Sunday, July 30, 2006

King Geedorah {Take Me to Your Leader}

King Geedorah
Take Me To Your Leader
Big Dada Recordings;2003

Back in the day my friends and I were cheap. We would
never buy a CD over 10 dollars, it was a rule that
none us ever broke. If one of us every tried buying an
album over the 10 dollar price, there would be an
intense intervention and possible beating. So you
understand how I felt the day I came across King
Geedorah’s Take Me To Your Leader, priced at 16 bucks.
Shit. I slowly slipped the album into a CD player at
the record store as my friends browsed the electronica
section. It seemed that the King wanted me to get beat
up as he put one of the best songs Fazers first. I
decided that I would sneak buy the album as I walked
towards the register I heard my friend's voice from the
background, “You going to buy that?” I had two choices
at that point. I am glad I made the choice to buy Take
Me To Your Leader, even though I had no friends for a
good few weeks this album is very, very, very good and
I truly was not alone as my body was covered with
bruises. The monster broke onto the scene on March 3,
2003 with the super rap group M.I.C (Monster Island
Czars) which dropped Escape From Monsta Island! They
were formed by Jet Jaguar aka MF Grimm and King
Geedorah aka MF Doom. Yes, now it hits you that King
Geedorah is MF Doom, the biggest name in independent
hip-hop. WOW. M.I.C was a group of emcees that made
new aliases from Godzilla movies hence the name King
Geedorah. The production for Escape From Monsta
Island! was mostly handled by him. It seems that Doom
took the idea of producing an album and applied it to
his first solo album by King Geedorah, Take Me to Your
Leader. On this album MF Doom stepped away from the
microphone and behind his SP1200. The first thing you
must understand about Take Me To Your Leader is that
it's Doom’s beat album, every single track is produced
by him and oh my god does he shine. The beats on this
album are on par with any other producer in the
underground. After this album came out, MF Doom could
truly call himself a producer. The whole album is
about King Geedorah attacking earth which gives the
record a 50’s feel. This feeling is also brought on by
the music, which has more of a 50’s feel. Unlike other
MF Doom records, we are only blessed by Doom on 5
tracks, this echoes the idea that Take Me To Your
Leader is a beat album. The rest of the album is
rapped by members of M.I.C and a few other emcees.
They all do an amazing job. If I got my ass beat for
this album its got to be good. So trust my bruised
arms and ego. Take Me To Your Leader is MF Doom’s best
album and that’s saying a lot. Don’t sleep on it.

Dabrye {Two/Three}

Ghostly; 2006

If a gameboy and a beat machine had sex, they'd probably give birth to something like Dabrye. And it'd be one beautiful baby. These days there are always new fresh hip hop releases, but you gotta admit most of them don't really bring anything new. Well, Dabrye definitely brings a completely new sound with Two/Three that wakes your interest in addition to your ears. Dabrye's beats are nothing like what you'll hear on the radio. It sounds like something from the future when we are partying with robots. There's buzzing, beeping, droning and plenty of sick basslines. And don't worry, it's not just a bunch of noise. There's plenty of melodic beauty embedded in it all. But this isn't just a beat cd. There's a plethora of some of the most sought-out MCs out there today, including Wildchild, Doom, Vast Aire, Kadence, AG, Waajeed, Ta'Raach and Jay dee. And all these artists meld with Dabrye's unconventional beats in perfect harmony, neither overpowering the other, creating an entirely new hip hop sound. Wildchild's smooth flow starts out the album to a head-banging beat that always makes me want to dance, but I'm never sure how because the beat is nothing like I've heard before. Or maybe it's just because I can't dance... Nite East Day with Beans and Pressure with Waajeed and Ta'Raach are also both exceedingly fresh. Every track hits it just right, except Vast Aire's. It starts out alright but Vast Aire's whiney chorus gets annoying. So when he spits a line about farting, I just skip to the next track. Other than that, Two/Three has it all, a roaring mech with so many weapons you'll never get bored. I'm just glad someone finally brought a genuinely new sound. Thanks, Dabrye.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Count Bass D {Begborrowsteel}

