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!

Public Enemy – How do you sell soul…?

Public Enemy - How do you sell soul...?Public Enemy aren’t hip and/or happening and they haven’t been since the zenith of their popularity back when Fear of a Black Planet had everyone wanting to Fight the Power. That hasn’t stopped PE from keeping things moving though, matter of fact since they split from Def Jam they’ve been on a creative roll and released several good-to-great albums along the way. Their new album, How do you sell Soul to a soulless people who sold their Soul?, continues that artistic momentum. Chuck couldn’t give a damn about the popularity contest that is mainstream music and he’ll keeping hitting you over the head with logic and political awareness, doesn’t matter if you like it or not. To quote Mistachuck himself I’m too old to be popular and at my age if I can’t teach, I shouldn’t even open my mouth and begin to speak. And with those words you know what to expect from the album, PE in full effect not minding if you consider them cool in the least, they’ve got more important things to worry about.

If this all sounds boring then you’ve probably never been big on the group to begin with, your loss though cause the album is a definite winner. Chuck’s voice is as commanding as ever and his enthusiasm and commitment really bring the message across. Add to that the retro-production, which is top notch, and it becomes pretty hard to not like this album. Wait a minute, retro-production? Isn’t that just another way to spell ‘dated’? Nope, PE has just come to the point where their history has become so undeniably significant to hip-hop that they can reference it without any shame and that’s exactly what Bomb Squad original Gary G-Wiz does behind the boards. The interludes and samples strongly recall Fear of a Black Planet while the use of live instrumentation takes you back to Muse-sick-N-hour-mess-age (their unheralded classic).

Still the album isn’t without it’s faults as their are a couple of lesser moments, usually with a Flavor Flav tag to them since Flav’s solo spots are for the most part uninspired throwbacks to his shining moments on the records of old. That and the record does bog down a little in the middle. Other than that you’d be hard pressed to find a rap group that’s been in the game for twenty years and counting and still sounds as vibrant as PE does.

So what if they’re considered the Bill Cosby’s of rap and they keep moving along unimpressed by all these new trends and fads that have the kids going nuts? They know that once puberty’s over their catalog will be digested all the same, even if they’re getting slept on today. And you know what, not caring if you’re cool…that’s really cool.

Conclusion: It’s not an album of the year candidate but it’s yet another solid release in a long and storied career which doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon. The fact that you also get a bonus DVD with a live concert, several videos and short do*****entaries is just icing on the cake. The bottom line: 7.8/10

Necro – Death Rap

Necro - Death RapRonny Braunstein has come a long way since launching his own label late last millenium and releasing his debut album I Need Drugs on it. The lo-fi recording was a highly promising debut which garnered him a dedicated fanbase from jump and since then that promise seems to have come to fruition. From 2004 till 2005 Mr. Braunstein even went Master P on us by dropping solo albums by Ill Bill, Mr. Hyde, Goretex, Sabac and two of his own for good measure, his personal masterpiece The Pre-Fix for Death and the sleazy ode to pornography that was The Sexorcist.

Now Death Rap is upon us, Necro’s first album in over two years and the first Psycho+Logical release to be distributed by Koch records and Abstract records. In a lot of ways this is the most professional looking album in Necro’s catalog yet. Apart from the Death Metalesque artwork the album booklet also features all the lyrics to the songs, the credits and a seemingly endless barrage of thank you’s (by Necro’s standards anyway). Where the general tone used to be buy P+L product or DIE ! Necro now chooses to express both his gratitude for all the years of support and the love he has for all his fans. It’s a minor observation but it indicates the Sexorcist’s ambition to rise above his current cult status and attempt to reach out to a bigger audience, in that regard even Necro’s posing for the picture in the booklet seems deliberate. It’s just too bad that the actual album doesn’t share the same characeristics.

First things first : Death Rap is a very solid record, period.
The best songs on the record all share a common eighties horror movie feel thanks to the eerie ominous keys and/or effective sampling, two things which have become Necro trademarks over the years. It helps Death Rap get off to a very promising start in the form of the Charles Manson storytelling track that is Creepy Crawl and also lifts tracks likeKeep On Driving (which succesfully samples the movie Daddy’s Deadly Darling), Exploitation (featuring a barnburning verse by Mr. Hyde that manages to instantly create anticipation for his next solo release), the Ill Bill assisted As Deadly As Can Be and closing track Portrait of a Death Rapper above the rest and will guarantee themselves a place on any Necro fan’s ipod.

Also evident throughout Death Rap is Necro’s growth as an emcee. His flow has become more self-assured, especially compared to the I Need Drugs days, he has become a master of cadance and multi-syllabic rhyming and in a lot of ways the album is a showcase for those qualities. The only problem is that sometimes this also causes him to fall head first into abstract backpacker territory (‘artistically, sadictically, statistically, realistically, pistol whip thee’ on the hardcore influenced Suffocated To Death By God’s Shadow or ‘sanguinary, biochemistry, chemotherapy, chemical treatment, criminal cemetary, symmatry’ from the aformentioned Exploitation). His mastery of flow also dominates the hardcore track Suffocated where he keeps pace with the breakneck rhythm laid down by Mike Smith and Steve DiGiorgio. As a showing of his skills as an emcee it’s very impressive but on it’s own the track doesn’t really work and ends up being less than the sum of it’s parts, with such a star studded supporting cast you’d expect more, the musicianship is there and Necro pulls it all together on the third verse but the first two verses come of as a course in emceeing 101. The Harley Flanagan collaboration Belligerent Gangsters doesn’t fare any better as Flanagan delivers an underwhelming performance on the hook. Which leads to one of Death Rap’s biggest problems : the overall lack of decent choruses. There are virtually no hooks worth mentioning, which in itsself wouldn’t be too much of an issue if it weren’t for the fact that very few of the songs contain more than two verses or come close to the three minute mark. It gives the album somewhat of a glorified mixtape feel, which is enhanced by Necro’s non-stop barrage of freestyle rhyming as there are virtually no storytelling tracks like Dead Body Disposal or songs that come from the artists personal experience such as Reflection of Children Coming Up In The Grave. There are some hooks on the Metal inspired joints but to be honest they tend to fall more into Spinal Tap territory than anything else, especially Evil Rules which leads the images of Dave Ellefson getting stuck in his pod should they ever take this song out on the road.

