The Last Drop

Reviews and Clues on Music That Matters (to me)

Archive for the ‘hip hop’ tag

New Issue: SchoolBoy Q

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Schoolboy , Habits and Contradictions –  Gothic gangster rap at it’s finest. Lyrically a little weak, you can tell his age, but a strong initial concept and effort for an emerging crew of hip hop innovators. Where Section 80 presented consciousness in a mostly well packaged display, Habits exceeds in aurally mapping grit, danger, solitude, machismo, and anything else SchoolBoy wants to address. For a foundationally scary album, it’s a joy to listen to.

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Written by TopDrop

February 27th, 2012 at 1:00 am

New Issue: Kendrick Lamar

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Kendrick Lamar, Section.80  – I need to be more diligent. For many reasons. But recently, I’ve been sleeping on plenty of music that I’ve 1) heard at SXSW or 2) seen live. Kendrick fits both. And yet somehow I still missed out on this goodness for most of 2011. Well, I guess it’s never too late to say your sorry. Or to enjoy good music, cause this is the realness. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by TopDrop

February 13th, 2012 at 8:34 pm

New Issue: Das Racist, Shut Up Dude and Sit Down, Man

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Das Racist, Shut Up, Dude/ Sit Down, Man –  Hmmm…I suppose we were overdue for a renaissance in college trained rappers. Ever since Talib and Kanye dropped out, we haven’t heard mention of college tinged rhyming making a real dent in hip hop. If Vampire Weekend can take music by storm by marrying the ivy league with African rhythms, why not use this formula (nee gimmick) for hip hop? Thus the rise of Das Racist. What’s not to like about the concept – met at requisite liberal arts school, all minorities , fans of pop culture and obscure literature with a well developed elitist sense of humor (try not to chuckle about a Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell…)? A perfect storm for the indie world to embrace. Even if for a blink in time. Well, that blink has lasted much longer than anyone anticipated – I mean, these dudes were everywhere when I was in Austin, a good 2 years after Combo Pizza Hut blew up – and they seem poised to last even longer. And in spite of their presumptive, jerkishness, I may look forward to their next work if it follows suite from their two first efforts.

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Written by TopDrop

April 25th, 2011 at 11:00 am

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Drop Kick: In the spirit of Kanye

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This sh*t is… f*cking ridiculous. Weezy’s back. “6′, 7′ ” is a colossal song, set to slay anyone in it’s path. I have a soft spot for minimalist beats and monster rhymes. This kills it. What a day for hip hop?!

BTW – More to come on my  review of the latest K West masterpiece/self aggrandizing critical darling (the reference being Track #7).

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Written by TopDrop

December 14th, 2010 at 11:42 pm

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New Issue: N.A.S.A

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N.A.S.A, The Spirit of Apollo – How the hype can turn on you so quickly… Pitchfork almost made this band a national name before the album release and then slag them with a disastrous review of the full length. How fickle indie rock bloggers have become. Me, I just stuck with it, kept my mind open and gave the album a spin. And (not so) surprisingly, I disagree with the indie music critical royalty. Not only did I find this album enjoyable, I would easily recommend it as a classic. Of sorts. If you are looking for a collaboration heavy record that is somewhat conscious, somewhat mainstream, and very listenable/party ready, get this album. I first listened to Apollo while running and almost ran an extra 3 miles to make it through the entire album. Very engaging, fun, and big. While others found the collaborations to be heavy handed, I just found it compelling. A killer Tom Waits vocal performance on “Spacious Thoughts” is my personal favorite among the juxtaposed hip hop to rock to indie pop pairings. The concept (North America, South America) is a little hokey and the intro and outro could easily have been excluded. But the main content was extremely enjoyable. Just because it is accessibly does not make it awful, people. Name dropping collaborations are somewhat shameless but can also yield quality. I found The Spirit of Apollo a delightful hip hop treat. So Don’t Believe The (Pitchfork) Hype!

Written by TopDrop

February 28th, 2009 at 5:18 pm

New Issue: Atmosphere

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Atmosphere, When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold – Last one of the forgotten 2008 picks. I promise. Plus I have a few from ’09 that are already classics. Nevertheless, Atmosphere’s latest release is a pleasant reminder of why I like Minneapolis and how crazy the cold will make you.

Atmosphere has steadily released a litany of emo hip-hop that has found a distinctive following not only from Minneapolis underground fans but also hip hop snobs around the world that are tired of “money, girls and bling” rhymes. Myself included. Instead, we tend to gravitate towards the “my life is falling apart and I can’t pick up the pieces” effect of Slug and Ant’s timeless melancholy. When they hurt, I hurt. Somewhat. Usually they add a hint of aggression or (God help them) happiness to temper the overall negativity which makes a whole album of vice, addiction and loss tolerable when not in a deep depression. However, Lemons has less of this levity and suffers from it. Sonically, it is a beautiful work. The production is thoughtful, cohesive. Lyrically, the skill is still there – maybe a bit redundant after 6 albums but I still get sucked in. What I have a hard time with is the lack of… you know…fun. It doesn’t have to be bubbly (even Portishead put in a ukelele song) and you don’t have to sell out to a collaboration . But there has to be SOME hope involved. There needs to be scale to the heaviness presented to really appreciate its weight. Still, I give them thumbs up for another easy on the ears story rap album full of thought provoking rhymes. Maybe an ice cream cone from Sebastian Joe’s or a banana split from Town Talk will cheer you up, Slug.

