The Game – The Documentary 2

The Game - The Documentary 2When The Game’s Aftermath debut The Documentary came out it was one of the most anticipated albums to come out at the time. A lot of things happened since then. The Game is still an anticipated artists but he’s had falling outs with 50 Cent/G-Unit and fights with various rappers. What I remember most from The Documentary was that the beats was dope (Dre did a few) and The Game namedropped more than any rapper has ever done before. That album, just like the sequel, had a lot of big name features. For The Documentary 2, Game is reunited with Dre, Scott Storch and Just Blaze which is a very good sign.

  1. Intro
  2. On Me feat. Kendrick Lamar
    Kendrick Lamar has stepped into the rap game with a new style of hiphop. This style has influenced a lot of artists and songs. Even Dr Dre has adopted it on the Straight Outta Compton soundtrack. Here, Game takes a shot at it and he almost sounds like Kendrick when he spit. As an old school cat I was skeptical at first but I have to say that the style itself grew on me. This track has a tight beat without alot of instruments added to it, but it works and I can definitely feel it.
  3. Step Up feat. Dej Loaf & Sha Sha
    The Game’s trying to go all Nas on this track. With a New York inspired beat he talks about honor among thieves and the rap game. It’s been done before, but I’ll stop the hating there.
  4. Don’t Trip feat. Ice Cube, Dr Dre & Will.I.Am
    An other hot producer at the moment (or more like the past couple of years) is Will.I.Am. The beat’s once again a little naked, which I guess is hot right now, but it’s got more of a Will.I.Am touch. Cube and Dre are reunited once again but this time it’s no monster hit. Nice filler, but I would have loved to hear Game, Cube and Dre on a classic Dr Dre(TM) beat…
  5. Standing On Ferrais feat. Diddy
    The Game and Diddy… I guess Game do want him singing, dancing in his videos and so on… Anyway. A jazz inspired beat with Game spitting some real nice verses and Diddy making sounds in the background and talking in the outro. This is a filler with a guest star.
  6. Dollar And A Dream feat. AB Soul
    Dollar And A Dream is an other soulistic track. The Game sounds more and more like Nas voice wise, but lyrically he’s still the same Game with one exeption; he’s not dropping names every other bar. AB Soul and Game reflects over what has happened since The Documentary. It’s a pretty nice track.
  7. Made In America feat. Mvrcus Blvck
    Made In America is like a continuation of Dollar And A Dream. The track even starts off with the line “Dollar and a dream”. The Game again refers to Nas whom seems to be his new favorite rapper nowdays. The track is soulistic and nice to listen to, but I’m missing a club banger this far on the album.
  8. Hashtag feat. Jelly Roll
    As a reviewer on 30rap.com I admittedly like the 90’s style of hiphop and Jelly Roll is the 90’s west coast version of Lil’ Jon. Beat wise this track starts off kind of naked and builds, just like a Lil Jon production…
  9. Circles feat. Q-Tip, Eric Bellinger & Sha Sha
    On Circles, The Game is really displaying that he has evolved as a rapper. From namedropping one-liners and battle rap he can now do stories and conversations on tracks. The slow jam stylish beat changes after half of the track when the guest rappers go on and the track is all in all a really tight track.
  10. Uncle Skit
  11. Dedicated feat. Future & Sonyae
    An other slow jam shows that this album is really different from the first Documentary album. Dedicated is mellow and I can see this being played in the background at restaurants or at coffee shops in Amsterdam. I need to try that next time I’m in Amsterdam…
  12. Bitch You Ain’t Shit
    Game really sounds like Nas on this track. His voice changed up a little bit from the first Documentary. In fact, The Game’s early JT stuff sounds more like this. I guess he evolved as a rapper which is not wrong. And besides, I love Nas as a rapper. You could think that Bitch You Ain’t Shit would be a raw diss track a la N.W.A, but it’s actually a mellow diss to bitches in general. Not too bad, but not what I expected.
  13. Summertime feat. Jelly Roll
    Game is making elevator music now. Is this really Jelly Roll on the track? Dude sounds nothing like on Hashtag.
  14. Mula feat. Kanya West
    The Game and Kanye West seems to be on eachothers albums all the time. I bet Kanya would take credit for Game’s success if asked about it too. I was never a big Kanya fan but I admit he’s a dope producer. In the words of Ice Cube, he should “stock to producing” in my opinion. Either way, this is an other mellow track that is not really standing out. It’s kind of short too, since the last minutes is an outro.
  15. The Documentary 2
    The title track is the only up-tempo track on the album, with production that sounds like a mix between Kendrick Lamar and Dr. Dre. The output is really tight and I would say this is the best track of the album. This should be a single.
  16. New York, New York
    New York, New York is not a sequel to Doggpound’s track with the same name. It’s more of a reflection on police brutality and racism in society. At the end of the track, Game dedicates the song to Stephanie Moseley who was murdered in a murder-suicide case where Earl Hayes was the shooter. Game was signed to Aftermath at the same time as Earl Hayes and offer his condolences to her family and expresses that he never saw it coming.
  17. 100 feat. Drake
    100 is the first single off the album and while it is no club banger it’s a good representative track over hiphop today. The “New West” sound and Drake. It can’t be more 2015 than that. I guess Drake and Game will attract attention, but I’m not really feeling that this is a single that will take the album to the next level.
  18. Just Another Day
    On Just Another Day, The Game reflects on how he was signed to Aftermath and what’s been happening since then. He remembers specific days in his life and reminisce over Eazy E, Nate Dogg and other fallen soldiers from the history of the rap game.
  19. LA feat. Snoop Dogg, Will.I.Am & Fergie
    Just like the title implies, the track is a tribute to Los Angeles. The production is similar to the soft soulistic stuff that we’ve previously heard on the album but here there is a more pop-oriented hook and the drums is a little harder than before. It’s a nice little track, but I’m not impressed. As on any other platinum artists album, Snoop makes a guest appearance. The Game enters the track late and makes it a little rawer with a few bars about Compton and gangs of L.A.