The short running time of the album, a mere 37 minutes total, along with it’s pseudo-mixtape aesthetic are in stark contrast to the album’s packaging. Maybe a couple of more verses here or there wouldn’t have hurt, neither would some more efficient hooks but as it stands…

Conslusion : Death Rap is sure to please the Necro diehards and will no doubt find it’s place in their record collection. At the same time it’s hard to recommend this album to folks who are new to the Sexorcist’s brand of musical mayhem as they might be better off checking out Gory Days or the Pre-Fix instead. Still if you’re saving up your milkmoney to buy the new Ja Rule record I’d suggest you take a chance on Death Rap regardless, it’s not a bad album at all it just could’ve been so much more.


Tha Realest – Tha Death Row Dayz

Tha Realest - Tha Death Row DayzOk so I first now got my CD that I was waiting a long time for and when I got it, the CD cover was kind of low budget and I was like, man I paid $30 for this??? But anyway ***** all that, I popped the first CD in the CD Player and I was like daaaaaamn this shit is off the hook!!

CD 1:

1: Intro / Big Game Hunter

A dope ass intro with the sample of the Nightmare on Elm Street theme along with samples from Chronic 2000 and also samples of Tha Realest and other people talking about him, real good introduction to the CD. After that Big Game Hunter starts and this song is just a classic, the flow and beat is hella dope and it really brings back the Death Row feeling from the mid 90’s.

2: High Powered

This song is cool, the beat is kind of simple, but it goes. The track is only 1 min and 39 sec so it’s basically a album filler but it’s a good one.

3: U Can Count on Me

This track is real good, nice west coast vibe with real good lyrics about real homies who you can count on at all times. The track is hella laid back, so if you like to smoke, you just gonna want to light up a blunt to this one.

4: Syde 2 Syde ft. El Dorado

This track is another classic with a laid back west coast beat. Tha Realest talks about back stabbing homies and the life on the streets and he also throws shots at Eminem. El Dorado does a good job on the track too.

5: Drunk Drivin’ In My Glass House ft. Crooked I & Swoop G

Most Realest fans allready heard this track, but now it’s in full CD quality and the track slaps even more then before. Tha Realest, Swoop G & Crooked I do a real good job on this track. The track is just a classic.

6: I Wonder Does God Care? (OG)

This track is real good, the beat is dope Tha Realest is just speaking his mind about the way the world is in his point of view. His Verses are on point and the track goes hard.

7: Summer Time Fling (OG)

Well this track it says OG on the CD cover, but honestly I heard the OG track of this way back and it does not sound anything like this one, but don’t get me wrong, this one is good too. The OG beat on the leaked one is better though. The track is real good for cruisin around in the summer time or just kickin’ it with a fine lookin gurl.

8: Ghetto Prisonerz

The beat on this track is dope, has been used before on a 2pac track, I forget wich one right now…. Tha Realest’s flow is cool on this one too. He’s talking about the street life, snitches and his mission to find freedom. The featured artists on this track did a good job too. Defenitly a good track.

9: Can’t ***** With Us

This track is ok, the beat ain’t nothin special though. Tha Realest’s flow is ok too, he spits some real shit, but his flow get’s off beat a lil bit. This song is more of a album filler. You might like it or you might want to skip it.

10: For Money I Will

This track is just a classic in my oppinion. The beat is another laid back west coast beat and Tha Realest’s flow is real tight on this one too. He’s talking about the hustle and what people can do for money. It’s not a money track like people do now dayz, this track has a real meaning to it.

11: Incase I don’t wake up

Another track that most people probably allready heard before, but not in this quality that’s fo sho. This track is a classic nuff said!! 1 of the best tracks Tha Realest has ever done.

12: I Know I’ll Die Soon ft. Nutt-So

Now I thought this CD was only from Tha Realest’s Death Row Days, but nope apparently not. This song was made after his DR Days, but that don’t matter because the track is on the CD anyway. The beat is more of a East Coast Beat and Tha Realest does a real good job on his verse. Nutt-So is ok on his verse and the hook is all right. If the song was mixed properly the track probably would have been better, but because of the poor mixing the track is just another album filler.

13: 99 Bonnie & Clyde ft. VK

This track slaps. The beat is cool and everybody does a good job on the track. It’s more of a track where they showin off they skills on the mic.

14: Hustlin’ ft. San Quinn & Jewell

This right here is a good track to end the first CD with. It’s laid back, but still with a lil faster tempo. Everybody does a good job on the track, and the Jewell gives that sound of perfection on the track. Defenitly a classic.

CD 2:

1: Can’t Mobb Deep

A perfect way to start off the beginning of CD 2. A dope diss track where Tha Realest goes after Mobb Deep, No Limit, Bad Boy and everybody else he had beef with. The track could’ve had better sound quality, but I ain’t trippin on that because it’s good enough and the track is just a classic!

2: Kiss All Night ft. Doobie

A track for the ladies with a nice laid back beat. It has more of a East Coast feeling to it and Tha Realest and Doobie do they thing and it’s cool, but to me the track is just another album filler. I could skip it.

3: Just My Type ft. Sheeba Black & Blaqthoven

Another track for the ladies, but again it’s another album filler. The beat is nothing special, the flow is good, but that’s enough to save the track. The hook is good too, but it still ain’t enough to keep me listening to the track.

4: Played Yourself

yeeeeeah now after 2 album fillers comes a real tight track! The beat is real dope and has a lil bit of that Ruff Ryders feeling to it and the featured artist does his thing too. The only thing that brings the track down is the end of the track, there’s space for at least another verse and probably a hook, but instead all you hear is the beat.

5: M.O.B. ft. CPO Boss Hogg

Another dope track and this one goes real hard. The beat slaps, Tha Realest comes correct on his verse as well as CPO Boss Hogg. It’s DEATH ROW!!!

