Mars Ill-ProPain (2004)

My Rating: 76% (B-)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 76% (B-)

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Pro*Pain (Intro)
  2. Say So
  3. Sound Off
  4. Too Strong To Change Feat. Cappadonna
  5. Dog Eared Page
  6. More Feat. Ahmad Jones & Anthony David
  7. Jus The Two Of Us
  8. Stand Back And Watch
  9. Wicked Ways
  10. Saturday Night Special Feat. Ishues & D.R.E.S. The Beatnik
  11. Glam Rap Feat. Prince Po
  12. Higher
  13. Effortless Feat. X:144
  14. Write Of Passage Feat. Ben Hameen & J-Mil
  15. When Heaven Scrapes The Pavement
  16. I Is
  17. We Out (Outro)

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Wanting some solid old school/industrial sounding beats.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

It’s what actually first drew me into listening to this group, I absolutely love it!

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

I own a couple singles of theirs on vinyl from this album and those are awesome, so I’ll probably just stick to that.

Final Thoughts:

Mars Ill is one of those groups that aged really well, some Christian groups or emcees I liked in high school didn’t grow with me, but Mars Ill definitely did. The two reasons these guys stand out are their beats and their lyrics. The beats on ProPain are incredibly unique, sounding like a mix of Yeezus and Be, really original. Manchild’s flow and lyrics have always been worthy of my  attention, other emcees I can put on and turn my brain off, but Manchild continues to have lyrics to dig into after all these years, it’s never more prevalent then on When Heaven Scrapes The Pavement which is one of my all-time favourite Christian Hip Hop songs. ProPain has showed it’s maturity with my own, it’s an album I’ve always respected and although it’s not one I’ll list among my favourites it’s one I will more than likely always speak highly of.

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Motion Man-Clearing the Field (2002)

My Rating: 63% (C)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 63% (C)

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Action Figure Intro
  2. Straight Flowin’ on Em
  3. Clearing the Field
  4. Funky Ass White Boy
  5. Loose Cannon
  6. Hold Up (feat. Biz Markie)
  7. Winner Takes All
  8. Play Dough
  9. Reason 2 Panic (feat. E-40)
  10. One of My Favorite Emcees (skit)
  11. C’mon on Ya’ll
  12. Call da National Guard 2
  13. Trounce
  14. Don’t Get Motion Started
  15. Having a Moment
  16. Face 2 Face (feat. Planet Asia)
  17. Make It and Sell It
  18. Side ta Side
  19. I Need a Vacation (feat. Noggin Nodders)
  20. We Work Styles (feat. Kool Keith & LC)
  21. Juan’s Sister (skit)
  22. Beotches
  23. Gotta Move On (outro)

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Wanting to dig for a few hip-hop gems.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

I used to love it as a teenager, but I don’t know I fell out of love with it.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Not this one.

Final Thoughts:

Clearing The Field showcases more of that underground original deliverance from Motion Man that has gone unnoticed by most hip hop heads for far too long, while not being at all well put together. The album, like a lot of hip hop, just has way too many interludes that break the vibe that you’re trying to pick up. Motion Man is undoubtedly a very talented underappreciated emcee, but Clearing The Field is not the album to prove my point on that. True, there are definitely some worthwhile tracks on here, and some awesome guest emcees, but it’s altogether too disjointed and feels much more like a mixtape than an actual album.

Mos Def-The Ecstatic (2009)

My Rating: 88% (A-)

Pitchfork Rating: 80%

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: 81%

Average Rating: 83%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Supermagic
  2. Twilite Speedball
  3. Auditorium Feat. The Ruler
  4. Wahid
  5. Priority
  6. Quiet Dog Bite Hard
  7. Life In Marvelous Times
  8. The Embassy
  9. No Hay Nada Mas
  10. Pistola
  11. Pretty Dancer
  12. Workers Comp
  13. Revelations
  14. Roses Feat. Georgia Anne Muldrow
  15. History Feat. Talib Kweli
  16. Casa Bey

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Looking to a sequel to Black on Both Sides.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Super unique, I like it a lot.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Almost bought it the other day.

Final Thoughts:

I was too young for this album when I bought it, well, maybe that’s not quite right, I was just not in the mindset to get into this Mos Def album. For the most part it remained buried in my iTunes Library, until I decided to revisit it and see if it was as mediocre as I recalled. I was wrong, so wrong. Mos Def is incredible on The Ecstatic, he delivers his signature flow with wit, venom, and passion. The album is an incredible experience, it’s especially impressive to hear how he mixes both an experimental sound with an old school flow. The Ecstatic is a unique listen that Hip-Hop heads and even experimental fans will find joy in.

