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

 

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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

ALBUM REVIEW: IQ Test by IQ

iq_test  http://www.iqslab.com/

IQ is a rap/hip hop artist hailing from Los Angeles. He started out at the age of only six, when he began writing poems that resembled rap songs. After a colourful adolescence, where he ended up serving jail sentences in three different counties, he formed the record label Intelligence Records with his cousin, Significant7. He then helped form the group Linguistics who ended up supporting acts such as Wu-Tang, Dilated Peoples and KRS-ONE. He cites influences such as Tech N9ne, Beastie Boys and Eminem, which are audible in his music.

This album, IQ Test (released September 1st, 2015), consists of sixteen tracks, opening with Addiction ft. Gina Lorenzo. It starts with the instantly memorable chorus hook sung by Gina, who has a powerful, soulful voice. The track deals with drug addiction, but also the human capacity for addiction in general. IQ enters for the verse, and immediately impresses with a casual, almost conversational rapping style that rivals Eminem for wordplay and inventive rhymes.

There’s also a worldly wisdom borne of experience in lines like ‘Drugs may empower you, but after a while you can’t get to the same altitude…’. The musical backing is sparse but effective, pulsing insistent piano and subtle bass over a laid back hip hop beat, with a synth riff on the chorus. It’s essentially an anti-drugs song that isn’t corny or preachy because it’s real and humorous as well as serious.

Second track Changin’ The World also has a positive message behind it but doesn’t shirk from pointing out the many screwed up aspects of the world: “See, I have this vision for man, soon we’ll stop fighting over religion and land… I see the consequences of their decision and look, you guys are lost fighting over primitive books….”. Again, IQ combines rapped verses with serious content, along with a simple and catchy vocal hook which makes for an effective combination.

Next comes Strong ft. Amy Winehouse, J Money/Lovie Ray and it’s a mindblower. Sampling the late, great Amy Winehouse (Stronger Than Me from her first album Frank) to great effect, it becomes a smoky, jazzy hip hop track replete with mellow clean guitar and smooth trumpet. Each of the three rappers lay down a verse each, and their differing styles complement each other. A real album highlight.

No Playin’ Games ft. Buppy Brown is a very catchy track (with some Shabba Ranks style vocals from Buppy) over a descending piano riff and mid tempo beat with busy hi hats. It contains some very funny, if very politically incorrect lyrics from IQ, who has an Eminem-style capacity to shock and a similar sense of dark humour. Might As Well is a nice contrast, acoustic guitar and trumpet giving the musical backing a Latin feel. Lyrically, it’s about taking a ‘devil may care’ attitude towards life and again has a catchy chorus with some amusingly offensive but unprintable lines!

Who I Am ft. Phil Dog and Gina Lorenzo is a fine piece of RnB-flavoured rap about identity and being understood. Gina sings a powerful hook (“There’s a burning inside me that you’ll never understand…” ) and gravel-voiced Phil Dog gives a nice cameo on the second verse. Gina’s classy vocals feature again on Achieve, another track with an uplifting, defiantly positive message.

10’s Only is a dubstep-influenced hip hop track, with a Skrillex type low synth sound on the chorus that beefs up another addictive hook from IQ. On the verses, he explains his preference for only the most attractive women, and it’s safe to say he is not concerned about aiming for the feminist demographic with this one. Crazy Life is another entertaining track, IQ really showing his verbal dexterity and seamless flow as he recalls his troubled youth in and out of prison. His brutal honesty is one of his strengths and by the end you’ll find yourself agreeing with him when he says “I’ve had a crazy life….”.

In A Perfect World is the final track to feature Gina Lorenzo. Ironically enough, it is her, rather than IQ, that gets to deliver the most acerbic lines as she describes why a perfect world would be hell: “No need for motivation when everybody wins, no death means overpopulation of chumps with stupid grins…”. Lanita is more light hearted, essentially IQ imagining an erotic encounter with his masseuse!

Threesome, as the title suggests, carries on the sexual theme with a tale about a threesome that didn’t quite happen due to too much alcohol being involved: “Next thing I know I was passing out on the couch, next morning she’s telling me to get out of her house…”. Track fourteen Let’s Go has a chugging, insistent Lose Yourself style rhythm and shows that IQ can do fighting talk as well as any rapper you care to name.

