Friday, December 29, 2006


Now I know many people post their 'Best Albums Of The Year' lists, but to me I'd rather call this my favourite albums of the year post because, as with most people, I only get a chance of hearing a portion of the albums that get dropped each 12 months, so it's impossible to post a definite list. A lot of people will probably look at my selections and wonder why this album or that album isn't there. This, more than likely, is because I either didn't get around (or bother) checking it out, or maybe because I didn't see in it what a lot of other people did, honestly, a lot of the albums that draw raving reviews are ones that I don't even bother listening to twice. Here is the list of the 10 albums that I was fortunate enough to hear, and loved the most in 2006.

10. Thirstin Howl III - La Cura (Spanglish LP)
From the moment I first heard a Thirstin Howl III track I was addicted to his music, his voice is distinctive and his style is distinguishingly original. This Brownsville (Brooklyn) emcee is the most notable artist on the Lo Life roster, as well as the most prolific. Thirstin Howl alternates between spitting in Spanish and English throughout the album, and although a huge portion of it is in Spanish (a language that I can’t speak), it still ranks as one of my favourite releases I’ve heard this year. ‘La Cura’ boasts a combination of dope hard hitters and some more lighthearted tracks with a fiesta feel as well as quality production care of Anger Bangers. Although this isn’t my favourite Thirstin Howl III release to date, it showcases him bringing something different to the table and I look forward to hearing more from him in the near future.

9. Grimm - Suckerpunch
Although this album, ‘Suckerpunch’, is marked as a 2005 drop on the back of the cover, it was actually released within the first few months of 2006. Grimm, a pioneer in the Texas rap scene and a member of the legendary South Park Coalition, has already dropped a host of solo and group albums, although for whatever reason he doesn’t get nearly the respect he deserves. It has to be said that this was a rather low key release, but that doesn’t take anything away from it’s quality. Grimm’s impeccable flow technique enables him to ride beats with ease, and when you combine this with impressive lyrics and a voice that is easy on the ears, the chances are anything this guy does is going to be sick. My personal highlights on this album are ‘Our Show’ and ‘The Sounds of Death’ (part 1 and 2), this is greatly owing to the dope production work by Filero and Slip respectively.

8. Army Of The Pharaohs - The Torture Papers
It’s no secret who AOTP are, the super-group put together by Philadelphia’s Jedi Mind Tricks and featuring Apathy, Chief Kamachi, Crypt The Warchild, Faez One, Des Devious, Esoteric, Planetary, Reef The Lost Cauze, King Syze, 7L, Celph Titled and Vinnie Paz. Admittedly, I’d never heard of a bunch of the aforementioned artists before I got this album, but each and everyone of them left a positive impression on me. Although most of the highlights on this album come when Celph Titled is in control, the track that sticks in my mind the most is the highly emotional ‘Into The Arms Of Angels’ where Faez One, Crypt and Vinnie P each supply moving verses on different personal topics. When you bring together as many artists as JMT have done on this project, you’d imagine cohesion would be minimal, however this is far from the case.

7. The Funkoars - The Greatest Hits
Honestly, the majority of Australian releases I listen to don’t even register on my radar, however there are a few that can hold their own to anything else out there in the hip hop world, this is the case for the Funkoars’ sophomore release ‘The Greatest Hits’. The Adelaide outfit consists of rappers Trials, Hons and Sesta along with DJ Reflux on the turntables and it has to be said that they sound like no other group I’ve come across. Without being caught up with trying to push any significant messages, the Funkoars deliver dope high-octane humorous hip hop. The production on this album is also a level above most Aussie stuff I’ve heard and when it comes to lyrics all three emcees drop numerous crazy quotables. If you’re not in Australia then chances are you haven’t come across this release, if that is the case then I strongly recommend you check it out, although going by past experiences, a lot of American’s can’t look past the Australian accent.

