Crisis Center Productions – The Hurt / Trick Photography / All I Hear Is

Crisis Center Productions – “The Hurt” / “Trick Photography” / “All I Hear Is” If you see these two cats, Undefined Christ of Rhyme and DJ Concept, on the streets, you wouldn’t think they were part of hip-hop. And that’s exactly why they put together Volume One, to set the record straight and exhibit real hip-hop culture, disregarding the images. The A-side comes equipped with “The Hurt”, a traditional style battle track. Undefined has some good lines like, “Rappers ain’t set for the spot, on the corner or block/ I’m one bad fuck, you either caught it or not/ Now your label’s calling you to order your drop/ ‘Cause before they heard me, they could’ve sworn you were hot.” The song closes out with some dope cuts by Concept. On the flipside, there’s “Trick Photography”, a decent track with a rather played out topic. Undefined comes correct over his own production and comes up with a perfect song title, but MCs need to drop the commercial rap disses. Especially when they’re trying to attract the attention of underground heads looking for fresh rhymes and production. They used the same formula on the following song, “All I Hear Is”, more guerilla warfare on the mainstream. With additional vocals by Dase of Unsafe Depths and Maximillian Steele, they mock some of the same garbage that you hear from our beloved gangsta rappers. It’s a decent release, but it’s not solid enough to compete with some of the more well-respected MCs in the underground.

Reviewed By RhymeLife.Com for DaHipHopPlace.Com

Rasco – Thin Line / Gunz Still Hot Remix

Rasco – “Thin Line” / “Gunz Still Hot Remix”

Cali Agent number one unleashes the first 12″ to precede his full length solo album, Hostile Environment. Those new to Cali Agents haven’t jumped in the mix at a bad time. Rasco definitely does west coast music how it should be done, comparable to Xzibit’s first LP, At The Speed Of Life. Like most west coast hip-hop, with the exception of Planet Asia and Project Blowed, don’t expect ill lyricism on the a-side, “Thin Line”, in which Rasco explains the thin line between real and fake emcees while denouncing haters in general. Production, done by DJ Khalil, is at most decent, not effective in grabbing attention. The b-side, “Gunz Still Hot Remix” definitely breaks the forcefield of mediocrity and puts Rasco in a circle with guest appearances by Ed O.G and Reks. This is when you’ll hear a dope track complete with an amazingly fresh instrumental by Molemen’s Memo and strong lyricism from all emcees. Heads from west to east will be pleased with this entire 12″, as Rasco brings the Bay Area on the a-side, and invites east coast natives, Ed O.G and Reks to create a bicoastal banger that will please anyone.

Reviewed By RhymeLife.Com for DaHipHopPlace.Com

Baldhead Slick & Da Click – Where’s Our Money / In Here

Baldhead Slick & Da Click – “Where’s Our Money” / “In Here” Guru, of the legendary Gang Starr, drops his first 12-inch in an attempt to impress nonbelievers, and possibly prove that he is a dope MC, with or without Premier’s production. Speaking of production, the producers lined up to lay down tracks on the album are of hip-hop’s finest, including Pete Rock, Alchemist, and of course, DJ Premier. Alchemist was just so nice enough to lay down an instrumental for Guru; an instrumental that samples Gang Starr’s “You Know My Steez” from Moment of Truth. Ignoring the twice-used sample, the beat is rather dope, but when you listen, it’s like it’s missing something. After a minute or two you’ll come to realize that it’s missing an M.O.P.- or Canibus-like voice to rock it. Never before has Guru seemed so passive on a track before until this one. From production to lyrics, the a-side spirals downward. After hearing lines like “…for the cash, I’ll take you out and your whole staff/ have you lookin’ funny as hell, but I won’t laugh,” you lose a little interest in the song, and pray for a guest appearance to step in and take over, but when do dreams come true in hip-hop? The b-side sports an incredibly hot beat by none other than DJ Premier’s BROTHER, also known as Biggest Gord, and it looks like piano-heavy instrumentals run in the family. Lyricism and rhyming in general on this joint are at a higher peak with guest appearances by Timbo King, Killah Priest, and Black Jesus. Nothing groundbreaking here, lyrically, but it’s most definitely enjoyable, an overall good song. The Mickey Mouse chorus-chanting at the end could be dropped, but the hook in between the verses is decent. The a-side proves that Alchemist is surely slipping as a producer; from selling the same beat twice to using pre-used samples for the same artist that the original was used for. Biggest Gord is dope, though. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the CD jackets of releases to come.

