SEAN PRICE: Imperius Rex

RELEASE: AUGUST 8, 2017, DUCK DOWN RECORDS

PHYSICAL RELEASE (According to Amazon.co.uk) AUGUST 25, 2017

REVIEW BY MICHAEL GRANT: CEO of RePPiN4U & Member of GGO/WuWorldwide DJ Coalition

“You ain’t gotta wait til I’m gone… you should have built the ‘Pac statue when he was here to see it!” (Busta Rhymes, 2011)

Busta Rhymes is RIGHT. We as a society do it all too often, take things for granted while it is still here, and as soon as it’s gone, everything changes. But let’s be real, on August 8, 2015, NO ONE was prepared for the tragedy that would strike Hip Hop.

Imperius Rex Cover 3000x3000Sean Price wasn’t a man who had a record of major health issues like say Prodigy with Sickle Cell or Dilla with Lupus. He wasn’t a man we had to keep tabs on. He was a man who despite being loved by his fans from his Heltah Skeltah days all the way to Mic Tyson, he wanted to be acknowledged as just a regular guy who liked to make people laugh, and particularly in his solo career he brought out this mean, Bernie Mac style delivery in his rhymes.

Two years later, Price’s family and Duckdown Records unleash what is believed to be his final album: Imperius Rex, and going by the track listing, think of it as Notorious B.I.G.’s Born Again LP… done properly. Again let’s be real, when Born Again dropped, the tracks on it were a bit hit and miss. Everyone remembers B.I.G.s first two albums. Even now, if you asked the casual fan, they wouldn’t have realised that Faith Evans recently dropped a project called ‘The King & I’, which is a collaboration of tracks performed by her and B.I.G.

APE DON’T KILL APE – P!!

If only Sean did the soundtrack to the Planet of the Apes film, how wonderful would that be? We are not trying to hear what he and wife Bernadette do in the bedroom – we want to hear that out-of-order and bright delivery he is renowned for on the album’s title track produced by Alchemist! He’s not Martin Luther, he’s the man who punches through school buses!

The album’s second video – ‘Dead or Alive’ boasts that Wu-Tang Production in 4th Disciple and features his wife in the hook. Who would have thought she was nice on the mic like that? At the same time, why do we act surprised? This track goes hard. If your face isn’t screwed up at this point, ready to kick down racists, stop reading this review now. This album is not for you!

P! continues his ‘Shawn Carter is nice but Sean Price is the best’ bravado on ‘Definition of a God’. Here P! proves his point way ahead of his time – 4:44 is a nice album but it’s been under debate and controversy since it dropped, and maybe the album achieved it’s purpose, but only three tracks in and the impact of Imperius Rex has already hit home faster than Jay making it back from ‘Becky’s house.

Many would believe that Sean was indeed a ‘Ape in his Apex’ at time of his passing. Over a MF DOOM sounding beat, actually produced by Crummie Beats, Ruste Juxx would concur, to the point where he believes he laid down one of his best verses in his career here, even playfully reveal P! as his ghostwriter.

‘Apartheid’ sees hints of reggae roots seep through and Buckshot defining what Hip Hop heaven is: “If Ruck don’t like you, Buck don’t like you/Ruck down, buck down, what a n!&&@ might do/Black moonwalk on ’em, rest in peace to Michael
R.I.P. Phife from Tribe, he in the light too/Hip-hop heaven, you see seven, that’s the god
All praises due to Allah, sun, moon, star…”

This along with ‘Lord Have Mercy’ may or may not show examples of unfinished tracks which P! started and Rim P & Vic Spencer finished, such as the ‘Born Again’ theory suggests.

‘Negus’ sees Hip Hop’s favourite supervillians combine their force and form a deadly alliance: Imperius Rex & MF DOOM featuring Ike Eyes. This is also appears on Adult Swim’s the Missing Notebook Rhymes in which DOOM releases a new track every Monday (At time of this review).

What hurts fake thugs/road man worse than being punched through pizza shop windows? Taking a knife to their Nike air bubble, as Sean demonstrates in Church Bells featuring Junior Reid. And Sean is right – I have seen such guys over the years enter Foot Locker and cause an argument with the staff because they want a refund from their Nike TNs after they splashed in the puddle wearing them after a day.

RUCKUS IN A P MINOR

This is an album highlight and a half, and on an even bigger scale because of Prodigy. Only Styles P can tell this story of how it came about. The 3 Lyrical Ps is Hip Hop History. Hard hitting lyrics over  haunting deliberate sonics. This is sure-fire on every DJ’s best of 2017 playlist when the year is said and done.

Imperius Rex tracklist

NOT97 is a crazy parody of how Funk Flex and Hot 97 acts, and well deserved, because Flex’s comments about 2Pac as of late has not made him a likeable man. It also painfully reminds us that we may never see visual sketches that P! likes to do every now and then going forward. That aspect of him specifically will be sorely missed.

Omarion’s Ice Box has nothing on Refrigerator P! Yes he jumped on the remix of Girl with Destiny’s Child, he has shown ‘love’ on Heartburn and ‘I Love You B!tch’, but that’s the closest you are gonna get to P! going full-blown R&B: “Never catch P on the girl song
I smack sh!t out your “We Are the World” song/Get a hater scary
My defense intense Refrigerator Perry!”

Freeway admits he is a ‘Prisoner’ to this rap, but he and Sean are out to ‘Bea Smith’ the game over a Marco Polo beat. Then in ‘Resident Evil’,  P! comes with lyrics that would make Capcom proud and even Eminem drop his jaw: “Rape an atheist ’til the bitch say, “our father”/Hail Mary/Brenda Had a Baby
Threw the baby out the window, now Brenda is going crazy”!

