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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: 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

Bloody Jay - #NAWFR

 

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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