Run the Jewels are a super-duo consisting of Killer Mike & El-P. They first crossed paths with each other in 2012 when the latter produced Mike’s 5th album R.A.P. (Rebellious African People) Music in it’s entirety, but came together officially the following year with a self-titled debut. Their sophomore album in 2014 is my personal favorite though, as it’s a lot darker. Last we heard from Mike & El-Producto together in a full-length capacity was in 2016 with their much more political 3rd album but in classic Run the Jewels, they’re releasing their long awaited 4th album a couple days early.
Things kick off with “yankee & the brave (ep. 4)”, where the duo display their chemistry over an abstract chaotic instrumental. The next song “ooh la la” with Greg Nice sees the 3 talking about over a piano-inflicted boom bap beat while the track “out of sight” with 2 Chainz talks about being menaces over a vintage rap rock instrumental. The song “holy calamafuck” is a dark shit-talking anthem with a phenomenal beat switch about halfway through while the track “goonies vs. E.T.” talks about having another chance over an abrasive instrumental.
The song “walking in the snow” is pretty much a well-timed response George Floyd’s recent murder over a dynamic instrumental while the track “JU$T” with Zack de la Rocha of course talks about the industry over a Neptunes-influenced beat which is fitting because Pharrell kills it with his additional vocals. The song “never look back” talks about moving on from the past over a futuristic instrumental while “the ground below” talks about how love never meant much to them backed by an amazing sample of “Ether” by Gang of 4. The penultimate song “pulling the pin” cleverly uses grenades as a metaphor for their hearts over an instrumental with a cavernous instrumental with phenomenal guitar playing from Josh Homme & then the album finishes off with “a few words for the firing squad (radiation)”, where Killer Mike & El-P make an epic dedication to those whose voices were never heard over a more minimalist instrumental.
These guys now have 4 consecutive classics together, because this did not disappoint me at all. I love how they took all the elements of their first 3 albums & fused them all together into 1 near-perfect 39 minute album. The production is off the wall, their chemistry is unmatched at this point & the political commentary is perfect for everything that’s going in the world right now.
A little over 3 years after the release of his debut album Crystal Skull, Psychopathic Records signee Big Hoodoo is finally delivering his long-awaited sophomore effort. After a 2 minute intro, we finally get into the first song with the title track. Here, Hoodoo gets confrontational over a haunting instrumental. The next song “Runnin’ from My Magic” telling the listener to witness his illumination over some creepy keys & a super funky bass-line. Also, the Mystikal nod at the beginning of the first verse was really cool. The next 2 songs “I Bring Death” & “The Yard” get murderous over eerie beats, but I think the first one does a better job at it minus the nasal hook from Young Wicked. Then on “Out My Mind”, he talks about insanity over a semi-druggy instrumental. Also, the line about a hoe telling him his jizz was delicious at the beginning of the final verse was pretty hilarious to me. The track “Boom Boom Piggy” disses crooked cops over a menacing instrumental & the song “Go Get ‘Em” sees Tha Hav Knots angrily attacking at their enemies with an instrumental & hook that will get you in the mood to fight. The track “Calm Down” may have uplifting instrumental, but everything else about it is just alright outside of that. The next track “Monster Squad” with Anybody Killa, the Axe Murder Boyz, DJ Paul & the Insane Clown Posse is a gritty Psychopathic posse cut with a haunting instrumental while “Psycho Love” is a predictable Bonnie & Clyde-esque love song, it’s not that bad. The song “Shadows” talks about the end coming over an eerie instrumental & then the penultimate track “I’ve Seen Pain” vents about the world of sin over an sinister instrumental. The album then closes with “The Passage, where Hoodoo & Blac gets ambitious over some keys. However, Blac didn’t really captivate me & it didn’t need to be 9 minutes long. Honestly, this was an improvement over Big Hoodoo’s debut. It sounds a lot more darker & Hoodoo really improves himself as an MC