Reviewed By RhymeLife.Com for DaHipHopPlace.Com

Rise – Wickedest Flow b/w No Faith

Production: Apathy, Celph Titled

Label: Bronx Science Records / Buds Distribution This release has caused me to say such things as “Rise is God,” and, “why do other people even sell their shit?” Well, although these are great overstatements, I do believe this to be a classic release in a lot of ways. First, it is Apathy’s 12″ production debut, which shines bright as hell over a beat that will I hope is played for every open mic for the rest of the year. Secondly, Rise brings a different battle style than almost any other emcee. Rise has abandoned the word “like” for every punchline. People WILL adopt this style. Rise JUST talks about how dope he is…he rarely refers to “you,” and when he does, it’s always an outstanding line. Rise brings some serious shit, basically.

The A-side, “Wickedest Flow,” is stunning. An hot little sample-filled beat courtesy of Apathy is the perfect accompaniment to Rise’s laid back voice and powerful battle lyrics. Rise drops some fun, impressive lines, such as, “Affect my direct rhymes? You’ll never be able / I use your CD’s for mirrors…tapes level my table / So many labels, known differently all over the world / Rise…my Indian name is Touchess Yagirl.” A sampled hook, taken from another braggadocious Rise quote from Apathy’s “Every Emcee” is the perfect top-off for an amazing, fun song. This one is gonna stay on my turntables for a VERY long time.

The Celph Titled-produced B-Side, “No Faith” is a well done song about the struggles of being an underground emcee. Rise maintains multi-syllabic schemes and doesn’t get off topic at all, with some introspective (and more outrospective) parts of the song. Rise keeps it real, describing a lot of the shit that a lot of emcees go through, and proving that he can do more than battle.

I can’t even decide which of these songs is better. Each of them is perfect. Rise speaks on an easy subject (battling), and does it better than almost anybody can. Then, he speaks on a difficult subject, does it better than almost anybody can, and remains funny while being dead serious. Rise has a LOT of talent. He’s EASILY the best member of the Demigodz, and has secured his spot in my favorite 10 current emcees list. Flow, voice, lyrics, and classic Demigodz production mix on this single to make it a must buy, and one that will be recognized as fire for a long time to come. [HeadLine]

Reviewed By RhymeLife.Com for DaHipHopPlace.Com

Ed O.G – Work For It / Extreme / Situations

Ed O.G – “Work For It” / “Extreme” / “Situations” If you’ve just tuned in to Ed O.G, you might see a pattern just from his first 12-inch. He gets a dope lineup of producers, in this case DJ Supreme One, Xtreme, and Pete Rock, who all lay down hot instrumentals, some better than others. Next, Ed O.G invites other Boston-natives, in this case Guru, to spit on a track with him. What’s the end result, you ask? A good beat, a nice guest appearance, and mediocre lyrics, at best, from Ed O.G, who spends his two minutes on every track trying to prove that he’s really a thug, and not some run-of-the-mill studio gangster. “Work For It” brings a nice message, and has Guru calmly rhyming so much better lyrically than Eddie. Not only does Ed try to irrelevantly throw in amateur wordplay that doesn’t go with the song title or chorus, for an entire verse, but when the time comes in his second verse, he really kicks out a set of bad lines. The lyrics step up on “Extreme”, a more soulful track featuring Deric Quest on the hook, but don’t expect good MCing on the chorus because it’s not happening. The heat turns up dramatically with “Situations”, a Pete Rock-produced song with amazing cuts and samples in the chorus. Even if you get tired of Ed O.G’s endless claims of being a thug, you won’t get bored with the production. Overall, you won’t find any style of MCing or content that hasn’t been used five or six years ago. Some good rhyming, but nothing to really grab your attention. To some, Eddie’s a watered down Kool G Rap, and to others, he’s just another respectable MC.

