Monday, October 31, 2016

Combo Review, Week Ending Oct. 28, 2016

We’re gonna try something a little different to critique this week’s new albums since there are so gosh darn many of them. We’re gonna lump them together. Below are the reviews for the best ones left after those already published here on SwurvRadio. Enjoy!…

Vinnie Paz, aka Vincent Pazienza, aka Pistol Pazzy, aka (insert all his other nicknames here), has released his third solo LP, The Cornerstone of the Corner Store (Enemy Soil), one month ahead of schedule for an end-of-October release instead of an end-of-November drop. Slinging his sharp, vicious rhymes in that good old East Coast style he’s famous for, Vin brings more flavors from the mean cold streets of the Philly region, and he’s even got some new slang and dialect in his vocab for us. A few songs to make particular note of include the politically aware “The Ghost I Used To Be,” the golden era throwback “Nineteen Ninety Three” and the final track “Writings on Disobedience and Democracy” about the post-WWII rise of neoconservatism. Although the brutal Jedi Mind Tricks member is in his typical, trusty suit of armor here with his harsh murder raps and all, he does take some new risks in those sociopolitical tracks and his guests (Ras Kass, Ghostface, Eamon, Agallah, OC, AG, etc.) are very exceptional too, making for another strong steely LP from the AOTP booster.
4 out of 5 stars
Journalist 103, Detroit emcee and member of The Mountain Climbaz and The Left, is not your average underground verse-flipper. He always incorporates critical social commentary and real reporting from the field into his works through cunning linguistics. Marking his second studio album release with underground-famed NYC label Babygrande Records, Battle for the Hearts and Minds is a very worthy followup to 2012’s Reporting Live as J-Clip warns of the greedy profit motive of America in “Felony,” shows loving concern for his family in “Future,” conveys the devastation felt from senseless police violence in “Good Die Young Part 2” and casts a disdainful gaze on fair-weather fem boy rappers in “Evil Eye” (not because they’re effeminate but because some of them are soiling the art). J has not rushed Battle and thus has constructed several strong statements of activist-rap here.
4 out of 5 stars
The Achievement: circa ’82 by Mickey Factz & Nottz
Achievement, Mickey Factz’ debut studio album (mixtapes were his mainstay before), not only brings the strident sample beats of Soul Counselor Nottz but also Mickey’s conscious, cool and crafty lyrics plus those of Blu, Phonte, Styles P, Curren$y, Smoke DZA and more. When he’s not having fun, Mickey wants world peace and universal, single-payer healthcare and education among other things, but he does have a few conflicts of interest. He wants these wonderful things but then he’ll slip on a mink and a diamond chain or desire for class and refinement in women but not state explicitly how men have to abide by the same rules. Highly recommendable tracks are “Wants” of course and the grand finale title track. Overall, there is definitely more substance than typicality in this great Achievement, making for a hearty success for Mickey, Nottz and their features for participating in this monumental moment in time.
4 out of 5 stars
Valley of the Kxngs EP by Kxng Crooked
Slaughter-houser from Long Beach Kxng Crooked has experienced a resurgence ever since linking with Royce, Joe and Joell to make their rhyme-killing foursome, and fueled by the steam, he is already in position to drop Good Vs Evil next month, but in the meantime, we have a sampler, Valley of the Kxngs EP, his second project of the year, following the big brusque yet beautiful Statik Kxng with S. Selektah. Valley may not surprise you, but Crooked I still has fire in his bars, spitting acrobatically on the dim fate of lacking rappers on “Next” and the good feeling of receiving a healthy income in “Scratch.” There’s even a fun freestyle at the end appropriately titled “Fun.” The cold mean line-wrangler is on top of his game here, and while the subject matter is typical, it’s a good anticipation-builder for his November third solo LP.
3 out of 5 stars
Sessions by D.I.T.C.
Earlier this year, the Diggin’ In The Crates crew of NYC came out of almost nowhere and dropped their excellent DITC Studios LP (4 out of 5 stars) of classic boom-bap bangers with conscious power. The end of this past week saw the respected collective reissue that album with four new songs, “Rock Shyt Too,” “A. Barnes,” “Granted” and “Every Time I Touch The Mic.” If you haven’t already and want to take an enlightening trip back in time, check out Studios from June before diving into Sessions; however, if that’s already checked off your list and you want to get in on the new goods plus relive some fond memories, find Sessions for sure and take a listen. “It’s Cold Outside” is an incredible song and it made the cut thank goodness. DITC have definitely put in some solid studio sessions this year and the year before.
3 out of 5 stars
Chicago rapper and friend-slash-associate of Chance the Rapper released his new album, Bucket List Project, at an opportune time for him and Go-City hip-hop. Chance is still eating off his Coloring Book mixtape from May and since Saba was a part of that gravy train, he too has some momentum from it. Saba’s interesting, occasionally slack-mouthed vocal style and delivery over hazy yet firm productions give Bucket List that new-age sound. It’s just that Saba keeps to the typical rap narrative of the general hood experience without sharing many of his own unique takes or risky thoughts and such. It’s a mostly clean, sanitary affair for the young man, as he’s summoned his inner Common, Crucial Conflict and Lupe Fiasco, who makes a special guest appearance toward the end in fact. Other features include Phoelix, Twista, Noname (check out her debut mixtape Telefone from July), Smino and Matthew Santos. Bucket List is good, but Saba has to slow down his delivery a little and be articulate more of the time on fresher subject matter next time around.
3 out of 5 stars
Boy was that exhausting, but we made it through. For the sake of concision and for good reason, the obvious propaganda pieces that came out have been left untouched as they should be. Those above ought to be focused on the most, for their intelligent character. The innutritious sugar-pop artists, self-aggrandizers and self-gravediggers can be ignored completely. What a great turnout though from the good guys and gals in the music!

No comments:

Post a Comment