When reviewing a sequel album like The Documentary 2, it’s impossible not to compare it to the original. All in all, this album is much more mellow and soulistic than the first album. While The Documentary had Dr. Dre trademarked bangers, The Documentary 2 has adopted the new style of west coast hiphop that we can hear on Kendrick Lamars albums, Dre’s Straight Outta Compton and so on. As a reviewer on 30rap.com I am more into the 90’s sound so it’s a little disappointment for me personally, but I get it. I get the greatness of the new sound and I get that hiphop is evolving, or recycling an old sound with new influences. If you don’t know what I’m talking about you should check this album out. If you do know what I’m talking about and you like it, you should check this album out. If you are looking for a Documentary, Chronic 2001 or Get Rich or Die Trying type of album, this is not the album for you.

I rate this album 3 out of 5. It’s a nice album but I doubt I’ll remember it in 10 years. Best track is the title track and other than that I can imagine playing this album in the background of a house party or something like that.

Mac Minister – The Minister of Defense

Mac Minister - The Minister of DefenseSome rappers get by on charisma; Mac Minister is a perfect example of that. More game-spitter than actual emcee, he preaches a street level gospel that rallies against snitchin’, endorses hustlin’ and takes shots at fellow Baydestrian E-40.

Mac Minister won’t be brought up in discussions on quality emcees but if you dug his interludes on other artists’ records, odds are you’ll appreciate Minister of Defense.

It’s very much a regional thing, with guest appearances by Little Bruce, Too $hort, Mac Dre and Rappin’ 4-Tay. Preach!

Young Black Teenagers – Dead Enz Kidz Doin’ Lifetime Bidz

Young Black Teenagers - Dead Enz Kidz Doin’ Lifetime BidzTheir group name and the title to their sophomore album might have been suspect but don’t let appearances fool you, the Young Black Teenagers were a solid, credible rap act and Dead Enz Kidz contained some vintage early nineties hardcore hip-hop fueled by jazzy breaks, deft scratching and shouted gang choruses.

The production is top-notch throughout, courtesy of the Bomb Squad and Grandmaster Flash. Lyrically there aren’t many quotables to be found but the energy, chemistry between the group members and tongue twisting flows compensate the lack of intricate wordplay and rhyme schemes.

If the goal is to get the party started than Dead Enz Kidz will definitely do the job. You needn’t look any further than ‘Tap the Bottle’ to achieve that feat. Check it out.

RA the Rugged Man – Legends Never Die

RA the Rugged Man - Legends Never DieRA the Rugged Man’s skill as an emcee is without question, so is his status as an underground legend. Label drama kept him from claiming the emcee-crown in New York’s competitive underground scene. His unreleased but bootlegged debut Night of the Bloody Ape, work with Rawkus records, show stealing guest appearances and Die, Rugged Man, Die album made sure he was always a perennial contender.

