The Insane Clown Posse are a Detroit hip hop duo consisting of Violent J & Shaggy 2 Dope. They’ve been at it since the very late 80’s & through their own label Psychopathic Records, the 2 have managed to become independent titans. The last we heard from J & Shaggy in a full-length capacity was in 2015 with The Marvelous Missing Link double disc set but almost 4 years later, they’re returning with their 15th full-length album.
As with every album in the duo’s Dark Carnival mythology, the intro & the first song “Red Fred” serve as an introduction to the album’s titular character. The track “Fury!” is all about fighting back & not only do the verses make you feel like the adrenaline is starting to flow inside, but so does the Str8jaket production. The song “West Vernor Ave.” is a Shaggy solo cut that pays tribute to the titular street in downtown Detroit while the track “W.T.F.! (What The Fuck!)” talks about the problems of the world today over a chaotic beat. The song “Satellite” sees the 2 is an empowerment anthem with a spacious beat while the track “Seriously Hilarious” gets murderous over a haunting beat. The song “Game Over” sees J making fun of gamers over a trap beat with an AMAZING Super Mario sample throughout while “Night of Redrum” pretty much speaks for itself over a nocturnal beat.
The song “Low” is mostly a take on the classic Zombies joint “Time of the Season” while the song “TripleX” is a clever tale taking place in a therapy session over a demented beat. The song “Nobody’s Fault” is a painfully corny emo rap cut while the song “Hot Head” is a boring, sluggish angst anthem. The song “Shimmer” is a guitar ballad to God with a horrid execution while the track “Freedom” sees J & Shaggy talking about just that over an uplifting beat. After the “Beware!” interlude, the closer “I Like It Rough” is a disgusting sex tune (not in a good way either) with a bland trap beat.
I was legitimately excited going into this after I got to see them film the “Fury!” video at my uncle’s store back in October but now that it’s here, this thing did NOT live up to the hype that was set out for it. Don’t me wrong: I can appreciate it for going back to a darker sound & featuring more storytelling raps, but it’s overloaded. And while 17 does happen to be the duo’s lucky number, that’s not an excuse to rush your album & pack it with 1 boring cut after another. I got nothing but love for both of these guys, but I know for a fact that they can do better than this in 2019.
This is the highly anticipated collab album between East Coast supergroup CZARFACE & the legendary Ghostface Killah. They first teamed up on the banger “Savagely Attack” off of CZARFACE’s self-titled debut back in 2013 but now almost a year after the trio’s collab album with MF DOOM titled CZARFACE Meets Metal Face, they’re following it up by doing a collab album with Tony Starks himself.
After the “Back at the Ringside” intro, the first song “Face Off” sees CZAR & Ghost really suiting the title over an eerie beat. The track “Iron Claw” tells their competition not to push them over an El-P inspired instrumental while the song “Czarrcade ‘87” is a CZAR solo cut where Esoteric & Inspectah Deck get confrontational over an ominous beat. The track “Powers & Stuff” reunite with Ghost to brag about their skills over an apocalyptic beat while the song “Masked Superstars” continues the lyrical themes of the previous joint over a more boom bap beat.
The track “Morning Ritual” has a somber beat & the storytelling is vivid, but I’m confused as to way Inspectah Deck doesn’t appear on it at all. The song “Super Soldier Serum” gets boastful over an electro-tinged beat while “The King Heard Voices” gets murderous over a perfectly fitting instrumental. The track “Listen to the Color” is another CZAR cut that could’ve been on any of their first 3 albums & before things close out with the “(Post Credits Scene)” outro, the final song “Mongolian Beef” is a lyrical onslaught with a doomsday-sounding beat.
From front to back, it definitely lives up to the hype. It could’ve been a little longer & used a couple features, but the production & chemistry between CZAR & Ghost is almost on par with DOOM’s.
Sean Price was a legendary MC from New York City who came up as a member of the Boot Camp Clik alongside Heltah Skeltah & The Fab 5. He released 3 classic solo albums before unexpectedly passing away in 2015 but now, Small Professor has decided to release Sean’s recently unearthed posthumous sophomore album & 5th album overall.
