Rhymefest has an open secret. Prior to Blue Collar, he released an underground album entitled Raw Dawg, produced by none other than Mr. West. Raw Dawg was kept under wraps for some reason, but there's no doubt that Blue Collar has received a deafening buzz lately. Guest features include Rhymefest, Rhymefest, and Rhymefest. Seriously, with such a variety of styles ranging from confrontational to mischievous and humorous, 'Fest is all you really need on this album.
In the words of a good friend of mine, "Gnarles Barkley is for everyone." The strange duo of Cee-Lo and DangerMouse manage to wrap their "necromancing" (actual song title) hands around every genre, well, except for...maybe country and jazz. Yet, it's their roots in hip-hop that keep them grounded, unless of course you consider "bizarro music" a legitimate genre.
50 Cent has pulled a Dr. Dre on us lately by pushing back Mobb Deep's album yet again. In case you're still wondering, Dre holds the world record for the longest recording period for hip-hop albums by delaying his projects for 7+ years. Back to Mobb, Blood Money slightly revisits the same recipe that made The Infamous a hip-hop masterpiece...with measurably good results.
Admit it, the boom-bap era is over. 7L & Esoteric have moved on from their obsession with golden era enthusiasm, and so should all of us. It's time to spread our hands wide and receive A New Dope. Cinematic soundscapes and metaphorical death threats abound throughout the album. Kool Keith takes a break from his "Where-Are-They-Now" club duties to make an appearance as well. Did I just hear Esoteric say that he spoke to Madonna on IM, and that Led Zeppelin is his friend on MySpace?
Ehnn...I don't know about Cam'ron's attempt to emulate T.I. by dropping his album, Killa Season, and a similarly-titled movie at the same time. I only say that because the movie has been described in flattering words like "disappointing" and "unprofessional" by some of my peers, who are unfortunate enough to have seen it. Regardless, Killa Season is still worth checking out...if only to see how many times Cam references the three bullets he took with a smirk in October, 2005.
Smiley The Ghetto Child is a longtime affiliate of GangStarr (DJ Premier & Guru). What, that's not reason enough to peep his new album? Smiley was once - as his press sheet enthuses - locked up due to "extra curricular activities," and has toured with everyone from Ghostface to M.O.P. The Antidote features a gritty DJ Premier beat, with additional production coming from Showbiz, Sebb, and Chaze.
A-Alikes have somewhat quietly crafted one of the best underground albums of the year so far. Every beat pounds how it's supposed to, and every song complements the accompanying production. The album's soundscape was patterned by Ayatollah, Stic.man of dead prez, 4th Disciple (Wu-Tang), and many underdogs in the beatsmithing department.
Nobdoy saw it coming: two erstwhile Nas associates teaming up to drop a full length project. Cormega has expended a good portion of his barely-existing career on subliminal Nas insults, while Lake, a rookie, is probably still recovering from the shock suffered from the death of his new label, Tha Row Records. Thankfully, these two are extremely talented, making Cormega & Lake worthy of attention.
It's the unwritten rule in hip-hop that you must usher in your cronies once you've got a foot in the door. So, meet the extended family of Cam'ron's Diplomats - Purple City. Purple City's debut LP promises to be...well, um, promising.
Lil' Flip returns to solidify his spot on the southern rap landscape? Maybe not. Judging by Flip's mediocre single, "You'z A Trick," which has been relegated to BET Uncut levels for the obvious, it appears to be a case of "same sh*t, different toilet" for the Houston rapper.