Verbals by A to the L
Eve – Gangsta Lovin’ (Ruff Ryders)
The lead single from Eve’s upcoming album “Eve-olution”, and its plain to see that she’s aiming to continue to rest in that comfortable little “radio-friendly” niche that she carved out with ‘Let Me Blow Your Mind’. A twinkly little beat, featuring various synths and harpsicord effects, is topped off by the addition of Alicia Keys on the Yarborough & Peoples-influenced hook, resulting in a jam that’s gonna clog the radio airwaves and clubs for the next few months
RATING: 7 / 10
Styles – Good Times (Ruff Ryders)
After Jada’s solo success, Styles is the next Lox member to step up to the solo plate… and what a debut. ‘Good Times’ is a real grower, building on the successful blueprint laid down by Wu-Tang, Jigga, and most recently Cam-ron’s ‘Oh Boy’, for using speeded up soul samples as the hook. Lyrically Styles is pretty generic – in fact it’s difficult to tell the difference between him and Jadakiss on the mic. Its the music that makes this though – this is gonna be the summer anthem. Look out for this on mixtapes everywhere.
RATING: 7.5 / 10
Algorithm – Defective Experiment (Counterflow)
Lyrics, somebody want lyrics? There’s no doubt that group emcee Seth P Brundel can spit for days… the evidence is right here as soon as you throw this joint on. Production (handled by his homie Plex) is a fast paced jazzy jaunt – a nice little piano echoing in and out, while Seth spits. Overall, maybe a little cluttered, but its heart is in the right place. Second cut ‘CPU’ is a much more morose affair, conjuring up images of death scenes in badly dubbed Karate movies for some reason. Again, its Seth on the mic, but the cinematic feel of the production kinda edges him out of the picture slightly. Next up is ‘Someday’, and we return to the jazzy path, with a ton of finely layered samples and loops running through this – again though the end result is a little bit cluttered. Rounding things off is the instrumental ‘Requiem For The Illusionist’, which manages to start off interestingly enough before becoming a little repetitive.
RATING: 6.5 / 10
Algorithm – Suffer Great Nation (Botanica Del Jibaro)
Second single from these guys, and MUCH MUCH more impressive. Why? Well part of it is the spooky “chickens coming home to roost” theme running through this track – written before September 11th – but examining the pysche of a terrorist about to commit atrocities in opposition to US foreign policy. Emcee Dr Faustus drops some incredibly hard-hitting and introspective lyrics, that really must be heard to gain full effect. The production is amazing too – hard snares with a twist of Middle Eastern sound effects, all layered over a melancholic violin loop. Elsewhere on here, the blink and you’ll miss it ‘Ellis Island’ introduces an emcee called Goblen into the mix, as he spits over a mid tempo beat straight out the Pyramids – very Egyptian; ‘Negligence’ showcases our old friend Seth P, again in “cram-the-words-into-the-lines” mode on a solidly self-produced lyrical romp; and ‘Theory’ is another (ultimately skippable) instrumental track. The title track is worth the entrance fee alone though – go find this.
RATING: 8.5 / 10
Algorithm – War At 120/80 (Counterflow)
A third outing for Algorithm, and again the title track is the winner, mainly due to the skills of Fautus on the mic. Plex hooks up another amazing soundscape featuring a mass of strings, snares and synths, as Faustus goes OFF on everyone from crooked lawyers, to child molesting priests, to hypocritical public figures who preach one thing but do the exact opposite. Incredible. Seth P shows he’s no slouch on the boards either, as he whips up two superb beats for Faustus to again display his lyrical dexterity. The first on ‘Head Games’ is a real slow, sad-sounding affair featuring a deep cello loop which is well suited to the dark topics Faustus touches on. The second track ‘Escalator’ is a little brighter – a quicker beat featuring more of those amazing strings, and quick violin stabs throughout. Ultimately, this is another 12″ worth picking up.
RATING: 8 / 10
N.E.R.D. – Rock Star (Virgin)
A little cleaner than the original album mix, the second release from the Neptunes is a million miles away from their club-oriented ‘Lapdance’ debut. There’s a heavy rock influence here, although its still laid down over the trademark Neptunes groove that we’ve become familiar with, right down to the Pharrell sing-song hook. Its definitely a grower, although personally I’d love to hear this with the rock guitars taken out. As it is, its a strange mesh of rock, Hiphop, R’n’B, and nu-metal, that incredibly DOES work. Not sure about the US, but the UK release also features a much more uptempo mix by Jason Nevins. If you’re aware of his past record of desecrating Run DMC and Cypress Hill tracks, then you won’t even need me to tell you how badly he’s messed this one up. Stick with the original, and you won’t go far wrong.
RATING: 7 / 10
Cypress Hill & Roni Size – Child Of The Wild West (Virgin)
Taken from the “Blade 2” soundtrack, itself an experiment in merging Hiphop with electronic / drum’n’bass styles, this one follows the formula perfectly, resulting in one of the worst dirges I’ve ever heard committed to wax. B-Real’s already annoying nasal flow becomes nothing more than an incessant drone as it flits in and out of a “dance-music-by-numbers” backdrop. It sounds like Roni Size went out to lunch and left his computers on “random jumble”, came back, and recorded it. I know Kraftwerk used to get away with it, but sorry guys, I can’t take the same line with this. Avoid at all costs.
RATING: 0 / 10
Star Beav Ft Erocc’n – Hiphop Celebration (RMZ)
Originally from LA, now residing in Arizona, Star Beav’s debut single has a real feel-good, almost cartoon-ish vibe, with a memorable sing-along chorus, similar to Naughty By Nature anthems like ‘Hiphop Hooray’, and ‘Feel Me Flow’ from the early nineties. Lyrically its never gonna break any new ground, but its a straight up party jam, so that’s not what its about – this is all about getting peoples’ butts moving, and I can see it succeeding in this task. ‘Me & You Against The World’ is a little bit harder to warm to – mainly due to the cheesy chorus. Again its mainly Star Beav on the mic, with help from Erocc’n, and again its a bouncy little beat. But everytime you feel that you might just be getting into it, the chorus comes up and the whiff of Gorgonzola fills the air. Not a bad introduction to the more commercial side of the market though.
RATING: 6 / 10