Saturday, December 09, 2006

the shuffle. [12/09/06]

Another broke ass week, another dope ass blog. I wanna shout out everyone who peeped my blog this week, peeping all of my reviews and shit. I got a good amount of "yo that's hot" kites, which is appreciated. And a lot of people want me to review that Nas shit. Compared to the tracklistings I see elsewhere, I have a weird advanced copy. I will either review that or wait for the retail to be perfecto. I'll let you guys know.

Man this livin' by the crumbs the gov't gives you is for the birds. I need a hustle, pronto. I'm trying to get a part-time blog job, something that pays. It's hard work, from what I am seeing in my research, but who knows. Three dope posts from khal a week? That should be a no-brainer!

In any case, we have a lot of shit to discuss news-wise, so let's get right into it.

01/We knew it was a matter of time, and it was this week - Jay-Z, in the midst of his "Lost One" video blowing up any TV station that plays Hip-Hop, some serious backlash/bullshit has come about. In terms of backlash, the man who used to say Jigga was his favorite MC, Lil' Wayne has recently told Complex Mag, among other things, that Jay is NOT the Savior of Hip-Hop. I mean, niggas like him and Young Jeezy crack me up. They equate Rap Supremacy with street cred, and truly think that being the dopest is directly linked to being the king coke mover. These lil'/young niggas need a wake up call, forreal. Jay's LP might not be the best shit out there, but it is exactly WTF Rap needs: a shot in the arm, something to help niggas question what they are doing, and some fucking expansion, for good or ill. In any case, speaking about "Lost One", the good folks over at Vibe Confidential broke down who the 2nd verse was about. I figured it was Beyonce, for obvious reasons, but they let it be known that Hov was fucking with Rosario Dawson back in the day -- say word? I also saw, via NahRight, some ill shit - a fucking sambo Jay-Z doll. Ugly as fuck, but probably worth some dough.

02/How about Philly's 76ers are finally taking care of their summer work, and trying to get rid of Allen Iverson. I mean, I've been saying it for the last year or so: either Philly needs to get a good deal for AI and bring some young blood to the team, or revamp the team around AI. With him being so loyal, it's so fucking disgusting that they'd trade him, but Ed Snider said he's probably going to deal neph ASAP. I mean, to go from being 2 games suspended to "this nigga ain't coming back" is kind of rough, but it's really their own fault for not dealing him during the summer. The Nuggets were even like "yo, aside from Carmelo, you guys can have anyone". They slept.

03/OK so Michael Richards got that Nigger shit off and didn't die - does that mean EVERYONE has to drop the word now? I mean, in all honesty, is it Hip-Hop's fault? Did we make it safe for non-Blacks to drop the word like it was nothing? This week, Damon Wayans got banned from the same club Kramer dropped the word at, for dropping the dreaded slur during a "Chocolate Sundaes" comedy show (wtf is that all about?), which is kind of funny when you think of it. On the other side of town, Andy Dick dropped the word while heckling one of his fellow comedians. So fucking loose with that shit. Those didn't affect me that much... it was this week's episode of The Real World, where the gay dude flipped out and was all "this nigger is trying to kill me" on the phone that got me. In a nutshell, they had a drunk night at the bar, and no one knew the gay dude went home early to use the phone. One of the black guys who looks like a Homer Simpson was on some "yo the dude called me a nigger at the bar, I didn't know where my gay roomie was", and he told the Black guy Tyrie (Mad Real World, anyone?) that gay dude wasn't at the bar. Tyrie went a bit far, and shit got heated, to the point where he got the gay dude shook by saying "I won't touch you, but in 18 weeks, I'm gonna fuck you up". The drunk gay dude then bugged out and dropped Nigger on the phone. Now, when he sobered up, he was all "I have a drinking problem". OK, Mr. Mel Gibson, why is it OK to drop racist remarks when you are drunk? Does that make you LESS of a racist?

04/You guys hear about J.Lo pulling a no-panties recently? Gotta love that almost-ass shot. And while J.Lo is showing off her upper cheek, Britney finally turned 25 and realized she needs to be clothed to be serious. Can't hate on her, though... she got divorce papers going and found her freedom. No reason to knock her hustle.

05/For all of my LOST fans out there, there's a few bits of info you guys should know about come Feb. 2007: due to the return of American Idol, it seems as though ABC has decided to push LOST to the 10PM slot. Most see this as a defeat, but let's be serious - we want as many people as possible to experience this show, no? Why not take the ratings deathmatch out of it, and let more people enjoy both shows, instead of DVRing one show and watching the other (which I tend to do every Jan-May)? To be honest, as long as the shows are up to par, and I get to learn more about this kooky island, I could careless when it comes on, thanks to the invention of the DVR.