If that was any other artist, for the sake of argument – Jay- who said that same lyric, Hip Hop fans would be up in arms and adding on to his illuminati accusations.

FANS PRAYERS ANSWERED

Call it posse cut of the year. After wishes and petitions, a true Boot Camp Clik/Wu-Tang Clan track has come true in the Nottz produced ‘Clans & Cliks’. This is far too epic to not have a video produced for it, or even performed on stage. This is critically acclaimed and well received, one must wonder – are there still unreleased ODB & P! Verses enough to make that joint album we have always wanted?

It is great that the album closes out with Rap Professor which was released exactly a year after his passing, followed by ‘Price’s Family’, which further confirms what was alluded earlier about Sean’s way of life with Bernadette’s few bars which also go impressively hard, along with a fun fact which Bernadette reveals in the interview below…

This is a near perfect album to come out this year. Not because Sean is no longer here in the physical, but I say near perfect because as solid and flawless as it is, there are certain elements us fans wanted which may not be there, for example, some fans wished there was a 9th Wonder beat in there somewhere, a good ol’ Heltah Skeltah duo cut, or in my personal case – a Random Axe cut. Again these are minors, and like Dru-Ha explained in the video above, Bernadette put the body of work together that is Imperius Rex, approving the features, putting verses together, and she did it 100 times better than Puff Daddy did with Born Again – no wait – 1000 times better why? Because Sean Master Flex liked that number. P!

RAEKWON – THE WILD

RELEASE DATE: March 24, 2017, ICEH2O RECORDS/EMPIRE

Written by Michael Grant, C.E.O. of RePPiN4U, member of GGO – Ghetto Government Officials and Wu Worldwide DJ Coalition

IN THE LAST EPISODE…

“Usually, the chef will tell their customers, what is in the dish that they prepared for them in detail. Raekwon has done no different in many interviews prior to this album coming out months in advance. So why didn’t Rae’s loyal heads not take heed? While this album has been received well by casual hip hop fans, the hardcore fan base are not so pleased, especially in a time when Raekwon most notably trashed the Wu album – A Better Tomorrow…”

Raekwon The wildThis basically summed up F.I.L.A. Fly International Luxurious Art. I saw what Rae was trying to do. We all did, but I stand by what I said last time. He let his fans know before hand and as a result, the fans let themselves down with their expectations. Rae’s most hardcore fans want the Wu-Tang sound and nothing less. But with RZA’s production sounding more left field as of late, this has led our Wu generals looking elsewhere for beats that will appeal to their fan base.

RZA has handed the Wu keys over to Ghostface Killah if we are to see a new Wu Album, and who is Ghost’s longtime tag team partner? The Chef himself, who has heard the constructive criticism regarding F.I.L.A. and so this is another attempt to fine tune his sound to appeal to loyal fans and new fans. We recently learned that Justice League will be producing on the new Wu Album, and they are featured here on this new project – The Wild, which has no Wu features at all, and dedicated to Mel Carter. With all this in mind, is this an early inkling to what the new Wu Album could sound like?

No messing about, straight into the first single. ‘This Is What It Comes Too’ right? Raekwon is bringing the ferocious flow back over classic drums brought into 2017. A remix has recently surfaced featuring that man who had been gone for 36 Seasons. Now not for ‘Nothing’, Rae comes through with sonics which resemble the Wu-sound. You will not find Kung Fu skits here, but instead you hear parodies based on the real in the form of a guy singing about shorties getting their head right…

Talking of stories based on the real, Rae takes you back to April 2, 1939 with a sure-fire album highlight, sending a tribute to ‘Marvin’ Gaye. The track is a soul drenching winner thanks to the hook supplied by Cee Lo Green. The soulful flow continues on into ‘Can’t You See’. If the listener is not zoned out at this point with a tear in their eye… I don’t think this album is for them.

This is the ‘controversial’ track of the album. Wu-fans worst nightmare has come true in ‘My Corner’. All the Lil’ Wayne hating memes, all the pictures of his album in the toilet or set on fire, has all come to bite Wu-Fans in their backside. The chief hip hop villain joins the Chef here and to make matters even more disturbing, Mr Carter Jr brings his A-Game in his rhymes over a vicious frantic beat because he knew he had no choice against a hostile Wu-audience.

Rae shows a bit of a comedic side to him which you don’t see very often, introducing the ‘F**k You Up Card’, a young kid (whose voice sounds suspiciously like Rae but switched up and we have seen Rae do this sort of thing before – remember Clyde Smith?) puts Rae on to a service where he can get his enemies taken out for a small fee. 02-Andra-Day-wim-crop-bb31-kdln3-billboard-1548

In ‘M&N’, Rae and P.U.R.E. go bar for bar on some Grid Iron Rap style. Then Andra Day provides her vocals on the 2017 dedication to the incarcerated in ‘Visiting Hour’.

‘The Reign’ is Raekwon’s new victory championship belt anthem. the production on this is epic and sounds like Rae raided the Maybach Music studios and put the beats to good use. Then Rae brings more soul and that feel good factor as he puts the ‘Crown of Thorns’ on his head.

G-Eazy looks like a fan whose wish of rhyming with his long time idol come true. He’s on point in ‘Purple Brick Road’ when he states that 20 years from now he would be still rock the purple tape. Go back a bit into the track and the production intensifies in glorious fashion.