6: God Bless Your Thugged Out Soul

This track is cool, a nice layed back beat and the track sounds like it was probably done back in the late 90’s. The Verses are good and Tha Realest comes correct and spits some more of that reality shit. The only thing that brings this track down is the sound quality and also the mixing of the track. The track is good, but could be a lot better.

7: It’s better This Way

This track is ok…. Just another album filler in my ears, but hey, somebody else might like it. It’s a track for the ladies, but it’s not a hit.
I don’t know what else to say about it lol…

8: Ride For Me

Finally another classic track! A real good track for the females, where Tha Realest talks about having a girl who will ride for him. The hook is real good and has a female singing. This is what was needed after a few album fillers, a classic!!

9: Waitin’ for Jesus to Come part 2

A nice slow song about homies who passed on and trying to find hope in the streets. Another classic about some real issues that we all have to deal with.

10: We’re Untouchable ft. Amp Pacino

This track is a cool song about a relationship with a down girl who’s down to ride. The verses are real good and the beat is the type of beat you just wanna light up a blunt anc chill out too. A classic track.

11: Would You Be My Girlfriend

The name says it, another track for the ladies… The beat is cool, the verses are on point, but once again the quality was not the best.
The song is good though and that makes it worth listening too…

12. All Night Long ft. Jewell

And once again we have another track for the ladies, but this one is also a track that would be cool at the club. It has a cool clubbish beat to it and Tha Realest and Jewell are just made for doing tracks with eachother!

13: We Won’t Die (ft. Nutt-So)

The beat is simple, the flow’s are all right, but nothing special. I could skip this one, this is mix tape quality, not album quality…. It’s too bad that both songs with Nutt-So had to be this way, because they’re both artists who are capable of making a classic together.

14: Way 2 Real ft. Daz Dillinger

A great way to end the album… Tha Realest and Daz do a good job together, can’t complain at all. The beat is simple and has a closure feeling to it, so when you finsihed with this song you will feel that the CD has come to an end.

Ok, so I paid 30 bucks for this CD and when I got it and saw the artwork for the cover I was a lil bit dissapointed and there was no booklet with track info or anything inside it. When I heard the CD I kind of got over that part though because the CD is good. It has a few flaws but every CD has it’s flaws. Thanks to the classic material this CD slaps and is worth listening to, and I’m defenitly gonna be listening to this CD alot. The album fillers and the poor quality on some of the songs are what bring the CD down a lil bit and because of those tracks it can’t get a 5 star rating….. I give it 4 stars out of 5. Is it worth paying 30 bucks for?? well honestly NO because of the low budget front cover and it not having a booklet or even a back track list inlay. For 30 bucks I would expect to get more and better quality on some of the songs. I don’t regret buying it though because the CD is still unleaked and it does have classic songs in there that are worth the money, but honestly I just gotta say something to FTP: Y’ALL BETTER LOWER YOUR PRICES ON YOUR SHIT OR PUT SOME MORE MONEY INTO MAKING THE CD CASES LOOK PROFESSIONAL BECAUSE I GOT HOMIES WHO RELEASE INDEPENDENT CD’S AND THEY PUT REAL MONEY INTO PRESSING THEM UP WITH REAL BOOKLETS, REAL PRESSED CD’S AND THEY ONLY SELL THEM FOR 10 OR 15 BUCKS AND THEY GOT JUST AS BIG AND EVEN BIGGER NAMES THEN WHAT THA REALEST HAS!

Jay-Z – American Gangster

Jay-Z - American GangsterShawn Carter has done it again. After a mediocre and not-so-well recieved comeback album only a year earlier, Jay has returned with an album he says was inspired by the release of the film “American Gangster”, a film based on the life of notorious 70’s heroin kingpin – Frank Lucas. The album is described as Jay’s return to his hustling lure, and features production from the Neptunes, Diddy, and Jermaine Dupri among others, as well as guest spots from Nas, Beanie Sigel, and suprisingly Lil Wayne.

1.) Intro

The album starts off with an exerpt from the film of the same name, followed by the true definition of a “gangster” over epic production. Although Jay doesn’t bless the mic on this one, it sets the album up properly.

2.) Pray

This song starts off with a somber prayer, as a pounding instrumental can be heard building up in the background. From there Jay takes the oppurtunity to produce one of his best tracks in years. Jay’s hunger can be heard in the emotion of his vocals (“Hey young world, wanna hear a story?/Close your eyes, and you can pretend your me”). Fans of the ‘Blueprint’ and Jay’s best work will certainly enjoy this track. Perfect way to open up the album.

3.) American Dreamin’

Before the album’s release Jay mentioned a track featuring Marvin Gaye samples, and after hearing this track, it’s obvious this was the track he reffered to. Production is top notch on this track, as Marvin’s mellow chorus and Jay’s whisper-esque flow blend perfectly with the instrumental. Although not better than the previous track, this is clearly another one of the album’s highlights.

4.) Hello Brooklyn 2.0 feat. Lil Wayne

This is obviously one collaboration that most fans would’ve doubted would ever happen. After seemingly taking shots at each other for almost a year, President Carter called on rap’s hottest prospect (Lil Wayne) to bless a track dedicated to the home of Jay. Unlike “Renegade” or “Black Republicans”, this is more or less Jay and Wayne going back and forth giving props to Brooklyn, NY. Although production is shaky at times, and the repetitive screaming in the background can get annoying, this song has still surpassed the standards rap has set for today’s era. Decent song.

5.) No Hook

“I’m more of Frank Lucas than Ludacris” just about sums this track up. Over a very soulful sample, complete with a bass guitar built for this track, Jay takes it back to his hustling days. This song is very reminiscent of the 70’s era, as Jay dismisses the need for a hook as he takes you back to his time of hustlin caine in the Marcy Projects, while also sending a warning to any rapper trying to dethrone the King. Great track.

6.) Roc Boys (And The Winner Is…)

Unlike ‘Kingdom Come’, this song (and most likely the album’s 2nd single) features Jay serving up a more polished flow, while at the same time declaring the rightful return of Rocafella Records. Diddy’s “feel good” production, combined with Jay’s apparent new found excitement for the game, make for another good track.

