Thursday, March 24, 2011

Now Playing...

Lil Wayne - "If I Die Today" (feat. Rick Ross) - Tha Carter IV (Cash Money/Universal)

As much as it borrows from Officer Ricky's track, "I'm Not A Star (Part Deux)" would be a more appropriate title for the second single off of Lil' Wayne's upcoming opus, Tha Carter IV. Upon first listen, this Polow The Don produced "banger" comes off as incredibly generic & unimaginative (even for a Polow The Don track) compared to the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League instrumental it's blatantly mimicking. But in today's climate, where every hit song either sounds like "B.M.F" or "Airplanes", Xerox style production is what the fans seem to want, so what do I know? I just write a crumby blog. Luckily, Wayne manages to overcome the lazy concept with his typically sharp (albeit subdued) wordplay. Ross, while not as driven as he was on "I'm Not A Star", still seems energized & the chemistry between the two MC's is what ultimately elevates this song from mixtape throwaway to album single. I don't think "6 Foot, 7 Foot" or "If I Die Today" are bad songs & for any other artist, they'd be impressive. But these are Lil' Wayne singles & in comparison to his past music, there's something missing. The energy is different. I'm all for sobriety, but I kinda miss the maniacal, syrup sipping Lil' Wayne that effortlessly devoured any instrumental placed in front of him. I wonder if he'll be able to recapture that spirit without the double Styrofoam cups.

50 Cent - "Recently (feat. Gucci Mane)"

The latest batch of music
to come from 50 Cent has been more hit then miss; & even though it's not as strong as his mixtape work prior to the release of Before I Self Destruct I'm liking the direction he's been going in. If these tracks are indicative of the sound Fif is going with on his next project, expect the same "aggressive content" of his last album but this go round tempered with a little more of a commercial sheen. As a fan of 50 from the 50 Cent Is the Future days, it sounds like 50 is finally back in the right space to make a return to form. Not that his last album wasn't good, but it lacked the hit records that set the foundation for his first 3 LP's. This latest song is an official collabo with Gucci 2 Times (That "Crime Wave (Remix)" was a patch job & shouldn't really count) & it actually sounds way better then you'd think. No word on who produced this but it sounds like a typical Brick Squad track & puts Gucci in an automatic comfort zone, spitting a verse that rises to the level of his best verse off of the recently released The Return Of Mr. Zone 6. It's 50 who surprises, showing he's still got that "country grammar". Nothing too deep or cerebral, it almost sounds like, dare I say it, 50 was having fun with this one. Curtis is on a roll, hopefully he can keep it up long enough to produce an album that'll get him back to the top of the charts.

Dr. Dre - "Chillin' (feat. Swizz Beatz)" - Detox (Aftermath)

Another in a string of reference tracks from the legendary Detox. I chalked up "I Need A Doctor" as a necessary sacrifice to the Pop Gods & even though I wasn't big on the video treatment for "Kush", I think it's a solid song that sonically picks up right where 2001 ended & that's the same vibe I get from "Chillin'". The beat (a rolling array of spry synths, hand claps & 808 bass drops) is exactly what you'd expect an modern West Coast club record to sound like & even as a reference, it's almost a perfect mix, the hallmark of a Dr. Dre track. On the rap tip, The D.R.E. sounds the best he's ever sounded as an MC, nimbly navigating around the track with a veterans ease. I wanna say Slim The Gangster ghostwrote these verses but regardless, whoever coached Dre on this track deserves a pat on the back. The fact this song leaked decreases the chance of it actually making the finished album but if this is the kind of music Dre is working with, the chances Detox will be able to live up to all the hype it's generated the past 10 years increase ever so slightly.

Max B. - "Blowin' My High" - Vigilante Season (Amalgam Digital)

Vigilante Season may be a little uneven in spots (Full album review on the way) but for die-hard Biggaveli stans (such as myself) it should be an auto purchase. With his lackadaisical flow, mumbled lyrics & off-beat singing, I can see how some just might not "get" Max B., but there are more then enough moments of waviness on his debut to warrant a listen from the uninitiated. As far as this song, I could do without the auto-tune, but it's still Max at his best, care free, extolling the virtues of life as a Gain Green boss over a brooding but bouncy backdrop provided by his favorite producer, Dame Grease. Dame produces all but three tracks on the album & Max over Grease beats is like PB & Jelly on rye, the perfect collaboration. Some other blogger said it best...

"...the production style that was at once cheap, sloppy and relaxed, but extremely melodic — its the beat-version of Max’s rap style."

Vigilante Season was set to drop March 29th but hit the net earlier this week. Support the 'Vel & cop that.

Kevin Cossom - "Ride (Remix)" - By Any Means
Kevin Cossom is the flagship artist on Tmberland protege Danja's record label, N.A.R.S. (New Age Rock Stars) and while his latest project didn't necessarily blow me away, the remakes of Ciara's "Ride", Wiz's "Black & Yellow" & Ye's "Runaway" are as strong or stronger then some of the original songs on the tape. There are a couple new tracks produced by Danja that knock (most notably, "Work") but this remix stood out to me because....
A. I thought the original (Produced & written by Tricky Stewart & The-Dream) was one of the few bright spots on Ciara's last Frisbee album & this version nearly one ups it.
B. KC jacks Ginuwine's flow from "Tell Me Do U Wanna" & I'm a sucker for Timbaland beats & 90's R&B. Sue me.

Action Bronson - "Barry Horowitz" - Dr. Lecter (Fine Fabric Delegates)

Albums like Roc Marciano's Marcberg & A.G's Everything's Berri have been getting alot of pub on the internets the past year. Some have even gone as far as saying the hard laced rhymes & 70's Blaxploitation era inspired production might be the start of some sorta Rap Renaissance in New York. I'm not sure how real this Rap Renaissance is but both artists churned out two of the better albums to come out of New York in recent times & Queens rapper Action Bronson's debut album Dr. Lecter is in the same mold. Yeah, dude looks like the Irish Rick Ross & sounds like Ghostface Killah, & I went into Dr. Lecter looking for reasons to rip him apart; but dude can not only rap, he's pretty good at it too. The Ghostface similarities are still kinda flagrant, but like Big K.R.I.T. (Who gets plenty of shit for aping Pimp C's style) there's enough talent & personality here for Bronson to be able to overcome the comparisons & grow into a style solely his own. In the meantime, joints like "Barry Horowitz" will do nicely.

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