ALBUM REVIEW: Real Life by Malichi

MALICHIhttp://www.malichimusic.net

Malichi is a hip hop artist hailing from Canada who originally broke out back in 2003 when he had a Top 5 single for six weeks on mainstream radio, then reached number one on the Joy 1250 Christian radio countdown. He was also nominated for the 2004 Covenant Award and received 2 Maja Awards for Hip Hop Album of the Year and New Artist of the Year.

This album, Real Life, consists of twenty tracks and starts with the excellent Rush, featuring his fine rapping talents and a female sung chorus hook. His style of hip hop is more classy and sophisticated than most, with a slick commercial quality to the sound. Lyrically, though, he deals with raw themes and tales of street life and shares some of the tracks with some guest rappers.

B-Boy Stance is another great piece of hip hop with the great hook line “When I die, bury me vertically in the B-Boy Stance…”. There are almost too many highlights to mention but the Other strongest tracks for me were the powerful Child Soldier, Hesitate. Watch Dem Friends with its great vocal hook,  the funky Heaven and the closing Cry, inspired by the Bob Marley classic.

Overall, this is an extremely high class hip hop that shows a lot of musical range across its twenty tracks. Although Malichi’s presence dominates the album, his collaborators help add variety and just about every track here is strong, with numerous potential singles. Deserves to make a big impact, above and beyond the hip hop scene.

 

Alex Faulkner (The Faulkner Review)

 

Verdict: 9 out of 10

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SINGLE REVIEW: Limericks by Young A.G.

YOUNG

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/

SINGLE REVIEW: Drink On by Jordan York feat. Derek Allan

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This crossover track is an interesting collaboration between two artists working in different genres – rap/hip hop artist Jordan York and country singer/songwriter Derek Allan who both hail from Pittsburgh. The collaboration developed from the success  of the 2014 Jordan York; Magical Mystery Park Tour where Derek was featured as Jordan’s special guest. They decided to combine forces and write this track, which is being released through Noisetrade records.

They describe the track as a high energy party song and the music effectively juxtaposes a laid back hip hop beat with a memorable electric guitar riff. The verse consists of Jordan’s smooth, distinctive rapping delivery backed by acoustic guitar with some entertaining lyrics: “Kick that keg, sip that bottle…, I’m poolside with America’s top model….”.

This leads to the catchy, anthemic chorus (“Everybody get your drink on…”) sung by Derek Allan over low-end electric guitar chords. The contrast between the rapped verses and sung chorus is very effective, as well as the blend of hip hop, country and rock. There is a short middle eight before one last chorus, and some nice lead guitar towards the end.

Overall, this is an inspired crossover track that successfully mixes genres that you might not naturally think would fit well together. Both artists get to do what their good at and their different abilities/styles complement each other perfectly. It’s the perfect modern party anthem that has across the board appeal and you can imagine it becoming a huge hit.

 

Alex Faulkner

Verdict: 8.4 out of 10

 

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

 

SINGLE REVIEW: Unity (feat. Fuchapro & Mav) by Train City

10435979_855121121187291_8980679172063242303_nhttps://www.facebook.com/traincityesohel

Train City (real name Steven Carrillo) is a Latino hip-hop/rap artist hailing from Flagstaff, Arizona. He started making music at the age of only twelve and later developed an interest in rapping and the hip-hop world. In 2012, he was signed by Es Oh El Records, one of the major Latino labels worldwide. This track, Unity, features Fuchapro and Mav of Sol Camp, and was produced by Lucci Luke.

It is a slow-paced hip-hop track with a laid back, languorous groove and funky piano that drives the track along nicely. It starts with the sung chorus which has the song’s basic message: “We need to spread more love and unity..”. This leads to the verse where Train City takes the mic, and his upbeat positivity is immediately captivating. His rapping style on this track is confident and direct, with lines like  “Today’s the day that we come as one…tomorrow’s the future, can you see the plan?

After the second chorus Mav of Sol Camp takes over the mic and his rapping style complements Train City nicely, echoing his message that we need to come together rather than stand against each other, with lines like “Less murderin’, more love and peace, I ain’t a hippy but that’s exactly what we need…”.

Overall, this is an inspiring and enjoyable hip-hop track that will be popular with Train City’s existing fanbase and should bring him some new ones. With strong production and a catchy, commercial hook it is also very well suited to radio. Couple that with a great video, and I think Train City may have a hit on his hands. It’s also a necessary and important message to get out to the world right now, so I hope he finds a lot of success with it.

 

Alex Faulkner

Verdict: 8.5 out of 10