06/I need someone to get Maury Povich's number for me: he needs Eddie Murphy and Scary Spice to get on his show once her kid is born. This week has been some funny shit, since Eddie is on the road promoting Dreamgirls and letting the world know that Mel B. and him are no more -- he is getting it on with Tracy Edmonds, even though most of the Black community thought he was gay... but I digress. Eddie is saying flat out that the kid ain't his, but Mel said "shit, it is definitely his!" I swear, Maury could put this episode on PPV. I'd pay for it. Let me know if gay Eddie, the man who was not only Delirious (which FINALLY comes to DVD in Feb. 2007) and Raw, is the father of the chick who fucked with the Spice Girls for no good reason...

07/The word on the street is that, after a lot of begging, pleading, and praying, Dr. Dre is planning on dropping Detox in September 2007. AHH reported this first, and I found the video they spoke of on YouTube. Apparently, this nigga Bishop Lamont is working with him. 10 years ago, I would have been impressed... but then I heard Stat Quo rap. On some related news, there was official word that G-Unit Records was not dropped from Interscope. If you ask me, that's a bad move. Let 50 fail on his own - maybe he will learn some humility. On another tip, this rock group called Nice Peter (I guess that's a rip on 3rd Bass' Pete Nice) wrote a diss track on 50 Cent. I think it's retarded that they are on some "yo don't take it seriously" nonsense... own up to it! If you dissed him, don't back down - fuck that formula 50 drinking water bastard.

08/Peep the Hollywood hell news: ya boy Don Cheadle is going to be directing and starring in the Miles Davis biopic, which is not necessarily a surprise. There's no other nigga in Hollywood who could do what he does for that role. I wish him the best, and just hope he doesn't fuck with Miles' legacy... in other news, Jackie Chan fucked himself up on the set of Rush Hour 3. After all of this drama, this movie better be funny as fuck... for some reason, even though I was told that Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn were not an item, apparently they broke up. Is she the (100%) white Halle Berry, making each celeb relationship she's in fucked up?... and you guys better make sure your Borat DVDs come correct - those frat boys who made a fool of themselves want the DVD release to be edited.

09/For those who do not have HBO On Demand, the finale of The Wire is on Sunday at 10PM, and it is the shit. I highly recommend you turn off your phone, shut down your PC, and have your Ls rolled before embarking on that journey... in any case, as a teaser, there were a gang of Wire-related interviews out this week: The Fader got shots with Slim Charles & Snoop, as well as fat as Proposition Joe, as well as Lt. Mello and a dope interview with David Simon, who also spoke with Slate this week. Season 5 will be the final season, and in the Slate interview, he let's some insight be known about what the 5th Season is all about. Best show on HBO since The Sopranos, hands down.

10/James Kim: RIP. This man was father of the year. He did a lot in his short time on this earth, and I think he is the true representation of what a Father is.

11/You gotta love how PS3 enthusiasts are upset on how poorly the PS3 is doing sales-wise. What did they expect, really... did they not see picks on the Wii? That remote is worth the price of admission. PS3 ain't even gone gold yet, which is fucking surprising considering how much of a force they were this time last year. I'm not one to talk, I'm still trying to get my PS2 to the limit... buy me some games!

12/I've got limited time and a gang of things to let you guys know about, so here are some One-Offs: there is a new chewable birth control pill, which makes me wonder, are scientists trying to make birth control more accessible, or do they realize that chicks are having kids at younger ages, so they figured they needed to get chicks hooked on birth control like Flinstones' chewables?... ignorant assholes felt it was OK to decry the legacy of Justo and disrupt his annual mixtape awards show. No fucking respect... MySpace set up a retarded pseudo-database of sex offenders, trying to make parents like me feel fine about their nonsense. They must assume that lil kids are dumber than their parents when it comes to the PC. On the contrary - most 16 year olds should be getting paid @ least minumum wage for time served. Holla... if anyone cares, Usher is working on his next LP. I mean, if it doesn't have a hit to combat " U Make Me Wanna", leave it on the shelves...

I'm out of here, but first, a video from Mobb Deep's Prodigy, produced by Alchemist... ch-check:


Friday, December 08, 2006

Young Jeezy "Thug Motivation 102: The Inspiration" [review]

Young Jeezy doesn't ask you niggas to get money, he doesn't suggest you get money -- his eerie intro, "Hypnotize" fucking COMMANDS you to get money. Why, I don't know, for if you listen to Jeezy rap, there's no way you could get more than him anyways. Matter of fact, there isn't shit you can do better than Jeezy: you don't own enough powder to beat him, you won't own enough ice to get over on him, and you never been out in the trap/on the grind as much as he did. That's one thing I don't really get about niggas on the mic today. I know that cats have been all about being the best since day dot, but these days, that's all it's about. Niggas just speakin' on what they own and how big they cake is. You'd think that Jeezy, who said he was going to get more introspective on this one, would, well, get introspective.

