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WYDU Reviews: Muthafuck a Critic – Part One

by Travis on August 14, 2007

Anyone can be a critic on the internet. That’s the beauty of the whole thing. We are all critics and nobody is a fan anymore. I can get on here and spout off why you should or shouldn’t buy the new Paul Wall album and you may or may not think I’m full of shit. Regardless, I like to think I know what I’m talking about and am knowledgeable enough for my “pseudo professional” blogger opinion matters in the minds of my readers. I have also been getting multiple requests from artists and labels to review their material, which I’m all for, especially if it results in me getting free stuff. So I’ve decided that once a week (hopefully on Saturdays) I’ll be doing a some reviews.

for any review considerations, please email me at the contact link to the right, or travglave@yahoo.com
WYDU Meets Bust The Facts

As we all know, my love lies within the past of hip hop. Call me old fashioned or just plain old, but give me a lost classic or unknown jewel from the golden age anytime over any new album. I will be covering a mix of new material AND old material. But let’s fact it, most of you know all the old classics. Why would you want to come here and read my take on an album that has been reviewed at nausea a million times over? Nah, thats no fun. In conjunction with Bust The Facts, I’ll do a review on something that has been posted on possibly the greatest blog that has ever existed. The only knock I’ve heard against BTF is that they don’t do write ups of their albums. Obviously, even I don’t have a clue what some of the stuff that the good man Dread uploads, but I’ve downloaded quite a bit since the conception of the blog, some stuff which I could see some people skipping over if they hadn’t heard of it before. I’m here to steer you in the right direction in case you went down the wrong fork in the road. That’s what I’m here for. You can thank me later.
New Underground Albums
Shit is crazy out here. Everybody has an album. Everybody is trying to get their game on, its all about the hustle. There is sooooo much new stuff out there its almost impossible for us to listen to it all. I know some of you try, but its nearly impossible. I’ve had people in the past ask me to review their album, but I wasn’t really comfortable doing many reviews. I’ve written reviews in the past for sites like Bombfirst.com, but I was keeping with a theme on this blog and reviews just didn’t fit in. Well I’ve started moving WYDU in a different direction and would be willing to accecpt materials for review purpose. I’ve already got material that will last me for the next three or four weeks, but go ahead and submit any requests by contacting me via email. No links to anything sent to me will be used. I’m doing this strictly for promotional purposes for the artists and to sharpen my own writing skills up.

I’ve ran into a some albums the past year or so from blogs that I would never have checked out or heard if it wasn’t for the word of mouth around the blog community. Some of it was pure luck that I checked out a particular album, some of it was on recommendations from trusted companions or friends. If I don’t have any material sent to me by an artist or label for a particular week, well I’m just going to find some off the wall album that might be in that “obscure” region of the internet and write up about that. I prefer a group or album I’ve never heard before. My past troubles of doing reviews was, well, I’d only review material that I liked (its hard for me to focus on music I don’t like), but I’ll do my best to stick to the relatively underground/obscure music. No reviews of the new Common or Talib Kweli (unless they personally want me to, but I’m not going to hold my breath on that happening).

Storm Davis – Kegstand Poetry for the Recovering Alcoholic (Poorly Drawn People, 2006)
Storm Davis’ Myspace
Storm Daivs.com

Artists Biography
Storm Davis first freestyled on a Providence, Rhode Island, city bus in 1989. He battled a female volleyball player from a cross-city high school.

She won.

Undaunted by this crushing defeat, he began to seriously rap as a joke in 1993, recording horrifying lo-fi demos with a mysterious karaoke DJ named The Snail. These sessions found their way into local shops between 1994 and 1996, manifesting as two appalling mixtapes that have luckily disappeared from the public consciousness.

Storm spent most of the late 1990s beginning and ending projects with numerous collaborators far more talented than himself, always dropping out to foolishly attempt to adapt himself to a more conventional lifestyle that was destined not to take.

He entered freestyle battle competitions, recorded some mixtape ‘exclusives,’ and generally leaned against the wall during the earliest hours of this underground hip hop party.

He perfected an earth-shattering Jason Priestley impression.

This did little to further his career.

Around the turn of the century, Storm dabbled in the Providence coffee shop spoken word scene, and still clings to the delusional notion that he had something to do with local cafe Cup of Joes winning the 2000 Providence Phoenix Best Spoken Word/Open Mic selection (he was a featured weekly performer).

Davis then began working in the independent film scene, as well as at a boutique music label/management company, in the hopes of helping to further the careers of associates and other artists he was certain were better than he. Both ventures ended in disaster.

In late 2003, standing amidst the smoldering ruins of a once promising life with nothing but a resume heavily tilted toward the loss column and pounds of pages of unrecorded songs, SD finally decided that intense drive, clear vision, and an unwillingness to accept reality were far more important than astounding talent.

Thus he began recording a proper debut album, called KEGSTAND POETRY FOR THE RECOVERING ALCOHOLIC, crafting literate, personal lyrics true to the legacies of forgotten hip hop legends like Justin Warfield, Divine Styler, and Wise Intelligent of Poor Righteous Teachers, melded with melodic sensibilities inspired by artists like Faith No More, Kilgore (Smudge), and ex-House of Pain frontman Everlast.

The LP arrived in stores in May 2006 to a whirlwind of raised eyebrows, moderate apathy, and the unbridled glee of the occasional diehard devotee.

In 2004, Storm joined forces with a cadre of New England’s finest emcees and producers to form Poorly Drawn People, the latest in this nauseating wave of overly-emotional underground hiphop crews that swurrr to gawd they gon change da game… they won’t… neither will PDP… but, the music is rather impressive.
Storm would appreciate it greatly if you stayed tuned as the saga continues to unfold.

