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Trav Speaks……Reviews, Spins and whatever else

by Travis on June 17, 2009

Wow, I’ve been a lazy bastard with this blog lately. Obviously I’ve hit the wall after almost four years of blogging. Not saying I’m quitting, but the quality posts that I expect from myself might be lagging a bit over this summer as I either re-energize my creative batteries or call it a day. I’d hate to end it, but I have a certain level of quality I expect out of myself and lately that just isn’t happening. I have other things that I’d rather be doing than coming home and “blogging” for four or five hours I guess. Call me crazy…haha

None the less, I still haven’t lost the love I have for the music. I’m still a fan, and will always be. Which is why I need to pump up a couple albums that recently dropped that people should be aware of.

Tha Connection – Love Royale

Let me start off by saying I HATE doing reviews. For one, even the worse MCs and producers can make music better than I can, so who am I to tell someone they are not doing it right or that their music sucks. Now if I got paid for it, it might be different…I kid I kid. But I guess I just don’t feel comfortable ripping someones artistic creation when they’ve (hopefully) worked real hard on it. That usually leads me to reviewing music I like, which isn’t always the most interesting thing. None the less, I do like to push music I like, and I have to say I like the new album from Tha Connection.

If you follow WYDU much, you’ve seen the crew on here. If you read other sites like When They Reminisce (Eric was the first to alert me to these cats) and I’ve seen them slowly start increasing their presence on the web as well. For a group that drops a project every six months or so, if you hear a song from Tha Connection, you know it’s them right off the bat. That’s a good thing, sort of in the same way you knew a Black Moon song, or a Gang Starr song, they just have this sound. Their newest creation, Love Roayle takes that sound and builds on it, making it more precise and on point. Although they will not go down as the greatest lyricists to bless the mic and they use multiple producers, they create a very cohesive, yet entertaining album. From the album’s start on the track, “Royale,” you know exactly what to expect from the album. Laid back rhymes and beats. I don’t usually do a lot of smoking (lately is another story), but I can see this be one of those lay back and smoke an L to type of albums. “Fool In Love” is one of those songs with the simplistic keys and bouncy bass line that you can just kick back and nod your head lazily to the beat. “Dum Dum Dum,” takes a popular sample and speeds things up, if only a tad. It’s enough though to add that variety to switch things up. The ever popular (and I dare say best song they’ve ever done) “Take It Higher” shows up on the album again after being on some of the past projects. It’s all good in my book as this song is just that good.

Some the songs will incorporate familiar samples, such as “Nights” and “Dum Dum Dum,” but it’s this familiarity that makes the album what it is. It’s like an old friend that you just feel comfortable with lounging. I’ve had Love Royale since March, and it’s one of my favorite albums of the year. Hus and SmooVth bring to the table good quality hip hop that will gain fans across the country as a group that is consistent with theirs and Love Royale should do nothing but help them build on their ever growing fan base.

Tha Connection – Dum Dum Dum

You can purchase the DELUXE CD from their website

and even though I hate dropping reviews, another crew that I whole heartedly support just had two memebers dropped a very good album (came out yesterday)…..

Venture Capitalists – Rate of Exchange

We have another crew that should be at least partially familiar to long time readers. The Understudies Crew has blessed WYDU often over the past year or so. The Venture Capitalists are Welsed and Self Advocate, who is probably my favorite out of the whole Understudies crew. Hailing out of the Bay Area, they contain that indie sound that reminds me somthing along of the likes of Grouch and Eligh, hell they whole Living Legends crew. I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m not always the biggest fan of the Living Legends crew, but what the Venture Capitalists bring to the table is building on what makes Living Legends and the west coast underground scene interesting.

