Baby Blak – Blaker than Midnight/Moves 2 Make (Cinema 7 Multimedia Group; prod: DJ Devastate)
Baby Blak was ushered into the rap game via fellow Philly native DJ Jazzy Jeff, one of its finest craftsmiths. He could use Jeff now.
For this double A side off his Blaker than Midnight EP, he enlists Sweden’s DJ Devastate, whose production borrows heavily from some familiar sources. Blaker than Midnight owes a great deal to DJ Premier, lifting heaviy off Mos Def’s Mathematics (b-side to Ms. Fat Booty) and though he mimics Primo’s steez admirably, he’s not breaking any ground by doing so. It suffers greatly because of it. Moves 2 Make doesn’t venture that far from template, either. The man can flow over the right production; should have kept shopping for it.
Spin-worthy but not enough gas in the tank to reach its destination
Wu-Block – Union Square (eOne; prod: Jake One)
The first official release from the anticipated Wu-Tang/D-Block collaboration sets the bar high for the album with Jake Uno’s relentless low boom accentuated by sharp splashes of crash and ride propelling Ghostface Killah and Sheek Louch through the underground of New York and straight to your cerebral. This is a preemptive strike both teams are chomping at the bit to unleash to the streets. When they announced the collaboration last year, they were quite explicit about the fact that this record was for exactly that demographic. This joint is so thick one forgets that it’s a timeless ode to rolling up on honeys in the club. It’s that dope.
Drag and drop this into the “fire” section of your subcrates.
Beanie Sigel – The Reunion (featuring State Property) (Ruffhouse; prod: Don Cheegro)
Jay-Z should pay attention to this record.
The Broad Street Bully, who is determined to return to the collective rap consciousness with a vengeance, displays that raw viciousness we have come to expect from the State Prop general. Backed by the familiar coterie (Freeway, Peedi Crack, OmilioSparks and Young Chris), Sigel delivers his verses with an urgency further punctutated by the fact that he’s staring down a two-year bid, so it’s no surprise he’s going in guns blazing. The Don Cheegro production – unfortunately – too closely mirrors Salaam Remi’s post-90s work with Nas. We are given very little indication as to who Cheegro is. The SP team can take credit for living up to their reputation of being able to spit bars over various types of production but someone really should have tapped Cheegro on the shoulder and let him know Remi’s been there, done that.
Sigel rips his rap contemporaries a new one and stakes his claim to the throne that he is no longer content with just watching.
For this first post, I had three very specific joints I wanted to cover from Dilla, Nas & Slaughterhouse. All are significant releases that I believe warrant a little examination.
J.Dilla – Detroit Game featuring Chuck Inglish, Boldy V (Ruff Draft; prod: J.Dilla)
Dilla’s legacy will forever be marred by good – yet misplaced – intentions.
Typically, any new Dilla record can be sampled a minute and a half at a time, beats first. After hearing this posthumous release – assembled by Jonathan Taylor and Maureen Yancey – the standouts are obvious and this is one of them. The biggest opportunity on the album is talent and this is one joint that hurdles that as Chuck Inglish (The Cool Kids) and Boldy V manage to ride Dilla’s low end theory – and its well-placed David Essex sample – with a comfortable cadence that would sit well on any of DIlla’s older records. “Not everyone can rap,” exclaims Inglish on his first verse and that’s just in general. It’s even harder to find an emcee that can properly rap over a Dilla beat.
Nas – The Don (Def Jam; prod: Salaam Remi, The Internz, Heavy D)
Nasir Jones has been all about grand entrances lately.
He intro-ed his latest, Life is Good, with five standout joints – including this one – to really whet your appetite. The title track to Hip Hop is Dead, God Son‘s Made You Look, Bridging the Gap off Street’s Disciple and his collaborative effort with Damian Marley, As We Enter, were heatseekers tasked with reintegrating Nas into the collective rap consciousness and with album 10 hitting #1 this past week, it appears Nas is definitely onto something. Rap has always been a young man’s game but when artists figure out how to successfully transition their debuts into careers it’s a testament to their talent – and Nas has managed to do it with straightforward boom bap.
El-producto is buzzing hard right now after the release of his collaboration with Killer Mike so when this dropped, the anticipation was heavy.
He arms this first single off Welcome to the Slaughterhouse with a barrage of “shock and awe” that really elevate the track. The drums and percussion hit harder than a Hulk smash and are complemented by a menacing chord buzz that manages to avoid sounding like cheesy stock samples. El-P’s fantastic damage is a complete departure from araabMUZIK’s signature chops but the two producers aren’t that dissimilar. Both achieve sonic brilliance by maintaining a hardcore aesthetic that separates them from many of their peers. This was a “leak” so you won’t find it on iTunes. Keep searching.