Ca$his | The County Hound 3 | #AlbumReview #CH3

CH3 cover art

CH3 cover art

Album Rating System 3  out of 5 records

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The third album in Cashis’ trilogy of The County Hound is The County Hound 3. In the spirit of dank, makeshift, in-home studios, the beat-smiths that make simple productions, the part-time rapper, part-time weed peddler, the codeine sippers, and gangsters, CH3 is hand crafted just for you.

Cashis has quite a past in the music business starting his career in Orange County, California, where he relocated from his native Chicago. He was discovered in the mid-2000s and signed to Shady Records, where his introduction to the world was on Eminem’s 2006, Eminem Presents: The Re-Up, a compilation album featuring 50 Cent, Lloyd Banks, Bobby Creekwater, and others. From these experiences propelled the career of Cashis and his tenacious hustle that has kept him afloat all these years. Although existing under the surface, he’s been consistent in keeping a buzz in the Internet world, releasing four albums, four EPs, and about thirteen mixtapes.

CH3 falls in between Chicago drill and west coast G-Funk with a tinge of Houston, Texas accented in the pace of the music. The tone of CH3 is defined in the intro where he states, “Real n*ggas only advised to listen. No sucka n*ggas, no soft n*ggas, no squares, no lames, no punks, no frauds.” Cashis’ excessive gangsta talk doesn’t allow for much flexibility in his content, albeit he seems to be at his most comfortable in this position – and not exactly biased about rival gang affiliations, either. This is made clear in Turn Up. “If you Folks you my folks/F*ck a hater n*gga/…My little brother Gucci getting that paper n*gga/and that’s my blood, black, P-Stone Ranger, n*gga.”

Ca$his

Ca$his

Moving from Chicago to Irvine, California, a suburb in the O.C., is depicted by Cashis as a place that is overlooked for its gang affiliations. A few years ago gang members and thugs from the outskirts of the inner city would be placed in a wanna-be caste system, but nowadays, because of a falling middle-class, the suburban thug is actually a realization. You wouldn’t be able to tell based on CH3’s gangster narratives that the turf sits in the white picket fences of the American dream. The ambiguity between inner city and suburban life isn’t clarified enough and you begin to wonder, aside from the contrast in population density, are the two really that much different?

The most exciting moments on CH3 are the Young Buck assisted, Kingpin and Work. Buck, a G-Unit veteran, brings much needed energy that kills the monotony of Cashis’ drawn out, codiene-flow. Unfortunately, features that include, Mac Lucci, Project Pat, Sullee, Roscoe, Britizen Kane, and even a producer credit from Eminem on Thug Boy doesn’t do enough to salvage CH3. Cashis’ raps get drowned in melancholies and there isn’t enough variation in his voice or the tracks produced by Rikanatti to combat the album’s overwhelming gloom.

CH3 isn’t for everybody. It was made for Cashis’ core fan base – the people who’ve been there supporting him from the beginning.  There is much to be respected about an emcee who has made their own way and has successfully capitalized off the online market.  Although CH3 falls short it leaves you respecting the hustle, not necessarily the music.

Download CH3 here https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-county-hound-3/id976258748

© Copyright Eddie Savoy Bailey III, 2015

Written by: Eddie Bailey of The Savoy Media Group

Twitter @SavoyMediaGroup

Email: writingbattleraphistory@gmail.com

Blog: writingbattleraphistory.wordpress.com

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Wale | The Album About Nothing | #AlbumReview #TAAN

pic from Complex Magazine

pic from Complex Magazine

Album Rating System 3 1/2 out of 5 records

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Listening to Wale rant and rave about how he doesn’t get the respect he deserves can be exhausting and off-putting. Because of that I’ve never cared to listen to a Wale album. I decided to give him a chance after reading an excerpt from his Billboard interview of him talking about being dissed by Katy Perry and how he should be spoken about in the same vain as Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole, after all, when you compare yourself to one of the two best emcees in Hip Hop you have to live up to that comparison.

In his fourth studio album, The Album About Nothing, inspired by the NBC hit sitcom, Seinfeld (the show about nothing), Wale partners with friend and star of the show, Jerry Seinfeld, who serves as a narrator and voice of reason on this accidental concept album. Yes, accidental. I don’t think Wale meant to write a concept album since the album is supposed to be about nothing, and I’m not sold on this being a clever nod to the situational irony in Seinfeld that made the show so popular, but in an ironic twist, TAAN, is an album about everything.

