Tech N9ne – “Asin9ne” review

This is the 23rd full-length album from Kansas City icon Tech N9ne. Getting his footing in 3 decades back as a member of the groups Black Mafia as well as the 57th Street Rogue Dog Villians & Nnutthowze, his profile began to increase in the late 90’s after landing a spot on the Gang Related soundtrack & becoming among the first to join Yukmouth’s then-newly formed collective The Regime. But after having issues with Interscope Records & Universal Music Group following the release of his iconic 3rd album Anghellic, that’s when Tech decided to form his own label with the help of a man at Paradise Originals named Travis O’Guin. Together, they would call it Strange Music & solidified itself as one of if not the biggest indie label in the world. Tech has made it a tradition to drop an album every year since Everready (The Religion) back in ‘06 & given that’s been going on at Strange throughout 2021, I was very curious to hear how Asin9ne would address it all.

“The Herder” kicks the album off with Tech villainously proclaiming himself as just that with production from Wyshmaster whereas the King Iso & Seuss Mace-assisted “I Don’t Fit” has a symphonic trap vibe with the help of N4 talking about not fitting in even though they’re the shit. “Kickiter” has a bit of an EDM flare encouraging the crowds to riot leading into the spacious “Too Good” produced by Ervin Pope & featuring Lil Wayne tackles the idea of being too good for their own good.

Meanwhile on “No See Umz”, we Snow Tha Product tagging along with a poorly sung Russ hook for an anthem going at their doubters just before King Iso returns alongside Joey Cool & even The Rock (although you can definitely tell Tech wrote his verse) with the combative “Face Off” serving as 7’s only production on the album. E-40 comes into the picture for the explosive strip club anthem “Clydesdale”, but then “Still Right Here” with X-Raided serves as an emotional ballad about loyalty.

“Take Your Halo” reveals itself as an angry response to those who’ve been talking shit on Strange Music as of late while “Knock That Noodle” speaks on the violence in KC over a cavernous beat. “Heightened” despite it’s brevity feels like something you’d hear in the trailer of a good horror movie just before the horrible dubstep/rap fusion that is “What Rhymes With Threat’ll Kill Ya?” with Phlaque the Grimstress & Zkeircrow.

If you couldn’t tell by the title, “I Been Thru a Lot” delivers one of the more vulnerable moments on the entire album & “Dial It Back” has a more cloudier sound talking about how he ain’t bragging. The song “Zaza” with Oobergeek meditatively gets sensual while the penultimate track “Close Yours Eyes” is a more boom bap-tinged pleading to keep faith in him. “Special” finishes it off with a powerful, feel-good guitar ballad.

I’ve been a huge fan of Tech N9ne since my senior year of high school & his music has helped me through some dark times, but I’m kinda indifferent towards Asin9ne. He definitely proves that he can hold an album without 7 but much like ENTERFEAR, he overdid it on the features & their contributions are either hit or miss.

Score: 3/5

Jehry Robinson – “The Name’s Not Important” review

This is the sophomore album from New York rapper, singer, songwriter & producer Jehry Robinson. Coming up in 2016 off his self-titled mixtape then an EP the following year, his biggest breakthrough came around Christmas 2019 when he signed to Strange Music & put out his full-length debut 20/Twenty at the tail-end of that following summer. However, it looks like Jehry is already back with The Name’s Not Important & has enlisted Wyshmaster to produce the whole thing from start to finish.

“Out My Face” starts things off with Jehry & his mentor Tech N9ne telling their naysayers to leave them alone with Wyshmaster whipping up an energetic trap instrumental whereas “Scars in My Mind” is a piano ballad opening up about “we’re only holy when we hover inside”. “On Read” takes a more moodier turn airing out a woman ghosting him just before the acoustic “Everything’s on Fire” tells listeners that “you’re the only one that can be you”.

Meanwhile on “Weekend”, we get a tropical party theme leading into him & Krizz saying their lives are a mess for the bassy trap banger “Can’t Hold My Head Up”. I think “Butterflies” has to be my favorite on the whole album with it’s boom bap production & Jehry showcasing his speedy flows, but “Take Me Home” works in some beautiful keys saying he’ll change some day.

“Cancellations” with Nani Layilaa is a harmonious cut looking back on the struggle whereas “24/8” is a short boom bap ballad saying he can’t believe he’s made it this far. “Full Moon” serves as a full-blown contemporary R&B cut that isn’t too bad, but “All These Colors” with Hi-Rez is a downtrodden trap cut talking about change.

