This post marks the second and final leg of my get familiar with Dave East mission [btw, th’fuck happened to Clinton Sparks?!]. The first stop, his Straight Outta Harlem mixtape, had some high points but was so unfocused that it ended up getting a mediocre score. Now, with about a year’s worth of added experience, let’s see how Dave did on his latest mixtape, Hate Me Now…
Back when I reviewed New York City, Troy Ave was totally new to me, and that album floored me. Hearing somebody make good, moody New York gangster rap again was so exciting that, if I was giving scores back then, that album would have gotten at least a four out of five. But with Major Without a Deal, Troy is coming to exhibit something much less desirable: a myopic, self-centeredness that’s infecting and ruining his music.
In a world where fewer and fewer musicians, rappers especially, are selling big quantities of albums, I love seeing that cats like Curren$y are continuing to find independent success in hip-hop. And I love that Troy Ave and Joey Bada$$ were even motivated enough to argue over who was the #1 indie artist, and that hip-hop media picked it up as news. The mainstream continues to disappoint, while the underground continues to thrive. Free from corporate expectations and meddling, these artists can make music that their fans want, almost assured of success.
That’s what Curren$y has done since Pilot Talk, my introduction to his smooth, heavily sedated style of hip-hop. He knows what he does well and he does exactly that. At one point he described his sound as what a Crown Royal bag looks like, which I take to mean easy-going, elegant, and funky. That perfectly describes the best of Pilot Talk III, his latest collection of tunes suited for leisurely driving or relaxing. It’s so smooth, so chill but never drowsy, that I can’t help but enjoy it, even if it sounds monotonous at times. Songs like Get Down, Long as the Lord Say,and Lemonade Mimosas show that he can still craft fantastic chill-out anthems.
I forgot where and when, but Snoop Dogg has said that he would have been making funk music had he been born in another time. His love for funk and R&B has been demonstrated clearly since the beginning of his career, so detours like the songs Beautiful and Sexual Eruption, and now this album, BUSH, should be of no surprise to those who’ve paid attention to him.
14 years after The Cold Vein, expectations are high for Cannibal Ox’s second album, Blade of the Ronin. That’s probably both an under and over statement, because, while that debut was stellar, fans spent the many years afterwards hoping for a follow-up but only receiving decent-ish solo albums from the group’s members, Vast Aire and Vordul Mega. Honestly, I gave up on these guys a long ago. Even though those solo albums often had a song featuring the other duo member, I still couldn’t foresee them rejoining to release something worthy of The Cold Vein. So when a friend showed me a single from Blade of the Ronin a few months back (sorry, I can’t remember which song it was), I played it hoping for that greatness but realistically expecting much less. And it squarely met those tempered expectations. How about the rest of the album?