You know what I hate about albums like this? No matter how much I love the way it sounds overall, I don't think they last the test of time. It's not that the "sound" of the CD gets stale, but it's just that we already know what Jeezy is all about. It's hard to get deep into his lyrics, or really flip over his lines. Hell, he doesn't even consider himself a rapper, and listening to his 16s, I tend to agree with him. He creates a soundtrack to the streets, saying he is speaking to the youth, but he is really just talking up an underbelly that many live and cannot escape, and making it seem glorious. At the end of the day, if you take anything this prick says seriously, you're listening too deep and giving him too much credit. I cannot even break down his themes, because he only has one. So instead, I talk about how the tracks sound and point out things that make me laugh. It's all I can do when the subject matter is so fucking stagnant and repetitive.

From the sounds of "Still On It", Jeezy is still on that "D-Boy shit". Hell, he is still on the block everyday! Is he speaking to his audience or for his audience? In any case, this track follows "Hypnotize", on a slower 808 crawl of a beat, sounds like something niggas would listen in the early morning after collecting their spoils of the Drug War and think big over clouds of blunt smoke. Shawty Redd's "J.E.E.Z.Y." tries to not only reintroduce Jeezy to the masses, but it also let's you know about what's going on in the trap. I do like how he has that "Jeezy like to drank/Jeezy like to smoke/Jeezy like to mix Arm & Hammer with his coke". The repetition of this should make any critical thinkers chuckle. Don Cannon comes correct on the boards with "Mr. 15", with it's smooth sample and heavy kicks. He's an up and comer, and this beat just proves how thoro his sound is. Jeezy, again, takes it back to the block. Why R. Kelly is on "Go Getta" is beyond me: if he put him on here to try to impress the crowd with how "versatile" he can be, he might as well grab Elton John and get him singing about being a "go getta". The beat by The Runners is boring, and R. Kelly's wailing gets annoying after a while. He sounds like he's trying to recreate Best of Both Worlds -- hey, Jigga exec produced this, right? How did he let Kells slip by, with their history?

Speaking of cameos and guest beats, there's a few notables on this disc: T.I. stops by on "I Got Money" to drop his ATL flavor. He's my favorite MC that I cannot understand - his flow is bananas, but his drawl confuses me. Need a trap-to-English dictionary for that nigga. This track apparently features Kanye West as well, but I wouldn't know it: Jeezy drops 2 verse, Tip drops a verse, and I guess Kanye makes a random noise in the background? And Jeezy fucked up putting Tip on the end - he overshined that nigga. Keyshia Cole steps up on "Dreamin'", doing nothing to quell the "Jeezy loves Keyshia" rumors from earlier this year. The track is a snore, though - Jeezy trying to get his "December 4th" on over some sad synths, slow beats and some high pitched vocals, for no good reason. Timbaland drops a on "3 A.M." a beat that is definitely not his best, but not one to totally throw away either, probably why Jeezy grabbed it. He does do some funny shit though, with his "ad libs here/ad libs there/fuck it.. ad libs everywhere". He hears us talking, and commented - I can respect that one. "Bury Me A G" has a pretty un-ATL beat, it actually sounds like Just Blaze-lite, which is a good thing here. He gets his 2Pac on, talkin' tough about dying with a gat in his hand and hate on his mind, which we can all respect. Mr. Collipark brings some jazzy horns to "Wha You Talkin' About", but kind of falters when he layers more horns over it, but the track still maintains a degree of cool to let Jeezy explaining his views on getting gwap and changing the game... the chorus is a bit of a let down, though. DJ Toomp also provides the bed to "I Luv It", the single that is currently blowin' up the charts right now, and is probably one of the best tracks on the whole damn CD. It encompasses what Jeezy is about: coming from the trap and being a G, and not being ashamed of it. Hell, he embraces it, the joy, the struggle, the pain, the pleasure. It's just been done before.

Don't get it twisted, I like Jeezy. I laugh at his ad libs, I like his sly lines and his swagger is no joke, but I just feel like I've heard this album before. Actually, I have: his debut. He kept it similar for his fans and the buying public, I guess, but for someone who has done what he's done in the time he's done it, it feels like there's been no growth from one joint to the next, and that is a bit of a letdown. Jeezy had cases, beef over his clothing label, and hell, growing under one of the dons of the game, he has nothing more to talk about than the trap? All of the greats, they've written their lines as their life dictated: as their situations grew and mutated, so did their rhymes, and we loved that. These days, everyone wants to maintain their market share, make sure their base is covered, but they end up making the same songs, just with the latest crop of popular producers. I cannot knock that hustle, and Jeezy is milking the hustle, which gets 'nuff respect from me. Jay spent a good chunk of his early career spitting coke raps, and the Clipse still have residue on their fingers. The difference is, they took time to switch up the flows, inject some humanity into it, basically, repackage their dope and redistro it to the masses. If Jeezy doesn't handle his business like he handles the weight he supposedly moves, he might end up being relegated to a weaker dope spot.

rock the dub gives Thug Motivation 102: The Inspiration a reluctant 7 out of 10. While Jeezy keeps his pen stuck on repeat, the selectio of beats helps drive his trap tales to your trunk. Smarten up, and inject something else into your next one, dog.