Review

A friend and I were having a conversation the other day and I mentioned a particular album was growing on me, she told me that she thought people didn’t “grow” to like albums, that its just our mind playing tricks on us, it’s just us getting familiar with an album. We either like it when we first hear a song or album or we don’t. I, of course, called bullshit, but in this age of the internet and downloading, the consumer has access to SO much music that I believe it’s important for an album to stand out on the first listen anymore. If an album doesn’t have something that grabs me in the first listen or two, its more than likely going to get shoved to the shelf or sit as a file on my computer. It’s not often an album gets a second chance to be heard. One such album that “came back from the dead” was Storm Davis’ “Kegstand Poetry for the Recovering Alcoholic”.

I first ran across this album on a blog (I know, bad reviewer) earlier in the year. The only reason I even gave it a chance was the title of the album and the fact the MC took his name from an 80′s baseball player that I always kind of liked. My first impression was not one of an amazement, and to be fair, it wasn’t one of disappointment either. It was more like “eh”, and that was that. A couple weeks later, after a drunkin’ night at the bars, I came home and put the old Winamp on shuffle when “Kegstand Poetry” (the title track) came on and started playing. My drunken self thought it was the greatest track of all-time. The chorus was made up of the same stuff that a good drunken Irish tune is made up of, a good sing-a-long hook that you can scream at the top of your lungs….which is what I proceeded to do. The seed was planted, I had to revisit this album. Eventually after giving it more spins, I got a good read on what it was Storm Davis was trying to convey to the listener.

Trying to figure out exactly why I enjoyed this album was some what difficult. Storm isn’t the best lyricist by any sense of the means. The beats are not the smooth jazzy beats that seem to be all the rage in the underground scene these days, yet the album has steadily become a favorite of mine over the past few months. Maybe its that I can relate to a lot of the subject material, whether is about drinking, fucked up life, or bringing home girls drunk off your ass. Maybe it’s the old school feel the tracks have. It’s obvious Storm has a connection to hip hop’s past. Much of his music feels like it could have been released in ’94, while still holding a modern day feel to them. The albums kickoff “Spelling Lesson” kicks things off nicely with trumpeting horns and a nice Nine sample that gives it that “golden age” feel to it. The hook also adds to the nostalgia with an in your face Storm coming hard on the track.

As far as flow and tone, even Storm himself admits he has “..that old school delivery..”. At first his vocal tone took some getting used to, but once I did, I consider it one of his strong points. He definitely doesn’t sound like anyone else out there right now as far as vocal tone is considered. Storm seems to experiment with different flows through out the album, some working with great results, others he seems uncomfortable and stiff on. One of his better attempts is on “Illest It Gets”, where he rides a fairly basic beat rather effortlessly. As mentioned, SD isn’t the strongest lyricist ever to grace the mic, but he is more than
capable of holding his own with the guests that grace the LP on several songs. Probably the best posse cut is “Major League” with Sneak Techniks, Reason, & Demigodz affliate, Emilio Lopez. I’ve been wanting to hear more from Emilio Lopez after hearing him collaborate with Apathy on one of his mixtapes a few years back and he doesn’t disappoint.

I have two favorite songs from the “Kegstand Poetry….”. Each song is rather different from each other as far as topics, but I think its an excellent example of the diversity that Storm delivers on the album. The title track “Kegstand Poetry” is a party joint that ends the joint in grand style. With a sing-a-long chorus that can be sung out at the top of ones lungs, it just sticks in the listeners head. Storm also sounds the most comfortable on this type of beat, with a rolling bassline and staccato like drum pattern. He sounds like he is just having fun with the track and his flow used on this is just about perfect for what he is as an MC. The other track might get Storm the dreaded “emo” tag, but Slug from Atmosphere has seemed to make a pretty good living at it, so why not. The female/boozing track “She” could have easily been the theme song for my early 20′s. The song details the practice of combining alcohol and women, leaves Storm exclaiming “she’s the chaser to the liquor that puts me over the top”. A mellow beat accompanies the lyrics that adds to the somewhat funny, but also truthful lyrics.

Beat wise, the album has some standout tracks and also some sub par beats that slow up the album. When the production is at its best, the album is at its strongest. Tracks such as the bouncy “City On The Edge” sounds like it would fit on a Mos Def album when he still picked good beats. Its these strong beats that hide some of Storm’s some what awkwardness shown on some tracks. Others such as the dark “Spartan” really add feeling to the track and paint a picture that aids in Storm’s messages. “Man In The Mirror” is another dope track that samples either Steve Miller or another classic rock song that I can’t think of right now, but its something rather different than most other production out there. There are a few lackluster beats such as “Little Bit Of Luck” which seems to have an out of place beat and a Storm Davis that seems out of his element. The album is coming in at 18 songs and two skits (although “Pauly From The Block” is freaking hilarious and I can’t help but to wonder if its some kind of spin on the “Paul Rosenberg and Eminem” skits found on all of Em’s albums) but it seems that Storm is attempting to find his place and his comfort zone. In doing so, he tries a little bit of everything, with topics, beats and flows. While it keeps the album from being stale, it takes away from some of the cohesiveness of the album and exposes some of Storm’s weaknesses.

For a first time attempt, “Kegstand Poetry For The Recovering Alcoholic” is a great rookie debut from Storm Davis. As long as he learns from what worked and what didn’t, Storm should grow as an artist and find a niche in the game that could garner him a little fame, some hot women throwing themselves at his feet and enough payola for some top shelf liqour.

Ranking: 3.75 panties out of 5 panties

WYDU meets Bust The Facts coming tomorrow……

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