Wale

Wale

Everything in Wale’s world are the powers-that-be opposing his success and how delusional the entertainment world is. If you think of VH1’s Love & Hip Hop series you can imagine how Hip Hop has created an illusory world where all of your dreams can come true with little work ethic, little talent, yet have an abundance of good looks and swag. This is Wale’s world, the world he’s disgusted with and addicted to simultaneously. This is apparent in The Glass Egg featuring an uncredited Chrisette Michelle, where he raps, “It’s right, it’ like life is like a glass egg/Tryna maintain what come with the fame and keeping your last friends/Yeah, you know that balance of/Cause who on your back or who got your back/I promise the line is this thin…”

Most of the production on TAAN is from producers I’m not familiar with but who laid out some well-produced tracks for Wale. For example, The Girls On Drugs, produced by No Credit, is an acid-laced track that samples Janet Jackson’s, Go Deep and is the perfect illustrator of what the drug-induced, sex-filled nights are in the industry. This is a part of life that he’s all too familiar with. Once the wave of MDMA and lean surfaces Wale’s ability to navigate between the make-believe extravagancy of the Hip Hop world and real life solidifies him as a veteran. Reverting back to the classic boom bap sound, The Success is a track that takes samples from The Andrews Chapel United Methodist Young Adult Choir’s 1985 record, Psalms 121. Other songs worth checking out are The One Time In Houston, The Bloom, The White Shoes and The Need To Know.

Interestingly enough, the song that doesn’t seem to fit on this album is the lead single, The Body featuring Jeremih. It’s understandable that the label would want to push a radio-friendly song but how TAAN is structured, The Body as the last song is a mistake. TAAN could’ve ended with The Matrimony featuring Usher and it would’ve been more befitting of TAAN’s storyline. It’s a better choice because in TAAN Wale confesses, I believe on more than one occasion, that he wants to settle down but has uncertainties, and in The Matrimony he finally comes full circle. Then it ends with The Body where he’s talking about sex with no strings attached. Doesn’t make much sense to me.

Admittedly, the Washington D.C. native has come very far in his career, especially, coming from a town that isn’t known for any top-tier Hip Hop acts. No slight to emcees like Nonchalant, Question Mark Asylum, Fat Trel, or any other D.C. native, it’s just that historically, D.C. has been a tough market for emcees to breakout. Attending Howard University in the late 90’s and early 2000’s I can attest to the fact that D.C. is an acquired taste – this goes for the lay out of the city, go-go music, the people, and their sense of fashion. This is no different in the case of Wale. Like the city he reps, he grows on you and you learn to appreciate his quirks for what they are.

My first experience with Wale wasn’t bad at all. Wale is a niche artist that has the potential to have stronger star power if he just stayed in his lane. His angst to be praised as he thinks he should only shadows his appeal. Respectfully, his comparisons to K. Dot and J. Cole are a reach. Unlike To Pimp A Butterfly and 2014 Forest Hills Drive, TAAN lacks courage. TAAN is a solid piece of work but it’s a formulaic album that doesn’t stay etched in your memory bank.  It doesn’t push the limits of what Hip Hop can be, it’s just a good album, and with an album that bears the tagline of one of the greatest sitcoms in American TV history you have to wow people.  TAAN also loses perspective, mainly, because Wale talks too much about himself. Instead of sticking with the irony of an industry that looks like an oasis only to find that in reality it is a deserted wasteland of hopes and dreams, it’s an album about how this oasis has left him high and dry and it’s the same recycled story that we’ve been hearing from Wale time and time again.

Download TAAN here https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-album-about-nothing/id972747051

© Copyright Eddie Savoy Bailey III, 2015

Written by: Eddie Bailey of The Savoy Media Group

Twitter @SavoyMediaGroup

Email: writingbattleraphistory@gmail.com

Blog: writingbattleraphistory.wordpress.com

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Kendrick Lamar | #ToPimpAButterfly #AlbumReview

To Pimp A Butterfly album cover

To Pimp A Butterfly album cover

Album Rating System:  5 out of 5 records

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This dick ain’t free,” is a gender bending, emphatic statement, that should be the mantra for black male youth growing up in a hyper-sexual society, where Kendrick Lamar redefines black masculinity on “For Free,” the second track on his second studio album, To Pimp A Butterfly. I don’t know if redefining black masculinity is on purpose or if it is by virtue of his conscious subject matter, but in TPAB Kendrick tackles social issues of the hood – manhood, love, sex, religion, mental illness, self-esteem and gang-banging, with a stream of effortless maturity. Either way – damn, this album is a breath of fresh air!