Legends Never Die pulls it all together for RA. It’s a purist’s classic that emphasizes the hip-hop’s fundamentals: rhymes, flow, beats and even some beatboxing. Legends is mostly good times and jokes, braggadocious and tough but it’s when RA gets personal and opens about his late father the record that the album and the lyricist truly show their depth. Check the crackle in his voice when he utters the words “I love you, daddy” on ‘Daddy’s Halo’ and tell me that’s not genuine emotion.

With a guest list full of underground favorites and a dedicated focus on those things that make rap music the coolest thing since Billy Dee Williams, Legends is a must-have album. It’s an all-time classic and a testament that the industry can’t keep a good emcee down.

Dr. Octagon – Dr. Octagonecologyst

Dr. Octagon - Dr. OctagonecologystDruggy hallucinogenic extraterrestrial pornography on wax. Dr. Octagonecologyst reshaped hip-hop and opened the doors for the alternative rap explosion in the mid-nineties.

Alienating fetishist rap wasn’t new to Kool Keith but in Dan the Automator and DJ Q-Bert he found two co-conspirators that were able to bring his warped vision to full fruition, providing him with the most complimentary instrumental backing since Critical Beatdown. The album is a group effort through and through, a creepy sonic world where X-rated samples, seemingly freeform wordplay and dynamic cuts and scratches take center stage. It’s ER meets Arkham Asylum, David Lynch and Rob Black collaborating on a new series, familiar and unheard. It’s a stone cold classic and one of the greatest rap records ever made.

Geto Boys – Till Death do us part

Geto Boys - Till Death do us partA great Geto Boys album in all regards, maybe even in contention for the title of best overall GB’s album, Till Death’s only drawback lies in the absence of original member and trash talker extraordinaire Willie D. His replacement, Big Mike, isn’t fazed and swings for the fences throughout the album, upping the lyrical ante along the way.

From behind the boards, producer NO Joe gives the Fifth Ward posse a more fully developed sound to work with. Deep southern funk and soul runs through Till Death. Since the rhymes and beats are on equal footing this time round, the Geto Boys sound less exploitative than before. Don’t let first impressions fool you; there is still ample room for the expected serial killer scenarios and sexual perversions. Only this time they’re matched by a unified sound and more accomplished musicality.

Most will prefer the raw shock-rap of Grip it! On that other level or We can’t be stopped since those records present the Houston squad in their most brash and abrasive form. Till Death do us part was a logical progression from that template and heavily influenced future southern greats like UGK and Eightball & MJG.

Prime Minister Pete Nice & Daddy Rich – Dust to Dust

Prime Minister Pete Nice & Daddy Rich - Dust to DustUnjustly relegated to a mere footnote in the story that is the rise and fall of 3rd Bass, Pete Nice & Daddy Rich’s Dust to Dust was actually a forebearer of things to come. The album was laced with early productions by the legendary Beatnuts and sported guest appearances from Kurious and Cage, the latter actually making his debut on ‘Rich,bring ‘em back’.

The album filters the blunted hip-hop of Cypress Hill’s self-titled debut through a New York aesthetic, matching booming basslines with plenty of vocal samples and superb turntable wizardry by DJ Daddy Rich, the often overlooked 3rd Bass member who shines throughout Dust to Dust.

It’s a damn shame Pete & Rich called it quits after this one, a record that’s all killer and no filler. If murky, grimy beats and true swagger on the mic are your thing, get with the Prime Minister & Daddy Rich.

Attack The Block (2011, Joe Cornish)

Attack The Block (2011, Joe Cornish)Let me go right ahead and spoil this review for you: I do not understand the critical acclaim this movie has received. As a general rule of thumb, I am very wary of movies that are promoted as “by the same people who produced whatever hit movie” or even worse by prominently mentioning or showing a minor character who’s protrayed by an actor more famous than anyone else who’s in the movie. Attack The Block does all those things. I get that they’re marketing strategies to get the fickle movie-going audience to go and watch that particular movie but it just doesn’t sit right with me.

Which made me start watching this movie with a bit of an ambiguous feeling. On the one hand I had heard a lot of people raving about it – some of them even knowledgeable – yet on the other hand the people behind it seemingly didn’t feel secure enough about the finished product to just let it speak for itself and felt the need to resort to some dodgy marketing. Still, I was curious what all the fuss was about and let’s not kid each other here, I’ll basically watch anything anyway. Whether I like it, though, is a different matter altoghether.

