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Mixtape Review: Mistah Fab – Welcome 2 Da Dope Era

September 10th, 2014 No comments

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Mixtape Review of Mistah Fab – Welcome 2 Da Dope Era, courtesy of Skinny Friedman

Mistah Fab started as a cipher-wrecking monster, freestyling on The Wake-Up Show alongside rap royalty. But instead of staying in the battle lane, he flipped his noteriety into national attention during the Bay Area Hyphy movement. Nobody likes a trend-chasing sell-out but everybody knows a long career comes with a degree of flexibility. On Welcome 2 The Dope Era, Fabby goes back in time for trap-friendly material.

For some rappers, this D-boy makeover would be cringe-worthy and off-brand, but Fab’s attention to lyrics and topics keep things interesting. The tape starts off with the title track, setting the stage for a Read more…

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Mixtape Review: Fredo Santana – Walking Legend

September 8th, 2014 No comments

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Mixtape Review of Fredo Santana – Walking Legend, courtesy of Meaghan Garvey 

Though Walking Legend is his fifth mixtape in less than two years (not counting his digitally-retailed 2013 album, Trappin Ain’t Dead), Fredo Santana’s still primarily associated with a song on which he doesn’t actually show up. When Lil Reese snarled, “Fredo in the cut, that’s a scary sight!” on Chief Keef’s “I Don’t Like,” Fredo was instantly immortalized in drill folklore. But I’d wager that the vast majority of listeners who’ve shouted that line a hundred times would be hard-pressed to name more than a couple Fredo Santana songs, if any. Over the last couple years, the face-tatted rapper has been known as a streetwearmuse, a meme, and a musicvideovillain (the latter of which he unexpectedly nailed), but the music itself has rarely received the same kind of attention. In part, this is due to the relatively narrow scope through which national media’s tended to cover drill. But despite a generous handful of great one-offs over the past few years—“Beef,” “Rob My Plug,” “My Lil Niggas”—none of his full-length projects ever felt like he was fully invested.

 

That changes on Walking Legend, the best mixtape of his career thus far. As the sounds of Read more…

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Mixtape Review: Kool John – $hmopcity

September 5th, 2014 No comments

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Mixtape Review of Kool John – $hmopcity, courtesy of Skinny Friedman

Three diverse decades into rap, haters of all stripes love to harp on the genre’s lack of content. Hip-hop fans know this claim doesn’t hold any weight, but it also doesnt have to. Rap started as party music, guys saying cool-sounding shit over funk breaks at the local function. You don’t have to say anything if you can make nothing sound good (word to Mims!). With that said, Kool John’s $hmopcity rarely leaves the party (and only then to roll one and feel some butts), but still manages to impress.

This is mostly because of the excellent production, handled largely by IAMSU!, P-Lo and other members of The Invasion. The crew is part of the same wave of Cali beatmakers as League of Starz and, of course, DJ Mustard – with no disrespect intended, P-Lo might be best known for producing “Act Right” for Yo Gotti. Fans of DJ Mustard will want to check for tracks like “TBT” and “Chain Swang”. “Quit Cattin” is here too and it still bangs.

The real highlights of $hmop are when Read more…

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Mixtape Review: Joey Fatts – Chipper Jones EP Vol. 3

September 3rd, 2014 No comments

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Mixtape Review of Joey Fatts – Chipper Jones EP Vol. 3, Courtesy of Luke McCormick

Chipper Jones was one helluva baseball player. The dude spent his entire nearly 20 year career playing third base (with a two year sojourn starting in left field) for the Atlanta Braves retiring with a career .303 batting average and nearly 500 home runs. Year in and year out, barring the very, very occasional injury Chipper was good for an all star appearance, hitting for power and average, and filling it up at third base. For a young rapper like Joey Fatts, this a very interesting pro athlete to start naming projects after. But he’s doing a damn good job of mimicking the All Star, churning out what is now 3 mixtapes after his namesake. All three of the Chipper Jones volumes are serviceable rap tapes you’ll certainly enjoy then might not remember, but they’re getting the job done of putting bangers in your ears.

 

His newest release is the third in a series called simply, Chipper Jones. He’s not making reference to the baseball player in the intro or anything, he just turns out 10 tracks of very good rap music. Nothing too flashy. Kind of like a young Chipper.

 

Joey Fatts is Read more…

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Mixtape Review: Shanell – Nobody’s Bitch 2

September 1st, 2014 No comments

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Mixtape Review of Shanell – Nobod’s Bitch 2, courtesy of Meaghan Garvey

It’s not easy being a YMCMB benchwarmer. The biggest look of Shanell’s career thus far is a guest spot on PromQueen,” the lead single from Rebirth, generally considered to be Lil Wayne’s worst album. She’s yet to release an official album (though she pops up on a Young Money compilation once every five or so years) and at this point, that cause is long since lost. But that’s a shame: Shanell might just be the most underappreciated member of the YMCMB roster (all due respect to Gudda Gudda), and she proved that on 2012’s criminally slept-on NobodysBitch.

