Album: The Cansecos
Artist: The Cansecos

First things first, I would have reviewed this CD on name alone. You can't beat anything named Canseco. Secondly, it is always good to promote Canadian music whenever we have a chance. Any band that can finally put the Celine Dion and Bryan Adams jokes to bed is more than welcome at

There has been an influx of great Canadian music that is finally getting noticed by hipsters throughout the world. Broken Social Scene albums are selling like hotcakes (imagine if they were selling hotcakes). The Russian Futurists, Manitoba are putting out truly enjoyable lap-pop music. Somewhere in between the two types of music lies the Cansecos self titled debut.

Mixing drum machines, synths and guitars to produce some great rhythms, the Cansecos have managed to create a great pop record. I know that computer-driven beats are the new hot style (thanks to the huge success of bands like the Postal Service and the fact everyone who loved the dorky synths of the 80's has decided to rehash their love of new wave), but these songs were recorded between 2000 and 2002.

Lyrically, this two man band won't leave you awestruck, but that is not to say that the verses are unintelligent and that they don't fit the songs perfectly. The songs are incredibly well crafted. Faster Than You Go has a driving beat, and tells a story with playful lyrics like "across the room you made me laugh, your fake corsage, my fake moustache".

The songs on this album are all over the map, but the album is well structured. The intricate layers and beats meld together to keep your interest for the full (12) tracks. Perhaps the best way to describe this album is to say that I had listened to the whole album, without noticing, only to finish and INSTANTLY hit play again. The record is enjoyable and the true definition of the songs is released slowly, because for the first few listens, the beats and melodies keep you listening and the lyrics seem to slip by unnoticed.

Favorite tracks: Faster Than You Go, This Small Disaster, What It Was You Said



Album: Give Up
Artist: Postal Service

Telling indie rock fans about Postal Service is sort of like telling radio fans about Hey Ya. Give Up has been popping up on the best of lists for almost every music review site or magazine.

Postal Service is the work of Jimmy Tamborello (Figurine, DNTEL) and Ben Gibbard (from the now famous, Death Cab for Cutie). Jimmy constructed the beats, and Ben wrote the lyrics. The team first worked together on (This Is) The Dream of Evan and Chan on the DNTEL album, Life is Full of Possibilities. Unfortunately none of this album reaches the greatness of that song, but that is not surprising. Lyrically, some of these songs fall short of the songs crafted for DCFC and slide towards poppy radio ditties that lack the emotion Ben usually delivers.

That being said, this is a great album. Tamborello crafts the hooks to these songs so well and Ben's strong melodies mask the weaker lyrics, producing an end result is very enjoyable.

Perhaps the strongest song is the first song (and the second single released), The District Sleeps Alone Tonight. The beat is created perfectly, and builds as the song grows to match Ben's lyrics. The album is a 45 minute mix of precisely constructed instrumentation and lyrics focusing on depressing reflection of lost love in true Ben Gibbard fashion. The backup vocals of Jenny Wood help bring life to the tracks, especially considering the lyric content.

Highlights include: Clark Gable, We Become Silhouettes and Such Great Heights



Album: Joyful Rebellion
Artist: K-OS

My friend K-OS is usually described as being 'Toronto Bred' or a 'Toronto MC', but luckily for us, that's not quite true. The Trinidad-born (see, even I want to label him) music maker actually hails from Whitby, 20 minutes east of the T-Dot on the 401. Thanks to Ack's days running shite out in Whitby at McGraw-Hill, I have a pretty good idea that it's not ghetto fabulous like Rexdale or Jane & Finch. It's the suburbs, and that helps to understand the creation of a 'rapper' like K-OS. K-OS certainly loves and respects hip hop and infuses his music with the hip hop essence, but calling him an MC doesn't really capture what he's about.

