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The most recent studio release from the Roots (Undun) needs time to sink in, thus this tardy review. Unlike the majority of their hip-hop peers, the Roots continually extend their popularity not through the vulgar appeal of strong radio singles, naked women in their videos or massive marketing campaigns, but through the performance and creation of music of a rare and distinct quality that is not often found among the more popular and readily accessible musical landscape. From the opening notes on Dun, to the last lyrics breathed into the microphone and the closing with Finality, Undun continues expanding the catalog of growth and burgeoning genius that is the Roots. A concept album working through themes of life and decision, it features the usual Roots players along with an appreciated assortment of special guests. Contrasted in musical theme from the bulk of their previous work, though some say it compares sonically with How I Got Over, this release stands alone as a complete work and makes a great addition to any music collection. The Root Undun
The Alabama born Yelawolf, is a multifaceted talent that has spent a better part of the last decade living in various parts of the US while striving towards super-stardom. His first major label release, “Radioactive” may well be the cornerstone of a hugely successful career in entertainment. However, that depends on who you ask. Radioactive has received mostly politically safe, yet positive reviews, but some consider Yelawolf’s Shady records debut missing the mark. Not because of lack of skill by Yelawolf, but by the unfettered efforts to make a pop record instead of a rap record that can go pop. Never mind the forced attempts craft a colorblind pop rap album, Yelawolf is a solid lyricist and some of those pop efforts are great songs. While some fans cling zealously to the music and lyrical style of early TrunkMuzik mixtapes, this new, Eminem stamped Yelawolf shows growth and shines, despite his efforts to stay in ‘bama mud.
With more than 20 years in the rap game, even though their Amazon page boasts 94 releases, the Beastie Boys are soon releasing what is only their eighth official album, the Hot Sauce Committee Part 2. While comment sections across the web rage for or against the Beasties, one thing is for sure, they have stood the test of time. With a little help from Nas on the emcee front, the Boys once again serve up the rap stew that has made them Grammy winners and one of Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Artists of All time.
With rugged drums and subterranean production W.A.R. (We are Renegades), the third solo release from critically acclaimed rapper Pharoahe Monch is a rap album that unfortunately won’t top the pop charts but in every place where hip-hop is a serious topic of discussion around the world, “We are Renegades” will top the list. While the beats are jeep-friendly, the lyrics bend more towards provoking thought than they do provoking the shaking of hips, which tends to keep the pop crowd at bay. However, for lovers of lyricism, bar for bar few lyricists in Hip-Hop from any period can compare to Pharoahe Monch. On this release he pairs his wit, politics and multisyllabic rhymes with crisp production and notable guest appearances.
As far as music goes, if you want good music, Kanye West’s Graduation, is an enjoyable release. One of the few rap releases where you can listen without skipping half of the tracks. Highlights include stadium anthems like “You Can’t Tell Me Nothing”, “Stronger” and “Champion”. You may skip “Drunk and Hot Girls” but on occasion the mood may be right for that too.
Lupe Fiasco dropped recently. If you’ve been under a rock, you’re obviously unaware. Sucks to be you. However, the recent Lupe Fiasco release Food Liquor may be to this generation what Illmatic and Nevermind was over a decade ago to the previous.
A unique collage of sounds and surprising lyrics, Lupe’s words provide a much needed break from gun-clapping, coke-slinging and street life often mercilessly lobbed upon your ears. Musically Food and Liquor stands on its’ own but if you like N.E.R.D., Kanye West or Andre 3000 most likely you would have no problem with Lupe.