However was the Chef being a bit too experimental here? ‘You Hear Me’ sounds out-of-place, could have passed as a bonus track, or a track where Rae edited out the trap artists that may have featured with him. Granted Rae rhymed over the trap sounding beat with ease, it’s not something he should do often, or better still, kept off this album – it really doesn’t suit the body of work which is presented here.

That’s the only mis-step on The Wild, otherwise this is a massive improvement over the last offering. If you imagined Raekwon as a stand alone artist and Wu-Tang did not exist, this is the album that reflects that imagination. Even Lil Wayne’s appearance is not a factor (remember Nas & Damian Marley’s Distant Relatives?) Raekwon has finally hit his stride as far as a non-Wu endorsed offering.

The time is still running on Cuban Linx 3, but for now, this is a nice album to take minds away from the WWE-like nonsense they call ‘beef’ that’s happening currently.

 

 

IRON WIND & PRIMORDIAL EMCEE – PRIMAL WINDS

RELEASE: FEBRUARY 10, 2017, WRITTEN BY MICHAEL GRANT – C.E.O. of RePPiN4U

Eric B & Rakim. EPMD. Havoc & Prodigy. Method Man & Redman. Raekwon & Ghostface. M.O.P. Capone ‘N’ Noreaga. Skyzoo & Torae. Conway & Westside Gunn. Some of the Hip Hop duos that have stood the test of time through the annuls of Hip Hop history.

16523999_10155031520927360_592024729_o

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE ALBUM

Iron Wind, more known for his detailed stories of Feudal Japan in his albums, has once again entered the battlefield, this time bringing along Primordial  a.k.a. District Prime who  won’t hesitate to engage in battle rap and explore the sciences. Having both appeared on each others separate projects, it was only right that the next logical step was to come together for a collaborative album.

2017 sees the pair come together  and become ‘PRIMAL WINDS’ in ‘T.Dot Stand Up’ which takes them both away from their comfort zone, and they are kind enough to bless RePPiN4U with an exclusive advanced copy of the album before it touches down to an iTunes store near you.

The album kicks off with ‘T.Dot Stand Up’ and  it’s their anthem praising the capital of the Maple Leaf country and how the city embraces the true essence of hip hop, and letting the world know that Toronto has been on the map way before he who just wanted ‘One Dance’ and a ‘controller’…

…so with that in mind they turn their attention to those who are ‘trapped in the 90s’ with ‘Bring It Back’, and then bless their ears into 2017 by flipping the sample Pete Rock used for ‘Straighten It Out’ in ‘Our Generation’. My guess is their first track will wind up being a video but this should get the visual treatment too. I believe with this, not only do they have a highlight on their hands, they will attract a wider audience instantly.

The pair remind us that they are just like us normal folk, no different, we gotta pay those ‘Bills’. Four tracks in and I strongly suggest that you go out and support this project. I give these guys props because their track sequence is on point in terms of track titles. Bills

lucy-lovesick

LUCY LOVESICK

need to be paid so they must go ‘On The Grind’ complete with classic scratches used as the hook which are so relevant., and of course, if you are on your grind, and the bills are paid, you can approach the opposite sex with confidence and let her know how she is ‘So Sexy’ over a nice Motown like beat you would hear somebody like the Temptations harmonize over.

Seven tracks in and the realization sets in that this project could be up there with the best of underground projects this year. It’s not easy in the ‘Concrete Jungle’ though. Here you see Primal Winds flowing effortlessly over a sonic which sounds like it should only be played at night while cruising in a convertible.

Primal Winds are very proud of their home of Toronto…however they make it painfully clear that Toronto is not all roses and  green pastures.

primec

PRIMORDIAL

They align themselves with Cuban Pete on the track – ‘City Pulse’, with a backdrop sounding like an episode of CSI giving vivid storytelling on what happens when the sun goes down in Canada’s capital. This is complemented by ‘The Stakes’, where we see the two hit the casino and do just that – raise the stakes on their rhyming skills against any challenger.

‘Tonight’ features the sultry vocals of model Lucy Lovesick who presumably takes the role of ‘Hip Hop’ (as we like to refer to the culture as ‘H.E.R.’) but can also be seen as a double meaning as this sees the two take a slightly smoother approach in the music.

In ‘Making Moves’, the duo will do what it takes to get great reviews. (well almost… they won’t pay you to play their records or threaten to chop your head off or anything like that!) If you are not convinced then see the last review of Iron Wind’s The Warrior Inside on this site. Heads would have realised that this was the next logical chess move for the two emcees.

Die-hard Wu-trainspotters will recognize the beat that’s flipped here in ‘Afterparty’. This is some feel good vibe compared to the grim and awareness the Sunz of Man portrayed in ‘Israeli News’. The album closes out so soulful as the duo give their ‘Ode To Hip Hop’, as they tell their heartfelt stories of their hip hop journey, you cannot help but nod to it in celebration. These guys have a great ear for beats and this project is sure to get regular spins.

16492117_10155031541872360_1519618043_o

THIS IS SWIFT JUSTICE RESTORED TO TORONTO.

This is quality music that shows versatility and a different side to the emcees that we have known to love over the past decade, which is always good because you don’t want 10 albums from the same artist saying the same things and no growth. Stay tuned on RePPiN4U later this year and on our show on www.wild1radio.com as we are sure to be playing these tracks and hearing in more depth from Iron Wind and Primordial.

