Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Rhymes: Album Review: Eminem - Recovery

Taken from my article at the BG News.
There isn't much that Marshall Bruce Mathers III (better known as Eminem or Slim Shady) hasn't accomplished during his 11-year career.

He has three #1 singles, 11 Grammy Awards, an Oscar and is the top-selling artist from 2000-09. But one thing Mr. Mathers has yet to accomplish is to release a flawless, classic album. He was close with his first couple of offerings, but in order to be recognized as one of the greatest artists of all-time, he needs to release a perfect album.

"Recovery," Eminem's sixth major-label album, starts off with the Just Blaze-produced "Cold Wind Blows" and features Shady up to his old tricks. He is vulgar, he is crude, but he certainly is entertaining. On the DJ Khalil-laced "Talkin' 2 Myself," Mathers speaks on the five years he was away from music (between the two disappointing releases, "Encore" (2004) and "Relapse" (2009), and how he almost took shots at some of rap's elite.

Mathers also speaks on his previous album, "Relapse," and its lukewarm reception. He admits on the lead single, "Not Afraid," that his last album was "ehh" and that he "ran those accents into the ground." On "Cinderella Man" he even goes as far to say that his "last CD's in the trash."

"Recovery" certainly is a more honest effort than the pseudo-horror album, "Relapse." Tracks like "Going Through Changes," "You're Never Over" and "25 to Life" show Marshall at his most vulnerable. On "Changes" and "Never Over" he talks about the tragic death of his best friend and fellow rapper, Proof. DJ Khalil provides the hauntingly beautiful backdrop to "25 to Life," in which Shady speaks about his relationship with hip-hop saying, "You screaming as I walk out that I'll be missed / But when you spoke of people who meant the most to you, you left me off your list."

"25 to Life" flows smoothly into the sole Dr. Dre beat "So Bad," which is one of Dre's best productions released in the past few years. "Seduction" sounds different than anything Mathers has done before, but it certainly works. On "No Love," he trades verses with Lil Wayne over a Just Blaze production, which samples Haddaway's "What is Love?" On paper, this track sounds like an accident waiting to happen, but it was surprisingly executed to perfection, as both emcees bring their A-game, not to be outdone by the other. 

One of the biggest surprises "Recovery" has to offer is the future chart-topper and Rihanna-assisted "Love the Way You Lie." The song touches on the topic of domestic abuse, which is something completely unexpected from a man who has been notorious for making songs about killing his ex-wife and mother. 

"Recovery" showcases a more sober, a more honest, and even a more mature side of Mathers. This record shows Eminem finally trying to do something different, and no longer following the formula he set with his previous albums (ie: 20 tracks, skits, cheesy first single, etc.). Without question this is the record he should've returned from his hiatus with instead of "Relapse." While "Recovery" definitely is not his "Sgt. Peppers" or "Exile on Main St", it is a giant step in the right direction.

8 out of 10 Beets

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Rhymes: Album Review: The Roots - How I Got Over

Published in the BG News
On Nov. 17, ?uestlove and The Roots shocked the hip-hop world when they announced that they were going to retire from touring and work full-time as the house band for Jimmy Fallon's Late Night Talk Show. This was only a few months after they released their rumored final album, "Rising Down." It seemed like Jimmy Fallon was about to put an end to hip hop's greatest band.

"Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" aired its first episode on March 2 and showcased Black Thought (Vocals), ?uestlove (Drummer) and company. Shortly after that, ?uestlove announced on his Twitter account that The legendary Roots crew would indeed release their ninth studio album (third album on Def Jam Records), "How I Got Over."

After several delays, "How I Got Over" finally hit the shelves. The group's latest effort showcases a much more optimistic sound than their previous two records, which had bleak, political subject material. "How I Got Over" features the Philadelphia band's triumph, directly influenced by the end of the Bush Administration and the election of Barack Obama.

The piano driven opener, "Walk Alone" is a very different sound from the synth-driven "Rising Down." "Dear God 2.0" features a sample from Jim James and Monsters of Folk, and Black Thought delivers some of the most introspective lyrics of his career. In the song, Black Thought asks, "Why is the world ugly when it's made in your image and why is living life such a fight to the finish?" The title track and first single from the album has a much different feel to it than any of their previous efforts, as Black Thought sings two verses on the songs. 

On "Now or Never," Thought declares that he is "thinking of making a change, finally breaking the chains" and that he's "ready for the next chapter and page." The positive inspiration messages continue with songs like "The Day" and "The Fire," in which John Legend makes a guest appearance and sings, "You don't say good luck, you say don't give up." 

