The Hip Hop Mortuary

"I wax lyrics so poetic even the most narcoleptic skeptic feels awake and perceptive"

2:13 PM

Q-Tip/The Renaissance

Posted by Guy Fawkes

Even as a 90's baby, (yes a 90's baby) I can still confidently say I grew up on A Tribe Called Quest. When most kids my age were falling out of love with Nickleback and Eminem, I was bumping Award Tour out of my mom's car... on the weekends. One of the most nostalgic moments of my present childhood was going to a record store that actually held The Low End Theory or Midnight Marauders and paying full price for both of them (remember I'm a 90's baby). Once I copped those albums I would play them inside out, back to front, and cover to cover until I knew the song better than Phife and Q-Tip. Needless to say, I'm a fan! Shortly after exploring the Tribe discography, I decided to investigate Q-Tip's short-lived solo career (until now anyway). As a huge jazz rap and abstract hip-hop head, I was somewhat dissappointed with the debut. So here's hoping to a better go-round the second (err..third) time around (Hear, Hear.)

1. Johnny Is Dead
If there's one thing that I really enjoy about Q-Tip it has to be his beautiful flow (no homo not even necessary). This isn't a bad song per se' but I couldn't really get into it because of the choppy flow equipped here. Everything else is pretty average too, the instrumental didn't really catch my ear and the hook is very ehhh... But it's a rap intro (fingers crossed).

2. Won't Trade
Had me nodding my head for the whole 2:41. The lyricism is pretty sick, and the whole song flows really well together. It's a concept track based on basketball (I think), and even though I'm not a fan of songs like these, I'll admit that this track is pretty hot. And I can't even imagine how many crates of records Q must have dug through before finding the vocal sample for this track.

3. Gettin' Up
Q-Tip's what 38? When he was 20 and making tracks like Electric Relaxation for the ladies it was cool. Not as a 40 year old though. "We can be like Martin and Coretta"... ehh. A cute sentiment, but your trying way too hard homie. This was an easy skip for me.

4. Official
Mess of a song. Choppy flow again, a vocal sample that doesn't fit the rhythm at all, and too much singing (I've never been a fan of Kamaal the singer). I had a hard time listening to this track.

5. You
This is more of the beats I was expecting to hear. Not a bad song, not much more than singing though. I'm not complaining though, I was feeling this track after a few listens.

6. We Fight/Love

A soft instrumental complements Tip's great storytelling, and Raphael Saadiq stops in for the hook. This is definitely a song for the grown-ups, so I wasn't really feeling it, but it's got potential... I've got potential to enjoy it soon!

7. Manwomanboggie
On this song he tries to explore man and woman's evolution. I don't know that this instrumental was the ideal platform for such an exploration. Wasn't really feeling this track.

8. Move
Double-sided song, the first half of the song is a dance track: "Here they come yo, here they come". A song clearly targeted for the ladies, but the second half of the track is a deeply introspective song. The instrumental sounds Renaissance-esque (like 15th century Europe), and is accented by some amazing story-telling. On some old school Tip ish. I'm disappointed these songs weren't separated, because the second half is amazing.

9. Dance On Glass
You know what? Props Q, he rocked the shit accapella for more than a minute and killed it! This song is put together very strangely, but is definitely worth a listen. I don't know about the singing at the start though.

10. Life Is Better
Life would be better if Q-Tip didn't make songs like this. Maybe it's just me but this seemed like a half-assed hip hop ode. Just me... I have a snaking suspicion John was feeling this track.

11. Believe
I wanted to love this song, but I just couldn't. The beat is magnificent, but the message that ties the song together is somewhat lacking.

12. Shaka
Another poignant production, and this is a great way to finish up this album. No matter how the material before it sounds, this song will leave you wanting more Q-Tip.

And that will conclude this album. To tell the truth, I was somewhat dissapointed. The album itself was to be expected. Lately Q-Tip among numerous other rappers has begun singing more than rhyming. This album is somewhat similar to his second LP Kamaal the Abstract, in terms of singing. But this is Q's finest produced album to date. Considering he produced or co-produced almost the whole album, that is quite an achievement. There's something here for everyone, so check it! "Here they come yo, here they come...."

0-20: Terrible listening experience
21-40: Maybe one good song
41-60: A few good songs
61-80: Half are good songs, half are weak
81-100: Great listening experience, almost all are great songs

I give this album a 73.

