SINGLE REVIEW: My All by Jae B. Tundra

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Jae B. Tundra is a 28 year old hip hop artist who was born and raised in New Jersey. As an artist, he believes other artists and emcees should work together as a movement to help and support each other. He also aims to combine his influences to forge his own unique style. He cites luminaries like 2Pac, Notorious BIG, Eminem, DMX, Big Pun and The Fresh Prince (Will Smith) as hip hop artists he aspires to. He has already reached number one on the Soundclick Positive Vibe charts and had 50,000 streams online.

This track, My All, is a track from his debut EP Now or Never, which he describes as a motivational ‘in your face’ type song about his rise in the music industry. Set to a slinky, skittish beat, Jae B. Tundra grabs your attention from the outset. He has a measured, confident style on the mic, with a smooth and rhythmical delivery and lyrical flow.

Starting with a spoken word intro, he makes clear what the track is about: “This is for all the people struggling out there every day…”. He then breaks into the simple but highly effective and anthemic chorus (“All the time, on the grind, gonna get mine….”) which contrasts well with the wordplay and faster lyric flow of the verses. Like all the best rappers, he’s not short on self belief: “I’m the muscle and the brains, no need to explain....”. The ultimate message is inspiring for anyone who has to overcome difficulties in their field to achieve what they want in life, which applies to almost everyone.

Overall, this is a powerful debut single from an up and coming hip hop artist who has taken inspiration from his hip hop heroes and forged his own sonic identity. With a commanding and charismatic rapping style, and a gift for creating memorable hooks, he stands out from the crowd in the hip hop world and I expect this release to bring his dynamic music to a much wider audience. In short, My All deserves to be a resounding success.

VERDICT: 9 out of 10 

Alex Faulkner

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ALBUM REVIEW: Unhappy Gilmore 3.5 by Ogre Man

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Ogre Man (a.k.a. Earl Ray Da Ogre, Demented Da Ogre) is a hip hop artist hailing from Dallas, Texas. He is part of a group known as Dallas Zu. He was initially known as a ‘horror core’ rapper but has evolved into a multi-style lyricist. This mixtape is an extension of his Unhappy Gilmore trilogy and is his first release for a while. It consists of fourteen tracks, and contains guest appearances from several of his hip hop cohorts.

He has a hard-hitting rapping style that brought to mind the compelling and aggressive delivery of the legendary Chuck D from seminal hip-hop group Public Enemy. This mixtape has been produced by C.G. for Manipulative Music, and his role seems similar to that of Terminator X in P. E. It also features DJ Cayne, who makes his presence known during intros between tracks with skits.

The mixtape starts with Intro, which sets a party vibe before it bursts into The Industry’s Problem. The track cleverly uses a sample of a guitar riff from Korn’s Freak On A Leash, Ogre Man delivering a powerful and intense performance, depicting his outsider status as an artist considered too dangerous and subversive by the music industry.

The combination of a rock riff with a strong rapping style is highly effective and brought to mind She Watch Channel Zero from P.E.’s classic album It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back. Ogre Man sounds genuinely menacing when he intones, “I’m the one they tried to hold back, and for that I will show no slack…..”.

Second track You Must Think features fellow rappers #Skoundrellife, Killa Killeon, Chase Pat and Mz. Trinity. They are all superb rappers with very individual styles that complement each other. It features a slinky glitch-hop beat and an instantly memorable  hook, baiting those who dare to call them fake or phony: “You must think we ain’t real, you must think we ain’t true…..”, and disses those who they believe are fake: “You say you’re a gangster but you sound like a pop star…..”.

Step In My Square (featuring Don Claude) is Ogre Man at his most incendiary, laying down the gauntlet for his detractors to diss him to his face and setting out his position in very clear terms: “If you’ve got a problem with me, step in my square…”. I’ts one of the most aggressive and direct tracks on the mixtape, and also one of the catchiest.

I Got Juice is another strong track, essentially an ode to his automobile. Like any good gangster rapper, he’s proud of his wheels and there’s almost a dry humour to the bravado of lines like, “Engine screams out murder every time I crank it, all you see is exhaust fumes as soon as I punch it, with 300 horses you don’t wanna face me, shaking that pavement, you don’t wanna race me.…”.

Like many hip-hop artists, Ogre Man enjoys the hedonistic side of life and this is reflected in several of the tracks. The slinky, laid-back groove is a nice contrast after the intensity of the first quarter of the mixtape and the orchestral sample really lifts the vibe. The following Know A Little Freak is more hardcore, Ogre laying down some graphic rhymes that that are not complicated by any ambiguity.