Kendrick’s maturity is not only a by-product of his upbringing but also of his spirituality. If you were to put a mirror up to the new faces of Christianity those faces may have a different look, especially with regard to perspective. It’s a perspective that is as simple as Kendrick talking about self love in “i” but as complicated as him loving and hating the same person in “u”, or how he can be enraged and want to unify the black community at the same time in “The Blacker the Berry.” This may seem like truckload of contradictions but it is actually an honest and transparent look at what a human being looks like.

King Kendrick

King Kendrick

I’m sure if we examined Kendrick’s heart among all the brilliant things there would be to study love would stand out. This kid’s heart is massively suffocating. He possesses a true love for black people, especially his Compton family. Though on the outset he abhors his homies’ gangster lifestyle, his affections for them are made clear on his album cover – Kendrick loves his niggas and truly wants to see them do well. The same love and respect he has for his homies he has for women, too. In “Complexion” he raps “Beauty is what you make it, I used to be so mistaken/By different shades of faces/Then wit told me, “A woman is woman, love the creation”/It all came from God then you was my conformation/I came to where you reside/And looked around to see sights for sore eyes/Let the Willie Lynch theory reverse a million times with…”

If I didn’t know any better the production on the TPAB sounded like Dr. Dre was operating in the spirit of Rico Wade, 1/3 of the Atlanta production team Organized Noize who produced albums for OutKast and Goodie Mob. This isn’t a slight to Dre, as I think this is arguably some of his best work to date, but the funk-jazz infused Hip Hop is sonically similar to Aquemini. The main difference in the production is the use of Be Bop jazz interpolations dispersed throughout TPAB in arrythmic patterns that plays up the coffee shop poetry feel. And of course, in Dr. Dre fashion, he tells a lengthy story that connects every song together in perfect succession.

The last song “Mortal Man” sums up the album. “Mortal Man” is riveting because toward the end of the song Kendrick has a conversation with Tupac Shakur, posthumously, of course, but carefully using excerpts of Tupac’s interviews creates a chilling dialogue between the two. After the two share their outlooks on life Kendrick pulls out a poem he wants to read to ‘Pac about the metaphor of the caterpillar and the butterfly. He explains it beautifully and then asks for ’Pac’s perspective, to which Pac doesn’t answer. The album ends with Kendrick saying, “Pac! Pac! Pac!” Some may see this as Kendrick being a Tupac incarnate but I think that Kendrick’s ideas on black emancipation are a bit more mature than Tupac’s. Tupac’s warrior-like passion is rooted in a kill-or-be-killed mentality, whereas Kendrick’s passions are rooted more in his love for God. If anything Kendrick Lamar is an evolved Tupac, and Pac’s silence is a clear indication that the torch has been passed.

TPAB download here —-> https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/to-pimp-a-butterfly/id974187289

© Copyright Eddie Savoy Bailey III, 2015

Written by: Eddie Bailey of The Savoy Media Group

Twitter @SavoyMediaGroup

Email: writingbattleraphistory@gmail.com

Blog: writingbattleraphistory.wordpress.com

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A Passing of a Great Friend

Jonathan Hicks

Jonathan P. Hicks

I was told that Jonathan Hicks passed yesterday morning on my way to work. It was a little unexpected but I wasn’t surprised given the nature of his condition. A week before Jonathan’s passing my brother died in Memphis where I had to go down south and be one of his pallbearers. Laying family to rest isn’t easy.

In the case of Jonathan, I first met him in a men’s meeting at church. He introduced himself to me and gave me his number and told me that I could call him anytime. I didn’t know him at the time so it took me a while to reach out but when I did it was one of the best decisions that I made in my life. Our first meeting was at a restaurant called Chez Oskar. We sat for about 2 hours and talked about where I was spiritually. In that meeting there was an immediate connection to someone I considered family, a brother, a friend, and a mentor.

What I found most intriguing about Jonathan was that he knew thousands of people from the President of Monaco, to the late Reginald Lewis, to me, to the guy down the street, and anyone else that you’d normally not give a second look to on the street. And in those people I’m willing to bet that he had a close relationship with half of them, which is an incredible feat in itself. If you didn’t know Hicks you should have. He was an incredible man and a one of a kind friend.

