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THOUGHTS

by Eric on September 17, 2007

Upon downloading Havoc’s (1/2 of Mobb Deep) most recent “leak” on Nature Sounds (clockin‘ those independent dollars, I see) I was very anxious to sit down and engulf what was almost sure to be a better solo effort than partner Alchemist’s…err, Prodigy’s most recent album/mixtape (I don’t know why P called it a “mixtape“) “Return Of The Mac”. For years die hard Mobb Deep fans have been itchin‘ for a solo release for what many consider to be the “better half” of the Queensbridge duo. Myself, I’ve always felt that not only was Havoc solely responsible for the insane beats on the majority of Mobb’s work such as “Shook Ones Pt.II”, “Quiet Storm” and many other bangers that are to numerous to mention, but I’ve also positioned Havoc as the better lyricist of the two. Of course, we may have already witnessed Mobb Deep at their prime with CLASSIC discs such as “The Infamous”, “Hell On Earth” and hell…..even “Murda Muzik” was dope, but Havoc’s “The Kush” is pretty darn discouraging. If you were anything like me and would pretty much bet the farm that Havoc would roll through with a solo debut that would not only crush Prodigy’s “Return Of The Mac” but also “H.N.I.C.”, I’m sorry to inform you that we couldn’t have any more misjudgement. Prodigy’s “Return Of The Mac” surpasses “The Kush” by far in terms of quality (due largely in part to The Alchemist’s reliance on soul samples that makes “Return..” favor the soundtrack of a late 70′s blaxploytation flick). Lyrically? Well, that’s a tough one to call…it’s quite evident that this duo needs each other and no matter how they’ve faltered lyrically over the last few years, they always manage to churn out a record that sounds pretty dope when paired together. “The Kush” is not a total wash, “I’m The Boss” managed to stay in constant rotation for the majority of last week. The first single leaked from the album “Be There” is a pretty soulful production that finds Havoc questioning friends and freaks “would you be there” if I wasn’t clocking’s & pushin‘ a Bently Azure? The album’s highlight belongs to “Hit Me Up” which features a neck snapping drum kick and a clever and catchy chorus that’s delivered by Un Pachino. As for the rest of the album, it’s very difficult to differentiate the remaining 9 tracks that are better unmentioned. Havoc seems to have gotten lazy on the production tip and with the rhymes. Rather than delivering the message to fans “watch me do this sh*t on my own”, “The Kush” feels more like yet another poor effort released from a major label artist trying to go the indie route with Nature Sounds. On that note, anyone else hear that Foxy Brown is releasing her next LP on Koch? Remind me to not check for that!

On a more positive tip, I didn’t think that I’d hear anything else drop this year that would bump Ill Poetic’s “The World Is Ours” from it’s position as the best album (at least, in my opinion) of 2007. Although I feel that it would take an almost flawless effort to overtake “The World Is Ours” I’m not totally ruling out the notion that it can be done. From nowhere, Panacea has emerged with an impressive follow up to “My Ink Is My Drink” (which I have yet to peep, thanks for the link Trav!), which also made a few year end list at one of my favorite sources to get the scoop on albums past and present Rate Your Music.Com (I see you Elgringo!). Yet another act signed to the resurfaced Rawkus Records, Panacea has managed to drop an album to definitely check for with “The Scenic Route”. While I’ll be the first to admit that “The Scenic Route” may take a few listens to digest (it did me), fans of the Native Tongues will surely be attracted to the beautiful (damn, I guess that’s not the word that most Hip Hop fans want to read when describing “beats”) production courtesy of K-Murdock. What some may deem as “soft” K-Murdock’s musical masterpieces are what sets Panacea apart from most of the Hip Hop World. Emcee Raw Poetic (Ill Poetic? Raw Poetic? Could there be a correlation between the two monikers?) deserves his propers as well, spitting educated lyrics with a rhythmic flow. Raw Poetic is at his best when delivering heartfelt lyrics dealing with life’s lessons and everyday sh*t that you and I go through. I’ve been meaning to give “The Scenic Route” it’s due credit with a indepth album review, but “fortunately” work has kept me tied up as have the “reviews” that Trav & I have been conducting. Hailing from Washington D.C., Panacea bring you an album that is sure to stay in your headphones for the rest of this year and many more to come, you’ll have to trust my judgement on this one and peep it HERE. After you “peep it” be sure to by the album (which I’m doing right after I finish this post). Somewhere, Questionmark Asylum must be smiling!