There is no drop off in quality on the last two tracks. Work has one of the catchiest choruses here, performed over a swirling synth melody that brought to mind Mike Oldfield’s classic Tubular Bells and is a late highlight. No Mo’ Savin’ These Ho’s makes for a suitable and enjoyable finale featuring the most intricate hip hop beat on the album with skittish, super-fast hi hats and an 80’s style synth melody that becomes part of the track’s main hook.

Overall, this is a consistently excellent album that showcases IQ as a charismatic and controversial artist. He depicts his hedonistic lifestyle with refreshing candour, yet at the same time manages to convey a strongly positive social message on some tracks without coming across as trite. Now that Eminem is past his best, maybe IQ is his natural heir as a smart, socially aware rapper that isn’t afraid to shock or offend the political correctness brigade.

 

Alex Faulkner

Verdict: 8.6 out of 10

 

E.P. REVIEW: Arpad B by Arpad B

a0327679487_2Arpad B is a hip-hop artist born in Hungary but based in Sweden. After putting out a few mixtapes to acclaim he now releases this eponymous seven track E.P. He combines the depth of old school hip-hop with modern production styles and this E.P. involves several producers, which helps to add sonic variety.

It begins with a 90 second instrumental introduction of rising and echoing synths with a laid back, toe tapping beat which creates a nice sense of tension and anticipation for what follows. The first proper track How I Feel is a great opening statement to the E.P. as it introduces Arpad B’s style and sound in a similar way to My Name Is by Eminem.

Like Eminem, he has an aggressive delivery and a brilliant capacity for rhymes and wordplay. The themes he chooses, though, are somewhat different to most other rappers, and this gives him his own style. Over a slinky hip hop beat and a harpsichord melody, Arpad lays down a smooth flowing rap that touches on his faith and importance of family, as well as declaring his strong self-belief.

Next on the E.P is Dear Mother, a poignant and moving track about dealing with the grief of losing a loved one and a source of inspiration. This kind of depth and emotional honesty is not that common in hip hop and this is what makes Arpad B stand out from the rest of the pack. The eloquent lyrics address her directly and lay bare his deepest feelings, which is a brave artistic move in a hip hop scene full of aggression and male bravado.

This different, honest approach carries on to the next track On My Mind, which is backed by a pulsing synth and a funky, skittish beat featuring some intricate, complex hi hat patterns. Near the start he readily admits “The life of crime was something that appealed to me….” but goes on to recount how the strength of his faith helped him take a more moral path. Again, it is refreshing to hear this when so many hip hop artists choose to glamorize violence and the gangster lifestyle.

This lifestyle is the topic of Who Shot Biggie? and the subject matter of this won’t need to be explained to any true hip hop fan. It hails the late rap star Notorious B.I.G. as a legend, and states the one who murdered him ‘murdered hip hop‘. It’s a powerful, hard hitting track and the simple hook of “Who shot Biggie Smalls? I wanna know….” is one of the catchiest on the E.P.

Sixth track November 25th is short but potent at only two minutes twenty, and features a gorgeous piano riff drenched in reverb as Arpad last down some of his sharpest rhymes. He muses on the state of society and the ‘misuse’ of hip hop, but also notes rightly that ‘the politicians be doin’ the biggest crimes‘.

I’m Gonna Shine is last and makes the perfect finale to the E.P. It is a defiant display of self-belief with a great chord progression as well as the funkiest beat and catchiest chorus hook of them all: “I’m gonna shine cos it’s my time, I’m telling y’all I’m gonna get mine…”. This would be a good single, being the most instant track.

Overall, this is a very strong E.P. that marks out Arpad B as an original voice on the hip hop scene both in terms of sound and the depth and variety of his lyrical content. With the Always Get My Own E.P. soon to follow it won’t be long before he gets the recognition he deserves, from both the public as well as his hip hop peers, and he has the talent to stick around for a long time.

Alex Faulkner

Verdict: 8.5 out of 10

 

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