Count Bass D
Ramp Recording;2004

Count Bass D has been around for a while, he dropped
his first LP Pre-Life Crisis off Sony on September
26th,1995. Count Bass D did everything on the album
from writing lyrics and music, to playing most the
instruments and doing all the scratches. Pre-Life
Crisis was way ahead of its time, maybe to ahead of
its time, since then The Count has been begging,
borrowing and steeling his way till 2002, the date
when his underground classic Dwight Spitz dropped. It
seems fitting that his new album and follow up to his
third release, Dwight Spitz, would cary the same name
of his survival tactics, Begborrowsteel. Although many
call this a full length follow abum I see it more as a
mini-cd or ep as it clocks in at 29 minutes. But don’t
look down at its short length for it is quality not
quantity that makes great music. Being the follow up
to a classic many people don’t belive that
Begborrowsteel can come close to Dwight Spitz. Count
Bass D loves to prove haters wrong. Nothing different
here, Begborrowsteel, is simply put, amazing. The
producing which is handled completely by Count Bass D
is some of the best in the game. His unique style
returns, as he cuts up obscure samples and mixes them
down with a very laid back corny soulful vibe.
Lyrically Count Bass D delivers like never before.
This is evident on the best song and single off the
album, Down Easy. The Count sings his way through this
track displaying a true sense of pain in his voice and
music. The rest of the tracks off the album are of the
same caliber or better then the songs off Dwight
Spitz, meaning they are classic material. Count Bass D
does not disappoint and leaves me wanting more.
Begborrowsteel is a perfect album. The only
problem it presents, is his next album, Act Your Waist
Size (coming out in October off Fat Beats) will now
have to live up to Begborrowsteel.

Brother Ali {Rites of Passage}

Brother Ali
Rites of Passage
Rhymesayers Entertainment; 2000

My first hiphop concert ever was a Murs show in Sactown. While all the artists that took the stage before Murs were quite enjoyable, I was doubtful when a heavy-set albino guy with a shaved head walked onto the stage. Supposedly, this guy was named Brother Ali. Supposedly, he could do the whole rapping thing pretty well. Supposedly, he had some album called Shadows on the Sun coming out. I wondered what he sounded like.
Man, I had no idea what was coming.
Obviously, Brother Ali tore up the whole show, outplaying Murs and everyone else there. And Shadows on the Sun? Pure gold. I was sold. And after Shadows came out I think most of the world was, too. However, I'd like to take a look at something that came way before all this and in my opinion is just as good if not better than Shadows on the Sun: Rites of Passage. Released in 2000 on cassette only, most casual listeners, including myself, did not know it existed until it was packaged as a bonus cd with the Champions EP.
Produced and rapped by Ali himself, Rites of Passage comes at you with a much more traditional underground hip-hop feel that'll shake up your headphones with unrestrained kicks and moody samples. Each track stands out and comes at you with a different sound, whether its Ali on the conga, some spoken word, or beat-boxing. The rhyming is clever and intelligent and does not sound any weaker than the must more accalimed Shadows on the Sun. Ali touches on all types of subjects from religion to politics to stories from his urban life. The album is overall dark and very powerful, intersliced wit a few uplifting tracks and interludes, keeping the whole journey exciting. Despite the darkness of the subject matter, the songs are all very upbeat and definitely get you movin. No tracks are skippable, even the interlude where Ali just plays messages from his answering machine over a happy beat. Track 9, Nine Double Em is a standout track, a beautiful worded story of stryfe and irony. All of Ali's vocal guests, like Madson and Musab also bring their A-game and nicely compliment Ali's delightfully harsh power with smoother lighter sounds. The whole album is very polished, even though the recording definitely sounds static, which actually brings a very genuine feel. In conclusion, Brother Ali is a must-hear for all, especially if you are a Brother Ali fan.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Last Emperor {The Lost Tracks}