6. KB Da Kidnappa - Spitting Venom
Hailing from Trinity Garden (Houston), KB Da Kidnappa represents Street Military, Tha Killa Klan and the South Park Coalition. 2006 was a highly productive year for the Texan veteran who came down to do shows in Australia and subsequently released a freestyle album as well as featuring on a BattleHoggs Mixtape, KB then returned to the U.S. and dropped his highly anticipated ‘Spitting Venom’ album. On this album, as with all his previous material, KB’s bellowing voice commands the listener’s attention and allows him to drive his ghetto and gangster lyrics home with overwhelming effect. The beats on this album are distinctively southern and the hooks fit the tracks to perfection. Adding to the positive aspects I’ve already highlighted, the selection of guest appearances on this album, such as Street Military K Rino and Z-Ro, further enhance the quality of this release and make it one of the best albums I checked out in 2006.

5. T Kash - Turf War Syndrome
Coming straight out of the bay area under the watchful guidance of Paris, T Kash arose at the start of 2006 with his debut album, ‘Turf War Syndrome’, on Guerrilla Funk Recordings. Prior to this release I had only heard Tommy Kash’s work on The Coup’s album and his submission to the ‘Straight Outta Hunters Point’ soundtrack, both of which were quality efforts. With an incredibly powerful voice reminiscent of his mentor, T Kash also exhibits similar messages in his music as P-Dog the Bush Killa. T Kash’s socially and politically conscious lyrics serve as education as well as entertainment, and with a range of diverse deliveries displayed throughout the album, this has to go down as one of the most surprisingly under-appreciated albums to come out in the past 12 months. ‘Turf War Syndrome’ was entirely produced by Paris, and as a huge fan of Paris’ production this is another reason as to why I rate this album so highly.

4. Ice T - Gangsta Rap
A lot of people diss Ice T nowadays, claiming that he’s past it, he shouldn’t be a gangsta rapper and play a cop on TV etc. To me his music speaks for itself, he’s been in the game longer than most and hasn’t dropped a substandard release yet. After a seven-year break between solo albums, Ice T came back in 06 with ‘Gangsta Rap’ on Melee Records, an album that may not be the best in his discography, although it clearly illustrates that Ice T is still one of the best in the game. Aside from Ice T’s own attributes, the superior standard of this album also has to be put down to the fact that features were kept to a minimum and reserved only for his tight knit circle. With impressive production from underground figures such as Rhyme Poetic Mafia’s DJ Ace, GrandDaddy IU and Marc Live, this album shows what we all know already, Ice T has no intention of selling out musically for mainstream appeal.

3. Tech N9ne - Everready (The Religion)
The self proclaimed Kansas City King, Tech N9ne, finally got around to dropping the long awaited ‘Everready’ release at the end of 2006 on his own label, ‘Strange Music’, and although the wait was long, it was well worth it. As you’d expect from a Tecca Nina release, this album didn’t lack in originality or quality, with incredible production throughout that is utilized to perfection by Tech N9ne and the guest appearances, this is an album I could have on repeat all day long. With an assortment of up-tempo gems such as ‘Bout Ta Bubble’ and ‘Jellysickle’ featuring Vallejo legend E-40, combined with the serious and reflective ‘The Rain’, Tech N9ne shows off his ability to record a diverse range of tracks while still managing to ensure they are all of top shelf standard. There are things that Tech N9ne does on this album (and his others), that, for most rappers, would end up in embarrassment, but somehow Tech not only makes them work, but he turns his bizarre ideas into incredible music.

2. K Rino - Time Traveler
In recent times there hasn’t been a year go by without a K Rino release featuring in my list of favourite albums, and 2006 was no different. The South Park Coalition’s leader and founder unleashed another extraordinary release into the hip hop world, this time in the form of ‘Time Traveler’. When it comes to lyricism people often laugh at the south, but K Rino is amongst the best in the game, on this album alone K Rino spits more jaw dropping lines than most rappers have written in their entire careers. Aside from being the king of quotables, K Rino also nails it when it comes to thought provoking tracks, and he is also a master storyteller. ‘Valley of Decision’ sees his story telling abilities employed to tell the story of his own spiritual battle with Satan and God, playing the roles of both contrasting spiritual figures as well as himself, this track is not only incredibly well conceived but also executed to perfection. For anyone not familiar with K Rino then you’re missing out big time, if you already know the deal then I’m sure you’re as anxious as me for his upcoming projects.