7.) Sweet

One of the reasons this album has managed to feel so live and fresh, is Jay’s decision to have a more live feeling by adding a live band. While production is very strong, the only fault of this track is that it does sound like Jay freestyled his entire verse. This combined with a hook less-than-great hook make for a mediocre song.

8.) I Know

Any fan of Jay-Z knows that some of his biggest commercial songs have come courtesy of The Neptunes. This track is no different, as Pharrell croons the hook in the smoothest manner possible, with Jay flowing perfectly over the Neptunes soothing production. This is one of the tracks on the album with a different feel, and easily outdoes any track on Jay’s previous album.

9.) Party Life

Production is very mellowed out, as Jay gets punchline happy, with smooth singing in the background. While detailing how he’s so ‘off the wall’ he might as well be a young Michael Jackson, Jay calms down for this track; which proves to be a good breaking point in the album. Good song.

10.) Ignorant Shit feat. Beanie Sigel

The return of two of the Roc’s premier members over a soulful sample (also used for Jim Jones’ “Summer In Miami”) sounds like a perfect combination…and ends up being just that. After addressing those doubting his thought provoking songs, Jay sarcastically gives the people “the ignorant shit you like”, by taking jabs at how simple and self absorbed hip hop has come to be.

11.) Say Hello

Taking a page from Scarface, this is Jay over more mellow production. Unfortunately, he seems a little lazy not only with the hook, but with his verses as well. Production is the highlight of this track, as Jay tries explain how he is no “ordinary nigga” even before he was known as Jigga, but ultimatley fails in making this song the classic it had the potential to be.

12.) Success feat. Nas

After their critically acclaimed collaboration “Black Republicans” on Nas’s ‘Hip Hop Is Dead’ last year, The God MC & Nastradamus return for “Success”. Over a pounding organ influenced production, Jay sets off the track with a strong display of lyricism (“I used to give a *****, now I give a ***** less/What do I think of success?, it sucks, too much stress”), and continues an amazing display of charisma, before passing the track to Nas, who sounds as hungry as he did on previous classics. After famously deading their beef two years ago, it’s becoming apparent that the co-K.O.N.Y.’s sound so much better on a track, than they do going at each other on a track. Classic song.

13.) Fallin’

This track is without a doubt the best song on the album. Everything from production (courtesy of Jermaine Dupri), to subject matter, and finally lyricism is shown. Jay details the struggle of the game (in a mode very reminscent of “Reasonable Doubt”), and sounds just as hungry as he did 10 years ago with such clever wordplay:

“…talking tough on the youtube, bout what you used to do
but’s that oldschool to the new crew, they doin numbers like Seduku”

14.) American Gangster

Much like last year’s “Show Me What You Got”, this is uptempo production courtesy of longtime collaborator Just Blaze. However unlike “Show Me What You Got”, this track is more of Jay in his true element. Describing how he is the ultimate ‘American Gangster’, this track has a very 70’s blaxploitation feel. Discussing the breakup of the Roc, and the rumors of an illegitimate child, all while maintaining a perfected flow, Jay takes this track where no other artist could making for another classic track.

15.) Blue Magic

Although Jay himself stated that this was a conceptual album, this track (and also the album’s first single) has a very different feel from the rest of the disc. The beat is not one of the Neptunes best, and although Jay manages to provide some quotables (“Niggas wanna bring the 80’s back/That’s okay with me, that’s where they made me at”), the song as a whole doesn’t blend well with the rest of the production and theme.

So after a dissapointing comeback album in”Kingdom Come”, it appears Jay has found the motivation he needed to produce the soon-to-be classic (even if it was inspired by a Denzel Washington film) “American Gangster.” This album should disregard any doubt that Jay still has the ability to make good records, while showcasing his hustler mentality over soulful instrumentals (credit Jermaine Dupri, Diddy, Just Blaze, and Bigg D). Although not on the level of “Blueprint” or “Reasonable Doubt”, this will still remain as one of Jay’s better albums.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

Kanye West – Graduation

Kanye West - GraduationWhen I heard Kanye West had another album coming like the rest of the world I was expecting high pitch sped-up samples with clever chops with the usual list of appearances. However, kanye has come back with a totally different sound for his newest offering. Sampling and chopping is still present but since his albums have progressed so has his creativeness.

From the first single you could tell that Kanye was taking to a new approach when he begins the song with a daft punk sample. “Stronger” samples ‘Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger’ in the background, while being covered and lead by thick and rich synth. It is then topped by strong drums and Kanye’s usual brag raps. For fans of Kanye’s old stuff it will take a little bit to embrace it though will soon see it’s a strong song and just shows his diversity. The second song to be heard before the release “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” also is a new attempt by Mr. West. With trademark dirty south drums and light synth, you see Kanye appealing to down south fans while keeping his intact with what sounds to be sampling though really vocals from Connie Mitchell. The up and coming single “Good Life” which features the surprising appearance from T-Pain again is balance between new and old. Sampling “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)”by Michael Jackson is a sample not new for West as he used it before for a Memphis Bleek song; Kanye uses new pieces while adding heavy synthesis over them. The song again sounds more down south sound while adding a different style to it.

The mixture kanye has bought is more hit then miss in my opinion. Songs such as “I Wonder” works, where it combines both samples of vocals and piano with synthesis and drums which sound very played with. It also works with“Flashing Lights” where strings and synths are used together and is finished off with Dwele’s smooth vocals.“Champion” samples Steeley Dan where he pays tribute to a few people with hits of synths here and there. “Drunk and Hot girls” however does really work and you are reaching for the skip button. It’s a shame as it was the only real promising appearance with the almighty Mos Def.

Apart from T-pain, Dwele and Mos Def there are some more guests however none the listener would expect. For“Barry Bonds” the man of the moment Lil’ Wayne joins Kanye over an animated sounding beat to brag. Chris Martin of Coldplay sings the hook to the “Homecoming” where he metaphors Chicago as a women which has reminisces of Common’s I Used To Love You especially as the first line is borrowed from his song. The beat is nicely created with piano and hard drums.

Kanye has also teamed up with Premo to create “Everything I Am” where vocals, scratching and sharp sampled piano hits makes this deep song. This is what the fans expected more of Kanye. “The Glory” which samples Laura Nyro and has strikes of strings layered on top of it is also what I feel is more expected from Mr. West.

