Saturday, December 4, 2010

THE MIXTAPE REPORT 11.28.10: Chris Brown, Estelle and John Legend, Jay-Z, Reks, Carmelo Anthony

NOTE TO READERS: IF YOU WANT YOUR MIXTAPE SHOUTED OUT IN THE MIXTAPE REPORT, EMAIL MIMI WITH THE SUBJECT LINE: MY MIXTAPE, send a link to where it can heard and Van Styles will get back at you!

Chris Brown (@chrisbrown) is back on the scene with his new tape hosted by DJs Drama (@djdrama) and Babey Crew (@djbabeydrew), "In My Zone 2".  After sampling Al Pacino's classic speech from "Scent of a Woman", where his character Frank Slade stands up for a young man's integrity, the young singer goes in on a hot track with help from Gucci Mane, "Ms. Breezy".  The song doesn't have the same intensity as the introduction, coming with a typical "is she wifey material" plot, but sets off the tape nicely nonetheless.  From there, Breezy brings his pop-infused R&B style to a bevy of dope beats, from the old school-inspired "F*ck Um All", to the trap music stylings of "Drop Rap", to the upbeat "Seen Her Naked".  Big Sean and Kevin McCall are featured on a few tracks each, along with South Korean pop sensation Se7en.  This was Mimi's Pick this past week, and it's easy to see why; Breezy is doing what he does best on this one, and is ready to retake his Prince of Pop status...



"Sing and Flow" is a short but sweet offering from two of the more mature R&B acts out right now, Estelle (@EstelleDarlings) and John Legend (@johnlegend).  Jay Electronica's "Shiny Suit Theory" is the bed for the intro track; Estelle straight flows with her infectious British accent, while Legend comes with a verse that's as close as he's going to get to rapping. Talib Kweli helps out on "Freedom", a cool, swinging track laced with super-sped up samples and JL's signature piano riffs, "Hey Girl" trades pianos for violins while keeping a sampled-based hook, and "No Other Love" adds a reggae rhythm to John's smooth vocal stylings.  All in all, this is more of a great holiday EP than a mixtape, something for you to cuddle up with that special someone to...



In his new book, "Decoded", Jay-Z (@S_C_) discusses in detail the meaning and inspiration for many of his songs, and to accompany it, Hetal Bhatt has compiled the "Decoded MIxtape".  Now I googled Mr. Bhatt, and didn't find more than a LinkedIn profile and Facebook page with 139 friends, so I'm guessing he's not your typical mixtape provider, but he's made quite a name for himself for putting out a mixtape that has no host (actually a relief), no mixing whatsoever (would have been nice), and no original song selection (all tracks are mentioned in the book by Jay himself).  Despite it's origin, this is a great mix of some of Jigga's best tracks, not necessarily the "hits".  The "American Gangster" soundtrack is represented heavily, which to me is Mr. Carter's most innovative work, along with tracks like "D'Evils (produced by DJ Premier)", "Hell Yeah (featuring Dead Prez)" and the deep, Chris Martin (of Coldplay) assisted "Beach Chair".  I would have liked to see someone in the hip-hop community get some shine off this collection (like, I don't know, me for example), but for those of us that aren't into greatest hits compilations and love to dive into a good story, this is the tape to cop...



Being from Boston, I've been a fan of Reks (@therealreks) for a minute.  The Lawrence, MA emcee embodies real hip-hop to the fullest; inventive, aggressive wordplay over dirty samples, boom-bap beats and precise cuts and scratches.  "In Between the Lines 2" shows that these elements are still alive and well in Reks' music, hosted by DJs Green Lantern (@dj_greenlantern), Statik Selektah (@statikselekt), and surprisingly enough, recent hip-pop mixtape master Ill Will (@deejayillwill).  The 30-track tape features production from the likes of Ohno, Nottz, Moss, and Selektah himself, along with verses from Termanology, Phonte, Rass Kass, and Sha Stimuli.  Too many dope joints to even get into; twist up a B or ride in the whip to this and you won't find yourself skipping a song.  If you haven't heard Reks, this is a perfect introduction, and if you have, this is your reminder that the underground is still alive and well...



Finally, Carmelo Anthony (@carmeloanthony) makes his move into the hip-hop world with "Become Legendary", a mixtape released by his own Krossover Entertainment in conjunction with the release of his new shoe, the Jordan M7s.  Melo enlists some heavy hitters on this one, with exclusive material from Bun B, Styles P, Ghostface, and N.O.R.E., as well as tracks by Nas, Cassidy, and even MC Lyte.  The second half of the tape focuses on newcomers like Jody Breeze, Shawn Chrys, and Al Gator, showing that the Baltimore native is doing his hip-hop homework, or at least someone's doing it for him.  The tape turns out to be a long advertisement for Melo's endeavors on and off the court, but at least he picked a good soundtrack...



Catch me (@VanStylesRadio) every Sunday on G-Unit Radio 4-8pm EST, Sirius Shade45/XM66 for The Mixtape Report with Miss Mimi