|Instinctive Drowning by Red Pill|
Saturday, August 27, 2016
Thursday, August 25, 2016
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Sunday, August 14, 2016
Saturday, August 13, 2016
Friday, August 12, 2016
Monday, August 8, 2016
Saturday, August 6, 2016
|iiiDrops (mixtape) by Joey Purp|
Right in line and fine formation with Chicago’s growing renaissance of young flourishing hip-hop artists like Chance The Rapper, Vic Mensa, Noname, G Herbo, Kembe X, Lance Skiiiwalker and many more, Joey Purp (Joey Davis) of the Savemoney and Leather Corduroy crews is in like fashion making a way for himself with his creative well written rhyme lines focusing on his environment and the conditions of his residence over music made by his similarly talented friends and producers de la Chi. His second mixtape, iiiDrops (released independently on May 27), follows his 2012 debut The Purple Tape and is a firm potent mix of fun jams and joints displaying his societal sociopolitical awareness and consciousness that reveal the uneven keel he, his family and mates experience everyday in their city. Purp’s attention to authentic rapping on smart brilliant topics to beats of a new unique nature makes iiiDrops one of the most urgent Chicago hip-hop projects to come out so far this year.
A serious emcee in all respects, Purp gets his points across without wasting time or added unnecessary filler but keeps his tone light in songs like the bouncy flirty “Girls” featuring Chance The Rapper, “Photobooth,” and the hazy blurry “Kids” narco-ballad. To set the overall emotional framework of the project initially though, he admits he has firsthand eyewitness knowledge of Chiraq violence yet hopes for the best in “Morning Sex,” he raps about the status quo and speaks on ways the poor and disadvantaged are kept down in “Money & Bitches” featuring Mick Jenkins (another great Chicago rapper), and states in the Teddy Jackson-assisted “When I’m Gone” that “the system just make[s] a victim out of innocent people, set[s] us up for failure and tells us that we [are] not an equal.”
In “Cornerstore,” with Saba and theMIND, Purp touches on some of his touching childhood memories from when he was a more impressionable, vulnerable youngster, and in “Say You Do,” he confronts his girl who he suspects is feigning affection for him. From there on out, it’s nothing but good vibes. “Godbody” is an exhibition of Purp’s ability to transmit tight flows in perfect music time and to close everything out, “Winners Circle” (ft. Vic Mensa) and “Escape” march forward into the horizon with persistence, determination, ambition and commitment, ignoring all distractions at every step. All along the way, Joey is aided by eleven all new, original, unrecycled beats from maestros of record-making like Knox Fortune, Peter Cottontale, Thelonious Martin and Donnie Trumpet. Obviously the Social Experiment influence on the music is effulgent and unescapable though altered a bit for an overall coarser, more overcast shade and essence, tailored to Purp's personality. Joey Purp may not do anything much more progressive besides diagnosis the problems evident in his hometown here (some solutions and a possible prognosis would have been helpful), but without question, iiiDrops is another big one-up for Chicagoland and a fab add-on to hip-hop history for a city that really needs it at the moment.
4 out of 5 stars
Monday, August 1, 2016
|Telefone (mixtape) by Noname|
Buzzing Bronzeville, Chicago rapper Noname (Fatimah Warner) has finally made it to that special milestone of sharing with the world her very first project, a "mixtape" titled Telefone, released July 31 on SoundCloud. The cool young rhymer keeps it very kind and lovely on the issue, rapping on her desires, hopes and concerns and recalling un-erasable childhood memories and other mental snapshots from her past. She is very chill and soft and sends well wishes to her fam and friends in “Bye Bye Baby” and reveals her prayers for peace amidst the violence in her city in “Casket Pretty.”
All of the soul-soothing crooning and rhyming fit the warm, quiet, twinkly background music like a glove, and besides herself, the eleven guests, including theMIND, Raury, Cam O’bi, Saba and Smino, astonishingly don’t overcrowd the project and on the flip side help generate enthusiasm for the calm, gentle and tranquil feel of the proceedings. Noname is a welcome contrast to the brash harsh femcees of other areas and eras, and she is wise to reject over-sexualization and sassy booshy tendencies. It’s quite unique and original of her. Kudos to Noname.
Now for the part all artists dread, the blunt criticism. Noname is almost a singer at times so in the mixtape’s thirty-three minutes, she hasn’t given us enough of a show of her rapping/rhyming skills. She has them, but it would have been nice to hear more than we actually get here. And except for her thoughts on the rampant problem of Chicago violence, there is not much unconventional protesting or wowing going on that is so commonplace in rebel, renegade rap, but Noname seems to be no shock artist so she gets a pass (also considering this is her first album-effort). Otherwise, she does very well for hip-hop and Chicago overall in Telefone. The cuddly cozy productions are reminiscent of the general tone of Kanye’s College Dropout beats for example and blend nicely with the comforting Chancellor Bennett-style sounds and sentiments. It’s a real win by most accounts.
3 out of 5 stars
|School's Out: Still Laughing by Johnny Richter|
Former Kottonmouth Kings emcee Johnny Richter released his official sophomore LP, School’s Out: Still Laughing, on July 29 via Suburban Noize Records, and besides some unremarkable production and quite generic subject matter, Richter has kept his writing and rapping skills firm and even spreads positive messages urging us to be ourselves, make something out of life and get up and work for our keep.