The album hasn’t really got many topics as his previous albums though “Big Brother” finishes of the album well. Over a guitar, bass, drums and synths Kanye West pays tribute to the living legend “Jay-z” thinking of him as a big brother.

In all this album gets a 4 out of 5 from me. Even thought there is only one real bad track the album is far from perfect. Kanye has brought a different style to his last ones and progressed and tried a lot more risky things. Lyricism is still at an alright standard though doesn’t really amaze.


This album isn’t for everyone though is worth a try.

2pac – Nu Mixx Klazzics Vol. 2

2pac - Nu Mixx Klazzics Vol. 2Yet another 2Pac release. In all honesty, I think even the most hardcore of ‘Pac fans are losing track of albums circulating from the deceased rapper. This album is the official followup to 2003’s “Nu Mixx Classics”, and features more new production and features from (surprisingly) ‘Pac’s homeboys. The majority of this collection consists (much like “Nu Mixx Classics”) of ‘Pac’s Deathrow material.


1.) Picture Me Rollin feat. Kurupt, Butch Cassidy

If anyone is familiar with the original (and as a ‘Pac fan, how could you not be?), they will notice right off the bat that this is very similar to it’s original version. Danny Boy is replaced with Butch Cassidy, who does a very comendable job on the hook, giving new life to the track. Kurupt also doesn’t dissapoint, providing classic Westcoast flavor and a classic verse. I’m going to go out on a limb, and say this is better then the original. Haters feel free to hate on.

2.) Keep Goin feat. Hussein Fatal

This track features the self proclaimed Outlaw Don – Hussein Fatal, who doesn’t dissapoint in the least. While also providing hook duties, 2Pac provides a classic (although short) verse dissing the Bad Boy camp (whose reference is unfortunatley edited out), taking you back to a time when the beef was hot. Hussein clearly steals the show, however, and proves furthermore why he deserves more credit. Great song.

3.) What’z Ya Phone # feat. Candy Hill

I’ll be the first to admit, I was never the biggest fan of this track. While the original features Johnny J’s signature sound, this is more of a solumn track, with an overdone hook. Candy Hill’s verse is also not on par with ‘Pac’s. And although this track doesn’t really do anything for me, 2Pac’s verses are placed perfectly with the instrumental, giving it a new twist. Decent at best.

4.) Staring Through My Rear View feat. Dwele

Phil Collins classic sample is still provided, in this slightly modified version of the original. Maybe that’s for the better, as this song was/is an undeniable classic. One of the only differences is Dwele provides the hook (and does a good job at that), but this track is slightly in need of the Outlawz. Thankfully, 2Pac’s pristine outro is still in tact, making for another good track.

5.) Hail Mary [Rock Mix] feat. Outlawz

I understand what the producers were trying to do with this song, but it fails in every aspect. ‘Pac’s now famous intro to this song sounds terribly layered, and the beat is just too out there for any fan to appreciate. The Outlawz verse remains the same, but the beat is just too much, making for the first wack remix on the album.

6.) Got My Mind Made Up feat. Outlawz, Kurupt

Much like the original classic that appeared on “All Eyez On Me”, production, for the most part, stays the same. 2Pac sets the track off, and is followed by Hussein Fatal, and Young Noble. Kurupt (who drops arguably the best verse on the entire song) is up next, and doesn’t dissapoint in the least. Good track.

7.) Pain feat. Styles P, Butch Cassidy

The original “Pain” featuring the late Stretch is regarded as one of ‘Pac’s best songs. So topping it, or even making a remix on par with the original, proved to be tough. This song isn’t bad (Butch Cassidy actually does another excellent job on the hook), but in comparison to the original is lackluster. Styles P drops a good verse, but production isn’t exactly great. Average at best.

8.) Lost Souls feat. Outlawz

This is very similar to the original “Lost Souls”, which appeared on the ‘Gang Related Soundtrack’ back in 1997. The only difference is a slight change in the beat, and a new verses courtesy of the Outlawz. If you liked the original chances are you will like this one.

9.) Wanted Dead Or Alive (Gangsta Party) feat. Snoop Dogg

Much like “Hail Mary (Rock Mix)” this track started off with a heavy guitar influence. At first listen it’s wack, but as soon as Snoop’s verse drops, the beat switches tempo. Pac’s hook (“2 of the livest, wanted dead or alive”) sounds good, and makes for another decent remix. However, after a couple listens, it sounds pieced together.

10.) Initiated feat. Boot Camp Clik

2Pac’s “One Nation” comrades show up for the remix of Daz’s original “Initiated.” Production is very east coast flavored, and while Boot Camp drops above average verses, the tempo of Pac’s verse sounds terribly out of place, when compared to the original, which really ends up dragging this track down.

11.) How Do U Want It

When remaking a classic, be sure to do it justice. “How Do U Want It” easily fits the aforementioned category, and while I had doubts about this song, it turned out to be very good. A completely different vibe is used, with the beat being aimed toward the club scene. The only drawback is the hook (not nessescary at all), but other then that, Pac’s verses remain timeless even 11 years after his death.

12.) Picture Me Rollin feat. Outlawz

This, unlike the first track to open up the album, contains Danny Boy’s vocals, and a guest appearence from the Outlawz. Hussein Fatal, once again, drops the best verse on the track. But, with the exception of his verse, the Outlawz lack, failing to really make this a great remix. I expected more out of the end of the album.

In conclusion, this was a very worthy sequel to “Nu Mixx Classics.” While not tampering with Pac’s formula too much, and keeping guest appearences mainly people he actually worked with (what a concept) made this album work in a good way. Album highlights include “Picture Me Rollin”, “Keep Goin”, and “Starin Thru My Rearview.” The only complaint I have with this release is while most remixes are on point, there are a few terrible tracks (“Hail Mary” being one of them), and they are clearly milking Pac’s legacy for every penny it’s worth.