Like his first album, Exit, Kevin Brereton's (rap reviews 101, drop the real name) sophmore album Joyful Rebellion is all over the musical map and back again. It contains elements of hip hop, reggae, r&b;, rock and pop. These elements were present on Exit, but he's kicked them into a higher gear here. He still raps, which is a good thing as he's quite good at it, but he's singing with abandon now. When Exit dropped in 2002, the idea of an 'MC' rapping and singing over tracks that contained as much acoustic guitar as they did breakbeats was still somewhat revolutionary. But it's 2004 now, and after Andre 3000 charmed the pants off uptight white people everywhere, you could rap on a track consisting of tapdancing and the tuba and no one would bat an eye. Not that it matters to K-OS, he decided to do his own thing long ago, and it certainly pays off with the ecclectic shine of Joyful Rebellion.

EMCEE Murdah sets the tone for the rest of the album. K-OS raps over acoustic guitar warning of the fatal threat money poses to MC's. I've had the chorus of this song in my head for days. When I first heard the beat for Man I Used To Be, I thought it was a Beat It remix. Reading the liner notes, it seems K-OS is a big fan of the crazy king of pop and wrote the song for Michael and himself. I love this jam though, the 80's style drums and K-OS sing/rap mix makes me want to bust out the slippers and dance in Marios basement. If the bassline and handclaps of Crabbuckit don't get you feeling good you might perhaps be dead. There's very few straight ahead hip hop songs on this album. B-Boy Stance is the closest with its booming drum track constructed from Funky Drummer and PE's Rebel Without A Pause. Hallelujah is some dead on roots reggae and the Duet with Sam Roberts, Dirty Water isn''t my favorite track on the album, but it isn't terrible.

K-OS avoids the sophmore jinx here by sticking to the formula he established on Exit and even taking it up a level or two. I believe he's doing the kind of music he really believes in and the results so far have been excellent. But I just hope the spirit of hip hop will remain a part of his musical blueprint. There's a fine line between ecclectic hip hop and messy crap. This quote from his Capitol Records bio makes me a little nervous 'Much like Lauryn Hill, the artist he's often compared to, this album is a testament to his rare ability to harmonize and emcee, ignoring any creative straitjackets imposed on him by narrow rap or R&B; categorizations. ' Lauryn Hill's first album was amazing, but I think she wigged out a little and is taking herself far too seriously now. Who knows if she'll ever put out another decent album. In the end my opinion doesn't matter much, and K-OS can make whatever kind of music he wants. He's put out two great albums so far, let's hope it continues.



Album: 718
Artist: Theodore Unit

The Theodore Unit could've used the name Ghostface & Friends or perhaps Ghost & The Jordanaires. Perhaps that's a bit harsh though. Certainly Ghostface is the standout on his crews debut album and there's no way it gets made without him, but unlike some other entourage albums, the other members seem to have some talent. Trife Da God is Ghostface's first lieutenant and will probably have at least a crack at a solo career. Solomon Childs stands out on the tracks he appears on, and the crew's token whitey Shawn Wigs acquits himself pretty well. Veteran Wu-Tang affiliate Streetlife makes an appearance and Cappadonna takes some time out from driving a cab in Baltimore to appear on a couple tracks.

I'm guessing this album was perhaps rushed a little bit to capitalize on the buzz Ghostface's Pretty Toney album generated. I don't think Ghost's solo album had the sales they were hoping for, but there was certainly a lot of anticipation for it. Some of the songs here are mix-tape quality and there are no producers of note behind the beats, but it's not much of an issue. The inclusion of tracks like Guerilla Hood, Smith Brothers, and The Drummer on this album that were expected to be on Pretty Toney certainly generated some interest. I think anyone who does check for this album will be pleasantly surprised. Ghostface is at his raw and rugged best here. There are no tracks for the ladies on this one, strictly the hardcore hip hop like the Wu used to do.

Ghostface handles leadoff duties by himself on Guerilla Hood over some grimy drums and classic horns while referencing Don Mattingly and Don Baylor. This sets the table for what's come on the rest of the album. Ghostface & Trife rhyme over Kane's 'Raw' beat on 88 Freestyle. It sounds like Ghost is struggling with the beat at first but the track eventually works. The Drummer features Method Man and has some slow stuttering drums and a high pitched female sample that reminds me of a couple Killarmy songs I liked. Again, Ghostface kills it on tracks like Wicked With Lead (he uses the phrase 'Coca Cola Rugbies'?!?) and the bouncy posse cut Pass The Mic (No doubt inspired by the Beasties song of the same title). But the other Theodorians do a decent job when they go solo. Solomon Childs has a couple decent solo jams with Mama Can You Hear Me and Be My Girl. Trife does well with Punch In Punch Out and even Shawn Wigs solo shot Daily Routine isn't horrible.