Twiztid is a Detroit hip hop duo composed of Jamie Madrox & Monoxide, both of whom started out as 2/3 of the House of Krazees with The R.O.C. before departing in 1996. They went on to send demo to Psychopathic Records & eventually, Violent J signed them to the label. After a 45 second intro, we are then lead into the first song “2nd-Hand Smoke”. Here, the duo talk about just that over a hard hitting beat from Scott Sumner & while the track “Diemuthafuckadie!” gets aggressively murderous over a hard hitting instrumental. After a “Smoke Break” interlude, things transition into the next song “Murder, Murder, Murder”. This was obviously a leftover from the final House of Krazees album from Jamie Madrox referring to himself as Mr. Bones to the eerie beat from The R.O.C., which heavily samples “Cereal Killer” by Method Man & Redman. However, Twiztid made it into their own song very nicely. The song “1st Day Out ‘98” is actually a cover of the 1992 Insane Clown Posse song with the same name & despite the original song’s producer Mike E. Clark giving this a new instrumental instead of reusing the original one, it was just alright. The track “Somebody’s Dissin’ U” discusses “player hatin’” over a funky instrumental & then “Meat Cleaver” with ICP alongside Myzery is a nice Psychopathic posse cut with a rap rock instrumental that isn’t too bad either. The track “How Does It Feel?” has a haunting instrumental & while I do enjoy Monoxide’s confrontational verse, Jamie’s storytelling during his verse takes the cake. The song “She Ain’t Afraid” talks about a fat slut over a smooth yet funky instrumental & then “Whatthefuck?!?!” talks about increasing the deceased over an explosive beat. After “Anotha Smoke Break”, we get right into 85 Bucks an Hour with ICP. The verses are ok & I do like the “It Takes 2” sample, but I’m not all for the Eminem jab right after Violent J’s verse. The closer “Renditions of Reality” is probably the most insightful song on the entire record & the somber instrumental suits the verses very well. The album would eventually be reissued in 1999 by Island Records with 5 brand new tracks, all of which I’m gonna discuss right now. The first of which called “Rock the Dead” talks about doing just that over a piano rap rock instrumental & then the next one “Spin the Bottle” with ICP sees both duos playing the titular game in hopes of sex over a funky instrumental. The 3rd new song “Blink” sees Jamie & Paul going back & forth about seeing a despaired world every time they blink over an eerie beat & then the 4th new song “Bury Me Alive” is them basically saying this is strictly for the juggalos & not for the mainstream over a dreary beat. The 5th & final new song “Hound Dogs” sees Dark Lotus humorously talking the titular type of groupies that don’t know anything about their music & just want to fuck them over a mellow guitar & an averagely sung hook. While I do enjoy The Green Book & Abominationz a lot more, this was still a very solid debut. The production is dark & Twiztid proved themselves to be more lyrical than their mentors
When talking about Detroit hip hop duo Insane Clown Posse, it’s impossible to leave out the controversy with their 5th full-length album right here. They left Jive Records shortly after the release of their last album Riddle Box in 1995 so they could get the Disney-owned Hollywood Records to be the new distributors for their own label Psychopathic Records. As for this album, it was taken off shelves by Hollywood just hours after it’s original release on June 24, 1997 & the duo were dropped from the label shortly after in response to criticism from the Southern Baptist Church that the release didn’t reflect Disney’s family-friendly image, despite Disney themselves claiming the album was released due to an oversight by its review board. ICP then signed another new distribution deal with Island Records after they agreed to release the album the way it was originally intended & then it was back on the shelves again in August 12, 1997. The first 2 tracks are both 2-minute spoken word intros pretty much telling the listener what to expect, the first one being with Alice Cooper over an ambient-esque instrumental & then the other one with ICP over an eerie yet more traditional hip hop instrumental. The album’s first song “[Hokus Pokus]” is basically the duo introducing themselves (starting the first 2 verses with a decent back wordplay line) & as for the instrumental, I think the album version is a lot more fun than the [Jason Nevins] remix. The next song “Piggy Pie” gets murderous towards an incestive redneck as well as crooked cops & even the wealthy over an ominous rap rock instrumental with some DJ scratching from Mike E. Clark, who produced this entire album along with a bulk of ICP’s previous material. The track “How Many Times?” is a Violent J solo cut talking about a day in his life & while it’s not that intriguing, the haunting beat is nice. The song “Southwest Voodoo” sees J going back & forth with Shaggy 2 Dope about dark magic over a dreary guitar. The track “Halls of Illusions” talks about using a carnival attraction to murder a wife beater & a child abuser with a killer Slash riff during the hook & the song “Under the Moon” is Violent J talking