Photos: Léon makes impressive Chicago debut
Swedish singer Léon made her Chicago debut selling out Schuba’s Tavern. Her first North American Tour, Léon shined in Chicago.Read More
Hi haters! I’m back off Hiatus… Originally this was intended to be the first series of Mixtape Reviews on my own personal blog CONTRABAND (where you can also download all 6 mixtapes). Here we dive into a wide array of hip-hop from a seemingly fallen star (Cam), to a cocaine cowboy (Yo Gotti), to a Chicago mainstay (GLC) to a few up and comers (Yelawolf, Vandalzym, and Sulaiman). The best part about this batch of reviews is that I actually enjoy listening to all 6 of the artists who’s mixtapes I’ll be reviewing, but remember rappers and readers, no mixtape is safe. Let’s continue to the reviews, shall we…
Artist: Cam’Ron x DJ Drama
Mixtape: Gangsta Grillz: Boss Of All Bosses 2
Synopsis: As with 99% of DJ Drama’s Gangsta Grillz releases, DJ Drama screams all over the mixtape, calls it a movie, and tells you it’s the best thing smokin, but the intro to this is slightly different than what you would expect. Sure, Drama laughs sinisterly at the start and states ‘Y’all asked for it…’ but the tune quickly changes as Cam & Vado go World War 3 on a classical sample. Vado shines bright on the intro claiming “Ya money short like the shorts on Stockton” as well as stating that he “Eat n*ggas, Anthony Hopkins”. Cam is no slouch on the lyrical wizardry on the intro either as he delivers punch after punch, including one of the funnier lines on the tape “Goggles on, Kurt Rambis” in a flury before the beat climaxes. Next is the standard yapping from Cam and Drama on “We Back”. One thing that makes all the talking on this mixtape tolerable (for the most part) is the fact that Cam is one of the funniest rappers out and never fails to deliver comedy gold. When Cam’ron is focused and not bullshitting he can be one of the most entertaining rappers to listen to… but he can’t always stray from the bullshit. Most of the songs on this tape feel real familiar seeing as though Killa has never ventured too far away from the sound that turned him from a up-and-comer into a star in the early 2000’s. It’s good to hear A-Mafia (a former Diplomats affiliate) rhyming with Cam again on the not so cleverly titled “A Mafia” being that I was usually a fan of his guest spots on Dip Set mixtapes over the years. Cam also get’s a pretty solid feature from DJ Drama’s Grand Hustle compadre Young Dro on “They Holla Ayyo” as Dro spits “Ya bitch likes my nut, she say this her Almond Joy.” Another highlight from the tape would be “They Feelin Us” as Cam starts off rhymin’ “You know when I’m intense you can get ya momma lynched. Do like Kanye and get some Common Sense.” This mixtape starts out hard and gradually fizzles out over time, save a few joints here and there. Sadly this has kinda become a trend for Cam over his last few projects. In summation Boss of all Bosses 2 is a highly entertaining mixtape which I just wished had a little more to it musically, overall I wouldn’t quite break up weed on this joint, but I hope Cam comes a little bit harder, no homo, next time around.
Key Joints: “Intro”, “They Holla Ayyo”, “A Mafia”
Artist: Yelawolf x DJ Burn One
Mixtape: Trunk Muzik
Synopsis: Firstly, I’d like to start this review off by saying, it’s very hard for white rappers to impress me, period. Usually most white rappers come off as 1 of 3 things; the Eminem Clone, the Paul Wall/Lil Wyte/EC Illa (for my Chicago people) hood ass white boy, or the super backpack rapper. Yelawolf really is none of these, which in actuality is pretty f**king awesome. The mixtape starts off with a banger in the form of the title track “Trunk Muzik” as ‘Catfish Billy’ (as he refers to himself) let’s us know he’s “Droppin this heat like an asteroid. Good in the south like Pastor Troy,” with a well pulled off sing/rap flow. They definitely weren’t playing when they named this mixtape as the beats BANG from front to back. The next song from this tape I would like to discuss is the Diamond feature “Lick The Cat” which is an ode to… well i’m pretty sure you get it. The astonishing thing about this song isn’t really its content as much as it is the fact that Diamond murdered the joint. Speaking of guest appearances Trunk Muzik has a few noticable ones such as Bun B on “Good to Go” and Raekwon on “I Wish”. The latter being another one of my favorites from the mixtape. “I Wish” tackles the thought that Yelawolf isn’t ‘Hip-Hop’ enough to stand up with the heavy hitters of rap because of who he is and where he comes from and he does an excellent job of making his case. If Yelawolf is at all guilty of falling into one of the 3 aforementioned ‘white rapper’ categories it would most likely be the Eminem category even though that itself is a reach. He find’s himself with a couple Eminem-ish tracks with “Pop The Trunk” and “F.U.” Upon listening to “Pop The Trunk” I had slight flashbacks to tracks such as “The Way I Am” and “Still Don’t Give a Fuck” whereas “F.U.” is more along the lines of a “Just Don’t Give A Fuck” or “Under The Influence”. My absolute favorite joint from this mixtape though would have to be “Speak Her Sex” which borrows a little a bit of the Outkast sound mixed with Yelawolf’s own personal style and flow to create an ode to bangin bass and good fuckin’. The mixtape itself is all killer and no filler except it probably could’ve done without the lackluster final cut “Mixin’ Up The Medicine” featuring one of the most disappointing rappers of the modern era Juelz Santana. If i had to rate this album on a scale i would say it’s a good 4 out of 5 Swisher Sweets and will definitely keep your mind blown like a 7 of the sour.
