Friday, December 10, 2010

THE MIXTAPE REPORT 12.5.10: Redman, Trey Songz, Raheem DeVaughn, Fred The Godson, Yahzilla... The Movie

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!

Redman (@therealredman) is back to his usual antics with his new tape "Pancakes and Syrup".  To back his signature punchline heavy flow, The Funk Doc employs many of the sounds that made him famous; from the chilled out Heath Brothers sample most recognizably used in Nas' "One Love" on "Soopaman Syrup", to the G-Funk bounce on "I'm Sick" (featuring underrated singer/MC Saukrates), to the plunky guitars and throwback features on "Live 4 The Funk" (featuring Biggie Smalls and Nate Dogg.  You heard me...).  However, what's getting a lot of hype is the use of something that has made some artists careers in the past decade, and made fools of others: Auto-Tune.  Some have criticized him for pandering to the younger audience, or selling out the art, but I see it as classic Red; a jokester first, MC second.  The playful use of the modern vocoder works surprisingly well on his voice, and it's used sparingly to accentuate certain key word and phrases.  The Brick City vet admits "we never take it too serious", and if you do, you don't know what Redman is all about...



Trey Songz (@TreySongz) dropped the Twitter reference-laden "#lemmeholdatbeat" last week to accompany the release of his new LP, "Libra Scale".  Standout tracks come by way of his memorable "Triggamixes", this time re-imagining hits like Kanye West's "Runaway" and "Monster", Lil Wayne's "Right Above It", and even Diddy's "Hate Me Now", among others.  DJ Quest (aka @TheUnderpaidDj) does his thing throughout; rare to hear a healthy dose of cuts and scratches on an R&B release.  Chris Brown came with his best last week, but Songz proves he is the more mature of this generation's pop/R&B sensations...





Speaking of mature, holding down the Urban AC side of the mixtape game is Raheem DeVaughn (@368Hustlers) with his new tape "Jackin 4 Beats".  His version of Lil Wayne's "Single" and the NSFW video that comes with it (pause) has gotten him some buzz, but the creativity doesn't end there.  Radio Rah flips his own version of Kanye's "Runaway" and "Power" (man, with all these mixtape joints, Yeezy's got a definitive classic on his hands.  Forget Rolling Stone, you heard it here kids), club hits "Turnt Up" and "No Hands", Chris Brown's "Deuces", and Red Cafe's "I'm Ill".  The majority of original tracks feature production by Karma Music, bringing a classic, live band sound to counter the synths and samples found in the remakes.  "Jackin 4 Beats" conjures up thoughts of breakbeats and battle raps, and although it's far from that, it certainly stands up against it's younger competition...



The highly anticipated "Armageddon" from Fred the Godson (@FREDTHEGODSON) is out, and with it comes the return of real rap lyricism.  Not to say that the art is dead as a whole, but the world of gangsta rap specifically is definitely lacking in the creativity category.  Fred's raspy vocals come with with hot verses throughout, and his swagger is unmistakable.  Tracks like "Too Fat" and "So Crazy" could easily be singles on most rappers LPs, a scary thought considering there on a mixtape from an unsigned newcomer.  He's is still spitting the same old "I got guns, I push weight" bravado, but at least he's packing it with dope punchlines and aggressive wordplay.  I've got to give up to the producers on this one too; Jay-Z and Biggie samples make for memorable hooks on the two aforementioned tracks, and at times the explosive beats almost overtake the track, like on the bombastic "Murder 1".  Almost.  All in all, this is much more like a debut release from a cat that has obviously done his homework, and hopefully the beginning of a new era in rap...



Finally, I have to show some to love to New Jersey MC/Producer Yaya (@UncleYaYa2000JF) for his new mixtape "Yahzilla... The Movie", hosted by Sirius/XM's own DJ Caesar (@DJ_Caesar), and featuring the turntable wizardry of DJ Supa (@DJSupa).  This is some of that good, old-fashioned, sit in your bedroom all night with a set of turntables, an MPC and a microphone hip-hop music the game is missing.  Forget that, this isn't even part of "the game".  This record is all about the love, the heart, and the soul of the music.  Pete Rock himself gives a co-sign to set off the tape, and from there, scratchy samples, thoughtful lyrics, and dope cuts permeate the entire release, with Caesar's cooled out, slightly buzzed delivery leading you through a story of a mythical creature poised to engulf a city.  The concept is quirky metaphor that allows the young MC to speak on everything from politics to video games in bedtime story fashion.  Yaya doesn't make hip-hop because it's cool, or it will get him paid; he lives and breathes it every day, something most artists forget, if they ever knew it in the first place...



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