“Full View” enlists Rose the Mermaid for a keyboard/boom bap cut saying they ain’t worried about the next man while the song “Another Round” with Justina Valentine serves as a fiery strip club banger. The penultimate track “Too Much” energetically talks about doing the most & for the closer “Living Proof”, we got Jehry & Joey Cool coming together for a summery tune hoping the good days will weigh the bad ones out.

20/Twenty is a tad bit better to me, but The Name’s Not Important is a worthy follow-up. I like how it picks up where the previous album left off with Jehry once again showing that he’s one of if not the most versatile artist on Strange Music currently.

Score: 3.5/5

Joey Cool – “I Tried to Be Normal Once” review

Joey Cool is a 35 year old MC from Kansas City, Missouri who first caught attention as a long-time affiliate of local independent hip hop powerhouse Strange Music. However after releasing a total of 4 mixtapes & a studio album on his own, Tech N9ne decided to officially sign him to the Snake & Bat in 2017 & dropping his eponymous sophomore album the next year. This was followed up with Old Habits Die Hard & now as the 1-year anniversary of Coolie High approaches this fall, Joey is following it up by dropping his 5th full-length album.

After the “Swanktastical” intro, the first song “Way Down” works in a pillowy trap beat asking to dim the lights whereas “Jumpin’” is an energetic crowd mover down the Kato production. “Strange Sinatra” declares himself as such on top of a glossy trap instrumental from Dominique Sanders just before going into rap rock territory for the Tech N9ne-assisted “Man on Fire”.

Meanwhile on “Protect Thine Energy”, we have Joey going back into trap turf talking about dominating every season leading into him & Kye Colors jumping on top of some pianos & finger snaps showing their new bag for “New Phone”. He later opens up about a party in the hills that’ll probably kill him on the quasi-boom bappy “Bad Dreams”, but then “Like I’m Supposed To” atmospherically opens up about never following suit & being him.

Jon Connor of all people tags along for the jingly “Thomas Shelby” comparing themselves to the Peaky Blinders character of the same name whereas “Don’t Touch Me” has a more minimal sound saying he’s not down with the fuckery. C-Mob, Rittz, Suli4Q & Whitney Peyton come together on the trap banger “It’s a Pity” saying they did it now while “Here We Are” is a moodier jam about how “we take it far”.

The penultimate track “Whiskey of the Day” with Jehry Robinson & Wrekonize finds the trio joining forces to deliver a catchy homage to Jack Daniels down to the stripped-back production & the closer “Coolie Time” is a just yet hyper dedication to Red Rocks Amphitheatre, which is where his Strange Music contract was publicly revealed at.

Now I don’t know where Joey Cool is going from here because we all know a lot of artists have been leaving Strange to do their own thing throughout these last few months, but I’m gonna stick along for the ride because this is as solid as his previous efforts. I love the confidence in his voice & even though 7 usually produces the label’s output, they make it work without him.

Score: 3.5/5

Oh! The Horror – “1692” review

This is the sophomore album from California trio Oh! The Horror. Emerging a couple years ago off their debut EP The Devil Made Me Do It, they gained even more exposure just last summer by becoming the very 1st act under Majik Ninja Entertainment’s new sub-label Welcome to the Underground & put out their full-length debut Halloween 365. And after a hot streak of singles throughout the first half of 2021, it was only right for Oh! The Horror to return with 1692.

“Strange” is a trap metal opener about how they’ll never change whereas “Let Me Be” is a vicious response to those who ever doubted them. “All’s Fair” goes into a punkier direction as they takes shots a deceitful woman before going emo on all fronts for “Dead Inside”.

Meanwhile on “Alive”, we get a fiery ballad about how thrilling murder is just before the explosive yet suicidal “Bodybag”. We go into an almost alternative direction on the possessive “If I Can’t Have You” leading into the trap metal/industrial fusion that is “Istilldontcare”, which is about giving no fucks.

“Groceries” takes things back into punk territory with them saying they’re always eating their girls’ asses while shifting gears into post-hardcore on “Eating Me Alive”. The song “Never Found” is a chugging ballad about a witch they knows & that leads into the penultimate track “Witch Bitch”, which is a freaky trap metal-flavored follow up. The album then ends with “Tears of Gold” which is a great cover of the Faouzia joint of the same name.

If you go back to my Halloween 365 review, I had stated that Oh! The Horror would start to grow more down the line. And that’s exactly what they just did on 1692. I feel like their sound is more refined, it’s more adventurous, the songwriting has improved & they feel more comfortable in their performances.