Ogre Of Lust, as the title implies, continues this theme with some ‘bad boy’ lyrics that shows Ogre can rival Eminem for controversial content. He makes Snoop Dogg look like M.C. Hammer. They are great tracks and some credit should go to producer C.G. for some skittish beats and clever use of samples and scratches.

Ninth track I Don’t Tricc (ft. Pharaoh Da Don) brings it back to street life, this one about money issues and how he feels he’s “a hustler till I die“. It’s a refreshingly blunt and honest track that has a suitably decadent musical vibe which wouldn’t sound out of place on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack.

Cipher III (ft. #Skoundrellife, Zulu) is fantastic; built around a funky 70’s style musical backing, Ogre and guests take turns laying down some rapid fire rhymes that brought to mind the best Eminem and Dr. Dre collaborations. This would be a great choice for a single, though some lyrics from Ogre Man are pretty hardcore on this one and might require a radio edit!

Eleven track We Do (The Stonecutters) is based on the song of the same name taken from the Simpsons, and it starts with a hilarious short clip of the show. The rhymes come thick and fast on this one, and sampling a song which is a thinly veiled expose on the Masons is inspired.

Ogre Man returns to his horror core roots on Saw VIII (ft. #Skoundrellife), the title coming from the torture porn franchise. Full of audio samples from horror films, the lyrics match them for graphic imagery and it makes for a gripping listen. The intricate intensity of the beat ramps up the tension nicely, and it’s a disturbing but powerful track overall.

My Basement takes things to an even darker place, and this really is the musical equivalent of the hugely popular Saw and Hostel horror films. It’s an extremely unnerving depiction of someone luring a woman to his basement. I’ll leave the details for the listener but this is a challenging piece of lyrical content, be warned.

The closing track Gun Powder (ft. #Skoundrellife) is an explosive way to complete this rollercoaster journey. It features great rapping performances from Ogre and #Skoundrellife, who spits some mind bending tongue twisters while Ogre Man keeps it as real as he has done across the whole album.

Some rappers like to accessorize gangster life without true experience, but Ogre Man is 100% the real deal. It features an amusing section of a spoken list of words that are offensive and rappers aren’t ‘allowed’ to use. A very apposite track considering both the crisis about guns and the spread of political correctness in America.

Overall, this is a shotgun blast of a mixture from Ogre Man. He shows he’s the baddest of the bad boys with just about every vice covered lyrically with great style and braggadocio, taking it to some shocking places. The collaborations are all excellent and work seamlessly in the flow of the mixtape. For the many who loved the outrageous and controversial style of Eminem, you are going to be hugely entertained by Ogre Man and his friends.

 

VERDICT: 8.5 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

 

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ALBUM REVIEW: The Julie Project by 27 $AVAGE

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27 $AVAGE a.k.a. Hefe Heetroc (amongst other aliases) is a rapper/producer hailing from Albuquerque, New Mexico. He grew up in Rochester, NY and moved to California before ending up in Albuquerque. Picking up the guitar at 19, he moved into the hip hop genre at 27, collaborating with the emcee Loose Logic. His music has been featured on numerous blogs including ThisIs50 and his single ‘Space Energy’ has been aired on WRIU FM by Dj Padrino (of the Coke Boys).

His musical style has been described as a fusion of hip-hop, glitch-hop, and vaporwave, though for this album/mixtape The Julie Project he describes the music as ‘Alien Emo Trap’. Rather than a collection of separate tracks, it is mostly variations and remixes of the track Ocean Front with different material interspersed towards the end.

His rapping delivery is smooth and so laid back it’s almost vertical, imagine Snoop Dogg after a night on the chronic. He has a natural facility for rhythm and rhyme, with an inventive use of language like the best rappers. The album starts with lead single The Awakening, built around a simple but infectious vocal hook: “Now we’re rollin’ on the ocean front….”. The production is lo-fi but imaginative and edgy; it suits the overall vibe of the music, a meld of trap beats and bursts of synth riffs.

The Reckoning is, in ways, an extension of the first track, this one with an Eminem-esque lyrical flow and similar use of dark realism: “Life’s meaning is in its making, pain, blood, death, that’s for the taking…”. The track The Comeback is another variation on the theme, this one containing some impressive verbal gymnastics and rapid fire delivery.

