Krizz Kaliko – “Wrapped Up” review

This is the 3rd EP from Kansas City recording artist Krizz Kaliko. Coming up as one of the first acts to sign to Strange Music alongside Kutt Calhoun, he would go on to work very closely with the local independent powerhouse’s founder Tech N9ne for nearly 2 decades whether it be providing featured rap verses or simply providing background vocals for a number of albums & EPs that Tech has put out. As far as his own output goes, Krizz dropped a total 7 full-length albums & 2 EPs through the Snake & Bat before amicably departing over the spring to form his very own label Ear House Inc. alongside his wife Shoo Shoo. They’ve dropped a handful of singles throughout the year since & are now combining them into Wrapped Up.

“Gifted” is an energizing opener to the EP with Krizz & Shoo Shoo hopping on an aggressive trap beat from 7 to spit some hardcore braggadocio raps whereas “Snowfall” switches it up into a lighthearted Christmas ballad with some warm piano melodies throughout. “Somewhere” takes things into a more glossier route singing his ass off providing motivation for those who’re in a dark place this holiday season just before “Weight” comes through with an ode to body positivity fusing elements of gospel & trap pretty well.

The song “Feelin’ Good” is a decent summertime bop with an “All Night”-esque instrumental from Wyshmaster that’s all fine & dandy until Futuristic comes in sounding like a blatant Chance the Rapper clone while the penultimate track ”Pressure” goes into a darker direction talking about moving forward despite the struggles of everyday life. Then there’s “B.B. (Birthday Bitch)”, where Krizz & T-Pain deliver a hyphy-tinged banger for all the ladies out there that want to celebrate their special day.

Krizz has always been a man of many talents with Wrapped Up, we got a respectable kickoff to this new chapter of his career. Much like his Strange swan song L.I.F.E. (Legend Immortal Forever Eternal), the EP is a healthy mix of his lethal MCing skills & powerful singing voice except he’s proving that he can hold it all down without Tech N9ne.

Score: 3.5/5

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

Tech N9ne – “FEAR EXODUS” review

Tech N9ne is a Kansas City, Missouri veteran who’s music I’ve covered countless times up to this point. From founding the independent powerhouse Strange Music alongside his manager Travis O’Guin to his insane work ethic & an incredibly lengthy discography, the man really has done a lot to the culture to solidify himself as one of the all-time greats. He just put out his 22nd album ENTERFEAR back in April, which was followed up by a great outtakes EP MORE FEAR just a couple months ago. However with the Halloween season approaching quickly, Tech is finishing the FEAR trilogy by releasing his 8th EP.

After the “Rally the Troops” intro, the first song “EPOD” with JL sees the 2 talking about being the illest over a woozy trap beat from 7 whereas the next track “I Think” is a fresh showcase of the current Strange Music roster over a grimy instrumental. The song “Sprocket” with Krizz Kaliko is yet another addition to Tech’s long list of club bangers backed by a vigorous beat from N4 while the track “Tech’s Mex” talks about his originality over a spacious instrumental.

The penultimate song “Becoming Too Famous“ talks about the crazy amount of press coverage he’s received recent years over a settle trap beat & after the “Exodus” skit, the closer “Making a Killin’ (I Ain’t Scared of Shit)” talks about moving on from the FEAR trilogy as he announces his upcoming 23rd album Asin9ne dropping next year over a ghostly instrumental.

Man, what a good way to segway into the next chapter of Tech’s career. He gives listeners an introspective look at where’s at currently whereas 7 & N4 both continue to prove both of their own sounds compliment Tech the best. Beyond excited to hear where he takes things next year.

Score: 3.5/5

Krizz Kaliko – “L.I.F.E. (Legend Immortal Forever Eternal)” review

Krizz Kaliko is a 46 year old rapper, singer & songwriter from Kansas City, Missouri known for being a Day 1 signing to Strange Music along with Kutt Calhoun. He’s put out a total of 6 albums & 2 EPs through the label since, with the latest prior to this being G.O. (God’s Order) in 2016. And even though that record was predominantly R&B, it was still damn-near perfect. However after a nearly 5-year hiatus, Krizz is returning with his 7th full-length album.