Reviewed By RhymeLife.Com for DaHipHopPlace.Com

Method Man – 4:21…The Day After

Dropping a furious onslaught of amazingly tight hip hop tracks Method Man, from the Wu Tang Clan, dazzles with pure skills and abrasively raw flows that strike hard. Method Man proves his style is so rugged that its perfection that doesn’t need to change over time. 4:21…The Day After is twenty tracks deep, none of which are lackluster or sub par. This album is dynamite, exactly what fans would expect from the talented Method Man and the super talented all-stars that contribute to the shine. The beats are explosively entertaining and very catchy. Every beat featured on the album is phat and packed with head nodding rhythms and interestingly appeasing sounds. Method Man rides the beats perfectly with flawless flow and well refined rhymes. The strongest songs featured on the album include “Problem”, “Dirty Mef”, “Say” and “Konichiwa Bi*ches”. All of the songs are chart toppers, but these are the ones that stand out a sliver beyond the rest. “Problem” is a rugged, hard hitting track that is intense and powerful. “Problem” is like the anthem track burning the torch hot. Loyal fans whom always loved Method Man will love this album. “4:21… the Day After” has the same feel and vibe as any previous Method Man release. It’s refreshing when artists don’t change perfection. Method Man is one of those artists that doesn’t need to change his style because it’s timeless.

Method Man’s lyrics are continuously on point in the songs. He spits rhymes with meaning and messages that fans can tune into and gain enlightenment. The rhymes appeal to a wide fan base as there is something for everyone on this album. Method Man’s rhymes are well written and delivered. The punch lines and metaphorical references are dynamic and thought provoking. Each song featured on this album has substance and will have fans reciting Method Man quotes.

The ailments of this album include the skits and intro track. Fans prefer non stop music and anything less breaks up the flow of the album and hinders loop-listening. Artists try to be creative and convey messages through skits; however, be more creative and convey those same messages through hip hop songs.

The executive producers include RZA, Erick Shermon, and Method Man. Guest appearances include O.D.B., Streetlife, Carlton Fisk, Ginuwine, Raekwon, LA The Darkman, Fat Joe, Styles P, Inspectah Dec, Redman, The RZA, and Megan Rochell. All of the guests contribute pure heat to the album giving fans one million more reasons to get this album. It’s nice to see cameo spots filled by Wu Tang members, including OD.B., who rips it real raw. The album artwork captures the flavor of hip hop and is extremely well done. There is information inside the jacket alongside some nice photos to give fans visuals of the Method Man and his love for the pot. The sound quality is top notch through-out.

This is a hip hop album that fans need to tune into to avoid disappointment. This is mandatory hip hop listening. Featuring approximately sixty minutes of music and twenty tracks, this album offers a ton of tight, hot hip hop music. Get it.

Track Listing:

1. Intro

2. Is It Me

3. Problem

4. Somebody Done F**ked Up

5. Shaolin Soldier (Skit)

6. Fall Out

7. Dirty Mef

8. 4:20

9. Let’s Ride

10. The Glide

11. Kids (Skit)

12. Got To Have It

13. Say

14. Ya’meen

15. Konichiwa Bi*ches

16. Everything

17. Walk On

18. Pimpin’ (Skit)

19. Presidential MC

20. 4 Ever

Blind Faith – 49 Stories

Blind Faith is a conceptual album that delivers a live pulse through the veins of listener’s world wide. Blind Faith possesses music everyone can relate to, understand, and deeply vibe. 49 Stories forges their own style, without turning off one listener. Powerful music continuously blesses Blind Faith, bringing about real emotions that are deeply felt. If one was to define meaning in hip hop music on a universal level, Blind Faith would sum it up. Blind Faith is everything a hip hop fan could desire in an album. 49 Stories is a highly talented group that easily impresses fans with every word, rhyme, beat, and song.

