Wow, what a week it was for new music. Lots of stuff leaked as the fourth quarter swings into full steam. Beanie Sigel, Styles P, Hi-Tek, Ghostface and others all showed up on the popular blog hotspots. Of course not of this stuff is officially out yet, I think you can pick up a few things Dec 4th (tomorrow, or today depending on when you read this). With my internet situation up in the air, I wasn’t able to cop most of these things, for “previewing purposes” of course, until Friday and spent most of my weekend listening to some of these new projects. I can’t recall a stretch like this happening in the past. Tuesday and Wednesday seemed like every hour there was something new. Some purists may not like the way we acquire music so far in advance, but it’s here to stay.
While nothing totally gave me the eager feeling to listen to like the Wu project from last week, a couple things piqued my interest, mainly the Ghostface and Scarface projects. I spent most of the weekend in between resume restructuring and surfing the internet looking for any job paying more than $10 bucks an hour, playing Madden and blasting all the latest goodies in my crappy ass headphones. Some things surprised, others disappointed, you come to expect that.
By now, most of you have probably given listens to a lot of the newly leaked material and have already formed your own opinions, but I’m going to spout my opinions, because, well, I can. Most of you probably already know that I have shied away from a lot of the “major label” releases lately, because most of the time, they are rather depressing. I’m going to just stick to the “major” releases, because not everyone cares out the new Johnson & Jonson release “Powders & Oils” like I do (which by the way is pretty nice).
I will be sticking to the standard grading scale as in school. For those of you who don’t remember: “A” = Excellent, but this shit now, “B” = Good, buy this when you get the chance “C” = Average, download it, buy it if you are one of those completist fucks, such as myself, “D” = Below Average, I’m not even sure you want to waste disk space on this, and “F”= sucks ass, don’t even bother.
Scarface – Made: B+
I haven’t picked up a Scarface project since “The Fix”, which kind of makes me sad. I’ve always dug Scarface and to me he portrays “good” gangster music, full of originality and creativity. I wasn’t all that excited about this at first, but as I started reading more about it leading up the release, I thought it stood a good chance of being worth while. I wasn’t wrong. I found this to be a very solid release, with Face kicking gangster tales that is so visual, you swear you are experiencing an audio movie. The beats are varied and for the most part strong enough to not distract from Face’s gangster tales. There were only two songs that I didn’t really feel, which in these days, is excellent. I’ll be picking this up in the very near future.
I realize that Styles P is the “hipster” thing going on. He is a strong lyricist and has the ability to craft an excellent album, but to me, this is what’s currently wrong with hip-hop being released on major labels. Every cliché and trend in the industry can be found on this album. The same tired topics, the same tired beats, the same tired guest appearances. It was a struggle to listen to this all the way through. Maybe it was my pissy mood, but other than “Let’s Go”, the albums second cut, I doubt I’ll listen to this again anytime in the near future.
Beanie Sigel – The Solution 2.0: C-
This had the same problems as Styles P, but to a less extent. Add the fact that I enjoy Beanie much more on the mic than Styles P and this gets a pass grade, but just barely. I’m not going to be purchasing it any time in the near future. I don’t know, maybe it deserves a “D+” even. Just another reason I don’t care much for a lot of this hip hop now a days. I know Beanie could make a much better album, just let me do a straight up hip hop song and stop with these crappy syrupy sing songy bullshit.
Wyclef – Carnival Vol II Memoirs Of An Immigrant: B
OK, I’m not sure if this qualifies as highly anticipated or even hip hop, but I liked it enough to include it. Usually, I’m not the biggest Wyclef fan, so I wasn’t even really checking for this until hearing some decent feedback from it. If you are a fan of music in general, you’ll be more likely to appreciate this effort. All types of music are blended into this release to create a wide plethora of sounds that kept me interested.
Ghostface Killah – The Big Doe Rehab: C+
Blasphemy! How can I proclaim the newest Ghostface effort as anything but greatness? It’s solid, I’ll give it that. But damn, sounds like he went and pulled out his “Ultimate Breaks & Beats” and just picked out some breaks and rapped over them. I’ve heard a lot of these beats a million times before, this is almost like a mixtape ala “More Fish” (which I liked a LOT more) than an album. Ghost doesn’t slip on the mic and if you like Ghost, you’ll more than likely feel this. He needs to slooooow down on cranking the music out and just concentrate on releasing another classic like his first two albums. And spend some money on the beats!