Following this is a series of remixes and reinterpretations, my personal favourite being Ocean Front Part II, with it’s moody, throbbing bass and weirdly haunting synths. Eighth track It’s A Lie is excellent, built around a pounding kick and verbal fireworks, with the rhymes coming thick and fast. The last remix, Unstoppable, features a blistering breakbeat which helps make it one of the most effective tracks and a fine way to finish.

Overall, this is an intriguing project from 27 $AVAGE, who has melded various styles into a unique fusion that sets him apart from the generic hip hop crowd. He has developed his own style which is versatile, and deserves a strong fanbase. I’d be interested to see if he can develop this approach further and deliver a full album in the more conventional sense of entirely different tracks. This could be the case with his upcoming album Empire Of The Forgotten. Definitely one to watch for the future.

VERDICT: 7.4/10

Alex Faulkner

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UPCOMING RELEASES:

EMPIRE OF THE FORGOTTEN – RELEASE DATE= TBA

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MISLED VICTORY MIXTAPE – RELEASE DATE = TBA

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SINGLE REVIEW: Limericks by Young A.G.

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Young A.G. is a hip hop artist/rapper who is only sixteen years old, though you wouldn’t know it from listening to him at first. He has already developed as a rapper and whilst Eminem is obviously a huge influence, he has his own lyrical style as evident on this track Limericks, which he produced himself also.

Starting with a haunting piano melody, then building into a simple but effective beat augmented by subtle strings and a music box style sound, Young A.G. lays down the verse with a breathtaking rapid fire delivery that rivals Eminem for vocal dexterity and rhythmic complexity.

The chorus hook acts as the perfect contrast to the low voiced verses, as he can sing too, delivering the catchy lines: “I’m a move right to the top, and I really ain’t gone’ stop/ Just until everyone knows my name/ I’ve got some illogical thoughts that I don’t wanna bottle up so bottoms up, lemme here you scream/ (go sang)…..”.

Overall, this is a highly impressive track from a young artist who already sounds like the finished article, which is remarkable considering his age. With continued experience and further material he will expand his musical and lyrical horizons and shouldn’t be too worried if he finds himself compared to Eminem too much, as his own style will develop over time.

 

Alex Faulkner (The Faulkner Review)

 

VERDICT: 8.8 out of 10

 

SINGLE REVIEW: Beast by RobbieZ (KID CID)

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RobbieZ is a rap/hip hop artist hailing from Atlanta, USA. He is currently setting out on getting his name known and this track was produced by Coyote Diamonds and mixed by Radbooley. As a white rapper, he inevitably gets compared to Eminem, something which doesn’t amuse him and he makes a reference to that in this track. His music is a fairly raw style of hip hop, though the production is pretty slick.

Starting with an instantly catchy string synth riff which morphs into a rawer synth sound, RobbieZ enters and immediately captivates with an arresting rapping delivery style. A slinky hip hop beat then kicks in, with some complex hi hat patterns introduced gradually. He shows a flair for rhythm and rhyme, laying down his lines fast but with clarity.

The lyrics confront some of the issues he faces as a white rapper trying to make it: ‘Many men call me Eminem cos I’m a white boy, whenever they call me Slim, I just wanna fight boy…..People say I ain’t bad enough, had too much of that pampered life but they only saying that cos I’m white..’

Overall, this is an impressive hip hop track that shows RobbieZ is a force to be reckoned with in the hip hop scene. He has his own style and comes across as the ‘real deal’ with plenty to say. With Eminem now past his best, maybe it’s time for a new white boy in town.

Alex Faulkner

Verdict: 8.5 out of 10

E.P. REVIEW: Till The Grave by Flyer

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Flyer is a hip hop/rap artist residing in Orlando, Florida. This EP consists of five hip hop tracks that average around the four minute mark. His beats are languid and laid back which allows for clarity in his delivery and a smooth flow. He has his own unique style and an excellent command of rhyme and rhythm, showing real dexterity lyrical across the course of the EP.

First track Scott Jordan is a good example of his sound, opening with the track’s refrain “It’s been like a whole week, that I couldn’t get to sleep, this bitch is blowin’ up my phone…”. As that lyric suggests, Flyer is not overly concerned with being political correct, but this is more often humorous rather than offensive: “You can tell her bring her momma too….”.

Behind the rapping there is a finely constructed hip hop track, the beat punchy with intricate hi hats combining with subtle bass and atmospheric synths. Another nice production touch is Flyer layering his vocals on certain lines an octave lower, which works very effectively. An excellent start to the EP.