Young Jeezy's Thug Motivation 102: The Inspiration hits stores on December 12th, 2006. Get more info on Jeezy at the CTE website, or at his Def Jam website.

Friday, December 8th 2006 playlist


Cold as a witches' titty out there, no? In any case, this was a pretty ill week... The Week of The Review is still going on strong, check the blog for all of the shit I've spoke on... there will be a recap either Sunday or Monday, depending on when I figure I'm done reviewing... And there's some heat rocks this week, peep the selection. And a shit-hot mix from my nigga Perpetuum, keep banging homey. Let's not waste any time...

Drum & Bass/Jungle:

01/Big Bud "Give A Little" [basswerk] [nice roller right here, has a bit of a reggae feel to it too. sleeper.]
02/Verse & SP "Border Patrol" [crunch] [b-side off the new Crunch 12"; the A-Side is runnin', but this one takes the cake for me. Neurofunk is not even the word to describe this one, I'm just surprised 2 MCs can make music this good. Reminds me of Ryme Tyme in his hey...]
03/Break "Catch Off" [quarantine] [this man can do no wrong.]
04/Misanthrop "Strange Planet (Catacomb Remix)" [shadybrain] [first vinyl release on .shadybrain, and it's a tasty one!]
05/TC & Distorted Minds "Compton" [digital soundboy] [forthcoming on Shy FX's runnin' label, this one has the classic West Coast keys with it, but the vibe is pure chill, proper smooth. Will work on the floor, but it also is nice to just lounge to.]
06/Fracture "Still Bitter" [progress ltd] [forthcoming on Progress LTD, this one is pure beauty. Can't get enough of the vocal used in this one. Watch for it.]
07/Rufige Kru "Special Request" [metalheadz] [classic Rufige vibes, rollin' sound, just a dope dancefloor tune.]
08/Saburuko "El Presidente" [progress] [can't get enough of these guys - they are the unknown gems right now.]
09/Mutt "Dublites (Outrage VIP)" [progress ltd] [another one forthcoming on Progress LTD, this one is a nasty number. took the beauty of the original and threw some dirt and grime on it, making it anew. Heavy dub pressure on this one.]
10/Perpetuum "Beige" [renegade hardware] [combines that ill rhodes with some heavy, ruffneck b-boy feel to it. This man is one to watch!]

Various:

01/Pete Rock ft. Styles P & Sheek Louch "914" [one of the grimiest beats I've heard in a while. Gotta love those classic drums.]
02/Mos Def "Crime & Medicine" [taken from the forthcoming Tru3 Magic album, this one gets me. I had it on repeat for 45 minutes the other day. Lovely how he kills that classic beat.]
03/Ghostface Killah ft. Sheek Louch "Blue Armor" [Shaolin and D-Block link up for lyrical destrtuction.]
04/Young Jeezy "J.E.E.Z.Y." [Shawty Redd drops a heater for Jeezy. And he looooooves it! very orchestral feel on this one. Damn shame Monie Love made him sound foolish...]
05/Jay-Z "Lost One" [I can't help it, I've seen the video all week. This is just stuck in my head. 'I heard mufuckas say that they made Hov..."]
06/Nas "Money Over Bullshit" [shouts to L.E.S. for that banger. Hip Hop Is Dead forthcomer. Big tune.]
07/EPMD ft. Keith Murray and DJ Scratch "Main Event" [shouts to deHop (and Spine Magazine) on this one. DJ KnowHow produced this banger. I need to keep abreast to shit like this, this is my kind of track.]
08/Eminem ft. 50 Cent, Ca$his & Lloyd Banks "Who Run It (Definate + Nappy Mix)" [you akin like you don' know! My boys do it again.]
09/Lil' Wayne "Go DJ (Nappy Dubstep Mix)" [my boy is mean on the blends... he hooked this one up super quick, droppin Weezy over a new Benga track. Illness.]
10/YoungBloodZ ft. Lil Jon "Damn!" [this track will never get old.]

Check this out:

* Perpetuum has a Winter Promotional Mix up out there. Peep his MySpace blog for the tracklisting; download the mix HERE.

Final Thought:

It's cold as fuck out there. Peep GZA's "Cold World".







Holla.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Ghostface Killah "More Fish" [review]

Before I get into all of this, I have one question: how can Ghostface put out 2 CDs in one year, and guys like Redman have been sitting on the shelf for a bit? Anyways, Ghost is Back! And he decided to bring his Theodore Unit with him, not that we were dying to hear from Wigs or anything, but it's better than Nelly dropping a new album. The question remains: is this a new album, or is it a compilation? I mean, this is no OB4CL, but the "featuring" list is heavy: Trife Da God, Sun God (Ghost's son), Cappadonna, Sheek Louch, Redman, Solomon Childs, Eamon and others. This release having Ghost on the top billing is pretty smart - might have worked wonders for the previous Theodore Unit CD if it was like "Ghost featuring Theodore Unit", but I digress...

