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Thread: EWO's Hip-Hop Capsule Reviews Thread

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    Ain't that just the way EyesWideOpen's Avatar
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    EWO's Hip-Hop Capsule Reviews Thread

    Due to amazon's mp3 sales, gohastings cheap price on used cd's and the prevelance of free mixtapes I've been into hip-hop hard over the last year or so. I've also been collecting all of certain artist's catalog so I can listen to them from start to finish. Ex: I'm currently listening through all of Busta Rhymes's solo albums. So I thought I'd bore you all with my thoughts on stuff.
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    Ain't that just the way EyesWideOpen's Avatar
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    Big Boi - "Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors"

    Released in December 2012. The album features guest appearances from Sleepy Brown, Phantogram, T.I., Ludacris, Kid Cudi, Little Dragon, Killer Mike, Kelly Rowland, A$AP Rocky, B.o.B, Wavves, Mouche, Scar, Bosko, Jai Paul, UGK, Big K.R.I.T., Theophilus London, and Tre Luce.

    After feeling lukewarm on Sir Lucious Leftfoot (his last album) I was planning on skipping this album but like a lot of stuff I'm unsure of if amazon has it on sale I'll give it a shot and I'm glad I did. Big Boi talked in interviews about trying to make a song that has the same feel as the Drive soundtrack and I get that same feeling from alot of "Vicious Lies...". The use of Phantogram and Little Dragon on three songs apiece gives this album a nice sound that I'm not used to on hip-hop records. I'm used to generic R&B hooks and having interesting artists do the hooks is far more interesting.

    [youtube]0DXJQbEkZnQ[/youtube]

    Highlights: Everything but specifically: "Objectum Sexuality", "She Hates Me", "CPU", "Lines"

    The only track on this album I don't like is on the deluxe version "She Said OK"

    Review: A+
    My album of 2012
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  3. #3
    What is best in life? D_Davis's Avatar
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    I don't listen to a ton of hip-hop any more, but I usually try to listen to a few new albums a year.

    One group I always return to, though, is Cypress Hill. For me, the represent the '90s more than any other group, and I love their sound.

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    Ain't that just the way EyesWideOpen's Avatar
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    Busta Rhymes - "The Coming"

    Busta Rhymes released "The Coming" his first solo album in March 1996. It featured guest appearances by Q-Tip, Jamal, Redman, Keith Murray, Zhane, Leaders of the New School and members of his Flipmode Squad (Spliff Star, Lord Have Mercy, Rampage).

    [youtube]RAlptXLnO9c[/youtube]

    I remember being insanely excited for this album. Busta was coming off his scene stealing appearances on "Scenario" by Tribe Called Quest and the Craig Mack "Flava in Ya Ear Remix". The lead single was "Woo Hah!! (Got You All In Check)" and it still stands up as one of his strongest tracks. Going back listening to it nowdays Busta Rhymes is almost subdued on the majority of the album compared to his now well known persona. We get introduced to Flipmode Squad (althought missing my favorite member Rah Digga) with Lord Have Mercy and Rampage putting in great work. My memory was that "The Coming" was mediocre but I think it holds up as a good although rough debut album.

    Highlights: "Woo Hah!! (Got You All In Check)", "Ill Vibe", "Flipmode Squad Meets Def Squad", "Everything Remains Raw"

    Review: B
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    Shocking Seductive Spiral Thirdmango's Avatar
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    I'm glad you're doing highlights. Busta has always been weird for me because I love love love a bunch of his radio hits and then when I get his album everything else is subdued. So I've lost a lot of will to give him a chance on other albums.

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    Ain't that just the way EyesWideOpen's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Thirdmango (view post)
    I'm glad you're doing highlights. Busta has always been weird for me because I love love love a bunch of his radio hits and then when I get his album everything else is subdued. So I've lost a lot of will to give him a chance on other albums.
    That's why I've been relistening to his whole catalog. His albums are a lot more solid then I remembered.
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    Shocking Seductive Spiral Thirdmango's Avatar
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    Yeah, I actually have a bunch of them that I haven't yet listened to I'll have to look up which ones because it's been so long, but this thread will be of great importance to me. I love me the hip hops. I'm looking forward to checking out the Big Boi album.

