Monday May 28, 2018

The (W)rap Up - Week of April 22, 2014
Posted by Emanuel Wallace at Tuesday, April 29th, 2014 at 11:00AM :: Email this article :: Print this article

If you missed any of the new reviews this past week including Shabaam Sahdeeq's "Keepers of the Lost Art" then do yourself a favor and check out this week's edition of the (W)rap Up!

[Keepers of the Lost Art]Shabaam Sahdeeq :: Keepers of the Lost Art
Below System Records
Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon

“I'm not sure which surprises me more - that there have been five full length Shabaam Sahdeeq albums since 1999 or the fact this is the first one we've covered on the site. There was a time when he seemed poised as the next Brooklyn emcee to blow up, around the time of "Soundbombing 2" when he went bar for bar with rap star Pharoahe Monch. He was one of those dudes you could count on to make a memorable cameo appearance on any posse track or remix, not the least of which was Monch's legendary "Simons Says Remix." Unfortunately his career trajectory seemed to have been tied to the fortunes of the Rawkus Records label, and as they were unable to maintain their momentum in the 2000's he was left to fend for himself. If you own all four of his previous albums before "Keepers of the Lost Art" then you're either a super dedicated head or related to Sahdeeq in some way. I doubt the rest of us can find all of them. Even though he's not been the most high profile of emcees in the last 15 years, he hasn't lost breath control or gone soft in the intervening years. He's also loaded up "Keepers of the Lost Art" heavily to make a statement to those who weren't paying attention or simply couldn't cop his albums at any physical or digital retail outlet between then and now. At 23 songs and over 80 minutes in length this isn't just an album - it's damn near a double album. He's also loaded up the guest appearances from some of the most well regarded underground emcees, so if you needed a break from hearing his voice that much you've got other people playing his previously famous role of being the hot cameo. Reks drops in on "Speak Truth," Tragedy Khadafi proves they're both "OG Certified," Sha Stimuli and Wais P help him spit "That Dope" and perhaps mostly aptly F.T. (Fuc That) and Skyzoo join him on "The Come Back Kid."

Blanco, The Jacka & Messy Marv :: One Hunnid :: Guerrilla Entertainment
as reviewed Steve 'Flash' Juon

[One Hunnid]“Normally albums featuring Blanco & The Jacka are the purview of long-time RR contributor Matt Jost, but I just had to get in on the fun for myself. The frequent collaborations decided to up the ante this time by Messy Marv to the mix, making this a Bay Area supercrew of sorts. Of course The Jacka has been super all along - getting some rare "nines" from other long-time contributors like DJ Complejo. It was only natural I get my piece of this pie when "One Hunnid" came across my desk - and at seven tracks long it was not a hard bite to swallow. "One Hunnid" is certainly rich in calories though, packing 36 minutes into the material found here, with two songs clocking in at over six minutes long and two more being over five. That's like ordering a cheddar onion from the dollar menu and getting a Big Mac in your box. (Side note - eating either one probably isn't that good for you, but unless you're a vegan reading this review there aren't many of us who would turn down that free upgrade.) You'd have to call this an album - it's just too damn big to be an EP. It's also heavy on the guest appearances though, which almost seems like overkill given they already added Messy Marv to the mix, but who says you can have too much of a good thing? That has to be the philosophy on adding Mistah F.A.B. and Trae Tha Truth to the song "Reaganomics."”

MF Grimm :: Good Morning Vietnam EP :: Vendetta Vinyl/Day By Day Entertainment
as reviewed Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Good Morning Vietnam EP]The story of MF Grimm proves that real life can be more compelling drama than any Hollywood film. In fact if you read his bio and thought it was exaggerated I wouldn't blame you. He ghostwrote for Kool G. Rap, shared the stage with Tupac Shakur, got hit in a driveby shooting that killed his brother and left him paralyzed from the waist down, sold drugs to pay his hospital bills, and wound up getting busted and handed a sentence of four years to LIFE. Believe me when I say that's the abridged version. If they did try to make a movie out of his setbacks and triumphs there's every chance in the world it would either be horribly botched or wind up being 20 hours long. The chapter on his partnership and subsequent falling out with MF DOOM could be a feature film all by itself. I've sat on Grimm's "American Hunger" album for far too long. By my own admission that's just because I didn't know how to approach a TRIPLE album from Grimm even though I like him as an artist - it was just too much material to break down in a concise fashion. One of his fans sent me the "Good Morning Vietnam" EP though and after listening to it I'm reevaluating the decision to not do that review. Grimm isn't an unknown per se - he's been profiled in comic books, he's been featured on NPR, he's well regarded as a lyricist and yet to say he's a "household name" would be an exaggeration. Grimm describes himself as "the hip-hop Hemingway" on the track "If You Don't Know" though and I think that's fair. Grimm has a similar penchant for penning his pain that you can hear pouring out all over the fourth song "Be Noble.” The film "Good Morning Vietnam" is sampled by producer and collaborator Drasar Monumental throughout the EP, but it's a minor framing device at best. The album doesn't follow the film's plot, nor does it attempt to convey the struggle of protagonist Robin Williams', but if he and Adrian Cronauer have anything in common it's their struggle to balance the joy of life with all of its pain and strife.”


various artists :: Hi Grade Ganja Anthems Volume 4 :: Greensleeves/VP Records
as reviewed Patrick Taylor

[Hi Grade Ganja Anthems Volume 4]I shouldn't admit this on a hip-hop site, but I've never been a fan of weed. I think it should be legal, and I have many friends and family members who are avid stoners, but weed and I just don't see eye-to-eye, bio-chemically speaking. Maybe it's because I'm an abstainer, but weed culture has always driven me a little nuts. I lived in the Haight-Ashbury for years and my least favorite day was April 20, when tens of thousands of teenagers from all over the Bay Area convene upon Hippie Hill to smoke out, eat pizza, and slowly try to get back to Hayward. I'm totally fine with people smoking pot, but why do they have to be so dumb about it? I love beer, but I don't wear shirts with beer puns and pretend that getting drunk first thing in the morning is an awesome lifestyle choice. In fact, my dislike of weed culture is one of the main reasons that I didn't get into reggae until later in life. Growing up, I associated reggae with white guys with dreadlocks and "Got buds?" shirts abusing Jamaican patois. It was only when I got older that I realized there was a lot more to reggae music than getting high. It was Jamaican R&B, and the studios and sound systems put out music that could give Stax and Motown a run for their money. There are tons of great reggae love songs and protest songs. But almost every reggae album ever released has at least one ode to the sweet leaf. "Hi Grade Ganja Anthems Volume 4" collects 18 reggae songs about weed, kali, collie, sinsemilla, ganja, marijuana, or whatever else you want to call it. If this were just a collection of stoner anthems, it wouldn't be worth writing about. What makes "Hi Grade Ganja Anthems" worth checking out is the fact that it is a good representation of the last thirty years of reggae from all over the world. It has old-school songs, eighties songs, and more recent songs that represent some of the breadth of reggae music.”

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