Score: 4/5

BL1GHT – Self-Titled review

BL1GHT is a newly formed duo consisting of HU$H & Tech N9ne. One is a rapper/producer from Los Angeles known for his work in the EDM scene under numerous aliases & the latter being amongst the biggest independent hip hop artists of all-time. Now I’m not really sure exactly how these guys’ paths crossed, but my morbid curiosity for this eponymous debut EP of theirs got the best of me given how much of a N9na fan I’ve been since high school. Especially off the strength of albums like Anghellic, Absolute Power, Everready (The Religion), K.o.D. (King of Darkness), All 6’s & 7’s, Welcome to Strangeland and Special Effects.

”Let Lost Happen” starts the EP by going into a brostep direction as BL1GHT tell the listener that “false starts isn’t how they play” whereas the next joint “Noise Baby” sounds like a rehash of your generic EDM track from 2011 with it’s repetitive structuring. We go into a more glitchier sound on the lyrically aggressive “Move Back Right Now” before fusing elements of dubstep & trap metal with “Smiley”.

Meanwhile on “Wear U Down”, the instrumental for some reason sounds like the theme music you’d hear whenever a Blacklight: Retribution match would end as BL1GHT rap about the way they show love while the penultimate track “41 Days” is much more melodic & the lyrics are more depressing. The closer “Suffering” is a lot similar to “Smiley” in terms of the production with the duo rapping about wanting their opposition to suffer.

I have nothing against dubstep or EDM as an entire genre, but boy was it a struggle for me to sit through this entire EP for 22 minutes. The chemistry between the duo seems to be hamfisted rather than natural because as a performer, Tech N9ne is just washing HU$H on every song. On top of that, the latter’s production isn’t as invigorating as someone like Burial’s

Score: 1/5

¡MAYDAY! – “Minute to Midnight” review

This is the 8th full-length album from Miami-based trio ¡MAYDAY!. Formed in 2003 by keyboardist/guitarist Plex Luthor & emcee Bernz, the duo released their self-titled debut in the fall of ‘06 before adding 4 more members into the fold: emcee/producer Wrekonize, bassist Gianni Ca$h, percussionist NonMS & drummer L.T. Hopkins in 2009. Together, they would begin to rock the underground off 2 EPs & their sophomore album Stuck on an Island. This would catch the attention of Kansas City veteran Tech N9ne, who signed the group to his independent powerhouse Strange Music in 2011. They would go on to cement themselves as a flagship act on the label’s roster off critically acclaimed projects like Take Me to Your Leader, Thrift Store Halos, Believers & Future Vintage. However since 2016, ¡MAYDAY! has been a 3-piece consisting of Wrek, Bernz & NonMS. Their first album as a trio Search Party was a decent sequel to Stuck on an Island & the heavily reggae-influenced South of 5th was slightly better, but it’s been a little over 2 years after the release of their previous EP The Thinnest Line II, the 3 are getting back together for Minute to Midnight.

After the “In Due Time” intro, the title track that truly kicks the album off talks their patience being tested as well as divine new moralities over some wavy synth-lines & live drumming from ¡MAYDAY! themselves whereas the next song “Make Noise” talks about how “them boys won’t let you live in peace” over a Carribean-flavored trap beat from 7. The track “See You Smile” motivates the listener to stay strong in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic over some bass & acoustic guitars while the song “Hard to Leave” details relationship issues over a moody beat from Bernz with co-production from The Pushers.

The track “Words Get in the Way” picks up where the previous cut left off as Bernz & Wrekonize talk to their partners about trying to change over an instrumental kin to a 70’s blaxploitation film while the song “Golden Hour” talks about meeting their lovers in “that place where the night moves slow” over a funky beat. The track “Lost Cause” talks about the reason why women do them wrong over a cavernous trap instrumental & then UBI provides the album’s only guest verse on the song “All In” as he & ¡MAYDAY! talk about being fully committed over a cloudy beat from NonMS.

The track “Let You Tell It” talks about letting their loved ones speak their minds over a reggae-tinged instrumental while the song “Flatline” is a rap rock anthem about chasing death. The track “1 Eye Open” is a piano-boom bap ballad calling out the fact that everyone says they’re woke nowadays & then the song “Flowers” expresses their hope of being appreciated while they’re still here over an instrumental with some heavy jazz undertones.

The track “Empty” is a stripped-back, catchy look into depression while the song “Can’t Do That Anymore” talks about wandering down a windy road over a disco-flavored beat. The track “Get There” talks about how they’re not sure where they’re going over a pillowy instrumental while the closer “Foul Out” goes back & forth dismissing all the bullshit being said about them over some punk-like guitar riffs & drums. But then there’s the bonus cut “Hit’s Different”, where Bernz & Wrekonize talk about trying to break out of a cycle over a plaintive instrumental from Wyshmaster.