The album kicks off with “Bear Witness”, which is mostly a decent turntablism cut. The next track is the original Heltah Skeltah mix of “Refrigerator P!” that appeared on Sean’s 2017 posthumous debut Imperius Rex while the song “LaToya Jackson” with Quelle Chris sees the 2 boasting about their rapping prowesses over an grimy boom bap beat. The track “Midnight Rounds” with Elucid & Castle is loaded with battle bars over a militant beat & after the “P’s Theme” interlude, we go into the song “John Gotti”. Here, P teams up with AG da Coroner as well as Guilty Simpson & Your Old Droog to get murderous over an eerie beat. The track “Think About It” sounds like it easily could’ve been on his latest Illa Ghee collab EP Metal Detectors & then the final original cut “Word to Mother” talks about how he’s the greatest over some haunting strings. This is followed by remixes of “John Gotti” & “Refrigerator P!”, which don’t really do much for me in all honesty.
Even though this is more like an EP to me, it is a solid listen. There are a few handful of redundant cuts on here, but most of this half hour experience is filled with the gritty lyricism & raw production that you’d usually expect from P.
Crimeapple is an MC from New Jersey who’s been making some noise in the underground over the past year or so. Especially with his 4th EP Sweet Dreams that dropped on Halloween 2017 & his Big Ghost Ltd. produced debut album Aguardiente last March. However, he is now teaming up with DJ Skizz to deliver his sophomore album.
The album kicks off with the titular song, which talks about doing him over a boom bap beat with some haunting background vocals & piano chords. The next song “Pasteless” gets mafioso over a flute-tinged beat while the track “Springfield Power Plant” talks about his hustle over a classy beat. The song “Chuletas” is essentially a charismatic humble brag over a perfectly suiting instrumental while the track “Heavy Sativas” is filled with vivid drug dealer bars over an alluring beat. The song “Skeleton Keys” continues the Scarface-esque lyricism over an eerie keyboard heavy beat while the track “Purple Rain” gets more introspective over a settle beat with some horns. The song “Divine” is an acoustic cut paying tribute to his pregnant girl & then the album ends with “FFFeel Good”, which talks about how no one is on his level over soulful boom bap beat.
All & all, this is tied with Aguardiente as Crimeapple’s magnum opus. It could’ve been longer & could’ve used a couple features to break up the monotony but outside of that, Crimeapple continues to show that he’s one of the rawest dudes out right now as his lyricism has gotten sharper & DJ Skizz’s production on here suits him fantastically.
The People Under the Stairs are a legendary hip hop duo from Los Angeles, California consisting of Thes One & Double K. They dropped a handful of great albums over the past 20 years like Question in the Form of the Answer, O.S.T., …Or Stay Tuned & their previous album 12 Step Program back in 2014. However, Thes One announced his retirement from music just a few months ago & now the 2 are now giving fans their 10th full-length album before officially disbanding.
Things kick off with “Encore”, which really sets the tone over some crowd cheering. The next track “Reach Out” is an emotional look-back at their career while the song “Let the Record Show” is a funky relaxation anthem. The track “Hard” talks about how they’re doper than ever with a perfect scratch-hook & a decent drum-beat while “The Effects of Climate Change on Densely Populated Areas” intellectually touches down on just that over a smooth beat. “The Red Onion Wrap” is a funky party anthem that goes over pretty well while the song “Redeemer” is charismatic crowd mover.
The track “Streetsweeper” gets on the battle tip over a sinister beat while the song “We Get Around” is about how they’ve always done what they did for their fans over a mellow beat. The track “Stars in the House” talks about their impact over a fittingly spacious beat while “Here, for a Good Time” is a predictable party banger. The track “Letter to My Son” is a Thes One solo cut that’s easily one of the most endearing moments on the album while the song “Family Ties” sees the 2 recalling memories with their families over a summery beat. The penultimate track “Dream Sequence ‘88” sees the 2 trading bars back & forth over a guitar while “The Sound of Memory” ends things fantastically with a soulful boom bap beat.
All & all, this was a great way for the duo to go out. There are a few cuts that I can personally do without because I feel like they’re either too predictable or blandly produced, but it really sounds like Thes & Double K took their time with it as it’s a mostly reflective & consistent final bow.
Boogie is a 29 year old MC from Compton, California who first broke out onto the scene in 2014 with his 1st mixtape Thirst 48, eventually following it up with The Reach exactly a year later as well as Thirst 48, Pt. II the year after that. This would eventually catch the attention of Detroit icon Eminem, who signed Boogie to his Interscope Records imprint Shady Records in late 2017. He then gained even more exposure with a pretty great feature on “Dumb” off of Royce da 5’9”’s latest album Book of Ryan but now almost 9 months later, he’s ready to deliver to his full-length debut.
