6. “Maintain”-Exile f. Blu, Donel Smokes, Cashius King & Jontel (click to preview)
I keep hearing all this madness about what a “great” feature this “random” err…”shuffle” option on the Ipod is. Call me a late bloomer or sleeper or whatever you may, but I haven’t even discovered the “shuffle” option until lately (and I’m on my 3rd Ipizzy). You could also call me a “sleeper” for not peeping Exile’s 2006 compilation of sorts (the Slum Village cut, “Time Has Come” is bananas as well), “Dirty Exile” and thank goodness for “shuffle” on the Ipod or I would have never even experienced “Maintain”. Matter of fact, I was also lucky enough to find a new copy of “Dirty Science” for $7.99 at the normally high-priced Hastings Bookstore this past Thursday. Honestly, the only real reason that I checked for this album in the first place was due to Exile’s phenomenal production on “Below The Heavens”, the 2007….yep, go ‘head and say…Classic, that was also blessed with rhyme-spitter extraordinaire Blu on the mic.
Even though the track also features guest emcees (w/ Jontell on the hook) Cashius King and Donel Smokes, I’d be lyin’ if I said I didn’t wish that Blu was the only cat spittin’ on this joint. It’s not that guests King and Smokes do anything to diminish “Maintain”, but on the other hand, they don’t make the track that much better either. Still, “Maintain” is another one of those tracks with regards to “everyday struggles” over an array of somber strings and Exile’s signature swift drum kicks (his and Educated Consumers drums REALLY sound alike…quick hitting and dense). As expected, Blu drops by to albeit “steal the show” while offering up that same introspective, honest rhyme style that he perfected on “Below The Heavens”.
Sweet Jesus! Sound the alarm! Ya’ mean a Lil’ Wayne track actually made W.T.R.’s “Most Played For The Week”? Yep, as much as I HATE to admit it, I did sit down late last evening, headphones intact and “MLB2K8″ (I hate baseball, but this game is the shit! Ryan Howard is an absolute BEAST!) in the XBOX 360 and offer a valiant attempt to engulf Wayne’s highly anticipated (and freshly “leaked”), “Tha Carter III”. Did I make it through the album without even hitting the skip button once? Not quite, but that’s not to say that “Tha Carter III” is complete bullsh*t…believe it or not. Make no mistake, I am quite possibly the biggest Wayne hater in all of blogosphere (man, whomever crowned that catchphrase needs an award), but certain portions of the album are pretty fresh. Every Kanye laced joint on this album is fairly decent (“Tie My Hands”, “Comfortable”…even though the Babyface-crooned hook just ain’t cuttin’ it! “Shoot Me Down” and “Let The Beat Build”). Just Blaze delivers a rush of heat with the Jay-Z featured “Mr. Carter”, even though Wayne’s delivery on the track is irritating beyond measure. I was also surprised to find out that the Alchemist also lent a helping hand in the form of “Nuthin’ On Me”, too bad he gave Weezy a “throw away” beat. However, I was most surprised with the very “Un-Swizzy” like production of Swizz Beatz submission “Dr. Carter”, which features the same sample used for the Buckwild remix of “C’mon Wit’ Da Git Down” from New Jeruz’ the Artifacts CLASSIC “Between A Rock And A Hard Place”.
“Tie My Hands” finds Wayne offering his honest perspective and exposing his vulnerability in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina which wiped out much of Wayne’s turf (and even his home, I believer). Honestly, if Wayne made more records like this rather than trying to be like Roger Troutman and acting like a complete asshole with no media training whatsoever, I’d be twice the fan I am now (which still isn’t saying much). His subtle lyrics and honesty on this track are a nice change of pace from “Lollipop” and much of his mixtape fodder. The Robin Thicke sung hook on “Tie My Hands” may not be an “added bonus”, but it sure does smooth things out quite a bit over a very un-Kanyelike beat. Take it from me, “Tha Carter III” is definitely worth checking out…hell, I’ll even go as far as to say that I may actually (*gasp*) buy this record. Next up, my evaluation of T-Pain’s debut effort and the evolution of the voice encoder….just kiddin’. Seriously though, be sure to at least give “Tha Carter III” an honest listen…you may be surprised.