1. South Park Mexican - When Devils Strike
My favourite album of the year is one that I’ve been fiending on for over three years, after being pushed back on numerous occasions, the Dope House finally were able to release South Park Mexican’s ‘When Devils Strike’ in October 2006. After being sentenced to 45 years in a Texas penitentiary, where recording is strictly prohibited, many thought SPM would never be heard from again, but against all odds Carlos did the unthinkable. Due to his current circumstances, it is no surprise that ‘When Devils Strike’ is SPM’s most intimate and honest release to date. Although his last few albums have also seen ‘Los take a more mature approach to life, it is notable that now he is incarcerated his music has become even more sincere. With SPM’s emotive lyricism rapped over top draw production by Pain and with guest appearances on this album reserved for the highly talented members of the Dope House family, this album is a flawless release and my highlight of the year gone by. Free SPM!

Honorable Mentions:
Filero - Million Dollar Mexican
CWB - The South-West Connection
Paris Presents: Hard Truth Soldiers (Vol. 1)
Murder One Presents: Southern Foundation (Vol.2)
The Dayton Family - Back On Dayton Ave

Now, like I said at the start, the albums mentioned above are the albums I heard from 2006 that I liked best, the list would probably look a bit different if I had heard ever release that came out, however obviously that wasn’t possible. There have been a few albums that were released in the past year that I wanted to check out and heard good things about but didn’t get around to such as: Def Wish Cast ‘The Legacy Continues’, Jedi Mind Tricks ‘Servants in Heaven, Kings in Hell’, Suga Free ‘Just Add Water’, Too Short ‘Blow The Whistle’, Mellow Man Ace & Sen Dog 'The Reyes Brothers’, Motion Man 'Pablito's Way', Equipto ‘Behind the Rhyme’ and Rhyme Poetic Mafia finally dropped an album recently.

In a time when it is cool to claim hip hop is dead, I have to strongly disagree, it isn’t in the best state it has been in, but the number of underground artists around the world dropping quality products is extensive. If you think hip hop’s dead, you ain’t diggin’ deep enough. Although 2006 won’t go down as one of the most memorable years for the culture, it did see some quality albums hit the shelves. Aside from the albums, I will remember 2006 for Three Six Mafia winning an Oscar, the release of one of my favourite hip hop movies of all time ‘Hustle & Flow’, and being able to watch the likes of KB Da Kidnappa, Boo Yaa Tribe, Cage, Yak Ballz, Mr Lif, Yukmouth, Pretty Black, Supernatural, Q Bert, Roc Raida, Lord Finesse, Q Unique, DJ Eclipse and Tha Alkaholiks perform live in my city.

R.I.P. to all the hip hop figures/ inspirations that lost their lives in 2006:
Big H.A.W.K. (S.U.C.)
Big Boss (OG Style / 4 Deep)
Professor X (X Clan)
Bone Skanless (Skanbino Mob)
Young Kee (Skanbino Mob)
Proof (D12)
J Dilla
James Brown

Monday, December 25, 2006

R.I.P. James Brown

Rest In Peace:
"Godfather Of Soul"

Name: James Brown
Hailing From: Southern Carolina
Born: 1933
Died: December 25 2006
Cause Of Death: Admitted to Emory Crawford Long Hospital in Atlanta on December 24 to be treated for pneumonia, but as yet the cause of death hasn't been determined.

No one can doubt the impact James Brown has had on hip hop, from the godfathers of the game spinning his breaks at block parties to countless artists throughout the years using his unpaid samples, James Browns music will always be around. The Two Live Crew even released their own version of 'Living In America' for the Jerry Springer 'Ring Master' movie in about '98.