This disc, simply put, is kind of disjointed. You get the normal Ghost, from his faster flow on "Ghost Is Back", which jacks the classic "Know The Ledge" from Rakim, where he even namechecks a posthumous Gerald Levert. "Josephine" was previously on Hi-Tek's most recent album, in all of it's somber glory. "You Know I'm Good" is a track that Ghost Debo'd from Amy Winehouse (think of his work on Beyonce's "Summertime"), and is one of the highlights of the album. He has been flipping his style over more commercial work since he first dropped (remember that "Freek'n You (Remix)" from back in the day?), and I'm surprised he doesn't get more guest cameos. "Block Rock" is a thick tune, with a thick beat provided by Madlib. The way Ghost doubled his voice, it works so well over this one - his higher octave doubled over a fuzzy mindfuck of a banger. Sheek Louch hops on a slowed down head nodder, "Blue Armor", gelling well with Tony Starks. Who knows what they are talking about aside from just murdering the beat with some razor sharp flows. "Outta Town Shit" has Lewis Parker dropping a crisp drum track with some funky pianos, dropping bi-coastal funk on the masses. Ghost delivers one of his intricate stories about his past days of crime and breakin' niggas off. Gotta love it.

Sounds all good right? Well, the majority of these jams are sans-T.U. heads. Once one of his flunkies jumps on a track, the disc steps down a bit. "Good" has one of the most annoying beats and I guess this Mr. Maygreen singing ass bastard is the one trying to harmonize with a shitty beat. Not a "good" look at all. MF Doom recycles another one of his classic beats for "Guns 'N' Roses", which isn't that bad, but I don't get what happened to Cappadonna. It sounds like he's been smoking cigars - his trademark voice sounds a lot huskier, and his darts weren't hitting like the have in the past. "Street Opera" has father and son locking horns over a female wail over an odd soul romp. The beat is kind of simplistic, and is only saved by the vocal over the beat, which is just a boring drum loop and some random stabs. Lyrically, it's on point, but the beat makes me hit the skip button. "Miguel Sanchez" is another track that is weakened by a poorly chosen track - this one is again a snooze-inducing track that, without Ghostface rhyming, sounds like any other niggas just happened to jump on this disc; the first verse sounds like an AZ-ripoff, and not a good one. "Grew Up Hard" has a lackluster track and does not feature Ghost at all -- just Wigs and Solomon the same ol' street nonsense. No originality, no flavor ("being rich is the poor man's dream" -- yeah, no shit). The same goes for "Gotta Hold On", which has Wigs and Eamon sounding like everyone else wanting to be sentimental over a booty track.

You would think that someone like Ghost, coming from a crew as legendary as Wu-Tang is, would know which members of his Unit should stay and which should bounce. If he kept Trife, his son Sun God and gave Cappadonna some Zoloft, he could rebuild the other spots with some other wild niggas. Cats like Wigs, Childs and the rest just bring the good qualities of this collection down with their redundant lyrics and weak flows. And why did Kanye get up on the "Back Like That (Remix)" (I wonder what Raekwon thinks about the Roc being in the building)? The original was a nice combo of Ghost's love troubles and Ne-Yo's chorus - there's no need for Fendi West's flame-on lines ("I'm so sick like Ne-Yo say/I'm laid back like Neo"?)... and what did Ghost think putting drunk-ass Tracy Morgan on the intro of his disc was going to accomplish? Ghost has done better just going off the dome about banana Snapple and other shit, no need for Tracy and talking about peanut butter on his toes.

When you do the knowledge to this "Fish" situation, this sequel to Fishscale plays just like the Hollywood big budget sequels - instead of giving the people more of what made the first flick work, they come back with some extra ingredients, new characters, and a host of boring/unoriginal premises to waste our money on. This CD seems like a glorified EP as opposed to a complete album, which is essentially not how it wis being marketed at all. Def Jam wants to make a buck off of the fans that have stuck by Ghost ever since Ironman, but they are going about it the wrong way: give us more Ghost, less filler or just keep the quality Ghost tracks on the backburner until his next album.

rock the dub gives More Fish a 7 stars out of 10. While the quality Ghostface tracks shine as bright as ever, the overabundance of Theodore Unit tracks knocks off a few points.

Ghostface's "More Fish" drops in stores on December 12th, 2006. Get more info at Ghost's official website, and on his MySpace page.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Mos Def "Tru3 Magic" [review]

You know the old saying "be careful what you wish for, you just might get it"? I am truly living that right now.

Although I enjoyed The New Danger, I was feenin' off of tracks like "Beef", and stayed confused as to why Mos Def wasn't dropping MORE straight up Hip-Hop cuts. With his final solo LP for Geffen, Tru3 Magic, dropping soon (Jan. '07 from what I hear), he tackles Hip-Hop with a fury - and with mixed results.