about a man who was convicted of murdering someone who tried to rape his girlfriend over a gloomy instrumental. The track “What’s a Juggalo?” sees J & Shaggy going back & forth informing their new listeners about their fanbase & I really like the g-funk-esque bass on here. The song “House of Horrors” talks about 2 serial killers trapping people in the titular attraction over a fittingly haunting rap rock instrumental. The track “Boogie Woogie Wu” is Violent J rapping from the perspective of the boogie man over a creepy instrumental & the hook is somewhat catchy too. Especially the maniacal laughter at some parts of it. The song “The Neden Game” is basically a juggalo version of “The Dating Game” & it’s actually somewhat humorous, but the line about Sharon’s 13 year old sister near the end of the first verse does make me feel a bit uncomfortable. The track “Hellelujah” sees Violent J rapping from perspective of a late-night TV Evangelist who‘s begging for money because it’s “what God would want” over a Hellish guitar & then on “Down with the Clown”, he pretty much tells the juggalos not to forget him over an old school–esque instrumental. The nearly 90 second “Just Like That” sees J getting killed in a drive-by & then it leads us into the closer “Pass Me By, where he & Shaggy talk about immortality over a somber beat. While this is far from being a perfect album, it is ICP’s magnum opus. Primarily because it’s their most well-groomed effort it is (especially on the production tip)
As a way to create hype for his upcoming 3rd album Flockaveli 2, Atlantan trap rapper/Gucci Mane protégé Waka Flocka Flame is making his 17th mixtape a prelude to that long-awaited album & he has enlisted from 808 Mafia co-founder Southside to produce 10 of the 15 tracks. The tape starts off with “Shootin’”, where Flocka is angrily talking about murdering his haters over a murky beat. The song “Blue or Red” talks about his crew murdering yours whether your a blood or a crip over a dreary trap beat from Metro Boomin’ & the track “Money” brags about the things he has bought from selling drugs over a chaotic instrumental. The song “Rap Game Fucked Up” vents about all these studio gangsters over an ominous instrumental from B Wheezy & the track “Workin’” talks about the drug dealer life over an lively beat from Tarentino. The song “AM 2 PM” looks into a day in the life of Waka over some monstrous bass & the perfectly titled “Birthday” is a fun anthem for anyone looking to get lit on their birthday. The track “Feel ‘Bout Me” is Waka basically telling you he doesn’t care what others think of him over a menacing instrumental from both Southside & TM88 while the song “Lose My Mind” may have a crazy flow along with a nice piano-trap beat from Fuse, the hook is super annoying. The track “Trappin’ n Rappin’” talks about doing just that until his last day & the song “No Lie” flaunts about being real & you being a fraud over some thunderous Southside beats. The penultimate track “Hit a Lick” talks about the lavish life & while the Quavo feature is uncredited, it may be the best one on the entire tape. The mixtape then closes with “How It Feel”, where Waka is telling the listener they don’t know what he’s been through from the suicide of his brother Kayo Redd to asking Gucci why he let Todd Moscowitz in his ear over a spacey trap beat from Black Metaphor. Honestly, this is almost as great as his debut & a nice prequel to his next album. The production & energy are more animated than ever & I’m happy that Waka finally limited the number of features on here unlike his past efforts
Just a year & a half after the release of his breakout debut Flockaveli & earning his own imprint Brick Squad Monopoly just the year before, Atlantan trap rapper/Gucci Mane protégé Waka Flocka Flame is now delivering his sophomore full-length album. The album opens up with Waka talking about his friends & his haters over some beautiful keyboards & heavy bass from 808 Mafia co-founder Southside, who produces 9 of the album’s 19 tracks. The next song “Let Dem Guns Blam” with Meek Mill sees the 2 talking about fucking haters up over an eerie instrumental & while the track “Round of Applause” with Drake is the only one on the entire album to be produced by fellow 808 Mafia co-founder Lex Luger (who produced over half of the last album), it’s still a very fun stripper anthem. The song “I Don’t Really Care” with Trey Songz sees the 2 boasting about their wealth over a chaotic instrumental & the track “Rooster in My Rari” talks about groupies over an infectious DJ Spinz instrumental. The song “Get Low” with Nicki Minaj & Tyga is another stripper anthem with a decent EDM-influenced beat & the Flo Rida hook is just meh to me. The track “Fist Pump” with B.o.B is a drinking anthem & just like the previous track, we’re getting another