Last Emperor
The Lost Tracks

It was 2000, 8th grade and I was bored with hip-hop.
The radio sucked, I went to sleep early instead of
staying up late at night to hear the number 1 song.
Hip-hop seemed to finally be dead. As I tuned out of
the local hip-hop stations my friend gave me a copy of
the And 1 Vol. 2 Mix tape. For those that don’t know
the And 1 mix tapes were footage of street ballers
dunking on and crossing up other ballers. But the best
part was the music. They had the hottest underground
tracks and best mainstream remixes. There was one song
that changed my life, Do you remember by The last
Emperor. The songs original scratch beat caught me at
first but the lyrics is what made me love it, and the
impossible search for the song and the album changed
me. I spent a years searching for that song, as it
brought me deeper and deeper into the underground.
Little did I know The Emperor was struggling 100 times
worse then me. Jamal Gray had been trying to put out
an album for years. He had been dropped by 3 labels
and the only way his name stayed in the game was
internet downloads and mix cds floating around. He had
talent, that came with out question, in a interview
with Mos Def he dropped The Emp’s name as one of the
best emcee of all time. But still no record was put
out. Finally in 2003 both are struggles would be over,
his album came out. Although Music, Magic, Myth had
mix reviewed it came with a bonus cd The Lost Tracks;
no one could deny that cd. It had all the cuts that
kept the Emp afloat when times where bad.I had
collected each one of those tracks through downloading
and searching every corner of the internet. The Lost
Tracks has to be almost impossible to find now a days
but if you want to find out the true meaning of music,
find the true beauty I challenge you to go out and
find this gem of an album. Everything is perfect, the
production is perfect and Jamal proves that he truly
is The Last Emperor with his beautiful lyrical flow.
My favorite songs of all time are on this album. No
complaints this album, it is a true classic and must be
in your collection. The Lost Tracks changed my life
and made me who I am today.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

J.Rawls {The Essence of Soul}

The Essence Of Soul
Polar Entertainment; 2006

J.Rawls broke through on August 26, 1998, the day
Blackstar dropped there self-titled LP. I remember the
first time I listened through that album the song
Brown Skin Lady caught my ear. The beat, oh man the
beat was so sick! Who produced that beat! That of
course was none other then J.Rawls. Since then J.Rawls
has been busy producing and forming half of the rap
groups Lone Catalysts (with J. Sands), 3582 (with Fat
Jon), and dropping a few solo instrumental albums
along the way. All of his projects have been amazing
each one with some of the greatest beats, pushing
J.Rawl's name up with other prolific producers like
Madlib and Jay Dee. But not in till 2006 has a J.Rawls
project been so anticipated and The Essence of Soul
does not fail. J.Rawls brings together his vintage
dope: dope rap beats and mixes it with an R&B flavor.
A common theme throughout the record is lost love and
the feelings that comes with a broken heart. This is
evident not only in the sad lyrics but the crying of
the beats. J.Rawls creates a beautiful but sad, jazzy,
soul infused musical landscape, that is painted on by
lyrical memories of better days. The cast J. Rawls
assembles to sing over his beats is amazing. It
includes Tavaris, Eric Roberson, Middle Child, Venus
Malone, Wordsworth, Jonell, Sol Uprising, and Aloe
Blacc. All of these artist are amazing and do such a
good job on Essence of Soul that most of them have
there solo albums now coming out. This is credit to
the ability of J.Rawls not only in creating great
music but, how he works with artist to truly make it
amazing. And in the end that is the Essence of Soul.
Don’t sleep on this album it is one of the most
personal albums in a while and is one of the best of

