Gravediggaz – “6 Feet Deep” review

The Gravediggaz were a horrorcore supergroup originally composed of Wu-Tang Clan de facto leader RZA, former Stetsasonic members Prince Paul & Frukwan as well as Poetic & this is their full-length debut. While they weren’t the 1st to do horrorcore, I personally believe they REALLY popularized the subgenre with this album. The deliveries, flows & lyrical content are purely ominous while the production (mainly handled by Prince Paul) has a perfectly sinister atmosphere throughout. Examples of this include “Constant Elevation”, “Nowhere to Run, Nowhere to Hide”, “1-800-Suicide”, the Killah Priest/Scientific Shabazz featured “Diary of a Madman”, the short but self explained “Mommy, What’s a Gravedigga?” & the title track which was actually one of the only 3 tracks on the album to be produced by RZA. If anyone is looking to get into the horrorcore subgenre, then this HAS to be the go-to album for you because this is how it should be made

Score: 5/5

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Nas – “illmatic” review

After hyping people up with his verse on “Live at the Barbeque” by the Main Source just a few years prior, Queens MC Nas finally comes through with his full-length debut. The lyrics are ambitious ghetto shit & the boom bap production enhances bring these well written rhymes to life. The album really starts off with “N.Y. State of Mind” (the first verse on here is one of my favorite verses in hip hop history), where Nas talks life in N.Y. over one of DJ Premier’s best beats. On “Life’s a Bitch”, Nas and AZ reflect on how rough life is & the trumpet solo (provided by Nas’ father Olu Dara) is really smooth. On The World is Yours (one of my favorite hip hop songs period), Nas spits about some real life shit over a flawless beat from Pete Rock. The track “Memory Lane (Sittin’ in da Park)” has Nas getting reminiscent over a laid-back beat from Preemo. The track 1 Love is basically a message to 3 people who were in prison at the time (including Cormega) but he does it in a vivid way & makes it heartfelt. On “One Time for Your Mind”, Nas compares & contrasts himself from when he was inexperienced up until this certain point in his career over a jazzy beat from Large Professor. And what better way to close out the album with the triumphant sounding “It Ain’t Hard to Tell”? Overall, this is how a hip hop album should be. I know most people would rank it as the greatest hip hop album of all-time but for me, I’d say it’s Eric B. & Rakim’s debut Paid in Full. However, I still consider this to be an essential album for those who wanna get into hip hop

Score: 5/5

Emperor – “In the Nightside Eclipse” review

Black metal isn’t for everyone but if you’re looking to get into genre, I HIGHLY recommend Emperor’s debut album right here as your very first listen. Even though the vocals are abrasive, the songs are very well written & (most importantly) the instrumentation is atmospheric & orchestral. Also, the recording isn’t as lo-fi as a lot of other black metal albums normally are so you can hear the tracks on this album pretty clearly. Although the closing track Inno a Satana does make me feel slightly uncomfortable, this album is a damn-near flawless bone chilling epic that’ll open you up to the uniquely challenging genre that is black metal

Score: 5/5

Horde – “Hellig Usvart” review

Horde is or was the solo project of Australian musician Jayson Sherlock & to date, this is the only album to ever be released under the Horde name. Around the time of this album’s release, this was a VERY polarizing album & I wouldn’t doubt if it still is today to a degree. Namely because this is a black metal album with religious/anti-Satanic lyrics (& black metal is NOTORIOUS for featuring anti-religious/Satanic lyrics). I can totally understand the polarization but to me, this is a VERY unique album. I mean I don’t believe the Satanist ideology that some black metal bands express, but I still do enjoy a small handful of albums from the subgenre such as Emperor’s In the Nightside Eclipse or more recently Panopticon’s Roads to the North for their intensity (which is really what I like about metal music in general). However, the main reason I really enjoy this album is because this was something that had never been done before. While the album does feature menacing instrumentation as well as the lo-fi recording & shrieked vocals that you would normally hear on a black metal album, I think Jayson made this album as a passionate experiment rather than being made as a gimmick. This is NOT for every metalhead I would say (namely diehard fans of black metal) but if you’ve ever been curious as to what would happen if Stryper met Darkthrone, this is exactly what you’re looking for.