You can find a download here

1:37 PM

88 Keys/ The Death Of Adam

Posted by Guy Fawkes

The biggest thing that distinguishes rapper/sanger/producer 88 Keys is his willingness to experiment with different genres of music. To tell the truth, at first I thought this would be a very strange review to do here given 88 Keys' lack of a friendly label (hip-hop, rap, soul, R&B...). But 88 has produced for Mos Def, Consequence, Talib Kweli and The Pharcyde. He also has features from Kanye, Kid Cudi, Phonte, and Redman. He fits the genre folks, don't dismiss him from the get-go. That was never the primary concern for me though. I've never been a fan of concept songs: I Gave You Power, Gotta Eat, A Friendly Game Of Baseball...and less supportive of concept albums: The Cool, ATLiens, Deltron 3030. For those that have given this album a listen, and didn't really have a clue what they were listening to, here's a brief summary of the storyline. Adam (the main character), is your typical guy searching for sex anywhere he can find it. Adam meets a dime, dates her, and is shot down when he tries to take it to the next level (I can identify there, I won't front). Then Adam moves from the ex-girl to the next girl, who he finds in a nightclub apparently. This is where it got confusing. They have sex, but Adam can't please her, but they stay together still until Adam's life comes to an end... The Death Of Adam. Sounds a little lame to me too, but let's give it a spin.

1. Morning Wood
Produced by 88 Keys
Ehh. I can't recommend listening to this track. Just all-around lame. And not in a late 70's start of hip-hop sense either. Lame as in you're trying way too hard and it shows.

2. Nice Guys Finish Last
Produced by 88 Keys
Much better. I was really feeling the recording process on this track, 88 Keys somehow altered his own voice so it sounds like he recorded his verse through a phone or something. Sounds like Who Shot Ya. I was also feeling the beat and the "nice" vocal sample as 88 sprinkles some knowledge throughout his story.

3. The Friends Zone
Featuring Shitake Monkey; Produced by 88 Keys
If your looking for some indie rock mixed with soft pop this is probably your shit, but I wasn't feeling it at all. At all!

4. Handcuff 'Em
Produced by 88 Keys
The beat was nice. The lyrics were somewhat nice. By this point in time, I've noticed that 88 Keys and Charles Hamilton are one and the same. The song was good if you want to just kick back and take in the sound, but once I started listening to the songs message it seemed mad corny. Like Ms. Officer off C3. And the metaphors keep on coming!

5. Stay Up (Viagra)
Featuring Kanye West; Produced by 88 Keys
Great instrumental here. The Death Of Adam and 808's & Heartbreak seem to be sister albums, categorized as hip-hop but containing a lot more singing than rhyming. By the way, Kanye blows here (no surprise), and his Borat reference had me cringing... really 'Ye... really? On the real though, this instrumental could carry the whole album because it is amazing.

6. There's Pleasure In It
Produced by 88 Keys
This one is nothing more than an beat, this song would be an interlude on any other album besides this one. I wasn't feeling this beat as much as the previous one, mainly because it was made around a moaning sample (F for creativity). Swap the instrumentals in the two previous tracks and you could have had a good song.

7. (Awww Man) Round 2?
Produced by 88 Keys
Seven songs in and I'm on the verge of falling asleep. Good instrumental and terrible lyricism again... SKIP! Learn how to rhyme homie, or just stick to producing.

8. Dirty Peaches
Featuring J'Davey; Produced by 88 Keys
R&B track. No, average R&B track. Don't really remember how it sounded because it was so generic.

9. Close Call
Featuring Phonte; Produced by 88 Keys
It takes fan favorite Phonte to really conjure up a verse deserving of 88 Keys superb production. The first two minutes of this track are the best of the whole album, after the first two minutes it goes downhill.

10. The Burning Bush
Featuring Redman; Produced by 88 Keys
So Redman becomes Adam for this skit/song, and goes to the doctor's office because he caught an STD. I love Redman, but his three verses seem forced here, following a pretty consistent theme for guest features.

11. Ho' Is Short For Honey
Featuring Kid Cudi; Produced by 88 Keys
I'm not a Cudi fan at all. But there's something catchy about this track, but nothing that would make me repeat it. I do admire his rhyme schemes though, and the sampling here. Something to this track, you might have to check it out... maybe.