To start things off, the production on Rate of Exchange is some top notch music. While I don’t have a lot of the specifics (read credits) I’m assuming Self Advocate did the bulk of the production on the album. “Delve In” is probably the strongest beat to be found on the album. With it’s crescendo piano keys found on the chorus and the whirling keys that dance around the drum track the rest of the time, this track is one of the best produced songs I’ve heard this year. Not to be out done is “Hit The Road”, which flips a sample of “Hit The Road Jack”, an old 50′sish rock song. I’m not usually a big fan taking old rock songs from the 50′s and incor
porating them into a hip hop song, but this song is on the cusp of being amazing. The hard banging drums and guitar sample give it that rawer than a piece of freshly slaughtered cow. The MC’s delivery matches the track perfectly. This is bound to be a top 25 song of they year for me. The track for “Black Monday,” is another track with it’s somber guitar sample over snapping drums that induced the listener into a somber mood. It’s really mood making music, but that’s the great thing about Rate of Exchange. Past Understudies projects are straight up hip hop in your face. They have been about spitting, spitting hard and spitting often. Rate of Exchange has several different themes and moods going on during it’s run time. That’s always important in creating a well rounded album, and the Venture Capitalists do just that.

There are a few minor missteps on the album that keep it from reaching it’s true potential (some weak choruses and some MC deliveries that is more of a personal dislike than anything else), but all in all, this is probably the best project to come out of the Understudies crew yet. Every album keeps getting stronger and stronger, and with Self Advocate making a name for himself as being one of the best Bay Area underground producers in going (Grouch needs to call these cats), the album is worth supporting…..

Venture Capitalists – Hit The Road

Purchase here….

Trav’s Spins Lately

Five Albums Been Bumping….

1. J Dilla – Jay Stay Paid

Do I dare say that this album is everything I was hoping for and more? I think that is a safe quote to come out of my mouth. Once again, we are reminded by the greatness that was Jay Dee (I’m still old school and use that name more than any of his other ones). Full of beats that make you go, “Ohhhhh shit!”, not many albums do that for me anymore. To hear Lil Fame of MOP fame get loose on a Dilla track was nothing short of mind blowing, and one that I hit rewind on four or five times the first time I heard it. This album is bound to be among my favorites at the end of the year.

2. Mr. SOS - How I Stopped Worrying And Love The Bomb

I have to admit, the first time I heard this album, I said to myself, “What the fuck was that shit?” It’s a little different from the Mr. SOS stuff you heard on Cunninglynguists back in the day and even his own mixtapes that foreshadowed this project that was originally called Dr. Strangelove. Since that initial listen, it’s grown on me. It’s not your traditional hip hop album. It sounds very different, in a way that focuses on creativity and it actually works. I’m still not sure whether I’ll be proclaiming this as one of the best albums of the year or not, but for now it’s piqued my interests enough to keep going back to it.

3. Tanya Morgan - Brooklynati

Being a Tanya Moran fan and having their last LP, Moonlighting, in my top five albums of 2006, and having to go through one of the better pre-album build up that I’ve seen on the interneet, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Brooklynati was a let down, but it was far from a let down. Everything you liked about Moonlighting was here, but even better.

4. Poorly Drawn People – Motion Not Emotion

In a way, I’m somewhat pissed that this album hasn’t taken off as much as it should. This is one of the most cohesive and enjoyable hip hop albums I’ve heard in a long time. The beats are all on point and the lyrics are filled with battle raps, sense of humor and straight up rewinders (what we used to do to hear a dope line on a tape back in the day). Tracks like “Stress Filled Days”, “Might Blow Up”, “Ain’t Hard To Make A Million Dollars”, “Stealers Wheel” and “Sawbucks & Finns” is straight up hip hop with a nice musical ambience to the tracks. I don’t know what to say other than go listen to this album and tell me you ain’t at least feeling some of this EP.

01- Stress Filled Days [04:11]
02- Might Blow Up [03:50]
03- Aint Hard To Make a Million Dollars [04:25]
04- A Quarter Milli [00:38]
05- Sawbucks and Fins Ft ESH [04:33]
06- Stealers Wheel [03:30]
07- Elmer’s Lament Ft Labeless Illteligence [04:03]
08- Celebrity Rehab [03:39]
09- Way With Words [04:36]
10- Better Off Dead [03:42]
11- Static [04:20]
12- Motion Not Emotion [05:56]