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Nujabes {Modal Soul}

Modal Soul
Hyde Out Productions; 2005

Imagine you are a samurai. You're on some high cliffs overlooking the shore. The weather is sunny with a slight breeze. Grass and flowers beneath you and maybe some butterflies goin by. You've just diced up seven other samurai who now lay in silence behind you, and saved a beautiful princess. You are holding her in your arms, your adrenaline still pumping from the slaughter. [You can add in any other details you'd enjoy here]. As you look out into the ocean, what soundtrack is playing in the background? Whatever it is, there's a good chance it's something like Nujabes Modal Soul album.
This under-appreciated album by Nujabes is truly something beautiful that I must introduce to the masses, since I'm sure most people have yet to come upon it. Nujabes is a japanese producer who was a major contributor to the impressive soundtrack for the acclaimed anime Samurai Champloo that combines feudal japan with modern hip hop culture. Nujabes takes the unique sound of the Samurai Champloo soundtrack to a whole new level with Modal Soul. Boasting a relatively unknown but legit cast of Cise Starr & Akin from CYNE, Terry Callier, Shing02, Substantial, Pase Rock from Five Deez, and Uyama Hiroto, Modal Soul takes you on a previously untraversed road of jazzy, feel-good, hip-hop that carries a slightly sad, emotional undertone.
The first track, Feather, featuring Cise Starr & Akin, starts off the album the right way and is without a doubt my favorite track. The beat is a sliced head-nodder with a pretty melody carried by some sweet poetic MCing. Every song has killer production, including Nujabes solo pieces. Also, all the guests on Modal Soul bring top-notch MC skills, which is rare on a Japanese release other than DJ Krush. Every featured guest brings something different keeps the album very exciting, from Callier's heart-felt soul to Pase Rock's spoken word to Apani B's upbeat female lyricism. My only problem is with Luv(sic) pt.3 featuring Shing02, which is a sick track. But I just can't get over Shing02's accent. His english is alright but if he rapped it in Japanese, the track would be ten times smoother. Regardless, Nujabes unscathed production still prevents me from skipping past the track. Even if the scenario described in the intro does not turn you on[maybe because you don't like samurai or hot princesses or butterflies], you should still check this out because it boasts unique solid production and refined rhyming, definitely Nujabes most solid release thus far.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Swordplay {The Tilt EP}

The Tilt EP
Concise; 2004

Intrigued by the artist name and album cover, I bought this relatively cheap EP offline without knowing anything about it. I do this sometimes because I like to live life on the edge. Ladies, buying cds just because the cover looks cool is just a taste of my fearless personality. Anyway, this random purchase was probably one of my best decisions ever because rapper Isaac Ramsey from Virginia of all places is brilliant, with a style that is both powerful and soothing at the same time. Coupled with guitar-ridden and dramatic beats that feel like they were ripped from an indie romance film and then laid with foottapping-inducing kick and snare, the emotional lyrical delivery creates a mood that subtly stirs your blood. Ramsey sounds like Qwel, with a slightly raspier voice that carries much more energy and urgency. Through every track, he spits constantly without any lack of emotion, rhyming word after word after random word, creating abstract verses that don't readily make sense, but still sound sick. "I'm crazy like a posse of kamikazes. I can't go out without picking the pockets of the dead paparazzi. Get stoned and throw a tombstone in the oven like a f*ckin' nazi" is just a sample of some of the lyrics that slightly make sense, sort of. Either way, the rhyming and beats blend together so perfectly it is really something special to hear.
Despite having a completely unique sound, Swordplay doesn't try to pull off anything mind-blowing. The layout of their beats and style of delivery are pretty simple and constant through the whole EP. But the crispness in which the composition is handled is how it stands out and makes a lasting impression. Definitely check it out. These five tracks are worth a lot more than a lot of my full-length albums put together.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Platinum Pied Pipers {Triple P}