Overall Rating: 3/5

Class of 3000 – Music Volume One

Class of 3000 - Music Volume One1. Class Of 3000 Theme Song (Sunny Bridges, Philly Phil, Kim, Kam, Madison, Li’l D, Eddie and Tamika)

This is really different, as there’s really no rapping, and it’s mostly just a short introduction to the show. I like it, and Andre 3000 produces a really nice, jazz-heavy beat. This whole album is about Andre’s production and the originality of the characters. I dug this, actually, and you have to listen to it in a different context, since this isn’t geared for the gangsta rap lovin’, mixtape listening fans. Good.

2. Life Without Music (Sunny Bridges, Philly Phil Kim, Kam, Madison, Li’l D, Eddie and Tamika)

Andre 3000 produces a very nice, piano beat. This is pretty much the characters talking about how shallow life would be without music. Andre does some singing, and the choir kicks in. Well, this was different, and I actually liked it, oddly enough. Nice humor. Good.

3. Throwdown (Sunny Bridges, Philly Phil, Kim, Kam, Madison, Li’l D, Eddie and Tamika)

Andre’s production is all over the place here, and it just doesn’t sound good, at all. Andre does some singing here, and it just can’t save this really sloppy beat. Yeah, this wasn’t very good, and it’s a shame, since there was some nice effort put into the singing. Wack.

4. Oh Peanut (Sunny Bridges, Eddie, Li’l D, and Madison)

Nice bouncy beat, very clap-happy and it transitions into a really nice jazz-heavy tone. Yeah, this sounds pretty good, with the horns. The singing is pretty simple, and it’s mostly “Oh, Peanut, we love you, baby!” Some of the characters rap about how useful the peanut is, and I like the originality of it all. This is definitely different, and it works. It’s not just different for the sake of being different; it actually has a message, and as simple as it is, it works. Good.

5. We Want Your Soul (Li’l D)

Dark beat, very organ heavy. Andre raps about how people would do whatever to get famous, even if it means selling your soul. The piano kicks in, and it makes the track sound really good. I liked this. Good.

6. Banana Zoo (Sunny Bridges, Philly Phil, Kim, Kam, Madison, Li’l D, Eddie and Tamika)

Bouncy piano beat, and it sounds really good. A nice, party-type track with nice singing, and the characters talking about a funky gorilla. No, I’m not making this up, and it’s actually good because it’s so original. Good stuff. Good.

7. A Richer Shade Of Blue (Sunny Bridges, Li’l D, and Eddie)

Jazz-heavy type track, with a message about how even rich people can have the blues. Definitely something different, with the characters talking about their cultures. Andre was trying for something original, and he definitely scored it here. Good.

8. Fight The Blob (Sunny Bridges)

Very horn-heavy type track, and the message is about fighting a blob with music. Andre does a shot, simple-style rap, and it works. Good track, actually. Good.

9. UFO Ninja (Sunny Bridges and Li’l D)

I’m convinced that Andre is a huge Digital Underground fan, because this sounds like something they’d make, and that’s definitely not a bad thing. This beat is definitely odd, and I can’t really describe it, maybe a drum-heavy Asian-style beat. There’s some odd singing, and that’s about it. I liked this. Good.

10. Kim Kam Jam (Kim and Kam)

Pretty nice, bouncy piano beat. That’s pretty much the whole song, with the characters talking. This worked, and listening to a good-sounding piano jam is always fun. Good.

11. Luna Love (Professor Luna, Sunny Bridges and Madison)

Latin-style beat, with some comedy mixed in. Nice, catchy singing, and with Andre, you can always count on that. This was catchy. Good.

12. The Crayon Song (Sunny Bridges)

Disco-style beat, and it’s really fun sounding. Andre does a really good job singing and making this track nothing but fun. Rap fans can be stuck up, and that’s a shame, since this whole album is about having fun, especially this track. Really nice stuff from Andre, and probably the best track on the album. Good.

13. My Mentor

Nice jazz track. Nothing but nice sounding horns, and a nice sounding piano. The whole track consists of this, and that, of course, is great. No lyrics, just great music. Good.

14. Cool Kitty (Sunny Bridges, Tamika, Mackenzie and Kaylie)

Nice, 50’s-style, beach beat. The characters talk about being cool, and this is something different, and while I’m not really into it, I think others would dig it. To me, this is a nice beat, mixed in with semi-annoying characters. Average.

All in all, I’m going to give this a “Good” rating. Andre 3000 definitely tried to do something different, and it worked. This is pretty much a kid’s album, but adults would dig it, too. It’s pretty much a jazz track, mixed in with some fun characters from the show “Class Of 3000.” I’d give it a listen if I were you, because there are some really nice tracks.

Plies – The Real Testament

Plies - The Real TestamentHailing from Ft. Myers, Florida, Slip-N-Slide rookie – Plies, has been building a buzz over the past year. After the success of his street single “Chopper Zone”, and the release of his own mixtape “Da Real Nigga Bible”, Plies offers up his debut “The Real Testament”.

1.) The Real Testament (Intro)

Over simple southern production, Plies describes how rap was never his dream, so hustling’s always an option. At just over 2 minutes though, this song lacks any lyrical skill, and replay value. Not the best way to open up the album.

2.) 100 Years

Snitching is the subject here, as Plies tells tales of his lil homies gettin their dreams shattered by “***** ass crackaz”. Production is very simplistic, and not very entertaining. Plies once again proves his lyricism (or lack there of) needs to be polished before stepping in the booth.

3.) I Know U Workin

This song features more bland production, with Plies picking up the subject from the last song and carrying it on to this one. While definatley keeping it street, Plies unfortunatley is sounding the same on every song thus far. The hook lacks, and the only bright spot of the track is Plies charisma.

4.) On My Dick

Slip-N-Slide’s Goldrush produced this song, and did a surprisingly good job. Although Plies details (yet again) the hustle, and need to get money; this track actually works for him. The hook is weak again (“I’m on my dick dogg, i gotta make somethin’ happen”), but compared to the first three songs, this sounds decent.

5.) 1 Mo Time

A very mellow bassline is provided by J.R. Rotem, as Plies goes back and forth with his woman about him getting that last nut in before she leaves him. Generic lyrics and played out subject matter, however, make this song another lackluster effort.

