Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Spank Rock review aka Best. Record. Ever.

Spank Rock
Yo Yo Yo Yo Yo
Big Dada, 2006

For Fans of: Peaches, M.I.A., Detroit techno, electro house, partying with strippers, humping.

This is the debut album from Baltimore MC Spank Rock. The fact that it is on the same label as glitch master Diplo is no accident – Spank Rock is friends with Diplo, and the two share a similar sound and aesthetic. In fact, I thought that Spank Rock was from the UK until I did a little research. The bouncy, grimey, glitchy beats provided by XXXChange have much more in common with Dizzee Rascal, M.I.A., and Berlin electro-house than with anything coming out of the U.S. This is both a gift and a curse – on one hand, it makes the record sound invigorating and unique; on t he other hand, having a hard-to-categorize sound and being on an obscure European indie label hasn’t exactly done wonders for their sales. In fact, it wasn’t even in the hip-hop section at Amoeba – they filed it under "electronica".

That’s a shame, because although this is funky, dirty music that deserves an audience. To put it bluntly, Spank Rock writes songs about fucking. He's basically a mix of Peaches, electro-house, Detroit house, with a little strip club hip-hop thrown in for good measure. Fans of Diplo and MIA will immediately appreciate the production, and fans of some of the less shitty electroclash artists will marvel at the sounds of someone actually doing electro right. Like Ms. Kittin? Buy this album.

On these twelve tracks, Spank Rock celebrates sex, debauchery, and his rhyme skills with an energetic yet old-school flow. From the first moment he opens his mouth, he is straight dirty. "Ass shaking competition champ/ ooh that pussy gets damp". My favorite track was the bouncy "Bump", which has Spank declaring "Behind my Gameboy I got game girl" while Amanda Blank responds. "My rhymes are painfully fresh/My pussy's tasting the best." It's not all sex, though; on "Rick Rubin" he compares himself to the legendary producer, and he also drops a kilo or two of rhymes about partying - "My mimosa is on the coaster where the coke is smeared/ yo we dope in here." Even when he's being an obnoxious cokehead he's clever. In fact, this record wouldn't work without Spank's clever word play and skills on the mic. Any idiot can rhyme about fucking and getting fucked up, but Spank Rock makes it sound good.

In a recent interview, Spank Rock said that he wanted his next album to be al little easier for the masses to digest, so they might actually sell a record or two. While I sincerely hope they don’t water down their sound, I do think they deserve to be recognized by more than just the irony-obsessed white hipster crowd (not that there’s anything wrong with that…). If you are in the mood for something different from your run-of-the-mill hip-hop release, or if you wish your electronica artists had a little more soul, then Yo Yo Yo Yo Yo is the record for you. It's harder than Aurular, less irritating than Boy in Da Corner, and more relevant and original than Impeach My Bush. Buy it now and be the coolest kid on your block.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Metal Fingers Review

Metal Fingers
Special Herbs Box Set
Nature Sounds, 2006

For fans of: MF DOOM, Madlib, seventies soul, jazz, and am radio, herbs.

Metal Fingers is yet another MF DOOM/Zev Lov X/Daniel Dumille alter ego, this time applied to DOOM's instrumental "Special Herbs" series. There are 9 volumes of "Special Herbs" spread out over five discs. This set collects 150 of the best moments from the series, along with a bonus disc of KMD beats.

Those expecting a head-bobbing experience will be a little disappointed. The album is more or less like Madlib's "Beat Konducta" album (see below), but less innovative and brilliant. Mostly, DOOM samples old jazz, soul, and am radio hits and makes beats out of them. Some of them he gives the Puffy treatment and pretty much doesn't fuck with at all. For the most part it works, although there were moments, mostly on the second disc, where his slightly artless beatmaking bugged, ie inexpertly looping an overlong sample too many times.

The first disc is a little mellower, and makes great background music. Put this on during your next dinner party or booty call. Disc 2 seemed to be more experimental, more uptempo beats, and that's the one that bugged me at times. The best moments on the first two discs were when beats he's used on other projects would surface, like from Ghostface Killah's "Fishscale". I was also very excited to hear the funky theme music that used to play over the end credits of Sesame Street. Overall, the compilation is well worth your $22.00 bucks just in terms of space and time saved by not having to buy a bunch of old records and picking out the few decent moments off of them. That's what crate-diggers are for - giving light to the obscure, and saving us the time of finding good breaks on lame records.

