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Mixtape Review: Xtra – Jit

September 15th, 2014 No comments

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Mixtape Review of Xtra – Jit, Courtesy of  Luke McCormick

 

When thinking of Florida rap music one’s mind is surely drawn to Rick Ross or even some remembrance of Trick Daddy’s former brilliance. BUT, there’s one man who is still consistently putting out gut smashing and wrenching music. That man, is of course, Plies. For years Plies has been sliding in and out of the national rap spotlight but all along the way dropping heat and is now sprinkling some of that pure talent on another young Florida rapper, Xtra. The 24-year-old rapper inhabits a great deal of the aspects that make Plies a special rapper throughout Jit‘s 14 tracks. The dude can come incredibly hard, matching his mentor on some songs they share together (Plies shows up four times throughout the tape) with threat for threat or what they’ll effectively do to and/or for a “bitch”.

 

Xtra also has the bleeding heart and introspective side of Plies. There’s no “Family Straight” (Haven’t heard that? Go youtube it immediately after reading this) here but a number of interesting stabs at more heartfelt tracks, like the third person, assisted by the always welcome hooks of Ball Greezy on “It Ain’t Easy”. That track’s proceeded with a ‘for my dogs’ track “Holding Ya Down” about Xtra living each of his days in honor of his dudes who are no longer with him. “I want you to know nigga I’m still holding ya down. When I wake up I point up to the sky.”

 

Xtra even has what could be a bonafide hit of sorts with “Here On Out”. Whatever hit means these days. It should certainly get some burn on MTV Jams or what have you. The track clocks in at under four minutes. It has a simple, shouted out hook that immediately gets stuck in your melon over menacing synths and snaps. Xtra just isn’t putting up with any more guff. The world is his, you’re either with him or you’re not. If you’re not his “bitch” you’re a “thot”. It’s pretty easy and very replay worthy.

 

Another shared trait Xtra and Plies have are their acquired taste flows. Plies has his gravel mouth, two pack of Newports a day bark going while Xtra comes out with a Boosie-like nasal flow only less drawl. These aren’t hindrances but every once in a while during the tape it’s easy to get taken out of hearing what the dudes are spitting, get more into throwing some rap hands, then a few bars will perk those ears up. This happens with Xtra nearly out of the gate on “Kick Me Out Of School” as he documents teachers and adult figures failing him, or not accepting him then drops the line “You crackers smoke cigarettes and preach to me about what I’m supposed to do. Shit, you don’t know what I’m going through.” DAMN. Real talk award of the week goes to this man.

 

There’s not much out there about young Xtra. Most information can be gleaned from his mix tapes, which is a rarity in these days. The dude’s got a little mystery behind him and of course, the backing of the spectacular Plies. If he can build on Jit, with a couple more supremely solid outings it seems like the Sunshine State has something serious on its hands.

 

Download and Listen Live at LiveMixtapes.com

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Mixtape Review: Que – Can You Digg It?

September 12th, 2014 No comments

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Mixtape Review of Que – Can You Digg It? Courtesy of Luke McCormick

Que is out here trying to not become another one hit wonder statistic. The 24-year-old Atlanta rapper had a certified smash on his hands last year with “OG Bobby Johnson”. The internets, radio, even  celebrities couldn’t get the damn hook out of their heads. Lebron James even said it was his pre-game turn up jam.

 

Not one to be beholden by a singular hit single, Que signed to Atlantic (by freshly minted A&R dude DJ Drama) and pushed out an EP in March of this year. He’s back already with Can You Digg It? It’s a quick shot of a mixtape at only 14 tracks and has a star studded guest roll. He’s got dudes like Trey Songz and 2 Chainz stopping by and gets laced with a DJ Mustard beat. Some heavy hitting shit for a free mixtape. Should make for a compelling listen. Not exactly. The tape is like a tale of two Ques.

