallace at Tuesday, October 29th, 2013 at 12:00AM :: Email this article :: Print this article

If you missed any of the new reviews this past week including London Posse's "Gangster Chronicles (Reissue)" then do yourself a favor and check out this week's edition of the (W)rap Up!

Courtesy @MannyWallace

[Gangster Chronicles (Reissue)]London Posse :: Gangster Chronicles (Reissue)
Tru Thoughts Records

Author: Patrick Taylor

"In 1990, I wasn't even aware that there was such a thing as UK hip-hop, much less that London Posse existed. I'm not the only American who slept on them. Their 1990 album "Gangster Chronicles," released on Mango, a defunct subsidiary of Island Records, didn't make much of a splash on this side of the Atlantic. Tru Thought's re-release of the album, which includes a second disc of remixes and singles, is an opportunity to correct a glaring omission in my knowledge of British rap history. Matt Jost already did right by London Posse in his review of their greatest hits a few years ago. I won't rehash too much of his review, but the basics are that London Posse were formed in the mid-eighties as a quartet with Sypho, Rodney P, Bionic and DJ Biznizz.  The mid-eighties were still early days for hip-hop, and really early days for international hip-hop. In the U.S., people outside of New York had figured out how to reinterpret hip-hop for their regions. Kids outside of the states were still struggling with how to adapt this exciting new music, which was so rooted in African-American culture, to where they were from. Bionic and Rodney P knew that the aggression, swagger, and swing of hip-hop could work in the U.K, but they wanted to add a British flair to the stripped-down beats and rappity-rap that was big in the U.S. at the time. Bionic had experience as a reggae DJ, which influenced his rap style. The group toured the U.S. in 1986 with Big Audio Dynamite, and the experience had a huge impact on their sound. They realized that trying to sound American was a losing proposition. They also worked with  Boogie Down Production, appearing in the video for "The Bridge Is Over." That song might have given them an idea of how to proceed; "The Bridge Is Over" added a melody to the standard boom-bap, and KRS-One gave his rhymes a Jamaican inflection. The result was ragga mixed with hip-hop, which must have made perfect sense to hip-hop lovers whose parents came from the West Indies and who were steeped in dancehall and ragga. However they decided upon their sound, the end result was a combination of hard hip-hop and ragga, with a little bit of dance music thrown in for good measure. Opening track "Money Mad" combines trunk-rattling 808s and a siren whine that could have come from an NWA album with a reggae lilt. Rodney P and Bionic sound tough, but London tough rather than New York tough. The song is a perfect translation of late-80s New York boom-bap to a U.K. context. "

Def Dee :: 33 and a Third :: Mello Music Group 
as reviewed by Grant Jones

[33 and a Third]"Babygrande, Duck Down and Rawkus were all record labels that went through a phase of releasing constant, quality music. They were names that were associated with quality, regardless of the artists involved. Of the last few years, Mello Music Group has definitely claimed the title of best record label in terms of quality to quantity. With producers such as Apollo Brown, Oddisee and Duke Westlake providing consistently great music, it's no surprise that Def Dee's "33 and a Third" is one of the most eagerly awaited albums of the year. There's not been hype as such but given the fact Ugly Heroes and Trek Life have put out two of the strongest records of 2013, could Def Dee be another bullet in the chamber? "33 and a Third" is billed as an album in thirds, even though it is actually split by three interludes. I'm no mathematician but 4 songs, interlude, 3 songs, interlude, 2 songs, interlude, 3 songs is closer to four sections than three. I'm not going to argue with Def Dee when he's providing production this damn good though. The likes of "Numb Again", "Drugs Outside Again" and the butter-smooth "Lonely Eyes" showcase Def Dee's abilities, as well as his versatility. "Numb Again" in particular will satisfy the most hardened boom bap fiend just as much as "Lonely Eyes" will have any Cadillac-riding gang banger bouncing in their unnaturally, shiny contraptions. If Def Dee decides to do a video for "Coke nDa Canine", it needs to be set in a billiards room with each rapper sipping on Scotch. Not just for my enjoyment, but because the track evokes a chilled out vibe despite the three verses from Kenn Starr, One Be Lo and Chev sounding disconnected from each other. Some songs display the unbalanced product more than others – "Fly By Night" and "All It Takes" are rugged, strong productions but could have had stronger vocalists. As much as I enjoy Mello Music Group's discography, Def Dee's release is let down by the occasional mis-step; Oddisee makes UK rapper Tranqill sound more out of place than his nationality suggests on "Still Propa", while the sample on "Errybody Bent" just feels like the wrong sound for such a beat and as such, sticks out like a sore thumb."