The plot, then. In short, a bunch of delinquent kids from the same housing block (hence the titular “block”) mistake an alien for a monkey, kill it and cause a minor alien invasion in doing so.

That’s it, really, there’s not much else to it. Okay, there are a number of subplots, I guess. Well, I can think of two, anyway. One involves the block’s resident drug dealer trying to protect his turf and as is usually the case with drug dealers, he’s not too subtle about it. The other shows that the delinquent kids do care about certain things and are only who they are because of their troubled backgrounds. It’s especially these last parts of the movie that bothered me as they’re so blatantly obvious and corny (figuring the same old themes such as prejudice, self-sacrifice,…) to the point that they’re annoying. It reminded me of that 90’s show Moesha, really, it’s that bad. Maybe if this was a kid’s movie you could still stomach it – though even then I think it’s put on too thickly (I mean, Moesha!) – but it’s definitely not a kid’s movie because there’s too much gore, drug-use, swearing and other non-child friendly stuff in there for that. So who is this movie aimed at? There are some jokes in there but not enough to make it a comedy so they come across as rather awkward. It’s not truly a horror movie either as it never even gets truly scary for instance. It’s trying to cater to too many tastes, leaving everyone wanting in the process.

All this may seem a bit harsh and it kind of is because it’s not thát bad a movie, either, and okay, maybe it’s not quite as bad as Moesha. But it’s very frustrating nevertheless because there is a decent movie there somewhere, it’s just that it’s buried under a somewhat muddled script, an overmoralizing story and some slack directing. Director/writer Joe Cornish definitely bit off more than he could chew for his first feature film but he does show promise. He managed to get an okay cast together with the kid actors in particular putting down some nice performances. And yes, as the makers definitely wanted everyone to know, it’s got Nick Frost as well, though not in a part he’ll be particularly remembered for. It’s got some decent effects with a bit of gore and monsters which are kind of intriguing even. And the main invasion story, though a bit flimsy, has an interesting (albeit rather sudden) explanation for the reasons behind the invasion. Nothing new, mind, but not something that’s been done to death, either, so kudos for that.

In conclusion, too bad, Joe, a missed opportunity. If you make a second feature, though, – and given the fact that almost everybody else seemingly loved this one I’m sure a lot of opportunities will present themselves to you – I’ll definitely watch it to see what you’ve learned from Attack The Block. But for now I can only quote Thomas Dolby by saying: “Close, but no cigar.”

Suck (2009, Rob Stefaniuk)

Suck (2009, Rob Stefaniuk)Naming your movie Suck is just begging for it to be seriously scrutinized. So to pose the inevitable question: Does Suck suck? Well, let’s not give away the ending just yet, shall we?

Suck is basically a movie about a struggling band trying to get that one break they all desperately crave. When one of their crew gets turned into a vampire, that seems to provide them with the gimmick they need to finally make it big time. But of course things don’t turn out quite as they had hoped.

If there’s one genre that has been oversatiated these past couple of years, it is definitely the one featuring vampires/werewolves/[insert any other mythical creature that’s being massacred (but not in a good way) by the big studios today]. So to say that Suck is another vampire movie is not going to automatically win over any fans, quite to the contrary more likely. But wait, Suck is also a rock ‘n’ roll movie! So it’s not just about vampires but they’re in a rock band as well. Oh, that’s right, the market’s also being flooded with crappy dance/music movies for all those desperately cool young adults out there. So okay, that probably won’t convince anyone to go and watch it either. What else has it got? Well, what if I were to say that it stars not only Alice muthafuckin’ Cooper but also Iggy Pop, Henry Rollins, Moby and Malcolm McDowell! Okay, so I ended on a bit of a downer there but I promise you that ol’ Malcolm’s pretty decent in this one, really. And surprisingly enough, even though they’re all fun in their own right, the coolest character of them all is played – and not that badly at that – by Moby. I know, right?

Now, even the toughest critic would have to admit that those are some pretty cool names to have in your movie. And they’re not just cameos, either, but actual speaking parts mostly relevant to the plot even. Not too shabby. What else? As interesting as those names are, the same cannot be said about the director’s name, i.e. Rob Stefaniuk, which drew a total blank for me. Apparently he’s been paving the way as an actor for a while already, but as a director this is only his second feature-length movie, having previously directed only one short and one feature film (the equally unknown to me Phil The Alien), the last one of which he also wrote and starred in. And that seems to show the determination with which Stefaniuk is working on his career. He’s not only written Suck, he’s not only directed it and he’s not only starring in it, no, he’s also occupied himself with the music. You see, besides being a writer/director/actor he’s also a musician so he co-wrote most of the music and lyrics (in fact, the lead singer in the band he’s the keyboardist in – Mamabolo – also plays a substantial part in the movie). ‘A’ for effort, right?