The last time I saw Jonathan was in late June or early July of this year. We sat for about 15 minutes in front of La Bagel and caught up with each other. There was a time that I saw him everyday but life took us in different directions so in his months leading up to now I didn’t see him as often. But there is one thing that Jonathan always never forgot to say. He always said, “I love you, brother.” That’s probably more important to me than anything. With Hicks there was never anything left unsaid.  I love you, brother.

Eddie Bailey

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Starvin’ Like Marvin for a Cool J Song #AlbumReview

Starvin' Like Marvin cover art

Starvin’ Like Marvin cover art

Album Rating System 3 1/2 out of 5 records

Image    Image Imagehalf record copy

There is something very interesting going on in the world of Hip Hop in New York City.  As the world’s largest cultural melting pot, one thing the world expects from New York, besides big ideas and big business, is great music, and for at least a decade there has been heavy criticism about the “type” of Hip Hop that New York is producing.  To put it plain, its sounds southern.  Bounce. Crunk. Snap. Ratchet.  All these sub-genres deviate from the traditional Boom-Bap sound.  In an era where Bobby Shmurda and A$AP Mob have New York streets buzzing with their southern influenced music, Hip Hop doesn’t have any allegiance to regional sounds any longer.   However, Astro finds himself sticking closely to his New York roots in Starvin’ Like Marvin For A Cool J Song.

Astro makes music that you can play around your mom without offending her and still feel like you’re listening to some good Hip-Hop.  With production from Statik Selektah, Easy Mo Bee, and BrandUn Deshay, Starvin’ Like Marvin is a complete project with introspective lyricism and reflective-beats.

Though Astro wows us with his old-soul maturity, he was born 25 years too late.  I was in an interesting conversation with my Operation Battle Rap cronies after finishing a roundtable vlog reviewing Arsonal vs QP (love battle rap) when the topic of Astro came up.  I told them I was writing a review on him when Jimmy Williams, head of our roundtable discussions, said something I couldn’t agree with more.  To paraphrase him he said that Astro makes dope music for people in their 30s and early 40s, but fans that age may have a problem listening to a 12 year old (he’s actually 17), and fans his age aren’t checking for that type of music.  So, who is his demographic?  Musically, where does Astro go from here?

Well, a lead role in Walt Disney Pictures’ Earth to Echo as a boy named Tuck may give you some insight on the trajectory of his career.  That’s an impressive achievement for a kid from Brownsville, Brooklyn, but I wonder how his acting experiences will translate sonically, or even at all?  With regard to his music, Astro is either a prodigy waiting to happen or a kid who’s too mature for his age group.

Download here ——> Starvin Like Marvin 

© Copyright Eddie Savoy Bailey III, 2014

Written by: Eddie Bailey of The Savoy Media Group

Twitter @SavoyMediaGroup

Email: writingbattleraphistory@gmail.com

Blog: writingbattleraphistory.wordpress.com

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Amerigo Gazaway Presents – Yasiin Gaye: The Return (Side Two) #AlbumReview

 

YG Side 2 cover art

YG Side 2 cover art

Album Rating System 4 out of 5 records

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The marquis outside of 10 East 60th street in Manhattan reads “A night at the Copa with Yasiin Gaye.” Out with the Rat Pack crowd, with their black and white tuxes and Mafioso-DAs, and in with the black crowd.   It’s black night at the Copa and they’re here to support brother Yasiin. Conks, fried-dyed-and-laid-to-the-side, old-fashioneds and dirty martinis – impeccably dressed men and women with thick-framed glasses, skinny ties and cocktail dresses fill up the seats to the rafters. The headliner, Yasiin Gaye steps on stage into the spotlight in a midnight blue shark skinned suit and the show begins.

Though Yasiin was never at the Copa – only as I have imagined he would be in this write-up – he effortlessly brings you the elegance of that time period.  Yasiin Bey formerly known as Mos Def brings us Side Two of his second installment of his mash-up with the late Marvin Gaye. Marvin’s legendary Motown catalogue is reconstructed in an eclectic composition that mixes funk, soul, blues, rock and hip hop. The album itself is an imaginative, cross-generational period piece that meets Marvin Gaye and Yasiin Bey at the crossroads of Bey’s nostalgia and the after life. Yasiin is sort of a Marvin Gaye incarnate.  He brings to life – if but for a moment  – Marvin Gaye and everything in the 60s-70s time capsule in a surreal way.