PURCHASE ALBUM ON BANDCAMP HERE

FOLLOW PRIMORDIAL EMCEE ON TWITTER HERE

FOLLOW IRON WIND ON TWITTER HERE

A TRIBE CALLED QUEST: We Got It From Here…Thank You For Your Service

RELEASED: NOVEMBER 11, 2016, Epic Records/Sony Music

Review by Michael Grant, C.E.O. of RePPiN4U

On this day, we are celebrating  5 years of promoting great music and gaining respect and credibility from fans and artists. To this I could say “We Got It From Here…Thank You For Your Service”. But we gonna keep going. Trap music? Mumble Rap? Freestyling from smart phones, WE DON’T DO THAT OVER HERE!

So as a celebration, I decided to review this album, which is a celebration of iconic Hip Hop pioneers A Tribe Called Quest, when you mention the words Hip Hop, these are the guys that instantly come into people’s minds who define it and are mentioned in the same sentence with groups such as Public Enemy, Eric B & Rakim, Wu-Tang Clan, De La Soul.

March 22, 2016 was a horrible day to wake up to. Checking your social media has become one of the regular things to do in the morning with brushing your teeth and changing your brief. The loss of Phife Dawg rocked Hip Hop to its foundation and is up there with the losses of Big Pun, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, and J Dilla, talking of which, was the first thing on my mind when I heard the news. I remembered Phife’s track ‘Dear Dilla’ which I consider very underrated and slept on. The lyrics in that, looking at it now made me think ‘whoa’… did Phife kinda know he was going? Almost like he dedicated the song to himself?

Hold tight, this ain’t the last time I see you
Due time, that’s my word, I’mma see you
Frontin’ ass rappers now here stealin’ intros
Posin’ like they hard when we know they all see through…” 

actq-new-albumWhile Hip Hop was in mourning for the longest since Sean Price, A Tribe Called Quest reconciled and secretly recorded a comeback album on the back of their recent reunion tour, and two weeks before the allotted release date, they dropped the bomb on us. Yes, half of admitted to be skeptical after the blemish that was ‘The Love Movement’, the rest of us were praising the most high that in the midst of this ‘mumble rap’ era, an album would come along to take us away from all that and take us back to the days of Midnight Mauraders. This is their first album after 18 years, and their ‘true’ final album. Have they gone out in a bang? Or will The Love Movement be the last image that fans will be forced to remember through the ages?

As you hit play on your iTunes (or in my case, CD which I highly recommend you do) you are instantly reminded of why you love ATCQ in the first place. ‘The Space Program’ does just that. You are glad that throughout the history, they finally made something happen here.

‘We The People’ is insanely amazing. The art of the Hip Hop anthem has not been forgotten… when this drop in a party or in a car – THAT’S A WRAP. What’s better, it could not have come at a better time in Trump’s America with Q-Tip’s tongue in cheek humor with the hook, while Phife brings a scathing verse.

The niceness continues will ‘Whateva Will Be’. So far J Dilla is up there smiling and thinking -‘my boys have done it again’ with the Nairobi Sister’s Promised Land sample, where the subject matter of social injustice and Trump’s America continue.

It’s from here now that ATCQ begin to diverse their music whilst keeping it them. A collaboration with Elton John would be the last thing on hip hop heads minds, but when you have been in the game as long as these guys, your exploration of music will branch out. Here a returning Bussa Bus appears in  a ‘Solid Wall Of Sound’ in his outta order Jamaican persona, it makes for a very interesting track for listeners to absorb a bit more than the first three tracks previous. It serves as a great intro  however to ‘Dis Generation’ where we see the whole tribe minus Consequence going line for line. Their diverse direction starts to ring the ears of Andre 3000 who comes through in ‘Kids’, blending in nicely like he’s part of the tribe too. The way he and Q-Tip describe the way we want our kids to believe something when in reality it’s harder to explain the harsh facts.

In ‘Melatonin’, Q-Tip goes for dolo while Abbey Smith provide extra vocals. great track but I strongly advise NOT to use the drug as it’s design is to help people who have trouble sleeping, and this is a project that 7 tracks in, should NOT be slept on.

I like the fact that ATCQ have maintained some nostalgic elements, like in ‘Enough!!’ The classic instruments used in ‘Bonita Applebum’ are brought back here to continue to please their long time fans and attract new fans in the process. This is one of those tracks that will become a favourite in the long-term after several listens. I also like te fact that ATCQ treated the project as if it was released some 20,25 years ago by including a ‘Side A’ and a ‘Side B’ in the project. Consequence kicks the B Side off with ‘Mobius’, but it’s Busta Rhymes who runs away with this one, channelling his inner Woo-Hah!! into the track! Very interesting how the rest of the tribe stand back and let these two go in, making it sound like ATCQ 2.0.

snl-a-tribe-called-quest-busta

Just as Bussa Bus tore up Mobius, Phife Dawg puts mumble rappers on blast in ‘Black Spasmodic’: “Trash rap the dead, pu$$y kill the chirping/No more f**k boys, sit down, sh!t can only get worse/And how do you touch mic with flows uncertain?
Speak game dry, boy, that flow ain’t workin’/Folks throwin’ items, them vex and cursin’
F**k made me wanna see these n!&&@$ in person?” Consider it the preparations for the ‘Killing Season’, which brings Talib Kweli and Kanye West into the mix, who thankfully for you hip hop purists has been relegated to just the hook. Also it’s great how they showcased Jarobi & Consequence here.

“Have you ever loved somebody?
Way before you got to dream?
No more crying, he’s in sunshine
He’s alright now, see his wings…”

Another track I consider a growing gem outside the obvious favourites is this one right here – ‘Lost Somebody’, where their expressions for their loss in Phife Dawg becomes very moving.