Written by TopDrop

February 26th, 2009 at 3:09 pm

New Issue: The Knux

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The Knux, Remind Me in 3 Days – Also long awaited but never forgotten. And definitely on my brain for some time. The final member of the holy hipster hip-hop triumvirate, I was eagerly awaiting this album and mozied on down to Amoeba to purchase. Sidenote – To those who remember the early days of this blog, particularly my residence in Atlanta, I must confess: Amoeba is edging close to my love and appreciation for Decatur CD. The customer service is nowhere near the same ( I still have love for Warren, mint juleps and girl scout cookies), but the selection is bar none. And both the Janelle Monae and Knux selections were under $10. Chew on that…

The album definitely met expectations and actually exceeded a few. For one, I’ve found the new generation of “underground” rappers and not actually good rappers. They are disenfranchised with current hip-hop, bored with the stalemate of collaboration authenticity in pop music (Madonna + Justin Timberlake = good? T-Pain + anyone = hit?), and more attuned to the indie music scene than to the changing landscape of lyrical lethalness. From all personal accounts, this has been my main drawback with the genre. The Knux are doing their part to debunk this theory. They are technically and stylistically good. And work well together. Even better than my beloved Cool Kids. They also hold court in actually talking about something – a prerequisite for college educated middle class rappers. Some songs are about having fun, some are about when life is going bad. In any case, you can following the meaning of each song. Sad to say, a hard thing to find nowadays (Wayne, I love you, but even you know that “A Mille” makes no sense). So, with two of the most critical pieces of music making done well, what else could you possibly ask for? Variety for starters. I get the whole “we just wannna rock” philosophy. I believe Run DMC started this way back when (pre-Aerosmith, ya dig) and The Knux are just carrying on the tradition. But the shock value and, ultimately, listenability (just like drinkability) suffer dramatically from the constant reference to an AC/DC hook. Much like Janelle Monae, they fall prey to their own creation. Which, in turn, makes the 17 song album start to feel tedious. Even if they are talking about something. This seems to be a common pitfall for the hipsters – give the people more than enough and let them sort it out. Yet, it is still very easy for these artists to play editor in the studio. Sometimes the best tool for writing is the eraser.

Written by TopDrop

November 10th, 2008 at 10:49 am

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Mix Me Up a Stiff One

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Yet another diamond in the rough. It’s almost as if I’m rediscovering the internet for the first time. Without the insane lag time from a dial up modem, AOL’s connection hissing and humming at me, and someone calling in on the line to break the connection. So, nothing at all like before. But don’t we all like to reminisce? Well, a better way to reminisce that most people agree upon are mix tapes. It’s like an album but without all of those crap songs so you don’t have to skip songs 3, 6, 7 and 12 (the outro). AND no skits (which would be the death of hip hop as we know it…). The ingenious forces behind Tiny Mix Tapes is even willing to help you create one of your own masterpieces. Just send them an idea and they’ll use space age matching technology (read – the intern) to create your very own slice of mix matched heaven.

Go on, give it a go! No one will judge you!

Written by TopDrop

November 9th, 2008 at 8:00 pm

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New Issue: The Kidz in the Hall

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Kidz in the Hall, The In Crowd – NEWS UPDATE – Yet again, a long break from the blogosphere. This time with a good…well, ultimately bad reason. Much of what this blog is about hinges on the fact that I have online access. Simple, I know. However, this was all taken away from me August 4th when a lovely burglar decided to pick my flat in London as his target (there is even a suspect! I’m hoping to get the rights for a Law and Order Criminal Intent episode). I now am a proud citizen of the net-less nation. I’m constantly hunting for available computers and roaming wireless. Or, I’m just often out of touch. And out of luck. Not only is this a regressive step for my blog posting abilities, I also have few options for listening to new music. Maybe my old discman will make a special guest appearance for the next few months. Anyhow, this post may be the last for a little while as I save up enough funds for a new computer. But who knows… music conquers all!

Album #2 in my most recent stack of good music. And by recent, go back to the date of the last post. Yeah, old. Anyway, I hope this continues becomes I am having a ball and it’s been a while. Oh, and it’s the SUMMER! I deserve some good tunes. Which the Kidz deliver in spades. One of which is so monstrous, so perfect, so summerific, it is enough to qualify the entire album as a hit. “Drivin Down the Block” is an anthem that is long overdue and long on life. Much like Will Smith’s “Summertime” (yes, you saw it here first, a Will Smith musicianship shout out) “Drivin Down the Block” puts you into an instant laid back posture and floods your mind with memories of all things hot and lazy. This is the only song that makes mie miss driving. I’d even bump this while sitting in traffic on I285 (what up ATL!). A suprisingly easy on the ears and easy to follow lyrical assessment from two Ivy league grads. Yep, Kanye isn’t the only one to start turning the dial towards middle class black rap. See also The Cool Kids, The Knux and Kid Sister for fresh bourgeosie rhyming that also hearkens back to the ’80s. There is definitely a coalition of the willing that wants to push mainstream hip hop back towards the middle ( we aren’t red states or blue states…) and I like the Kidz’ chances. The album itself is pretty fly but loses steam halfway through. The early themes and production play well for Naledge’s rhyme style (a little bit of old with the 70’s/’80’s samples but new with shouts out to Chardonnay and the Champs Elysee) but runs into trouble when he has to start talking about how hard the Midwest is. I do believe it gets rough out there ( I’ve seen it myself), but I don’t buy it from Upenn grads in Marketing and Systems Engineering. Furthermore, they don’t really give me reason to buy into it as the lyrics and production fall off dramatically.

Again, I’m glad that hip hop is starting a new direction. I was surprised to return from the UK and notice that the top artists and genres did not budge one inch in a whole year. I thought we had shorter attention spans than that 😉 If you can handle at least 9 tracks of good hip hop, get the Kidz and the Hall album. Because your worth it.

Written by TopDrop

September 8th, 2008 at 11:32 am