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    Ain't that just the way EyesWideOpen's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Thirdmango (view post)
    Yeah, I actually have a bunch of them that I haven't yet listened to I'll have to look up which ones because it's been so long, but this thread will be of great importance to me. I love me the hip hops. I'm looking forward to checking out the Big Boi album.
    Busta Rhymes is one of the few hip-hop artists where his best tracks are almost always his singles. Most artists use the watered down stuff for their singles and the good stuff is on the album but not Busta. "Woo Hah" is by far the best track on "The Coming" and "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See" and "Dangerous" are the two best tracks on "When Disaster Strikes".
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    Ain't that just the way EyesWideOpen's Avatar
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    Busta Rhymes - "When Disaster Strikes"

    Busta released his second album in September 1997. It featured guest appearances by Jamal, Flipmode Squad, Anthony Hamilton, The Chosen Generation, Erykah Badu, Puff Daddy & Mase.

    Busta goes alot easier on the guest appearances on his second album. On "The Coming" there was at least a Flipmode member on almost every track but with "When Disaster Strikes" he's gained some confidence and it isn't until the ninth track that we even get a guest rapper. His Flipmode Squad has gotten better also with Rah Digga putting in a great verse on "We Can Take It Outside" and Lord Have Mercy (who during this time period I was sure was gonna break out huge) stealing the show on "Get Off My Block". Busta's two best songs on this album "Put Your Hands..." and "Dangerous" showed he could make big hits and were great showcases for his unique rapping ability. There are a few missteps: "It's a Party" featuring Zhane off his first album ended up being a surprise hit and he tries to match it's pop crossover with "One' featuring Erykah Badu and "The Body Rock" featuring Diddy & Mase and both are not good songs especially the latter with Mase giving an incredibly poor verse even for his low standards.

    [youtube]PtKRk37r31M[/youtube]

    Sidenote: One of his biggest singles for this album "Turn It Up Remix/Fire It Up" (the one with the Knight Rider theme) isn't even on "When Disaster Strikes" it was only available as a single. And the "Turn It Up" featured on the album has nothing to do with the remix.

    Highlights: "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See", "Dangerous", "Turn it Up", "Get Off My Block", "Rhymes Galore", "We Could Take It Outside", "So Hardcore"

    Lowlights: "The Body Rock", "One", "Get High Tonight"

    Review: B+
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    Ain't that just the way EyesWideOpen's Avatar
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    Joey Bada$$ - "1999"

    This mixtape was released in June 2012 (for free here). The only guest appearances are by his crew Pro Era (who just released their own mixtape last week).

    [youtube]51e1gIkzHgk[/youtube]

    This is one of the best mixtapes I've heard all year and has ended up on quite a few best album of the year lists and rightfully so. I've heard comparisons to "Illmatic" and I agree for a 17 year old to put out such a solid debut and have it sound fresh yet evoke 90's hip-hop is refreshing. The scary thing is that his crew is great also. The twelve minute closer "Suspect" gives them all a chance to shine and I look forward to Joey's official album and more from Pro Era.

    Highlights: "Waves", "FromDaTomb", "Survival Tactics", "World Domination", "Pennyroyal", "Suspect"

    Review: A
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    What is best in life? D_Davis's Avatar
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    If all the songs are from one dude, then isn't it an album, and not a mixtape? I always have the hardest time determining what a mixtape is. My definition is that a mixtape is something we would make for friends that had a bunch songs by different bands. What does it mean in this context?

  12. #12
    Ain't that just the way EyesWideOpen's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting D_Davis (view post)
    If all the songs are from one dude, then isn't it an album, and not a mixtape? I always have the hardest time determining what a mixtape is. My definition is that a mixtape is something we would make for friends that had a bunch songs by different bands. What does it mean in this context?
    In the hip-hop world mixtapes are projects that are released for free to drum up interest in the artist for their actual album. For indie rappers it also gets your name out for labels to hear about your stuff.
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  13. #13
    What is best in life? D_Davis's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting EyesWideOpen (view post)
    In the hip-hop world mixtapes are projects that are released for free to drum up interest in the artist for their actual album. For indie rappers it also gets your name out for labels to hear about your stuff.
    AH. Thanks.

    Interesting though, because I listen to mainly free hip-hop, but they just call them albums. Maybe it's because they have no intention of being signed?

    Ever listen to anything on New Cocoon? This is probably my favorite hip hop label.

    http://newcocoon.tumblr.com/downloads/

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    Ain't that just the way EyesWideOpen's Avatar
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    Its also a way to release stuff you couldn't get sample clearance for that was supposed to be on your album or in the other case where you never would have been able to get sample clearance for. Example: on Captain Murphys new mixtape one song heavily samples actual dialog from The Dark Knight which he never would have gotten clearance on if he was selling it.
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    Ain't that just the way EyesWideOpen's Avatar
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    Busta Rhymes - "Extinction Level Event (Final World Front)"

    Busta released his third album in December 1998. It featured guest appearances by The Flipmode Squad, Mystikal, Janet Jackson & Ozzy Osborne.

