Core Rhythm's freshmen release, 'Nat Turner Reloaded' has the strength of a senior classman placing anything to follow it in contention for a doctorate in the major of mic management. The album is a tight work that tackles the ever looming issues of race, supremacy and the disenfranchisement of the poor and persons of color on the planet. Guest appearances by artists like Creature, Wells Knotty, GrandMixer DXT, Baba Israel and Farbeon are a complement to an already strong album, they serve to help complete this well thought out and prepared sonic offering. Incredible choices of film soundbites throughout are the glue that seamlessly meld each track together. Album cuts provided by DJ Drilla except Track 2 by DJ Center and Track 8 by GrandMixer DXT.
The Louis Vuitton Don donned a cape and mask instead of the traditional cap and gown on his graduation day September 11th, 2007. My brief stream of thought on his speech at the ceremony is as follows: 'Graduation is a guilty pleasure, filthy leather, immature, corny but pure. An (un)predictable detour. It's worthy of applause, while self loathing, with nice clothing and still self assured. On an award tour, throwing tantrums for sure, for over shores or round the corner explorers. 55-70% or so of the tunes on this album are pretty much single material. (Something most artists never successfully pull off unless their names happen to be Big Boi & Andre 3000). Elton John, Quincy Jones, George Clinton & Hank Shocklee are just a handful of beings of influence without whose presence this production could literally not have manifested. "Everything I Am" is a great song. The impulse to kick the squat out of Kanye while he's suited in that bear mascot outfit does exist, but it's well balanced with the idea of a celebratory high five and victory shuffle to cheer the home team winning 07's state championship. Lastly, Kayne did not sell any narcotics or murder a soul. He just ran his mouth and shopped'. I guess that's not so terrible.
Once in a blue moon an album crosses my path that thrills me beyond all belief and makes me believe in true artistry again. Rue Melo’s debut CD happens to be one of those albums. A tri-lingual beauty who sings in English, French and Spanish, Melo has a level of soul rarely seen in today’s artists. In addition to her vocal and songwriting capabilities Melo is also backed by one heck of an impressive band. I was hooked within the first 90 seconds of this album and look forward to keeping it in my CD player for a very long time. The music of Rue Melo and her band is like Joss Stone on a whole other level making her eponymous debut a definite album of the year candidate.
OK, this wasn’t a DVD, it was a VHS tape, but as a Wu-Tang movie it still merits a review. I enjoyed Stone Cold Wu-Tang for the pure entertainment value of it. The main villain kills people with his hair braid and you can’t get much more ridiculous than that. The first seven minutes are filmed in what I can only assume was a blackout since next to nothing is visible, but after that it’s fight scene after fight scene with about paragraph’s worth of dialogue in the entire movie. A few other fun facts about the movie is that the city they’re supposed to be in is completely deserted the vast majority of the time and looks a lot more like Tijuana than Tokyo (or Hong Kong, which is where they supposedly were, but I like alliteration). For some campy martial arts fun Stone Cold Wu-Tang is a winner.
When Chamillionaire released The Sound of Revenge it surprised me. I had it in a stack of albums and when I put it on I thought “oh no, another southern rapper,” but his charismatic nature and multiple flows won me over. With Ultimate Victory, however, Chamillionaire suffers a bit of a sophomore slump. “Ridin Dirty” was the mega hit off of the last album and Chamillionaire seems to be stuck in that flow for the vast majority of Ultimate Victory, rarely switching things up. After a while this becomes tiresome as the flow becomes routine. The news isn’t all bad, though, as there are quite a few standout tracks on the album due to the fact that Chamillionaire, unlike a lot of his peers, throws some interesting topic matter into his rhymes. Unfortunately, the rest of Ultimate Victory is a bit of a letdown. I’m guessing someone at the label pressured Chamillionaire to stick with the “Ridin Dirty” flow to sell more singles on iTunes, which he probably will as the singles will be incredibly strong. As a complete album, however, it's neither an Ultimate Victory nor a stunning defeat. Instead it's more of a 12 round split decision.
While there's ample talk of artists finding forever and refusing rehab while cleaning out their ear drums, easily forgotten in less than a year is a kat that spoke simply about food and liquor. Lupe Fiasco’s freshman release is a well put together piece of art. Considering all the crying about Hiphop music being so terrible, it's hard to imagine how an entire album of tight, compelling rhymes and beats, with hardly any profanity could be overlooked and ushered to the wayside. Honestly, it isn’t that hard to believe. People always seem to complain about what’s available; Then new options appear on the horizon. The ship they’ve long awaited finally shows up. It docks, but they don’t want to get on. Amazingly, all of these previously eager life guards freeze up. They suddenly can no longer swim. They soon decide it would be much safer to stay on dry land. Lupe’s fiasco is a result of poor label decisions, and improper promotion methods yes, but perhaps more so caused by a finicky audience that will ultimately starve to death or suffer severe malnourishment if they don’t have the courage to try something new.