Speaking of “albums of the year” (damn, I love lists!!) Blu & Exile’s combined effort “Below The Heavens” has been popping up with positive feedback all over the internet. While I’d like to take the credit for hippin‘ most of these cats to “Below The Heavens”, Blu’s lyrical acrobatics and Exile’s original production are too dope to go unnoticed. I know that I’ve written about this album in length with a “Let’s Talk About…” post, I truly hope that Hip Hop heads of all shapes and colors are aware of the star in the making that goes simply by “Blu“. Of course, this album wouldn’t be half of what it is without the assistance from beatsmith Exile, who’s compilation of sorts “Dirty Science” made a few rounds on the “blog scene” last year as well. However, the album would b

e nothing without the clever, introspective lyrics of Blu. After listening to “Below The Heavens” countless times since it’s “leak” a few months ago (uhhh, shame on me….I have yet to buy this album as well…gotta’ cop it with Panacea tonite!!) , with each passing listen I’ve grown to appreciate just what a talented cat Blu is. I mean, the phrase “the sky’s the limit” may be a bit cliche but Blu is without a doubt a dude that I have no problem anointing as the “next big thing” in Hip Hop. Blu is entirely too dope, to be taken for granted, this young emcee is somethin‘ special! I have yet to listen to “Below The Heavens” and hit the fast forward button…okay, maybe a few times on “I Am..” but nothing other than that “occasionally”. Even though Exile’s beats may not hold my attention on tracks like “Juice N’ Dranks” or “Blu Collar Worker”, I’m always tuned into Blu’s witty lyricism and wordplay. I guess what I’m tryin‘ to say is….I hope that cats aren’t sleepin on this dude, it’s most definitely a rarity in Hip Hop today when a cat like this comes along and captivates this self proclaimed “beat junkie” with lyrics, charisma and delivery like Blu. I’ve pretty much locked this album in at #2 for the year and “Below The Heavens” just seems to get better and better each time. Appreciate Blu for what he is, hopefully this is just beginning for this youngster. For Hip Hop’s sake I sure the hell hope so!!

Okay, I touched on Unified School District’s “Brokedown Palace” (emcee Super Ugly can be seen floating all over the blog scence from time to time, you may wanna’ check your c-box) a bit yesterday in my “Most Played For The Week”, but here’s the rest of the story. More like an abbreviated “Eric Eats His Words” post if you will and why I fronted on this record at first: Super Ugly contacted me about two months ago with the download link to peep “Brokedown Palace”, after uploading the album to my Ipod I propped my ass down on the couch with NBA2K7 on the screen and attempted to give Unified’sBrokedown….” a go. Needless to say, I couldn’t even make it through the first listen. Admittingly, Super Ugly’s voice may take some getting used to and the beats are anything but “traditional”. So more or less “Brokedown Palace” sat on my Ipod just taking up space, all the while Super Ugly had e-mailed me a few times asking me if I had the chance to peep their album. Trav @ WYDU will tell you, I told him “dude, you gotta’ help me out here…I can’t review this!!”. Let’s get one thing clear here, I’m just an ex-jock, a 31 year old husband with two kids who has absolutely no background in the music industry (DJing for three years is as remotely close as I’ve come to any hands on experience). This blog was conceived from my love and passion for Hip Hop, it’s the only music that I ever knew…EVER! So, who am I to tell an up and coming artist or group who wants me to print an honest “review” of his or her work that basically “your sh*t sucks”. I’d rather just leave it be, I’m not gonna’ knock someone’s hustle who is just out there workin‘ a regular 9 to 5….while also pursuing their dreams in Hip Hop. Some things are better left unsaid, especially if you may not be a “well known” act just yet. While this site is far from Smoking Section, W.T.R. does get about 1300-1500 hits a day….I don’t want to dimmer anyone’s career over a negative review. So Super Ugly to be straight up with you….I just didn’t want to write about your album because I just wasn’t feelin‘ it, but I respect your talent and hustle.

