Once again, it’s time for yet another long-winded edition of “THOUGHTS”. With my workload being cut in half (not good, when your in the financial business) this week I granted myself some time to take in a few of the promo items that I’ve received in the mail this past week or so. As I mentioned in last weeks edition of “THOUGHTS”, receiving free promos in the mail is one of the very few upsides of blogging. So anytime a record exec. or A & R takes the time to send a few “goodies” my way, I’m sure as hell gonna’ give it a thorough listen and opinion. With that being said, the first promo on my plate this week was Justus League affiliate Median with his forthcoming album (hits stores September 25th to be exact) “Median’s Relief”. To be released on Halftooth Records (roster includes Oddisee, Kenn Starr, Wordsworth, etc.), Median has laid vocals on an array of quality albums in the past two years…namely, Foreign Exhchange’s “Connected”, Kenn Starr’s “Starr Status” and the surprisingly enjoyable “Sleepers” from Big Pooh. Let me state the obvious, I’ve always been a sucker for anything remotely associated with the Justus League. Although, in the last year or so my interest for the crew sort of tailed off after Little Brother’s “The Minstrel Show”. Median, whom I’ve always felt is one of the strongest lyricist in the J.L…..is also one of the League’s most overlooked and slept-on emcess. With a very unique voice and flow, right off the bat I’d say I’ll most definitely shell over my hard earned “green” and pick up this album when it hits the streets. You know my stance on downloading….”If it’s dope, I buy it!”. “Median’s Relief” is just that….Dope! Although the saying is pretty much overused and borderline lame by now, I’d have to say that this album is most going to be labeled as “grown folks music”. Featuring production from Justus League family members 9th Wonder & Khrysis (is it just me or is dude makin‘ better beats than 9th as of late??) along with quality beats from (one of my favorite producers) Nicolay and Ant B (who I’m not really familiar with). Honestly speaking, it was hard for me to not write this album off after hearing that “How Big Is Your World” was going to be the first single released from the album. My first response was “Damn, why in the hell did they pick a cut for a first single that has been around for close to three years?”. Before listening to the album, I’d nearly written it off as just a bunch of shelved singles, that after collecting dust have been compiled to give you a Median’s “Greatest Hits” of sorts deceivingly titled as “Median’s Relief”….that’s definitely not the case.
What impressed me the most with this promo was Median’s improved mic control. It’s only right that “Median’s Relief” features a 9th Wonder produced cut entitled “Comfortable” (which has also been around for awhile, but still dope) because that is exactly the right word when describing Median on the mic….”Comfortable”. With introspective and clever lyricism, Median displays a vast improvement on the mic from his previous EP “Path To Relief”. Even though there are a few producers who contributed cuts to “Median’s Reief” such as Koen, Zo!, C. Keen & Centric (although, I’m thinking this dude is the cat along who along with Phonte crafted “The Story Of U.S.”) the whole album has that whole “Justus League” feel that your accustomed to hearing from any member of the crew. Highlights of the album are the Centric produced “Right Or Wrong” (Man, that beat is NICE!!), the rekindled flame showcased on “Love Again”, the J.L. assisted “Choices” (featuring Joe Scudda & Chaundon) and last but not least…the 9th Wonder produced “Personified” as Median brings life to items ranging from a bar of soap to an old beat up hooptie (trust me, you’ve NEVER heard no shit like this before!). All in all, I’d have to rank this amongst the best releases to ever emerge from the North Carolina based crew. Actually, I’d probably place “Median’s Relief” behind “The Listening” & “The Minstrel Show” based on quality and an overall, enjoyable listening experience. You can check out the promo for “Median’s Relief” HERE. The tracks on the promo aren’t titled, but you can peep the tracklist HERE (where you can also pre-order the album). Beware, the promo does include “voice-overs” and does not include tracks 14-16 (which are remixes that will be included on the album), but I guess that’s the whole idea of a “promo”, right?. Another quality release from Halftooth Records, be sure to scoop this one up! Oh, and I almost forgot…you can check out the mixtape “Median’s Relief In The Making (mixed by DJ Low Key & hosted by 9th Wonder) @ DJ Low Key.com.