Ahh, now its’ time shed a little light on one of my favorite topics of “blogging”, the unsigned emcee. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to take all the credit for the discovery of yet another up and coming “double threat” (emcee/producer) SoulKlap, those honors belong to a dude that’s had Trav and I lookin’ in our rear view mirrors on the daily, Kevin Nottingham, (Kev help a brotha’ out with some “new webpage design” guidance, for real!!) who hipped me to this hardworking talent. Also, for those of you who haven’t done it already, be sure to download SoulKlap’s debut EP “Soul Xploitaiton” (it’s free! As if it really matters) HERE. Now, this may not be a fair evaluation of SoulKlap’s offering whatsoever…but…the first thing that came to my mind after hearing “Soul Xploitation” was “damn, this dude sounds like just like Danny! (of Def Jux, who’s now slouch either). However, the first thing that came to mind the first time I heard Danny’s “Danny! Is Dead” (I peeped “The Charm” shortly thereafter) was “damn, this dude sounds like a Kanye-wannabe). Needless to say, if you check the “archives” of this site you’ll soon see that I’ve grown appreciate much of Danny’s work over time, and I’m sure the same case will soon be made for SoulKlap’s solid debut “Soul Xploitation”. Make no bones about it, SoulKlap is definitely workin’ with something here and I’m very excited to hear more from this talented cat in the near future! But, if you’ve been under a rock for the last two years or so and have never heard of Danny!, “Soul Xploitation” may very well blow you away.
Let’s get to the good stuff! Now, if you’re a “blogger” who slave at a regular 9 ta’ 5 you know all about “Procrastination”. For instance, with the type of business that I’m in, my pay varies from day to day and I can usually track it on my company’s homepage..sadly, though the first thing I do when I first prop my ass down in front of computer in the morning is check my blog, then head on over to my e-mail account, then I may stop by MySpace for a minute or two, I may drop by a few of my favorite blogs to see what they had to say. As you can see, the last thing that I’ll do is actually stop by work’s site and check my work e-mails, what needs to be done for the day, that sort of thing. It all boils down to “Procrastination” and SoulKlap does one helluva’ job providing a comical, yet very lyrical take all about the art of “puttin’ things off ’till the very last minute”. As an added bonus, ‘Klap also laces the track with a very late 60′s-early 70′s rolling funk that is sure to keep your head noddin’ and put a smile on your face….a track that is sure to put you in that “summertime” frame of mind.
Man, I know that Trav and I have had an argument or two regarding S-K-Y-Z-O-O, he doesn’t really do anything for Trav, but I gotta’ stand by this cat to the end…especially (as witnessed with this post), with ‘Zoo’s new remix album of last year’s Kay-Slay and Mick Boogie assisted mixtape”Cornerstore Classic” ( the “Itunes only” remix album contains full tracks, no DJs, similar to the route that Little Brother is taking with the re-release of “..And Justus For All”). Hell, I had pretty much all but forgotten about last summer’s “Cornerstore Classic” until I stumbled upon the video for “The Necessary Evils (remix)” (peep the video below) recently, let’s just say it was a very pleasant surprise! Now, one could only hope that Skyzoo avoids the tag of “your favorite mixtape emcee that has yet to release an album” or the ever so dreaded Llyod Banks comparison aka “I can spit dope freestyles on mixtapes, but when it comes to a full-length effort? Ehhh…..
Remixed by Needlz, “The Necessary Evils” is a somewhat emotional track (thanks to the presence of an almost “church choir-ish” vocal background) that finds Skyzoo…as Smoothe Da Hustler and Nine would say….”Makin’ it or takin’ it”, while doing his damnedest to try and make ends meet. The one thing that I’ve always noticed about Skyzoo, in much of his past and current work, is that dude sure knows how to make a dope hook, “…Evils” is no different. The project also features new production from M-Phazes, Bei Maejor, Black Milk, 9th Wonder and more.
Yep, I too haven’t caught on to all this “Wale” hype. Choosing to think: “Man, what is the big deal with this Wale cat?”, while basically grouping him in with the Jay Electronicas and Saigons of the world. Man, do I deserve a slap for that! After listening to Wale’s most recent mixtape, the Seinfeld-theme inspired, “The Mixtape About Nothing” while at the gym this morning I was left feeling pretty damn impressed. Believe it or not, this was actually my first exposure to this talented D.C. cat and while I may have not been “blown away” so to speak, I did walk away thinking “Damn, this dude is pretty lyrical”. I’m not gonna’ jump on the bandwagon and state that Wale is “THE FUTURE” of Hip Hop but he is most definitely the real deal and does have the potential to be one of the music’s torchbearers. I just can’t believe that I’ve avoided much of his material for soo long!!
Hailing from the D.C. area, you can really hear the “Go Go” influence (it’s all about the drums baby) in much of Wale’s beats, also as witnessed from his appearance on the Roots’ “Rising Up”. “Artistic Integrity” is quite a variance from the majority of the production on “The Mixtape About Nothing” and one could even go as far as to label it as “Just Blazeish”. Wale holds his ground while never compromising to the masses and sacrificing his “Artistic Integrity” for the sake of record sales over thumping drums and a thick baseline. I see that Wale has since signed to Interscope, so who in the hell knows how long it’ll be ’til we actually are blessed with an actual “album”. On that note, any word on fellow Interscope signee, Joell Ortiz’ debut????
The Necessary Evils