So there you have it. If you like Ghostface at all I'd say you need a copy of this. Even though some of the lyrical content on this album can be a little tired, it's refreshing to hear a full album of nothing but straight ahead NYC hip hop. There are no commercial jams here, probably none of these songs are getting played in the clubs, but who cares, the Wu-Tang needs to go back to the lab and take this approach.



Album: The Black Life
Artist: Chris Lowe

I'm sure everyone saw my post about stumbling across MC/Producer Chris Lowe's The Black Life, so you know a bit about his story. Chris was part of the Connecticut hip hop scene from the late 80's-early 90's that produced Steezo and his landmark album Crazy Noise. It was in fact the sticker on the album proclaiming Chris to be of Steezo Fame that prompted me to buy the album. I've since gone back and listened to my Steezo tape to figure out the connection, Chris DJ-ed for Steezo-e under his nom de cut DJ Chris Cosby. Really I should have made the connection, Steezo shouts him out on the classic opener Bring The Horns.

I had no idea what to expect, but the terrible cover photo of him drinking a cosmo, the terrible album title, and the fact that it was on Female Fun records had me a little skeptical, but the strong list of guests and curiosity won me over. I can say now I was pleasantly surprised.

As I listened to this album one thing kept running through my mind: "how did this album get made?". I don't mean that in the way you might after hearing Afroman released a second album, but in a good way. The classic, sampled production and straight-forward rhymes make this album a better-fit for 94-95, which isn't a bad thing. It probably says more about hip hop today than it does about the album. Chris handles all the production with the help of fellow Connecticutian Dooley-O and they do a fine job. There's no keyboard beats or techno bleeps here. The Connecticut posse does it the only way they know how, with samples and drum machines. In fact there's even a small interlude with Chris and Dooley-O talking about how they found the popular 'sugar snaps' break.

Most of Chris's lyrics are centred around pleasing the ladies (Let's Go), rocking the party (Get It Goin On), and bringing back the real hip hop (Funny Fake Snakes). He's like a throwback on the mic; he keeps it pretty basic, but he's smooth and fun to listen to. I mentioned the guests on this album were a drawing point before, and they all deliver. Large Professor is solid on Uncut Raw even though he sounds like he's rapping over the phone. PMD sounds like he found a rap fountain of youth on Buckwhylin' (classic early 90's title). Dinco D sounds like he gained some weight on Treacherous 3 as he's got way more bass in his voice. The old school style posse cut Do It Again sounds like a 93 classic with Chris, Steezo, Dooley-O, and Tall T sharing the mic.

If you like the hip hop and your definition of old school doesn't start at Biggie Smalls, you will like this album. This is what hip hop albums used to sound like. He even has a DJ track where he faces off with DJ Cash Money, that's good stuff. I mean, Steezo's on it, c'maaan guy, that should be enough for you!



Album: Kiss Of Death
Artist: Jadakiss

Jadakiss has been anointed by some as the heir apparent to the King of New York throne left vacant when Jay-Z 'retired' (Riiight, and Tupac's still alive chilling in Cuba). Does Jada's sophomore album live up to all this hype? In all honesty, I'm not sure. I love Why and a few of the other jams, but I don't know if it works on the whole. Jada has plenty of talent, there's no denying that. He can rhyme his ass off and is clever with his lyrics, but he's still trying to find a formula that's going to work for him. As a testament to how much buzz Jada has right now, this album uses a different big name producer for almost every song, and as a result it sounds disjointed despite Jada's solid effort on each track.

