The Hip Hop Mortuary

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

1:43 PM

EPMD - We Mean Business

Posted by Guy Fawkes

No group has ever meant business like EPMD. Parrish Smith and Erick Sermon are the epitome of business. Erick and Parrish have been makin' dollars for over 20 years now. They released their first album in '88 (Strictly Business) and have been East-Coast legends since. As a group they have faced a fair share of turmoil. They separated in '93 and re-united four years later. It wouldn't be for long though because Erick and Parrish haven't released any material for over nine years. Until this December that is when they released We Mean Business amidst controversy of the lack of DJ Scratch. DJ Scratch has been an important part of every EPMD album. In many senses, he is just as important to the group as Erick and Parrish are. So the questions is can they overcome his loss?...

1. Puttin' Work In
Featuring Raekwon
Not a bad start. It's kind of refreshing to hear an album without an rap intro. And it's even more refreshing to hear these hip-hop pioneers together. Don't get me wrong though, this song is far from perfect, but it's also far from obscurity.

2. What You Talkin'
Featuring Havoc
I could do without the superficial hook and the over-exaggerated instrumental, but this track is alright. On a sidenote, I'm surprised Soulja Boy hasn't said anything about EPMD yet. They hit him with this gem: "The Oscar De La Hoya, the golden boy/I'm not dude, don't believe I'll show ya boy/Ask Destiny's Child/ I'm not Soulja Boy"

3. Roc-Da-Spot
This is definitely what you'd call classic EPMD. The funk sample, the Biggie sample, the hook. Well done. I was feeling this one.

4. Blow
The first two verses were fire. The last verse was just off. I don't know if it was recorded separately or what, but it just did not sound good at all. It's a good song despite all that though.

5. Run It
Featuring KRS One
KRS One the black educator telling people "Get down on the floor" and making all sorts of ambience sound? Am I missing something? Isn't he supposed to be busy being an positive influence to youngn's? By the way, this song is terrible.

6. Yo
Featuring Redman
Best song off the album period. I said no discussion! Who told Redman it was OK to outshine EPMD on their own album? Check it.

7. Listen Up
Featuring Teddy Riley
Some songs would be better acapella. This is one of them.

8. Bac Stabbers
You know the phrase "Good idea, poor execution"? Well, this is a case of "Poor idea, good execution", if that makes any sense at all. Leave it to EPMD to make a song for the bac(k) stabbers, and equip some old-school techno sample.

9. Never Defeat 'Em
Featuring Method Man
Erick Sermon sets it off over this engaging instrumental, and Method Man body's his verse. But then Parrish put me to sleep, he does not sound good over this instrumental.

10. Jane
Every EPMD album has a song called Jane. It is typically just a song for the ladies, and it's no exception this time.

11. Left 4 Dead
Featuring Skyzoo; Produced by 9th Wonder
This song sounds the same way it looks on paper. EPMD is the essence of true school hip-hop, 9th and Skyzoo are two cats who are taking hip-hop where EPMD took them before. Needless to say, this track is crazy, and definitely worth checking out.

12. They Tell Me
Featuring Keith Murray
Keith Murray and EPMD have done some classic work together, this is not indicative of that at all. Skip/delete/sleep/right click... whatever you have to do, this one is not worth your time.

13. Actin' Up
Featuring Vic D and Tre
A good send-off. Everything was on point here. Good guest spot, good instrumental, good lyrics. Nothing better than good but still...

Bottom Line:
This album will not attract any new fans for EPMD. They stuck to an old formula with the exception of Left 4 Dead, and will most likely only appeal to old fans. Still it's a good album, and you should definitely check it out if you haven't already done so.

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 an 84.

You can find a link here.

1:25 PM

Have you noticed the lack of posts?

Posted by Guy Fawkes

Isn't this a familiar sight?

I hate coming to sites and seeing posts similar to this: "I've been busy lately, that's why I haven't been posting".

But alas, I am faced with a similar situation. Not only have I become increasingly busy with life, but aside from The Hip Hop Mortuary, I also run two other sites and contribute for three more.

I don't want this site to go under like countless other quality blogs. So I'm asking for help.
I don't want to place the blame on the staff here, because it's not their fault. But in the same sense we need to get this site active.
If you're a reader of this blog and would like to contribute reviews, GET AT ME!

Leave a message in the C-box or at my e-mail

Thank you.