Yasiin Bey & Marvin Gaye

Yasiin Bey & Marvin Gaye

The whole feel of this album is cinematic.  You can picture Yasiin at the Copa serenading the crowd with a drink in hand.  You can picture Lincoln Continentals, Cadillacs, and Buicks.  You can picture the streets of Harlem.  You can picture pretty black women with afros, flips, beehives, dashikis, mini-skirts, and pillbox hats.  You can picture the Black Power Movement, leather jackets, and rallies.  You can hear Mary Wells, The Four Tops, The Temps, Rare Earth, The Who, and The Moody Blues.  You can even picture Marvin singing Distant Lover to tens of thousands of screaming ladies live at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum back in ’74.

The sculptor responsible for this concept album is Amerigo Gazaway, a Nashville based producer who has the uncanny gift of blending various genres of music into one pulsating, rhythmic, breathing and living organism. His breakthrough success with Fela Soul in 2011 put him on the map and made him an Internet sensation. In Side Two he effortlessly travels through time zones of music with the masterful hand of a barber blending the perfect taper. One second you’re listening to 70s funk and the next you’re listening to hip hop without realizing where the transition started. Sheeesh!

This is a great album with respect to the quality and integrity that was put into it; not because it captures you and serves as a cornerstone etched in your memory bank as an album that defined a certain period in time – like a good kid, m.A.A.d City or a Reasonable Doubt. With that being said, I’m sure that Marvin Gaye is quite pleased with this fine piece of work.

Click Here to listen and download

© Copyright Eddie Savoy Bailey III, 2014

Written by: Eddie Bailey of The Savoy Media Group

Twitter @SavoyMediaGroup

Email: writingbattleraphistory@gmail.com

Blog: writingbattleraphistory.wordpress.com

#WBRH

 

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Nitty Scott, MC #TheArtOfChill #AlbumReview

TAOC cover art

TAOC cover art

Album Rating System 4 out of 5 records

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Imagine a cramped Brooklyn apartment walk-up – say in Bushwick, filled with Egyptian musk incense competing with clouds of kush.  A cipher of gods and goddesses building, amongst decorated Turkish pillows and Ottoman poufs, and at the center sits the lotus flower.  Nitty Scott, MC.

Scott’s debut studio album, TAOC is suspended in irony.  On the surface the album title embodies the vanguard of everything that is cool, while the subject matter is everything but.  Scott’s journey of self-discovery and her confrontation of her past with sexual abuse is periling, but her youthful charm makes her plight all the more admirable.

In the intro, Wanderlust, which features sitarist, Rajib Karmakar, is a gently plucked embrace of Scott’s retreat to Eastern philosophy.  From the start you can envision the direction she’s headed, and it only gets better.

Nitty Scott, MC

Nitty Scott, MC

Behind the exterior is a ferocious MC and someone who has reverence for the craft.  In each song she carefully paragraphs her verses in expressive measure.  I’m talking about bars!  Meaningful content.  No filler.  No wasted space.

In Apex, featuring TDE artist, Ab-Soul, she spits in multi-syllabic fashion, “More dread from warheads/They want the poor dead, but I fed the universe on my forehead/And did this happen beforehand?/Now face it, they just basically erasing them glitches up in the matrix/Always thought the term Black Magic was kinda racist/And I have yet to find intelligent basis for the hatred/Attracting and deflecting a core of my star portals/Ain’t it gorgeous to be mortal?/I couldn’t be more cordial.”

My personal favorite song is Lilly of the Valley featuring Sene.  The song drowns the listener with the churchy-feel of the Hammond organ, and reflective-keys that faintly resemble Communism from Common’s 1994 Resurrection album.  What really makes the song cool is that she vicariously tells a story through a fictional character – who could be any young lady in this world, that details the savage-beauty and emptiness that comes with life in the fast lane.

Though there are songs that make you bounce like, Pyrexx Pink and Feng Shui, her more socially conscious tracks that tackle her past and celebrate her reforming future, like Lilly of the Valley, Gone Girl, and Still I Rise, featuring Stacy Barthe, are the staples of this album.

What’s most intriguing is that Scott manages to brave her issues with a peculiar composure and a lotus flower-gravitas, that can only come from someone who owns their past.  The Art Of Chill is more than just an album of lyrics and dope beats, it’s Scott’s ministry.

Click Here to Download The Art Of Chill

© Copyright Eddie Savoy Bailey III, 2014

Written by: Eddie Bailey of The Savoy Media Group

Twitter @SavoyMediaGroup

Email: writingbattleraphistory@gmail.com

Blog: writingbattleraphistory.wordpress.com

#WBRH

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