The album kicks off with a typical NYC club track in the so-so What You So Mad At??, but the next track is the DJ Quik produced Shine that features Quik and Snoop sharing mic time with Jada. Believe me, I love the Quikster, I have three DJ Quik cassette tapes and a CD, but this comes right out of left field with Jada's gritty image. Maybe this is a good thing, giving people a little something different. Jada does sound better on Scott Storch's west coast flavoured Times Up with Nate Dogg on the hook. I like this song, but it kind of sounds like Mr. Storch just cut up different parts of Next Episode and Still A G Thing and blended them together. But I'll digress, it seems to work.

As I mentioned I love Why with Anthony Hamilton's soulful hook and Mobb Deep's Havoc providing a simple but catchy track. The whole 'why' gimmick could have been cheesy, but Jada's flow makes it work. In the irony department there's Real Hip Hop which features fellow LOX alum Sheek Louch and has probably the most un-hip hop beat going. Swizz Beats comes from nowhere with a crazy bongo and violin paced beat that features what I believe is a Kool Keith sample in the chrorus. I'm loving this one. I also like the 'Oh Boy' sounding By Your Side, the Kanye West featuring Gettin It In, and the title track Kiss Of Death produced by the ominous-sounding Red Spyda.

Those are my highlights I guess, so here's some I didn't enjoy. U Make Me Wanna features Mariah 'Crazy' Carey for some reason and it makes me wanna skip to the next track. I'm not feeling the Neptunes Hot Sauce To Go, it sounds like something they would've done for Timbersnake or Beyonce. Shoot Outs featuring Styles P of the LOX is produced by someone named Elite and sounds exactly like a movie trailer with some crap guitar and gun shots going off. Not sure how this made the cut. Welcome To D-Block is a decent jam that features the LOX together and is produced by Eminem. It's basically them talking about how tough their hood of Yonkers is, but features of verse from Eminem telling us how tough Yonkers is. They could've left the blonde bomber off that one.

So in the end I think this is a decent album, but Jada is perhaps an album or 2 away from really nailing it. He's doing some jams now to get over with the mainstream crowd, and I can appreciate that. Jay opened with a classic but them had some so-so efforts while he tried to crack the big time. But he came around and I think Jada will too, he certainly has the talent to make it happen.



Album: A Grand Don't Come for Free
Artist: The Streets

Mike Skinner's second album, A Grand Don't Come For Free, probably wasn't what most people were expecting as the follow-up to his outstanding debut Original Pirate Material. This time around the bouncy, garage-style beats take a bit of a backseat as Mike delivers a concept album that tells a story of overdue DVD fees, courtship, a lost shoebox full of money, backstabbing friends, snobby girls, friendly girls, sports wagering, TV repair, and heartache. These songs flow one into another telling a strangely compelling story.

I say the beats have taken a bit of a backseat because the story being told in the songs is the focus for The Streets this time around. The beats are all pretty simple, with off-kilter drums usually being complemented by some synth effects or a little bit of piano or guitar. This might be a turn-off for people expecting to bust a move to some euro-beats while Mr. Skinner kicks his crazy British raps. I'll admit that the first time through I was a little under whelmed by the laid back tone of the album. But in subsequent listens I became involved in the stories being told by each song and I realized that the beats match the feel of each song almost perfectly.

At this point, I'm a huge fan of this album. Why that is I don't think I could say exactly. What Mike Skinner lacks in MC skills he certainly makes up for in storytelling ability. The level of detail in his British everyman stories has me hooked. I might not be as interested if they were set in New York, but that's beside the point. Could Well Be In captures the feeling of falling for a new girl perfectly, and Dry Your Eyes describes moving on after getting your heart smashed better than the most dewy-eyed emo kid. I like the female chorus and borderline cheesy club sounds on Blinded By The Lights. The first single, Fit But You Know It doesn't sound like anything else on the album, but the catchy guitar and chorus get it a passing grade. Get Out Of My House is probably my least favorite jam on here, but even it has a few redeeming qualities, Mike's ad-libs at the end make me chuckle.

As I said, I like this album. But I realize it might not be for everyone. If you've heard of The Streets you know it's not straightforward hippy hop, you need to be somewhat down with the garagey beats and dudes rappin' with British accents. Fans of Original Pirate Material should certainly give this a listen. The one thing I would say is listen to it 2 or 3 times as I started to appreciate it more with repeated listens.