 

The first of half of Can You Digg It? is full of a very confident Que. He’s rapping his ass off and is dead set on letting you know he’s damn good at this rap shit, but it’s really just a hobby to him. “I’m not a rapper I just took a break from ballin'” he spits in his competitor’s faces on the “Intro” in his raspy, choppy drawl of a flow. The tape’s first few tracks also show off Que’s knack for crafting simple, repetitive, can’t deny hooks. The three song suite of “Uno Dos Tres”, “All Y’all” and the 2 Chainz assisted “Rich Problems” orbit the same hook heaven of “OG Bobby Johnson”.

 

“Rich Problems” could for sure be a problem, this thing is bonafide heater. It’s got a DJ Mustard plink plonk piano beat the kids love and 2 Chainz sliding in to rap about his crib being big as a Wal Mart. He also mentions calling Target “Tarjay”, so the dude has cornered the big ass department store rhymes market.

 

So that first half of the tape is a butt load of fun with Que getting his rappity rap on and belting out some infectious hooks, then he just decides to ditch that functioning formula for the second half. Now we get Que the crooner. The auto tune gets turned up and Que really, really wants to be Future.

 

Que starts stretching those vocals on “Keep It Real” which is actually very pleasant. His voice hasn’t been auto tuned out yet and the dude can seriously sing. The Jazz Feezy beat is a spacey, low bpm affair Future would have murked three years ago. Here it just sounds old hat. August Alsina hops on “Diamonds” which Que also sings on. Que could have adopted that first half of the tape raspy flow and made a nice contrast to Alsina’s croon, but this one just floats by unnoticed.

 

To go along with the second half of this tape poor decision making HUGE guests get shoved at the end of this thing. Que has the aforementioned Alsina, Ty Dolla $ign, and freaking Trey Songz on separate tracks here. These dudes are hitmakers. Space them out throughout the tape so people aren’t just skipping down to the bottom to hear what will assumedly be a banger.

 

Que definitely has some skills and can be an engaging artist when he’s relying on his strengths. To eclipse just being “that guy who made “OG Bobby Johnson”” he needs to decide what kind of rapper he wants to be. He can’t straddle that line between crooning and spitting like a Future. For new successes the man should keep churning out those mad fun hooks and focus on rapping his raspy ass off.

 

Download and Listen Live at LiveMixtapes.com

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Mixtape Review: Archive Nation – Hosted by Lil Silk

August 20th, 2014 No comments

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Mixtape Review of Archive Nation – Hosted by Lil Silk, Courtesy of Lawrence Burney

Rising Atlanta rapper Lil Silk is the area’s most animated and off-kilter artist not named Young Thug. Silk actually sounds somewhat like a parody of Thugger; both rely on screeching ad libs and inflictions clearly born out of Gucci Mane’s most signature improvisations. Such references can be caught on “Rapper”, Silk’s most widely known track to date, where his depictions of laughter and NASA aircrafts fall somewhere in between being hilarious and creepy.

Silk has been quiet since “Rapper” dropped earlier this year, but recently he resurfaced to host a compilation from his Archive Entertainment label. Unlike Silk’s mixtape, Son Of A Hustler, which was frenetic and weird as expected, Archive Nation finds him in more of an OG role, rounding up the (mostly unknown) team to showcase their talents. That happens best on songs like “Automatic”, “Food” and “Ain’t Worry Bout It”. On the latter, his labelmate Skypad War combines Read more…

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Mixtape Review: ZelooperZ – HELP

August 18th, 2014 No comments

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Mixtape Review: ZelooperZ – HELP, Courtesy of Lawrence Burney

The irony of using lyricism as the be-all end-all measure of skill within rap is that it’s usually a distinct voice and delivery that sets one rapper apart. Danny Brown has proven to be one of the most effective in that arena in recent memory, playing fast and loose with his range and his tone. On ZeelooperZ’s HELP, it’s clear the artist from his Bruiser Brigade collective has clearly taken some notes. However, where Brown mostly switches between drugged-out shrieks and ernest “no bullshit” bars, ZelooperZ is all over the map. HELP, his latest tape, is as much voice-acting as it is rapping.

