Grieves-Together/Apart (2011)

My Rating: 94% (A+)

Pitchfork Rating: 52%

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: 70%

Average Rating: 72% (C++)

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Light Speed
  2. Bloody Poetry
  3. Falling From You
  4. On The Rocks
  5. Sunny Side of Hell
  6. Tragic
  7. Boogie Man
  8. Pressure Cracks
  9. No Matter What
  10. Vice Grip
  11. Heartbreak Hotel
  12. Speak Easy
  13. Prize Fighter
  14. Wild Thing
  15. Growing Pains
  16. Against the Bottom

Label:

Rhymesayers Entertainment

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You:

Just went through a bad breakup.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

I love love love this album cover.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

So badly yes.

Final Thoughts:

Grieves’ Together/Apart was the first album he released with Rhymesayers and it’s near perfect. Fans of Slug from Atmosphere, Brother Ali, and Blueprint should feel at home with this painfully vulnerable album. Grieves holds nothing back, ex-girlfriends, addictions, mental illness among other topics are on full display here. We’ve gotten to a place where mainstream rap (Kid Cudi, Kanye West, Drake etc.) can all talk mental illness, addiction, and insecurity on their albums and not lose credibility, Grieves is an excellent example of how far hip hop has progressed, and how much further we’re actually open to take it.

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SBTRKT-SBTRKT (2011)

My Rating: 88% (A-)

Pitchfork Rating: 81%

Rolling Stone Rating: 70%

Metacritic Rating: 76%

Average Rating: 79% (B)

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Heatwave
  2. Hold On
  3. Wildfire Feat. Little Dragon
  4. Sanctuary
  5. Trials of the Past
  6. Right Thing to Do
  7. Something Goes Right
  8. Pharoahs
  9. Ready Set Loop
  10. Never Never
  11. Go Bang
  12. Living Like I Do (feat. Sampha)

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Wanting an electronic album with lots of singing.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

It’s creepy just like the music.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Oh for sure!

Final Thoughts:

This may sound weird, but this is as close to R&B as I’ll get. For the most part I find the singing in R&B a little boring, but with fun electronic music it accompanies the singing well. That’s not to say that SBTRKT is solely R&B, I’d say there’s a lot of down tempo, dance, and even hip hop influences on this self titled album. SBTRKT is the kind of band that Little Dragon fans would feel comfortable with (as they should, they feature them on this album). I was a huge fan of their song New Dorp. New York off their album Wonder Where We Land, so I’m excited to watch this band progress.

Heath McNease-Straight Outta Console: The Nintendo Thumb Mixtape (2011)

My Rating: 95% (A+)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 95% (A+)

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Tanuki
  2. Make That Paperboy
  3. Konami Kode (Bill and Lance’s Excellent Adventure) featuring Playdough
  4. 40 Hard Bars
  5. Bomberman
  6. Do the Rambo
  7. Chopstlevania featuring Red Cloud
  8. Mmm…Donuts!
  9. Style Points featuring Playdough and Manchild (aka The Dangle Brothers)
  10. First Person Shooter
  11. Mayor McCheese
  12. The Day My Bars Dropped featuring Sev Statik and Freddie Bruno
  13. Kain’t Moov Nuthin
  14. LATFH
  15. Toads Magoats featuring Cas Metah and Sivion
  16. Bonesaw’s Ready
  17. Turtle Van Damme
  18. Glass Joe vs Gabby Jay featuring Okwerdz (Grind Time)
  19. Nintendo Thumb Remix featuring KJ 52

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Nostalgic for the Nintendo 64 days.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Fits the concept perfectly.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

If it exists then yes.

Final Thoughts:

What a brilliant concept, Nintendo and Hip Hop were a huge part of my childhood so having the two on one album is a quick way to my heart. Honestly, this album feels like it was made specifically for me. But from a marketing side of things it’s a great way to reach a wider audience, like it or not a lot of hip hop fans are actually nerds who blast it while getting some sick pwns, the gangster side of things doesn’t really fit the typical hip hop head. Heath McNease is one of the most underrated Christian emcees, he’s witty, fun, and gets serious when it’s called for (not at all on this album). Straight Outta Console: The Nintendo Thumb Mixtape is so so so much fun, any gamer or hip hop fan should give it a spin.

La Dispute-Wildlife (2011)

My Rating: 93% (A+)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 93% (A+)

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. A Departure
  2. Harder Harmonies
  3. St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church Blues
  4. Edit Your Hometown
  5. A Letter
  6. Safer In The Forest/Love Song For Poor Michigan
  7. The Most Beautiful Bitter Fruit
  8. A Poem
  9. King Park
  10. Edward Benz, 27 Times
  11. I See Everything
  12. A Broken Jar
  13. All Our Bruised Bodies And The Whole Heart Shrinks
  14. You And I In Unison

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Hurt and angry.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

It’s alright, don’t know if it really fits their sound, though.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Very badly, yes.

Final Thoughts:

I recently saw King Krule live, and one of the things the friend I went with said really stuck with me: “his performance looks like he’s in anguish.” I couldn’t agree more, and I think if King Krule is the performer who looks in pain, Jordan Dreyer is the singer who sounds like he’s in utter torment. And it works to his credit, where bands try to get across an ounce of emotion that La Dispute does, they can end up sounding whiny and pathetic. But somehow Dreyer and his crew get away with it. His narrative style isn’t so self-focused, songs like King Park (which seems all too relevant these days) really show that he’s actually just a really good songwriter. La Dispute is an impressive band, not just angry with emotion to let out, but musicians who are in pain who are trying to make sense of things.