Hi-Tek – Hi-Teknology 3: D
I wasn’t expecting much out of this after last years dismal showing. Unfortunately I was even less pleased with this. Maybe it was my shitty mood of getting my ass spanked by Cleveland Browns in Madden while listening to this, but I found it boring and uninspiring. Not that I’m looking to be saved by a musical release, but damn, make me
want to listen to it more than once.
Mick Boogie, J-Dilla & Busta Rhymes – Dillagence: B+
My first spin through this was while searching through my favorite “Bootleg” site to, uh, preview albums. I thought it was decent, but my hopes for this were somewhat high, so initially it was kind of disappointing. Busta is an interesting MC to me, when he is focused and directing his energy to making good HIP HOP music, he usually comes through for me. When he is trying to make some radio friendly rap crap, I can do without him. My second listen though, with headphones this time, I was bobbing my head constantly with this. Yes, we’ve heard some of the beats before, but it was nice to hear peeps rhyming over the legacy that is J-Dilla. There is some beautiful beats on this and Busta comes correct on most of it. When I think of Dilla and MC’s that I love hearing over his beats, Busta wasn’t usually one of them, but he fits well on most of these. Best of all its for free, although I can see myself picking up a hardcopy in the near future, just to say I have it.
Didn’t listen to the DJ Drama “Gangsta Grillz” album, I planned on it, but forgot to go looking for it. No big loss on my part I’m sure.
Goodies From The Inbox
It was kind of a slow this week on the promo front and the amount of stuff I found in my inbox. I guess the magnitude of material coming out had everyone either shook or busy themselves checking out all the new stuff. I know the fourth quarter will be slow for everyone else with all the heavy weights dropping stuff. For the small, independent artists, sometimes you have to pick and choose your battles and the fourth quarter is not the place for those projects, no matter how much better they may be than the “mainstream” stuff dropping now. No fear though, I have a few things to pass one to the loyal visitors…..hell even the disloyal visitors can jump in.
Mixtapes & Albums
***Editors Choice For The Week***
Dahlak – Dual Consciousness
My regular readers should recognize the artist and the album. I gave it a fairly strong review earlier this year. Now Dahlak is going the route that rockers Radiohead did last month. He is offering his album for download. You have a choice to pay $10, $5, or download it for free. Obviously, I think its a good album (read the review for my full opinion). He’s a very talented MC and you may have seen him on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, so I think the album is worth enough to be checked out at the very least and if you like it, throw him down some coin, rap artists gotta eat too.
Download @ http://www.thisisdahlak.com/download.html
J-Zone December’s Gators & Furs “Another Winter”
From Zone himself, bah fuckin’ humbug:
ANOTHER WINTER F**k the holidays. Every winter is an exhibition in drama and bad luck. Bein we all family, y’all have to suffer with me. Chief Chinchilla tried to pull me into a Christmas theme, but my bad winter mood won’t allow it. Car trouble, public transpo, freezing temperatures, relatives and exes seeking gifts, Black Friday traffic, crowded malls, snotnose kids in the stores being brats, god awful inescapable covers of Christmas songs, a sports injury, girl trouble or just going out to your car in 10 degree weather and seeing it’s not there. I quit drinkin, so not even Christmas parties are the same. All I got is basketball til the spring comes, so all my scrooges, grouches and holiday haters in a bad mood from November to February, stand up.
This is music to hate winter to… BE A SCROOGE LIKE ME AND DOWNLOAD FOR FREE (HERE)!
See you in 08…and no mo Christmas Music. J-Zone aka Mr. Don’t Holla aka Mr. Don’t Ask Me For Sh*t Cause I Don’t Believe In Buyin Nobody No F**kin Gifts aka Ho Ho Ho, No No No
From the press release:
Here’s a mixtape from one of the hardest working dudes in the game. Hailing from New York, 6th Sense was the first person to sign on to the Rawkus 50 movement. Brian Brater, CEO of Rawkus describes 6th Sense as someone who can “really spit, and he makes amazing beats. He’s a a jack of all trades kind of entertainer who is an all around likeable guy.”
You might have found 6th Sense playing keys on Snoop Dogg’s “Blue Carpet Treatment,” or maybe you found him in the lab with super producers Scram Jones and Frequency, collaborating on a song that will soon hit the charts. Maybe you found 6th Sense in the basement making beautiful Notherground Music with his co-horts Wildabeast or Jelani. The point is, 6th Sense along with Mick Boogie have teamed up to bring you not just a mixtape, but a statement that demands artists to take chances with the music they make, and not just settle for the status quo…. Go For It!