Brown’s two distinct personas define his style. ZelooperZ is less focused and maybe less refined, concerned more with making interesting music than telling stories. Unlike Brown, there doesn’t seem to be much of an inner conflict going on with Read more…

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Mixtape Review: Young L – MVP

August 15th, 2014 No comments

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Mixtape Review: Young L – MVP, Courtesy of Lawrence Burney

While Lil B is the obvious star from hyphy upstarts The Pack, Young L’s production extra-cosmic production made “Vans” and their other minor hits what they were. He’s kept a relatively low profile since the group split up, but his steady output and unique style have earned him plenty of respect. He pushed the limits of hyphy production in a way that preserved the sound and arguable enabled DJ Mustard and ratchet music to flourish. Then he switched his style up entirely with Convulsion, a Clams Casino-esque EP of drowned cathedral music. On MVP, L stays weird but makes room for himself in today’s healthy experimental trap rap universe.

While it’s not dynamic lyrically, “Dun Dit It” pleases just on its sound. L does his best Future impersonation with unclear auto-tuned and mumbled harmonies. Much of MVP falls into a similar mode, though that’s not a complaint. “Can’t Picture It” is a vague validation of Read more…

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Mixtape Review: Le$ – Ace

August 13th, 2014 1 comment

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Mixtape Review: Le$ – Ace, Courtesy of Skinny Friedman

Le$ came up in the wake of Texas’s national moment in the mid-2000’s. As rappers like Paul Wall and Mike Jones became stars and UGK ascended to elder statesmanship, the country got familiar with the tropes of Houston rap. This was a boon for young Houston rappers, who saw their particular brand of country rap tunes become something a national audience understood. But it also became open season for biters: suddenly everyone was bumpin DJ Screw in a slab, sippin purple through icey teeth. Producers across the world discovered the trademark organs and wah guitar of Chad Butler and company.

This is a long way of celebrating Le$ signing to Curren$y’s Jet Life label. The young Houston rapper had become an also-ran in a sea of similarly laconic Texan emcees. He’s a great fit for the Jets, totally content and capable to construct clever bars about smokin blunts in specific European cars over well-curated production. For his first Jet Life release, Le$ links up with Jets-affiliated producers Cookin Soul for ACE.

The tape is inspired by (and samples heavily from) the Read more…

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Mixtape Review: Que & Mike Fresh – Que Fresco!

August 11th, 2014 No comments

quefresco!

 

Mixtape Review: Que & Mike Fresh – Que Fresco!, Courtesy of Skinny Friedman
 
As it stands, Que is teetering dangerously on the edge of one-hit-wonderdom and that’s a shame. While “OG Bobby Johnson” deserves every spin it gets, it’s worth remembering he first made waves on “Young Nigga”, which got more attention as Migos’s impact song. And while he didn’t exactly cash in on “Bobby”, he’s been consistently good in its wake. The combination of his swaggy delivery and his mastery of overdubs create a unique and catchy sound, especially on tracks like the underrated “Jungle Fever”. It doesn’t hurt that he’s had Sonny Digital in his corner, a murderer’s row of Atlanta producers behind him and a deal with Atlantic.

 

So it’s no surprise that Que and Mike Fresh’s Que Fresco tape is as fun as it is. I don’t know who Mike Fresh is, but he has no problem holding his own in the booth. The project is neither groundbreaking or innovative, but it is rowdy and kind of silly, full of Read more…

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Mixtape Review: K Camp – SlumLords

August 8th, 2014 No comments

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Mixtape Review: K Camp – Slumlords, Courtesy of James Elliott

K Camp’s stock is currently high thanks to his bubbling hit “Cut Her Off.” The triumphant synth horns and banging drums can be heard at concerts, in clubs, and in headphones all across America; it’s clearly one of the songs of the summer. With all eyes on him, Camp is taking the laudable step of sharing the spotlight and putting on for his crew, the Slum Lords with a new tape (called Slum Lords). Not necessarily named after someone worthy of praise, the Slums (as the affectionately call themselves) sound like a ragtag group of budding emcees and singers. But while there are few hiccups along the way, the crew is impressive and diverse. For the most Slum Lords is a great introduction and has solidified Camp’s true loyalty.

