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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: 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

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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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Mixtape Review: Katie Got Bandz – Drillary Clinton 2

July 30th, 2014 No comments

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Mixtape Review of Katie Got Bandz – Drillary Clinton 2, Courtesy of  Meaghan Garvey

Katie Got Bandz’ rap career began with late 2011’s “I Need A Hitta,” with a smirk, a blithe but genuine giggle, and her trademark Katieeee! adlib. It may have been an unexpected hit—her longtime collaborator and cousin BlockOnDaTrakk had tossed her a beat to keep her occupied and out of trouble—but it remains a perfect archetype of drill’s first wave: raw and unstudied and casually menacing. It’s also a pretty good representation of what we could expect from Katie in the coming years: blunt, no-frills raps about holding your own, knowing your enemies, and knocking hoes out of their boy shorts, all delivered in a snotty deadpan. Lyrically, the stuff Katie raps about wasn’t all that different from her drill scene peers like Chief Keef or Lil Durk. What set it apart was (and remains) a hint of bemusement, a little chuckle, the sense that she was really having fun getting these songs out.

 

On Drillary Clinton 2—Katie’s third mixtape, and the long-awaited sequel to last summer’s DrillaryClinton—that casual swagger remains, but more than ever, she sounds unmistakably in control. She’s stepped up every facet of her game here. Where her delivery once wavered (her debut tape, 2012’s Bandz & Hittaz, lapsed into flat stretches of monotone in its weaker bits), on DC2 she’s Read more…

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Mixtape Review: Tim Vocals – TimTations

July 28th, 2014 No comments

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Mixtape Review of Tim Vocals – Timtations, Coutesy of Luke McCormick

Tim Vocals has got some pipes! If you were at all familiar with his August 2013 mixtape Live From Harlem you are well aware of the man’s soft croon. His beautiful voice offering up harsh realities of his real life in Harlem pushing drugs and obtaining women. Those harsh realities got ol’ Timmy in some hot water late last year as he was popped for a little drug possession creating a bit of prison time.

 

Vocals is back this month with Timtations, picking up right where he left off before his time in the clink. The voice didn’t take any hits while in prison, as he still sounds spectacular. He even tries a few different things with his vocals. On “Euros” he goes for a number of Michael Jackson-esque vocal upticks that actually sound pretty good, as he lets his voice get a bit gruffer. He’s also still crooning about slanging, women, and getting his money right, often over others’ beats.

 

The greatest and most enjoyable instance of this is Read more…

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Mixtape Review: Woop – Woop Lingo

July 25th, 2014 No comments

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Mixtape Review of Woop – Woop Lingo courtesy of Luke McCormick

This Woop review would be so much easier if this tape were garbage. The headline writes itself: “Big Woop” or something dumb like that. However, this thing bangs. Woop hails from Orlando, FL. which isn’t necessarily known for a booming rap scene. There’s no rhymes here about Woop popping a molly and riding Magic Mountain (though that sounds pretty great). Instead, he’s giving a side of the city that’s not in your local travel agent’s brochure.

There’s a whole mess of drugs. Woop really likes his drugs. He likes selling them and oh boy, does he like taking them. Tracks on Lingo get into his darker thoughts on his intake and pushing, but there’s also a lot of Woop turning the hell up.

 

“F’d Up” basically has two Woops dealing with being one “fucked up nigga”. We get Woop rapping wonderfully in double time about his Cali kush then busting in with an autotune moan about too many drugs, sounding like he’s near an OD. It’s an interesting contrast of voice like he’s trying to even out his uppers and downers. Then we also get the fun, jacked up Woop. The track that was getting pushed earlier this summer was “Rock Out Woop” and it’s a serious heater. Again Woop raps in his double time flow then goes back and forth with an autotune chirp. The song’s main strength is the sticky chorus of Woop yelping out the track’s title in a see-saw fashion. The Avengerz provide a minimal beat of two dark piano pangs with some laser precision synths until the hi-hats and booming drums kick back in for Woop to push that chorus even further into your brain. There’s also the line when he’s rapping about his hood “grass growin’ like it’s doing push ups” which is an awesome visual.

 

Woop utilizes that quick flow and a nice little autotuned voice throughout the tape. He has more in common vocally and sonically here to his Atlanta peers than any of his home state brethren you would think when pondering Florida rap. He’s using AYE ad-libs and repeating the last words of his lines in a loud chirp. The tape could fit in nicely with your PeeWee Longways, etc… Which makes perfect sense as Mr. Longway pops up here to shout his way through a memorable verse on “Wrapped Too Tight”.

 

The rest of the cameos here come from dudes most anyone is going to have to Google. YG Ivy makes the most of his bars on “HMC” bending his voice around like some opposite coast, nasally E-40 impersonator. That’s a compliment for Ivy. Caskey comes through on “What U Mean” doing a very good low-rent Drake rapping about kush bags “smellin’ like potpourri dog”, which might just be some Clove cigarettes. Woop’s geographical location may be a reason his name isn’t popping like someone coming from Atlanta, but the dude has pushed out a very solid tape with some varied sounds. His biggest asset is his ability to craft simple, stick with you hooks. Get this man to drop one on a bigger summer banger and turn him into a serious BIG WOOP!

 

Download and Listen Live at LiveMixtapes.com

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