Even though ATCQ have moved forwards with their music, they decide to try ‘Movin Backwards’ one time and bring Anderson Paak with them. Here Jarobi throws shots at Fetty Wap and all the trap lords, leading by example set by Phife. Then Kendrick chimes in for a memorable, Source Hip Hop Quotable quality verse in Conrad Tokyo while Phife expresses his disdain for the presidential election. Imagine if he actually saw the results in the physical.

‘Ego’ sees Q-Tip going for dolo once again, bringing more nostalgic sounds into it provided by musician Jack White. Great to see him use the wordplay and break down various forms of Ego, even onto himself: “Ego make you violent or govern like a tyrant/Or switch a dictionary’s word from vibrant to vivrant/Fool the thirsty people, selling tap water in bottles/Fooled a girl with NYU scholarship and now she models
Ego has no ending, has people pretending/Religious zealots get jealous ’cause guys want their defending…”

Finally, ‘The Donald’. Which is a unique tribute to Phife which features the Trini Gladiator in his own ode. Salute the man known as Don Juice.

…And Phife Dawg is still not dun! His final solo album will be touching down in our stores sometime next year and that will be even more anticipated than ever now. Let’s keep it 100 – when his first solo dropped, not many of us noticed, all eyes were still on Q-Tip.

A part of me doesn’t want A Tribe Called Quest to end even though they can say they have on a great note. A part of me wants Consequence and Busta to become official and be ATCQ 2.0. They have successfully erased the lasting image The Love Movement had and crafted an album we never saw coming and were given just 2 weeks notice to prepare. 2016 has been a surprise year for the Native Tongues, when just a few months prior, De La Soul blessed us with new music too. Special mention to Busta Rhymes who really went in with this project, making both Dilla and Phife proud, an reminding us of how versatile he really is. While I personally would give the Album Of The Year award to Common, ATCQ is also worth deserving because of the story behind it.

TAKE A BOW GUYS, THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE.

DJ DONOR: MY KINDA HIP HOP MIXTAPE

Too many people are on your social media are talking about Kanye West Sacramento rant. Too many people are on your social media are talking about Lil Yachty acting a fool. Too many people on your social media are worrying about who is the top 10 MCs on a list that my-kinda-hip-hop-mixtapehas been made viral… it’s a sad sight, it really is. Hip Hop in social media is anaemic right now and it needs a transfusion, and that’s where DJ Donor comes in.

The Wu-Tang Coalition DJ from the Netherlands is here to give his blood type to you in the form of his latest mixtape “My Kinda Hip Hop” which is an hour of the hottest tracks over the past year (Look out for the RePPiN4U 2016 mixtape coming soon by myself and DJ Miss C Brown – Cheap plug but it’s not because I pay those bills…) he is so established, mingling with the likes of Onyx and Mr Funke of Lords of the Underground that Pelle Pelle, Hercules and Saucony are proud sponsors.

Check out the mixtape here after the jump…

dj-donor

Allow this man to donate some good Hip Hop into your veins! Follow him on twitter – @DonorDj

Check out the official website HERE

You can also access the mixtape via these links:

Audiomack:    

http://www.audiomack.com/song/dj-donor/my-kinda-hiphop-mixtape

DatPiff:    

http://piff.me/74b5d2b

 

COMMON – BLACK AMERICA AGAIN

RELEASE: November 4, 2016

DEF JAM RECORDINGS

Written by Michael Grant, C.E.O. Of RePPiN4U

This album could never have come at a better time. Social media constantly talking about the new president-elect, protest rallies all over America, here’s me over in the UK watching from the rafters thinking ‘this could have been avoided so easily’, but then remember my own back yard committing a similar act by voting to leave the EU  earlier this year for the wrong reasons.

common-black-america-againConsider Common’s latest album as a form of escapism. Black America Again? How about Black Britain Again too? According to historians, the first people in this country were black…and if Britain and America are allies, we have a sense of relation to this project.

Common’s last album left Nobody Smiling and not in the way he wanted either. It was a shock to the system considering he and his producer No I.D. created a masterpiece in The Dreamer, The Believer. This time round, No I.D. is now the overseer, while Karriem Riggins is now the man behind the boards throughout.

Common & Bilal set it off by bringing ‘Joy & Peace’ to not just America but to the world. If you are an atheist, then this album is not for you! This is a very powerful intro praising the most high and dismissing anything material and the idea of ‘Big Brother’ watching. Straight after that, the pair bring it ‘Home’ over a Karriem Riggins beat which sounds like a classic Kanye sound which Mr West abandoned from the era of ‘Be & ‘Finding Forever’. Here Common speaks on a legacy he would like to leave behind after he returns to the essence.

Stevie Wonder is THAT DUDE. He doesn’t appear on just any hip hop album, and when he does, it is a moment. When the single was first released, it was only a 2-3 minute affair and I was like nah – this was lacking that epicness for a track of this magnitude. That was like a small portion of chips. The album version was what we were looking for, and Stevie smashed it with just one line! Initially I was hoping for Stevie to drop a verse at the end but I’m over that fact! There is a moment in this track where Common exclaims that Maria Sharapova is paid more than Serena Williams where the listener’s jaw may drop, but at the same time be not surprised.

