Wow, being that this mixtape actually leaked nearly a week and a half ago, I may be a lil’ late on this one. However, over these last 10 days, there’s only been one CD (no Ipod connect in my new car, WTF?) in my dash, J. Period’s the “Best Of” Q-Tip. You know, the term “mixtape” is thrown around loosely these days, so much in fact-this “mixtape” isn’t really a “mixtape” but rather an “experience”. J. Period gets much props for meshing a true “best of” the brother Abstract as Tip takes us for a vivid stroll down memory lane. One thing that I found to be rather nice: you know how you can bump “The Low End Theory” or “Midnight Marauders” in the ride, yet no matter how good it pops in a good set of headphones, it jusn’t doesn’t sound the same in your car? Let me expound, and make no bones about it, I absolutely hated purchasing a tape or CD that had anything related to Jive records on it’s spine. You see, Jive was notorious for having less-than-stellar sound quality on much of their audio that they released, I’m pretty sure that you’re nodding in agreeance as you read this as well. However, on this “Best Of” J. Period took the time and had this..well, really….album, EQ’d and mastered beautifully. For a prime example of what I’m speaking on, notice the added “ummmph” factor on tracks like De La’s “Excursions” tribute, as well as cornerstone classics like “Award Tour” and “Check The Rhime”. Shoot, I have the actual CD pressings of “Midnight..” and “Low End..” and they didn’t come off this crispy! And speaking of “ummph”, I dare you to find me a track that’s poppin’ right now that has more “Low End” than the DJ Scratch remix of “Getting Up”. Damn, the last time I recall hearing the bassline that fuels “Getting Up” was for the later segment of Buckshot’s ode to Rakim Allah “I Ain’t No Joke/Follow Me” which appeared on Funkmaster Flex’ “60 Minutes Of Funk: Vol. II”, I’d forgotten how much I loved that bassline back in the day until DJ Scratch rekindled the flame.
The “tribute” appearances from the likes of W.T.R. fav, Blu (a tongue-in-check take on Tribe’s “Jazz”), Skillz and ?uestLove for their clever rendition of “What?” (which features yet another block-rockin’ bassline) and Black Sheep’s Dres (“Jazz Pt. II”), are also a nice added bonus amongst the must hear “Interludes” where Tip recollects some of the moments that didn’t quite make Brian Coleman’s “Check The Technique”. The most cherished of those “recollections” being Tip’s descriptive tale of a then homeless Kid Hood begging Tip to “tear down” “Scenario II”, then coming into the both “with a 40″ and proceeding to record one of the most classic verses from an emcee whose life was cut all too short. Matter of fact, all the “Scenario” outtakes are MUST hears, you’ll even enjoy hearing Tip admit: “yeah, after Busta laid his verse there was alot of dudes going back in the booth with new stuff”…classic! Or what about Tip’s definition of his E-40ism “Kapelka” and be sure not to miss Bob Power’s interlude recalling the infamous “Bob Power you there?” Yeah”.
Man, from the opening moments of the “Rhythm” intro to the the bonus cut “Reinvention” this mixtape is mandatory listening material. Literally, my jaw dropped the first time I made it through “The Best Of”, they just don’t make em’ like this anymore folks. I promise you this mixtape will have you dusting off “People’s Instinctive..”, “Midnight..”, “The Low End Theory” and hell..throw in “Beats, Rhymes & Life” as homework for the week ahead. Please, for a vital piece of Hip Hop history, check out this mixtape and while you’re at it pick up a dope tee HERE
Speaking of Blu, if you blinked this past week you might have very well missed his latest…ummm…hmmm..ummm…interesting (to say the least) release “HerFavoriteColo(u)r”. I’m kinda’ sketchy on the details of Blu’s lastest (although I’m pretty sure he leaked it on his MySpace), as I’m not sure if this was an actual release or just something Blu put together as a little somethin’ to hold his die-hard fans over ’till his “official” release. Uh hum, I’m hoping it was the later. To make maters worse I gotta’ sit here and listen to Exile’s most recent instrumental effort “Radio” bang out of my car speakers with no Blu on any of the tracks, DAMN!!! Blu’s latest is..well…I’m truly at a loss for words here. It’s not that it’s wack by any means, but you thought that Blu’s collaborative effort with Ta’Raach, “The Piece Talks” was “out there” wait ’til you hear this!
