Verbals by A to the L
Breathless – Pen In My Pocket (Hard As A Mic Entertainment)
Now how can I shit on this when I was introduced to Breathless through my boy Timid? When I was in Florida in February he let me hear some tracks from this female emcee who’d he’d been corresponding with. I was impressed straight away (and of course, I fucking would, but that’s besides the point.) Anyway, fast forward a few months later and Timmah! shoots me ‘Pen In My Pocket’ to do a little write up on… and my intial highly “impressed” level doesn’t drop at all. This chick can spit, and the Crump-produced bouncy track supports her rough, aggressive style perfectly. Oh and the nice little P.I.M.P. acronym gets bonus points too. Hit up the link and find out how to get this track, and stay tuned to Altrap.com for some bonus shit on Breathless coming soon.
RATING: 7 / 10
Baby – Baby You Can Do It (Cash Money)
After teaming up with Clipse and the Neptunes for ‘What Happened To That Boy’, Baby moves even closer towards mainstream acceptance with this cut which unashamedly jacks ‘Take Your Time’ by the SOS band (aka Black Sheep’s ‘Strobelite Honey’ break.) Putting Toni Braxton’s throaty vocals on the hook certainly ain’t gonna do him any harm in his quest for MTV-dom either. Its not bad – its catchy, its bouncy… but you certainly ain’t gonna be coming back to it for further listens in a month’s time.
RATING: 5 / 10
504 Boyz – Get Back (No Limit)
“The NEW No Limit” the label on this joint proudly proclaims. S’funny, cos this sounds exactly like everything else that’s ever come off this label lately. Stacatto beats that fight desperately to reproduce the glory days of the old New Limit, with an assortment of talentless idiots dribbling all over the track, and the lovable Percy moaning, groaning and “uhhhhhhhhhh”-ing his way straight into the “for fuck’s sake don’t listen to this again” file. Where did I put that crucifix and garlic?
RATING: 1 / 10
4th Generation – She So Gangsta (Universal)
You’re a new Hiphop crew and have a few R’n’B tinges round the edges. You sign to Universal. Rather than come out with something fresh and original, you bite down hard on War’s ‘Cisco Kid’ and think nobody will notice that the dopeness of the music easily overshadows your average singing voices and piss poor rhyming. Sorry… I did. Bye.
RATING: 2 / 10
Foxy Brown – I Need A Man (Def Jam)
Is it only me who reckons that while Lil Kim’s musical output gets steadily worse, Foxy Brown’s work is going in the opposite direction? Here’s a preview of what you’re can look forward to on the upcoming album “Ill Na Na 2: The Fever” – Foxy in confident mood, explaining the type of man that she needs in her life, while strangley monikered The Letter M drops an addictive hook. Its commercial to the extreme, Foxy although clear and crisp in her delivery still ain’t really saying shit, and the weird name of the guest makes you go “Hmmmm”…. but I still like this.
RATING: 6 / 10
Joe Budden – Pump It Up (Def Jam)
Yes yes, its been out on import for a long time, but Budden’s banger is only now getting its UK release. What can you expect? Lots of “pump it ups”, lots of “duhn duhn duhn dahn dahn dahn DAHHHHHHN” and a packed dancefloor whenever the DJ drops the tune. This track is seriously bananas – fast tempoed, commercial but with a real hard edge. Its hard to judge Joe as an emcee on the basis of this – its an obvious club track, and when you’re grinding up on some ass you don’t wanna be thinking about how many multis the emcee is spitting. Unfortunately what I’ve heard of the actual album has been quite disappointing, but don’t let that put you off grabbing this. It’s a must have.