Things start off with “21, where Krizz & Tech N9ne talk about celebrating their birthday over a lively beat from Wyshmaster. The next song “Little” with Stevie Stone sees the 2 talking about having trouble on their minds over a nocturnal trap instrumental while “The Recipe” tries to seek answers from God over a suspenseful beat. The track “S.O.B.” calls out the frauds over a druggy instrumental while the song “Get Chose” talks about him freaking out.

The track “Borrowed Time” talks about how life is catching up to him over a moody N4 instrumental while the song “Bitches I Know” talks about how he be popping over a beat with some plinky keyboards. The track “Follow the Drip” links back up with Tech talk about how to find them over a monstrous trap instrumental while the song “What Do You Mean?” with King Iso finds the 2 talking about their grind over a skeletal beat.

The track “You” talks about being bottled up over a forlorn instrumental while the song “Drunk White Girls” with CJ Hicks is a humorous club banger backed by an off-the-wall beat from 7. The track “Let You Tell It” talks about how he’ll never leave the rap game over a druggy beat while the song “Amen” talks about being 95% here over a beat with some tavern sounding piano chords.

The track “Didn’t Need Woes” looks back on his childhood over an instrumental that kinda has a jazzy feel to it while the song “Foolish” with Rittz sees the 2 getting reckless over a cavernous trap beat. The track “Avoiding Mirrors” with Jelly Roll & Merkules finds the trio talking about being all fucked up over a chaotic instrumental while the song “Mad” with JL sees the 2 clapping back at people talking shit behind their backs over a trap beat with some keys & a rubbery bass-line. The closer “Coloring Book” talks about how they can never get him right over a dim instrumental & then the bonus cut “Understood” with Tech finds the duo talking about how they don’t sleep over a violin-inflicted beat.

Been a long-time coming but at the end of the day, this is a great comeback effort for Krizz. It’s got everything you love about him: Great rapping, even greater singing, well-written verses/hooks, banging’ ass production suiting the tone of each song & some well-incorporated features. Legend definitely solidifies Krizz as an OG of the culture & here’s to more albums from him in the near future. Welcome back, Kali!

Score: 4/5

Tech N9ne – “MORE FEAR” review

This is the 7th EP from the ever-hardworking Kansas City veteran Tech N9ne. He’s fresh off his 22nd full-length ENTERFEAR that just dropped back in April & it turns out so much material was recorded for that particular album, that N9na has seen fit to release some of those cuts in the first of 2 EPs.

After the “Heist” skit, the first song “ENTERFEARENCE” talks about feeling disoriented over a groggy beat from 7 whereas the track right after “Bitch Slap” with Corey Taylor, GreatDaeg & Hopsin sees the 4 talking about hitting anyone who tries to harm their personal spaces over a trap metal beat. After the “Report” skit, the song “I Don’t Give a Pho” talks about not caring for bullshit over an eerie trap beat while the penultimate track “Inside” talks about giving himself a pick-me-up over an unexpected boom bap instrumental that works pretty fantastically. The EP finishes with “Specter”, where Tech talks about being a ghost over a melancholic beat from N4.

Personally, I think I might enjoy this EP a bit more than the album itself. As dark as ENTERFEAR was, most of these cuts should’ve made it onto that album because they would play into it much more solidly than the weaker cuts on there. Can’t wait for FEAR EXODUS at the end of the year.

Score: 4/5

Tech N9ne – “ENTERFEAR” review

Tech N9ne is an MC from Kansas City, Missouri who really doesn’t need an introduction at this point. The man has put in an insane amount of work over the course of his nearly 3 decade career from starting up the most successful independent label in hip hop Strange Music to a lengthy discography including Anghellic, Absolute Power, Everready [The Religion], K.o.D. (King of Darkness) & Special Effects. The last we heard from Tech was just about a year ago with N9NA & with the 1 year anniversary of that coming up, he’s back with his 22nd album.

The album kicks off with “Just Die?”, where Tech takes aim to those saying it’s falling off over a rap metal beat. The next song “Suckseed” with King Iso sees the 2 telling everyone to suck their dicks over a rock/trap fusion while the track “Outdone” talks about going from rapping for the first time in 1985 to being co-signed by some of the greats & I love how layered the beat from 7 gets as it progresses. The song “Look What I Did” with the Flatbush ZOMBiES talks about making it in the industry over a cavernous trap beat while the track “Yeah No!” talks about being reclusive now over a dark instrumental.

