Archive for the ‘album review’ Category

Soulico- Exotic On The Speaker

October 18, 2009
Soulico- Exotic On The Speaker

Written By: Victoria Hill
(Urban/Pop Editor)

Label: JDub Records – Rating:

In the past 30 years or so, Hip-Hop has grown from the streets of New York to become an international cultural phenomenon, with influences stemming from rock, pop, country, Indian and Middle Eastern music.

I had the opportunity to listen to an up-and-coming DJ crew from Tel Aviv called Soulico. DJ Sabbo, Rob, Shimmy Sonic and Wido had success spinning records as solo DJ’s, but they decided to come together, combining their skills to become a premier live act.

Soulico released three mixtapes to critical acclaim and has now released their first album, “Exotic On The Speaker.” The album combines hip-hop, reggae, dance hall, Jewish/Israeli folk music and disco, and features some of the best MC’s in Hip-Hop: Ghostface Killah from Wu-Tang, Del The Funkee Homosapien, Lyrics Born, and Rye Rye (M.I.A’s protégé).

“El Nur” featuring Ghostface Killah is energetic and is a great start for the album. “Queen Of Hearts” is just pure dancehall fun and “Politrix” with Del The Funkee Homosapien is a robotic electronic track. I felt that even though there are a lot of guest artists on the album, Soulico still stands out; this can be hard, especially when going up against a hip-hop legend like Ghostface Killah, but they pull it off well.

The mix of Arabic and Hebrew with rap is not new, but Soulico has a genuine respect for hip-hop, and they seamlessly blend so many styles together without sounding cluttered. The ambition and drive that Soulico displays is refreshing, and as I have been saying in many of my rap reviews this year, I love how hip-hop is expanding into in territories and becoming more experimental. Soulico has a bright career ahead of them and “Exotic On The Speaker” a perfect description of what the crew is.

Album Review: Audible Mainframe- Transients

September 7, 2009

Label: Audible Mainframe (BMI)
Rating: 3 Guns

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Audible Mainframe - Transients

Written By: Victoria H. (Urban Editor)

Transients is the third album from Audible Mainframe, a six piece hip-hop band from LA.

“When people listen to this album I want them to feel like the future just punched them in the face.” said MC Expo (lead member of Audible Mainframe). “We wanted to make the type of hip-hop record that made us fall in love with hip-hop in the first place: big beats, excellent musicianship, and next level throwback lyricism.”

I was not familiar with Audible Mainframe, so when I heard this album I really impressed by the musicianship and the lyrics from this band. I realized in listening to the album, that there are not a lot of hip-hop bands- The Roots come to mind, but I would be hard pressed to think of another band out there. I think that Audible Mainframe stands out because they are more than just hip-hop; they are rap, soul and rock. The lyrics are intelligent and thoughtful.

The opening track, “Money and Flash” took me in immediately. A homage to hip-hop heroes like Tupac and Biggie, the track pays respect to the genre and the people who have paved the way.

I loved “Don’t Be A Sheep (On Friday Night) because MC Expo delivers a great message about being an individual.

For being a six piece band, I felt that I could hear each members journey in the lyrics and how flawless the sound is.

The energy of this album is intense and I am interested to see what the band is like live. I don’t know if this album will break Audible Mainframe from the underground scene to the mainstream, but I think that this is a band that you should seek out.

Kristinia DeBarge- Exposed

August 12, 2009

Label: Island/Soda Pop
Rating: 2.5 Guns

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Kristinia DeBarge - Exposed

Written By: Victoria H. (Urban Editor)

Kristinia may only be 19 years old, but she has done a lot in her career so far. Born into the 1980’s R & B group DeBarge (her father is James DeBarge), Kristinia got her start singing at age 3 and went into the recording studio at age 12with her father. At age 13, Kristinia was on the talent show American Juniors, making it to the semi-final round. At age 14, Kristinia met and started working with producer Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and by the age of 19, released her debut, Exposed.

The first single off the album is Goodbye, which samples the 1969 Steam song Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye. The song is featured in Nivea’s new skin care commercials. The song lets girls know that they are special, beautiful and that they do not have to settle for anyone who does not treat them with respect.

Exposed has a great team of pop producers and writers; in addition to Babyface, Ryan Tedder (OneRepublic frontman), The Jam and The Pentagon contribute catchy pop songs and R & B ballads. Kristinia also co-writes two songs on the album called Cried Me A River and It’s Gotta Be Love.

I like how Kristinia sings about subjects that other young adults can relate to; she is not trying to sound older than she is and her songs are relatable. Kristinia’s voice is energetic and a talent that will only expand. Exposed is a great debut for the newest pop princess.