Album: To the 5 Boroughs
Artist: Beastie Boys

Once upon a time there was a young white lad in Halifax who loved the Rap music. The Beastie Boys were also white and his white friends loved their album Licensed To Ill. The youngster was not a huge fan, he fancied himself to be down with the real rap (Public Enemy, EPMD, BDK you know the deal). But then came the Beastie's second album, Paul's Boutique and he very much liked this album, it was almost impossible not to. Three years passed, the Beastie's released Check Your Head and started rocking it out. As you can imagine, our little rap lover didn't enjoy this turn of events. So he resigned himself to enjoying the Beastie's rap tunes but for the most part leaving their albums alone.

Believe it or not, the boy I describe in the last paragraph is me. I know, it seems far-fetched but it's oh so true. I know what you're thinking "Wow, you were white and loved the rap music, get in line behind Dave Silver and spare me the details". First of all, let's leave Dave Silver out of this. The reason for giving you such an interesting look into my past is mainly to show that I approach this Beastie's album from a different perspective than Ack. He's an absolute B-Boys fanatic whereas I'm more of a casual fan; the only Beastie albums I have are Paul's Boutique, Scientists Of Sound, and now To The 5 Boroughs. Because of this, and because of all the differing opinions on this album, we thought it would make sense if we both reviewed their latest offering.

This album seems to have divided people right down the middle, people seem to "get it" and enjoy it or they're hating on it like crazy. Well I like it. It's a full album of the Beastie Boys in hip hop mode kicking their simple, silly raps over their own in-house production. Where else in the major-label hip hop world are you going to hear the Beastie's combination of humour and political asides? There are a bunch of lines on this album that made me smile or laugh out loud a little, which is a nice change. Hip hop became huge business and it takes itself very seriously now. White hip hoppers trying the same routine these days can set up camp with Ugly Duckling 2 miles south of oblivion.

Unless I'm missing something, the Beasties did this album as a nod to the early NYC hip hop that got them into the game in the first place. It is called To The 5 Boroughs after all. But I've read articles with people criticizing them for sampling LL on 3 The Hard Way and rapping over the Rapper's Delight beat. Yes, these are obvious samples, but I think that's the point. I like the LL sample. I like the EPMD sample on It Takes Time To Build. I like the Big Daddy Kane sample on Hey Fuck You ("Put a quarter in your ass because you played yourself"-classic line"). I think people need to give this album a listen on its own merits, try and forget the arty brilliance of Hello Nasty for 10 minutes. But I'm no Beasties apologist; listen to the album for yourself. If you're a Beasties fan from way back I think you'll enjoy it.



Album: When It Falls
Artist: Zero7

Let me start off this review with an admission: I do not like the mellow trip-hop/downtempo type songs with dudes singing on them. I don't have a precise reason for this, but it just sounds odd to me and I don't enjoy it. Zero7 has a couple jams with a dude named Mozez singing on them, so I'm going to pretty much ignore those songs.

As for the rest of this album, it's not bad, but I stop short of saying I enjoy it. If you're in the mood for some uber chillout or fancy lad dinner party music, then this would work just fine. But don't get me wrong, that isn't to say that the album isn't well done. I certainly can't knock the production here. The brains behind Zero7, Sam Hardaker and Henry Binns, have put together some very lush, layered tracks for their various vocalists to sing over. All of the tracks have very crisp but understated drums with a number of other guitar and synth sounds layered on top. All of which add up to a sound that can only be described by a word like 'shimmery' (if that is indeed a word). Pretty much all of the songs on this album (Look Up being the only exception) are all very mellow and they tend to blend together. I listened to this album at work for the first time and was onto about track 5 without even noticing. I should mention the work of Danish songstress Tina Dico, whose voice is a perfect match for the Zero7 sound and stands out on her two tracks.

In the end, can I recommend this album? Honestly, I don't know. I wanted to review this album to get some content in our electronica section, but I don't know if it really fits in that category. Perhaps you could call it 'thinking man's electronica' or some such pufter name, but I don't think I'm pretentious enough for that. If you're looking for some background music then is an excellent choice. I enjoyed a few songs on here (Home, The Space Between, Look Up), but ultimately it had little impact on me when I listened to it, and that's not a good sign.



