This past week I’ve sort of reverted back to the CLASSICS. In the weeks prior, it seems as if I’d begun to venture out to find “the next big thing” without appreciating some of the CLASSICS that have been crafted for our enjoyment. After stumbling into extremely talented artists such as Blu & Exile, Ill Poetic, Buff 1 & Danny!…I’ve begun to get pretty greedy while expecting just the same quality when I check out everything that is somewhat “new”. With that being said, Biggie’s CLASSIC debut “Ready To Die” stayed in rotation (in the Ipod & the ride) throughout the week. Beforehand, I’d always thought that Biggie’s posthumous release “Life After Death” was the better album as I wasn’t really drawn into “Ready To Die” as were most folks when they first heard the album. Believe it or not, after The Source immediately put “Ready To Die” on a pedestal even before it’s actual release (as they did with Nas‘ “Illmatic” as well), when I first bought the album and played it for a few weeks….well, let’s just say I wasn’t that impressed. Of course, in the years leading up to this point I’ve obviously come to appreciate Big’s efforts and the production on “Ready To Die” even more and it’s also a better album then “Life After Death” (which should have been shortened up), but what’s really odd is what I know consider my favorite track from “Ready To Die”. In what is sure to be a surprise to many, I’m now attracted to the Diana King featured (yeah, remember her from the Bad Boys (Will Smith & Martin Lawrence) soundtrack?) “Respect”. With it’s ever so popular “Get Lifted” sample in tow and a thunderous…..and I mean THUNDEROUS bassline “Respect” was a track that was considered “fast-forward material” prior to this week. I guess the Diana King association proved to be too corny for me, initially causing me to write the track off as a gimmick….but man, this track HITS!!! “Respect” was one of the few tracks on “Ready To Die” that I really couldn’t tag the production on. I mean….the Easy Mo Bee tracks sound like Mo Bee tracks as do the Chucky Thompson tracks sound like his own…but with “Respect” it was hard to actually pinpoint the producer. After checking ol‘ reliable (Discogs), I was actually surprised that Poke of the Trackmasterz handled the beats on “Respect” (well, he was actually the co producer along with Puffy but you know the deal), as it’s probably one of the harder beats I’ve heard from him.
I know that alot of you, including my friend Travis @ WakeYourDaughterUp aren’t really feeling the metaphor heavy stylee of New York’s own SkyZoo, but I’ve actually been giving his recently “leaked” (actually, it’s a free download) mixtape “Corner Store Classic” quite a few spins the last two weeks. Hosted by one of my least favorite DJs “The Drama King” Kay Slay (damn, who’s more annoying Slay or Clue?) and one of my favorite mixtape DJs Mick Boogie, “Corner Store Classic” proves to be a nice showcase for S-K-Y-Z-O-O. Now, I may be a bit biased here because I’ve always liked 9th Wonder (although, Trav’s right…his beats do sound rushed and quickly thrown together as of late) and Skyoo’s debut collabo “Cloud 9:The Three Day High (which was supposedly pieced together in only 3 days). I do however, think that Skyzoo is one of the better up & coming lyricist out there who is really doin‘ it for the underground and not soo much for the “glamour & glitz” that may soon follow. “Corner Store Classic” is loaded with quality material, although to be honest the DJ Premier produced cuts “Click” & “Get It Done” are some of my least favorite Primo selections that I’ve heard. On the other hand songs like the 9th Wonder produced “Cop N Go” and the remix to “You Already Know” (the original without the Skyzoo verse was featured on Sean Price’s “Jesus Price Superstar”) win as Skyzoo & 9th Wonder’s “Fruity Loops” mesh together perfectly. I’ve never been a huge fan of rappers freestyling over other rapper’s beats, but in this case Skyzoo pays homage to his past using Pete & CL’s “Straighten It Out” for the track of the same name & The Artifacts “Wrong Side Of The Tracks”as the backdrop to “My Element”. I’m not one to recommend “mixtapes” but “Corner Store Classic” is one that I would highly recommend…..Sh*t, what’s the worst that can happen? It’s free right? Check It Out HERE.