"How I Got Over" is unquestionably in the top tier of Roots records over their storied 17-year career. The album consists of flawless sequencing and transitions making the 14-track album sound like one piece of musical brilliance. The Legendary Roots Crew has successfully made it from hip-hop to 30 Rock, without missing a beat along the way. Through all the label problems, the lack of mainstream attention and poor record sales, with a little help from Jimmy Fallon, The Roots have finally "Made it Over."

BRL Rating: 10 out 0f 10 Beets

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Rhymes: The Roots ft Jim James - "Dear God 2.0 (Live Performance on LNWJF)

Here's a live performance by The Roots of their amazing new single, Dear God 2.0, which is a re-working of Monsters of Folk's song of the same name. How I got over is streaming on The Roots' myspace, get your copy this tuesday!

Download the MP3 (right click, save as)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

From Dwight Schrutes Beet Farm: Dumb Bittie Award

Today I discovered something about myself: I love dumb bitties. Whether screaming off-key along with a lady gaga song at a party, or almost hitting me with her car as she's texting while driving, she is indeed my favorite specimen on the planet. So I decided to make a segment here at BRL honoring those dumb bitties.

Without further adieu, I bring to you one of the most trashiest, ignorant, and well, entertaining displays of dumb bittieness I've ever witnessed on the internets.

From Dwight Schrutes Beet Farm: BP Coffee Spill Crisis

You've heard a lot about the oil spill or whatever, but we at BRL don't really care about that, mainly because we drink oil straight and don't really mind if it's a little watered down, also f&*^ animals who live in water and ish. Oil spills ain't gangsta, they ain't what's poppin' in the screets (streets) right now. We at BRL ain't mad at BP, we be spillin' shit all the time, it ain't no thang.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Rhymes: The Roots - How I Got Over (Album Trailor)

I got my vinyl copy of the album pre-ordered at Finders, I suggest you do something similar. The much delayed album will be released June 22nd!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Rhymes: Album Review B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray

This is my first published album review for the BG News.
Bobby Ray Simmons is not to be pigeonholed.

One can't define his music in a single genre, he can do it all. He raps, sings, plays guitar, plays piano, plays trumpet and produces. He mixes elements of hip-hop, rock, reggae and various others into his 12-track introduction to the world.

His highly anticipated debut album, "B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray" hit the shelves on April 27 after being pushed up from its original May 25 release date due to the success of his chart-topping lead single, "Nothing on You."

The album features guest appearances from rap's elite (Eminem, T.I. and Lupe Fiasco) as well as big name singers from the pop and rock worlds (Hayley Williams of Paramore and Weezer's Rivers Cuomo).

The album kicks off with the hard-hitting 808s and rolling keys of the self-produced "Don't Let Me Fall," followed by "Nothing on You" and the Lupe Fiasco assisted "Past My Shades." 

Ray's Adventures heavily features a pop-oriented sound, which can be a turn-off to pure hip-hop fans. The poppiness of tracks 7-9 ("Kids," "Magic" and "Fame") can be a little grating for hip hop listeners. "Kids" uses an awkward interpolation of Vampire Weekend's "the Kids Don't Stand a Chance," which doesn't do the original justice. "Magic" features an extremely radio-friendly hook provided Rivers Cuomo. And "Fame" features some of the best rapping on the disc, but is lost in the sing-song hook and unnecessary chant.

The sole traditional hip-hop song on the album, "Bet I," features guest verses from label-mates T.I. and Playboy Tre. It sounds a little out of place and would have been better suited for one of Ray's mixtapes. 

While the album isn't short of catchy, feel-good songs perfect for the summer, B.o.B's subject matter throughout is pretty unoriginal and superficial. The record may be lacking in any lyrical dexterity and there aren't any stand-out bad songs to be found. It is a very fun, laid-back record that one would think a 21-year old would make. Bobby Ray simply crafted an excellent pop record.

7 out of 10 Beets.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Rhymes: FlamesYall – Featurin’ Vol. 1 | @flamesyall | iLLVibes

Mixtape: FlamesYall – Featurin’ Vol. 1 | @flamesyall | iLLVibes
Here's a release from FlamesYall, he did two tracks on my last album and did 4-5 on my upcoming album. I am featured on two of his songs on the album (one of the songs appeared on my last album, and the other track will be featured on my upcoming album, "Dear Hip Hop, Sincerely Charley Brown".