Common switches it up with ‘Love Star’ featuring Marsha Ambrosius and PJ. This is a sure-fire single waiting to happen. Perhaps Common’s greatest love song since ‘Come Close’. The way this track closes out is such a mind zoning dreamy experience. He continues the

elena-pinderhughes

Elena Pinderhughes

romancing with some ‘Red Wine’ with Elena Pinderhughes (pictured right) (yes I see you sniggering when you hear the surname, I know what you’re thinking) a talented 20-year old vocalist/ flutist and Syd da Kyd, former member of Odd Future whose voice sounds reminiscent of a cross between Tinashe and Jhene Aiko.

 

‘Pyramids’ has to be an album highlight. Common’s flow and passion becomes increasingly frantic and aggressive as the track progresses. Something we haven’t seen since e=MC2 from J Dilla’s The Shining. He goes off in this track so much he had to pull up his own track. Using the Ol’Dirty Bastard Brooklyn Zoo sample only adds fire to the epicness.

Chances are we are ‘Unfamiliar’ with the angelic voice of PJ, who is not used to the love and attention that a man is giving her. Common is continuing to add-on to that wedding soundtrack to the hip hop couple here.

Syd Da Kyd and Bilal return for ‘A Bigger Picture Called Free’. In this food for thought track, Common reveals that the illuminati wanted to consume him in his career, and also details his growth and ongoing influences in just a few bars: “Used to rock Jabos and go out with bros
Tryna get lots of hoes till I got exposed/To a bigger picture called free, in the picture, it was me
Al-Hajj Malik Shabazz, Muhammad, and Noble Drew Ali/A side of Erykah Badu and Andre 3000…”

“I was rollin’ around, in my mind it occurred, what if God was a her?” Common, Faithful, 2005

As stated At the top of this review, America had the world believe that they were on the verge of getting their first female president. Now we may have to wait a little longer for ‘The Day Women Took Over’. Common and BJ The Chicago Kid paint a picture of empowered women and how they would rule the world in detail, in essence, showing Beyoncé how it’s done. Such a complete 180 from the hip hop that has been believed by mainstream media and the unknowing as a genre that degrades women.

John Legend rejoins Common in ‘Rain’. Common lets Legend go in with the piano to set the mood before Common goes into reflection mode… before talking of a ‘Little Chicago Boy’ named Lonnie Lynn Sr, this is Common’s tribute to his late father, and it is such a welcome return to hear his father’s wise words perhaps for the last time.

Yes Lonnie Lynn Sr may no longer close out any future projects, but this ‘Letter To The Free’ is as triumphant and uplifting as it gets, and if you are not sitting there tapping your foot with feeling and passion in this track, then I think Hip Hop is not for you. Common’s last words in this track is as real and powerful as it gets: “We staring in the face of hate again/The same hate they say will make America great again/No consolation prize for the dehumanized
For America to rise it’s a matter of Black Lives/And we gonna free them, so we can free us
America’s moment to come to Jesus…”

common-black-america-again-ft-stevie-wonder-715x466

Absolutely amazing. Common has done it again people. He has righted the wrongs of his last album which is almost forgotten about, he has created a project where if the ignorant was to try to regard hip hop as degrading and influencing in a negative, this is the perfect album to erase that doubt for 2016. The jazzy, soulful and gospel elements which date back to our ancestors are used to uplift us and Common does it flawlessly. He has created something our grandparents would be proud of. Take a bow Lonnie Lynn Jr, this album can now be spoke in the same sentence with the likes of Be and Like Water For Chocolate. FANTASTIC.

 

 

 

GHOSTFACE KILLAH: IRONMAN – 20th Anniversary

Released: October 29, 1996, Epic/Razor Sharp Records

Written by Michael Grant: C.E.O. Of RePPiN4U

“To all my house bitches, Starks’ll be home soon
I’m on tour chill, catch me ’96 in June…” – GHOSTFACE KILLAH, Glaciers Of Ice, 1995

Ghostface Killah could never have said those lyrics on arguably a better track on Only Built 4 Cuban Linx. Everybody has their favourite track(s) from that classic album but I bet a good percentage will say ‘Glaciers Of Ice’, while heads were screwing their faces, head nodding, and goosebumps on their bodies, their mind hit a record skip for that split second realising that Ghostface Killah was preparing for his debut album.

ghostface-killah-ironmanThe debate continues today just like the Pac & Biggie issue, and that is – which is better – Ironman or Supreme Clientele? Personally, I’m a Supreme Clientele guy, and I broke it down in a feature similar to the one you are reading now. But I’m gonna represent for the fans who prefer Ironman.

Once again, I will take you back to a 16-year old Michael Grant, approximately October 29, 1996, the day this album dropped. THIS IS MY STORY. GHOSTFACE KILLAH. IRONMAN. RHYME & REASON.

I had already left school (unexpectedly I might add), I landed a YT training course to become an accountant. NVQ level 2 at the Wolverhampton Chamber Of Commerce. Four days of placement, one day training. There I was all suited up, complete with a briefcase looking like a young man of the future. But on October 29, 1996, I didn’t care for my corporate looking image. I wanted to get those wallabees, that Wu Wear, that Helly Hansen and all that! I just got paid, and the first thing I did was buy this cassette tape. Yes I did it before paying my moms board, before my bus pass, before I even had a trim! I actually waited til I got to my cousin’s house, put the tape on while my cousin was playing Super Nintendo (The Saturn/Playstation costed too much at the time!)

