Damn…damn…damn!!! I can’t even begin to express just how in awe I am of T.M.’s newest venture, “Brooklynati”. However, I will say this- I can’t help but capture a sense of Deja Vu when enjoying this instant CLASSIC. “Brooklynati” evokes vivid memories of yet another underground, cult favorite that has moved on to CLASSIC status, Little Brother’s “The Listening”. In fact, the Phonte and Brittany Bosco-assisted, “She’s Gone” (aka Without You) sounds as if it was actually crafted to pay homage to L.B.’s “The Yo-Yo” (from Little Brother’s debut “The Listening”). The overall “flow” and cohesiveness of “Brooklynati” rivals that of Blu & Exile’s “Below The Heavens” or some of De La Soul’s earlier efforts (woah Nelly, I’m not getting too carried away, am I?) Regardless, “Brooklynati” along with Finale’s “A Pipe Dream And A Promise” are a few of the most well-rounded albums to drop in recent memory.
When you take into account the obvious chemistry between the three emcees (with all three being as equally charismatic and talented) along with outstanding production and well placed skits to boot, it’s hard not to get a smile on your face when Tanya Morgan is on the mic. However, it is extremely difficult to pure a sure-fire standout from “Brooklynati” as nearly all the tracks are just as equally impressive…it’s almost like picking a favorite from “Illmatic” or “Doggystyle” (oops, there I go again!?). Plus, the added guest appearances from Cincy’s Piakhan, (I TOLD you about this cat almost two years ago! Trust me, dude’s about to take off!) Blu, Kay from the Foundation, the Lessondary (Spec Boogie, Che Grand, Elucid & Jermide..who makes two guest stops on the album) and Kay from the foundation, don’t hinder the overall fluidity of the album one bit and if anything it only adds to the joyride that is “Brooklynati”.
Hip Hop is about paying your dues, and Tanya Morgan has been doin’ it for nearly a decade, it’s safe to say that their time has “Arrived” (see “Just Arrived”) and now the trio of Ilyas, donwill and Von Pea is “On (their) Way” to super stardom and not just notable underground status. While “hipsters” like Kid Cudi continue to receive all the glory and eventually “come and go” each year, cats really know what’s up with Tanya Morgan! These dudes are crafting the blueprint to success within the underground, rather than bursting out the gate with a sure shot smash Tanya Morgan has continued to strive to be complete artists, always willling to admit that there’s room for improvement. The maturation between albums is there, with each of the artists conducting very impressive and in downill’s case (see “Suburban Sprawl”) very innovative side projects prior to the finish of “Brooklynati”. It just feels like everything is coming together for Tanya Morgan with the release of this album, their time is now…and I’m happy as hell for ‘em. I just wish I hadn’t submitted my “Top 50 Albums Of The Decade” list to Jeff Weiss so soon, because T.M.’s “Brooklynati” would have most likely found itself running near the middle of the pack! Go cop it if you haven’t already, a true gem that will be looked upon in 5 years as a CLASSIC….book it!!
2. “Is “Philadelphia Freeway 2″ more “The Solution” that it is “Philadelphia Freeway” (Free’s debut)
Last week also saw the leak of the “Philly Freezer’s” follow-up to ’07′s somewhat disappointing “Free At Last”. Now, myself being from Pennsylvania, I’ve always been a big Freeway “guy”, I’d even go as far as to say that “Free At Last” was one of my most favorite albums of 2007, while many wrote the album off as a flop. Maybe so, but “Free At Last” made minced meat out of fellow Roc-alumnus, Beanie Sigel’s “The Solution”….now, that album was pure garbage. Sure, it had it’s “bombs”, but “Free At Last” also blessed us with glimpses of the “Philadelphia Freeway” (Free’s debut) on tracks like the Bink-laced, “When They Remember” and the Jake One-blessed, “It’s Over”. I can recall Ras Kass stating that Free’s debut was “Prison Music” and that it “got a lotta’ cats thru their bids”. Ras also went on to add that “Free owes me royalties for puttin’ ni*gas onto the joint in the pen”.
It’s a coincidence that Kazzy mentions “Philadelphia Freeway” in that context, because Free’s debut also dropped right around the time I was deployed in Baghdad for 18 months. Now, THAT album was an Iraq classic (you could also add Kanye’s “The College Dropout” and Young Gunz’ “Tough Luv” into that mix as well) !! I remember it like yesterday, strolling down to the gym to get a quick workout in (after standing in the chow line for like, what seemed 2 hours!) and Freeway would be blaring out of everyone’s shi*ty little speakers that you hooked up to your MP3 player (Ipod’s weren’t really pop off like they are now back in 2003). Sadly though, if I was a betting man, I’d have to say that “Philadelphia Freeway” will serve as the highlight of Freeway’s recording career. Not that the sequel to “Philadelphia..” doesn’t have it’s fair share of highlights, it just doesn’t hold a match to the young and hungry Freeway that shined throught on each track on his debut.
