Three years after posting a snippet on YouTube, the full CDQ version of the Just Blaze produced “Dear Moleskine” is out.  Yesterday, Jay Electronica released artwork for his long awaited album, Act II: The Patents of Nobility (The Turn).  There is still no word on a release date.

Jay Electronica “Dear Moleskine” –  Stream

With anticipation high for the upcoming G.O.O.D. Friday release of Kanye’s new single, many were surprised last night when Funkmaster Flex debuted Kanye and DJ Khaled’s “Theraflu.”

On the Hit-Boy produced track Kanye addresses Wiz, Amber, Kim Kardashian, and Kris Humphries with lines like “And I’ll admit, I fell in love with Kim‘Round the same time she had fell in love wit’ himWell, that’s cool, baby girl, do ya thingLucky I ain’t have Jay drop ‘im from the team.”

Kanye West – “Theraflu” ft. DJ Khaled & DJ Pharris – Stream


Artist: Obie Trice

Album: Bottoms Up

Label: Black Market Entertainment

Date: 4/3/12


“O-Trice, Back At It!”  Six years after the release of Second Rounds On Me, Obie Trice is back with his third album, Bottoms Up, which keeps in line with his other alcohol-inspired album titles.  Ten years ago Eminem memorably sampled the line “Obie Trice, real name, no gimmicks” from Obie Trice’s “Rap Name” on “Without Me.”  Now, Obie maintains his “no gimmicks” attitude on this project and even brings the line back on “Ups & Downs.”

His past albums, Cheers and Second Rounds On Me, featured many collaborations and with only four features on this sixteen track album Obie Trice seems more comfortable showcasing his lyrics and flow on his own.  The subject matter of the album is light and ranges from the type of woman Obie fantasizes about on “I Pretend” to the story of his career and relationships within the rap game.

Although Obie Trice split from Shady Records in 2008, Eminem has a strong presence on the album through samples, shout outs, production, and a feature.  The project kicks off with a Dr. Dre produced introduction on which Obie spits a verse letting us know that on this album he is “simply spittin whats in O-Trice’s system.”  He then thanks all those who have helped and supported his career so far.  The intro is followed by the energetic “Going Nowhere.”  Obie shows his confidence and lets us know he’s “in this to win this” over Eminem’s production.  The first single off the project, “Battle Cry” features Adrian Rezza and was produced by his brother Lucas Rezza.  It was released last summer.  On the track, Obie reminisces about his critics and past albums.  He starts each verse with his catchy battle cry of “O-Trice, Back At It” reminding us of his perseverance in the game.  The second single “Spend The Day” features singer, Drey Skoni and was produced by Detroit rap/production trio NoSpeakerz, who produced a third of the album.  The track tells the story of what its like for a woman to spend a day with Obie.  “Spill My Drink” is a catchy track on which Obie mentions his album delays and who has stuck by him through all this time.

On the highly anticipated Statik Selektah produced “Richard,” Obie and Slim take it back to “Shady 1.0” with alternating verses packed full of references about them being “dicks” with Eminem on the chorus.  Obie comments on Interscope, as a label, and his issues with the industry on “Ups & Downs” and “Hell Yea.”  He also addresses his relationships with Eminem and Dre accompanied by a few Dre and Em samples on “Hell Yea.”  Trice and the late MC Breed represent for the Michigan rap scene on “Crazy.”  “Lebron On” is the story of Obie’s career told through basketball metaphors and comparisons to Lebron.  It discusses overcoming obstacles and being underrated and hated on.  Obie ends the last track with a shout out to “the G-Unit he knows” and a request to follow him on twitter @RealObieTrice.

A few tracks such as “BME Up” or “Secrets” would have been a good fit for a 50 Cent verse or chorus, but they are solid tracks anyway.  There is an early 2000s classic feel to the album which maybe because he started the project so long ago. Obie’s verses are authentic and unaffected and uninfluenced by current music.  The overall production of the album is solid and a good fit for Obie’s style.  Many tracks have memorable witty lines and metaphors like “The way I hurt em with the ‘Yeshe call me Amber Rose.”  Although some tracks are more memorable than others, the project is comprised of well-written verses, catchy choruses and diverse flow, and definitely worth a listen.



Purchase Bottoms Up on iTunes


A-Trak (DJ, producer, and co-founder of Fool’s Gold) teams with Three 6 Mafia’s Juicy J and Detroit rapper Danny Brown on “Piss Test.” This track is the first record off of Fool’s Gold Records’ upcoming compilation, Loosies. Though Juicy J and Danny Brown have very different styles they both fit well on A-Trak’s production.