My favorite disc was the KMD beats. These were much more what I have in mind when I think "hip-hop" instrumental. They were funky, with that classic late 80's/early nineties sound, boom-bap beats, and brilliant samples, like the beat constructed around Bert of Sesame Street humming.

If you have all the "Special Herbs" albums, or are enough of an MF DOOM enthusiast to want them all, give this a skip. However, for the rest of us, this is a great and ample taste of MF DOOM's many talents. You should buy it quick, though, because less than 10,000 were manufactured.

Friday, August 18, 2006

T.I. Review

Atlantic, 2006

For fans of: Jay-Z, Hotlanta, Southern drawls.

Since this site is dedicated to more indie and obscure releases, it makes perfect sense that I review T.I.’s “King”, a mega-produced album that was accompanied by a media blitz AND a movie starring T.I. (ATL). The Source, XXL, Spin, Rolling Stone, New York Times, and now Carry Like Mariah.

I bought this because a) I heard him compared to a Southern Jay-Z and I miss Mr. Carter’s musical presence, b) I don’t like Southern rap, and I figured this might convert me and c) I wanted to at least pretend I knew what was going on in the music world outside of Stones Throw and whatever 10 year old discs I was listening to. I decided to write about it because, goddamn it, it’s a good record.

First off, Pharrell was right – Tip truly is a Southern Jay-Z, and not just because he is a former drug dealer. Both MCs share the same easy, effortless flow that combines arrogance, humor, and charm. Both MCs assemble a solid production team to supply them with Grade-A beats to rhyme over. Both MCs can shift between being a thug, a ladies man, and a successful hustler-cum-business man.

In fact, Tip’s first lines on this album could have come out of the mouth of J. Hova himself. On “The King is Back”, T.I. raps:

“I welcome you to get acquainted with the youngest in charge
Respected from East to West like he was running the mob
Dictating, ain't taking orders from no one but God
I know you niggaz is broke 'cause I know what you charge”.

The fact that he is working with Just Blaze, who also did his share of production for Jay-Z, doesn’t hurt. Still, that sounds like exactly the same time of boast and dis that the Jigga is/was famous for. Plus, with a title like “The King is Back” he obviously has an ego the size of Jay-Z as well.

While the soulful fan fare of the first track may be more NY that ATL, things quickly get countrified on a collab/remake of UGK’s “Front Back”, one of many tracks on here about flossin’ and driving (like, for example, “Ride Wit’ Me”). On the hit “You Don’t Know”, T.I. reaffirms his greatness over a shuffling, sythed-strings beat. I’m normally not a fan of this kind of song, where there isn’t a solid beat and the MCs mostly grunt and yell, but T.I. pulls it off.

One of the better songs on the album is “I’m Talkin’ to You”, a dis track to rival “The Takeover, where T.I. calls out an unnamed hater:

“You’s a lame you’s a shame to the game
I say it you know what ya name is (I'm talkin to you)
We can shoot it out whenever you wanna
Whatever you wanna do boy I'm talkin to you.”

The song also shows Tip’s skill as a rapper, because he moves to double time in the song to fit in longer lines like:

“I'm the best you ever heard about, fresher than you heard about
yeah I'm strapped now pussy nigga this ain't just word of mouth
for niggaz wit dirty mouths, I got a lotta clean pistols to wash 'em out.”

He manages to mix up the speed and cadence of his flow without it fucking up the beat or groove of the song – he just goes from eighths to sixteenths in the same four four beat. Some MCs shove a bunch of syllables into a bar and it sounds all wrong, but T.I. makes it work.

While the album mercifully keeps the number of skits to just two, it is still bloated at 18 tracks, and not all of them are solid gold. I was not the biggest fan of his cheesy r&b collab with Jamie Foxx, and , I ain’t gonna lie, he started losing me by the end. Notice how all the songs I talk about are at the beginning? I just never quite make it the whole 79 minutes.

Still, there is enough that is good on this album that you can forgive the mediocre; His duet with Pharrell (“Goodlife”), his lecherous track for the ladies (“Why You Wanna”, with such endearing gems as “How you keep saying no with yo panties so wet?”); I was even feeling his mindless club track (“Stand Up Guy”). This is one of those rare and welcome cases when a label puts a shitload of money into an album, and actually ends up creating something enjoyable rather than just an obvious attempt to appeal to market research demographics.