decent EDM-influenced instrumental & this time from Southside, surprisingly. The song “Candy Paint & Gold Teeth” with Bun B & Ludacris sees the 3 talking about life in the south over a triumphant instrumental from Honorable C.N.O.T.E. while the track “Cash” with Wooh da Kid is basically the 2 brothers talking about selling drugs over a chaotic beat from Southside. The song “Lurkin’” is another angry anti-hater anthem with fitting beat from both Southside & TM88, but I wasn’t all that crazy for the Plies verse to be quite honest. The track “Clap” is another boastful wealth anthem while U Ain’t ‘Bout Dat Life with Slim Thug & Alley Boy Take shots at the studio gangsters over murky Southside beats. The motivational “Power of My Pen” is a nice change of pace for the album, kinda like how “For My Dawgs” was on Flockaveli. The song “Flex” with Travis Porter, the late Slim Dunkin’ & D-Bo gets self-explanatory over some rattling hi-hats while the outro then pays tribute to Slim over a somewhat mellow instrumental. While I wasn’t expecting this to be any better than the debut, this wasn’t a bad album at all. The production is on point for the most part as is Waka Flocka Flame’s energy, but we’re still getting an excessive amount of features despite them being better than last time
Waka Flocka Flame is an Atlantan trap rapper/Gucci Mane protégé & he is delivering out his full-length debut with the help of 808 Mafia co-founder Lex Luger, who produced 11 of the album’s 19 tracks. The opener “Bustin’ at ‘Em” sees Waka getting murderous over a chaotic trap rock instrumental from Lex & fellow 808 Mafia co-founder Southside. The next song “Hard in da Paint” has a braggadocious tone to it lyrically & Lex’s production is so sinister, yet super hard hitting. The track “No Hands” with Roscoe Dash & Wale is an infectious strip club anthem with a somewhat triumphant sounding instrumental from Drumma Boy & the song “Bricksquad” with Gudda Gudda sees the 2 paying homage to their respective labels: 1017 Brick Squad Records & Young Money Entertainment over a sinister instrumental from Lex Luger. The Southside produced “Fuck the Club Up” with Pastor Troy & Slim Dunkin’ alongside the Lex Luger produced “Grove St. Party with Kebo Gotti are both very fun club anthems, but I’d say the latter sets the mood a lot more by being more abrasive. The song “For My Dawgs” is a nice change of pace as it’s a self-explanatory ode to all of those close to Waka over a settle instrumental from Yayo. The standard edition closer “Fuck This Industry” was a great way to finish the album off, as it disses the music industry over a haunting instrumental from Lex Luger. The first of 2 bonus tracks “Rumors” addresses all of Waka’s haters over a decent rap rock beat from Joey French while the other one “Gun Sounds” talks about fucking up the streets over an ominous instrumental from Southside. While some may absolutely hate this album understandably, I really enjoyed this. Sure Waka isn’t a lyricist & there are more features than I’d like there to be, but his energy is off the wall insane & the production is super hard hitting
53 weeks have passed since Slaughterhouse member Joe Budden gave us a near perfect ending to his Love Lost trilogy but now, he’s teaming up with araabMUZIK to give us his 8th & most likely final album. The opener “3” tells the listener what to expect going into this thing & the choir vocals in the background are just beautiful. The track “Uncle Joe” pretty much addresses the current state of hip hop over some piano chords from a personal point of view & the song “Serious” is a gritty duet with fellow Slaughterhouse member Joell Ortiz about how you shouldn’t fuck with either MC. The track “By Law” talks about keeping it real over a militant instrumental & the Jazzy hook isn’t too bad either. The song “Flex” with Fabolous is a smooth sex tune & the Troy Lanez hook fits like a glove. The track “Forget” is only 91 seconds long, but I can totally get where he’s going when he confesses about meeting so many people that he forgets them over a beautiful soul sample. The song “I Gotta Ask” gets into battle rap mode & the Into the Woods soundtrack sample was surprising, yet interesting. The track “Time for Work” is another sexual jam, but the production here is more energetic than it was on “Flex”. The song “Wrong One” has a chaotic instrumental that fits perfectly with Joe’s hardcore bars & the track “I Wanna Know” gets reflective on his life over a beautiful Manhattans sample with an equally beautiful hook from Stacy Barthe. The closer “Idols” is Joe naming all of his influences over a mellow instrumental if this really is Joe’s final album, then this was a perfect close the book. The production is on par with his previous album All Love Lost & Joe lyrically is getting into an OG’s perspective on things.