“Piss Test”  A-Trak ft Juicy J & Danny Brown – Stream


Artist: Maino

Album: Day After Tomorrow

Label: E1Music/Atlantic Records

Date: 2/28/12

Maino continues to tell his story with his sophomore album Day After Tomorrow.  Serving as a follow-up to his 2009 debut If Tomorrow Comes, which narrated his upbringing in Bed-Stuy to becoming a rapper, this new album is set in the present and represents the positive and negative balance that comes with fame.  For better or for worse, this album manages to differentiate itself from his previous album and casts Maino in a new light, while preserving his spot as a NY radio staple.
On many of the 16 tracks Maino’s verses are accompanied by singers on the choruses giving them an R&B feel. He chose to use mostly in-house producers including Blast Off Productions who did four of the sixteen tracks.  The album opens with “Never Gon’ Stop.”  The track makes the theme of Maino’s contemplation of the two sides of fame clear with lines like “why I’m feeling like it was simpler when we was poor.”  On “Need a Way Out,” produced by and featuring Mista Raja, Maino tells his story from three stages of his life starting with his childhood in a poor home, then his stint in prison in the early 90s, and eventually becoming a rapper in where he questions, “looking in the mirror I’m a rapper now/ what’s supposed to happen now?

Based on his lyrics, Maino feels that he has made it in the game but is still not completely satisfied with his current life.  His lyrics are real, but he could have done a better job of showing the contrast between his past and current status.  It’s a concept album and he stays true to his theme, but it does get a little repetitive.  He exhibits confidence on “Messiah” on which he discusses trying to save hip-hop.  While I agree with his thoughts on the state of hip-hop such as “too many characters, the game is like a TV show/I can’t believe I see rappers wearing women clothes,”  he didn’t prove to me that he’ll be the one to save it.  On the title track, “Day After Tomorrow,” and “Glad to Be Alive,” Maino expresses his appreciation and thanks for the success he has seen but reminds us that there are two sides to that success, showing that things have changed with lines like “what happened to the old Maino? People say they miss him.”  “Heaven for a G” stays in the same vein thematically, as the song is about doubt and worry of what the future may hold for the Brooklyn-bred rapper.

Maino is clearly a talented songwriter, and it seems like he is aiming for the certified Platinum success of “All The Above” with singles such as “Let It Fly” featuring Roscoe Dash and “That Could Be Us” featuring Robbie Nova which was released in the fall. “Let It Fly” has a similar beat to the Roscoe Dash assisted hit “No Hands.”  “Unstoppable” and “Heart Stop” also seemed to be aimed at getting radio play.  “Heart Stop” includes a chorus sung by a girl who sounds a lot like Rihanna.  The Buckwild-produced “Nino Brown” and the previously released “Cream” featuring T.I. and Meek Mill which samples a Rick Ross lyric from “MC Hammer” contain some hot lines and quotables. T.I.’s verse has me looking forward to hearing more on his upcoming project Trouble Man, whereas Maino’s verse is the least memorable on the track.

The album as a whole may have benefited from a few more features from well-known artists and a little more diversity in subject matter, which says a lot for Maino. This is sort of a conundrum for Maino because his confidence is clear, but at times he appears overshadowed, as seen on “Cream” when he trades verses with T.I. and Meek. In terms of production, it is solid, but lacking diversity and basically what you would expect from a Maino album.  Overall, The Day After Tomorrow is a worthy effort by Maino, but more than likely only the hit singles the project has spawned such as “Let It Fly” will be remembered by the general public and not the album as a whole.

Purchase The Day After Tomorrow on iTunes

Big K.R.I.T. dropped his highly anticipated mixtape 4EvaNaDay early this afternoon.  It’s first single ‘Boobie Miles‘ was released on February 1st, 2012.  The 17 track project has no features and is available for free download.  This should definitely hold us over until he drops his debut album.

Big K.R.I.T. 4evaNaDay

1. 8:04 AM
2. Wake Up [Saxaphone By Willie B]
3. Yesterday
4. Boobie Miles Stream
5. 4EvaNaDay (Theme)
6. Me And My Old School [Guitar By Mike Hartnett]
7. 1986
8. Country Rap Tunes Stream
9. Sky Club
10. Red Eye
11. Down & Out Stream
12. Package Store
13. TemptationStream
14. Handwriting
15. Insomnia [Guitar By Mike Hartnett]
16. 5:04 AM
17. The Alarm














After the success of last year’s Shady Records Pop-Up Museum and Slaughter House show in New York City, Brisk Bodega is back.  This time Brisk partnered with Star Wars in celebration of the 3D re-release of Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace.  The Brisk Bodega opened the second of their three Star War’s themed pop-up stores in New York on Thursday night, February 23.  “The Cantina” was set up at 540 W. 21 Street in NYC.  The event featured DJ sets by Just Blaze and DJ Soul with an opening set by NXNY as well as Brisk and Star Wars inspired artwork by Artek, Mark Dean Veca, Jasper Wong, Pose, Leo Eguiarte, Dual Forces, Eye One, and Tristan Easton.  Earlier this month, Just Blaze hosted a similar set-up in LA  and the third event will be held at SXSW in Austin on March 12 at the Molotov Lounge. All photos by Bernard Smalls.