DOOM (MF Doom)-Born Like This (2009)

My Rating: 76% (B-)

Pitchfork Rating: 80%

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: 77%

Average Rating: 78%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Supervillain Intro
  2. Gazzillion Ear
  3. Ballskin
  4. Yessir (featuring Raekwon)
  5. Absolutely
  6. Rap Ambush
  7. Lightworks
  8. Batty Boyz
  9. Angelz (featuring Tony Starks)
  10. Cellz
  11. Still Dope (featuring Empress Starhh Tha Femcee)
  12. Microwave Mayo
  13. More Rhymin’
  14. That’s That
  15. Supervillainz (featuring Kurious, Mobonix & Slug)
  16. Bumpy’s Message (featuring Bumpy Knuckles)
  17. Thank Ya

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Needing to get some anger out/concentrate on a new project.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Super odd, fits Doom’s style.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Yes!

Final Thoughts:

Doom is at his angriest on Born Like This, there’s something that has changed him when he released this album. A depressing epiphany of some sort proceeded this album, and we can thank it for the dirty, dark, and much more focused rhyme style of Doom. I do miss the jokey rhymes that Doom was known for saying, but I can’t help but enjoy this more angry version of the villain. As always Doom shoots his albums in the foot by using so so many interludes, it’s really the only reason his albums get such a low rating, we don’t need interludes anymore, I don’t understand the draw to them in the rap genre, if you must, tack em to a beginning or ending of song, don’t make it a separate track and make us think we’re getting more than we actually are. Born Like This is Doom’s darkest offering, visit if you dare.

Method Man-The Meth Lab (2011)

My Rating: 82% (B+)

Pitchfork Rating: 40%

Rolling Stone Rating: 60%

Metacritic Rating: 59%

Average Rating: 60%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Intro
  2. The Meth Lab (Feat. Hanz On & Streetlife)
  3. Straight Gutta (Feat. Redman, Hanz On & Streetlife)
  4. Bang Zoom (Feat. Hanz On, Streetlife & Eazy Get Rite)
  5. 50 Shots (Feat. Mack Wilds, Streetlife & Cory Gunz)
  6. The Pledge (Feat. Hanz On & Streetlife)
  7. 2 Minutes Of Your Time
  8. Worldwide (Feat. Hanz On, Uncle Murda & Chedda Bang)
  9. Soundcheck (Feat. Hanz On & Carlton Fisk)
  10. Water (Feat. Chedda Bang)
  11. Lifestyles (Feat. Cardi, Eazy Get Rite & Freaky Marciano)
  12. The Purple Tape (Feat. Raekwon & Inspectah Deck)
  13. Intelligent Meth (Feat. Masta Killa, Streetlife & iNTeLL)
  14. Symphony (Feat. Hanz On, Streetlife, Kash Verrazano, Carlton Fisk & Killa Sin)
  15. What You Getting Into (Feat. Streetlife & Donny Cacsh)
  16. Another Winter (Feat. Hanz On, Streetlife & Carlton Fisk)
  17. Rain All Day (Feat. Hanz On & Dro Pesci)
  18. So Staten (Feat. Hanz On & Hue Huf)
  19. Outro

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Looking for laid back gangster hip hop.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

I love it, cool colours.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Absolutely.

Final Thoughts:

In a market where hip hop heads and critics pretty much demand innovation and experimentation, a few emcees hold up a middle finger, drink a Colt 45, and continue doing things their way, one of those emcees is Method Man, and it’s business as usual on The Meth Lab. Critics don’t like this album, but Method Man could give a shit, this is an album for Wu-Tang Clan fans, and they should be delighted, because I sure as hell am. This is solid hip-hop, it’s lots of fun, and it’s pretty simplistic, it’s not going to be my favourite album, but you know what? I’m not looking for a groundbreaking album from Method Man, I’m looking for old school hip-hop, and the man delivers on The Meth Lab.

Mase-Double Up (1999)

My Rating: 53% (D)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 53%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Intro
  2. Stay Out Of My Way (Feat. Total)
  3. Get Ready (Feat. Blackstreet)
  4. Make Me Cry
  5. Award Show (Interlude)
  6. Same Niggas
  7. No Matter What
  8. If You Want To Party
  9. Jail Visit (Interlude)
  10. Fuck Me, Fuck You (Feat. Mysonne)
  11. Do It Again (Feat. Puff Daddy)
  12. Another Story To Tell
  13. Blood Is Thicker
  14. You Ain’t Smart
  15. All I Ever Wanted
  16. Mad Rapper (Interlude)
  17. From Scratch (Feat. Shyne, Harlem World & Mysonne)
  18. Gettin’ It (Feat. Funkmaster Flex)

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Digging for a few Bad Boy releases to add to your collection.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Laughably terrible.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Nah.