49 Stories is a progressive hip hop group hailing from Colorado, and consisting of the talented rhyme duo Once, Paradox, and Producer Gollum. Their minds intertwine perfectly in harmony to give life to incredible, intense, thought provoking music. Poetic lyrics, & mood setting, atmospheric beats set the stage for Blind Faith. Blind Faith is a powerful music buffet confronting religion, society, consumerism, and pyromania. Blind Faith is the 3rd release from 49 Stories, and an instant sensation. 49 Stories serves up real life subject matter that is easily appreciated, never dull, and close to home in the hearts of fans. No blingism, and water downed lyrics, 49 Stories never disappoints on Blind Faith.

Blind Faith begins with a gem entitled “The First 49 Story” which serves as an introduction track. Fans are easily put on edge with “The First 49 Story”. Blind Faith continues to delight with heavy weight tracks such as “A Brighter Future”, and “Arms Bend”. With each song that passes its evident 49 Stories is incredible, dishing out witty, thought provoking, and well laid rhymes that excite fans with every word. Both lyricists posses electrifying flow, and intensity. “Hardcore” is Blind Faiths fourth, and most standout track. All of the songs on the album are high quality, and close to the same caliber; however, “Hardcore” is a track that would stand out in any album. 49 Stories heavily rattle the ear drums of fans with some of the best lyrics you’ve never heard. The beat, like all others on the album, is captivating, powerful, and commanding. The album continues to pound listeners with incredible music from beginning to end. One of the most poetic, thought provoking rhymes ever released is song number 5, titled “Hourglass”. The beat is magnificent, and the lyrics are unbelievable.

Blind Faith serves up 19 tracks, 78 minutes of non stop music, impressive beats, lyrics, and cameo appearances from highly talented artists such as Sentence, Makeshift Gods, DJ Thought, Sweet Nectar, and Effort. All of the featured artists contribute equally to the explosive nature of the album, and are released under VoiceBox Records along with 49 Stories. A prominent strong point of Blind Faith is that the lyrics and subject matter easily relate to fans on all levels. The words and rhymes are very refreshing.

49 Stories, and their release, Blind Faith, provide fans with many reasons to be impressed. Blind Faith is an album featuring 19 tracks, 78 minutes of most incredible beats, and lyrics, including stellar guest performances. One of the best albums to be released over the past year, an album to loop in heavy rotation and to grab for any fans collection.

Track Listing:

1. The First 49 Story

2. A Brighter Future

3. Arms Bend

4. Hardcore

5. Hourglass

6. Imagination

7. Yesterday

8. Fake Pain

9. Hypochondriac (ft. Sentence)

10. Back Breaks

11. Together… (ft. Makeshift Goods, DJ Thought, & Sweet Nectar)

12. So Many Kids?

13. Cultural Difference (ft. Effort)

14. Drop The Drums

15. Ratfood For Matthews

16. City Block

17. Escape

18. Organ Grinder (ft. Sweet Nectar)

19. Winter Weeks

AZ – 9 Lives

AZ is the type of emcee to spit something classic like his verse on “Life’s A Bitch” from Nas’s well-respected first album, Illmatic, but then make a track that lacks substance, or contains too much substance until it’s saturated with wackness. What’s strange about AZ is that he can act hardcore, but rarely does he sound good over a hard-hitting beat. His most quotable verses are over more high-treble, heavily sampled beats. Lyrically, AZ either brings some heat, or has you saying, “What the fuck is this kid talking about!?” Take “How Many Wanna” as an example, which features the unattractive Amil singing on the hook with AZ, who says some seriously stupid shit. To stray away from the rappers’ errors, let’s check out the engineering aspects of this song. In this dispicable chorus, AZ’s voice can be heard loud and clear, but you need to turn the volume up a few notches to clearly hear Amil. It looks poor on the mixer’s part, but I’m not complaining. The beat contains a nice sample, but made Amil sound like my four-year-old cousin. A theme in this album can be summed up in a line from AZ, which can be heard in this track, “I’m like the same song, never change chorus”. There’s a lot of monotony. If it weren’t for the guest appearances, this would sound as uniform as Redman’s Malpractice, heavily due to the small variety in the production.

