x CB » In Rapsentia: Albums

In Rapsentia: Albums

This has been sitting unfinished on my hard drive for about a month, but here’s a quick rundown on some of the rap records that I was banging during my self imposed exile. It’s getting to be that time of year where everybody starts complaining about how bad of a year it was for rap and then I write about how I disagree. But this year has seen some particularly great albums drop [1] and I’m not just blowing smoke about Shawty Lo or whatever. Here are some quick notes on just a few from the summer.

Killer Mike – I Pledge Alligience To The Grind II (Grind Time/SMC, 2008)
Young Jeezy – The Recession (Def Jam, 2008)

Pretty much the one and two albums of the year from what I’ve heard. Gigantic, life altering, inspirational street music. There’s a youtube interview where Mike talks about trying to make an album of “Git Up, Git Out”s and I think he may have actually succeeded. Jeezy has been doing the same (unconsciously?) for his past three albums but he’s perfected it here. I can’t remember the last time I heard a rap album as personally affecting as either of these. It’s also interesting to hear these two once disparate rappers converge towards a midpoint. Jeezy’s getting more explicitly political and caring more about rapping, Mike’s moving further and further away from rapping for the sake of it/Outkast space funk towards harder, street shit. But despite the shared ideology (that ghetto gospel music) and sound (relatively speaking) such a gap of success remains. That Mike sold just 4k in his first week out is heartbreaking and I’m disappointed in all of you rap fans. [2] In a perfect world “Can You Hear Me” would’ve been this summer’s “Soul Survivor”. Maybe there is some credence to this “powers that be purposely keep conscious rap down” conspiracy theory talk after all. Or maybe people just don’t want to be shouted at by a dude named Killer.

Killer Mike – “Can You Hear Me?

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Young Jeezy – “Circulate

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CRAC Knuckles (Blu & Ta’raach) – The Piece Talks (Tres, 2008) [3]
A lot of my disdain for the post-natives/okayplayer head-rap is that those dudes are ripping off the wrong records by the right artists. All of the weird, creative, brilliant aspects of the Native Tongues movement got lost in translation. Instead they are cribbing notes from late period Native Tongues, taking cues from the De La record where they cried about what was wrong with rap for sixty minutes or imitating the Tribe album where they rapped about basically nothing. [4] Blu’s own Below The Heavens was some of the most tepid boom bap Fakes Is High rap I heard last year. On a purely mechanical level Blu is fairly talented [5], but his rapping is so pedantic and uninspiring on that record. Which is why linking him with a Dilla inspired weirdo like Detroit’s Ta’raach makes perfect sense: unhinged creativity x the shackles of technicality. So The Piece Talks is the exact opposite of Below The Heavens. It’s a bunch of rambling and goofy song sketches, with most songs rarely lasting more than two and a half minutes before they move onto the next idea. Both studio gangsters and the boho sect are mocked endlessly (though not necessarily despised). More than anything else out the Native’s camp I’d compare it to Jbeez Wit The Remedy, as entertaining as it is adventurous.

Love Is

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Bullet Through Me

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ABN (Z-Ro & Trae) – It Is What It Is (Rap-A-Lot, 2008)
This is basically as good as any group of artists not on speaking terms could make a record [6] But it’s frustrating because we’re left if they remained friends. (What happened to all of Ro’s “Trae’s an angel in my eyesight!” talk?) Also I think Rap-A-Lot’s completely dropped their
budget for sample clearances this year, because at least a few of these tracks have been remixed with synth presets instead of the slurred, screw tape style [7] soul tracks that drove the original mixes (which I’ve uploaded here for your pleasure).

Rain (Original Mix)

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Miss My Dawgs (Original Mix)

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[1] And albums disguised as mixtapes – see Lil Boosie, Playboy Tre, The Clipse.
[2] No excuses for broke rapidsharers. I bought my copy at the height of unemployment on the day it came out.
[3] OK, this came out well before I left I think, but it sat on my hard drive for a few months before I decided to give it a listen.
[4] Those records worked because Posdnous is the best rapper in the universe and Tip’s the most charismatic.
[5] Producer Exile is a beast too, but that record just didn’t add up.
[6] Well except maybe The Beatles, but Z-Ro > John Lennon.
[7] Real, actual DJ Screw tapes, not what people who heard “Still Tippin” a few times imagine Screw tapes to sound like.

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18 Responses to “In Rapsentia: Albums”

  1. SukedowN Says:

    You must be a really patient person to be able to listen to a whole Jeezy album.

    I thought the same of the ABN production at first, but I’ve began to embrace the synth-mania that is most songs on It Is What It Is.

  2. TSF Says:

    Damn, I’ve been reading this sight too long! I used to wait for you to drop your album run down of the summer, and then go out and buy what you were listening too, but in this case it’s what I’ve been listening to also.

  3. maynholdup Says:

    mayn, when we ona hear ya thoughts on that new ro?

  4. maynholdup Says:

    Z-Ro > Barack Obama

  5. barns Says:

    You might already be on this but I think you upped the same file for both of the ABN tracks. Regardless, thanks for that. Do any equivalents exist for the synth tracks off Crack?

  6. noz Says:

    Barns – ABN audio is fixed. And here’s a low-fi alternate mix of “Tired” via imeem/damage control: http://www.imeem.com/ayeezy/music/OY664vLJ/zro_so_tired/

    (I’m still trying to find this elusive Cracc mixtape. Anyone?)

  7. Syl Says:

    In this day in age samples are a luxury commodity. Cut Rap-A-Lot some slack. They are still alive after 20+ damn years, and it’s hard for labels to just stay afloat right now. You can’t expect RAL to shell out thousands to Columbia/CBS just because Trae sounds good over a Lonnie Liston Smith’s “Gardens of Peace.” Anyway, the uncleared mixes will always leak onto to internet for us syrup heads.

  8. Jason Says:

    It’s “The Piece Talks.” And Below The Heavens was classic. You’re wylin for that.

  9. maynholdup Says:

    the “cracc” mixtape was scratched as far as i can tell. imagine this guy’s career if he venture into the mixtape circuit. him turning ‘excuse me miss’ into a good song, anyone?

  10. k Says:

    > (I’m still trying to find this elusive Cracc mixtape. Anyone?)

    is this what you’re looking for?

    http://2dopeboyz.com/2008/07/15/crac-blu-taraach-wcracradio/

  11. noz Says:

    Oh, we’re talking Z-Ro Cracc, not Knuckles C.R.A.C. Thanks though.

  12. J Says:

    Whaddup Noz,
    Where does White Van Muuuusic place on your list?

  13. Tray Says:

    As I’ve mentioned a few times before, the Jeezy album is junk. The ABN started off well enough, but then went precipitously downhill. Even Mr. Lee’s contributions aren’t too good.

  14. Peas Says:

    where can i get the original mixes of that ABN cd?

  15. b-psycho Says:

    What peas said. The originals of those songs fit much better, what else got wiped cuz of sample clearance?

  16. mark p. Says:

    Surprised you haven’t written anything about Z-Ro’s Crack yet. Definitely one of the albums of the year for me.

  17. ev Says:

    Whats so great about recent Clipse stuff? I think the stuff i heard (the third WGI4C) was the weakest in their catalog. But i’m probably missing something

  18. ev Says:

    Sorry, i was talking about “Clipse Presents: Re-Up Gang” that was the weakest one. WGI4C v.3 was nice.

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