The first thought that popped into my mind after listening to “Philadelphia Freeway 2″ was that the album seemed somewhat rushed. I mean, prior to reading this, did you really know that Freeway had another album on the horizon? Yeah, me neither! While the production on this album is fairly nice, something is truly missing here. Most of the hooks on the album are provided by Freeway himself, perhaps the budget was too low for any guest appearances (the lone “guest” on the album is Sheek Louch, and the way that cats been putting out flops, it’s fair to say that he’s willing to hop on any track right about now), and a full album on Freeway-hooks tends to become very monotonous after just a few listens. Trust me, some of these hooks on the album are HORRIBLE, almost embarrasing to a certain extent. Here, check this winner from the horribly titled “Gotz 2 Be Tha’ Bomb” (no really, I know, the track’s title looks like a TLC leftover, right?):
“Mama said if you wanna’ do it/then do it/you gotz’ ta’ be tha bomb/you gotz’ ta’ be tha bomb/you gotz’ ta’ be Sadam Hussein on the rap game…you gotz’ ta be the bomb”…..(*shakes head*…honestly, I’m speechless..)
However, for just as terrible some of these tracks on the album are, you have blazers like the “Dynasty: Roc La Familia’-ish’”, “Crack Rap”, where Free recollects days where he sold crack to his own family (“if you don’t get it from me, you gon’ get it from someone else”) over a pulsating neck-snapper. I have yet to find the production credits for this album anywhere online yet, but if I had to put my money on it, I’d guess that “Crack Rap” was laced by either Bink or Just Blaze. “Street’s Won’t Miss ‘Em” is yet another track that capture the essence of “Philadelphia Freeway” along with Free’s ode to the Ice Cube CLASSIC, “It’s A Good Day”. You can find solace in knowing that no matter what, any Freeway album will at the minimum be at least, somewhat enjoyable due to Free’s charismatic, passionate delivery and his one of a kind voice. However, the real story hear is that “Philadelphia Freeway 2″ WILL NOT be released on Roc-A-Fella, but rather an independent, Fontana. Sorry Free, but you’re more than likely gonna’ have to take the “L” with this one, because the hierarchy at Fontana must not have paid too much attention to what is also dropping tomorrow…Em’s “Relapse”, Meth & Red’s “Blackout 2″ and Busta’s “Back On My B.S.”.
The sad reality of it all is of all four of the aforementioned pending releases, if I hadn’t yet heard “Philadelphia Freeway 2″, I more than likely would have purchased it before any of the others. Thank god for the internets! Worth the download, not worth the purchase..and it kills me to say that, coming from one of Free’s biggest supporters.
Well, after peeping J. Rocc’s (World Famous Beat Junkies) 13-minute sampler of the album….needless to say, I’m lovin’ what I’ve heard thus far. One track in particular, that really gave me the “Oh” face, was the Black Thought-featured “Reality Check”. And before I begin my “rant” on just how extremely dope this track is, lemme’ just say that Black Thought has gotta’ be one of (if not the) best to ever do it on a frantic, uptempo track (see: “75 Bars” and “Don’t Feel Right” for even more proof) since Kool G Rap in his prime. Thought just completely zones out on this Dilla-blessed masterpiece that sounds somewhat like a sped-up version of Slum Villa’s “Conant Gardens” (from “Fantastic Vol. II”). The sampler also includes a quick glimpse of the Havoc of Mobb Deep and Raekwon featured, “24K Rap”, yet another banger that speaks volumes in terms of Dilla’s production talents but not quite on the level of “Reality Check”. The only track that really made me squirm in my chair a bit was the Lil’ Fame-featured “Bloodsport”, whereas Dilla’s groundwork is up to par with his earlier material, something about hearing Fame spit on a Dilla beat was somewhat unsettling to me. Also, judging from Fame’s lyrical performance on the track, you can get the sense that he isn’t truly in his comfort zone either…oh well, it was worth a shot, right?
Hell, score me a late pass on “Jay Stays Paid”, because I thought that this was the official released of Jay’s unreleased MCA “Pay Jay” which leaked last year sometime. I suppose the simililarity in album titles is what really threw me off, ehh? To be released on Nature Sounds on June 2nd, “Jay Stay Paid” is a 28 track collection of unreleased Dilla beats that where mostly tracked while Dilla was in his last days. The unreleased matererial was then later compiled by “Ma Dukes” (Mrs. Yancey) and placed in the hands of Pete Rock who mixed and arranged “Jay Stays Paid”. While the album is intended to focus mainly on Jay’s instrumentals, one can’t help but salivating after one glance at the contributing artists that appear on the track listing (Blu, Rae, Doom, Black Thought, Lil’ Fame and even Diz Gabran). Of course, you already know that copping this album when it drops is standard protocal for any Dilla release! June 2nd can’t arrive fast enough….