Wonka Wednesdays

Ill Doots’ Sly Tompson has something for your ears. Wonka Beats is a collection of instrumentals deftly built with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory samples alone, to the point to where you wouldn’t even realize the limitation (if you want to call it that). With these tracks, a challenge is issued. The Wonka Wednesdays series where “every rapper with a set of balls is expected to go the f** in”.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Check it out:

If you’ve got bars, download it here, and swing it to illdoots@gmail.com

Itzme Review: Ab Soul – These Days…

Ab-Soul has his sophomore album release after two years. Many have come to love and enjoy Ab’s music by being introduced through the “Ab-Soul Outro” on Section.80, and his excellent last release Control System. Besides being associated with a popular group of emcees, he’s also known for his cleverness in his lyrics. Despite this, Ab-Soul has failed to deliver on his new album after proving himself so well. Let me take you to a land void of any profoundness, creativity, soul, and personality (and overpopulated with obscure Jesus comparisons); the place on the cover art.

I don't even think a roach can survive out there

Just look at it, there’s no support of life.

These Days is jam-packed with cliché and unoriginality. A prime example is the halfway point of the album, “TWACT”, where listeners are given a My Krazy Life reject song with a corny catchphrase that’s doomed to never catch on. On “World Runners” Ab-Soul shows you how well he can mimic a mainstream faux-inspirational rap song. Even with the song’s blurred message, he manages to come across extremely preachy. Soul even directly copies his groupmate Kendrick Lamar with the “Kendrick Lamar Interlude” the antithesis of the Ab-Soul outro.

The lack of creativity doesn’t just stop with the mimicry, but also in damn near every single chorus/bridge on the whole album. The majority of the hooks on the album consist of Ab-Soul repeating a very short phrase over and over and over and over again. And even on the ones with a little variation (emphasis on little), they fail to cross the line from annoying to catchy. Hooks are only one part of the song, but Ab made sure to put this in his verses as well. The automatic skip and epic streak-ender of the “Druggys with Hoes” series known as “Hunnid Stacks”, features two of the same verses by the same rapper–oh wait…

“Feelin’ Us” also repeats the cycle of painful repetition to the maximum with the quadruplets of “raise your hands, say Soulo hoe” and “now mama don’t cry no mo’” randomly slapped in the middle of his verses.

The part where this redundancy fails where most hip-pop tracks don’t fail as hard, is that the latter’s beats are usually more moving. A handful of beats on her are pretty good, but none exceed any expectations.

Ab-Soul struggles with structure in his latest release. Proof is the scatterbrained-ness of “Nevermind That” with BJ the Chicago Kid singing so sweetly at the most random times. “Nevermind That” just screams tourrettes, with its left-field breaks and tempo. There’s also the needlessly long beat ride-outs on “Ride Slow”. The biggest surprise of These Days is that almost all the songs are aimless and have no feeling. In the Black-lip Pastor’s previous works, he were a lot of self-expressive works: songs like “Book of Soul” and “Be A Man”. As mentioned in the intro, this album is void of that.

I don't even think a roach can survive out there

I don’t even think a roach can survive out there

Fortunately, the song “Closure” prevents the album from being completely soulless. It’s actually one of the few good songs on the project, which is ironic because it’s an all singing song on a rap album.

“Tree of Life” sounds like an adventurous soundtrack to Ab’s exploration of the multiple definitions of “tree”. “Stigmata” was a rather appropriate title single to the album, especially when it cut out the ending verses for the video, because it’s a pretty good beat and verse with an epic hook that goes against the grain of this album.

“Ride Slow” features the Hybrid picking up slack with a verse that takes you back the good times of 2012, when he wrecked every instrumental he spit on. And the album ends with a rap battle where clever bars are exchanged between Ab and Daylyt—something different. These moments are to few and far between to redeem all the faults of These Days, however.

One can really tell that an album is lacking when it’s more exciting to talk about why it was bad, than to talk about the actual album itself. There are plenty of theories,

absoultweet

but at the end of the day the album remains disappointing. It contains a few rare peeks of what Soul is actually capable of. Perhaps These Days is Ab-Soul’s discographical death so he can rise again.

Room temperature at best.

Favorite Songs: “Closure” “Tree of Life” “Stigmata” “Just Have Fun” Danny Brown’s verse in “Ride Slow”

Songs That Blew Me: Almost everything else

Stay Frosty.

Hunger on Ice

Last year Meechy Darko of the Flatbush Zombies had a lyric that went, “sometimes the artist becomes bigger than the art that he presents.”

This is a vivid painting of the landscape of the current hip-hop fandom. But this has been written about before, not only by ME, but also others. That is the cause, the following is the effect.

I haven’t been a fan of an artist in years. I’m a fan of rap music in general. I’ve loved lots of music over the past few years, and have even been impressed with many who create it. However, I haven’t been a fan of any particular artist. In my experience with listening to rap music religiously for nearly the past decade (and even being more than casual before that), I have heard many artists that have released excellent, beautiful, genius works of art. Music. Then I hear the same artists somehow lose that sense of musical genius or poetic intellectualism or scorching passion in subsequent projects. It’s a loss of hunger. A vast amount of these artists “make it” and suddenly can’t eat no more. They get fat and lazy, and their hunger is gone.