Second track Dancing Alone starts with a catchy low end synth riff and develops into a laid back 50 Cent style club track. Lyrically, it’s even more sexually explicit than the first track, which will please those who enjoy this kind of ‘bad boy’ hip hop. Musically, it’s a classy track which would set the right kind of sensual mood on the dancefloor.

Third track Fly is more serious; the memorable, poignant chorus is the first thing we hear: “All I got are these broken dreams, all I got are these broken things…Mama told me ‘Don’t fly’, Mama told me ‘Don’t try’….”. The emotional power of the lyrics brought to mind Eminem’s Cleaning Out My Closet and there is something similar in the sharp attacking rapping style he uses. The backing music matches the quality of the words, with backwards drums and all manner of vocal effects creating a nightmarish but thrilling soundscape.

Track four Presidential Suite is superb, beginning with swirling strings and breaking into a stately groove, ganged up with a tasty bass line and subtle brass. The track imagines becoming so famous that assassination becomes a possibility: “Make it big, they try to take you out like Kennedy… Tell my enemies that they better aim well…”. This track features some of his finest rapping, with a great chorus and some killer one-liners: “Baby when I spit, my residue is butane….”. Would make a perfect single.

Last track 4th Wall is a fine finale, with a meaty beat and EDM style synths that give it a modern edge, along with its dirty bass sound. It contains another addictive chorus hook that you soon find yourself singing along with: “Ain’t nobody ever gonna let you in, gonna have to break the walls down…”.

Overall, this is a very strong EP that shows Flyer can consistently cut it as a hip hop artist of high quality, and can be the rival of anyone out there. With Eminem past his best, and 50 Cent filing for bankruptcy, maybe it’s time for a new bad boy in town.

 

Alex Faulkner

 

Verdict: 8.5 out of 10

http://tillthegrave.com/

ALBUM REVIEW: Smile, beautiful by Moxie

a0806684515_10 Moxie is the moniker of Mitchel Paulson, who is a rapper/alternative hip hop artist hailing from St. Paul, Minnesota. He has built up a dedicated fan base with his dynamic live performances, gigging across the Midwest for seven years with other hip hop artists, punk, rock and screamo bands, as well as DJs. He has performed with Prof and Blueprint, Coolio, Supastition, Unknown Prophets and John Wayne & The Pain, amongst many others.

He has so far released four albums before this one and his fifth Smile, beautiful consists of ten tracks. His music is essentially hip hop, with elements of many other genres like glitch, dubstep, electronica and rock/metal. His rapping style is emotional and intense, with a fierce honesty to his often confessional lyrics, which cover a wide range of subject matter.

Early highlights of the album for me were track two, Angel Wings ft. Jess Bro, and fourth track Goin Once, Goin Twice. Track five, Evil, is a real highlight, featuring a classical style piano melody set to a muscular beat and an instantly memorable chorus hook. Along with an Eminem-style rap delivery, the track also brought to mind Cypress Hill. This was my personal favourite on the album and would make a perfect single.

The following A Thousand Reasons ft. Jess Bro lays bare his family and emotional issues in an amazingly honest way, and gives the track a real impact. Untapped Potential maintains the intensity with a heartfelt reflection on wasted opportunities.

The title track which closes the album shows his rock/metal influence, rapping over a fearsome guitar riff on the verses and low end chords for the chorus. Lyrically, it’s a real call-to-arms and the most positive message on the album: ‘Tonight, we all revolt, unite from coast to coast, tonight we all revolt, we fight to save our souls, so smile, beautiful…’. It’s an effective hybrid of genres and a powerful way to finish.

Overall, this is a very fine album that stands apart from most generic hip hop due to its openness and sincerity, as well being finely crafted and produced. Moxie lays bare his soul fearlessly and takes the listener on a journey to some dark places, but also gives a message of hope. While hip hop and rap is full of male bravado, it is Moxie who shows real bravery and artistic courage in exposing his innermost feelings and turning it into gritty, cathartic music.

 

Alex Faulkner

Verdict: 8.6 out of 10

 

Website: http://www.whoismoxie.com/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/giftofgab21
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/smile-beautiful./id1022844193
Spotify: Moxie “Smile, beautiful.”
Bandcamp: moxie1.bandcamp.com
Facebook: facebook.com/moxieofficial
Twitter: @whoismoxie