For one, I’m stubborn because, yes, Blu & Exile’s “Below The Heavens” was THAT good! As Blu said on the album, “The New Pete & CL”, I wouldn’t go that far but I’m starting to wonder if we’re in for another CL Smooth without Pete’s production here; in this case Exile’s beats with Blu’s vocals, they just went together like Peanut Butter & Jelly. I’m serious, I truly feel that when we glance back 10 years from now “Below The Heavens” will go down as one of the finest albums released in this decade! Don’t get it twisted, there is some spacey sh@t on Exile’s “Radio”, on the other hand, there are some very tasty beats that would compliment Blu perfectly. After a few listens, to this latest “experiment” from Blu along with Exile’s “Radio” you can only hope that these two “reunite” (it’s not as if they ever broke-up, or were even considered a duo at all) to craft another CLASSIC.
All is not lost in the fray on “Her Favorite Colo(u)r”, there are a few tracks worthy of mention such as
. However, I’m not sure if this was intended to be some sort of concept album or not, but while listening to this joint on numerous occasions since it’s leak this weekend I was left just scratching my head wondering thinking “Wow, this IS NOT what I expected from one of the brightest spots in Hip Hop”. I’m far from writing one of my favorite emcees in the game off, but damn…would you just get back to the basics with Exile again already?!
Click To DL Elaquent’s “After Midnight”
Thus far into 2009, the majority of albums that have been in frequent rotation have are mostly instrumental albums. Well, it’s quite simple-Exile’s aforementioned “Radio” and Elaquent’s “After Midnight”. For the most part, “After Midnight” is an instrumental LP with the exception of a select few guest appearances from the likes of Tha Connection (where Elaquent completely flips the script on my favorite Connection track, “Take It Higher”), Moka Only (damn, does this dude have a life besides putting out an album for what seems like a weekly basis?) and more. Instrumental albums are usually a nice change of pace or “a break from the norm” if you will. As I’ve grown older (Jesus, 33 in a month..SH#T!) I guess it’s the “chill” side kickin’ in, or maybe it’s the long, tedious two hour trek that I make from my home to my office on those dreaded Monday mornings. Whatever it may be, Elaquent’s “After Midnight” has been scratching my itch as of late. Yet, it’s nothing too groundbreaking or unheard of, it’s just a simple recipe for success: consistency and quality, 3/4 of the rap world oughta’ give it a try..it works wonders!
I just noticed, an appropriate title should have been “THOUGHTS” (the free download edition) as each of the albums mentioned thus far have all been “free” goodies. Hailing from Canada, right off the bat…Elaquent gets major points for his simple yet very attractive cover art that in turn is very relative and portrays the overall “feel” of “After Midnight”. Prior to the release of “After Midnight” I’d never even heard of Elaquent, shame on me as this cat definitely has some major talent on the boards. On Elaquent’s MySpace the first name that he lists as his “influences” is J Dilla, rightfully so as much of ‘Quent’s beats do have a bit of “Dilla” flair, with a heavy dose of bottom thrown into the mix.
The Dilla-influence is most prevalent on Elequent’s pulsating “ode” of sorts,
. If I’ve ever get around to crafting my “Most Played” for the week this track will garner the top spot, hands down. Shoot, I swear I had this track on repeat for an hour and a half the other day. While “Gobstopper” may not be one of those “Ante Up”-type joints to make you wanna’ punch a homeless cat in the face, it’s most definitely one of the funkiest, bounciest loops that I’ve heard in a long time. The crazy thing is, when I first heard the album a few weeks ago I kinda’ blew it off as another Dilla-wannabe spinoff. Boy, was “waay off” (think Jim Carrey in “Dumb and Dumber” and the “Samsonite” incident) “After Midnight” has carved out a niche of it’s own and deserves to be heard!