Since we’re on the subject of mixtape/albums, let me share my disappointment in Sean Price’s recent “leak” “Master P” with you . Now, as far as likeable emcees in Hip Hop are concerned Sean Peeeeee has gotta’ be hovering somewhere around the top. Even with his very impressive debut “Monkey Barz” (had to be one of the top albums in 2004) and his good but not as as dope as “Monkey Barz” follow up “Jesus Price Superstar”, Sean has managed to drop a less than stellar “warm-up” mixtape to his forthcoming album “Mic Tyson” (is he really naming the album that?). For one thing, Sean is without a doubt a talented lyricist who’s wit and humor coupled with an overabundance of ill metaphors make him
a very entertaining and at the moment “in demand” emcee, but with “Master P” (great album title by the way) I’ve walked away with the impression that this was more of a compilation of throwaway joints rather than an “anticipation builder” or prequel for his 3rd solo album. I may be crazy here, but the proof is in the puddin‘. I’ve given this album more than it’s share of listens, just check the “Most Played” on the Ipod “Master P” has been holdin‘ it down for the last three weeks. I thought to myself “Damn, this is Sean Price…one of my favorite dudes in the game right now, why am I not feelin‘ this?”. The only real track that is half way decent ‘ is the Khrysis produced “Jamaica” which, for the record was leaked around late 2004-early 2005 if I’m not mistaken. As I mentioned Sean is an entertaining emcee, but his rhymes (which on this mixtape consist of no virtual subject matter) tend to wear thin on the listener’s ears by album’s end. Let’s just hope that Sean re-groups and knocks us out the box as he did with “Monkey Barz“. Oh, correct me if I’m wrong here…but am I also the only one who felt slighted with the drop off in quality on “Jesus
Price Superstar”?? as well….I don’t know…..
Let me tell you what I knew about the artist to your right, Danny Swain before this week….not a damn thing. What I now know, is that this is one talented ass dude who is definitely on the up and up. Hailing from South Carolina, Danny Swain, D. Swain or Danny! has been on the underground circuit for a minute releasing three album “F.O.O.D.”, “The College Kicked Out and “Charm” prior to this week’s leak “Danny Is Dead” (a clever play on De La Soul’s “De La Soul Is Dead” which is a follow up EP to one of 2006′s apparent underground surprises. Now I say “apparent” because like I mentioned, up until this week I’ve never heard of Danny! but the majority of the underground has…..enough that he received a Grammy nomination for “Charm”…surprise, surprise! The new leak “Danny Is Dead” is an eight song EP that is intended to be a “prequel” to his next release that will be released on Definitive Jux (Blaaaah!) records. Upon first hearing “Charm or “Danny Is Dead” instant comparisons will be made to Kanye West and rightfully so. The comparison is fairly accurate and deserving because not only is Danny! a more talented lyricist than Mr. “I can’t keep my damn mouth shut” West but Danny! also handles his own production as well. It’s quite apparent on both releases from D. Swain that he had the Native Tongue family in his headphones quite a bit as a youngster as their influence is very prevalent on both of the albums that I’ve heard (“Charm” & “Danny Is Dead”). Matter of fact Danny! also does a revamping of Tribe’s “Find A Way” on “Danny Is Dead”. Danny most definitely holds his own on the mic as well, not a track goes by without pertinent subject matter that consists of everyday shit that you & I can both relate to….not just some freestyle nonsense of “shoot em up” rigmarole. Two of my favorite moments from Danny! appear on “Charm”, here it can also be said that he spent a bit of time listening to O.C.’s “Jewelz” as well….he samples the same loop found on O.C.’s “The Chosen One” for “Strange Fruit” and dips into O.C’s catalog once again on “Fly” (utilizes the same sample found on O.C.’s “Far From Yours”). Whether or not things pan out for Danny! the way they did for Kanye remains to be seen but the talent and effort is most definitely there. Maybe a push from Def Jux will be just the kick in the ass he needs to get him over the top and really put his name out there. The only real beef that I have with both “Charm” & “Danny Is Dead” is Danny’s voice…..it does take some time to get used to, it sounds as if he’s rhyming half-assed sometimes. I guess you can say he needs some work on his mic control. Nevertheless, Danny’s work is definitely worth a listen and it’s pretty rare in the underground that you’ll come across a “double threat” that has the potential of this artist. Danny’s rise to the Def Jux deal is a pretty interesting tale, it can be read in full HERE. (props HipHopLinguistics.com!)