12:51 PM

Ghostface Killah - Fishscale (2006)

Posted by Guy Fawkes

"Psycho Killah, Norman Banks". I understand that quoting an old Ol' Dirty line might will do one of two things:
1. Makes me seem like a Wu stan who actually keeps up with the 9 members, and ever-growing legions of weed carriers.
2. Makes me seem like a dumbass who has no fucking clue what he's talking about.
After this intro, I'm guessing readers will gravitate towards the second option. Like most people, I discovered terrible mainstream rap before I found boom-bap heaven. In the context of this review that means that I know criminally little about the Wu. In fact I had no clue Masta Killa was a member until I did a little research for this post. But luckily I have kept up with Ghostface. There's 3 Wu albums everyone has heard: Liquid Swords, Supreme Clientele, and Only Built For Cuban Linx. Supreme Clientele stood out most to me, and as a result I have went through most of Ghost's discography. What does that mean for this review? Well...

1. The Return of Clyde Smith
It's just an intro. Sorry..

2. Shakey Dog
The instrumental is easily identifiable, considering that this beat has been sampled 100's of times. The "Oh Yeah" vocal sample also appears on Pharell's Rockstar (which is a sad piece of trivia I have held onto). And the storytelling is the stuff of legends.

3. Kilo
"I'm getting ready to fuck Catwoman or something", what more needs to be said? My only complaint with this song is the instrumental. It's not engaging at all. Good job MoSS. Oh the vocal is kind of lame too. Especially when Rae and Ghost ad-lib it.

4. The Champ
I feel like I should hate this song out of principle. RZA doesn't produce at all on this album. Yet you have Just Blaze pimpin the Roc at the beginning. Regardless, Justin Blaze does a great job on the instrumental and Ghostface kills it (Get it? Get it? Get it?).

5. Major Operation
I've always wished I could say something funny or even something halfway enlightening about skits. But like always I have nothing to say.

6. 9 Milli Bros
If you couldn't tell by the title all 9 members of the Wu get on this track, along with Cappadonna for safe measure. This shit is ill beyond belief. Produced by MF Doom for anyone whose a non-believer.

7. Beauty Jackson
Ghostface's singing has always brought tears of laughter to my eyes. I wasn't really feeling this song, but it's relatively short so I can't complain. This was more of a curiousity piece to hear how Ghostface would sound over a Dilla insrumental. How is it? Well, it's kind of indescribable.

8. Heart Street Directions

9. Columbus Exchange/ "Crack Spot"
I wasn't really feeling this one. It was produced by Crack Val, isn't that saying enough? It would be smart to skip this one.

10. R.A.G.U.
Kind of similar to song number 7. This song is for those that would like to hear Ghost and Rae the Chef over a Pete Rock composition. Nothing wrong with this track. It's no banger, but it's not anything you should sleep on either.

11. Bad Mouth Kid
These skits are growing old quickly.

12.Whip You With A Strap
No matter how gently Ghostface sings (or lullaby's in my opinion) it doesn't make a difference. This shit does not sound good together. What is Ghost doing making songs for the ladies? Ruins a good Dilla instrumental.

Editors note: Yeah, I was wrong about this one.

13. Back Like That
Another song for the ladies, this one sounds a lot more natural, but still sounds like 100% Grade A synthetic bullshit. Any time you feature Ne-Yo on a track your not speaking from the heart but from your record label's pockets. It was a single so I can't really complain.

14. Be Easy
I don't really know how to describe this one. It's a lighthearted single that doesn't take itself too seriously. It's very Wu while also being very poppy (figure that one out).

15. Clipse Of Doom
The beat is terrible here. And it really detaches from this song. Very generic hook too.

16. Jellyfish
Something about MF Doom producing a track for the ladies doesn't sing for me. This track was very ehhh anyway.

17. Dogs Of War
Pete Rock is killing it at this point. A Sly & The Family Stone sample? Yes! Trife Da God is weak as usual, but the rest of the guests go hard. Preaching the family message here.

18. Barbershop
Interlude with about 30 seconds of spitting. I don't think you'll miss anything by skipping this one.
19. Ms. Sweetwater
These skits are killing me, and not in the Pete Rock sense either. Huh? Read the commentary for Dogs Of War.

20. Big Girl
Ghost produced this track himself. The vocal sample he uses really interferes with his sing-song flow. But aside from that, this song stood out to me.