T.I. unfortunately shares the limited subject range that Hova had on his earlier discs. Lyrically, “King” can be summarized as follows: “Hello. My name is T.I. I came from the projects of Atlanta. I used to be a drug dealer, but now I am very wealthy. To give you an idea of the extent of my wealth, I’ll describe some of the items I have bought recently. Even though I am wealthy, I still remember my roots as a thug, and I am ready and willing to use violence and perhaps even commit homicide to protect my reputation. I also like driving my cars, and having intercourse with women. Especially your girlfriend.”

Just like early Jay-Z Tip’s got mad skills but doesn’t have shit to say. I’m not too worried, though. His next album will be his cocaine-and-champagne party album, but the album after that will show a more mature, more thoughtful side of this diminutive Southern hellraiser. Either that or he is just going to put out shitty record after shitty record in an attempt to regain his former glory. Either way, at least he’s made a certified hit.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Field Mob Review

Field Mob
Light Poles and Pine Trees
Disturbing Tha Peace/Geffen, 2006

For fans of: Ludacris, Outkast, similes, music with the shelf life of overripe peaches.

Here's some back story on this album - evidently these boys came out with two fairly well-received, more countrified albums a few years ago. Frustrated by their lack to break into a larger audience, they took a few years off, signed to Ludacris' Disturbing Tha Peace imprint, and released a fairly successful single on a recent comp from said imprint. Backed by the awesome power of Ludacris, the familial connection to Ciara, and a thirst to make it, the boys hit the studio and came up with this album.

It’s not quite the masterpiece they were aiming for, but they did manage to come up with some funny, hip-pop goodness that will no doubt get them plenty of airplay. Their first single, the breezy, wafer-thin yet enjoyable "So What" has a cheesy club beat and features Ciara’s vocals. The other gem on this album is "The Blacker the Berry", a celebration of being dark skinned. It’s both funny and heartfelt, and makes the best use of their goofy flow. Because goofy their flow is. They are a mix of Ludacris, Andre 3000, and Bob Dylan if he was a young black rapper who yelled more. No, really: Their delivery constantly reminded me of Bob’s "flow" on "Blonde on Blonde" and "Blood on the Tracks". Kind of "Buh buh BUHHH ba buh buh BUHHH." Only less nasally, nyamean?

I started out liking this disc, but it wore out its welcome fairly quickly. If their flow weren’t irritating enough, their rhymes make it a double whammy. These boys LOVE similes. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and they do have some zingers. "Acting like you was a hood in the state pen, when really you were a nerd at Penn State!" or "y’all like where I get my DVDs at, y’all some Blockbusters." But see, combined with their exaggerated presentation, these overly colorful comparisons are obvious attempts at cleverness, which makes them seem not so very clever at all. Better MCs manage to put their little twists in their rhymes subtle-like, so it’s only after the fact that you’re like "oh snap! He just said that he was like cocaine straight from Bolivia!!" With the Field Mob, they pretty much telegraph "I’m about to say something funny!!!" every time.

What really killed my goodwill towards them was the unbearable "I Hate You", which features some local Linkin Park soundalike shouting "I hate you so much right now" in that whiney, affected anger so popular with the suburban angst crowd. It was at that point that I decided that while I liked parts of the album, I hated it more. Worst still is the fact that their songs are both annoying AND catchy, which means I have them stuck in my fucking head even though I dinnae like them.

I don’t mean to be too harsh on Field Mob: They do provide several fun tracks, and "the Blacker the Berry" is a pretty great song. They aren’t really any worse than, say, Slim Thug or half the other kids with a record contract because they happen to have a Southern zip code and drawl. And honestly, I find Outkast really fucking annoying, and they are critically acclaimed and have sold a billion records.
Still, I doubt this album is going to be remembered as a classic from the 00s, and I’m gonna go sell this back to Amoeba this week so that I can actually get some money for it. I guarantee that by next summer there will be ten of them in the used bin for $7.95.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Screwed and Chopped

I recently came across a screwed and chopped remix of Paul Wall's "The People's Champ". I had been wanting to check Paul Wall out, as he'd made some fairly reputable top ten lists, and I wanted to hear what screwed and chopped sounded like. To understand what screwed and chopped hip-hop is, you first have to understand what it means to get your lean on and sip purple drank. See, evidently in Houston they enjoy imbibing codeine-laced cough syrup (from this point on to be called "drank", "syrup" or "purple drank"). Mmmm…nummy. As a result, they end up kinda slow and spacey. This narcotic drowsiness ended up being translated into hip-hop by the legendary DJ Screw (who od'd on purple drank about six years ago). Screw would remix songs by slowing them down, resulting in something that was drowsy and trippy, perfect for getting one's lean on. After his death, local DJs kept the tradition alive, most famously Michael "1000" Watts, head of Swishahouse records.