Here’s where it gets interesting. I run out to my mailbox Friday after work and find what definitely takes the cake as the most clever packaging for any promo or hard copy that I’ve received thus far. For the first time in months since we had our youngest daughter I was free’d up to grab a couple (more like a case) frosties with one of my best friends and catch the Arkansas/Bama‘ football game at a local dive. It’s about a 20 minute drive to this “whole in the wall” and on my way out the door I grabbed Unified’sBrokedown Palace” and popped it in the deck. For some reason on that day, the album sounded COMPLETELY different to me. For one thing, the album is loaded with bottom and sounds real sharp in the system. From what little I’ve gathered on Oaktown’s Unified School District thus far, Ecto One handled the majority of the production duties on the album and Super Ugly handled all the mic duties. This album is typically not something that I mix it up with, but I really do like this album. The beats aren’t like anything else you’ve heard lately, very original sampling backed with window rattling bass knock that is sort of reminiscent of early Hiero beats. Like I said, Super Ugly’s voice may not be your cup of tea at first but after a few listens to the album I really dig his unique delivery. The album also features appearances from the legendary Prince Po of Organized Konfusion and Copywrite. As big as I was on Uncut Raw’s “First Toke” this weekend and everytime I listen to the album that same initial feeling that I had for “First Toke” is shared with “Brokedown Palace”. I’m not gonna’ post a link for this record, but I do highly suggest you give these cats a listen. I’m confident that you will be pleased with the results. For all you tech heads be sure to download the album on Itunes and support these cats. In the meantime, Super Ugly hit us up with some purchasing info in the comments section.

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{ 24 comments }

elgringocolombiano September 18, 2007 at 3:46 am

Thx for the shout out Eric. Panacea is 1 of my favorite new artists of the past few years.

BTW, do you or any of your readers maintain a yearly 2007 list at rateyourmusic.com? If so, I’d be interested in reading them. There is so many albums being released, that sites like rateyourmusic & blogs like WTR help prioritize the “new isht to listen to” list.

super ugly September 18, 2007 at 3:47 am

That was the best write up yet!!! its as if Unified is a worm crawling in your earhole setting up shop and daring you not to like us..HA! I am really glad you got to go watch that game. I been rapping for a long time, and I “used” so many other voices (casual, CL Smooth) that when I found my own I ran with it..so I am aware we are not the atypical rap act, but the heart and soul behind this wierd record is based on growing up in the an early 90′s hip hop world…So for everyone who is intrigued, go to Itunes or getunified.net…if you are like me and like to “preview” (see: download) albums before blowing your porn money on it.. here is a link http://rapidshare.com/files/55544515/Brokedown_Palace.rar.html
Please tell a friend if you like it, and burn a copy for them. We are trying to get the word out..and as you all see from Erics write up it may take a minute to sink in…Thanks again Eric..I would love to hear what songs you like…you is the man

Disapointed Fan September 18, 2007 at 4:06 am

First of all, I don’t expect you to leave my comment here since it’ll contain some thoughts that you might not like. I have been a huge fan of your site for a certain amount of time; loved your write-ups on all my old-school classics and the general discussions spawned by rasul (a highly intelligent person if you ask me; I have yet to get any of his music but his writings have been the highlight of this site!!!). And please believe me that it was never about the downloads you’ve offered for the world. I just loved your site. Now I might be misjudging the situation here but what the hell’s been going on lately? I understand that you “must” fill in some material. I understand you drifting away from the “I post a classic, you download it and maybe I write something about it too” genre into something more sophisticated. I although understand you obviously being buddies with Ill Poetic or whatever his name is and how you don’t miss a chance to feed the readers with your praise ( of some of the least talented rappers I’ve heard in a minute). Maybe you posting your IM-Converstaions as actual posts seem like a bright idea or even insightful to you and your blog-homies (though Trav’s always been extremely legit with his stuff and I “still” love his blog since he never changed his format). Maybe all the promo you’re receiving gave you the recent air of confidence to trash all these albums lately, talking like you’re above the law. I don’t know Eric but you’re losing it my friend since you’re losing the respect for music. If you don’t have time to post anything, don’t post anything! It’s better than the BS you’ve been doing recently. I thought you’re a fan of this music!?
I’m not going to post my email ’cause I don’t want your little groupies to hit me up. Like I said, you’re probably not going to leave this here and I’m not expecting you to. Just think about it and man up.