21. Underwater
No matter how good Ghost's verse would have been, this should have been a straight instrumental. It holds it's own by leaps and bounds. That being said Ghost sounds pretty good over this instrumental, but if I were to make a recommendation it would be to track down the original beat from MF Doom's Orange Blossoms.

22. The Ironman Takeover
It's only five seconds.

23. Momma
I can feel the P Diddy influence just smacking me across the face. It's a good song despite it, but it's obviously a Hitmen production job.

24. Three Bricks
The grand finale. Ghost, Raekwon and a recycled Biggie verse. It's a good song to finish out a good album.

Bottom Line:
Overall this album was good. There were far too many songs and far far far too many interludes. But there are a good number of tracks that are well worth your time to track down.

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 an 83.

You can find a link here

1:51 PM

Brother Ali/ Champion EP

Posted by Guy Fawkes

What do I say here that the average hip-hop fan does not yet know? I'm not going to touch on Brother Ali's skin tone, lack of vision or faith, but rather the impact he has had on independent hip-hop. I'm from Minnesota, (in case this is your first time reading or if you didn't catch that earlier) so you can already know what's coming without scrolling at all, I am a very staunch supporter or B Ali (a nickname penned by your very own Guy Fawkes). Truth be told, I doubt you can find one person on this universe that actually hates on Brother Ali. I'm not denying the fact that some people may dislike him, but nobody hates on Brother Ali. And lately the big Brother has been getting some serious hype. November 4th lots of my favorite blogs were adorned by Ali's track Mr. President (You're The Man). And before then Ali shared a track with Freeway on the Jake One album, and kinda shitted on the bearded man. What does that have to do with the Champion EP? Presumably very little, so let's get the show on the road..

1. Champion (Remix)-
For those that have heard the original, you have to agree when I say this version is terrible. Not terrible as in it's a bad song, but terrible as in you need to track down the original version. That's all I can really say, I can't applaud this song knowing there is a much better alternative to it right underneath my fingertips.

2. Bad Ma Fucka-
For those who have heard Dorian, you know that Ali really is a bad ma fucka. Although that has nothing to do with the concept of this song. For most other artists this would be treated as your average disgruntled head talking to the talentless MC's of tomorrow. But this song is so much more. Ant's amazing production here really had my head spun. Aside from adding guitar and harmonica yet still creating a pure hip-hop instrumental, Ant throws in a few obscure samples to be safe. Add Ali's lyricism to the mix and you have a standout track on a standout album.

3. Sleepwalker
This beat has always stuck a cord somewhere deep inside my heart with it's eery and dark-natured drums and sampling, but Ali's flow does not work here. It ruins an instrumental with lots of potential. For those who can appreciate a decent song with an awkward flow, it's a different story...

4. Love On Display
Possibly my favorite thing about Ant (Ali's producer if you can't tell yet) is the extremely wide range of emotions he can convey in an simple beat. From dark and gloomy to optimistic and cheerful, he can do it all. This is more or less a tale of how Ali has been impacted about hip-hop, and it is introspective and genuine as can be. This is the type of song that can humble the most narcisstic human being, definitely something you should check out.

5. Self Taught
This was the song that first made me fall in love with Ali. Two years later I still enjoy the song, but I find myself spacing out at times. It's not so much the song as a whole but the hook is very generic in a Brother Ali sense. Still a knocker though.

6. Heads Down
The first time during this whole EP that I can whole-heartedly say SKIP!

7. Chain Link
The whole vibe of this song is mid 90's heart of the city, NYC, little kids playing basketball during recess. I don't have much to say here, just sit back and admire good music people. Not G.O.O.D. Music but good music (had to get that subliminal diss in).

8. Waheedah's Hands
Ehh, it wasn't bad, but it definitely wasn't good.

9. Rain Water
What a send-off, wow! This is probably the premier track off this stellar EP. If that's not saying something, I don't know what is.

So now that we're done, you can guess what happens. I'm going to throw in a comment about how this EP shits on mainstream hip-hop in general, and that you should definitely cop it (even if it requires going out of your way to do so). But truth be told, I'm going to keep it 100% real right now. This EP is good, and with the exception of a few songs, it's much better than any major release coming out in the next month. So do yourself a favor, and cop this EP as a fan of hip-hop in general, fuck the labels attached to artists, support good music. I'm going to get off my pulpit now. *P Valley, I'm going to get to that Ghostface I promise homie*

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 EP a 88.

You can find a link here