Screwed music was still largely strictly a Houston thing until the scene started getting major label attention. As a result, some of the majors have put out screwed and chopped versions of albums by Southern artists, mostly from Houston, but also people like T.I. and David Banner. The majors no doubt realized that they could make twice as much money off of the same album, since screwed and chopped versions retail at the same price as the original album, and just involves a little extra mixing time. Capitalism meets art - brilliant!

I gotta tell you, it's fucking genius. Basically, they just slow the record down, make cuts in it, and the result is ghetto trip-hop. The voices sound like they are underwater, the beats shuffle along at an agonizingly slow pace, and the rhymes get cut up into a stutter. "Sittin' Sideways" becomes "I'm sittin'/sittin/ sideways/ways." It's oddly soothing and hypnotic, sort of. Even the slowed-down voices aren't as annoying as you'd think they'd be.

I'm not sure I understand the logic of remixing an entire album. It's pretty difficult to sit through 80 minutes of the same artist slowed down. I think the original screwed stuff were mixtapes, and that makes more sense to me. After all, how do you figure that all sixteen tracks on an album would sound good slowed down, or are worth fucking with?

I'd also love to hear the style applied to different types of artists. I've never been the biggest fan of Southern hip-hop, and it's a little incongruous to have these trippy ass beats with mundane ass rhymes about candy paint and shit. Method Man's "Tical" would be amazing screwed and chopped, or the GZAs "Liquid Swords", or Madvillainy, or "The Chronic". Maybe mixes of that kind of stuff exist and I'm just not aware of it.

So kids, remember: Opiates are bad things to fuck with, but music made by people on opiates is some good shit. Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, The Heartbreakers, Nirvana, Nico, and now Paul Wall. Fucking. Awesome.


Fishscale Review

Ghostface Killah

For fans of: The Wu and their offshoots, MF DOOM, J Dilla, Pete Rock, Kool Keith, and New York hip-hop from back in the proverbial day.

I really did not want to check out this album. For one thing, I fucking hate cocaine. Really. I hate how it has this image of being a party drug, when really it turns people into boring assholes who just want to hang out in someone’s kitchen all night snorting and talking rapid-fire gibberish. I just….ugh. No.

Also, before I listened to Fishscale, I was not feeling Ghostface. His nasally, weirdo flow got on my nerves, and try as I might, I just could not get into him on Raekwon’s "Only Built for Cuban Linx." So I had no intentions of listening to this until someone gave me a copy to check out, and goddamn, I’m converted.

First off, the dude can rap. He really can. Listening to Ghostface spit made me realize just how many half-assed rappers put out records. He’s quick, he’s effortless, he’s an amazing storyteller, he comes up with crazy slang, and he is fucking out there. He’s got the Bellevue freakiness of Kool Keith, and yet still has that grimey New York gangsta vibe to him. He may have a dedicated legion of white indie-kid followers, but Ghost is still 100% from the streets of Shaolin. We just appreciate talent when we hear it, is all.

I haven’t checked out his last two records, so I don’t know how Fishscale compares to them. I can say that it is not unlike Supreme Clientele, and is not nearly as dark and menacing as Ironman. It shares Supreme Clientele’s more soulful production, slightly lighter vibe, and incessant skits. Not that it is about birds and flowers and shit; as the album title suggests, on Fishscale Ghost returns to rhyming about dealing and doing cocaine (for those like myself who are ignorant in the ways of Charlie, fishscale is a particularly pure type of cocaine). However, this is miles away from Juelz Santana, Fifty Cent, or even "Built For Cuban Linx". Ghost approaches dealing as a veteran, fully aware of how fucked up it is. On "Big Girl", he starts out partying with two cokeheads he just sold to, and ends up advising them to get off the blow, go back to school and make something of themselves. On "Shakey Dog" he describes a deal gone wrong sort of like an updated "NY State of Mind". Throughout it all he is both bragging and commenting on how wrong it all is.