A lot of excuses fly up when these subpar compositions are released as well. Label problems are probably the most prominent excuses of them all. That proves that the focus isn’t on the music though. The only reason why anyone would want to sign to a label is for money. When a label tells an artist, they need to make this or that type of song, it’s because they want to make money off of that artist’s song. This doesn’t go to say that one shouldn’t try to make their music marketable, but if that rapper is truly great, they wouldn’t have to sacrifice the integrity of their craft for a bit of “cash”.

When these musicians are on the come-up, they develop a brand for themselves with their hunger. Many of them slack off once that brand is well-established, and it is further enabled by hype-puppeted fans. Ergo the quote from the introduction. This furthers the “rap for the money, and not for the love” institution.

A tastemaker’s duty is to completely obliterate artistic credit for hype and acceptance of artists’ laziness. This will ensure hunger is maintained from passion and not just struggle or lack of recognition.

Rickee Stylez – Prevail | Music Video

The “Prevail” music video is an eery introduction into the theme of the Houston artist’s upcoming release titled Nu Testament. The song, video, and ambiance it provides is as dark as the corruption it exposes.  Be enlightened.

Itzme Review: Alex Wiley – Village Party

“Bout to bring that turn up to your city.” Lyrics vividly describe the objective of Alex Wiley’s music. Wiley’s a Chicago rapsinger, using one of the standout styles of Chicago hip-hop music. People are getting hip to him gradually, and there are two sharply contrasting viewpoints on him: total adoration or disapproval, the latter being related to his word choice. That’s a concern for someone else though.

Village Party is a tracklist tailor-made for live performances. It’s filled with hype stadium-entrance type songs and catchy chants you can see a huge crowd of people singing along to. Therein lies the strength and the weakness to Village Party. It’s super-fun to listen, sing, dance, and rapsing along to. “See the Day” is going to get that body moving, “Ideas” is will get the crowd hopping and bopping, “Ova” will have somebody doing the cooking dance. It’s fun as hell, but one-dimensional.

Some of the tracks are a bit less hype and more ambient, but the general feeling is still the same. The subjects of the songs aren’t concise, and generally graze over the same few topics like unsupportive homies from around the way, him being a sick rapper (which isn’t untrue skillwise), and not digging labels much. As a result, listeners just hear a super rapping-singing machine and not much of the real Wiley and his personality.

To elaborate on the “super rapping-singing” part, Wiley is just a supreme vocalist. His flow is transcendent. His singing voice is pretty good, and is used effectively throughout this tape (and really any other song I’ve heard him on). He uses a sprechgesang technique reminiscent of other Chicago rappers, but does it in a way that really makes him stand out.

Personally, I’d like to see him use this talent to fill out his songs more. Village Party’s songs are ridiculously short, and even with that duration seem to have one really high and exciting part of the song. Then the rest of the formula is some catchy part and a chant or ad-libs to pad it out. For instance, “Ova” which is super catchy and has an impressive melody, barely hits a minute without an abundance of “aye”’s at the begging and end of the song.

Overall Village Party is a relatively good and fun album. It fits perfectly well as a playlist for his live performances. I can’t imagine anyone not having a good time at a Wiley show listening to these. However, it falls short on the versatility end and doesn’t show much depth.

Cool enough.

My Favorites: “Ova”, “#takeoff #takeoff”, “Vibration”

Yeeeaaaaaauh

Doing Too Much

So I was talking to my homeboy the other day [month], about rap. The conversation ventured to how sometimes you just wanna listen to some chill stuff. Sometimes people don’t want to hear track tripping, tongue flipping, twisted triple time cadences. Aside from that, bringing a very complex style to music doesn’t particularly make one rapper better than another. Sometimes less is more.

The numerous complexities and techniques to rap are something to behold. Leveraging these with musicality and harmony is essentially what separates a good rap from a great one.  It’s the reason why someone can have the ability to rap super fast, but still not necessarily be a “good rapper” or a rapper that makes good songs essentially.

2pac is an example of this. Pac ain’t have no big BARS, and wasn’t making any incredible rhymes. Not to say he couldn’t flow, or didn’t have poetic expression in his lyrics; but he paced his songs well. “Hit Em Up” had that raw intensity to match the visceral feeling behind the record. In “It Ain’t Easy” Pac laments in a way that pairs with the soul of the production. People feel 2pac worldwide because of his approach to making songs.

On the contrary, I can’t dig one of Eminem’s newest hits, “Rap God” despite its widespread instances of internal, external, and multisyllabic rhymes. The song is really all over the place, after the first verse there’s a lot of random breaks and tempo changes, and I can go on almost as long as the song goes on. Its really the prime example of why a rapper can be so complex, with lyrics or technique, and still not make a good rap song.

Something to think about.

dghsport 2014 mini spring collection

A collection of instrumentals. No, more than that. This production speaks to you from dgh’s soul. If one had to describe it, they’d probably say its “hip-hop glazed with techno-funk”. The dghsport spring collection introduces you to an entirely new type of sound, that despite its peculiarity, is easily welcome to new ears. The sounds are so spacious and crisp. This is mixed to perfection. I’ve always enjoyed music from this dude.