Score: 5/5

Snoop Dogg – “Doggystyle” review

After appearing all over Dr. Dre’s classic solo debut The Chronic a year prior, Long Beach rapper Snoop Dogg (then known as Snoop Doggy Dogg) & his mentor Dre get back together to produce another West Coast essential. Dre’s production is as funky as ever & Snoop gives us THE hungriest bars of his career with his charismatic flow. Like on the party anthem Gin & Juice, the G’d up cover of Slick Rick’s La Di Da Di, the purely evil Murder Was the Case, the introductory Who Am I? (What’s My Name?) & the hilariously/unapologetically misogynistic It Ain’t No Fun (If the Homies Can’t Have None) just to name a few tracks. A lot of people understandably knocked on this album at the time due to it’s content but that’s what makes it one of the most influential hip hop albums ever made. It’s consistently straight forward & unapologetic gangsta shit from start to finish. Snoop would release dope albums later on in his career such as Tha Blue Carpet Treatment or more recently BUSH, but he never has & never will release an album near the caliber of Doggystyle

Score: 5/5

Wu-Tang Clan – “Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)” review

The Wu-Tang Clan were at the time an octuplet composed of RZA, GZA, the Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, Method Man (who was actually a replacement for the then-incarcerated Cappadonna) & U-God & this is their full-length debut. The album kicks off with “Bring da Ruckus” which starts off with samples from Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang & 10 Tigers from Kwangtung but then it transitions to some explosive drums & some hard ass battle rhymes. The next track “Shame on a Nigga” features some triumphant horns at the beginning & the end as well as a nice Thelonius Monk piano loop, but it’s really the verses form Ol’ Dirty Bastard that starts & ends the track. The next track “Clan in da Front” is a GZA solo track with a catchy piano loop as well as some hard drums & GZA sounds angry as fuck on here. Especially on the 2nd verse. The track “Wu-Tang: 7th Chamber” starts off with a skit but then we get a haunting beat & some angry ass bars from almost every single member. The track “Can It All Be So Simple” has a beautiful vocal sample & it’s basically Rae teaming up with Ghost to vividly & sincerely describe their desires to escape the hardships of the ghetto. The track “Da Mystery of Chessboxin'” starts off with a Kung Fu film sample which sets the tone for the entire track. The beat on here has some hard drums & the keys throughout give the track a more martial arts feeling to it. The opening verse is the only proper verse from U-God due to his incarceration at the time & the closing verse is the only occurrence where Masta Killa appears on the album. An inexperienced MC at the time, the right to become the 9th member of the group was contested between him & Sunz of Man member Killah Priest. Masta Killa stayed up all night writing his verse while Killah Priest fell asleep & the rest is history. You can tell Masta Killa had never really rhymed before & while his verse isn’t my favorite on the album, it was a perfect way to close out the track. The next track “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing ta Fuck Wit” is basically discussing how impeccable they are & the beat is just as sinister as the deliveries on here. The following track “C.R.E.A.M. (Cash Rules Everything Around Me)” is easily the group’s most well known song & it features these really gloomy piano chords throughout as well as 2 verses about life in the ghetto. If you couldn’t tell by the title of the track after that, it’s a solo cut from Method Man & he cleverly throws pop culture references throughout the entire track over some nice boom bap drums & some menacing keys. The next track “Protect Ya Neck” gets the whole crew together to deliver some hard verses over an eerie ass beat but every member does it in their own specific way. The final track “Tearz” sees RZA & Ghost telling 2 individually sad stories over a gloomy beat & a beautifully sped-up vocal sample that fits with the stories like a glove. To me, not only did this album solidify the group as the greatest hip hop group of all-time but I truly believe this is a must have for ANY hip hop head. Every single member stands out from one another & the Clan’s de facto leader RZA was able to craft his very own unique sound. Luckily this would only be the beginning for them, as they would give us many more hip hop classics in the future

Score: 5/5

A Tribe Called Quest – “Midnight Marauders” review

2 years after breaking the sophomore jinx with The Low End Theory, Native Tongues subgroup A Tribe Called Quest is returning with their 3rd full-length album on the very same day as the Wu-Tang Clan came onto the scene with Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). The first song “Steve Birko (Stir It Up)” starts off with some jazzy horns but then we get Phife Dawg & Q-Tip showcasing their chemistry together over a funky beat. The track “Award Tour” is basically the group reflecting on their success over a beat that takes 5 different samples to create a perfectly jazzy beat. The track “We Can Get Down” sees the group getting playfully braggadocious over a smooth beat. The track “Electric Relaxation” has a beautiful sample of my favorite Ronnie Foster song “Mystic Brew” & it lyrically sees the members trying to get freaky with their ladies. The track “Clap Your Hands” sees the group talking about their music over a beautifully smooth beat while “Lyrics to Go” is basically bragging about their lyrical skills over a beat that I think would HEAVILY influence the late J Dilla. The album closes out with “God Lives Through”, where we get a clever sample of one of the previous tracks “Oh My God” for the hook & the group discussed spirituality as well as shouting out their hometown Queens. Although the lyrics on here are more urban than their last 2 albums, I think the group delivered another masterpiece to our ears with this one

Score: 5/5