Saturday, December 18, 2010

THE MIXTAPE REPORT 12.12.10: Talib Kweli, B.o.B., Gangsta Boo, Lola Monroe, Diddy Dirty Money, TF Mafia

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 (@VanStylesRadio) will get back at you!

Talib Kweli (@RealTalibKweli), is back with a new mixtape, "Year of the Blacksmith (The Community)".  Mixed by Mick Boogie (@MickBoogie), Talib plays the feature and sometimes just the host role on many of the tracks, allowing members of his new Blacksmith Music some shine.  Jean Grae (@JeanGreasy) has been an underground staple for years, a female MC with a soft, cool voice, complimented by sharp, witty rhymes.  "The Bridge" is a downtempo track perfect for the bedroom, but deserving of a few listens to fully grasp Grae's intricate punchlines.  Strong Arm Steady's LP "In Search of Stoney Jackson" was considered by many as one of the most slept on hip-hop records in 2010, and he comes through with probably the most radio-ready track on the tape, "Make Me Feel".  A true west coast joint complete with plunky synths and a classic crooner hook.  Kweli and Boogie play with a lot of different sounds on this one, taking the idea of "Conscious Rap" to a new heights in terms of both creativity and mainstream appeal.  With 31 tracks, there is just too much good music to mention here, but expect to hear a lot more from this crew; Talib mentions full-lengths from himself, Grae, and SAS in 2011...



B.o.B.'s (@bobatl) appropriately titled "No Genre" once again finds the southern rapper mingling Dirty South rap, dance-ready pop, and elements of synth and piano-driven rock.  Bobby sets off the tape with a few straight rap bangers, but by track four we see the mood switch to T.I. singing over restrained strings and pianos.  "Higher" shows B.o.B.'s obvious Outkast infleunce, with it's double time flow and pots and pans percussion, but goes for a radio-friendly, reggae-tinged chorus.  "Shoot Up The Station" and "Not Lost" touch on elements of pop/rock, and "Game Time" comes with a beat that's a big synth and house 4/4 away from a Lady Gaga track.  Bobby Ray never forgets his roots as a southern slang spitter, but isn't afraid to incorporate the mainstream either...



Aside from Jean Grae holding down the underground, a couple of other female artists came through this past week.  Gangsta Boo (@GangstaBooQOM), formerly of Three 6 Mafia fame, dropped "Miss Dot Com" with DJ Fletch (@DJFLETCHDALLAS) and Drum Squad.  Miss Mimi is a big fan of the southern rapper, and if you're into the "trap music" sound with club appeal, this is the tape to cop.  However, the genre doesn't really lend itself to ingenuity, and leaves Boo lost in a sea of 808s, pitched hi hats, and rap cliches.  Gucci Mane makes an appearance, along with an interlude shout out from Yelawolf (where's the verse?).  Standouts are the club-ready "Booty Switch" , and "Theme Park", a song that the track list says "features" Lil Wayne, but in fact "features a sample of" the popular rapper.  It also features an empty 16-bar verse at the end of the song; I'm not sure if it was purposely left out for fans to create their own remix, but that's a first for me.  Minus the regular, three times louder than the tracks drops, DJ Fletch is MIA throughout, and the 1:30 of instrumental at the end of "Theme Park" is a testament to the effort put into making this tape.  I respect Gangsta Boo for putting in work and staying in the game this long (don't come at me with "you're a hater" talk), but musically, I'm not really feeling it...



On the other hand, Lola Monroe (@Thee_LolaMonroe), as DJ Holiday (@Djholiday) puts it on the opening song of "Boss Bitch's World 2", "is gonna show you how to do it the right way".  The former model/actress turned rapper keeps it real on remixes of Kanye West's "Power" (featuring Teirra Marie), Officer Ricky's "BMF", Gucci Mane's "Lemonade", and Lil Wayne's "Drop the World"; all excellent choices to show her versatility and ability to stand up to the heavy hitters in the game.  However, the big remix goes back into the crates a bit, pulling out the classic Method Man and Mary J. Blige collaboration, "All I Need", flipping it to a females point of view.  It's just one verse, but it shows Monroe's appreciation of real hip-hop and what came before her, and she makes it her own.  "Overtime" (featuring Trina) goes hard, and "Gechur Haters" is Lola's demo to get on Swizz Beats' next club banger.  Musically, Lola Monroe and Gangsta Boo are not all that different; but Lola comes with a fire and genuine flavor that takes you from Pinky to Nicki status with the quickness...



Diddy (@iamdiddy) and his backup singers, Dirty Money (@DIRTYMONEYCREW), dropped "Last Train to Paris" this past Tuesday, and put out this "Prelude" mixtape a few days prior.  Now I give a lot of sh*t for not staying to true to the game and the art form, and give a lot of credit for creativity and innovation, so this record has me torn.  On one hand, THIS IS IN NO WAY A HIP-HOP RECORD.  Having Lil Wayne on a track does not make you hip-hop (See: Miley Cyrus, Madonna), nor does the standard hype-man ad-libbing from Diddy a la classic Biggie tracks.  The days of "Who Shot Ya" and even "D.I.D.D.Y." are long gone.  However, this tape, and the LP that followed it, is incredibly inventive and new.  It's made for the club, an expensive club... hell, I'd go as far to say it's made for an expensive club in the year 2030.  Layers of percussion are draped with weird, atonal synths, all set over a thumping house tempo.  Diddy gets auto-tuned, and Dirty Money plays their role as super-chic R&B fembots.  If you're a hip-hop purist, this will most likely make you vomit.  I happen to love the art, but I also understand an artists desire to try something new.  For what it's worth, Diddy is authentic on this one, making the music he hears, not what the market tells him to...



Finally, TF Mafia's (@TFMafia) "Foot on the Pedal" has been out for a minute, and Mimi had the opportunity to interview them on the show.  Along with DJ Self (@djself), the Queens rap group enlist the likes of Bun B, Max B, and Papoose.  Production is tight throughout, and rhymes stay aggressive in true Queens style, reminiscent of The Firm and G-Unit crews.  It's a good introduction to the crew and good one to cop for anyone into NYC street rap.  Thing is, I can't seem to find a download link or image or their cover anywhere on the web... so check them out on Twitter or at http://www.tfmafia.com/.  Feel free to leave a comment on where to find it "Foot on the Pedal" online...


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