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

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

Monday, December 6, 2010

World Wide Soundz and E-zeeradiolive.com Presents Midnight Hours Pt 7 Dance Hall Reloaded (For Promo Use Only)


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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

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

New freestyle from New Bronx MC @Sinpire1


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