Not all of the songs are about drugs; "Whip You With A Strap" is a plea for parents to beat their kids more; "Momma" is a heartfelt tribute to his mother; and "Underwater" is just out there. There are also some brilliant guest appearances, particularly on the "Be Easy" with Ice Cube, and "9 Milli Brothers", which has all of the Wu-Tang (even ODB) rhyming over a very Wu-worthy beat. The only real downers on the album were some of the skits, which get obnoxious after a while, and the last song, a "duet" with the Notorious B.I.G. that didn't make it onto his newest album. Still, there is enough great stuff on this album to make a few slip ups forgivable. After all,what hip-hop album doesn't have filler?

The one real bummer about this album is it hasn't sold nearly as well as Def Jam wanted it to. I don't think it's even near gold at this point, and they are practically giving it away - you can find copies selling new for less than ten bucks. Personally, I don't think selling 250,000 albums is bad at all, and maybe it's unrealistic for every artist to expect to go platinum, especially given how fickle and trend-oriented listeners are. I think hip-hop is starting to suffer from it's blockbuster mentality in the same way the movie industry is - artists are concentrating more on appealing to as wide an audience as possible, rather than on making good music, and we end up with records that sell based on singles, but will be absolutely useless five years down the line.

"Fishscale" is a brilliant record by one of rap's unsung heroes. Please do yourself and Mr. Coles a favor and buy a copy or two.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

J Dilla and Madlib review

Jay Dee/J Dilla

"Beat Konducta Vol. 1-2"
Stones Throw, 2006 (both)

This February, producer/rapper J Dilla aka Jay Dee died of a blood disease. During the last few months of his life he managed to record enough tracks for an album coming out this month, as well as "Donuts", a collection of instrumentals that was released contemporaneous to his passing.

"Donuts" is both Dilla's swan song and his love letter to hip hop. Despite being divided into 31 tracks, it is not so much different songs as one long piece divided up into separate sections. In fact, it reminded me of some of Mingus's more ambitious works, like "Black Saint and the Sinner Lady". It has that same vibe of being one long track that takes you on a journey in a bunch of different directions.

"Donuts" is held together with the mournful sound of a siren, which pops up at the beginning and end and several points in between. Done mostly with a sampler, "Donuts" cuts up different records and sound bites to create a collage that references the Beastie Boys, old soul, jazz, jingles, and whatever else Dilla could find in his crates. It is a fitting epitaph for a man who devoted his life to hip-hop, and further evidence of what the music world has lost.

A month or so after "Donuts" was released, Madlib came out with his "Beat Konducta", another collection of hip-hop instrumentals. Where "Donuts" is a slightly sad, experimental song cycle, Madlib's album is music to groove to. It collects leftover beats from his recent projects, and presents them as a series of movie themes. Like all of Madlib's work, it displays his encyclopedic knowledge of music, his unequaled crate-digging skills, and his ability to mix it all up in away that is both head-bobbing and innovative. One of my favorite tracks has a sample of a guy saying "funny how things can change nigga, funny now niggas can change things" over and over, until eventually it's just "nigga" cutup into part of the beat. It's both trippy and provocative.

While neither "Donuts" nor "Beat Konducta" hooked me the same way DJ Shadow's "Endtroducing..."did, they are both good albums, and are evidence that hip-hop music truly is art. Now when's that Madvillain album coming out....?

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Buy this album!!!!!!

Remember this date: September 19, 2006. That's the day you go to your local record store and pick up a copy of Lupe Fiasco's "Food and Liquor." Hailing from Chicago, Fiasco sounds a little like Kanye West mixed with Talib Kweli. Like Kweli and West, he focuses more on the introspective and positive, and displays a sensitivity and awareness that is sorely lacking in a lot of today's rappers. He has much more in common with Native Tongue artists like Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul than anything on Cash Money or Swishahouse. On the few tracks I've heard by him, he manages to be provocative without being preachy, political without being too simplistic, and has mad skills to boot. He can rhyme, and so far he's had pretty solid beats to work with. Jay-Z is the executive producer of his album, and hopefully he has the sense to not try and make Fiasco All Things To All People, ie put the track for the ladies, the track for the hoods, the track for the club, the track for the radio, the track for the one-armed hermaphrodites, blah blah blah blah.

Hip hop could definitely use a more positive MC. No offense to the Paul Wall's and T.I.'s of the scene, but I think we have enough rappers talking about money, dealing, and partying, and very few talking about all the fucked up shit that's going on in the world today. Houston is full of New Orleans refugees, and still they are rhyming about getting their lean on and paying a hundred grand for a grill.