The meat of the tracks I dig on this collection are ones that I've already heard: everyone should know the controversy behind his Katrina-war cry, "Dollar Day (Surprise, Surprise)", which turns Juvenile's "Nolia Clap" on it's ear, and does what Hip-Hop is meant to do: challenge authority, make you dance, and do it with a defiant swagger not seen in any other form of music these days. "Undeniable" was released as a single recently, sounds like he took Black Jack Johnson and made them recreate some Superfly-esque flavor to some 2k6 minimal bass kicks. It's got a nice, smooth feel to it, letting Black Dante coast with his buttery flow. "There Is A Way" again seems to be taken from some mid-'70s Black Power meeting, with it's sung/chant of "there is a way/no matter what they say". Sounds like a revolution - but against what, and with whom, is the question. "Crime & Medicine" has Mos Def revisiting The GZA's "Liquid Swords". Mos actually sing/toasts the classic "when the MCs came..." lines, and proceeds to murk that ska sample. I'm not sure if I'm just into the fact that he picked one of my favorite beats or that he just sounds so perfect over it, but regardless, this track is my pick of the litter.

Of the newer tracks, they are scattered. "Thug Is A Drug" has Mos asking these thugged out MCs on the mic to "tell the truth"... over and over. The beat is a mixture of 808 beats, an odd piano sample, and loads of tumbling drums, making a meal that can be funky, but it sounds to basic for Mos' complex lyrics. This is something that kills a good part of the project for me: the lack of dope beats to back up the dope rhymes. "Murder of a Teenage Life" highlights and explains the ills of today that can contribute to, well, the killing of many of today's teens, but the annoying keys clutter up Mos' preaching. "Fake Bonanza" revisits the funky, sample heavy sound of the Black Star album, which is a blessing - I don't think I've heard Mos sound like this since Black On Both Sides, and I miss it. "Perfect Timing" has Mos over a sparse boom-bap, which is weird on it's own, but his voice has this ridiculous echo on it, so his rhymes sound like the mumbles of Black Thought on The Roots' "Don't Say Nuthin'", but it sounds like he is paying tribute to some of the Golden Era Hip-Hop acts (Get Fresh Crew, JMJ, Rakim, etc.), I just never get why the dedication to real Hip-Hop are never really "Hip-Hop". "Napolean Dynamite" has a smooth, funk-heavy feel to it, but at times Mos actually sounds like other guys - I swear parts of his first verse remind me of MF Doom's DangerDoom flows, with his "green and googly wide-eyed and surprised/razzle dazzle tiny mustache and fry-fry" type of lines (note: that's not a 100% verbatim, but it's damn close).

Mos ends this album with a track that tries to revisit the beauty of "Umi Says" called "Lifetime". Under an odd mixture of live drumming, dull keys and some baby noises, Mos croons about, well, "keep-keeping on" and all other types of "don't give up"-style musings. Does it work? Not necessarily, which has been a problem with Mos post-BOBS. He is a true artist, so his passion is to keep it fresh - not reinvent the wheel type pressure, but to keep pushing himself to stay new, stay current, but also stay out there. I'm not sure if he wanted to stay on good terms with Geffen by delivering an album that could get played on Black Radio, but none of these tracks truly speak to the Top40 bullshit that is out there. While "Dollar Day" drops a recognizable beat, most niggas would rather give their FEMA dollars back to the Dope Man than try and take the revolution to Dubya's face. "There Is A Way" might be cool in the New Black Panter Party set, but no one gives 2 shits about that kind of revolution these days. On the tracks where Mos is more laid back with his flow, not trying to be on some "action NOW!" type of feel, the music is too lackluster to be taken seriously.

At the end of the day, Mos Def is probably one of the most gifted lyricists making music right now -- it's just how does he want to go. Is he trying to be Andre3000, who can kick an ill verse (peep his shit on the "Walk It Out (Remix)"), but album wise wants to be the poor-man's John Coltrane? Is he trying to appeal to the Kanye-crowd of kids who will go buying (RED) products whilst getting Fendi logos carved into their head? If Mos is smart, he'd fill the void that Public Enemy has left - the voice of the streets. There aren't too many prominent griots in the mainstream right now, and with his acting chops, he should be able to tackle both avenues. It's really on him right now. Mos: there is a way...

rock the dub gives Tru3 Magic 6.5 stars out of 10. While there are flashes of Mos' bright light, his divided interests hinder him from creating a truly cohesive long player.