Ca$his is a Chicago born/Irving, California raised rapper who first gained prominence as a member of The Renegadez. They sent a demo tape to Shady Records & Interscope in Early 2006 in hopes of getting signed. However, the labels ended up signing Ca$his as a solo act. He would then be introduced to wider audiences by appearing on 6 tracks off of Shady’s Re-Up compilation & now he’s releasing an 8 track EP to promote his full-length debut. After the opening 55 second skit where Ca$his is talking to a drug dealer, we are then treated to the EP’s first song “That Nigga a Gangsta”. Here, Ca$his is getting braggadocious over a menacing instrumental from his longtime collaborator/high school friend Rikinatti. The next track “Gun Rule” talks about being strapped & the production from Ca$his’ mentor Eminem is just EXPLOSIVE! The song “Ms. Jenkins” is a vividly told story of Ca$his murdering someone over a somber Eminem instrumental & the “Bohemian Rhapsody” sample he uses is perfect. The track “Just Like Me” is a sincere dedication to his kids & the Rikinatti beat enhances the overall emotion of it very well. The song “Pistol Poppin’” is yet another menacing gun tune but this time, we also get the EP’s sole feature from Eminem & his verse doesn’t disappoint. The track “Thoughts of Suicide” is similar to the classic Biggie track “Suicidal Thoughts” or even “Kurt Kobain” by D12 member Proof, who was unfortunately murdered the year before the release of this EP. As Ca$his is venting about his suicidal thoughts over a gloomy instrumental from Ron Browz. The bonus track “Lac Motion” is the last in the track listing & given the title, it’s about cruisin’ down the street in a Cadillac over a smooth instrumental from Eminem. Despite this being Ca$his’ only release with Shady/Interscope, I think it would also be his best. I understand how some would find the gangsta content to be derivative, but he sounds authentic about it & also hungry as Hell. And on top of that, the gritty production suits these rhymes fantastically
Almost a year after the release of his major label debut Radioctive: Amazing & Mystifying Chemical Tricks, Alabama rapper & Shady Records signee Yelawolf is now releasing his 3rd EP & he has enlisted legendary blink-182 drummer Travis Barker to produce it in it’s entirety. The EP opens with “Push ‘Em”, where Catfish Billy is energetically rapping about getting crazy over some super fast drums to give you that feeling. The next track “6 Feet Underground” talks about brawling, but the instrumental has a weird reggae feeling to it that doesn’t match the gritty descriptions & the Tim Armstrong hook doesn’t add much to the equation other than the shouts. The song “Funky Shit” picks back up as Yelawolf’s rapid delivery is fantastic, but the electronic-tinged instrumental was just ok. The penultimate track “Whistle Dixie” has some crazy rhyme schemes over some drums that’re going off like machine guns & the whistling during the hook fits in perfectly as do the eerie bells. The closer “Director’s Cut (Michael Myers & Superman)” kinda reminds me of the song “Kim” by Yelawolf’s mentor Eminem, as it vividly describes Catfish Billy murdering his girlfriend & the man she’s cheating on him with over a haunting rap rock instrumental. However, it works very well. While that Slumdon Bridge EP that Yelawolf did with Ed Sheeran several months prior was just ok, this was much better. Primarily because I see an actual chemistry between Yelawolf’s rapping & Travis Barker’s production aside from a couple duds. Hopefully we’ll get a follow-up at some point in the future