Happy Holidays

This time of the year it's hard to find the time doing shit on here, especially after the hectic couple of months I've just had. I'm sure that alot less people check out the net around the holiday time due to either being busy doing the Christmas thing or just not being at work therefore unable to gank quality internet time on the bosses expense. For those of you that do have internet access during the holidays and have some spare time to check us out, I've put up 5 dope tracks that I've had in my stereo lately, I think I've put a couple of them on here a year ago or so but they're all pretty crazy. Thanks for hitting our shit and have a happy and safe Christmas. PEACE.

Watts Gangstas - Watts Riders
Untold Chapters - The Book Of Sin
LOWC - Layin In Tha Cut
Jake The Flake - F.A.N.G.
Grimm, Ricsta,SPM, Lucky Luciano - Game Untold 2 (Walk On Toes)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Sick Wid It

In the mid 90's few hip hop labels were as dope as Sick Wid It, a label started by E-40 who after years of mixtape hustling on the streets of Vallejo similar to Too Short's Oakland hustle. Like Too Short, Jive were taking note and signed 40 and the Sick Wid It roster in a 3.5 million dollar deal and re-released 40's 'Federal', 'Mail Man' and The Click's 'Down And Dirty' before releasing all new material and albums by the label, although the O.G. versions are different and go for big bucks on the net. 'Sick Wid It' itself was formed after E-40 and his brother D-Shot, along with their cousin B-Legit, were in a group called Most Valuable Players. They then added Suga T (E-40 and D-Shot's sister) to the group and changed their name to 'The Click'.

Anyone that knows the Sick Wid It catalogue knows that you could put up at least a dozen tracks to showcase the skills this crew had. However, I'm only putting up 7 due to lazyness of not wanting to spend half a day waiting for the tracks to upload to zshare. Anyway, first up I put E-40 'Nuttin Ass Nigga' from 'Federal'. I could have put just about any track from the album on. but I think that's probably the best track on the album. Personally I think 40 has slightly lost it now he's with Lil' Jon, not saying he's sold out or he's wack, it's just he's not the same E-40 that came out with the 'Mail Man'. Maybe he's just matured as an artist and I can't let go of the memories of his early shit, who knows?

I put up a track by B-Legit (The Savage) off of his solo 'Tryin' To Get A Buck' called 'Way Too Vicious' which features E-40, the track is dope and so is the album cover of him and I think 40 bandanna'd up with a gat outside of a convenience store at night, simple but dope. I had to put a Celly Cel track up and although all his albums are crazy, I went straight for track 1 from 'Heat 4 Yo Azz' and upped the title track, fuckin' crazy.

One of SickWid It's best albums would have to be 'Have Heart, Have Money' by The Mossie. This album, like all the Sick-Wid It albums has excellent production and good features, such as 187 Fac on the closing track. It's hard to find a bad track on the Mossie's album, I put up 'This And That' featuring Mr Malik. In 1996 Sick Wid It dropped the Mac Shawn led Funk Mobb album 'It Aint 4-Play', a funky album from start to finish that consists of G-Note, KI and of coarse Mac Shawn but also features B Legit and Little Bruce. I put up the closing track 'Mr Bubble'.

To end this post I've got Little Bruce's 'Fuck Little Bruce' from his Xxxtra Manish album and 'Land Of Fonk' from Playaz Tryna Strive (P.T.S.) from '96. All in all, SickWid It is an impossible label to diss if you're into that 90's funky bay gangsta sound, I personally love that shit, There are so many more dope tracks that could have been put up but thats all for now, I hope you enjoy these ones.

E-40 - Nuttin Ass Nigga
B Legit ft E-40 - Way Too Vicious
Celly Cel - Heat 4 Yo Azz
The Mossie - This And That
Funk Mobb - Mr Bubble
Little Bruce - Fuck Little Bruce
Playaz Tryna Strive- Land Of Fonk

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Get Buck!

