Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Music Reviews for April (part 1)

Its the month of April. Instead of waiting on my homegirl Bda StarChild to publish my work in her magazine, I took the time to put it out there for the masses. These may, or may not, appear in her magazine. Either or, it is all good people. Peep it all out. There is more to come for the month.

Pac Div- Mania!

It is Pac Div time! Looking at the cover for Mania!, I thought that this album would be full of foolishness and debauchery. Pac Div is a part of that “new crew” of young artists from California that do things their way. Well, their way of doing things include making beautiful music. “The Mirror” starts off with a lush piano drop that goes directly into violins, drums, and positive uplifting rhymes. Just when I thought it would be one of those “positive” albums, it throws me for a loop. “Super Negroes” is a cross between modern day braggadocio and old school Rob Base/DJ EZ Rock madness. To classify Pac Div as a group is to understand this: they just want to make good music on their own terms. “Anti-Freeze” sounds like a track that would pound sub woofers in any Atlanta club on a hot Saturday night. “Take Me High” is that punk smooth stuff that Redman was told not to make on “Tonight’s the Night”, except it really is full of fun and debauchery. “Show You” slides in with the R&B chorus over Cali funk, while “Fallin’” gives another reference to chick chasing and dating. “Yet, they still make songs like “Nobody’s Perfect”, which delves into the imperfections of just being human living day to day. To even add to the positive vibes, they have “Saved” and “Somethin’”. By the time “Outro” plays over the speakers, there is an understanding that Pac Div doesn’t want to be pigeon holed. They just make music that people should enjoy. Chalk them up as another every man group that considers all facets of life.

Blood Type- 2 Weeks Notice

Chief and Stepson did something even the Dungeon Family hadn’t done in years. After that, the group free falls into audio bliss. “Lemons” uses a sped up sample for them to reflect on how they “make lemons out of lemonade”. “Sallie Mae” is that ode to owing money on student loans, paying bills, and not even making even with a college degree. More so, it is a song about doing what one should want to do instead of pleasing others. Stepson goes in about marriage and how it manages to not be what it is cracked up to be. He even questions whether the person “jumped the broom or the gun”. Interesting enough, XV (the rapper from Kansas City) produced three tracks. Even more interesting is that those tracks (“I Have Dreams”, “Yung World”, and “I’m Free”) and are bangers. “I Have Dreams” reflects about, you guessed it, hopes and dreams. Even Big K.R.I.T. goes in on the song, referring to how he’s working while the roosters are crowing. “Yung World” is about relationships and how they work/don’t work. “I’m Free” is a song that deals with truth, prejudice, homosexuality, religious stereotyping and hypocrisy. The only issue is that the feature artists (Big K.R.I.T., Smoke Dza, Kendrick Lamar, and Ghost Wridah) give them a run for their money on the mic device. A minor hiccup notwithstanding, 2 Weeks Notice is a perfect piece for those that reflect about life, reality, and the struggle over smooth musical compositions.

Lil B- Illusions of Grandeur

I’m not sure what I should make of this. This is the same Lil B that noted “bitches on his dick cause he looks like Matlock”. However, this is the same artist that just recorded “Base For Your Face”. All I know that with this mixtape, he proves that he can rhyme if he feels like it. “Angels Prayer” allows Lil B to reflect on hatred, jealousy, and his repressed volatile tendencies over Kanye’s instrumental for “Devil in a Blue Dress”. “Baby Baby” is a straight up throwback to 1994 with its hip hop feel. He could probably fall into place with an album of beats from this area. “Cocaine Killer” is a song that lets him be the author of a man that sells drugs and gets high off of his own supply. “Hood Changed” lets him go in on hood life and how it isn’t all good. Lil B says a lot of worthwhile things. However, some may be taken back by his freestyle type of flow. At times he rhymes, other times he isn’t. Someone like me can get into it and respect it. Others may not. What can be said is that he is actually saying something within his raps and that the production is damn good. “How I Feel” is a perfect example of what Lil B can actually prove himself to be: a rapper with much clarity and conscience. “Illusions of Grandeur” and its accompanying remix show the depth that he can bring himself into. He tells the story of robbery, gun toting males being products of their environments and the conclusive actions of bad choices. In the end, this mixtape shows that Lil B is more misunderstood than anything. He likes to have a lot of fun and people see that more than anything. However, when he’s serious, he can be as motivating as your “conscious rapper”.