Fabolous- Loso’s Way

August 11, 2009

Label: Desert Storm, Def Jam
Rating: 2.5 Guns

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Fabolous & The-Dream - Loso's Way

Written By: Victoria H. (Urban Editor)

When I heard that Fabolous released an album called Loso’s Way, I could not help to think the title sounded like Carlito’s Way- even the fonts for Carlito’s Way and Loso’s Way look the same. So I was surprised to learn that this is no accident, but rap has always looked to Al Pacino and his films for inspiration.

Loso’s Way is a concept album which ties into Fabolous’ movie about him leaving a restaurant when he is shot. His three friends quickly rush Fabolous to the hospital, but are stopped by the police after running a red light. The movie which is included on the deluxe version of the CD, also features Styles P, DJ Clue, DJ Khaled, Jadakiss, Swizz Beatz, DJ Envy and Ryan Leslie.

Loso’s Way is not shy when it comes to the number of producers which include DJ Clue, Ryan Leslie, Christopher “Tricky” Stewart. StreetRunner, The Runners, DJ Khalil, Miguel Jiminez, The Alchemist, Syience, Jermaine Dupri, Sami Wilf, LRoc, No I.D., Sid V, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, Sean C. & L.V., Blackout Movement and L Pro.

Guests on the album include, Keri Hilson, Lil’ Wayne, Ne-Yo, Trey Songz and Jay-Z on the track Money Goes, Honey Stay.

Money Goes, Honey Stay is one of the best tracks on the CD, with Jay-Z taking the lead.

Stay with Marsha Ambrosius is a moving track about fatherhood and the moments between a parent and child. You can feel Fabolous’ pain when he says “my daddy left me and he ain’t even die/So when he had to go, I ain’t even cry”. I was touched when he questions the kind of father he is when he had to miss important moments in his child’s life so he can earn a living, but realizes that there are more important things than rap or music.

Everything, Everywhere, Everyday with Keri Hilson is infectious and a fun single and I can see this being played at block party on a hot summer day.

I think Loso’s Way is in an interesting concept and Fabolous growth as a rapper does show on the tracks.

Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse Present: Dark Night of the Soul

August 4, 2009

Label: EMI
Rating: 4 Guns

Written By: Victoria H. (Urban Editor)

I am going to review book/album, but the twist is that the album is not available in stores due to a dispute with EMI. EMI will not go into the specifics as to why the album will not be released, but they said that “Danger Mouse is a brilliant, talented artist for whom we have enormous respect. We continue to make every effort to resolve this situation and we are talking to Brian Burton (Danger Mouse) directly. Meanwhile, we need to reserve our rights.”

The book accompanying the album is available for sell and will contain a blank recordable CD-R. All CD’s will contain the message, “for legal reasons the enclosed CD-R contains no music. Use it as you will.”

Both parties have remained silent about the details, but it is believed that the problems with distribution center around a record deal that Danger Mouse signed with Lex Records.

The album can be streamed on NPR’s website.

Dark Night Of The Soul is an album written by Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse (Mark Linkous). The album features James Mercer of The Shins, The Flaming Lips, Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals, Jason Lytle of Grandaddy, Julian Casablancas of The Strokes, Frank Black of The Pixies, Iggy Pop, Nina Persson of The Cardigans, Suzanne Vega, Vic Chesnutt, David Lynch and Scott Spillane Of Neutral Milk Hotel and The Gerbils. The singers also help composing and producing the album.

Now you might wonder why David Lynch is on the album since he is the creator of Twin Peaks and the director of Blue Velvet, but Danger Mouse wanted stark and powerful images to go with the music and he felt that David would be able to accomplish the tasks. While David also appears on the tracks, his voice is not a singers voice, but he does well enough.

The artists on the album come from the worlds of pop, rock and alternative and through the excellent production of Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse, the voices and songs fit very well and do not seem disjointed. The production and the lyrics are dark and seem like you are listening to the soundtrack of Twin Peaks.

Some of the stand out tracks include, “The Man Who Played God” sung by Suzanne Vega about making your craziness work for you and “Daddy’s Gone” on which Mark Linkous and Nina Persson talk about the freedom that comes with being abandoned. “Insane Lullaby” which features James Mercer contains some very haunting lyrics like “Dreams float up from fishes in the flood; at a new dimension; leaving only parts to play; needs are forming again; a good life would just never be enough.”

Unless the dispute between Danger Mouse and EMI is resolved, this will become another “lost album” like The Grey Album (Jay-Z’s Black Album, remixed with The Beatles’ White Album), which would be a shame as the Dark Night Of The Soul is just brilliant concept from start to finish.