Memphis, Tennessee. A city rich in musical history and (at least in part) responsible for the careers of such respected artists as Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, B. B. King, Aretha Franklin, Muddy Waters, Al Green, Tina Turner, Isaac Hayes, John Lee Hooker and various other iconic artists that blessed the world with their music. In more modern times the city has been striving when it comes to hip hop. Memphis spawned a unique gangsta sound that even managed to land arguably the city's most reknowned hip hop artists, Three Six Mafia, an Oscar for their work on 'Hustle & Flow', a 2005 film about a Memphis pimp coming up in the rap game. With both the likes of 8 Ball & MJG and the aforementioned Three 6 Mafia putting the city on the map for even the casual hip hop listener, and with artists such as Gangsta Pat, Tommy Wright III, Ska Face Al Kapone, Tela and Gangsta Blac reppin the city on a more underground level, it is clear that Memphis' rich musical history continues.

In 1995, the Three Six Mafia (formerly Triple Six Mafia), dropped 'Mystic Stylez' on Prophet Entertainment, an album that soon became an underground classic and paved the way for the outfit to become figureheads of the Memphis rap scene. Since the group's creation, the line-up has continued to change, artists that have flown the flag are as follows: DJ Paul, Juicy J, Lord Infamous, Crunchy Black, Gangsta Boo, Koopsta Knicca and now Project Pat. The 'Mystic Stylez' release, along with other early Three Six material, has a uniquely sinister sound that unfortunately has been lost over the years with the group choosing to shift to a more commercially viable sound, although I still like their newer stuff it is nothing on their earlier efforts. The track I've uploaded for this post is their notorious 'Tear Da Club Up', a track the group later reworked and released on their 'Chapter 2: World Domination' album that achieved Gold status.

Gangsta Pat has been a mainstay in the Memphis scene from the very early stages, however unfortunately he often gets overlooked for whatever reason. In 1991 Pat dropped the classic "#1 Suspect" release on Atlantic Records however the album didn't achieve as much success as it deserved. Pat then dropped a couple of albums of a lesser quality on Wrap/Ichiban before moving to Power records to drop what many regard as his best album, "Deadly Verses", in 1995. Although, personally I believe nothing can touch his debut album, this album has its fair share of dope tracks including 'O.J. Murder Story' where Pat raps about what really happened. After this album Pat dropped a host of other albums including 'Tear Yo Club Down', an album where on the title track Gangsta Pat directs a brutal diss to the Three Six Mafia after Three Six labeled Pat "a fake ass rapper with no skills" in an interview with The Source magazine.

Ska Face Al Kapone is another pioneer of the Memphis scene, and unfortunately I have to admit that I slept on his music until I picked up a copy of the 'SouthWest Riders' compilation that came out on Sic Wid It Records in 1997. After I heard his work on that, I soon ordered myself a copy of his 'Memphis To Tha Bombed Out Bay' album that he dropped on his own imprint 'Alkatraz Dope Muzik' in 1998 and its safe to say that I wasn't disappointed. I've bid on a couple of Kapone's earlier releases on ebay but as with alot of underground gangsta rap the prices they go for are ridiculous.Recently Al Kapone worked on the soundtrack for Hustle & Flow, most notably on the 'Whoop That Trick' track that he wrote and that DJay raps in the movie, Al Kapone later remixed the track and you can check out the video on youtube. I've ripped 'I Ain't A Killa', which typical of Memphis rap, has a repetitive but sick hook and an eery beat that suits the rhyme style perfectly.

Eightball and MJG are legends of Memphis hip hop in their own right and pioneers of the southern sound, they are two rappers who really need no introduction. The duo who were once the jewel of the Suave House Records family have released a host of albums, both together as well as solo side projects. One of the things that I've always loved about their music is the fact that they often sample other quality underground gangsta rap artists. For example, on the track up for download with this post, 'Got's To Be Real', Gangsta Pat's "Who's that knockin on my door- narcotics, break out artillery hide the mothafuckin product" line from his classic debut album is sampled throughout the track. As with many hip hop artists their best works were their earlier releases, although that's not to diss their newer stuff. In 2004, Eightball and MJG signed with Bad Boy Records and dropped 'Living Legends' which achieved Platinum status.