Ooooooooh, and just glancing over Elaquent’s MySpace I see that he also has a few more works up for free download (guess what I’ll be bumpin’ tomorrow?), looks like dude is staying really busy! Speaking of which, you may also notice the “Donate” button…C’mon folks, support good music! Damn, I just caught that throughout this post I’ve been spelling Elaquent as “Elequent”. Needless to say, to quote none other than Beantown’s Statik Selektah after folks get hip to “After Midnight”, cats will most definitely be “spellin’ his name right”! Don’t sleep, this is damn good music…in the flesh.
Hmmm, what else has moved me so far this year? Damn, how could I forget about Deep Rooted’s 3rd and most recent LP, “D.E.E.P.R.O.O.T.E.D.”? As you may already know, I’ve been singing this crew’s praises since the inception of W.T.R. I may have slept on the crew’s second LP, “The Second Coming”, but I won’t score a late pass this time around (thanks Dart…almost)! Following up “The Second Coming” with a harder edge this time around, some may have wrote the crew’s previous efforts off as soft, being that hookstress (damn, did I just come up with that shit? FIRST!) Just Brea adds her soulful, buttery vocals to nearly every track. With Deep Rooted’s newest LP, the crew has perfected the balancing act that most acts can’t pull off, providing equal presence for everyone involved from the production to the lyrics of Johaz and Mr. Brady (who also supplied the majority of the beats).
“D.E.E.P.R.O.O.T.E.D” fills a void for what is sorely missed in the music today: the album is filled with positive messages that are not only appealing, but honest as well. Hopefully, with this release Deep Rooted will help cats take Hip Hop a little more seriously. Featuring guest production by DJ Rhettmatic, Moka Only (Damn, not this cat again, right?), Exile (there’s no mistaking Exile’s production for “Closer”, you’ll identify it immediately without me telling you) and Kas One the production on this album is CRAZY with some serious knock for you trunk!!
I mean, if I wanted to really look for dents in Deep Rooted’s armor I could’ve done without the blatantly, commercial feel of “Crazy!” and “Do It” (um yeah, just take my advice and skip over these two), “Squeeze” is semi-monotonous and borders on annoying. Clocking in at 15 tracks deep, I’d trade 12 dope tracks for 3 subpar joint any day, who wouldn’t? I’d say that’s a fairly good trade-off in today’s world! However, the “Good” on the album is REALLY GOOD!! Deep Rooted definitely saved the best for last on this LP as the album’s finale, the fittingly-titled
also serves as it’s most goose bump-inducing track as Brea’s sultry vocals sound perfect over the instantly recognizable soulful loop. The aforementioned Exile-heat rock,
would’ve have been a welcome addition to “Below The Heavens”, not just a “bonus cut” either, proving that Deep Rooted sounds just as good as Blu over Exile’s stellar production. And continuing in our “six degrees of separation” theme today, Blu also makes a notable appearance on “From The Heart”. Also of note, it’s hard not to enjoy Deep Rooted’s flip of the Michael Jackson CLASSIC “Billie Jean” (that’s gotta’ be one of the sickest basslines ever!) for the appropriately titled
Let me also give due props to both Johaz and Mr. Brady, as both really came with it this time around. While I know little about the crew, I’ve always enjoyed both of their lyrics from what I’ve heard thus far on their three releases. Johaz and Mr. Brady are also blessed with good voices and possess very fluid, smooth deliveries and definite factor in the likability field. While I don’t know how this album will hold up when some of the major players in Hip Hop stop dropping heat as they year rolls along, and it’s waay too early to crown this joint as one of the best albums of the year…but who knows, it’s definitely a strong push out of the gate for Deep Rooted. Listen Up!!!