 

From the jump, it was clear that Nobody’s Bitch wasn’t just a mixtape—it was a thesis statement. “The Opening Statement” has Shanell objectifying a nameless man: “Can you rotate slowly so I can Read more…

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Mixtape Review: Casino – Casino Royale

August 29th, 2014 No comments

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Mixtape Review of Casino – Casino Royale courtesy of Meaghan Garvey

Earlier this year, a brotherly prank landed Casino on the tail end of one of the year’s best songs. Unbeknownst to his big brother, Future, he playfully snuck a verse on the end of the Pro Tools session for his star-powered single “Move That Dope”; ultimately, Future decided to leave them on the album version (a wise choice—I’d still argue that Casino stole the song). It was by far the biggest look of the Freeband Gang underdog’s career, but even without the benefit of fam in high places, Casino has the skills to back it up. His debut mixtape, 2013’s Ex Drug Dealer, was exhaustingly long but showed glimmers of obvious potential—in particular, “Killin It,” an absolute steamroller of a track that presented Casino as something of a less lyrical (but just as potent) Gunplay to Future’s Rick Ross.

 

It was February’s FrankMatthews, though, that cemented Casino as a force to be reckoned with. Any concerns raised on Ex Drug Dealer—that he was one-note, that he poured all his energy into volume and neglected his lyrics—were effectively addressed here. Of course, 2014 Casino is still by no means a traditional lyricist; his style is somewhere between Lil Jon’s crunk catharsis and Future’s emotionally evocative vocal gymnastics. But on Frank Matthews, he’d clearly invested more effort into his lyricism, though he still favored Read more…

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Mixtape Review: Joe Moses – All Out

August 27th, 2014 No comments

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Mixtape Review of Joe Moses – All Out, courtesy of Luke McCormick

 

South Central native Joe Moses comes out hard in the middle of the summer, trying to grab his own piece of the West Coast rap popularity pie. Moses first popped onto most listeners’ radars two summers ago with WHOOP!, a collab with the internet’s favorite lady killin’ crooner Ty Dolla $ign. But he’s been relatively quiet since then, failing to cash in on the red hot Los Angeles scene. So on All Out, Moses is back, looking to get a piece of that pie.

 

First things first, All Out relies heavily on guest spots. Only five of the tape’s tracks feature only Joe Moses; everything else a guest verse or an assist on the hook. It’s confusing given how many of these artists are question marks. Googling Baby Punch (who shows up on “VS”) got me a bunch of Read more…

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Mixtape Review: Bloody Jay – #NAWFR

August 25th, 2014 No comments

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Mixtape Review of Bloody Jay – #NAWFR courtesy of Luke McCormick

Bloody Jay would like you to take him seriously. The 26-year-old Atlanta rapper knows you heard him on Black Portland with Young Thug and he knows he’s in danger of being an afterthought as Thugger continues to shine. But he knows he’s signed to Rocko’s A1 Records and he knows what a Young Thug cosign means.

 

And so, Bloody Jay has gone and invented a hashtag as his new tape title: #NAWFR stands for “NahForReal” as in, “no really, I can stand on my own two”. Jay makes a good case. #NAWFR is a streamlined 13 tracks (only 13!!!), mostly produced by the very solid Trip The Hit Maker. Rocko and Young Thug are the tape’s only guests. As a result, it rarely lags.

 

Throughout #NAWFR Bloody Jay shows off a variety of vocal tics and flows. Jay fills the first half of the tape with Read more…

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Mixtape Review: IceWear Vezzo – The City Is Mine

April 11th, 2014 No comments

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Mixtape Review: Icewear Vezzo – The City is Mine courtesy of Skinny Friedman
I was late on Icewear Vezzo. I try and keep my ear to these streets but I got my blind spots and apparently I dropped the ball on Detroit. I didn’t discover Vezzo until I started researching Doughboyz Cashout so imagine my surprise when it turned out he may or not be the hottest rapper in the D. So while “The City Is Mine” dropped at the end of 2013, I felt obligated to go back right my wrong.

“The City Is Mine” has a lot in common with Doughboyz Cashout’s latest, “We Run The City Vol. 4”, high praise given how much I enjoyed it. Icewear shares DBC’s Jeezy-inspired d-boy bombast, blatantly celebrating how moving weight made them rich and allowed them to cop a bunch of cars and expensive watches. It’s thug motivation at its finest. Vezzo and DBC are both really funny, tossing off dumb/great one-liners like “pockets fat like a big woman” and a bunch of references to Michigan being cold with Dad-joke timing that would make 2 Chainz proud. And of course, it wouldn’t be Detroit rap without countless references to expensive glasses.

That said, Icewear is totally his own dude; I point out all the similarities because both tapes are so Read more…

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Mixtape Review: Kevin Gates – Stranger than Fiction

July 19th, 2013 No comments

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Mixtape Review Courtesy of Skinny Friedman

With Stranger Than Fiction, Kevin Gates takes another step from local Louisana legend to national prominence. It’s not an improvement over February’s Luca Brasi Story, but that’s not necessarily a problem given that Luca is still a strong contender for the best rap album of 2013. Fiction is top notch, with Gates back crooning and croaking emotionally charged street tales over great production.

 

Stranger Than Fiction is notably darker than Luca Brasi. Gates has been through some shit and the more he opens up the more solemn his music becomes. The height of this shit is on “Tiger”, where he blows through three verses of strained personal relationships, label drama, jail time, deception and other frustrations. Not only do we get to hear about the iffy contracts referenced on “Hold Ya Head” from Luca Brasi, Gates also implies Read more…

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