Another serious problem really ruined a dope track: the echo on Beanie Sigel’s verse on “That’s Real”, which carries sick flows and hot lyrics from both emcees. Unfortunately, Beans sounds silly as hell with waht sounds like an echo. It makes him sound like Mr. Big from one of those Police Academy movies. There’s a huge difference in quality between AZ’s recording and Beanie’s. Maybe they weren’t recorded in the same studio, but it sounds a little strange because this ‘echo’ keeps fading in and out at different times. Nonetheless, it’s a hot track complete with some nice production and an enjoyable chorus.

For the most part, that’s all that will strike a hip-hop head as just poor music. Songs to bob your head to are found, and AZ comes through nicely on all of them, spitting over hot beats. For example, AZ flips a small topical track called “What Cha Day About?”, in which AZ outlines the different type of lives in Queens, and even shares his lifestyle with his fans. The beat is nice with some good scratches and samples. This is an example of one of those beats that just suits AZ’s voice and flow perfectly. He rocks “At Night” over a very ‘instrumental’ beat, which is better than dope. There’s nothing much to the theme of the song, but that’s not a drawback. The beat will have your head bouncing, and AZ rides it nicely. By far the best cut on the album, “Problems”, is a sample-saturated track that will create a crowd response the second the beat drops. AZ brings a hype flow over an incredible beat with a moderately fast tempo. The vocals in the chorus were sampled perfectly, everyone should applaud the producer for the entire track. It’s not a lyrical masterpiece, but it’s just too hard not to bob your head to this.

For the most part, this LP is half-and-half. Most heads will feel about half of the tracks, but they’ll definitely appreciate their favorite joints. Production is good, but a lot of the beats were a little too similar for my liking. This created somewhat of a monotonous album, along with a little variation in the lyrical content, which is its biggest setback. You may notice that AZ–and all of his featured guests–structured their verses with multisyllabic rhyming, which hopefully means that mainstream competition is going to start stepping up as far as emceeing goes. Then again it could probably mean absolutely nothing considering that Juvenile occassionally rhymes with the same structure. All in all, it’s an enjoyable album, but like most albums released this year, there’s nothing classic about it. One thing will stick in your head, though. It’s the question, “why is Nas not on this album, but instead sampled in a chorus instead?”

Reviewed By RhymeLife.Com for DaHipHopPlace.Com

Matata Rae – A Cry For Freedom

“Matata Rae brings pure talent to the table, expressing a hard hitting passion for the hip hop vibe through continually appeasing banger’s that effortlessly knock fans out for the count. A Cry For Freedom features nothing less than exactly perfect beats, vibes, and rhymes. The production work is equally stellar complimenting the hard impact of Matata Rae’s music. A Cry for Freedom is an album fans need to tune into in fear of missing incredible hip hop music done right by one of the most talented up and risers.”

Matata Rae’s lyrical technic, style, and delivery is second to none, mastered, and laid in fine tune over high octane beats that pack high octane punch. Never dull for a moment the 14 hot tracks featured on A Cry for Freedom excite fans. Best described, music not only to be heard, but felt hard. Matata’s articulation releases pure heat, full of energy, and intensity. The album, the music, and the artist achieve a original, diverse atmosphere without sounding out of touch with what’s hot. A Cry For Freedom features many live wire gems destine to climb charts, spin heads, and catch attention. The quality and presentation of the album is the highest, definitely done right in all aspects, major respect out to the designer and photographer Edgardo Davila.

