Verbals by A to the L
Clipse – Ma I Don’t Love Her (Star Trak)
I’m still not sure about this. A hell of a lot of people are raving over this cut, but in my opinion its one of the weaker ones of the superb “Lord Willin'” album. Of course its bouncy as hell – it has to be with the Neptunes of the boards, and Faith Evans’ hook is bright and breezy enough, but still… its a little too ‘clean’ and polished. The reason I liked ‘Grindin’, and ‘When The Last Time’ is that they were filthy, grimey, disgustingly dirty beats, and Malice and Pusha T banged off those joints perfectly. If ‘Grindin’ eats with its fingers, puts its elbows on the table, and burps and farts throughout the meal, then ‘Ma I Don’t Love Her’ uses expensive English china, says grace before dishing out the food, and sends compliments to the chef afterwards. And that’s what’s wrong here.
RATING: 5 / 10
Loon – How You Want That (Bad Boy)
This however is more like it – despite the fact that Loon is the equivalent of a rapping teddy bear, this track works. Maybe its the fact that producer Yogi, has blatantly ripped off Pharrell and Chad’s whole production style (even going so far as to bring in Neptunes diva Kelis for the hook), maybe its the fact that P Diddy stays in the background tossing in his trademark ad-libs here and there (which I actually do like) rather than actually kicking a verse… I dunno. It seems that Loon has his head screwed on – realising how much of a Mase-a-like he is, he seems to be demanding slammin’ club beats to spit over in order to try to win people over before he gets rumbled. This is perfect 2am-feeling-on-a-girl’s-jiggling-ass music.
RATING: 6.5 / 10
Discolobos – Move Along (Discolobos)
What’s dope about running this site is that I’m constantly being hit off by indie cats looking for coverage, and more often than not I’m amazed by the quality of some of the stuff these artists are putting out without ANYONE seeming to take notice. Discolobos is another example. Straight out of Rochester, New York they hooked me up with a 7″ single in straight up ghetto, brown cardboard packaging, and the shit is HOT! The A-Side features rapper Lowkey spitting over creaking funk and soul breaks hooked up by Brasby, while the B-Side ‘The Introduction Part 1’ see a cat called Wagun providing a crazy sax-fuelled jazz loop for Lowkey to bounce all over. This track throws up comparisons to classic Showbiz and Diamond D work on the production tip, while Lowkey sounds like a hyperactive Mos Def, with comparable mic skills. Check out their site – these guys need to be heard.
RATING: 8 / 10
The Procussions – Leave Her Alone (Procussions)
The Procussions take over where Discolobos left off. Another indie crew with another sparkling release, this 3 man team hail from Colorado, but have recently relocated to LA, and are working hard on a debut album. The title track here sees producer Stro the 89th Key going all Pete Rock, both through his work on the boards, and the fact that he adopts the producer-on-the-mic role. Backed by emcees Resonant and Mr J, the trio kick their thoughts on the trials and tribulations of relationships over a warm guitar sample. Second track ‘Lights Off’ is a much harder affair, amost bordering on that rock/rap sound we’ve all come to hate, especially in the chorus as DJ Spryte One cuts and scratches. Amidst the frenzy though, when the emcees are spitting, this is actually a nice headnodder. The final cut, ‘Wegotta! (Get Up)’ is very Tribe Called Quest-ish in construction, and the horns on the hook are gorgeous. Again, its a case of hitting up these cats yourself if you wanna hear more… and you should – cos this 12″ is ill.
RATING: 8 / 10
Cadillac Tah – I Gotcha Ma (Murder Inc)
Damn I thought this cat had disappeared. Unfortunately not. As if one Ja-Rule wasn’t enough, his clone is back to torture us some more. For a change, Irv Gotti’s production stands up to scrutiny here – he’s supplied a bubbly little track complete with Althea’s buttery hook, for dude to ruin… and ruin he does – imagine Ja with LESS skills if that’s possible. (The production saves this from getting zero.) I hate this whole record label and everything they stand for – they’re the ultimate example of the negative state of a lot of Hiphop today. I wish the FBI would hurry up and get something on these idiots… maybe someone with talent can hop into their studios when they have to leave. Don’t even buy this – go download the instrumental on mp3, or jack the 12″ from your store. Keep your money out of Murder Inc’s pockets people!
RATING: 4 / 10
Da Brat – In Love Wit Chu (So So Def)
Wow, another blast from the recent past. It seems that honey don’t know when its time to put down the mic either. Again, its another example where the instrumental is much better than the actual track. LT Hutton is on the boards here, and jacks the Gap Band’s ‘Outstanding’ drums, lays some nice synths over the top, and brings a female called Cherish in on the hook. The result is some light and fluffy goodness – until Da Brat-a-tat-tat (groan) gets on the mic. Oh for the return of vintage MC Lyte or Antoinette… Da Brat needs to just… stop. Soon. Her performance on the mic is embarrassing – I think its about time Shortarse Dupri went and pimped another couple of kids at a shopping mall or something – dude needs some new ‘talent’ on his wacked out label. Fast.