Album: The Pretty Toney Album
Artist: Ghostface

If you didn't know anything about the Ghostface formally known as Killah, listening to the Pretty Toney Album would clue you in to a few things pretty quickly. Firstly, Ghost is pretty much fed up with the crab MC's out there who have clearly bitten his style and continue to ride his jock without giving him the credit he deserves. Secondly, the Wally Champ likes the ladies, and he likes them often and quite graphically. Thirdly, Tony Starks is one of the rawest and most gifted storytelling MC's you'll come across in the rappin' game. You can feel the emotion he brings on every song like he's going to come through that speaker and smack you with a huge gold Jesus medallion. Lastly, if Mr. Coles sends you to the store with a written list, and on that list is a Banana Nutrament, your ass had better not bring back a chocolate.

Although the Ironman's latest opus doesn't have any of the classic Kung Fu samples that characterized the Wu-Tangs's early work (a shame if you ask me, but no one did), it plays like a classic Kung Fu flick. It comes out kicking like a mofo in classic Ghostface fashion with Biscuits, The RZA produced Hunta Fly Shit, Beat The Clock, and the NO I.D.(Where has Common's former producer been hiding? This is a nice beat) produced thumper Metal Lungies. These jams are as raw as anything Ghost has put out in the past; probably his attempt to verbally chin-check the doubters. But as in any Kung Fu flick, when the ladies arrive on the scene, the pace slows a little. The woman trouble jams are ushered in by the awful Bathtub skit and are highlighted by the first single Tush which features Missy. Let me say I am not a fan of this song. The mere thought of Ghostface push, push, pushing anything in Missy's tush is horrifying to say the least. I don't mind the beat, but I always feel compelled to skip it for fear that the image might get burned even slightly into my brain.

But the album gets kicked back into gear again and finishes strong like a huge fight scene. Holla is one of three jams on the album where Ghost is rapping right over classic soul jams (lyrics and all), La La (Means I Love You) in this case, and it works better than the others (Save Me Dear and Last Night). The Nottz produced Be This Way is my favorite jam on this album and is Ghost at his best, going all out for his over for his over a rugged yet smooth beat. Run deserves mentioning as it shows the RZA still has some quality beats left in him.

In the end, Pretty Toney has himself a decent album for his Def Jam debut. Is it at Ironman or Supreme Clientele status? Perhaps with repeated listens it might be up with those, but I think it's a notch below right now. But it does have Ghost in good form painting those ghetto narratives with the unique touches that make us all cherchez la Ghost each time he drops an album. That should be enough for you, so go cop this album, and get some cards while you're out so I can whip your ass in some Spades.



Album: Madvillainy
Artist: Madvillain

Madvillainy is the product of a meeting of the minds between two of the underground's most talented, and prolific mad scientists: MF Doom and Madlib. The science here is simple if you enjoy MF Doom, you will love this. As an homage to Doom's stream of consciousness rhyme style I will review this album through random thoughts generated as I listened to it.

  • Track 2, Accordion, uses a nice accordion sample to very cool effect. I think it's fair to say there isn't enough accordion in hip hop. Doom also rhymes bowflex with Joe Tex in this song.

  • MF Doom shouts out the duo's aliases on Bistro: King Geedorah, Viktor Vaughn, Quasimoto, and Yesterday's New Quintet. I know which is which but I'm going to smugly keep it to myself.

  • Either Madlib or Doom (perhaps both) has a crazy collection of 50's/60's type samples. More likely Doom, as he's used them on both his MF Doom and Viktor Vaughn projects.

  • - I thought Redman & Method Man were going to call their joint album 'America's Most Blunted'. Oh well that's the name of track 6 and the first single I think.

  • - Doom tries his hand at ODB style drunken singing on Rainbows. I'm assuming he's drunk, he might very well be sober and singing in a drunken style.

  • Money Folder is a tight jam. Is has a drum & bass-ish beat that somehow sounds good with Doom's offbeat flow which switches to a smooth jazz sample in the middle to match one of Doom's lyrics.