Next up to bat is “The War LP” presented by Platinum Pied Pipers member Waajeed. Although, I didn’t actually receive the promo for this my dude Gr1mm hooked me up something lovely and I mean LOVELY with this one. Continuing in the tradition of talented beatmakers hailing from Detroit (Dilla, Black Milk, T3, etc.) Waajeed brings a less “Neo Soul” approach to “The War LP”. The album, which was released as a dual disc that features a mixed and unmixed version…is a collective of talent comprised mostly of Wajeed’s Bling 47 compadres Timbo Lockhart, Ta’ Raach (who released two equally dope LPs last year…BTW, someone please shoot me a link for them!!) and Invincible! While the album is still very soulful, you will no doubt identify the more Hip Hop driven feel of this disc. With pulsing beats, cleverly placed samples and SUPER crisp production this album deserves to be heard. While many could close their eyes and mistakenly confuse Waajeed’s beats with the late great Jay Dee’s (Okay, enough with the “Dilla Changed My Life” tees already people!), songs such as the crazy instrumentals “Anything” (damn, I want to say Waajeed jacked that vocal sample from an 80′s smash) and “Dusk” (if this shit doesn’t get you hype your truly soulless) immediately differentiate the two. Shit, “Anything” is worth the price of admission alone (somebody lay some vocals on that track, Please!!!! Nas? Ras Kass? Royce?). Also, you’ve gotta’ hear “Proud” which is more or less an interpolation of James Brown’s “Say It Loud”….a clever ode to the “Godfather Of Soul” indeed!The album does feature a Jay Dee production “Garage Band”, but I’d go as far as to say it’s (“The War LP”) just as fresh as any full length (“Donuts” included) that Dilla ever blessed us with. Fittingly titled “The War LP”, the album also features numerous sounds of sirens, bombs and such that develop a cohesive feel of mass hysteria throughout much of the disc. Sad thing is, this album will more than likely go unnoticed due to it’s limited distribution (the album is being released on Bling 47 Records)..which is a crying shame because this is already one of my favorites this year. Be sure to purchase the album HERE (it’s worth the buck!!). In the meantime, you can preview it HERE (thanks to Gr1mm @ EFFICIENCY!!).
Ahhh, getting back to a few CLASSICS. The title of this blog is “When They Reminisce…”, right? Yeah, I know I haven’t faired to well doing a feasible job of “Reminiscing” as of late. Needless to say, I have been able to enjoy a few golden era classics this past week accomplishing what the blog’s title suggest. As you all are aware of by now, I’ve been on this “buying every CD that I had on cassette” kick for just a little over a month. Recently, I purchased the Beatnuts self titled debut on Amazon for a shade over $8.oo, after uploading an album to my spare hard drive I usually like to listen to the album that evening before calling it a day. It just so happens the Beatnuts stayed in my headphones nearly all week. “The Beatnuts” (click to download CD Rip) is quickly scaling my list of “Top Albums” finding itself near favorites such as “Illmatic“, “Mecca & The Soul Brother”, “Livin‘ Proof” and “Ready To Die” to name a few. With hard hitting production and hilarious yet entertaining flows showcased by members (at the time) Juju, Psycho Les & “Cool Ass Fash” (Al Tariq), this album truly has no noticeable weak spots (although, if you asked me to name my least favorite cut it would have to be “Yeah, You Get Props”. Hell, even I have never been crazy about “One Love” from “Illmatic” or “Lots Of Lovin” from “Mecca & The Soul Brother”, rappers just don’t make albums like this anymore. Funny thing is, my favorite cut on “The Beatnuts” is most likely your least favorite cut…..I’ve always been a sucker for “Rik’s Joint”, which featured the now infamous radio personality Miss Jones on the hook. So, if you don’t have much on your plate this week I’d suggest you give the Beatnuts self titled debut a listen….and give their EP “Intoxicated Demons” a spin to while your at it. Now this is good Hip H