12. No. I Said I LIKED You
Produced by 88 Keys
I forgot to mention that there has been a girl telling the story at the end of every song. This track they don't put her at the end, instead just giving her the spotlight. Easy skip for me.

13. M.I.L.F.
Featuring Bilal; Produced by 88 Keys
This is another soft R&B track. Nice beat, nice singing. Still kind of ehh...

14. Another Victim
Produced by 88 Keys
And we're done! Nothing more to say about this song, other than it feels like the clock hitting 5 o'clock on a Friday. I'm glad to be done.

There's a difference between Shawty Lo and 88 Keys. Even though I have a hard time listening to both of them, I can't hate on 88. This wasn't my type of album, but I can't give it a really low rating based on my distaste for the album. At least 88 is trying, a lot more than many artists can say for themselves.

0-20: Terrible listening experience
21-40: Maybe one good song
41-60: A few good songs
61-80: Half are good songs, half are weak
81-100: Great listening experience, almost all are great songs

I give this album a 64. Not my cup of tea.

You can find a link here

10:49 AM

Jurassic 5/Feedback

Posted by Mistadave

The day Jurassic 5 got together as a group was the day Hip Hop was finally saved. In an era where the West Coast was dominated by gangsta and all that, these Los-Angeles based brothers brought back the vibes of the old Native Tongues maintaining a strictly underground attitude, rising to the scene with groups such Dilated Peoples, Defari and Cali Agents, using East Coast-oriented beats and fresh rhymes reminiscin’ about the Old School. Unfortunately “Feedback” was not only the first album that the group recorder without Dj/producer Cut Chemist, which had left the group earlier in 2006, it was the last album that Chali 2na, Akil, Zaakir, Mark 7even and Dj Nu-Mark recorded together at all, before splittin for unknown reasons. What’s left was an album that continued the work J5 had done before, maybe less satisfying than its two (three with the J5 Ep) predecessors, full of mid-80’s Hip Hop references and fresh rhymes from each component.

What’s Hot

1. Back 4 U – Great intro, features a very catchy piano loop over a hard beat, one by one J5 makes sure everyone noticed that they’re back. They forgot to mention it was the last time. Sigh.

2. Radio – Okay. This one will tack you back directly to 1985, if you love Run Dmc’s first album, if you ever wore a kangol and sported a heavy radio on your shoulders, this one’s for you. It’s a tribute to the originators, everyone mentions the moment when Hip Hop crossed their heart for the first time, when ghetto blasters and gold chains were a must. Aaahh, that good ol’ times…

5. In The House – Bpm’s goes up and up, here we turn completely into funk mode. Sounds good as an old Coolio cut, “Smokin' Stix”, it’s a party-vibe track with a lot of 70’s flavor in it.

6. Baby Please – We go uptempo here, this cut is about serious business. Does that woman wants you for your money? Save your funds, while you can!

9. Get It Together – The best beat on the entire album. Period.

10. Future Sound – Another great cut, Akil and Soup trade verses over a very good beat. This one’s sounds good even if 2Na doesn’t speak a word….

15. Canto De Ossanha – Every classic J5 album got his instrumental to close out things. This makes no exception, by the way this is the best instrumental cut put together by Nu Mark.

What’s Not
3. Brown Girl – Not a typical J5 cut, the chorus is simply horrendous.

4. Gotta Understand – The beat is so-so, and the Curtis Mayfield vocal loop is too perseverant.

7. Work It Out feat. Dave Matthews Band– This cut is not really bad at all, but once you listen to it, it’ll leave a commercial taste in your mouth. That’s too soft, too radio oriented, not J5 style. I know that they collaborated with people such as Nelly Furtado, but that was a completely different vibe.

Bottom Line

A very good album, anyway it does not sees the greatness that “Quality Control” and “Power In Numbers” contained. There are two or three missteps that bring the overall quality down, Chali 2Na is not that much present with that monsta voice that bless any drum roll possible, anyway the beats, even without Cut Chemist, are very creative and the overall concept is still different from anything your ears is accustomed to.

0-20: Terrible listening experience

21-40: Maybe one good song

41-60: A few good songs

61-80: Half are good songs, half are weak

81-100: Great listening experience, almost all are great songs

I give this album a 85. The fact that it’s not Jurassic 5 best album doesn’t mean that it is not good. It could've been done better, okay, but it's still way above average.

You can find a link here