Sunday, September 20, 2009

KRS 1 ft. Buckshot - Survival skills (Duck Down Music)

Cappadonna - Slang Prostitution (Chambermusik)

Slowly crawling out of the hole he dug with 2001's The Yin and the Yang plus 2003's The Struggle, Cappadonna makes good with Slang Prostitution, a better yet still uneven effort that finally arrived in early 2009 after more than a year of delays. It's overstuffed at 19 tracks, and hard ballers like "Life's a Gamble" with Raekwon seem out of Capp's reach here, but when the off-kilter Wu-Tang rapper turns to mischief, women, or something breezy, he excels. The out of tune swaggering on "Walk with Me," the hazy nostalgia of "Stories," and the wonderfully spaced-out "Da Vorzon" all work splendidly, but it's the "biddy-biddy-bop" jazz of "Somebody's Got to Go" that towers over all with the lyrics bouncing all over G-Clef da Mad Komposa's almost-Us3 production. The redundant songs plus three chapters of the tedious spoken word piece "You Can't Keep a Good Man Down" keep this one off the top tier, but fans will recall the good ol' days when Capp explains how he's living the "Savage Life" with the throwback stinger "To animals/My words be the words of Christ."

You Can't Keep A Good Man Down Part I
Savage Life
Three Knives feat 3rd Diglah & Lounge Lo (prod by Soul Professor)
Walk With Me feat Joey Lee (prod by Digem Trax & G-Clef Da Mad Komposa)
Do You Remember?
That Staten Island Shit feat Lounge Lo (prod by Digem Trax)
Stories feat Jojo Pellegrino & 3rd Diglah (prod by 3rd Diglah)
Life's A Gamble feat Raekwon and Rachet (prod by Rush)
Hustle & Flow
You Can't Keep A Good Man Down Part II
Pistachio feat Lounge Lo, King Just & Lugar (prod by Soul Professor)
Grungy feat G-Clef Da Mad Komposa (prod by Q-Dini)
What's Really Up?
Da Vorzon feat Lounge Lo (prod by Blastah Beats)
Somebody Got To Go feat Lounge Lo & Ghetto Philharmonic
Fire feat Masta Killa (prod by Chicargo)
Speed Knots feat Precise (prod by N.E.S.)
Stay Shining
You Can't Keep A Good Man Down Part III

Grand Puba - Retroactive (Babygrande)

Q-tip - Kamaal/The Abstract

A personal, unique project compared to Amplified (Q-Tip's first under his own name), Kamaal the Abstract fittingly sounds more like a solo album; whereas Amplified merely built on the digital soul of the last Tribe Called Quest album (The Love Movement), this one is wide-ranging and diverse, a relaxed, loose-limbed date. Q-Tip lays way back on these cuts, rapping in a quick, low monotone for the opener, "Feelin'," even while the song breaks into some restrained guitar grind on the choruses. Guitars, in fact, crop up all over this record. Setting aside comparisons to the contemporary record by N.E.R.D. (the rock side project of hip-hop super-producers Neptunes), Q-Tip crafted a record that pays homage to the last gasp of organically produced mainstream pop in the '70s and '80s, paying a large compliment to Prince and Stevie Wonder, even as he proves himself far more talented than D'Angelo (if not quite as soulful). The beats are pointed and clipped, to be expected on a Q-Tip record, but he allows plenty of space for the arrangements to speak, like the trim trumpet lines pacing "Even if It Is So" or allowing plenty of room for extended blowing from a flute on the warm, pastoral "Do You Dig You." The former is one of the best tracks here, Q-Tip introducing his story song with a fluid, ten-second speed-rap that says more about the plight of the single mother he adores than any other rapper could with an entire album. This wasn't the kind of record that lights up the charts -- which could account for the reason it didn't appear on the shelves in late April 2002, as expected, and only earned an official release in 2009 -- but in many ways it's superior to the released Amplified. [The 2009 release via Jive included a bonus track, "Make It Work."]

Do U Dig U?
A Million Times
Blue Girl
Barely in Love
Even If it is So
Make it Work [bonus track]
Damn, You’re Cool [iTunes bonus track]

Friday, September 18, 2009

one of greatest...phoetry

During the first several years of the 2000s, it wasn't unreasonable to want Mos Def, one of the most dazzling living MCs, to make a rap album. After he released 2006's True Magic, his first all-rap release in seven years -- following the back-to-back instant classics Black Star and Black on Both Sides -- it was easier to understand why he had been devoting much more time to acting and diversions like The New Danger. It was evident that he was not inspired, no doubt prompting a fair portion of his followers to think, "OK, maybe we should have been more specific: please make a good rap album." On The Ecstatic, it's not as if Mos Def makes a full return to the lucid/bug-eyed rhymes heard on decade-old cuts like "Hater Players" and "Hip Hop." Instead, he comes up with a mind-bending, low-key triumph, the kind of magnetic album that takes around a dozen spins to completely unpack. Oscillating between cerebral gibberish and seemingly nonchalant, off-the-cuff boasts, it's obvious that Mos Def is back to enjoying his trade. For those who are deeply into the Stones Throw label, the album won't take quite as long to process. Some of the productions from brothers Madlib and Oh No were pulled from their instrumental releases, including a pair from the India-themed installments of the Beat Konducta series. Altogether, they provide much of the album's dusty off-centeredness; even though "Supermagic" has Mos Def at his most energized and alert, its needling psychedelic guitars and sweeping Bollywood drama are transportive. Combined with backdrops from Georgia Anne Muldrow, Preservation, the Neptunes' Chad Hugo, and the Ed Banger label's Mr. Flash, the album is a gumbo that adds juicy dub thwacks, regal synthetic horns, tangled piano vamps, dashes of spiritual jazz, and rolling Afro-beat, almost all of which is cloaked in light reverb. Though there are highlights throughout, two of the most notable tracks are at the very end: "History," where Talib Kweli joins in over a wistful J Dilla beat, and "Casa Bey," where a playful Mos Def somehow keeps up with Banda Black Rio's deliriously frantic samba funk.

1. “Supermagic”
2. “Twilite Speedball”
3. “Auditorium” feat. Slick Rick
4. “Wahid”
5. “Priority”
6. “Quiet Dog”
7. “Life In Marvelous Times
8. “The Embassy”
9. “No Hay Nada Mas”
10. “Pistola”
11. “Pretty Dancer”
12. “Worker’s Comp”
13. “Revelations”
14. “Roses” feat. Georgia Anne Muldrow
15. “History” feat. Talib Kweli
16. “Casa Bey”