First let me talk about Blackalicious. This band is comprised of the Gift of Gab (rhyming) and Chief Xcel (spinning). Nia, their first full-length album, is a modern day classic. Broken Arrow, their sophmore release, is on my all-time Top 10 list. The Gift of Gab's 2004 solo effort, 4th Dimensional Rocket Ships Going Up, was rendered completely unlistenable due to it’s experimentalism. The duo's newest release, The Craft is only slightly better. The first song, 'World of Vibrations', is great... until the chorus, where a bunch of women start singing, "we VI-brate AT high-ER fre-QUEN-cies" in a jarring, dance-stopping, confusing up-and-down tone. What the-? What is this New Age crap? The last time I heard about vibrating at higher frequencies, I was watching the O.C. Do I really want to be reminded of a crap show while trying to enjoy listening to a new album by one of my favorite bands? 'Rhythm Sticks'? What the fuck are rhythm sticks? 'Powers' could be a fun, happy song- until the chorus: "She's got... POOOOOOOW-ERS!!" No. Stop. Please. The last song (the title track of the entire album) is a self-congratulatory, masturbatory display of how awesome Gab thinks he is. He does vows to be a "vessel", spreading this gift and whatever but even that comes off as being egocentric. Speaking of egos, the only gem (and slightly redeeming factor) on the album is 'Ego Sonic War Drums'- a drum-y, piano-y rapid-fire rap between the Gift of Gab and Peace.
Next up is Miri Ben Ari- The Hip Hop Violinist. Yup, you read that right. The Hip Hop Violinist. This album was pointed out to me at my local music store and I scoffed for a second, but then I thought, "Wait a minute. I like Hip Hop. I like violins. ... This'll be the best album EVER!" Yeah, No. Ben Ari's violin playing swings between being too frantic and too distracting. The rappers featured (Kanye West, Scarface, Doug E. Fresh to name only a few) lose some of their street cred when talking gangsta shit over a poignant violin solo. 'We Gonna Win' is a nice intro to the album. 'Hold Your Head Up High' is a great song- With Lil' Mo singing about the struggles women face- and is a perfect blend a slower hip hop ballad with violin accents. The best song on the album is '4 Flat Tires', featuring Baby, Lil' Wayne and 6 Shot. It's a guilty pleasure- the chorus is: "It's goin' down like fo' flat tahrs but you know we gonna ride like fo' new tahrs." I know, right? You just can't think about it when you're bopping along with the beat. Plus, you know you want to say it now: "Oh no she ditn't! It's goin' down like fo' flat tahrs now, BITCH!"
The last of the full-length albums I bought is Same !@#$ Different Day, or as I like to call it, "Same Shit Different Day". I just realized though, that the keyboard numbers associated with the special characters in the title are 1234. So the album could also be called "Same 1234 Different Day." ... You know what? It doesn't have to be "shit" either. It could be "Same Shoe Different Day". Any four letter word would work. But... ah... I digress. This album is a remix of Lyrics Born's first full-length solo album Later That Day..., which is an AWESOME album. If you liked the original, you'll love the remixes. It's really interesting for me to hear a song remixed into a completely new, different, equally awesome sound. The remix of 'Hello' is head bopping funktastic. 'I'm Just Raw', produced by Dan the Automator, is a new song and has a chorus of, "I'm smarter than you, I'm harder than you, I'm better than you, I'm just raw. I'm hotter than you, more popular than you, more clever than you and gosh-darnit people like me." Yes, that sounds just as egotistical as a song I just mentioned, but the mellow-yet-earnest way Lyrics Born sings makes you think that it's tongue-in-cheek (but not really). It's like... It's like smiling at someone while you tell them to go fuck themselves. They're not sure if you're being ironical or if you really hate them. I've perfected this ability, by the way. At any rate, this is the most awesomest of awesome purchases because not only are all the new and remixed songs highly listenable, it ALSO comes with a DVD. Fer real. With music videos and a documentary. Multi-media entertainment rolled up in one easy purchase!
I was given a couple promos from Music Matters (because I'm a loyal customer and they love me- mwah!). I have to say that Percy Miracles is a find. He's "The Ladies Champ" and has, according to the back of the CD sleeve, "sold over 10,000,000 records in Bulgaria." Is he an underground European sleeper sensation? No, he's the singing alter-ego of Phonte, one of the three members of the group Little Brother. Maybe. I think. It has gotten to the point where this member is also a member of that group, also known as someone else, featured on so-and-so's new album. I can't really follow it all, suffice it to say that sweet, sweet Percy truly is funny. Which is what I think the intention of this EP is. From the first song (in which a canned beat plays and Percy says, "Turn me up in the headphones... That's what all the rappers say, 'Turn me up in the headphones.'") And he intentionally mispronounces the word 'epitome'. (At least I hope it's intentional.) Percy excels at story-telling and these tracks are begging to be played at a time when people will be listening from start to finish. 'Miss Eda' and 'Back to the Motherland' are particularment bons.