Key Joints: “I Wish”, “Trunk Muzik”, “Speak Her Sex”
Artist: Yo Gotti x DJ Drama
Mixtape: Gangsta Grillz: Cocaine Muzik 4
Synopsis: To say that Yo Gotti is a fantastic lyricist would be a lie yet somehow he finds a way to keep me interested in his Boston George-esque tales of dope dealin’. Clearly, Cocaine Muzik 4 doesn’t stray far off that path. Much like the previously mentioned Boss Of All Bosses 2 this tape is a DJ Drama ‘Gangsta Grillz’ mixtape so you know it’s gonna be heavy on the screaming and probably have a Grand Hustle feature or two. The tape starts off with typical Gotti rhyming about cocaine, 5 star bitches and dealing with the haters and those with their hands out. 3 songs in we get a guest appearance from none other than Lil’ Wayne on “Women Lie, Men Lie” which features a looped hook hypnotically chanting “Women lie, men lie, women lie, men lie, women lie, men lie, numbers don’t lie!” To be honest the song is dope as fuck but Lil’ Wayne’s verse coulda been a little better seeing as though the self proclaimed ‘Greatest Rapper Alive’ kinda lazily mumbles through his bars. One of the things I appreciate most about Yo Gotti is his brutal honesty when it comes to the ladies and there is plenty of it on this mixtape; chiefly on “I Just Wanna Fuck”. Track after track there are truly few missteps on Cocaine Muzik 4 if you’re a Yo Gotti fan. If you can buy into J. Futuristic or Yung LA you will love “Any N*gga” starring the twin ATL representers along with All-Star The Cashville Prince, and if you don’t I’m sure you’ll find the skip button to be your friend. I would also like to highlight “Round The Way” as a must listen, it’s simply a rapper doing what he does best over the type of beat he flows best over. It’s hard to rate a Yo Gotti mixtape because I feel as though he is a rapper you either hate or love and he’s very set in his ways so you either get with it or get lost. If you’re a fan of the Scarface inspired over the top TRAP music coming from the south you will most likely love this mixtape, if you’re looking for bars and poetic wizardry I suggest you look elsewhere. All in all I give this joint my stamp of approval.
Key Joints: Women Lie Men Lie, Round the Way, M-Town
Artist: Vandalyzm x Trackstar The DJ
Mixtape: Vandalyzm Is Not The Father
Synopsis: Vandalyzm may be an artist who you might not know, and that’s cool and all but… naaah that shit ain’t cool. Vandalyzm is one of many (Black Spade, Tef Poe, Wafeek, Gotta Be Karim, amongst others) dope rappers coming from a very unique St. Louis hip-hop scene. And when I say unique I mean it in the best way possible. St. Louis has created a hip-hop culture much like Detroit where it’s crafting a distinguishable sound and breeding artists. Lastly, I would just like to state I have been anticipating this joint since before it had a title. The opening track “The Flood” is an excellent intro in which Van states his case for why you should listen to his words. The next MAJOR joint on this tape is the “Move On Em” snippet which is produced by 9th Wonder and I’m guessing is being held on to for an album of some sorts. Van continues with the heat as the next joint “The Matrix” is a certified lyrical treat as he and Tef Poe trade stories on the alternate reality that is the music business. As he continues with the onslaught the next song as Van states his observations about the dating scene over Drake’s “Alone”. Peppered throughout the tape are hilarious interludes including the scene from LIFE in which the prison warden tries to figure out which inmate conceived a child with his daughter. Another track that piqued my interest was “I’m a G” which is a joint Vandalyzm wrote for another artist but decided to record for himself due to said G’s lack of Gs. Although the tracks I’ve mentioned previously are all more of a serious nature Vandalyzm’s truly shines when he’s able to exhibit his sense of humor and personality on songs such as “So Disrespectful” featuring Sean Faylon and “Yeah Naaw” co-starring Wafeek rocking over The Street’s “Fit But You Know It” instrumental. If you’re looking for good music from a multitalented artist with an enormous personality fuck with this mixtape. If you’re looking for the same thing you hear on the radio, fuck that and listen to Vandalyzm, he’s a dope rapper and this is the essence of a dope hip-hop mixtape.