He’s hellbent on grasping tightly to his fresh, smart, and strong new mindset and he’s very generous in sharing it with us, his fans and listeners. Now if only he would say some testy statements to cripple the current corrupt power structure around us. Oh well. What we have here is fine.
Positivity certainly is the name of Richter's game these days. Some of his rhymes though are of a basic, mid tempo nature, not to be overlooked because of his super optimistic attitude. The professional finish of the whole album is not as stunningly clear and crisp as the average major label issue, but the music gets across and touches the heart still. The fun-loving Richter can’t avoid coming off in tone as a hangout surfer type almost at times so his hard image takes a minor hit needless to say.
Overall though, School's Out: Still Laughing is a solid, respectable rap album with lessons that may feel doper to people of privilege than those in poorer circumstances who have less control over their destinies, but the lessons still apply to everyone. That being said, Johnny Richter’s helpful, universally relatable messages are still appreciable no matter who or where you are.
3 out of 5 stars
|When Music Worlds Collide by Jonathan Hay & Mike Smith|
Production duo Jonathan Hay and Mike Smith with co-producing help from the legendary King Tech (of Sway and Tech) have a best kept secret on their hands that must not remain so because the project in question, their debut album together called When Music Worlds Collide, is an exceptionally pleasing marriage of authentic rap and super smooth music compositions that is an excellent new hip-hop creation. The regular edition of the LP actually came out last year in April, but the deluxe version just dropped on July 26 of this year via SMH Entertainment/Urban Hitchcock Music. Hip-hop heads rejoice.
It features such microphone luminaries as Royce Da 5’9’’, Kxng Crooked, Cyhi The Prince, Kool G Rap, Sadat X and several other new-to-rise emcees. Together they share their thoughts on the fruits of labor, the growth of hip-hop culture, sex and the disappointments of falling away from relationship love. Hay, Smith, Tech and also DJ Revolution in spots have built a set of music pieces that might be best described as a melodic mainstream blend of piano and drum sets, clean cool coffee house-like sounds and even some calm country rock mixed with scratching, bass and moving jazz drum-kit mixtures. This is an audio feast for music lovers and connoisseurs of involved rap lyrics.
There are almost no controversial, revolutionary thoughts or ideas in store though, save for Cyhi’s exhortation for continued intelligence in hip-hop, but the rich rap flows by all the incredible rappers here are inspiring and welcome advancement for the craft indeed. Some of the tracks draw themselves out into extended, tipsy, hopeless romantic confessionals, but it’s definitely a nice break from current trap sounds of relentless gangsta brutality and drug-moving. If you’re a heavy listening, diehard rap-addict, make room in your schedule for When Music Worlds Collide for sure, and make it the deluxe version if you have time.
3 out of 5 stars
|The Urban Hitchcock LP by Jonathan Hay|
Producer and publicist Jonathan Hay just got done dropping his deluxe collaboration album When Music Worlds Collide with King Tech and Mike Smith but four months ago and some change, he released his own debut compilation LP, The Urban Hitchcock LP, which also features a long list of remarkable emcees suitable to Hay’s style of commonly appealable, contemporary music productions. In other words, there's a lot in store here for fans of rap and of music in general.
The quality rappers take their turns spitting on struggle, love, pain, heartbreak and more. The chemistry between Hay and the vocalists has allowed a different softer side to be heard from historically hardcore rappers like Canibus and Planet Asia for example, but Urban Hitchcock is still very much a rap affair, and a good rap affair at that. The likeness of a lot of the rappers seems to have been put through a filter to go along with the artistically pop-friendly beats and that is only one of the (minor) complaints about this project. Make no mistakes though. This is mostly a fresh quality album.
The “Jerk” track in which Hay claims that producer Statik Selektah and Action "Bam Bam" Bronson may be more than friends is weird and pretty defamatory, maybe even slanderous. At this point, Hay should hope and pray that people forget about this little mistake of his sooner rather than later and that he doesn’t get isolated by the industry and culture as a result. Those two after all are major players and heavyweights in the game right now. Other than that, listeners of rap should get to know Hay. Urban Hitchcock has value.
3 out of 5 stars
|Black Sheep 3 (mixtape) by Caskey|
Caskey (Brandon Caskey) from Orlando, Florida, a Cash Money Records rapper since 2012, who is still on the famous NOLA/Miami label, issued the third part to his Black Sheep mixtape-series in February of this year, continuing is mountaintop climb to the upper echelons of the industry, while still remaining a commander in his particular niche. The Caskey we hear in this project projects a bunch of condescending dopeboy swag initially that opens up later in about feelings geared towards grappling with not being understood and not bending his style to the desires of outsiders.
His rapping technique is no doubt respectable as his wordplay is sharp, layered and stacked in a number of spots, but his loose trapped-out subjects will require some reconsideration and remodeling in the foreseeable future. Fans would appreciate hearing more personality from him as well, and he would probably agree that his topics could stand to be more unique and outside-the-box more often. Still though, Caskey is surely an emcee to watch for. If the content in Black Sheep 3 is what he is capable of in a mixtape, then an LP by the skilled young man will probably be just as promising or more so.
2 out of 5 stars