Trav’s Take: I honestly didn’t have a chance to listen to this yet. With the week that’s been, I’ve b
een trying to catch up on everything else.
Hitfarmers – X-Mas In My Hood Mixtape
All Tracks produced by THE HITFARMERS except (*) produced by THE HITFARMERS and ROC SOLID
Mas in Upstate, New York” *
All Tracks produced by THE HITFARMERS except (*) produced by THE HITFARMERS and ROC SOLID
CLEAN version of a new Ghostface Killah joint it features Method Man and Raekwon, it’s titled Yolanda’s House. Off Big Doe Rehab. Kind of obsolete now, but for those purists out there that haven’t downloaded the album yet, here you go, straight from the PR guy, so it’s okay.
Ghostface feat Method Man & Raekwon.
A few tracks from a crew out of the frozen tundra of Minneapolis, Minnesota. They sent me a copy of their album, which I hope to do a review for by the end of the year, but I liked it enough, I figured I’d direct everyone to some of the free tracks they have posted up. I know people are finicky these days, not wanting to hear anything unless they’ve heard of it before, but consider this as your “hearing of it before” notice.
–Song For Brown Babies
“Movement” by Pugz Atomz from his album Conversations
One Small Step for Mankind, One Big Step for Shit Getting Changed…..
A couple of articles this past week came out announcing that one of the four big labels, EMI has STOPPED giving money to the RIAA, leaving them with less money to raise terror on 12 year old kids and single parent mothers for downloading a few songs, instead of concentrating on quality music and changing the way they market music to the masses.
Say goodbye to the RIAA, for its days are numbered. EMI, one of the “big four” record labels that feeds $132.3 million every year to trade groups such as the RIAA and IFPI, has decided that its money could be better spent elsewhere. It’s reportedly considering cutting its funding the trade groups significantly, which would make it a lot harder for the RIAA to sue people, invade people’s privacy and generally be huge dicks.
EMI is a business just like any other company, and its new owners must have realized that spending $132 million a year to alienate their customers was providing them with a really poor return on investment. I mean, it’s just not good business sense. Will any of the other major labels follow suit? Time will tell, but if they do you can pretty much wave goodbye to the era of the RIAA having influence. A bittersweet victory it would be, as I’d need to find something else to bitch and moan about every day, but it’d be worth it in the end.
One of the Big Four labels is apparently unhappy with its return on investment when it comes to funding industry trade groups such as the IFPI and RIAA. British label EMI, which was recently purchased by a private equity fund, is reportedly considering a significant cut to the amount of money it provides the trade groups on an annual basis.
According to figures seen by Reuters, each of the Big Four contributes approximately $132.3 million to fund the operations of the IFPI, RIAA, and other national recording industry trade groups. That money is used in part to fund the industry’s antipiracy efforts—including the close to 30,000 file-sharing lawsuits filed by the record labels in the US alone.
The IFPI confirmed to Reuters that it was working through its annual budget-setting process, and “as one would expect in this market, there is a focus on efficiencies and savings.” The IFPI wouldn’t provide any details beyond that to Reuters, and neither it nor the RIAA has responded to Ars Technica’s requests for comment.
With music revenues dropping with no end in sight, despite the increased popularity of online sales, all of the Big Four labels are being faced with tough budget choices. The industry has been quick to lay the blame for its tough
economic times squarely at the feet of pirates, but there are other factors at work too. The industry’s glacial adaptation to changing consumer expectations around how and where they listen to music has done a lot to hurt the labels, and consumers are less willing to buy CDs now that they can cherry pick their favorite tracks from the iTunes Store. Even retailers are crying out for an end to DRM.
Giving the music industry credit where credit is due, the labels have made some progress in the past year, especially when it comes to realizing how much consumers detest DRM. But one of the chief activities of the RIAA is coordinating the Big Four labels’ legal campaign, and those thousands of lawsuits have done nothing but generate ill will from record fans, while costing the labels millions of dollars and doing little (if anything) to actually reduce the amount of file-sharing going on.
In fact, the RIAA freely admits that the legal campaign is a real money pit, and EMI’s new ownership may be very leery of continuing to pour money down that particular rat hole. Should the other labels follow suit—and there’s no indication that they will—it would, at the very least, force the RIAA to reexamine its commitment to its legal strategy.