Key Joints: “The Matrix”, “Alone”, “So Disrespectful”
Mixtape: Sulaiman Is The NativeSoul
Synopsis: Unlike the rest of the mixtapes I have reviewed this is actually more of a compilation, but due to its free-ness and the nature of the project it’s being reviewed as a mixtape. I had actually had the pleasure of hearing several of the songs on the project as they were being made so I was well aware of what I was getting into upon listening. Suli has a brilliant mind and his ability to flow in multitudes of different patterns and schemes has and will always impress me. Pretty much every song on this mixtape has its own individual feel to it which is a very impressive feat in itself. Upon the first listen the songs which caught my ears were “Impatient” (Kickdrums Remix), “Leaves on Branches” and “It’s Always Been Your World” because I had never heard them previously. Although “Impatient” has quite the long intro ever so ironically is worth the wait as Suli murders the Kickdrums instrumental. On “Leaves on Branches” Suli brags ‘I got so many styles I can’t match’ and like leaves on branches he makes ’em (his adversaries) fall to the wayside. My personal favorite song though would have to be “Strange Universe” as Suli attacks the Necro beat with a furious barrage of bars. Despite my claim that each song has it’s own feel a break from constant boasting and bragging and a little more song structure would’ve been appreciated. Due to the circumstances from which I know this mixtape was born it may lack some cohesiveness and could’ve been a little better put together, but the songs are all worth listening to. If I could compare this mixtape to a project of greater notoriety I would say that it’s very similar to Curren$y’s Fin… mixtape where it has excellent song after excellent song, but due to the construction/nature of the project and the duration of time over which the material was recorded it’s a little difficult to listen to in it’s entirety. Basically what I’m saying is, download this mixtape, I can guarantee that you will enjoy the songs, even if they just come up on shuffle. Remember people this mixtape was put together to keep Suli’s music fresh on your brain for when he releases the real shit Black Ribbon Hard Work which is coming soon.
Key Joints: “Strange Universe”, “Impatient (Kickdrums Remix)”, “Neon Strings”
Artist: GLC x DJ Fu x Mike Tyson
Mixtape: Respect My Come Up vol. 1 “Pimp Dilemmas”
Synopsis: When I saw the names GLC & Mike Tyson on this mixtape it became an instant download. The only thing is, the mixtape doesn’t really seem to feature Mike Tyson or be hosted by him, rather it’s just laced with Mike Tyson quotes (which is disappointing but isn’t a bad thing). The mixtape itself has a few gems on it including “Elevator Hustler”, “Lay It Down”, & “To A Gangster” which actually all have videos either floating around or in the process of being finished and liberated to the innanets. “Lay It Down” featuring Trouble Andrew was originally featured on Mic Boogie’s PB&J Mixtape with a crazy sample and is definitely a ‘bad day anthem’. Amongst all the pimpin’ my favorite moment on the mixtape actually comes from a sketch featuring GLC’s long time ‘friend’ Tator Chip fails at getting put on to some pussy and complains “You get yours!? You gettin yours while I’m sittin up here peelin snake skin off my dick when I’m jaggin off.” If I had just one wish it would’ve been for GL to have bypassed his foray into 808’s and Heartbreak on “Pimp Visions.” The crazy thing is that he does deliver possibly his funniest line on the tape on “Pimp Visions” spoofing his own homie/boss’s record stating “My homie’s showin me pictures of his kids, and all I can show him is bitches I done hit.” This mixtape as a whole suffers from not having enough great material despite having some awesome songs on it. I wouldn’t let this joint ride all the way through, but if you pick your spots right you should still be able to enjoy ‘the ism’ which is the honorable GLC.
Key Joints: “Lay It Down”, “To A Gangster”, “Mackstroll”
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