  • Operation Lifesaver aka Mint Test is about Doom meeting a chick in a bar and giving her the "do you need a breath mint" test. Which presumably just means does she have the stink breath. I guess even super villains appreciate the fresh breath.

  • Wildhild from the Lootpack kicks the rhymes on Hardcore Hustle. He sounds exactly like The GZA on this song. Makes me want to hear more Wildchild, or maybe I miss the GZA. Liquid Swords, nuff said.

  • Fancy Clown has the best title ever and a very cool soul-style beat that Kanye West might cook up. Madlib is a talented producer, All Caps is another tight beat with a dirty drum track with some crazy piano and horns meshing nicely.

  • 'The Rocket Scientist with the pocket wine list' - great line

  • There are no choruses on this album, just straight beats and lyrics.
So there you have it, some Naedoo-style mental diarrhea. Will it help you decide whether or not to get Madvillainy? Probably not, but wasn't it fun?

Album: Cee-Lo Green...Is The Soul Machine
Artist: Cee-Lo

Either you like Cee-Lo or you don't. Either you enjoy his shrieky/gravely voice or it sounds like fingers on the chalkboard. Either you're down with his attempt to put songs of every style and shape on his records or you wish he'd stick to the dirty south rappin'. I myself have been down with Cee-Lo since his appearance on Outkast's Get Up, Git Out (Off their first album, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, when Andre was wearing Atlanta Braves jersey's and not neon green Cherokee brave outfits - some of you might not be as familiar with that album as their latest "must have" album, but I digress.)

"Have mercy, I don't mean to be heavy, if I seem to be heavy" croons Lo on The Art Of Noise, where he's joined by Pharrell in one of two duos between two of the weirdest sounding singers going. While he might not mean to be heavy, surely he means to be funky, and he accomplishes this right from the jump, kicking the album off with 6 excellent jams strung back-to-back. Cee-Lo has enlisted an array of heavy-duty producers in his pursuit of the funk. But whether Lo's crooning a love song, rapping down south double time, or doing spoken word (no joke), the album still has a consistent vibe. The Neptunes help out with the afore mentioned Art Of Noise (which contains "Replayed Elements" from These Eyes - The Guess Who in this bizatch!), Timbaland and Jazze Pha get their crunk on for I'll Be Around and The One respectively, Organized Noize crank out a hyper cartoon-theme styled jam for Lo and Luda to abuse on Childz Play, and DJ Premier contributes a surprisingly unique track for Evening News. Cee-Lo's a man of many flows and they work better on this album than on his first album Cee-Lo Green and His Perfect Imperfections.

What we have here is an album as funky and soulful as any recent release. Oh I can hear you out there "But what about The Love Below, surely you don't think..." - stop right there friend. I think this album compares favorably with Andre 3000's eclectic effort, and might in fact be a better all around album. So if you liked Love Below, do yourself a favour and get with the The Soul Machine.



Album: College Dropout
Artist: Kanye West

Hey you, have you heard of hip hop or listened to the radio in the last few months? If so, then you've heard all about Kanye West and I have very little to tell you. Still reading? Good for you, that was a test, of course I have loads of genius things for that ass.

Kanye West is a paradox. He's an enigma wrapped in a riddle, wrapped in a Triple 5 Soul blazer, with an R.O.C. chain wrapped around it. Many people have already used his "benz and a backpack" line to describe what he's all about and I guess I just did as well. Kanye is trying to create a bridge between the money making flossy floss rap Jay-Z and his R.O.C. brethren have been preaching for years, and the positive everyman styles of people like Common and Talib Kweli (Both of whom appear on Get 'Em High, where Kanye name drops Talib to try and pick up a chick - which would be Talib's most unlikely appearance if he hadn't done a collabo with the legendary DJ Quik on his last album). Done wrong, this could have been a cheesy, un-enjoyable concept (i.e. Soundbombing III), but it works here. Kanye embraces his two conflicting personalities. He professes his Mad Max like need for Jesus on Jesus Walks, but then we find him apologizing to Mos Def and Talib for rapping about gold again on Breathe In Breathe Out. Kanye puts his main man Jay-Z on a track with Def Poetry Jam spitter J. Ivey. He employs Miri Ben-Ari's "hip hop violin" work on The New Workout Plan. In short, he takes some chances for a cat that landed on Jay-Z's record label and had enough buzz to guarantee him sales no matter what kind of album he dropped. Some of the chances pay off, some don't. But credit's given here for trying them.

