Thursday July 19, 2018

The (W)rap Up - Week of September 19, 2017
Posted by Emanuel Wallace at Tuesday, September 26th, 2017 at 2:00PM :: Email this article :: Print this article

If you missed any of the new reviews this past week including Oddisee's "The Iceberg" then do yourself a favor and check out this week's edition of the (W)rap Up!

[The Iceberg] Oddisee :: The Iceberg
Mello Music Group

Author: Grant Jones

"I've thought long and hard about why Oddisee named his latest record "The Iceberg". There's very much a colder sound to this than his last LP, 2015's "The Good Fight", but it also has hidden depths that reveal themselves over time. The global warming effect on icebergs is another angle - the white man (a.k.a. the USA) has overlooked and often ignored the impact of melting icecaps despite contributing 14% of the world's pollution with only 4.5% of the world's population. The record industry has similarly overlooked Oddisee (or at least his style of hip-hop) for many years now, and years later, when society has been flooded by water (or in this case, music) people will reflect and realise that this album is special and should have been treated as such at the time. Then there is the movement that is Mello Music Group, the record label that Oddisee helped start back in 2009, his album "Oddisee 101" being the first full-length to be released under the MMG moniker. They have become a force in the underground, and unless you submerge yourself in to the genre fully, you won't realise just how deep their catalog is (and how great it is!). What's scary about "The Iceberg" is how Oddisee keeps improving with each passing year. When year-end lists are compiled, there is always the same name that pops up each time. Sure, Kendrick is there every year, but not for a decade straight. Whether it's an instrumental project, an EP of leftovers, a group effort, producing another artist's album, or one of his own solo offerings, the quality is often unmatched. In true RapReviews fashion (let's say we're 'fashionably late'), this review is telling most people what they already know or have read elsewhere. The album is dope, but it's the depth of lyricism that continues to impress, months after release. An impressive flow is often part of Oddisee's skillset that doesn't get the credit it deserves and "Things" is an uptempo number with a sleight, funky house influence running through it. The way the words weave between the kicks almost negates the content of the rhymes - he could just be rapping about random 'things' and it'd still sound dope."

Wyclef Jean :: Carnival III: The Fall and Rise of a Refugee :: Heads/Legacy Recordings/Sony Music 
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Carnival III: The Fall and Rise of a Refugee]"There was a time when Nel Ust Wyclef Jean was among the greatest hip-hop artists. Dating back to his time as a member of The Fugees I felt that the Haitian born hip-hop superstar had a unique voice not just among rappers but in the music industry as a whole. He eloquently articulated the struggle of the immigrant to assimilate into the larger tapestry of his new home, the pain of the discrimination he felt for both his accent and his skin tone, and his desire for everyone to come together in love despite their cultural, political or religious differences. To this day "Carnival Vol. II" is one of my favorite albums. I felt that all Jean needed to do was maintain the consistency of production, lyricism and musicality he already had at that point for a long and prosperous career as a rapper with street cred who also had pop culture appeal for the masses. Since that time Jean has made many mistakes both musically and personally. While one can argue his Jean had only the most noble of intentions when he founded his Yele Haiti charity in the early 2000's, and they arguably did some good work in the wake of Hurricane Jeanne, they were unable to repeat that success following a devastating 2010 earthquake. Even though he was able to raise millions of dollars for charitable relief in a short amount of time, mismanagement of those funds meant that little of it went to those in need on the ground, and by 2012 the charity folded with a long rap sheet of unpaid debts and dashed hopes for one of the poorest nations on Earth. Investigations into the tax records cast Jean in a poor light as he directly benefitted from the mismanagement. In addition he attempted to run for President of Haiti during the middle of said same scandal, only to be told he was disqualified by not being a Haitian resident for the required length of time. It was all in all not a good look. As my opinion of Jean's integrity soured personally, his musical output declined precipitously to the point he only released one EP from 2010 until February of this year. That's not to say Jean wasn't still contributing to songs and projects by other artists, but it seemed that his own voice had been silenced either by his inability to solve his image crisis, or from a complete lack of interest in doing anything to continue the musical legacy he had built up to an epic height in the 2000's. It's amazing to think that a three time Grammy Award winning rap artist (whether you give those awards much credit or not) would simply throw it all away amidst a public scandal and a failed Presidential bid, but that's exactly what he seemed to have done. He wrote an autobiography, he dabbled here and there, but he was remarkbly quiet until he popped up as a complete surprise on a Young Thug mixtape in 2016."

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