Eric September 18, 2007 at 4:18 am

@disapointed fan…you’re tellin’ me to “man up” and you don’t leave an e-mail address. That’s the “pot callin’ the kettle kettle black” wouldn’t you say? You, obviously care enough to comment and I value your response. Ill Poetic..Least Talented? Blu…Least Talented? So why did u love my site again???

Eric September 18, 2007 at 4:25 am

Thanks Jaz, IP’s are a mofo

Thadeacon September 18, 2007 at 4:32 am

I’m back! Yo been a minute since I checked out the site but some good posts. All the aforementioned albums mentioned in the latest post are crazy, and you’re right on w/ Blu. That cat drops it… he ain’t nuthin nice. I’ll check out the Brokedown Palace.

Krisch September 18, 2007 at 8:33 am

Keep doin’ what you’re doin’ Eric, your site is one of the best hip hop blogs out there.
When you started your blog I was wondering how long it could last, being that it concentrated just on classics.
And I think you really managed this problem by also considering new music that’s coming out.
You’re definitely putting a lot of work into this site, so don’t let those haters get you down.

Havoc’s album is coming out on Nature Sounds, not Koch.

And I have to disagree with him being the better lyricist than Prodigy, who in my opinion was one of the best emcees in the mid-nineties, before he got a little lazy.

Peace

Tim September 18, 2007 at 10:14 am

I’ll level with you – it wouldn;t enter my mind to check out the Havoc CD, but the Panacea and Unified joints have got me curious.

Oh, and Super Ugly – an artist giving out a download link to his own shit is pretty damn generous. Thanks.

hafenmeister September 18, 2007 at 11:06 am

damn right it’s generous, thx super ugly! and guess what i like your album. little different than the usual boombap, but nice stuff. i agree with eric on this one, sounds sometimes like early hiero stuff. gotta hit my buddies up with that.

@ eric: keep on doing your stuff, it’s highly appreciated. as being a mojoring scholar in islamic studies, i have little time to check out new music…but your blog
is always a nice read between classes (thx to hotspots in my university haha)
cheers guys

super ugly September 18, 2007 at 5:10 pm

I look at it like..who the hell are we??? So if I give it to you guys for free..the word gets out and then the next people who come along might buy it cause they heard their friends talking, or read about it on a blog somewhere..
The music biz isn’t about record sales anymore, its about the shows and merch that you push at shows…
so please tell a friend…even if you hate it cause they might like it.UGLY

hafenmeister September 18, 2007 at 5:50 pm

if only more people have your point of view…music biz might be a better world.
for me your album sounds a bit like aesop rock gone dangerdoom. don’t get me wrong on this one, i like it and i’ll buy it!
cheers

adrm September 18, 2007 at 7:26 pm

just listened to that unified school district joint and it’s really good. thanks a lot for sharing it with us, i’ll give it a few more plays and if i’m still feelin it i’m pretty sure i’ll go and buy it. is it a digital release only or can i order it from somewhere?? lovin that joint with prince po. wish more people took the same approach as you do, it’s refreshing to hear. it’s not that “different” to me, just real dope beats and rhymes. peace

Tim September 18, 2007 at 7:36 pm

Gotta love the way Eric’s comment box is turning into a discussion of Super Ugly’s joint. I’m bumping it now and it’s very, very good shit. Thanks again dude. Loving ‘Creamers’ especially.