Courtney Harris, better known as Gangsta Blac, hails from South Parkway, and was once hooked up with Three Six Mafia and even had his 1996 album 'Can It Be?' produced by DJ Paul and Juicy J. After moving on from his Three Six stint and releasing a string of albums on different labels, Blac decided to create his own in 2002 which he called 'Taylor Made Records'. My introduction to Gangsta Blac's music came by chance when I ordered one of his albums off of Ebay on an impulse bid just to cheapen overall postage costs. Although the cover is laughable, his music, thankfully, is far better. The album I have, '74 Minutes of Bump', is not a timeless classic but it is still pretty sick, for example his dedication to his hood 'S.O.U.T.H. Parkway' is one of those tracks, that if I was from the area, would be my anthem. The track you can download here, 'Weed N White', features Lil Gain and is another album highlight.

Three Six Mafia - Tear Da Club Up
Gangsta Pat - O.J. Murder Story
Ska Face Al Kapone Ft Big Vince - I Ain't A Killa
Eightball and MJG - Got's To Be Real
Gangsta Blac Ft Lil Gain - Weed N White

Friday, December 08, 2006


I'm gonna save all the bullshit on this post, everyone knows how and who started this label. Everyone knows the shit that went on with Cube, Dre and the D.O.C. and everyone knows that Eazy's right hand man was Jerry Heller who has been continuously dissed for being a white Jew. Well, Jerry has recently wrote a book called 'Ruthless' where apparently he talks alotta shit about what happened back in the early Ruthless days or at least what he wants people to believe happened. After Eazy passed away in '95 he left his label to his widdow Tomica Wright who has pretty much driven the label down the drain. Ruthless was running solid for two or three years after Eazy's death but since then relied pretty much solely on Bone Thugs N' Harmony with allmost no new blood signing to the label. In 2002 Ruthless released the 'Impact Of A Legend' Eazy E album which was flawless with nice features and crazy production, mainly due to Rhythm D. Anyway, this post is about the music itself and not the political shit that went on. In Ruthless' golden era they released some of the dopest albums ever like the D.O.C.'s 'No One Can Do It Better', Penthouse Players Clique's 'Paid The Cost' the Above The Law classics and obviously the N.W.A.'s etc.

Ruthless also had a bunch of lesser known artists signed like Pistol, Tab & Da Villon, H.W.A., Menajahtwa, Yomo & Maulkie, Jimmy Z, Brownside, Blood Of Abraham as well as some more known artists like JJ Fad, Kokane, Frost and Atban Klan who were unknown at the time but are now a huge pop group known as the Black Eyed Peas, infact on Eazy's '92 E.P. '5150 Home 4 Tha Sick', Black Eyed Peas Will I Am has a dope verse on 'Merry Muthafuckin X-Mas'.

Out of those groups some are pretty wack while others are heavily under rated, Penthouse Players for example released 'Paid The Cost' in '92, every single track has crazy production and and skilled flows. They were only signed by Eazy because he didn't sign their friend DJ Quik when he had the chance, something Eazy always regreted so he took the Clique, Quik did some work on the album and also features on a track with Eazy. The Penthouse Players who consisted of Playa Hamm and Tweed Cadillac also featured on the Tresspass soundtrack with 'Im A Playa'. Tweed Cadilac later joined the Mackadelics and released 'Exposed To The Game' in '96 while Playa Hamm released his solo 'Layin Hands' in 2001. Disapointing considering the quality of 'Paid The Cost'.