6.) I Am The Club

The first real decent song of the album, this is more of Plies in his element. Over a very bouncing instrumental, and the typical synthesizer, Plies actually provides an entertaining song. This could be used as a single, with Plies debating on what he wants to do at the club, before realizing he is the club.

7.) Runnin My Momma Crazy

Piano laced production is used here, with Plies suprisingly switching up the subject matter, and trying to make a heartfelt song for his mom. However, the same monotonous flow is used, and his hook writing skills are completely terrible. Nice attempt, but will fail to garner any attention.

8.) Shawty feat. T-Pain

The lead single off the album, this crossover attempt features T-Pain crooning a perfected hook over smooth production. Plies actually sounds good here, but T-Pain clearly steals the show, as this song continues to get spins across the country. Good song.

9.) Friday

This is a great song from start to finish. For the first time on the entire album, the production really stands out, with Plies detailing how he lives everyday like it’s Friday, ’cause you never know when you’re going to go. Great song, possibly the best on the album.

10.) Goons Lurkin

Wow. Finally, two good songs back to back. This features slow, thuggish production as Plies take the role of the hitman. Young Jeezy type subject matter is used here, with Plies detailing a car full of goons lurkin at “5 in the mornin”. Good song, and is guarenteed to rattle trunks.

11.) Kept It Too Real

Unfortunatley, the song doesn’t do the previous two justice, as production (sounding like it’s straight from Soundclick) really lacks any punch. Backstabbing friends is the subject here, but Plies suprisingly makes it work. While not the most lyrical, the emotion and delivery make for a good track (even though Plies dropped the word “nigga” a staggering 30 plus times), with production being the only drawback.

12.) You

This song is a complete mess. More of a “snap ya fingers” type of beat is used here, and Plies same monotonous flow is used, making for a lackluster track. Wack punchlines, and even worse production (and hook for that matter) drag this song down. Skip it.

13.) Money Straight

This is more of what I was expecting out of this album. While it’s clear that Plies lacks any lyrical greatness, songs like this show off his charisma in the best way. Much like “I Am The Club”, this track features upbeat production for Plies to get live to. Although the subject matter (“I’m in the mall everyday [cause my money straight!]”) has been done time and time again, Plies puts his own Ft. Myers twist on it, making for a good track.

14.) Hypnotized feat. Akon

Much like “Shawty”, this song features Plies spitting game to another female, this time with another Konvict artist – Akon. Over more uptempo production, Plies lyrics and delivery are completely effortless. Akon does a good job providing another one of his signature hooks, but unfortunatley can’t save this mess of a song.

15.) Murkin Season

Keeping in context with the rest of the album, Plies chooses to close out the album almost the same way he opened it. “Murkin Season” lacks the entertainment of “Chopper Zone”, with Plies explaining its that time of the year to get murked. Decent way to end the album.

This album, although anticipated by a lot of southern heads, is unfortunatley nothing special. Plies flow stays the exact same throughout the whole album, and his lyrics need a drastic improvement. However, on the flip side, this album is built for car systems, song for song. Hopefully Plies will follow up his debut with a better choice of beats, and a little diversity, when it comes to subject matter.

Overall Rating: 2.5/5

UGK – Underground Kingz

UGK - Underground KingzDisc 1

1. Swisha And Dosha

Nice, electric guitar type beat. It doesn’t get annoying, and still maintains a solid base for both Pimp C & Bun B. Pimp C starts it off with a pretty good verse, I mean, he definitely showed some nice emotion, and with Pimp, you’re usually going to get some nice emotion. Bun B carries to meat of the rapping with a very nice verse, completely cementing himself as the lyricist of the group. The chorus is pretty good, as the actual singing isn’t good, but it fits the track so well, that it sounds good. Pimp C lets his crudeness shines, and that’s the Pimp C I know and love. Good.

2. Int’l Players Anthem (I Choose You) (Feat Outkast)

Andre starts off with a pretty nice verse, and the ton of the album fits the mood. Juicy J & DJ Paul produce a relaxing, soulful beat, sampling “I Choose You” by Willie Hutch. Pimp C does his usual, fun verse. Bun B pretty much outshines both men, and flows the best over this beat. I sort of didn’t like Big Boi’s verse, to be honest. It seemed like he didn’t really care, and it really ruined the whole tone of thos track. Oh well, it was a good enough track. Good.

3. Chrome Plated Woman

Nice player-type beat, produced by Pimp C. Pimp, having produced this track, knows exactly how to flow over this, and does a great job. Bun’s verse is, of course, really good, but it’s Bun B, and consistency has always been his strong point. Nice chorus, with some organs playing in the background, on top of the beat. Nice stuff. Good.

4. Life Is 2009 (Feat Too Short)

Nice old school beat by Scarface. Pretty much a “Life Is…” remake, and that’s definitely not a bad thing. Pimp C is the one who truly makes the most out of this beat. His voice is perfect for these type of tracks. Too Short sounds like it’s a chore to rap, and that’s pretty much a given for current Too Short. Good track. Good.

5. The Game Belongs To Me

This track really didn’t do much for me. I mean, saying “Bobby by the pound and Whitney by the key” is funny, but the beat is standard stuff, and UGK sound bored. Average stuff. Average.

6. Like That (Remix)

I like the beat here. It’s pretty much a party beat mixed with some rapid flavor, but it works. Pimp C tries his hand at some rapid flow, and does a pretty good job here. The chorus is pretty standard, but I dig it, a lot, because it’s just that: simple. They’re not trying to be complicated here, and that’s great, because rap music doesn’t have to be complicated. Bun does a good job, of course, but that’s already known. Good.

7. Gravy-Slower

type beat, and I don’t exactly care for it. These type of tracks sort of bore me, and this is no exception. While UGK try, this whole tone is just unbearably boring. I mean, it’s not horrible, but it’s incredibly unremarkable. Average.

8. Underground Kingz

Nice starting with the piano, then right into the funk-type beat, with horns splashed throughout. They both do a good job, but man, the chorus is just a little too unimaginative. Still, the track is pretty good. Good.