Even though their last couple projects have been just ok to me, I was very excited for this given how much I enjoyed Wrekonize & Bernz’ latest solo albums Pressure Point & Sorry for the Mess. At the end of the day, this is the best ¡MAYDAY! album I’ve heard since Future Vintage. The songwriting is some of their most captivating ever & the way the trio fuses together all the sounds they’ve ever dabbled with into 1 continues to show how unique they are.

Score: 4.5/5

Intrinzik – “Lasers & Poison” review

Intrinzik is a 43 year old rapper from Phoenix, Arizona most notable for being the founder of Underground Hustlin’. Aside from that, the dude has put out a total of 9 albums & 3 EPs through his own label Intrinz Ink Records since 2004. But for his 10th full-length effort, Intrinzik is getting it backed by none other than the Majik Ninja Entertainment sub-label Welcome to the Underground.

The album kicks off with the title track, where Intrinzik talks about commercial sponsors feasting on inhibitions over a rap metal beat. The next song “Dinosaurs” talks about devouring these other rappers over some heavy guitars while the track “Force Fed Famine” talks about watching the market collapse like skyscrapers over a dreary backdrop fused with some hard rock instrumentation. The song “Chemicals” talks about paying it forward genetically over a punky beat while the track “Lizard Tongues” talks about overdosing on power over some live drumming & chugging guitars.

The song “Heart of the Table” with Dienasty the Mexican Thuggalo sees the 2 talking about the 3rd world over an instrumental that almost has a bit of a nu metal influence to it while the track “Lied To” ponders what’s real & fantasy over a riot-inducing beat. The song “Amphetamine Suicide” talks about drug usage over some thick instrumentation while the track “Broadcast the Apocalypse” takes aim at television as a whole over some Hellish riffs.

The song “Losing My Mind” with Twiztid finds the trio talking about insanity over a robotic instrumental while the track “Built for This” talks about annihilating anything that comes after him over a chaotic beat. The song “Try to Stay Alive” with Skeptik sees the 2 talking about survival over some more punk rock flavored production while the track “End of the World” with McNastee finds the duo talking about living in the apocalypse over a hard rock instrumental.

The song “First World Problems” with Krypto Man sees the 2 talking about that very issue over a somewhat thrash-esque instrumental while the penultimate track “The Right to Vote” with Bisshop & Raw-D finds the trio talking about how they use music as their weapon & I love how the build-up in the production. The album finishes off with “Toy Gory 2”, which is a decent 8-minute Underground Hustlin’ posse cut.

If you wanna get into Intrinzik, I would recommend starting with this because I find it to be his best work to date. Not just because of how the sound of the album continuously bounces from metal & punk to straight up hip hop, but his songwriting on here in comparison to his previous material is a lot more conscious this time around.

Score: 3.5/5

Sylvan LaCue – “Young Sylvan” review

Sylvan LaCue is a 30 year old rapper from Miami, Florida who got his start in 2008 under the name QuESt. However, it wouldn’t be until a decade later when he dropped his critically sophomore album Apologies in Advance under his own label WiseUp & Co. with distribution by INgrooves Music Group. We haven’t heard much from Sylvan since then but after a 3-year hiatus, he’s marking his return by dropping his 2nd EP.

The EP kicks off with “Young Sylvan Back”, where the Floridian rips it up like he never left over a trunk-knocking trap beat. The next song “First 48” talks about trying to escape jumping from one trap house to the other over a euphoric instrumental before switching up into a more orchestral vibe. The track “Clam Chowda” talks about not feeling trauma coming over a spine-tingling beat while the song “M J” with Merlaku Ra sees the 2 talking about having hearts full of rage over an instrumental with some snares & bells. Then the closer “Backseat 2012” talks about being fresh out this bitch over a skeletal beat.

Not as good as Apologies in Advance, but still a decent EP in my book. The blatantly heavy Kendrick Lamar influence from that previous album makes it’s way onto here & it’s very distracting. I really Sylvan shakes that off & comes into his own whenever he puts out his next full-length effort, because the dude’s talent is undeniably there.

Score: 3/5

Bernz – “Sorry for the Mess” review

Bernz is a 42 year old MC from Miami, Florida most notable for being a co-founder of the band ¡MAYDAY! alongside Plex Luthor in 2003. But after bringing a co-frontman & 3 other instrumentalists into the fold by the end of the decade, Kansas City icon Tech N9ne signed the group to his evergrowing independent powerhouse Strange Music in 2011 & have remained on the label since. However, it wouldn’t be until 2016 where Bernz branched out into a solo career & dropped See You on the Other Side. Fast forward 4 years later, he’s enlisting 7 to produce his sophomore effort in it’s entirety.