Action Bronson-Dr. Lecter (2011)

My Rating: 73% (B-)

Pitchfork Rating: 81%

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 77%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Moonstruck
  2. Barry Horowitz
  3. The Madness
  4. Larry Csonka
  5. Ronnie Coleman
  6. Bag Of Money (Feat. Meyhem Lauren)
  7. Brunch
  8. Shiraz
  9. Buddy Guy
  10. Jerk Chicken (Feat. Maffew Ragazino)
  11. Chuck Person (Feat. Meyhem Lauren, Shaz IllYork & AG da Coroner)
  12. Forbidden Fruit
  13. Suede (Feat. Meyhem Lauren, Shaz IllYork, Fonda & Machine)
  14. Get Off My P.P.
  15. Beautiful Music

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Cooking something new.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

So very ugly.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Yeah for the right price.

Final Thoughts:

It’s interesting seeing these new emcees come out that are so obviously influenced by various members of Wu-Tang, Bronson takes after Ghostface Killah, but he’s much more than a modern replicate, he’s a chef first and a rapper second. That’s right, most of his lyrics are laced with calories upon calories of food references, and it’s surprisingly a good fit. His lyrics are entertaining, if not a little much at times (very explicit content here), but he somehow still ends up being likeable at the end of the record. My big criticism of Dr. Lecter is the album name. Is it a concept? Is it an alias? We certainly don’t find out on the record. If you’re going to pick such a random name for an album then at least let your fans in on the joke and/or theme. But at the end of the day, Food+Hip Hop=Action Bronson and that’s an alright equation for me.

Generationals-Actor-Caster (2011)

My Rating: 91% (A)

Pitchfork Rating: 66%

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 79%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Ten-Twenty-Ten
  2. I Promise
  3. Yours Forever
  4. You Say It Too
  5. Goose & Gander
  6. Dirty Mister Dirty
  7. Black And White
  8. Tell Me Now
  9. Greenleaf
  10. Please Be It
  11. U Say It 2

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Feeling down and need something to pick you up.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

It’s pretty simplistic, it’s not bad but not my favourite.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Yeah!

Final Thoughts:

Look, I’ll square with you, Generationals are not making music that is incredible, it’s not all too original or musically impressive, but damn it if it’s not catchy as all hell. Actor-Caster is such a great album to listen to while going for a walk on a hot sunny day, there’s little else I can picture while listening to the glittery tunes and I guess that’s why I love it so much, it’s simple and happy, and every once in awhile it’s nice to put on something that makes you happy without making you concentrate too much on the actual music itself. I’ve seen these guys live and it wasn’t great, honestly, but man, between headphones these guys are a lot of fun. Generationals aren’t shaking things up or making you stretch much musically, it’s a fun candy coated album for those days you just need something happy on.

Playdough-Hotdoggin (2011)

My Rating: 87% (A-)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 87%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Nunya
  2. Rhymer Reason
  3. No Angel
  4. Elizabeth Shue
  5. The Business
  6. Say Sumn
  7. My Cadillac
  8. Franks & Beans feat. Gift Of Gab
  9. 1 Day
  10. Singleminded Female
  11. So What feat. Freddie Bruno
  12. I Got It Like
  13. Ya Heard feat. Mr. Dibbs vs The Black Keys
  14. Follow It
  15. Sunset

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Looking for some clean(ish) hip hop to be funky with.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Hilarious.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Yeah, I doubt it even exists though.

Final Thoughts:

The hardest part of Christian Hip-Hop is being able to be authentic, at least that’s what I see the struggle being. With strict rules to stick to through Christian labels, it’s near impossible to get in one word that may make someone somewhere wince. The freedom, then, with underground Christian hip-hop is what makes the underground scene much more attractive. When Emcees like Playdough put out their own stuff they can have featuring artists like Gift of Gab, a album cover that is very sexual looking at first glance, and an honesty about the life they actually live. Hotdoggin pushes some boundaries, but mostly it shows Playdough’s incredible rhyme scheme while having fun and keeping things weird but authentic.

Brett Dennen-Loverboy (2011)

My Rating: 92% (A)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 92%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Surprise, Surprise
  2. Dancing at a Funeral
  3. Comeback Kid (That’s My Dog)
  4. Frozen in Slow Motion
  5. Sydney (I’ll Come Running)
  6. Make You Fall In Love with me
  7. Only Rain
  8. Can’t Stop Thinking
  9. Must Be Losing My Mind
  10. Song For Leaving
  11. Queen of the Westside
  12. Little Cosmic Girl
  13. Walk Away, Watch Me Burn

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Feeling blue, Brett Dennen has a natural way of lifting your spirits.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

It’s really really simple, and I like it that way, singer/songwriters usually have great album covers.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Yeah, I’ve never seen it for sale though.

Final Thoughts:

Brett Dennen is my homeboy, he hasn’t always been (I’ve been a fan since this album released) but I’ve repeatedly found comfort in his tunes. Loverboy was the album that showed me his diversity as well as helping me through some lonely times when I was still trying to find my way in the world, it has a lot of sentimental value to me. He’s an excellent songwriter and a very warm soul, I got to see him live and I remember how soul soothing it was, just a man, his guitar, and a cup of tea (he was actually sipping tea during his performance). If you haven’t checked him out yet start with Loverboy, you won’t be disappointed.

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.

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