One of the albums most notable joints is “Give it Up” which features some rhythm from a popular secret agent theme, a top notch beat, and highly explosive lyrics. Incredibly fashioned track that defines Matana Rae’s stance amongst the rest of the pack. The album features so many hot tracks, all achieving a stellar quality that its difficult to truly identify which songs are the albums leaders. In “Nothing To Mata” Matata Rae spins some incredibly well laid lyrics that dazzle fans with style, and delivery. There is no disappointment with the music this album presents, except for the fact that this album ends at 53 minutes and 49 seconds leaving fans craving more. “Oh No” continues to display Matata’s diversity with a more mellow joint that the laid back loungers can dig deep into with ease, yet still the club type, wild fans appreciate the track in full. The presence of the female voice in the background / chorus is a nicely added touch, that is a soft delight. “Peace & Love” is another stellar song that fans can really grasp. Exceptional production, strong lyrics, and a banging beat set this one as hot. “Bayboy” features another groove most fans recognize because you’ve heard the old school tune before, but not quite in Matata’s hip hop version, which is fresh off the hook done proper. The album ends with “Just Laugh” which is another hot joint, this time packing a more personal story that fans can easily relate to, and recognize. 14 songs, all pure heat that put most commercial artists to shame. Released under Musashi Entertainment.

Bottom line, Matata Rae is a name fans will recognize in the music industry. Extremely talented, backed with a talented team, creating hot hip hop music for fans to enjoy. Music doesn’t get much better; therefore, fans need to tune into “A Cry For Freedom”, as there are no disappointments with the album, one in which can easily be deemed one of the best albums heard in a hot minute.

7L & Esoteric – A New Dope

7L & Esoteric are renowned for creating some of the freshest hip hop music available to fans. A New Dope is unique, powerful and creative. The music is packed with interesting sounds that easily penetrate fans to bring them to an elevated level. It’s with tracks such as “3 Minute Classic” and “Perfect Person” that fans get smacked with two of the most creative & realistic tracks they’ll surely hear on any album this year. Beside the intense, magnificent beats, the on point production and the shining lyrics is the real subject matter that blossoms thoughts in a crowd like Miracle Grow in a rose garden. 7L & Esoteric truly shine with “A New Dope”. Fans need to put down the pipe, run to the store and get their fix with this.

The best tracks on the album are “3 Minute Classic” and “Perfect Person”. There are other high profile tracks which include “Play Dumb” & “Daisycutta” featuring Kool Keith and not to be forgotten “Girls Gone Wild (Then & Now). “3 Minute Classic” is one of the most interestingly unique tracks ever forged. Featuring an abrasively pounding beat that serves as the backbone to some incredibly raw lyrics listeners are struck with a subtle, nostalgic feeling as they crack some chuckles brought by the witty lyrics. Upon a few listens fans will be thinking “me so horny” as the sample of the women’s voice is sure to get fans excited – literally. The Hercules cuts are refreshing as they are laid into the mix. “Perfect Person” is one of those tracks that spell out every thought every person in a relationship is feeling. Its beat is absolutely dazzling and the lyrics are stacked with realism. This is a witty, well written song that most fans will easily relate to and praise. The change ups & cuts are equally refreshing.

Some songs may drown out listeners with too much creativity and abrasiveness. The diversity that exists in some of the tracks is as flavorful as a medium 20 oz New York Sirloin but can be equally as hard to digest for some. However, there are fifteen plus one tracks featured on “A New Dope”, approximately 51 minutes of music and some of the best beats & lyrics fans need to hear; therefore, “A New Dope” is a gem for any deck to spin. “A New Dope” breaks boundaries and reaches new plateaus. These are Plateau’s that fans want to be on and bounders that fans are screaming to be broken.

This is a fantastically fresh album that delivers a level of uniqueness not yet possessed by any album released to date. “A New Dope” is the type of album that coined the term “Heavy Rotation”. “A New Dope” by 7L & Esoteric is highly recommended listening.

Track Listing:

1. Get Dumb

2. Everywhere

3. Feel the Velvet

4. 3 Minute Classic

5. Daisycutta

6. Eso Ain’t Shit

7. Dunks Are Live, Dunks Are Dead

8. A.O.S.O.

9. Cemetery

10. Reggie Lewis Is Watching

11. Girls Gone Wild (Then & Now)

12. Most

13. Take Note

14. Perfect Person

15. Play Dumb