Things kick off with the title track, where Bernz apologizes to the listener for what they’re about to hear over a dreary instrumental. The next song “Don’t Wait on Me” then tells this woman to walk out the door over a boom bap beat with an acoustic guitar while the track “On My Way” talks about how this woman makes him feel over a jam session-like instrumental. The track “Necessity” with his ¡MAYDAY! partner in rhyme Wrekonize sees the 2 getting confessional over a piano & some explosive drums while the song “Outchea” talks about keeping things on pace over some blissful guitar melodic & some handclaps.

The song “Limited Time” with Futuristic finds the 2 talking about out of town romance over a funky ass beat while the track “Done” talks about waking up from the wrong side & still feeling good over a tropical trap instrumental. The song “Slow Dance” is a beautiful foot tapper backed by a sensual beat with some heavy drums while the track “Old Cutler Drive” looks back on his younger days as a hungry artist over a trap instrumental that kinda has a jazzy flare to it.

The song “In My Mind” opens up on being epileptic over a lugubrious beat while the track “Party in My Room” talks about sex over a fast-tempo instrumental. The song “Lie to Me” talks about not wanting to hear any hard truths over a rhythmic beat while the track “Sunny Rain” talks about what it’s like for him to love this woman over a warm instrumental.

The song “Hold On” teams back up with Wrekonize as they tell their partners not to let go of them over a calming instrumental while the track “Double Down” talks about getting back up when you’re on the ground over a psychedelic beat. The closer “Let You Down” talks about getting lost in his thoughts over an acoustic instrumental & then the bonus cut “Late Checkout” is essentially Bernz doing dumb shit in the club over a beat that I almost wanna say is a bit Latin flavored.

Strange Music has been constantly staying busy all year & if this is the last full-length album we’re getting from them until 2021, then what a damn-near perfect way to finish it off because Bernz really took it to a whole nother level on here in comparison to [i]See You on the Other Side[/i]. The lyrics are most personal yet & his chemistry with 7 is just astounding, as the production on here is incredibly versatile.

Strange Music has been constantly staying busy all year & if this is the last full-length album we’re getting from them until 2021, then what a damn-near perfect way to finish it off because Bernz really took it to a whole nother level on here in comparison to See You on the Other Side. The lyrics are most personal yet & his chemistry with 7 is just astounding, as the production on here is incredibly versatile.

Score: 4.5/5

Twiztid – “Revelashen” review

Twiztid is a hip hop duo from Detroit, Michigan consisting of Jamie Madrox & Monoxide, both of whom got their start alongside The R.O.C. as part of the trio House of Krazees throughout the early/mid 90’s. After their initial disbandment in 1997, the Insane Clown Posse almost immediately took Twiztid under their wings & signed them Psychopathic Records. But at the end of 2012, the demented duo decided to branch out on their own & started up their own record label Majik Ninja Entertainment just a couple years after. They’ve released a few outings on their own since, with the latest being Mad Season back in April of this year. However, Jamie & Monoxide have decided to go back-to-back & drop their 14th full-length album.

The album starts off with “Hallelujah”, where Twiztid talks about the game being fake over over bass-heavy trap beat from Young Wicked. The next song “Blueprint” talks about going back to their old ways over an ominous instrumental from Seven while the track “We Just Wanna Be Heard” literally speaks for itself over an apocalyptic beat. The song “Get Through the Day” talks about wanting their pain to be taken away over a ScatteredBrains instrumental with a flute in the background & a heavy guitar during the hook while the track “Come Alive” with Kid Bookie sees the 3 talking about living every day like they don’t see the sunlight over a trap beat with blobby bass.

The song “Clear” takes aim at those biting them over an instrumental with a pots & pans loop while the song “Hold Up” with Young Wicked finds the trio talking about pushing it ‘til the wheels fall off over a tropical trap beat. The song “Separate” would have to be my favorite on the entire album as it talks about escapism over an instrumental that continues to build up while the track “Twinz” gets on their shit-talking tip over a boom bap beat with some chimes.

The song “Laughable” with Lex the Hex Master sees the 3 talking about how “one of us has to go & no it won’t be me” over an instrumental with some angelic background vocals while the penultimate track “Change Me” talks about striving to become the person you want to be over an acoustic instrumental. The closer “Never Be Nothing” talks about being misunderstood over a trap beat with some somber piano chords.

Not only is this better than Mad Season, but I’ll also say that this is Twiztid’s best album post-Psychopathic. It all flows together so well as they distance themselves from their horrorcore roots in favor of showing listeners they still have it lyrically this deep into their career & the production only enhances the emotion behind each joint.

Score: 4/5