1. “Massage Situation”-Flying Lotus
Taken From: Flying Lotus’ “Reset” EP
Yes ya’ll J. Dilla Lives on! At the helm for the production of my hands-down favorite track of 2009, Finale’s “Paid Homage” (R.I.P. J Dilla), Flying Lotus has had me diggin’ for everything that he’s dropped since he arrived on the scene in 2006 with his full-length debut, “1983″. Truth be told, if I was an up and coming emcee who truly wanted to get his or her name out there, Lotus is probably the first dude that comes to mind as we speak, whom I’d want to track down immediately! Recently, while scanning the internets to find more of Lotus’ material I came across his unheralded EP, “Reset”. Yes, there are some moments throughout Flying Lotus’ discography as well as on “Reset”, where his production may tend to be a little “too out there” for some, but when Lotus’ leans towards more traditional Hip Hop production the results can be awe-inspiring.
“Massage Situation” is on the same playing field as “Paid Homage” in terms of clarity, originality and “bump”-ability. Boasting a milky vocal sample that is spine tingling and trunk-rattling bass kicks, “Massage Situation” is bound to make you move no matter who you are. However, the real treat within the track arrives near the two minute mark as Lotus injects even more life into “Massage Situation” with the arrival of potent, electrifying synths that increase their intensity as the track comes to an “all to soon” close. Damn, (*shaking head*) …as I mentioned before, if Lotus sticks to strictly “Hip Hop” production quite a few of these producers out there may find themselves pushing burgers before it’s all said and done. Please, I beg you, do yourself a favor an introduce your mind to the world that is Flying Lotus, I can promise you that you won’t be let down!!
2. “Decision”-Busta Rhymes f. Jamie Foxx, Mary J. Blige, Common & John Legend
Taken From: Busta’s “Back On My B.S.”
My dude Dart hit the nail on the head with his accurate take on Busta’s new LP, “Back On My B.S.” when he noted that on one track you’ll be nodding your head furiously and the next you’ll be questioning if this is even the same album that had you so in tune just minutes earlier. I attempted to sit down with “Back On My B.S.” late Friday evening and I’d be fronting if I didn’t admit that nearly half the tracks on this LP are “fast forward material”. I just don’t understand, with such a great chemistry in tact, why wouldn’t Busta chose to do an album solely with DJ Scratch behind the boards? Problems tend to arouse when Busta reaches out to producers like Cool & Dre, Jelly Roll (and by the way, Busta’s duet with soulstress Estelle, “World Go Round” should have been left on the cutting room floor) and even the “bonus” track with Bangladesh doesn’t do Busta Rhymes any favors whatsoever.
Thankfully, the Mr. Porter and Dr. Dre-laced “Decision” doesn’t fall to the waste side as the foursome of John Legend, Jamie Foxx, Common & Mary J. Blige along with Busta sound natural, not forced over this mid-tempo jawn that is supplemented with the signature STRONG bass line and smooth piano stabs that Dr. Dre has become so notable for. Even the the smooth vocal hooks courtesy of Foxx, Legend and Mary J. don’t deter from the “street” essence of “Decision”. Without question, the highlight of Busta’s “Back On My B.S.”
3. “Break Of Dawn”-H.I.S.D.
Taken From: Hueston Independent Spit District’s “Summer Sessions”
I gotta’ give credit where credit is due, props to Arasia at KevinNottingham.com and her in-depth review of “Summer Sessions” and for putting me on to the eight-man crew that originates from Houston, Texas. Prior to scoping Arasia’s piece I’d only heard heard H.I.S.D. mentioned once, as Von Pea of Tanya Morgan shouted them out during a recent interview. While I do agree that this album is extremely refreshing, Arasia blessing H.I.S.D.’s “Summer Sessions” with a 90/100 rating is extremely generous. In my opinion, “Summer Sessions” contains too many lyrical deficiencies to be held in the same light as Finale’s “A Pipe Dream And A Promise”. Ehhh, maybe an 80 (?) would have been more in the ballpark, but everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, right? I’m pretty sure that many of the albums that I’ve “reviewed” over the last few years have left readers asking: “What the hell is Eric thinkin’?” Regardless, H.I.S.D.’s “Summer Sessions” is re-emerging at the right occasion (“Summer Sessions” actually dropped in 2008), as this album is crafted for play for those scorching summer months ahead.
4. “The Rules”-Saigon & Statik Selektah
Taken From: “All In A Day’s Work”
During the opening moments of “The Rules”, Saigon states: “I used to right all them raps ’cause I was in jail, now that I’m out”…ehh, nevermind. In a nutshell, Saigon is essentially saying that since he’s got all these outside interests in his life right now, writing raps is not a priority anymore. Hmm, that’s good to know, because this is same cat who was considered the best that the underground had to offer a few years back, now he’s the same dude with a shelved album, produced by Just Blaze nonetheless, that will probably never see the light of day. So what does Saigon do? He records a “rushed” 11-track album in a 24-hour period with more fluff than flash. Really? Who even has “All In A Day’s Work” on their radar anymore? Thank you.
All is not lost on “All In A Day’s Work” though. One track that really separate itself from the pack of mediocrity is “The Rules”. Without glancing at the production credits for “The Rules” one could just as easily mistake the production for that of DJ Premier and not Statik Selektah. With Primo’s signature “Boom Bap” drums underlying a hefty piano sample, Statik jerks a Busta Rhymes vocal sample and slices up Soulja Boy’s “YOOUUUU” to perfection for the hook, a very nice touch I might add.
Taken From: Finale’s “A Pipe Dream And A Promise”
Point blank: Finale is my favorite emcee out there doin’ it at the moment. This cat is just born to emcee as it’s been a minute since I’ve heard someone with such a natural ability to captivate the listener. It’s really gonna’ be tough to dethrone Finale’s solo debut from it’s spot as the album of the year. With such a vast production line-up, the album such an enjoyable listen with many hills and valleys that command your attention.
This week I’ve been caught up in Finale’s “Walk”, produced by Dabrye, “Walk” is an Itunes only track as far as I know. Boasting futuristic production, Finale does his best to keep up with the track’s hectic pace and bounce and does so minimal effort. Damn, I can’t say it enough- Finale is the truth! Damn to Paul Pierce!