I always thought that Sureno Chicano rappers Brownside released a couple of twelves on Ruthless, although apparently Toker from the group went to high school with Eazy so I guess it's not that strange. The other two members of the group are Wicked and the late Danger who was killed in a drive by in South Central in 1997. Toker as well as having a group member pass away also lost his brother and sister and is currently serving a 25 to life sentence. The group only released the tracks 'Gang Related' and 'Eastside Drama' on Ruthless but did drop a couple of albums later. One of my favourite tracks is 'Vatos In The Varrio' which is a 'Boyz N Tha Hood' cover.

I Don't know how Frost found himself on Ruthless but he did drop two pretty dope albums on the label, the first being 'Smile Now, Die Later' and the second being 'When Hell A Freezes Over'. Frost has had a real diverse all over the place career, starting out in the early 80's in a crew with Ice T dropping the classic 'Terminator' to releasing an album on Virgin, joining Latin Alliance with Mellow Man Ace and A.L.T. to going back solo, Ruthless, Thump and just the other month he was named Vice President of the Music Division of Goldmark Industries. No one can deny he's been in the game for a while.

Pamona's Above The Law were one of the first groups signed to Eazy's label and released 'Livin Like Hustlers' in 1990 consisting of KMG the Illustrator, Go Mack, DJ Total K-Oss and Cold 187um l.k.a. Big Hutch. They then released the 'Vocally Pimpin' EP which was pretty much just remixes before Go Mack and Lay Law left the group. This left the rest to release 'Black Mafia Life' in '92 that pretty much started off G Funk although Dr Dre got the credit for it because his 'Chronic' album that came out later that year got way more hype, this was why the 'Dont Bite The Phunk' Dre diss track was made on Kokanes 'Fumk Upon A Rhyme' album. A.T.L. also released 'Uncle Sams Curse' on Ruthless but after Eazy's death they left and released 'Time Will Reveal' on Tommy Boy, Legends and Forever. Cold 187um has also released a couple of solo albums under the name of Big Hutch as well as production for Ruthless and then Death Row. Big Hutch and DJ K-Oss were both released from prison this year on two seperate drug sentences.

MC Ren after a start in NWA then doing a side project with the late DJ Train on CPO had a successful solo career and signed to Paris' Guerilla Funk Records a couple of years ago. He was set to record a new album under the name Darth Ren but has decided to quit rapping for some reason and had the very little matterial he did record for Guerilla Funk released on the G.F.R. compilation 'Hard Truth Soldiers' that came out earlier this year.
N.W.A. was obviously the main brand name behind Ruthless Records, The group that started out with a line up that didn't include MC Ren but the D.O.C. and the Arabian Prince who was one of the critters in the comedy group Bobby Jimmy And The Critters, he got replaced in the group and started a solo career releasing 'Brother Arab' and 'Wheres My Bythches'. Macola that was the distributor for Ruthless got bought out by Priority and N.W.A. and Ruthless Records pretty much took over west coast hip hop for a couple of years. This post could go on forever and in about six different directions but thats about all I could be bothered touching on. Rest In Peace Eazy.

Eazy E - 24 Hours To Live
MC Ren - Final Frontier
Above The Law - Black Superman
Kokane - Shit, Goddamm
Penthouse Players Clique ft DJ Quik, Eazy E, AMG - Trust No Bitch

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Review: Blaze - Colton Grundy: Tha Undying

Artist: Blaze
Album: Colton Grundy: Tha Undying
Year: 2004
Label: Psychopathic Records