I'm really hoping that "Food and Liquor" will provide a viable alternative to all the southern party rap. Fiasco could be like Kanye West, only an actual rapper. Here's hoping that Lupe lives up to his hype, doesn't include too many skits or too much filler on his disc, and doesn't turn out to be the egotistical asshole that Kanye is. I'd love to see him still wearing jeans and a hoodie a few million albums later.

Lupe could also trigger a rise in skateboarding in hip hop, and a further coalescing of the two scenes. With Lupe rapping about skating, and skaters like Berkeley's Wolfpack bringing the culture to the Bay Area, it's just possible that a skate deck will become the newest hip hop accessory. And you know what that means: Spinner rims on their skateboards. Platinum Trucks. P. Diddy bringing out a line of shoes with Airwalk. Saweet.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Ugly Duckling Revew

Ugly Duckling
“Bang for the Buck”
Fat Beats, 2006

For fans of: Jurassic 5, People Under the Stairs, people who would like the Beastie Boys if they didn’t use all that profanity

This is the fourth record from these SoCal old school revivalists. Ugly Duckling have been keeping it positive and retro since 1993, and they are showing no signs of joining the 21st Century. Like Jurassic 5, they employ sing-songy flows, trade off rhymes, and do their part to steer hip-hop away from the guns, bitches and bling that it has come to be synonymous with.

The album starts off with “Bang for the Buck”, a bouncy, uptempo song that shows Yudee at their best. Over a funky bassline and hyper handclap beat, MCs Dizzy Dustin and Andy Cooper give their mission statement in rapid-fire verse:

My soul is not for sale
Got a one-track mind going off the rail
As I save the day, what I mean to say
Is Ugly Duckling is on the way like a Green Beret
No Grammy's or platinum plaques
No chicks with fake noses or plastic racks
Just raps over tracks made of plastic wax
I'll pass Dizz the mic then he'll pass it back

Hey what's happening? You ready for action?
Hands get to clappin', the place is packed in
B-Boys backspin, the DJ's scratchin'
The roof is on fire and I'm holding the matches

The song is able to generate some real energy, while taking the listener on a nostalgia trip back to the days of the block parties, when MC battles were more apt to involve mics rather than 9 millies. It’s definitely a welcome change from lyrics about cars, teeth, selling crack, shooting people, and getting fucked up. They also have an actual DJ who samples actual records with actual instruments, producing a nice warm analog drum sound that feels like summer after a long winter of screwed-up, crunked-out, synth beats. It reminded me a little bit of the Ultramagnetic MCs, although Yudee are not nearly as raw.

In fact, Yudee are about as unraw as it gets, and their incessant chipperness and unapologetic dorkiness begin to bug as the album progresses. There were points on this disc where they sounded like Radio Disney. Seriously, on a couple tracks it got so bad that I was actually embarrassed to be listening to it. Alone in my apartment.

“Slam”, their dis track, is a good example, and is probably the least good track on the album. In stilted verse following the “Da-duh-duh-duh, duh-duh-DUH” rhyme pattern than became obsolete in 1987, they say:

We used to call them perpetrators
But now if you do they'll say you're a hater
Well it's true cuz I hate you and all of the hogwash that you do
You jiggy rappers are a lying disgrace
And I'm running up coming with a pie in your face.

That’s right. Hogwash. Pie in the face. Now compare that with Ice Cube saying "you got fucked out your money by a white guy with no vaseline” or Jay-Z taunting other MCs with“I've been doing this shit since your shit was in pampers.” If Yudee don’t want to be violent and offensive, fine. But shit, if you are going to dis other rappers, at least have the dignity to do it on a track that offers something better than what other MCs are doing. I think 50 Cent is a fucking asshole, but even “Wanksta”, which criticizes someone for not being a violent drug-dealer, is better than “Smack”.

I respect what Yudee are trying to do, and they definitely have some skills. I think hip-hop needs alternatives to gangsta rap and mainstream rap, and it’s nice to see MCs giving props to the old school. I can’t help feeling, though, that Yudee’s target audience aren’t necessarily true hip-hop fans; rather, they are people who are more into other genres, and wish rappers sounded more like “License to Ill” and “Raising Hell”. And that’s fine, I just don’t happen to count myself among them.

If you are craving some upbeat, positive hip-hop that gives nods to the old school, “Bang for the Buck” will definitely fill that need. If you are still hoping for the second coming of the Wu, or wish Ice Cube's new disc was truly a return to form, you're gonna wanna pass.

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