But does it all pay off? Well, yes, actually. The one thing that Suck really has going for it is that Stefaniuk made Suck into a comedy above all other things. It does have a (fairly decent) soundtrack and there’s a good bit of gore in there as well, but basically it’s the fact that it doesn’t take itself too seriously which really makes it a fun(ny) movie. Don’t be fooled, none of the actors’ performances are going to blow you away (not even Stefaniuk’s who, judging from this movie anyway, is definitely a better writer/director than he is an actor, sorry, Rob!), neither will the special effects or the soundtrack or anything else in particular, but it’s all done just well enough for the whole to come together nicely. Three things that deserve special mention: One, the crudely made stop-motion travelling sequences which I found to be weirdly fitting. Two, Dave Foley (of The Kids In The Hall-fame) whose character is easily the funniest one in the entire movie. And last but far from least, the way in which Stefaniuk used footage from a 70’s film starring obviously a much younger Malcolm McDowell (for those interested, it’s from O Lucky Man!) for McDowell’s flashback sequences. This is done so well that I am amazed that this isn’t being done more often. It works so much better than trying to de-age 70-year-old actors or actresses using either layer upon layer of make-up or even CGI. Filmmakers, take note, this is how you edit!

So to come back to the question at the beginning of this review: No, Suck does not suck.

Coneheads (1993, Steve Barron)

Coneheads (1993, Steve Barron)Coneheads, like the Blues Brothers and Wayne’s World films, is based on a popular recurring Saturday Night Live sketch starring Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin (probably best-known for her role of Dr. Mary Albright in 3rd Rock From The Sun). Aykroyd and Curtin play an alien family stranded on Earth. They appear human except for their heads which are – surprise, surprise – shaped like cones. Of course there are other differences as well, not just anatomical (although the physical anomalies don’t stop with their skulls). They eat massive amounts of food and when the mood is right indulge in some cone-honing (just watch the movie). Conveniently enough, they do speak English but in a very nasal, monotone voice supplementing it with their own quirky phrases referring to e.g. parents as “parental units”. But nobody ever wonders about their weird shape or any of their other blatantly obvious deviations from what’s normal and everybody happily accepts them just for who they are because this is America, darnit! (right?)

So anyway, the movie starts off with Beldar (Aykroyd) and Prymaat (Curtin) crashing their ship on Earth. Apparently their rescue is not of the highest priority so while waiting for another ship to come and rescue them, they try to blend in on Earth and make the best of it. Along the way Prymaat gets pregnant which means that besides being illegal aliens trying to pursue the American dream, they now also have the added responsibility of becoming parents and everything that entails.

On paper Coneheads looks like a dud. It’s a 90’s movie based on a number of sketches from the 70’s and has a director, Steve Barron, who is best-known for his music videos. But Barron didn’t just make any old music videos. Actually, he made some of the 80’s most seminal videos, including Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean, Dire Straits’ Money For Nothing and A-HA’s Take On Me. Still, from the handful of movies he did direct, you’ll probably only recognize one, though it’s one you most likely will have fond childhood memories of as it is in fact the very first live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! And luckily some of that style and the effects his music videos are known for, shows through in Coneheads as well.

So Coneheads surprisingly beat the odds, turning out to be a very entertaining movie. It’s got a decent script which is actually funny. It’s got a fine cast of actors with this probably being Aykroyd’s funniest movie – no matter if it’s starring in or written by – in the past 20 years. And perhaps because of Barron’s experience shooting his music videos, it’s got some great special effects for the time as well. You’d be hard-pressed to find a shot where Beldar and Prymaat’s cones don’t look extremely convincing and I love the stop-motion animation they use.

Furthermore, it would seem that almost every successful American comedian from the 90’s appears in this movie. Of course there are the Saturday Night Live’ers like e.g. Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, Jon Lovitz and many others. But there are also Eddie Griffin, Ellen Degeneres, Drew Carey, Tom Arnold, Jason Alexander, Michael Richards and the list goes on. If you’re into cameo-spotting, Coneheads is your movie.

Coneheads surprised me in a good way. I went into it not expecting all that much but was left thoroughly entertained. Sometimes a project just comes together and this is definitely one of those times.