    Busta really scaled back on guests on this album with only four songs out of 17 and he shows he's more then capable of handling it on his own. I love "Gimme Some More". The opening is so nonsensically awesome:

    [youtube]IAngxKqHKz0[/youtube]

    The Ozzy Osbourne track is just weird and the Mystikal song is garbage but this is probably his most consistent album out of his first three.

    Highlights: "Where We Are About To Take It", "Extinction Level Event (The Song of Salvation)", "Tear da Roof Off", "Against All Odds", "Gimme Some More", "Party Is Goin' on Over Here"

    Lowlights: "Iz They Wildin Wit Us & Gettin' Rowdy Wit Us?"

    Review: B
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    Ain't that just the way EyesWideOpen's Avatar
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    Mr. MFN eXquire - "Power & Passion"

    Mr. MFN eXquire released his major label debut in November 2012. It features guest appearances by Gucci Mane & Goldie Glo.

    I blind bought this EP because 1) it was cheap and 2) I had just read a news article on him and it mentioned El-P producing a track and 3) he looked interesting and the cover does also. Unfortunately this was a mistake. I've listened to it like four times now and I can safely say I hate "Power & Passion". The lyrics are generic misogynistic, homophobic nonsense which is too bad because the production is fantastic. I also have no idea why on an EP which only features six tracks he would use one of them to just be an interlude with him acting tough. His rapping ability is slightly above average but with such sub-par subject matter I won't be looking for any of his future projects.

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  17. #17
    Shocking Seductive Spiral Thirdmango's Avatar
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    With the Quannum guys a mixtape is often a bunch of the guest stuff they do on other people's albums all mixed together with the help of a DJ who seamlessly segways the tracks together. But like EWO said it's also something you can usually only find on their website. LPs will make it into stores.

    Busta's singles are such strange things. It took me forever to find "Don't Touch Me," which is my favorite song by him since it's only on a single.

  18. #18
    What is best in life? D_Davis's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Thirdmango (view post)
    But like EWO said it's also something you can usually only find on their website.
    Right. Most of the hip hop I listen to is indie/DIY (netlabel) stuff (like the New Cocoon guys listed above, check them out). But they just call them albums.

    What I'm gathering now is that people use the word mixtape to mean demo, to the point that it's lost its original meaning as a collection of a bunch of tracks mixed by a deejay into an album, which would sometimes (in the hip-hop world) feature different emcees rapping over the instrumental jams.

    I think the hip-hop mixtape used to be more for the deejay, but now, with bedroom producing being so good, it's become the calling card for the all-on-one, producer/deejay/emcee artist.

  19. #19
    Ain't that just the way EyesWideOpen's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting D_Davis (view post)

    What I'm gathering now is that people use the word mixtape to mean demo, to the point that it's lost its original meaning as a collection of a bunch of tracks mixed by a deejay into an album, which would sometimes (in the hip-hop world) feature different emcees rapping over the instrumental jams.
    I don't think demo is the right word though. When I think of demo tracks I think of unpolished or rough work. Today's modern context of hip-hop mixtape is just a "free album" most tracks are as polished and well produced as anything on their actual released albums. Like I mentioned before it could be stuff they couldn't fit on their actual album or couldn't afford to or the record label didn't want on. Mixtapes can be demo's of course but for the most part (at least now in the hip-hop world) it's just an all-encompassing term for free product.
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    Ain't that just the way EyesWideOpen's Avatar
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    Flipmode Squad - "The Imperial"

    The Flipmode Squad released their only album in September 1998. At this time the Flipmode Squad consisted of Busta Rhymes, Rah Digga, Lord Have Mercy, Baby Sham, Rampage and Spliff Star. The only guest appearance on "The Imperial" was Buckshot.

    I to this day listen to this album pretty regularly. I've listened to "The Imperial" more then I've listened to all of Busta's solo records combined. It was actually hard choosing highlights because I really just view the album as a whole. There isn't any real standout singles that you would find on a regular Busta Rhymes album. The production is solid but not flashy and the hooks are pretty average but the rapping is high quality. If I had to pick negatives Spliff Star and Baby Sham aren't as interesting as the other four MC's and there are stupid skits at the end of like 8 of the tracks (which thankfully with itunes I can just cut off). But otherwise this is a really consistently solid album.