Rick Rubin Article
Along those same lines is an EXCELLENT Rick Rubin article dropped on Invincible Bully a couple weeks ago. Some of you may have seen it already since I’m severely lagging on my blogging visits. It’s a great read that discusses Colombia’s new attitude toward selling music, that includes hiring Rick Rubin as co-head of operations. Someone out there is actually getting it. Shit is changing. I’m not saying its a good thing, but change is change, you deal with it. The record labels are late in adapting to that change and in the end are faced with the very real fact that they won’t be able to buy that second Yacht this year. At least some people get it. I still have hope…..
Read article here:
New Radio Show
I find this one interesting simply because I think it’s the brainchild of former JVC Force member AJ Woodson aka AJ Roc. I’ve seen AJ Roc around the internet in the past, such as Cocaine Blunts and Jaz’s (from Cold Rock The Spot) old forums. If that’s the case, well it should be rather interesting to say the least. I know when I actually had a job, I would troll the internet for radio stations to listen to from time to time. Those of you who do the same thing might want to bookmark this one.
TIME:LINE, Concept Album by Nicolay & Kay to Drop in Early February
(November 29, 2007, Brooklyn, NY) Born and raised in the Netherlands, critically acclaimed producer Nicolay has launched his own label, NICOLAY MUSIC, in partnership with Premium Blend Music Productions (GmbH).�� The first album release will be TIME:LINE, a concept album by Nicolay & Kay.
The launch of NICOLAY MUSIC echoes the sentiment that the future of the music business lies in establishing and maintaining a direct artist-fan relationship.� Explains Nicolay, “Independently releasing music through my own label enables me to eliminate the middle man and speak directly to my fans all while maintaining full control over my projects.”� In addition to the label launch, Nicolay has finished setting up a recording studio in Wilmington, North Carolina, where he now resides.
The first release for the label will be TIME:LINE, by Nicolay & Kay. Nicolay is best known as the producing half of the Foreign Exchange (the other half being Phonte Coleman of Little Brother), whose debut album Connected (BBE; 2004) made a huge impact on the underground hip hop and soul scene. Kay Jackson is a mainstay of the Houston underground scene who has worked with Ali Shaheed Muhammad, A Tribe Called Quest, Oh No, and SA-RA.� The concept behind TIME:LINE is the cycle of life. Lyrically and musically the album evolves from birth to death to rebirth over the course of 12 tracks.
Both the CD and gatefold 2LP version of TIME:LINE will be available in stores February 1st in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, and February 12th in the US.� A special Japan edition is schedule for early spring.� Instrumentals will be available separately. Digital versions will also be available and the iTunes version includes the exclusive bonus track “It Takes Time.” Anticipation for the album is already high: the first pressing of the 12″ for the first single, “Tight Eyes”, sold out in four days.
Nicolay & Kay – TIME:LINE Sampler
Trav’s Top Spins (from 11/23 – 11/30)**
**I’m dropping the dates, because I didn’t get a chance to listen to most of the new stuff until this past weekend. I’m late as usual on some of this stuff, it’s a bitch being unemployed.
1. Cunninlynguists – Dirty Acres
There is still something magical and highly satisfying about going to your local independent music store, going in and purchasing a CD, tearing off the plastic, throw it in y
our car stereo and read the liner notes while the music is blaring in the parking lot. That’s what I did this past week with the new Cunninlynguists album. Music still sounds better when you actually buy the CD, at least to me it does. I did the same thing with the last Cunninlynguists album. I downloaded it before the retail version. Listened to it for a couple weeks, thought it was good, but kind of forgot about it after that. When it was officially released, I bought the CD and fell in love with the album hardcore. I don’t think I’ll be pulling this out of the rotation for awhile now.
2. Junk Science – Gran Dad’s Nerve Tonic
I still don’t think I like this album as much as there “Feeding Einstein” debut, but it’s growing on me more and more. I also bought this with the Cunninlynguists, so now that I owe the actual album, it’ll probably get more plays.
3. Choice37 – Diligence
One of those albums I found with the help of Eric from WTR. I think this is the Japanese release, there is a self titled U.S. album dropping soon, if it hasn’t already. It’s a producer album, with some known names and some unknown names holding down the MCing duties. Not a classic, but it’s been getting a lot of plays from me these past few weeks.
4. Shin-Ski – Shattered Soul On Pastel Sky
I can’t remember how I came across this album, but it sat on my hard drive for awhile until Scholar at Souled On told me to give it a listen. Glad I did, some good music on this as well. Actually Choice and this remind me a lot of each other for some reason.
