FAT BEATS DISTRIBUTION/INTERNAL AFFAIRS ENTERTAINMENT
RELEASED: January 15, 2016
PHYSICAL COPY RELEASE: March 11, 2016
REVIEW BY Michael Grant (C.E.O. Of RePPiN4U)
“Boom, bad enough they biting lines like n!&&@$ killed me when they came with some Na-
N!&&@$ bit offa Nas sh!t! You know what I’m saying?
Word n!&&@$ n!&&@$ n!&&@$ n!&&@$ caught his little album cover, boom
Then done did a Nas for that sh!t…” Ghostface Killah, Shark N!&&@$ (Biters), 1995
It’s a good thing Torae decided to release this album 21 years later right?
It may seem a co-incidence, but if your album cover is you as a young child, your album becomes a masterpiece and talked about for years to come. It happened with Nas (Illmatic), Notorious B.I.G. (Ready To Die) and now it could happen to Torae’s new album ‘Entitled’. The kickstarter fund for the album has completed, the Admission of Guilt mixtapes have had people anticipating the sophomore effort, and For The Record, this could well be Torae’s finest work to date. 14 tracks plus 2 bonus cuts, Torae is Entitled to enter himself in the 2016 Album Of The Year race. Not convinced? Here’s the breakdown.
The way this ‘Introview’ starts is so geniusly done because we have all been there. We have all been to job interviews where no matter how much research you have done prior, the interviewer comes off with some nonsense of what the job entails. Let’s be real, all we are interested in is getting the job so we can decorate the kitchen table. Torae’s Barrel Brother knows all about that.
The Imperial Sound is just that. IMPERIAL. The live trumpets from Sean Taylor gives the album such a positive vibe and feel good sound to set off the album. Now we gonna ‘Get Down’ over the trademark infectious Pete Rock sound. It’s great that Torae points out that he wasn’t endorsed by Jay-Z or Dr.Dre to make it big, proving that it is still possible to make it off your own strength.
Funny how he mentions Jay in Get Down, he uses his line in ‘Clap Sh!t Up’… assaulting the Nottz beat, and putting fans on blast at the same time…
“Want to hear my old sh!t, buy my old album
If you really love it, why I only sold thousands?” We claim to support and love real hip hop yet album sales doesn’t reflect that. Just as the listener is on the ropes with that verse, Torae tags in Phonte, assaulting commercial rap…“Scrimmaging against you effeminate n!&&@$ in boy shorts/Kitten, your raps scratching up the floor board/In a top hat, you rap n!&&@$ is Boy George/I attack tracks with more force/And more anger than a gangster in a Russian divorce court…”
When heads hear the trademark sample at the start of a track ‘Jahlil Beats, Holla At Me’… heads usually get nervous as it’s usually a track that we are not accustomed to. But Torae has it all under control in ‘Let Em Know’. This is the closest to a club/party track as you gonna get and it’s a real sham it may get overlooked by DJs.
The party setting left by ‘Let Em Know’ may just lead into what might be one of the album’s many highlights… ‘Override’ Is Torae’s way of telling the guys to go back to basics to win a woman’s heart without having to resort to usual player shenanigans. The dreamy sonics provided by E. Jones of the Soul Council gives it a 2016 ‘LL Cool J – Hey Lover, Around The Way Girl’ sure fire visual waiting to happen, but the spoken word by Roni Marsallis is such an epic touch as it shows the woman’s perspective in Torae’s approach. AMAZING.
After the listener is blown away by that ‘Queen with a Crown that is down for whateva’ music, Mr Porter and DJ Boogie Blind scratch the hell out of RUN DMC’s Down With The King for the next track over an oriental backdrop. Don’t let the sultry visual of 3D Na’tee (pictured right) fool you. This rapper/songwriter/video director can assault a track with the best of them.
Within the first 20 seconds you will find yourself reaching for the rewind button as Torae hits you with the R.E.A.L. sh!t, warning up and coming artists how it really goes down in the music industry if they don’t keep their third eye open. Another amazing highlight on the album. Torae RePPiN Real Music 4U… and seemingly does it with ease.
You hear the needle hit the vinyl, that only means one thing, an Apollo Brown track! We are dealing with Coney Island’s Finest. Album sounding so good that even Apollo asked Torae how his beat style is going to flow with the album.. in the !llmind produced ‘Troubled Times’, Torae tells different scenarios, but most notably a story of a perfect example the Wu-Tang stated in their ‘A Better Tomorrow’ track on Wu-Tang Forever where a young girl partied her life away, only to see her seed go the same way later in life.
‘Together’ featuring Kil Ripkin & Shaquawana Shawnte is a soul drenching, heart touching track which sounded like something producer Praise found in the Roc-A-Fella archives during the early 2000s… Torae, Ripkin and Shawnte call for our people to come together, as Ripkin explains: “Time to coalesce in to our own valiant victory/Know your fam’s history, not falling for the trickery/Or marching in them streets while police give civil injury
Nah, we need love, truth, peace, freedom, and justice/I told you, it’s nobles, there’s nothing more illustrious/Nothing more regal, we know lawful from legal/You can’t gun our youth down, use the system to free you/Without being shown how divine deals with the evil
Bear witness for yourself the most powerful people…”
The soulful flow continues on into the title track..assisted by the smooth vocals of Teedra Moses, Torae realises that some rappers are misusing their talent and looks at the game shaking his head… “I do it for the fam, some people do it for fame/Is you making a difference or you just making it rain?/I’m for making a change, let’s build generational wealth/So we will never be impoverished again/Went from how many mics to how many likes/Your prince want to be a Barb, your princess a dyke…”
As the album reaches it’s close, we see the maturity within Torae by putting The eNd to the usage of the N-word. He brings the quote from the Richard Pryor live performance back in the 70s of the signifigance of the word. True story – when I said hello to 36 earlier this year, everybody showed me Facebook love (as we do). One guy wished me bday love but used the N word far too many times. I had to pull him up and say yo, I don’t address my best friends like that, so he turns round and had the nerve to say I don’t know the history behind the N word… the life of social media hey people?
Instead of writing a shout outs in the inlay, Torae decides to drop a Shoutro, and delivers a mini behind the scenes of the making of this album. Shout out to Khrysis for the beat on this, it’s not as soulful as the 9th Wonder Shoutro from the Justus League singles files, but that’s only a minor overlook.
Big up to Torae for including ‘Saturday Night’ as a bonus track, A premo banger which sees Torae do comical and delivers a funny story of him ordering a chinese, gets delivered by a delivery girl, gets busy with the girl before confronted by a kung fu expert. Very entertaining track, and almost if it was by popular demand, What’s Love featuring Pharoahe Monch created so much buzz from the Admission of Guilt mixtape, Torae had no choice biut to include it here. Praise flips the beat/sample Kanye West once used for Beanie Sigel’s ‘Nothing Like It’ and Torae & Pharoahe do it justice massively.
Since Torae mentions today’s rappers begging for likes instead of mics, If I was to award this album, I would be so tempted to award it the full five. This is flawless. But when I think of the classic albums that has gone before, I’d give it a realistic 4.5 mics. On the flipside, where exactly would he lose that half a mic? The physical copy only came out over here in the UK, otherwise I would have brought this review to you sooner. Torae has done something here that’s hardly seen in this era of hip hop: Bring a body of work with no filler, no tracks hitting the skip button. I am Entitled to my opinion right?