Renowned battle rapper, Iron Solomon held an album listening party for his full-length debut, “Monster,” at Fight Klub Studios on February 22, 2012. The event was hosted by Peter Rosenberg with music by DJ Meka of 2DopeBoyz. Click through to see photos from the event. Photos by Bernard Smalls.

Artist: Copywrite

Album: God Save The King

Label: Man Bites Dog

Date: 2/28/2012

Copywrite of the Columbus, Ohio crew MHz combines his battle rap style with his newfound Christian beliefs on his fourth studio album, God Save The King.  Over the last 10 years Copy has released albums of varying success with critics and fans in The High Exhaulted (released in 2002 and re-released in 2010), Ultrasound: The Rebirth EP (2009), and The Life And Times Of Peter Nelson (2010.)  On his most recent and most well-rounded release, Copywrite returns to his battle rap origins that he shied away from on The Life And Times of Peter Nelson, supplying tracks packed full of punch lines, metaphors, and quotables.

Copywrite doesn’t ride solo on GSTK, as the album includes guest appearances from MHz members Tage Future and Jakki Da Motamouth as well as IllogicRockness Monsta of Heltah Skeltah, ToraeCasual, Evidence (of Dilated Peoples), Roc Marciano, and more.  The seventeen-track project features diverse range of beats from nine producers including two tracks from Wu-Tang affiliate Bronze Nazareth and four from Stu Bangas, among others.


As the album title suggests, faith and spirituality are a big part of Copywrite’s lyrical content.  Listeners are given a look at his internal struggles and experiences.  Copywrite attempts a range of styles over the course of the album.  The album opens with a track called “Post-Apocalyptic Request Box” which serves as a theatrical introduction to the theme of the project. Copywrite’s MCing abilities really shine through on tracks like “Swaggot Killaz” and the Khrysis produced “Union Rights.”  “Swaggot Killaz” takes a few jabs at rappers who constantly use the phrase “swag” while the MC effortlessly flows through comical punchlines (“hoes keep me on my toes like ballerina tights/think your on fire, Ricky Bobby, Talledega Nights“).  On “Union Rights,” Copywrite drops quotables in double-time, while taking a tongue-in-cheek approach to discussing how hard he works and how seriously he takes his music. He mentions the need to consistently put out material to hold his place in the game, which is probably his thought process behind releasing four projects in the last four years.

Tracks such as “J.O.Y” and “Yo! MTV Raps! (Money for Nothing)” featuring and produced by Copywrite’s label mate Jason Rose may appeal to a broader mainstream audience than a majority of his past works.  “Yo! MTV Raps!” is a remake of the 1985 Grammy Award winning single, “Money for Nothing” by British Rock band, Dire Straits. Copywrite’s 2012 version of hit includes a verse that runs through the titles of popular MTV shows with lines like “I birth MCs when I preach the message, so my MTV RAPS are SIXTEEN AND PREGNANT.”  “Golden State (Of Mind)” featuring Casual, Evidence, and Roc Marciano offers both a visitor and a resident’s point of view of the state of California, while the politically charged “White Democrats” featuring Mac Lethal is not far off sonically, as both songs stay in the vein of classic hip-hop.  “Synesthesia” is another thematic song and also the sole track produced by long-time collaborator RJD2.  It describes some of the sensations felt by those who have the neurological condition and even suggests that Kanye and Q-Tip are synesthetes themselves.


Recently in an interview, Copywrite explained that his future recordings will not contain foul language and will fall in the category of Christian music. He implies that this album represents a change in his beliefs that began when he was 16 years-old.  Copywrite’s newly expressed beliefs are most clearly demonstrated on tracks such as “Sorrow” and “Talk With Jesus.”  “Sorrow” featuring Illogic and Don Jaga expresses Copywrite’s contemplation on the meaning of life and the loss of his parents.  The project comes to a close with “Talk With Jesus.”  The track is reminiscent of Joe Budden’s Pray For Me” in that it illustrates both sides of a conversation between the rapper and God.  Copywrite’s serious lyrics and deep content over Poetiq Beatz’ upbeat production, which includes a sample from Notorious B.I.G.’s “Juicy” (“born sinner, the opposite of a winner”) makes for a powerful final track.


Overall, God Save The King is a strong album, but it’s likely that a great deal of hip-hop fans may never have the chance to hear it due to the lack of mainstream notoriety surrounding Copywrite’s solo-career.  It won’t have a strong impact on today’s culture, but the lyrical content is extremely entertaining and well written.  I definitely recommend giving the project a listen as it appears that Copywrite will soon be changing his style to appeal to a very specific fan base. When asked why he is releasing an album that bridges his old content with his new beliefs, Copy stated “I feel like all of those fans I’ve built up over the years won’t just listen to me talking about God if I just came out with an album like that. I needed a bridge album.”  God Save The King surely finds a comfortable middle ground, making the album a well-rounded listening experience.  Who knows; with Christian rap growing in popularity, Copywrite may be able to find more commercial success in the future.  Then again, who knows if Copywrite will truly be able to leave behind the style his fans have become so accustomed to.

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