The song “Dr. Sebagh” with Landxn Fyre sees the 2 showing off their skills over a spacious beat while the track “Question Mark This!” with Lex Bratcher sees the 2 talking about backstabbers over a druggy beat. The song “Snake & the Batman” is a short yet merciless flex over a slow yet suspenseful instrumental while the track “Feel So Sad!” talks about how he isn’t perfect over a dreary acoustic instrumental.The song “Leave It on the Flo!” talks about hooking up with 2 women over a sensual beat & an awkward Landxn verse in the middle while the track “Phonk” with Merkules & Scru Face Jean is a decent sequel with a soulful boom bap beat.

The song “Angel Baby” talks about all the times he’s survived death over a funereal instrumental while the track “On the Outside” talks about getting money over an upbeat instrumental. The song “Smell Good” with Krizz Kaliko sees the 2 getting flirtatious over a smooth instrumental while the track “Stoli Doli” continues the same themes over a more meditative beat.The song “For Ya Love” talks about this woman holding a grudge over an intoxicating beat while the track “B.I.B. (But I’m Blessed)” sees Tech & Krizz talks about being grateful despite their shortcomings over a calming yet atmospheric beat. The song “Saw Somethin’” with Iso sees the 2 talking about the supernatural over a ghostly instrumental & then the closer “KC Smile” pays tribute to his hometown over a jazzy beat.

Tech has always been one of my favorite artists in all of hip hop & this just goes to show why. A couple of the features could’ve been better at points, but I really like how the album takes a much more darker approach than N9NA did.

Score: 4/5

Tech N9ne – “N9NA” review

This is the latest full-length outing from the highest-selling independent hip hop artist of all-time; the King of Darkness himself: Tech N9ne. If anyone is far behind in his catalog, the dude has made himself one of the hardest working men in the culture by dropping at least 1 or 2 albums a year since 2016 & his previous one Planet ended up being one of his best ones yet. However with a new tour starting earlier this week, he’s celebrating by releasing his 21st album.

After the “Le Horde” intro, we dive straight into the first song “Lord of Weird”. Where Tech pretty much proclaims himself as just that over a gloomy trap beat. The title track serves as a reintroduction for N9na’s new fans with 7’s trunk-knocking production fitting like a glove while the song “Hit the Ground Running” with JL & King Iso sees the 3 talking about how no one can stop them over a trap beat with some acoustic strumming over an eerie beat. The track “Like I Ain’t” reflects on his accomplishments while the song “Green Lit” with Iso alongside Tech’s latest Strange Music signee Maez301 sees the 3 calling out people who double crossed them over an infectious instrumental.

The track “Chuki Fever” is a shot at everyone jealous of his success over a somber trap beat while the song “Fuckin’ Do It” with Futuristic & JL is a decent alcohol anthem with a skeletal trap beat. The track “Don’t Let Me Fall” is a boring diatribe of a 1-night stand with a simplistic beat while the song “You Line!” with Krizz Kaliko viciously attacks frauds with a perfectly suiting beat. The track “EDI’s” serves as a tribute to edibles with a monstrous beat while the song “Rata” takes a surprising direction in Latin territory & it somehow works.

The track “F.T.I. 2.0” serves as a vicious sequel to the iconic “Fuck the Industry” off his 2001 classic Anghellic while the song “She Fell” is a moody sex tune with a horrendous hook. The track “Sink” talks about depression with a gorgeous bass-line while the song “H.O.B. (History Of Bitches)” talks about crazy chicks trying to come back into his life over an atmospheric beat. The track “Ion Memba” recalls his past addiction with an average C-Mob verse over a spacey bass-heavy beat while the song “Active” talks about gang life over a nocturnal instrumental.

The track “EF U (Easier For You)” with Jelly Roll is a heartfelt dedication to the broken with a pretty guitar passage while the song “I’m Caught Crazy! (4Ever)” is essentially Tech embracing his insanity over a nocturnal instrumental. The closer track “I’m Sorry” is a triumphant ode to his family & then there’s the bonus track “Disparagement”, where he & King Iso diss their haters over a generic trap beat.

While I personally prefer Planet, this is still a solid listen. Of course Tech brings his A-game lyrically & I like how he kept the features minimal just like that previous album, but some of the production choices on this one in comparison could’ve been better.

Score: 3.5/5