If you missed any of the new reviews this past week including Run The Jewels' "Run The Jewels 3" and our 2016 Year in Review pieces then do yourself a favor and check out this week's edition of the (W)rap Up!
Run the Jewels :: Run the Jewels 3
Run the Jewels Inc./Mass Appeal
Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon
"The narrative that 2016 was a horrible year that we're all glad is over seems to have already been written and accepted as fact in the mainstream consciousness. Frankly I have to assume this is a product of the social media era that we now live in, where bad things happen in real time, and the ability to transmit word of them seems to travel even faster. Between you and me I wouldn't have wanted to be alive in 1863 or 1945. The sheer scale of war, death, famine and horror would be incomprehensible to those who can talk about a "bad year" from the comfort of their recliners while watching the evening news. In my own lifetime there have been plenty of "bad years" that for the sheer horror of man's inhumanity to man far eclipse 2016. Any year in the late 1970's when the Khmer Rouge were systematically killing off millions in Cambodia was a "bad year." 20% of Rwanda's entire population was killed in 100 days in 1994 in a massive act of genocide. How do you define a "bad year" then? I don't think most of us have even the most basic inkling of this kind of "bad" and how bad it can truly be. Cling to the idea that 2016 was the worst year ever if it gives you comfort that somehow 2017 will be better simply because it couldn't possibly be worse. Meanwhile for the rest of us who already realize humanity is pretty f#%$ed up and that cruelty is not confined to the 365.25 days of a human calendar, I can look at 2016 and say it was pretty even handed. I'll remember 2016 as the year De La Soul dropped a new album, the year the Cubs won the World Series, the year I saw the improbable rise of Michael Bisping as champion and the year Columbia ended a five decades old civil war. A lot of bad things happened in 2016 but some pretty good things happened too -- and one of them was the release of Run the Jewels 3."
DJ Quik & Problem :: Rosecrans :: Blake Enterprises/Diamond Lane Music Group
as reviewed by Matt Jost
"For what it's worth, Rosecrans Avenue, a major axis that runs from the Pacific coast to northern Orange County and crosses both Los Angeles and Compton, is a persistent landmark in Kendrick Lamar's music. Those wondering how an artery that connects a number of different communities across a distance of 27.5 miles/44.3 kilometers can be a 'landmark' should be reminded that rap music has long elevated 'the street' to an entity that constitutes more than a microcosm of its own where much of the action goes down. 'The street' in rap is an empty canvas, reflecting anything the rappers project into it. It is the joker card that can be employer, partner, teacher, tempter, judge, traitor, enemy - or even a higher being that some subject themselves to (the street giveth and the street taketh away). Across often highly detailed lyrics, it almost becomes a persona of its own, occupying a more prominent place than traditional social spheres like family, work, school, love life, etc. Rappers specify what the street is to them with varying precision, and the larger the settlement, the more likely they are to create focal points like the block, the corner, the trap, that their lyrics keep coming back to. Yet they can be just as precise (or unprecise) about bigger units like the hood, the turf, the ghetto. While far from a locally constricted artist, Kendrick Lamar strives for accurate geolocation (as well as personification), perhaps for the same reason as all other rappers - to lend credibility to his stories - perhaps because that's just how he thinks about the world. Some are quick to generalize, others come to conclusions by way of examples."
L'Orange :: Koala EP :: Mello Music Group
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
"L'Orange's brand new "Koala" EP is "dedicated to Keely & Joe Latterner." Without crystal clear evidence to either confirm or deny it I would suspect he's referring to this Keely Latterner, because she was married to a Joseph (Joe) Latterner, and she apparently died very suddenly and unexpectedly in November. The best evidence I have to support this hypothesis is that you may know Joe better as KON Sci from MindsOne, and I have every reason to think that since L'Orange is also from North Carolina that they run in the same circles of the hip-hop music scene and know each other well. There's no press kit or press release to explain any of this though, so I'm connecting the dots as best I can, and if I'm right then I'd like to offer KON Sci my condolences on his wife's passing as well. One thing's for certain here - L'Orange released this EP as a meditation on how music can heal, and even though he may have had a smaller audience in mind when he crafted it, he's gone on to share it with a larger one via this free release. (If you do want to pay for it you could always donate to Joe to help pay Keely's funeral expenses.) It's much more personal and poignant than the typical "beat tape" that I come across and review on a weekly and monthly basis. You don't have to read between the lines to understand where "Heaven Sent" is coming from -- it's not subtle. This is L'Orange telling Joe that Keely was a beautiful person, and even without knowing her I can feel that too. I can't call "Counting Breaths" a veiled statement either. Life is short and precious, the amount of time we have here is always uncertain, and you can feel L'Orange taking the time to appreciate each and ever moment on this slow moving and softly soothing melody. Even when it changes up to wind instruments 49 seconds in it doesn't get that much faster - it still keeps a relaxed feel. The singer that L'Orange chopped up for the track is also soft spoken, and though you could rearrange her phonetic sounds into any words you wanted, it sounds to me like "things that I will hold" at times - but of course you can't hold onto your breaths. You can count them but you have to let them go. And that's what this album is about - letting go."
Feature: The Year 2016 in Review
* Year 2016: Adam Bernard
* Year 2016: Zach Gase
* Year 2016: Grant Jones
* Year 2016: Jesal Padania
* Year 2016: Sy Shackleford
* Year 2016: Patrick Taylor
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