5. LoveJones & Phys Edison – Sunday Drive, Problemaddicts – The Guest List, Lonegevity – Sessions

I include all three of these since I honestly couldn’t make up my mind. The only group that I had heard of before hearing these albums was Problemaddicts who dropped the incredibly ill “The Darkside of Oz” last year. The funny thing is, the Problemaddicts joint is more of a compilation. All good as it contains some underground legends and some up and comers (Blacastan anyone?). The LoveJones and Lonegevity both kinda came out of nowhere. LoveJones and Phys Edison only was downloaded because of the incredibly goofy looking album cover. It turned out to be some great chill music with some great beats to boot. Lonegivity go
t downloaded by me, although I don’t remember doing it. It resided on my iPod for lord knows how long without being played until my man Jaz told me to check it out. Jaz was responisible for pointing out Dagha’s “The Divorce” out to me last year, which ended up being one of my favorite albums. Jaz didn’t miss this time either as the Lonegevity is dope from front to back.

LoveJones and Phys Edison’s debut album, Sunday Drive.

Sunday Drive Download Link

Official Track list
1. Sunday Morning(Still Thinking About Saturday Night)
2. Sunday Drive
3. New World
4. Downtime
5. Phys Edison’s Brunch
6. Sit on the Moon
7. The One(My SV Shit)
8. Sunday Drive Midnight Mix
9. Had a Dream
10. B.I.G. Dreams
Bonus Tracks
11. The Get Up
12. They Gon Hate
13. Sucka MCs
14. Roll Call(Top City)

Five Tracks You Will Hear Me Bumping This Week….

1. (TIE) Paten Locke - Break Thru & Funky Hit Record

Break Thru

Funky Hit Record

Am I biased? Yeah, of course I am. Paten Locke aka P. Locke, aka Therapy (of Smile Rays and AB’s aka Asamov fame) is my man and one of my favorite artists I’ve ever had to deal with. But even if I didn’t know the dude, I would still be cranking both of these joints non stop like I’ve been doing the past two weeks. For those of you not in the know (and you soon will be), Paten has his debut solo album dropping this summer AND his first single is “Break Thru”, along with “Funky Hit Record” and another song, “Just Me,” which is dope as well. It will be avialable on vinyl later this month from Tres Records. Produced by P Locke himself, both beats, although completely different from each other are incredible. “Funky Hit Record” is just that, a funky joint. “Break Thru” packs the incredible energy Paten posses on the mic over a bouncy, airy beat, that is almost like a dream sequence or even a movie soundtrack. If this is what we have to look forward to, we could be looking at a contender for album of the year. Be on the look out for Super Ramen Rocketship

2. Thaione Davis – Inside Your Mind

Inside Your Mind

My man E from When You Reminisce came through once again with a “must hear” album as he occasionly tells me in a text. As usual, he was right, but I had a problem getting pass the second song of the album. Not because the album wasn’t good, but because the second track, “Inside Your Mind,” was just that good. Produced by underground favorite Rashid Hadee, this silent storm type beat is a soothing track yet hard enough to get the head noddin’

3. Nite People – Stage Fright

Stage Fright

Nite People are another group that is set to drop an album here in the near future (again, more on that in the very near future). Their 2007 Daily Livin one of my favorite albums that was submitted to me that year. Speaking as someone who has heard the new album, I can safely say it’s even better. DJ Manipulator hooked up an ill ass horn sample, something that I’m a sucka for anyway.

4. Lonegevity – If You’re Down

If You’re Down

I won’t say what I’ve been doing a lot of lately to be listening to a lot of these chilled and laid back groove tracks, but I think you have a good idea. “If You’re Down” is quite a simple song, but I think it’s the mood the track paints is what hooks me more than anything. It’s hard to describe, but somehow it speaks to me in a way a lot of songs don’t. It’s not neccessarly the lyrics, although they are nice. I guess it’s the beat Exile hooked up on this, it just gets to me along with the well placed vocal sample used for the hook.

5. Marco Polo & Torae feat Masta Ace & Sean Price – Hold Up

To new Masta Ace guest apperances in the past month (the other is on the Problemaddicts album)? Are you crazy? Hell yeah! I’m still getting my bearings with the Torae and Polo album and have a few issues with it, but it’s starting to grow on me. Despite that, this track is what attracted to me to hip hop in the first place, banging beat, dope lyrics and attitude. It’s all here and it’s all good.

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