So here's the bottom line, this is a good album. As you can imagine from his current status as the "it" producer, the production on this album is solid. Kanye has a very soul-based sound which is consistent throughout the album, and he doesn't overuse his trademark sped up soul samples. Kanye doesn't have the best flow, and I doubt he's winning Scribble Jam 04, but that's almost of little consequence here. Kanye's a charismatic and funny guy who covers very different ground than most emcee's these days. Whether he's discussing the car crash that almost killed him (Through The Wire), or the self-consciousness that drives him to buy those iced out watches (All Falls Down), you're left wanting more Kanye like you were Chris Walken and he was cowbell. If you like the hip hop, or want to represent the cool music, buy this album.

Music, Reviews, HipHop



Album: Spirit In Stone
Artist: Lifesavas

The Lifesavas are coming out of the hip hop metropolis Portland, Oregon, to save hip hop's collective ass from the monotonous pimp talk and obscure nerd rap that threaten it in 2004. Well maybe I made that up, but despite the borderline wack, and somewhat deceiving name, the Lifesavas' Spirit In Stone is a very good album. Hip Hop in the 2000's could use more music like this.

Considering these chaps are the latest members of the Quannum Projects family, you should have a pretty good idea what you're getting into with this album (that's assuming you're hip hop cool and are familiar with other Quannum releases, otherwise, tough luck ace). Like their Bay area label mates, Jumbo The Garbageman, Vursatyl, and DJ Rev. Shines come with a more musical style of the underground hip hop, with former youth choir member Vursatyl crooning on a number of the tracks.

Musically, the album has a bouncy underground feel created by Jumbo who produced most of the album. These Oregonians can also hold their own on the mic and touch on a number of different topics like the ills of society (What If It's True), corrupt government (Resist), hip hop groupies (Fa' Show), and keeping a level head in the rap game (HelloHiHey). The last of these songs is the jam most people have mentioned after checking this album. Vursatyl encounters a couple emcees who talk a lot of junk, only to realize that these fellows represent him in his younger days and also what he could become if he lets the fame go to his head - sort of a rap version of A Christmas Carol with Vurs playing MC Scrooge. It's a clever idea and shows these dudes have the humility and talent to say a little somethin' interesting on the mic device.

One final thing I should mention is that the only non-Quannum guest on Spirit In Stone is J-Live. In my humble (and correct) opinion, J-Live is one of the best emcees around, so his presence alone makes this CD worth a recommendation. So here's the bottom line: do you like your underground hip hop with some spicy beats and smart lyrics? Well what're you waiting for fancy pants? Go get yourself this album.

Music, Reviews, HipHop



Snow Patrol - Eyes Open
Venice is Sinking - Sorry About the Flowers
Islands - Return to Sea
Josh Rouse - Live at the Red Room
Wordsworth - Mirror Music: The Deluxe Edition
Midlake - The Trials of Van Occupanther
new amsterdams - story like a scar (mar.30th/06)
lovely feathers - hind hind legs (Mar.28th/06)
Hotel Lights - Hotel Lights
King Biscuit Time - Black Gold


12/01/2004 - 12/31/2004
01/01/2005 - 01/31/2005
02/01/2005 - 02/28/2005
03/01/2005 - 03/31/2005
04/01/2005 - 04/30/2005
05/01/2005 - 05/31/2005
06/01/2005 - 06/30/2005
07/01/2005 - 07/31/2005
08/01/2005 - 08/31/2005
09/01/2005 - 09/30/2005
10/01/2005 - 10/31/2005
11/01/2005 - 11/30/2005
12/01/2005 - 12/31/2005
01/01/2006 - 01/31/2006
02/01/2006 - 02/28/2006
03/01/2006 - 03/31/2006
04/01/2006 - 04/30/2006
05/01/2006 - 05/31/2006


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