NOTE: This review is of a promo copy of the Tru3 Magic album. It is slated to drop in Jan. of 2007, or on Dec. 19th 2006, depending on who you ask, and the tracklisting is subject to change. Get more info at Mos' website. Also check out Mos on MySpace.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Gwen Stefani "The Sweet Escape" [review]

Gwen Stefani's solo career is what happens when the punk rock chick who is into loads of "eclectic" styles of music tries to make you dance. At times, her selection of tracks are on some quirk-by-numbers shit: while Pop Radio is accepting of many odd sounds, some weird samples of The Sound Of Music, yodeling, and serious low-end bassline are not really one of them. I can see the bassline and the percussion heavy drums of "Wind It Up" being ready for the clubs, but that yodeling nonsense? That's for the frat girl who's had one too many shots of Patron and should be in a taxi on her way to her bed. Yet, that's also how Gwen comes off...

Her days being the reluctant frontwoman of No Doubt seem to not even come to play with her solo musings. Her singles don't really rely on her singing as much as they focus more on her attitude and persona. Gone are the "Spiderwebs" and other tunes that tug at your soul and really speak to you, and now we get tracks like "Orange County Girl", with her sang-rap and a pretty cheesy beat behind it. Swizz Beatz recycles his current-craze of ill beats on "Now That You Got It", and it's like a flashy remake of his most popular sounds, coming off forced and forgettable. "Don't Get It Twisted" lets you know in the intro that this is "the most craziest shit ever", and goes from some pretty crazy electronic mastery to a, for the lack of a better word, shitty combination of fuzzy bass, Dance Hall-lite and borrowed come-ons - that "uh oh, uh oh" didn't work for Lumidee, what makes Gwen think she can get it off?

The rub is, when Gwen wants to, she can really write some amazing stuff. "Yummy" has her getting her sexy on after giving birth to her son recently. "Early Winter" is probably the closest to her past rumblings with No Doubt, taking that indie-rock, college radio circa '88 style of writing and sound. "Fluorescent" comes on like classic Funk, complete with a heavy kick and some freaky horns. This one takes it back, and lyrically it's sweet to boot, singing about how much she cannot believe she is still with this person she loves. The sad part is, she sounds like she jacked a Dirty South beat on the very next track ("Breakin' Up"), with eerie synths and handclaps trying to mask the fact that she cannot get her flow or lyrics to gel right over this track.

Looks, Gwen, we get it - your record collection is cooler than most kids, but just because you are influenced/inspired by many different forms of music, that does not automatically mean you can just put them on and breathe life into them. "Hollaback Girl", honestly, was kind of a fluke. If you didn't have that "B-A-N-A-N-A-S" chant in the track, I honestly doubt it would have gotten to be so big. That track, like many on this collection, sound so disjointed, or just recycled. "U Started It" sounds straight off Pharrell's In My Mind, which doesn't really say anything special. Your 80's cheese/R&B funk of "4 In The Morning" sounds too Madonna, not enough Gwen. As I stated earlier, tracks like "Yummy" work for a minute, but that's only because you use your voice at times as another part of the track. The "raps" from you and Funkmaster P grow tiring, and you guy strying to harmonize midway? Leave that shit on the cutting room floor.

At the end of the day, there's too much nonsense and pretension in this collection. You get the feeling that not only is Gwen not trying to get back to the No Doubt style of music, that she is trying to be this generation's culture-chameleon. Wearing new sounds like panties, she switches everything up so swiftly. The question is: why? Is she trying to hide the fact that, stripped down, her voice/writing doesn't really compete with some of the other females in the game right now? I mean, Fergie is doing that "white girl can't rap" shit to death, why does Gwen, who has been hailed for her chops and style a lot longer than Fergie has, have to travel down that same path? Take away the out-there production, and you're left with 12 tracks of tofu - bland and mundane substance, but given a splash of spice and cooked up in a different light, and you can make it taste like whatever you want. And for Gwen, this just isn't enough.

rock the dub gives The Sweet Escape a 5 out of 10. Some interesting ideas get lost in translation, and Gwen sounds like too many crappy artists to really be taken seriously.

Gwen Stefani's The Sweet Escape is in stores today. More info on Amazon.com; check out her official website for clips and other treats about Gwen.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Eminem Presents: The Re-Up [review]

CDs like these fuck up what the consumer thinks of the underground Hip-Hop "street mixtape" scene.

This project was initially rumored to be a mixtape in memory of Proof, and went from that to a mixtape showcasing the new acts that Shady/Aftermath have forthcoming. Apparently these tracks were so polished that Eminem decided to put this out as an official mixtape compilation thing, featuring beats largely from himself and The Alchemist (who kind of deviates from his normal, sample-driven style to a more homegrown sound), putting this on the shelves in every Best Buy that fake thugs can get to.

For shame, considering that guys like 50 Cent, who Eminem signed, were the direct product of the grimey, take-no-prisoners, leave-no-beat-unjacked school of mixtapes. You cop a mixtape on mixunit.com or at your local bodega, and you will get some real shit. Well, lyrically, it might be some fake shit, but you get the raw uncut shit. Polished mixtapes come off corny when they get a "proper" release, in my opinion, for they dilute what you are truly trying to do -- it's going from keeping your ear to the streets and creating that buzz to trying to create a buzz and create a mass-media dollar, which is a mixed message.