King Mez x Khrysis- The King’s Khrysis

Alright, so King Mez links up with the Jamla/IWWMG beatsmith Khrysis. Noticing that this is a free EP release, I might as well go over each song. “Reaching Out (Intro)” samples an ill song reminiscent to some psychedelic majestic music from the past. King Mez wastes very few words over Khrysis’s heavy sampled auditory treats. “Nightmare” has him letting loose over more regal type of production. King Mez keeps it lyrical and fluid with lines like “I’m discouraging emcees, that’s another dream dead/Jordan #4’s in the color scheme bred/denim hella stiff with a cuff for each leg/when I’m chillin’, politickin’ on all this bloodshed”. “Shine” is another bangin’ boom bap track enhanced by King Mez’s tough to beat lyrics. King Mez knows he gotta shine, knowing that it’s the only thing on his mind and it’s not part time: it is every moment. “From the South” is that song equivocal to the neighborhood anthem (Raleigh/Durham), featuring Thee Tom Hardy. Actually, it is a very banging track with the scratched chorus to let the listener know where they represent. “Something Missing” lets King Mez let loose about what’s missing from the game: timelessness, relevance, and originality. Ending off this free EP is “King’s Khrysis”, a track filled with warped sounds and old school R&B styling reminiscent to a funk/soul soundtrack. Phonte gets into the madness with lyrics like “as for your opinion/we all got a strong one/I been living with them ever since I made song 1/Back in 99, but for praise I do not live/spit it like Yoda/a fuck I do not give….”. King Mez demonstrated that he can flow with the best of them. Also, he has an ear for production. Let us see if he makes good use of this catalog piece within his grasp.

Childish Gambino- EP

Donald Glover can rap? Okay, for those that don’t know who Donald Glover is, please pay attention. Donald Glover is a comedian known for his comedic acting role in Community, the NBC sitcom. Also, he’s a writer for 30 Rock, also on NBC. But, he still moonlights as a rapper? I didn’t know how to even feel about this one at first. Yet, when I listened to the EP, I was pretty much blown away. Here are three reasons why: 1.) He can rhyme. 2.) He got a confident flow. 3.) He isn’t trying to be something he is not. However, he only has five songs to prove his point. Does he succeed? Yes, he does. “Be Alone” is that emo jam that only Drake could pull off, except Childish Gambino did it better. Referencing his lonliness in an industry and world that actually confuses him and his intentions, he goes in with the lyrics and even the chorus. “Freeks and Geeks” starts off with “Gambino is a mastermind/fuck your bitch to pass the time/mass appeal (a peal), orange rind/smoke your green up, spending mine/the beat is witch’s brew/but beware the shit is potent/ coming on her face, now that’s poetry in motion…” over production that would easily rival many a commercial artist. “My Shine” is another braggadocio lyrical tirade that allows him to be “hard in the paint like I fuck her on her period”. He goes in about people not respecting his skill, not making the XXL Freshman list, and other naysayers that haven’t realized he been rhyming since “Lance was on chemo”. “Lights Turned On” is a song in reference to all the women that actually aren’t good for him. He is pretty harsh towards the females he refers to. Nevertheless, they seem to deserve the negative attention because they are only concerned with “fucking a Gap ad” and “being number 1 in the Pack; Based God”. Last, and definitely not least, is “Not Going Back”. This particular track allows him to reflect on the hatred, or lack of love, he gets. Childish Gambino is actually a pretty damn talented emcee that is tired of people calling him names, not taking him seriously, and making it seem as if he is soft. Funny part is, he is better than the people that probably don’t like him.

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