RATING: 8 / 10
Craig G – Lets Get Up (D&D Records)
Juice Crew reunited – Craig G gets down in the studio again with Marley Marl, and the results are superb. It’s a unique blend of old and new school with Craig’s up-to-date flow fitting perfectly with Marley’s golden era-flavoured loop. The flip meanwhile doesn’t appear on the album for some reason, and its a shame, cos ‘I Get Support Regardless’ is really rather ripping. DJ Sage’s production is uncomfortably dark and eerie, with Nas samples flying in and out of the mix while Craig G again dismantles the mic in traditional fashion – the man is a walking mine of battle rhymes. If you haven’t already picked up the album “This Is Now” do yourself a favour – run out and grab it now – its worth the dough.
RATING: 8.5 / 10
Rated R – In Here Ta Nite (Universal)
Wow, Universal are just brimming with talent at the minute ain’t they? 4th Generation (who you met earlier up the page) are like Eric B & Rakim compared to Rated R. When a song consists of some imbecile drawling how all your family members are gonna be “bumpin'” over a straight-from-casio-keyboard beat, you really wanna roll to Universal’s offices and smack the shit out of the tit who signs this type of garbage. You want an example of what Rated R is like? Go out on a Saturday night, have a nice chicken curry and fried rice at the Chinese restaurant, then drink a few whiskeys to start before throwing about 8 or 9 pints of Guiness on top. Have a late night kebab with chilli sauce to end your evening, and collapse in your bed around 3am absolutely wrecked. Get up next morning and head to the bathroom. Empty your bowels. When you’ve finished, turn around and look in the bowl. THAT’S Rated R’s track laying in the porcelain.
RATING: 0 / 10
Mariah Carey – Boy I Need You (Def Jam)
This ain’t bad at all. Obviously its a remake of Cam’ron’s ‘Oh Boy’ which to be honest only ever got play from me cos of the hot Just Blaze beat. In my eyes this cut is an improvement on the original, with the beat getting some extra oomph thanks to the drums from ‘Nobody Beats The Biz’ being laid underneath, and Mariah’s dreamy vocals oozing flavour all over the track.
RATING: 5 / 10
Common – Come Closer Remix (MCA)
Wow. How the hell did this appear from the car crash of the original? The album version, and in fact the whole ‘Electric Circus’ album itself was absolute doo-doo, but somehow this is actually very good. What’s even more amazing is the fact that the remix is done by Jay Dee who’s penchant for boring my ass off with his pedestrian beats can never be discounted. Anyhow, here you have a nice jazzy twinkly remix laid over Tribe’s ‘Bonita Applebum’ break, with Common wittering on about how much he loves Erykah Badu. Instead of Mary J Blige on the hook this time though, its his main squeeze Ms Badu who coos back at him, while bringing up the rear (oo-er) come Pharrell and Q-Tip with a couple of short verses. Unfortunately for Common though, the dopeness of this tune is an eve greater excuse for NOT picking up ‘Electric Circus’. There’s nothing even close to the calibre of this on there… we want Common Sense back – someone take the hippy away.
RATING: 7 / 10
Saian Supa Crew – Give Praise (Source)
OK. So its that French language barrier thing again, but as with TTC, when the beats are hot and the emcees flow on point its still very easy to get into the material. ‘Give Praise’ sees the crew hook up with Kymani Marley who drops a edgy chorus in English, while the emcees spit en Francais. The beat here is very similar (in my ears anyway) to ‘Dipshit Anthem’, but even in a different language, I know these cats are better emcees than you-know-who. However, its the other tracks on here that REALLY move me – ‘X Raisons’ has a real dub feel, a fast paced reggae tinged thumper, who’s only down side is my lack of understanding of the rapid fire flows of the emcees. ‘The Beat’ meanwhile comes off like a dirty big brother of Young MC’s ‘Bust A Move’ – the ass-spanking electric guitar on here is off the hook, the addictive chorus (in English) is very much Funkadelic-influenced and again the emcees’ flows are devastating. I need to hit the books though to find out what these cats are saying!
