Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Every once in a while, I like to go back and listen to albums from the early 90’s that I hadn’t heard before or hadn’t popped in in a while. So here’s the result.

First up, Capital Tax – The Swoll Package.

Simply put, this is not a bad album, but nothing really stood out for me. Their style reminds me of Das EFX if you took out the Diggidies. The production was nice. Kind of a jazzy feel that reminds me a little of early 90’s Pete Rock. Every track blended nicely into the next. However, that was the main problem for me. I could of sworn I was around track 10 or 11 when the 16 track album ended. All said, a good listen but nothing to write home over. If you see it for a bargain, it’s worth checking out. You won’t be disappointed but you won’t be dying for a reunion album either.
Rating: 3 out of 5

Next up, Rough House Survivors – Straight From the Soul. This is another one that I remember seeing but never buying. The funny thing is I felt like they were reading my mind while I was listening to this. When I was trying to find a comparison to them, I originally thought of Pete Rock and CL Smooth. The next track that came on featured CL Smooth. Later, the production and style reminded me of Brand Nubian. Two minutes later, Sadat X came on the track. This one is definitely worth a listen if you’re a fan of the aforementioned groups. They rhyme very smoothly over the beats and show some real talent. Too bad this is all they released.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Group Home – Livin’ Proof
I bought this album shortly after it first came out when I was in one of those CD clubs and needed to find something to buy so I could cancel (since after getting the initial free CD’s I didn’t want to get their mail anymore). So I got this even though I hadn’t heard anything about it. This is one of those albums that stands the test of time. DJ Premier is at the top of his game on the beats. Malachi and Lil Dap (who has a lisp that gives Kool G Rap a run for his money) come off very well. Although they’ll never be confused with Rakim or Nas, they rhyme nicely over the production. This makes the album that much better. DJ Premier has the ability to make mediocre lyricists sound like legends if they rhyme with the beats instead of against them. Hell, I thought his track was the bright spot of that extremely disappointing Pitch Black album a few years back. But there are always artists that feel they can outdo the production which just makes the whole project a mess. Group Home plays it smart.

At a point of time when hip hop is getting flooded with 20 track albums that consist of an indecipherable intro, the same for an outro, guest appearances on every track, and 4-5 skits of the either the rapper talking with his friends or two girls talking on the phone about how great he is, Group Home’s simple album of 13 tracks, including an intro and one remix, is refreshing. It doesn’t matter if your album is 79 minutes and 48 seconds if it sounds just like everything else out there. That is why this album and others from the early 90’s still get played today and why I appreciate this album more each time I listen to it. Solidly put together album in every sense of the word.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Friday, November 16, 2007

Guilty Simpson – Stray Bullets Mixtape (DJ Rhettmatic)

OK. The only reason this is the first entry is because it was what I was listening to when I decided to create the blog. Just a coincidence.

When I saw this mixtape was out, I was looking forward to hearing it. I liked Guilty on the Dilla and Black Milk tracks I heard. But I have to say, I was very disappointed in this release. He never seems to find a style that suits him. One track he’ll talk about how hard he is, the next is a more laid back hip hop track. I was actually going to give up on this about halfway through but decided to tough it out. Glad I did because between tracks 18-25, he starts to put out some quality material when he rhymes over Dilla beats or pairs with the aforementioned Black Milk (whose Popular Demand album is worth checking out by the way). Unfortunately, he reverts back to the same uninspired delivery of simple lines that ruined the first half of the mixtape.

A second problem is DJ Rhettmatic. He seems to leave most of the mixtape alone, but every 3-4 tracks he has to remind everyone he’s there by repeatedly mixing the track back so you can hear the first two bars of the verse a few extra times. Whoever told him that this was a good idea is not a friend.

I’m not sure who decided on the arrangement of the actual tracks, but the “stray bullets” concept probably comes from this. The tracks follow no flow at all. It feels like one of those homemade mixes where the person just wants all of the tracks on there and doesn’t listen to it as a whole. Hopefully, he has more to offer next time. I’d give him another try because I’ve heard better quality from him in the past, but another offering like this and I would probably give up on him.

Rating: 2 out of 5


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