9. Grind Hard (Feat Young T.O.E. & DJ B-Do)

Nice, heavy-style, southern crunk beat. T.O.E. is pretty horrible, actually, and almost manages to ruin the whole track for me. I mean, the name “Young T.O.E.” is bad enough, but he makes things worse with his awful rapping. Pimp C does the best job on this track because his voice suits this perfectly. B-Do is standard stuff. This was two features trying to ruin a decent track, and it almost does that. Average.

10. Take Tha Hood Back (Feat Slim Thug and Middle Fingaz)

Nice, crunk style beat, very hard hitting. I’m just glad the features don’t actually suck, so I don’t have to worry about them ruining the track. Everyone does a really good job, and this, while unlike UGK, is pretty good. I appreciate UGK for doing something different. Good.

11. Quit Hatin’ The South (Feat Charlie Wilson & Willie D)

Oh yeah, Willie D is pretty great and Wilson can sing, so this will be good. Pimp C produces a pretty good, laid back beat, with funk styles and organs. A long singing section, but I dug it. Willie D is pretty much the best thing on this track. I mean, Willie’s always been the most underrated rapper alive, so it’s nice he has a feature on this album. Good track. Good.

12. Heaven

I liked this, and it’s a nice slice of different compared to the other tracks. Pimp C produces a nice slow-paced, funky track. Pimp C, of course, raps perfectly over this type of track. Bun B does a pretty great job, too. Good track. Good.

13. Trill Niggas Don’t Die (Feat Z-Ro)

Good, funky type track, mixed with some horns and a nice bassline. Pimp C does a great job, Z-Ro does a good job, even though he trips over his words a few times. Bun B does pretty good job, of course. Good track, and a nice way to end disc 1. Good.

Disc 2.

1. How Long Can It Last (Feat Charlie Wilson)

Very nice funky-type track, mixed with some soul samples. Whoa, Pimp C is trying his hand at a different production style, and I dig it. Pimp C does a good job flowing. Wilson has always been a good hook guy, so he delivers the goods in that department. Bun B is pretty great here, but when is he ever NOT great? Good.

2. Still Ridin’ Dirty (Feat Scarface)

Scarface produces a nice beat, sort of bouncy but mixed with some funk and a nice dark piano. Everyone does a good job, and I’m really digging the variety displayed on this album. UGK isn’t afraid to try different styles, and it works.

3. Stop-N-Go (Feat Jazze Pha)

Stop-N-Go? Isn’t that a gas station? Jazze Pha produces a beat that doesn’t sound like what he’s used to producing. Whoa, I’m shocked, SHOCKED I tell you! This is like a bad Scott Storch track, though, and it makes the track an annoying batch of noise. Bad track, just bad. Wack.

4. Cocaine (Feat Rick Ross)

Really slow-type track, and it’s pretty smooth sounding. I mean, you have to be in a certain mood to listen to this, but it’s still good. The chorus is simple, but I like the singing. Good rapping, too. Good.

5. Two Type Of *****es (Dizzee Rascal & Pimpin’ Ken)

Whoa, Dizzee Rascal? I mean, I’m not a Rascal fan, but this is quite the random guest. Funky type track, and it’s pretty much standard UGK machismo. Dizzee really tries to not sound like the odd man out, and he does a pretty good job of doing that. What’s next, a guest appearance from El-P?

6. Real Women (Feat Talib Kweli & Raheem DeVaughn)

The randomness continues, as Kweli guest stars on this track. The beat is pretty funky, sampling “You Can’t Hide Love” by Skip Scarborough. Kweli is so out-of-place here, but he actually does a good job, and doesn’t sound uninspired like his usual guest appearances. Good track. Good.

7. Candy

Pretty good beat by Scarface. I can’t really describe it, it sort of has an Eastcoast, reflective feel to it, sampling “Bridge Thru Time” by Lonnie Liston Smith. Bun does a great job here, as these type of beats were made for him. Good stuff. Good.

8. Tell Me How Ya Feel

Jazze Pha tries to mix his style, LiL Jon’s style, and Scott Storch’s style, which is odd, because Storch produces like a low-rent LiL Jon nowadays. Pretty much a standard, UGK track. Well, standard for this album, which isn’t a bad thing. Good.

9. Shattered Dreams

Funky type track by Pimp C, and I dig it. I mean, there’s really nothing that distinguishes it from other funky type tracks on this album, but it’s still good. Good.

10. Like That

Oh man, LiL Jon produces a really bad track. Like, really, really bad; it’s very sloppy, and in turn, makes UGK rap horribly. I’ve never been annoyed by Pimp C, and I was annoyed. This was horrible. Train Wreck.

11. Next Up (Feat Big Daddy Kane & Kool G Rap)

What odd guest appearances, but I’m definitely not arguing. Hey, even Marley Marl produces the beat, and it’s piano heavy and pretty decent. I mean, I was expecting more, but this track isn’t bad. Big Daddy Kane definitely knows how to vibe with UGK. Kool G Rap sounds out of place, but he does a good job. Good, albeit disappointing track. Good.

12. Living This Life

Nice, slow-paced, organ beat, mixed with some nice bass. Good reflective type track. Good.

13. Outro


14. Bonus Track: Int’l Players Anthem (I Choose You) (Feat Three Six Mafia) (Chopped & Screwed)

I can’t stand chopped & screwed, so of course, I couldn’t stand this. I just don’t get the appeal of this mess, because it sounds freakin’ horrendous. Wack.

15. Bonus Track: Int’l Players Anthem (I Choose You) (Feat Three Six Mafia)

Same beat as before, but mixed with Three 6 Mafia. I actually liked this one better than the Outkast version. Good.

16. Bonus Track: Hit The Block (Feat T.I.)

Swizz Beats is a pretty horrible producer nowadays. I mean, if there’s one producer who’s inconsistent, it’s Swizz Beats. This beat is horrible sloppy, and makes everyone sound horrible. It sucks that this album had to end on this note. Train Wreck.

All in all, I’m going to give this a “Good” rating. I liked this, and I appreciate UGK for trying some new stuff. My one gripe, was that this album was insanely long, and could’ve been shortened up a little bit. Still, this is recommended.