Things kick off with “Tired (Reflections)”, where Boogie talks about what he’s sick of over a mellow beat. The next track “Silent Ride” talks about being detached over a flute-heavy instrumental while the song “Swapmeet” is an pretty, acoustic love ballad. The track “LOL SMH” talks about his baby momma over a smooth beat with a nice switch-up during the 2nd half while the song “Soho” with J.I.D. sees the 2 talking about being sick of people tryin’ to be cool with them now that they’re famous over a banger beat. The track “Skydive” is another acoustic love tune while the song “Live 95” talks about being broke & the beat has a great vintage West Coast vibe to it.
The track “Rainy Days” with Eminem sees the 2 talking about not wanting to be forgotten over a monstrous trap beat from S1 & StreetRunner Kinda sounds like it was made during the sessions of Em’s latest album KAMIKAZƎ, but it’s still enjoyable. The song “Skydive II” is pretty much a reprise of the predecessor & while it’s not bad, but it should’ve been merged together with the first one because it seems so out of place standing by itself. The track “Whose Fault” reflects on the arguments he’s had with his baby mama over a somber beat while the song “No Warning” talks about his toxic attitude over a minimalist beat with some gloomy piano chords. The penultimate track “Self Destruction” talks about his ignorance over a nocturnal trap beat & then the closer “Time” with Snoh Aalegra is a corny duet about Boogie treating Snoh like a side-chick
Overall, this is Boogie’s best work yet. The production’s more refined in comparison to his mixtapes & I feel like we get a greater glimpse of who he is. Definitely a solid beginning for Shady Records’ next big star.
Future is a 35 year old rapper, singer & songwriter from Atlanta, Georgia that blew up at the beginning of the decade bringing his own unique sound to the trap subgenre. He spent 2018 doing features, the soundtrack for the recent Superfly remake, dominating the recent DJ Esco album KOLORBLIND, his BEAST MODE 2 mixtape & the redundant WRLD on Drugs collab with Juice WRLD. But now to bring in the new year, he’s delivering his 7th full-length album.
Things kick off with “Never Stop”, which talks about his come up over a disappointingly generic beat. The next song “Jumpin’ on a Jet” gets boastful over a spacey trap beat from Southside while the track “Rocket Ship” talks about how he’s been popular since his demos over an airy beat. The song “Temptation” is an introspective look at just that over a somber beat from Tay Keith & even though I didn’t care for the track “Crushed Up” at first, it did grow on me a little.
The song “F&N” talks about putting hits out with a pretty cool beat switch during the last minute or so while the track “Call the Coroner” talks about his desire to live like a drug lord over an eerie TM88 beat. The song “Talk Shit Like a Preacher” is a painfully boring bragging anthem while the track “Promise U That” talks about thug love over a spacious, bass heavy Tay Keith beat. The song “Stick To the Models” is another drab brag, but the track “Overdose” does pick back up as he’s flexin’ more charmingly over a Southside & DY beat with some bells.
The song “Krazy But True” talks about his influence over a woozy trap beat from Wheezy while the track “Servin’ Killa Kam” talks about the shit he got over a nondescript beat. The song “Baptiize” talks about his grind over an atmospheric beat that cleverly switches up into a “Slave Master” sample during the second half & even though the track “Unicorn Purp” with Young Thug & Gunna sounds like a leftover from SUPER SLIMEY, the chemistry between the 3 is flawless.
The song “Goin’ Dummi” pretty much speaks for itself over a bland beat while the track “First Off” with Travis Scott is an off the wall wealth anthem. The song “Faceshot” yet again talks about the drug game, but the skrrt adlibs at the start of every verse is annoying. The penultimate track “Ain’t Coming Back” talks about haters over a spacious beat & then the closer “Tricks on Me” talks about fame over a mellow 1985 beat.
This isn’t bad, but it’s not that great either. Not only is there nothing new sonically, but there are quite a bit of filler cuts on here as well. Yet another example of someone as boundary pushing as Future prioritizing quantity over quality.
Malibu Ken is a new duo consisting of indietronica producer Tobacco out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania & legendary New York wordsmith Aesop Rock. They announced their formation late last year & after a few singles, they’re delivering their full-length debut with the help off Rhymesayers Entertainment.