 

The Slums crew is comprised of Dan Diego, Sy Ari Da, Marissa, JokerTooCold, and Damar Jackson. Among them, the fellow Atlanta based emcee, Sy Ari Da, is the standout. “Under The Sun” is one of the strongest tracks on the entire tape, with an interesting mix of personal testimony and trap braggadocio. After one listen, you will find yourself chanting “tell me something I don’t know” repeatedly. His verse off “WWYD” was also strong and notable. Damar Jackson and JokerTooCold also impressed, with the latter showing up often. They were both able to bring a lot of group energy to their features; especially when they were together, like on “Shoot Up The Club.” Neither are necessarily the strongest lyrically, but they do offer a lot in terms of pure excitement and ability to create catchy hooks.

 

(Not to be outdone, K. Camp’s solo “Slum Anthem” is a great song to kick off the mixtape and defines the ambiance for the songs that follow after. Supreme Team crafted a banger of a beat, making it a solid template for the type of street anthem that could become Camp’s specialty. This is one of the few songs that finds the Slum Lords’ commander and chief rapping solo but he takes full advantage of that time with a flurry of tough lines.)

 

Unfortunately, one of the stronger members of the crew was overlooked for majority of the tape: Marissa. With only one full track to call her own, “Rules”, and one feature, the songstress didn’t have the same amount of time or room to shine like her rapping counterparts. However, when she did show up, she showed out. “Rules” quickly became one of my favorites from the tape and her hook on “No Love Lost” is incredibly smooth.

 

Slum Lords does feature some people from outside the camp, notably Peewee Longway, Too Short, Yo Gotti, and Wale, but they never detract from the family affair. It is a solid offering, one that will force you to look at a lot of these emcee’s back catalogues. K Camp is doing his thing and now we know his crew is too. Check it out, you won’t be disappointed.

 

Download and Listen Live at LiveMixtapes.com

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Mixtape Review: 808 Mafia – Free Agent

August 6th, 2014 No comments

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Mixtape Review: 808 Mafia – Free Agent, Courtesy of James Elliot

Since they hit the scene, 808 Mafia have been a reliable for hard-hitting backdrops for street and club anthems. When Lex Luger and Southside joined forces back in 2010, they formed one of the most influential and important production crews of the past decade. Their client list spans a number of generations, reaches passed a number of state lines, and comes from all walks of life. Close to four years old and having worked with everyone from Waka Flocka, to Kanye West, the family may have expanded, but they remain as tight and productive as ever.

 

However, 808’s founding member, Southside, has aspirations beyond sitting behind the boards. Unbeknownst to many fans, the producer has been emceeing for sometime and steadily releasing tapes and guest verses. Some of this confusion might be due to his change in moniker when in the booth, but Sizzle will be a great discovery for those ready to destroy their speakers and turn up. His latest 808 Mafia & Bricksquad collaborative project, Free Agent, could be one of sleeper tapes of the summer (even though the songs refuse to let you relax at all).

 

Right off the bat, it is obvious that Read more…

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Mixtape Review: Young Dolph – High Class Street Music 4 (American Gangster)

August 4th, 2014 No comments

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Mixtape Review: Young Dolph – High Class Street Music 4 (American Gangster) Courtesy of Luke McCormick

From the looks of it, Memphis rapper Young Dolph is aiming for first class rap star status with the fouth entry in his High Class Street Music series. He’s got production by known heat creators like Metro Boomin, C4, and Zaytoven. He uses his heavy southern drawl in a variety of ways, speeding up his flow and getting shouty as needed. Plus, Dolph has snagged verses from heavy hitters like 2 Chainz, Gucci Mane, and Trae. He’s has been making the mixtape rounds for a looong time, he’s already at Volume 4 in a series, producing solid to real good outings. Could this be the one to shoot him past just being a DG Bastard news post?.

Things start off incredibly promising, as Dolph uses up his 2 Chainz guest verse right out the bat on “Let’s Get It On”. The two sound very good together on a track. C4 gives the dudes a lurching Read more…

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