Innate & EP :: Such As I :: TheOther20Eight 
as reviewed by Grant Jones

[Such As I]"With many rap writers proclaiming 2013 to be a disappointment, I'm already feeling that it has been a good year for hip hop. Of course, I was disappointed with the Pusha T, Drake, Jay-Z and many other "popular" rap records that didn't quite match their hype, but the beauty of Rap Reviews is we cover ALL rap. Records from Qwel & Maker, Demigodz, Ugly Heroes and even the J. Cole have been catching regular spins, but recently there has been one album refusing to budge from my 2013 bundle of purchases. "Such As I" by Innate & EP is by no means a jaw-dropping record, but it certainly deserves to be heard by more than just underground heads guarding their precious finds. Stumbling across everything on Youtube is probably how many great songs get experienced these days, but I actually stumbled across "Everything" on Youtube, and discovered a potent mix of dusty, ponderous production and two emcees weaving their words across it. The bass-line alone is reason enough to break in to Dr Dre's cobweb-ridden studio and steal his PERSONAL pair of Beats headphones. There's not much on the Internet written about Innate & EP other than the fact they originate from a group called Rock Bottom, and often include live instrumentation in their performances. It's easy to see how their live show would work so well, given the sounds on "Such As I" are full of energetic riffs, crisp drums and an abundance of keyboards. Production is actually credited to Nate Wolvin throughout, so he could be a name to watch out for as rarely does he fail to get that head slamming. Innate & EP are similar in style, and equally adept at lyricism. Their work on "Stella" is, well, stellar. What initially feels like another metaphor song about love/women and hip hop being one and the same, is actually about dogs. It's inspired, and despite a slightly lackluster hook is one of the many highlights. Another is "All I Have", an honest, very real message about philanthropy from an average, working man's perspective. but finding that their own life is balanced on the breadline. "Ghetto Slidin" may contain a G-funk style sample but is infinitely more relateable than a Dr Dre track, and is actually about striking up the nerve to talk to a woman. Panpipes show up on the catchy number "Frame of Mind", an irresistible piano loop on "Around You" and "One Way Train" will have boom bap fiends nodding in approval."

The Nayno :: Ill Minds Think Alike :: {self-released} 
as reviewed by Zach 'Goose' Gase

[Ill Minsd Think Alike]"New Jersey emcees John Blake and Shameless Plug (of The Yes Yes Yalls) have joined forces to form The Nayno. The duo's debut EP, "Ill Minds Think Alike" serves as a warm up for their upcoming full-length project. The two trade verses over various beats from Illmind's "Beats for Kanye West" instrumental EP, which was released in June. For a warm up project, "Ill Minds Think Alike" is a very enjoyable listen and shows great potential for the duo's future work together. I'm more familiar with Shameless Plug's previous work. The Yes Yes Yalls' 2012 album, "9000" was excellent) than I am with Blake's, whom I know only through his guest spot on that record. But both of these rappers give excellent lyrical efforts on all five tracks on the EP, and whereas most duos seem to have a big brother/little brother dynamic (ie: Q-Tip/Phife, Phonte/Rapper Big Pooh), Blake and Plug are pretty equal talent-wise. As Plug boasts on "Sheesh," he is a strong singer in addition to his prowess as an emcee, but on "Ill Minds Think Alike" he focuses on rapping. I'd say that three of the five tracks, The Nayno emcees are trading verses, trying to out rap each other, and the other two are more conceptually driven. The Jersey duo tackles fatherhood on "Papa," which also boasts an excellent chorus. And they delve into racial subject matter on "Elephant," which offers perspective on the "n word" from both black and white points of view."

Nipsey Hussle :: Crenshaw :: DatPiff 
as reviewed by Grant Jones

[Crenshaw]"Nipsey Hussle is a very American type of rapper. That's not to say he is a stereotype, but for the uninitiated and anybody that doesn't live in America, let's clear a few things up. Nipsey Hussle is a play on the name Nipsey Russell, a household name to many Americans who featured in numerous television shows across multiple decades as effectively, comic relief. Being a Brit, I've only ever heard the term "Nipsey" used as a slang term for anus, and until researching who Nipsey Russell was, I'd always questioned Nipsey's choice of name. There's no room for childish smirks on "Crenshaw" though, a mixtape so serious in nature that it often can't be taken seriously. Thanks to geography lessons from Ice Cube and Ice-T, Crenshaw is a place not exactly known for family vacations. There's death, sex and money littered throughout "Crenshaw", and whether the local authorities like it or not, Nipsey spends over an hour indulging in his position as a product of that environment. While Nipsey has been generating a buzz for a few years now, he has released this mixtape for free at DatPiff, but for those with more money than sense, Nipsey is offering hard copies of the mixtape at the jaw-dropping rate of $100. Well, he was. Claims emerged that he sold out of all 1,000 copies in one night. Given Nipsey's business acumen, he certainly doesn't shy away from boasting about his wealth - it's just not delivered in a particularly interesting manner. Where an MC Eiht is effortlessly cool and King T oozes character, Nipsey Hussle can feel rather plain. It's songs such as the 9th Wonder produced "Face The World" and the quickly rapped "Don't Take Days Off" where Nipsey leaves his comfort zone, that he becomes interesting. "4 In The Mornin'" is one of the finer moments, with Nipsey's abrasiveness suiting the raw, sexual vibe of the instrumental (which sounds like some lovemaking occurring in the next room thanks to a great muffled effect). However, Nipsey is more than happy to spend songs such as "Change Nothing" acting the asshole."

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