Final Thoughts:

Double Up is a conglomerate of what makes a rap album terrible: unnecessary interludes, featuring artists who end up being the only artist on the track, a trying to hard to be tough attitude, repetitive choruses, and explicit to be explicit mentality. Mase is no doubt somewhat of a legend when it comes to hip-hop, but good lord Double Up misses so many marks it’s almost like it was intentional. This is bottom of the barrel Bad Boy records that are better left forgotten than revisited. There are a couple tracks that are fun, but honestly you’re not missing much if you skip out on this one.

Murs-Captain California (2017)

My Rating: 85% (B++)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: 82%

Average Rating: 84%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Lemon Juice (feat. Curtiss King)
  2. Shakespeare on the Low (feat. Rexx Life Raj)
  3. GBKW (God Bless Kanye West)
  4. Colossus
  5. Another Round (feat. Krizz Kaliko)
  6. Xmas and Thanksgiving
  7. Summer
  8. 1000 Suns
  9. One Uh Those Days (feat. Reverie)
  10. G Is for Gentrify
  11. Animals Damnit (feat. Beleaf)
  12. Ay Caramba
  13. Wanna Be High (feat. Big Too Big)

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

On the hunt for some Good Life sounding rap, although not one of the Good Life emcees, Murs definitely would be at home with the vibe.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

I actually really like this album cover, it’s one of those that I can stare at for awhile and just enjoy the pure art behind it.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Hell yes.

Final Thoughts:

Murs went weird there for a bit, his rhymes got really gangster and not as fun and clever as what I grew up with. Honestly he fell off my radar once he tried to reinvent himself, although I don’t fault him for trying to reach a wider audience, it wasn’t for me. Captain California is the compromise between his new fans and his old fans. I love hearing songs like God Bless Kanye West and Lemon Juice because I get my classic Murs fill, while songs like Colossus may not necessarily be my favourite tracks, they are in no way bad. Murs has found his sweet spot, a little more tweaking here and there and he may have found something to write home about.

Mac Demarco-2 (2012)

My Rating: 91% (A)

Pitchfork Rating: 82%

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: 81%

Average Rating: 85%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Cooking Up Something Good
  2. Dreamin
  3. Freaking Out the Neighborhood
  4. Annie
  5. Ode to Viceroy
  6. Robson Girl
  7. The Stars Keep On Calling My Name
  8. My Kind of Woman
  9. Boe Zaah
  10. Sherrill
  11. Still Together

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Ready for a more under-polished Mac Demarco album, but still love his vibe as much as I do.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

It’s funny, but not doing a whole lot for me.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Oh for sure.

Final Thoughts:

Mac Demarco has turned into one of those artists who I’ll pretty much love anything they release, his style is unique, chill, and groovy. He has this unique way of being kind of sad while still being uplifting. 2 is a surprisingly solid album for an earlier release in his career. Not as “clean” sounding as his later albums, but still really catchy, sexy, and so laid back. Demarco knows his audience, he’s found his niche and has slowly crept out of it with his album This Old Dog, which got a lot of radio play, but his heart will always be with the isolated and the weirdos. Somehow he can still cater to a wider audience like my parents, and customers that walk into the bookstore I work at.

Viktor Vaughn (MF Doom)-Vaudeville Villain (2003)

My Rating: 79% (B)

Pitchfork Rating: 91%

Rolling Stone Rating:N/A

Metacritic Rating: 71%

Average Rating: 80%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Overture
  2. Vaudeville Villain
  3. Lickupon
  4. The Drop
  5. Lactose and Lecithin
  6. A Dead Mouse
  7. Rae Dawn
  8. Let Me Watch Feat Apani B
  9. Open Mic Nite Part One Feat Lord Sear Benn Grimm Rodan and Louis Logic
  10. Saliva
  11. Modern Day Mugging
  12. Open Mic Nite Part Two Feat Lord Sear and Hydro
  13. Never Dead Feat Sayyid
  14. Pop Snot
  15. Mr Clean
  16. G.M.C
  17. Change the Beat

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Looking to dig deep into the mad world of Doom.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

It’s pretty boring honestly, usually love his covers.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

So badly yes.

Final Thoughts:

MF Doom is one of, if not my all time favourite, rappers. His flow is so unique and his beats are so dangerous sounding, I honestly wouldn’t even know how to begin to write a rhyme over the beats he uses. On Vaudeville Villain we’re introduced to his alias Viktor Vaughn, a younger man than Doom who is more interested in sipping brew and picking up chicks than the old Villain. Viktor has a few interesting tracks that get at his personality such as Let Me Watch and the the title track Vaudeville Villain, but where he truly shines is on the track Lickupon where the rhyme scheme is both fast and delicious (“if these walls could talk, they probably still ignore me“). Doom fans will be stoked about this installment in Doom lore, non converts shouldn’t start here, but they should find themselves here after doing some research.

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