RATING: 3 / 10
LL Cool J – Amazin’ (Def Jam)
And LL continues to rake in the dough. This will sell out the ass and be all over Hot 97 every 40 minutes. If you look at the two reviews above this, you’ll see what I think of wack rhymes over nice beats… well, LL must have been prepared for the A to the L onslaught cos you see not only have he and Def Jam supplied the original mix with a load of garbage rhyming for me to knife, they’ve also included a version with “no rap”. Yeah that’s right – an LL Cool J record with no rapping on it. Now some might say that with the style LL is on at the minute that THAT ain’t no bad thing. However, its obvious that this is little more than a Def Jam exercise to get guest vocallist Kandice Love some attention. And it works – her vocals are straight up silky smooth goodness, and despite the fact that Chad and Hugo have done little more than throw a fuzzy synth over the ‘Heartbeat’ break, the R’n’B mix of this bumps perfectly.
RATING: 6 / 10
Braxton Brothers – What Did I Say Remix (Peak Records)
The cover of this is mad funny – its looks like Wayne has no neck. Anyway, on to the music, and the short necked one, and his brother Nelson have supplied a nice little taster of their 3rd album, “Both Sides”. So what can you expect? Smooth jazz influenced r’n’b vibes from two guys with superb voices. The title track shows a few shades of Usher’s ‘You Make Me Wanna’, with a gorgeous guitar loop and a pimped out sax swirling in and out of the mix. ‘Better Than Nothing’ is a little more uptempo, but still very chilled out compared to today’s Neptune-afied high tempo R’n’B affairs. Ledisi’s as guest vocalist dominates the track, and again Gemini’s work on the remix tip deserves a mention. ‘Stop Saying That’ mainly features Nelson going for dolo on the saxaphone, showing off his dual skills as both singer and musician over a bouncy little Ginuwine-type beat. ‘Back 2 Love’ House Remix? Enough said…. bleurgh. These guys need more publicity, cos I’ll admit that this is the first time I’ve ever heard of em, and I’m genuinely impressed. Hunt this down if you can – its music for rolling round on a sheepskin rug in front of an open fire. Get your mack on to this!
RATING: 8 / 10
VU – Handbook For The Apocalypse (Wide Hive)
I’d checked out VU’s ‘Seven Grain EP’ last October and was pretty impressed, so it’d be interesting to see if they could hold the high standards on this follow up mini-EP. The opening cut ‘War Again’ is dark and eerie goodness, with a broody jazzy break interspersed with strings meshing with cut up speech samples. Superb. The title track, is very mellow, but still retains a bleak feel – significant when you hear the lyrics speak of war, suicide bombers and a host of other horrible shit that’s went on over the last little while… it really has to be heard to fully appreciate it, but if you want a quick example this line should get you interested – “books and bullets don’t go crazy, men and trigger fingers do.” Track 3, ‘Not One Of Us, All Of Us’ is really more of a filler track – another instrumental with various radio and television speeches and interviews dropped over the top. Its interesting once, but doesn’t really have any long term replay value. The final track gets props simply for its title – ‘I Am On A Journey To My Soul, But The Police Just Pulled Me Over.’ Its a spoken word joint with more jazzy goodness laid underneath – its what Common TRIED and FAILED to do on “Electric Circus.” These guys however pull it off well, and their comments are definitely thought provoking. Go hit up the Wide Hive site now and find out where you can get this.
RATING: 7.5 / 10
Jonell – So Whassup (Def Soul)
Jonell continues to impress as another nice vocallist who’s marrying Hiphop and R’n’B with pleasing results. ‘So Whassup’ sees her teaming up with Redman over a heavy heavy Drop Squad beat. After her initial success with the remix of ‘Round And Round’, this track here and the Wu-Tang beat flipping B-side ‘Don’t Stop’ certainly indicate that Jonell’s debut album “Know Me” will be worth checking out. Keep an eye on honey, cos she is gonna blow up crazy large. Trust.
RATING: 8.5 / 10
Fallacy – Big ‘n’ Bashy (Virgin)
Holy shit. Fallacy comes out of NOWHERE and drops a fucking slammer! Despite dropping the “and Fusion” from the end of his name, his former MTV Base partner is still very much in effect, supplying Fallacy with a stonking beat that could only have come out of the UK. No US slang here, no duns, no guns, no beeyatches fo’ shizzle. Its all about the UK here, with Fallacy ripping shit as Tubby T’s rub-a-dub chorus tops things off perfectly – this is fucking blazing! Take care of your ears though, cos there’s a couple of horrific dance music remix thingys on here too (why for fuck’s sake?) Just continually spin the original. On loop. 24 hours a day. Now.
RATING: 10 / 10