  1. IRON MAIDEN F/ Raekwon & Cappadonna

Now I have never seen the movie ‘The Education Of Sonny Carson’… and maybe I should if it’s Wu-Tang approved. But I was rooting for the boy, I wanted him to put trademarks around the fool’s eye! Then the tune kicked in. GOOD LORD! Raekwon didn’t finish his verse, and I was like – PULL UP THE TUNE! PULL UP THE BLODCLART TUNE! If you are an avid listener of RePPiN4U Hip Hop Show, you would know what I did there!

2. WILDFLOWER F/ Jamie Sommers

First time I heard this, the instruments RZA used instantly reminded me of ‘Chessboxing’. Then I heard the lyrics… me and my cousin’s jaw straight up DROPPED. Before the Wizard of Poetry, before Domestic Violence, there was WILDFLOWER. February 17 was NOT A NICE DAY for Ghostface Killah! You could feel the anger in his voice! Wu-Tang are all about the real life stories… this woman messed up bad! My question is, where is Jamie Sommers in the world today? Answers on a postcard please – tweet me @MZATheInfamous!

3. THE FASTER BLADE F/ Raekwon

This to me sounded like it didn’t make Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, at least that was my impression. One of my questions to add to my list if I ever got the opportunity to interview the Chef himself. At the same time, it doesn’t as gritty as the Cuban Linx tracks, like I dunno, RZA’s music began to evolve because in this album, it’s like the tracks sound a bit more polished.

4. 260 F/ Raekwon

Once again, I never saw the Sonny Carson film, and I can see some of you reading this looking at me funny. Going by the sample, it sounded like the kid embarrassed the gang leader or something. Don’t worry – I will put it on my ‘see list’ now that I got that ‘KODI’ gidgets gadgets…

5. ASSASSINATION DAY F/ Inspectah Deck/Raekwon/RZA/Masta Killa

It was this tune when I learned the album was coming October 29, 1996. One October night prior, I was listening to Tim Westwood on Radio 1, remember back in the days when he played that official hip hop? And his Friday show was on from 11pm til 2am? Well it was one of those shows when he was interviewing the clan – one thing I loved back in that day, was when a solo album was coming out, the whole clan got interviewed. They announced the album release and they played this tune – it was exclusive back then – only Westwood had it. Heard this tune and I was hyped crazy!

6. POISONOUS DARTSthe-mystery-of-chessboxing

True story – this tune actually relates to around December of 1997. Me and my cuz rented ‘The Mystery Of Chessboxin’ (Ninja Checkmate) kung fu film. Now we rented it only because of the film’s title. I said to my cuz, I am pulling out the (landline) phone cord so that NO ONE calls while I’m watching this film! What followed was the samples used for this tune right here, and I lost my mind, jumped out my seat the whole nine and it still stands as one of my favourite ever kung fu films of all time. How can you NOT love the Ghostfaced Killer? Best bad guy ever. He used to say the most out-of-order dialogue in the film “Chow Fan Lun, how are you? You’re gonna die today! Do you recognize this technique? (5 Elements!)” and I was like – WROOOOOOOOOOOY!!!!!!! But then, the film ended, plugged the phone back in, hit ‘1471’ and found out that a good friend of mine just gave birth to her son. I felt like a fool after that, yet at the same time, so happy for her.

7. WINTER WARZ F/ Raekwon/U-God/Masta Killa/Cappadonna

I remember a particular time when me and all my Peoples from Aldersley High School were on the bus, and we were debating which was the best tune on each Wu album, everyone had their favourite and one dude shut us all down – “Winter WAAAAAAARZ!!!!!” Yes – this tune will forever be known as the tune that Cappadonna killed with his 52 bar killer bee assault, and ever since that time, heads were setting for Cappadonna’s debut album. Two years wasn’t long of a wait considering we had Wu-Tang Forever, Killarmy’s Silent Weapons album, and Gravediggaz sophomore album in between. Big up Cappadonna for deciding to make a video for this nearly 20 years later, I love these sort of videos where you just vybin with your peoples and there’s hardly no direction, just roll the tape and go along with it. THAT IS A HIP HOP VIDEO PEOPLE! I just wished it was a full clan video though. I envisioned it being a similar setting to GZA’s Shadowboxing video, all cold and dark and people in that ‘Winter War’, so to speak so it would be like a sequel to that video.

8. BOX IN HAND F/ Raekwon/Method Man

Before there was Wu-Massacre, there was BOX IN HAND! Now at this point, Method Man was still my favourite Wu-member, Ghost was already showing signs that he would become my favourite Wu-member and artist of all time. So I was mad looking forward to this tune. I couldn’t help but feel slightly disappointed when I first heard this, the intro, I was like – Oh here we go! This gonna be off the hook! Then RZA changed the beat and I was like – aaah… the disappointment didn’t last long though, Method Man went IN!!!! “This rap sh!t bust yo’ gums, and leave you stunned/Pull your plug, now you can’t function/There’s no to-tal or sum to this equa-tion, you fro-zen/Many may come but few are cho-sen/Pretty n!&&@$ want to play the war po-sin/When the ruckus come, they be the first to get their shine stolen/Do or die, it be I, Meta-physical Man/Holding court from my Wu, indivisible clan…”

Now I’m listening to the unreleased version, and I can see why RZA decided to put the other version on, I’m not even sure if Box In Hand when was meant to be the title! Another Wu-Tang Mystery to solve!

ghostface-premium-2-13-2013

If you remember buying the cassette, you may have noticed there was a large gap at the end of side 1 of the tape… like over 5 minutes?! So this is another true story… Wu-Tang released the Triumph single in 1997 and hit the UK top 40. Usually I’m not down with pop music but that was a proud moment for me and hip hop. But on the b-side was the Hidden Chambers Remix of Wu-Gambinos. So what did I do? grabbed some sellotape wrapped it over the protective covering of the tape and recorded Wu-Gambinos Remix on it. Call it an unofficial Bonus Track.