Take, for instance, the inclusion of new signee Ca$his on the lead-off single, "You Don't Know". Now this track features Em, Fiddy and Lloyd Banks alongside Ca$his. We get a 16 from Em, a shitty 16 from 50, and 8 bars of murder from Banks. Why does Ca$his have to share his bars with Banks? If I truly believed in someone, and thought enough of the mixtape I am making for them that I'd go ahead and turn it into an official Best Buy jump-off, why put a fucking bandana on their face and have them spit half of a weak verse? Why does the house that Dr. Dre built need another Tony Yayo?

And why does this feel like a glorified Eminem beat tape? Is he really trying to get put on beat-wise? That over cinematic, slow-creep of a beat bullshit... I think the comment he makes in the intro, "Shady Narcotics", fits well for his career right now: "I think it's about time we just cut the bullshit". For a mixtape that is to bring forth your new blood, why does Ca$his (who hails from the OC, apparently) have 2 solo tracks, and Bobby Creekwater (??) have 1 track? Fucking forever-in-the-background ass Stat Quo has a gang of solo tracks, Em and 50 have their own tracks all over... and Proof is only getting 58 seconds? Why does the best MC out of your crew, the one who died earlier this year, get almost a minute?

The saddest part of this is the fact that the established artists come off sub-par. "Whatever You Want", the track from D12 members Mr. Porter & Swifty McVay, is just boring -- remedial drums, odd choice of piano samples, and a lot of guntalk from guys who were just crying about their dead homey not too long ago. Great message. Em has the audacity to drop a mixtape with a track entitled "Public Enemy #1", and refused to use the original Public Enemy track? At least his flow is still intact -- Em, keep it on the mic! He also choosed to include a few tracks between himself and 50 the Soul Man. "Ski Mask Way" from 50's last LP gets a Remix treatment... *yawn*. And I don't really think it was clever of funny when Em ended his rhyme on "The Re-Up" with "Kiss my black ass!", even if 50 starts with "nah tell them to kiss my black ass". It's lazy, coming from a dude as ill as he. And do we really need to hear 50 talk about watching The Game like he was a "proud dad" -- why are you jacking Nas lines, don't you hate him? We then get treated to a remix of Akon's "Smack That", featuring throwaway verses from Bobby Creekwater (??!?!?) and Stat Quo ("ass so swole, have your boy like whoa"?)... why was this even included? Speaking of Stat, hearing his solo joints, I can tell why he has only dropped mixtapes and guest verses - no real "oomph" in his voice or lines, just some Xerox "gangsta-by-numbers" shit.

I don't hate all of the CD though. The 'Shady Remix' of Obie Trice's "Cry Now" is fire: funky bass, soaring, alternating horns. Obie is jacking mad flows, but he sounds good doing it. Eminem's "No Apologies" is vintage Eminem, him just going through what's going on in his life via his rhymes. I wish he would stay in that lane. Hearing Proof for just under a minute was dope, even if the clicks and booms in the beat are annoying. Sadly, that's about all I can truly say I like about this album.

All of the elements are there: a successful cast, loads of money in the bank, but I'm not sure what happened here. It's like the failures of 2006 (Lloyd's LP, Mobb Deep's LP, the loss of The Game, etc.) have backed the Shady/Aftermath camp into a corner, and instead of reinventing the wheel, they hit us with a "re-up" of some stepped on, Arm & Hammer-laden smack that, while it sounds good for the average dope fiend, leaves us junkies with a sore arm and an empty wallet. My only hope is that this CD does terrible numbers, so Eminem can either shit or get off the pot. His skills on the mic are on point when he isn't on the fart-joke nonsense of Encore, but he is not a thug, he was never a gangsta, and aside from signing 50 Robinson, he hasn't really found a G that works with his beats. Fuck a Re-Up, just be an MC and give us some raw in it's purest form.

rock the dub gives Eminem Presents: The Re-Up a 4 out of 10 stars for weak beats, weak delivery and a supporting cast that does not hold up the status of a faltering label. No apologies.

Eminem Presents: The Re-Up is available in all retail music outlets December 5th, 2006. More info here.

The Week of the Review

Just a quick note to you faithful readers: since there are only about 21 shopping days left this Holiday season, we here at rock the dub figured we'd give you some ideas for gifts for the Hip-Hop/Pop music fans you know out there. So this week, we will be reviewing some of the littany of CDs that will be dropping this week; from Eminem to Gwen Stefani, Young Jeezy to Lil Scrappy. One CD a day, to make up for the lack of reviews around these parts. Great, right? We will try to touch on all points, and give you some great pointers on what to spend your dough on, and what to leave on the shelves.

Our service, to you. Enjoy! And there will be a recap at the end of the week, so you lot don't miss out.

-khal