Blaze Ya Dead Homie comes straight out of Detroit, Michigan, and is a member of Insane Clown Posse's Psychopathic Records camp. Now, I'm well aware that the ICP and their whole label aren't viewed with alot of respect by a large portion of people in the hip hop world, but I'm not one to base my judgements on popular opinion. To me, once you get past all their marketing gimmicks, Psychopathic Records have released some quality albums in the past, 'Colton Grundy' being another one to add to the list. Blaze started out in the hip hop game by being one half of the '2 Krazy Devils' along with Skrapz, they later changed their name to 'The Sleepwalkaz' however neither project was a huge success. After these attempts, Blaze then hooked up with Twiztid and were working on a project, but this was cut short due to Twiztid gaining the attention of Violent J who then decided to sign them to Psychopathic. This move also turned out beneficial for Blaze, as it opened the door for he himself to get a contract with the label. After dropping a self titled EP and the '1 Less G N Da Hood' album, Blaze unleashed 'Colton Grundy: Tha Undying' onto the world. Before you listen to this album it is important to understand that 'Blaze Ya Dead Homie' is like a character in a movie, and although this gets rid of any realism, it is original and you have to take it for what it is.

The album starts off with a short and fairly repetetive track, 'Bump This Shhh', before Blaze launches into 'The Touch of Death'. The beat, produced by R.O.C., hits hard and with Blaze's booming delivery, it ensures that although this track is short it is still sick. Next up comes the track which was chosen to feature on soundtrack for the Eidos Interactive video game '25 to Life', 'Shotgun', which features ABK and the creator of Acid Rap, Esham. This track was well produced by Lavel and has a simple but effective hook, and although each of the rappers hold their own in this track, I personally think Esham dominates. 'Etched Out' is another short track that is worthy of repeated listens, by this point you would be well aware the Blaze isn't a lyrical genius, but his original flow combined with some quality production is enough to earn my respect.

'If I Fall' which features Madrox, above all it is a track about struggling and perceverence, but it also features Blaze dropping some gangsta rhymes, which is typical of rappers out of the murder mitten. This is followed by Blaze showing his romantic side on 'Hey You', with lines such as "The bitch kinda smelt like fish'n'chips, but boy did she have a set of dick suckin' lips " you can tell that this guy has a way with words. 'Out Tha Gate' fails to grab me but it is followed by the straight gangsta 'Stick Ya Hands Up', which features ABK and is one of the album's more impressive tracks, especially because of the quality hook. This is followed by 'Further From The Truth', which is a slower paced track on the horror rap tip that has both an eery hook and beat.

In 'Dayz In My Neighborhood' Blaze offers some of his observations about the modern hip hop game, dissing studio gangstas, along with people gaining fame for getting shot and rappers who get bitches singing on all of their hooks. Blaze looks back in retrospect at a time when the industry was in a far better state than it is now, long before every rapper thought he could act and before commercialization became such a major issue in hip hop. 'Roll It Up' is a short track about Blaze going to the club and to be honest I don't rate it very highly at all, but thankfully the quality goes up a few notches with 'Mr Dead Folx'. Blaze begins by returning to his fake gangsta dissing ways, Violent J then drops by to drop some horror raps in his distinctive tone.

Blaze is again joined by ABK on 'Too Many Bitches', with the funky hook being care of Flint's legendary MC Breed. Although Blaze is lacking a bit in this track, ABK drops what is probably the best verse I've heard him rip. 'Time Line' is the chronological story of Blaze's fictional character, you can't knock the creativity behind the track and Blaze holds down the rapping side of things well, although I can definitely see people being disillusioned about listening to a fictional story about a former gangsta turned zombie. The final track on this album, 'Climbing', features Violent J, Madrox, Monoxide and Esham, and is rapped over a soothing beat produced by Fritz The Cat that escalates in intensity around the hook. Although it is probably has alot to do with me being a big Esham fan, but I think he steals the show again in this track with his smoothe delivery.

All in all this album is worth checking out if you have an open mind, but I would stay well away from it if you don't like thinking outside of the square. Personally, the gimmick of a dead rapper isn't really that easy to take, but this is made up for with Blaze's distinctive delivery and some great production and features, and to be fair a great number of the tracks don't have gimmicks attached to them at all. More people will hate this album than love it, but people who respect diversity and originality will find a great deal of positives to draw from it.

Blaze Ft ABK, Esham - Shotgun
Blaze Ft Violent J - Mr Dead Folx

3 Daytons out of 5