Like adrm asks, is there anywhere to order a CD? Or is it just the paid download on the Myspace page? I’m happy to pay for the mp3s, ‘cos it’s dope, but I’d probably order a CD given the choice…

Tim September 18, 2007 at 7:37 pm

I managed a good typo there (‘Creamers’)

super ugly September 18, 2007 at 10:58 pm

of course you guys can buy it from us.. my PAYPAL is unifiedschooldistrict@hotmail.com
when you order it, I send out packages on wednesdays and I will always throw goodies in there like stickers and our whole back catalog of music in MP3 format…
if you do paypal me just drop me a line in my hotmail account, so I get on it quick…thanks to everybody for the big ups..you guys are why we even make music..
UGdini

super ugly September 18, 2007 at 11:02 pm

i love Creamers also…oh and if you Paypal..it is only 7 dollars. sorry i didnt put that in the last post.

Anonymous September 19, 2007 at 10:25 am

Please put some music i don´t want your opinion

nofrillz September 19, 2007 at 4:17 pm

sup eric

i been checking out this blog for a while now & it hasn’t failed me so far (i found out about blu & exile through u peepz). but u know u were being generous to havoc for The Kush.
ive been doing the same with 8th’s album too

i got an allies ep called the clear album if thats what you were after. a couple of the beats are recycled though. bought it original in a clear case, no sleeve whatsoever and the outer half of the cd is see through (if that rings any bells)

anyway………..just wanted to tell the peepz to big up y’all selves

p e a c e

p.s……………says ‘man up’ & doesn;t leave an email address. you gott laugh haven’t you

nofrillz September 19, 2007 at 4:19 pm

8th””””””thats what i get for tryna type without mt glasses on

i meant 9th

Dan Love September 19, 2007 at 5:59 pm

Eric,

Feel like I should just reiterate how great what you do over here is: you know you’re part of my immediate blog fam. You got a shout on London radio fella! How’s that…

Keep on keepin’ on.

Dan

Travis September 20, 2007 at 12:11 am

I felt compelled to reply since I’m slightly agitated myself. First off “disappointed fan”, the IM reviews were my idea, and based off an old feature “The Source” used to have back in the day, I believe it was called “A&B” where they just talked back and forth about the album at hand. I always enjoyed them, and yes the technology is slightly different, but its the same shit we’d be saying if we were sitting across the table from each other, so what should it matter? Yes, they’ve gone a bit long, and we are still working on the kinks. I thought, and Eric agreed, that we usually disagree enough, it’d make for some entertaining AND educational reading, and you would get TWO opinions on a certain albums. I some what took offense at the “blog homies” thing. Honestly if you have a problem with Eric is doing, then by all means express yourself on the matter, but I don’t think a public forum was the right place to do it. I’m not sure what the issue completely was, since Eric’s been doing his thing for awhile now. Just my two cents, not that it means all that much…

And anonymous, go somewhere else then, there are 10,000 blogs you can get music and god forbid don’t have to read all these annoying words words…

Yeah, guess I’m a slight bit pissy today.

turtle September 20, 2007 at 3:02 am

Eric, I gave the Blu & Excile a listen. Honestly, I was not at all moved. I may check it out to either confirm or deny my opinion, but… I also checked the Brand Nu release. It was alright. But what I have been listening to lately are the Ego Trip singles (the ones I already have) and 2 songs on Rasul’s list (Temptations and Rather Unique). Anyway, I have not commented in awhile and just wanted to let you know I am still reading.

turtle September 20, 2007 at 3:11 am

Oh! Regarding the Ego Trip rap list, I would love to know how each list was compiled. For example Too Short’s In the Ghetto was left off of 1990. 94 did not have a single Beatnuts, Artifacts (Wrong side of da Tracks) or Boogie Monsters (Recognized Thresholds of Negative Stress). Also, I tend to think of the list in terms of school years.

Anonymous September 24, 2007 at 10:30 pm

This page has post maby one off the dopest albums so far in the last month´s(Real Live) But latley it´s just pure opinion wich i really dont give a fuck im honest thats all. Id really like the idea of the page but….

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