Platinum Pied Pipers
Triple P
Ubiquity; 2005

When I was visiting a friend in Berkeley I gave her a
copy of the album Triple P. The next day she called me
and told me that the album was the hottest thing she
had ever heard. I agree. My first encounter with the
album Triple P left me sweating and with out a
t-shirt. My boys and me were kicking the question
around the room about what to do when my dj friend
threw on Triple P. Soon all are heads were banging to
the beat. The hard hitting drums constructed by
Waajeed (a founding member of the group Slum Village)
mixed with Saadiq’s masterful control of the live
instruments captivated me like nothing before.
Together there sound is PPP, Platinum Pied Pipers.
Something weird was happening, I stood up and started
moving my body, I started to dance. Every one of my
friends stood up and did a little dance solo, we all
laughed and asked what was playing. But soon the four
of us stopped kidding around. We choreographing a
dance to every track on Triple P, all sixteen songs.
We were jamming out, snapping are fingers and even
busting out the sprinkler. THE SPRINKLER, who even
does the sprinkler. A few hours later I found my self
with out a t-shirt and and sweating like crazy. We had
played through the album 7 times and I had encountered
Platinum Pied Pipers. I don’t ever dance, and for good
reason. No indie music has ever made me get up and
dance, now that I think of it no music period has made
me want to dance like that. Ever since that day the
album has never left my playlist. With an amazing
arsenal of Detroit rappers, Jay Dee (R.I.P), Ta’Raach,
and MC Invisible Triple P has the sickest flows of the
year. In addition the album features a plethora of
talented vocalist, including two of the games hottest
female artist Tiombe Lockhart and Georgia Anne
Muldrow. They both have a a lot of cuts on the album
and define Triple P’s upbeat chill electronic jazzy
hip-hop blend. If you ever want to have a great time
throw on Triple P, its hot.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Dudley Perkins {A Lil' Light}

Dudley Perkins
A Lil’ Light
Stones Throw; 2003

A Lil' Light is a rush of fresh air. While the album
is wonderfully produced by the God-like Madlib it is
the way Dudley Perkins lazying sings/raps/talks his
way through the record that makes it amazing. Through
out the album Perkins sings off key and has a scrappy
out of tone voice which would sound a lot like Snoop
Dog if he ever sang through out an album. Many critics
have bashed on Perkins for his unorthodox way of
singing, criticizing his ability to write lyrics and
the delivery of his vocals, but if you focus on just
that you miss the beauty of A Lil’ Light. You see
Perkins has released other records under the rapping
alias Declaime, but Dudley Perkins is his real name, A
Lil’ Light is just that, a very raw look into the mind
of Dudley Perkins and that’s the beauty. Constant
themes that come up through out the album vary from
smoking pot, God, heartbreaks, life, and smoking more
pot. Although the albums vocals are repetitive it
seems that they just add another layer to the music.
The tracks are cut by none other then Madlib, like
always he delivers with a smokey 60’s jazz touch mixed
with a very chill neo-soul vibe. Enough said. If the
name Madlib means nothing to you, that’s the reason
why your life sucks. The bottom line is artists try to
make classics; Dudley Perkins actualy makes them.

Prefuse 73 {Security Screenings}

Prefuse 73
Security Screenings
Warp; 2006

My first screening of Security Screenings was on my way home late at night on the Taipei metro, which is really a prime setting for indulging in some Prefuse 73. The city lights and grinding of metal underneath is pretty much Prefuse in its non-musical form. As the tracks played through, I felt like I had heard every one before, much more so than the previous albums. Yet, I never got bored and eagerly awaited the start of each new track. I guess that is the magic of the Prefuse style. With that said, any genuine fan of Scott Herren will no doubt enjoy this album because Security Screenings is just straight Prefuse beat insanity in its most basic appearance: a slew of electronic confusion and sample chopping that brilliantly blends into a melodic musical ensemble. Nothing more. Nothing less.
As if withdrawing from the binge of MCs and vocalists of Surrounded by Silence, Security Screenings has none of either. The album is acceptable as is, though one or two vocalists could definitely spice things up, making it as complete as his first few albums. The lone appearance of Four Tet on the erratic Creating Cyclical Headaches seems unnecessary, throwing off the Prefuseness that flows so nicely til that point. Weight Watching and Matrimonoids are notable tracks. In conclusion, any dedicated Prefuse fan should pick up this album, as it does not disappoint at all in that sense. However, if you are looking for something new and different, you can skip this security check point without any consequences.