    [youtube]mdbTdZwB4zE[/youtube]

    Highlights: "To My People", "Run For Cover", "I Got Your Back", "Where You Think You Goin'", "Straight Spittin"

    Review: B+
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  21. #21
    What is best in life? D_Davis's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting EyesWideOpen (view post)
    I don't think demo is the right word though. When I think of demo tracks I think of unpolished or rough work.
    Right, which is why I mentioned how good bedroom productions are now. Demos can sound more polished now, some as good as anything commercially available.

    I just think the term mixtape has lost its meaning, and prefer to call them albums, because that's what they are to me. A mixtape is something very different. I was even talking to my hip hop friends (Tricericorn - http://triceracorn.bandcamp.com/album/triceracorn (check these dudes out, pretty amazing stuff) and they don't really get the whole mixtape thing. They release their DIY albums for free.

    Probably just a shift in semantics that I don't agree with. Chalk it up to me being old.

  22. #22
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    Busta Rhymes was my favorite rapper for a long time, but I was always disappointed with his solo albums after loving When Disaster Strikes so much.

    He promoted Flipmode Squad quite a bit, and I was a little disappointed they never seemed to break out very much. I love their album, though.

    I bought Rampage's solo album and it was pretty disappointing. Once they lost Lord Have Mercy (probably my favorite of the bunch) I sort of lost interest in them, but still held out hope they'd hit with the mainstream crowd.

    One of my favorites from When Disaster Strikes:

    [
    ]

    One of my favorites from The Imperial:

    [
    ]

    Side note: I was such a big fan of Busta Rhymes/Flipmode Squad as a teen, I won the runner-up prize in an online contest that didn't have a limit on the amount of times you could enter, and won a signed copy of one of his solo albums, and some other goodies.

  23. #23
    Ain't that just the way EyesWideOpen's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Mr. Pink (view post)
    Busta Rhymes was my favorite rapper for a long time, but I was always disappointed with his solo albums after loving When Disaster Strikes so much.
    I've owned Busta Rhymes albums after E.L.E. but I can't really remember much about them so these relistens will be interesting.
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    Ain't that just the way EyesWideOpen's Avatar
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    Meek Mill - "Dreams and Nightmares"

    Meek Mill released his debut album in September 2012. It features guest appearances by Rick Ross, Nas, Big Sean, John Legend, Drake, 2 Chainz, Kirko Bangz, Wale, Trey Songz, Mary J Blige, Louie V and Sam Sneak.

    This is one of those album's I only picked up because amazon had it on sale for $3.99. I had heard him on some other people's stuff and thought he was ok but nothing I would rush out to buy. Fortunately it turned out to be a pretty solid debut album. Meek is quite a charismatic rapper and that carries most of the songs. "Dreams and Nightmares" does tend to go too far into "wack R&B hook" territory especially in the second half of the album which makes most of my favorite tracks in the first half. Meek and Big Sean complement each other well on "Burn" my favorite track and Meek shows he can hold his own lyrically on the title track and "Traumatized".

    [youtube]rxV4fRbHMYc[/youtube]

    Highlights: "Burn" (only on the deluxe version), "Dreams and Nightmares", "In God we Trust", "Traumatized", "Believe It", "Amen"

    Review: B-
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    Ain't that just the way EyesWideOpen's Avatar
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    Busta Rhymes - "Anarchy"

    Busta released his fourth album in June 2000. It featured guest appearances by Flipmode Squad, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, Roc Marciano, Lenny Kravitz, M.O.P., DMX and Jay-Z. It features production by a bunch of huge names (at the time): Just Blaze, Swizz Beatz, Large Professor, DJ Scratch, Jay Dee, Scott Storch and Rockwilder.

    [youtube]wiWuFXAzPQk[/youtube]

    "Anarchy" is another solid Busta album but four albums in he still hasn't had that breakout "great" album like many of his contemporaries. The guests on here are some huge names and favorites of mine but none of their featured songs really stand out. Swizz Beatz who was huge at the time produces two tracks but quite a few of the other tracks have that same Swizz Beatz sound so alot of the production kind of blends together. This is also the first Busta album with Roc Marciano who was brought into the Flipmode Squad after Lord Have Mercy left the group. I like Roc quite a bit but he doesn't have the standout style that Lord Have Mercy did. The two singles "Get Out!!" and "Fire" are two of my favorite tracks with the former being a homage/ripoff to Jay-Z's "Hard Knock Life" Annie sample but it works and holds up.

    Highlights: "Salute Da Gods!!", "Bladow!!", "Fire", "Get Out!!"

    Review: B-
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