9. FISH F/ Raekwon & Cappadonna

The TRUE MASTER! At the time arguably his best track he produced since ODB’s Brooklyn Zoo. This tune hit the rewind button crazy!!! The spooky thing about this tune is, Cappadonna states, “When RZA do his thing motherf***er, I’mma do mine..” How true is that statement now 20 years later? RZA basically said to Ghost, you’re in charge of the next Wu Album! Has the Abbott thrown in the towel? I hope not. Ghost’s ear is powerful, I’m sure he can still get some bangers out of RZA…

10. CAMAY F/ Raekwon & Cappadonna

Once again we see early signs of Ghost Dini – The Wizard of Poetry here. TELL THE TRUTH – How many of you guys said this to a woman: “Yo you sexy motherf****r, damn what’s the recipe?/You make a n!&&@ wanna god damn!/Can you cook darling?” I can say this: I’ve never said that to a woman outright (I have my shy moments) but I have at least thought it and at the most – sent a text saying that in the past!

11. DAYTONA 500 F/Raekwon & Cappadonna

Confession time – I hated this song at first. Yeah I said it. I thought it sounded like something from Top Gear. But guess what? The tune was in my head and it was telling me – you WILL like this tune! Lo and behold – it worked, and I think the 8 player Daytona game at Sega World Strykers (R.I.P.) played a massive part in it. Normal people heard the Daytona game music. Wu-Tang fans heard this while playing that game and that’s real!

12. MOTHERLESS CHILD F/Raekwon

This was the very first track I heard from the album because this was originally on the Sunset Park soundtrack… remember those days? When tracks from a film soundtrack were hot and was actually relevant to the film? Great shout to Aaron Hall as well… where is he as well? He joined the missing list on the milk carton with Jamie Sommers! Answers on a postcard please!

13. BLACK JESUS F/ Raekwon & U-God

The crazy thing about this is, Wu were speaking 5% terminology from the get go, and it really didn’t clock on to me until this album. Up until October 29, 1996 I was raised to believe that Christianity is THE RIGHT religion. This skit made me think for the first time like whoa… no such thing as Adam & Eve? God exists within me? The black man is God? I was intrigued. Then the beat hit. I was like – PULL UP THE TUNE! PULL UP THE BLODCLART TUNE! RZA came with some church choir crossed with some epic Samurai Showdown type music! And U-God – that man went IN!!!!! To me it was like the longer this album went, the more epic it became.

14. AFTER THE SMOKE IS CLEAR F/Raekwon, RZA, and the Delfonics

I love the hook in this, because I still believe it. After the smoke is clear… Wu-Tang/Delfonics NUMBER ONE! Tunes like this are reasons why we the fans miss the old RZA and not keen on this Bobby Digital persona that he can’t seem to put aside. The Cure album never came, and you know what? Even if it did, people today would still turn round and say hip hop is…. yes the D-WORD.

15. ALL THAT I GOT IS YOU F/ Mary J. Blige

Ghostface says – “this is dedicated, to all those who went through the struggle”… Yep, that was me back at 16…. but nowhere near as bad as Ghost. I made that decision to leave school at 16 and find work because I knew I wasn’t as well off as some of my other peoples. Every year I used to hear them say ‘I went to Jamaica/Cornwall/Spain etc..’ I never stepped out the country until I was 29. Not only do I look back at this tune and think ‘you know what, I was ok, I was instilled with the determination to work hard’, but also I say this is dedicated to all the ‘millennials’ who always claim they are stressed or whatever but there they are updating their Facebook with their iPhone. There they are with their 4KTV hung up in their house, there they are with roof over their head and well fed, quick to order takeaway online every night but cannot roll 2 dumpling to save their life. Thank god for Nas… Life is good!

16. MARVEL F/RZA

You see this tune here? This was the start of the Bobby Digital persona as far as where the music was going. The signs started here. When I first had the cassette tape I didn’t have this as a bonus track though. I have yet to see someone use RZA’s lyrics as a chat up line and see what happen to them! Imagine whispering in a woman’s ear in a club like ‘let me plant my dynamite deep inside your core, the explosion stops your menstruation patiently waiting nine months for deportation…” Yep… I can see that going down well…!!!! By the way Kudos to RZA for keeping the beat going!

17. THE SOUL CONTROLLER F/ The Force MDs

This was the original bonus track I had. I remember my cousin loved this tune! As far as he was concerned, this was his favourite tune on the album… I wasn’t so keen at first, but that happens a lot with me! I’m surprised the sample issues prevented this track appearing on later copies of Ironman though, I mean, it’s been sampled a million times. The skit at the end still holds true, especially if people concern themselves with what we should be listening to on the radio…

GRANTFACE KILLAH

I kinda wished that Ghost was doing something similar to Ras Kass in a sense that he’s celebrating his Soul On Ice 20th Anniversary or Nas when he celebrated Illmatic. Ironman should be up there too. But I’m sure if he doesn’t, we the fans will. At time of this feature, I know he’s on tour with Rae… but according to RZA, Ghost now has the keys to the next Wu-Tang Album…Ghost’s ear has been powerful throughout from Ironman all the way to 12 Reasons To Die Part 2, all this plus Supreme Clientele 2? To those who still talk that Hip Hop dead nonsense, THEY ARE THE PROBLEM as far as I’m concerned.