Another, almost forgotten album that also received it’s fair share of spins this week was Tragedy’s (Intelligent Hoodlum) 1993 CLASSIC “Saga Of A Hoodlum” (click to download). Man, it had been quite some time since I heard this album in full and I nearly overlooked just how incredibly dope it is. With production almost exclusively from Marley Marl understudy K-Def , “Saga Of A Hoodlum” bangs from start to finish. I’m sure that mostly everyone remembers this album on the basis of one cut…..the K-Def remix of “Grand Groove”, with it’s lovely rolling piano loop and the infamous Skull Snaps break it’d be hard to forget it. However, Tragedy himself displayed tremendous growth between his debut “Intelligent Hoodlum” & “Saga Of A Hoodlum”. Touching a wider audience with more broadened topics other than his “pro-black, militant stance” (which half of the groups out were in the early 90′s…..not that it’s a bad thing) made ever so prevalent on his debut (which is also a dope album), Tragedy matches up perfectly with K-Def’s beautiful, uptempo, bass heavy production. Cuts such as “Funk Mode”, the Marley Marl produced trunk rattler “Pump The Funk” and the album’s opener “Shalom A Leck” all display perfect examples of mid-nineties East Coast shit that is sorely lacking in Hip Hop today. While many will compare the production on “Saga Of A Hoodlum” to K-Def & Marley’s beats featured on Lords Of The Underground’s debut “Here Come The Lords”, I feel that the comparison is unwarranted as “Saga Of A Hoodlum” wins with the beats, hands down! Something that I just discovered this morning, apparently this album is now packaged with it’s debut for around $16.00. That’s a pretty nice deal for two back to back solid efforts. I don’t know about ya’ll, but this is the last album that I ever checked from Tradedy. Once he started going by “Tragedy Khadafi” I pretty much quit checking for him, so tell me am…. I missing out on anything??
Hmmmm, what else? Well, I’m really looking forward to the coming week as far as “W.T.R.” is concerned. I’m really not gonna’ go into much detail but Trav from
Wake Your Daughter Up & I have a little treat for you all that we plan on running once a week or so. All I’ll say is “Siskel & Eibert” watch out! I should be able to get back to wrapping up “Top 100 Tuesdays” as I think that there is only a few more (12 to be exact) selections until we reach the magic number. Also, since I’ve been doing so much used CD shopping recently I think that I’ll continue with the “Goodies From The $1.99 Bin” series. I did notice some pretty neat stuff going on as far as other blogs are concerned that is worth the mention. It’s good to see Illustrious has his site Time 4 Sum Aksion up & running again. Boy, that Redman 12″ inch post was a nice welcome back….keep it up Ill! Of course, the always solid Dan Love of From Da Bricks continues his string of great writing with his “Deconstructions Of The Prophet” which breaks down past lyrical performances from Jeru The Damaja. I gotta’ admit it though Dan, I wish you where still uploading albums from time to time…but I respect your stance. If you haven’t been following the publicized saga between T-Ray (Artifacts, Serch, Double XX Posse, etc.) & Mike Huron @ Unkut.com you are truly sleepin‘ (much like myself, thanks for the heads up Trav!). I really didn’t even realize that T-Ray has been around that long, dope stuff from Unkut. Finally, there’s Dread & em’ @ Bust The Facts…sorry the forum didn’t go so well guys but let it be known you cats never cease to amaze me with some of your uploads. You cats have brought back many memories for me and it’s greatly appreciated over here! Well, I guess that’s it.. thanks for all the comments and for just stopping by. Have a safe & carefree Labor Day!….-Eric