RATING: 8 / 10
Gang Starr – Nice Girl, Wrong Place (Virgin)
Forget Rakim’s return to the mic. I think MOST heads are much more passionate about “The Ownerz” dropping. Primo and Guru never really let us down, and with the first single from the new LP ‘Skillz’ it was plain to see that the old chemistry was still intact – the shit banged. The second single however is gonna be a sleeper – its gonna be something that creeps up and buries itself in your brain on the DL, after you initially blow it off as “just OK”. Why? Well the beat is actually very similar to ‘Skillz’, with Premier chopping up Curtis Mayfield’s ‘Kung Fu’, and Guru doing his normal Guru thing, so nothing wrong there – it IS hot. But the addition of Boy Big SINGING the hook made me do a double take. I remember how weird it was when K-Ci and JoJo were groaning alll over ‘Royalty’ – this gives a similar feeling – Gang Starr aren’t MEANT to do R’n’B hooks! But like ‘Royalty’ this does grow on you. ‘Rite Where You Stand’ meanwhile is definitely straight up Gang Starr shit. No cheesy hooks here – its all Primo by numbers and Guru spitting. Here however Guru shares mic duties with Jadakiss, and though putting the moonfaced Lox member on a track is a recipe for disaster, Premier’s beat brings out the best in him too – “As soon as the chrome scope ‘im / Right there two in the dome smoking / ‘Kiss keep funeral homes open.” This album CANNOT drop soon enough.
RATING: 8.5 / 10
Mountain Brothers – Microphone Phenomenal (Special Edition) (Baby Grande)
“Special how?” you ask. Well besides the actual title track, you get a remix, a couple of other tracks, a DJ Jay-Ski interview, and DJ Spinbad Mini Mixtape Megamix of everything on here. The original mix has Chops laying down a beat which throws up images of TV cop show theme tunes, as Styles and Peril-L do their thing. I actaully like the DJ Cheapshot remix a lot more though – its Primo-esque and features Styles of Beyond. As for the other cuts – ‘The Roli Rho Show’ is actually pretty bland beatwise, though Rho’s cuts are fresh; while ‘Talkin’ Bout You’ is a lazy sounding diss on wack practioners of the Hiphop art. Its executed well enough, but there’s just not enough of a ‘spark’ there to REALLY hook me. The Jay-ski interview is interesting enough, but really unless you regularly jerk off to the MB’s, its little more than 6 or 7 minutes of album promotion and little else. However if you flip to the very end of the interview and skip through the 10 minutes or so of silence there’s a secret track of sorts. Its really just ‘The Rholi Rho Show’ played at a different speed, so there’s little point in it being here – its too slow to be ‘normal’ and far too fast to be ‘screwed’, so why its here at all is anyone’s guess. The MB’s will always get my respect, especially since Chops is an ex-alt.rap head, and while this is solid enough, as I said earlier this just doesn’t have that ‘spark’ that can make me whole-heartedly recommend it. It still shits on a lot of the other wack garbage reviewed on this page though.
RATING: 7 / 10
Poison Pen – Fall Back / Malicious – Take Off (RainMakers Lounge)
You want dirty, grimey, underground NYC flava? You need this 12″. After you pick it up you’ll be amazed to discover that the gully sound is actually coming straight out of MONTREAL, CANADA. Radio personality DJ Suganeedlz puts on her producer’s hat and under the name Rayna Shine, brings a couple of emcees in to spit over her beats. In addition to the straight-out-the Bronx-type feel the acoustic guitar loop and dope little flute sample on ‘Fall Back’ bring to the table, the fact that Poison Pen hails from the Big Smoke also gives this authentic NY flavour. A member of the Stronghold crew, PP skills on display here show exactly why he’s been featured in the Source and Elemental. The flipside meanwhile, features hometown boy Malicious, a member of the Montreal-based Offsides crew. ‘Take Off’ has the same Indian flavour as East Flatbush Project’s ‘Tried By 12’, and Rayna Shine’s loop here is equally as hot as Spenser Bellamy’s production on the underground Hiphop classic. Malicious is as aggressive on the mic as his A-side compatriot, spitting viciously throughout. Grab doubles straight away.
RATING: 9 / 10