5. Apathy – It’s A Bootleg Muthafuckaz Vol 2
I honestly thought four years ago, or whenever it was, when Atlantic signed Apathy, he would be the next great white hope MC to blow up. It seems that Atlantic dropped ball on that one (surprise, surprise) and his window of opportunity has probably closed when it comes to that, but I still check for Ap’s performances.
Top 10 Singles for 11/23-11/30
(Tie) 10. Choice37 – Hope feat Lauren Santiago
Shin-Ski – Koyoi feat Apani B
Both tracks are just little pieces of delightful soul. One has a female singer, the other a female MC. Hope is on here because of the singing of Lauren Santiago, who I’m unfamiliar with, but has a beautiful voice. I’m not the biggest R&B person in the world, but I’m gaining more appreciation for singing and the neo-soul type stuff in my older age. Koyoi demonstrates why Apani B should be included in the list of top female MC’s now spitting out there.
9. DJ Alibi – Champion Sound feat Bamboombox
Funky beat and scratching, what more can I ask for? The MC sounds kind of Blueprint, which isn’t a bad thing. This is from Allibi’s part producer album, part instrumental album, “One Day”. Dude is kind of nice on the beats.
I fell asleep with Junk Science’s “GranDad’s Nerve Tonic” playing in my headphones one night last week. When I woke up, this joint was stuck in my head. They craft same damn catch choruses and combine that with the angelic like keys in the beat and you have a real catchy tune.
Although I can’t ever recall hearing a full Fabulous album, he has some dope ass singles (“Breathe” anyone?) and this shit makes me nod my head with the quickness. I like this type of shit in small doeses, which is probably why I play this shit so much when I hear a jam I like.
6. Jay-Z – Fallin’
I hate to say it, but Eric at WTR was right. This album doesn’t have much replay value to it. After my first impression review of it back in October, I played the “American Gangster” album for a couple weeks. Since then I haven’t played the whole thing in awhile, if at all since my move in the first part of November. I do love this song though. My favorite by far from it and I play it couple times a day at least.
5. CunninLynguists – Yellow Lines feat Witchdoctor & Phonte
Yellow Lines will be in my top 10 songs of the year, no doubt. I love this song, especially Phonte’s verse, which I’m already calling the verse of the year in my book. His verse also reminds me of someone that’s often on my mind that shall remain nameless. I bought this CD this week, so it’s been getting lots of spins.
Eric and I bragged about this joint earlier in the year and I recently rediscovered the album. Aesop is one of those artists that I’ve never had much love for in the past, but I like this album quite a bit. When the single was released, I was happy to grab it just because it wasn’t attached to the hidden track “Pigs” (which is good in its own right). This song just has a different feel and vibe to it than your standard hip hop fare, which I enjoy.
Despite all my backpacking and indie rap listening lately, I have to come clean and say that Just Blaze is by far my favorite producer doing his thing right now. This track is a perfect example of why I love his style so much. It’s just full of energy, it gets the blood pumping and the heart beating. It provokes emotion. Not a lot of music does that anymore. Hopefully Sai’s album still drops, it would be one that I would be eager to hear.
One of my favorite groups of
2007 drops the Joe Metro EP, which this track comes from. Jake One is another producer that would be high up on my list of current producers. Since I’m back in the nortwest again, I got to support those reppin’ the region. Jake One drops an ill ass beat on this, and as much as I like the original version, I’m digging this version more.
1. Wu-Tang Clan – Rushing Elephants.
The one reason why I’m not totally disappointed with the new Wu release. This joint grabbed me immediately. The beat is freaking great, a true head nodder that makes you reminisce when the Wu was the shit on the mic.
Why did I miss the Vast Aire (w/ the Mighty Joseph grouop) and Copywrite show Friday? Now that I’m back in my hometown, I have more like-minded friends to hit up shows, but we missed this. I’m not the biggest Vast/Can Ox fan in the world, but despite all the negative press Copy receives, I’ve always found him and his albums/mixtapes rather entertaining. So what if dude gets knocked out on the norm?
Why am I already sick of Christmas music? Fuck the holidays.
Why do I have a bad feeling that the full Wu-Tang conglomerate won’t be in attendance as advertised at the show that’s supposed to go down the 28th here?
Why do I have a feeling that we’ll never hear that
Why do I hate to think that CD’s maybe obsolete in the near future? As much as I download, I really don’t want to go strictly to downloads. Shit sucks.
Why do I hate the Patriots so fucking much?