The album kicks off with “Corn Maze”, where Rock talks about privacy over an 8-bit sounding instrumental. The song “Tuesday” describes an average titular day over a druggy beat while the track “Save Our Ship” gets cryptic over some synths & guitars. The song “Sword Box” spits battle bars over some haunting synths while the track “Dog Years” looks back at his youth over another 8-bit sounding beat.
The song “Acid King” vividly recalls the story of his friend Gary being murdered over a minimal synth instrumental while the track “Suicide Big Gulp” seems to be discussing depression over a synth-funk beat. The song “1+1=13” talks about luck over a spacious beat while the track “Churro” vividly talks about an eagle killing a cat over over a trippy beat. The album then finishes off with “Purple Moss”, where Aes goes back to a more introspective approach over a somber beat.
Overall, this is a pretty solid album. It’s too short only running at 34 minutes, but Aesop Rock’s lyricism is more intelligent than ever & Tobacco’s synthesizer heavy production suits his stories very well.
James Blake is a 30 year old singer, songwriter, instrumentalist & producer from London, England who released his self-titled debut in 2011. He would then go on to top this with his next 2 albums Overgrown & The Colour in Anything in 2013 & 2016 respectively. But now to start his 2019, he’s delivering his 4th full-length album.
Thing start off with the title track, where James sings to ex girlfriend Jameela Jamil over a piano & some strings. The next track “Mile High” with Travis Scott is all about having sex on a plane over a smooth Metro Boomin’ instrumental while the song “Tell Them” by Moses Sumney is about how he doesn’t plan on staying with this woman over another Metro beat, except this once sounds skeletal. The track “Into the Red” talks about keeping this woman in her life while the song “Barefoot in the Park” by Rosalía is a pretty decent minimalist Spanish-sung ballad.
The track “Can’t Believe the Way We Flow” seems to tackle loneliness over some background vocals while the song “Are You in Love?” sees James asking this woman if she’s attracted to him over an ambient instrumental with some synthesizers. The track “Where’s the Catch?” with André 3000 talks about how they can’t be deceived over a dark electropop instrumental & while the song “I’ll Come Too” has a mellow instrumental, the lyrics are pretty stalker-ish. The track “Power On” discusses how he was wrong about this woman over a soothing beat while the song “Don’t Miss It” talks about his depression over an art pop instrumental. The album then finishes with “Lullaby for My Insomniac”, which is mostly an alluring ambient piece.
I was pretty excited going into this & at the end, it’s one of my favorite albums from James yet. There are some cuts that feel like leftovers from other artists’ latest albums, but the upbeat production is a nice touch & the romantic concept is mostly well put together.
Gorilla Voltage is a hip hop duo from San Jose, California consisting of Mr. Grey & ClockworC. They originally came up as The Damn Dirty Apes in 2015 & released their self-titled debut that same year, but changed their name after signing to Majik Ninja Entertainment on Christmas Day that following year. Their sophomore album Ape-X was released a couple months later & now to kick off 2019, they’re delivering their 3rd full-length album.
The album kicks off with “Handful of Matches”, which talks about arson over a bass heavy beat. The next track “Ape Shit, Pt. 2” serves as a menacing sequel to a highlight off their 2015 debut while the song “Let Go” with Dot Bundini reflects on their past over a boom bap beat with some sinister horns. The track “Good Die Young” talks about how ruthless they are over a boom bap beat with some strings while the song “War Zone Dome” talks about internal conflict over a chaotic beat. The track “Generation Fool” is an adrenaline pumping take on rap metal while the song “Westilence” is filled with vicious battle bars over an instrumental with a prominent tuba.
The track “Feeding Time” brags about them taking over the game over a sinister beat while the song “Rocks in My Socks” talks about drug dealing over a hyphy beat. The track “Spaz Out” is a flawless mosh pit anthem while the song “Doomsday” vividly describes an apocalypse over a booming instrumental with some 8-bit synths. The track “Mad Scientist” with Kung Fu Vampire is a lyrical onslaught over a thumping beat while the song “Pub Crawl” is a flawless display of the duo’s chemistry over a chaotic beat. The penultimate track “No Rivalry” tells the story of a robbery over a monstrous beat & then the closer “Hatefuck” is a beautifully slow, smooth & melodic love anthem.
At the end of the day, Gorilla Voltage really rings in the new year for MNE by delivering their best work yet. There are some weak spots here & there, but the production & lyricism have both stepped up for the most part & I also love how they take on many different styles of hip hop on here.